Category Archives: Childhood

Top Ten Christmas Miracles of 2011

The Holiday Season has been so good to me that I almost expect it’s up to something.  You know that feeling you get when your Significant Other unexpectedly treats you to a super special dinner and in the back of your cynical little mind you think, “Is he boinking the blonde in accounting?” Or when your boss gives you lavish praise and you wonder, “Am I on the list for lay offs?”  Yeah- Christmas has been that kind of good. Some would say it was a CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!!

 No ghosts came to escort me through portals of time and I spent no time conversing with an angel named Clarence. They are small miracles I suppose but none the less they are mine.

Christmas miracle #1: My four-year old son bought my “Giving is Better than Receiving” shtick.

Trying to teach Leo about giving, I volunteered us to buy Christmas for two children in need. Wonderful in theory but in practical application, it can be rather difficult to talk a child into buying toys for OTHER children.

In the days leading up to the shopping trip I talked excitedly about how much fun we would have being elves. I have learned that talking about chores, vegetables and other “undesirables” with as much enthusiasm as possible can be helpful with children. It’s tricky though, kids might be all, “Brocoli, hell yeah!” However they are just as likely to look at you like you’re an idiot and refuse. In this case the tactic was working pretty well  until the morning of the shopping trip.

“Are you excited about our trip later today? We get to be elves! Giving to those kids is going to make them sooooo happy and that’s what Christmas is all about!” I squealed.

“No it’s NOT Momma. Christmas is about getting toys and trucks and, and . . . and BOUNCY BALLS!” My son hollers.

Bouncy Balls?

Who says Bouncy Balls? Did Charles Dickens make an appearance at Leo’s daycare that I was unaware of?

Perhaps he just had not had enough Cheerios or juice that morning because when the time for Target rolled around he was in a significantly brighter mood. Still, lets not kid ourselves, I was walking into a potential hellish situation.

Boy was I wrong. He was an absolute angel. He spent some time looking at toys I knew he would give his left chubby cheek for but he never once asked for a toy for himself.  His excitement grew as he helped me pick out all the gifts. He knew just what to get the little boy. He was less certain about the little girl, at one point he stopped in his tracks and loudly said, “Uh, don’t girls like THAT?” Pointing an accusing finger at a Hello Kitty toaster oven.

I was beaming with pride as we checked out and by the time I loaded up the toys in the trunk I was doing that crazy happy cry thing I do sometimes.

From the back seat Leo asks me, “Momma, why are  you all stiffly?”

“I am so proud of you Leo! You did something that many adults (myself included) have a hard time doing.”

“Oh, but why are you crying?”

“Sometimes when grown ups are very happy they cry.”

“Momma, sometimes grown ups are silly.”


Christmas miracle #2: My Baby’s Daddy and I took our son to see Santa . . . together.

That’s right. Together. Was it awkward? Only slightly. We actually got along and may, I mean may have even shared a laugh or two. I left patting myself on the back for being such a mature human being, and thinking we may have a snowball’s chance in hell at getting along. 

#3 My four-year olds wavering belief in Santa was completely restored. 

#4 Fiance became one of those slightly creepy, yet magical Elf on the Shelf parents.

#5 No one got food poisoning from the Chinese food that by all practical purposes should have landed us in the hospital.

#6 I spent an entire holiday season with out getting down in the mouth about my dysfunctional family and was not once haunted by the ghost of Christmas past.

#7  XXX’s The Most Interesting Man in the world holiday ad campaign. One word: Brilliant!

#8 I hand crafted my Christmas gifts to Fiance and they didn’t suck!!

#9 I somehow managed to never set foot into a post office or mall.

#10 On Christmas Eve my son climbs out of the bath tub and as I wrap him up in a towel he looks at me with his enormous chocolate eyes and says, “Momma, sometimes I think I have so much love in my heart that it will grow and grow, like the Grinch’s heart. Only my heart will keep growing and it will just explode love all over you.”

I can feel myself raise my eyebrows. What is he up to? Does he want something? Another cookie, more stories, to open a Christmas gift? I brush the thought away like a snowflake from my shoulder and I pull him to me tightly.

“Sometimes I think mine will too.” I tell him as one of my dumb happy tears rolls down my cheek and on to his back.    

I guess miracles are not up to anything after all.

Annnnd, because if you know me you know that I heart George Michael. It would not be Christmas with out this:

Peace out Christmas.

Dear Ms. Love n Happiness & The Case of the Ever Empty Heart

In this weeks installment of  Dear Ms. Love n Happiness the question comes from a dapper and endearing young man who I will refer to as Mr. Empty.  Oddly enough, Mr. Empty is far from being empty. In reality he has a huge heart and is endowed with the kinda gifts that change the world,  he just doesn’t know it yet.

Mr. Empty asks:

Dear Ms. Love n Happiness:

Why, even in a relationship, do I always feel ’empty’?  I am now in my early twenty-somethings, have been in multiple medium-term relationships, yet have not found myself filled with joy, or anything close.

Thank you,

Mr. Empty

Dear Mr. Empty,

Who are you trying to kid? This is no relationship question. I know you are far too brilliant to actually believe that any relationship or for that matter any thing external could fill up this emptiness you are experiencing. You just want me to be the boring ol hag that tells you what you already know. Fine.  Knowing full well that I am about to be trite, tired, cliché and commonplace, I am just gonna say it anyway: All those warm fuzzies you are longing to experience . . they have to come from you first.

If you are anything like most of us, you have to hear things 1 billion and a half times, so I’ll give it to you again and this may sting a little: All the girls you bed, all the money you make, all the art you create, any drug that you take will  not fill up that hole.  Duh.

Here is another little nugget of truth that may piss you off before it sets you free:  Your pain is not special. Whatever it is that is gnawing away at your insides, your childhood, something you didn’t get, something that you got you didn’t want, whatever you call your cross: It. Is. Not. Special. Neither is mine. Neither is my moms, or my lovers. Not my sisters,  not the guy on the bus who smells funny, not the asshole that broke my heart, and sadly not even the bitch that seems to have it all. None of our very painful burdens are special. What a heartless bitch, right? I know.  But think about it, they are not special because we all have ’em. Look around, from the most prestigious and powerful to those on the fringes of society, we are all running around with heavy loads to bare and trying to fill up aching holes.  And believe it or not, this is really good news!  Once I saw that this false feeling of emptiness is part of the human condition, so much of the problems power over me was taken away.

Now at this point you have a choice. Many people choose to get all dark philosopher prince on the shit and question the existence of God, don dark-colored garb, shake their fist at the heavens and write mad treatises from caves. Whatever. It’s been done. Do it again if you want. But, I think that what you really want is something different. You want to live from you heart and your soul. And this here is how I think it’s done, clearly I am still working out the kinks myself:

1) Find something you believe in with all your being and get your arse involved. 

Sure, your heart is empty and your soul is shriveled up.  But, my hand to God the best prescription  for this emptiness is to give more of yourself.  Giving  gets the heart pumping harder and your soul stretching. Its gets you out of the Philosopher King head and into your heart where the fuzzies live.  You will find, as a natural consequence of  giving to others that your own healing starts to occur.  You will realize that the cause you choose to  get fully behind is the one you need most for yourself.  (Is it a coincidence that I am writing a book about my experience as a single mom or that my dream is to start a program for broken-hearted little kids who want to write, or that my best friend helps troubled teenagers through art, or that my neighbor works with gay children?)  In short, heal others and you heal yourself.

2)  Realize that cynicism is overrated. 

You are very brilliant, and for brilliant people it’s easy to use your intelligence to find all sorts of evidence to support cynicism.  I know because I spent my entire college career doing just that.  I paid about 60k a year so I could sit around and commiserate with a bunch of other Sad Sams. We studied Nietzsche and Pound. We psychoanalyzed every halfway optimistic text within an inch of its life.  We compared horrific childhoods and told blood curdling stories about he atrocities committed in the name of faith or love. Oh- we had so many super pseudo-intellectual  reasons for our emptiness.  Our emptiness was a big, beautiful badge that we proudly wore. It was symbolic, it was artistic. It was bullshit.  I walked away with astronomical student loans and a still empty heart.

3) You gotta believe in something.

For me belief is not something I can categorize, summarize, rationalize, or intellectualize. For me, belief was something that lived inside me all along.  I just had to quit beating it down with a stick and let it come out and live a little bit.  For you, and for everyone else, belief is a personal experience. How you experience it, how you express it, how you access it could be as different as  my fingerprint is from yours.  What I do believe is universal is the fact that somewhere, maybe deep, deep, damn deep down in all of us, we know our truth. We believe in something outside of ourselves.  Life is a process where our knowing gets covered with shit. I suppose the challenge is to start shoveling the shit!

4) You gotta use your powers for good

The darkside really does not need any more help, they got that bizz on lockdown. Plus, the pay off and benefits are shitty. Mr. Empty, I would suggest that you take all your brilliance and all the energy you have put into to constructing your identity as the: intelligent, artistic, deep, emotional, wounded dark and slightly cynical man into something new. Use your  immense powers for good and build yourself as the man who experiences joy and fulfilment and lives surrounded by love.

I have a feeling joy is right around the corner. So take your remedy for a while and then lets compare notes. I  know a whole tribe of non crazy, at least in the dangerous sense, mildly cool peeps who are on the same plan.

Namaste Cuz!

♥ & ☺ ,


Oh, and spreading all this love n happiness is kinda hard work, so laughing helps too.

Dear Ms. Love n Happiness: The Case of the Pessimistic Pops

Dear Ms. Love n Happiness,

I hear that you are sort of an expert on “really ridiculously dysfunctional families” and “trying your damnedest to live a good life”. I usually rely on excessive introspection when it comes to my troubles but I could sure use some help unraveling this exasperating character that some might call my father but that I prefer to call “Eeyore”.  Allow me to make a long and unpleasant story short and unpleasant. After years of being mean, stingy, unloving, and well, an asshole my father recently had some sort of soul spasm and seems to have started having normal human feelings. While that itself is moderately irritating, I can forgive and forget for the most part. The problem lies in that he insists on acting victimized by life and demanding constant pity. No matter how many times his kids call or visit him it is never enough and he makes that known every chance he gets. While I want to tell him that he is lucky that any of his kids can stand the sound of his morose voice and the sight of his disgraceful face I find myself just avoiding his calls which leads to unpleasant indignation at the inevitable email I soon receive. (Yes, Eeyore learned how to use a computer ONLY because he craved one more avenue for spreading his misery). All I want is to live a good life and be a good person. As Pooh would say, I “think think think” but all I know is that if I avoid him it only adds to the load that my sister has to endure, if I continue a relationship with him I will have to sacrifice my precious few moments of peace, and if I kill him I will go to jail. Oh, bother. I apologize for the sullen tone of this question and I promise that next time I will lighten the mood by hashing out some of the homophobic and racist comments I had to endure at Thanksgiving dinner.

Much love and kisses,

Your biggest fan 🙂

Dear Biggest Fan,

Oh bother. I sure can relate.

I wish these “characters” in our lives would just stick to the script. I mean, your inner director is  probably saying “Look, Pops, you are the asshole father. That is your role. I have learned after many years and a shitload of tears to deal with your two speeds: angry or absent. And now you go and try to add a third?  Despondent and downtrodden? CUT! This is bullshit.”

And I am right there with you. This is bullshit and it needs to stop. The only thing, and I mean the only thing that your father has a right to complain about to you is how crummy he feels that he attempted to screw up large portions of your life.

Now, as I see it there are two possible explanations for his behavior. Note the use of the word explanation not excuse.

Explanation One:  You said that your father is  having some sort of “soul spasm,’ my guess is that this  convulsing is due to the huge gaping hole inside his soul.  Your father is trying to get you and your family to fill up the hole for him. He realizes that he can no longer use angry threats to get what he wants. That does not work with a grown-ass strong woman such as yourself, so he figured how to get you where you are weakest and he is tugging at the strings of your big ‘ol heart.  But don’t you see that what he is doing is manipulation? Sometimes manipulation comes to us wearing a pretty smile, bearing gifts or in this case brushing tears off his weather worn cheeks.

Even though your father was a total shmuck, it must feel good to know that he needs you and it is probably tempting to start trying to appease him by pouring what ever we can spare into that cavernous pit in his heart.  But the truth is even if you gave everything you had, it wouldn’t work. No one else can fill up that hole for your father, he has to do the dirty work himself.

Explanation Two:  He does not even know what he is doing, to be honest your father may not even be capable of masterminding true manipulation. Chances are Pops did not have much training on how any relationship works, let alone on how to be a father.  He feels bad about the past and his aching soul hole demands to be filled up so he grasps at straws and tries what ever might work,  and apparently the Eeyore routine works. Like a Pavlovian dog he wines and cries until you give him the little scrap of food he needed to momentarily fill himself up. This will go on and on until you run out of scraps to give, because as we discussed above, these soul holes can not be filled by others.

Regardless of the motives behind his behavior, I think we can both agree that this shit needs to stop.  You have been a big enough person to forgive this man for the pain he has caused you and let him back into your life, then the very least he can do is play life by your rules!

So here is what you do, damn it: the next woe-is-me communication you get from Pops you very simply tell him, “Dad, I’m happy to hear from you but I really have to insist that we focus our conversation on positive things.” You must use your words! Whatever words those are, use them. Do not infer this, wish this, tell your friends and family about it, or  ignore him and psychically channel the words to him. You must speak up and use your voice. Why? Because first of all it feels damn good, like you are wearing the best big girl pants ever!  And because it’s true that people will treat you the way that you demand to be treated, but first you have to give them a chance by telling them how to treat you.

When it happens again you say: “Dad, I really can’t talk to you when you are being like this.” And then, DON’T. Remember Pavlov? That lil doggie has gotta learn you mean business. And as far as you sister goes, I suggest she do the same damn thing. Gang up on his ass.

And really, what’s the worst he is gonna do? Get angry? Go away? You have seen and survived both just fine. And the best? He has a moment of blinding clarity and he never darkens your door with his morose nature again and instead become the father you always wanted. Or . . . maybe something in the middle.

Trust yourself. Use your big ‘ol heart and smarts to stand up for yourself and the life that you are creating. It’s not the same old same old. It’s new and nifty and pretty damn brilliant.

♥ & ☺,



Thank you so much for all your questions. Keep ’em coming. “Dear Ms. Love n Happiness” rolls around every Tuesday. I am really digging this and I hope you do too!

An Open Letter to my Father, the Meth Addict:

I’d like to take a moment to thank you for the two gifts you gave me. One: roughly fifty percent of my DNA. Two: the image that is seared in my mind, the vision I see every time I close my eyes, of you, my father, being tased by the police. You are the perfect picture of white trash mania, handcuffed, feet bound and flailing around the parking lot of a third-rate convenience store in suburban hell.  “I’m being burned alive!” you scream, as your cracked out saucer eyes roll back in your head like some kind of epileptic monster. For a moment your eyes focus and you look at the camera that is filming your thirty minutes of derelict fame, and I can see where the drug went in and spooned out heaping portions of your soul. I can see that you are a hollow shell of the man you used to be. You thrash around more, screaming obscenities and shout “Oh God, someone help me!” Help you? Didn’t we all try? And who helps us, the charred victims you left behind on your mission to burn yourself out?

I tried to help myself by staying as far away from you as possible. For the last ten or so years you’ve been either absent or an addict, and I’ve grown accustomed to cutting you out of my life. The first time hurt, a lot. While I was busy studying my face off in college, you were busy perfecting your Methamphetamine addiction. While I was working to get a job and navigate the adult world, you were busy alienating your wife and children, driving your once successful business into the ground and picking your sores because you believed bugs were crawling under your skin. But I didn’t understand what was going on. It didn’t hurt that you are a fantastic liar and that being your daughter; I am predisposed to buying into your bullshit.  I didn’t even know what meth was, until the day I heard it speak.

One Saturday morning you were expected at my house and you never showed up. Nor did you bother to answer any of my phone calls. Sunday afternoon, after still hearing nothing from you, I began to worry. I placed a call to every hospital between your house and mine. Monday afternoon I placed a final phone call with a sinking feeling in my stomach.

You answered.

But it wasn’t you. Or at least, I thought it was not you. I thought I’d misdialed and called hell, the ranting and raw voice on the other end sounded more like a demon then my dad. You did not know where you were, or who you were. From all I could gather, you were in the woods somewhere hiding from The Faceless Men who had been following you for either days or years, you were not sure which because, as you informed me, time was not what we thought it was. After you divulged all that information to me you panicked:

 “Wait?! Are you one of them? One of The Faceless?? Did The Faceless send you? They put the bugs under my skin and now they send you to trick me. They want to lock me up; they hate me because I know the truth. I know how to fly!! Who the hell are you, you slut bitch??”

“It’s me, Dad” I whimpered, “It’s your daughter.”

“HA! Daughter. I have no daughter you Faceless bitch, I come from where they fly and I have no daughter.”

And you hung up. And I did not speak to you again for seven years. During those years you made your rounds of meth dens and prison cells and occasionally you would leave me a paranoid message from a blocked number. The first few I listened to, afterward I cried uncontrollably for hours. Eventually I learned to hit “erase” the moment I heard your demon voice coming through the receiver.

My son was about a year old when you called me and this time when you spoke where I used to hear the drugs I heard pain and regret in your voice. Eventually, you convinced me to let you back in to my life. I decided to let you in my house for a few hours. You stepped off a bus carrying a backpack and I almost threw up. Your eyes were cloudy and your hands were drawn up and shaky.  You had been chewed up and spit out.  When I could bring myself to look at you, I could detect that something was missing and that it may very well never come back.

You handed my son a stuffed zebra. I made you a plate of pasta. I took you to the playground where you watched as I pushed your grandson on a swing. Afterward we sat on my patio while you chain smoked and I listened to you talk. It was your voice again, but somewhere in the distance I could still pick out the tone of the demon.

“I don’t know how to ask this,” you said, “but, do you ever think about what we are? I mean do you ever wonder what we are supposed to be doing here?”

I stared straight ahead at the candle in front of me.

“Of course I do Dad. I have wondered every day for as long as I can remember.”

“I want to believe that we are here for something. That there is something here,” you grab where your heart should be.

Your face is distorted by candle light and the shadows of the clouds passing above.

“I do believe that. I have believed that for as long as I can remember.”

I put you back on a bus because I did not trust you to sleep even one night in my house. I put a smile on my face as synthetic and engineered as your bathtub poison and I said good-bye to you. Afterward, I cried uncontrollably for hours. I knew you were not done with the drug and I vowed to cut you out of my life again. This time the decision was not as hard. I looked at my son’s big brown eyes, the same ones I inherited from you, and I knew I’d never let him see the demon that resides in your eyes now.

The years that followed brought more of the same for you, tweaking and doing time. Occasionally I’d receive a call from a number I didn’t know and my heart would race. One day, I figured, someone was going to call and tell me you were gone for good this time. I was standing in my kitchen cooking dinner when you called again.

“What are you doing?” you asked.

“Making meatloaf,” I said.

“Oh, well, I just got out of prison.”

“Oh, well, it’s nice to know you are alive. I tell you what; if you manage to stay sober for six months you can give me a call. Otherwise, stay away.  I can’t keep losing you over and over again.”

And perhaps I should have left it there.

But I didn’t. I let you back in. But not just back into my home, back into my heart.

I looked on as you spread mulch and raked leaves with my son and fiancé. I watched you slice a cucumber in my kitchen and my heart soared.

You left my house, hugged me and said, “I love you.”  I believed you.

And then like a recurring nightmare, it started again. You didn’t show up when you said you would. Weeks passed and phone calls went unanswered. Finally I mustered up the courage to confirm what I already knew.

I open my laptop and, as I have done countless times through the years, I type your name into the search engine, followed by the word: arrested.

All the breathe in my body was beat out of me. The headline reads: “Man tased after fleeing police, kicking out cop car window. Deputy says man’s behavior consistent with meth use.”  There is a laundry list of charges including: armed robbery, attempted kidnapping, fleeing and eluding, and felony obstruction. I cannot fathom what I am reading, but as fate would have it there is a link to a video, where I can watch with my own eyes as you supply some of the best footage imaginable for a scared straight film or a public service announcement.

I’d like to tell you what you have done. I’d like to explain how you have hurt so many. I’d like for you to understand the love that you shit on the last time you went out to score. I’d like to say to you that I am ashamed to have your blood in my veins.  I’d like to convey the nausea that wells up when I think of where you are now.

 Most of all,  I’d like to tell you that all my sympathy for you dried up like one of your nasty meth scabs the moment I saw you restrained like an animal and shouting to the camera, “Show my kids this video, please, show my kids this video.” I’d like to make you see all of this and more, but it’s pointless because you are gone. I cut you out again, and this time with as little hesitation as someone cuts out a cancerous growth.

So thanks again for your contribution to my life. I’ll never know why I always valued mine immensely more than you valued you own.  Watching you destroy as much life and love as possible taught me how to grow lots of both for myself. Your disregard for your spirit and your purpose here gave me an even greater reverence for my own. I suppose that inadvertently you taught me a lot.

The last text I received from you reads, “I just want you to know, I’ll never be high again. I’ll always be there for you. Sleep tight, I love you.”

And the last words you will hear from me are: “Fucking. Liar.”


Unintentional Other Woman

June and Ward Cleaver (Barbara Billingsley and...

Image via Wikipedia

Lynn finally got her ass out of a less-than-lustrous long term relationship. It was not horrible. I mean it’s not like he cheated on her, or beat her, or had some alternative life style that she happen to stumble upon one day when she wondered into their basement on a whim. But she got out anyway, because she had this nagging suspicion that she deserved something better. This, in my opinion, makes it even more ballsy.

I for one have rarely (perhaps never) had the maturity to say, “Hey- this is just not quite the direction that I want my life to go in, I think there is something more out there for me.” No, I was the type to hang on until the very bitter, bourbon-induced- broken-window and shit blowing up in my face, end. I had to make it abundantly, some would say overly, clear to myself that this relationship was NOT going to work. It was easy for me to confuse love with other things. As in, “Oh, I just love him so much that I am going to stay with him despite the fact that he got mad at me and let the air out of my tires.”  Now that I am oh so much older and wiser, I can look back on incidents like that and realize: I didn’t love him. I stayed because I didn’t believe that there was anything better out there for me. I mean, who else was going to love me so much that they would go out and buy 10 cans of fix a flat so I could get to work?

So Lynn believes and she leaves the lack-luster relationship and eventually is ready to dip her toe back into the shark infested waters of dating. Enter the new guy, I shall cal him: Mr. LOL.

At first Lynn is not really that in to him. I am relieved when she tells me this because, to put it as nicely as possible, he is a cheese dick. There are 200 hundred text messages from him in a matter of three weeks.  He calls her pet names like “baby” and “gorgeous” which just seems creepy.  In my world, if I have not burned at least one dinner for you and you have never gone to the store on a tampon run for me, then sorry, but it’s too soon for “baby.” He also punctuates every sentence with a: ! and most often follows that up with a, you guessed it: LOL!!! Is this a man? Or a fourteen year old girl?

As it turns out, it could have been his fourteen year old daughter.  Mr. LOL informs Lynn yesterday that he is in fact married with kids. Ugh. Sucker punch to the gullet! “I am so, so sorry!” I tell her. “Eh, no big deal,” as stoic as Jay-Z, Lynn says, “on to the next.”

But it is a big deal- because she had the gumption to believe that there was something better out there then a boyfriend who didn’t believe in her. And what is the first flipping thing that awaits her in the supposed sea of single men? A friggen cheater and one who does not even have the decency to identify himself as such in the first place. If you are gonna be the “other” woman/man, you damn well get to decide that up front.

I try to make her feel better by relating a similar story that happened to me years ago. Out of nowhere comes this dashing Brazilian dentist who tries to sweep me off my feet. Literally. He once tried to tango with me in a pub while all my friends sat around drinking PBR and feeding change into a jute box. I suppose this sort of behavior sounds romantic in theory, but it was way too much after a very short while. Something did not feel quite right. One night, while out for my Birthday, he informs me that he is married with a child. I leapt out of his car, stood in the pouring rain, where I proceeded to repeatedly kick the tires of his overpriced tin can sports car until my friends came out of the bar and drug me inside.

And these are not isolated incidents. It’s not like I have done a formal survey, but just yesterday I found out that this has happen to three other friends. That’s five unintentional other women just on Thursday. This of course, does nothing to account for the wives and children and even future relationships that will be shaken by these cheaters. Because they will be found out. They always are. I will never forget the day I was 15 and Ward Cleaver, aka, my Grandfather, waltzed into my bedroom and informed me that he had been “Guilty of a brief indiscretion.” If June and Wards relationship was not safe, then whose was? The effects of these “indiscretions” as people like to call them last longer and go further than any lonely housewife or horny husband might realize.

And just one tiny effect is that it chips away at our collective faith in love. It slowly erodes the belief that there is something out there for each of us, and that when we find it, it will not end in two hundred LOL-ING!!! texts messages to another woman.

I say to Lynn, “Frigging cheater, it just fires me up. Oh, well there ARE good ones out there. Shit like this just makes you even more grateful when you find one.”

“True.” She says.

I hope she believes me. And for all of our sakes, I hope she keeps believing in something better.

 And now, something so terrible, I can’t quit watching. Freeeeak:



Faith (George Michael song)

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At the age of thirteen I was temporarily psychotic. That is to say I came down with my first crush and it was the type of crush that makes you realize why they ever came up with the term crush in the first place. I was in agonizing physical pain. It was absolute mania, I cried, I swooned, I giggled, but most of all I was elated. The world was larger and more alive. It was an innocent school girl version of being on shrooms. I just seemed to feel everything. A sunny day, a barking dog, a taste of spicy mustard, or a sad song; everyday ordinary events were now attached to feelings.

We women have been going publicly psychotic over our feelings for ages. I have yet to see, and I doubt if I ever will, a mass of boys scream and swoon over any girl.  Males simply retreat to their room with some visuals and that’s about the end of the story. From Beetle Mania to the hip-swiveling induced hysteria of Elvis, we girls put our passions all out there. The widespread celebrity crushes of my generation were The New Kids on the Block and the Back Street Boys, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t noticed them, but I was still busy pining over George Michael. I followed his career from Wham! and wanted nothing more than to wake him up before I went-went to the ass-shaking, spirit moving sounds of Faith.  Sadly, years later he dealt me and the rest of the female species a crushing blow when he announced that he preferred men. (Sniff.)

Now a days it’s Beiber Fever; tiny eight year old girls and, strangely enough, sometimes their mothers too can be found weeping and wailing over this teen age boy. I roll my eyes and shake my head, What is this crap? However, if I think back to the time of my first crush, and many subsequent crushes to follow, those emotions were so raw, so all-encompassing, so damn, well… crushing, I can completely relate to these frantic teenage girls.  Had I come of age during the time of  YouTube and stumbled upon George Michael kissing Jordan Knight, I too would have pulled my hair out in agony. (please see the poor girl below)

My own personal psychosis struck while at summer camp. The culprit’s name was Jobie Dixon. He was a few years older, tall and dark with piercing eyes. We slow danced to: “Goodnight Sweet Heart” at a fifty’s style sock hop. He guided me around the dance floor in this awkward but very gentle way.  I remember my dress that night more clearly then what I wore yesterday: Blue poodle skirt, white blouse, pink ribbon around my pony tail and a pair of black and white saddle oxfords that pinched my feet until I could no longer feel my toes. After “our song” was over he leaned way down to give me a tiny kiss on my blazing hot cheek. I just  stood there frozen. . . staring at him. . . until thankfully one of the junior counselors came and led me away by my hand.

We all returned to our cabins and I sat on my bunk barely able to move. . . just staring off into space like a complete head case. My cabin mates had to guide me to my tooth-brush and help me into my pajama’s, mind you I was twelve and sober not twenty-two and hammered. Love drunk I guess?  When I finally laid my head down to sleep I slurred: “I think I’m in love.”  I was toast.  A sickening and sappy hopeless romantic was born.

I came home at the end of the week still drunk on love potion (# 9).  It was in this state that I decided to share the news with my grandmother.  This was not something I would normally do. I was the type of girl who always seemed to be flooded with emotions; however my family was not the type to discuss feelings at all. I’m not sure what my words were, probably some giddy and girlish rant about Jobie but guarded and somehow toned down. I had learned that restraint was the proper way of expressing myself. My grandmother looked at me and said flatly: “Well, that’s nice but you just remember: boys only want one thing and after that there’s just a lot of pain and hurt. And guess what? It’s always you that ends up getting hurt.”  They say coffee won’t sober you up, but those words were like the cops in my review mirror and they have been following me ever since.

Did I mention that I was only twelve? I couldn’t quite imagine what that one thing that boys only wanted was, but I had enough of a general idea that it made me queasy. Phrases like “rain on your parade” or “burst your bubble” come to mind when trying to explain my emotions at that moment, but it was more than that.  It was a shrinking of my heart and a sinking of my spirits.  Now I was burnt toast.  I was a romantic meshed with a cynic.

This, as it turns out, is a pretty confusing predicament for all involved; including the boys. Jobie Dixon didn’t want just one thing, he wanted a few. He wanted to hold my hand, to sit next to me at church, to walk me home from school and “to go steady”.  So naturally I tortured him for years, playing games and telling him I was not sure what I wanted. What I wanted was to be loved and to love his tall sweet ass back. But, noooo. That would have been too scary and I was trying to avoid all this pain and hurt my Grandmother spoke about.

I must have had a dyslexic heart because I was always getting it backward! There were guys that showed up on time for dates, listened when I talked, gave me thoughtful little gifts and even wrote me songs, but I convinced myself that eventually these guys would reveal themselves to be the monsters my grandmother alluded to, that deep down they were maniacal assholes that just wanted to hurt me.

Unless of course they really were maniacal assholes; like some guys I have dated who have stood me up, screwed my friends and then stole my money. These guys, I was convinced, really loved me. They just had a funny way of showing it.

Oddly enough, the aim of all my antics was to protect myself, to avoid being the one left with all the pain and hurt.  And in the end everyone got hurt. Love: I have had it all screwed up so many times. The only way I ever got it right, or for that matter seen anyone get it right, is by doing the opposite of what I had spent years doing. Instead of building up walls and hardening up hearts, I had to split myself wide open. Only with this risk was there ever any real chance at reward.  Sometimes I miss the simpler times of sock hops, boy bands, and the innocence of love drunk hearts but through the years it’s been a sobering experience. A few painful lessons, the right teacher, and even my dyslexic heart learned to read the language of love. If only adults might learn that sometimes it’s wiser to keep their cynicism to themselves, maybe we could avoid crushing a few more hearts.

The Bride Gene

Cinderella jeans

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Sometimes the thought of my pending wedding makes me want to hurl. Not my marriage. My wedding. It seems as if somewhere along the way I lost my bride gene. I’m pretty sure I used to have one. I can remember playing bride. I would throw a dishtowel over my head, grasp my teddy bear by the arm and prance down the hall to kiss my invisible groom.  If I was not born with the bride gene then surely Disney implanted one in me. How many times did I ooh and ahh over the weddings of Cinderella, Ariel or Belle? Which got me to thinking, what if there was some sort of conspiracy between Disney and the wedding industry? GASP.  A quick Google search reveals that not one but several lines of wedding dresses inspired by Disney Princess’ exist. Scary.  I’m sorry- call me judgmental, call me uninspired but, if you want to model your wedding off of a cartoon “Princess” I have my doubts about your ability to handle the very real world of marriage.  Further, I could go off on a femanatzi rant here and comment on how screwed up the gender models that have been shoved down our throats by Disney and god knows who else are, but I will refrain; it has been said before.

The truth is I like Disney. And I like being a girl. I am not some anti-establishment hater, although clearly I am no pop-culture princess either. So where do girls like me fit in to this whole Bride phase?

I have thought about eloping and just getting to the best part: THE HONEYMOON. I kid- that’s the second best part. Spending the rest of my life with my babe is the best part but, the honeymoon is a very close second! There are a few things that prevent me from embracing the idea of an elopement, and the first is my three and a half-year old son Leo. He can’t sit still for more than ten minutes and does not like wearing shoes or using his “inside voice” so clearly he is not an ideal wedding guest but, in all seriousness I want him to be part of our day. Not only are Fiance and I committing to each other, we are sealing ourselves officially as a family. And second, because our love deserves a celebration with family and friends.

So as romantic, not to mention easy, as running off to elope sounds we have decided to plan a wedding. We want something simple, something fun and something that is unique to us. Shouldn’t be too difficult right? Wrong.  Sources like The Knot and informed me that an “average” wedding costs $29,000.  When I read that I had to sit down. Then there were the streams of comments from brides-to-be who believed that number was on the low-end and they estimate the cost to be closer to between 40 and 50k. That is fifty thousand dollars.  When I read that I got up and paced around-I was pissed.  I’m sorry, maybe it’s my poor girl past talking but WTF?  Even if my fiancé and I pooped money, I just don’t think I’d feel right spending that kind of money on a party. Yeah, I know, it’s the most important day of your life… and all that jazz, but I am sorry it’s still a $50,000 party.

Thankfully there are many more realistic sources for wedding ideas out there. In fact, I Googled realistic weddings and voilà!  Here were some brides I could relate to! (I know, I know, the word realistic is making me conjure up sensible shoes and mom jeans, but I swear that is not me!)  As beautiful as some of these more DIY weddings are there is just something anxiety provoking about the whole wedding planning experience; it’s like being in the mall too long, I find myself gritting my teeth and needing a drink.

Speaking of drinks, some friends and I are going to drink mimosas and try on dresses this weekend. My friend had to practically twist my arm into making the appointment at the bridal shop. Hopefully I can just get a buzz on and get into the spirit. However, placing the phone call to the shop helped me get a little closer to the source of my wedding anxieties. While trying to determine our needs for the appointment, the clerk innocently asked, “will you be shopping for any mother of the bride attire?” My stomach dropped to my knees. “No, I won’t.” I said quietly fighting back tears as I hung up the phone.

The relationship between this Bride and her mother(s) is much like that rarely used Facebook descriptive: It’s complicated. I may be one of the few girls who has two Mom’s and I don’t mean step moms. Nor were my “mommies” married to each other. Like I said, it’s complicated.  Then there is the issue of my father(s). One of them may or may not be high as a kite and unable to walk me down the aisle. The other, is as stoic (ok, cold) as John Wayne. We are having a wedding, not a gunfight and I am not sure I want to cast him in this picture. Some family will not come. Some will not be invited. Some will get their panties in a wad because they were not invited even though I have not talked to their crazy asses in years. Some will come and get drunk and offend the ones that do not get drunk. And all the while I will be getting drunk myself in order to cope.

I think finally after all the railing against the wedding industry and pondering on the placement of my bride gene, I realize that my problem all comes down to my dysfunctional family and my hesitance to put on a pretty dress to come face to face with my painful past. I know I am so blessed to be creating my own family now.  I know that we will do our best to insure that when Leo has a wedding his greatest worry will be deciding between Bora Bora or Katmandu for the honeymoon. But, for lack of a less eloquent way to express myself: the shit still sucks.

This bride-to-be is still something of the little girl who used to watch princess movies and parade around in a dish towel veil.  Yes, my prince has come but I worry, just a little, because I don’t want to end up like Cinderella at the stroke of midnight.  So the truth is, I have the Bride gene after all. I am just not sure I come from the genetic pool to support a wedding.

Wish me luck.

Thank You Girl

How to wash your hands

Image by The Master Shake Signal via Flickr

“Oh, thank you!” says my three and a half-year old son. I respond with an automatic, “You’re welcome”, not even pausing to consider what Leo is thanking me for. I am trying to hover over the toilet at the burrito joint where we sometimes go when I am simply too exhausted to cook or to pick up something from the grocery store. In other words, we go there a lot. While hovering, I am reading a text from my boss about something that could have waited for business hours.  All the while I am trying to keep an eye on the door since Leo has a habit of throwing open the door before I have pulled down my skirt.

“No Momma. I was not thanking  you.”  Leo says matter- of- factly. “I was saying thank you for the paper towels.” I stop what I am doing and look in Leo’s direction. He is standing under the automated paper towel dispenser with this silly grin on his face, tickled pink that this machine just gives away paper towels.  All you have to do is put your hands under the machine and as if by magic it knows exactly what you need and gives it to you.“Momma, I didn’t know it was going to do that!” Leo squealed with glee. And he returns his hands to the same spot. “Oh, thank you very much!” he says.

An unexpected surprise has him delighted and I am probably even more so. As a mother, these are the things that bring me the most joy and it is little moments like this that make spending time with a child a worthwhile pursuit for any adult. You learn so much; rather you remember so much, about yourself and about the world that your adult heart forgot.  The paper towel dispenser has  me thinking about the unexpected things in life for which I am grateful.

I remember my Grandmother stressing to me the importance of “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Sure there is Grandma; I get ‘em all the time. It’s called coupons.   But, none the less, I had a hard time being grateful because any time something good came along I feared fate’s retribution. As if God would bless me once and then come down and smite me twice, just cus that’s how he rolls.

There are the obvious things to be grateful for, the ones mentioned in the childlike prayers I used to recite.  “Thank you for my house. . . ”  “Thank you for my family. . .” but, when put in the light of any given tragedy these everyday blessings really hit home and my thoughts shift to “Hey- I really am lucky to have a roof over my head.” Witnessing the devastation of a natural disaster or terrorist attack seems to make us all hyper-grateful. . . for a while.

I have had the pleasure of “working with the public” for many years and I am constantly afforded the opportunity to see people on both their best and absolute worst behavior. On a bad day, I may be likely to tell you that the world is full of insufferable assholes, but I actually believe that people are by in large sympathetic souls. We do care. We do want to help. Sometime we just forget to keep caring because we are so distracted with the phone calls from the boss, paying our over inflated mortgages and hovering to prevent germs because health care is just not what it should be. You know, all of our First World problems.

Then there is the type of gratitude that Leo and the paper towels taught me about; gratitude for the unexpected. I am talking about the type of magic where, just like the paper towel machine, the universe gave me just what I needed. And often times, it is exactly what I thought I did not need and most certainly did not want.

This has been true of  most of the major things in my life. Case(s) in point: Growing up I was pretty lonely and the vibe in my house was less than pleasant. I turned to reading to hide in fictional worlds.  Being a bookworm does not seem like something most teenage girls would yearn for, but my bookish tendencies would later develop into my greatest dream: writing a book.  My broken-down  family was and sometimes still is a painful burden to bear, but I realize now that it has bestowed upon me a strength of heart which I don’t know if I would be capable of otherwise.  Downright traitorous  relationships that left me blindsided and broken-hearted; they also gave me the gifts of a razor-sharp radar that can quickly point out the wrong people and a deep appreciation for true love and friendship.

The greatest unexpected blessing of all is Leo. Getting knocked up in the midst of a rocky relationship when I had not even graduated college sure did not seem magic, or like the universe giving me just what I needed. In fact I was scared shitless. But not a day goes by that I don’t thank the lord, thank my lucky stars, or thank _________ (insert any other applicable deity or entity) for my son. The ways in which he has opened my heart, mind and eyes can’t entirely be measured. Having to step up to be the person he needs me to be is the greatest gift I have ever received and it just keeps unfolding.

It seems to me that it is the pain that keeps us growing and receiving. I am by no means attempting to poo poo on peoples pain or trying to piss off people with problems. Nor am I suggesting that we go out there and throw ourselves to the wolves in order to learn a lesson or two. What I do know is that I can honestly say:  I wouldn’t change a thing; not a single thing about where I have come from and what I have been through. And that, believe me, says a lot. So I am thankful for the unexpected and the uncertain and I even try to be thankful for the unwanted. And the paper towels. Can’t forget to be thankful for the paper towels.

So what’s your “paper towel story” ? What changed your life or gave you new perspective? I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE for you to share some of the unexpected things you are grateful for!

Fear and Loving

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Image by Paul Watson via Flickr

When did I become such a chicken shit? The younger me was fearless!  Midnight skinny dipping in the ocean, keg stands, confrontations with strangers: Bring. It. On.  Hitchhiking: child’s play. No, I am lying, I would never hitchhike that’s for people with a death wish and I was only a mildly self-destructive teenager. It wasn’t that I was without fear; I just didn’t give a flock. There is a difference.

What was I worrying about back then?  How to get past the door guy without a fake id? Where was I going to scrape up beer and gas money for another weekend road trip? Sure those ranked up there, but I was scared too. Scared I would wake up one day and all my friends would realize they were over me and I would be left to sit by myself at lunch. Scared my boyfriend would sleep around with every girl in high school and that besides being heartbroken I would look like an idiot. Well, that really did happen but that’s another story. Point is, as much of a bad-a$s as I pretended to be, I was always scared I was going to get my heartbroken.

Unlike my wallet, the older I got the bigger my fear got.  However exhausted I may be when I get in bed my fear kick starts my brain and I lie awake thinking:  I am in my 30’s, why the hell do I have no savings to speak of?  Will a public education cut it for Leo? How will I afford private school? Is the damn alarm set? Did I pay the bill for the alarm monitoring? What is this mole on my face? Could it be melanoma? Should I have that checked? What if I got sick? Well- I guess I’d be screwed cus I still don’t have anything saved! Around and around the worry swirls in my head until exhausted and disgusted with itself my brain finally switches off and I fall asleep.

I suppose I worry so much because unlike the young me who didn’t give a crap; the adult me cares a crap load. I have so much to care about that it sometimes overwhelms me.  For starters, my lil Leo, he is like this beautiful little sprout in a really big and sometimes dangerous garden and I never knew myself to have a green thumb. There are all these things I need to protect him from and things I need to give him to ensure he grows strong and happy. I have to keep growing myself to, because sprouts need their moms to be strong and happy.

And there is my love, my partner in crime, the man I am going to marry: Fiancé.  I worry about him, a lot. One night, when our love was still a little sprout, Ben went out with some of his friends and I stayed at home. We had been texting back and forth, cute little flirty texts ran rampant in the early days, when suddenly he stopped responding to my texts. I didn’t hear from him for hours which seemed like an eternity. Finally it was getting late and after much agony (“Will I seem like a desperate stalker??”) I called his phone and it went straight to voicemail. Then the strangest thing happen. Instead of getting pissed, instead of assuming that he was wasted and gallivanting around with some floozy, I got worried.  That’s when it clicked- Oh, no- I am in deep! I was honest to god worried about my big handsome man’s well being.

And I worry about me too.  I lay in bed at night and I worry: Will I somehow manage to not screw up this relationship?  What if I drag our marriage down the drain with my insecurities and fears? What if I wake up one day and he just does not love me anymore?  Will I be able to live should something happen to us? Hmm… what if I just quit wasting time and loved him? Because while I am laying here worrying; he is lying next to me wondering what is wrong.

What’s wrong is that in many ways my greatest fears are related to what matters the most to me, for example, my fiancé.  Fear is like this weed, it’s invasive and it will kill off all your joy if you don’t nip it in the bud. What I have learned is that fear gets in the way of loving. And the only thing that can kill fear? More loving. Thankfully my man helps me; he whips out his machete and I put on his grandma’s gardening gloves and together we pull weeds and we play in the dirt.