Archive | September, 2014

When in Rome…

26 Sep

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You might remember that about this time last year, I crafted a 40×40 list. It’s a list of 40 things I want to do before my 40th birthday on October 30. One of the items on that list was to take my first-ever girls’ trip with my mom and sister. Simple, right? Two Google spreadsheets, 40+ hours of research and planning, countless conference calls with my sister and it’s finally here.

And the best part? We’re going to be on a plane in 12 hours and my mom STILL doesn’t know where we’re going. When we sprung the idea of a girls’ trip on her back at Christmas, she indicated she was game. We felt her out a bit, asking if she’d be comfortable going somewhere that required a passport. (Aside from Canada and a cruise through the Bahamas, she hasn’t left the US before. Not because she’s not interested, but because my parents try to live in a way that reduces their carbon footprint on the planet.)

She gave us the nod for that and we asked if she’d want to be involved in the planning or just be surprised. Amazingly, my 70 year old mother who can out-plan anyone, opted to be surprised. Once my sister and I recovered from the shock of that decision, we sprung into action…

If you’re only going to leave the country once, where should you go?

We decided it would be important to a) Choose a place where the weather was likely to be nice in early October, b) See something that causes goosebumps, c) Have our American minds blown by a real sense of history, and d) Find a place where the food, the wine and the people all convey a sense of hospitality.

With those guiding objectives, where would YOU choose?

As much as I love France, this one was a no-brainer: Italy. I mean, going to the Ancient Forum and seeing something that was built BEFORE CHRIST? Walking the same ground that Julius Caesar once walked? Seeing Michelangelo’s handiwork on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Yeah… all pretty mind-boggling and goosebump-inducing.

Also? Let’s be real. Two words: Pasta and Gelato.

So here we are – after months of planning, we’ll all be boarding flights later today and – if all goes well – we’ll manage to find each other (without the assistance of mobile phones) in Rome’s FCO airport at 8:30am tomorrow. And my mom STILL doesn’t know where we’re going.

When she originally told us to surprise her, we thought she meant, “Tell me a month before we go so I can get excited.” But as the day approached, she kept pushing off the big reveal. Finally, she said, “Just tell me what to pack and then you can surprise me the day of the trip with where we’re going.”

As someone who can be a bit of a control freak (and I’m not judging – I have a good dose of it myself), she’s blown us away with her willingness to just go with the flow on this one. So at noon today, when we host a three-way call and reveal where we’re going, the items we asked her to blindly pack – walking shoes, sleeping pills, a bathing suit – should suddenly make sense.

Now we’re just hoping it doesn’t land like a lead balloon, though my sister has done a great job trying to keep expectations in check by casually working remarks like, “We’ll be sure to get a picture of you on a camel…” and, “Not sure how you’ll ship a Persian rug back,” into the email correspondence along the way.

One a different note: let’s not forget to give a quick shout-out to the MEN who have been supportive of this trip: My dad, Alan, and my brother-in-law. There have been no sour grapes along the way, though I can’t say that I’d behave so admirably if roles were reversed and they were going somewhere fun without me. Alan’s even staying at my place to take care of Miss Moneypenny for me. How awesome is that?

So however this first-ever girls trip turns out, it’s already taught or reminded me of a few things: You CAN teach an old dog new tricks. (Or at least, old dogs can decide they want to learn new tricks.) And I’m a lucky girl – lucky to have a mom and sister I enjoy, lucky to have a dad who is supportive of our adventure, and lucky to have Alan waiting for me when I return.

Seems like a pretty great way to transition into 40.


The vet’s office is a zoo. Almost literally.

1 Sep


Five months ago, I was given a lecture when I took Miss Moneypenny to the vet. “She’s gained two pounds since you owned her. Careful with the treats. Her ideal weight is 10 lbs.” So when we got home, I scaled back her treats. And maybe her dry food a bit. And I may have made a few jokes in her presence about kitty cat fat camp.

In any case, when we went back to the vet a month later, they said, “Yeesh! She’s down to almost nine pounds. We better do a blood test.”

I tried to explain that her weight loss was deliberate, but they were hearing none of that. They did a blood test and called me two days later to say, “It’s as we suspected. Miss Moneypenny has a hyperactive-thyroid. It’s off the charts and you need to put her on medicine now or she’ll waste away.”

Here I thought I was the Jillian Michaels of feline fitness. So much for the Biggest Mewser™ business plan I’d started writing.

I have enough medical fights in my life with my GI Specialist, who is always trying to guilt me into taking medicines I fundamentally disagree with, so when it came to Miss Moneypenny, my response was, “Fine. What do I need to give her?”

Long story short, thirty days after beginning her medicine, we were back at the vet for a follow-up blood test to see if the medicine was effective. I made the mistake of showing up at 6pm on a week night, which is apparently when *everybody* takes their sick pets in. I feel like I can *almost* refer to the waiting room as “literally a zoo” and not be completely deserving of a grammar infraction.

The cast of characters featured a French Bulldog named Lily, a Whippit, a Great Dane named Annie, three other random dogs (beagle, boxer and chihuahua) and a few cats in carriers. Miss Moneypenny hates being in her carrier, which – considering it looks like a gym bag that a mobster might toss in the river – is not completely without reason – but she was surprisingly calm in the midst of the chaos. After screaming at everyone to announce her arrival, she kicked back and took a bath.

Hint: One of these is a falabella.

Hint: One of these is a falabella.

While we were sitting there, a woman showed up with a cute puppy named Teddy, who was to Golden Retrievers what a Falabella is to regular horses. (I’ve included a photo in case you’re too lazy to Google that reference.)

The dog was adorable, but wildly out of control. When his other mother showed up, he was so excited, I watched him scale her like a mountain goat. She was seated in a chair and Teddy was standing on her shoulders, totally wrapped around her  head.

As we waited (and waited) for Miss Moneypenny to get called back, I had ample time to observe Teddy and his lack of discipline. He was on a retractable leash and his owners let it out with abandon. They were lost in conversation so they didn’t notice when Teddy began chewing on a dog wearing a cone, or when he tried to butt-sniff a dog who clearly wasn’t feeling well.

Everyone in the waiting room began exchanging glances. Teddy was undeniably adorable, but his clueless owners were allowing him to be a bit of a nuisance. About this time, Teddy walked to the center of the waiting room and proceeded to take a leak that would do Austin Powers proud. The puddle was not insignificant.

Amazingly, his owners didn’t notice this, despite my repeatedly looking at Teddy, then looking at them. Everyone else in the waiting room was doing the same as we all wondered if we should say something or sit back and see how long it would take them to notice. We silently agreed to go the latter route until a few minutes later, when the pee was flowing along the grout between tiles and was about to soak the bag of one of the women.

“Excuse me,” another (nicer) woman called to her, “You might want to move your bag.”

At this, Teddy’s owner looked down, saw the approaching pee and grabbed her bag up with disgust. Then she traced the stream back to its pool of origin, which by this time had little Teddy paw prints in and out of it. If it were a crime scene, it would be an open-and-shut case.

And yet, she turned to her partner and said, “Oh my God – there’s a whole puddle of pee on the floor. Someone’s dog peed there!”

To which her partner asked, “Do you think it was Teddy?”

Without missing a beat, she said, “No – he went right before we got in the car.”

Let me point out – there were no other dogs remotely near the puddle and the only wet foot prints tracked directly to their dog. Everyone in the waiting room again exchanged wordless glances that – had we been playing charades – would’ve prompted a win for the phrase, “You must be shitting me.”

After sitting there for a few minutes, Teddy’s owner finally said – loudly enough for everyone to hear, “Well, I guess if the owner isn’t going to clean it up, I will.” And she huffed over to the desk and asked for paper towels. Um, thanks for the favor?

Let’s just hope she decides not to ever have a baby. Ever.

Oh – and in case you’re curious, Miss Moneypenny weighed in at 11.8 pounds, which apparently is now great. Whatever.