Straight Outta Steubenville: "This Happens Every Friday Night"

I will admit up front that I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the Rape in Stuebenville drama. I live under a rock, a rock that bears a strong resemblance to my four kids, my jobs, life and all of the crushing responsibility each of those things carries.  But now, having caught up on all of it, I'm a little angry at myself for tuning it out because I was "so busy".

I read a great blog post a few nights ago, thanks to a friend sharing the link on facebook (and yes, Kit, AMEN).  In this post, a mom laments the fact that we still have to teach our girls how to avoid being raped. And she promises to raise boys who won't rape girls. I loved every word of this post, and found myself nodding in agreement.

When I was done reading, and had given her words some time to sink in, the reality of this world hit me: we, as enlightened moms and dads, can promise to raise good boys into men for the rest of our days. We can pinky swear and take oaths and write moving blog posts about it.

But we will always, ALWAYS and forever have to keep teaching our girls how to avoid being raped.

Because that's the world we live in. It's the world our children, our daughters and our sons, live in.

For every one of us enlightened parents sitting at the dinner table espousing good choices and compassion and love, there is another parent, at another dinner table, talking about sluts and drunken whores and girls who ask for it.

These are the people who say "Boys will be boys" and "She shouldn't have worn that outfit".  They are the same people who are so sad about the blemished records these fellas are going to have from now on.  The people who are lamenting the fact that these swell kids made "one stupid mistake" and now it's going to haunt them for the rest of their lives.  These same people are the ones who put the blame on the victim, stating that SHE put herself in harm's way when SHE decided to get shitfaced that night.

Yes. All involved that night made bad choices. The difference is, some of those choices were felonies.

When I read the details about this case I cannot help but see my kids and their friends. My daughter is 17, I have a son who is almost 16.  I have lulled myself into a nice safe cocoon of complacency thanks to the fact that both of these kids are "good". Neither one has ever given me a reason to doubt them or to question their behavior. They both disdain drinking and drugs, they both hang out with peers who keep their noses clean and study hard and have plans for the future.

But I need to wake up. I need to shake off this false sense of security.  Because this could have been my kids.

I didn't realize this until yesterday. In fact, I had already decided to abort this post, thinking that I had nothing relevant to add to the conversation. Others have very eloquently said the things I wanted to say, made the points I wanted to make.

Besides, my kids don't live in a sleepy rural football town. They go to school in an affluent Minneapolis suburb with children who have been raised to respect all people, kids from good homes, homes with money and morals and high standards, right?


Through the parental grapevine, which is light-years behind the grapvine of our children, I have heard things that scare me. Things that shock me and sadden me and make me want to pull my kids out of school and move them to a tiny cabin in the woods where Pa will play fiddle for them while I make cornhusk dolls and sew their clothes.

It's not just the school district that my kids attend. It's the parochial schools, the pricey elite private ones, the public schools a couple cities away that are less-affluent than ours.
It's ALL of them. It's any building that houses large groups of teenagers who are armed with hormones, and cellphones with data plans.

I've heard stories of popular boys being cruel to less-popular girls. Stories of vandalism and stories of Twitter accounts that exist only to trash other kids.  Stories of parties where kids bring mom's Xanax and dad's Jameson. Stories of kids who have too much. Too much technology and not nearly enough common sense.

That's how I know that despite my good intentions as a parent, what happened to those kids in Ohio could easily happen to my kids. And I'm speaking about ALL of the kids in Ohio, the victim, the rapists, the ones who stood by or retweeted the pictures or shared the YouTube links.

Because of this, I know that besides raising my boys to be good men, I have to raise my daughter to be a cautious woman. I have to teach her how to avoid being raped. I wish it wasn't so, but it is.

Through everything I've read about the Steubenville case, one single statement stays stuck in my mind.  I keep thinking it, over and over, like a skipping record.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said this about it:

"I'm afraid people are going to walk away and say this was all about Steubenville," DeWine said. "It's not. It's a cultural problem."

"I'll guarantee that there are crimes very similar to this that occur every Friday night and every Saturday night in communities across this country where you have people, particularly young people, who are drinking too much and a girl is taken advantage of, and a girl is raped," he said.

Such incidents stem from a larger social problem -- a rampant lack of respect and human decency, he said.

"One of the lessons of life is we have to take care of each other, and we have to try to help people and we have to do what's right." DeWine said. "And there were precious few people that night that were doing what was right."

This happens every Friday night. 

And that, my friends, is why we have to keep teaching our daughters not to get raped.

TGIF, right?


Weight Watchers....Heeeeere's Jenny (again)

I can't quit you, Weight Watchers.

If you have read this blog for a while, or have the luck of knowing me in "real life" (said with sarcasm) then you know I was on the Weight Watchers late last summer/fall. And I kicked ass...almost 30 lbs. of it. I think my last recorded number was 28.6 or something like that. I round up, you know. But awfully close to 30, which is an amazing amount of weight to lose.

But then, like everything else I seem to pick up and excel at, I stopped. I stopped on October 29, 2012, which also happened to be the day I went to court with my ex-husband. Hmm.. coincidence?  I was a bundle of nerves leading up to that day, and the endless waiting for the judgment turned me into a food vacuum.  Throw the holidays in there and it was like the Perfect Storm of emotion.

Give me a feeling and I'll give you a hundred different ways to eat it.  I'm like the Barefoot Contessa of emotional eating.

I fell off the WW wagon. Actually, threw myself off is more accurate. I rarely do anything half-assed.

Oh, I knew what was happening. I noticed my clothes getting tighter, felt my stamina slipping away, woke up with that nasty heartburn again.  Every other morning I'd wake up and tell myself, "Jenny, today is the day you're going to do it again. You don't need Weight Watchers, that's just a scheme. A money making scheme. You can do this yourself!!!"

I tried it on my own, just keeping mental notes about what I ate. Like running a caloric tab in my head. Ha.

I downloaded a Faux WW app onto my phone.  Gave up on that one when I couldn't figure out how to use their "Pretend Points" calculator.

Finally I decided to do Weight Watchers online. The commercials made it look good and easy.  Cute couples, the solo lady with the smart gray haircut joking about wine...hey!  I could do it just like them!

I made it about 3 days doing the online thing.  That's when I decided to finally be honest with myself and admit it:


It's humiliating and embarrassing to admit.  I'm funny in this way:  It's pretty much impossible for me to lie.  Seriously...I get nervous and all moral and start to sweat. I'll never be a professional liar. But for some reason, I can lie to myself with out batting an eyelash.

One night, a couple of weeks ago, I found myself lying in bed, eating the remains of a bag of pita chips. Yes, lying there because sitting up and shoving them into my mouth would have required too much effort. And then, one of the kids walked in. Walked in on me doing this.

Now, there are many things you could be doing in your bedrooms that you wouldn't want your kids to walk in and see you doing.  Seeing as how I'm a self-loathing celibate single person, my list is probably not as long as most of yours but still...there are things you just don't want their innocent little eyes seeing. (For the record, the number one thing I don't want anyone to see me doing is putting on pantyhose..yes, that tops being caught having sex, alone or otherwise)

At that moment, I saw myself through my child's eyes.  Opening mom's door, her bedroom a maze of pictures and scarves and fleece jackets and sensible shoes and laundry baskets...and where is Mama? Oh, there she is, in her bed, on her side like Jabba the Hut, a crinkly bag of Stacy's Pita chips laid out next to her like a little newborn baby.  There are crumbs on the sheets and on the front of mom's pajama top (which is a big Dave Matthews t-shirt but for the sake of storytelling it's a pajama top).  It's ten o'clock at night and she's watching Psych on Netflix and she's eating those pita chips like it's her last meal.

I sat up quickly, made what I'm sure was a lame comment about how I hadn't eaten much that day and I was "starving" and rolled myself out of bed to throw the bag away.  My kids aren't judgy beings, and I cannot think of a time they've pointed out my atrocious eating habits, but I knew what this child had seen wasn't good. I mean, eating in bed, late at night, while watching t.v. (although, I must say that Psych is hilarious).  Come on. I spend many hours a day lamenting my four freeloading roommates and their horrible habits...gee I wonder where they learn this stuff? 

And that was it. 

The next day I did a big shopping trip and prepped my kitchen.  The day after that I called Weight Watchers and had my Online subscription upgraded to a Meetings one. And then, the day after that one? I walked into my old Weight Watchers store and got on the scale.  Sweet Esther, the woman who checked me in, listened to me babble about how I tried to make it on my own and how I needed help...and then she looked at me in a way that kind of reminded me of a painting of Jesus surrounded by little kids and also how an asshole ex-boyfriend would look at you when you showed up at his dorm after a night of drinking peach schnaaps and listening to The Cure.  I decided to go with the Jesus one and when Esther said "Welcome Back, Jenny" I swear I heard angels singing. Or else it was the woman on the scale next to me.

So, I'm back at it. I may write Weight Watchers updates, and I'm tinkering with the idea of posting my actual weight, which right now is in Man territory. Yes, I'm 100% sure some of your husbands weigh less than me right now.  And not just the short skinny ones.  But, it's less than I was last summer when I first walked into that store.  Which is a positive.

My first week is over and done, went to get weighed in this morning and decided to stick around for a meeting. And as much as I loathe meetings of any kind, I'm glad I went. It's nice to be in a room with dozens of other people who have admitted that they can't do this alone. Makes me feel less weak.

Esther/Jesus was there again, and she acted cool like she didn't remember me. I took off my giant Uggs and my huge fleece jacket and stood before her clad only in my XXL yoga pants and a long sleeved tee from Target.  Stepped on the scale.

Esther/Jesus said: "You did good this week."

-4.6 pounds.

Yep...I did good. With a little help.


You Made It, Dummy...stop crying!


I got the "Congratulations" email last Thursday morning.  I was laying in bed, of course, stroking my phone like it was a tiny kitten in the still darkness that is 5:00 a.m. in Minneapolis.  I don't claim to be the Minneapolis Medium or anything, but I had a dream that night, a dream about an email from Listen To Your Mother. And in my dream, I had made it. You see, I had done a really awesome job of convincing myself that I sucked during my audition. Sucked like a Dyson, baby.  So kudos to my subconscious for keeping hope alive, right?

And my subconscious was spot on. We did it. I made the cast for the inaugural Twin Cities Listen To Your Mother show.  Despite the best efforts of my own self-doubting self, I did it.  Despite what I'm sure was the most Liz Lemon-y audition ever, I did it.  I quietly shrieked when I read the email, rolled over and hugged the dog and then basked in the glory for a bit before getting out of bed and starting my day. Those crazy LTYM ladies told me to keep a lid on it until they announced the lineup...have they no mercy? Aren't they writers themselves? Don't they know how HARD it is to sit on news like this?  Of course I let it slip to a couple of hens, I had to for fear of blowing up like Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.  Even my XXL yoga pants can't handle that, friends.

Now here I sit, on a Monday morning, watching giant snowflakes tumble out of the gray sky. I sit on my old battered Ikea loveseat, in front of my decrepit Dell (sans spacebar, ya know, makes for some interesting writing), and even I'm surprised at the tears falling down my cheeks. I'm a weeper by nature so waterworks are to be expected at any given moment with me, but these little drops...they are a bewilderment. 

Because these tears feel different than the ones I'm used to. They feel celebratory. They feel happy.

They feel validating.

Life has been hard for me, and for my kids. Not "lost my house in a tsunami" hard, and thankfully not "scary illness" hard, but it's been tough. And I've grown accustomed to it. Become familiar with it, not in a loving way but in a resigned way. You eat enough shit sandwiches, after a while you stop tasting them, if you know what I mean.

So getting news like this, seeing my name in black and white on a list with freaky-talented writers...seeing actual PROOF that I can accomplish something armed only with my words and shaky determination..it feels really good.  Like sit-on-the-couch-and-cry good. 

I started writing because I was mad and sad. I wanted a place to vent where I could speak honestly and openly and without worrying about my kids eavesdropping. I never thought that writing would become so important to me, even though as a little girl when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I answered very matter-of-factly and with a straight face: "Either a model or a writer." 

Guess what, little girl? One out of two ain't bad.

If you're a local friend, have a look-see at the Listen To Your Mother Twin Cities site and see about getting tickets, they're going fast. And please, take a moment to check out the cast list..you will see why I'm so grateful (and a bit shocked) to be listed among such talent. 


I Don't Hit My Kids

Mayhap I should get a bumper sticker that says it, eh?  Can you see it in the Costco parking lot? "MY KID IS AN HONOR STUDENT" "MY SON IS A MARINE" "MY OTHER CAR IS THE BATMOBILE" and then, on my Ford Focus: "I DON'T BEAT MY CHILDREN".

I don't talk about it very often, and when I do, it's in the company of good, trusted friends and usually after a few healthy servings of liquor.  It's not something one brags about, you see, but I think it's about time I boast:

I was beat up as a kid. A lot. Kicked, hit, slapped, punched a few times. Shoved, screamed at, embarrassed in front of friends and neighbors and sometimes complete strangers. It started when my mom married my stepfather, and continued until I was big enough and old enough and brave enough to fight back. The scars I bear are all in my head, I was lucky enough to never need stitches or a cast. The only doctors I needed then, and still need today, are the kind who try to mend broken minds.

My mind isn't completely broken, but I do have my own set of limps from the beatings I endured.  If you look up "Symptoms of adults who were abused as children" you'll pretty much find my eHarmony profile:

"Hi! I'm Jenny. I'm a divorced mom of four with low self-esteem and severe trust issues.  I like to eat and drink my feelings, and my feelings usually taste like inadequacy and panic.  I don't like to be touched but OMG do I love dogs!  If you're looking for a mate with strong family ties and great interpersonal skills, you might want to skip me.  However, if you have always wanted to be with someone who can't remember most of her childhood, I'm your gal. Plus I make a great bowl of lentils AND I love action/adventure movies. BOOM."

I didn't even remember what had happened, had virtually no memories of it, until I had a chat with a close friend after one of our high school reunions.  She had been unable to attend and wanted the deets. As I filled her in on who looked fabulous, who got fat, who was bald, who left with whom, she chimed in: "I still can't believe you turned out okay, Jenny." I laughed, a confused and nervous laugh..."What are you talking about?" I asked her.

"I mean, the way you were beat up all the time. It was awful. I remember the couple of times it happened in front of me, and it scarred me, Jenny. I can't believe you're as normal as you are."

I pressed her for more details, and as they spilled out I felt so detached, almost like I was listening to her read aloud from a book. A book about a girl who army-crawled out of a room, trying to avoid the punches and the kicks of a madman. A girl who sought refuge under her bed, looking for big feet under the hem of her Laura Ashley comforter while she sobbed big silent sobs.

After we said our goodbyes and made promises to meet up for lunch or dinner, I sat on the edge of my unmade bed. The kids were at school and I was alone,save for my sweet dog Walter. I sat there, quietly, for what felt like days but in reality was more like ten minutes. I remember shaking myself out of my fugue and getting on with the tasks of the day: the laundry, the cleaning, the facebooking. On with my normal life.

That night I woke up screaming. My dreams had morphed into black nightmares full of pain and sorrow and big fists and a red face, beaded with sweat and screaming at me. Images of my mom, watching. Standing in the background with her own, smaller, fists clenched. Doing nothing until it was over, and then I heard her voice: "Go apologize to her" she'd said. A man's voice, still choked with anger:   "I'm sorry."

I'm sorry. You know what? I'm sorry too. I sometimes wonder what I would have turned out like if I hadn't gone through those scary times. Would I be different? Would I be happier?  More well-adjusted?

I bet I would love massages.

I can't get massages, you see. Something in me recoils at the thought, and up until that phone call with an old friend I laughed it off as one of those "Crazy Jenny Things".  Now I kind of understand why I don't like them. I understand why I have trouble trusting anyone, even the people closest to me. I understand why I sometimes find myself paralyzed, unable to move from a spot because my mind has decided to take a break. Like it did when I was younger, after I pulled myself out from under my bed, dried my tears and winced as I put on my Lanz of Salsburg nightgown and tried to finish my homework.

I remember now, how I used to go about my days like everything was hunky-dory, like the biggest concern in my life was whether or not my hair made me look like Belinda Carlisle, not whether or not I was going to have the shit beat out of me later that night. I dealt with the teenage crap like most of us did, and even though I wouldn't call myself the Poster Child of Success I'd like to think I did okay.

But the biggest test, by far, was motherhood. Of course, the fact that I had successfully blocked out 99% of my childhood memories gave me a leg up on the whole "cycle of abuse" thing but it's not all about memories. Feelings can't be forgotten, they get stored away like Christmas decorations. I remember holding my first newborn as he cried for hours on end and feeling helpless, feeling stupid and feeling something else...rage.

The anger I felt as a mother was something of epic proportions. Never before had I felt such a seething hot surge of emotion, roiling and crashing into my head. Looking back, now I see that one thing I never learned to handle was the anger I felt as a young girl. I was furious. Furious that someone was hurting me, furious that nobody would help me. I did a great job of burying that fury, but having kids unearthed all of it.

But here's the kicker:

I don't hit my kids.

Do I get mad? Hell yes. You know the trite old saying, "I see red"? I really do see red. Like Red-O-Vision. My pulse quickens, my face gets hot, and sometimes I look down and see my own pale hands coiling into tight fists. A good shrink would tell me that the anger takes me back, back to fifth grade, back to the day I first got hit and looked at the giant red handprint on my ten year old thigh, looked at it with an almost comical disbelief. "He hit me!" I remember thinking. I remember my childish indignant anger.

That anger is still with me, and sadly it's still somewhat childish and still very indignant.


I yell sometimes. I swear. At my weakest, I slam things. I say things to them that I probably shouldn't, things that we talk about after the clouds break and the air in our house has stabilized. Oh, yes, there was that one time I took a swing at my eldest with a spoon I'd been stirring mac and cheese with, but in my defense, he's over six feet tall and it was Winter Break.

I don't hit my kids.

What's the point, Crazy? Is that what you're asking yourself, if you've read this far? I do have one, aside from my need to tell you that I DON'T HIT MY KIDS.

My childhood didn't turn me into a monster. It could have, oh so easily. I could have grown up into a horrible child abuser, or become a runaway or I could have tried to find safe love by having a baby of my own when I was 15. But I didn't. By the grace of God, or a guardian angel, it didn't destroy me. Maybe because the abuse didn't start until I was 10? Maybe because it stopped when I was in high school? Who knows.

I do know this: right now, this very second, there is a child being hurt. Someone you know, maybe a kid from your child's school or your church or down the street...they are being abused. Maybe a stepparent is punching them, maybe a mom is hurting them, maybe the stereotypical creepy uncle is touching their privates. Maybe you were hurt when you were little and innocent and defenseless. Maybe your spouse was abused.  Child abuse is epidemic, and we don't talk about it as openly and as honestly as we should. And that's a shame.

It occurred to me, one morning. My daughter was doing her Final in Culinary Arts and we woke up early to package up her supplies for the meal she's making this afternoon. I showed her how to julienne her carrots and we laughed about that old Saturday Night Live skit where Dan Aykroyd played Julia Child and cuts his finger (I've cut the dickens out of my finger!). As she and the rest of the kids left to catch the bus, they called out "Bye! Love you, mom!".

My kids have known grief. They've no doubt felt anger, too. But my kids have never felt that fear I felt, they've never fled a room in terror like I did. They've never had to face an adult who has just violated their rights and listened to a pathetic apology. They've never looked at my handprint on their bodies, rising up as an angry red welt.

I want those kids who have been hurt to know this, and I want the people who love them to know this: They will be okay. This will not ruin them. Get them some counseling, love them extra hard, be there for them. But believe me when I say, this will not wreck their lives.

You want to know how I know this is true?

Because I don't hit my kids.

And just to lighten the mood before I go, because you all know by now that I prefer laughs over tears, here's a dickens of a flashback:

The French Chef by y10566


How I Prepared for My Listen To Your Mother Audition..or, The Exact Opposite Way to Prepare for an Audition

First of all, I have to say that this was the coolest thing that's happened to me, as a "writer" so far (aside from having my favorite chick authors give me shout-outs on Twitter, because that was freaking amazing).  Do you know about Listen To Your Mother?  Started a few years back by the incredible Ann Imig, it's a show that takes place on or around Mother's Day in which local writers read a piece they've written that pertains in some way, shape or form, to motherhood.

To be honest with you I can't remember how I found out about it, pretty sure it was on one of my favorite local blogs, These Little Waves.  Or Marketing Mama.  (oy..I'm link-a-licious today, sorry). But the point is, I found out that they were going to be doing a Twin Cities show (for my non-Minnesota friends, that is what some people call the Minneapolis/St. Paul area even though for all intents and purposes you could really just say Minneapolis. We had Prince.).  And I read over their mission statement, thought about it for oh..maybe two seconds and then submitted a piece. The deadline for submissions was February 15th, and on that morning I second guessed my submission and decided to submit a different one.  That was the one they asked me to read at my audition, so YAY for self-doubt, right?

I got the audition email on a Saturday, and for the entire next week I freaked out. I freaked out silently, I freaked out loudly, I freaked out alone in my car and in front of my kids. The night before the audition, a few of my sweet hens gathered at my house to offer support, drink wine and eat Girl Scout cookies.  They listened to me read my essay, and then one of them suggested something different: Gillian said, "How about I read it, to you?".  At first I was all..huh? But then she started reading it.  And writer friends, let me tell you...have a friend read something of yours, out loud. Just do it. It was an almost transcendent experience (I'll admit that the wine and cookies added to the magic) and as far as prepping for something like a live reading goes..it was AWESOME.  It made me see that yes, I can sort of write, and the story I chose to read was a good one. Plus I wanted Gillian to tuck me in and read Goodnight Moon to me but that's another story for another therapy session.

So the morning of the audition arrived.  I decided that maybe having wine the night before wasn't the smartest thing to do but just between me and you I think drinking it kept my head from exploding so there you go. I chose to not buy any new clothes for the audition, partly because I'm broke and also partly because I am massive right now and don't want to spend my non-existent money on clothes this size.  Instead I perused my collection of burkas and decided upon a gray sweater burka that has served me well this winter. Yes, it is kind of pilly and all but it does a nice job of hiding my midriff and also accenting my slender wrists.

I went out on a limb as far as my bottom half goes, and instead of the usual yoga pants I wore the single pair of jeans that fit me right now.  They are about as Mom Jeans as it gets but the spandex to cotton ratio is such that it doesn't hurt when I sit down in them.  I added my insanely crazy black Danskos and there you have...THE AUDITION OUTFIT.  And yes, I'm cringing as I recall it.

My hair?  Forget it. I decided to wear it down, which means I walked into the room looking like the lovechild of Michelle Duggar and Doug Henning.  In hindsight, I should have either put it up in my usual School Marm bun or gone to my friend Kathryn's fabulous hair place for my biannual shearing.  But whatever.  It's over and done and I'm praying that my words overshadowed my frizz.

The actual audition was, to be truthful, anticlimactic. I had built this up into something huge and scary and imposing...AND IT WASN'T ANY OF THAT.  There were three women in the waiting area when I got there, and because we all are kind of the same sort of person we ended up gabbing and laughing. Two of them left, and then the woman before me went in for her audition. I'd like to say I am all professional and spent this time rehearsing my own stuff but I didn't. I eavesdropped. And she killed it, man. She read like a seasoned stage actress, with the right timbre and inflections and by the time she finished I was crying.  Sitting on a folding chair in the skinny hallway of a spooky-ish warehouse, crying.

And the women she was reading to?  They burst into applause. Literally, burst. I imagined her in there, taking bows and catching roses being thrown at her by her now-adoring fanclub sitting in her audience.

When she was escorted out I couldn't stop myself and gave her a hug. Because I'm on some sort of spectrum, I'm sure of it. Like, the "can't discern between creepy and friendly" spectrum.  I'm a hugger. She hugged back, though, so I don't think it was too weird.

I was ushered in, and of course at this moment realized that I hadn't printed out enough copies of my essay.  The ladies were cool about it though and put my psycho mind at ease.

I also discovered that when I'm nervous, I turn into Henny Youngman.  "Take my wife, please" except I got all jokey with the ladies.."I'm a preschool teacher and I read aloud every day..it would calm me down if some of you could squirm in your chairs or pick your noses or start crying, okay?"  Awkward pause. And then they laughed.  I also explained to them that I tend to rock back and forth when I read, and not to worry about it.  I think the only thing I didn't do for them is my Dustin Hoffman/Rainman impression.  Nervous Jenny is not a pretty sight, friends.

And then I read. My voice came out thin and high and reedy, and somewhere along the line I developed a nervous-sniff thing after every paragraph.  It went:

Read, read, read.  Sniff.
Read, read, read. Sniff.

Like a cokehead giving a speech.  And then, in the middle of my sweet and moving piece about motherhood, I stopped and said out loud:

"Gahh..I don't know where this sniffling is coming from. I'm sorry."

Yep. I did that. And at that exact moment, I actually felt their attention slip..I had interrupted them, like a good dream being disturbed by the alarm clock.  If the floor could have somehow opened up beneath me, and sucked me down into a swirling vortex waterslide-thing, it would have been nice.

But the floor remained intact, and I kept reading. When I was done, there was no burst of applause, no tears.  Somehow, I felt worse than I had when I walked in the door.  The ladies?  They were fabulous. Praised me, said nice things, offered me chocolate. All of the insecure crap I was feeling was of my own doing.  My least favorite personality trait, you know...when will I ever grasp the concept of liking myself? Being my own biggest cheerleader? I do it for everyone else in my life, but the person who needed it most that day was me, and I let myself down. 

As I drove home I rehashed the entire thing, and all I wanted to do was go eat something. William and Henry were with Big Daddy that weekend, so I went home and talked to my Molly a bit. And then we sat on the couch together and watched a couple episodes of Shark Tank. She and I laughed and gabbed and I was reminded of just how much I love my daughter. By the end of the day, my nerves were not so jangly and I decided that no matter the outcome, this was a really cool, really empowering experience.

So, to sum it up, here is what I took away from the day:

1. Print out as many copies of your piece as they say, and then print a couple more and put them in your purse.  Just in case.

2. Drink some water before you go in.  You may think you're Rico Suave cool but your throat will get dry.  And the last thing you want is a coughing fit.

3.  Have someone read your piece to you.  It helps.

4.  Be gentle with yourself.

5.  For God's sake, don't sniff.  And if you do? DON'T STOP READING TO POINT IT OUT.

6.  Map out your drive to the audition. Google that address and map it out. Because flipping out over directions will not help your nerves. I did this, by the way, because I know myself too well.  I wrote out the directions in Big Preschool Letters and clutched that sheet of paper the whole way there.  It was comforting.

They won't announce the Twin Cities cast for a few days.  And you know what? I'm not going all batshit crazy with worry about whether or not I made it.  If I do make it, I'll scream and laugh and shout it from the rooftops.

But if I don't make it? That'll be okay, too. It will hurt, no matter how tough I pretend to be, and there will be small, sharp pangs of envy and rejection, but it will be okay.

Because I did this, on my own. I write words for therapeutic reasons, and sometimes my words, they come out pretty.  To have them recognized in this way was an honor, no matter if I "make it" or not.

In my little world, I've already made it.

Writer friends?  Please, if you see this awesome group come to your neck of the woods, go for it. You won't be sorry.

I'm not.  Not one sniffing, rocking, Michelle Duggar bit.


A Single Mom Contest has turned me into a Freak

I can feel my self loathing growing as I type this.  But for some reason this odd, unfamiliar competitive streak in me has actually caused my appetite to decrease.  Yes, that's right. The woman who manages to eat while cleaning up vomit has found a temporary way to stifle "the hungries".

I am like The Little Engine That Could.

Only I'd probably be called:

The Big Vagina That Might

Please go cast a vote for The Happy Hausfrau.  If I win I promise I won't type the word "vagina" for a long time.

Vote here, my friends. 

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