Posts filed under 'Gettin’ thinky with it'

Carry On

Do you guys feel like you’re just flailing in the dark? I am having a hard time, and I’ll be honest, I’m not usually a person who has a hard time with these things—not because I’m a cold-hearted snake, but because I have a way of keeping a protective shell of denial around me at all times to shield me from the actual reality of what could happen and frankly, of what has happened. A lifelong anxiety sufferer, I’ve always gone back to my cognitive behavioral therapy lessons — think about statistical probability, think about what you CAN control, think about the moment right in front of you, not the moments that may or may not (and probably won’t) come.

I do this because if I don’t, I flail in the dark and spend a lot of time thinking about how terrifying the world is. When I was first put on medication (a short-lived stint on Paxil, the devil’s med), it was years and years ago, shortly after Adam and I got engaged, and I became paralyzed with fear that something would happen to him — he would cross the street and a bus would come; mustard gas would fall from the sky; he’d choke on a South Korean chicken ball. (Bonus points if you can tell me the movie where that happened to someone.) I used to think about not having children, in part because I literally could not fathom how I would live just sending them out into the world unprotected, because all those things could happen to THEM, too, right?

I don’t know how to work through this. Adam said earlier that he doesn’t know how to digest it, and I think that’s a good word — digest. You think through things, take what you need to take, and purge the rest. I can’t figure out how to do that, so it just sits there like a rock. I keep wanting to throw up — literally — because then, what, I’ll feel better? This isn’t food poisoning. It’s not a virus that will run its course. I can’t get rid of it, and nothing I do will make it go away.

I didn’t know anyone involved. This isn’t my tragedy, and by writing this, I’m not trying to make it so or make it about me, it’s just honestly, I do not know how to process this, and I’m hoping that by writing it down, maybe I will, a little, and maybe you will and maybe some way we can get through this without losing our minds, because right now I’m not confident that’s even a possibility.

I have delayed reactions to things. I float in denial for a few days, and then bam! I can’t get it out of my head. I’m there now, right as everyone else is at least attempting to return to normal. While everyone else is returning to normal, I am just sinking into the pit.

What gets me about tragedies like this is the awful way it makes me — and I’m imagining, other people — think. Everyone’s hugging their babies a little tighter, grateful for them; but what it really feels like is thanking God that someone else’s babies were taken instead of yours. “Thank God they didn’t go to MY kid’s classroom,” we all think in moments of weakness.

And that’s when it starts feeling really sick. Like the reaping is upon us and if we have to choose — if this is the price of living in our world — let it be someone else who has to do without. The completely understandable, sickening selfishness we’re all reduced to is what keeps me up at night. I blame no one for thinking this way, as I do, too, and I hate it. I hate it. I hate feeling grateful for what I have at the cost of someone else, but I don’t know how else to think. I don’t know what else to think about. I don’t want to see your instagram picture of how grateful you are to hug your babies, because someone else isn’t, and that feels shitty, but at the same time? I need to see it. I need to hug my kids, I need to reassure myself that it can’t happen, even though it’s a total lie.

I don’t know how to thank God without a desperate anger about what happened to someone else. God works in mysterious ways, they say, but right now, I’m feeling kind of like screaming, hey fuck that shit, this is crap, and we don’t have to put up with it. Where is management? Who can I talk to about this experience? I want a do-over, a refund, a guarantee. I want a guarantee! Where is my fucking guarantee? I didn’t sign up for this.

Columbine, September 11 and this — three events that cost me so little in terms of collateral damage, but so much in innocence lost. This. This is the hardest in some ways — after 9/11, there was a certain xenophobic false sense of safety; an us vs. them situation, the ability to move forward drawn from the realization that the calls, at least, were not coming from inside the house. Columbine, a little tougher — disillusioned and disenfranchised high school students lashing out the only place they knew how. But this? I got nothing here. I got a kid — a random kid — shooting up LITTLE kids, and this time. This time, I’m a parent, and it’s not to say I care more about humanity than I did before, it’s that I can visualize, with greater clarity, exactly what those kids were like.

Before my children were born, my knowledge of a six-year-old was hardly intimate — a fleeting stage of my nephews that happened in an instant and was quickly forgotten. I could pretend a six-year-old had little knowledge of what was happening. I can’t anymore. I know exactly, in intimate detail, what kids that age are like.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to look. Shit, I don’t even know who to pray to or what for, because I’m so angry that this was allowed to happen. I don’t know where to put this anger and I don’t even know if what I’m saying is right or sensitive or appropriate or any of those things, I just don’t know what else to do. I don’t know how to get up and live in a world where this shit just HAPPENS and we’re supposed to carry on with our lives without throwing up from pure terror. We’re just supposed to DEAL with it, and no one asked us if that was okay.

Help me figure out what to do. I’m angry, I’m sad, I’m lost, and I’ll bet you are too.

*Uh, Fun. Also, I did not edit this. At all.

72 comments December 17th, 2012

Forget About What I Said

So I am having all of these unexpected FEELINGS about Allie being my last baby. It’s not that I necessarily want three children, I don’t think, it’s that Allie is my last BABY and after that, there are no more BABY babies. No more babies in the house. No more cribs and birth experiences and pregnancies (well, thank Jesus for that last one) and I just . . . hmph. It’s sad. But at the same time, I’m pretty sure it’s the right thing to do.

The thing is, I am not as zen about it as I thought I was. I keep wanting to say that I am — and I AM, in some ways — but then when I really think about closing the door and doing a permanent birth control solution (Jesus, Essure, oh my God, don’t get me started on THAT Twitter trainwreck), I balk. I don’t even want to get an IUD right now, for God’s sake. What is wrong with me? I was so DEPRESSED and MISERABLE during pregnancy and during Allie’s early newborn phase, I thought I would just DIE from the heartbreak that was Sam’s lack of attention, and a third baby would just . . . no. Trying for a third baby and going through all that again, plus pregnancy, is literally the last thing in the world I want to do.

I want to raise my girls. I want to focus, finally, on RAISING our family, rather than the weird limbo of growing it. I forget, as I did when I was having trouble getting pregnant with Allie, that not getting something new doesn’t mean that I lose what I already have. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it was a recurring thought as I went through those losses — as though each loss meant that I would somehow lose my hold on Sam, too.

I’ll be 37 in a few weeks. I’m done. But still, sometimes, I am sad about it. I love being a mom — truly, it’s what I was meant to do, and I live a remarkably happy, resentment-free existence with my kids — and sometimes I struggle with the idea that If *I* am not supposed to have a passel of kids, who IS?

Sigh. I keep remembering that there will ALWAYS be a last baby; this isn’t a state that could continue in perpetuity, nor is it one I really WANT to continue (and Adam might as well have “WE ARE DONE!” tattooed on his forehead). But it’s sad, I guess, to shut that door on a part of your life. Sadder than I thought it would be.

Allie continues to be the Best Baby Ever, however, and spends most of her days looking like this:

Sorry, I won the cute baby game. Try again later.

Sam is herself, and she is fantastically funny and bright and God, three is absurd, but so fun, and I know I say that every time, but JESUS, you guys, she is just . . . three. “I am NOT three. I am THREE CANDLES YEARS OLD,” she would yell if she heard me say that. “I am NOT FUNNY. I am Sam.”

So you know, I’m lucky, is what I’m saying, and I should be counting my blessings instead of mourning the loss of fake ones. Because the other thing is that I know that once that train is started — once the first positive pregnancy test comes in, followed by the first miscarriage — you can’t stop it. Giving up is not an option, and it becomes an obsession that almost feels like a desire to win a game, but with obscenely higher stakes.

**Side note: the first time I heard the word obscene was when one of my mom’s friends went as a flasher for Halloween and made a fake penis out of panythose. I remember my mom exclaiming with horror, “CAROL! That is OBSCENE!” and having no idea what she was referring to, or what the word obscene meant. Either way, I would not disagree with my mom on that front, though it was also obscenely hilarious in retrospect.

(See what I did there? Such a versatile word!)

Anyway! *clap clap* this is all very depressing, but it’s still on my mind, and I’m still working through it, particularly because time is FLYING. It’s flying. It’s Christmastime already, for God’s sake, and Sam is halfway through the school year. I mean, what the eff? Next year is pre-K and then kindergarten, and it’s all just whizzing by in a blur, and one of these days, I’m going to open my eyes in my Florida trailer park and call my daughters collect, you know?

Oh just kidding about that. I will be living in my Florida HOUSE. The one I still own, and have taken to referring to as my retirement plan.

Also, would you believe that all this stupid introspection was tipped off by Allie SLEEPING IN HER OWN BEDROOM? I mean, honestly. I’m acting like I’ve just shipped her off to Northwestern, FFS. No. She’s eleven feet down the hall, and I still go in there to nurse her at night. Yes, please. Someone get that kid a dorm room.

(OMG)

Anyway, random side thing before I go, and this seems very Swistle-like, I don’t know why: I was paying my Target RedCard bill by phone (GET A REDCARD!) and I was trying to pay off the whole balance, but it wouldn’t let me and I was SO PISSED, because it just kept bouncing me to different parts of the IVR, and then it finally bounced me to an agent, and I was all, “I JUST WANNA PAY OFF THE WHOLE BALANCE!” I mean, I was fired up. Take my goddamned MONEY, Target, this shouldn’t be HARD. And she helpfully explained that it would only let me pay $300 instead of $450 (bullshit numbers because I can’t remember) and I was practically SCREECHING at her that I wanted to pay off the $450, and TAKE MY MONEYS, NOW. But no. I could only pay $300.

I hung up, very dissatisfied that I only paid $300 until I remembered that my statement was $450 but I only OWED $300 because I RETURNED at least $150 worth of items (including a rug!) and this is all well and good and a long story, who cares, but the pont is, I had this BURNING DESIRE to call the woman back and EXPLAIN how I’d figured it out! I figured it out! I had a RETURN! Isn’t that great?

LIKE SHE CARED. But for some reason, I felt like she and I had worked through something TOGETHER and I found the resolution and SHE! She would want closure on this.

Really. As if.

Happy Friday!

*The Killers

51 comments December 6th, 2012

Stubborn Love

That was a holiday hiatus! Let’s pretend it didn’t happen and move on. Not that you care, but *I* care, see.

So, ah, Thanksgiving. You guys, I can’t even. Every year, we go to Virginia to see Adam’s family — not on the ACTUAL holiday, but before the holiday and God, who cares really, this is unimportant, except that it was the weekend before Thanksgiving and it will now go down in history as a VERY NOT GOOD EXPERIENCE AT ALL.

We drove. From Boston to Chesapeake, VA. IN A SINGLE DAY. ONE FELL SWOOP. I can’t even really explain what happened in that car, except that it was as though we shut the doors after letting in the smoke monster from Lost. All reason, happiness, joy, light, logic and JUST PLAIN GOODNESS was trapped in a fog of misery. We lost ourselves. We became horrible people. By hour thirteen (THIRTEEN) on the way home, we were earnestly, and quite angrily, talking about custody arrangements for our two children, because we came to the conclusion somewhere in New Jersey that we were not meant to be together, that we could not POSSIBLY have thought this was a good idea, when it is SO OBVIOUS how terrible we are for each other.

Yes, clearly the writing’s been on the wall for 14 years. Or PERHAPS IT WAS THIRTEEN HOURS IN THE CAR WITH A SCREAMING BABY. INCLUDING A DETOUR THROUGH A TERRIFYING SECTION OF THE BRONX. TWICE.

It could go either way, really.

Spoiler: We’re not getting divorced, because when we are not under extreme Guantanamo-level torture enhanced interrogation techniques, we do like each other quite a bit. But the car breakdown was oh-so-very real in that context, and this! This is why you will never see us on the Amazing Race. Ever.

My sister-in-law is getting married in the same location in May (Sam and I are in the wedding, woo!) and we discussed how to get there, because Sam is a terrible flier (THE EARS) and yet the drive. OMG the drive. Actual conversation:

“We can’t do that again. We will all die.”

“Yes we will.”

So! Teleportation should be invented by then, right?

So that happened, then, which led to such residual trauma that we just stayed home for Thanksgiving, eschewing any and all family obligations, because . . . ugh, no. Not that I don’t love our families — I love Adam’s family, even! His siblings and I are close! I still feel this way after 24 hours of driving!

But seriously. Turkey on my couch without any pants, thanks. Please don’t make me get into the car again.

Separately, and apropos of nothing, I was thinking recently that one of the best characteristics a person can have is being comfortable with the fact that not everyone will like you. Generally speaking, I have a pretty thick skin — I don’t know where it came from, honestly, although I’m sure there is a terrifying reason lurking in my past somewhere. I’m just . . . not that sensitive, most of the time. This works against me — I have a big mouth, after all, and am very comfortable with being uncomfortable around people — but I also think it lets me have more . . . integrity maybe? I’m not sure. I’m a fairly strong personality (haa?), and it doesn’t appeal to everyone. I have opinions people don’t like. Some people just don’t like ME.

That doesn’t bother me all that much. There’s something very freeing in realizing that no matter what you do, there will be people who don’t like you and maybe even ACTIVELY dislike you, and so what? If you don’t like or respect them, it matters not, at least outside of a professional context, although EVEN THEN there are significant benefits, so long as you know how to play politics, and geez, that situation is too complex to summarize here, isn’t it?

The point is: accepting that people won’t always like you makes it easier to be who you want to be, and focus on the people who DO like you for exactly who you are. And I realized that I am pretty uncomfortable with people who are uncomfortable with that concept. You know? Just be it! Be who you are! Not everyone will like you, but those who do, REALLY will, so go whole hog, won’t you? Say fuck it. Give your opinion. Be a real person. At least you know that when people like you, they really like YOU and not because you’re simply nice. God, please let people say something better about me at my funeral than, “She was really nice.”

I don’t think I’m that nice, honestly, and I’m not sure I care all that much.

Kindness is underrated. Niceness is overrated. Fascinating, that. Also, a really hard concept to explain to daughters. Good times.

Have a happy Wednesday!

*The Lumineers. Shit, they are just pure joy.

37 comments November 27th, 2012

Stronger

I was emailing with Temerity Jane the other day, and really, I highly recommend a friendship with Kelly, because her emails are genuine comedy gold even when the topic is serious, for they are fraught with rich imagery of her ranting and waving around pork chops while her dogs drool helplessly at her feet.

TJ was talking about being average (a point I will argue against later) and how so many of us believed we were destined for some large-scale greatness (I believe she used the words “plucked from the rubble” which just killed me), when the truth is, most of us are destined to be . . . well, average. And okay, let’s take that statement at face value. Doesn’t “average” sound so HORRIBLE? I’m not talking about in the statistical sense (“the average person eats five spiders”), but in the, okay, this person’s life is relatively unremarkable on the grand scheme of things. It seems sad to be average, like we all should have performed better, stronger, faster. Been leaders. Become CEOs, neurosurgeons, rocket scientists. Put one million shoes on the feet of indigent Africans or something. When no, actually, we are just going to be people doing everyday jobs, probably in a cubicle of some sort, then going home to our average little families.

Forgive me if this is all painfully obvious to you — and I’m certain that it is — but on the scale of enlightenment, generally, I fall pretty low. For all the navel-gazing I do, you’d think I’d have reached more conclusions about life in general, but most of the time I’m just . . . not that aware.

This whole concept is hilarious to me because I vividly remember being in my twenties — my early twenties, oh my lord, okay? I mean, lest you think I was painfully immature until— oh wait, you know what, I WAS painfully immature. This is why I make jokes that if I WERE famous in my early twenties, I would have gone full Lohan, and let’s all thank the baby Jesus that there was no twitter, because I don’t think the internet could stomach my drama. Bad enough that somewhere out there is a Diaryland blog wherein I remember writing some of the world’s most overwrought posts about LIFE and how we were all STRUGGLING and I don’t remember much about it except that I DO know that I used a lot of ten-dollar words because it made me sound smarter. I’m also curious what the HELL I could have been struggling with, although I vaguely remember feeling a strong kinship to the crew in Reality Bites, because THEIR PROBLEMS WERE HUGE, AM I RIGHT?

I viewed life through this soft-focus documentary lens, just waiting for the world to discover me, which is when my life would begin — when *I* would be plucked from the rubble, drawn to my One True Purpose of Greatness, because *I* was not going to be average, OH HO NO.

Oh, twentysomething Jonna.

I promise I will get to my point soon.

So you know how people rant and rave about Disney princesses and how they teach women All The Wrong Things? This blog post is just really not long enough to explain why I think so much of that is utter crap (both the princesses and the criticism of the princesses), but I WILL say that I think most of the criticism misses the boat. They all focus on appearance and having a man to fulfill you and the ridiculous notion of a fairy tale, yes, but the problem isn’t the male part of the fairy tale, but that there is a FAIRY TALE AT ALL. Jesus. I was watching Disney Jr. with Sam the other day (or maybe just myself, it could really go either way) and this ad for Sofia the First came on, and it’s about — wait for it — an ORDINARY GIRL plucked from the rubble to become an EXTRAORDINARY PRINCESS.

And Belle! Freaking BELLE! There must be more than this provincial life? Really? What, I ask you, is so wrong about being the jolly baker in a tiny town in Provence? NOT MUCH. She probably has a happy family. You want adventure? BOOK A CRUISE. Now go bake bread and feed the ducks. It sounds PEACEFUL.

God, it’s like we’re set up from the very beginning to be disappointed with an ordinary, average life, and if there’s one thing I will struggle with, it’s teaching my girls to simultaneously reach for the stars (TM Fresh Beat Band) and just be happy with an average, totally normal, non-fairy tale life.

Lest you think this is a lesson I have thoroughly learned for myself, you would be wrong. I mean, I no longer think I am particularly special, but I do occasionally struggle with the, ah, lack of larger meaning in what I do. What’s that you say, Ann Romney? I am a MOTHER, the most important job in the world? Eh. EH. I mean, it is, but sometimes I look back on the jobs I’ve had and the sense of accomplishment I gained — the titles and careers I’d be living if I’d kept going, and I get nostalgic and I feel like I’ve failed, somehow. I don’t have a fancy title or a huge list of accomplishments to my name anymore. I mean, there was an ENTIRE YEAR where I managed TWELVE mergers and acquisitions. Twelve, you guys.

And now, I wax poetic about Viva paper towels and I drive a giant Mom-mobile and I wipe butts and I sing songs and feel like a rockstar if I make dinner, and sometimes, man, SOMETIMES. After all, people who are a lot dumber than me do this mothering gig just as well as I do, so what does that make me? What kind of role model am I for my daughters, staying home and teaching them that they can be anything they want to be while . . . not, really, uh, doing that myself?

Well, it makes me average. Normal. Boring, just like everybody else. But the thing is, that makes me happy, and it’s so easy to forget that average doesn’t mean you’re not extraordinary — it just means your level of extraordinary translates to fewer people, which, you know, THANK GOD, because being the center of attention beyond my immediate family is vomit-inducing. I see it in Kelly when she describes herself as average, because I laugh. If that’s average, may we all be so lucky — she’s hilarious, vibrant, fun to be around, and I’m guessing, a shitton of fun to be married to. She’s special to the people around her (she’s going to kill me for this) and her daughter! Her DAUGHTER! So lucky!

You know what I want? A quiet, happy, healthy life (so far so good). I want a nice, strong marriage to Adam until the day I drop dead. (So far so good!) I want to own a cute little house (that I actually live in). I want my kids to grow up and find their own happiness, no matter what that entails, and I want them to be everything they want to be, even if that just means being average.

I’m sure that lesson won’t be hard to teach at all.

Sigh.

(Happy Wednesday!)

*I’m going with Kanye here, because honest to SHIT, is there a guy who would be LESS cool with average?

66 comments October 23rd, 2012

Both Hands

While driving to the UPS store this afternoon, I caught a dude waiting in the car outside of a daycare — presumably, I am praying, to pick up his child — like, um, the Rum Tum Tugger, from, uh, Cats? The (former) Broadway musical? There are many weirdly disturbing things happening here, not the least of which is that, you know, my first thought was that OMFG, that dude is the Rum Tug Tugger, and second, WHY? WHY? But also, YOU GUYS. I saw Cats at the Winter Garden theater back in the day, and though I was young (high school?), I … I distinctly recall having a STEAMY REACTION to The Rum Tum Tugger, which was a man … dressed as a cat. And even though I KNOW I wasn’t (am not) alone, it’s still a bit disturbing to me, in retrospect.

I’ve never felt so close to having a plushie fetish than right there on Rte 20. Except, through Googling just now, I learned that it’s more of a furry thing, and let’s just say that there are things one cannot un-see.

Separately, I’m not much of a grudge-holder, but there are a few incidents that happened YEARS ago that still make me angry when I think about them. Does this ever happen to you? Like, you’re OVER IT, but once in a while, you think about it, and you just get BOILY WITH RAGE?

I dated an identical twin in college, and his brother ALSO went to college with us, and to make things MORE confusing, this girl in my sorority dated the OTHER twin, i.e., the one who was not my boyfriend. They broke up rather horribly, if I recall, and though it would be a few years before my twin and I would come to the same fate, at the time, we were happy, and this set this girl off into a bit of a crazy rage against me. Urgh, college. Not the most mature of times, right? ANYWAY, this girl was the bullying type to BEGIN WITH, but then, after the breakup, amped up her meanness to eleven and directed most of it straight in my direction.

And you guys. She was mean to me, all the time. ALL THE TIME. She confronted me in public, accusing me of leaking information about who she was and wasn’t dating to my boyfriend, who would then tell his brother (I didn’t, because surprisingly, WE DID NOT DISCUSS HER), and on one memorable occasion, she sat in a room with a bunch of people and took subtle pot-shots at me that she thought were going over my head, but in fact, were smacking me clear in the face. Stuff like that, over and over again. FOR MONTHS.

And I, being on super-shaky ground coming off of depression (more on that in a minute), was too chicken to confront her or even call her out on her behavior, because I was SURE that everyone would side with her, and honestly, I was probably right. I’ve never been that good at that kind of warfare.

She graduated a year before me, and my senior year, called me to get her twin’s contact information (my twin and I were still dating). Even though the risk of her doing my personal life any damage had long passed (she was gone, I wasn’t even IN my sorority anymore, having realized it was a bit, um, toxic, particularly for someone in my situation), I STILL DIDN’T TELL HER TO STUFF IT IN HER ASS. I HAD NOTHING TO LOSE, AND STILL. I should have said no, lady, you were cruel to me for MONTHS. GOOD DAY, SIR.

So I carry that around. I’m not even mad at her anymore, I’m RETROACTIVELY PISSED AT MYSELF for not telling her to fuck OFF. But I’m afraid — like, legitimately — that if I ever run into her again, I will punch her in the face just to even the score with … myself.

I don’t know why I started thinking about this, except that I read this post by Melissa Summers, and I tell you, I am not particularly into the general concept of people’s depression confessionals as being “brave.” I think it’s … overused. Simply confessing that we’re battling with depression is NOT an act of bravery, particularly when so many people think that they can just declare it, and by its simple declaration, have it begin to fix itself.

However, I think that Melissa’s post WAS brave. Very brave, for so many reasons, but what struck me (out of, you know, SO MANY THINGS) is that she talks about what lot of people who have been depressed or anxious or struggling with any kind of mental disease or glitch don’t often do: Depression can turn you into a person who can seem to others like a real asshole, and not in the “oh, she’s just so SAD all the time!” kind of way. Admitting this is so freakin’ hard, because you don’t come off looking particularly rosy, you know?

Depression often looks like someone who is acting like a jerk, and it takes its toll on relationships. You can push people away. Lie to them, even. Treat them poorly. Pick fights. Fight dirty. End relationships. Focus so deeply on yourself and your own issues that you are patently unable to do anything for other people, even the simplest of courtesies (like being honest with them, say). Owning up to, and taking responsibility for, something like THAT? Well, that is brave, because for some people, depression is damn ugly, and you come off looking like a real ass because, well, YOU WERE ONE, no matter the reason. And almost no one on the outside recognizes it, so you have to do a lot of clean-up at a time when you feel least equipped to do so.

(I’m talking about myself here, obviously, but I think Melissa addresses herself perfectly in a way that resonated with me.)

(Note: I am attempting to compliment Melissa on the way she seems to be handling it, but instead, fear that I am calling her an asshole. Which is not my intention, obvs. THE OPPOSITE.)

You know. Errrgh, this shit is so hard.

(This was years ago for me — college, in fact, as I mentioned, but that post brought it all back in kind of a good way. OWN YOUR SHIT, is what I’m saying, even the ugly stuff. Yet, also be kind to yourself. Clearly. GOD IT IS ALL SO CONFLICTING AND CONFUSING.)

(However, that girl was still a total and complete bitch, and I AM AFRAID I WILL PUNCH HER IN THE FACE.)

Um, on a MUCH LIGHTER NOTE, today (Tuesday) is my anniversary. Eight years! Eight! Years! I feel like I blinked and BAM! We’ve been married eight years. I told Adam that statistically, we’re on the good side of the divorce odds, because most couples who divorce all it quits by seven years, and by then, have already known it was coming for a long time. So let’s get complacent! Imma FIND ME A GIGOLO THIS WEEKEND!

No. Being married is the easiest and hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s work to be polite when you want to be a grump. It’s WORK to think of someone else before you think of yourself, and sometimes that rears its head in the big things, and sometimes it’s about making a different choice for dinner. But man, it’s been worth it. Eight years! Eight years of so many good times, and so many challenges (why, this year alone! OMFG) and yet, we keep on trucking along and having a good time, for the most part. I am happy. So stupidly happy with my life, and a big part of that is because I married him. He’s funny and smart and kind and handsome and a great dad, and an outstanding, thoughtful husband — seriously, he ALWAYS does the right thing, even if not at first, he comes around and we talk about it, and THE MAN PUTS ME TO SHAME, because I am stubborn and difficult.

Above all, and underneath it all, we like each other. I love him — oh, more than anything — but I also really LIKE him. He drives me up a wall, and I know I’ve infuriated him to the brink of insanity, but somehow, we always make it work, and we come back around to having a damn good time together. That’s something, and it’s sure worth the effort, I’ll tell you that.

Happy anniversary, Adam. Eight years! EIGHT! I don’t know why, but it’s making me feel so old. THAT IS ONLY TWO LESS THAN TEN.

*Ani DiFranco

32 comments August 1st, 2011

Sixty Years On

My husband has a fairly strict moral compass, if by fairly, you mean absolute. He’s easily the most ethical person I’ve ever met — things like infidelity, dishonesty and really, anything that could be considered unethical by just about anyone who isn’t currently in prison are COMPLETELY foreign to him. And I can’t explain why I found his reaction to The Kids Are All Right so hilarious, except that I just DID.

Him: Meh, I watched The Kids Are All Right

Me: Is that the one with the lesbians played by —

Him: CHEATING LESBIANS. NOT OKAY.

Yes, even when infidelity is fictitious, completely hypothetical and about a group of people who do not mirror his own relationship in any way, shape or form, he finds it completely intolerable. (Although you want to see him REALLY lose his mind? Ask him how he feels about Indecent Proposal. Blind rage.) I can’t explain why I find this so hilarious, except that the statement alone was said with such incredible indignation and frustration. Never have the words, “CHEATING LESBIANS!” been uttered with such disdain. Plus, I’d say that at this point, the likelihood of Adam becoming a transgendered lesbian are pretty slim, and yet his intolerance for moral ambiguity crosses all lines, even those he cannot personally identify with. I love that.

Interestingly, this is an odd segue into something I’ve been thinking about lately, only because it’s come up in conversation and/or happened to friends of mine recently. A few people I’ve known for years — YEARS! — who are now in their mid-thirties, and in some cases, early FORTIES, have recently left their spouses and/or longtime partners and discovered that they were not, in fact, the sexual orientation they always identified with, but are now straight and/or a gay male/lesbian, and yes, it’s gone in ALLLL directions. Oh, you were gay? Wait, you’re straight? And you’re with … a man? Are you … sure? What about Laurene/Bill/Jane? Not that I have any prejudice or fear of either situation — certainly not — but for some reason, one’s sexual preference seems so ingrained in who someone is at an early-ish age (I’m of the unflappable belief that sexual orientation is born, not made, although I recognize that the realization for many comes much later), that it strikes me as unnerving for all parties involved, and definitely hard to cope with.

On a personal level (because I like to make things all about ME), I am always slightly shaken no matter which direction the orientation turns, because I can’t help but fear that one day I’ll wake up and not know who I am. Is it that abrupt? Were there signs all along? Am I going to wake up one day and tell Adam I’ve left him for a lovely woman named Miriam? (Please, if you will, envision his embattled cries of, “CHEATING LESBIAN!” if I did such a thing.)

And it doesn’t just apply to sexual orientation, I suppose, although that’s the most concrete example I can come up with at the moment. When people change some fundamental aspect of themselves in the middle of their lives, I always wonder if it’s as abrupt as it seems, although of COURSE not, right? It only seems that way from the OUTSIDE. Like when a couple you’ve known for decades and has always seemed happy suddenly up and splits up. How did this HAPPEN, we all wonder incredulously. They were always so HAPPY! You NEVER know what’s really going on unless you ARE that person/couple, and making a snap judgment based on your own outside experiences is about as useful as shouting “cheating lesbians!” to no one at all. No matter how happy a person seemed the way they USED to be.

(You know, like Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez.)

(What?)

This is the kind of thing that if I were you reading it, I’d be thinking, well, this HAS to be personal or allegorical, right? Disappointingly, it isn’t. I’m rarely smart enough to pull something like that off (plus, I think posts like that are needlessly cryptic and annoying and NOT EVEN THAT CATHARTIC), so this is, sadly, at face value. My marriage to Adam is entirely intact and truly happy, despite the fact that he’s snoring next to me right now (RIGHT NOW), and the last Miriam I met was my pediatric dentist in the seventh grade.

Have a happy Monday!

*Elton John and Brandi Carlile, who is gorgeous. I might not actually BE a lesbian, but I’m not BLIND. I GET IT.

38 comments July 24th, 2011

Blow

The weekend kicked off with thunderstorms and a 5 a.m. Sam wake-up, and honestly, if you’d told me years ago that someday I’d consider 7 a.m. to be sleeping in, I, like everyone else, would have laughed in your face! But when Adam got up with her Sunday while I slept in, I eyed him with envy, “You got 7:15!” I accused. “That’s so LUXURIOUS.”

Obviously, she’s no longer sleeping until 8 or later like she used to. Oh, those halcyon days of yore! I DO have a very important Life Tip, however: If you go to bed earlier, the mornings are more pleasant! Free advice from me to you!

I had a few bizarrely disjointed thoughts that wouldn’t leave my head this weekend that seem related, but I … I’m not sure they are, nor am I really positive of any takeaways up in here. But you know, these FEEL like lesson-learning situations, but I’m not sure they actually ARE.

THING THE FIRST

I used to work with a woman who claimed to be “heavy” in high school, and it really shaped who she was. Mind you, her pictures from that era were of a kid who was a size 12 or 14 at most, so it’s not like she was really all that heavy at all. But we’re all different, and I got the impression that for her, her weight really shaped her high school experience. And there was this GUY, you know, That Guy we all have? That guy she was always madly in love with, but was not all that into her, but was that unattainable GUY? The guy she hooked up with a few times, who was on the high school A-list, while she was … not, and oh God, I might as well be explaining that WATER IS WET, because you all know what I mean.

By the time I knew her, she was probably a size 4 sopping wet and honestly, she was (and I’m guessing still is) one of the most beautiful people I’d ever met in person. And she was smart! And funny! And all-around fantastic and a good, pure person and … God, she just had NO IDEA. None. And everywhere we went, these really smart, attractive, accomplished men would fall all over her, and she constantly — constantly! — rebuffed them, not because she wasn’t interested, but because on some level, she believed she wasn’t worthy. After all, she was the Fat Girl, right?

A few years later, who comes sniffing back around? That Guy, who is now so far from A-list, I don’t even know if he’s still in the alphabet. He was unemployed, overweight, generally as douchey as ever, but OH GOD, if things didn’t end up going in such a way that she MARRIED HIM, COULD YOU DIE? They’re married. It still makes me want to take boiled forks to my eyelids.

THING THE SECOND

I was listening to Kiss 108 — the allegedly hip, young-people’s station for you non-Bostonians — and Jennifer Lopez came on the radio (ON THE FLOOR OH MY GOD MAKE IT STOP) and I realized that I could never be a pop star like her, because GOD, it means taking yourself seriously enough that you have to practice looking Serious and Sexy in the mirror, and these are things I could not do with a straight face. I love me some JLo on American Idol, and that song sure is, um, catchy, but if you watch her in ANY video, she’s always so GODDAMNED SERIOUS, with the Cheekbone Face and the whole thing, and … yeah.

Ke$ha, on the other hand, does NOT take herself seriously, and is painfully endearing in the process. However, she is also one concert away from peeing in her pants a la Fergie, because, well, she’s taken the whole “don’t be serious” thing just a SMIDGE too far. I don’t know about your world, but Ke$ha’s seems to include a lot more glitter than mine does, unless it’s of the craft variety.

I just completely lack the ability to take myself seriously. Completely.

And now that I’ve written it all down, wow, there is really nothing deep to take away from either of those things, except that you — well, we all, really — need to strike the perfect balance between taking yourself seriously enough and having the confidence to NOT marry the asshole, but not SO seriously/overconfident that you find yourself making JLo cheekbone faces in the mirror, right?

I DO think, however, that I have a tendency to do what my colleague did, which is to see myself ONE way, and one way only, and I often wonder how many opportunities I’m missing out on by not looking at other angles. I certainly don’t mean in the husband way — I did quite well there, thank you — but in OTHER ways. I have a tendency to dismiss things as “not me” or lack the guts to try something simply because I don’t think I deserve it, or because that’s not the way things have gone in the past. I think I’m often so afraid of going all JLo’s cheekbones on people that I don’t try for things outside of my comfort zone that might seem incongruous with who I thought I was.

But honestly, you guys, you KNOW Jennifer Lopez, like, PRACTICES HER FACES IN THE MIRROR and shit, and I just … come on.

Thus ends the disjointed weekend deep thoughts that are so absurdly disjointed and ridiculous that I am embarrassed for myself. But have a great Tuesday!

*Kesha. Yes, I am not kidding, I … I love her.

31 comments June 27th, 2011

Rolling in the Deep

This is going to be all OVER the place, y’all. Just like it used to be! Bullet-style:

– One of the things that plagues me on a fairly regular basis, is when one of your friends — someone you really like, who has proven to be of decent character and all that rot — is ALSO friends with someone who has proven to be morally bankrupt on more than one occasion, in my admittedly-strict viewpoint. Now, before I go on here, I want you to simmer down, Warren Beatty, because this song isn’t about you. I can think of at least two people who would think this is about them, but really, Warren, it isn’t.

But what do you do? I’ve voiced my opinion — even more gently than I normally would, I swear! — once or twice, and I’ve even PERSONALLY been screwed by the person in question and said something and YET THE RELATIONSHIP CONTINUES. Mind you, it’s not that I expect them to CHOOSE ME over them — this isn’t that kind of high school drama — it’s that I am MYSTIFIED how someone can still be friends with someone who has PROVEN to be such an absolute douche.

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND. It is honestly one of life’s greatest mysteries.

– If you’ll indulge me a moment of Glee, I was ALL HOT AND BOTHERED to see the return of Jesse St. James in what is certainly the most ridiculous crush imaginable. Yes, I am a 35-year-old married mother with a huge crush on an openly gay man playing a teenager, and while I have no issue with either of those things, of course, the problem is that no matter how you slice it, the fantasy doesn’t work. I would either have to turn into a man OR a teenager and neither really works for me. Yet, it persists.

However. They turned him into a one-dimensional vapid asshole, when yes, I realize that he royally screwed Rachel over last year, I ALSO thought there was some complexity to him and it’s … gone. I am ALSO angry at how they’ve turned Rachel into a sniveling GIRL who also suddenly turned stupid. Last season, Rachel was multi-dimensional, and what made her amazing was her incredible insight into HERSELF. And now she’s fawning over Jesse and saying things like, “He’s so smart! Can you believe he flunked out of college?” after he says something amazingly inane. And so we’re left with Kurt (and his personal orbit), the only character with any sort of heart, and honestly, it’s pissing me off, because it seems like Ryan Murphy is just re-writing his own history, and the only person he has any sort of generosity to is himself.

Also, uhhh, weren’t they juniors LAST YEAR? How long can they drag this out?

– I also have Strong Feelings on Friday Night Lights, and I’m telling you right now that I’m live-tweeting the episode for my bosses at Smart Pop Books, because an essay of mine is in the upcoming anthology on the show in its entirety. So, you know, fair warning. And while I LOVE this season, I have VERY LOUD OPINIONS on the finale, and as such, I can’t wait until all of you (all, um, four of you who watch it) have caught up so that we can discuss.

– One of the things I am shocked to discover that I am struggling with is getting Sam to enjoy reading. I KNOW. I KNOW. Are you as floored as I am? I am, above all things, A Reader. The periods of my life when I wasn’t relying on a book for my primary form of evening entertainment are few and far between. Even still, I’m usually either reading or writing, even while the TV is on in the background. I mean, I love TV, but if I had to choose, I’d choose a book any day of the week.

So how is it possible that she’s my child? We set aside time to read every day. I read CONSTANTLY. I’ve even taken to reading her books by myself, with rapt enthusiasm, just to make them seem interesting. Yes, we watch TV, but with few exceptions (involving DJ Lance), she’s really not that into it, and she almost NEVER sits still to watch a whole anything unless she’s positively exhausted OR it’s first thing in the morning, so I’m not panicked that she’s a TV head or anything. (I WISH she was one of those children who sat quietly and watched television for more than six minutes at a time. I could use that to my occasional advantage! NO DICE.)

She just … does other things. Swaddles Brobee. Draws. Listens to music and dances. Draws some more. Plays with her animals. Paints. Dances some more. Sings. Dances. Music. God, this kid is SO INTO MUSIC. And when there is no music? SHE MAKES ME SING SO SHE CAN DANCE.

And forget reading before bed — she’s ALL business. Once she became a prescient human being, she dropped the bedtime reading routine before it really got going. When she’s ready for bed, she wants to be IN THE BED. The second we start the bedtime routine, “BYE MAMA! NIGHT NIGHT!” and she’s finished. She wants to be in bed, lights out, my annoying mug out of her face. It doesn’t seem to matter how early we start — the moment she senses bedtime is nigh, she’s all about it, as soon as humanly possible, and thank you. (Yes, I know I’m lucky. Our bedtime ritual is three whole seconds long. “Kiss Daddy!” “BYE MAMA!” Aaaaaaand, fin.)

I’ve gotten her books on her favorite subjects — animals and bugs — and it sort of works, but man, if I had one trivial wish for my daughter, it would be that she loves to read, and right now, despite my best efforts, she’s not nearly as into it as I’d hoped.

Also, can we talk about the bug obsession for a moment here? BUGS. Ants are “cute!” Worms are “awesome!” She picks them all up and tries to take them home as pets! God forbid we see a bumblebee, because kid is BESIDE HERSELF with excitement. “It’s a BEE! A BEE!” and she lurches toward it, hands open. Explaining that although bumblebees look fuzzy and friendly, they REALLY need to be left alone, was a surprisingly rigorous parenting challenge.

But still. Books. Man. I mean, Adam and I both read. We have stacks and stacks of books and Kindles full of reading material. I have a to-read list that is more than 250 books long and I can’t get my kid to sit still long enough for “No, David!”?

Tell me: is all hope lost? Will she eschew reading forever? Will I be stuck raising an entomologist-slash-oboe player? Any tips are welcome.

– Speaking of TV, uhh, sort of, the only show I’m really looking forward to other than True Blood is “Falling Skies,” and I cannot WAIT.

– Speaking of BOOKS, we have plenty of interest in the book club, so stay tuned for more — as soon as I get it cleaned up and a new spam system in place, I’ll be hitting a re-launch. And to say I appreciate the offers of help is an understatement. I think this time it will probably be better than the last, because there was an INSANE AMOUNT OF INTEREST from people who … weren’t all that interested. I think this time has the potential to be smaller and more engaging. Honestly, even if only two of you said to do it, I would have. Fortunately, we have a bit more — but far fewer than the 600 we had the first time.

Thanks, everyone. I hope you have a fantastic Thursday. We’re getting our beach passes, finally, although it is the furthest thing from beach weather you can imagine. Hope springs eternal, even if spring doesn’t.

*GLEE’S VERSION WAS AWFUL. AWFUL. AWFUL. I liked Haley’s better on American Idol and that is SAYING SOMETHING. Oh, Adele. You are, indeed, incomparable. (I love her.)

74 comments May 11th, 2011

What I Got

So as it turns out, the great sleeping disaster was so obviously some kind of crazy language explosion that I feel STUPID in retrospect. A few days after she stopped sleeping, she started busting out full sentences, on one occasion even singing me the “Party In My Tummy” song from Yo Gabba Gabba completely unprompted. There are countless other examples of Stuff She’s Learned This Week, including, unfortunately, the phrase, “Holy crap!” which was uttered in the car after seeing something particularly startling and promptly repeated, over and over again.

Also repeated and learned was, “We’re going to get booze!” as I playfully told her that’s why we were going to Trader Joe’s. “We get BOOZE!” she parroted cheerfully. “Booze!”

I am carefully curbing my use of expletives, but instead, I am teaching my toddler other, equally awful words and habits and oh God, in some ways it was so much easier when all she could do was lay there like a bump on a pickle.

ANYWAY, did I TELL you that Adam and I booked a trip, just the two of us? To … well, it’s to Las Vegas, for a terrifyingly long time, considering it’s Las Vegas and also, we’re going to be away from our kid for SIX DAYS. And yes, as I mentioned, that’s a long time for VEGAS!-type activities, but when you consider that we’re parents who routinely get up at the crack of dawn so that our offspring can bang on a snare drum and crash cymbals while singing and playing the kazoo, and so help me, people, if ALL WE GET TO DO is lay in bed and read books and watch TV and take long, uninterrupted baths, IT WILL BE A RAGING SUCCESS. YOU MUST TRUST ME ON THIS.

Incidentally, the Caribbean and/or some other locales were considered and hoped for, but ultimately Jonna, Practical Budgeter, decided that no matter how awful a year we’d had, money must be saved, and this is an easy save.

Practicality blows sometimes.

Who doesn’t blow, however, are my parents, who are coming here to stay with Sam the entire time we’re gone. And my friends, who have promised to help them and hang out with Sam and her friends and keep life normal for everyone. Well, for Sam, anyway. Can I get an amen for my parents? Because, seriously. I am so lucky. Seriously.

I am also sick and fearful and worried about being away from Sam, not because I think she’s going to be mistreated or in trouble or ANYTHING, because after all they are my PARENTS and are generally awesome, but because … oh, Sam. My little lumpkin. She’s so much fun right now — talkative and funny, snuggly and madly in love with her mama — that I think about being away from her and I feel sick. At least one moment every day, I think, well, this: this is why I had kids.

And yet, I know it’s good for us, and I also know that the next time we do this will probably be the twelfth day of never, because if we DO have a second kid, let’s be honest, I won’t want to leave THAT one until s/he is at least two, and by then, Sam could be FIVE and in KINDERGARTEN and LET US ALL PAUSE TO HYPERVENTILATE HERE, and you see why I can’t think of a situation that far into the future without throwing up.

Oh, and finally: My sister’s surgery went awesome. She’s home already, two days earlier than they thought she’d be. It was entirely successful, there’s nothing wrong with her — well, except for feeling like ass and you know, missing part of a major organ — and can I get an AMEN?

That’s all I got. I hope you have an awesome Tuesday.

*Sublime

33 comments March 28th, 2011

Opposite Day

First of all, thank you so much for propping my sorry ass up the other day. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it, and I never, never want to take advantage of your kindness by being That Person, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. (Do you?) So thank you. Truly.

I felt better almost the minute I hit publish, and then I felt better and better with each passing comment or email, and I just FELT BETTER. And now I feel a LOT better. For starters, Sam must have known — don’t they always? — that I was about to sell her to the highest bidder, because my God, she napped the next day. It was a battle, and she wasn’t pleased about it, but that kid NAPPED. Come bedtime, she went to sleep. And the next day? She napped. And tonight? She went to bed without a holler. She’s asleep right now in her special snowman pajamas, clutching her kitty and smashed up against her bee blanket.

(Related: man, I do not miss the SIDS-panic days. She can have a blanket! And buddies! I mean, is it any wonder infants don’t sleep? You practically have to lay them down on a stainless steel deli counter and hope for the best.)

They know. I swear to you, kids know when they’ve pushed you to the absolute brink. THEY JUST KNOW. This is the kind of statement I would think was kooky and ridiculous as a non-parent, but the number of times I am pushed until I think I’m going to burst out of my skin, and then she just shifts into a delightfully easy kid convince me otherwise. It is both crazy and crazy-making, but that seems to be par for the course for this thing.

The hits kept on coming, though, as something kind of annoying and a wee bit tragic and unplanned happened with our house in Florida. (Oh yes, we still own a house in Florida, which is why we rent here in Mass, and I am just catching up the newbies up in this piece!). And the thing is … it’s kind of fine. No, it IS fine. It’s annoying, and it’s something I used to stay up late worrying about, and then it just happened and my general feeling is that it’s … fine. I wish I could put my finger on why this particular bad thing (involving my tenants and floors and maybe a house sale and it’s all so ANNOYING) has made me feel BETTER, but it has. Like, a MILLION times better. I think because it’s something I haven’t worried about lately, and also because it’s something I once fretted about to an extreme and yet the reality of it coming to fruition is … well, it’s really just fine. More than fine.

And then there’s my sister — who is the one having surgery, by the way — who I talk to almost every day, and calms me down by calling me out on my shit, and tells me when I’m going all Bloody Beef, and whom my daughter ADORES, to the point where she is the only person Sam might prefer to me. God, that kid loves her Tee, and screams for her every time she sees her photo, “TEE! TEE! TEE!” (Short for auntie, which we pronounce AHN-tie here in Massachusetts.) My biggest fear about her being in the hospital, aside from the obvious, is visiting her with Sam and seeing my daughter bereft that her beloved Tee can’t pick her up and hold her and tickle her. At least not for a little while.

My sister, who still to this day refuses to believe that she’s the reason I live here — the reason this place has always been my home, as I moved here after college because of her, and to be closer to her. Hell, when I was younger, I wanted to BE her. So yeah, I love her, too. And then I read this, by Laurie White, and I think, well, of course I have to be brave and have a second kid, because THAT. That right there is a gift I want to give my daughter, and myself, if I’m being honest. For the record, I am the younger sister — mine is twelve years older than me, so that resonated on a million levels, mostly on Katie’s (Laurie’s sister). I have been mothered when I should have been sistered, but I have never really thought it could be any other way. Now, I appreciate it so much.

(Aside from that, it’s amazing, and you should read it now.)

Fuck yes, I will be brave and do it again.

So yes, I feel better. Much better. Thank you.

*Andrew Bird

25 comments March 23rd, 2011

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