interview with my mom!

I try to write a blog post a week and I typically write my weekly post on the weekend. When I’m out of town, as I was this weekend visiting my mom so we could both do our taxes with the family accountant, it makes finding time to write a post very challenging without neglecting my maternal figure. The way I saw it, I had two choices: I could either skip the blog post this week or I could somehow combine my time with my mom with completing the task.  Since I’m rarely one to refuse a challenge, I made it work. For my blog post this week, I bring you my interview with Susan—my mom.

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Besides being the woman who gave birth to me, my mom is also one of my most productive writing muses and among the strongest and funniest women I know. (I take after her, of course.) Even though she’s been my mother for *cough* years, there are things even I don’t know about her. So, I decided to conduct this interview. As you’ll see, the questions become increasingly personal as we both warm up:

Meredith: Who are your favorite authors?

Susan: Eileen Goudge (my mom is so impressed and a little envious that Eileen is actually a dear friend of mine), Julie Buxbaum, Belva Plain, Meredith Schorr (fourth. She mentioned me fourth), Jennifer Weiner, Cynthia Freeman, and Maisie Mosco.

Meredith: What is your favorite genre?

Susan: women’s fiction and family sagas (immigration experience, rise to riches)

Meredith: Where do you get your books?

Susan: The library, Jewish Community Center, my daughter. I very rarely buy books.

Meredith: How influenced are you by covers?

Susan: Not very. I’m more drawn to the title and reading the blurb. I also get recommendations from the Hadassah Best-Seller list. (You think my mom is Jewish?)

Meredith: Do you care about reviews or if you’ve heard of an author before you read a book?

Susan: Not at all.

Meredith: How do you feel about sex in books?

Susan: I used to be more interested in it, but after I’ve experienced practically everything, it doesn’t titillate me anymore (TMI, Mom. TMI!) It doesn’t turn me off, but I skip a lot of it.

Meredith: Why don’t you buy books?

Susan: Too expensive.

Meredith: Would you ever consider getting an ereader?

Susan: Yes

Meredith: What is holding you back from getting one?

Susan: Not having someone to set it up for me and show me what to do. I  don’t think I can handle doing it myself. (Like mother, like daughter) I’m a technophobe.

Meredith: Do too many typos in books bother you?

Susan: Very rarely have I come across books with a lot of typos, at least that I’ve noticed. (Yeah, but she noticed a mistake in my book that no one else caught – apparently, there is no such thing as a Ford Escalade – the car Cheryl was driving in How Do You Know?)

Meredith: Have you ever wondered if you’d be able to write a book?

Susan: It’s crossed my mind, but I don’t think I’m talented enough. I’ve had ideas about books but to write one? No.

Meredith: Tell me one of these ideas.

Susan: A man leaves his wife to fend by herself with her children and she goes back to law school and becomes a lawyer and she faces him in court one day – she’s the prosecutor and he’s the defendant. What does she do? (Note to self: book 10 maybe?)

Meredith: Do you think your own life could make an interesting memoir and, if so, why?

Susan: Absolutely. Because I made lemonade out of lemons. When I was working, I didn’t want to have any credit card debt or interest and any time I got money, I invested it while others spent foolishly. I didn’t want to worry about the buck when I retired and I made it my business to be independent even though I was a single mom with a deadbeat ex-husband and three children. While all the other kids had Benetton shirts and designer jeans, my girls couldn’t and when they got older and had jobs, half the paycheck had to go in the bank and half they could spend how they wanted to. (I’m sorry I begged you to take me shopping all of those times!)

Meredith: Do you think your conservative outlook with money was passed along to your children?

Susan: Absolutely. (No one tell her about the Christian Louboutin shoes I bought a few months ago.)

Meredith: Of what in your life are you the most proud?

Susan: My three children. My biggest accomplishment. All three are beautiful human beings on the inside and the outside.  (*blush*)

Meredith: Is there anything you would have done differently if you could go back in time?

Susan: Yes. I’d be more attentive to my children when they were little, I would have studied harder, and I’d be nicer to my mother.

Meredith: What is your favorite part of being a grandma?

Susan: They’re not my responsibility!

Meredith: When you’ve observed your two older daughters raising their children, have you ever thought that how they dealt with something was not how you would have done it?

Susan: Yes, only one thing. My grandchildren have too many material things and I don’t think they appreciate the hard work their parent’s did to get those things for them.

Meredith: How do you think your daughters were better mothers than you?

Susan: They were more involved.

Meredith: At seventy-three years old, how do you feel about the aging process?

Susan: I don’t feel differently than I did when I was younger. I’m grateful for my continued good health. When I have my annual mammography and freak out about it, I’m so grateful for good results. I don’t take it for granted since life can change on a dime.

Meredith: At what age do you think you were the happiest so far?

Susan: Right now. (Wow. Finally something to look forward to.)

Meredith: Do you think that people who say quality of life decreases as we get older are wrong?

Susan: In my case, yes, because I’m healthy, have all of my marbles, a pot to piss in, three wonderful children, and friends. I’m active and don’t have to worry about where the next dollar is coming from. That makes me happy.

Meredith: As you get older, obviously your body changes as well as your skin. Was this a difficult transition for you and did you notice it happening?

Susan: In my 60s, I noticed my neck and eyes changing and so I had work done. I never thought I’d have money to do that. If you can do it, do it! Menopause came and went with no hot flashes. My period just stopped and that was the end of it. And I didn’t dwell on it. It’s a rite of passage. You can’t go back so don’t dwell on it. You can’t go back so you might as well enjoy the time that you’re in. (Can I hear a round of applause for my mom’s attitude, please. She’s an inspiration.)

Meredith: If you could have been any career you wanted, what would you choose?

Susan: There’s really no career I would have wanted, but I am sorry I didn’t study harder in school – that it wasn’t a priority in my life. Getting an education was not a priority, but that’s how you were raised in the 50s. You were raised to marry well. I never thought I’d have to earn a living and neither did my parents, but I don’t blame them. Divorce was less common and I thought I fell in love with the perfect guy. He was an Ivy League college graduate who went into his father’s established practice. No one could have predicted how it would play out.

Meredith: What are your talents?

Susan: Playing mahjong and canasta (LOL)

Meredith: Who are among your celebrity crushes past and present?

Susan: Pernell Roberts, Kenny Rogers, Peter Riegert,  Alan Arkin, Josh Duhamel. (She was almost somewhat age appropriate until that last one…)

And now for the lightening round:

Love or money? Money (Mom…)

Salt or sugar? Sugar

Appetizers or dessert? Dessert

Extended foreplay or a quickie? Quickie.

Bald or hairy? Bald with beard

Television or movies? Television

Red meat or chicken? Red meat

Vegetables or fruit? Neither (hehe)

Dogs or cats? Neither (Says the woman who loves to cuddle with all of my sister’s dogs and dragged us to pet stores to look at the puppies even though she wouldn’t let us have one!)

Overweight or bad skin? Overweight

Rain or snow? Rain

Pants or dresses? Pants

Blind or deaf? Deaf

And there you have it: Susan Goodman at a glance.

Thanks for playing, Mom. I love you!

Isn't my mom cute?

Isn’t my mom cute?

Hope vs. the worst-case-scenario

I love the feeling of being hopeful and excited and anticipating good things. It’s a rush. The future is wide open and bright and great things are comin’ around the mountain. In contrast, when things take a disappointing turn, which they often do, it’s like a punch in the gut. Sometimes being let down hurts so much that I can’t catch my breath.

I have to ask myself: are the hopeful moments worth the disappointment that often follows? Is it better to not allow yourself to believe good things will happen in the first place so that you have less distance to fall when things come crashing down?

I posed a question on the Meredith Schorr, Author page on Facebook asking people if they allowed themselves to get excited and hopeful about things or if they were always focused on the worst case scenario and waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under them. I got mixed responses. I’m somewhere in between.

I do allow myself to get keyed up about things. I try to be cautious and stay in the moment, but I do find myself getting revved up about the “possibilities” and I have to consciously reign myself in. But no matter how many times reality does not meet my expectations and I swear to never allow myself to believe the best case scenario is within my grasp, I find myself living that high again at some point.

On the flip side, even when things are looking good and there is no reason to suspect anything bad will happen, I automatically assume the worst is just around the corner and the slightest suggestion that something *might* be off sets me into a panic and a whirlwind of self-doubt. Even though I allow myself to get excited for a period of time, part of me is always waiting for things to fall to shit. Probably because they usually do. And usually, it is the precise moment when I allow myself to consider that maybe my doubts are in my head—a result of bad past experiences—that disappointment sets in. And when, through no fault of own and with the best of intentions, I find myself defeated and beaten down, I  insist I’ll never be able to pick myself up and begin again. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my sister that I can’t do it anymore—I can’t keep dusting myself off and starting from scratch when failure is imminent.

But it feels so good to be hopeful. When I’m in positive spirits, it’s contagious as I am better able to talk my friends off the ledge too. I smile more. I have more patience. I go to sleep with a sense of peace and look forward to the days ahead of me. Each day I have faith is a day I enjoy living. That’s not to say I never engage in a pity-party of one. When the shit undoubtedly hits the fan, I cry. I sulk. I curl on my couch watching mindless television. I text my sister insisting nothing will ever work out for me. I enlist my friends to go out with me for a drink (or three). And I scream at my best friend Alan for dying and leaving me without his guidance and unflagging certainty that someone as special as me should always have hope because I, more than anyone else he knows, deserves to be happy. But then I wake up, dust myself off and start all over again. I don’t really have a choice.

So, at the end of the day, I guess I believe the hopeful moments, however fleeting sometimes, are well worth the subsequent crash and burn. And even if I didn’t believe it, it’s who I am and if the past is any indication of the future, it’s who I will always be.

Maggie Piper dishes her thoughts on tv, smug marrieds, and turning the big 4.0.

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Such a great cover!

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with a little help from my friends

view from my run

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