Conversations with Strep Boy

My William was home sick for two days, strep throat hit. And yes, it hit us a mere week after I had bragged to one of my friends that, "We NEVER get strep!". Watch what you say.

Anyhoo. So I had two days filled with random conversation with him. And I loved it. I think as your kids get older you tend to forget the hours you used to spend on the back and forth with their insatiably curious brains. I'm not happy he was sick but I am glad we had some time together.

"Mom, if zombies were attacking would you let us get guns?"

"Mom: Do you think Michael Jackson is in heaven?"

"Mom, there's this little kid on the bus and one time I think me and Matt made him cry. Should I say sorry next time I see him?"

"Mom. What's the worst food in the world?"

"Mom. Can we see if there are any zombie movies on?"

"Mom! Come here quick! I just did the coolest thing with this penny!"

"Mom get in here now, I just found the biggest spider!" (and he did. And it was terrifying. We captured it and let it out in the backyard and then spent the next 40 minutes Googling "Biggest spiders in Minnesota")

"Mom; if someone paid you a million, trillion dollars would you kill a squirrel?"

"Mom. Why don't you have a real job?"

"Mom, time how fast it takes me to spin in a circle."

"Mom, again. I want it to be at least 20 miles per hour."

"Mom, can we get McDonalds?"

"You're mean."

"Mom, can you come downstairs with me? Do you have like some laundry to do or something? I want to play XBOX."

"Mom. What if I took ALLLLLlllll of my medicine in one day. Wouldn't that cure me?"

"Mom. Where are you??"

"Mom. Why are you playing Bejeweled Blitz again?"

"Mom...I think the big kids are home."

"Mom, do you think I'll be better to go to school tomorrow? What if I wake up and I'm still sick?"

Needless to say, Strep Boy went back to school today. I'm not worrying about lack of conversation, though.

Charlie the man/child woke up with strep symptoms. This may be a long week.


Oh Dear.

It hit me, this morning....

I've become the George Costanza of my social circle.

It happened gradually. I didn't wake up one day and decide that it was ok to walk around in public wearing things that shouldn't be seen outside of a gym or a bedroom. It was baby steps that led me to this...this...state.

It used to take me a good hour to prep in the morning, more than that to get ready to "go out" at night. Shower, moisturize, make up, and then hair. Oh the hair. I used to tend to it like a retiree tends to their prize bonsai tree. Apply product, blow dry, straighten, fuss, muss. I'd hold up mirrors and check it out from the back, to make sure people behind me got a treat. When I first started going gray I found my very own Aveda "stylist" who would welcome me with open arms and a cape every six weeks. She'd make me Dark Chocolate Brown again, and give me a hand massage to boot.

The hair that doesn't grow on my head? I paid attention to that, too. Waxing, bleaching, tweezing...there wasn't a single renegade whisker that was able to sneak by me. I remember sitting on the beach one time, and looking down with sheer horror at a sneaky ankle hair I'd missed. I pulled the interloper out with my fingertips. Not on my watch, mister. No way.

I used to wear matching bras and underwear (after my 8 solid years of wearing nursing bras, that is). My friend April and I would spend hours searching the clearance racks at Target, putting together cute matchy-matchy lingerie sets. Have you ever done this with a girlfriend? If not, do it. We had a blast. And yes I'm fully aware that there are many other, better, classier places to buy your underwear, but even when I gave a damn about what was holding the twins in place I still wanted a bargain. There's some cute stuff at Target...seriously.

The clothes...even at my most stylish (and by stylish I mean when I used to look in a mirror before I left the house) I was still pretty simple: Jeans, Danskos or boots, and some variation of my favorite long sleeved tees or turtleneck sweaters. I did dabble in the "blouse" department for a while, too. Who doesn't love a crisp white shirt?

I accessorized too. Loved my big chunky necklaces from Chico's and J.Jill. Always had earrings in, always. There are a few cute scarves hanging in my closet, a testimony to my accessorizing days. And purses! I am a closeted Coach fiend. I used to love them, way back in the day when they only came in 3 or 4 colors and in a handful of styles. I'm still not super crazy about the new-fangled Coach, with the canvas logo stuff, but I do have one gorgeous bag that was a gift from John McCain, and even at my poorest I've never once considered giving it up. It's a big, black leather bag, called the Julianne if I remember correctly. I named mine Phoebe. Don't tell anyone but when I got her home I stuck my head all the way into her purple-satin lined loveliness and inhaled that New Coach Smell. My other favorite purse is a basic black Harveys Seatbelt bag. I got that one for $6 at a garage sale. In pristine condition, hardly used. Yes, I did almost poop my pants at that one.

I was never, ever a girly-girl, one of the high maintenance "omigod I broke a nail" types. But at one time I did give a crap about the me I sent out into the world. I don't know if it's a case of no-crap giving or of me just not having the time/energy/resources to think about it anymore, but I'm not liking it. My shrink said that it's my own little weapon, my self-defense: blend into the background and you'll be safe. I think that's why I have an extra layer of fat these days, too. Kind of like insulation, if you will.

This morning, when I left the house to run some errands, this is what I looked like: way overgrown hair up in a messy bun (and it's like 10 different colors right now too...Andrea from Aveda would DIE if she saw me), ripped/holey faded sweatshirt, stretchy black workout capris in a quick dry fabric (because I work up a sweat thinking up self-deprecating analogies) and a stinky pair of pink Keens. I won't describe my legs, which haven't said hello to a razor in a few weeks...oops I guess I just did, huh? Ewww. I did wash my face and put on some spackle/concealer and some mascara. My purse of choice these days is a tiny "bar purse" that I've had for a bazillion years, another garage sale find (it's similar to this one from Hobo..I paid one dollar). Oddly enough, that little bag still garners compliments. Maybe because it's the one thing on me that doesn't look like it slept in a cardboard box? Who knows.

So...I'm thinking that it's time to change things. I constantly bitch and moan about how the only man in my life is neutered and has paws that smell like stale corn chips, but really, what do I expect when I walk around looking like Stacy and Clinton's worst nightmare? I imagine them doing the pre-makeover closet purge; the garbage bin would be filled with fleece and faded black pants and concert t-shirts (Clinton holding up a Godsmack tour shirt: "Really, Jenny?").

My favorite Seinfeld line, ever, is the mini-speech that Jerry gave to a sweatpants-wearing George: "You know the message you're sending out to the world with these sweat pants? You're telling the world: I give up! I can't compete in normal society. I'm miserable, so I might as well be comfortable. "

As hard as that line still makes me laugh, it's also a teeny bit disconcerting. Because I see myself in George.

And that, my friends, scares the hell out of me.


A Kinder, Gentler Victim Post: Jenny and John McCain

Kinder and gentler for a few different reasons: This one was a good guy. I also remain on good terms with his friends who initially introduced us, and I don't want to create any hard feelings. The fact that this guy and I didn't work out has already made things a little weird between the friends and myself (to me, at least) and I don't want to do anything to completely wreck it.

That said, I will call this one John McCain. "Oh, at least she's being gentle there, huh? Because John McCain is such a stud."

Calm down. He didn't look EXACTLY like John McCain but even those closest to him would have to admit there is some resemblance.

He isn't as old as J.M., either. If I recall correctly he was a little over 10 years older than me.

I got a call one Friday night, in the fall of 2007. Kids were with Big Daddy, and Friday nights back then used to be my Costco night, followed by my wine night. This particular Friday night, my trip to Costco was already done, and the wine had started when my phone rang. It was a woman I knew from school, her two boys were the same ages as Charlie and Henry and we'd become friendly watching their football games together.

"We're having a fire...get your butt over here!" she ordered. I looked down at what I was wearing...old Levi's and a faded red track jacket from American Eagle that I had borrowed from Charlie's closet. Plus about 2 day's worth of unshowered-ness. I had already had one glass of wine and was secretly really looking forward to watching Medium with Walter, but then she said, "Ooh..and there's someone here we want you to meet."

You'd think that I would have jumped in the shower, right? Knowing that there was a potential lovah there? No. Of course I didn't. I brushed my teeth, made sure the braids in my hair were even and took off.

The evening went well. So well, in fact, that the next morning I had my very first drive of shame home in a Volvo.

Yes, of course I did it. I remember being insanely nervous when I walked into my friend's backyard. The fire was already blazing and they were all seated around it. My friend jumped up to hug me hello and did the introductions. "Jenny, this is John. John, Jenny."

He was very pleasant. He had just returned from Sweden, where he had custom ordered his brand new Volvo. I got the dirt and started making the list in my head: divorced for many many years, no kids, owned a house, had a good, steady job which he'd held for many years. Liked wine. Laughed at my stupid jokes. Did I mention he liked wine? Apparently he was an avid wine collector, and had been so kind as to bring some of his collection with him that night.

Have I mentioned that I like wine? I'd be a collector but it never lasts that long.

So the wine was flowing freely, the fire was warm and golden and beautiful and with every glass of pinot noir my nervousness diminished. At some point we decided to move closer to each other, all the better to "chat" (yeahhh....that's it. Chat.). Next thing I knew my friend and her husband had gone to bed, leaving me and John McCain all by our lonesomes.

By then it was pretty apparent that I was in no shape to drive, so John did the noble thing and gave me a lift back to his house. Madness ensued, I'm sure. I woke up around 5 in the morning, horrified to find myself clad in only my thin warm up jacket and my socks. "Damn that wine." I said to myself. But the fuzzy memories I had from the hours prior weren't so awful. They were nice, in fact. As my eyes adjusted to the light I noticed that John McCain was lying next to me, propped up on one elbow, with a bemused smile on his face. "Well, at least he's smiling" I thought. We commenced with the painfully awkward morning-after small talk, and then he drove me back to my friend's house to get my car.

To be honest, I thought that this was going to be the first and only experience with John McCain. I cursed my stupid low alcohol tolerance, cursed my stupid lack of morals and cursed the fact that I had been unable to find my underwear. I tried to remember which shameful pair of granny panties I had been wearing that night, and was relieved to remember that the ones I had been wearing that day were actually semi-nice. As nice as you can find on the Gilligan O'Malley underwear clearance rack at Target, at least.

This was back when I was still kind of thin. Well, not skinny thin but hella smaller than I am now. That was when I used to delight in wearing pretties under my everyday wear. Kind of like a little secret that was mine all mine...or mine and whomever had the awful luck to be single, male and in range of my radar while I was drinking. I shudder to think of what would happen in this situation now that I'm fat again. How hot it would be to see me in my utilitarian beige Helga bra and the tired old crime scene undies that seem to be all I have left in my "delicates" drawer.

But I digress.

I talked to my friend later that Saturday, full of regret and woe. She laughed and said that it was all good, that John McCain was keeping his mouth closed about the whole deal BUT he was interested in talking to me again. I was impressed that he hadn't told them about how the night had unfolded after they'd retired, and felt a little tingle of something upon hearing that he wanted to talk. No, the tingle wasn't chlamydia, sillies.

So we talked. And I found out that he was kind, and a gentleman, and had found my underwear. We made a date on my next free night, which happened to be the night of my Henry's football banquet. I planned on going to the banquet for a little while and then sneaking out to meet John McCain. I had a feeling about this one, there were no warning bells going off or little nagging feelings. Yet. We talked almost every night and when the big day arrived I enlisted the help of some girlfriends to make sure I looked ok. I was admonished for wearing a turtleneck (my standard uniform back then was a black ribbed t-neck, jeans and black boots) but other than that, I got a thumbs up from all my ladies.

John and I met at a terrific restaurant not far from the banquet. He was sweet, and complimentary, and funny and insisted over and over again that I needn't be ashamed of my previous slutty behavior. We had a wonderful dinner, and honestly great conversation. He seemed to be a little more "mature" than me (obviously chronologically but also lifestyle-wise... of course that's not hard to accomplish), regardless of that I found myself starting to feel the old butterflies again.

Things progressed nicely with me and John McCain. He was huge into restaurants, loved trying new ones and was thrilled that I was always up for anything. He wined and dined me like no one had done before, and no one has since. I think he let me pay for half of a dinner, once. This was unlike any other dating experience I'd had thus far. "I could get used to this" I remember thinking. It was hard for me to accept being treated so nicely, as weird as that sounds. Big Daddy had been nice, a long time ago, but that seemed like another person's life. For the last limping years of our marriage he had treated me like an embarrassment, like an annoying appendage that he was forced to put up with....someone actually treating me like a queen? That was new.

One of the nicest things he did was plan a weekend away. I was a little uneasy about it at first, things seemed to be moving forward at a breakneck pace. But I went with it...and it turned out to be an unreal weekend at a gorgeous, exclusive secret hideaway lodge in Wisconsin. Four course gourmet dinners, beautiful private cabins...it was the most romantic place I'd ever been. We had a fabulous time and when we left I was starting to think that this one might be The One.

And then my crazy started showing.

It was during the wonderful beginning months of this relationship that I found out about Big Daddy whisking Secretary off to Bermuda to get married. He didn't have the decency or the balls to let me know...just sent me an email saying that he had a business trip coming up and would I take the kids? I found out via the kids a few weeks later. They were scared to tell me.

Now, I know...I knew. I knew that he would most likely get remarried. I had prepared myself for it, the best I could, but it still hurt. It wasn't painful because I had been harboring any delusions of us getting back together (my favorite quote regarding exes trying to rekindle: "You can't unscramble an egg."). The Big Daddy I had loved in that way was dead to me. It was just like the final nail in the coffin. I think the fact that it was either on or scarily close to the date of our doomed nuptials added some salt into the wound.

I mean really, the same date? I don't know about you guys, but if I was going to marry a dude who had been married before, I'd try and get my wedding as far away from his first one as possible. Who knows...maybe he didn't tell her, maybe it would make remembering this one at anniversary time easier, whatever. Learning about this marriage-made-in-hell brought out the looney tunes in me.

Poor John. He was patient, and understanding. He let me be psycho for a while. I was horrible to him, and he put up with it.

But he was there, waiting for me, when the crazy cleared. And we picked up right where we'd left off.

Things were humming right along when the shit really hit the fan, and the plug that had been holding my life together was pulled. My descent into poverty and foreclosure and all that other fun stuff was a very gradual one, and for quite some time I believed that I would find a way out of it. I was worried, of course, but not so much at first. I kept my despair hidden from John McCain, not because I was ashamed (well ok..I was a little ashamed) but because of this:

He would have done anything, and I mean ANYTHING to help me. I'm sad to say that I thought about it, considered begging him for help when things started getting really dark for me. But I couldn't, I wouldn't, drag anyone else down into this hole I was falling into. If I was going down, it was all by my lonesome.

Of course our relationship suffered, even when things first started rotting for me. He was still treating me like royalty, giving me gifts, taking me on little weekends away, and I became more and more distant. He even put up with me during the Big Lice Catastrophe, for God's sake. How many childless, single men would do that??

But things were going from bad to worse in my life, and I found myself unable to pull off the good old 'Happy Jenny' routine any more. I was a bitch to him, and like he said to me during our last conversation, I treated him like shit. I wanted to tell him about what was happening, wanted to tell him that I was getting foreclosure notices and creditor calls day and night. I wanted so badly to confide in him, let him put his arms around me and just take care of me. But I couldn't do it. So I did what came naturally to me and closed myself off.

He didn't give up so easily, though, and tried to get through all the way up until last winter. We had one last date, a movie date. I was so touched that he was still willing to put up with my lunacy and crappy treatment. But during the movie, I started having a freak out, a little panic attack. This was during the last legs of my foreclosure fight, right before I had decided to give up. And as I sat there in the darkened theater, watching Sandra Bullock with her awful dyed blond hair be a Southern-sassy in "The Blind Side", I found myself just wanting to be with my kids. I felt like I was betraying them, being out at a movie while they were home in a house that wasn't going to be ours for long. Having a good time while my babies sat there and waited for me.

And so I said I didn't feel well. John McCain drove me home for the last time.

We exchanged a few texts here and there for a bit, but those stopped too. I haven't seen or talked to him since I officially started my life over. I feel badly about how things went with us, feel badly about being such a freak with my emotions. Sometimes I think that maybe I should have confided in him, let him see the hurricane of desperation that always seemed to be whirling around me during that time. Would he have run away screaming like I'm sure most men would have? Who knows. He was such a "nice guy" that I doubt any running or screaming would have been done where I could see it, at least.

I hope he's well, and I hope he's happy. I truly hope that he's found someone who has her shit together, someone who can reveal her true self to him and enjoy the royal treatment.

John McCain deserves that.


Bankruptcy. The Final Frontier.

So, I've been absolutely dreading this part. That's why I've kept putting it off, and off, and off....it's like the last big huge monkey to remove from my back. And this one is a loud, stinky, poo-flinging beast.


Even the word sounds bad. Reeks of failure. Brings to mind that famous photograph of the Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange. It's like the word that your mom would whisper in a room full of people, with the sort of hushed reverence you'd expect to be reserved for discussing a grave illness or an illicit act. "That's Jenny. She's had to file for bankruptcy."

I normally like words that end with a y. This one, not so much.

Today is one of my days off from my little school job, so I will begin the Big B-word journey. I'm going to put in a few calls here and there and see if I can find a bankruptcy attorney who may be willing to take payments, or who has a special rate for broke-ass single moms such as myself. At this stage in the game, embarrassment has left the building. I've learned to separate myself from my credit score. Sort of. It's still a little humiliating to retell my story, to go over what I've had to do in order to keep things running as smoothly as possible for my kids and for myself, but at least I know this story by heart.

I've given myself some time to relax, to unpack and to be a mom. But this last bump in the road has been weighing heavily on my mind. I'm starting to slip back into my worrywart mode, the one where life goes on as normal but underneath the hustle and bustle of everyday life, there's the constant hum of fretting and anxiety and distress. I wear my "Happy Jenny" face but inside I'm making myself sick with all the "What ifs??". It keeps me awake at night, crawls into my dreams. Keeps me from living life the way it should be lived.

It's time to do this.

There is a silver lining here though (and no, I'm not going to try and sell the silver lining on Craigslist. But don't think I didn't consider it)....this truly is the last hurdle I have to jump before really getting my fresh start. Once this last band-aid is pulled off, the real healing can begin.

I know this isn't some magic wand that is to be waved over the shambles of what used to be my credit. I know that this is going to follow me around for the next decade or so, popping in and out of the shadows like a stalker. It's going to make things difficult, but you know what? Not impossible. It's never too late to start over, and even though I wish with every fiber of my being that instead of looking over bankruptcy FAQ's online I was out on a golf course with a tanned golf pro standing behind me helping my swing.... this is what I need to do.

One of my friends tried to discourage me from discussing this "on that blog" (she's not a big computer person and I really don't think she'd be able to find Google, never mind a blog). She worries that it's going to have a negative impact on me, on my life. I love her for being worried about that stuff, but, like I told her, there's not much else that can be done to hurt me or my credit rating or my financial reputation. Seriously. Unless I committed some horrific crime during a blackout in college or my early twenties that comes back to haunt me, and I'm pretty sure the worst thing I did back in those days was make out with random yahoos on the dance floor of Lyon's Pub (ohh and there was that bartender there...ahem) and maybe, just maybe eat some of my roommate's food.

I think one of the things that concerns this friend is the stigma surrounding bankruptcy. Some people think it's a cop-out, another case of someone living now, and never paying later. Which it is in a lot of cases. Is it the truth as far as my case is concerned? I don't think so. I didn't go on a crazy spending spree after I got divorced. I listened to the kids babble on about Big Daddy's massive new plasma t.v. and the theater surround sound system, about Big Daddy's wine fridge and designer dogs and the diamonds that Secretary received. "Stuff" was never that important to me. The biggest spree I went on was at Ikea's Scratch 'n' Dent section..$5.00 floor lamps? Woooot! I think any accountant or trustee or whoever they get to go over your financials will see that I did do a great job of managing my money. Things only got hairy when all of sudden there was no money to manage.

I was on the right track. And then I got derailed. That's all.

I did what I had to do.

Today, I will take a nice big deep breath, tell myself it's all ok, and do what I have to do one more time.


Dalmatians? Nope.

This is officially my 101st post. If I had posted every single draft I have started, tried to finish, maybe finished but didn't like? I'd have almost 200. So consider yourself lucky that I have at least a partial filter on this thing, otherwise you'd be subjected to a whole lotta Jenny dreck. And I can't thank you enough for reading the stuff I have decided to post. Whether or not you are aware of it, me writing this blog and you 10 or so kind ladies (and one gent, Jeff...maybe two if we count Big Daddy) reading it has been a majorly good thing in my life.

At the very least? My typing speed is improving.

In honor of this historically important post, here are 101 Random Thoughts, Facts and Other Flotsam and Jetsam from Jenny's Brain (don't worry, my attention will wane at about 30...):

1. I believe you can tell a lot about a person's character by observing whether or not they put their shopping carts away in the parking lot "corrals" provided by stores.

2. I have never had a professional manicure or pedicure.

3. I read Stephen King's "The Stand" in one day when I was 17.

4. I begin almost every day of my life with 2 fried eggs and one piece of toast.

5. I was diagnosed with ADD about 6 years ago and have been taking Adderall intermittently ever since. Without health insurance it was approx. $500 a month, thus the "intermittent" part.

6. If I had been diagnosed with ADD and treated earlier in my life, I believe things would be very different for me.

7. My eldest child is named Charlie for 2 reasons: After Charles Barkley and because I saw the movie "Scent of A Woman" while pregnant and loved Chris O'Donnell's character.

8. The sound of Dave Matthew's voice makes me want to drop trou. Which is embarrassing if I hear it out in public.

9. I don't discuss politics with friends.

10. I met Chris Farley and George Wendt on the same night. I wept when Farley died.

11. I screen my calls. That said, I rarely have my cell phone nearby, and chances are no matter where it is, it's on vibrate. I usually miss the four or so calls I get a week. Sorry Mom.

12. When I'm on facebook I keep myself offline. If you see me online, it's either because one of my kids got to my account or I desperately need to talk to someone.

13. My daughter is named Molly after Molly Ringwald. And I'm not ashamed to admit it. John Hughes movies provided the soundtrack for my teens.

14. I've been a Sunday School teacher for the past 3 years. Don't laugh! This fall I'm going to move onto Confirmation with this same group and be their Small Group Leader. I said stop laughing.

15. Getting and staying pregnant was ridiculously easy for me. It's a miracle that I only did it four times. If I wasn't so old, I'd be a surrogate in a heartbeat.

16. I love doing laundry. No lie. LOVE IT.

17. Two books have changed my life: The World According To Garp and Push by Sapphire. Both for immensely different reasons.

18. I believe that every kid deserves a chance. Some deserve a multitude of chances. The world would be a better place if every kid had at least one good adult in their life.

19. Being nice is way easier than being a bitch. But sometimes the bitch just comes out.

20. My last break-up ended with my former lovah telling me, "You treat people like shit." That hurt. I think it's partially true...not that I do it on purpose, but I have poor interpersonal skills. I'm working on it.

21. I love, love, LOVE movies based on comic books. Watchmen made me cry.

22. I have never, ever had a flat stomach. Even at my fittest, before-babies-best, I had a pooch.

23. I hate talking on the phone. Hate it.

24. I have long hair but I'm beginning to feel awkward about it. I kind of "get" why women get short haircuts after a certain age now.

25. Speaking of hair...mine started getting some gray when I hit 36. If I didn't color it, I think it'd be about 45% silver. I wish I had the balls to just stop coloring it. But I think I might look like a bag lady.

26. It's essential for me to have some utterly alone time at least once a week. I go insane without it.

27. I think that whoever says "Money can't buy you happiness" has never been really poor. I don't know about happiness but money sure helps keep your kids fed.

28. I think every person in this country should watch a few episodes of Hoarders. It epitomizes the over-abundance and gluttony in America (with a healthy dollop of mental illness thrown in). And every time I watch an episode, I end up bringing a few bags of "hoardy stuff" to a donation drop stop the next morning.

29. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." That's why every t.v. in my house weighs 1000 lbs. and is the size of a portable dishwasher. Hey, they still work.

30. I love Ikea, but let's face it...whatever you buy there will be broken in under a year. It's "Pinewood Derby" furniture. (My bed is from Ikea, though, and remains unharmed. Probably due to lack of activity).

31. Seeing dead animals on the road makes me sad.

32. I think as a rule, most men drive like they screw. Some are patient and courteous, others are rude, abrasive and just want to get to the finish line first. Sadly the patient ones are usually senior citizens driving Buicks.

33. It is complete insanity that it costs $10.00 to go see a movie now. A movie that will most likely not be really good, and in all certainty will be on DVD within 8 weeks. Unless I start dating again, I'm boycotting. I know, the theater owners are trembling.

34. I'm a t.v. whore. I'll watch anything. Except NASCAR. And that Suite Life show.

35. I think freckles are cute.

36. I served as a pallbearer at my grandpa's funeral. Hands down the most emotionally hard-hitting moment of my life, yes even more so than having babies and getting divorced. He was a good man. Saying goodbye is tough.

37. I don't care if a guy looks like Quasimodo, put him in a cop/fireman/construction uniform and I'd do him. Ok maybe not do him, but I will look. The fact that "Rescue Me" is like 48 minutes of soft porn for me will attest to this fact.

38. My gaydar is strong and accurate. I called Lance Bass eons ago. I'm still waiting for a certain Jonas Brother to find the handle on the closet door.

39. You have to be a pretty ginormous asshole for me to not like you. Even if you're just a slight asshole chances are I'll cut you some slack.

40. Chances are slim to none that I'll ever get married again...and Slim ain't looking so good.

41. Yes I do believe that John Travolta and Tom Cruise aren't quite what they're advertised to be. Like, heterosexual. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

42. On that note, I had washed my hands of Tom Cruise until I saw him as Les Grossman. Get back get back, you don't know me like that. Priceless. Tom is redeemed.

43. I can't cook. Ok, I can make two things really well: Curry Chicken and Pot Roast. Anything other than that, it's questionable.

44. I was on anti-depressants for about 10 months. I know they really help some people but I felt like a comatose, emotionless zombie on those things. Quit cold turkey.

45. Two things that I try not to keep in my house: booze and potato chips. Not much good can come from either.

46. I can't wear wool. Nor can I wear jewelry that isn't gold or silver.

47. I collect Christmas ornaments/decor from the 50's and 60's. I think I was born in the wrong era.

48. I still dream about my ex-husband, at least a couple times a month. And in my dreams, we're usually quite amicable. Which means that maybe my subconscious is more mature than me.

49. Yeah I know, we're supposed to be feeding our kids whole foods and natural grains and yada yada, but whole wheat pasta sucks. No matter how much butter and cheese you put on it.

50. Where did I say I'd start to wane? I'm waning. Maybe I'll just call this my half-assed list of 101 Random Thoughts, Facts and Other Flotsam and Jetsam from Jenny.

51. If you care to comment, tell me a few things about you that fit in with this theme...I'm dying to know.

And that's a wrap ♥


My kids have good friends.

I'm lucky, and my kids are even luckier.

We live in a suburb of Minneapolis with neighborhoods that run the gamut from Section 8 housing right up to clusters of multi-million dollar mansions built on their very own lake. With a nice large section of "middle class" in there.

I attended high school with approximately 4 black kids. A smattering of Russian kids, a few from Vietnam. My best friends were all white girls, all middle-class, all either Lutheran, Jewish or Catholic. Hardly any came from single parent homes. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I'll add. I had some kick ass friends. But I look at the people who have snuggled up to my babies thus far in their lives, and I am amazed at what I see.

Last night my Henry slept over at one of his best friend's houses. This friend is from Ethiopia. They've been buds since kindergarten, and even now that this friend has moved to a city a little ways away they are keeping the friendship going. Henry has been to parties with this kid, Ethiopian parties filled to the brim with food, language, music, etc. all straight from Africa. Henry has eaten goat. Seriously? You can't buy this kind of education. Well, I guess there are some pretty cool camps here in Minnesota where your child can be immersed in a culture for a few weeks but they cost more than my life is currently worth, so I'll rephrase that: I can't buy this kind of education. I'm grateful that these two are friends.

One of Molly's best friends is from Bosnia. She and her family are Muslim. Her parents lived there and saw things that I couldn't imagine, don't want to imagine. And here they are in Minnesota. If you saw my daughter and this girl together, you'd see two tall, goofy girls. One with curly blond hair, the other with straight brown hair. You'd never look at them and say, "Hey, one of them is Muslim." Knowing someone of this faith has made for some interesting discussions here at our house. Especially now during the whole mosque issue. Hard to classify Muslims as evil, American-hating terrorists when one of them is painting her toenails in your living room. I'm grateful that these two are friends.

One of Charlie's best friends has been in his life since he was 3. They were in pre-school together, and this particular boy happens to be the son of my former BFF, Big Red. I call him "Little Red" or "Ginger" due to the fact that he inherited his mommy's fire-red tresses. This kid and Charlie have been through some interesting stuff, including their moms going from best friends to icy strangers. Little Red's dad is the one who stepped up and helped me through the child support/foreclosure nightmare. I know that at some point, it was suggested to Little Red that he not hang out with my Charlie anymore. That Charlie's bad choices and such were not becoming features for a friend. But they stuck it out. I think they're learning a lot from each other, even now that they are big bad high schoolers. I'm grateful that these two are friends.

William and his friend "O" are in my bed, right this second, watching t.v. and eating popcorn. This boy's mom and I went to preschool together, right here in this very neighborhood I am sitting in now. She and I were best friends all through elementary school and then went our separate ways. We ended up running into each other many years ago, I was outside in the front yard of my old house, she waddled up and announced that she and her husband had just moved into a house around the corner. She was very pregnant with her second child, and her first child just happened to be a little boy the exact same age as my William. We have all been friends ever since. A year and a half ago, this friend's husband died. Suddenly, without warning, he left this earth. I struggled to comfort my friend and watched as William comforted "O". I'm grateful that these two are friends.

For every friend that I've described here there are at least 3 or 4 others who have all been there for my kids. Children from every walk of life, every income, every race. I've been lucky enough to become friends with the parents of several of them, and my life is richer for that, too.

Sure, there have been some shady ones, some Eddie Haskell-wanna be types. Some have taught my kids that not everyone on this planet is to be trusted. Others have come and gone just because that's the nature of childhood friendships. But every one of them has left their mark.

And some of these marks, I promise to never go near them with my Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Some of these marks are staying.


Where was Superman?

Another day in September, it was. We were toe-deep into our second week of school, Charlie in 2nd grade, Molly in kindergarten. Henry was the pre-schooler and my William was a little over a year old. This particular Tuesday morning was spectacularly mundane.

PBS was on, this was well after I had dropped the pretense of being a "t.v. free" mom. I think it was Arthur that was starting when my phone rang.

It was Big Red, my former BFF. "Turn on the t.v." she said. "It's on! What's the matter?" I asked her.

"Just turn on a regular channel, Jenny. I can't believe what's happened."

I fumbled for the remote and found one of the morning news shows. I was confused though, it showed a building on fire, I remember thinking to myself, "That looks like the World Trade Center." And then, as I sat there and tried to figure out what the hell was going on, the camera panned out wider and an airplane, a regular old, everyday kind of airplane, crashed into the building next to the one already in flames. I remember thinking, "Huh. It is the World Trade Center." The horror of the situation had yet to sink in.

By this time the kids had stopped whatever it was they were doing and stood still, big blue round eyes focused on the mayhem unrolling on the screen in front of us. Charlie yelled out "Woo hoo! What movie is this, Mommy!". And in a moment that I'm still ashamed of, I snapped at him: "SHUT UP! This isn't a movie! It's happening right now." By this time I had read the frantically scrolling messages that were blipping under the images. This was not a mistake, not a case of bad air-traffic controllers. This was an attack. I remember thinking, "Is this war? What do we do? Who's next?". I called Big Daddy at work and he said they were all watching there, too. "Come home, please!" I begged him. He consoled me and said that they were all being advised to stay put.

Now it was nearing the time we usually headed out the door for school. But was school happening? What the hell are we supposed to do? It was like a dream. I called Big Red, but she didn't answer. I called our school and the Secretary/Wizard Behind the Curtain with her smooth, calm, granola voice soothed me. "Yes, we are on schedule. Yes, just come on, bring in the kids. It's all going to be o.k." I hung up. Looked at my boy with his backpack, my little girl with her Dutch boy haircut and her Hanna Andersson clogs. "Time for school, babies."

We made our way down the sidewalks, talking about anything and everything, anything but what was happening in cities thousands of miles away from us. I searched the eyes of people in cars as they passed, searching for signs of recognition that they, too, felt as though the fibers of reality were slowly unraveling around us.

One of my friends slowed down next to us, her mini-van full of kids to drop off at school. She yelled out to me, "Look at the sky. There are no planes! Where are the planes??".

I looked up. The sky was an unreal, brilliant shade of blue that day. And my friend was right. Not only was the sky that technicolor blue, it was also sans clouds....and there were no planes.

The teachers did a great job that day. They were calm, reassuring support beams for our confused and scared kids. They were no doubt screaming inside their own heads, worrying about family and friends and how their own babies were doing.

I hurried home with the two younger boys and sat down to absorb all I could, find out answers, see if we should all be ducking and covering and hiding instead of putting on our happy faces and pretending that everything was fine and dandy.

Remember seeing those white flags being waved outside the windows of the buildings? I will never forget that. In my stupid, naive, innocent brain I thought that surely there would be helicopters sent to rescue them, that somehow those people would get out. In this Disney movie, happy ending world we have been programmed to think that things will be fine.

And then, the jumpers.

They showed one poor soul, almost floating in the air. Legs and arms akimbo, I remember thinking it looked like one of those dummies that they use in movies. Only this wasn't a dummy. This wasn't a movie.

I turned off the t.v. Cleaned the house, played with my boys. Got ready to go get the other two from school.

Put on my happy face. But part of me died that day, I think a lot of us had things die within us on that beautiful, perfect September day. I felt my heart break as I pictured husbands and wives and dads and moms and kids waiting, hoping against hope that their loved one was ok, that they had somehow made it.

I thought about them that night, as I tucked the kids into bed. What were the kids in New York and Washington D.C. being told as the covers were pulled up to their chins? That mommy or daddy would be home in the morning and that everything was ok? I thought about so many people...I thought of the wives and husbands of the firefighters and cops. The families of the people who had the bad luck to get put on one of the doomed flights that day. The people who happened to be walking down the streets of New York that morning, maybe on their way to work, maybe off to meet a friend for coffee, off to a job interview. How does this happen in a world such as ours, a world so advanced and so smart and big?

This was just a few months after the stretch of time when my Henry was obsessed with Superman. He wore a little Superman costume, cape and all, for several months in a row. Every day (I still have that size 3T costume, knees and elbows worn through, and someday I will show his kids their Daddy's little superhero outfit). As I kissed Henry goodnight, he said..."Superman, mommy." I asked him, "What about Superman, honey?". He looked up at me, huge saucer eyes earnest and full of sincerity and said, "Superman could have saved them." I knew what he was talking about. I hugged him tight, and said, "Yep. You're right, H. He could have."

That night I dreamed of the person falling from the building. Sickeningly graceful, they looked for all the world like a feather, listing, lurching, descending.

And in my dream, out of nowhere, Superman swooped in, took the falling man in his arms and flew him to safety. I woke up, choking on sobs, tears streaming down my cheeks and onto the pillow.

Where was Superman that day? We really could have used him.

9/11/2001. Never, ever forget.


Mean Girls all growed up.

Were you a mean girl back in the day?

I was, to some extent. I wasn't the hottie mean girl, that's for sure. But I have very clear memories of being absolutely horrible to a few kids. One girl in 5th grade, this one haunts me. We had a little class, something like 15 or 16 kids? And there were just 5 girls. Which Einstein decided to put an odd number of girls, such a low odd number of girls in a group of kids who were stuck together for an entire school year?? Of course we paired up, two sets of "cool" girls which eventually morphed into one set of four. Leaving an odd man/girl out. Her name was Laura and my heart breaks when I think of her.

She had that kind of frizzy, dark blond hair that always looked as if she'd hopped out of bed and rushed to school. She wore "dorky" clothes, baby clothes...pinafores and tights and black patent Mary Janes. I remember how we crucified her when she came to school one day with brand new white go-go boots (my old crones, remember those?? That crinkly vinyl, the zipper that would ALWAYS get stuck?). Four of us, circling like hyenas. "Nice boots, Laura" we said. I remember we kicked dirt on them. Laura cried, we laughed. I'm still ashamed, to this very day.

Puberty, divorce and heredity all brought things into perspective for me. My mom moved after that year and I started over in a brand new school. I started getting taller and boobier and hippier. My hair started curling and frizzing, and zits started cropping up on my forehead. My mom made me wear a bra so those awkward pointy clown hats that were growing on my chest didn't announce themselves to everyone when the wind blew a certain direction. Only the bra made me feel even more conspicuous than the clown hats did so I began my lifelong habit of hunching over, curling my shoulders in to try and hide the freakshow that my torso was becoming. I was like the female Napoleon Dynamite, folks. I even had moon boots.

But even then, with all that goin' on for me, I found a couple new mean girls and boys and of course, a couple new victims. One boy, he was cursed with being the short, scrawny, smart kid. And he had awful dandruff. His name was Mike, and the brain trust that was me and my new crew called him "Lice". One little scenario I recall about this poor kid: a few of us were standing around his desk, hissing "Lice!" and someone was, God help us, actually kicking him. One of the bigger boys in the mean group picked up Mike's desk, kid and all, and then dropped it. I remember his voice, that nasally, high pitched, sad voice begging us to stop.

Remember my tale of woe regarding head lice? I bet old Mike is sitting back somewhere, laughing his ass off. That's karma, baby. Maybe all of this poopstew that I've been swimming around in over the past few years is payback for being such a dick. But then again, I know plenty of people who are successful and seemingly happy now, who were even bigger a-holes than I was. Karma is a band aid and a spanking all rolled up into one convenient package.

Besides, my experimentation with being a mean girl ended that year. Once we graduated from elementary school and were thrown into the big swirling pool of junior high, I quickly realized that I was a very small, very frizzy haired fish indeed. There were girls who, I swear, walked down the hallways in slow motion, backlit, holding their Trapper Keepers at just the right angles so everyone could see that they were wearing real bras, not the flimsy Maidenform tube thing. These girls had the perfect, shiny hair that swayed behind them like the brushers in a car wash flit down the back end of the car in front of you....back and forth, bobbing and weaving. They used Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific, and guess what? It did. When they'd pass through a locker-lined corridor they'd leave in their wake a pink dusty cloud of Love's Baby Soft and a handful of red-faced boys holding their Trapper Keepers in an entirely different fashion.

That's the time in my life when I really started writing. A diary, short stories, angsty poems, etc. I knew that no matter how hard I tried, no matter how much Sun In or V05 Hot Oil treatments I used, no matter how many of my mom's Ayds diet candies I ate, I was never going to be one of Those Girls. And it was ok. I came to terms with it pretty early on.

Once again I found myself with a little group of friends, none of us the Blair Warner type, more of a lovable and blissfully average amalgamation of Tootsie, Natalie, Jo and a bit of Vicki from Love Boat thrown in for good measure. Just a nice group of normal girls. Our strength wasn't in our Sassoon jeans, no. We were the funny girls. I'm pretty sure we did our share of low-grade mean girl crap, but nothing that has adhered to my conscience with the tenacity of my earlier travesties. I do remember a few boys actually wanting to hang out with us, though. Not the studs, not the hot burnouts, but a nice selection of fellows who honestly enjoyed our schtick. I remember the first time a boy, a real live boy told me that I was the funniest person he knew. I was on cloud nine. Until he turned around to ask one of my prettier friends to prom. Sigh.

The clowns, we are always crying on the inside.

But anyways. There is a point to this spew.

I'm getting older. I don't have a whole lot of patience anymore, nor do I have the time or energy to play head games.

I've grown tired of the Mean Girl crap.

Yes, it's still there. Only now it has little wrinkles around the eyes, and the boobs are held up with a bit stronger hardware. And some of it has done real well, either job-wise or husband-wise. But it's still there.

It's not as blatant as it was all those moons ago. It's almost worse. It's a whispering, semi-devious slip of a thing.

It's gossip. It's a raised eyebrow behind someone's back, it's discussing someone out of "concern".

I'm the first to admit that I'm guilty, guilty as hell of doing all of the above. I've said shit that I shouldn't have said, repeated things that should have just been left to dry up and blow away the second I heard them. I've done the "we're best friends" thing and seen it blow up in my face.

But being alone, being a divorced mom...it's changed me. I learned, pretty quickly, that my girlfriends were going to be my lifeguards. I don't have a best buddy to sink into bed with after the kids are asleep and the dinner dishes are done, floss our teeth together and talk about our days, watch t.v. and then have boring, familiar, comforting married sex. I only have my womenfolk, my hens. And I decided that I was done with the Mean Girl stuff. Ever since then I've tried my hardest to be a Nice Girl. I think have a pretty awesome array of friends to show for it, too. Some of them, never in a million years would I have believed that they'd want to be friends with me. Smart women, brilliant women, gorgeous women, hilarious women.

And I have done a good job of thinking before I speak, trying with all my might to stick to my mantra "don't say anything you wouldn't say to their face!". But I slipped. That's what got me thinking about the whole Mean thing.

I gossiped.

I repeated something to someone who said something to the person who the original person was originally talking about although the original person didn't know for sure if it was the other original person....understand? It's not par for the course for me to do that, in fact it's a rarity, and I felt (still feel) badly about it. I feel like a betrayer of trust, a blabber of secrets. It's not a life or death thing, and I think things are pretty much water under the bridge as far as it's concerned, but still...I feel bad. And I sit here and try to buck myself up, go all Coach Lombardi on myself "Hey you weren't being malicious! YOU WERE BEING SOLICITOUS." My gut is telling me otherwise. I hate this feeling enough to know that it will stop me the next time I feel like spilling a bean or wagging a chin or tattling.

On facebook the other day, one of my long-lost elementary school friends posted a photo. It was my long-lost friend, and a pretty woman our age. I looked closer at the picture and I'm pretty sure I gasped when I realized who the pretty woman was.

It was Laura. No more go-go boots, no more pinafore. Just a radiant, happy looking woman.

She looks like a nice girl.

Sometimes I think my life is PROOF that God has a sense of humor.


And you know what? I have a sense of humor too. That's why I teach my kids that no matter what, we can find something to smile about, to giggle about, to crack up over.

So I went to my friend's cabin again this past long Labor Day weekend. And of course, it was lovely.

The angels were with Big Daddy, and honestly, I missed them something fierce. Until my friend's kids started a big whoop-ass contest on each other, and then it was deliciously lovely to be able to sneak into the guest room and let a different Mom and Dad deal with it. But I still missed my kids.

My friend's husband is afraid of dogs. Not like "run away screaming" afraid, more along the lines of "visibly flinching if a dog comes too close". When I was invited up to the cabin, I asked my two dog-sitting friends if Walter could be their guest for the weekend. Neither one could do it, so I was starting to panic a little. I mean, getting away for the weekend certainly wasn't a matter of life or death, but the prospect of spending 3 long days all by my lonesome wasn't super appealing.

So I called my girlfriend and let her know I was having trouble finding a place for the dog to stay. "Just bring him" she said, "and get ready. I'm picking your ass up in 10 minutes." I stammered out "B-b-but what about Steve (her husband)???". She sighed. And then said, "Let me handle him. You're coming, and so is Walter. Now GET READY." Steve's friend was coming up for the weekend, with one of his sons, and my friend was not going to let something as trivial as a dog keep her from having a friend to play with, too.

And so we went. One night, after the kids had passed out and us grown ups were having a few drinks and playing games, Steve regaled us with the tales of his paper route he had when he was a boy. Including the several times he was chased, and bitten, by protective and insane dogs. All the while my own protective and insane dog slumbered on the rug in front of us. And I was grateful that Steve not only acted like having Walter up there was no big deal, but actually went out of his way to accommodate my big smelly travel companion.

We learned a few things that weekend: if you give Jenny a high-five while shouting about how great we are at playing Scene-It, Walter may try to lunge at you. Also, if you are a single woman who has a spoiled, fiercely possessive dog, it may not be a bad idea to introduce some grown men into his life. Walter was positively freaked out by the guys, at first. Of course I used that fact to illustrate the point that I am now close to achieving nun/born-again virgin status. But going forward I'll see if any of the men in the neighborhood will entertain my little "Walter, Meet Man" experiment. Beer may help.

Anyhoo, so on to the part about God and humor and all that. That Friday afternoon, as I was busy packing and getting stuff ready for the weekend away, the kids were waiting for Big Daddy to pick them up for their long weekend with him. And of course, they were pissing and moaning about it. Charlie was the one moaning the loudest, and when he heard me starting to freak out a little over the dog situation, he stepped up to the plate and said, "Hey, how about I stay here and watch Walter?".

When my laughter subsided enough so that I could talk, I explained to him that there was no way in hell, in fact, no way ANYWHERE, anytime, that I would leave a 16 year old boy alone. In a house. For a weekend. He protested, loudly and annoyingly. "You just don't trust me, that sucks" he pouted.

I explained to him that it's not him I don't trust, it's his species. Teenage boys. More specifically, 16 year old teenage boys. Plain and simple. As a precautionary heads-up, I sent a text to Big Daddy informing him that I was going out of town and to be watchful over the plotting boy. I also locked the house up tighter than Big Daddy's checking account. Made sure windows were locked, deadbolts bolted, etc. I even called one of my neighbors and asked her to look over in our direction once in a while just to make sure there weren't pillars of smoke billowing out of the windows or a line of giggling teenagers paying a bouncer at the front door. She laughed and then I'm sure locked her own 16 year old boy in the basement for the weekend.

Bases covered, right?

Yeah, right.

When I got home Monday night, the first thing I noticed was that all of the framed pictures, every single one in the entire house, had been turned around. Turned around so that my smiley faced angels in the pictures were beaming towards a wall, not out at the world. At first I thought, "Amityville" and then I thought "teenagers". I did a mom/bloodhound examination of the house, and found things different than when I had left. Most notable were the 42-odd Go-Gurt wrappers strewn about the mancave. Then there was a light on in the garage. And yes, oh yes...someone had been sleeping in my little bear's beds.

I had made beds that Friday morning, and while my bed-making skills will never win me a prize, I most certainly didn't leave them looking slept in. And one of my mysterious house guests had the foresight to bring his very own blankie, which he had forgotten in my William's bed. I was pissed. And grossed out, what with my head-lice phobia. And I tried really hard to not think about other things that could be left in a bed. Really hard.

At this point, the kids were still with Big Daddy, so I did what any rational mother would do: sent my 16 year old son a single sentence text:

"You are so busted."

Long, long story just a bit shorter: Boy protested, mom presented evidence, boy broke down and admitted to having "just a couple homies" over. Trust: shattered. As of this writing, I haven't notified Big Daddy that his parental observation skills are lacking. I'm still trying to figure out how, exactly, to express my frustration and disappointment without sounding like a bitchy shrew. My guess is that I could say "The sky is blue" to him and come off as a bitchy shrew, but I'm going to try and present the facts in a factual, unemotional way. LOL.

Cut to this a.m.: We had some crazy wind in our city last night, people lost power, patio umbrellas were tossed about like toothpicks, etc. When I went downstairs to start the wake up process with the boys, I noticed a chill in the mancave. A chill and some wind. I discovered that the large egress window in their room was shattered.

Sigh. Was it the wind? Certainly, I would have noticed this the night before. But the paranoid mother in me felt instantly squeamish and wondered if it was tied to my son's Risky Business weekend. I pictured a group of "homies", running around, doing stupid teenage things and accidentally breaking the window. Or worse yet, breaking it in order to get in the house. I went outside in my pajamas and looked at the scene from that perspective. There is a large plastic apron, usually placed over the window, which was a dozen or so feet across the yard. I am thinking that the high winds lifted that sucker and in the process of moving it, broke the window. But honestly, I don't know. I will be placing a call to my angel landlord this morning and see how much he really likes his Poor Little Matchgirl renter and her kids now.

I'm hoping that this was indeed an accident and not caused by my kid and his Potsie Weber clan. I'm hoping that the repairs don't have to come out of my already empty pockets.

I'm really hoping that I find the humor in this situation, pronto.


No, I'm not gassy. I'm decompressing.

Phhhhhht. What? You've never heard a woman decompress before? Well there ya go. I'd stand back a couple feet if I were you.

So hello, September. Things are much different than they were just a week or so ago.

Oh no, don't get any ideas. I'm still single, still poor, still trucking along.

But school has started. The big ol' Freedom Bus has started making her rounds again. This year I have three kids in the upper grades (one high school, two jr. high) and one little boy left in elementary. So I'm back to my 5:30 a.m. wake up time, and believe it or not, it's good. I have come to the conclusion that the kids aren't the only ones in this house who thrive on structure and routine. For the past 4 days I've accomplished more by 9:00 a.m. than I did for entire weeks during the summer. Get this: I'm even making beds.

School starting means that I'm back at work, I'm Cesar Millan for the human puppies. I've said it before, but it bears repeating....you can be in the worst mood, ever, like manic/bad, but walking out onto a playground and hearing your name screamed out by a legion of kids while they race up to hug you will fix it. They are like walking, talking anti-depressants. And I'm not even remotely depressed this year, so you can imagine how wonderful it feels this time around. If I had my life to do over, I'd be a teacher.

I have hung things on my walls. Doesn't sound like much, does it? I'm a renter again, after years and years of owning a home. Up until very recently I've felt like a squatter, like an intruder in this house. But I have been slowly unpacking my art/wall stuff/pictures and started pounding nails. We've been in this house 6 months now. It's time I started making it "home".

I'm becoming increasingly frustrated by my financial situation. And yes, that means I'm going to bitch about Big Daddy here for a second, so if that makes you yawn this will be the perfect time to go back over to facebook and hire someone for your cafe or plow a field or whatever. I still love you.

Big Daddy owes me a lot of money. I'm not going into the dollars and cents here, but let's just say that if he paid me even half of what he owes, I'd be whistling a way different tune than the one I am now (which happens to be Godsmack's "I F-ing Hate You", by the way). Back to school expenses have completely wiped me out, and the next 10 days will be a comedy of sorts, watching me claw and juggle and transfer funds and pray that everything gets paid. I'm not looking for sympathy, not requesting a violin solo or anything...this is par for the course. It's just a little more angsty than usual this month. I mean, when a girl starts asking people for their Rainbow foods grocery coupon inserts, you know things are hairy.

But we'll live. We always do. I just fail to see how someone can eat out at restaurants, buy good cheese and wine and yet balk when asked to help pay for his kid's school lunches. You know what I mean? I know, I know...it's Secretary's money that is being spent on the frills and luxuries, but give me a freaking break. You mess yourself up with a man who has four kids, you can help take care of those kids. Open up the Coach wallet, sweetheart. Buy the kids some lunch, pay for a calculator. Call them early Christmas presents if you have to, whatever. Don't just play Mommy, act like one.

And my really big news? We're cuttin' the cord. Yes, the woe is me-sky is falling-"I'm poor!" mom has cable. I'll own up to that. It's our one little perk we have. We don't do theater movies, except on the rarest of occasions, so I justified it as our lowly entertainment expense. I bundled everything together (phone, cable, internet) when we moved, and thanks to Comcast messing something up (no way, right??) I was able to sweet talk myself into a very low monthly rate. Add another screw up on their part (shocking, I know!) and I got HBO and Showtime for mere pennies. I'd planned on canceling the two shiny extra channels as soon as my little kiss ass promo time expired, but now I've decided to pare it all down to just the basic necessities. Land line is going, internet is staying and we are going down to one solo cable box, no HD, no frills.

Yes, my heart starts racing a bit at the thought of no DVR. I expect the withdrawal to be brutal, but I have a stack of books (grown up books, like best-sellers!) on my bedside table to help me through it.

The cable cutting is being done for a reason. I have been trying to figure out ways to snip a bit of monthly expense here and there because we need to re-join our YMCA. A couple of my kids have inherited my metabolism and I am worried about their health, now and in the future. We have agreed, as a family, that if I am able to get our membership back up and running that we will all take advantage of it. I hope that the kids understand why I'm doing this, and that it makes a big difference in all of our lives. Or at least in our midsections.

Then, earlier this week, I got some news that gave me a swift kick in the ass.

A dear old friend of mine is sick. Really, bad sick. We haven't spoken since last spring, not due to any drama...our paths just haven't crossed in a while. My heart is breaking, thinking about what this friend is dealing with. I'm having trouble finding the meaning in this one...she is one of the kindest people I know. I think you could scour the earth for a hundred years and not come up with a single soul who could say one bad thing about her.

I am torn between wanting to reach out to her and wanting to give her the privacy she deserves. Trying to think about what I'd want in this situation. So far I am backing off, but praying for her as hard as a person such as myself can pray.

I think about this lovely woman, about her fabulous laugh and her beautiful smile, and I weep. I weep because life is so unfair. I weep because I do such a good job of feeling sorry for myself when in reality, the problems I have are the good kind. The easy kind.

And so I decompress. With guilt, with gratitude. With tears on my cheeks.
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