The Life and Times of Poopwa Foley

Archive for July 2011

The timing could not be more perfect.  We are a hairsbreadth away from paying off our primary car and getting out from under the crushing burden of a car payment.  Financial freedom, right?  Nope, now we need to get a new secondary car.  It always works that way, doesn’t it?  Get one thing paid off, another payment pops up to take its place…like a whack a mole, but in dollars. 
We are looking at small cars for me to replace my rusty, trusty Honda Accord.  I’m sure it will stay in the family, but after teaching three kids how to drive in it, it’s pretty much run its course…not to mention all those mysterious dings, dents, and scratches that seem to go hand in hand with teenage drivers.  In their defense, though, it’s old enough that perhaps one of those dings or dents is from actually hitting a dinosaur. 
It’s a picture perfect old car, with rust around the wheel wells, a radio that quit working two years ago, and a high pitched squeal from time to time, like a hamster is caught in the engine.  (I checked.  There’s not.)  There are cigarette burns everywhere, which is really hard to imagine because I, the owner of the car, quit smoking 12 years ago.  (when confronted, my then teenage son comes up with some whoppers, such as “a truck driver threw his cigarette out the window and it landed in the car.”  Really.  Really?  That is the best you can come up with?  Come to think of it, perhaps the burns are from the asteroid that killed said dinosaurs. 
My husband and I are having a delicious time deciding what and where to buy.  Nothing too big, such as the Lincoln Townsquare, but nothing too small, such as the Toyota Speck.  We have a real life and need a functional small car, because we buy groceries, have a big black lab to take for shots, and family to chauffer around from time to time. 
Meanwhile, I am daydreaming of what it will be like to have a car no teens will ever drive.  The seats will stay clean and be positioned just like I left them, the radio won’t ever be turned to a scream-o station loudly (which has in the past, caused yours truly to startle and spill precious morning coffee upon starting it up) and any dings, dents, or scratches will be my doing.  Or more likely the doing of some frenzied dork with a cart in the parking lot. 
Plus, I have had this car for nine years.  Nine.  Long.  Years.  We both work, right?  We deserve to have a pretty little car that can go through a car wash without losing large pieces of rusty Honda from the sides, or have the weather stripping peel off the roof of the car, only to have it flap down loudly on the windshield as I drove from the gas station.  Embarrassing but true.     
Stay tuned, the Great Car Search begins soon…subtitled OMG, that’s per MONTH??

For my husband, living in a house with three women must have its advantages.  Sure it does.  For instance, good smells wafting through the air most of the time.  It could be from his wife’s amazing culinary talent in the kitchen (snicker), or perhaps the candles we’re constantly lighting (and occasionally forgetting to blow out).  Maybe it’s the dainty feminine clouds of perfume emanating from bedrooms or even various cleaning supplies we use, guaranteed to turn your house into a “country lane” or “apple orchard”, and also, um, well…
Ok, the advantages just may stop there.  Three women in the same house?  It’s a special kind of hell.
He was wise to us almost from the beginning, though, almost seven years ago, having grown up in the same house as three sisters.  (Refer to the famous concerto, a piano piece entitled “Joe Has Three Sisters” plinked out in A minor.)  He’s experienced with the “feminine way”; he had to be to survive.  He’s smart…knows how more than one woman in the house can lead to the following events. 
a) Snarky comments, ranging from the phony, ostensibly helpful, “oh, you must not have had time to do your hair.” to the far more dramatic, going-for-the-jugular serious, such as “imagine…you have $20 yet I’m missing $20.  Hmmmm.”
b) Women all “cycling” together, resulting in a noxious black cloud, visible from space, hanging over just our house approximately once a month.
c) Interminably long waits for the bathroom, even though we have two.
d) his shaving cream and shavers mysteriously disappearing and magically reappearing in the bathtub.
He has handled it with aplomb and grace for the four years we’ve been married, even if he has had to stop for a beer from time to time after work to mentally gird his loins for the insanity surely awaiting him at home.
Such as, you ask? 
Well, mostly (meaning never) it’s actually calm around our house.  That is, if the dog isn’t chewing up something important or having horrifying bathroom accidents in unlikely, hard to reach places.  Or if the girls are sniping at each other.  Or I am sniping at them…or the dog, or the husband, or the son.  Sometimes the sniping results in me tearfully hiding out in our bedroom all night in the dark, armed with a cell phone, a flashlight, and a container of Betty Crocker frosting, reading articles on weight loss and snarling at anyone who dares crack open the door.  (wait, did I say frosting?  I meant carrot sticks.)
It’s pretty well known by anyone with girls (let’s say, oh, 18 and 20 years old) living at home that mostly, they’re picking on each other.  It’s guaranteed.  Yet, if needed, they will gang up and turn on their parents faster than a snake in a skirt.  That, too, is guaranteed.  If there should ever be a time when everyone is in perfect harmony that is when I will run to the medicine cabinet and check the level in the Nyquil bottle.  Again.
Luckily, I married a man with many wonderful attributes that seem to be greatly contributing to his longevity, most notably a high tolerance for “crazy-psychotic-woman” behavior, an incredible sense or humor, when to give good advice and/or maintain a lip-biting diplomatic silence…but mostly an uncanny sense of when to just quietly, sympathetically pour two Southern Comforts over ice.
I’m sure it was not an easy decision for him to marry someone with three older children but I, for one, am so glad he made the decision to take the chance and dive headlong into a ready-made family, especially after being carefree and single for so long. 
Even if our recycling bin has lots of empty frosting containers but there are no cakes in the kitchen.
(Here’s to you, Bear.  Happy Anniversary!)
Below you will find a copy of the true essay I had published in the anthology “Red Silk”, put out by Womanspace of Rockford, IL.
“Ask, and ye shall receive.”
Five simple little words.  Yet, if used properly, you will find that although both small and simple, those words are powerful.
I have always been a reader.  Growing up, I was attracted to books and the world they allow you to inhabit.  Summers when I was out of school, I would ride my bike up to the public library, where I would while away the long afternoons in the cool quiet library basement, reading biographies of famous people, spiders who spin webs describing fantastic pigs, and wrinkles in time.   My vocabulary grew and grew, as did my imagination.
A fun writing assignment on parodies I turned in for an English class in high school turned out to be an example the teacher couldn’t wait to read in front of the class…and the attention I received…well, let’s just say I was hooked.  Validated.  I could write.
As I grew older, my tastes changed and I began reading more grown up fiction; romance novels, mystery, and terrifying novels about things that go bump in the night.
I also began journaling.  I have been keeping a journal and writing down dreams (both awake and asleep) since I was 15 years old.  As I grew older, it became less a dream journal and more an outline of what was going on in my young life; what I wanted, what was happening in my life, all my dreams and fears, doubts and triumphs.
A few years later, I was a single, overwhelmed mother of three; I still journaled.
It was a time when I was unhappy, lonely, self conscious and a complete nervous nelly.     However, I loved the freedom of being able to take out my frustrations of daily life safely, secretly in pen and paper, whenever I needed to 
I also began a wish list.  Before anything like “the Secret” became popular, I remember toying around, drinking a cup of coffee, making a list of attributes of my dream man.  I was extremely detailed, (must like children, must be kind, must be funny, and must like fishing…) right down to having him be a great kisser.  This “man” list wasn’t my only one; by far…I had lists of things I needed to do around the house, ways to lose weight, ways to make money…lots of other things filled this journal but my dream man list was fairly memorable, and I reread it often, sometimes adding and subtracting attributes.
A few years later, I was given a book to read that outlined exactly how to ask for everything you could possibly want.  Like a brand new computer.  A new freezer.  A car.  The perfect weight for your body.   The perfect man.
Just write it down, trust that you will get it, let it out into the universe, and close your notebook.
I did this, rather tongue in cheek, and filled several notebooks.  Couldn’t hurt, right?
Actually, no.  It didn’t hurt at all.  As a matter of fact, one afternoon I went to pick up some Market Day at the elementary school.  To my utter shock, my name was listed as the winner of a brand new freezer.
A guardian angel of a loan officer helped me buy an adorable green Honda that my sister had for sale.  Nine years later, it’s still adorable…but a little rusty.
I applied for a $1000 grant to buy a computer to help with college schoolwork.  I didn’t win the scholarship, but received a phone call informing me that although I didn’t win, my application had been taken to heart by the woman running the contest.  Within two weeks I received a brand new Gateway computer/printer/monitor.  For free.  (Thank you, Linda Lael Miller.)  It should be noted that my computer was the exact same Gateway computer setup that I had written down in my journal…right down to the color and brand name. 
I found a diet that worked for me, and the time/motivation to exercise.  I lost 65 pounds, reaching a good weight for my body type.
It could be argued that all of these really, really good things happened because I wrote them down, because some magic happened; that I asked for them in such a way that the universe was obligated to answer.
It could also be argued that writing those things down not only released into the universe that I wanted them…but ALSO released into the universe the idea that I finally thought I deserved them.  That in the end, even if it was subconscious, I finally realized in some way that the only thing standing in the way of getting those things was ME.  If I placed value on myself and what I wanted, I got it.  What a revelation.
I grew from a timid, shy, overweight single mother into a confident, slimmer, better version of myself, all due to the power of writing, of valuing myself and what I wanted.
Whether or not writing down your wishes and dreams puts everything into motion, it certainly does open a portal.  Seeing the written word is powerful.  Opening your journal and seeing what you have asked for, over and over, reinforces in your head that what you’re asking for is not only valid and attainable, but also a foregone conclusion.
As you can see in my situation, I had several examples where my writing was powerful enough to me that it manifested things I wanted.  
And that list of attributes I wanted in my perfect man?  I met my husband Joe on eHarmony.  Wouldn’t you know it; he met almost every single one of my detailed requests…the lone exception being he doesn’t like to fish.  In the scope of things, this is an extremely minor detail.
What I still find even more amazing is that I had written it down, asked for it, put it away, and just trusted that eventually I’d find my perfect guy.  And I did.   
We were in California, land of sunshine and surfing.  The weather was as close to heaven as it gets, with a turquoise sky blessedly free from clouds, warm, friendly sun, and to top it off, enough of a little breeze to help you from being too hot. 
In short, perfect.
For people like me and my husband, it was a huge treat.  We love to bask in the sun.  We were there for our niece’s wedding, and if a little sun-kissed skin was the by product, so much the better.
In preparation for attending the actual wedding ceremony, we had packed our “good clothes” meaning a suit coat & tie for my husband and a shimmery blue/black dress for me.
I had been in love with that dress ever since I tried it on at Dress Barn.  (And you Dress Barn people?  The name of your store frankly sucks.  Barn?  Really?  Really??)
But back to my dress, which was light and floaty, and twirled out nicely for all the dancing I would surely do.  After all, I had a beautiful, sparkly, twirly dress!
The wedding evening arrived and I donned the dress, but first put on a black v-neck full slip.  My friend would term that a “sucker-inner”.    Something ominous niggled in the back of my mind about that slip, but I shrugged it off.
Dressed in my finery, I went to do my makeup and to my horror, realized that the careful sunscreen application to my face had resulted in perfectly protected skin, with the glaring exception of where my hands didn’t quite meet on my forehead, resulting in a deep red V directly under my hairline.  It was a crimson widow’s peak, under my ACTUAL widow’s peak.
I stared at it, aghast.  It was the shape of an upside down parking cone, and to me, was just as big.  A sunburned chest, shoulders, or back I could hide.  Actually, pretty much any other area of my body that was sunburned I could cover, but this was on my face, for crying out loud.
Makeup didn’t come close to covering it, unless of course I caked on some clown whiteface and went as a new cast member of Twilight.
I ended up leaving it alone, and instead of the Twilight cast I looked more like a member of the Star Trek fleet.  Captain Kirk would have been proud.  I sighed.  So be it.  We left for the reception.
Everything about the wedding reception was elegant.  After dinner people started to dance and I couldn’t wait to join them.  However, Mother Nature had given me a lovely parting gift at O’Hare Airport right before arriving in California.  Shaking my groove thing was not only unpractical, it was bordering on dangerous.
Making matters much, much worse was the fact that I figured out within the first hour what it was I needed to remember about that slip.
Quite simply, it was the slip from hell.  It had a mind of its own and would mysteriously and quickly twist itself off kilter so that the seams were running uncomfortably down my front and back, instead of on my sides.  Did I mention that it also crept up until my knee length slip turned in a “no” length slip?  Bottom line:  it was twisted and bunched around my waist, even when I was sitting COMPLETELY STILL.
I was in the ladies’ every fifteen minutes straightening it, tugging it down and back into place.
What had started as my selfish dream of wearing a lovely, twirly, sparkly, floaty dress and surely wowing people on the dance floor with my sweet dance moves turned into a fashion nightmare, as I was constantly either straightening my slip or pulling my bangs down further over my forehead. 
I mentioned my distress to my husband, who helpfully told me that maybe the slip was trying to actually get up high enough to cover my forehead.  
It wasn’t helpful.
It was a highly emotional week for me already…trying to keep travel plans in order, fulfilling family obligations, staying cheerful, and missing my kids dreadfully, although I am relatively certain THAT feeling was mostly one sided.
To have these two fashion faux pas (s) happen simultaneously was really cosmically unfair.
In retrospect, I can say with certainty that absolutely no one else (besides my long-suffering husband and now you, dear reader) noticed the traffic light on my face or the fact that my slip was trying to go back to Illinois without me.  My fashion 911 went virtually unnoticed by all, and somehow, miraculously, the reception continued on just fine.
However, we recently got the pictures back from our trip and while I thought the dress was at least SOMEWHAT flattering while looking in a mirror, it did not look like that in the pictures.  At all.  It more resembled a silky blue boat cover.
My husband looked at the pictures and diplomatically said that it was the dress that didn’t photograph well.  Bless him.
My sister helpfully told me that no one in our family takes a flattering picture from that angle.  Hm.
And I just nod and smile, because they don’t know what I do.  The black slip that caused me so much distress was unceremoniously left in the garbage can at the hotel room in California. 
However, I believe it’s seeking revenge.  It must have escaped, made it back to Illinois, and ended up at the same Walgreens that developed these pictures.  There can be no other explanation for the “epic fail” that was my party dress.

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  • Mary Fran Says: Thank you for contributing to Sweeps Week! We make a great team. Maybe we'll collaborate in our next lives? SISTERS! lol :)
  • Mary Fran Says: What's better than a Baby Shower aka Early Baby Birthday Party? Baby's FIRST Birthday Party! (Although it's hard to call them "baby" by one! They grow
  • Ann Jones: I'll have to check it out, thanks for the heads up!