Curiouser and curiouser

Please be advised, this one is going to get a little...graphic.

Ok, so I was psyched to get to the abode of Curious George, stingy tipper or not. It was Friday night and I was just glad to be out of the house and with a human. He had a nice home. I had the grand tour, and we ended up in the downstairs family room, complete with a popcorn machine (the big kind, with the wheels, like you see at school carnivals), a pool table and a drop down projection t.v. screen that took up an entire wall.

George opened up a bottle of wine, and we plopped ourselves down on the couch to get movie time started. I don't recall what movie it was that we watched...I think it may have been Killer Queen (yes the band, don't judge...they rocked). Or maybe it was Wedding Crashers, I don't know. One thing led to another, and I discovered another moniker for George: Ginormous George.

I won't go into too much detail, but will say a few words in hopes that the visuals will tell the tale. Redwood. Elephant trunk. Shetland Pony. Get it? Holy crap. Do the family planning sections in store pharmacies have a Big and Tall section? No way in hell was he doing his raincoat shopping in the same department as Average Joe.

Side note here: Although it may sound like I was giving it up at an alarming rate, please note that the events I am recalling took place over 4 or so years. And yes, I was a smart girl. No glove, no love. I am a certifiable hypochondriac who has lost nights of sleep worrying about thyroid disease and diabetes...no way can I even begin to let HIV or the other plethora of STD's join in that crazy parade.

George and I ended up dating for a few months. Little things (pardon the pun) kept bugging me, though. His daughter, who was Molly's age, apparently was on the chubbier side and he often expressed his disgust with her shape. Called her "hideous" and "a cow". As a mom, I was appalled. As a former/future fat girl, I was pissed.

The cheap aspect kept growing, too. On one particularly memorable date, he took me to a little hole-in-the-wall Thai place. Now, restaurants like this can be one of two things: charming, fabulous little hidden gems, just waiting to be discovered....or literally, holes in the wall. This was the latter. For one thing, they didn't serve booze. The ladies room had no seat on the toilet and a macabre collection of dead/dying bugs on the floor. The food was edible though, and the service was good, so I really do hope that they got their liquor license and hired an exterminator. Anyhoo. George had won a gift certificate for this amazing eatery at a silent auction for his daughter's school. Apparently, he got it for a song, go figure. After dinner the server brings over the bill. It was $21.50. The gift certificate was for $25.00. I tried to slip under the table when George asked the server if he could get cash back....yes, indeed it is the little things.

I think the final straw fell on my back about three months into our relationship. We were lying in my bed, having a little chat before George put on his CPAP mask (George suffered from sleep apnea, and I won't joke about that one. Actually, you can pretend that you are sleeping next to one of the guys in Top Gun. I preferred Iceman, myself). The conversation wandered towards things of a racier nature, like "Where is the strangest place you've had sex" and "what is the kinkiest thing you've done?". My answers were "in a porta-potty outside Champps downtown" and "I kind of like having my hair pulled". Imagine my surprise and clenching when George announced that he likes using anal beads on his ladies. Yes, anal beads. He added that the whole rear end thing was actually a fabulous turn on, the best sex ever. I'm pretty sure the only sound in the room after that was the hum of the apnea machine and the terrified whimpering of my sphincter.

What's the deal with that? I know I am somewhat sheltered, and maybe more than just a little conservative in the sack, but come on. Perhaps I am missing the best thing since string cheese, but I doubt it. I have never, ever considered letting anyone in the back entrance. Not once. I am a woman of a certain age, I've had four kids. The thought of even tapping on that particular door sounds painful, humiliating and messy. I pee my pants on a daily basis, I have zero desire to do number twosies in them as well. Add to that the thought of that third arm George was endowed with and the flames of desire started sputtering out, fast.

Things kind of petered out from then on, the last communication we had was an email I got from George:

Dear Jenny

A woman from my past has re-entered my life and I'd like to see where things go with this. You are a great gal and I've had a really nice time with you.

No hard feelings.


I wrote back:

Dear George

My butt and I say, "Best of luck to you".

No hard feelings at all. Trust me.


And that was that.


Take heed, frugal Costco shoppers.

I am allllll about saving money. Believe me, if something can be found on the cheap, I am the bloodhound sniffing it out. But there is some truth to the adage "You get what you pay for."

Case in point: Kirkland's version of Ivory (or is it Dove??) soap. I was at Costco, remembered that we were out of soap and headed over to pick up my pallet of Ivory. Clever marketing monkeys, those Costco folks. They had their version sitting right there, next to my pure white, gentle bars. What is that you say, Costco? I can save $3.00 if I buy your brand? Well, sure. After all, soap is soap, right?

Not exactly. As I sit here at the computer, my nether-regions are on fire. I feel as though I scrubbed myself with jet fuel and brillo pads. I wonder if I'll be able to ride my bike tomorrow.

I'm sorry, bottom parts. You shall never be forced to suffer like this again. The Kirkland imposters will be relegated to the mancave bathroom post-haste, and I will be marching into Costco tomorrow to retrieve my sweet Ivory.

Lesson learned.

Victim #2: Curiously Cheap George

Strangely enough, I met this one out in the real world, not online. I went to a Tab Benoit concert one night with one of my best friends and her circle of hens. I'd never even heard of this Tab fellow before, but it was my weekend off and I was ready to go out. So we went.

From what I remember, the concert was actually pretty good. Tab's got some pipes on him. Plus he's not too hard to look at. At one point, my friend and I were standing up at the back of the room, doing the middle aged lady shuffle (kind of like Billy Crystal doing the White Man Overbite except with less teeth). I kept seeing this tall, dark drink of water lurking off to the side...we made eye contact a few times, did the "oh dear god I hope he's not looking at someone behind me" bit, and then eventually he ended up next to me. It was too loud to have a normal conversation, so we moseyed over to the bar...I remember he bought me a drink (or two) and we had a semi-lucid conversation.

His name was George, he was divorced and had two kids. He lived in a city not too far from me, worked in the financial biz, yada yada yada. My girlfriend was playing wingman/designated driver that night, making sure that the Delicate Flower known as Jenny was kept safe. Soon enough it was closing time and my friend dragged me out of the bar, still yapping with my new find. George and I exchanged numbers...and a couple of nights later I was having the dreaded "Hey I don't really have a good mental image of what you look like but life is short and I remember you were taller than me so what the hell" phone conversation with George. He was very pleasant, had a nice deep voice. His kids were the same ages as my two older ones and he had a looney tunes ex-wife (I soon realized that pretty much every ex-wife is referred to as crazy, or psycho). We talked for over an hour, and truth be told we had a very nice conversation.

Plans were made for a dinner date, at a middle ground restaurant. It was on one of my formerly free Thursday nights, the kids were with Big Daddy. I was super nervous getting ready for this one. That bar was dark...what if I missed something about George? Like big man boobs or black teeth? And worse yet, what if he was thinking he'd met some hot mama...not a pale, freckled chick with a crease in between her eyebrows so big it looks like a butt crack? But the time grew closer, and before I knew it I was walking up to our little dining table.

Phew. He was, in all truthfulness, very good looking. Dark hair, dark eyes, very tall, nice big hands. We had a really nice dinner, and fun conversation. I was giddy with excitement over this one. When it was time to wrap things up, we walked out to the parking lot together and giggled when we saw that our cars were right next to each other. The desperate shrew inside my head was screaming IT'S A SIGN! but I kept the shrill proselytizing to myself. The goodnight kiss was very, very nice. We made plans to see each other again, the very next night. We had our kids on the same weekends, and we just happened to have a free one coming up.

Our next date was dinner and movies, dinner at a little Mexican place he liked and movies at (saying this like an excited, ramped up 15 year old girl) HIS PLACE. When I got to the restaurant, George was waiting there for me. We were perusing the menu when he suggested that we split a dish. For those of you who know me, it's ok if you're laughing. Let's let the other kids in on it, though, ok? Jenny likes her food. I don't like to share. I don't think it's cute or romantic pull out the old Lady and The Tramp/spaghetti card. Back then I was working out like a fiend and sometimes I would lick my plate clean at dinner. That's just how it works. Keep in mind, also at this time I was tiny...maybe a size 6. George had no idea what kind of food issues I was hiding under these little Long and Lean jeans. But I relented. We split a chimichanga or something like that, had a couple beers. When our server brought us the bill, George took out enough cash for his half. Ding Ding Ding. My tightwad senses were tingling.

Now, here's the deal with me and money and dates. The first date, yes, let's split it. This may be our one and only meeting, let's not leave with either side feeling indebted, ok? But if a guy asks you out and chooses the restaurant..in my humble opinion, he pays. Besides, it was some strip mall eatery, it's not like we were at Olive Garden, for Pete's sake (yes, I am being facetious). I paid my half, and winced when I saw him leave two quarters as a tip. Side note: I am a big tipper. Yes, I know I am poor, but even now I tip generously. Big Daddy once delivered pizzas on the side (during his Willy Loman employment phase) and there were weeks when tips paid for our food. When George headed up to the front of the restaurant, I slipped some more money on top of his donation.

But, any alarms that happened to be ringing from that little incident were soon quieted as we headed back to George's house for some movies. You know Eddie Murphy's ice cream song in Delirious? I had my own ice cream song, same tune but different words. Instead of "I have some icecream, I have some icecream", my song went something like this: "I have a boyfriend, I have a boyfriend..and I'm gonna get some, I'm gonna get some".

Boy. Did I ever.

Home Sweet...continued.

Part one can be found here.

When I called the number on the "For Rent" sign, a friendly male voice answered. I asked the three most important questions, in this order: how many bedrooms, do you allow dogs, and how much per month? Answers: 4, yes, and a little more than I had budgeted. But, I still had that feeling, so I set up a time to go take a look-see.

I got my tour of the house the very next day. I'll call the owner "Dan" here, I'm still a little fuzzy on the ethical/legal issue of naming people. Dan was a tiny guy, with one of the kindest, most open faces I have ever seen. He was still working on the house, getting it ready after the last residents, but was very agreeable to showing me around.

It was perfect. Not going to be in Better Homes and Gardens any time soon, but it was absolutely perfect for the kids and I. There was a "wing" with a huge master bedroom, bathroom and two smaller bedrooms; the kitchen was a good size with a window over the sink (never had that, always wanted that); a screened in porch, a cozy living room with a fireplace and tons, I mean TONS of closet/storage space. But the feature that hooked me in? There was a MANCAVE.

In the house we'd been in, there was no basement...finished or otherwise. The "downstairs" consisted of two small bedrooms and a closet-sized bathroom. Further downstairs was what I referred to as the Silence of The Lambs basement. It was where I did laundry, and where spiders bred in quiet, damp bliss. The kind of basement that gives kids nightmares. All that was missing was a pit with a kidnapped girl yelling "Mister? Hey Mister!". Seriously.

Dan told me that this house used to be owned by a guy in the music biz. This huge mancave/basement area had, at one time, served as a recording studio. Now it had a big family room area with a fireplace, a giant bedroom (the bedroom alone was the size of my Lambs basement), a bright and clean laundry room and a big bathroom. Plus more storage closets.

To sort of quote my lady Tina Fey: "I wanted to go to there." Badly.

My friend Michelle had seen the rent sign earlier that week and had thought about me...when I called her and told her that I was going in to take a look, she insisted on stopping by. She is a character worthy of her own damn blog, but for now I will say that this girl has been a key player in my life and in several other lives here in Mayberry (that's what I call our little city, because everyone knows everyone). Michelle kept giving me the googly eyes, mouthing "Oh MY GOD. It's PERFECT". Normally I like to keep my shameful business to myself but I was thankful to have her with me.

Dan said that he'd be open to letting the new residents move in anytime, as long as they didn't mind him finishing up his projects (painting, redoing the downstairs bath, etc). I tried to not look excited or too eager, but this was perfect. Then came the hard part.

I told Dan a recap of what had been happening over the past year or so, I was very honest about everything. I told him that I had to get out of my house, that I was a good, trustworthy person who just needed a chance for a fresh start. I also warned him that my credit report was not going to be fun reading. He listened, sympathetically, and told me, "Well, why don't we give it try and see what happens.." and handed me the rental application. I went home, filled it out and returned it the next day.

The next Saturday the angels were with Big Daddy and I was home by myself. I was making a big pot of chili when the doorbell rang. Dan was standing on my front steps, his face looked a little less open and friendly. He was holding a small stack of papers in his hands, which turned out to be not the rough-draft of a novel but my horrible, awful, very bad credit report.

Dan was kind. He handed me the report and said that as much as he'd like to help, this was his livelihood and he couldn't take such a big risk. He said, "I know you said it would be bad, but this is really bad. I talked to my attorney and he said absolutely no on this one." I felt the tiny sprig of hope that had been growing inside my heart wilt. All week I had been trying to stay optimistic, tried to do the whole positive imaging thing. And here it was. My old friend, Rejection, standing on my front steps with tangible proof that I was ruined financially.

I did what I think a lot of women in my tired, beaten down shoes would have done. I started crying. Through my pathetic tears I asked if there was any way, any way at all that this could be done...a co-signer, maybe? A few month's rent in advance? Anything. He looked at me the way a mom looks at her kid when they're begging for a bag of Skittles at the Target checkout after a particularly harrowing shopping trip. He said, "I don't know...I'll ask my lawyer but I just don't think so, Jenny." So I thanked him. I thanked him for being kind enough to come to me personally with this bad news, and I told him that I would probably do the same thing if our situations were reversed. He left. I went upstairs to my bedroom and cried for the rest of the weekend.

Long story slightly longer? I begged my mom to co-sign the lease. Mom has rescued my ass many times, probably more often than most moms would and definitely more times than she thought she'd be doing this late in the game. She agreed to co-sign. Dan, who I am convinced is an earthbound angel, agreed. We moved out of the house of horrors on March 1st, with the help of Amazing Michelle and some of the most generous, kindest friends a girl could ask for (you know who you are!). As far as the higher than anticipated rent? Well, I have always been a resourceful person. You'd be surprised at how much fat there is even in the sparsest of budgets. I trimmed everything from snacks to garbage service (we now have a garbage can that looks like it belongs in Barbie's Dream House, but dammit I make it work). So far so good.

You know what I love most about this story? It proves my theory that this world still has good people in it. Dan just sort of brushes me off when I try to thank him, to this day, but I hope he knows just how much he did for not only me, but for my kids as well. We have a non-leaking roof over our heads. Some of my kid's best friends live within 100 feet of our back door. All that changed for them was their address and their bus numbers. I am not ashamed to let anyone in now...I don't have to explain the rotting, missing shingles on the roof or the huge, moldy holes in the living room ceiling. My boys have a cavernous room to play video games in and hang out with their friends. Molly and I have a bathroom with a urine-free seat (well, most of the time).

Like Blanche DuBois, I relied on the kindness of a stranger. And it worked out.


Home Sweet Rented Home

So I never finished the whole foreclosure thing, did I? Obviously the kids and I are no longer in our dilapidated, crowded little crack den. That is sitting vacant back in my old neighborhood. I have a lot of guilt and shame about leaving it, we lived there for almost 15 years and the ties I had with my neighbors were strong and tight. When Big Daddy initially left, they were all very supportive and continued to be so right up until the end. Because of all that support, I feel almost shifty for just taking off like we did, but I have been back a few times and I don't think there's much resentment there. I did what I had to do...I was backed into a corner. A tiny, broken down corner.

Last fall, when I knew that the end was nigh, I started a tentative search for new digs. One thing was very important...well, actually two things. We needed to stay either in our school district or very close to it. I was not going to move my kids out of their schools. Period. Following my own parent's divorce, I was moved from one school to another, first in 5th grade, then in 6th. I'm not going to say that this geographical shift had a huge impact on me, but it did have some. Likewise, Big Daddy was moved all over during his school years. He claimed that it was great, and that he would do it again if he had to, but I wonder if something happens to your psyche when you have big changes like that in your formative years. I think there is a lot to be said for having a history with the people you sit in classrooms with year after year...some of it good, some of it not so good. But I was determined to let my kids have that one constant in their lives.

The other "must have" was that our dog would move with us. No ifs, ands or buts. I could write a whole book about that dog and how he's changed my life, but for now let's just leave it at this: Walter was coming with us.

I found out, rather quickly, that finding a home which was not only big enough for a family of five, but also allowed big dogs and was within the confines of our school district was going to be tough. Almost impossible. Add to that the fact that my credit was seriously in the crapper by this time and things did not look promising.

If money had been no object, I could have had my choice of several "executive homes". That would have been great. But of course, money with me is ALWAYS an object. A very touchy object. I had a budget figured out, and I determined that the maximum I could afford to spend on housing was approximately $1500.00 a month. Not ideal, but considering that I had been paying over $2k a month for a house that had mold on the walls and rivulets of water coming in during rainy days, it was going to be worth it.

By late winter/early spring I was starting to feel the first thready pangs of desperation. I knew that I had a window of time before we would be officially evicted, and although the window was relatively wide open it was going to close sooner rather than later.

Cut to a sunny February day. Walter and I were out for one of our daily walks (these walks are better than anti-depressants, by the way, and I highly recommend them). We were going down a street about 4 or 5 blocks away from home when I saw a "For Rent" sign in front of a house. The house was a good size, set way back from the street, high up on a sloped yard. There was a long, horseshoe shaped driveway in the front and about 30 or so big, mature trees on the huge lot.

Now, I am a huge believer in serendipity (an awesome word, and also a great Sunday afternoon flick starring John "Sigh" Cusack). I think that things do happen for a reason and I truly believe that certain things are simply meant to be. At the moment Walter and I paused in front of this house, I felt a nudge, for lack of a better term. Almost like a voice shouting in my head, "Call this dude, NOW!". I rarely, if ever, get feelings like this, but when I do I have never been wrong. So I forced the phone number into my sad little short term memory and we walked on.

When we got home, I made the call. The next two weeks were filled with tension, grief and joy...quite the goulash of emotions. I also met an angel, and one of my friendships went from good to great.

To be continued.


Guilty pleasures.

Among my most guilty of all little pleasures is my addiction to Bravo's Real Housewives New York. I kind of liked the Orange County gals, have only watched about 10 minutes of the Jersey group (ick), never even tuned into the Atlanta chicks, but the New York ladies have a special spot in my heart.

It's like we are two magnets...attracted and repulsed. I don't want to watch, really I don't. But I do.

It boggles my mind how some people are so fortunate and can be so vapid and just plain gross. I mean, seriously, Countess singing? I hope that bozo producer waited until her check cleared before he started smooching her hiney.

Crazy Eyes Ramona, sweet Bethenny with her goofy pregnant face (I can say this as I am the woman who sported a nose like a platypus for each one of my pregnancies), she makes me laugh, hard, at least once an episode. I am sure that Kelly, the bi-polar Oompa Loompa, is hiding a penis from the rest of the ladies. I keep waiting for it to pop out from one of the shirts she wears as a dress. And Jill. I can't figure that one out. One minute I love her, the next I want to shove bolts of fabric down her throat. Alex. Out of all of them, she seems to me to be the most sane, intelligent housewife. But then there's her husband. Is he the only one who realizes that he's gay? Not that there's anything wrong with that, but...nice epaulets on your marching band jacket, dear.

I love watching it because it makes me realize that even though I am poor and struggling, I am surrounded by blissfully normal, life-enhancing friends. Sure, we have our stupid girl dramas now and then, but none of my friends makes my skin crawl or does that oh-so-Euro air kiss thing.

Last night was the season finale, and as it closed I felt a little sad. And then an ad for the new season of Top Chef came on. It starts in two weeks. I will be replacing my tacky bag of moneyed trolls with a hot steamy kitchen full of petulant tattooed foodies. Life is good.

I will close with my favorite t.v. quote, ever, courtesy of Looney Kelly:

"Golden satchels".

God, I love watching crazy.


Take my truck.....please.

One of the lovely parting gifts that Big Daddy left me with was the vehicle I drive to this day. It's a 2000 Ford Excursion.

I remember this was one of Big Daddy's "impulse" buys...it must have been about 10:00 one night when he came rolling into the driveway with this lovely white beast. Big smile on his face, a bunch of papers stacked up on the seat next to him. He had convinced his dad to co-sign a $25,000.00 loan, one of the many things that we'd pay off with his next big bonus check. Uh huh.

In his defense, we did need a new car. We were a family of six now, and our old Plymouth mini-van was in sad, sorry shape. Parts of the outer shell kept falling off, the side door wasn't functioning, and the engine would overheat if the outside temps were above 80 degrees. To this day, my kids love recalling one drive home from the zoo on a hot summer day, mommy sobbing at the wheel, terrified kids wailing in their car/booster seats as steam billowed out from under the hood. I remember shrieking "WE'LL BE OK!!!!!" as we drove down the highway like a modern day Clampett family. Good times.

So I was happy to have a safe, cushy new ride. The fact that it didn't fit in our garage was trivial at that point.

Anyhoo. Of course this loan didn't get paid off with the next big bonus check. By the time Big Daddy hit the road, it was pared down to about $16,000.00. And it became all mine. I managed to pay it off before I became destitute, and as much as I say I hate this thing, I guess it's better than not having a vehicle at all. Kind of.

This was all before a gallon of gas cost more than a gallon of milk.

When gas prices first started escalating and everyone with a conscience and disposable income was tooling around in their new hybrid vehicles (think it's coincidence that Prius looks an awful lot like Pious?? I jest, friends..I jest) I started to feel a little bit conspicuous in my big truck. Imagine the guilt I felt after asking for plastic bags at the grocery store and then climbing aboard this environmental travesty in the parking lot.

I now refer to it as the rolling garbage can. At this moment, there is a big metal rack in the back that rolls and smacks against the sides of the interior every time I turn. Why is it in there? It was used at our school carnival IN THE BEGINNING OF MAY and I just haven't had the chance to take it out yet. Inside the cavernous cabin are layers of family history. Every single water bottle I have ever purchased or borrowed is in there. There are cloth grocery bags, looking so earnest and constantly reminding me of just how inadequate I really am. A big insulated Costco bag which I have had for oh, 4 years, and have yet to use. More fossilized french fries than your mind can fathom. There are random pieces of clothing. I don't recall any naked kids climbing out of this truck, but for some reason you can find everything from nut cups to winter coats in there. It's full of crap, folks.

Every few months I get fed up, grab a leaf bag and delve into this gas-sucking time capsule. It's so nice and clean for about 2 hours, and then it's not. I drove a friend to our 4th grader's musical recital last night, and although I am 99% sure she wasn't judging me, it's leaf bag time again.

It's also time to think about getting rid of this thing. My Charlie is now 16, and as soon as he's able to pay for some of his behind the wheel courses he'll be getting his license. I think this would be a great "first vehicle" for him, don't you? He won't get too far...have you ever known a teenager who put more than $10.00 worth of gas in their car? He is almost guaranteed safety in anything but the most devastating accident. The brakes have issues, so the free back massage courtesy of a massive truck shimmying and convulsing at every tap of the brakes may just be a chick magnet...you never know.

But of course, until I find a coupon for a free car in the Sunday paper, this baby is mine all mine. In the meantime I do keep a spare key in the front cup holder, and rarely lock the doors. It would be a shame if someone were to steal it.


Scrabble isn't supposed to make you sad, dammit!

A friend posted a funny little story about one couple's adventure in Scrabble (warning, my geek side is going to be totally exposed here).

Here's the article

First off, I am a Scrabble fiend. I love this game, and will play it in any way, shape or form. Thanks to that insane time-sucker, facebook, I usually have about 8 or 9 games going at any given moment. Truth be told, it's 90% of the reason I got an iPhone, so I could play my games on the go. When I get a Scrabble Bingo, where you use all of your tiles in a single play, I sometimes whoop out loud. See?? Nerdy McDolt.

So, when I read this article, I felt happy knowing that there are others in this world who feel the same way I do. And then I felt super sad. I even commented on my friend's page: "I need to find a Scrabble guy."

My take on relationships, and being in them, has changed quite a bit since Big Daddy flew the coop. I remember my stepmother saying to me, "Get remarried fast..the longer you're single the harder it will be to do it." And now I find myself wondering if it gets harder because you're less likely to FIND the right guy, or if you just realize that you don't NEED a guy, right or not.

Obviously, I did try pretty hard at first (hello, Plum?) but I'd say over the past year and a half or so, I find myself with zero desire to couple up. At least, I thought that's how I felt until I read this stupid article. I read about how they kept their little Scrabble notebook, taunting each other in writing, keeping a tangible record of their Scrabble games. It talked about how they had played the game with their kids right from the start, and how this simple board game became an unbreakable link in their family chain. It's a piece of family history, of family love.

And maybe I do want that.

But it's hard. It's hard being not only a single woman in her 40's, but also a mom to four kids. A mom to four kids who has been put through some intense emotional boxing matches, along with a front seat on the financial roller coaster. When Big Daddy called a do-over, I became the Head of Household overnight. Every single thing that he had taken care of became my responsibility....everything. Of course my stepmother was right. Who wouldn't want to fill that position ASAP? It sucks having to tend so many fires by yourself. I think that's why most men who leave their families don't do so until they have Plan B all lined up. Hell, Big Daddy didn't even take the kids for an overnight for almost half a year after he moved out. It's a tough row to hoe.

Right from the start I decided that the kids would come first. They had already lost one parent to the Shiny Glow of Lust, there was no way I was going to do the same. Did it cost me anything in the relationship department? Absolutely. Try getting to know someone when you have approximately 4 nights a month to date. Try explaining to a guy that yes, you do have two hours kid free but you were hoping to just curl up in the fetal position and hum for those two hours, not try the new fondue restaurant downtown. And that's dating the guys who don't have kids. The ones who are dads, well..yeah. Good luck with that.

I wonder if I am going to be punished by the universe for making my kids Priority #1. Am I going to be the weird old chick who speed walks with her dog at 5:00 a.m.? The eccentric grandma who wears caftans and big artsy necklaces? The one who sits at the kids table every holiday because her singleness makes it hard to seat her at the grown up table? I don't know. It does make me wonder if I should try harder to look for Mr. Right, or if I should embrace the trite but comforting saying, "If it's meant to be, it will be."

Because I'm thinking it would be kind of nice to have someone who would play Scrabble with me.


The Way We Were......

A lot of people have asked me why, if I dislike Big Daddy so much, why oh why did I try to stay married to him? Why fight it? And digging even deeper, why did I stay married to him as long as I did AND make four kids with him?

Because I used to love him. Not a super red-hot, passionate love, but a love nonetheless. I remember when we first met I was so happy to have found someone who could make me laugh. He got my sophomoric humor and had plenty of his own. We cracked each other up, and for me, that's about 80% of the whole attraction process. Whatever was lacking in other areas of our relationship wasn't missed (at first) simply because I loved being around him.

I had been in a couple of serious relationships prior to meeting Big Daddy, so the whole "meet the parents" thing, while still daunting, wasn't the huge deal it used to be. I met both of his parents (they are divorced) and hit it off immediately. A few years later his mom confided to me, "He called me up the day after you two met and said 'Mom, I met the girl I am going to marry'..". His dad lived in a beautiful home on a river, and I remember standing in the front yard, Big Daddy's arms wrapped around me and him whispering into my ear, "Someday this will be ours." With him, I felt something that I hadn't felt before in my life: security.

He was ambitious, but not crazy-driven like some guys were at that age. He shared a high-end apartment downtown with a college friend and worked an office job for an insurance company. At this point I was schlepping cosmetics at what used to be called (and always will be, in my little head) Dayton's. We were that annoying lovey dovey couple for a long time...the ones who would drop off love notes for each other, coo into the phone at work, and wait impatiently for the end of the day so we could just be together.

We'd go out with friends quite a bit, the girl who introduced us had a huge crush on one of Big Daddy's friends and our collective groups would go out en masse on the weekends. I look back on those days as some of the best, funniest and sweetest years of my life.

Sometimes I think that he became a father too soon. I wonder, quite often, what would have happened if we hadn't plunged into the parenthood roles so quickly...maybe we wouldn't have even ended up married, maybe we would have gone a whole different direction. Who knows.

One thing that makes me particularly sad about what's gone down is the fact that my kids still question their role in the divorce. For a while, when they would bicker and fight amongst themselves I'd hear one of them say, "It's YOUR fault dad left!".

I have tried my hardest to instill in their minds that nothing anyone could do would have kept Big Daddy home. I have to watch what I say around them; a few times they've overheard me talking about "marrying the wrong guy" or "if only I could go back and make different choices" and asked me, point blank, if I am sorry that I have them. Ow.

For the record, I would go through everything all over, a hundred times over, if it meant having this same group of kids. They are the reason I wake up, the reason I don't ever stop trying, the reason I didn't give up when things were at their darkest. They are truly the reason I fought so hard to stay married. Even when I found out that he had left not due to some cliched mid-life crisis, but because someone new and shiny had caught his eye, I fought. I knew firsthand how it felt to be part of the wreckage from a sinking marriage, and I did not want that for my babies.

Obviously, I lost the battle. Taking care of four heartbroken kids while dealing with your own emotional devastation? That's tough. I took them to see counselors, they participated in the "different families" group at school, and we always kept the lines of communication open. I did the best that I could for them, and things seemed to be ok. Not perfect, obviously, but ok.

That's when I learned just how devastating this whole process can be.

On December 28th, 2007, I received the worst phone call that a parent can get.


Professor Plum: The Conclusion

I think I mentioned that there was more to the Professor Plum story, right? Well, it went a little something like this:

Professor Plum and I talked/e-mailed frequently after the first two dates. Things were getting kind of hectic in both of our lives, so we didn't have another date in the works when our next mutual "kid-free" weekend came up. I think I mentioned that I had a few weekends where I mysteriously found myself next to an empty bottle of wine? This happened to be one of those weekends.

When I drink, one of two things happens. Either I know my limits and am funny, charming and everyone's best buddy, or else I forget my limits (which are embarrassingly low) and become a horrifying example of Mom Gone Wild. Any one of you who have had the unfortunate luck to be around me when the latter happens know exactly what I'm talking about, right? I have a lot more to say about drinking, and plan on writing about that in the very near future, but for now let's just leave it at that.

So as I tend to do after soaking my liver in merlot, I grabbed my phone and started dialing. I think the kids call this "drunk dialing"...all I can say is thank GOD there weren't cell phones back when I was in my twenties (how in the world did we ever have booty calls back then???). So..I called Professor Plum and I'm not sure how I worded things but I managed to get him to drive to my house at 1:00 in the morning. Remember now, he lives in the next state over from here...Drunk Jenny must have some very strong persuasive skills.

When he arrived, I think I was out on my back patio. Sometimes, when I was having one of my "episodes" (read this as: drunk ass pity parties), I would have a little fire in the backyard all by myself. Even typing this, I'm cringing at how pathetic this sounds, but, hey.....all part of my charm I guess. Professor was wearing sweatpants and announced that he "had a boner the whole way here". Can you kind of see the way this is headed? Not pretty. Not pretty at all.

So we went upstairs to the room where all the magic happens. I am not going into detail, but from what I remember I basically had my way with him, despite his objections. I remember him very clearly stating, "This is not how I want our first time to be, Jenny." It was brief, but exhilarating for me. Up until this point I hadn't had any sort of sex with a human being (except for a couple times when Big Daddy was either having a fight with Secretary or was having some second thoughts paired with guilt, we'll get to that eventually) and for me, it was fun. Professor, unfortunately, felt differently about the whole shebang.

I am thinking that he had some really deep-seated issues with what had gone down. I don't know, maybe it was the fact that by the time he had pulled up his sweatpants, I was face down in a pillow, snoring...maybe his moral caliber had way higher settings than mine...either way, he left angry.

And apparently when Professor angry, he very angry. I got the first of several cuckoo emails the next morning. Emails that started out "normal", then TURNED INTO ALL CAPS. AND THEN INTO RED ALL CAPS. He was angry that he had come over that late, angry that I called him after I'd been drinking, angry that I had coerced him into doing the nasty with me, etc. etc. That's when Professor Plum turned into The Nutty Professor. And that's also when I decided that it was time to set this one free.


I'm baaaaaaack......

So, how is everyone??

As some of you know, I received word from Big Daddy himself that he has read my little blog. After learning about him reading this, I admit that I did freak out, just a tiny bit. For one thing, the fact that he's read the stuff I've written about my Dark Side (like Hungry Bear, Professor Plum, etc.) skeeves me out like crazy. Kind of like leaving your underwear in a washing machine at a laundromat, and finding it piled on top when you come back. Just ewwww.

I also freaked out because I don't trust him. This is the guy who is "too broke" to pay child support, yet somehow managed to scrape together the funds to hire an attorney just to make sure he wouldn't have to pay it. I don't see a whole lotta reason to not suspect him of having ulterior motives. Whether or not my mistrust was warranted, we shall see.

I have consulted with people who do the whole "legal thing" for a living, and after a few read-throughs of my blog, I have been given the all clear. I did have to do some editing, but nothing major has been changed. There are some funny rules when it comes to all this legal stuff. One of the big No-No's when talking or writing about your life and the people in it is that you absolutely cannot insinuate or infer or claim anything regarding impotency and whether or not someone is chaste (yes, they used the word chaste, and I have taken a liking to it). It's ok to call someone a bitch, or a son of a bitch, but boy you better not call someone's sexual prowess into question. I am guessing that a really pissed off guy made up that rule. Just a guess.

Anyhoo. My writing here is not meant to be malicious, and certainly in no way, shape or form is meant to harm Big Daddy, his reputation, or anything else in his world. As much as I don't like the guy, he is the father of my kids and I honestly do not wish him any ill will. And as far as his career? Bitch, please. I need that guy employed, and preferably WELL PAID for a while longer.

Here is my official apology/retraction: Big Daddy, I am sorry if anything I have written here was taken in the wrong way and resulted in any hurt feelings on your part. I have gone through and made some changes so as not to hurt any more feelings. From now on, I will be very careful to not offend you, or take personal jabs at you or anyone in your life. But I will continue to tell my stories, and I will tell the truth about things that went down. Remember the show Baretta? I have had the theme song playing in my head for the past 2 days: "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time. Don't do it." Ahhh, Sammy Davis, Jr. I guess I'm trying to say, if the things that I am relaying here in my blog make you feel bad or ashamed, well....sorry. But they happened.

The bottom line: as long as what I say is the truth, it's fair game. And anything that I have written here is the truth. A lot of it sucks, and you don't know how badly I wish some of it was fiction, but every single thing I have let flow out of my fingertips and onto these pages is the real deal.

The reason I started blogging is twofold: Reason one is, it's incredibly therapeutic. Getting this stuff out of my head and my heart, and out here in this virtual diary has been better for me than 2 years of therapy. Mostly because I can do this in my pajamas and I don't have to drive to the doctor's office and there's no co-pay, but I digress....I have had these stories just bouncing around in my head for the past 4 or so years. I think it's time to let them out.

The other reason is this: When I first found myself traded in like an old, worn out car, I was terrified. Who would understand what I was going through? Would I be ok? Would my kids be ok? And then, when I found myself swirling around the drain of financial ruin, those feelings came back. I found solace in talking to my friends. And I found that the more you talk to people, the more you find out just how not alone you are. It's my hope that people will read this, that women in similar situations will read this and realize that they will survive. They will be put through things that are about as much fun as a pelvic exam (with that clench-inducing finger-up-the-butt move thrown in, dear God), they will find themselves feeling utterly empty and dead every once in a while, but they will survive. And not only will they survive, they will be better, stronger, HAPPIER versions of their old selves.

Now everyone wave "Hi" to Big Daddy.....and get ready. I have so much more to gab about.



Can anyone explain to me exactly why Charlie Sheen is a celebrity? I'm pretty sure you can get at least 4 different STD's just by looking at him.


Imma Effing Bee

William came home from Big Daddy's house last night looking down. I asked him what was wrong and he started crying. Apparently, my presence at his Friday night baseball practice/pizza party put Big Daddy into a tizzy. I had hugged William goodbye when the practice was over, and told him to be a good boy. William got a little teary, as some kids do at the thought of not seeing a parent for 2 days. Big Daddy was watching this, and apparently felt that I was filling our son's brain with awful Daddy-isms or something. William told me that Big Daddy really let him have it in the car on the way home, but I have been told by Big Daddy himself that "William was in his room, crying, and must have overheard me". Whatever...point is, William heard it. Through his tears, William said, "He was calling you really bad names, mom. Effing Bee...only he said the real words. He said if I was so sad I should go back with you only he called you Fat Pig." (I have since been told, by Big Daddy, that the "Fat Pig" reference was in regards to my mouth, not the "shape of your body". Uh huh.)


I have hammered out about half a dozen emails, being very careful to hit "Delete" instead of "Send". I don't know what to do with this one.

I do know that it doesn't take a brain surgeon to see that I'm fat. No shit! I've had a tough go of things for the past year and a half. But you know what? I'd rather be fat than have my kids cry when they're forced to spend time with me.

Sweet gentle readers, please stay married. Like a rock thrown into a still pond, the ripples from a divorce will radiate out for a long freaking time. Nothing in the world is worth seeing your kids go through this crap. Nothing.


The Dingo Sheared My Babies!!!

Ok so it was really Secretary, not a dingo, but holy shit.

The two younger kids still spend Thursday nights with Big Daddy. This past Friday, I was working at the computer when they were dropped off before school. I heard them come in, and when William came to the door of my office to say hello I spun my chair around...and was shocked to see a little version of Ed Norton in American History X.

Apparently, whilst in the company of Big Daddy and Secretary, Henry mentioned that he needed a trim. A TRIM. Meaning he needed a couple of inches taken off of his cute, skateboarder/Justin Bieber 'do.

According to the boys, Secretary scoffed and said something about "We're not paying for haircuts!". And before they knew what was happening, they were shorn.

Now, I know that I sometimes overreact to things that are done by Big Daddy and Secretary. I know that I need to chill, to get over it, to deal with it. And for the record, the kids have received haircuts while with Big Daddy before...but never by someone who most definitely has never been trained in the super difficult art of clipping hair.

Also for the record: I think "summer cuts" are fine. I even think a good old fashioned buzz cut is ok in some cases. But this was beyond a buzz cut...this was skinhead grade, prison-issued awfulness.

You can see their white scalps, big patches of it here and there. There are random, long strings of missed hair all over. There is no fade, no "leave a little on the top" with these haircuts. My boys look like junior white supremacists. All they're missing are a few swastika tattoos and some steel-toed army boots.

I tried to hide my horror, but they noticed that I was a little less than pleased. For that, I feel terrible. I told them that they looked GREAT, and that they both have lovely shaped heads and that their beautiful blue eyes really jump out now. I didn't tell them that if I didn't know any better I would think that we had been blessed by the lice fairy again.

So we cleaned their ears, dried Henry's tears and started our day. I have been trying really hard to take the high road when dealing with Big Daddy. Far too many times I have fired off an email filled with bitchy anger and spot on, but inappropriate observations. So I didn't say, text or email anything. But as the reactions to the haircuts came in, I started to rethink this one.

William came home and announced that he had two new nicknames: Licey and Baldy. Henry said that his friends just asked "Dude, what happened??". Later that night, William had a baseball game and I got some feedback from the other moms and dads. They were supportive, but 99% of those polled agreed that these were horrible haircuts. Most of them said that if they were me, they would mention it. One of them even said that she was going to say something to Big Daddy.

Whatever...by this time I had decided that what's done is done, and for me to say anything would be just stirring the big boiling pot.

Hair grows back.

Victim Number 1: Professor Plum

AKA: The Nutty Professor.

Yes, I do give monikers to all of my victims. Why? Who the hell knows? Maybe it's because I am truly a scared little 13 year old girl at heart and trying to be funny is my only defense. Or maybe it's because I have a magnet somewhere on my body that attracts the flotsam and jetsam of the single/over-40 male population and giving them names is my own personal coping mechanism. Either way, I do give all of them names. So here's the story of the Professor.

Professor Plum was the first one I talked to on the phone. His emails seemed normal, he could spell and write a sentence. He was a professor at a small college in a bordering state, a professor of plant biology. He had developed a certain fruit (take a guess!!) that was hearty enough for our midwestern climate. His divorce was just about finalized and he was rarin' to go. So we made a date.

Our first date was at a little restaurant about 20 minutes from my house. Big Daddy used to pick the kids up for an overnight every Thursday, around 4:30 p.m. My big date was set for 6:00. This night, it happened to be pouring. Pouring buckets. And this night, Big Daddy also happened to be late. An hour late. So, I was a whack job. My hair was frizzing up, the kids were bouncing off the walls like freaking Flubber and Big Daddy was taking his sweet ass time.

I called my former BFF, who talked me down..."Go brush your hair, lint off your pants, you'll be ok" she told me. So I sat there brushing my hair like a lunatic, and when Big Daddy finally picked up the kids I took off for my first date in over 15 years. Brushing my hair the whole way.

His appearance was actually quite normal, semi-pleasant. He was about 6'1", bald, with the mandatory goatee. We were seated and started chatting, drank some wine, ate dinner and chatted some more. He was, in all honesty, very nice. He laughed at my neurotic ramblings, which I tried desperately to keep to a minimum. He was obviously super-scary-smart, when he was telling me about his plum work I tried really, really hard to get the gist of it but took that time to keep my wine glass filled up.

After dinner he asked if I'd like to go get some coffee at a nearby mall...which I agreed to. He drove us to the mall (still pouring) and we got our coffee. After the coffee, he suggested a "mall-walk". Despite the fact that I was wearing strappy shoes that were hobbling me more and more by the second, I agreed to this as well. It was the most awkward mall-walk ever. He held my hand, and I tried to walk normally. We walked, and walked, and walked. Finally the walk-date was over and he drove me back to my car. We had a slightly uncomfortable good night kiss and went our separate ways. I drove home barefoot and threw out those devil shoes the second I got home.

Our second date was a movie. We met at the theater, I had one of my homies with me, so she could give me her seal of approval. I was so out of the loop as far as men went, I wanted to be sure that I wasn't missing a hump or other obvious defect or flaw. She gave me the thumbs up, and the Movie Date began. I had made an unfortunate wardrobe choice that evening, a little empire waist top that was made out of a thick, stretchy jersey material. I was sure that I had some B.O. starting, and cursed my decision to not wear cotton.

Professor Plum had nice hands. If I haven't mentioned this before, I have a weird hand issue. Small hands on men totally freak me out...it started when I used to notice Dennis Miller's hands on SNL. Let me preface this conversation by saying that I love Dennis. But whilst watching Weekend Update, all I could see were his tiny little hands in front of him, usually clasped together in a little tiny collection of fingers and knuckles, sometimes stroking his chin, but always, always tiny. It skeeved me out. Later, the small hands of Owen Wilson would give me the heebie jeebies, big time. I'd be reading one of my People magazines and there he'd be, in his swim trunks, frolicking in the ocean with someone with his tiny pink gerbil hands dangling at his sides.

Anyhoo, hands are important to me. Professor Plum had nice big hands, I like to call them "farm hands". He did need some lotion on them but they were just fine in the size department.

After the movie, we went to "my place". The kids were with Big Daddy and I had the house allll to myself. It was then that I noticed Professor Plum was wearing black jeans.

If you have black jeans, and you wear them, please know that I mean no offense. But I can't stand black jeans. I see them on ANYONE, no matter what size, shape or gender, and all I can think of is Garth Brooks. Garth Brooks, waddling across a stage strummin' his geetar, chubby turkey drumstick thighs swaddled in black denim. And that's all she wrote.

But I digress. It had been eons since I had a boy over for something other than a playdate with my kids, and I was a little excited at the thought of what might happen. I was worried about having B.O., but what else is new. So we sat on the couch in the family room, chatting about ourselves, our kids, our hopes and dreams for the future.

Professor Plum told me, "Sometimes I have bad breath, just a heads up." I countered that with, "Oh, I'm a compulsive gum chewer, I always have gum." That's pretty much the way our conversation went, the whole way. I heard more about his crazy ex, about his kids, and about his plum work.

Then we made out for a while. It was strange, but fun, black jeans and all. No, I didn't sleep with him. That came a few weeks later, after one of my infamous drunk phone calls/texts.

After that, his mask slipped a little and I met The Nutty Professor.


I like sunsets, long walks on the beach and middle aged alcoholics with anger issues.

If you've watched t.v. at all in the past few years, surely you've seen the eHarmony and Match.com ads. They really make it look good, don't they? Shot in black and white, with mellow feel-good music playing softly in the background, they depict several different couples who would still be alone and crying into their cartons of Chinese food every Saturday night if they hadn't logged on. They convinced me, and with the guidance of my single friend I plunged into the cesspool of online dating.

My first stop was on Match.com. Actually, the process of signing up and filling out your information is kind of fun. Not so fun is trying to find a picture of yourself that doesn't make you look fat, old, tired, scared or depressed. Every single picture that I had of me was taken by one of my kids. Thus it was either shot at an upward angle (hi, my name is Jenny and these are my nostrils) or else was a freeze frame of me lunging forward, screaming "DON'T DROP MY CAMERA". I enlisted the help of my friend to take some pictures of me, weeded out the achingly horrible from the ok and then got busy writing my little blobs of information.

I hadn't dated in well over a decade, hadn't looked at a man for any reason other than to order a coffee or hand off my drycleaning. The prospect of actually sitting down and having a conversation with one, a conversation that would maybe lead to something other than a venti skim latte or plastic-encased armful of cleaned clothing being handed over filled me with a sick mixture of excitement and terror.

What ages was I interested in? This was my first trip out into cyber-dating, so I didn't know the rules. At the time I was doing this, I was a fresh 40. So I put 35-45 as my "target" age for the man/men I was seeking to meet. First error.

Men who are single and are over the age of 30 generally follow the same rules when wookin' pa nub. Guys in their 30's usually want a woman in her 20's. The men in the early to mid-40's, they really want a woman in her 20's but will look at the 30-somethings. That leaves guys in the late 40's and up as the ones who will even consider checking out us fossilized forty somethings. Yes, I know, your cousin Barb met her soul mate, who is HER AGE on Match, and your single brother Steve has dated women OLDER than him...but I'm talking in generalities here. This is my experience.

Race. I left that one open, because, why the hell not. I would jump Morgan Freeman in half a New York second if I had the chance, and Keanu Reeves and one of the guys from "Memoirs of a Geisha" too. In my life thus far, my heart has been ripped out, chewed up and set on fire only by a white man. I figured that if I was going to cast a net out into that big ocean of men, may as well make it a big 'un.

I left a lot of the options "open", because I am a child of the 70's. I know all the songs from Free to Be You And Me. I don't judge (much). Maybe the love of my life was a struggling Latino mime, maybe he was an independently wealthy WASP who had been burned by the love light. Who knew. I am an eternal optimist and I was convinced that Mr. Right was out there, somewhere....just waiting for me.

So I put it out there. The replies trickled in at first, the winks and nudges and prods or whatever they were. At first I thought I must be something spectacular, look at all of these men just dying to meet me! And then I started reading the profiles, exchanging some emails, and realized that there are guys who must literally sit there in front of the computer all day, like pimps at the bus station...waiting for the naive chicks to stumble off the Greyhound from ma and pa's farm.

It wasn't long before I realized that internet dating is the cyber-version of fly paper.


Sex and the single girl...who has four kids and some serious self esteem issues.

Yes, don't look so shocked and horrified. You knew I was going to talk about this.

Obviously I am not a virgin. Sex was, prior to my marriage, something that I really, really liked. A lot. I wasn't a whore, per se, but did have my fair share of boyfriends and a few blurry one night stands. There were also some very nice friends with benefits situations. God, my early twenties were fun.

Anyhoo. I won't go into all of that right now. What I will discuss this morning is how a woman goes from being a married, suburban stay at home mom who rations out b.j.'s like a doctor doling out lollipops after shots to being a single woman faced with the prospect of perhaps never having sex again. Some days, I think that if I had a genie magically appear in front of me and say, "Jenny, you have a choice. I will give you free Showtime for the rest of your days if you remain sex-free" I wouldn't have to think long before saying "Okay~ sounds good Genie." Other days, I see couples walking hand in hand and feel utterly alone and empty.

Sex, or the lack of it, is the last thing on your mind whilst navigating the Divorce Jungle. You basically focus on staying sane and making sure your kids are surviving. It's when the dust settles and you find yourself maybe a little tipsy from a glass or four of wine that your mind begins to wander.

One mandatory rite of passage for the divorced woman is the purchase of a "toy". I guess I was somewhat of a prude for the first half of my adult life; I had never even seen one in person. So, armed with the advice from one of my more liberated girlfriends, I went to drugstore.com and began looking for my own personal BOB (that's battery operated boyfriend). Dear Lord. There were pages and pages to choose from. BOBs disguised as lipsticks. BOBs made of glass (umm, anyone else snap their legs shut?), BOBs that moved, BOBs that glowed, BOBs that did everything but tell you how pretty you are and pick up the check for dinner.

I am a conscientious purchaser. I read the reviews. I had narrowed my decision down to two BOBs. One was called "The Hungry Bear", the other was called "White Lightning" or something of that ilk. The reviews for the Bear were mostly positive, but I did notice lots of "wow, much bigger than pictured"...like that was a negative or something. So I chose the Bear. I waited anxiously for my UPS chick to show up, praying that one of the kids didn't answer the door and rip open the package.

It was awkward, but fun. That's all I'll say. I will share that Hungry Bear was thrown away after a particularly paranoid time in my life when all I could think about was getting in a car accident and having my hens come clean out my house. Not quite sure what would be more mortifying, the prospect of them coming across the poor Hungry Bear or my sad drawer full of crime scene underwear. Hungry Bear was a good friend, who is truly missed.

But I am a "people person", and soon found myself wanting company of the non-silicone kind. The same wise woman who hooked me up with Hungry Bear was also fluent in the language of online dating, and held my hand as I took that giant leap.

I was totally unprepared for this one.


From Netflix, with love

Oh what a happy day it is for me when I get a red Netflix envelope in the mail!

I didn't watch t.v. for over 10 years. Of course I watched some of it...Big Daddy and I rented movies and there was always the infernal drone of Disney Channel, PBS or Nickelodeon. But I didn't watch any series type t.v. Who had time? Either there was a baby to tend to, a toddler to avoid selling to the gypsies tend with or a husband to please. My brain was never capable of storing much more than a day's or so worth of information, forget trying to remember what was happening from week to week in some fantasy world.

All of that changed when I suddenly found myself with QUIET TIME. It's the curse and the blessing of divorced moms everywhere. Well, at least it's both of those things with me. I mean, if you are a married mom, and you're reading this, think about the last time that you had your house utterly and completely to yourself for more than an hour. More than a day? Try a weekend. Every other weekend.

At first I didn't know how to fill the time. I'll be honest: I did the lay in bed and cry thing for the first few. I quite literally did not know what to do with myself. Falling asleep was agonizingly hard, staying asleep once I did was even harder. I'd "hear" a kid murmuring or whimpering in their sleep, a noise that was as ingrained in my heart as the settling sounds our old house made at night. The sleeping part cleared itself up eventually, the not knowing what to do with these magical/evil 48 hours proved to be a more daunting issue.

You imagine the wild divorced mom, liberated from The Man, out on the town getting all of her ya ya's out and getting her groove back and all of that I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar stuff. Trust me, that's not how this chick rolled. After I got tired of crying, I realized that there was this whole world out there, a world full of stories and plotlines and actors I'd read about in Us and People but had no idea why they were famous...a world that I could find with the help of Netflix.

Netflix was just a fledgling little company when my marriage started disintegrating. I had signed up for a membership during my frantic "keep Big Daddy happy" phase...figuring that if I had a movie waiting at home it would save us a trip to the video store. After he was gone, I had used it primarily to get movies for the kids, and more often than not, completely forgot I had it at all.

Then I discovered that there were years and years worth of t.v. shows available. In the blink of an eye, I had found that elusive "something to do"! It had been years since I had been able to just sit my ass down on the couch and let the boob tube entertain me. And now, it was time.

I remember that I started out with CSI. A plethora of other crime/detective shows followed (who knew that Law and Order had been on for almost 2 decades?), then came Sex and The City, then the comedies, and then...Dear God, then came the reality shows. Bravo combined 3 of my favorite things: gays, food and clothes in Top Chef and Project Runway. I fell into deep geek lust with the Ginger half of Mythbusters, and really went off the deep end with Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs. Thank you, Mike. Oh how I thank you.

Anyhoo. There were also weekends that I jumped into bottles of wine, weekends that I went to Ikea and spent money I didn't have, and weekends where I did things that I look back at now with lots of shame and a little bit of wistfulness. But we'll get to those eventually.

Right now I'm watching NUMB3RS from Netflix. I haven't seen so much swarthy mathleticism since 10th grade algebra back at St. Louis Park High School. Good show, though.


Toyota's latest ad campaign: fail

Can't quite figure out exactly where they are going with the Sienna campaign. For sure, it's derivative of "Modern Family"/"Parenthood", but it's not hooking me the way sweet little Manny does in his boy-sized Nat Nast shirts.

The dad, for one thing. I don't quite get it, he's obviously supposed to be a watered down David Cross...but there's something off about him. I see many, many of his kind every time I go to Costco, not navigating the Parking Lot From Hell in a Sienna but usually perusing dog treats with their boyfriend. The mom is clearly a cross between Claire on Modern Family (my least favorite t.v. character, I think, EVER) and perhaps the blond chick on 30 Rock (runner up for my least favorite character). Whatever. Add the just-slightly-off casting with the dropping of urban slang that's stale enough to be ironic (swagger? really?) and you have a steaming pile of not funny.

Just my opinion.

Oh no she di'int!

I ran into a friend of mine the other day. She's a stay at home, with three kids (all elementary-school age) and a husband. Apparently her hubby has been out of town for a few days, traveling for work. As we plopped down on the stands at the Little League field, she let out a huge sigh. "Oh my gawd Jenny. Bob has been gone since Sunday. Now I totally know how you feel every day!".

This was Tuesday night.

Uh huh.

Before I go any further, let me clarify that I love and adore my girlfriends. And yes, I do know that you don't have to know EXACTLY what someone is going through in order to empathize with them. I myself was never held in slavery, nor were many of my ancestors, but I can say with 100% certainty that it was wrong. And I am sure it sucked.

That said, can I get a "what what" from all my single mamas out there? How many times have you had a friend or other acquaintance, more specifically a married/co-habitating friend, tell you that "now I know how you feel"? I've had it said to me several times, and I have never said anything bitchy or snarky in return because I know what they are trying to say. They are trying to tell me that no, they don't know exactly how I feel but they have scratched the surface of the single-parenthood blister. And it's gross.

Big Daddy first took off before dawn on the last day of school in June, 2004. Yes, the last day of school. I remember standing in the dark family room, watching him get all of his stuff ready. He had the audacity to actually weep a bit as he carefully gathered his suits, his big fancy shoes and his golf clubs into a big "going away" pile. We didn't speak until I finally said, "You are such a fucking coward." He replied in a choked up voice, "I know."

When the kids woke up he was gone. The one thing I asked of Big Daddy was that he be the one to break the news to them about his change in plans. I already knew that the fallout was going to be disastrous, there was no way in hell that I was going to be the messenger.

Sad thing is, the kids had become so accustomed to him being gone that it was about a week and a half before Charlie and Molly asked, "When is Daddy coming home?". I just said, "Oh I don't know guys. I don't know...he'll be back soon." I was barely functioning at this point. My days were spent trucking kids around to park activities and trying not to drive into a brick building at full speed. I sobbed, sobbed hard..but only in the shower. I didn't want them to know that anything was wrong. They were so young.

I told just a few people. My neighbors, George and Katherine, who were not just neighbors but like family. They are William's godparents and had been the kind of neighbors you just think exist in the movies. Katherine is an RN, and I can't count how many times I ran over to her front door with a bleeding kid. They were like pseudo parents/older siblings for me, and to this day I count them among my bestest friends.

I also told my real best friend. She and I used to take our broods (8 kids total) to Dairy Queen on the last day of school. We sat there, watching the kids play by the fountain, eating our cones. I just came out and said it.."He left me." She did what you kind of expect your BFF to do in this situation. Hugs, a few shared tears, and the questions, oh the questions. I don't really remember a whole lot else from that summer, but I do remember that breaking the news to people eventually became easier. I felt like a pariah, though, like I had caught a horrible fatal disease. Some people actually physically withdrew from me when they knew, like they'd pick it up or something. Which I kind of understand. For the suburban stay at homes, this was the worst nightmare (aside from hurt kids). Most women in my former situation don't even think about the possibility, let alone plan for it.

So anyway. Big Daddy eventually came over, gathered the three older kids in Charlie's bedroom and sat them down for THE BIG TALK. "I love you guys, and I love Mommy" he began. He talked to them about how he was feeling confused, and sad, and needed time to think. Time away from our house. The kids didn't cry, I remember that. Charlie asked him "But where will you live?" And Big Daddy regaled them with a description about his apartment, with a pool! That pacified them, and they went to bed.

These were the months when it dawned on me that geeze, maybe Big Daddy didn't have my best interests at heart. One week in July, the garbage man skipped my house. I called the company to let them know, and the chick on the other end told me, "Ummm your account is past due, ma'am. We can't do a pick up until you make a payment." Yep..he had stopped paying the bills and forgot to mention this little fact to me. I asked him about the garbage bill, and the house payment, and all the other things that had been, up until this moment, his "job". He apologized and said he'd take care of everything, but told me "You're going to have to figure all of this stuff out now." Yep, I certainly would. Meanwhile, as Big Daddy got the finances figured out, we became the house on the block with the big stinking pile of garbage. This was July, remember.

So now you know what goes through my mind when one of my more fortunate friends tells me she knows how I feel. Yes, she does, to some extent. Getting the inmates fed, driven to their games, bathed and then finally down for the night is exhausting when you're solo. But my friends have a distinct advantage. Their own Big Daddy is coming back...there is an end in sight for them. There is a retirement fund, bills that are paid, a paycheck, a built-in best friend..hell, they even know for a fact that they will have sex again, sometime in this decade. And their kids haven't stopped asking them "When is Daddy coming home?".


I look like somone in the movies

Unfortunately it's the naked, dead old lady from "The Shining".

Note to self: God made bathroom mirrors get fogged up for a reason, fool.


Empty house...be careful what you wish for

So I haven't had more than 2 hours to myself since at least February. The two older kids really don't like going to Big Daddy's house on "his" weekends, and as much as I think it's beneficial to both parties for them to be there, I don't push it. But the past couple of weeks have been kind of intense, not for any particular reason other than I'm a single mom, raising four kids, working my ass off to pay for housing, food and other frills and I'm currently on a self imposed break from all things carby, sugary and wonderful. But I digress. I've been feeling crabby and needed a break. So I didn't give them a choice this weekend.

I dropped Charlie off at lacrosse practice last night and on the way home decided that I deserved some pad thai. So I called my favorite take out place and ordered some...figuring that by the time I made it home, Big Daddy would have been there, collected my angels, and left already.

So I pull in the driveway, greasy paper bag in hand, ready to have a quiet binge. Lo and behold, Big Daddy hadn't been there. The second I walked through the front door my three remaining kids swooped on me like a flock of vultures who had been starved for a month. "WHAT'S IN THERE?" "IT'S NOT WINE, IS IT???" "MOM NO FAIR YOU GOT CHINESE!!!". And my silent binge turned into egg rolls split four ways and all of the shrimp picked out of the pad thai. Sigh.

After Big Daddy finally arrived, I settled onto the couch with Walter and my now meatless noodles. And then realized how quiet it was.

You don't know how used to the noise you've become until it's removed. I find myself absolutely bored off of my ass when they're gone, no matter how padded my schedule is, no matter how much work I get done. I miss my kids. Don't get me wrong: I don't miss the nit picky fighting, the whining, the clogged toilets...that stuff I really can do without. But I miss the stories they tell me, the laughter. I miss having my people around me.

But what can you do? Besides the split up holidays, this is the worst part of divorce. Having your kids taken away from you every other weekend. I wasn't the one who wanted to separate myself from this family, to this day I think it's a crying shame that I should have to be without my kids. I know they need to be with him, and I know that he loves them and wants time with them, but the pouty toddler in me is still stomping her feet and tantruming about it.

I miss my babies.
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