Banana Bread

August 26, 2013 § 15 Comments

So, you know how so many people post Facebook status updates the night before the first day of school?  “Lunches are packed!  Kids in bed!  Backpacks ready!  Forms filled out!  Relaxing with a glass of wine and hubby!” And it’s only 8 p.m.?  Some dear friends of mine – and I hope they still are after reading this – but please indulge me in a rare public bitchy moment.

I frikkin’ HATE those status updates.  They shouldn’t, but they make me feel like SUCH a loser mom – I rarely, if ever have my shit together like that.  For one thing, it’s  usually 10:47 p.m. when I read them, and the kids are all still awake and I’m about to go grocery shopping (sometimes at the gas station “convenience” store) for the first time in 10 days so they don’t eat uncooked ramen noodles for lunch on their first day of school.

Not this year.  It’s payback time, beyotches.  This year, I AM THAT MOM.  Last night the youngest was in bed by 10 p.m. (unshowered, but hey – you can’t have everything,) grocery shopping was done (4 days earlier,) and I was in my pjs (unshowered, but hey – you can’t have everything,) – do you hear me???  I made banana bread* batter (the only bakery item I know how to make from scratch,) stuck it in the fridge, and woke up at 5:30 a.m. to get it into the oven.  Let me tell you, by 7 a.m., that sucker was PERFECTION.  I had it buttered and lovingly arranged on a Bounty paper towel for my eldest to have on her way to school.  Right next to her bottled Starbucks frappacino.  Then, after some Marx Brothers-like confusion and car-jockeying because we hadn’t figured out yet which one of us was going to drive her to school, she was off for the first day of school.

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Never mind that my eldest is almost 17, and I’ve been on Facebook for five years now, and that I am only NOW boasting about something of this nature.  But I’m BOASTING, BABY!!!!!  SUCK IT, LOSERS!!!!

(Cue thunder and maniacal laughter)

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

*********

*A little bonus story:  I’ve been making this for years – got the recipe from Dave’s mother.  When we were married for less than a year, I did something similar – waking up early to get the banana bread in the oven for him to bring to some office potluck. Then I showered and attempted to wake him up.  He was immovable.  So, I stood next to the bed and said, “Hey, Dave.  There’s a naked woman in front of you and a banana bread in the oven.”  He raised his head up, lifted an eyebrow and said, “Banana bread?”  

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Vacation Hangover

August 18, 2013 § 20 Comments

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Well, there was no Captain Steubing, and it was not the Love Boat, but we sure loved the boat that took us on vacation.  Here’s a random re-cap.

1.  No wi-fi and/or texting is a blessing.  The end.

2.  Just kidding!!!  There’s more!  Angel (pronounced “Ahn-HELL”) was our dinner waiter, and Marko was his assistant.  I learned halfway through the trip (and that was too late) that I should not ask Angel his opinion about more than one entree.  This is because he would proceed to bring me each. entree.  Five of us at the table, and we routinely had at least seven entrees on the table at one time.  By the end of the week it had progressed, we never arrived at dinner without at least one appetizer already on the table because he wanted us to have them, and it was not unusual for six or seven desserts to appear by the end.

3.  Related to #2 above, our rooms were on the 2nd deck.  The pool was on the 9th.  In an effort to stem the tide of flab resulting from #2, I did use the stairs almost exclusively.  16 steps to get from one deck to the other.  Yes, I counted.  Thankfully, the nearest bar was on the 4th deck.  But even with that, I managed to log at least 20 flights of those steps every day.  Because ping-pong on the 9th deck, that’s why.

4.  Don’t bother with the “Shopping Talk” before you dock.  It is interminable, and almost exclusively about the jewelry you can buy in port.  As with Angel and entrees, I realized this way too late, and was already committed to hunting down a couple of really cute, but expensive watches. Once in Bermuda, I was on a mission, I tell you.

5.  It’s true what they say.  Unplugging from the internet truly does unclutter your mind.  Think about how much multitasking your brain must do – how many times it must change gears, simply going from one friend’s FB status update to the next.  How many times do you click on a link they post to read about revolution in Egypt (of which I remained blissfully unaware) to the next link of a cat wearing a shark costume riding a roomba?  See?  I’ll bet you just clicked on that link.  And now your brain has to go from being all cuted out by that cat to reading my blatherings about my vacation.  Or maybe you didn’t come back…did you come back?  COME BAAAAAAAACK!!!!  Darn it.

6.  With my uncluttered mind, the only thing I could do between feeding my face and listening to the abundance of live music aboard was to either:

a.  read, or
b.  play Polar Bowler on my phone, since it was the only thing I could do on it that did not require internet.

Fighting the powerful pull of a polar bear shooting down a bowling alley made of ice,  I did manage to squeeze some reading in there.  Of an actual book.  With pages.  NOT on an electronic device.

7.  Here, I’m really letting my geek flag fly by confiding in you that the book I spent time reading was… “George Washington’s War (The Saga of the American Revolution)” by Robert Leckie.  My dad gave it to me with high recommendations, and, well, what the hell, right?  Amazingly written, its sentences have craploads of information in each one, which required me to actually read things more than one time.  If you know me, that is NOT my style – I’m kind of a speedy reader.  But I did read it slowly, and some of it several times over, because the writing was so beautiful and artistic.

It’s also filled with frikkin hilarious descriptions of the people in it.  Here’s how he paints Augusta, mother to (future King) George III.

Although Augusta was not beautiful or gracious, but plain with a long neck and awkward long arms, she was nevertheless well endowed with an amplitude of Germanic charms, both before and behind.

In other words, bag the face, but she had tits and ass.  The book surprised me on a regular basis with stuff like that, and I’m sure I raised a few eyebrows sitting by myself and snorting with laughter.  I only got to page 43 before vacation ended, but I will keep going, as I’ve got a renewed affection for reading a book rather than reading a Huffington Post article or a Buzzfeed list.

8.  Karaoke is hard.  No need to go into the sad, ugly details of that one.

9.  It was fun, fun, FUN having my niece, Katie, and her friend, Danielle onboard the ship with us!  (They had tickets – we didn’t smuggle them.)

10.  Most of the ship’s talent was extremely entertaining and skilled.  For example, one of the show nights had music by the decades, and the duo who sang “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” brought tears to my eyes, literally.  However, some of the ship’s performers lip-synced, which I found distracting and annoying.  And on a show night featuring Broadway music, I wanted to strangle whoever decided it was a good idea to change the time signatures of “A Boy Like That” from West Side Story.  Don’t – DO NOT – mess with Bernstein’s time signatures, is that understood?  Gah.

11.  I break the rules when my kids aren’t around.  One of the days in Bermuda Dave took them snorkeling, and I went to St. George to further geek out on history.  I walked all around by myself, taking in the whipping posts from the 1800s

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and brick-lined streets, and ended up at the Unfinished Church at the top of a hill.  They began building it in 1874, and abandoned it when they ran out of money.  Anywho, there was a flimsy sign that told me not to enter,

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but this other chick found a way in,

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and her cab driver seemed unconcerned,

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so, naturally, when she left I decided I couldn’t go back to the boat without trying to get inside this place, either.  I slunked around the outside of the church, and finding this weak point that would allow entry, I began to climb.

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I got a few scrapes, and landed a little harder than I would have liked, but I got in!  (Through the window behind me in the picture!)

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It was pretty.

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It was harder to get out than to get in, but I managed to climb up that gate a few pictures up and squeeze over the top.  And now I can say I’ve trespassed in a church.  Awwwww, yeah!

12.  Showers can be perplexing.  Picture a triangle 2′ x 2′ x whatever length that makes the 3rd side.  Then picture one of those shower heads at the end of a hose, propped up in a flimsy clip that was just a leeeeeeeettle too big for the hose.  Then picture it without warning popping out of that clip and flying (water on full-blast) all over the shower stall like a balloon with the air just let out of it.  That may have happened to me.  I cracked the code around 5 days into the cruise on how to keep it in the clip, but I still kept turning around to check it so it would know I was keeping my eye on it.  Also, picture, if you will, the act of shaving one’s legs in such a shower.  Somewhat akin to Ralph Maccio in The Karate Kid.  Only with a razor in one hand and a shower head whizzing all around you because it has popped out of its clip.

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(photo courtesy of http://www.myfoggybrain.com)

13.  I am totally going on another cruise.  The family was dreamy, the downtime was downtime, and the water was so, so blue.

 

A Fork in the Grass

May 16, 2013 § 12 Comments

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The following is a conversation that really took place last week, with no embellishment on my part.  Allow me to set the scene:

Nicky’s baseball game.  Sunny, beautiful, breezy Sunday afternoon.  I was sitting next to our friend, Glen* – our boys have played baseball together for the last few years, and even though he comments on the articles I put on fb without reading them, I still let him be friends with me, because I’m cool like that.

Anyhow, I had brought a salad with me to the game – one I purchased at Panera Bread.  I was about to eat said salad, when I accidentally dropped the fork onto the grass.  I picked it up quickly, considered it, then stated the following:

Me:  Oh, well.

Glen*:  What?

Me:  I probably have another fork in the car.

Glen*:  You’re throwing that one away?  Why?

Me:  Because it fell on the grass.

Glen*:  Are you kidding me?

I was about to explain that yeah, I don’t know if a dog had peed there, pesticides, bottoms of people’s shoes, etc., etc., etc.  Before I had the chance,

Glen*:  Are you KIDDING me???  Do you have any idea where that FORK has been?

Me:  *blank stare*

Glen*:  You’re gonna throw that fork away because it touched a little grass?  That fork is made outta petroleum.    It’s made of OIL.  It’s PLASTIC.  They pulled the oil from the ground to make that fork!

Me:  um…

Glen*:  Do you have any idea how many CHEMICALS are in that fork you were about to PUT INTO YOUR MOUTH?  You know how many hands probably have touched that fork you were about to put into your mouth?

Me:  I…uh…I guess not…

Glen*:  And you were gonna throw it away because it touched a few blades of GRASS for a FRACTION OF A SECOND???????

Me:  *starting to eat my salad with that same fork*

About 5 minutes of silence go by as I eat my salad, though I was admittedly a little less hungry as a result of this conversation.

Then, Glen* reaches down and pulls up some grass and tosses it to the side.

Me:  What did you do that for?

Glen*:  That grass was no good anymore.  The fork touched it.

*I changed Glenn’s name from “Glenn” to “Glen” to protect his identity and privacy.

Happy Mother’s Day!

May 11, 2013 § 12 Comments

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Here’s why I love this comic strip very much.

One might read this and think its creators are saying, “Damn teenagers.  They have no vocabulary.  They never talk to us.  They never TELL us anything.”

I see something completely different in this comic strip.

1.  Teenagers are moody.

2.  Teenagers have trouble figuring out what’s bothering them.

3.  Even if they know what’s bothering them, they have trouble articulating it.

4.  Parents should keep their questions simple.  Like, “Trouble?”

5.  Teenagers still need shoulders and hugs, even if their arms hang limp at their sides when their heads are on your shoulder while you’re hugging them.

6.  Teenagers still need their parents to say “Poor Baby,” sometimes.

7.  What parents think is the start of a conversation is often what the teenager thinks is the end of one.

8.  Parents need to do less than they think to be of help to their kids.  I mean, look at this comic.  All the mom says is, “Trouble?”  and  “Poor Baby,” and the teen is smiling and eating an apple again.

9.  As with so many things in life, less is more.

10.  I need to join a chapter of Overanalyzers Anonymous.

11.  Teenagers need their parents.  And so do certain 43-year-olds who live in Baltimore.

Have a beautiful and easy Mother’s Day, from everyone here at The Worthington Pos!t (*cough* okay, it’s just me – I’m the only one here *cough*)

Lost In Suburbia – Book Review*

April 15, 2013 § 9 Comments

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Lost in Suburbia – A Momoir contradicts itself right there in the subtitle.  How I Got Pregnant, Lost Myself, and Got My Cool Back in the New Jersey Suburbs.  Apart from being a mouthful, everyone knows it’s practically impossible to get your cool back in the Jersey suburbs.  Of course, I had to read.  Let me tell you, Tracy not only achieves “cool,”  she attracts “cool.”  She discovers it’s possible to be cool AND live in New Jersey, and she makes it clear that truly, wherever you live, being honest with yourself and having a sense of humor automatically defines you as cool.

Tracy lived in Manhattan, was a TV exec, and based much of her identity on how cool that was.  She remained cool as she met her future husband and married him.  Then she became pregnant, and as most of us know, the downward spiral from coolness happens quickly.  Especially 20 years ago, when, as Tracy accurately surmises, “I think all maternity clothes were made by Garanimals.” Humor like this takes us through her pregnancy, the baby’s birth, and the dreaded bris.  For those Jewish mothers intending to have a bris for their boys, heed her advice in the chapter aptly titled, “Why You Shouldn’t Let your Mohel Take The Red-eye To The Bris.”  (The Mohel, pronounced “moy-el”, is the person who performs the circumcision.) She
explains that a Mohel can either be a doctor with some rabbinic training, or a Rabbi with some doctor training.  She chose the former, since “If the guy was going to make a mistake, I preferred he screw up on the Hebrew rather than the surgery.”  With that, we know she has her priorities straight.

She follows the arc so many of us do, which is to say, her family outgrows their tiny space in the city, needs more room, resigns themselves (after kicking and screaming) to the suburbs, and struggles with identity post-kids.  What she does differently is write about it in such a way that I was snorting with laughter through every chapter, while relating to her experiences, and being caught off-guard by the perfectly-timed moments of poignancy when they happened.  At one point, after having gone back to work post-baby, she came home at lunch time to discover her nanny (and a few other nannies) laughing, eating chinese food and watching tv while  her baby (and a few other babies) were playing happily and contentedly nearby.  She runs to the bedroom and calls her husband to tell him how unhappy she is.  “‘I thought I wanted to go back to work, but I hate my job and I miss our son and the nanny is having a better time than I am,’ I cried.”  I was so moved by this, and I have never had a nanny, nor did I go back to work post-kids.  That’s part of what makes her book so unusual.  You don’t have to even come close to having had the same experience as Tracy in order to feel exactly what she feels in long-distance sympathy and understanding.  It is SO relatable.

Hilarious moments (who hasn’t been stopped by a cop while in her ducky bathrobe, or ignored the Board of Health warning on a restaurant’s door, or interviewed the Chief of Police with a pair of thong underwear stuck to our shirt?) and personalities (everyone has a “Peanut-Free Cheryl” in their lives) make this so much fun to read, as do the moments of epiphany, such as one that comes when she is struggling to find “her people” among the New Moms set.  Thinking she could be friends with anyone else who had kids the same age as hers failed miserably.  She realized “Women who were annoying, narcissistic, shallow, or just plain boring before they had kids were still that way after they had them.”  She conveys how hard isolating motherhood can be, but figures out a way back to find friends, a new career, and her cool.  Though it’s my humble opinion that her cool was evident even when she thought it wasn’t.

On a serious note, one thing I absolutes LOVED in this book is the portrait she painted of her husband and her marriage.  It’s never overtly stated, but from the way she writes about their interactions, they are so clearly best friends and have so much respect and love for each other, it made me wish I lived in New Jersey so we could double-date.  Okay, maybe that’s going too far.  But I at least wished they lived in Baltimore.

*DISCLAIMER:
1.  I received the book I’m reviewing here for free from the publisher.
2.  I won another copy of the book in a Twitter Party.  I’d make it a giveaway here, but I have no idea how to do that legally, and I’m lazy, so I’m just going to give it to my sister.
3.  All opinions are my own, but are heavily influenced by how much coffee I have drunk.
4.  I get no compensation for writing this review, except for the hope that if I ever get my sh*t together enough to write my own book, Tracy might consider writing a back-cover blurb for it, and possibly introduce me to Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess.

You can get your copy of Lost in Suburbia: A Momoir at this Amazon link.

You say “Aphasia,” I say “Tomahto.”

March 16, 2013 § 3 Comments

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I like to think I’m a hands-on parent.  Somewhere between absent and hovering.  In an attempt to “participate” in my children’s “upbringing,”  I will sometimes look over their shoulder to see what they’re listening to/watching on their various devices.  Shockingly, the 16-year-old and the 14-year-old find this annoying.  The 9-year-old, however, STILL LOVES ME, and willingly participates in conversations with me.

So, it comes to pass that Leo’s at the table, headphones in, eyes glued to iPod screen.  I stealthily (not really) come up behind him to see what’s on the screen.  A wave of relief washes over me as I see that it is an episode of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” and not “Drake and Josh.”  (There are few things I hate more than “Drake and Josh.”  Like, we’re talking with the fire and heat of a thousand suns.  Now that he had the iPod he was able to watch it without my having to hold it together through even 45 seconds of that show.  But I digress…)

I watched a minute or so of the DSN episode over his shoulder, without the benefit of sound.  The main characters all looked tired, worn, and annoyed.

I said, loudly enough to be heard over his headphones, “Boy, they sure look tired!”  (I can’t BELIEVE the teenagers don’t find my conversation skills thrilling.)

He said, “No, mom, they’re not tired.”

“Oh,” I said.  “They sure look annoyed, though!”

Sweet boy that he is, he paused the show, took out his headphones, and excitedly explained the plot line to me.

“They all have aphasia, mom!  It’s this problem when you know words and language, but when you try to say them, DIFFERENT words come out.  They’re all gonna die unless they can figure out how to communicate!”

“That’s a really cool plot,” I said.  What I was thinking, though, was “Did my f*cking NINE-year-old just competently explain aphasia to me?”  Then I dug back, with fond memories, to when my parents taught me what aphasia was…waaaaaaay back.  Two WHOLE WEEKS back, when they explained the condition to me because one of their close friends had a stroke and suffers from it now.  I was all of 43 years old.  Isn’t that sweet?

Still, I picked up what remained of my authority on the matter, and he went back to watching.  Then he paused the show again and asked, “What causes aphasia?”  Yay!  Now’s my chance to sound knowledgeable!

“Well, Sweetie, Grandma and Grandpa have a friend with aphasia, and his was caused by a stroke.”  There.

“What else causes it?”

“Uh…um…some other illnesses, I’m sure – or maybe a virus or bacteria…or maybe the brain isn’t…WHY DON’T WE JUST LOOK IT UP???”  I forced a smile and went to the laptop.

“How do you spell it?”

“E-P-H…” I started…but then I had to correct myself, as according to the computer (know-it-all) it was spelled with an “A.”

“A-P-H-A-S-I-A.”  We were directed to this site, Medical News Today, which had an in-depth explanation and examples.  I scrolled down to look for the causes, and he stopped me – “Wait!  I’m still reading!”

“Sorry,” I said.  Sorry I scrolled too fast while you were READING AND UNDERSTANDING the differences between “Global Aphasia,” “Fluent Aphasia” and “Non-fluent Aphasia.”  Sorry.  Good lord.

Then he gave the all clear to scroll down to the causes of aphasia:

That last one wasn’t really listed on the website as a cause.  But, I could make a damn good argument that it should have been.

Brave New World of Parenting

February 19, 2013 § 34 Comments

I am so proud of my kids.  Most people are proud of their kids, but this week, I feel especially proud.

My husband and I did something very scary this weekend.  We left the kids home by themselves overnight.  It was my daughter’s idea.

Now, those of you who have declared us delusional and insane, please allow me to explain how this situation evolved.

My parents, incredibly generous souls that they are, have in the last few years taken a new approach to birthdays and anniversaries.  Once a year, between my sister’s birthday and mine, they treat us and our husbands to dinner and tickets to a Broadway show.  This covers all four of our birthdays and our two anniversaries.  It is a real treat for us, as we sisters and our men are really never able to double date – just the grown-ups.  They live in New York, we’re in Baltimore, and when visits happen, they’re entire-family-style.

This year, my daughter launched a gentle protest.  She has a job, likes to sleep late in her own bed on the weekends, and didn’t feel like being schlepped up to NY so her parents and aunt and uncle could go out.  She’s 16, one of our sons is 14, and the other son is 9.  They all love seeing their NY family, but she was angling to stay home.

“I’d arrange all my rides myself – to and from work.  If I made any plans, I would take care of finding transportation.  You wouldn’t have to worry about any of it.”  Ya know, except for the worrying about it that I ‘d normally do if I was 200 miles away.  Older son is catching wind of this, and starting to like the idea.  I mean, if his sister wasn’t going, maybe he could stay home, too – he won’t admit it, but he likes family visits more when she’s around.  Then came the potential clincher.  “Think about it – we could take care of Leo (9YO) and you guys could have a grown-up weekend without the kids!”  Oooooooh, she’s a sly one, she is.

We said we’d think about it.  We mulled.  We discussed.  We asked Leo if he would rather come with us or stay home if the big kids were allowed to stay home.  He said he’d rather stay home.  Truthfully, we felt if Leo stayed home, there were actually FEWER chances of irresponsible behavior on the part of the older kids.  They really adore him and take great care of him if we’re not around.  I consulted my parents about this potential arrangement.  My father would give Emma the keys to a new Lexus if he could, but my mother is a little more reserved in what she thinks is okay to allow the kids to do.  So, when SHE said she thought with the right preparation and precautions, it would be fine, I exhaled and the deal was done.  “But I want TO GET CREDIT for this, got it???  Your kids OWE ME.”  “I promise, Mom, they will know of your part in this,” I assured her.

We prepared them ad nauseum.  We put safety nets in place.  We established simple and hard and fast rules, like the boyfriend couldn’t come over after work, the garage door had to stay closed, no candles, GPS on their phones must be ON at all times, no word of it on any social media, etc.  We enlisted a few of our neighbors and a close friend to keep their cell phones on in the event of a medical or safety emergency.  We advised the neighbors to keep their eyes and ears open for smoke, parties, roaming zoo animals, anything that might seem out of place in our tiny neighborhood with houses very close to one another.  They agreed, and even spoke some encouraging words about how mature our kids were, and they weren’t worried.

So, after breakfast hugs and squeezes and warnings and copies of instructions and phone numbers strategically placed in practically EVERY ROOM OF THE HOUSE, Dave and I got into the car and drove off.  We couldn’t believe it.  We were really at the stage where we could go away for a night?  Birds chirped, holding the ends of rainbows in their beaks, leading the entire way up the New Jersey Turnpike.  We didn’t even double to check to see if the kids were with us when we left the rest stop.  We were pretty okay with this, despite the slight, nagging fear that the house would look like this when we came home:

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We made random contact with the kiddos a couple of times, knew Emma got safely to work and back, texted with Nicky about the pancakes he was making Leo for dinner, and knew when they were all home for the night.  My parents even joined us for dinner, so it was a rare TRIPLE date.  I don’t think that has happened for 17 years.  After dinner, we saw “Book of Mormon” and laughed and laughed.  Spoke to the kids in the morning, grabbed bagels and took off for home.

It worked!  We pulled it off!  The kids pulled it off!  They were fine, didn’t miss us, and barely noticed when we walked through the door.  They noticed the Brooklyn bagels we left on the counter, but otherwise, it was as if we never left.  We congratulated ourselves, and patted the kids on the back for being so mature, responsible, and trustworthy.  They’re growing up.  So are we.

(P.S. Then later that night I got into bed at midnight and got a text from Emma saying she needed a ride home from a party that was being busted up by the cops and she was cooperating with the cops but she couldn’t leave until they spoke to me and when I got there and she blew zeros on the breathalyzer they let her go and I told her ass she was lucky she didn’t get a citation and we gave her a painful lecture at 1 a.m. and then I got into bed at 2 am and then at 3:30 am Leo came into our room and threw up.  The end.)

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