A cautionary tale


My kid had a doctor’s appointment yesterday, which meant that instead of him taking the bus home from school, I’d have to pick him up directly. It sounded so easy. However, it was not at all easy and now that all is said and done, I think I’ve been added to some type of “crazy parent” list that the school district keeps on file.

Here’s what happened: I drive to his school to pick him up. I sign him out, wait in the cafeteria for him to come out, but he doesn’t. I realize after 10 minutes of waiting that he probably forgot I was going to pick him up.

No big deal. I go up to the guy with the walkie talkie behind the sign out desk and tell him about my predicament. He walkie talkies the office, and they go down this whole chain of command, the result of which is that (and this is where it starts becoming a big deal) my kid is already on the bus. It’s too late to pull him off because the bus is en route to the junior high, where it will pick up a whole other group of kids before bringing them all home.

Walkie talkie guy tells me if I hurry, I might be able to pull him off the bus at the junior high. I momentarily consider just meeting him at home and canceling his doctor’s appointment, but quickly remember who I am and that failure is not an option. I sprint out to my car and drive like a madwoman over to the junior high.

I try to turn into the parking lot when a police officer, who is standing in the driveway to the lot, shakes her head at me, indicating that I am not allowed to go into the lot. I roll down my window and tell her in my most desperate voice that I need to grab my kid off the bus before it leaves for its route. She says that’s fine, but no cars are allowed to go into the lot during bus pickup.

Exacerbated, I throw my hands up and yell, “So what do you want me to do?!?” Please know that I have never in my life been disrespectful to a police officer, but she is messing with my meticulously planned schedule and THAT CANNOT HAPPEN.

She tells me to go park on a side street. I sigh (loudly), and speed into the fruit store parking lot next to the school. I sprint down the sidewalk, where I see her waiting, and it occurs to me that I wasn’t very nice to her before and, if she wanted to, this could end very badly for me. So as I run past her I yell nervously, “MY KID IS IN SO MUCH TROUBLE! HAHAHAHAHA!” and she just kind of smirks but I know she hates me.

I get into the junior high lot and am immediately confronted with 35 buses parked within one inch of each other and they all look exactly the same. I take a deep breath and try to remember the number of the bus my kid goes on. Miraculously, I remember, and start running through the lot looking for it. Yes, there are middle school kids, many of which who know my kid, staring at me through the window thinking I am a complete lunatic, but I don’t care because we have only ten minutes to get to the doctor’s appointment.

I find the bus! I go up to the door and tell the bus driver that I need my kid! And she tells me that she can’t let him off without a school administrator present.

Without even answering her, I run over to the building and find some random guy who looks like he works there. I scream at him, “Are you a school administrator?!?!?” He tells me that he is not, in fact, an administrator, but he can call one for me.

I stand there in the lot and time is a tickin’. My kid is on a bus 15 feet away from me and the buses are about to pull out and I don’t know if the school administrator is going to come out in time for me to grab my kid and I seriously think I’m going to LOSE MY FREAKING MIND right there. I’m swearing in my head left and right as I’m scanning the 6000 kids who are currently exiting the school, hoping to find this mythical school administrator in there somewhere.

He comes out and approaches me. I’m so flustered, I can’t even get any words out. All I can do is throw my driver’s license at him and run towards my kid’s bus.

Well, in the end I got my kid off the bus. And I got to meet the junior high vice principal, who thinks I’m a lunatic. He spent five minutes on his walkie talkie verifying who I was, making sure I wasn’t some insane person trying to grab a kid, which, if you think about it, I totally am.

I got my kid to his doctor’s appointment on time, but AT WHAT COST?!? I think I need to bake pies for a whole bunch of people to thank them for dealing with me in my heightened state of anxiety.

I though the Hallmark Channel was supposed to make me feel good

I saw the most bullsh*t commercial this morning. I was doing my early morning workout while watching The Golden Girls on the Hallmark Channel, as I tend to do. (I know some people get pumped up for their workouts by listening to hip hop or something, but I prefer putting my YouTube workout on mute and watching back-to-back episodes of The Golden Girls and if that’s wrong then I don’t want to be right.)

Anyway, this commercial came on for a Hallmark original movie called Falling for Vermont. There was this voiceover that said, “Author Angela Young needed a break.” Then it shows who I can only assume is author Angela Young driving up to a bookstore in a town car, rolling down her window, and staring wide-eyed at the hundreds of people in line waiting for her to sign their books, as if she is so overwhelmed she is going to puke right there in the town car.

The scene switches to her talking to her agent/publisher/whoever manages her career after the book signing and it goes like this:

Professional book person: “Angela, your publishers are offering you a GIGANTIC bonus.”

Angela: “I want to go apple picking or carve a pumpkin. C’mon, guys, it’s fall!”

Again, quick scene change to Angela driving around alone in Vermont because I guess she ended up taking a break from her millions of fans and gigantic bonus. I think she crashes her car, loses her memory, and eventually falls in love with the small-town country doctor. Then it shows her bobbing for apples or some such nonsense.

So irritating. It sounds like Angela cannot handle being a best-selling author who makes huge amounts of money and has trillions of adoring fans (yes, I understand I am increasing her fanbase with each paragraph, but I don’t care). All she wants to do is go an a hayride.

Angela, I have a proposal for you: You go pick some apples and carve a pumpkin, and I will take over your book tour. I’m available to take the burden off for a little while, as I’ve been at the author thing for 8 years now and am just shy of attaining your level of success. I totally get how it might be stressful to be #winning all the time. You go run through a corn maze and I’ll take the reins. No prob.

Now THAT’S a movie I could get on board with. It could be this Freaky Friday kind of thing where Angela and I switch places. Hallmark, are you reading this? Call me! I’m open to a discussion.

And in case you’re interested in learning more about Falling for Vermont (as written, not the one where I’m in it via Freaky Friday voodoo), you can watch the preview here.

Panic Attack: The Junior High Years

What I have just been through. I can’t even. I think it’s pretty impressive that I’m even functioning in a close-to-normal capacity after the trauma that I experienced last night. Yesterday, for the first time ever, I attended a Junior High Open House.

Now, I don’t know about your junior high experience, but mine left something to be desired. Namely, a healthy self image. And now that I have a kid who is in junior high (WTF?!? How am I old and living in the future?), and I had to walk through his entire schedule and sit in junior high desks in junior high classrooms and…well, I don’t think trigger is a strong enough word.

It didn’t start out all that well to begin with. We had an extremely hectic day yesterday with orthodontist appointments and extracurricular commitments. I had to meticulously plan the driving situation down to the minute. I thought I had it all under control. I was able to feed the kids in the 10 minutes I had allotted for dinner before I had to leave, and I foolishly believed it was all good.

Until I parked at the junior high, got out of the car, and started heading into the building. I realized then that I had no idea where the hell I was going because we were to go to our kid’s first period class and I FORGOT TO BRING HIS SCHEDULE.

I frantically texted my kid and begged him to take a picture of his schedule and send it to me immediately. I was at his mercy. Luckily, he has a pure heart and sent it to me without question. He did not realize that he had such leverage at that moment that he could have asked for anything and I’d have no choice but to comply. As I write this, I could have guys digging up my backyard preparing for our new in-ground pool. I really dodged a bullet on that one.

I made it to first period and, once that was over, had exactly four minutes to make it to the next class. If you know me at all in real life, then you know that I am not late. Ever. And if I happen to be, I basically have an anxiety attack.

The halls were super congested with parents and all I wanted to do was get to the next class. They were not moving fast enough. I was screaming on the inside. So loud.

Language Arts was okay, as was Social Studies. My anxiety was slowly building just being in that place, but it was manageable. Until Gym/Health class.

All the parents had to sit in the Health classroom and the gym teacher stood up front and told us about the curriculum. She was a perfectly nice, lovely lady, but for some reason all I wanted to do was get out of there because I was scared that she’d force me to start playing some kind of sport and then I’d make a goal for the opposing team (that never happened; if I went to junior high with you, you are wrong, I never scored a soccer goal for the other team and you have a faulty memory).

And then the gym/health teacher told us that our kids would be learning about the human reproductive system and, as a result, would be watching the 1982 PBS production “The Miracle of Life.” I literally blurted out in front of 40 parents, “Oh my God. They made us watch that in health!” I am, to this day, scarred by that particular film. It shows a woman giving birth, and all I can recall are the screams from my fellow classmates as we watched every single part of a baby being born. In fact, the “miracle” in the title refers to the fact that I have children of my own, because I vowed on that day in seventh grade that I would never in my entire life put myself through that horror show.

In a daze, I made my way over to science class, then French, then math. I’m going to be straight with you: I almost threw up. All this talk about grades and tests and Bunsen burners was just too much. That, coupled with horrific memories of social pressure and peer ridicule, made me want to run away and hide in a closet. I think the 12 to 14-year-old Meredith lying dormant inside me has some issues that need to be addressed.

At least the Open House is over with for this year. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it next year. I should really be a mature adult and get over this for the sake of my kid and his education, but I don’t know if I have the mental fortitude. I guess time will tell.



Send me photos of cute animals in hand-knitted garments, STAT

This is the only thing that calms me these days.

There’s a lot of hate out there right now. My anxiety level is pretty much at DEFCON 3 at any given moment, spiking to DEFCON 1 at the top of every hour when I check the news headlines. It’s just relentless. Which is why I really don’t appreciate this one particular individual who is just adding to my stress and is close to pushing me over the edge.

Her name? Heather. From Account Services. This bitch has been calling me on my cell phone AND on my home phone for at least six months. And every time she calls me, it’s from a different phone number. Plus, she only contacts me via recording, so I can’t even scream at her.

Today I tried to call her back on the number that popped up on my cell phone. Instead of getting some idea as to which Account Services she was working for, I got another recording that told me that particular phone number was disconnected. What?!? I JUST got a call on it 10 seconds before. What madness is this? The entire world has gone crazy.

Okay, maybe I’m funneling all my rage towards Heather from Account Services, but she deserves it. I mean, if she’s not part of the solution, then she’s part of the problem.

Heather, if you’re reading this, PLEASE understand that not only do I have to worry about nuclear war, violent riots, and global warming on a daily basis, but I have to deal with you, chipping away at my sanity one phone call at a time. Please leave me be.

Image from Bored Panda.

Taking a walk on the wild side

We’ve been getting our fitness on here at Casa Towbin lately. And by “fitness” I mean taking a leisurely walk a few days a week after a filling dinner of, say, pasta and bolognese sauce. But nonetheless, activity is happening. It’s usually just my husband and myself taking the walk, which is nice, but I’ve noticed something weird with him on these walks. Shocker.

(On our walk)

Me: You know, if The Handmaid’s Tale ever happens in real life, you BETTER become a commander and you BETTER take me up the rungs with you. That’s the only way I would survive in that kind of world. I’m not saying I’d in any way be happy living as the wife to a commander, but I just wouldn’t make it in a Red Center, and if those are my only options, then that’s what I would choose.

My husband: Uh huh. (munching on something)

Me: Are you eating something?

My husband: Yeah. Want one? (He presents a handful of jellybeans to me, seemingly appearing out of nowhere.)

Me: You’re eating jellybeans on our walk?

My husband: Sure. I always do.

Me: Where do you keep them?

My husband: In my pocket.

Me: You’re telling me you shove your pockets full of jellybeans and eat them on our walks?

My husband: Um, yeah. Do you want one? Here’s a cinnamon one. I know you like cinnamon.

Me: That’s not the point. (Me, taking the cinnamon one because duh.) We’re exercising and you really shouldn’t be counteracting that exercise by popping jellybeans one after the other.

My husband: I don’t care.

Me: You’re an odd duck.

The next day he didn’t even bother to hide his stash during our walk. He literally grabbed a box of Jujubees and ate them one by one over the course of 40 minutes (we went on an extra long walk that night, maybe because he was thinking Jujubees are higher in caloric value that jellybeans? I don’t know how his mind works, to tell you the truth).

So that’s how we do fitness over here. Yes, “we” because I always eat the cinnamon jellybeans from his stash. Ok, and the toasted marshmallow. And 17 other flavors.

It. Is. On.

I am at war. At first I was committed to a relocation mission, but now I’m in full-on it’s-either-you-or-me mode.

Yesterday I discovered this guy on my tomato plant:

It’s a tomato hornworm and at first I thought it was kind of cute. A few days ago, I noticed that some of my tomatoes were half eaten, but I didn’t discover the culprit until yesterday. Yes, he’s big, but that sucker can blend in, unlike a wasted Donna Martin at the West Beverly Hills’ senior prom,  and I couldn’t spot him for the life of me until days later.

So yesterday I tried to do the humane thing. I didn’t want to kill him, so I attempted to remove him from the stem with a branch. And OMG I WAS TRAUMATIZED. Why? Because by accident I stabbed him and he started gushing green blood and THEN he got super pissed and tried to attack me. NO JOKE. He made this ferocious clicking sound and LUNGED at me. I had no idea caterpillars could attack but they do and, boy, do they go for the jugular.

Despite his violent attempt at my life, I was really upset that I stabbed him. I went to Plan B and cut the branch he was on off the plant. I moved him to the row of trees in my backyard and left him behind a weed where he could hopefully recover from his injury and perhaps escape being eating by birds. I checked on him a couple of times, and he seemed to be okay enough to devour all the rest of the leaves on the stem I clipped off, so I called it a day.

But TODAY I found another hornworm! Realizing I might impale him if I attempted to remove him, I went straight to clipping off the branch he was on. I guess he knew what was up because he started clicking at me. I carefully brought him over to where I had left the other hornworm, who was by now gone, and left him there along with a few more leaves to tide him over.

This is where my generosity stopped because when I examined the plant one last time I found four more hornworms. I was DONE. I tried to pry one off and he lunged at me like his countryworm, clicking away. I dumped him over the deck railing. The others met the same fate.

And I have to say: they deserved it because they freaking almost ate all my tomatoes and most of the tomato plant leaves and I am really, really annoyed. It could have been worse–I could have drowned them all in a big bucket of water, which is what one gardening website recommended. Hopefully word gets around that attempting to eat the Towbin tomato plant is a suicide mission and should be avoided at all costs.

Life is just a bowl of cherries

A man who is not my husband.

The other day I was riding in the car with my husband, who had grabbed a bowl of cherries to eat on the way. About 10 minutes into the drive, I noticed something weird. Or, should say, I noticed something NOT weird.

When my husband eats cherries in the car, he always disposes of the pits in this way: He rolls down his window, spits the pit out to the curb, and screams, “ALEX CHERRYSEED!” (As in, he’s like Jonny Appleseed, except instead of planting apple trees, he’s planting cherry trees. Mixed with his spit.)

That particular day I noticed he had not even ONCE screamed, “ALEX CHERRYSEED!” What followed:

Me: (looking in the bowl, still half-filled with cherries) Um, where are the pits?

Him: Huh?

Me: What are you doing with the cherry pits if you’re not spitting them out the window?

Him: (shrugs)

Me: Wait, are you SWALLOWING the pits?

Him: Maybe.

Me: What?!? You can’t do that!

Him: Yes, I can.

Me: No, you can’t!! You can’t eat cherry pits!

Him: Sure I can.

Me: I am definitely certain that NO YOU CANNOT and now you’re going to get really sick.

Him: Or maybe I’m just growing cherry trees inside me.

Me: (fuming, because this is NOT a joke and people are NOT meant to eat cherry pits even though I’m not sure why, and I just know he will not have to face any consequences for this behavior because isn’t that always the way)

Him: (eats another cherry; swallows the pit)

Me: What is wrong with you?!?

Him: (continues to eat more cherries and swallow their pits without commentary)

Me: You are one odd duck.

Image from: Rodale’s Organic Life


Dog days of summer

You might have noticed that I haven’t blogged in a few weeks, but I’m here to tell you there’s been a reason for that: I got a dog! I’ve been extremely busy with my new pet and haven’t had any time to tend to the blog. Let me tell you about him:

About a month ago I spotted a little black dog running around our neighborhood unattended. I tried to get him to come to me, but he was super scared and bolted away as fast as he could. Over the next few weeks, I saw him now and then, but each time he ran away from me. I started putting bowls of dog food and water out for him, hoping he’d learn to trust me.

Unfortunately, the only thing he learned to trust was that he could get a free meal over and over again at my house, which most likely contributed to his decision to start living underneath my deck.

I couldn’t get him out from under there no matter what I did, so I called the SPCA. Someone came out and set a trap for him; all I wanted to do was see if he was chipped (he had no collar) and get him back to his family. But that stinker managed to trigger the trap, eat the bait positioned INSIDE the trap, yet somehow escape its clutches.

Now I personally have not seen the dog since the Great Escape, which was a couple of weeks ago, but neighbors have told me they’ve spotted him around my yard. I’ve continued to leave food and water out for him, and by morning, it’s gone.

I have wanted a dog for quite some time, but due to circumstances beyond my control (psst, my husband) I was unable to adopt one. But don’t you see? Now I finally have a dog! Sure, I don’t get to play with it. Or pet it. Or even see it, but I have a dog nonetheless! For some reason my husband named it Frenchie, which is a really stupid name, but it stuck. I would show you a photo of him, but I don’t have one. Here is a stock photo in its place:


Isn’t he adorable??

But honestly, when it comes down to it, I’m not even really sure if I’m feeding the dog anymore. I might just be feeding a possum every night. I guess I might have a pet possum.


April showers

I was having lunch with my friend the other day and somehow the conversation turned to cleaning products. Not that I’m complaining. I love talking about cleaning of any kind. It makes me positively giddy!

Anyway, I started to tell her about a new purchase I made recently, which has made my bathroom cleaning even easier:

Me: “OMG! I totally bought this amazing shelving for my shower since there’s nothing in there except a soap dish.”

My friend: “Tell me more!”

Me: “There’s this giant pole that goes from floor to ceiling, and all along the pole are different shelves. Everyone has their own shelf! I have a whole shelf for just my own miscellaneous products!”

My friend: “So you don’t have any shampoo bottles or anything on the floor anymore?!?”

Me: “NO! It’s so easy to clean the tile now. I am telling you, THIS SHELVING SYSTEM HAS CHANGED MY LIFE.”

My friend: “Sounds amazing! You should totally blog about that!”

Me: (shifting uneasily in my chair) “Um, I don’t know.”

My friend: “Why not?”

Me: “Because, well…I don’t want to brag. I mean, you know how people buy things and are all, look how I just bought this new car or how I just remodeled my whole kitchen? I don’t want to brag like that.”

My friend: “Uhh, well, it’s shower shelving.”

Me: “I know, I just don’t want people to read the post and then be like, did you read Meredith’s blog post where she was bragging about her shower shelving? I mean, who does she think she is? I can’t BELIEVE she was showing off like that.”

My friend: “I mean, SOME people might say that, but maybe some people would appreciate the information about the product.”

Me: “It’s just NOT ME, ok?!?”

My friend: (silence) (probably reflecting on her life choices, as she has befriended a shower shelving braggart)

As long as I’m in this deep, I might as well show you a photo of the shower shelving:

I’m telling you: CHANGED MY LIFE. I highly recommend it.


Good old days


I turned 40 last year and this is what has happened to me since then:

  1. I enjoy an almost exclusive diet of contemporary adult music, which, and I looked this up, is characterized by “easy listening” and “soft rock” that is “inoffensive and pleasurable.”
  2. After a long hiatus, I tried to run outside. My entire body revolted. I AM PHYSICALLY INCAPABLE OF RUNNING.
  3. A radio ad came on for the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie, which co-stars Alicia Silverstone. For a hot minute I thought she might be playing the big sister of the tweenish main character. Then it occurred to me that she’s probably playing the mom.
  4. My kids are old enough to be embarrassed by me. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as now the pranking can get really good.
  5. I eat oatmeal for breakfast. Every. Day.
  6. Yesterday I needed to replenish my make up supply, and when I looked at the label that’s stuck to the end of the wand so I could see what shade I wear, I couldn’t make out the words because they were too small. I was so desperate that I had to take a photo of the label and then enlarge it on my phone. My shade is apparently “vanilla.” Which pretty much now describes me.
  7. I enjoy a quiet evening of working on puzzles.
  8. It can be challenging to stay up past 10 pm. I think my kids stay up later than that, but I wouldn’t know because I’m sleeping.
  9. I fell getting out of bed in the middle of the night. Like really hard. It shook the whole house. And my first thought was that I broke my hip.

40 and fabulous!!

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