Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy Birthday, Tomboy...

I got a phone call today from someone who wanted to wish this little blog a happy first birthday.    How cool is that?

I can't believe it's been a year.   The beginning of 2012 feels like an entire lifetime ago--and I guess that, in some respects, it pretty much was.

It feels odd that anyone would celebrate the anniversary of something that:

(A) Was inspired by Ryan Seacrest, who just might be the cheesiest person alive, and Beyonce, who annoys the shit out of me most of the time;
(B) Was created because I was bored out of my skull, completely plastered from cheap wine and domestic beer and wearing an ancient (and ill-fitting, might I add) pair of flannel critter pants;
(C) Mostly talked about boring me and my boring suburban little life, usually with copious amounts of profanity.

Seriously.   Even I'm not that interested in what I think, what I do, and what I have to say....and I spend all of my time with me.

But....I owe you all a status update.   A year ago, I drunkenly proclaimed that I would do two things each day in 2012:

1.  Gain a new experience and stop being so accountant-y
2.  Do a good deed for someone else.

It's kind of funny.  When you're buoyed by alcohol and a fresh crop of enthusiasm, those two things seem not only attainable, but easily attainable at that---and accomplishing them is a piece of cake.

At first, anyway.

At first, goals like those are new and exciting, and I went after them with that sort of deluded self-confidence that probably encouraged men to invade countries.

And then, you know, I got kind of tired and just wanted to resort to my other favorite recreational activities, which include lofty activities such as painting my nails, online shopping, screwing around on facebook and watching TV.

But did I do it?  Did I actually do it?  For a year?


**  Yes means that I might have missed a few days, but overwhelmingly YES.  I made good.   Mostly because I'm too stubborn to do otherwise.  And because I was stupid enough to take this on---in a journal and with an audience.  Damned accountability.  Gets me every time.

The good deeds were waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay easier.  I seldom walked away from good deeds feeling worse than when I started, or with more questions than answers, or wondering what the f*ck I was doing with my life.

The new experiences, though?   They were a wee bit tricky.  Had I thought about this experiment for more than, I don't know,  5 seconds,  I would have realized that not all new experiences are necessarily good experiences.   That's the funny thing about deciding to take chances---while many of them pay huge dividends, some of them blow up in your face, a few of them are misguided, and a handful are just straight-up stupid.

Taking chances on people and taking chances on's a little bit of a risky proposition.  Sometimes, you take chances on people and endeavors that are worthwhile, and sometimes you just don't.  Sometimes, you realize that, try as you might, the decision isn't yours to make and the outcome isn't yours to control.  Sometimes, the hardest decision to make is the one between trying harder and cutting your losses and walking away.

By no means was this the easiest year of my life, but it was by far the most worthwhile.  I am grateful for this experiment, thankful for what I've learned, and excited to see where this little adventure takes me in 2013.

So, cheers to the year where I dusted off my passport and debuted my daughter's, the year where I inadvertently crashed a party (and stayed!), the year I was featured on the news while doing a good deed (and also for being "dateless and desperate", again), the year where I contracted the plague at a children's playplace and, most importantly, the year where I fiercely loved my people and they fiercely loved me back.

Happy birthday, little blog, and a very happy 2013 to each of you.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The One Where I Lose People

This will be the entry where I lose and anger people, and the entry where people start to question what kind of person I really am.   I deliberated, agonized really, about putting this one out there in the interweb---but here it is.    It relates to a topic that I'd rather not discuss, at all really and certainly not in public, and I will likely never discuss again, but today, I need to.  And I need to discuss it right now before the opportunity for revisionist history creeps in and the story begins to morph into something a little more palatable and a lot more simplified.

I will explain how I arrived at this point.  I will explain why I chose to write this and why I chose to share it. I will say that these thoughts apply to me only and by no means do I project them onto anyone else.  And I will ask a great favor from each of you.

First, though, I should tell you what I'm actually talking about.   I'm talking about religion, and about religion affecting my daughter, and about how she and I found our way into a church on a Friday afternoon. It's about a decision that was ultimately made in a split second, but that I've been mulling over for 4 years.  Or 37 years.  Or something in between.  It takes on a different dimension when kids are involved.

I should take a step back.

I'm not religious.  I don't go to church and have not gone (outside of weddings and funerals) since it ceased being a requirement for graduation.  That's not my parents' fault.  They tried.  They made sure that I received all of my sacraments.  It's no one's fault, except maybe my own.

Maybe.  But then, again, maybe not.

The problem is that I don't really know what I believe.   Like, as in, I have no idea.  I want, perhaps desperately, to believe in something.  I believe in good people and I believe in good people doing good things.  I believe in service above self.  I believe in miracles and hard work and perhaps even the evidence of grace.

But I'm just not sure where I fall out with respect to religion.  Though not recently, I've tried different churches in the past.  That experiment has not really worked out for me, thus far, and it probably won't ever.  I may be religionless and I might not be able to tell anyone exactly what I believe in, but that doesn't mean that I believe in nothing.   I'm okay with my being noncommittal and searching. In some ways, being without a team makes it easier to be open to different viewpoints---I have nothing to defend.

Belief is personal, and I'm fine with where I stand.   I have close friends that cover pretty much every religion under the sun- I have Catholic friends, Jewish friends, Muslim friends, friends from practically every Christian faith, Atheist friends, Agnostic friends, spiritual-but-not-religious friends, Born Again Christian friends, Quaker friends.  You name it.  I've befriended and had interesting discussions with the Jehovahs Witnesses that stop by every 3rd Saturday. I ask people to tell me about what they believe and I listen.  I am respectful of others' views, while having few of my own.  I try really hard at that, actually.

That's me- but now, I also have HER.  I have Little M to think about, too.  

And since I've received feedback like "Don't ruin her because you're a mess" (yes, someone actually said that to me), I've thought about it even more carefully.

When Little M was born, I made a few decisions with respect to this:

1.  She has the same right as everyone else to decide what she believes or doesn't believe.
2.  She has the same right as everyone else to ask questions and arrive at her own conclusions.
3.  I wasn't going to tell her what she was supposed to believe.
4.  I would take her to any church/synagogue/mosque/meeting/fellowship that she ever asked to go to and encourage her to investigate that which she found noteworthy.
5.  I would tell her that no matter what she believed, I would love her unconditionally, all the time, no matter what.
6.  I would not baptize her--because I want her to choose for herself.  This is her belief system, and not mine.  And because I wasn't going to stand on an altar at a house of worship and lie to a person in the clergy and a room full of people about how I was going to raise her.   Religion probably isn't for me, but I would never go to a place of worship and be disrespectful.

As you can probably guess, these decisions have made me pretty popular.

Flashing forward to now.  Little M and I love to go to a very cute French bakery---we eat croissants and all sorts of French pastry and pretend to speak French.   Across the street from the bakery, there's a beautiful old church---it happens to be Episcopal.  That part really doesn't matter.  The first time she saw it, she asked to see the beautiful castle. She's 4.  She loves castles.  I explained to her that it wasn't a castle, but a church.

"Oh, a church.  Like God's house, right?", was how she responded.

She asked to go in.  We walked across the street and I tried to show it to her.   Unfortunately, it was the middle of a Friday afternoon, and every door was locked.   So, I took her to another nearby church that looked like it---which, of course, was also locked.

She asked me why God wasn't home, but then started talking about cupcakes.  I exhaled a huge sigh of relief.

We went to the bakery again yesterday, and again, she asked to see the church.  LOCKED.

This time, though, she looked at me with her sad little 4 year old eyes, and asked why God was never home when she was looking for him.  That was all it took--I grabbed her hand, and we prowled the premises (trespassing, really) until I found a janitor.  I begged him to let us in.  I told him that my 4 year old wanted to say "hi" to God.  He let us in.  We stayed for a bit.

On the way home, she asked me all sorts of questions that I am not qualified to answer.  I tried anyway.    Progress.

She's why I wrote this entry.   I owe her the truth and I owe her the reasons why I do things the way I do.  She deserves to know what was going through my head when certain things happened, without me glazing over certain elements after the passage of time.  Someday, she will read this blog and hopefully, she will understand...if not agree.

And here is where I ask you a great favor.  I realize that many of you will disagree with me and how I'm doing things.   I'm asking for you to keep the criticism off of this blog- if only because I don't want Little M to read it.  Tell me in person or over the phone, tell me on my Facebook page, write emails about it.  Tell me all you want- but, please, keep her safe.

I don't have any answers of my own, but I think a Live song best captures what I do believe:

I don't need no one to tell me 'bout heaven
I'll look at my daughter
and I'll believe.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

In Defense of Darius Rucker

Stream of consciousness, Thanksgiving night style:

1.  Shoveling sweet potato chips into my mouth despite having already consumed about 143,000 calories today.  It's Thanksgiving.  It's practically un-American to spend one conscious minute on Thanksgiving Day without stuffing your face.
2.  Wearing a pair of frayed flannel reindeer pants, 7 year old Uggs, and a long sleeved tee shirt that I've had since college that has bleach stains down the sleeves.  The thought of a bra is downright laughable.
3. The flannel critter pants are not a symbolic clothing choice.  I rock these babies in July.  In public.
4.  Contemplating a trip to fine shopping establishments to finally experience the joys of midnight Black  Friday shopping.
5.  Realizing that, given my unwillingness to budge from my current clothing state, the only store that I can actually go to is Walmart.
6.  Debating if my hatred of Walmart outweighs my desire to potentially achieve a bucket list item---being named a "Featured Creature" on  
7.  Wondering if I can live the Walmart dream while sitting on the couch, with my hand in a bag of sweet potato chips.

I'm in a deeply profound state tonight.  Clearly.

But it is Thanksgiving, and I am thankful.  I've thought long and hard about what exactly to say here, and ultimately I've decided that Darius Rucker has already captured and more eloquently shared what I've wanted to say.

Yes, that Darius Rucker.  The Hootie and the Blowfish Darius Rucker.

Go ahead and snicker.  Really. It's fine.

The lyrics come from a song titled "This".  Go ahead.  Snicker again.

Then read the lyrics. Think of your kids.  Betting the snickers will stop.

Take it away, Darius.

Got a baby girl sleeping in my bedroom
There's the sound of rain on the rooftop
And the game's about to start

I don't really know how I got here
But I'm sure glad that I did
And it's crazy to think that one little thing
Could've changed all of it

Maybe it didn't turn out like I planned
Maybe that's why I'm such, such a lucky man

For every stoplight I didn't make
Every chance I did or I didn't take
All the nights I went too far
All the girls that broke my heart
All the doors that I had to close
All the things I knew but I didn't know
Thank God for all I missed
'Cause it led me here to this 

Spent the day watching Little M smile and giggle and snuggle and play with her cousins.  Thankful for each and every single moment that brought me to my own, constantly evolving state of "This".  Sometimes, This is scary and sometimes, This is sad.  But....when you catch a fleeting glimpse of your child's unadulterated realize that This is This....and This is good.

Happy, happy everyone.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fat Lip

Certainties.  They’re not just limited to death and taxes anymore.

Another absolute certainty:  If there is a family outing to be had, Little M will look like she belongs on an episode of Survivor:  Rural Arkansas.

All I want, for the love of God, is one family picture taken at a major holiday/family event where we look like a nice, somewhat upstanding middle-class family and not the Beverly Hillbillies.

That won’t be happening for Thanksgiving.  Yet again, Little M will look like a HOT MESS at another family gathering.  Sigh.

Over the years, we’ve accumulated some truly fetching injuries and calamities.  These have included:

  1. The Rocky Balboa black eye acquired the day before her first birthday party (The Culprit:  Cabinet Hardware that doesn’t have surrounding airbags)
  2. The Bambi Attacks deer tick on July 4th (The Culprit: We live in Bumblef*ck, where you are more likely to encounter a deer than an actual person).
  3. The “Little Dutch Boy” haircut immediately preceding the first day of school.  (The Culprit:  It would be easier to give an octopus a pedicure than to cut bangs into the hair of a 2 year old.  ‘Nuff said.)
  4. The “If I Wear my Ladybug Wings From Halloween, I Can Fly” collection of bruises along the shins---always preceding trips to Grandma’s house.  (The Culprit:  Various incidents of stupid).
  5. The “There’s no Mother’s Day Present Quite Like Pink Eye”.  (The Culprit:  Oasis Child Fun and Infectious Disease Center .  Oasis, I HATE YOU.)

For your entertainment, this year we add the Prize Fighter Fat Lip (the “PFFL”).  Just in time for Thanksgiving dinner and the myriad photo opportunities that will occur on this day.

I might just earn my “Mom of the Year” badge for this one.  I figure it is just a matter of time before Child Protective Services comes and gives me that vacation and part-time freedom I so desperately deserve hauls Little M away.

The short story is that the PFFL showed up immediately following a trip to the dentist where Little M had her first cavity filled. 

Insert any/all judgment on my parenting due to the presence of said cavity HERE:________________________________

Little M actually did great at the dentist office, thus prompting a premature sigh of relief.  No good relaxing goes unpunished in my neck of the woods, however.  Little M was not a fan of being unable to feel her lip---as such, she bit it until she could feel it, which only occurred after she bit all the way through and blood was geysering everywhere.

I should add that I was not at home at the time of the actual bite; instead, I was greeted from work with a sentence that began with “Don’t be alarmed, but….”

Sentences starting that way always end so well.

Her lip kinda looks like it got stuck in a pool drain, then stung by a bee, and then punched.   Repeatedly. 

The long story is now I not only have to explain why my 4 year old looks like a doppelganger for Mike Tyson, I also have to explain why she had a cavity in the first place. 

This rates up there with a visit to the gyno in my “Top Things I Really Don’t Want To Deal With.”

I was planning on dusting that whole cavity thing right under the rug, never to be spoken of again.  Everyone in Mommyland knows that cavities rate right up there with suntans as indicators that your parenting skills aren’t exactly up to snuff.

I am forced to believe that those organic Reese’s Peanut Butter cups that I allow her to eat while watching educational television/Montel Williams so I can shower in peace might have backfired and caused a cavity or two.  False advertising.


Now that I’m coming clean, I probably should also mention that we were nearly late for the dentist appointment because Little M walked down the stairs with 4 smuggled lollipops in her mouth---after her teeth were brushed.  Twice.  Apparently, she hid a stash in her outgrown clothes drawer, which I would have known about if I ever bothered to look there. Which I haven't.  Like ever.

And yes, we brushed her teeth twice before, and twice after the lollipop incident. It goes without saying that you need to save face with the pediatric dentist when they’re filling your 4 year old’s cavity. Even if scrubbing teeth that already have cavities is akin to detailing a car after it’s been firebombed.

So, I guess I know what will be the topic of conversation at the dinner table tomorrow night.  GO ME.

So, in the spirit of being thankful:

This year,  I’m thankful for Black Friday.  How I feel about Thanksgiving this year is similar to how I feel about clapping at the end of a truly terrible play---I'm not clapping because it was good, I'm clapping because it is over.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It Is Already Someday

Be the kind of person you’d like to meet.

That’s the answer to the question that has eluded me for the better part of a year.  Becoming the kind of person I’d like to meet.

That’s why I decided to start this blog. 

Kind of simple, really---which is probably why it took me nearly 11 months to stumble into the answer.  The simplest answers are often the hardest to find.

It took me entirely too long to get here---whatever “here” is—but I’m here.  I’m ready to begin becoming the kind of person I’d like to meet.  Better late than pregnant never, I say.

Let’s face it.  When I started this blog, I was more than half-lit and watching bad network television while my family slept.  I was inspired by Beyonce, for f’s sake. At the time, I knew I was looking to accomplish something and that there was some need I was seeking to fill, but I couldn’t precisely define it.  Truth be told, I still can’t.  And that’s okay. 

I just needed to get to the point where I could honestly say that it is okay that I don’t really have an end-game in mind but that I plan on embracing the path(s) I take to get me there.  I think I’m finally there.  It is okay.  I have no idea what the FUCK I am doing.  And it’s okay.

So, maybe I'm now better prepared to blast my thoughts out into the scary world.

I was cautioned that this blog-thing is a slippery slope, and since I NEVER LISTEN, I was blindsided by the responses that would have been utterly predictable to anyone who had actually listened. 

Overwhelmingly, the response was favorable---but the favorable feedback was accompanied by the (dreaded) follow up question that I was totally unprepared to answer.  Kinda like this: 

Honest, well-meaning question #1: I really like your blog.  You need to figure out what your brand is before you take the next step.  What’s your brand going to be? (Answer:  My brand is JCrew.  And whatever RueLaLa is selling that day)

Honest, well-meaning question #2:  I really like your blog.  Have you figured out how to market it to make money from it?  (Answer:  Beats the f’ing f out of me.  But if someone wants to pay to hear the disjointed mess in my head, I guess there truly is a market for everything)

Honest, well-meaning question #3: I really like your blog.  Have you considered using pictures of Little M and her real name?  (Answer:  Yes, I’ve considered and no, I won’t be using her pictures or her name.  Thus far, she has consented to being chronicled, but in the interest of sparing her future problems with boyfriends/evil classmates/future employers/deans of admissions, she shall remain Little M until she is taller than me in 2 years.  Then, I guess she will be Medium M.

And then there’s the suggestion box:

Suggestion box item #1:  You’re really funny, but I only like your funny posts.  I can get deeper thoughts from better sources.  Funny posts only, please!

Suggestion box item #2:   I love when you expose what makes you vulnerable, but you really don’t need to use the f-word to make your point.  And don’t try to be funny- feelings are SERIOUS business.

Suggestion box item #3:  I love your posts about social issues.  Can’t you just do that?  It’s so important to eat organic/ban the TV/support equal rights.

Suggestion box #4:  I’d love your blog more if you stopped promoting the gay agenda.  You’re going to hell along with your little gay friends.

Ahhhh, suggestions.  This is where I have to lie and pretend to love constructive criticism; but, with that in mind, I finally have a response to the suggestion box that I can proudly stand behind.

I’m kind of an actual person here.   A whole person, too.  Sometimes, I’m funny and sometimes I’m serious, and sometimes I spew about social issues, and sometimes, I lie about eating organic, sometimes I fret about nail polish and sometimes I am a complete pain in the ass.  Sometimes, I’m all of these things at the same time and, other times, I am none of these things, and sometimes, I’m a combination.  It would be great for a lot of people, and mostly myself, if I could check one box and just be done with it and be ONE thing to the outside world.  Thankfully, it doesn’t work like that.

I’m kind of a whole, actual person here---I can’t just be part and parceled out for the benefit of world at large.

Insert HUGE sigh of relief here.

I was never a huge fan of boxes.

Oh, and I will always love and liberally use the f-word.  It’s just so fucking versatile.  It’s staying.  And I will never, ever, ever shut up about equal rights.  For everyone.  Without going into detail, primarily because it’s not my story to tell, I’m part of a package deal where gay rights are concerned, and I suppose I will have great company in hell.

There’s something else, too. I want to become the kind of person who I’d like to meet:

Because I have a daughter who watches every move I make and re-enacts most of them
Because my daughter already IS that type of person.

This blog is an open letter to my daughter—a person who is already a girl of quality.  I don’t want it to be my parenting that jacks that up for her.

If the only person who ever reads what I write is Little M, (you know, when she actually learns how to read) that’s more than okay with me.

I want her to get to know ME.  The real me.  The one who has more questions than answers, more opinions than reasonable thought, more doubts than confidence.  THAT ONE.   Not Mommy.  Plain Old Me.

I realized how how cool it was to view your parents as actual, you know, people when I attended my dad’s retirement dinner a few years ago, and I watched him interact---as himself and not as beleaguered dad whose kids depleted his money, brain cells and general sanity—with his coworkers of 40 years.   It turns out that my dad was Mr. Popularity, a practical joker, a huge softy, and more than a little silly.  I never knew.  I knew him as “Dad”—you know, the Dad that had to be responsible and authoritative and pretend to have all of the answers and had his patience repeatedly decimated by his ornery kids.

He did give me some hints, though.  I distinctly recall him once saying that “I wasn’t always mean.  I got that way from paying your bills, trying to get you to behave, and tripping over your shit for 18 years.” 

Right.  I get that now.  After all, I am the person who has convinced her child that the security cameras at Target are satellites on direct feed to Santa AND that we have our own Elf hotline (our personal Elf concierge is the divine Reginald) who can add or remove toy inventory from the sleigh after receiving my phone call.  Luckily for me, Reginald is covered under free mobile-to-mobile minutes.  I’ve been speaking to him a lot these days.

(Side note:  I told a friend the satellite story, and the response to that was “I can’t wait for the day that Little M learns to read and calls you out on all of your bullshit.” 

Riiiiiiight.  This is my blog, and as such, I can post a time-capsule note for Little M.

Older, Medium M who is reading this entry 10 or 20 years from now….I was completely full of shit and I made up all sorts of creative stories to get you to behave/stop destroying property/shut the hell up/free me up for 12 minutes to take a shower.  You’re my daughter.  Be creative.  Take advantage of technological advancements when you invent completely outlandish stories to entice/threaten your own kids.  So long as it involves The Man in Red, kids believe anything.  Oh, and if you need 20 minutes of peace, TV is an awesome babysitter.  All of the Chinese words you know- yeah.  The Magic Box taught them to you. Not me.  I can barely speak English).

So, how does this all translate in my becoming the kind of person I’d like to meet?  I got my answer at a parent-teacher conference, of all places.   At one point in the discussion, M’s teacher indicated that she would normally discuss a child’s favorite activity…their thing, if you will…..only M’s favorite thing is everything.  My daughter is excited about everything and zealously delves into everything head first, without discrimination---and apparently, this is an enviable quality.   If that is an enviable quality for the best little person I know, it has to be a half-decent quality for the likes of me.

Be interesting.  Be real.  Be enthusiastic.  Be willing to acknowledge your flaws and fear.  Be generous.  Be involved.  Be kind.

Be the kind of person you’d like to meet.

Little M is already there.  I will get there….someday.  Between now and someday, I will take each day the only way I know how….one day and one step at a time…and take comfort in that, in some respects, it is already someday.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thx For The Memories

Each summer, for as long as I can remember, I walked the entire length of the Brigantine Beach--from the end of the wildlife preserve on the North End to the end of the South Jetty.  That sounds more impressive than it actually is--Brigantine is no more than 7 miles long from point to point--but it a tradition that I upheld for many, many years, accompanied only by my Walkman...and then my Discman....and then my MP3 player...and finally, my iPod.  It was just me, my music, my thoughts, my beach and the only place that has remained constant in every single year of my life.

I should clarify two points.

1.  I took that walk every summer- except for this last one.  This summer, I was too busy, or too tired....too something-or-other...and I assumed that since little ever really changed in Brigantine, I could just resume the tradition in 2013.

2.  It is no longer the only place that has remained constant.  It had remained constant for many, many years, but no more.  Hurricane Sandy took care of that.

That's the thing about luck...and make no mistake, I've been extraordinarily lucky and for no reason that I can explain.  It runs out.  It runs out, often abruptly and without warning.

Had I known on Labor Day, as I packed up for the summer and left the little house without so much as a backward glance, that it would be the last time I would see my house looking anything remotely like my house,  I would have paused, taken it all in and given reverence to all of those big and tiny moments that took place between those walls.

I didn't know.  

I didn't know, I didn't think and I didn't say goodbye.  I can't remember the exact way the day played out--it was so ordinarily chaotic--but I'm sure it involved a flurry of making sure the car was completely packed and racing out the door to beat the traffic or to go the grocery store or something similarly inconsequential that seemed so critical at the time.

That house, as I knew it, is gone.

I don't want to make it sound more grave than it actually is.  The little house is still standing, and from the outside, it looks exactly the same as it always did. 

And that's where the similarities end. 

Bad things happen to the insides of homes when water, lots of water, sit inside them for 5 days.   

I need to pause to acknowledge that so many people have it so much worse.   This isn't my primary residence.  The house is insured.  I still have a warm place to sleep at night and no living things were harmed.   This is by no means catastrophic.

But it's still a loss.

It's a strange loss, too.  It's not so much a loss of things and so much more a loss of memories---memories that I'd hope to share with Little M, and while she experienced some of them, I doubt she'll remember.

There were many times, especially recently, when I flippantly (and scornfully, might I add) referred to certain features in that house as "the land where time stood still".     When you sleep on the floor because the bed you slept on in middle school wasn't really cutting it anymore (on a carpet in a sea-foam green color, to boot), you don't exactly stop to think how cool it is that your daughter got to sleep in the same exact bed that you did when you were her age.  When you trip over the over-stuffed and goldenrod-applianced kitchen, you think of your stubbed toe, not that the kitchen and its furnishings are amongst the few tangible things that your daughter can see that connect her to her great-grandfather that she'll never meet...and for that matter, you never really got to know yourself.

It was when my brother, dad and I cut and carried out a floor's worth of cold, soaking wet sea-foam green carpet (that was mixed with sewer water as an extra added bonus) that I started to realize that you can rebuild and you can modernize but you can never replace.

We sorted out and evaluated a lifetime's full of "stuff"...that didn't even include the furniture...and, in that process, we came across so many things that I had hoped to one day show to Little M, and now won't have that chance.

This is not to say that it was a completely unpleasant experience.   My brother and I are still, well, us....which basically means we are completely ridiculous...and I have not laughed so hard in years.

We might have taken the opportunity to rid the house of some items that weren't actually destroyed...but were just ugly/tacky/heinous/WTF were you thinking.

We might have discovered that there were multiple items in our medicine cabinet that expired in 1994.

We might have realized that our mom's issue with buying generic crap when generic will just not do has hit epic proportions...and just might have thrown those items out with glee.  (PS- Generic Oreos=child abuse.  Just sayin').

Oh yeah, and we discovered that my brother's dirty magazine collection from the early 90s (abandoned under a bed and forgotten for decades) ranks with Cher and cockroaches in terms of natural disaster durability.  I mean, really....those things survived without a mark on them.  How?   Seriously?  How?They also afforded us with the rare opportunity of completely horrifying our parents.  Once you hit your 30s, those moments are truly hard to come back and SHOULD ALWAYS be cherished.   

Next summer, we'll return to a place with a new kitchen, and new walls and new furniture and new everything.  We'll marvel at how good it looks and how new everything is and we'll start about the business of building new memories.  We'll sit in the new kitchen, and have breakfast and dinner and tell stories.  

And I will close my eyes and picture the old kitchen....the one I thought I kind of hated...and see my grandmother having her apres-beach beer in the frosted glass she kept in the freezer.   I will see the kitchen table where my brother and I had food fights, the table where we'd late night card games and even worse cocktail concoctions (Gin and Slurpees, anyone) and impromptu Jay-Z dance parties.  The table where my girlfriend-sisters would talk about boys and paint our nails/drink wine from a box or (God help me) Alize because we thought that was classier than Boone's/eat ice cream.

Look back.  Look forward.  And never, ever, ever again take for granted.

(and PS- I still maintain that Alize is waaaaaaay classier than Boone's),

Sunday, November 11, 2012

When Hope is Not Enough

I must, must, must stay out of places like Sephora and Ulta.

Like mustmustmust.   I never learn.

I walk in those places innocently enough, on a quest for something innocuous like nail polish or lip gloss, and consistently walk out with a neon sign reading "RAPIDLY DECAYING HAS-BEEN" over my head.  And, yeah, a bag containing an anti-aging arsenal usually accompanies me, too, as I shame-slump to my car and ponder how the F*#@ I became a middle-aged train wreck.

If the product claims are to be believed, in 30 days, I will have the flawless complexion of a 22 year old Swedish model.  Alternatively, it's more than possible that in 30 days, I will have chemical burned my skin beyond recognition.  This might not be all bad, actually.  If I do, in fact, manage to burn off my face, I will select the skin of a 22 year old Swedish model as its replacement.  When doors are closed, seek windows, people.

I recently turned 37.  This means I am now officially the age that I once thought I'd be when I finally had my shit together--which, incidentally, I don't.  At all.

I've read enough women's lifestyle magazines in my lifetime with articles titled "40 and Fabulous" to have believed that with age comes wisdom and self-confidence and inner peace.  Now, that's some shit that should be sold at Sephora.  As it stands, I suppose I have 2 years and 11.5 months for the inner peace and grace to overtake me.  In the meantime, I will simply buy products called "When Hope is Not Enough, "Keep the Peace" and, god help me, "Miracle Worker"... and await magical transformation.

Yeah, I took women's studies classes in college.  Did well in them, too.  Can't you tell?

I don't think I'm alone in this madness, either....which in itself is some sort of madness.

I doubt that most men think of themselves this way.  In fact, I had lunch today at Buffalo Wild Wings and had the privilege of overhearing a bunch of middle aged men (complete with ill-fitting football jerseys that failed to conceal their guts hanging over their pants) complaining about how Erin Andrews has really "let herself go."


I don't know with absolute certainty, but I feel pretty good about guessing that those guys possessed that delusional self-confidence that make them believe to their cores that the cover models from the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue would duke it out for their affection.

Again.  Riiiiiiiiiight.

Compounding the madness is the fact that I'm raising a little girl, and the only thing in this world that I absolutely cannot screw up is her.  I swear up, down and sideways that I am raising her to be a woman of integrity, strength, dignity and character and that beauty is within...and when she's napping, I smear chemical glop all over my face to assault my wrinkles.  Hello, hypocrisy!

For the moment, I will cut myself a very small break and remind myself that I have taught her some worthwhile things---like how to throw zingers in foreign languages, how to ride the NYC subway, life lessons through song lyrics, how to run in heels and how NOT to cook.

This may have earned me a wrinkle or two,

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Twenty Seconds

My friend P and I met during our first period class on the first day of high school.   I managed to see her  through my mass of 1989 Jersey hair, which, sadly, was crimped for first day of school stylistic effect.    It's entirely possible that my hair and my braces outweighed the rest of my 4'10", 75 pound body.  Thankfully (or regretfully),  my "claw" of Jersey bangs propelled me over the then-elusive 5 foot threshold.

I managed to see her through HER mass of 1989 Jersey hair, which reached dazzling heights courtesy of a Stiff Stuff/Aqua Net cocktail.  (You Jersey girls out there know exactly what that entails). Her hair was naturally curly---an attribute I envied for years.  Her name was alliterative--an attribute I envied even more.  For years.

We became fast friends.

Alphabetical order was also our friend, and P sat right behind me in nearly every class for 4 years.  

We shared a middle name (though I'm not sure if either one of us actually liked it), the written word, an outlook on life and wicked sarcasm.  We both got great grades and had extremely strict parents.  Neither one of us had ever taken so much as a step out of line.

We also shared a mutual desire to maximize our parents' tuition dollars by spending as little time as humanly possible actually paying attention in class.

Frankly, I'm amazed we learned anything at all.  

Our shared love of sarcasm and the written word led us to our enduring legacy--- the notes we passed, back and forth, all day long.  

We quickly learned that so long as you wrote the proper school heading on the top of the notebook page,  our teachers believed that we were ambitious and getting a head start on our assignments instead of screwing around all day, discussing those matters that teenage girls find to be so pressing.  Many of them were laugh out loud funny.  Some were funny on the surface, but actually thinly veiled something much more substantive just under the surface.

I kept every one.

Actually, I'm not amazed we learned anything at all.  We learned everything that mattered.

Life happens and it changes and it twists and it turns, and I lost P for a number of years.  I thought of her on my wedding day - the day my name FINALLY became alliterative, too.  

And then, years later,  I found her again.   It was then that I learned that you don't ever really lose that which is part of you---it simply resurfaces when you are ready to see it again.

We were great together as kids.  We've even better together as adults.  We still share a love of the written word, and an outlook on life, and our wicked sarcasm.   We also share the experience of a parent with cancer (the same kind, to boot, and it's not a common kind), a few battle wounds,  and our imperfectly wonderful only children---who are partners in crime.  We have taken steps out of line, and we've made some dubious choices and plenty of mistakes---and we've ended up exactly where we should be.

You don't ever lose that which is part of you.

We don't pass notes anymore, but we've found an even better way to communicate our irreverent thoughts.  

Yay Facebook!  Yay, Pinterest!  

I am absolutely a big fan of a source of convenient witticism for people with kids and jobs and chronic exhaustion that precludes us from inventing our own original irreverent thoughts much of the time.

Here are some of the classics that P and I have recently shared:

True dat!

Welcome to my world

C'mon, you know you've thought this

Sluts are people, too

And then, P shared one that truly resonated.  Like the shake-you-to-your-core kind of resonate.

Twenty seconds.  Twenty seconds.

Lives catapulted from fine to amazing.

Twenty seconds of courage.

All it takes.  Twenty seconds.

P has her own absolutely remarkable 20 second story---but that's her story to tell and not mine.  So I won't tell it---but I will say that P's bravery is otherworldly and the dividends were huge.

But I've catalogued my own inventory of 20 second moments.  My life---my messy, overbooked, chaotic, richly rewarding life--- was MADE in less than 4 minutes.

Those little twenty second bursts of humiliating, no-hold-barred courage----they made my life.

I'm convinced that those 20 second moments are almost always blurted out---hands shaking, voice shaking, words partially incomprehensible---and in those moments, we are at our most "real".

At least mine were, anyway.

20 seconds of:

I like you----please like me back.
I like you---please be my friend and play with me.
I like you---more than I originally intended
I think I love you----please love me back
I think I'm broken---please fix me
I messed up--- please forgive me
I'm miserable---please help me fix it
I need a friend----please take me in
I think I can---and I'm gonna try
I think I can- will you believe in me?

20 seconds.  An amazing life.  Not a bad trade.  

Of course, like many truths, this is simple but far from easy.  20 seconds is an excruciatingly long time to expose your soul to anyone---especially to someone who can just as easily drop or catch you.

20 seconds.  Worth the risk.

Thank you, P.