Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Is England going to hell?

This past Easter, Sean converted from Church of England to Catholicism

We attended weekly classes in preparation and explained to Lucy the classes were like Sunday School for Daddy so he could learn more about the Catholic beliefs and practices

There was much discussion with her about why Daddy was not born Catholic like she was and could he still be English even if he was not part of their Church any more

Sean received into the Church at the Easter Vigil Mass this past March

Lucy now takes great delight in the fact that Daddy goes up at Communion with us (she of course keeps her arms crossed and is blessed)

She is even more thrilled to think that next year, she'll make her Holy Communion and we can all "eat a piece of Baby Jesus"

Sean going through this process has prompted fantastic, and at times mind blowing, conversations not only in the "classroom" but with Lucy as well

It has also resulted in Lucy asking some very pointed questions about God, about why Jesus had to die and why people argue about which God, whose God, is the best God

In her head, if we all love (a) God, and (our) God loves all of us, we should all be able to love each other (even if, she allows, sometimes we have arguments and fights but we should not be so mean to each other)

Simply put, Lucy submits the following argument:
if you believe in God, no matter which God and no matter what you call him, there is probably only really one God
Otherwise, she reasons, there would be too many Gods in heaven and no one would know who is really in charge

So, her argument concludes, even though we all think we believe in different Gods, the joke is on us because there is really only one God, he just lets everybody call him what they need to call him (notice its needs not wants!)

I think I might just have to agree with her
And then I realize this is how my newly minted seven year old grounds me (us) as much as our beliefs and faith do

Last night, my little religious scholar couldn't sleep
I was up and down with her no less than 7 times

Why can't you sleep I asked

Because, Lucy replied, someone at Project Learn told me something and I can't stop thinking about it and it's making me upset

I pulled her closer and asked what was said

Well, so-and-so told me that Dobby (the house elf from Harry Potter) dies and that a really bad man kills him....and I love Dobby and I don't want that to happen!

I kissed the top of her head to buy a few seconds while I composed my response
I was of course annoyed that so-and-so ruined it for her and I was more focused on responding to that than her actually concern

But she beat me to it

Mumma? Even if Dobby does really die, I just need to know, will he get to go to heaven with God?

Oh Luce....honey...that is not....

She sat upright in bed and interrupted me in that tone which makes me stand at attention

Mumma! she threw her hand down on the bed as if banging on the table top!
Since Dobby is from England and they don't belong to our Church, of Dobby really died, will Dobby get to go to heaven with God and Jesus and Mary and Joseph??? Or will he go to some other heaven?

Does England even have heaven????!!!!!


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

An Open Letter to Netflix

Dear Netflix

We have been a customer of yours for a really really long time

When we first signed up, I would spend hours laboring over my queue and prioritizing my movies

And when I knew a DVD was coming, I would rush home and do a happy dance at the mailbox when I saw the little red and white envelope peeping out from between my credit card bills and the Bed Bath and Beyond coupons

Remember how you would send an email telling us what movie was on its way to us?
I would deliberately not read that email just so I could be surprised!

Sometimes, I would get anxious because it would take us a week or two to watch the movie
I always felt like I was depriving someone else of seeing the film as I had the DVD in my possession
But Sean assured me you had more than one copy and that you, Netflix, would make sure no one was deprived and was enjoying the same exact movie I was at the same exact time
Thank you for taking care of us all

Then you started streaming!
Holy Crap!
It changed my life
I rank streaming up there with my wedding vows and the birth of my child

Because of you, I have lost countless hours to binge watching new and old shows
Which means my pop culture references have been refreshed and revitalized
Streaming made me hip and relevant again
Streaming gave me back my 20s

And just when I thought you could give me no more, you gave me House of Cards, Daredevil, and Orange is the New Black
Is there no end to your endless list of talents and success?

I love you Netflix

Only once have I ever been disappointed

That was when we received the movie Primer
The movie itself was pretty fucked up and kinda hard to follow  
That of course is no fault of yours

Primer was one of those movies that once you started watching, you could not stop; you had to know how this was going to end
Halfway through, we looked at each other and realized neither of us knew what was going on
But we were committed
We had to know where this crazy rabbit hole was taking us

We watched and watched and watched
It was one of those movies that was maybe 90 minutes but because it was so slow moving and cerebral, you felt like it was three hours long

And 15 minutes before the movie ended, you are not going to believe this…..

The DVD shit the bed

It broke

Crapped out

No longer worked

Just stopped playing

Netflix, I was upset with you for like a month
We had invested so much time into the movie…

And by time I mean it was really hard to follow and I’m pretty sure I kept a flow chart while I was watching it just so I could follow what was going on

I also vaguely recall eating a lot while watching this film that’s how much it stressed me out

So you can imagine my frustration when the DVD went all crazy and stopped working with less than 20 minutes to go

Though you graciously offered to send us a replacement ASAP without bumping our next mobile down in the queue, we were so over Primer
A week later, we still had headaches

That was the only time you let me down

But Netflix, now I find myself at odds with you again

And I'm not even really sure if it’s your fault
I mean I don’t have to read the article which pops into my news feed
But I fear if I don’t, I shall miss something

See each month, right around this time, I click on the link in my news feed that leads me to one of the most stressful articles I read each month

And each month, I am on a roller coaster of emotions for a few hours as I read the article not once, not twice but no less than six times plotting my course of action

For it is this time, each month, 12 times a year, you announce what movies and shows will be leaving Netflix the following month

I scan the list holding my breath and praying I don’t see any of my “go to” movies, my favorite movies or movies in my queue

I know you are also giving me new stuff but what about the films and shows I never got to or the ones I never finished?

One time, I was binge watching a TV series and you pulled it right out from under me
In the spirit of full disclosure, I wasn’t upset because to be honest, it was not great writing, tired story lines, whiny characters and overall, in the words of Simon Cowell, my true love, self-indulgent

But I was, nonetheless, a bit put out because you made the decision for me
Who are you to decide when it is time for me to give up crappy TV?

It’s like the time I tried to watch thirtysomething
I realized by the third episode this show was not as good as we all thought it was back was and still is, total crap
But I gave it up
It was my choice
Not by your design

But once a month, I feel like a tribute in your Hunger Games
I spend hours poring over the list cross checking it against my queue

I plot my moves and strategies for the next 7-10 days in an attempt to see movies and TV shows before you take them away from me

The roller coaster of emotions and stress you put me under Netflix is at times paralyzing
If I don’t watch Dude, Where’s my Car within the next few days, who knows when I will ever have a chance to see it again?
How long will it be in the vault?

One time I scheduled a surgery for the end often month because I knew I would be on the couch for a couple days recovering
I knew I would have the TV all to myself
And I knew which movies I would watch before they were inexplicable snatched away from me

That is the only time I have been able to outsmart you

Every month I make the list of films I need to see, shows I need to binge on before you take them away from me

And every month, I fall short

As a direct result, there is no telling how much pop culture I have missed out on

The day I stop being relevant and hip will be the day I hunt you down Netflix

When I miss that imposed deadline, I have a day or two where I mourn the loss of Adam Sandler movies at my fingertips or the last four seasons of Brothers and Sisters
But then I get over it

And just when I think I am ok, it’s the 24th of the month again and your next list of expiring movies is in my news feed

And the vicious cycle starts all over again

I’ve shown nothing but love for you Netflix…. just ask our bank account

So I ask simply, why?

I know there are licensing and distribution issues…blahblahblah….chitty chitty chat chat

But see, here’s the thing:
I don’t care!

You are Netflix!
You put Blockbuster out of business!
You created Claire Underwood for fuck’s sake!
Surely you can overcome licensing and distribution limitations!

Can’t you just get Frank Underwood to issue some sort of presidential pardon and take care of this?

Or have Matt Murdock take it to court?

Or better yet, just get Piper to carry the licenses out in her suitcase???

And while you’re at it, could you sleep with HBO and get VEEP in your queue?

Please Netflix, end this senseless wave of anxiety I ride each month

Please, just let me have my movies, TV shows, documentaries and let me watch them too

I love you Netflix

I always have and I always will

So in June, though I welcome with open arms J Edgar and Elizabeth (The Golden Age),
I also bid farewell to and mourn the loss of Clear and Present Danger, Click, Bounce, and Dude, Where’s my Car

Until next month Netflix
I remain yours till Niagara Falls

Love Maria

A subscriber since 2005

Friday, October 9, 2015

Deep in the Heart of Texas

My friend Donna is moving

In just over a month 

She’s leaving Massachusetts and headed to Texas  
Her son and daughter are in Texas with their spouses and Donna and Rick’s grandchildren
All Donna has wanted to do is get down with there them
And she finally gets to 
And that makes me so happy for her, and for Rick and for all the kids

But I am so sad for Massachusetts

Really I am sad for me…and Sean and Lucy

Which is so terribly selfish because Donna and Rick are leaving behind a lifetime of family and friends
They were born and raised in Somerville – still live in the house where Rick was born
They are everything family and friends should be
And they have so many people who will miss them

But they have this wonderful family, and extended family, in Texas waiting to greet them with open arms

And I am truly happy for her
Nonetheless, as I sit and write this, I have a big old lump in my throat and tears threatening to slide down my cheeks

I will miss my friend more than you will ever know

I met Donna in 2004 when I interviewed her for a job with our company  
In the first interview, she was a bit frazzled as she had just returned from a trip to Pennsylvania
Her great niece had been sick and in true form, Donna had gone out there
So we just chatted – an “interview” was the last thing she needed
Plus I hate doing interviews
We just hung out and talked
Within ten minutes, I knew I wanted to hire her
By the end of her second interview, I felt like I had known her forever; I knew all about her sisters, her children, her nieces, her husband, her son's upcoming wedding and her Mum 

So Donna came to work with me and every day, for four years, we laughed, we bickered, we laughed, we filed, we got frustrated with one another, we did invoices, we laughed, we overhauled the office and had it running like a dream and we laughed
She always had my back in the office and I always had hers

And at the same time, she became more than an employee and co-worker
She became a friend

When Donna left the company, I was devastated
I would miss her efficiency in the office and her laugh

But mostly I would just miss her
I would miss having my friend there with me day in and day out
She had become a confidant; someone I turned to when I needed support, advice, or just a shoulder to lean or cry on

Sure, leaving the company was not the end of the world
There was no way I was getting rid of her that easily
But work was a whole lot more fun with Donna there every day

See, the thing with Donna is this: once you become a friend, once you let her into your life, she is never leaving
Even when you are at your lowest of lows and are trying to push people away, Donna won’t budge
She will stand right there and love you
She won’t judge or criticize
And she’s forgiving
But more importantly, Donna places no conditions on your friendship with her
She truly loves and likes unconditionally

And Donna will always be honest with you and call you out on something if the need be

Plus, she is funny as hell – her sense of humor and brutal honesty are my favorite things about her:
Maria, that shirt??!! NO! And what the hell with that turtle neck sweater…..?? (I threw the shirt out but I loved the sweater too much)
Why am I gonna send you a Christmas card when I’m gonna see you at Christmas?!?! (But I always send her one!)
What do you mean what is this? It’s my Walkman!
But Donna it’s 2006
But I’m walking, man, and I like music when I’m walking……(I bought her an iPod)
This weekend, we’re doing something about that hair Maria….I’m making you an appointment (she did)
Maria! Didn’t I tell you no more turtleneck sweaters??? (I finally got rid of them)

When I started dating Sean, Donna told me within a month not to screw it up (she knew my track record)
I didn’t, I almost did, but she made sure I didn’t

When we got engaged, she squealed, literally squealed and threw her arms around both of use and tears sprang to her eyes
She was as excited for us as she had been for her own kids
When we got married she was right there watching, cheering us on and praying for us

When we told her I was pregnant, and it was so hard to keep it from her, she went into full on Auntie mode

When I told her I was not sure if I was being the kind of wife/mother I thought I was supposed to be, she listened to me without saying a word…she let me cry, let me talk my way through it….she validated my thoughts, feelings and emotions.....she hugged me….then she hit me upside the head and told me not to screw it up

She reminded me what I had in Sean and Lucy but, she also reminded me what they had in me
She reminded me I was worth it – that I too mattered – and that I was just as important as the next person
And she reminded me it was ok to feel the way I was feeling 

Donna has seen me through some of my happiest times and she has seen me through some pretty tough times
She has always been there for me
Even if I did not call her, she was there…
A constant…
A North Star….

Donna has cooked for us, showered us with love support, encouragement and advice (even if I did not ask her for it, she knew I needed it) and just plain old been there.....which sometimes, is the greatest thing a friend can do

Donna is talked about all the time in our house….sometimes Sean or I will just randomly blurt out, remember that time Donna….Remember those cookies Donna made…..Remember how hard Donna laughed when….Donna would think this is funny…..

Donna Donna Donna!

Lucy started calling Donna Auntie Dodo
We would refer to Donna as Auntie Donna but Lucy could not quite say it
Auntie Dodo is what came out
So Auntie Dodo has stuck
Lucy even named her first fish Dodo

We may not get to see Donna as often as we used to but I’ll tell you what, she has not missed a single one of Lucy’s birthday parties
She’s like Punxsutawney Phil, always shows up on that most important day of the year

When I told Lucy Auntie Dodo and Big Uncle Rick were moving to Texas she seemed unaffected for a split second until this conversation:

Mumma! If Auntie Dodo is in Texas, is she…will she…
Lucy’s bottom lip quivered a bit
But Mumma! What about my birthday party?!? Will Auntie Dodo miss it? She always comes!!!
I could not answer for fear the lump in my throat would suffocate me if I tried to push any words out
What honey
Will Auntie Dodo miss my party?
Well Luce, she’ll be living in Texas…..
So she’ll miss it!?!?
Honey, she’ll be in Texas
There was a slight pause and then Lucy threw her hands up in the air and declared
Well, I guess we’ll be having a second party for me in Texas now….
 Indeed we shall Lucy

I have no idea how to thank you for the friend you have been

I have no idea how to tell you how much you mean to me… Sean and to Lucy

You are just, you are….you are everything a Mum, a sister, an Aunt, a Grammy and a friend should be

You are everything I hope to be: empathetic, kind, caring, supportive, unconditional, understanding, forgiving….and you have the best laugh ever

I know you have bad days and I know it’s not always been easy but Donna, you are still standing and you have been more true to yourself than anyone I have ever known

You have picked your battles and won
You’ve cut your losses when you needed to
You have a handled adversity with grace, dignity and pride

I admire you for believing in yourself, your husband and your kids
I only hope that I too can provide Sean and Lucy what you have given both your Ricks and Dawn

I will miss you Donna Dovidio…more than you will ever know

I will miss knowing you are few exits down the highway
I will miss seeing you at Lucy’s birthday party
But I will always always call you a friend
And yes, Donna, I will always call you for dinner

I love you more than my luggage
And though I have probably been remiss over the years in saying this, I hope you know I admire and respect you

Donna, I am so happy you will finally be with all the kids….I am so happy for all of you….and I miss you already

Godspeed my dear sweet friend 
Ah, and please update your Christmas Card List to include me

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Are Squirrels Catholic?

Conversation I had with Lucy as we walk from Sunday School down to Church:
Me: How was Sunday school Lucy?
Her: Mumma! Did you know God is everywhere?
Me: I did
Her: Mrs K took us for a walk outside, God is in the trees and the flowers and the animals….God is even in the friggin’ acorns! He’s in the acorns!!!!
Me, with a chuckle: Yes, He is indeed everywhere but please don’t say friggin’ honey
Her: Sorry Mumma….hey if God is in the acorns, does that mean squirrels are Catholic?
Me: ……..

Conversation I had with Lucy about her day at School:
Me: Hey Lucy, did you have music today 
Her: Nah, we had health, we have music next week
Me: Oh, who is your health teacher again?
Her: Ms so and so...but she changed her name....I forget her new name 
Me: She changed her name? Why?
Her: 'cause she got pregnant....yep she's pregnant, with a baby 
Me: Pregnant with a baby??? opposed to pregnant with....
Her: You know, not a baby....
Me: .......

Conversation I had with Lucy on our way home from Swimming
Me: Lucy, you looked so strong in the water today – you were doing a great job with the strokes Miss Casey was working on with you
Her: Yeah, I’m thinking I might be in the Olympics
Me: The Olympics?
Her: Yeah, you know the Olympics when you can get a gold medal?? I wonder if it’s actually a chocolate gold medal that would be awesome
Me: ……..

Conversation I had with Lucy in the bathroom at the Airport in Texas
She was singing as she took care of business – I was in the stall next to her
Me: Luce honey, could you maybe turn the volume down a bit there pal?
Her: But I sound so good in here Mumma and I like singing
Me: I know honey but there are other people in here
Her: There are?
Lady’s voice: I think just me, and I like your singing
Lucy: Thanks! I take request if you want to hear anything
Me: ……..

Conversation I had with Lucy about what she wants for Christmas
Her: Mummy! I already know what I want for Christmas!
Me: You do?
Her: Yep; an air hockey table, Foosball and checkers!
Me: Wow – that’s a good list
Her: Yeah, I’ll tell Santa next time I see him
Me: Next time you see him? What…when….wait, do you see him now Luce?
Her: Well not right this minute but yeah, I see him sometimes
Me: Really?
Her: Yeah
Me: When?
Her: I don’t know, we had lunch together a while ago – you were at work
Me: You had lunch with Santa? He just picked you up and the two of you had lunch
Her: Yep, at the 99, we had the grilled cheese

Me: ………

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Can someone please explain how I'm the jerk in this situation?

So I've been walking around like this since Saturday

Not the end of the world, and I'll recover but it is hard not to notice I am currently one handed

This morning, someone asked me to move a couple computer components around because I'm the "IT person" (which I’m not)

I stared at the person blankly

The person stared back

Can you do it today I was asked

I continued to stare in muted fashion at said person

The person stared back

When I still said nothing, the person said to me

So I take this to mean you are unwilling to help?

No I said, I’m willing to help, are you?

Their response?

You know, you really should try to be a bit more considerate when people reach out to you for help

You’re right I said

So I crawled around on the floor undoing cords and cables then asked the person to move the tower and monitor for me

Can’t you just sort of push it?

Well I said, it’s a bit heavy and I’d rather not drop it or you know, hurt my hand any more than it is

Never mind, the person responded in that tone that says I don't even know why I bothered asking you, I’ll get someone else to do it for me

I just need you move the tower for me  

You said the tower AND monitor 

Yes, I did  - you're right - sorry 

Never mind, I'll just get someone else

Can someone please explain how I'm the jerk in this situation? 

Totally fine if I am, I just need to know the logic behind the argument  

Oh and by the way, I moved the tower myself...AND the one has yet to notice