Thursday, June 27, 2013

My Fridge (Or, The Cold Hard Truth)

“My theory on housework is, if the item doesn't multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?”
― Erma Bombeck

I always wonder what refrigerators look like in other people's houses.  I'm too polite when visiting to poke through vegetable drawers and inspect the expiration dates of condiments but I always WONDER if they have the same sort of filth I seem to have.

I am a disgusting human being.  At least that's what usually goes through my mind on the (rare) occasion of cleaning out my refrigerator.  I don't even THINK about the fridge usually unless I'm out of space for new stuff because last month's leftovers are STILL (annoyingly) clogging up that third shelf.  But, a few days ago, I took on the gargantuan task of bringing my home up to the level of habitable by cleaning out the truly revolting messes that have collected in the wasteland that is my fridge.

NOTE: Get ready to feel REALLY GOOD about yourself. 

Step 1.  Assess the situation.

  OK.  The fridge is a nightmare.  This picture isn't even an accurate portrayal because I'd already removed the shelves on the side of the door.

There were leftovers in this refrigerator from January.  I kid you not.  Note:  January was almost SIX MONTHS AGO. 

I removed everything.  Everything.  

Step 2.  Understand and embrace the fact that you have a problem.  

This was shoved in the far corner of the fruit drawer.  Perfectly shaped and wonderful fruits rested far, far away from this nasty little reject.  If it didn't have a stem on it, I probably wouldn't recognize it but I BELIEVE it's an apple.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away?  Eat this one and you die.  Maybe I should take on the persona of that hideous old wicked witch in Snow White.

"Just one bite..."

Also, how can you tell when bleu cheese is no longer palatable?  I mean, it STARTS OUT kinda moldy...

Step 3.  Evaluate your options.  And then judge yourself.  HARD.

OK.  I had FOUR containers of mustard.  Four.
All expired.  The WEIRDEST part?  I don't even use mustard.

I had three jars of salsa.  Half full.

I got rid of EVERYTHING on the left half of this picture.  All expired.  I threw out THREE half-full jars of pickles.  Expired.

That's a LOT of waste.  I felt ashamed of myself.  What a wasteful, ungrateful American I am!

Step 4.  Purge.  Cleanse.  Deep breathing through the exercise.  Let go of the judgment.

I removed every shelf.  Every piece of tempered refrigerator glass.  And I cleaned them each thoroughly (according to the manufacturer's instructions) with warm soapy water.

I let them all dry (to avoid streaks and water spots) while I scrubbed the inside of the refrigerator.  (HOW does dog hair get INSIDE of my refrigerator?)

Step 5.  Change your life.

I started over.

Oh, I kept a lot of things.  Any unexpired condiment went back on the door.  All vegetables (the ones that didn't look like a science experiment gone awry) went into the veggie drawer.  All fruits went back to the fruit drawer.  And all non-moldy cheese returned to the cheese drawer.

And I told the boys we're going "European."  We're only going to buy what we're eating in the next two days.  And then, on the third day, we'll eat the leftovers from the first two.

Change is good.  Change is fun.  Let the fridge be your metaphor.  When things are really nasty on the inside, it may be time to gut it out.

Oh.  Just in case you're wondering, the ENTIRE cleansing process from beginning to end took exactly one hour and 23 minutes with time out for picture-taking.  That's it.  In order to feel good and healthy and non-nasty, I took one hour and 23 minutes out of my life.

Granted, that IS time out of my reading time. But at least now I don't have to stand in front of the refrigerator door with my arms wrapped around it with that panicky look in my eyes when a visitor approaches it.  "NO, NO!" I yell frantically.  "You're my GUEST.  I'LL GET IT FOR YOU!"

Go on.  'Fess up.  What does YOUR fridge look like on the inside?

f you like my blog, share it.  Or Like my FB page to get updates.  Or subscribe to the e-mail list.  Or make a comment below.  If you don't like it, well...just try not to hurt my feelings.  I'm sensitive.  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Best Day Ever

Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.  

I have been awake for approximately 40 minutes.  And I am having the BEST DAY.  EVER.  Granted, many of my days start out as the BEST DAY EVER because I am, by nature, a morning person.  It is only when other people starting crowding into my day that I deflate and turn sour.

But so far, today is IT.

  1. I believe that ABBA's Dancing Queen MAY be the best wake-up song ever.  I was awake before my alarm this morning but was brushing my teeth when the alarm went off.  I heard it and said (out no one), "OOH! DANCING QUEEN."   I immediately danced my polka-dotted-pajama-clad self into the room, arms swaying high over my head while Mr. McDougal looked at me with his tiny McDougal head cocked to the side.  You can can jive...having the time of your life...ooh, ooh, see that girl, watch that scene, diggin' the dancing queen.  Seriously, are there ANY better lyrics to wake up to?  For a while, I had The Weepies' World Spins Madly On set as my wake-up song.  It's a WHOLE different ballgame to wake up to Woke up, wished that I was dead.  With an aching in my head, I lay motionless in bed.  I thought of you and where you'd gone....and the world spins madly on.  That tune really just gave the start of my day a whole different meaning.
  2. I LOVE (love, love, love) waking up with Sparky and Mr. McDougal. I am a huge fan of waking up with 80+ pounds of furry love trying to get as close to me as possible.  As that 80 pounds vies for position, the smaller mound of fur turns his back on the lick-fest/giggle-fest and begins his morning routine of stretching.  Then when I say "Do you want to go outside?" there is an immediate bout of extreme tail wagging and excitement as they bound down the stairs for their first outdoor adventure of the day.  Who WOULDN'T love to be greeted by two creatures who seem to always, always be glad to see me..even if we've just spent the night all tangled up together?
  3. Charlie cat is a different story.  He is my morning dose of reality as he bitches at me to GET HIS FOOD OUT NOW.  Of course, he's 17 so that makes about 190 or so in people years (I don't know how old he would really be in human years but he is the crotchetiest cat EVER at this advanced age).  He yells and follows me around the kitchen as if he's meowing, "Faster, faster! What's holding you up?  What is WRONG with you, woman?  GET MY FOOD!"  I still pause to pick him up (AFTER he's been fed and the coffee is brewing) and give him some kitty love to start his day off right.  He looks at me (a bit disdainfully, but I'm OK with that) and will put a paw on my face, maybe in apology or maybe just to turn my head away so he doesn't have to look at me while he gets his morning kitty-massage.
  4. The mornings are quiet without the boys here.  That's good because I like to hear the birds chirping outside and the sound of the coffee pot sputtering.  It also provides a wonderful contrast for when they ARE here.  It helps me to appreciate the sounds of their doors opening and closing, drawers being slammed shut and shouts of "Have you seen my shoes?" from upstairs.  Morning is my very, very favorite time of day....especially the early morning hours before the rest of the sleepy world begins to stir.  The furry legged creatures usually settle down around my feet as I write and drink coffee.  It's cozy in my house in the morning.  Most of the time, I wouldn't rather be anywhere else.  
  5. Press n' Seal is the BEST INVENTION EVER.  If you're still clinging (pun intended) to Cling Wrap or Saran, STOP.  Go now and get yourself some Press 'n Seal.  Or Press And Seal.  I don't know. I'm not looking at the box right now.  It truly is one of the best inventions known to the modern world, bar none other than maybe the Cadbury Egg.  (I don't know why I threw this thought in but I think I decided to simply write in a stream of consciousness....welcome to my brain.)
  6. One of my friends on Facebook does a Corny Joke Month in June. Every day, I wake up to a new corny joke.  Especially now since she's out of the country....sometimes when she's IN the country, I have to WAIT for an hour or two after I've been awake for the corny joke but THIS week it's been waiting for me (making today, again, the BEST DAY EVER).  They've been REALLY HARD this month and I've only gotten one before everyone else.  This morning, I DID answer first but it's totally wrong.  Sometimes I want to cheat and Google the joke to find the answer.  But I don't cheat.  It's kind of weird that I DON'T because...honestly...who would KNOW?  I feel that cheating would defy the spirit of her Corny Joke Month, though.  The fact, however, that she DOES Corny Joke Month makes me ridiculously happy.  I mean, STUPID happy.  (Did I mention BEST DAY EVER?)
  7. I use a LOT of capital letters when I write.  I write exactly the way I think and speak so I really am emphasizing those words in my head.  It's important to me that the cadence of my speech and the DRAMA of my speech comes across as I write.  I don't really operate in a monotone world.  All you're missing right now is my hands waving around to and fro while I try to communicate a point.  Sometimes looking back over my writing, I'm a little annoyed with myself at the massive quantities of capital letters.  It would be SO much more elegant to bold everything.  But that would require SO MUCH additional time and energy.  Laziness wins!
So, world, give me everything you've got today.  I can take it.  It's the BEST DAY EVER.  Now, off to get ready for my dentist appointment....

If you like my blog, share it.  Or Like my FB page to get updates.  Or subscribe to the e-mail list.  Or make a comment below.  If you don't like it, well...just try not to hurt my feelings.  I'm sensitive.  

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Forgiving on Father's Day

“My mother's voice and my father's fists are two bookends of my childhood, and they form the basis of my art.”
― Pat Conroy, My Reading Life

Father's Day has always been tough for me.  I am drawn to fathers but I am confused by them.  The ideals I have of them have been formed by television, movies and books.  I am afraid of fathers and yet my entire life has been centered around finding that "daddy love" I never experienced.

I sat down to write about fathers and I have no idea what I'm going to say.  My story is not easy and is embedded deep in my psyche.  I have a variety of memories of the man I grew up with...the man who, for all intents and purposes, was my dad.  Some of them leak through the garbled mixture of confusion and deep pain as the lifelong gifts he gave to me.  That is what I will focus on today.

  • He gave me a love of the outdoors.  We went camping and fishing regularly when I was growing up.
  • He gave me my sense of wanderlust.  We didn't have a lot of money and would often wander out in the car, driving along winding mountain roads to explore.  
  • He made me competitive.  I wanted this man's love and admiration desperately.  I worked hard on basketball courts, in the house and in the yard...partly to avoid his wrath but partly so that he would look at me and see something of value.
I remember his rages.  I remember his silences.  I remember the atmosphere in our house on days when we knew he was a powder keg waiting to explode.  We didn't talk about it but you always sensed the days when your room needed to be clean and you needed to speak as little as possible.  But there was a flip side, too.  He took us to amusement parks.  He took us to our grandparents houses.  He quit a lot of jobs but, for the most part, he worked.  And he provided.

I don't speak to him now.  I don't ever want to speak to him again.  And I will write about him again.  Hallmark has taught us that fathers are always heroes and that we are always their princesses.  That is not always the case.  But on this Father's Day, I am going to forgive him.

I forgive you for all the pain.  I forgive you for not being able to move past your own problems.  I forgive you for your inability to be a father.  I forgive you for hurting me.  I forgive you for hurting my mother and my brother.  I forgive you for kicking my dog.  I forgive you for breaking my ice cream bank.  I forgive you for your raised hands and fists.  I forgive you for waking us up in the middle of the night while you screamed.  I forgive you for locking me on that cold porch in the winter.  I forgive you for the holes in the walls and in my heart.  I forgive you for the night you pulled out the gun and my brother and I spent the night at the neighbors' house.  I forgive you.  I forgive you.  I forgive you. Because of the pain you inflicted on me, I am a better mother.  Because of your actions, I am strong.  Because of you, I can forgive.  And I can move on.  
Fathers, I am living proof that what you do matters.  What you don't do matters, too.  You play a vital role in shaping lives and the actions you have now will affect them forever.  Be kind.  Be strong.  Put aside your own insecurities and fears and PARENT YOUR CHILDREN.  Parent as a verb.  

Happy Father's Day.          

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Yes, I'm Dating Myself. I Totally Took Myself to the Movies.

“I believe with all my heart that the cliches are true, that we are our own best friends and best company, and that if you're not right for yourself, it's impossible to be right for anyone.”
                                                      ― Rachel Machacek

When I got married, I had one piece of criteria for my future mate.  I wanted someone who wouldn't beat me.  

Yes, you heard that right.  That was the ONE thing I wanted in my lifelong partner.  I didn't have a LIST of things like: he's kind to kittens and puppies; he enjoys being with me; he makes me laugh; he is interested in the same things I am in interested in; we have excellent communication, etc. etc..  Nope.  I had ONE piece of criteria.  And that wasn't even REALLY all that tough an expectation to meet.

Now, I'm sure that my Ex-Husband WANTED to beat me at times.  But he never laid a finger on me.  He never even LOOKED like he was going to raise a hand to me.  As a matter of fact, I only remember him raising his voice to me maybe once ever.

My date night at the drive-in paraphenelia
I have decided since my divorce that I might want to set my sights just a TEENSY bit higher next time.  I mean, I DID get lucky with my Ex-Husband.  He's actually a pretty good guy.  He's just not the right guy for ME.  But, I've been in a sum total of three actual relationships in my adult life.  All three really haven't worked out so well.  And what's the common denominator, kids?  That's right.  Me.  Here's a hint:  It may not be everyone else. 

The problem stems not only from my low expectations but also from my, let's face it, solid lack of self-love.  I am all ABOUT loving other people.  I give everyone else everything I have.  But me? I don't think I'm worth giving the time of day to.  There are, naturally, deep-seated reasons for all of THAT nonsense but there's no need to delve into all of that right now.  Suffice it to say that I need to love myself before I can expect anyone else to love me.  This is not rocket science here, people, but solid psychological mumbo-jumbo.

There are people out there who are truly amazing at loving themselves.  (We like to call them narcissists.) And there are people out there who think far lower of themselves than I do.  (We call THEM cutters.) I'm just your regular run-of-the-mill low-self-esteem kind of girl.  (Obviously. Have you NOTICED how much I prattle on about me, me, me in this blog.  I'm practically BEGGING for people to love me.) 

OK, so, the plan tonight was to take myself out on a date to get to know myself a little better and to appreciate what I bring to the table.  I mean to SERIOUSLY DATE MYSELF.  Let's look into the magic ball and see how it went...

  • Like any first date, there was bound to be a little awkwardness.  I didn't want to arrive TOO early but I certainly didn't want to be LATE.  I went home after work and spruced myself up a little.  I changed into some decent jeans, fixed my make-up and fluffed my hair.  I even removed the old polish from my nails.  I wanted to look good for me.  I left with plenty of time to make the drive-in movie by 7:00 pm.  I knew I wanted to get there right when it opened because I like to be up really close.  It was convenient to take myself because I didn't make any concessions about being up close to the screen.  (Point #1:  Speak up for what you want/need.) 
  • On the way to the movie, I decided I would like to stop and get something to eat.  I consulted with myself and decided that a sub would be the perfect thing for this lovely summer evening at the drive-in.  On my way to get dinner, I stopped in at WalMart and found an Ultimate 80's CD.  I laughed at my whimsy and decided to purchase the tunes on the spot.  (Point #2:  Be yourself.  Even if you like to listen to pop-y 80's music.  Or Barry Manilow.)
  • My GPS was a little wonky on the way out to the drive-in.  But I didn't get irritated with myself.  I just figured I would find it when I found it.  No need to stress out about getting to a movie at exactly 7pm when it wouldn't even START for another two hours. (Point #3: Relax. Go with the flow.)  I did find it.  And I found it AT 7pm.  Without stressing out. Bonus!
  • Before the movie, I opened up my newly purchased book (FINALLY bought And the Mountains Echoed on my Nook) and read happily for close to two hours, totally content. (Point #4:  Be sure to do things just for YOU when in any relationship.)
  • During the movie, I got completely bored when they stopped focusing on the relationships of the characters and started doing that blow-em-up-continuous-action-sequences.  I spent about 15 minutes looking up at the stars (there were a LOT of stars out there in the country!) and then I pulled out my phone and started screwing around on Facebook and taking pictures of the movie screen.  I didn't at all worry about paying attention to the movie because I was at the movie.  The movie wasn't working for me, so I changed the plan a little.  (Point #5:  If something isn't working, change it up.  Flexibility is a big component of any successful relationship.)
  • After the first movie, it was pretty late.  I decided that the Hangover III (the second feature) could easily wait for a Redbox rental later on.  I packed up my date-night gear and hit the highway. (Point #6:  See Point #5.)
  • On the way home, I popped in my Ultimate 80's CD and sang along with Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, and that chick who sang the Flashdance theme song (Irene Cara, maybe?).  I cranked it UP and sang loudly, smiling and laughing my way through the countryside.  (Point #7:  Have some freakin' FUN. And smile, dammit.) 
All in all, it was a TERRIFIC date.  And I'm still excited and happy at 1:00 a.m. I'm SO FREAKIN' DREAMY, RIGHT?  I think I'll follow the night up with a little e-mail to myself, thanking myself for a great night.

And, I think in ADDITION to the "He musn't beat me" criteria, I'll add a few things to what I need from a relationship, INCLUDING the one with myself:
  • laughter
  • friendship
  • compassion
  • delight
  • travel
  • drive-in movies

I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.  
If you like my blog, share it.  Or Like my FB page to get updates.  Or subscribe to the e-mail list.  Or make a comment below.  If you don't like it, well...just try not to hurt my feelings.  I'm sensitive.  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mach 2, Hair on Fire

“I get up and pace the room, as if I can leave my guilt behind me. But it tracks me as I walk, an ugly shadow made by myself.”
                                                                    ― Rosamund Lupton, Sister

Lazy days of summer?  As IF.  Let's stick with CRAZY days of summer.  In order to assuage my divorced/single parent/working mom guilt, I decided to sign each of my kids up for the PERFECT camp this week to suit each of their tiny personalities.  I decided to forego the traditional one-size-fits-all-drop-your-kids-off-at-7:30-pick-'em-up-at-6 camp and I created a specialized learning opportunity for them.  Baseball camp for Thing 2.  Sumo-Bot Lego Camp for Thing 1. It was more expensive.  And it has almost KILLED me this week.  Only one more day to go.  

Daily schedule for the First Week of Summer

5:30 a.m.  Wake up.  Feed animals.  Make coffee.  Stretch.  Pray (fervently).  Write.

6:45 a.m.  Shower.  Drink coffee.  Wake hoodlums. Make lunches.  Do various and sundry activities around the house.

8:25 a.m.  Leave house.  Thing 2 dropped at jock camp.  Race to second location. Thing 1 dropped at nerd camp.  Fight stoplights and traffic to get to work. Late. 

9:15 a.m.  Work frantically for two + hours.

11:30 a.m. Leave to go pick up Thing 1. Drop him off at house to fend for himself for lunch. 

12:30 p.m. Back at desk.  Late. Work frantically.

2:45 p.m.  Leave to go pick up Thing 2. Race to pick up location. Late. 

3:30 p.m.  Back at desk.  Late. Work frantically.

6:00 p.m. Home.  Make dinner.  Try to clear clutter.  Clean floors.  Wash dishes, clothes, dogs, boys. Encourage reading.  Ban technology. Write.  Thankfully, gratefully sink into bed before 10 pm.

On Friday, I get to go to the Natural Science Center to watch Thing 1's robot compete in the sumo-bot tournament.  I AM actually invited to the tournament and I think he's fairly proud of his efforts.  I never EVER turn down any invite issued by Thing 1.  But it's at 11:00 a.m.  Which means MORE time away from work (and I'm already feeling super guilty about coming in an hour late and missing an extra hour of work during the day).  I guess next week I'll chip away at THAT guilt by coming in early and working longer hours.

I feel guilty all the time.  I feel guilty because I truly DO believe that parents educate their children best and I am not around nearly enough to do so.  I feel guilty because I divorced their father.  I feel guilty because I don't WANT to be with my kids 24/7.  I feel guilty because I can't afford to buy away my guilt with expensive technology for them.  I feel guilty that I cancelled cable.  I feel guilty that I am too often satisfied with mediocrity.  I feel guilty that I can't give them every THING they want.  I feel guilty that I don't WANT to give them every THING they want.  I feel guilty about feeling guilty.
So, I over planned for summer camp this week to ease the pain of ALL that heavy guilt.  And I have been nuts over it.

As I write about all this guilt and I think two things: 1) it sucks to feel guilty all the time and 2) GIVE YOURSELF A FREAKIN' BREAK.

You know what?  It's time that all single moms, married moms, moms who work outside of the home AND inside of the home, moms who cook and moms who don''s time that we stop feeling guilty and give ourselves a BREAK.  I will make one exception:  crackhead moms and all moms addicted to anything...YOU need to feel guilty.  Stop the rock, get yourselves some help and take care of your kids instead of your addictions.   I wonder if any addicted moms read this blog? Welcome to my stream of consciousness blogging....

Seriously, life in this breakneck world is tough enough.  Why do we pile on guilt on top of everything else?  Let's just make a pact.  Right here and right now.  Let's say enough with the guilt.  We'll do what we can do.  We'll put one foot in front of the other and try to just keep walking.  Non-burdened walking because it will be guilt-free.

Is it even POSSIBLE to live a guilt-free life as a mother?  As a human being?  Do DADS feel guilt the way we do?  Are kid-free people riddled with guilt over things?  Is guilt just part of the package? Thoughts?

If you like my blog, share it.  Or Like my FB page to get updates.  Or subscribe to the e-mail list.  Or make a comment below.  If you don't like it, well...just try not to hurt my feelings.  I'm sensitive.  







The Next 40 Years

“Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.”
― Allen Saunders

I was puttering around the kitchen this morning, putting away dishes, feeding animals (the furry ones, not the human ones), making coffee, and pondering what I am going to DO with my life.  It was a pretty big question for 5:30 in the morning and I hadn't yet started the intravenous caffeine drip.

I spent the majority of my first 18 years on the planet looking forward to college.  When I'm 18, I thought, I'll move to a BIG city and I'll go to school.  I'll be ON MY OWN.  And that (except for the BIG city part unless you consider Raleigh a big city...which, honestly, was WAY bigger than anywhere I'd ever lived), was what I did.  I had never really looked BEYOND college, though, and was a bit flummoxed when I found myself chock full of a brand new bachelor's degree and nothing really to DO with it.  I had had grand plans at one point.  I was going to join the Peace Corps and Save the World. But then I got a serious boyfriend and he was fairly insistent that our relationship would end if I spent the greater part of two years in Africa.  Since everyone KNOWS that a BOYFRIEND is really the best thing in life, I stayed home.  I stayed home, flummoxed and floundering.

Well, that Boyfriend and I got married.  And THEN I spent the next six years looking forward to The Next Big Move.  He had joined the Navy.  We moved to Florida and I looked forward to moving to South Carolina.  We moved to South Carolina and I....well, OK, I didn't look FORWARD to moving to Connecticut but I thought it might be interesting.  We moved to Connecticut and I REALLY looked forward to moving to Hawaii.

When we got to Hawaii, I started looking forward to getting out of the Navy.  THEN, I thought, then life will REALLY begin.  I got pregnant and I looked forward to the baby.  Then I looked forward to HIS 18th birthday.

When we got out of the Navy, I looked forward to "settling down" and buying a house.  And having another baby.  And HIS 18th birthday.  Because my Husband knew that I NEEDED something to look forward to, we planned a 10th anniversary trip.  So I could look forward to traveling to St. Lucia.

And then, something funny happened.  I had NOTHING ELSE TO LOOK FORWARD TO.   Life stretched out in front of me like a vast wasteland of....nothing.   Nothing but plain ol'  How do you DEAL with that?  It sounded so...boring.

So I started taking classes.  I mean, I took a LOT of classes.  I wanted something to look forward to.  I tried to feed myself new things in a desperate attempt to find something (anything) to cling to.

And then, another funny thing happened.  I got divorced.  At that point, there really was nothing left to look forward to other than, well, dying.  Because I had done it all, hadn't I?  I had been to college, landed the Boyfriend, had the Kids and then...nothing.

I spent the first several years after my divorce flummoxed.  And floundering.  I couldn't think of a single thing to look forward to.

And then, I did something pretty cool.  I started living in the moment.  Just for a moment at first.  But I got better at it.  I learned a little more about breathing in.  And breathing out.  And acknowledging that THIS BREATH is pretty fantastic.  I didn't focus on the next breath.  I just enjoyed the breath of the present.  I was so busy for all of my life looking FORWARD that I MISSED most of my first 40 years.

The next 40 will be different (if I get so lucky as to have another 40).  The next minute will be different.  THIS minute is different already.  I pause.  I acknowledge.  I appreciate.  I am grateful.

I sometimes forget my living in the moment lifestyle and I start panicking about what I have to look forward to (other than death).  And then I remember to breathe in.  And out.  And acknowledge that in THIS moment, I have everything I need.

Life is good.

If you like my blog, share it.  Or Like my FB page to get updates.  Or subscribe to the e-mail list.  Or make a comment below.  If you don't like it, well...just try not to hurt my feelings.  I'm sensitive.  


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Dear Fellow Motorist

“Well, if you weren't flirting with him"-his voice had now grown a little plaintive-"who was he, and what did you want with him anyway?"

"If you are so determined to bore me, I may just have to go home." Astrid sighed carelessly, "What a shame, when I am wearing such a pretty dress.”
― Anna Godbersen, Bright Young Things

Dear Fellow Motorist at the stoplight on Wendover Avenue this morning,

You seemed really nice.  And I do appreciate the honk, smile and the wave at the first stoplight.  I was excited to see such a friendly face and I waved back, happily.  And I liked the fact that you scrawled your phone number really big on that receipt and held it up to the window for me at the next light.  Was that YOUR phone number or was it the number of your crackhead brother who needs a womanly reason to get clean?  

Here's the thing, Fellow Motorist.  I was having a wonderful time singing along to "It's Raining Men."  I realize that you probably overheard me and were amused by my antics.  I responded to your friendly wave with a friendly wave of my own.  I wasn't actually flirting with you...I was just being...well...friendly!  And I think it's super fun that you wrote down that phone number for me.  But, I'm just not ready to dial up a complete stranger who may have a basement door with my name on it.  AND, you were driving a Volvo.  If that doesn't scream "I'm married with kids," then I need a hearing aid.  Save that drama for your mama (or your llama, whatever floats your boat), big guy.  

When I held up my hand to the window as a physical response to the offer of your digits, I thought I was wearing a ring today.  I wasn't.  My bad.  I suppose I COULD have extended my middle finger but that would have been very rude.  I was trying to pretend that I was in a committed relationship but that totally backfired on me and made me look even crazier than just a girl loudly singing "God bless Mother Nature...she's a single woman, too."   But, who knows, as far as you're concerned I could just have been getting some giant 4 carat ring cleaned.  Of course, given the current state of my vehicle, you would probably recognize that as a reach.  Let's just say 1/4 of a carat, then.  

If I were at all open to flirting and/or dating right now, I would have been thrilled with your approach.  Fun.  Different.  And, of course, your approach was far classier than that guy who followed me out of the Rhode Island rest area many years ago and held up a $100 bill while he motioned for me to take the next exit.  I am going to assume that he thought I was homeless and was exercising benevolence. What he was probably thinking was that I was a pole dancer earning my keep at one of those seedy clubs in the Groton area servicing poor displaced submariners.  Of course, I was a lot younger then and probably worth $100 at least.  And, you were way less freak-show-scary than that guy who saw me on Wendover Avenue a few years ago and followed me into the Mexican restaurant parking lot.  (I wonder what women who are REALLY pretty have to put up with?  Poor things!) Even so, I'm now reduced to a few scrawled numbers on the back of your Wal-Mart receipt.  

It all boils down to nothing other than you just made me miss the chorus: "It's raining men!  Hallelujah! It's raining men!  Amen!"  Ah well, I did come back and download it from iTunes because I was bummed at missing it so that works out pretty well for me in the end. 

I hope you and your wife enjoy your summer!  (Just a hint, if you DON'T currently have a wife, you really need to get rid of that Volvo.)  

Drive on!

Your Friendly Neighborhood Singing/Dancing Whackjob

P.S. If all you wanted was to sign a record deal, please contact me ASAP!


Blogs I Love...Scratch That....Let's Call it People I Used to Know

“We read to know that we are not alone.”
― William Nicholson

I started this post because I had just read something amazingly hilarious and wacky from The Bloggess.  The Bloggess is famous.  And fabulous.  And hysterically funny if you get into a wackier sense of humor.  People everywhere love her.  You should check her out.

BUT, back to the sideline that I veered off to which became the whole of this blog post (I get sidetracked from my sidetracks FAR too often...maybe Thing 1 is right and I really DO have Adult ADD...which is another aside altogether, isn't it?).

Oooookkaaayyyy.  So, I started to write this post about other blogs (and I will, eventually, write another blog post about that) and then I found the above quote which kicked off this post.  I have NO idea who William Nicholson is but it made me think of a guy who roomed with my Ex-Husband in college who eventually became MY roommate because I totally shacked up before I was married in a house with my Ex-Husband and his roommates.

Google logo.  It's a pic! It's a verb!
I have NO idea what became of that guy.  And we LIVED together.  So I Googled him. 

  • I got 52,300 results.
  • He shares the name of a famous "footballer" (a.k.a. "soccer player").
  • There are 68 profiles who match his name on LinkedIn.
  • Someone who shares his name is a prolific author who writes about jazz.
  • There are multiple Twitter accounts related to the name.
  • There were literally HUNDREDS of images associated with the name but not a single one (unless he's had some SERIOUS plastic surgery) were of the guy I knew.
I haven't thought of this guy since...well...I guess since I moved out of that house.  And it appears he disappeared off the face of the planet.  What HAPPENED TO HIM?  Now, I can't get him out of my head.  And we weren't even really friends.

So, then, I started thinking about OTHER people I've known who I simply...don't know anymore.  And I started Googling.

A girl I knew when I moved to this tiny town in southern, CO in the 6th grade for about 6 months:
  • 14,200 results.
  • 6 people share her name in Colorado.
  • Someone who shares her name is an A-MAZING photographer.
  •  There is only ONE LinkedIn profile for her name AND the person lives in CO.  Could THAT be her?
  • Nope.  Found a picture of the above person.  Not her.
  • Someone who shares her name received the 2005 Notary Notary Honoree award. Did you KNOW that Notary Publics have an award?  I had no idea.
  • There were lots and lots of Google images but I got bored with the search before I looked through them all.
A boy who had a crush on me in high school.  Wait, I don't remember the kid's name.  That won't help.  Hmm.  I KNOW.  A boy who I went date?...with in high school.
  • Only 3,960 results!
  • 13 profiles on LinkedIn.
  • Several Twitter accounts linked to the name.
  • A person who shares his name is a youth pastor in Iowa.
  • His name is preceded on one Web site by the words The Man, The Myth, The Legend.  That made me laugh for a variety of reasons.
  • I struck pay dirt and found a reference to the ACTUAL person, his wife and his college-aged daughter.  
After I found the third long-lost person, I lost interest.  Actually, I lost interest in the middle of the search for the second person but I figured three would be a good sample.  Guys are easier to find than women.  If anyone Googled MY maiden name they would get 272,000 results.  That's more than all three searches combined because my maiden name was SUPER common and SUPER bo-ring.  And you would never find me under that name anyway.  I'm such a MYSTERY, right?  (Except when you consider that if you Google my current name, you will get 534 results...which are ALL related to me...I'm kinda easy to find.)

So, it was fun for a few minutes going through the wayback machine.  Of course, most of the people that I used to know I can't seem to remember their freakin' names now.  It's pretty hard to Google "that guy I worked with in that temp job right out of college."  OK, I just did and got 242 MILLION results.  Still, I don't think I'll ever find that guy...OR remember his name.  C'est la vie.

Does anyone else go off on these nutty sidetracks or am I alone in my insanity? 

If you like my blog, share it.  Or Like my FB page to get updates.  Or subscribe to the e-mail list.  Or make a comment below.  If you don't like it, well...just try not to hurt my feelings.  I'm sensitive. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Generating Noise

“Living as we do in an age of noise and bluster, success is now measured accordingly. We must all be seen, and heard, and on the air.”
                                                                  ― Daphne du Maurier

I have no idea why or when I took this pic.
There are, apparently, a few people reading my blog now.  By a few, I mean more than just my former mother- and father-in-law, my own parents and several unfortunate friends.  I find that I'm somewhat embarrassed when I find out that unexpected people are viewing this nonsense.  I spew a LOT of insanity on this site and I rarely think about the fact that people (random people) might actually be reading it.  I guess it makes sense considering that I've looked at the metrics and there are many thousands of pageviews.  I kinda figured that my mom was just clicking on it over and over again.  But now, I'm running into people who are vague acquaintances with no real connection to me who have started reading my blog.  And I'm starting to get friend requests from complete strangers on Facebook.


OK, so, for the record, I have to set a few things straight for those of you reading my blog who don't QUITE know me.

  1. I am not actually, certifiably insane.  No psychologist (or psychiatrist) has ever looked at me and started whistling, rolling their eyes and making a high-pitched "cuckoo" sound.  They may have done this internally but I've never received a prescription to cease the endless cacophony of voices in my head.  Shh.  We won't tell.
  2. I am not a complete failure at everything.  I tend to...well...exaggerate.  I'm not a terrible mother and I don't whine incessantly all the time.  I do, however, fall down.  I fall down a lot.  And I am almost never "put together."  My shirts have stains on them if I've been wearing them longer than fifteen minutes.  And my hair is almost always a crazy mess. I am assuming, though, that my clumsiness and my general disheveled appearance does not make me an utter failure.
  3. I am thrilled when you tell me that you enjoy my writing.  I enjoy writing stuff.  I love the endless, ceaseless prattle that comes out of the ends of my fingertips. I firmly believe that my fingers do all the work.  If my brain were AT ALL involved in this endeavor I think the blog would be way less fun for me (but probably a lot more coherent for you).  
  4. I am shocked that people actually read the things I write.  I've written either mundane marketing collateral or just stuff for myself for my whole life so I'm not accustomed to people actually reading the things I write and wanting to talk to me about them.  I wonder sometimes how people KNOW the stuff about me that they seem to know.  And then I recall the verbal vomit that is my blog.  And then I get embarrassed again.
  5. The two people who requested NOT to be in my blog are not my children.  I've had more than one person assume that the two who opted out of Kelly Blog World were Thing 1 and Thing 2.  I am sure there will come a day when they are horrified about all that I've written about them. And they will probably ban me from their weddings and the bar mitzvahs of their children (OK, fine, we're not Jewish...but getting banned from a bar mitzvah would make a GREAT story, wouldn't it?).  But, for now, we're still OK.  They're pretty accustomed to my lack of filter and limitless blather.  And thank goodness for that because they provide the primary fodder for my fingers.
  6. I am having a lot of fun writing.  I am so glad to hear that so many of you like to read this stuff.  This blog completely FEEDS me right now.  Maybe at some point I'll figure out a theme.  Or make some damn sense.  But, for now, I'm just enjoying the ride.  It's kinda nice that you're enjoying it, too.
  7. Thanks.  Thanks for reading stuff that resides in the darker corners of my head. Thanks for understanding that I'm kidding (most of the time) and thanks for letting some of my endless stores of emotion come through in this forum.  Thanks for reading and validating me on that level that really just wants the Gold Star and the A++ and the Great Job!  Most of all, thanks for reading one post and then coming back to read one or two more.  You might just be sicker than I am.  (OK, see?  THAT was a part where I was just kidding...)
 My go-to therapist is going to be pretty pissed off when he figures out that I'm working out all my junk through my blog.  I think he may have had an another kid for me to put through college.  Sorry, Therapy Guy, I've got a new couch.  :)  Or, rather, a new rockin' chair.

If you like my blog, share it.  Or Like my FB page to get updates.  Or subscribe to the e-mail list.  Or make a comment below.  If you don't like it, well...just try not to hurt my feelings.  I'm sensitive. 


I'm Now in the Business of Arranging Marriages

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

A fellow mom friend and I have decided to arrange the union of our offspring.  My (very funny and extremely fabulous) friend and I think that her eldest daughter and my youngest son would make a great match.  (Note:  My Fab Friend gave me permission to blog about her so...I'm totally running with it.)

My little Work in Progress
Her daughter is amazing.  She's gorgeous and smart and funny and she won more awards in the 5th grade graduation than any other fifth grader.  I think they were still calling out awards after she'd walked across the stage and sat down.  My Fab Friend and I think that Thing 2 and Gorgeous Girl would make pretty, smart babies and so we've set out to wed them when they've sown their hopefully-not-so-wild oats and established themselves in their careers.  Maybe just after they turn 30.

That's not so weird, right?  I mean, we KNOW what's good for our kids.  And, Gorgeous Girl is completely wonderful already and we all know that girls like to change people so she would accept Thing 2 as a work in progress graciously, I feel sure of it.  Besides, her mom and I would TOTALLY get along as in-laws and would surely throw an incredible wedding that WE would certainly enjoy.  After that, they're on their own.  After all, we did the HARD work and picked their mates for them.  Duh.

There are plenty of good reasons to arrange the marriages for our children:

  • 50% of marriages end in divorce anyway, so obviously it's a crap-shoot from the start.
  • We can already see that their genetic make-up would blend very nicely.  Who needs judgment clouded by silly things like love?
  • They're friends already.  In about 15 years, they'll realize that being friends is really important in marriages anyway.
  • If they get married, I know I'll always have access to my Fab Friend's makeup bag.  (That statement is FAR funnier than you know.)
  • If we arrange the marriage, we probably already LIKE our future daughter- or son-in-law.  That's a huge bonus in my book because most people drive me nuts.
  • We are assured that they'll always return home for holidays because their parents live within 10 miles of each other. 
 We haven't yet starting planning the nuptial celebration but we've planted the seed in our offsprings' minds.  Neither of them seemed particularly perturbed by the idea.  Granted, I imagine they both consider their mothers about half nuts anyway so they probably think we'll move on to some other hare-brained scheme before long.

They'll spend middle school years apart.  We'll plot the high school reunion meeting later.  I can picture it now....their eyes will meet across the crowded gym floor with the thumping lyrics of "If You Leave" playing in the background.  She will shyly glance at the floor while he makes his way over to ask her to dance....or maybe that's a Molly Ringwald movie I'm thinking of.

Regardless, it's nice to know that the future of one of my children is settled.  Phew.  That was WAY easier than I'd imagined.  Now, to work on Thing 1....

If you like my blog, share it.  Or Like my FB page to get updates.  Or subscribe to the e-mail list.  Or make a comment below.  If you don't like it, well...just try not to hurt my feelings.  I'm sensitive. 


Sunday, June 9, 2013


"Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?”
― Kurt Vonnegut

I am censored.

I am censored not by the police and not by the government but I am censored nonetheless.  Two people who have been closest to me are the ones who have said to me, "DO NOT write about me."   Even though I don't use names in my blog, there are people who are (or, rather, WERE) very close to me who don't want to appear here.

I think it's odd.

I won't write about these two people.  I won't write about any of our shared experiences.  I won't write about anything they've said to me or done with me. I am referencing them here right now because no one on earth has an idea of who these two people are.  THEY know who they are, of course, and they're going to be MAD that I'm even writing this much, I would guess.  But perhaps they no longer read the blog.  After all, they were incensed when they saw themselves here (one person had real references and the other one imagined), so I would assume that the oblique references right now are KILLING them.

We all see ourselves differently than our peers see us.  When I look at myself, I see someone who is irrevocably screwed up.  I see every single one of my flaws and I rarely see the good in me.  Others look at me and see both my flaws and the parts that make me good.  Still others only see the good parts. Perhaps those two people were afraid to see which parts of them I see.

I asked another friend permission to write about her.  She thought what I wrote was funny...and true.  She shared it with her family members.  They thought it was funny.  No one was hurt by it.  My intention is never to harm.  I only want to tell the truth as I see it.  Is that wrong?

I suppose the truth can be hurtful.  Sometimes, our actions are less than noble.  Sometimes we hurt people we don't intend to hurt.  But this blog has become an amazing gift that I have given myself.  It has freed me to explore layers and nuances of my experiences in a way that is unlike any other.  It's scary to bare your thoughts in a public forum.  But it's also freeing.  I explore my own selfishness and weird quirks out loud and, in doing so, I bring light to the parts of me that I didn't even know existed:  I can be more thoughtful and kind than I knew; I can be more fair than I thought possible.

Why wouldn't someone close to me want to be part of this experience?

The only thing I can think of is fear.  In bringing my own truth to light, I would potentially expose their truths.  And maybe they are afraid of their own truths.  Or maybe they simply don't want to see their truths the way I see them.  Neither of them are aware how much it pained me that they excluded themselves from this blog.  Neither of them understand that by excluding themselves here they are effectively excluding themselves from my life.

I read something recently (and I would attribute it here but I can't remember where I read it) about a person who went in to see a movie.  The movie was about his life and he was the star.  He saw himself exactly as he was. But then, he went into another movie and it was about his mother's life.  In it, he was a VERY different person.  He was sometimes rude and insensitive.  He went into another movie and it was his best friend's life.  Again, he was almost unrecognizable to himself.  People see us differently than we see ourselves.  It is sometimes painful to see yourself in the eyes of someone else.  I know it can be very difficult for me to accept certain truths about myself...but I am fairly brutal with myself and always willing to accept the worst about me.

Is it unfair of me to want to write about EVERYTHING?  Am I being insensitive to their feelings?  I don't know.  I'm still working through that.  All I know is this:  I gave each of those people my whole heart and I would have never put them in an unflattering light.  I practically have made it a full-time hobby to make fun of myself...not others.  Well, at least not others I KNOW anyway. 

I realize my tongue is cutting sometimes and my so-called "wit" can be acerbic.  But I wouldn't hurt the people I care least not intentionally.  I guess they didn't want an unintentional barb to whiz through the 'net.

So fine.  I won't write about you.  Or you.  But I hope you'll know that this means that there will be forever a part of me that is closed to you.  Here's where I throw in the "na na na na boo boo" chant, I think.  Because hurt begets hurt, doesn't it?

Add your name to the list if you don't want to see yourself here.  Or, even better, help me understand why you WOULDN'T want me to write about you.

(I am so sticking my tongue out right now...)


Can You Live Safely Without Fear?

“There are two kinds of fears: rational and irrational- or in simpler terms, fears that make sense and fears that don't.”
                                                       ― Lemony Snicket

Note:  There may be some triggers in this post.  If you have triggers, please don't read this.  If you don't know what a trigger IS, you're probably safe to read it!

I am not a fearful person.  I have a tendency to leave doors unlocked, windows opened and curtains...well, who needs 'em?  I am all too aware that the dangers we, as women, face are often not from strangers but from the men who are a part of our lives.

  • According to the U.S. Office on Violence Against Women, one in four women have experienced severe physical violence at the hands of someone they know.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 4.8 MILLION physical assaults and rapes occur against women annually.
  •  Women who were sexually victimized as adults are more likely to report a history of childhood sexual abuse, according to a research study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice.  
I could go on and on with statistics but, since I feel a little ill after doing some preliminary research, I'm just going to let it stand that women are more likely to be victimized by someone they know.

When I was in college, I went sunbathing on a hill just across the street from the campus.  It was a place where we sunbathed often but this time, I went alone and I went after just about everyone had left campus for the summer.  I relaxed in the early summer air and I minded my own business while reading a book.  At some point, a man came by.  He was friendly and smiley and he asked me directions to Cameron Village.  I pointed the way and explained how to get there on foot.  As I talked, he moved closer.  Thinking nothing of it, I continued my explanation until I realized he had actually pulled his penis out of his pants.  I stopped talking and he took over, telling me exactly what he intended to do.  I don't remember his exact words now, but I do remember my reaction.

Disgusting Man: And I'm gonna (vulgarity, vulgarity, expletive, expletive)....

Me (smiling and friendly with his personal business in my face):  No, thank you!

Disgusting Man: (Continuing his litany of vulgarity)

Me (still smiling but shaking my head, in a very friendly fashion):  No, thank you, really.  No thank you.

Disgusting Man: (Vulgarity, vulgarity)

Me (smiling broadly):  No, really.  No thank you.
I reached back for my shirt to find some cover for myself since I was (obviously) feeling increasingly uncomfortable.  The vulgar man grabbed it out of my hand and told me I wouldn't be needing it.  At that point, I crab-crawled backward as fast as I could, stumbled to my feet and ran as quickly as my bare feet could carry me across the street.  I was shaken and slightly nauseous but I did get away from him.  He was a coward and we were in a public place.  He didn't follow me but ran away in the other direction.

Other experiences have haunted me more than this one because they were at the hands of people I knew, but this is an example of how quickly and easily a woman is victimized.  I don't want to be afraid.  I don't want to feel like I have to walk in groups.  And I don't.  I go everywhere alone.  Sometimes I go at night.  Sometimes I go in the MIDDLE of the night.  I refuse to live in fear.  Most of my friends say I am not living fearlessly but stupidly.

I want to trust people.  I do.  A couple of incidents happened just this year, however, that lead me to believe that people simply (sadly) cannot be trusted.  I won't go into details of either incident but, suffice it to say that I felt violated by both.  My trust was misplaced and I was deeply saddened by one incident and frightened by the other.  Both have led me to believe that I need to make some changes in my behavior and the things I do to protect myself. 

What do you do to feel safer?

If you like my blog, share it.  Or Like my FB page to get updates.  Or subscribe to the e-mail list.  Or make a comment below.  If you don't like it, well...just try not to hurt my feelings.  I'm sensitive. 

An Open Letter to My Sons' Future Roommates, Significant Others and/or Spouses

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
                                                        ― Benjamin Franklin

Dear Future Loved Ones,

First of all, you HAVE to know that there is only so much a mother can do.  People are just...wired...the way they come.  I've learned that genetics has a huge role to play, so you might want to look at their grandparents.  Or even their great grandparents.  The blame does rest somewhere, but hopefully, it doesn't rest with me.

You may not believe this, but before Thing 1 was born, I was determined to parent intentionally.  I decided that I would read the books and do the research and be fully involved in raising human beings who were nice.  And fairly normal.  And equipped to deal with life's trials.  I wanted them to be people that YOU could live with and maybe even ENJOY living with.  So, I set out to parent them with my own limited skill set and negligible natural nurturing ability.

This weekend, we went over the magical uses of bleach in cleaning.  If they are trying to tell you that they don't know HOW to scrub a toilet, please hand them a clean soft cloth and point them in the direction of the bathroom.  They know how.  They've done a LOT of toilet scrubbing even if they won't admit it.

But there are other things I'm teaching them, too.  And, believe it or not, I do much of this with YOU in mind, Future Loved Ones.  See, I don't want you to hate me.  I really just want you to give me the Gold Star of Parenting.  Can you do that, Future Loved One?  I really just want you to LIKE ME.

So, here are a few of the things I'm doing now with you in mind (you can thank me later or at least ensure that I wind up in a nursing home without the really LARGE cockroaches):

  1. I teach them about conflict.  We discuss that you simply can't have relationships...ANY relationships...without conflict.  AND, conflict is resolved through intentional communication.  We use feeling words in my house.  For example, "I felt annoyed when you sat on my head while I was playing that video game."  We discuss our actions.  "I sat on your head was THERE."  And we discuss the resolution. "I wanted to hit you when you sat on my head, but instead, I discussed my feelings with you.  I'd appreciate it if you never again sit on my head."  Naturally, sometimes I arrive in the middle of a conflict when fists are already flying, but I pull them apart and we go over the communication thing again.  
  2. I teach them about kindness and caring.  We don't kill bugs in my house.  (OK, we DO kill those tiny little microscopic ants that seem to invade the house every spring...but I simply can't count those things as living creatures.)  We trap spiders and take them outdoors.  We try to rescue the animals that our homicidal cat, Charlie, brings in through the cat door.  We respect all creatures, great and small.  If you ask one of my kids to kill a bug, they will get a water glass instead to escort the bug out of doors.  Especially if it's Waterford glass (that's totally an inside joke that I'm not going to explain here...lends an air of mystery, doesn't it?) 
  3. I teach them about relationships.  Everything they learn NOT to do, they learn from me.  Their mother is a complete disaster when it comes to relationships...ALL they've learned what NOT to do from the master.  Besides, we also have episodes of the Gilmore Girls playing continually in the background.  If you can't learn how to treat people from 42 minutes of a television dramedy, then you simply aren't paying attention.
  4. I teach them about life's little frustrations.  You cannot grow up with me as a mother without experiencing a myriad of hiccups and bumps along the way.  I am, to put it mildly, a maddening human being.  They've grown up with me.  They fully expect people to break out into song and/or dance and to call them anything but their own names (e.g., Frito Lay, Thing 1, Thing 2, Dr. Pepper, Tinky-Winkys, Monkeys, Pepsi, Chirruns, etc.).  If they can live with me, they can live with ANYONE. 
  5. I teach them that, above all, coffee is the most important thing in life.  You probably think I'm joking.  I'm not. Thing 1 is going to be a fabulous coffee drinker.  He won't be the "bring you coffee in bed" type because he's in a veritable coma in the morning.  But he will appreciate it when YOU bring HIM coffee in bed.  Thing 2 is going to be the "make you breakfast and bring you coffee in bed" type.  You're welcome.
Future Loved Ones, I know that my kids are easy to love.  They're cute and smart and funny.  They have quirks, yes, but I think they're good human beings.  They've been recycling I don't even know how long.  And deforestation drives them nuts.  They are usually kind but they enjoy America's Funniest Home videos tremendously so they obviously have a little bit of edge to them.

Be nice to my hoodlums, Future Loved Ones.  Their tiny little hearts were broken by divorce and I'm sure that's going to come into play.  Just remember that those wounds CAN heal with time and patience.  We're doing the best we can to keep them whole and feeling secure.   They might be scared of commitment or they may even believe it isn't possible...but I know that, if you're really RIGHT for each other, you can make things work.

Try to overlook me, if you can.  I am impossible to get along with and as long as you understand that from the beginning, we'll work through things.  I'll keep my nose out of your business and offer advice and my company only when asked.  I do look forward to meeting you someday.

Until then, Future Loved Ones, guard your own hearts.  Keep yourselves safe and as unwounded as possible.  Life scars us all, I understand, but I hope that your scars will be only on the surface and few and far between.  Regardless of your scars and your quirks, though, we will love you the best way we know how.  As a matter of fact, we love you already.  

With much love,
Your future Second (or Third or Fourth) Mother

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Behaviors I Simply Can't Control

“It is impossible to understand addiction without asking what relief the addict finds, or hopes to find, in the drug or the addictive behaviour.”
― Gabor Maté

I am sitting in Nirvana.  Mecca.  I have found the Holy Grail.  I am living the Ultimate Dream.  I am surrounded by riches untold.  Imagine, for an instant, your Personal Happy Place.  Close your eyes and just be there for a moment.  What does it smell like?  What sounds come to mind?  Doesn't it feel so good to go there for only a second just in your mind?  I am THERE.  Right now. 

My Happy Place is a bookstore.  I know that some edgier, far more earth-aware and community-friendly people prefer the independent bookstores run by bespectacled women in Birkenstocks who smell ever so slightly of earth and flowers.  But I am talking about the BIG BOX CHAIN of Barnes & Noble.  You hipsters will be thrilled to know that the origins of B&N were not unlike those corner book shops you favor currently.  It was started in the 1960's by the company's current chairman, Leonard Riggio.  He was an employee at the New York University bookstore while he attended school and decided he totally had the bookselling number.  He opened up a store in Greenwich Village with a small investment and a fairly plain name (his gift did not lie in naming): The Student Book Exchange (SBX).  He was pretty good at it.  By the 1970's he had six more stores.  He was really good at all of that, too, and managed to acquire a flagship bookstore on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue with the name of, you guessed it, Barnes & Noble.  Today, Barnes & Noble has morphed into the bookstore and internet sales mecca you know and love.  It's a Fortune 500 company with almost 700 stores nationwide not to mention one of the biggest e-commerce sites on the 'net.  And it's MY Happy Place.

All of that, believe it or not, is an aside.  I have a tendency to get curious about things and look them up immediately.  Since this is my blog, I get to share all of the information (or at least tasty tidbits) I learn.  My children are accustomed to this and are never surprised when, in the middle of an evening dinner discussion, I leap up and say "We HAVE to learn more about this!" and the Google-fest begins.

So, I walked into the B&N tonight with a smile on my face and my ever-present Nook tucked into my purse.  One of my FAVORITE things about the Nook (over the Kindle competitor) is that I get to go into any B&N store any time I want and read books...for free.  With Starbucks.  (Did I mention the word "nirvana?")  At the sight of ALL THESE books, though, my eyes glaze over and I begin to actually moan in my mind (although, admittedly, I think I moan out loud sometimes during these bookstore adventures).  "Oooh, I want to read THAT!"  "Oh, I had no IDEA he had a new book out.  Where have I been?"  "THAT looks interesting."

The displays beckon an addict like me:  New in Paperback!  New Arrivals!  For Grads!  Noteworthy Selections!  Must Reads!  Classic Favorites!  Everywhere I look there is something new to see.  I do have to admit feeling a little smug, though, when I stopped at the Noteworthy Selections display and realized that I had read about 75% of their choice tidbits.

As much as I love (love, adore...I mean, REALLY LOVE) my Nook, I do admit that I miss actual books sometimes.  The Nook satisfies my need for instant gratification (I can have ANY BOOK I WANT RIGHT NOW!) and the light and adjustable font size really have done wonders during my marathon reading sessions (I can read HOURS longer without tiring on the Nook which is great for my eyes and TERRIBLE for dealing with my cluttered house).  But books!  Oh, I just spent a good 20 minutes wandering around stroking (LITERALLY STROKING) book covers and even opening a book wide to stuff my nose into the middle of it (sorry to whoever buys that copy of Khaled Hosseini's And the Mountains Echoed...I couldn't HELP IT).  I will STILL stop by the Bargain Books section on my way out because I simply cannot resist a hardback with a price tag of under $7.

I am in my Happy Place.  And I have Starbucks.  And I can read a little taste of And the Mountains Echoed while I'm here.

Addictive behaviors CAN be fun...

If you like my blog, share it.  Or Like my FB page to get updates.  Or subscribe to the e-mail list.  Or make a comment below.  If you don't like it, well...just try not to hurt my feelings.  I'm sensitive. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My So-Called Single Mom Life

"I'm a single parent.  What's your superpower?"
                         --From a bumper sticker

It's after 4:30 a.m. on a Tuesday morning.  I've been awake since just after 3 a.m. but I decided that it would behoove me to toss and turn for more than an hour.  3 a.m. to 5 a.m. sleep is often elusive.  My doctor told me a few years ago to cut the caffeine but who can LIVE without caffeine?  I woke up thinking about the gazillion things that have to be done here in the last week of school and my brain exploded into about 5 million tiny to-do lists that forced me down to the kitchen for what?? Oh, that's right...more caffeine.

Destined for a life of fuzzy slippers and misshapen housedresses
I am tired.  Not just because it's the wee hours of the morning and my brain is on fire.  No, I'm tired because I have to think of EVERYTHING.  ALL the time.  This is, naturally, my own fault because if I had to pin blame on who made me a single mother my finger wouldn't waste any time at turning on me and pointing directly in my face.  Oh, you didn't have it so BAD when you were married, did you?  You whiny, silly creature.  Well, THIS life is what you get when you turn your nose up at marriage, missy.  

So, yeah, I know it's my fault that I ended up here.  And now, as I tell my children all the time about life, I have to deal with the consequences.

On any given day, I:
  • get the kids up, lunches made, out the door (one in the car, one on the bus)
  • feed the dogs and the cat
  • buy groceries
  • pay the household bills
  • worry about the gutters that need cleaning and the wood that is rotting on my house
  • mow the lawn
  • make dinner
  • clean up after dinner
  • think about what's for dinner tomorrow night
  • worry about that light on my car's dashboard that keeps coming on
  • think about when I need to change the car's oil
  • worry about trying to figure out what NEW car I need and, even better, how to pay for it
  • go to work and try not to focus on what needs to be done at HOME so I can get my stuff at WORK finished
  • figure out summer camp schedules/plans
  • wonder if I will be able to take a REAL vacation again...ever
  • worry about how my kids are suffering in their broken family lives
 That's a partial list.  I think I'll build on it as more things come to me.  The point is this:  I don't have a partner.  I can't say to anyone "Hey, if you'll mow the lawn, I'll make dinner!"  There are no bargains to be struck.  Things slide.  And that's all my fault, too.  Because, quite honestly, I COULD get it all done if I just FOCUSED.  I could work from sun up to sun down and some of the hours in between and my house could be clean, my lawn could be mowed and my children's clothes would be all put away instead of draped over the ends of their beds waiting for THEM to put them away.  But I don't have that kind of focus.  I don't have the personality that thrives on work, work, work.  Things slide. And I wake up at 3:00 a.m. worrying about all the things that are sliding.

So, I make bargains with myself.  OK, if I can get dinner made and the kids started on homework BEFORE 7:30 p.m., then I can take a walk.   Or, if I get three loads of laundry done today (which requires one load going in first thing in the morning and the second load started at lunch), then I can watch 30 minutes of the Gilmore Girls before bed.  

I realize that moms who are married are ridiculously busy and overwhelmed, too.  I know all about that.  But, here's the thing:  at the end of the day, you have someone to look over at (in loathing or in love) and say, "MAN, today SUCKED, didn't it?"  And you have someone there who loves those little hoodlums just as much as you do.  And you have someone there who can say, "Screw the laundry, let's watch the whole first season of 24!" And, somehow, just having that other person there makes all the crap a little easier to deal with.  All I have is a mirror.  And that mirror is often so harsh and judgmental.  Crappy mirrors.  Remind me to add "get rid of mirrors" to my to-do list.

OK, fine. I'm having a little pity party.  Mostly because it's 5:00 a.m. and the last week of school and I have so many undone things on my list that really must be done and I'm TIRED.  And there are things that WON'T get done and I'll feel guilty about them for the next three months until the new list of Things to Feel Guilty About overwhelms the current list and I forget all about the transgressions of early 2013 because they've been replaced b the NEW transgressions.

Endless, vicious, single mom guilt circles.

I've vented enough for today.  But it's too late to go back to sleep.  Guess I'll start some laundry.  Maybe scrub some floors.  WHERE is that to-do list???

If you like my blog, share it.  Or Like my FB page to get updates.  Or subscribe to the e-mail list.  Or make a comment below.  If you don't like it, well...just try not to hurt my feelings.  I'm sensitive. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Understanding Introverts

“The last introvert in a world of extroverts. Silence: my response to both emptiness and saturation. But silence frightens people. I had to learn how to talk. Out of politeness.”
                                                                     ― Ariel Gore

I'll have to admit something:  I spend a LOT of time alone.  Like, a LOT of time alone.  And I don't mind it usually because I'm actually a partial introvert.  People who know me are often surprised by that because I have such a LARGE extroverted side.  When I'm in a group, I am often loud and boisterous.  I tell stories and crack jokes and yell at people from across the room.  But I also don't mind the quiet time I get at dawn with my two four-legged beasts and a pot of coffee brewing.

What I DON'T understand, however, is people who are mainly introverts...the people whose extroverted side is hidden under layers of solitude so deep that they don't even LOOK for it.

I have an introverted child.

Moms who like wearing sock monkeys on their heads?

Extroverts say this in a whisper almost like we would say something like "My child is addicted to drugs."  We say it because we cannot, for the life of us, figure out how it happened.  We scratch our heads and bound into their rooms (uninvited and, for the most part, unwelcome) saying "HI!  Is there anything you want to TALK about?"  The introverted child blinks at us and slowly shakes his head no.  We bow our heads, dramatically.  Defeated and deflated, we walk away thinking that somehow this child doesn't LOVE us.  This child isn't CONNECTING with us.  It isn't the truth...we ARE connecting.  It's just that we have to figure how how to meet them where they are instead of the way that is most comfortable for us.

I have spent a great deal of time studying introverts because I want to understand the child who lives with me in a seemingly very different world.  My former-mother-in-law is a genius about this sort of stuff.  She has built a very successful career coaching people about this very sort of thing in business.  (OK, I don't want to diminish what she does...she's TRULY amazing and fabulous and has a very successful business and I will at some point write an entire blog about her if she would let me.) She gave me a book several years ago called Mother Styles:  Using Personality Type to Discover Your Parenting Strengths.  If you have a child who is markedly different from yourself, you will DEFINITELY want to buy this book.  I've read and referred back to it about ten gazillion times so my copy is fairly worn at this point.

I am an ENFP on the Myers Briggs scale.  If you don't know your Myers Briggs personality type, I highly suggest you learn more about yourself using a free online test to start with.  There are qualified professionals who administer this test but this little test will help you understand the basics. Myers Briggs offers 16 different personality types based on preferences.  My son is most likely an INTJ or an ISTJ (which would be the EXACT opposite of me).

As an ENFP, I YEARN for acceptance and approval.  I get very passionate about things...about EVERYTHING, really.  I loathe details and am easily able to drop what I'm doing (in the middle of whatever it is) and head off in an entirely different direction.  I enjoy people...talking with them and learning to understand them (until they bore me) and I truly need to feel appreciated and loved all the time.  In a word, I am INTENSE.  And, yes, I know...I'm EXHAUSTING.

As an opposite personality type, my son spends a lot time internally-focused.  He really doesn't care about other people's feelings (he doesn't want to HURT their feelings...he just doesn't spend any time THINKING about other people's feelings).  He makes decisions logically based on rational thought.   He is constantly gathering information.  He values intelligence, knowledge and competence.

So, take a look at the above.  I am basically a flighty nutcase and my son is the grounded reasonable person.

This morning's conversation went something like this:

Me:  Are you HAPPY?

Son:  Well, sure.

Me:  Do you hate that question?

Son:  Well, I don't mind it.  You ask it fairly FREQUENTLY though.

Me:  Should I not ask you if you're happy?

Son:  Perhaps if you decreased the FREQUENCY of the question, it would be better.  Say, maybe only ask once a week instead of five times a day.

Me:  I'm just concerned about whether or not you're HAPPY.

Son:  We've been over this.  I am not UNHAPPY.  I'm just never going to be happy like YOU are happy. 

I must drive my son absolutely nuts.  He has gathered huge quantities of information about me in his short life with me and I think he's determined that if anyone is going to be reasonable and rational and make good decisions in our household, he is going to have to be involved.  What I'm trying to get him to understand is that my way WORKS most of the time...except when it doesn't.  He has learned to deal with the ebbs and flows of excitement and adventure that surround me on things as mundane as a trip to the grocery store.  I am certain he will breathe a sigh of relief when he walks out of my house to begin his life on his own .

I try to accommodate my introverted son.  I know he doesn't like surprises (and I LOVE them!) and I know he doesn't really want to talk to me all the time.  I am growing accustomed to this and I work hard to make sure he feels as comfortable as possible in my hectic life.  I try to warn him as far in advance as possible of changes in plans.  I try to avoid changing my mind about dinner in the middle of going to dinner ("Oh! I KNOW we were going for Mexican...but let's try SUSHI instead!").  I try not to let it hurt my feelings when he's not jumping up and down about my latest announcement ("It's FAMILY GAME NIGHT!"  or "We're going to the DRIVE-IN!").

My poor son will spend a few more years getting tossed around by his mother's whims.  And I will continue to desperately thumb through the pages of Mother Styles in an attempt to be the stable and thoughtful adult figure he requires.  Hopefully, the one point that I get across to him will be the fact that life really IS a Great Adventure.  And, maybe, someday he'll find that there IS joy in having a mother like me.

If you like my blog, share it.  Or Like my FB page to get updates.  Or subscribe to the e-mail list.  Or make a comment below.  If you don't like it, well...just try not to hurt my feelings.  I'm sensitive.