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.

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.

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.

Insult to injury

So my right arm is KILLING ME and unfortunately I’m injured. It must have happened while I was lifting yesterday. I mean, all I was doing was my usual 140-lb. benchpress (10 reps, as fast as I can), but somehow I hurt myself.

Just kidding. I totally hurt myself cleaning. Yesterday I decided that the bathroom floors needed a good scrub. I sprayed some cleaner with bleach in it onto the tile floor and got to work. I got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed like I was going for an Olympic medal in it and made that tile sparkle. Not to brag, but, yeah, I did the grout. The only problem was that I was scrubbing so hard, I hurt my right arm (my scrubbing arm, obvs).

Sure, at the time I realized I MAY have been working a little too hard as I was panting and sweating and starting to feel lightheaded. But as far as the lightheadedness goes, I chalked that up to inhaling the bleach fumes. I mean, the fumes were already making my eyes burn, but I could still see, so I wasn’t going to stop just because I felt a tad dizzy. My motto is go big or go home and I apply it to EVERYTHING.

Anyway, I noticed the soreness in my arm that evening. I was all, maybe I should take some ibuprofen for that, but then I was all, what kind of wimp takes ibuprofen because her arm is sore from CLEANING? Suck it up, Towbin!

So I did. And then at 4 am I woke up in excruciating pain. In my sleepy delirium I decided that first thing in the morning I should definitely call an orthopedic surgeon about this injury because, really, who else could I possibly call for such a serious trauma? Then I started thinking that I’d have to tell the orthopedic surgeon that I hurt myself scrubbing the bathroom floor and my pride would not allow for that, so I just decided I’d have to deal with it, even if it required surgery (which, at the time, it most definitely seemed like it would).

Then I woke up this morning and realized I was insane. My arm is feeling much better and I realized I just gave it a really good workout. Unfortunately, my right bicep is going to be HUGE and my left bicep will be normal sized and I will look like a freak, but them’s the breaks.

My hang up

WHAT I HAVE JUST BEEN THROUGH. There’s no way I could ever relate the intensity and/or range of the emotions I’ve just experienced, but I will try.

You see, I have this jacket. I’ve had it for a few years, and I really liked wearing it. Right in the middle, a little above the waist, there was this fabric cord that you could tie up in the front. The cord had to pass through a “tunnel” of fabric that wrapped around the back of the jacket, a situation similar to that of a drawstring cord in a hoodie.

Everything was going great until one time I washed my jacket and the cord got pulled out halfway. I tried to string it back through, but it was IMPOSSIBLE. After several minutes of trying, I gave up and pulled the whole thing out. I wore the jacket a couple more times without the fabric cord, but it just felt, I don’t know, wrong, so I stopped wearing it altogether.

Fast forward to today. For some reason I got it into my head that not only was I going to wear this jacket, but, damn it, I was going to get that cord back through the fabric tunnel. With a little help from a YouTube video demonstrating how to rethread a hoodie cord, I decided I could transfer these newly acquired skills and make it work with my jacket.

The trick is to bend a wire hanger into a semicircle, attach one end of the cord to one end of the wire, and thread the wire through the fabric tunnel with the cord attached, thereby rethreading everything. Brilliant!

So I tried it. I tied one end of the cord to a little hook I made at the end of the wire hanger and tried to string in through. I got all the way through to the other side of the tunnel when I realized that the stupid cord fell off the hanger about an inch of the way through.

So I tried again. I tied the knot tighter.

Same problem.

This time I wrapped it around, made some kind of insane knot for which there is no name, and did it again. No dice.

I tried different variations of knots and wire hanger hooks for 20 FREAKING MINUTES. I was swearing. Out loud. A lot. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so ineffectual. Unless you count the 3,000 times I’ve asked my kids to clean their rooms and all they do is throw a pair of socks in the hamper just to see how that’s going to fly and when I call them out on it they respond with disbelief and outrage at how I could possibly be so wrong because look how much they’ve cleaned! What do I want from them?!? BECAUSE WE CAN’T EVER BE AS ORGANIZED AND NEAT AS YOU, MOM, AND YOU CAN’T EXPECT US TO BE SOMEBODY WE’RE NOT! Um, maybe TMI for the blog.

Anyhoo, after 20 minutes, success! I was so ecstatic that I took a picture:

And that didn’t make me feel satisfied, so I wrote a blog post about it.

This is probably the dumbest blog post I’ve ever written, but WTF. I needed to share my victory.

Image from NST Insights.

Thinking outside the box

Sometimes people ask me what I do all day while my kids are at school. Here’s a good example: I pick a random spot on my floor, make a square out of tape, and wait for my cat to lie down in it.

No, I did not make this genius experiment up. I found it all over the Internet and decided to try it for myself. So here was my square:

I waited for two days and my cat wouldn’t go anywhere near it. I figured I’d placed it in an area that was too high traffic, so I moved the square in front of the fireplace. This is how that played out:

An hour later:

And an hour after that:

This cat. I swear. I kind of fell asleep while I was waiting for her to go into the box and this happened:

Well played, Cleo. Well played.

Update: Inner peace is not a thing I have achieved

You might recall that I achieved inner peace last week via packing my suitcase. Unfortunately, it didn’t last. Things turned sour pretty quickly. Why?


Yes, rolling up all your clothes into tight cylinders is completely awesome if your only goal is to fit as many clothes into your suitcase as possible. But what happens when you reach your destination and it’s time to unpack? The COMPLETE OPPOSITE of zen. Here’s why:

You open your suitcase and find 37 tightly rolled t-shirts/jeans/socks/etc. that must be unrolled. One by one. Which takes some time. And after traveling all day, unrolling all your clothes one by one is literally the last thing you want to be doing.

But, Meredith, you might ask, why not just leave everything rolled up in the suitcase and select what’s needed on a day-to-day basis? Well, because YOU CAN’T. Maybe I want to wear my gray t-shirt with the two birds on it on a particular day. Here’s me: “I’ll just peek into my suitcase and grab it and…oh s^&%! There are no less than THIRTEEN GREY T-SHIRTS, ALL ROLLED UP, and it is impossible for me to identify which one is which until I unroll them all and WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME? What did I ever do to deserve such a stunning defeat after achieving a zen that most humans can only dream about?”

And once all the clothes are unrolled, you have to deal with the fact that every single item is a wrinkled mess AND you still have to fold everything to put it away in the dresser.

Needless to say, on the way back I packed up using a different method. I laid everything flat, one on top of the next, and that seemed to work better. At least things weren’t wrinkled when I went to unpack and I could identify what was what.

Even so, I am thoroughly disappointed. I was so stoked about achieving packing nirvana that I was even considering starting up a business involving me teaching people how to pack efficiently, which would of course have to be named Tripping with Towbin. There goes my business. And my zen.

A cause we can all get behind

The political climate has been INSANE lately, and although I’ve done what I can to make my own voice heard, there is one issue in particular that, quite frankly, has been my albatross for at least a decade.

This issue hasn’t gotten the spotlight that it deserves. People need to call out this vile, man-made construct that should have never seen the light of day. And let my voice be the first to declare: We as a people must stand up and say, nay, DEMAND, that the buttered popcorn jellybean be discontinued.

Such a flavor is an abomination. There is nothing worse than sitting there with your hand wrist deep in a giant jar of jellybeans, pulling out what you think is pineapple or even pina colada, and popping it into your mouth only to discover that instead of surrendering to a sweet burst of happiness, your mouth have been defiled by the most disgusting flavor ever to be produced in a lab.

I’m not proud of this, but back when my firstborn was really little, too little to know the difference, he ate buttered popcorn jellybeans exclusively. Every time my husband and I would dig into a bag of jellybeans and find a buttered popcorn one, we would give it to him. And that was the ONLY flavor we gave him because we kept all the others ones for ourselves. He seemed to enjoy them, and I guess that’s what we told ourselves so that we could sleep at night.

For shame.

To this day, the kid still asks for all the buttered popcorn jellybeans in a jellybean variety pack, and every time he does, it’s like a dagger through my heart. I did this. I DID THIS to him. What kind of a mother am I?

So for his sake, and for the sake of everyone around the world, I raise my fist in defiance and shout: “HEY HEY, HO HO, BUTTERED POPCORN HAS TO GO!”

Do you have the courage to join me?




The fruit of my labors, part trois!

I don’t want to induce panic or anything, but I’ve made a promise to my readers to be transparent: There has been another drive-by fruiting. It happened sometime between the hours of 9 am and 4:15 pm today.

Exhibit A:

But wait. Things have escalated. BEHOLD, Exhibit B:

That’s right. What we have here is an apple with a single bite taken out of it AS WELL AS a mini jar of orange marmalade, direct from Switzerland.

What in the NAME of Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge’s visor is going on?!?

Many of you have accused my husband of being the culprit. However, he has not been home for TWO DAYS. So it clearly cannot be him.

I am starting to suspect that someone I know–perhaps VARIOUS people I know–are depositing fruit on a regular basis (here and here) because they want their 15 minutes of fame. Yes, they enjoy the fact that I am blogging about it.

Well, I’m gonna fix their wagons. The next time this happens, I will NOT be posting about it. That’s right, your 15 minutes are over. Hope you enjoyed it while it lasted. Now go make yourself a fruit salad or something and find some other sucker.

The cat’s meow

Behold! Even the sun rays shine down upon her!

It’s been a rough couple of weeks here at Casa Towbin. The sleep situation hasn’t been great, with various nosebleeds, nightmares, insomnia, etc. all rearing their ugly heads. At least one of us (plus me, always me) is up for a period of time during any given night.

Last night we were all freaking exhausted, so I was hopeful that we’d all sleep through the night for the first time in a while. Everything was going smashingly until 2:30 am. That’s when my cat decided to do the thing she loves most in the world–put one of her mouse toys in her mouth and meow for no reason. For a minimum of 20 minutes. You see, I believe she puts the toy in her mouth so as to amplify the volume of her meowing.

For those of you who don’t have cats, here’s a little secret: They like to be a*#holes. Just because.

So, in true cat form, I hear my cat meowing FROM DOWNSTAIRS and it’s incredibly loud. I’m lying in bed listening, dreading that the cat will wake up others in the house, which will be even more of a disaster because then those “others” won’t be able to fall back asleep and I’ll be up for even longer.

So she’s meowing and meowing and I’m lying in bed and THE RAGE I can’t even tell you. I don’t want to go downstairs to yell at her for fear it will wake me up even more and I’ll have an even harder time falling back asleep.

Things go on for 10 minutes like this. For some reason I try to telepathically communicate with her, hoping that will work, telling her via my mind, “BE QUIET. BE QUIET,” in a continuous loop.

She does not.

After 15 minutes I bite the bullet and go downstairs. In my loudest whisper-yell I tell her to shut the hell up. She stops. I get back into bed, completely riled up, and try to fall back asleep, which I know will be impossible.

Ten minutes later, she starts up again and I AM PISSED.

And then it’s weird because I actually can’t recall what happened after that. I must have passed out from utter exhaustion, despite my rage, and I guess she stopped meowing at some point.

Why, Cleo? WHY?!? Why must you torture me like this? All I do is love you–maybe too much sometimes, as indicated by the baby talk I use to communicate with you and my tendency to ask you “Who’s a good girl?” every 15 seconds. Cut me some slack, PLEASE. Let me sleep tonight.




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