Well, Excuuuse Me For Living!

Yes, that came out of my mouth last week. It was a busy morning as every school morning usually is – three kids, husband, lunches, Where’s my coffee cup, breakfast, schedule check-in – Wait, it’s Thursday?! -, ‘Mom, I can’t find any socks !’, bathroom ‘I was here first!’ battles, two dogs really have to pee….

For those of you who know me, morning time is my jam! I am up – at em’ – most likely very annoying and have been told once or twice that I “Do too much;”  ‘Mom, I am full, please stop.’ And things of that nature…

So, I was standing in front of the fridge staring at a diminishing collection of food and strategic unorganized organization and through the flurry of shenanigans, conversation, inquiry and peanut gallery squawking from the kinder somehow I shouted, 

“Well, Excuuuse me for living!”

I froze. My husband stopped what he was doing and stared straight at me in comical fear and confusion; I channeled my bubbe as if my soul was suctioned out of my body allowing room for hers to take over in that split second.

All I needed was a housecoat with one long zipper.

Why is this story worthy? Hear me out.

My bubbe lived with me and my father for a while when my dad was trying on his single-parenting shoes and though I am sure my father appreciated that his mom helped me with my homework, brushed my hair, made me wear pink (blach!), cooked us the best tomato soup ever placed in a bowl, she was, by far, the reason there is a definition of “Jewish Mother” in the dictionary. My dad never really learned how to swim because water was dangerous and we were never NEVER dressed warm enough!

. One of the funniest memories for me now is what I call bus stop gate. The school bus picked me up at the end of my driveway every morning around 8:06 a.m. My bubbe made it her job to get me dressed and ready for that bus so my dad could do what he needed to do for his job making sure every tooth in Milwaukee was securely in its spot without deteriorating nerves and/or an inflamed gum line. This woman could have run this country – with a housecoat and a cup of hot coffee, “filled to the top.”

My bubbe’s first go at POTUBS (President of the United Bus Stop) went into the books this particular morning. The weather was questionable, but not terrible. Gorgeous, damp, temperamental fall was flirting with Wisconsin’s last try for a mediocre summer day and the clock was ticking – 7:30 a.m. I was outside standing ready and dressed for the ultimate hurricane/ snow storm/ vortex at the end of my driveway; I looked very similar to Poppin’ Fresh DoughBoy. My bubbe was standing behind me in her housecoat because she was fine, don’t worry about her, she’s not cold! We stood there for 36 minutes. I could have entered my Alpha weight and joined a wrestling team after sweating through the layers of poof!

My father burst out of the housejust as the school bus peered its yellow head around the corner,

“Mom! Jessie is dressed for winter, why are you in your nightgown AND have you been out here for over half an hour?!!”

“Well, excuuuse me for living!” My Bubbe Harrumphed up the driveway as I climbed the bus steps.

I found a seat with a nice friend who didn’t judge me for looking a bit ridiculous and I unwrapped myself. This seemed to take the entire trip to school. 

When I got home later that day bubbe was waiting for me with peanut butter cookies and hot chocolate, because it was 54 degrees outside. When my dad got home she made us both dinner and we sat together in silence.

My dad stopped eating at one point, looked at his mom and said, 

“Thanks ma.”


It makes us do and say crazy things, but why in the world would we do or say anything different?

You Can Go Home Again…

You can go home again…Even if it means driving past your old house all creepy like. 

I live in Madison which is really close to Milwaukee; however, Milwaukee could be another state or country considering how many times we go back for a visit. This past week I had an opportunity to visit my old stomping grounds in full force. My youngest was invited to a Bar Mitzvah of a really good friend from camp. Aside from the fact that camp friends are special and we had nothing going on that weekend, the Bar Mitzvah itinerary was too good, too sentimental and too close to home to be true! So like Dora without the bangs I took the map embedded within my heart and soul, my backpack –  which will always be insatiably full and somewhat of a nudnik– and drove my son and his buddy into my past.

The Bar Mitzvah Service took place in what is now a Jewish place of worship, but what used to be a restaurant where I bussed tables and hosted hungry customers for three out of my four years in high school.  After embarrassing my son with the stories I told the security guard we entered the building. Like in a sci-fi film the rewind button went haywire. I was dressed like a penguin in suspenders and a pleated, white starched button-down shirt holding a tray bigger than my whole body and praying I would not pour lipstick stained water with drenched lemons all over the tables in section one. I remembered the college age hostess with great legs who always hated her boyfriends and the hilarious sous-chefs who always gave me samples on the sly; I remember telling my dad I was working a night shift so I could go out with friends without parental supervision (very very grounded after that!) and I remember coming home at night with feet as swollen as a Scotch-Brite heavy duty kitchen sponge! I loved that place as much as I hated smelling like a moldy dish rag after a long shift. The woman greeting guests and guiding men to sit on the left and women to sit on the right was not impressed with my superfluous gushing..Time to move on.

The house in which I grew up was right next door, and though the residents of the home did not respond to my letter requesting short term access to their privacy and life I drove by anyway – very slowly. The walls of this home saw, heard, listened, comforted, hurt and protected every inch of who I am today. After lap three I stopped at the foot of the driveway and stared hard at the globe, the beacon, that was my night light for almost 18 years. I thanked the globe for keeping my head on straight and drove down the long, winding path of Lake Drive. I could drive this road with my eyes closed. I drove past the homes of my childhoodfriends one by one and let the memories of our youth flood my head. From Bayside to Shorewood the documentary of “The Ghost of Suburbia Past” was written in full force – onward I went – footsteps on the map.

I went directly to a hotel called Drury Plaza Hotel – (I mean, Come on!) where I scooped up my adorable camp friend coincidentally visiting during the same weekend and doused our eggs and coffee with tears and laughter.  I loved visiting my sister and chatting amongst the hipsters next to the gorgeous theater where I had the honor of singing “Matchmaker” 19 times in a row and decided I almost had enough of the ghosts; my head was getting dizzy. I don’t know if Dora ever jumped off her map, but I was ready to catapult myself like Mary Poppins – outta there!

The finale of the evening was dropping the kids off at the party in the club where my father was Doc, Bumi and golfer extraordinaire. We never got two steps inside before my dad was greeted with a smile and a hug or handshake. One of my last memories of my mother came from inside this place where she was all decked out in fishnet tights and a top hat singing “Magic To Do” from Pippin in a talent show. Before she began her song she stopped the band, looked into the audience and said, ”Hi Jessie” and waved. I am still giddy from that moment. So as I walked the hallways of this old building, still smelling as it did when I was young and very much in need of an electrical cultural cardioversion, I caught tears on my tongue missing everyone.

We are the map makers now.

Will our children come back to the house in which they were raised and drive creepily past with heart strings pulsing? I hope so, and then I hope they drive back home.