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Alltop, confirmation that I kick ass

Author: toni

~ 07/06/10


You know, it’s not enough that plenty of perfectly good marriages are being ruined by lack of sleep, the demands of parenthood and juggling jobs and family life – but now vampires , emo chicks and werewolves are at it too?!

Yeah, it’s true. Know how I know? I read it in an article online and that makes it true, right? The article  said that there are thousands of women who were so obsessed with the TWILIGHT movies that they were neglecting their marriages and even their kids! They spend hours online obsessing about the characters, the production of the movies, even the actors and what they’re doing every minute of their lives.

And you thought Twilight was a story aimed at 14 year-old girls who recently acquired their breasts. I thought so too when I read the first book and saw the first movie, which I’ll admit, is as far as I got.  I mean, wow.  Having read the poetry that is Interview With The Vampire this was NOT my cup of blood.  

But I got it. It wasn’t meant to be great literature. It was clear to me that the appeal of these stories was the whole “forbidden sex” thing. The “danger of sex” thing. The first book was a long – and I mean very long – series of, well,  longing scenes, one after another after another. In fact, I kept wondering, “When is something going to happen?!” And then I realized, when you’re a teenage girl on the verge of her sexual awakening, nothing’s SUPPOSED to happen. Not if your parents and school counselors can help it. Sex is a scary thing, a dangerous thing. Especially in this day and age when it can actually kill you. Also, according to your friends, it hurts really, really badly the first time.

And while Stephenie Meyer may not know story structure if it impaled her through the heart, she knows that young girls have eternally been attracted to the bad boy and forbidden love.

Apparently, however, they aren’t the only ones. Because then I heard some of my mommy friends going on about these books. We’re talking women in their 30s and 40s. Women with husbands who, as evidenced by the existence of children, had already lost their virginity.  And lo and behold, they too had gotten wrapped up in the phenom that is Twilight. They talked about Team Edward vs.  Team Jacob. They giggled about Robert Pattinson’s brooding hotness. They marveled at the pecs of an underage Taylor Lautner. And somehow, I think they identified with the disaffected Bella who, if you ask me, seems like a closet cutter.

But at least none of my mommy friends have reached the frenzied point of the TwiHards who are neglecting their marriages and their children. But here’s what one such woman had to say in an L.A. Times article on the subject:

“My husband finally came to me and said, ‘I think you love Twilight more than you love me,'” says Johnson, who had become especially attached to the community she’d found online. “I ended up moving out of the house and fought for my marriage for six weeks. I had to take a step back and detox myself from Twilight. I was really angry that I had allowed it to suck me in.”


That’s what vampires do, right? Suck. Especially the ones in these books. But then, that’s my opinion. And clearly I am in the minority here.

Still, I’ve got to wonder if these women weren’t already having problems in their marriage. Maybe they are just  finding something in these stories that is fulfilling some need that isn’t getting met at home. And really, is this obsession any different than, say, the one that sucks in so many men during fantasy football season?

The bottom line is, all our marriages would be better served if we spent more time tending them instead of sitting in front of a computer screen obsessing about the lives of other people.

Uh, on that note…. Signing off to call Randy the perfekt husband who is on his daily long commute to his job so that Julia can grow up in a nice house on a clean street filled with loads of kids in the suburbs. I love you, honey. Yes, more than my computer.

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Author: toni

~ 01/12/10


I’ve been married a long time now. 11 years last August. Okay. Not a long time in terms of, say, dinosaurs roaming the earth (165 million years) or even those Old West marriages where people married at 12 and stayed married 70 years provided they didn’t die of influenza, rattlesnake bites or their prairie skirts catching fire. Still, 11 years is impressive if you consider the fact that I’m carrying on a marriage IN Los Angeles… D-I-V-O-R-C-E central.

That’s all a long-winded preface to my point that –  after a few years and a few kids, married couples usually get pretty complacent. And in fact, pretty much start going through the motions by rote. Yes, even sex. And it isn’t until life tests them in some way that they get a true sense of the foundation upon which the marriage is built. Tests such as job loss, the death of parent or furniture requiring assembly.

Any of these things can make or break a marriage. Especially the latter which is why, I’m convinced, most couples after marriage, stop shopping at IKEA.

Randy the perfekt husband and I did. Post-nuptials we began buying our furniture at places like MACY’s or ETHAN ALLEN where they deliver things FULLY ASSEMBLED – at a greatly increased price, natch. But hey, we were responsible grown-ups now. Besides, the marriage was fresh. Too soon for any major tests.

Well, flash forward to 11 years later. Recently, just before the holidays I fell in love with and BOUGHT a dining room set from, of all places COST PLUS

Now let’s be frank. Cost Plus is simply the Ikea for tonally darker tastes. Instead of blonde furniture with names like Mitvig and Bjorkvalla,  the furniture comes in colors like Espresso and Black with names like Sourav. Instead of Sweden, the items are manufactured in India. Instead of being translated from English (which all the Nordic countries seem to speak with fluency) the instructions are translated from Hindi to Chinese to English, which ultimately means jibberish. But for all intents and purposes, when it comes to price, lack of delivery options and necessity of assemblage by purchaser, these two places ARE THE SAME.

Putting together this dining room set, with sideboard and 8 chairs was a daunting and emotional test that, truthfully, could have gone either way.

We’d had a near-miss furniture assembly life-test a few years back. We had purchased a bed for Julia from, yes,  IKEA. I know. I know. You’re thinking. I thought they swore off Ikea! Well, we’d just had a baby. A baby that cost us a helluva lot more than we thought it would. I mean how many diapers can a new baby go through in a year? Turns out it’s around 10,000.

Anyway, we were trying to save money. We were weak! We found ourselves roaming the the convoluted aromatically meatballed walkways of our old haunt and actually purchasing a bed.

After we got it home (ourselves) and opened it up, my immediate thought was “why don’t we just draw up the final divorce papers already?” I mean, what is it with the Swedes that a simple bed has over 400 pieces? Is it the bleakness of their landscape that makes them crave complexity? Isn’t having to figure out the meaning of Bergman’s “Cries and Whispers” challenge enough?

I’ll admit, at the time I wasn’t secure enough in myself, my marriage or my ability to hold a slat straight enough to please my husband who, in addition to being perfekt, is also a perfektionist. Also, I still hadn’t lost my baby weight which made me really cranky.

But alas, the marriage was to continue, untested. Because as it turned out the assembly of the bed coincided with a visit from Randy’s folks to see our new house which meant Randy could recruit his father BILL,  whence the perfektionist gene had originally sprung. And let me say, it was a grueling 8 hour marathon of bed building that nearly ended their multi-decade relationship. They’ve only just recently been able to look at that bed without old animosities bubbling to the surface.

So it was back to REAL furniture stores for for us. Until I saw that dining room table. And my desire for it outweighted any fear I had for my marriage. Call it maturity. Call it devil-may-care. Call it “I was of a certain age” and DESERVED that set. But the fact was that the furniture assembly test I had managed to avoid all these years had finally come. And I couldn’t get out of it this time. Randy’s dad had no plans to visit anytime soon. And even if he did, he had long since sworn off furniture building.  So I had to put up or shut up because I CHOSE that dining room set. The one that  took multiple trips to get home. The one that had the words HEAVY FURNITURE – TEAM LIFT REQUIRED stamped all over the boxes.

Despite my resolve to HAVE THAT DINING ROOM SET, once I opened the boxes, I got really scared. The dining table and the sideboard weren’t so bad. Except for the part where I didn’t hold up my end of the 120 pound table and it ended up on Randy’s toe. But he has ten of those, so I was good. But then there were the chairs. 24 pieces of hardware x 8. That’s 192 pieces!

And wanting desperately to make the whole process go as smoothly as possible, while Randy was at work I took all the chairs out of their boxes. Put all the bottoms in one pile. All the backs in another. So we could do it assembly-line style. BIG MISTAKE! Because “handcrafted in India”  actually means each chair is unique in its, shall we call them, mistakes? The screw holes varied from chair to chair. So we spent hours trying to line up backs with bottoms that belonged together. This caused much irritation on Randy’s part and considerable defensiveness on my part. Two big buttons that should NOT be pushed simultaneously. But ultimately, to my surprise, even Randy had to admit, having grown up in a cookie cutter society, that he hadn’t foreseen this problem. I told my attorney I’d call her back.

Once we got the tops and bottoms back with their original partners, to my great shock, things went amazingly smoothly.

In fact, somewhere around chair 3 Randy and I became like a surgical team. He – the surgeon. Me, the surgeon’s very attractive head nurse. I was anticipating his every move. I knew which part he wanted even before he knew it. I was so there. WE were so there. Working, screwing, as one. Well, you know what I mean. And we put all eight of those chairs together and there was a great sense of accomplishment… and relief that we had survived such a grueling test.

And a thrill discovering that after all these years we were not only up to the test, we were yin-ing and yanging each other. We had forged an unspoken bond. The kind usually only found between mother whales and their calves or college roommates during a game of TABOO where they only need to throw out a one word hint to get their partner to guess it.

During the 11 years of our marriage, Randy and I had unknowingly formed that bond. And, I’ll admit it, it was a turn-on. And the result was that our new dining table wasn’t the only bit of furniture that got a LOT of use that week.

Okay. So it’s a little goofy that the booze and clandestine meetings of our youth have been replaced by “furniture assembly” as an aphrodisiac in our relationship. But then as you get older, your tastes change. You go from blonde wood to dark. From fear to surprise. And from complacent to assured. I think THAT’S what they call maturity.

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Author: toni

~ 08/25/09

I learned a new term recently. I love that about life. You go along. Think you’ve heard or seen it all. And BLAMO! You learn something new.

I was at my daughter’s dance class. It was parent observation day. The mommies were all standing outside in the hallway where they could see their daughters through a large glass window practice their shuffle-hop-turns. 

Close quarters. 15 or so moms standing around. An hour and a half to “observe”.  The perfect opportunity to gossip or for “overhearing” gossip.

As I pretended to be fully focused on my kid and her “buffalo” this is the conversation I pretended not to overhear.


MOM #1: I couldn’t believe it! I had been running around since 6 am. Three lunches to make. Three kids to get to school. I volunteered in 2 classes. I had one pediatrician appointment. We had soccer right after school. Then I had to rush over and drop my daughter off at her gymnastics class. Run back to pick up my kid from soccer. Stop at the grocery store to get stuff for dinner. Rushed home, made dinner, did homework, baths and bedtime. Then I get to bed totally wrecked and my husband has the nerve to ask me for sex!


MOM #2: What’d you do?


MOM #1: Gave it to him. Duty booty.


I watched as Mom #2 nodded knowingly. And I could tell she too, knew only too well of “duty booty”.  I looked around the crowded hallyway and was sure everyone in there had heard the term but me! Why hadn’t I heard of it before? I HATE being out of the loop!

But if I’m honest. I know it too. Maybe not the term itself. But certainly the sentiment.

Admit it. You do too!

You know, those days when you’ve been running all day, not a moment to yourself. Maybe you’re juggling work or kids’ schedules or both. All you can think of is that big, soft bed complete with the too many pillows your husband always complains about…down comforter and fresh sheets you put on this morning. The kids are finally asleep, you crawl in, so exhausted you forgot to take off your mascara. What the hell. The sheets are white. They can be bleached. Ain’t NO WAY you’re getting out of that comfy position. You settle in ….AHHHHH. And suddenly…


You try to ignore it. Pretend it didn’t happen.


Crap! You breathe REALLY deeply to try to feign sleep.

NUDGE. NUDGE. NUDGE. Followed by a very warm hand on your thigh.


You hesitate for a moment. Quickly calculating when the last time was that you, you know, “DID IT”.  Because if it’s not been THAT long it’s totally reasonable to play the “I’M TOO TIRED” card. (No one says “I have a headache anymore.” Too cliche. Husbands don’t buy it. Tired, they buy. Because they’ve seen the baggage you’re carrying under your eyes. Plus you frequently remind them.)

So you’re rapidly doing the figuring in your head. “Let’s see, was it Friday? No. That’s the night BOBBY had a bad dream and ended up in our bed. The week before? No. Hubby had to work late every night. I KNOW! It was the day SUZY lost her first tooth.  That was….”

HOLY MOLY! That’s when you realize…. the NEW tooth has already grown in!

Exhausted as you are, you know that while Mommies need their sleep, Daddies have needs too. And really, if you dig down deep, past the sleep deprivation and the jumble of a “to do” list that keeps floating around in your head– you’ll remember that YOU HAVE THOSE NEEDS TOO. You roll over and put a reciprocal hand on his thigh. And there you have…


I don’t know about you, but in the end, I’m always VERY HAPPY that I obliged.

Sleep is sometimes overrated.

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Author: toni

~ 06/07/09


My perfekt husband Randy is my personal shopper. See, I HATE SHOPPING!  I know, it’s against everything womanly. One of the X’s must have fallen off my chromosomes. Or the shopping gene slipped through the evolutionary filter.  I dunno. But truth be told, I go into a store and am so overwhelmed by the choices, I FREAK OUT and leave after five minutes. If there are sales racks, I’m out in two. I’m like Robin Williams in MOSCOW ON THE HUDSON where he played that Russian sax player who defected to the U.S. and then hyperventilated in the supermarket, completely overwhelmed by the number of toilet paper options that faced him.

We joke that in some ways, Randy is the woman in our relationship. Before we were married Randy was the lone guy in a sea of women at the “Day After Christmas Super Sale” at 6am. He doesn’t do it anymore because since becoming a dad, sleep has become more precious to him that 75% off a Calvin Klein suit.

Anyway, recently I felt it was time to “refresh my wardrobe”. You know that feeling, right?  We all get it. One day you walk into the closet and the stuff that was perfectly fine yesterday suddenly seems so last year and so ready for Goodwill.

This of course meant GULP! shopping. I begged  Randy obliged me and came with me to pick out some clothes. This process entails him quickly scanning the racks, pulling out stuff, shoving it in my arms and waiting while I try it on.

So anyway, on our last shopping trip, I went to one of those little boutiques my friend Patrice told me about. You know, full of cute yet reasonably priced trendy stuff.

Normally Randy is spot-on in his choices. But this time, Randy picked out a pair of those JUICY sweat pants. The ones I see some of the moms wear at pick-up but I’ve never had the courage to pull over my Beyonce-esque bottom. I balked. He insisted I try them on (part of his campaign to help me become more hip). So I tried them. And all I could see was that they made me look more hippy—and I don’t mean in a granola kind of way. I told him they didn’t work for me. They only worked for those moms with yoga butts. I NEVER had a yoga butt. Not even BK (before kid). I said they made my butt look too big. And that’s when he said it:




Oh, yes he did.  It was innocent I assume. I HAVE to assume it because I’m too tired to figure out which CDs are mine and who’ll get Julia on Thanksgiving.

So I looked at him,  smiled through gritted teeth and JAMMED those freaking skinny ass yoga butt sweats back on the rack!

RANDY: I assume that’s a no.

ME: Assume everything’s a NO for the next few nights.   


I bought some tops.

Maybe next time, I’ll see if one of my girlfriends will go shopping with me. I know I can count on them NOT to be HONEST. Not where butts are concerned.

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Author: toni

~ 05/10/09


Has this ever happened to you? Many mommy friends have shared variations of this story. Here is an amalgam of those stories. Names have been avoided altogether to protect the guilty.


You’re walking around the house, minding your own business. Suddenly nature calls. You duck into the nearest bathroom and just as your delicate flesh hits the cold porcelain… YOU SMELL IT!

Someone…or SOMETHING has been there before you! And oh too recently.  

Yep. It’s your husband. And MAN, it’s BAD! “Oh dear God,” you think, ” What did he have for lunch? Half a bison carcass he came upon in the wilderness that had already been under the hot sun for two days?”

What is it with men? Why can’t they smell like English Rose Gardens….like us?

You’d dash out but you can’t. You’re mid-stream and you know once you start, you’re committed. So you hold your breath. But, dammit, you had A LOT of coffee, so it’s going to be a little while. Longer than you can hold your breath anyway. I mean, you’re not a freakin’ pearl diver for gosh sakes! So you take in a GULP of much- needed AIR through your mouth. Okay. Now you’re not not smelling it, but it’s going THROUGH YOUR MOUTH! And even though you can’t really…you’re convinced you can TASTE IT!

Panicked, you wonder what’s better? The odor moving through your mouth. Over your tastebuds? Or through your nose past the nose hairs, which let’s face it, despite all your plucking are there for the very important purpose of “filtering”.

You think. Well, I KISS my kid with this mouth. I use my tongue to taste my food. Suddenly, you CLAMP your mouth shut and take a DEEP BREATH through your nose. You GAG and wipe. You rush out the door, panties around your ankles (but still taking the time to flush because, well, you’re that kind of thoughtful potty-goer).

As you wash your hands, you glance over into the bedroom to notice that your husband’s lying on the bed, watching the (FILL IN THE NAME OF PROFESSIONAL SPORTS TEAM HERE) game – not a care in the world.


He gives you that “annoyed” look that means – “you’re lucky we don’t have a pre-nup”. And you know nothing’s going to change. He won’t light a match next time. Or do the courtesy “door close/window open”. So you know it’s going to be up to you…you’d better keep your animal instincts on high-alert. And put Haz-Mat on speed dial!


Marriage…it’s all about “sharing”.

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Author: toni

~ 04/28/09

Randy the perfekt husband calls me a “delicate flower”. Sounds like a sweet, heartfelt endearment doesn’t it? It’s not. It’s a reference to the fact that my comfort temperature lies within the narrow range of somewhere between 74 and 78 degrees. Above that and I find it “unholy hot”. Below that and my core temperature drops to levels usually associated with frostbite and the proverbial witch’s tit.

The biggest telltale sign of this shift in my comfort level: my feet turn into BLOCKS OF ICE! My hands, too. But it’s my feet that are one of the hot-button (or in this case cold-button) issues in our marriage.

I’d like to blame this phenomenon on the post-partum metabolic forces of the universe. You know, the ones that gave me the BIGGER FEET and BIGGER BUTT post-bambina. But truth be told, I’ve always had this problem. And a lot of women have it too. Regardless of age and history of pregnancies.  You know who you are! Your husbands do too.

For me, the problem’s just gotten worse AK (after kid). And it happens fast. I go from short, silky come -hither if I only had the energy nighties to full-on figure unflattering flannels in the blink of an eye! Hence the not-so-endearing endearment “delicate flower”.

Indeed I will admit that I am very sensitive to my environment. I notice the oh-so subtle shift in light as summer turns to fall. I notice how sound carries differently at different times of the year, depending on the warmth of the air or the time of day. I notice the change in the sun’s life-giving rays even before the sycamores that line our street drop their first leaf.  And while some more “mature” folks feel this seasonal shift in their bones… I feel it in my friggin’ feet! And even a hot shower before bed fails to bring up my core temperature.

So I rely on the flannels. And that 20 pound throw I bought because it was 50% off plus I had a 20% off coupon. But most importantly, I rely on that little spot between my husband’s calves. You ladies know the spot. Your guy has one too.

When Randy and I settle down for the night, I take my feet and I BURROW them DEEP, DEEP into that spot, in search of the body heat I so desperately lack.  It’s usually met with a YELP! of shock like you get when you jump naked into a cold lake or your kid flushes while you’re in the shower. It’s followed by the LOW GROWL that rumbles through the darkness, beneath the breath-stifling 20 pound throw:


“Trim your %#@*!# toenails, why don’t you?!”. 


Ah, marriage. For better, for worse.  For richer, for poorer. For hotter, for colder. For…EVER. Sorry, Randy. But socks just make me feel so claustrophobic… I’m happy to get you a bandage though!

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