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.

42

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.

 

 

The Horkin OG

Back in 2004, I believed I had a better chance of landing a guest star role on Tommy Lee Goes to College than having a baby.

Which, wasn’t a terrible show, given the premise and early adoption of the reality television arc, and it yielded a decent CD, Tommyland, which I bought and listened to on repeat on my way to and from work and did all the things childless people who wish not to be without children do to occupy their time.

Goddamnit, I had a LOT of free time on my hands.

Much like divorce, people REALLY don’t want to discuss the misfirings of your reproductive parts.  Friends and family often tolerated my ramblings about being lonely and dating shenanigans, but launch a retort to someone’s bad day with, “…at least YOU didn’t have radioactive dye injected into your Fallopian tubes” and suddenly you’re a social pariah.  So, I did what any respectable, barren woman in her late 20’s during the early 2000’s would do, I Googled the SHIT out of every and all topics surrounding infertility from the comfort of my couch while watching Gilmore Girls and, lo!  I found my people.  A community of stunningly brilliant story weavers, willing to share the hilariously humiliating, intimate, mundane, and darkest corners of their journey to parenthood and THEY LET ME JOIN THEM.  Crazy bitches.

I kept my blog close, and hardly anyone in my real life knew about it.  Eventually, my sister found it, and I shared it with a few others, and then I got spotted in my mall, and of course she and I became insta-besties, because that’s what one does when you’re spotted by a follower of your blog while bra shopping with two toddlers in tow, (SPOILER! I GOT KNOCKED UP EVENTUALLY!) and then you take her on a first friend date to Victoria’s Secret to purchase a bachelorette gift and live as friends happily ever after.

It’s truly a miracle I’m allowed out of my house alone.

horkinramblingsThis past weekend, I came across an archived version of my old blog.  Horkin Ramblings, in all her Pepto pink glory, from which I treated Unicorn Boyfriend to some dramatic readings.  Then, as if he hadn’t endured enough, I remembered a collection of posts, from my blog, that a friend compiled for my baby shower, and we read those, too.  Y’all.  It was GOLD.

And I decided, right then and there, under my white twinkle lights, on my deck in desperate need of painting, sipping a glass of $6 wine because we spare NO expense, that I’m bringing Mommyblogging back, OG STYLE.

(I had NO idea what OG meant until, like, a year ago, when I saw Teen Mom OG, and I praised Yeezus for a smartphone so no one knew I Googled the phrase OG, from the privacy of my own living room, except, now, the interwebs.)

But since my kids are now the ripe ol’ age of TWEEN, and would much rather I keep their privacy intact, and since I’m actively trying NOT to get pregnant because at my age that would be just crazypreggopants, and oh yeah, I’m divorced, it’s not exactly Mommyblogging so much as a dumping ground for the essays that will eventually comprise my best selling novel.

Or, more realistically, a blog that’s a fuck ton cheaper than therapy.  You are welcome!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Hope He Grabs This In the Event of a Fire

I assumed you’d always be there.

My first contact as soon as I open my eyes.  The first good morning from my lips or fingers, depending on whether I wake up next to you.  The last I love you long after the sun surrenders to the dark.  The point to my counterpoint.

My steadfast companion in weekend shenanigans.  My sounding board for daily struggles and minutia, an audience for my long, waxing stories, puns and jokes.  My kitchen dancing partner.  The one with whom I (badly, most times very badly) try to harmonize in the car, hoping you don’t hear or judge too harshly when it’s (usually) awful.

My workout partner.  My hand holder, and forehead kisser.

Yesterday, my mind stumbled into a scary, sad place.  One without you in it.

I was driving.  We talked on the phone.  (Handsfree.  Huzzah, bluetooth!)  I had both hands on the wheel, steadily guiding myself into my driveway, yet felt like we were careening at top speed off a cliff.  I told you I thought something was wrong.  That I can’t be things I’m not.  That maybe I wasn’t the girl for you.

I felt sick.

I hung up the phone, and sat in my car.  Sobbing.  Heaving.  Already missing your scent and the scruff of your beard on my neck when you snuggled in behind me as I brushed my teeth.

I went in the house.  Threw on the mask of being Mom and strong and happy for my little audience of two who needed dinner and hugs and kisses and help with homework.  I hoped we could talk later and resolve things, but I hated that I couldn’t see your face.  Responsibilities meant that just wasn’t possible.  

Like clockwork, I messaged you when the house was quiet.  And we could talk.  You said you’d be there in 3 minutes.

And then, you walked in the door.

I hadn’t heard you open the garage, or pull in the driveway, or your footsteps on the stairs.  But, there you were.  With open arms and more red roses than I’d ever seen gathered together in a beautiful bouquet.

You showed up.

We talked.  And I could see your face.  Your eyes said it all.  You were scared, too.  You held me, and assured me, and listened, and offered a hand that hoisted me out of that horrible, terrifying, solitary space, and back on the path where I belonged, with you.

We need to be brave.  And stay soft.  With our eyes and hearts open to whatever comes next.  Because I know, there’s Game of Thrones episodes to watch together, and silly dances in the grocery store, and nights at the arcade with our kids, and trips to the batting cages, and stupid selfies, and snowmobiling weekends, and a million other things in store for us.

I’ll never just assume you’ll be there.  But, I’ll fight like hell to be there, too…because there is where you are.  And that’s where I want to be.

Go Sanitize Your Phone, Pukey Phone People.

I’m a bit of a logistical nightmare.

By nature, I plan.  No, not just plan, I PLANNNNNNNNNNNNN to the Nth degree.  I plan the shit out of plans.  I attempt to accommodate for any and all scenarios, and those scenarios have understudy scenarios that need to be prepped and readied in the event that the star of the show comes down with unexpected (unplanned, you say???) norovirus and surprise!!  THEY’RE ON.  This level of planning involves a great number of moving parts, acquisitoning of all the things, and cooperative participants in Current Plan, the Musical!  In which I’d be played by Kristen Chenoweth.

Logistical.  Nightmare.  Fo sho.

Last week, Unicorn Boyfriend invited me up north to partake in some weekend Snowmobiling shenanigans.  Which, can we talk about the absolute ridiculous toll this particular motor sport takes on a woman’s body?  And by a woman’s body, I mean boobs.  Jiminy Cripes on a salted Cracker, the bumps.  Imagine riding a bike over ski moguls.  FOR HOURS.  Like, five. Sports bra be damned, those bumps were BRUTAL.  And, the guys who sled, in response to my comments about bouncy boob pain, are all, “When you hit the bumps just stand up.”  Oh, well ALRIGHTY THEN.  Sure!  I’ve commandeered a 1,000 pound piece of machinery and am trying to navigate through trees and make drifty, slidey turns, and avoid other people and keep the throttle engaged and don’t hit the brake too much when going down a hill, and, now let me add STANDING UP to that list to spare my body the brunt of the bumps.

Don’t mistake my bitching for a dislike of the sport.  It’s actually super fun and I like it very much, in spite of all the immense bumpiness.

I especially enjoy the tandemness of riding with Unicorn BF, and we’ve added this activity to the many things we already like doing together, like working out and cooking and drinking wine and negating all the working out we’ve done.  Synergy, people.  That’s what this is.

Anyhoo, the timeline of this getaway was tight.  Super tight.  We were trying to leave early enough to avoid some snowy stormy weather rolling into our path to snowmobile land, and we’d have to leave Vermont early enough for me to start my shift at work on Sunday night at 6pm.  The drive to and fro is approximately 5 hours under ideal conditions.  The amount of gear one needs to pack for such an outing is immense.  (Jacket, snow pants, boots, gloves, head wrappy thing that goes under a helmet, helmet…)

Here’s the kicker…no actual decision about going on this trip was made until all the info sources were consulted and it was determined snow was in adequate supply, which happened late Friday night.

Last Summer, not long after UBF and I met, we accepted an invitation to have dinner with my friend in NYC on a Saturday night.  On Friday, she excitedly texted me many emojis and said, “See you guys tonight!!”  Wait.  What?  Dinner was TOMORROW, right?  Nope.  She’d inadvertantly got her dates wrong and the dinner was that night.  I received her texts at work, where I was expected until 3pm, leaving what I thought was no time to make it to the city in time for dinner.  I contacted UBF to let him know the change in plans and make alternate arrangements.  The conversation that followed looked a little like this:

Me:  I’m sorry, but dinner is tonight in NYC, not tomorrow, and there’s not enough time to get there by 7, so what else should we do tonight?
Him: Why isn’t there enough time?
Me: Too hard.  So…plans?
Him: Not too hard.  Lots of trains on a Friday night.  Let’s figure this out.
Me: WHAT IS THIS PATIENT COOPERATION AND LOGISTICAL PROWESS YOU POSSESS???
Him: ???
Me: Uh, nevermind.  Anyhoo! You were saying???
Him: You get out of work around 3. Run home, change, pick me up by 430, we can make a train around 5ish, and make it to the restaurant by 7.
Me: Oh goodness.  Your organizational skills are on point.  Also?  HOT.
Him: Go get ready, crazypants.  See you soon.

I’m paraphrasing, of course.  But you get the idea.  He pays attention to details.  He’s calm.  He’s a good mix of planner and fly by the seat of his pantser, which does wonders to placate my OCD and nudges my rigid side to LET THINGS GO, ALREADY.

We had a fantastic time in NYC that night, thanks in no small part to his level head and my low maintenance habits that allowed me to rush home, change into acceptable attire and arrive on his doorstep in record time.  It became pretty obvious that day that not only did we have a tremendous amount of interests in common, and we found fun in one another, but we seemed to make a damn, fine set of partners in making shit happen.

This weekend proved no different.  We worked in concert to make this trip a huge success.  From coordinating pick ups, to organizing a car friendly dinner, to his hand holding through learning this new crazy sport he loves so much, to us packing early and heading back with enough extra time to spare that we stole a few moments alone and rested before I had to leave for work.

I can hear half of you reading this collectively saying, awwwwwwwwww…and the other half projectile vomiting onto your phones because GROSS SWOONY SWEETNESS, BLECH.

Whatever, lame pukey phone people.

Hashtag, bliss.

No Unicorns Were Hurt In the Making of This Blog Post

I’d grown weary of assholes, and then…and then.

unicorn6I had grown weary of assholes.

For a while, my dating life read like a Buzzfeed article, “20 Blind Date Horror Stories Sure to Make You Cry Until You Laugh So Hard You’ll Cry Again”.  Time after insufferable time, I’d meet a guy who, by all appearances, seemed worthy of my time, only to prove very early on just how little time he spent in line when the universe handed out manners and social skills.  After my summer fling flung itself out the window, I’d decided to give the whole online dating thing one last shot before placing myself on the shelf for a much needed sabbatical.

And then, I got a message.  From him.

There’s an art to the delicate dance of exchanging messages when engaging potential dates online.  Say too much and you’re written off as a crazy over sharer.  Too little and you’re left wondering perhaps there’s a red room, or worse, a parole officer and hidden bodies behind all that mystery.

His note was short, but proved he’d consumed my entire profile beginning to end, and his assertiveness in contacting me first oozed just the right amount of confidence to prompt a a click over and see what he was all about.

At first glance, he was everything that intimidated me in a man; attractive, outgoing, smart, and funny.  His lengthy profile (and it was lonnnnnng…that’s what she said…ha!) established some pretty high standards and lofty goals for himself and his potential partner.  The site we used featured a compatibility score based on questions covering a variety of subjects. Ours was something ludicrous, above 90%, which seemed simultaneously ridiculous and intriguing. I’d just begun the process of getting my mojo back, or finding it for the first time ever?  Either way,  I had a good gut feeling about this guy, and with a year post divorce under my belt, the typical, bubbling insecure voice that usually screamed “THEY’RE ALL GONNA LAUGH AT YOU” stayed at bay, so…I responded.

Many, many, many messages later, we were still talking.  Then he asked me to dinner.

Ho.  Lee.  Shitballs.

Here’s the part where I tell you about how I’m not a girl who generally rattles easily.  Blood?  Puke?  Slasher movies?  Not even a blink of an eye.  Granted, I cry at those stupid Folgers commercials at Christmas time, the ones with the son who returns home from some far off land, and starts a pot of coffee the second he walks into the house, instead of, I don’t know, TAKING A SHOWER, which, how selfless of him, right?  Coffee?  That’s some thoughtful shit right there, and now I’m not crying, YOU’RE CRYING, nope, I’m crying.  Anyway.  Aside from sappy commercials (damn you ASPCA, TAKE ALL MY DOLLARS), I’m pretty even keeled.

The exception?  Sushi with THIS GUY.

It was July, and the day of our date (a Friday…the 22nd…but who’s counting) was icky, sticky, and hot.  I decided to forego my usual first date uniform of something black, and injected a little color because why not just buck the system from all angles?  Blue dress, white sweater, strappy wedge sandals (these were both an awful and fantastic choice…more on that in a bit).  Normally, I’d have worn something more casual, but he was meeting me after work, and was coming from NYC, so I upped my outfit game a smidge to keep up.

We agreed to meet at a spot near his local train station, and I spent the almost 40 minute drive there uncharacteristically, excitedly nervous.  What was this crazy flippy feeling in my stomach?  So odd.  I arrived first, parked, and texted him something that I normally would NEVER say in real life, letting him know I was there, and that I was the cutie in the white SUV.

Cutie?  WHO SAYS THAT?  The writer in me still feels shame for using that term, all these months later.  If nothing else, and in my defense, it proves just how nervous I was.

I watched as his car pulled in, and he stepped out.  He was tall.  And very well dressed, in a crisp white shirt and green dress pants.  I slid out of my car and as I walked towards him, he smiled…I was about to say he smiled at me, but that’s not accurate.  It was more than that.  He had these beautiful, sky blue eyes, and he smiled through me.  I remember it gave me chills.  Then we hugged.  It was tight, and enveloping.

This was about to be…something.

In the interest of time, and because I could wax poetic for pages and pages about how our conversation flowed flawlessly, and how he didn’t even bat an eye when he spilled a tiny bit of soy sauce on his shirt, and how we discovered we had SO many things in common, and how I tried gauging his interest level and couldn’t get a good read, even when he asked to continue our outing at another venue for a drink, (duh, if you’re relocating, it’s a safe bet it’s on like Donkey Kong) I’ll fast forward to the end of the evening, as we walked back to our cars, and I was pretty sure things were going well, until…remember those strappy sandals?  How about a little first date math!

Strappy wedge sandals + swanky town cobblestone sidewalks + stupid weak ankles = Sherry almost biting it.

But, he caught me before I splayed out on the ground, with my dress over my head, which honestly would’ve been best case scenario.  It could’ve been ugly, but he grabbed my arm and we carried on.

He escorted me to my car, and we stood there for a moment or three, recapping what a great time we’d had, but all I could think about was, “Is this dude gonna kiss me OR WHAT?”

Now, I need to stress just how important a first kiss is.  It sets the tone for whatever comes next.  It’s EVERYTHING.  A bad first kiss is a deal breaker and bad kissers are bad FOREVER.  There’s no recovering from a disastrous first kiss, ever, and it ruins everything that might have been. Every time there’s a bad kiss, a unicorn dies. It’s mostly pressure on the man (sorry, guys) to pull out all the stops and make an impression.  When it’s good, the sky’s the limit.  When it’s bad, it’s a screeching halt to everything.  And then, the unicorn.

This freaking guy, pulls me in and kisses me.

Wait.  That wasn’t it at all.  *clears throat*  Let me try that again…

We stood there, close, in the warm, heavy air of the evening, full from amazing food and riveting conversation and obvious chemistry.  I thanked him for a fabulous time, and he thanked me, too.  He smiled that crazy bright smile before slipping his arm around my waist and pulling me so close it startled me to gasp, but in a way that felt safe and just right.  My hands instinctively found his broad shoulders, and he finally kissed me.  The kiss startled me, too, in the best way possible.  We said our goodnights, again, and went our separate ways.

It was the best first kiss I ever had.

That was six months ago.

Since then, he’s showed up time and time again, in all different ways, ready to embark on whatever shenanigans I throw his way.  Hell, I suggested on our 3rd date we drive go karts.  Two grown adults, squeezing into tiny vehicles powered by lawn mower motors, in the dead of summer, clad in huge helmets looks about as ridiculous as it sounds, and yet?  Our sweaty asses had the time of our lives.  He makes me dinner, and makes me think about life, and the future, and politics, and if I’ve locked my doors, goddamnit, LOCK YOUR DOORS, Sherry, and worries about me, and whether I got home late at night, or if I got decent financing on my new car, and teaches me new things, like how to operate a snowmobile, or drive stick in the snow, and besides listening to my daughter sing her little heart out to the YouTube video du jour, or hearing my son explain the inner workings of his Lego Technic set that he’s using to rewire our garage door opener, seeing this guy is the best part of my week.

I mean, he’s out awesomed Taco Tuesday.  THAT’S SAYING SOMETHING.