Something cynical this way comes....

And I'm trying to keep her away!

Here we go again. 'Tis the season and all that jazz.

I used to LOVE the holidays. When Big Daddy and I were young parents, early homeowners, I met the holidays with ham hock arms wide open. I decorated our little crack den from top to bottom. We went to a tree farm and cut down our trees every year, fighting angels wrestling in the snow while Big Daddy swore under a tree wrestling with a hacksaw. We did the requisite Santa visits, videotaped all of it, even Molly seizing up in sheer terror when Mommy plopped her down on a big fat stranger's lap.

We would go to the late night service at church on Christmas Eve. I remember getting choked up and sometimes, crying as the already-beautiful hymns were enhanced by the dark, candle-lit sanctuary and the chorus of voices swelling around me.

We hosted Christmas. Oh, the fun we had, preparing the menu, going shopping for the honey baked ham and the pierogies and the pies, getting out our "good" china.

But my favorite part? Getting things set up under the tree on Christmas Eve, and the wondrous, glorious feeling the next morning when the kids would wake up at the ass crack of dawn and toddle down the stairs. I'll never forget the hot little faces next to mine, waking me up, telling me that "SANTA WAS HERE!!!!". Sitting on the floor in my pajamas, a cup of coffee and a big garbage bag at hand, watching my sweet babies enjoy their Christmas. I burned these memories into my head. Still remember Charlie holding Buzz Lightyear like a newborn baby, I can still see 1 year old Molly opening up her first baby doll (a girl she named Adam, and still has, by the way) and gasping with all the delight someone that age can muster. I remember ice skates and Barbies and books and bikes and chemistry sets all being unwrapped and loved and played with. I remember looking at my husband and smiling, and finally feeling like I was home.

Of course all of that ended.

Enter the cynical me. The first couple of Christmases, they were ok. Big Daddy was still playing nice, and letting me enjoy Christmas Eve. The first one? I fell asleep with the kids and woke with a start at about 4:30 a.m. on Christmas morning. I kind of wish someone had videotaped that scene...it was a classic "Welcome to Single Parenting" moment that I am finally able to laugh about. Never before has a Santa visit been so quickly staged.

But then things got icky. Big Daddy had unveiled his Dirty Little Secret-ary and she became the head of the household over there. The kids were confused, because "over there" Santa wrapped presents instead of leaving them out. "Over there" they had a fake tree and they put it up before Thanksgiving. We always wait until Molly's birthday has passed before we put up the tree "here". I never wanted her birthday to get lost in this insane holiday fog that encompasses the world from mid-October. And our tree? Always real. Always.

Gone were the hosting days. In the old days, our guest list consisted mainly of Big Daddy's family, and inviting them over to my Single Girl Soiree would have been slightly awkward.

And then the money stuff hit. Prior to becoming poor, I managed to fill some of the voids I felt, real and imagined, with presents. Charlie got a Mac one year, Molly had box after box from American Girl. We had the Xbox 360 Christmas and the Wii Christmas. I couldn't keep all of our traditions alive, but dammit, I could still spend money like I was married to a CEO.

Our first poor Christmas was actually so pathetic it was almost funny. First of all, there was the lice. Henry, William and I had been dealing with the scalp marauders for 3 weeks when Christmas popped up. Our sweet neighbors George and Katherine had invited us over, with one caveat: "Keep your buggy heads covered." We now refer to that year as "The Hat Christmas". At that point I had become desperate and had covered our heads with olive oil. And then wrapped said heads in plastic wrap. And then perched jaunty chapeaus on our plastic wrapped noggins before heading over to the neighbor's house.

I can still feel the olive oil slowly dripping down my neck.

I had managed to scrimp and save and buy a few goodies for the kids that year. They'd been warned, we'd had a family talk about our tight finances and the fact that Santa was most likely going to be a little less generous than in years past. And they survived. That was also the year that a "Secret" Santa had gifted us with bags of goodies, including a big old grocery store gift card and get this...NEW PILLOWS. Unless you've had lice, you have no idea how AWESOME new pillows can be.

The year after that? That was last year. And that wasn't so great. I hadn't gotten Molly a decent present for her birthday (which falls on the first week of December) so I had put together the remains of various gift cards and bought her an iPod. The other kids got a few presents, nothing awful...I made sure that they each had one thing they had asked for. But the tone was different. I knew, in my heart, that was going to be the last year we put our tree in front of that particular picture window. I knew that I'd never again hear the squeaky old wooden staircase in the morning as the kids would sneak up for their morning ambush attack. That was our last Christmas in our house. And as brave and strong and resilient as I pretended to be, part of me was dying.

And so I am starting to feel that blackness creep in again. But this time, I'm ready for it. I was without kids for Thanksgiving, and instead of sitting in a darkened room watching crime shows and drinking wine, I headed out. Out to my mom's house for an interesting meal (it still blows me away how fast a 44 year old woman can become a 12 year old girl again just by walking through a door) and then on to one of the most fun weekends ever. Two impromptu nights with very good, old friends, and then I hosted a hen party at my house on Saturday.

My house was filled to the rafters with cackling ladies, and it was good. At one point I looked around my house and was almost physically pushed back by the warmth and love I felt (or maybe it was that third margarita that pushed me back..whatever). The blackness was swept far away, under imaginary rugs and into pretend corners. I felt normal, and happy and good. Did I miss my kids? Damn straight I did. But instead of wrapping my loneliness around me like a shawl, I spread it out on my good old Ikea couch and got cozy with some of my best friends, old and new.

But now, late at night, after everyone has gone to sleep....I find myself alone with my old friend again. My old buddy, Cynic. I can feel it bubbling up now and then, like a tickling cough in the middle of a super quiet room. Watching commercials about what everyone wants and needs this Christmas, seeing actors assembled to make up perfect families...I watch and worry and fret. My mind goes to that dark cell, the one where I stew and stir up all the bad thoughts. How unfair I think it is that my kids are taken away from me on holidays, spending these precious moments of their childhood with a shallow homewrecker with whom they have no history, no shared love. How I miss my dad, and my stepmom, and my stepsister and stepbrother and all of their kids. How I miss the days of hosting.

So far I'm doing a decent job of kicking myself in the ass and getting away from that dark place as fast as I can. And I think I can keep it up. I have my hen posse to keep me occupied, my strong kids to keep me focused and that may be all I need. I know that mourning the loss of my children's childhoods, and the things that used to be, is natural and that I have to acknowledge it, but I'm not going to let it overshadow the good and the fun that this season has to offer.

In fact, I may go ahead and have one of my old-style Christmas Eve celebrations right here in our new house. Just for me and the kids. Honeybaked ham, pierogies, pie.

All dished up on the "good" china.

Happy Holiday season to my dear friends and readers. I wish you all the best. And if you want to come keep me company while I pretend to be fierce and strong? Please, do.


Shameless self-promotion alert:

My writer's block has been horrific lately...I'm assuming due to stress (l.o.l.). But I watched one of my favorite movies of all time with one of my favorite kids a while back and mentioned it on facebook.

My darling friends crawled out of the woodwork and we had a tiny little 16 Candles party on my wall.

I was inspired to write about it.

Read it here.


Getting all of my ducks in a row....

It's cathartic. It's hard, but cathartic.

I'm the kind of person who waits for things to happen. Now I am finding out that I need to try and be the kind who makes things happen. Not an easy task for a quiet wallflower to accomplish, but I think I'm starting to get the hang of it.

Well, that's kind of a lie. I don't know if I'll ever get the hang of it. Let's just say I'm learning how to pretend that I have the hang of it. Inside I'm still the child, wishing that someone would just come rescue me, and I suppose that's ok. But that child needs to learn to deal with some of life's crap like a big girl.

And that's what I'm doing.

Kind of like how a mom will cut up the food on her child's plate, to make it easier for them to navigate dinner....I'm getting all of my duckies set up in a nice neat row. To make it easier for me to pick them off, one by one.

I'm a nature lover, but these have got to be some of the nastiest ducks I've ever encountered. The foreclosure one stinks, the bankruptcy one scares me. The duck I call "debt" is a menacing one. But once you look these ducks in the eye, you realize that they aren't the be all and end all of anything. They're just ducks. Hurdles. Or whatever other metaphor you can come up with.

I'm saving the biggest, ugliest, meanest duck for last. That's the one I call Big Daddy.

He and Skankenstein are having a cozy, romantic getaway this weekend, to celebrate their anniversary. Our old anniversary, if you want to look at it that way. We would have been married 17 years.

I'm not bitter. Not anymore. I have found that it helps to think of myself as the pioneer in Big Daddy Land. I'm the owner of so many firsts with him: first lay, first house, first (and second and third and fourth) kid, first divorce....if he was the moon I'd be Neil Freaking Armstrong. Hell, if it wasn't for me being such an awful wife, he wouldn't have been so hard up and started sniffing the seat of the office bicycle. Now that I think of it, they have me to thank for this anniversary. Where is my cozy getaway?

Oh yeah, mine is going to be in a little town called Chisago Lakes, where I'll be watching William play hockey in his first tournament of the season. Which honestly sounds like more fun than faking orgasms and celebrating an event that, after just 3 short years, has profoundly affected so many lives. And not in a good way.

So anyhoo, back to the ducks.

I was glad to hear that Big Daddy has the financial means to take his sweetheart on a lover's retreat. Very glad. That means his finances (or his household finances) are healthy. He's going to be needing them.

My attorney, who absolutely kicked ass all over my checking account issue (got some of the $$$ back, just in time to pay for the duck I call "taxes"...more on that party later), is trying to decide what our next move is. I think seeing me go through this latest round of humiliation and aggravation gave her renewed motivation to seek justice on my behalf. On behalf of my kids.

We're going to wait for the bankruptcy to be officially filed and then move onto the task of making things right in Big Daddy Land. There are a few different options...garnishment, liens, levies, etc. None of which will be pleasant (I know this firsthand) but all of which will be another "first" for me and Big Daddy.

The first time he does the right thing. I guess it's still considered doing the right thing even if Lady Justice is standing behind him, pinning him in a martial arts arm hold, right?

We'll find out soon enough.

In the meantime, if we see each other or talk to each other over the next few days, go ahead and wish me a Happy Anniversary. We can have a laugh over it. I like laughing. I'm planning on doing a lot more of it in the weeks and months to come.


Take a foot of snow, a bus ride with 80 or so Lutheran teens, and what do you get?


A really good tired, though. For my non-local friends, Minnesota was smacked upside the head with our first snow of the season on Saturday. I won't get into what a sadistic shrew Ma Nature is, seeing as how it was 70 degrees just FOUR DAYS beforehand, but it was a shock. Yes, I know, snow in November in Minnesota? Weird! But come on. Even for a warm weather curmudgeon like myself it was pretty nice to see kids wearing shorts 2 weeks before Thanksgiving.

We're done with the shorts, for now.

So I volunteered to go on a 2 day retreat with the 7th grade confirmation students at my church. I'm not going to get into religion with you today, those of you who "know" me know that I don't talk about it much. Like my political views, my religious views are kept close to my vest (and although I am a walking fashion nightmare I don't really wear vests...really). But I do go to church, I've taught Sunday school for several years and this year I took on the role of Confirmation small group leader for an amazing group of 7th grade girls.

I do it for a couple of reasons, one very selfish reason and the others not so much. Selfish reason: I love it. I love the fact that when I first met these kids, they were goofy 4th graders. I've watched them grow up a little, and go from giggly, round-faced 9 year olds to tall, gangly teens. Our discussions have covered every topic from death to Happy Meals and everything in between. I have had the honor of becoming part of these kid's lives, and it's my most sincere wish that somehow I have made or will make an impression on them. Sometimes I think how different my life could have been if only there had been an adult I could have talked to back when I was the same age as these kids. So I do it for 13 year old Jenny, too.

Another reason I do it? For my kids. I don't push the Sunday School experience with them, Big Daddy has a different view about religion than I do and it's hard getting a kid involved in something they are only allowed to attend every other week. But I do require their attendance at Confirmation. I think having this structure, a structure that is based on something so hopeful and positive and loving, can only be good for them. I like our religion, and I love our church, because it is a positive place and gives reinforcement to children of all ages.

So anyhoo. We left on Saturday morning, two buses packed to the gills with 80 7th graders and about 8 adults. In the middle of a blizzard. We were counting how many cars were in the ditches and/or involved in fender benders and stopped at 40. That was just before we came upon the car that had flipped over and was now resting on the side of road...upside down. Our bus drivers were awesome though, and we made it.

It was beautiful. About an hour and a half outside of Minneapolis, on a little lake in Wisconsin, we let the kids out and watched as they ran and screamed and laughed and pelted each other with snowballs. I was able to watch my Henry having fun out in the white, wet great outdoors. He had a smile on his face the whole time.

Then we ate and talked about God and Jesus. Slept on mattresses that were approx. 2" thick and covered with ripped aqua blue vinyl. Woke up, ate more, talked some more about God and Jesus and then came home.

It was a good weekend.


Chapter 7= New Chapter

So yesterday was a very significant, very relieving day.

Yesterday I met with my bankruptcy attorney. And it's all good. I wish I had done this many months ago, before my meager funds were frozen by a big bad collection agency, before I ate my way up to a size 16. Before I turned into a freaky, deer-in-the-headlights lady who could barely force a smile, let alone be a semi-decent parent or friend or daughter.

But it's started. And it's like someone removed a giant boulder from my back. Am I pleased with this final resolution? Yes and no.

I'm ashamed. Ashamed as hell to be doing this. I have never thought highly of people who shuck their responsibilities and head for the hills. I am very big on "doing the right thing" and "sucking it up". I have always, always told my kids that if you make a mess, you clean it up.

But I had no other choice. Seriously. I'm not going to justify what I'm doing, or go into a long winded, serious and melancholy explanation. I had too much debt. Way too much. There was no way that I was ever going to claw my way out of this hole, ever. Unless I found myself a very rich, very blind, very senile dude. And even then it would have been questionable. Because I would have invariably found some way to alienate the blind old senile guy before things got too serious.

So I did it. A friend recommended this bankruptcy lawyer, and since I am a giant wuss and a total baby, my friend Michelle called him and made the appointment. He sent me a 15 page form to fill out and in my usual Jenny style, I put that off until yesterday morning. Just for shits and giggles, I printed out a couple of credit reports.

Seeing just how much crap you're in, in black and white, it's weird. Weird because I knew I was in deep, but didn't really know how deep. Weird also because of this:


I thought for sure I was going to find pentagrams and death threats and all sorts of damnations and curses on my credit report. You know what I found? A tangible, black and white record of my fall from grace. Nothing more, nothing less.

There it was. A time line of my life over the past two years. Everything up until November of 2008? Perfect. Green light. A model citizen. And then, after that, it was like a hundred-car pileup on a foggy highway that started with a single, innocuous fender bender.

To put it simply, it was a chart that said, "This chick was really good at paying her bills. And then she got the shaft. And then, she sucked at paying her bills." Simple as that.

I sucked at it. And then I met Mark.

Mark is my bankruptcy attorney. I like Mark. Not like him in the "I'd leave him alone in a room with my kids" way, but I like him. He asked me about 5oo questions, looked at my credit report and then announced that I'm pretty much the perfect candidate for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. I have, quite literally, no assets.

No savings.

No 401K.

No life insurance.

No offshore bank accounts, no jets, no boats, no designer wardrobe.

Nothing. All I have is my sparkling wit, my four sweet babies and the skin of my teeth.

That's all I need. In 90 days, I will be rid of this last giant, stinking monkey on my back. When my friend and I walked out of this guy's office, I just looked at her and started crying. Not sad tears, not tears of fear or woe.

Tears of relief. I cried because I have felt it almost impossible to breathe for just a bit over 2 years. I cried over the fact that when I accepted Mark as my bankruptcy attorney, I was officially saying YOU WIN. I was saying "I give" in this fumbling wrestling match between me and my stupid pride.

It's time to start over. Time to wave the white flag, time to cry Uncle.

And that's ok. This isn't exactly the life I pictured for myself, it's certainly not the life I had hoped for all those years ago, while resting my head on Big Daddy's chest and listening to his heartbeat while he fell asleep and I drifted off to dreamland thinking about our future life together. I had pictured a sunnier, easier life. A life filled with granite countertops, vacations, shopping sprees and new-car smell. I had pictured myself as the smiling, relaxed matriarch presiding over a clan of happy, well-adjusted kids who never once wanted for anything and oftentimes stopped what they're doing just to proclaim that they are indeed the luckiest, most fortunate kids in the universe.

I never thought I'd be a worn out, thick-waisted middle aged woman crying into her friend's shoulder outside a bankruptcy attorney's office. If you had allowed me a million years of dreaming, I probably never would have come up with me being alone in this big scary world, protecting my little family with nothing but my fierce determination and my unflagging will to survive.

But as we all know, life is never what we expect it to be. Life is full of changes and mishaps and forks in the road. Life keeps us guessing, keeps us on our toes. Life likes to sneak up on us and poke us in the ribs or pull the rug out from under us when we least expect it.

Life can suck, but living a sucky life certainly beats not living life at all, right?

So, I am feeling good. Not super proud of myself, but good. I think things are finally going in the direction that they should be going...which is up.

Up is good.


Toyota needs to rethink the message....

Anyone else want to smack the smug out of the entitled little shit in the new 2011 Highlander commercials? *

Or is it just me?

I know, I know! He's an "actor" saying lines. And the first one was cute, in a "oh look, a hipster kid, precocious and smart and sardonic. Ha ha!". But as they keep rolling out new ads, I find myself feeling more and more annoyed, and yes, a little angry.

What do these commercials really say? Are they saying, "Our Highlanders are awesome! Go buy one!". Or are they saying, "Hey, modern parents. Don't you desperately want to your kids to think you're cool, and don't you desperately crave and seek their approval and the approval of their friends?".

I'll tell you the message I'm getting from it, and this is ONLY from my perspective. The perspective of a lower-income single mom who is grateful to have a vehicle that works...it's pandering to the breed of parent that is currently the darling of advertisers: the younger, somehow always affluent, tragically hip, good looking (or at least as good as a Brazilian blowout and Anthropologie can make them look) and of course, always accessorized perfectly with their darling moppets who are dressed in shrunken versions of mommy and daddy's casually yet oh-so painfully choreographed put-together outfits. Right down to the skinny jeans. It's not emphasizing the things that should really be at the forefront of any decision making involving a new car: is it safe? Economical? At least the tiniest bit enviro-friendly? Not, will this make my kids look up to me and respect me? If I buy this vehicle, will I be the Cool Dad/Mom?

And on another note, what message is it sending to the oodles of kids who see this? In the wake of the recent bullying epidemic which has led to the actual DEATHS of some kids, is it really wise to encourage kids to toss about monikers such as "dorks", "lame" and "nerd"? Yes, I realize that MoppetBoy is using these words to brand his parents, but imagine if it was him describing a classmate whose parents had the audacity to drive anything less than the giant, shiny rolling great-room that is the Toyota Highlander?

In the one ad where the Highlander family pulls up to the Nerd family, complete with NerdMom and NerdDad harmonizing "Angel of the Morning" in the front seat, take a look at the kid in the backseat. He's not sporting the current mod kid hairstyle, he's not wearing anything remotely trendy or hip. He's supposed to be a nerd. And the Highlander kid is telling him this, in his own way.

I think the thing that bothers me about this part of the Highlander Message is that I work around kids. I see kids with parents who are millionaires playing side by side with kids who come to school from one bedroom Section 8 apartments. And they like each other. Their hearts are still good, still pure and still unbiased. That's how it should be.

I know, I may be blowing this thing way out of proportion. After all, it's just a commercial, right?

We all know that no one has ever been influenced by the media. Maybe I do need to chill.

* management would like to clarify that no one is seriously advocating physical harm. Maybe just throwing something soft, like a rolled up sock, at the t.v. screen. Ok?


The Blahs.


I'm the first to admit that this hasn't been what most people would call a fabulous couple of weeks. In addition to my bank issues, I've also had my truck die on a big busy highway on a dark night, school conferences, a 16 year old who put off his Culinary Arts final until, quite literally, the last possible second, butt-loads of public crying...and tonight, my phone rang in the middle of our confirmation sermon. The phone which I distinctly remember turning off. The iPhone which has become a very pointy thorn in my side. The irony of that one is, my ringtone is the song "The Dog Days Are Over" by Florence and the Machine. Dog days are over, indeed.

I did thank the good Lord that it wasn't my other favorite ringtone: "In Da Club" by Fifty Cent. Or as I like to call him, Fitty.

So anyways. I've got the blahs. I'm not sure if it's just my nervous system resetting itself after going completely berserk or what, but I've got 'em.

I'm also pretty sure that I have that psycho version of PMS. I forget the exact name of it, but I do know that they make a pill for it. I'm going to look into it because the past two nights have been kind of icky.

Now, if we know each other even remotely well (and you know we do if you're reading this), you know that although I don't keep track of my female stuff I do know enough to be aware of the biological changes that it brings about every 26-28 days. For instance, if I find myself spreading cream cheese on ham slices and wrapping them around pickle spears and then bawling my baby blue/greens out whilst watching CSI Miami, I know it's time to look at the calendar and also make sure I have a good arsenal of Kotex Supers on hand.

Yes, I said Supers. Yes, those are the tampons that could double as T-ball bats. Judge much? I've had four kids. I was desperate for a plug a few months ago and a sweet young friend gave me one of her Tampax Slims. It was like throwing a tube of Chapstick into the Grand Canyon.

But getting back to the psycho thing. I remember reading something about it, about how it's like PMS on steroids. Like you really do experience a bit of psychosis. And I think I get that every once in a while. Most months it's very mild, and I may find myself going from Happy Jenny to Jenny Who Wants to Hurt You in the blink of an eye but it's over in seconds.

But every once in a while it's bad. Last night was bad. Bad like "make a 10 year old cry" bad. That's the kind of bad that doesn't just hover over your head for a minute and then dissipate like a 20 second sun-shower in July. It's the kind of bad that won't let you sleep. It's the kind of bad that puts itself on an endless loop inside your head for the next day or so. The kind of bad that lingers in your 10 year old's eyes, just behind his beautiful blue irises when he looks at you the next day with an unsaid "Is it safe to come out now?".

The "I shouldn't have done/said/thrown" that kind of thing. If you know what I mean.

Of course I sent the obligatory shrew email to Big Daddy, because he's the biggest, easiest to hit target I have. He replied tonight, but I just read the first sentence which was in response to my offer to drive William to hockey this week. I felt a mixture of embarrassment, regret, rage and shame as I furtively clicked on his reply in the parking lot of the grocery store. Yes, I checked it on my phone, in a dark parking lot. Facing my own inability to control my impulses in the harsh light of my office seemed a bit too daunting.

I'm also feeling rather blah about the election results. Yeah, yeah...I'm not going to bitch and moan and wring my hands over who's out and who's in. Honestly? I don't think it matters much. I think that out of the hundreds of politicos who were ushered in last night, maybe 5% actually give a shit about the people they are supposedly serving. Voting now almost feels like having to choose between your two least favorite dinners. You know you have to eat, but neither dish is floating your boat. So you go with the one that is least nauseating.

That's blah-worthy, isn't it? I remember my first voting experience, the 1984 presidential election. My mom is a die-hard Dem. So of course, I voted for Mondale. Monkey see, monkey do. Then I started dating my sweet college love, Tom. And became a Republican. Tom's parents had money. My next few boyfriends had money, or had parents with it, and so I remained right wing. Because, why not? Allllll the way up to Big Daddy I voted straight Republican. Because it was what I was supposed to do.

And then I became poor. I started seeing things from a different perspective. My kids would only ever know public school, so I started looking for candidates who supported school funding and opposed cutting it. I relied on the government for my health insurance. I was in the midst of trying to refinance three ridiculous mortgages. I was a single mom trying to make ends meet. So my voting shifted to the left again.

I don't like to talk politics. Some of my best friends are staunch Republicans and we get along just fine. Some of my friends are bleeding heart, tree hugging Liberals and we also get along just peachy. Me? I like to think of myself as the Floater. Not like the toilet-bowl floater, silly. I just kind of float around, never really attaching myself to one or the other. Something one of them may say in an ad can stick with me. Something I read about one may make an impression. I voted for two candidates this year just because I have their kids at my school and I adore the kids. Go figure.

I'm kind of blah about it.

I hope you are all well, and I hope that my local friends are enjoying this unbelievable stretch of gorgeous weather we're having. I'm still basking in the glow of my friends and their generosity and their unconditional love...that is still there despite the cuckoo-PMS and the blahhhhhs. I went to Aldi's tonight and thanks to a certain friend who bought a cute J.Jill coat from me, my kids have French Toast Sticks and loads of fruits and veggies for the next few days.

The blahhhhs kind of suck, but they also offer a bit of respite from the hurly burly day to day stuff. I'm not going to lie and say that I enjoy this beige mood, but I'll take it over panic and freaking out any day.

Stay classy, my friends.


I'm like The Terminator. Or the Energizer Bunny. Oh yeah...and go vote, please.

I just keep going and going and going.

No tears today, peeps. I'm feeling good.

Thanks in no small part to the people in this world whom I call "friends", I am going to be ok. Made the bills, made the rent. With $30.00 to spare (woo hoo....hope the kids are in the mood for spaghetti...I know I am!).

My attorney, bless her heart, has found an expert in this whole wages garnishment thing and today we find out if I get my $800.00 back. Keep your fingers crossed for me. If I do, it's seriously a blessing. If I don't? Chalk it up to yet another hurdle, another learning experience...another bump in the road I'm on.

I've learned a lot about myself over the past week.

One: I'm stronger than I believe.

Two: My kids are like little trees in a storm. You stand at your front window and watch them bend so far over that they are defying the very laws of physics when they don't snap in two. But they don't. They weather the storm. After the skies clear you go out and check them over, sure you'll see a fatal crack or at least some trauma. But they're fine. And they will go through many more storms and survive again and again until they've grown so strong and so tough that even the biggest winds won't ruffle their leaves. That's a good thing.

Three: People are good. I have a long list of angels to whom (is that right? To who? Whom?) I owe at least a thanks to, and hopefully someday I can repay them with more than gratitude. You know who you are. You know what you did. Consider yourselves rockstars in my world. Your goodness was not a shocker to me, but it was like Ed Freaking McMahon showing up at my door. You gave me shelter from the howling wind and I will never, ever forget it. And p.s.: I'm not just talking about those anonymous souls who slipped me $$$ and toilet paper and Red Vines. Or even you goofball eBayers who bought some of my stuff. Some of you sent me messages, emailed me or just stopped me in the hall at school and gave me a hug. Some of you called me and just said that you're thinking about me. All of it, every last bit of support, has made an imprint on my heart. I love you guys.

Four: I am not the kind of person who loses weight when stressed. In fact, I'm the opposite. It's as if stress is a mad, dark fetus that inhabits my soul instead of my womb, feeding on the anxiety and terror. Holding on to every last calorie, every single fat gram and multiplying them. How interesting that Halloween came during what was probably the second scariest time of my life, which also happened to overlap with yet another mad-crazy dance with that skank, PMS. William and Henry helped a mother out though...they gave me their peanut butter M&M's and the Twizzlers. Good boys.

Five: I still think that although money can't buy you happiness, it can make the pursuit of happiness a helluva lot easier to...pursue. I hate the fact that my life is currently centered around the concepts of STAY ALIVE. STAY WARM. STAY FED. But it is. I know it won't be this way forever, and so I keep plugging along. I keep trying my hardest to pay it forward in the only way I can right now. Helping out when I'm able, doing the right thing, being the best person that I can be. Being a good mom, a good friend. In my fantasy world we would all be paid with good fortune instead of money. The more you give out, the more you get back. In my fantasy world "tea party" also still means cute little girls drinking pretend Earl Grey out of miniature ceramic teacups and political ads are against the law, but that's a whole nother post.

In the past I've often thought of my sometimes annoying optimism as a character flaw.

Now? I know it's a strength.

On a completely separate note: Please go out and vote today. I rarely, if ever, talk politics with ANYONE (I stopped doing that when my former BFF came to my house and ripped me a new one when she found out who I voted for in the last presidential election. She said, "Four years from now when our country has gone to hell I'm going to come thank you." Why aren't she and I friends anymore???)....but if you don't vote, you have zero right to complain. I'm taking William with me. My kids have accompanied me to just about every voting session I've attended since becoming a mom. Sometimes it's been a huge pain in my ass and the asses of my fellow, childless voters, but it's important. GO VOTE. Just don't ask me who I voted for, ok?
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