Laments About My Family

Inheritance Guilt

Much Too Much of a Good Thing

inheritance guilt fine china overload

Do you suffer from inheritance guilt? It’s a problem many of us middle-aged baby boomers face. Your parents pass on and you inherit all their “stuff.” Are you grateful or do you buckle under the weight of unwanted material overload and guilt?

Nowadays, more and more of us fall into the suffering and lamenting category. One friend of mine cannot wait to dispose of her mother’s mink coat. Another hates her mother’s bright orange, fish-patterned ceramic platter. For me, the cause of distress – fine china.

And while it’s all well and good to lament, on a practical basis, what do you do when when you have too much of a good thing or even too much of a bad, but deeply sentimental object? Read more

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We Don’t Have a Special Song

Can the Marriage be Saved?

CD search for our special song

Something was lacking in our marriage and I hadn’t even realized it. Then it hit me. We don’t have a special song. Now I worry. Can the marriage be saved? Read more

Scratchy Sheets and Thread Counts

We're Having Trouble Under the Covers

unhappy couple peering out from under marriage sheets

Early in our marriage, my husband and I kept track of who owed whom what. We kept itemized sheets for most everything, but most of all, we counted movies. I liked foreign films, preferably with subtitles. He liked, no, loved, action films, preferably with lots of blood.

Usually it was a zero-sum game. One foreign film for one action flick. If the foreign film was so boring that even I had to admit it was boring, I had to pay up with two action films in a row. If the bloody action film was so violent that even Handsome Hubby (HH) had to look away, I’d get two foreign flicks as recompense.

Then, at some point through the many years and the many movies, the system broke down. We stopped counting. As long as there was good popcorn and the seats were comfortable, we were a happy movie-going couple. No give and take required. A natural film equilibrium had been achieved. We both took this as a sign of middle-aged marital bliss and contentment.

The Battle of the Bed

But, of late, a new source of counting has creased our otherwise happy marital countenance. We’re having trouble in the bedroom, more specifically in bed. Read more

Everybody’s a Critic

Feedback Bites Back

Critic taking and giving stars

It used to be that criticism belonged to the ranks of five classes of people – professional critics, impartial consumer product reviewers, your mother, your best girlfriend, and your in-laws.

Now, thanks to the Internet, everybody’s a critic. Everybody with a bone to pick — informed or terribly ill-informed — is a critic.

You can ding short-staffed restaurants, struggling retailers, and barely-managing masseurs on Yelp; you can demolish drivers on Uber and Lyft, and you can anonymously trash-talk people on all sorts of social media websites. It’s a scary Internet world.

For a long time, I ignored casual “citizen” reviewers. If I wanted to know what somebody thought, I wanted to know what somebody-in-the-know knew and opined. If I needed a theater or a movie review, I opened The New York Times Arts and Book Review sections. If I needed a new toaster or vacuum cleaner, I turned to Consumer Reports.

If I needed confirmation that my husband was an insensitive clod, I asked my mother (although she generally sided with my husband). If I thought I looked fat, I’d ask my girlfriend for a hasty assurance that I was mistaken.

But now I know that everything is reviewed online, even you, even me! Read more

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Hawaii Va-cay. Hawaii Dismay.

Or How I Wish I Spent My Summer Vacation

Hawaii vacation spot: White sandy shore with calm waves

Dear Middle-Aged Muddlers,

I hate to complain, but I just got back from my so-called vacation and I cannot tell you how much I wish I had followed my instincts and opted for that restful, peaceful stay-cation I so dreamed of.

As you may recall, Handsome Hubby (HH) had invited me to join him on a business trip to Hawaii. I was reluctant, but you know me, always the good wife. So, off I went.

“Oh, Hawaii. How fun,” enthused everyone I told about the upcoming trip to our nation’s 50th state. “Wait – you’re not excited?”

“Nope, not a bit,” I’d politely replied. “I’m more a desert rat than a sea and sand fan.”

I understand that the idea of a Hawaiian getaway sounds great to most people, but I’m from Las Vegas. My idea of a watery retreat is a mega-resort and swimming pool, lightly chlorinated, with me floating on a pink raft with a Diet Coke in the drink holder.

As for the ocean? I don’t snorkel. I don’t scuba dive. I don’t surf. I’m afraid of the water. Of rip tides. Strong tides. Big waves. Any waves.

I’m scared of sharks, jellyfish, sting rays, even random tiny fish that swim by. I don’t like sand in my swim suit and I hate the stink of salt water in my eyes and its taste in my mouth.

Then, there’s the chubby-thigh issue and the extended walk of shame from the unfurled beach towel to the water’s concealing, albeit treacherous, waves. No itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini for me. No way.

In short, I was apprehensive about a vacation to Hawaii. It turned out, I was right – but not for any of the aforementioned reasons. Read more

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Guess Who’s Not Coming to Dinner?

My Husband Threw a Dinner Party, but I Wasn't Invited

Guess Whos Coming to Dinner

“Honey, do you mind if we host a dinner fundraiser at the house for XYZ solar energy non-profit organization next month?” queried Handsome Hubby (HH).

“Of course not, darling,” I devotedly replied. “My casa es tú casa,” I oh-so-wittily added.

“You won’t have to do anything,” he assured me. “It will all be catered and the organization’s staff will be on hand to handle anything that comes up.”

“Of course, darling.”

Pearl Mesta, Smesta

Of late, we have become quite the Pearl and whatever Pearl Mesta’s husband’s name was of hosting events at our home. Our home isn’t large. We can only do gatherings of 40-ish folks for receptions and buffet dinners or just 16-18 for sit-down dinners, but still, we throw a pretty good “do” – if I do say so myself.

As the days ticked down for the solar fête, my husband looked a bit worried.

“Problems with the dinner caterer?” I asked.

“Noooo” came the hesitant reply.

“Unexpected conflict on your calendar? If so, no worries. I can host solo if need be,” I graciously offered.

He got a strange, stricken look on his face. Read more

Microwave Maladies and Magic

Early one morning our microwave broke. I ordered a new one. A delivery date and time for installation was set and that was that. No big deal, at least not for me, but for others, life without a microwave was a challenge. Read more

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Croissants vs. Kisses

I had gotten up early to prepare croissants for my Barnard College book club meeting. I baked, I dressed and was heading out the door, just when the gardener showed up, an hour earlier than expected.

The night before I had given Handsome Hubby (HH) a list of “to do” tasks to review with the gardener. HH had dutifully set his alarm for the expected arrival time. Yet, here was the gardener 60 minutes ahead of schedule and I needed to leave. What to do? I woke HH, who zombie-like lumbered out of bed.

Back in the car, I buckled my seat belt, adjusted the mirror and opened the garage door. I was inching the car out of the garage when I looked up. There was HH gesturing wildly for me to wait.

“Yes?” I expectantly and lovingly asked, opening the car window as he rushed to the side of the car.

Read more

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I Embarrass My Husband

The Subject is Flowers

I embarrass my husband. It’s true, I do.

It’s not my weight. My table manners. My political opinions or even my high-pitched snorting laugh. It’s gotten to the point he won’t be seen in public with me – or to be more precise – he won’t go for walks with me.

The path I take, he takes no more.

Read more

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Your Dessert or Mine

Caloric Choices Create Marital Mayhem!

In the old days, my husband and I disagreed about desert vs. mountain locales, city vs. more pastoral settings. Should we live in Las Vegas or Reno? Nevada or New York City or at least Washington, D.C.? Somehow we navigated our way through the difficult marital waters of very different lifestyles and career paths and recently celebrated our 30th anniversary.

However, add an ‘s’ to desert, and we now find ourselves facing a marital incompatibility for which there may be no solution. The issue is dessert. We never saw eye-to-eye on this caloric highpoint of a meal, but when we were younger, it didn’t matter. We could eat a lot (really a lot) and it wasn’t a problem for either of us. Appetizer, bread with butter, soup, salad, big entrée, potatoes, and, of course, dessert – always dessert. We could feast and then exercise it off.

But now, in our late middle years, our “middles” reveal the excesses of our gluttony. You’ve heard the unfortunate expression “muffin top?” I think of my midriff as more of a “seven-layer-cake cascade” and Jon’s as an “ice-cream crescendo.” Read more

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