Would you like a little cream with your neurosis?

I believe I admitted in that last post over at OutsideIn (re: pre anesthesia true confessions) that I have a little “money hiding” neurosis going. This isn’t anything new with me; I’ve been hoarding pennies forever. As a child I coveted my brother’s safe that he got as a Christmas gift one year. Frankly, in retrospect, that’s an odd sort of gift to give a 12 year old boy: a 14 inch cube of flimsy steel with a simple combination lock. I spent a good two months sneaking into his room, honing my lock tumbling skills (there may have been some relationship between this persistent curiosity about my brother’s business and why my mother gifted him the safe in the first place, now that I think about it). You cannot imagine my horror, when I finally cracked the combination, to discover that the safe contained (nothing but) well over a thousand Lik-a-Maid and Bonamo’s Turkish Taffy wrappers compacted into a solid block of paper waste. I was stunned. Stunned and horrified. Where was the MONEY??? I was so offended that I immediately ratted him out to my mother who promptly disciplined me for invading my brother’s privacy. Oh, the inequity of my childhood!

I still don’t know what I would have done if the safe had been full of cash. Probably just admired it and put my brother on a higher pedestal still. I certainly wouldn’t have taken it- I was a sneak but not a thief- but I surely would have admired a hidden stash of cash. By the time I moved away from home at sixteen I was already hoarding dollar bills in books. I did this for about two decades until I realized that my system wasn’t organized enough to a) insure that I didn’t forget which books had money in the pages and b) avoid the risk of discovery as people perused my extensive library with interest. When we moved to a new house, I tried to locate all of those single bills and discovered I had amassed quite a bit of money over 20 years. I vowed to refine my neurosis with all new and ingenious hiding places. This has worked with greater and lesser success, lesser in the sense that now another twenty years have passed and my memory can go blank without warning every once in a while. After I stop hyperventilating and do a little yoga, I always remember that I moved the stash the previous Tuesday; I’ve been known to pop right out of shavasana and head for some remote corner of the house where I squeal with pleasure at rediscovery. Nevertheless, the risk of forgetting completely rises with each passing day.

You cannot imagine my delight when we moved in here and the non-English speaking carpet installer came and snagged me by the sleeve, “Venga y mira etso!”, to show me a combination safe he had discovered in the floor beneath torn up old carpeting. Then (this was like divine support for my dysfunctional behavior!) he showed me a spot 10 feet away where a series of three numbers were penciled on the plywood subfloor. Through a series of hand gestures I feigned nonchalance and indicated that he could put new carpet right over all of that, with just an invisible seam for access.

See what I mean? This is a neurosis. Plus, if I reveal any more of this nonsense I’ll have to come up with an alternate plan for stashing cash. Here’s the real nonsense: It’s not, at this point in my life, all that much money. It’s not more than I could go to the bank and withdraw on any given day. It’s not enough to protect us in case of disaster. More importantly, it is not enough to protect me from the things that really could threaten my security. Colony Collapse Disorder. Drowning polar bears. Violations of privacy that bear no similarity to prying little sisters. The health, safety and happiness of my family.

So what do I get out of a secret stash? Symbolic things, such as a little sense of independence. The knowledge that, if we wanted to fly away to some distant place to gather our thoughts, I could pay for the plane tickets. A new instrument or wet suit for someone. Not so much, but still…

(Remind me to tell you some time about my brother, the Civil War gold dollars and Lik-a-Maid – it goes hand in hand with this story.)


The children have headed to Ann Arbor for a couple days and then Abby is returning tomorrow. The break is good; they were wearing me out. All that laughter. It’s endless and goes late into the night. How can any two young adults find that much to laugh over? They really get rolling with late night editions of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report or YouTube or whatever. Rich and I would be drifting off on the middle floor and up on the third floor- hysterical laughter. We would be quiet, trying not to disrupt the path to sleep but then one or the other of us would start giggling and pretty soon we were laughing, too, at absolutely nothing more than their laughter.

Plus, they exercise too much. Abby trailed me at the zoo on Monday but then I was completely bushed on Tuesday so I was on the sofa while Rich played volleyball and Abby and Dan were running 8 miles and swimming laps in the lake. In 96 degrees, with high humidity. That’s just wrong. Then, all that exercise makes everybody too hungry. And thirsty. Gallon lugs of Trader Joe’s tea, lemonade, and 312 beer just poured out of this house for a few days.

I was struck again at how different these good friends are in personality. It’s hard to believe they are from the same gene pool. They are extremes. Dan lives on a 100% internally driven clock so every day is different in tempo and intensity. Music defines his life -practicing and composing- and it happens when it happens so he is rarely eating or sleeping with the rest of us. He also continues to be cautious about change and anything new, while interesting, requires a period of study. Abby is headlong into her day early with a cup of Starbucks and the New York Times. She reads the paper and does the crossword puzzle and then she’s ready to get up and out. She doesn’t need to know her route before starting out on a two hour run and she has complete confidence that she will be able to find her way back no matter where she gets to in Chicago.

They were heading out to run the other day and Abby kept saying, come on, come on and Dan said “I just have to check something on the computer first.” Finally they headed out the door and I collapsed in my chair to catch up on blog reading and here’s what was on my desktop:

The Bull Shark is found all over the world in many different areas. The bull shark has been known to travel long distances. The bull shark is common in the coastal areas of warm oceans, in rivers and lakes, and in both salt and fresh water. They are found to a depth of 150 m, but does not usually swim deeper than 30 m.[3] The shark is found in the central Amazon River, and has been recorded as far up the Mississippi River as Illinois. It is also found in the fresh water Lake Nicaragua and the GangesBrahmaputra rivers of West Bengal and Assam in eastern India and adjoining Bangladesh. It can live in almost any water including water with a high salt content as in St. Lucia Lake in South Africa. Although rare, bull sharks have made their way through the Great Lakes as far as Lake Michigan. The Lake Michigan encounter occurred off the coast of Chicago, Illinois in 1955.[4]


Hey, let’s be careful out there.



25 responses to “Would you like a little cream with your neurosis?

  1. I am pretty sure that any bull shark with even a modicum of self respect would not eat a child dressed that way. I will post a photo on my blog in honor of yours — somethings never change!

  2. Oh, and whose nekked body did you blur out in your picture? I assume it was a nekked body otherwise why blur it out. 🙂

  3. I love the Garfield mask. I didn’t notice it the first time that I looked.

    It is amazing how different siblings can be, isn’t it. And it is wonderful to see and hear them enjoy each other. I’ve just returned from being with Ella, and, oh yes, her parents, along with Sarah. We did have a good time together.

    Bull sharks…interesting. I just visited with a friend this morning who told me about her husband who went castnetting the other day. While he was out in the water, something brushed up against his leg. He, at first, thought that it was seaweed, but then it began to nudge him.

    When he looked down, there was a manatee. She said that they spent about 30 minutes together. Hub would stroke his back and head, and he kept coming back for more. It brought tears to my eyes as Lexie told that story.

    Do you have one of those little thingies where you can click and make the print bigger on your posts?
    I read bigger print so much better…you know these old eyes!!!

  4. LizaLee- yes, the child had style going 20 years ago. And that was our cottage neighbor, Barack Obama, fresh out of college, nekked on the dock. I’m saving the original in the cash box. Security thing, you know.

    Beverly- I would sell one of these rowdy laughsters for an encounter like that with a manatee. Perhaps next season, I’ll spend a little time IN the bay, not just on the dock of.

  5. I’m on my way out the door but I’ll be back later okay? I skimmed in a hurry. Okay, bye.

  6. Whew, Vicki. Getting to the bull shark story. Sure, you saw an innocent bit of information that caused a little panic? The worries never end…

    Oh, for goodness sakes – we are all neurotic in our own way.

    Short story: My Dad hoarded dollars in his 1966 World Book encylopedias for 30 years. Without his knowledge, my Mom donated them to an elementary school. Guess who was walking through the main entrance to the school when the bell rang the following morning? For $500, he’d do anything :o)

  7. That was not really Barack Obama. Was it? I am so gullible, you shouldn’t do that to me.

    I am having a hard time focusing on work today. I maybe need a nap, some more coffee, or some ritalin. Or just to give up and read my novel.

  8. The Garfield will scare away any bull shark; works on Odie.

    Odd: I also giggle about Jon Stewart and S Colbert. Funniest bits on TV right now, I think.

  9. You might want to consider a safety deposit box, seeing as how the carpet installer (and the rest of the internet) knows about your safe and all… It’s kind of fun to visit it in the bank vault.

  10. And now. after reading the above comments, I have Otis Redding’s “Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay” looping in my brain. Fortunately it is an old favorite.

    Love, love the photo of the little swimmer! So sweet.

    I, too, have a secret stash of cash. It’s a security thing with women, I think.

    Haven’t had any experiences with bull sharks but when we were in Hawaii, we went out on a whale watching boat. No whales that day but we did see quite a few of tiger sharks. My son loves sharks so he was content.

  11. I love the photo of Abby! Bra drawer is my hoarding spot; the problem is that everyone knows it! My husband is a huge money hoarder. He has 1000s of dollars in coffee cans in his garage. He showed me where, but I’ve already forgotten.

  12. Okay, back now. I can’t believe you all are hiding cash in your houses and garages. We have a big jar with some change in it, but other than that all our cash is in the BANK where it BELONGS.

    Oh, but wait, I forgot about the possibility of a terrorist strike and the subsequent urban insurrection. We would need cash to buy our way out of the city and get down to Angie’s farm where we could drink goats milk and have fried chicken. Maybe I should hide some cash in the freezer or something.

    I love hearing about Abby and Dan. They are different from my kids, and yet it all sounds so familiar.

  13. In the second home of my childhood, we moved there when I guess I was about 13, I was sick and tired of having everything snooped through and found. NOTHING I had was private or sacred and my very own. So in my closet, I tore up a tiny bit of carpet in the corner to hide things under. Unfortunately I was never able to get enough of it up to get anything significant underneath it… a few coins or a couple of dollars, a note folded very small at a time…

    Or fortunately. Because I probably left whatever I did manage to hide there when I moved away from home.

  14. I’m going to withdraw my request to follow you on Twitter if you don’t accept it soon.

    Uh… BANK.

    And how cool your kids get along.

    Your mother: was very, very wise. 😀

  15. Great new site!

    Glad you’re good and well and have moved within the vast internets.

    My Mom does the $ hiding thing as well. About a year ago, I took a book off the bookshelf, opened it, and a back envelope fell out with $100 in it. From 1979. I figure there’s several thousand bucks hidden around her house, and my sisters and I are going to, one day, have to decide if it’s worth trying to hunt it all down.

  16. Love the photo. Too cute. And my grandmother hoarded money like that. When she passed away (okay, died), I think we found close to $1000 (maybe $2000) when were cleaning out her house. We donated everything that was left (and there was a lot left) to a charity. I’ve always wondered how much more money they found.

  17. Thanks for the heads-up about the new site.

    Somewhere or other, you should put up a link to the old Typepad site…just in case any of us are in an archive-mining mood!

  18. bull sharks in the lake?? are you serious?! Ok, next time I’m in chicago, I am so not going into lake michigan….maybe.

    It’s funny Dan and Abby remind me much of my and my brother in certain ways. I’m much like Abby ready to explore and figure it out (as my brother will tell you I decided one day to understand the Chicago transportation system ala busses)…whereas my brother is more deliberate on what he does.


  19. I could never hide money, or keep something secret for such a long time. So it’s interesting to read that you are able to do both. I want to blurt things out to everyone about everything.

    I can’t believe how absolutely adorable Abby is in this pic. Too cute for words.

  20. Beverly-
    [CTRL] [SHIFT] [+] makes text size bigger.
    View > Text Size > Increase

    Here I was convinced you were looking at me funny when I said I hoarded rolls of quarters in case of a devastating earthquake.

    You WERE looking at me funny?

    Never mind.

  21. There’s something about that cute little body that reminds me of Hannah. I think it’s the stance and the tummy, and the cute dimpled wrists.

    Anyway, as corny as it seems, I think this post just made my heart smile.

    Let’s hope that carpet installer doesn’t want to go to go fly away somewhere before you do.

    Anyway, your life is good, Vicki, isn’t it?

  22. Wow Vicki, this post had a little of everything! Your skill as a safe-cracker, your brother’s penchant for hiding Lik-a-Maid wrappers, why we should rifle the pages of your books if we ever visit your house (kidding!), the antics of your children now, and an adorable photo of little Abby, and sharks! All woven together into one great post!

  23. Now I know why those dollar bills were in those books we bought at your moving sale.

    Hea Vickie, how come I’m not one of your kindred spirits here? Maybe cause you don’t feel and attachment to Ann Arbor any more? Say it isn’t so.

    Ah, 312 beer. Goose Island. Wendy and I here are big fans of the Michigan microbrews and scouted microbreweries there in the Chicago Yellow Pages when we visited last spring.

  24. You managed to work your way to the top of my blogroll with your new site… what a great job! Just taking a few minutes before hitting the sack to try and catch up a little. I seem to be developing ADHD with this move; so many things to do and so hard to get them done.

    Love the new site… love the pictures… love the Garfield mask… it is sure to scare away any bull shark they come across.

    Did I mention that Nyssa went to Antigua for part of her senior research? No? Guess I should post about that… sloshing a boat through the marsh and the encounter with the stinging nettles… great time though!

    Hopefully this strange moving saga will be over soon. I really am getting tired of 20 trips up the stairs everyday… and you have three floors? Bless you my child!

  25. LOVE the Garfield mask! It’s adorable.

    My uncle used to hide money in books. Except it wasn’t singles…it was c-notes. I found one once when I was a kid. I didn’t get to keep it, and then he moved his stash to a higher shelf.

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