The Should Has Hit the Fan

Back when I was married, and battling infertility to realize my dream of
spending 18 hours in labor, and popping out two kids consecutively, the first without pain medication JUST FOR FUN, people felt compelled to shove well intentioned advice in my general direction at every turn.  In the nosupermarket, at restaurants, especially at Target.  Anyone ever ask you about the state of your vagina in the purse department of your favorite department store?  No?  YOU HAVEN’T LIVED.

Many theorized on why I couldn’t get pregnant, and opined on what we “should” be doing instead.  You should relax, you should take a vacation, you should stop trying so hard, you should try harder, you should see an acupuncturist, you should take this as a sign from God that you should just stop trying because maybe you’re not meant to be a parent. I stepped in giant, stank piles of should everywhere I went. Then, when I finally DID get pregnant, and subsequently miscarried…let’s just say, if I had a nickel for every time someone alluded to the universe weeding out my baby because of some defect, that I SHOULD be thankful because the alternative would be awful, I’d have a pretty healthy pile of nickels to dump in a sock and smack people upside the head who found new and ingenious ways to should all over my life decisions.

Let us not speak of the diarrheatic flow of shoulds when one is blessed with healthy twin babies.

Now that I’m divorced, I find myself back in a giant minefield of smelly should pies. I should be thankful I had a husband to begin with.  I should take solace that I have the company of my children.  I should not be dating.  I should enjoy my alone time.  I should just stop being so sad and miserable.  I should pray for a new boyfriend (yes, that’s a real thing actually said to me, a human being, by another living person, with a pulse, and no, we’re no longer acquainted), I should just be alone for awhile (awhile is apparently a vast, vague, indiscriminate amount of time), I should just date a 20 year old, I should try speed dating, I should stay OFF Tinder (wise advice), I should stop trying so hard to find a relationship, I should know, like when I was trying to get pregnant, that when you relax a bit, THINGS HAPPEN.  What are these coveted THINGS I’m missing?  Are they parties?  Will Jon Hamm be there?  Can I dress up?  Should I wear heels?  Is Jon Hamm tall?  Because, those are things I really SHOULD be tending to.  Otherwise?  Bugger off, y’all.

When a well meaning should-er takes a should on my life, he is basically saying, “Hey. I see there what you’re doing.  It’s shit.  But!  I know better, and here’s a better idea of what to do, so you go do that and we’ll both feel better, mmmmkay?”

You’re rolling your eyes and thinking, “But! That all sounds so harsh! My advice that you SHOULD move to a yurt in the Mongolian mountains to raise your kids and never text another man ever again because penises are trouble WAS good! And sound! And well intentioned!”

Like the road to hell, you say?

Listen.  We all should our pants at some point or another.  Occasionally, those shoulds spill over onto our friends and family or other innocent bystanders.  I get that.  But, being on the receiving end of as much should as I have SUCKS DOG BALLS.  Regardless of how well meaning your intent, it inevitably leaves the should-ee feeling really bad.  How about not doing that, or at least making a concerted effort to do that less.  Which will free up so much time!  To do more productive things!  Like, learning the Ukelele! Or, watching videos of babies getting glasses and smiling at new found vision! Or eating delicious Popeyes biscuits!

Tl;dr, when in doubt, MIND YO BUSINESS.

Things I Learned Today

 

  • Having a penis gives you a 70% chance of being a colossal dick.
  • I’m yet to stumble onto much of the 30% of penis havers who don’t fall into the above category.
  • The Dap is a dance that mimics sneezing into your elbow.
  • When someone texts you, “Yes!  We’re on for dinner tonight!  But, WOW, things are crazy at work!”, that directly translates to, “Ready yourself, I’m about to cancel plans shortly, and will use work as an excuse.”
  • The time between those two texts takes approximately 16 minutes.
  • Mozzarella sticks, homemade sauce for dipping, and a fancy hard cider is my new favorite meal.
  • The lady who waxed my eyebrows is a slow plucker. Slow plucking hurts like a mother plucker.
  • My hard limit on iced coffees per day is 3.
  • If you do one of those crazy Facebook quizzes where it tells you which friends will be on your next road trip, or bank heist, or taking your underwater basket weaving class, I’ll ALWAYS be the one falling down or eating.  Because, REFLECTION of LIFE.

The Kids Will be Alright

xmas pic 3 2013.jpgThere were lots of things we fucked up in our divorce.

Like, for example, I don’t think either of us really, fully grasped the financial impact of running two complete households.  Or, filing taxes.  (Am I the head of household now?  And why does that conjure up visions of a reality show rather than adulting things like a tax form?) Or, the logistics of sharing the responsibilities of a dog.  You get the idea.  The nuances of getting divorced go on infinitely.  It’s been a learning curve, no doubt.  And, admittedly, some things we, singularly or collectively, have done poorly.

But.  When it comes to our kids?  I gotta say, we’re rockstars.

We’ve never been typical parents.  Individually, our parenting styles couldn’t BE more different.  He’s a talker.  Negotiator.  He’s the doer of tasks, and the getter of items. You need an analysis?  He’s your guy.  Me?  I’m the feeler.  The one who wipes the tears and cracks a joke.  The hand holder, the pusher, and simultaneously, the worrier.  I swear.  I make them laugh, and hopefully teach a lesson at the same time.

Somehow, our two halves couldn’t make a whole marriage, but damn if we haven’t crafted a damn fine life for our kiddos.

Even in our darkest times, and I do mean DARK, scary times when neither of us knew how we’d even wake up in the morning and take a breath, let alone put one foot in front of the other and care for two kids who needed nothing more than stability and reassurance and love, we managed.  Not always well, but in spite of fighting and screaming at each other like banshees, at some point, we’d always come back to the same idea, that we needed to keep our shit together and be a team for our kids.  They were the sun and the moon and the stars and they never asked for any of the adult stuff we’d fallen into.  They were everything.  They are everything, and always will be to us.

This past month, our son’s teacher called a conference to discuss his work this year.  My immediate assumption was, I would have a conversation with a lovely woman who was about to tell me how our divorce so negatively impacted his work, he was sure to fail 5th grade, ensuring his academic ruin.  On the contrary, we spoke at length about how he thrived this year.  How he found his writing voice, and adjusted well to the responsibilities of more work, and how his sensitive, quirky little personality crept its way into the hearts of his classmates, and his teacher.  How she adored him, and said she’d very likely shed a few tears when the year was done and he’d move on to a new school, and she’d excitedly look for his name in the paper, certain of a bright future of honor rolls, and deans lists, and doing great things.

I sat there and cried, a little.  I kept it together until I returned to my car, but then, yeah.  Heaving sobs.

Our biggest fear, quelled.  We hadn’t ruined him at all.  In fact, we’d somehow kept him in the light.

Today, our daughter embarks on a new, exciting adventure of her own.  She, too, has blossomed this year, despite so many other challenges aside from her parents getting divorced.  She’s like me, a risk taker, and is trying a new sport for the first time, something she’s never really done before, and I’m in awe of her bravery and overall not-giving-a-shitness.  My tiny bad ass.  I adore her, and I can’t wait to pick her up and hear her gush to her brother and I about how amazing it all was, or how much it sucked, and who was there and wearing what and whether she forgot her water bottle and…all of it.

And, I’ll call my ex later tonight, and I’ll give him the run down of everything that happened, and we’ll have a good laugh and figure out logistics, and do whatever needs to be done.  We’ll stumble and trip and splay on to the floor, but we’ll always be the rockstar parents our kids need, no matter what, as best we can.  And we feel really good about that.

 

Bea Would be Proud

asphalt road in Tuscany, Italy

Let’s just get one thing straight.

Life is too goddamned short NOT to be stupidly, ridiculously, obscenely happy.

Got it?

About three years ago, I resigned myself to keeping the life I had. Working in a job I disliked, living in a home I hated, floundering in a failing marriage, I came to terms with spending my forever being miserable because, as they say, it can always be worse. Changing things seemed impossible, so I accepted the unhappiness and chose to live my life in a way I believed provided some stability for my kids, despite recognizing the once bright light of my soul had dwindled to a mere flicker.

At the time, I lived a distance away from my family, so I’d established a good support system of friends in town. One in particular, we’ll call her Bea, transcended friendship and we became so much more than that. She was about my Mom’s age. Everyone in town knew and loved her. She was sarcastic, and honest, a larger than life figure who gave until it hurt because she knew no other way. I’d often stop by Bea’s house, and we’d sit on her porch for hours just chatting and laughing and watching the world go by, and she’d opine on life and gossip about town goings on and gush about my beautiful babies. She’d get wind of a lemonade stand in my driveway, and pop over in her big, blue sedan, happily hand my kids a twenty dollar bill, sip her cool beverage, oogle over how delicious it was, then insist the kids keep the change. She loved us, and never let an opportunity pass to tell us just that. I can hear her yelling to me as I left her house. “LOOOOOOOVVEEEEEEEEE YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU! Now, don’t go fucking anything up between here and home, ok?”

One day, Bea was gone.

I like to think she gave so much to everyone else that it left no time to care for herself. Maybe that’s true, maybe not, but that’s the story to which I stick.

She didn’t want a funeral, but in true Bea fashion, she wanted a party. Always a supporter of the city’s football program, her fans filled the bleachers looking out over the field, the skies parted after days of rain and storms, and Bea wowed us with a spectacular sunset. Grown men wept as speaker after speaker waxed on about Bea and her crazy, loving antics. The boys, the big, tough football players she loved and cheered on, and fed every week before their Friday night games, wiped tears shed for the loss of this incredible woman.

If this force of nature, this institution, this fixture and pillar of strength could be taken away, then surely nothing was certain, ever. I’m sure I’m butchering the quote, but it’s something like, tomorrow is a gift? It’s so much more than that. It’s a storm that might blow out to sea. It’s winning the lottery. It’s getting drafted and playing in the NFL. It’s something we hope for, never something that just comes.

I desperately wanted to be happy. So, what the hell was I waiting for? I began concocting a plan on my way home from Bea’s memorial that night, and never looked back. I’ve had more tomorrows to continue my work, and I have zero regrets about the decisions I’ve made. The journey has been colorful, and wraught with mistakes and downfalls and excitement and hilarity, but it’s genuine and I’m happy. Can’t ask for much more than that, although I’d give anything for one more porch sit with Bea, to hear her tell me, “Good for you, kid.  GOOD.  FOR.  YOU.”

Bottom line is, you only get one chance to live life, and tomorrow is never, ever a given, so why hold back? Take the day off. Smile at a stranger and start a conversation. Take the trip. Buy the shoes. Kiss the girl. Write the book. Say I love you, everyday, to someone.

Be fearless and have a life of living, or play it safe, and be regretful. You have a choice. Always.

Got it?

Girlfriend’s Guide on How to Spot Bullshit

Jake and AbbyIf you’re a woman, and therefore a sucker for anything that Bravo slaps up in prime time, (lest you believe it’s all Downton Abbey and Meet the Press up in this piece, it is not, I assure you, void of terrible TV, and don’t get me STARTED on that goddamned Steven Avery guy…) you’ve seen an episode of the show Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce.  It stars real-life spouses and a smattering of other beautiful people, and, while it has it’s moments of realness, I felt compelled to set the record straight that, contrary to what some in my circles believe, this fictional bonanza does not, in any way, represent an actual divorce, by actual people, with jobs, and bills, and kids, and shit.

I actually like the show, and was a fan of the woman whose books inspired the series, Vicki Iovine, from back in her days of writing about Motherhood.  Her real take offset all the ickyness of that What to Expect nonsense, although neither book series addressed the tribulations of birthing and raising multiples, and I’m still seriously considering cornering that particular parenting market with my book tentatively titled Double Trouble: Yes, You Will Be Sobbing in the Shower, But Not Forever.  Out in paperback, soon!

My first beef about the show came when the husband moved out.  Really?  Unless you’re a family making well into six figures, you discover that sustaining two households is expensive, yo.  Furnishing another place, even an apartment, plus security deposits, cable, electric, etc., it’s financially draining, and yet?  These peeps (who are portrayed as both semi-successful creatives, which is another conversation unto itself) still afford Porsches and fancy private schools, and middle of the day lattes.  Um, no.  It’s coupons and penny pinching and thrift stores and driving to the gas station a bit further away to save an extra 10 cents a gallon.  Insert Family Feud Strike sound effect here.

Next up?  The signing of the divorce papers.  These two, bless their fictional hearts, met for swanky drinks, pens in hand, to toast the end of their marriage.  (Plot twist! They never actually SIGN the papers, and they’re still married!  And hijinks ensue! BARF.)  My experience on this end was certainly atypical, so I’m recusing myself from comparison on the grounds my ex-husband and I walked out of the courthouse the day of our divorce, and both cried as we walked together down the street to a diner, where we had lunch (I had a reuben) and I tried with every fiber of my being NOT to burst out into audible sobs, and there was a Muzak station on in the background playing every fucking sappy song ever made, and I stopped choking on the lump in my throat long enough to say, “Do you HEAR this shit?” and we both cracked up, finished lunch, hugged in the parking garage after tearful goodbyes, and cried alone, in our cars, like you do.  Most real divorced people I know do not experience a smidge of amicability during a divorce, and any negotiations, signing of papers, or other legal shenanigans unfold across a non-descript conference table, in a sterile attorney’s office, who’s charging an astronomical hourly rate to undo your marriage. Not at a bar on Wilshire, in Louboutins, accessorized with a beige envelope clutch full of legal documents.  Strike two…

Lastly, Abby (the main character…keep up, folks!) encounters her first “dating” experience not long after she and her soon-to-be-ex-husband file for divorce, and he’s in his twenties, hot as hell, attentive as all get out, is empathetic and communicative, and just so happens to have a penchant for older women.  I’m going to stop you right there, show runners, because, um, NOPE.  The first guy I dated was chubby and in his 40’s, used FAR too many emojis than a grown ass man should, refused to speak on the phone because who knows why, and took three weeks to realize that I no longer wanted to play his reindeer games.  So, if you’re in the infant stages of considering a divorce, ladies, and you’re of a certain age, don’t expect a flurry of young fluff cougar hunters anxiously awaiting you on Tinder.  Grab your boots and be prepared to trudge through some deep douchery, because that’s reality, my friends.

Listen, I get that it’s entertainment, and there’s a reason Bravo emphatically advertises this show as a “scripted series”, so that it’s not confused with the REAL Bravo shows that reflect actual people in real life, like waitresses in a restaurant or stewards on a charter ship.  But, a high five to the peeps who made this show, to shed light on the fact that divorce can actually not have to suck so epically bad, and while it’s not exactly an accurate representation (I mean, besides me, WHO is actually surrounded by friends that are THAT HOT?), and features not one even remotely chunky character, or anyone rocking an outfit from Target, or shoes from Payless…I’ll take it.

My Original Post Was Preempted by Something Actually Important

Photo credit: Cutestpaw.com
Photo credit: Cutestpaw.com

I had a very different blog post in mind earlier today.

Something snarky and passive aggressive in response to an awful human being I met and with whom I interacted over the weekend, and it was all superficial and small and, well, funny and light.

Instead, I’m fixated on a story.  It’s not mine, but it’s a story that struck me in that inexplicable way things bash you over the head, as if the universe grabbed me by the shoulders and shoved me up to a fence to look at a captivating scene off in the distance, to teach me a life lesson, shaking me a bit to ensure I’m paying attention to what’s happening a few hundred yards away.  I’m watching.  And I can’t turn away.

There’s a woman. She’s kind of famous. She and her husband made the kind of team that restores your broken faith in love and soulmates and being a parent and living a good life with a crazy family.

Not long after she and her husband welcomed a new baby, she got sick. And, as it happens all too often, she was sick with cancer.  The good doctors in which she trusted her life and care did all they could to fight the evil , but it won out. Her tiny body stopped responding to treatment.  They’re home.  To spend the rest of her days surrounded by family, and friends.  Living.  Hoping for a miracle that will probably never come, but praying anyway.
I’m not a religious person, but if that’s not faith, I’m not sure what is.

I can’t claim to know anything about much, especially when it comes to cancer.  Over my lifetime, I’ve known friends who’ve fought against the disease, and emerged triumphant.  Others haven’t been so lucky.  Some have held the hands of parents, or children, as they underwent chemo and radiation, some still have hands to hold, some had to let go far too soon.

It’s almost hard for me to say, and I feel bad even saying so, but I’m thankful my family and close, inner circle of friends remain untouched by any such tragic loss, even though statistics probably have other plans, and cast a dark shadow that looms ever closer as years pass.

Until then, we have a choice.  Live, or wait for bad things to happen.

Duh, you might say, of course you’ll choose life.  Well, sure.  But what does that mean?  Filling days shuffling to a job I hate? Attached to ingenuous people? Annoyed by minutia that won’t matter 5 minutes later? Going through the motions and calling it a life?

Fuck that noise.  Nope.  Not on my watch.

I don’t believe in coincidence.  Life unfurls the way it’s meant to flow.  No accidents, no wrong turns.  Others may not share my view, and that’s ok, but that’s what gets me through the day.  That everything happens for a reason. Success, failure, love, loss…our recipe for life is uniquely our own.  I’m meant to be in the place I am right now.  Mothering. Loving and supporting my family and friends. Writing.  Creating.  But that’s just the start.

There’s much unfinished business, more I Love You’s, and I’m Sorry’s to be said, and heard.  More spontaneous road trips and meteor showers and 3am kisses and meeting new people and reacquainting with old friends and learning a new language and taking bad pictures and amazing food and burned dinners and risks and huge rewards and disappointments.  I want to experience everything.  All of it.  The good, the bad, the miscalculations and the happy disasters.

Yeah, I was going to write about how I met an asshole over the weekend who briefly made me question my faith in humanity. So what. This may not be the life I imagined, a life in which a douchebag or two must happen.  But, that’s living. And I will live the shit out of this crazy life, be in the right now, and make the most of it, simply because I can.

To the Douche in the Dunkin Donuts Drive Thru

drivethruMost weekends, you’ll find me working, on the air, at a local radio station.  No, I can’t get you concert tickets, sweet buttery jesus, please stop asking, I don’t ask you for post-its from your office or free food from your restaurant, so just…NO.  Unless, of course, I can get tickets, then by all means you can have them.  It’s a delicate balance.  But, I digress.

Sunday nights, I work until midnight or later, and in order to sound remotely entertaining and upbeat, my body requires copious amounts of caffeine.  Also, smiling when I talk.  Try that little radio trick when you’re on the phone with someone…it really does perk up your voice.  You’re welcome. Part of my routine includes a quick stop at a Dunkin Donuts about 10 minutes from work.  Generally, my spin through the drive thru rarely garners a second thought, save for a screw up in my order.  Otherwise?  No big.

Last night, like clockwork, I stopped at the speaker to place my order for a medium, iced coffee, made light and sweet.  The kids who work at this DD don’t exactly ooze friendliness, but they’re making peanuts to sling donuts and drinks so my expectations are low.  The kid on the other end of the speaker gives the cursory, “Is that all?”  I assure him I’m all set, and he tells me to drive around.  I say, in a bit of a sing-songy, smiley voice, “Thank you!”  Normally, I’d just continue to the pay window, but because I planned to pay for my coffee with an app, I paused briefly to retrieve my phone from my bag.  During that brief stop, I heard the kid who took my order, totally mock my tone of thanks, and say, “You’re welllcome”, then chuckle as if he was laughing with someone else, at my expense.

Aw hell naw, you just did NOT do that, dude.

Just a few years ago, something so minor might send me to tears.  But this day, DD Drive thru douche was about to hear from me.  I drove to the window and said, “Are you the guy I talked to at the speaker?”  He took a coy, slouched stance to get a better look at me and said, “Maybe,” with a shit eating grin that told me he probably thought I was hitting on him.

“That was a total dick move, dude.”
“Huh?” He looked super confused, like, why is the hot cougar not hitting on me and holy shit is someone actually calling me out on something I’ve done because HOW DARE YOU.
“I totally heard you mock me back there, saying ‘You’re welcome!’ in the same tone I said thank you.  Not cool.”
“Are you sure that’s what you heard?”
“Um, yeah.  I’m sure.”
“Because we’ve been having problems with our speaker and people think they’ve heard weird things but, uh, it’s just a weird thing…”
“I know what I heard. That was a total dick move, dude.  Have a good day.”

Here’s the thing.  I come from a long line of black sheep ball busters, so I can take it as much as I dish it out.  On some level, I respect someone who has a quippy sense of humor and commend him on his technique and almost perfectly replicated pitch of my tone.  Well done.  I’m not necessarily upset that he outwardly mocked me, but that when confronted about it, he totally recoiled, like a scared little penis at the sight of water.  A topic I’m sure he knows a little something about.  See, kid, that’s the risk with such behavior, and hopefully you’ll learn this lesson sooner rather than later.  If you get busted, OWN YOUR SHIT.  Don’t deflect and pretend it’s a technological malfunction, because then, whatever points you earned for being witty go down the crapper, and now I just see you for what you really are, a tiny almost-man, who in the face of confrontation would just as well hide behind something as a shield than take your licks like a grown up.  That’s bad form.

This whole scenario should serve you, my douchey friend, as a nice little life lesson, wrapped in a casing of shut the hell up and be nice to people, jerkface, and if you’re going to mock someone, for the LOVE OF GOD, do it away from a live microphone, take it from me, the lady on the radio, I know from experience. So, what I’m saying here is, do your goddamned job and make fun of people on your own time.