The Band Jacket Manifesto

It was the spring of 7th grade, I was 12 years old, and my parents let me splurge for a jacket that told the world I WAS IN BAND.  Royal blue satin with “City Hill Music” emblazoned on the back in canary yellow cursive silkscreen.  My name in a matching, equally jolting sunshine on the front right breast.   Snaps.  I coveted those snaps.  The privilege of joining and maintaining a spot in band wasn’t lost on me, as I played piano and was…eh.  Not awful, but not great.  And yet, my teacher still kept me there, present for every concert, jazz show, even marching band occasion.  For parades, this piano player marched with a Casio SK-1, proudly through the streets of my hometown, playing along all the brass and woodwinds.

I found my people and my place.  Band gave me confidence, for the first time, to give no fucks about what anyone else thought of me, my awkward shape, my gigantic hair, my yet-to-be-braced teeth, and adopting my own style of doing just about everything.

For some reason, back then, I used trips to the grocery store as my laboratory…my workshop to try new and, in my tween mind, ingenious experiments.  Ohhh, the makeup, the heavy, blue, Crayola brand make up teamed up with a red, shiny, spandex unitard that began as the foundation of a devil halloween costume, topped off with some crazy oversized t-shirt (I recall one to which I was partial, with 3 bunnies), and always, the band jacket as the cherry on this fucked up crazypants cake.  I literally wore my fearlessness on my sleeve which left no room for self doubt to settle in.

I miss her.

I did an awful lot of living in the age before kids and marriage and divorce and jobs and bills, before Facebook and Instagram, before I let all these other voices drowned out my own.  I traveled.  I loved, and lost, fiercely and without apology.  I spoke my truth without regret.  There’s no question, life is harder now, but not, like, recovering from a terminal illness or rebuilding after a tornado ripped through our neighborhood, hard.  And yet, here I am, living my most careful, censored, reserved life.

12 year old me would NOT be pleased.  She’d snatch that jacket away in a SECOND.  Unacceptable, she’d say, through her many braces and with more sass than her spandex could hold.

As the year turned from old to new, I refused to make resolutions to become something different.  Or changed.  I will never be thin, or totally organized, or quiet, or stop yelling at my kids when they drag ass on the way out of the house, as I will forever be saying COMEEEEEEEEEONNNNNNNNNNNNNN LETS GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO WE’RE GONNA BE LAAAAAAAAATE, and I accept all of it.  What I resolve to do is be MORE of myself, more genuine, more authentic, more loving, take bigger risks, explore, strut through this fabulous life I’ve created and speak my truth louder and without fear of retribution or judgement.  I’ll call my Mother more and make plans to do manis and pedis with her.  I’ll sing in front of another piano bar crowd in NYC.  I’ll blog more and swear profusely and talk about how much I want Oprah to do whatever the hell she wants, whether it’s run for president or marry Gail.  I won’t care how you think I parent my kids, or date your son, or cook my food, or keep my home.  Or, if I do happen to give a shit about any of that, I’ll say something, or not, and I’ll sleep well at night because I’m me, honestly and completely, and that’s fucking amazing.

Now, don’t think I’ve gone off the deep end, and have given up all sense of decorum.  I’ll still be here, all gushing about unicorn boyfriend and my fabulous kids, and all that.  But expect way more detail and honesty.  And swearing.  And satin and snaps.  And to hear my mumbling on repeat, in a low, monotone voice, “I. Don’t. Give. A. Shit.

Band, y’all.  It teaches us the life lessons that matter.

A Different Kind of Holiday Steamroller

Last night, I sat across the dinner table from my ex-husband, flanked by both kids, and braced myself for the tremendously difficult conversation that followed.

He and I discussed this a long, long time ago, anticipating the sadness sure to accompany this dreaded day.  Our kids, blissfully unaware of what we were about to tell them, would never be the same once we adjourned from our family meeting.  We couldn’t unring the bell.  There was no turning back.  They were nearly teenagers, and deserved to know the truth.  Cringing, and admittedly a bit teary, struggling to find the right words, we could no longer keep up the charade.

“Kids,” my ex began, in that calming, yet matter-of-fact, Canadian way, “you know there’s no such person as Santa, right?”

I.  Thought.  I.  Might.  Die.

I get it, anyone with little kiddos sees this day on the horizon long before it happens, including me.  But, like most things, and in true “us” fashion, we procrastinated the HELL out of this whole Santa business, and leveraged it to our advantage year after year.  The idea of blowing up an integral part of their childhood just seemed…I don’t know, WRONG.  Like, SO wrong.  And mostly because this meant something more than just realizing their presents come from Amazon instead of some cockamamie workshop in the North Pole, which my son always questioned how the heck elves know which circuits to put where in the XBoxes and do they have an electronic assembly clean room there, but this was a sign of our surrender to time and its ever present campaign to steam roll right over us long before we’re ready to accept the new now.

Our kids, who now are closer to the age of high school graduation than they are from their Kindergarten graduation, and holy shit, THAT’S quite the realization to have after only one cup of coffee, who now entertain prospects of their future lives, and college locales, some of which aren’t even in this country, and their passions for music and math and ridiculous puns, are growing and changing and maturing and will someday be on the other side of that graduation curve, marching off to the next chapter of their lives and out of our hands, which we can only clench together and hope that we did our best.

Yeah.  You can say this Santa business sent me reeling.

Max was the first to answer when his Dad asked the pointed question.  “I’ve had doubts for a while,” he said, “but I didn’t want to say anything.”  Sara laughingly denied it, while side eyeing her brother, a sure indicator she knew the jig was up.  We talked about how although the man isn’t real, the magic lives on, and how it’s our job to believe in the message of doing good things without the expectation of anything in return.  They eventually finished dinner, the conversation turned to another, less charged subject, and life went on.

There you have it.  It’s our first Santa-less Christmas, so if you ask me why I’m HEAVING while watching The Polar Express on Christmas Eve, you’ll understand why the only response you’ll get is a projectile dirty tissue and maybe a middle finger.  Happy Holidays!

Five Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went for Sushi That Night

Dating-Meme-dating-in-your-30s-is-like-are-we-doingPicture it.  Connecticut.  2016.  Hot, humid, and holy shit, another first date.  Choosing wedges over flip flops was the most impactful decision laying before me, and my expectations hovered solidly in the cautiously optimistic section of the scale, just above the I have several binge opportunities with Netflix on hold if this goes south line.

Go figure, it seems to have worked out.  Nearly 18 months later, and I haven’t smothered him in his sleep, although I did come close that one time I had to wake up at ungodly o’clock, and he sat straight up at about an hour before my alarm and shouted, “OHMYGODYOU’REGONNABELAAAAAAATE!” Which, in turn, woke me, my dog, the cat, several, local, recently deceased, and although I scavenged for sleep after restarting my heart, letting the dog out, feeding the cat, using the bathroom, and restraining myself from pressing the hose of his CPAP juuuuuuust hard enough, I never found it.  Which, if we were married, is grounds for divorce and I’d get all the things forever, it’s the law, look it up.

At least it SHOULD be.

Over this last year and a half, boy HOWDY have I learned a lot.  Like, did you know there are these crazy little elves that bring you coffee in the morning and it just shows up on your nightstand, exactly how you like it?  (Piping hot, light and sweet, kinda like me.  HEYOOO!)  Those same elves search for a pot or pan and leave every goddamned drawer and cabinet open in the kitchen for me to close, like some demented game of whack a mole.  Balance, I guess.

I survived a marriage for 13 years, and although it ended, I still thought I kinda sorta knew what it took to make a relationship work.  The whole, been there, done that, got the ill fitting t-shirt mentality left me somewhat unprepared for operating within a healthy, long-term relationship.  So, in the spirit of catharsis, and to those of you Ok Cupid-ing, Tindering, Bumbling, and POFishing around the dating scene, inundated with stupid dating advice, here’s some realness you can use to hopefully find, keep, and enjoy a partner for life.

I give you, Five Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went on a Date with the (unbeknownst to me at the time) Love of My Life:

  1. I’m fine.  Just the way I am.  It’s weird that I still sweat about stupid stuff, like my hair being too curly, or too straight, or wearing too much perfume, or being too opinionated, or too loud, or just too much of anything.  Here’s the thing, y’all.  YOU’RE FINE.  Exactly how you are.  One of the things I love most about Unicorn Boyfriend is that he accepts me, mostly.  He’s still not a fan that I leave lights on, or that I threaten to cut all my hair off, which, guys?  I DON’T GET.  What’s the fascination with long hair?  I get that it looks good, but have you ever tried giving yourself a blow out?  It’s EXHAUSTING.  So much reaching and pulling and turning and when you’re like me, and have tiny T-Rex arms, and cascading amounts of thick, crazy, unruly (much like me!) hair, ouch.  Just be you, is my point, and I still have to remind myself of my enoughness, but don’t lose sight of how awesome you really are.
  2. The bright, shiny, fairy tale-ish phase only lasts SO long, and that’s OK.  It took me almost a year, if not longer, to fart in front of UBF.  I was shook the first time it happened.  Now?  Not so much.  Hashtag comfortable AF.
  3. Do NOT care, one ounce, what other people think of your relationship.  Unless there’s some blinding, abusive, red flags, just know that judgy mcjudgertons are gonna judge no matter who and no matter what.  Which is not to diminish the difficulties of a negative Nancy or Norman.  In my experience, I always won over the people in my partner’s periphery.  It was a gift.  Parents dug me, friends were fans.  This time around?  Much tougher crowd.  I’ve made an ally or two, but hurdles still remain.  See #1, by the way, and remember you’re aiiiiight, regardless of what anyone else thinks.
  4. No one will tell you that this person, who you fell in love with, adore, and even don’t mind seeing naked periodically, WILL DRIVE YOU INSANE.  You’ll yell.  You’ll reach a whole new level of anger and just when you thought you’ve reached the pinnacle of angry, a whole new zenith opens up.  Relationships are HARRRRRRRRRD.  In our case, there’s us, jobs, pets (mine), bills, kids (his and mine), family, and more all vying for our attention and we’re tending to all those things as best we can, and also trying to still date.  They say we have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce, but can Bey juggle 7th grade homework times 2, walk the dog, cook a delicious meal, load the dishwasher, clean the house, AND still have the energy to ask someone how THEIR day was?  Doubt it.  Bottom line, relationships are work, and it’s totally ok to take a minute to collect yourself before you wreck yourself.  Take naps.  They help, a lot.
  5. Lastly, entertain the idea that, for all his faults, this person is still one of the greatest additions to your life.  Let him be him, as much as he lets you be you.  Appreciate who you are together, and apart.  For a moment, take a step back from the work of improving, and just be.  You may be surprised by what you find.

In Which I Give Thanks to My Water Bottle

Actual water bottle, coffee cup, and wristless owner of both

Yesterday, during a benign Facebook exchange, I discovered my sister no longer drinks caffeinated coffee.  This, from a woman I recall drinking an ENTIRE POT of coffee all by her lonesome self.  I hadn’t noticed she’d switched, exclusively, to decaf, despite my several personal deliveries of Dunkin which I ordered from a text message that explicitly specified DECAF in her order.

It goes without saying she got the quickness in the family and I can correctly grammartize the word motherfucker in a blog post.  OUR PARENTS ARE SO PROUD.

Typically, I allow myself 2 cups of coffee a day.  Less than that and I fall out of routine, which for me and my self-diagnosed ADHD-ness is what medical professionals lovingly refer to as a NO effing BUENO, SHERRY.  (That’s a quote from my therapist, BTW.  Hi Deb!) More than two cups and my hands shake and my heart races and the only difference between that and a typical anxiety attack is the lacking sense of massive pending horrific doom.

An aside…and revelation I JUST realized.  I’ve dealt with some shit in my life, and if watching that show Intervention taught me anything, it’s that I would’ve been a perfect candidate for a serious drug problem.  But!  That bitch anxiety?  She had my back and actually steered me wayyyy clear of ever trying any illegal substance, out of fear that the presence of even pot would kill me.  Or, propel me into a life of crime.  Or both.  Huh.  Look at me, all finding the bright spot and shit.

Back to coffee.  Today?  It’s not even mid-morning and I’ve had 3 cups.  Because, well, life, and shit is getting realsies up in this tween wrangling piece, and while I don’t think I’m dealing with anything Earth shatteringly new, it’s all uncharted territory for us.  The past few months have brought about lots of change and planning for futures and realizations and Axe Body Spray, and suffice to say, Momma is unprepared.

Hence, the 3rd cup of coffee.

While I watched this hot vessel of what I’ll surely regret in a few hours brew into my mug, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d chugged some water.  Some months ago, I bought a specific shaker cup for my morning smoothies and, while at work, I’d wash it out and use it for water for the day and at the gym.  Immediately, I craved that cup full of clear, liquid gold, and I pulled it out of the Designated Plastic Container Cabinet™.  But, the lid was nowhere.  to.  be.  found.  SHIT.

Now, of course, a normal person, would just take the cup, sans lid, fill that shit, and get her ass to work.  But, you’re not immersed in the blog of a normal woman.  I needed that lid, because what if I spill!  How will I drink at the gym!? It became obvious, in that moment, that I’d clearly failed as a parent, employee, daughter, sister, and human being because I COULD NOT FIND THAT BLESSED LID FOR MY SHAKER CUP.  I should just give up, go back to bed, and let the kids sustain themselves on chocolate chip waffles and Spotify.

Aim high, kids!

Clearly, that 3rd cup of joe transitioned from caffeine crutch to path of destruction.  This is how anxiety gets ya.  She spews irrational commentary that you start to believe, because if you’re told something long enough…you know the rest.  Lately, I’ve become more proficient at recognizing her bullshit, and calling her out on it.  Which, I think, is why I opened the drawer to my left, under the Designated Plastic Container Cabinet™, the perfect home for plastic container accouterments.

Like, lids.

There it was.

And, just like that, in the light of my kitchen, dim from two ceiling fan bulbs having blown out, which is probably a better look for me in flannel pajamas anyway, I smiled to myself because maybe, just maybe, if I can find an appropriate home for all my water bottle lids (they were ALL in there),  maybe I have the foresight to navigate all this craziness after all.

Maybe, but after just one more cup of coffee.

Irrational, but Real

Anxiety lies.

Anxiety tells me things I should know are untrue.

She whispers in a voice inaudible to anyone else, but I hear her.  Clearly, and with vigor nopeand conviction.

She feeds on my self-doubt and worry, like fucked up nourishment for her evil mission.  A veritable mental vulture who preys on the dying.

One particularly weak day, she convinced me my boyfriend sent me away to the grocery store so he could leave me under the cover of darkness, and sneak away.  Much to my surprise, and her chagrin, upon my return, he was there.  Still.  Always, I hope.

She dictates my wardrobe choices, her chatter about my body, and how it should be hidden above all costs, chirps in my brain, as I don another sack or over sized something.

She convinces me I can’t be a writer.  A good mother or productive employee.  A viable candidate for a job.  A strong, beautiful woman.  A caring daughter.  A productive, protective partner.  She casts doubt, that maybe I did deserve that, or was asking for the other thing, or certainly this will be the day something awful will happen.  Maybe it was my fault.  All of it.  Everything.

I never invited her to the party.  I never asked her to stay.  She’s an all too familiar stranger, a squatter in my mind I’d evict the second I knew how.

For now, I fight however I can manage.  Sometimes she disappears with a simple hair flip or some decent music.  Other times, like now, she’s almost impossible to shake, and the voice on repeat telling me all the things I can’t do and he’s never going to marry you and your family still thinks you’re a fuck up and you’re going to get fired and you’re fat and you’re ugly and your house is a wreck and you’re a loser because you haven’t finished your laundry and just wait until you see what tomorrow brings because if you thought today was bad…

So much for sleeping tonight.

Breathe.  I need to breathe.  And acknowledging her awful presence to someone other than me helps, too.  Sometimes I stand in the mirror and smile while I she spews her rhetoric, to help lessen the blow.  Other times I punch a pillow.  Or take a walk.  Or lie down and let the bitch wash over me with all she’s got.  Eventually, she tires out, too.

I’ve been able to outlast her this long.  Here’s to one more day of winning the race.


People often tell me I don’t look my age.

Just today, in a conversation with an acquaintance, I said something in reference to my teenage years, and attempted to include him in the conversation with, “at OUR age…”.  He shook his head yes, and I asked, “we’re both the same-ish age, right?  I’m 42.”  He nods, as if to acquiesce our being similar in age, then says, “I wouldn’t have said you’re 42.  I figured we were around the same age…I’m 38…I would’ve pegged you for late 30’s.”  I gave the obligatory thanks and went about my business.

Weirdest.  Compliment.  EVER, the whole “you don’t look your age” business.

Don’t get me wrong, this guy meant well, but THAT’S what we choose to commend women for as they age?  Like, congratulations you old bat!  You’ve out run the most common, outward signs of aging and probably had a decent start with good genes and effective skincare regiment, but here’s a medal anyway for inheriting your grandmother’s clear skin and discovered the benefits of using Oil of Olay twice a day.

Look at me, winning at life, keeping Proctor and Gamble in the black.  GEEEEEEEEENIUS.

Here’s the thing, though, and this may come as a shock since society tells us that, as women, we need to preserve our youth AT ALL COSTS, that once we hit the age of 35, it’s all Botox and eye serum and root touch up and concealer and contour and skirts to *there* and swimdresses, but…I LOVE being my age.  Of all the ages I’ve reached so far, this one?  42?  Is the best one yet, BY FAR.

Sure, I got my license at 16, but that’s when I got super dumped by my then high school boyfriend (Hi Steve!) and 18 was a bust because my college girlfriends and I discovered the only real things you can do on your 18th birthday is vote, legally sign a contract, buy smokes, and rent porn.  We did two of those, and I won’t say which, but suffice to say politics nor putting legal pen to paper were not on our minds then.  21 was a bust, as I spent it in a dive bar, in Boston, drinking something called a “Red Death”, which tasted JUST like Hawaiian Punch with a bonus vomitous hangover.  I got married at 27, and we all know how that turned out.  Had my kids at 30, and while that particular event ranks preeeeetty dang high on my list, it was newborn twin induced blur and don’t remember much, except for the post partum depression and bonus anti-anxiety meds.  I got divorced for my 40th birthday.  At almost 41, I met the love of my life, and that takes us to present, 42, the best age I’ve been thus far.

There’s magic in the number 42, some say it holds the secret of the universe, which, if that means finally mastering the subtle art of disguising my double chin with bronzer, sitting comfortably, alone, in a Starbucks, sipping a coffee and chuckling aloud at a Facebook post where my sister worked in the phrase “dick touchers”, or the excitement of auto payments notifications, then look no further for the answer to life.

All this to say, why not just compliment my ass, instead.  It’s just easier for everyone.

Crazytown, Population: us

Dumpster-FireEverything is a colossal shitshow of a dumpster fire, and everyone on all the social medias is pissed off, and, I get it.  I get it all.  Stand up, sit down, do the hokey pokey for all I care, I love you all and will be okay with however you choose to live your life.

Unless you are one of those freaks who posts videos with titles like, “Ramsey the Chihuahua was wandering the streets of Mumbai and was mowed down by 17 cars, WATCH THE ACTUAL FOOTAGE HERE, before we show you some amazeballs foster dog Mom Karen who adopted him while on her own Eat Pray Love excursion and now he’s living a very lovely, albeit prosthetically enhanced life in Idaho, on a ranch, with a chicken best friend.”  Then?  Then, no.  You might as well offer my kids heroin because that’s just criminal, those videos.  I’ll watch slasher movies all day long, but the animals?  DON’T HURT THE ANIMALS.

Goodness, the tangents around here. Anyhoo…

Tomorrow is my birthday, and no I’m not ashamed to admit I’m turning forty freaking two.  Whoever told me turning 40 and beyond would suck really needs their life compass retooled because my 40’s, so far, have rocked.  Of course, now that I say that, that serial pooper lady will somehow find her way into my driveway or even worse, so let’s all collectively knock on wood.  I started my celebration early, today, with a woman I met through work who invited me to join her on a walk.  I only knew a little about her, but while we walked, she shared with me her journey through surviving breast cancer, mourning the loss of a friend who recently took his own life, and a host of other odds and ends.  By the 3.5 mile mark, we’d become friends.  I took a chance and the payoff was a new exercise buddy who made me laugh and think.

The world is crazytown right now, and that’s hard.  For my birthday, I want everyone in my little circle to do something nice.  For someone else, or yourself.  Donate to a cause.  Help folks affected by a hurricane.  Practice some self-care.  Get a coffee at 3pm because you can.  Compliment a stranger.  Compliment your wife.  Put down your goddamned phone, walk outside, let the sunshine hit your face, and take a walk.  If it’s raining, take a walk anyway, because like my Mom used to say, “You’re not gonna melt, you’re not that sweet!”  You guys would love my Mom.

Come on back tomorrow and tell me what you did.  I’m hoping I’ll figure out something fantastic, but I may just settle for less knee jerk horn honking, possibly an earlier bed time, maybe some cake, and call that shit a WIN.