Dear Booze: I think we need to start seeing other people.

It's not you, really. It's me.

We've been together a long time now. Remember when we first met? I was 14. You were sloe gin. My best friend Anne and I tried you while my mom was out for the night. We giggled and took tiny sips and talked about how funny we felt. Then we laid down on my mom's bed and watched Saturday Night Live on the tiny t.v. in her room. I'll never forget how you made me feel that night.

In high school we got to know each other a little better. My friends and I would buy 3.2 beer at the gas stations, sending in the most "mature looking" in our group. The feeling of victory was exhilarating when the mature one would walk casually and slowly out of the gas station, the case of Miller Lite or Budweiser gleaming in her hands. We'd drive to some secluded neighborhood and start drinking our ill-gotten gains before heading out to the party or movie that was scheduled for that night.

My worst night with you was at a cast party for the play "The Diary Of Anne Frank". I had played Anne's sister, Margot, and on the last night of the play, the girl who played Anne and I smacked heads during a scene. I remember she and I literally convulsing with laughter while the audience sat and watched us in annoyed silence. At that point in time, I wanted the stage to open up and swallow me. I was mortified, humiliated, ashamed.

There was a cast party that night, at one of the senior's houses. I don't remember what incarnation you appeared as before me, but I do know that it was the first time I had ever blacked out. Apparently I had been fine at first; funny, silly, making people laugh. But then I changed. I remember making out with one of the less-attractive boys from the cast. I remember he looked like Geddy Lee from Rush and even through my Mr. Magoo beer goggles I saw that what I was doing was wrong. But you gave me something..was it liquid courage? Nah. There was nothing courageous about what you gave me. You dumbed me down, is what you did. You put my brains to bed and took over my body, until I was nothing more than a jerky, stumbling marionette.

I don't remember who drove me home that night, but I do remember getting my ass handed to me the next day. My mom was furious. You see, my grandpa, her dad, knew you really well. Like, super well. He was a great guy, a man who served his country in WWII, worked as an appliance salesman for Sears in order to raise his family. But he was an alcoholic. A raging one, from what my mom says. His relationship with you ravaged his family, and my mom never really got over that. She hated you, and would rarely drink. I felt and saw her grief as she laid into me. I remember I told her that I was worried about nuclear war, and that's why I drank so much the night before. Yes, I seriously said that.

We went to college together. On the very first day, the day I had moved into my dorm, met my new friends and started putting up my R.E.M. and Cure posters, you lured me to my first ever college kegger. I woke up the next morning and could only vaguely recall what I'd done the night before. Luckily for me, that was the year I met the first love of my life, and I abandoned you for him. He and I would hang out with you every once in a while, but never ever to the extent that I'd hung out with you before.

Our relationship was cool for the next few years. I'd see you at parties or while out with my boyfriend, but never let you get the best of me.

And then the boyfriend and I broke up. It happened when I left college to become a flight attendant. Tom, the boyfriend, left too. He joined the Navy and was shipped off to Hawaii. He and I tried so hard to keep our relationship going. I still have the bundles of letters from him somewhere. But I was lonely without him. So I turned to you again.

This time, this era I call my Roaring 20's, is a blur. When it started, I was a newbie flight attendant, first living in Detroit, then moving back home to Minnesota. The layovers were epic. I remember dinners out with the rest of the crew, going to the gay bars in Detroit with my roommates Patrick and Michael, flying with headaches and running to the tiny bathrooms on the planes to hurl after takeoff. Yes, it was a dignified time.

During that time, you and I were inseparable. I still hadn't become the type of girl who would crave you, need you at all hours of the day. I was responsible. Kept you on the down low. I'd eagerly await nighttime, the next crew dinner or night out on the town. But when we did get together, more often than not it was like that damn cast party all over again. I had learned to function with hangovers, learned how to bat my eyes and get free drinks from bartenders and creepy guys.

By the time this Roaring 20's era peaked, I had fallen head over heels with the second love of my life, and had long since quit the flying biz. I was a makeup girl at a department store downtown, living with some other makeup girls. By this time I had no idea what I wanted out of my life. I was lost. My days were spent matching foundations, lining lips and scoring free samples from all of the other makeup counters. The nights were always, always with you. Andy, the second love of my life, and I would go out with all of our friends, play darts and eat free peanuts and drink and drink and drink. We'd spend the next days holed up in his room, one or both of us eventually surfacing to work. And then it started all over again.

I had already met Big Daddy during this time, and eventually I ended up with him. Andy was leaving for grad school and begged me to come with him. But there was something so steady and safe and secure with Big Daddy. Although what he and I shared was nowhere near as intense and white-hot as whatever it was that Andy and I had, I was drawn to him. I let Andy go and got on with the rest of my life.

You and I pretty much broke up at this point. I thought it was for good. Big Daddy and I found out I was preggers, and at that point I had already bid you adieu. I think part of me knew what was going on inside of me, and I simply stopped. No big decision making, no drama. Just stopped. You weren't even a blip on my radar screen. I moved on with my life. I had found what I was supposed to be doing, and there was no room for you.

And I didn't see you again until Big Daddy started acting twitchy.

My ex-mother in law and I would sit down with you, as I poured my heart out to her and tried to figure out what was going on with my marriage. That was when I first saw you as wine, and I loved you. It was the grown up version of you. Big Daddy was actually excited when I showed an interest in buying nice wines and uncorking it after the kids went to sleep. Maybe he thought that the party loving fun girl was still alive in me somewhere, buried beneath the mom jeans and the bags under my eyes.

But, as you know, it wasn't enough. He left. And while I sifted through the remains of my life, I found solace and comfort in you. My lonely, child-free weekends became "our time". I'd have a bottle ready on Friday night, and we'd sit back together, watch t.v. and you'd console me while I wept. Eventually, I started reaching out and in no time made a batch of new friends, good friends who lifted me up and no longer were my kid-free weekends quiet. I had a new crew to hang out with, some of whom liked you as much as I did. Some who didn't, but put up with me regardless.

And then, things got bad. Big Daddy stopped paying support and my world went black. As I scrambled to stay afloat, you took a back seat. I couldn't afford school lunches, there was no way I could afford you. I dated someone with some money, and looked forward to being with you again on those dates. My best friend opened her home and her liquor cabinet to me on the weekends the kids were away, and for some reason the second I felt you coursing through my veins, all was alright for a while. Until the next day.

You are an illusionist. You blur edges, you soften sharp corners. You make it seem like things are just fine, like everything is going to be fine and dandy. You placate. You numb. You deaden.

And that brings us to the present, my friend. I'm worried that you are becoming a crutch for me. I see behaviors starting that I don't like. You have my best friend wrapped up in your clutches and I won't let you take her down. I won't let you take me down.

When you're with me, I lose something.

I want it back.

So you see, booze, it's time. Time to take a break. Will I see you again someday? Maybe. Perhaps if I get to the point in my life when I no longer feel the need to lean on something, on someone to get me through these rough patches that have been plaguing me and my family. But you know what?

When I am through these patches, when life is once again flowing smoothly and evenly...I bet I won't need you at all.

And I'm not stupid. I know life will never be "perfect". But I am thankful that I'm smart enough to know...to know when to stop.

This thing that you and I have, this dysfunctional relationship...it's no good. I'm so grateful that I have the intelligence to see that if we continue, it won't end well. So many others have seen it through with you, through til the bitter end and they've lost everything. I don't want that. I'm breaking up with you now before it gets that bad. Before you take over.

When I talked to my best friend about you the other day, I cried. She and I were both thinking, but didn't dare say, the same thing.

"How can we survive without you? How can there be parties and girl's nights and weekends at the cabin without you as the main attraction? How can we have school carnival meetings and silent auction meetings and not have you there to get things rolling? How can we survive without you?"

But I know better than that. The real question should be...how can we survive with you?

I don't know that we can. At least not survive in the way the we deserve. The way that our families deserve to have us. My kids need ME, they don't need you. They don't need a mom who greets them with purple teeth and a merlot mustache when they come home from Big Daddy's house. They don't need a mom who has a headache or who is too tired to go on a bike ride.

They need me. And that's what they're getting.

So goodbye, for now, my smoky smooth friend.

I hope we can still be friends.




Wellness, Post Seven. Meh.

This was not a week filled with my finest moments. The end of last week and the first half of this week were not awesome. I do have a small arsenal of excuses handy: a couple of dates (!!!), a massive blizzard, the news of Big Daddy reproducing, lots of work...but in the end, they are simply that. Excuses.

I did make it to the gym a few times last week, and went yesterday morning. Plus I dusted off my kettlebells and the DVD and did that twice. I used my second-to-heaviest kettlebell (12 lbs) and was surprised by how much I felt it the days after. I need to remind myself to use that more often.

My biggest disappointment has been the eating. I went out with John McCain twice, and both times I ate like a pig. Why? Why not? It's been so long since I've been able to go to a really nice restaurant and just order whatever I want, not fretting about the prices. The first night we went out we had zucchini fries and cheese fondue for appetizers, and then I had pork tenderloin served on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes and garnished with a slab of bacon that was approximately the size of a necktie. Yum.

The second date was another restaurant and another cheese fondue, plus spinach-artichoke dip. I was so stuffed from the appetizers that I ended up ordering chicken tortilla soup, and couldn't even finish that.

I forgot that John McCain eats like this. All the time. I remember back when we dated before, back when I was trying to find reasons to not date him, the food became one of my issues. And of course, I realize that he's not putting a gun to my head and forcing me to order the more decadent choices. I am a grown up, at least chronologically, and ordering something from the healthier choices on the menu would solve that little conflict.

But for someone like me, for whom eating out is a luxury, it's hard to not go whole hog (pardon the pun). If this dating thing is to continue, I'm either going to have to make sure I work out like a banshee the day of/before the date, or else start showing some restraint.

So I was feeling pretty crappy about my efforts this week. I'm still in the size 16 jeans which is disappointing. They are pretty baggy, but the 14's just aren't comfortable yet. It's the fat belly that's standing between me and my stack of size 14 jeans. Other than the cardio and the ab work in my classes, I don't know what else I can do besides just keep plugging along.

Actually, I do know that there is something I probably should cut out of my diet, and I think it would help to not only reduce my muffin top but improve the quality of my life in general.

I need to stop drinking.

There. I said it. Those of you who know me, and know me well, are aware that this is something I've struggled with off and on for a while. But I think it's time for me to stop struggling, and just let it go.

It's not that I'm drinking vodka out of a coffee mug every morning, I don't drink every day. Maybe 3 times a week. It's just that I've always used the drinkies as a sort of self-medicating thing. Times of stress pop up and I drink more than I probably should. It's probably a good thing that I'm poor. Wine is one of the little luxuries I treat myself to when I have a little extra change jingling around in the checking account, a rare treat indeed.

I don't know if the no-drinks thing will be a permanent lifestyle change, or a temporary one, but I'm going to stop for now. I know most people wait until they hit rock-bottom before they stomp on the brakes, but just between you and me, that rock-bottom stuff scares the crap out of me. I tend to do things to the hilt, and just imagining what my rock-bottom could be is terrifying.

My best friend has had her own issues with the drinking. Today I sat on her bed and cried as I told her that I'm done. I wasn't crying because I was ashamed or anything like that, I cried because thinking about NOT drinking is sad for me. I love my wine. I love hanging out with my friends and pouring the cabernet sauvignon or the malbec or the pinot. But I don't love watching my will power melt with every glass. I don't love waking up and reading the stupid ass tipsy texts I've sent. I most certainly don't love how my body feels after a night of sipping.

So I'm hoping that my BFF joins me on this little wine-fast. I love her with all my heart and I know she can do it. I know we can do it.

That said, this next week is going to be a much better one. The gym will be hit, the eating will be healthier and the head will be clear.

Stay happy and well, my friends.

P.S. Big Daddy, if you're reading, I certainly hope you don't try and skew what I've written into anything negative. I'm sure the booze fests at your house will be slightly curtailed now that Secretary is incubating, but from what I've heard, the happy juice flows pretty freely. So just don't even go there, mmmkay? And get your daughter her damn glasses, already.


Words of Wisdom from Wife Number One

An open letter to my replacement:

Awwww...hi mommy!

Congrats. I hear that you and my former husband will be hearing the pitter patter of tiny cloven hooves soon...that's sweet.

I'm here to offer you my two cents, and some advice (worth about the same in any market).

Yes, I know. I am probably the last person you want to hear from at this exciting time in your life. But really...think about it. There is no one else on this planet who is more qualified to give you the lowdown on what you're about to experience. After all, I've carried pretty much the same cargo as you are right now. Four times, sweetheart.

First of all, I want to say bravo. I am entrenched in the "you can't change a guy" camp. After all, when your husband was my husband, and he started screwing around with you, I tried EVERYTHING to get him to stay put. And I mean everything. You want to know the one thing he was most adamant about? The one issue he wouldn't put aside?


He didn't want any more. You see, when Big Daddy looks at a baby, at a child, at a teenager...he doesn't see what most of us see. He doesn't see grandpa's chin or the gorgeous gray blue eyes or the freckles from his own youth or the amazing person that is standing before him.

He sees dollar signs.

He sees an adorable, chubby, money sucking vacuum. I used to watch him, sitting at the dining room table working on the finances. One hand would wander to his mouth and he'd begin click click clicking at one of his incisors. That was his "worry" tell. I'd ask him what was bugging him, and he'd begin the litany: The diapers are so expensive. The insurance is expensive. The pre-school is expensive. The toys are expensive. The summer programs are expensive. Their clothes are expensive. And on and on and on.

You see, dear, Big Daddy likes things to revolve around him. That's why you were so much more appealing than me.

With me, he was important. Seriously. I valued him. I valued our marriage. I looked forward to seeing him at the end of the day.

But I also valued our kids. I valued them then, and value them now, more than I value anything else in this world.

You see, Secretary, motherhood changes you. I bet Big Daddy saw the young me when he first met you. He probably saw a fresh party girl, a happy person, a person with few cares in the world. A brunette girl with blue eyes (his type, honey, always his type), daddy issues and most likely a pretty bad break up in the not-too-distant past (weren't you still married?? Or just divorced? What a coincidence...).

Anyhoo, as I was saying, when you become a mom, you change. Keeping the guy who sleeps next to you happy is no longer your number one priority. You start to worry about someone else besides you, your designer dogs and the catch you call hubby. While they're still ensconced inside of you, you worry about things like alpha fetoprotein tests and amniocentesis results and genetic abnormalities and club feet and spina bifida and everything else you read about. You no longer worry about making it to Ann Taylor for the 40% off sale or whether or not you can meet your girlfriends for a night on the town. You no longer worry about whether or not your husband has had his needs met or if the fact that he's rolled over and started snoring before you come to bed is a good thing or a bad thing.

You have bigger worries now.

And he hates that.

Of course, I could be wrong. Guys can change, right?

But anyways. Here are some tidbits that I'd like to pass on to you during this super exciting time in your life. They are in no particular order, and since it's about 3:00 in the a.m. as I'm writing this (insomnia due to worries about my kids, silly me!) they may seem a little garbled. But they're coming at ya straight from my heart, girlfriend.

1. Don't let him see your cootchie as the baby comes out. Seriously. I only did it via vagina once, and almost died (it was Molly, read it here). After a thousand or so stitches and a baby in NICU, all he would say about everything, the delivery, our daughter, my ebbing life force...was "That was disgusting. It looked like an axe wound."

Put that on a card, Hallmark. Seriously.

2. Don't breastfeed. I know, I know...it's good for the baby! But it was shortly after I started nursing my firstborn that my boobs went from "funbags" to "feedbags". Yes, those were the names used. Smooth, huh? Does he use those for yours, too? Take my advice, darling. Your baby will be ok with formula. I nursed all four of mine for as long as they wanted. Healthy as horses, a bond no one can break but my breasts were demoted from entertainment to utility. And when you're married to someone who puts looks above all else, well...the writing was on the wall.

Plus you'll get some kick ass coupons for formula. Which will make Big Daddy happy.

3. After you have the baby, pretend that you are just as excited as Big Daddy is about that magical 6-week point. You know, the date when it's ok to do the nasty again.

Because he'll know. He'll remind you, every day. He'll send you emails from work. I bet he'll text you.

He'll come up behind you while you're bent over in the kitchen, putting something away and smack you on the ass (jeezus, does he do this with you, too??) and say, "20 days, baby" or something clever like that.

You need to pretend that you're excited about it.

Even if your boobs are sore, your stomach still resembles a manatee and your nether-regions still feel like someone went up there with a KitchenAid immersible blender, you act excited! And just for the record, I tried making up an excuse, like "OMG, my vagina was reconstructed and the stitches haven't fallen out, can we wait?". Don't do that. It will lead to great pouting and gnashing of teeth. And the gnashing will wake the baby.

4. Don't make him get up in the middle of the night. Oh, don't get me wrong. He'll do it, at least a couple of times. But after the first few nights, it will become a drag for him. He'll start ignoring the crying. It will become like a game..."Who Can Ignore The Infant The Longest". But since I assume you're a human female, you will most likely be the one who gets up first. And if you bitch about it, be ready to hear the "I have to work in the morning" whine. Even on Saturdays.

And once you do go get that squalling little chip off the old block, don't ever, ever do the next one.

5. DON'T BRING THE BABY INTO YOUR BED. You've seen him in action as a dad, right? I mean, you haven't seen him in real action, you've just seen him with bigger kids and only like, what...4 days a month? Wait until you see him as 24 hour a day Daddy. You are in for a treat.

Having a dependent life force with you for every second of every day is trying. It's trying for the best of parents, believe me. And even though I assume you're going to send yours to daycare (you are the breadwinner, right? I mean, according to the affidavits I have here from Big Daddy he's hardly making more than a cashier at Walmart...forgive me if my presumption is incorrect ♥ ) you will go from happy-go-lucky no kids couple to couple-with-new-baby. And that transition is hard.

People sometimes ask, what was the hardest for you? Going from one child to two, from three to four? You know my standard answer? Going from none to one.

Because your world is about to get rocked like freaking Live Aid. And looking back, I think the one thing I did that caused the most irreparable harm to my marriage was bringing the babies into bed.

I did it out of sheer desperation. Our first baby, Charlie, had colic. Like the crazy colic that women talk about on tv only after having their identities obscured, because this was the kind of colic that makes you insane. Charlie never stopped crying. I used to have to drive him around in the middle of the night just to get him to sleep. And once I got back home, to the ramshackle little apartment that Big Daddy and I shared, I would bring my snoozing baby into bed with me so I could grab an hour or two of blessed sleep.

And that's where I messed up.

That baby slept in the bed for most of his infancy. Thanks to a comfortable couch and your husband's relentless ass-slapping, I got pregnant with Molly soon after and ended up doing it all over again.

And again (Henry), and again (William). Big Daddy resented it, a little more with each baby.

There's so much history you don't know, isn't there?

I mean, when you sneaked in, I bet it seemed pretty cut and dried: Four kids, bitchy wife, grateful guy. You probably never asked about the past, or if you did, I bet it was just to look interested. Maybe you inquired after he got off the phone with me, one of those late nights when I was going crazy with worry, wondering where he was.

Or maybe you never bothered to ask.

But now that you've gotten him to agree to do all of this all over again, it will probably behoove you to know a little about his first go-round as New Big Daddy. He is going to change in front of your eyes.

How I wish I had been able to get a sneak peek....

Ooooh I almost forgot a really important thing!

6. Don't get fat. Really. Try to not gain much weight at all. Just saying. I mean, think about his pet names for me now..we have "Fat Ass", "Fat Bitch", "Fat Pig", "Fat Ass Loser" (all of these, and more, repeated to me from the mouths of my children. Chew on that one for a bit, my dear). When he finds himself in a defensive position, that's the first place he goes. And I understand that you've always battled the extra pounds, just like me.

So watch it!

And while you watch that, I'm going to be watching my kids. The four children that he made before he met you. The four children he now barely acknowledges, and doesn't support. When you and Big Daddy tied the knot, one of my kids was so distraught he almost lost his life. To be honest with you, I am terrified that this "fresh start" will have similar effects on at least one of them. When I was talking to one of the kids about it the other day (brought up by the child, not me), they said, "We don't get anything from him now, not his time, not his help. We'll never get it if they have a kid." Big Daddy may have been able to slowly erase them from his life, but as you'll soon find out, motherhood changes you. Once you have these people in your life, they are there permanently.

You will do anything for your children.

As much as I despise you for what you did to my family, I sincerely hope that you never have to endure the struggles that my children and I have gone through. I wouldn't wish the past few years on anyone, not even my worst enemy.

And I especially wouldn't wish it upon an innocent child. You'll see what I mean.

Take care, Wife Version 2.0


Wife Version 1.0


What To Expect When your Ex is Expecting...

Yeah. Ewww. It's happened. Big Daddy and Secretary have spawned. And no, Big Daddy, it wasn't the kids who spilled the beans. Please don't go off on them about this one.

Ever since Secretary oozed onto the scene, I knew it was only a matter of time before she'd convince Big Daddy to knock her up. When the topic comes up, and it often does when your ex marries someone younger, I usually just say no, no babies yet. And the conversation changes to something more exciting, like Costco or the weather.

I never gave it too much thought. Until today.

Honestly, I'm a little surprised by my lack of reaction. I imagined that it would feel almost like getting dumped again, or like finding out there was another woman hiding in the shadows. But it doesn't.

The only thing I felt was sad. And I've been trying to figure out exactly where that sad is coming from.

It's definitely not a "why oh why can't it be me" kind of sadness. Although I loved being pregnant and was a bit disappointed when Big Daddy convinced me to get my tubes tied back in the "Let's Fix This Marriage" phase, I came to terms with my child-bearing years being kaput a while ago. I have four healthy kids who are growing up to be wonderful people. I've had a good run.

And it's for sure not a jealousy-based sadness. I don't really give a shit what Big Daddy does with his life, and I certainly don't give a rip about Secretary and her bun-infested oven. Whatever they do is their business. Nasty, creepy business, but it's all theirs. I have bigger issues to contend with, like raising the four kids I mentioned a minute ago.

My sadness, I think, is for my kids. Out of the four of them, only William has experienced anything remotely resembling a normal father/child relationship. It's almost as if Big Daddy wrote off the other three and focused on the one who was still little. The one who was so young when the shit-storm happened that he doesn't even have memories of his parents being married.

They've already experienced Big Daddy pushing them aside for someone else, and now they get to go through it all over again. Only this time, it's not Daddy's new girlfriend. It's a baby.

Just the other day, Henry approached me after talking to his dad on the phone. "I don't think Dad likes me very much" he said. Have you any idea how heartbreaking it is to hear a 13 year old boy say that? I'm worried about how this is going to affect Henry. If he's already feeling alienated from his father, I can't imagine how a new baby will affect their relationship.

You want to know the funny thing about this? I actually WANT to be happy for Big Daddy. I want to be happy and excited for my kids. I really, truly do want that. But I can't feel anything other than sadness. I'm sad that Big Daddy doesn't see exactly how massively he's fucked everything up, from the time he first started messing around, to his "should I stay or should I go" period of time (good times, getting to tell the kids for a second time that daddy's leaving..) to how he treats his own flesh and blood like annoying relatives (stay in the basement when we have company!).

It's just sad.

But I did have a little laugh, when I thought about the shock that Secretary's about to get...remember, I've been through this with Big Daddy four times. I'll never forget how he pouted when he realized that babies need attention and that he was no longer the King Shit of the house. How he ranted and raved about the expense involved in baby-raising. How he dealt with crying babies by putting them in the baby swing for hours at a time or put them in the basement to "cry it out".

I wonder how she'll feel about the whole no child support thing when she looks into the little face of her infant for the very first time. Do you think she may finally understand my anger over Big Daddy's refusal to help support our kids? I mean, exactly how many shades of stupid do you have to be in order to have a kid with a man who doesn't support the four kids he already has???

I also remembered that Big Daddy and Secretary first met around the time William was born. It wasn't long after the birth of our fourth baby that he really started trolling around the office for some action. I wonder if she'll look back on that, and be able to see things from my perspective for a bit? What it must have felt like, to be a new mom and not know where your husband was at 2 a.m.?

Maybe I'm giving her too much credit...apparently empathy isn't one of her stronger traits. We'll see.

I wish them the best, really, I do. I'm not a complete ogre, a baby is a miracle and worthy of celebration no matter how murky of a gene pool it's from. I hope that everything goes smoothly and they are blessed with a child just as healthy and beautiful as my own. Although a little bit of colic wouldn't be so bad (yeah, the fact that I'm going to hell was determined before I hit the age of 20...I'll save you a seat).

Henry and I were talking about it tonight, and he said, "And it's a boy. Which means Dad will get to do all the hockey stuff with it right from the start." This is the same Henry who asked his dad if he could learn how to play hockey a couple of years ago. Big Daddy's response? "You're too old." Even the most well-adjusted kid would have some issues with a new half-sibling, a kid who has experience being rejected and ignored by his Dad is most certainly going to struggle with it, big time.

I'm going to have to watch the kids, look for signs that they're having a hard time. I will be nothing but positive if they want to talk about it, nothing but supportive if they don't. It's going to be hard to see the person who refuses to pay child support buying all sorts of new baby gear, to see a bedroom that was theirs be changed into a nursery, to see the woman who has treated them with nothing but disdain and annoyance for the past few years get pampered and spoiled by their dad.

This is uncharted territory, for everyone involved. Keep your fingers crossed for all of us.

On a lighter note, I just have to add that my date with John McCain was wonderful. Wonderful food, wonderful wine, wonderful conversation.

And wonderful other stuff, too. More details soon.


I have a date.

It's tonight. I'm feeling that sick nervous butterfly thing in my stomach. But it's a good sick nervous butterfly thing, you know what I mean?

It's with John McCain. And as I type that I cringe, wondering if he's ever read my blog and wondering how he'd react to being called John McCain. Because he's much better looking than John McCain. It's just the hairline that is reminiscent, that's all.

You may recall, I sent him an apology via text one day and received one in return which let me know, with no uncertainty, that he abhors texting and that an apology via text is the easy way out. After I got that text, I stepped back. I wondered if that was it, if the last contact between the two of us would be me making an admittedly gutless apology and him replying with a semi-ranting (although perfectly spelled and punctuated) rebuttal.

It was a while...almost two weeks, I think, before he wrote back. Apologized for the tirade (his words, not mine, but oh how I love that word) and asked if I'd like to get together and catch up.

I did. And we are.


He's taking me to a restaurant that we went to a few times back in the day. A quiet little place with ambiance from floor to ceiling, very flattering (dark) lighting and out-of-this-world kick ass food.

But I'm worried.

I'm worried that he's going to see how fat I've gotten and drive away before I can waddle out to the car.

I'm worried I have become so socially inept that finding conversation topics which don't revolve around the size of Alec Baldwin's hands, Liz Lemon quotes and the last time I had sex* will be more of a challenge than my atrophied brain can handle. And yes, for the record, I have been re-watching 30 Rock on the Wii, courtesy of Netflix streaming. Hence the conversations about Mr. Baldwin's hands (have you seen them? They are like big flesh-toned catcher's mitts hanging out from the sleeves of his suits. Me likey.) and how Liz Lemon is the Mary Tyler Moore of this century (thank you Gillian for that direct quote).

But back to this date. I'm nervous. Despite my exercising and dieting, I don't feel so great about how I look. I'm self-conscious about my muffin top, about my thunder thighs, about the old hamhock arms. I've got the Spanx cami laid out, and have selected a crisp white Talbot's blouse with a slightly ruffled, stand up collar and a plunging v-neckline (the boobs are disappearing but there's still cleavage). Since the only pants I own right now that fit are jeans, I will be wearing jeans. And some boots. It's icy today so the unstable fat chick in me wants to wear Danskos but since Danskos do absolutely nothing for short stubby legs, boots it is.

I subbed for our little preschool today, and spent a half hour outside with those darling angels and then did 2 hours outside with the big kids. It's cold and freaking windy here today, and I think I have some frostbite on my cheeks. Maybe just windburn, but whatever it is has left me looking like Lady Elaine from Mister Rogers. And my pores are huge.

Should I tell you how I'm feeling about my hair? I'm about 5 minutes away from running over to Fantastic Sam's and letting them have a go at making this dried out Michelle Duggar mullet look like something that remotely resembles human hair.

I am nervous...have you picked up on that yet?

And now I just realized something.

This isn't even officially a date, is it? If it's two people who used to be very heavily involved with one another just getting together for a little catch up, that's not a date. Maybe I'm making this into a lot more than it really is. Perhaps all of this tweaking and freaking is for naught.

Perhaps. But it could be something more.

Stay tuned.

* November of 2009. Yes, there was the whole waking up pantless next to the Artiste after the class reunion, and I crowed a bit about my life as a celibate being over, but I was being generous. I have chosen to not write about that chapter in my Victim Directory but let me assure you, I made it to my one year Celibaversary without a hitch. It's going on 1 year, 3 months now. I'm not sure I even know what I'm missing anymore.


Wellness, Post Six

So this was my worst week so far. I made it to the gym a pitiful 3 times last week.

Oh, I had the excuses...called in to sub for Special Ed. a couple full days, spent a very late night with some awesome friends, drinking wine and laughing...which made getting out of bed the next morning grueling, never mind the Jedi mind tricks I would've had to play on myself to get to the gym (not to mention the fact that I would have reeked like a wino on the treadmill).

And a weekend hockey tournament. William and I went to a quaint little town a bit over an hour away from here. We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, and much to my surprise I actually checked ahead to make sure they had a fitness room. Indeed they did, and like a good girl I packed up my gym bag along with the smelly hockey gear and our overnight bags.

Did I make it to the fitness room? No. The bed was comfortable, sleeping in felt divine. Even though there were two queen sized beds in our room and for whatever reason I slept with a 10 year elbow planted squarely on my face for most of the night, it felt like a dream. They had those cool room darkening shades, folks. I just wanted to revel in the dark, soft quiet.

I also made some poor food choices.

Inhaled my first order of fries since December. Along with 1/2 a cheeseburger. And a tall beer.

I would like to say that these past six weeks of making healthy choices has turned my tastebuds into finicky connoisseurs who no longer enjoy red meat, cheese and deep fried taters, but if I said that I'd be a big fat liar.

The fries were good. So good that I secretly wanted to take that basket of fries, find a quiet corner of the WOW Zone (the "family entertainment center" our team was using to kill time between games) and really just go for it.

The beer was really good, too. I guess the silver lining of the burger/fries debacle was the fact that after my mad-crazy lovemaking session with the fries, I could only eat half of my burger. And just 6 weeks ago, I would have had zero problems getting that whole thing down the hatch. I would have probably ordered dessert back then, too. Or at least another beer. So that's a positive, I guess.

Monday was Valentine's Day, and instead of loving myself and going to the gym I stayed home for the morning and did eBay stuff. And then, as a way of showing my kids how much I love them (ha), I ordered heart shaped pizzas for dinner. I ate 3 pieces of the pepperoni heart. Plus 2 pieces of Davanni's sick and wrong garlic cheese bread.

By bedtime last night I was feeling awful. Not a belly ache or anything like that. I felt guilty, I felt sad, I felt defeated. I recalled countless other times I had dropped the "healthy" ball and fallen back into old, self-destructive habits.

Then something came over me. I don't know if it was New and Improved Jenny trying to avoid drowning in the grease I'd eaten, or the spirit of my Wellness Coach (would she kill me if I called her Ms. Miyagi? Fat on, fat off...) or the sight of my favorite skinny jeans looking at me with disgust (I have them hanging on the front of one of my closet doors, just to remind me exactly how good I can look)..but I snapped out of it.

I got my workout stuff ready (thankfully it was still folded nice and neat from the hockey weekend), set my alarm and told myself that tomorrow would be Payback day.

And it was Payback day. I went to BodyPump and added weights on every set we did. I focused extra hard on doing every single move right. I didn't let myself quit during the evil and cruel lunges set like I always do. After the gym I came home and took Walter for a very fast paced 4 1/2 mile walk.

The weather was beautiful here today. Beautiful for February in Minnesota. 40-ish degrees, sunny, no wind. The snow is melting, the trails were mostly clear. Walter and I enjoyed the silence and with every step I took I felt my guilt melt away. I thought about how hard we are on ourselves, and how that awful self-sabotaging crap has discouraged me and so many others trying to live healthier lives.

I think I finally saw, very clearly, the tricks that people like me play on themselves. People like me who use food as a medication, as a comfort, as a filler for whatever holes we have in our souls.

Not working out for a few days isn't going to undermine 5 1/2 weeks of hard, sweaty effort.

A few french fries and some pizza isn't going to negate 5 1/2 weeks of healthier food choices.

But you know what will undermine and negate all of this hard work? Not being able to forgive yourself for being human.

This world will always contain pizza and burgers and tall beers and comfortable beds and room darkening shades. There will always be days that we can't make it to the gym or even outside for a quick walk. That's called real life.

However, there will always be tomorrow. There will always be the next day, when you wake up with a clean slate and enough time to work out or walk around the block. The key is to not get tripped up by the guilt and shame and everything else that some of us have attached to food and eating.

Did I start this out by saying it was the worst week so far? I guess I was wrong. This may have been the week I learned the most.

Stay well, friends.


Happy Valentine's Day

To my best Valentines, my kids: Each one of you has taught me, in your own way, how to love. The four of you have given me almost daily lessons for the past 16 years on how to give love unconditionally and more importantly, how to accept it right back. I look at you guys (most of the time) and the love I feel fills me so completely that sometimes it's hard to breathe. I hurt when you hurt, I radiate joy when you do the same. Becoming a mother filled an empty spot in my heart. I am still learning how to be a good mom, some days the lessons come easier than others. Thank you for being so patient, so funny and so forgiving while I figure all of this out.

I cherish each of you and will do so til the end of time. I love you.

To my parents: Mom, you have been through a lot. There are days when I forget about the tender times between you and I, but when I close my eyes I am a little girl again and mommy is sitting on the bed with me, brushing my hair and telling stories. You never failed to tell me that I was beautiful and you always said "I love you". You have bailed me out more times than I can count, from letting me raid your freezer when we had no food to buying new tires for my truck to letting me use your credit card so I could take William to a hockey tournament. I love you, Mom.

Dad, you and I still aren't on good terms. My heart breaks when I think of the chasm of silence that lies between us. I remember your face when you held Charlie for the first time and thinking about that now causes a fresh batch of tears to run down my cheeks. You are a good- no, a great father and I hope that we are able to get past our stubborn differences and enjoy a healthy father/daughter relationship again. All girls need their daddy, I'm no different. I love you, Dad.

To my friends: Every single day for the past few years, I have been reminded what the word "friend" means. I don't know how I have ended up with such an amazing circle of people in my life, but I am grateful, so very grateful, to have each and every one of you around me. Parents start us out on the road of life, lovers ride along with us (sometimes the whole way, sometimes just for a while), kids sit in the backseat and ask "Are we there yet?" but your girlfriends always ride shotgun. In all honesty, I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for all of you. I love you, friends.

To my dog, Walter: I have no idea what your life was like before we met at the Humane Society, before you leaned against my legs and looked up at me with tired, sad eyes. We took you home and you curled right up into our family. You have been my faithful companion through lonely weekends. When I get home after a hard day, you are always, ALWAYS happy to see me. When I am feeling fat and lazy, you approach me, your red leash in your mouth and if you could talk you'd sound like Jillian Michaels and say "GET OFF YOUR ASS AND WALK ME!". When I ask you, "Where are the babies?" your ears perk up and you run to the window to see if the kids are home. For years before we met I'd talk about someday having a big yellow dog. I'm so glad it's you, Walter. I love you, sweet boy.

To everyone else: The teachers who have made differences in the lives of my kids, the neighbors who always have jumper cables and extra eggs and clip on ties for band concerts, my co-workers who make the best day at work even better, my landlord who gave me a chance and has provided us with a warm and cozy home for the past year, the anonymous souls who cared enough about a stranger to help make Christmas possible for four kids...anyone and everyone who has touched my life or the lives of my kids in a good way, thank you. Thank you for being there when I needed you.

And last but not least, to me: The past few years have been tough, and although things are looking up there will undoubtedly be a few more battles to survive. I'm still here, still breathing and still laughing. I don't think Valentine's Day is a "real" holiday, but it never hurts to tell the people in your life that you love them. Even yourself. So to myself, Happy Valentine's Day. May you always feel the love of those around you and may you always have the smarts and the ability to love them back.

A lot of single people hate this holiday, look at it as a bright red heart-shaped reminder of their singleness, of the lack of companionship. But I have learned that a Valentine isn't just a guy who takes you out to dinner and buys you flowers or gives you a card. A Valentine is someone in your life who loves you, and you love them in return. By those standards, I find myself with a plethora of Valentines. Thank YOU for being one of them.

Happy V-Day, my friends.


Wellness, Post Five

Again I'm going to open with how shocked I am by the speed at which the weeks are flying. And I'm thinking of how I said to myself, "Self, the weeks are going to pass by whether or not you do this." And pass by, they have. Five weeks. Wow.

So this past week I hit my first real obstacle: an injury. The inner part of my left ankle was a little sore for a few days, especially at night after a particularly hard work out. Then last Friday, the pain intensified to the point that I was limping. As I sat with some of my best hens, toasting the end of one of the most INSANE busy weeks ever, I elevated my leg and iced it. It was swollen, not horribly, but enough to notice.

Now, I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on t.v., but I do have a fairly good grasp on the human anatomy and my own especially. Yes, for a few fleeting minutes my inner hypochondriac was 100% sure it was a blood clot that was going to break away and travel up to my heart. But I shut her up. Given the location of the pain and the fact that I could actually hear my tendons weeping, the diagnosis was tendonitis.

Makes sense. You take someone who hasn't worked out vigorously for almost 3 years and put her fat ass on a treadmill 5 days a week, something's gonna give. So I stayed off of it for the weekend. Luckily it wasn't in my elbow so I was still able to hoist a wine glass up to my face. Yes, I had a lazy, imbibing weekend without my kids. I felt guilty about the not working out thing, but even I know that putting strain on an already stressed object can be disastrous.

So I went back to the gym on Monday, did my weight sets and then hopped back on the very Elliptical machine that tried to kill me on my first trip back. And guess what? I did it without even hovering near heart attack level! My heart rate was almost 40 BPM less than it was just 5 weeks ago.

Seeing physical progress is great, seeing that the stuff on the inside is getting healthier is even better.

Faith, my Wellness Coach, came over to my house for a check in. I really, really like this chick. She's soft spoken, candid and so very down to earth. As she left, she said, "You're doing so great, I don't even know if you need me!". Au contraire, mon coach. I NEED YOU. Whose face do you think I see when it's 10:00 at night and I want nothing more than to open my fridge, tilt it forward and empty the contents into my mouth??? Having a wellness coach has kept me accountable. Knowing that I'm going to report back to her about my week keeps me on my toes. It's a good thing.

Yesterday I did Body Pump and then rode the bike for 25 minutes. I kept the resistance level on the bike pretty high (for me) and judging by the pools of sweat that had accumulated on and around me at the end, I think I managed to get some good aerobic exercise.

The ankle is feeling much better.

One other awesome thing to report this week: my Molly is slimming down. I thought I had noticed it a couple of weeks ago, but didn't say anything to her. This past Sunday night, when she walked in the door from Big Daddy's, I noticed she was wearing a black down coat. And it was zipped up. Last year I bought her a black down coat from Target. She had outgrown her other one and this was kind of a quick, cheap purchase. When we bought it, she could barely zip it. And earlier this winter, she couldn't zip it at all.

So when I saw her on Sunday night, all zipped up, I asked if that was the coat we bought last year. She positively BEAMED and said, "Yep. And mom, I can totally zip it now." I asked her what she's been doing, eating-wise, to see these kind of results. She told me that she's just eating less.

On one hand, I'm thrilled to the gills for my girl. Her joy over shedding some lbs. is obvious. I want so badly for her to have the confidence and the self assurance that I never had at her age. I want her to have a healthy body, to start high school next fall with every single possible advantage she can have.

But I don't want her to get preoccupied with it, or let it become an obession. I am keeping a very close eye on what she's eating at home, and what I see is good. She's choosing fruits and vegetables and she's not begging for carby, salty foods like she used to.

I'm going to tread this new road very lightly and keep vigilant. My own mom put me on Weight Watchers when I was in 4th grade, and not a day has gone by since then, 34 years, that I haven't thought about my weight. I'm trying to avoid this for my own daughter, but sometimes I wonder if it's just something that happens, no matter how carefully you handle it. Parenting is a trip.

This week in Minnesota we are experience below-zero temps and biting windchills. I am dreaming of warmer days. The past few years I looked at the calendar with dread as winter wore on, knowing that every day I was step closer to spending another miserable summer trying to cover myself up.

Last night, I looked at my calendar. I saw April and May, and I smiled. I'm not quite ready for cap sleeves and tissue weight tees just yet, but it won't be long.

Stay well, friends. And stay warm!


Owning your flaws

I have a big ol' line right between my eyebrows. Seriously, I'm thinking that with some deft maneuvering, I could probably open a bottle of beer with it.

It's been there as long as I can remember. My 7th grade English teacher first brought it to my attention. We were reading some book, and the phrase "worry line" was used. Miss Judge (for real) asked the class if anyone knew what a "worry line" was. No one fathomed a guess. She walked up to my desk, pointed at the faint line between my eyes and said, "Look at Jenny. She has a worry line between her eyes. It's what happens when you worry about things."

Hello, Mr. Insecurity. So very nice to make your acquaintance.

Since then, my worry line and I have become old friends. It's like a barometer that I wear on my face for all the world to see. The more stressed I am, the deeper it gets.

One of my darling children once said to me, "Mommy, you are so pretty. 'Cept when you get mad and then that mean crack shows."

Mommy's Mean Crack. I could go so many ways with this one.

I've learned to live with it. Because, after all, it's not like the woman who has a $45 grocery budget this week is going to make any appointments with a plastic surgeon any time soon. Besides, I wonder what they'd do with it? One friend suggested Botox. But I don't know if I would want to paralyze my eyebrows. I like showing emotion, even if the emotions I'm showing can flit between obliviously ignorant happiness to various levels of fear and loathing in a matter of minutes. It's me.

I'm thinking it's more of a collagen filler candidate. And then I worry that I'd have some misshapen Neanderthal ridge where once I had a deep angry line. Not exactly win-win.

And so, like I'm trying to do with everything else in my life that is not within my power to change, I'm learning to live with it. When a little girl at school asked me if I had a cut between my eyes, I just said, "Nope. It's a worry line."

When one of my BFF's constantly points it out (seriously, I love this chick but she can't let this one go), which she does with alarming frequency, I am learning to just shrug it off. "MY GOD THAT'S LIKE A DIMPLE BETWEEN YOUR EYES, WOMAN!" she'll say. Instead of my past reaction, which was to cover it in shame and bemoan the fact that I have a big long ass crack on my face, I just say, "Yep. It's exactly like a dimple." And then I take a sip of wine.

Do I like the fact that it's the first thing I see in every picture someone takes of me? No. Do I like the fact that sometimes Mother Nature plays a hilarious prank and puts a big zit at the top of the line so it looks like I have a lowercase i on my forehead? Not so much.

But it could be worse. As always, as with every single problem I have in my life, it could be worse.

Besides, you should see the party trick I do where I hold a quarter in it...priceless.

Own your flaws, my friends. If it's something you can change, do it. If it's something that is part of who you are, like short legs or freakishly small shoulders (another one of mine..I have yet to find a purse that doesn't slooowly slip off my tiny shoulders), then you OWN it. I guarantee that the people in your life love you just the way you are.

Cracks and all.


Wellness, post four

Has it really been four weeks?? Wow. Time flies when you're not stuffing cheese and chips and Red Vines into your piehole.

So this is week four. I am averaging 4-5 visits to the gym every week. I had to skip today due to the fact that everything in the world was scheduled for February 3rd, but I went Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and plan on going tomorrow morning.

I know, I know.....who is this person? Aren't I the same woman who was getting wheezy going up the stairs just a few weeks ago? Am I the same person who came up with every excuse in the book to NOT get exercise?

Yep. It's me. And believe me, I'm just as shocked as anyone.

I think it's said that it takes 30 days to make something a habit. Or maybe it's 30 days to make a Hobbit. Whatever. Tomorrow is officially my 30th day of eating less and exercising more.

And it's paying off.

I have noticed improvements in just about every single facet of my life. My mood is almost always good, if not great. Sleep comes easier now and I am staying asleep all night. This is after almost 2 years of horrible insomnia. My skin has an actual glow to it now. Whether that's from the fact that I sweat like a freaking pig when I workout and am 99% sure I'm developing rosacea or whether the glow is coming from inside, who knows. But just tonight I had three different people say to me, and I quote: "You're glowing." I kidded with one friend that the glow was the result of scoring a prime parking spot at the Learning Fair at school tonight, but I know better than that. It's because I'm getting healthier.

My time management has improved. I've spent the last 30 days trying to make sure that regular workouts could be wedged into my already busy schedule without sacrificing anything too important. And so far, so good. I have been letting the eBay stuff slide, and of course this little diary of mine has suffered a bit, but now that I have things down to a semi-regular routine I'm going to try and get back to both full throttle.

Physically, the results are becoming obvious. Maybe only to me right now, but that's ok. Last year I bought this cute North Face jacket at my beloved Value Village for a bladder-weakening $1.99 (have you ever felt guilty buying something that is so obviously mis-marked?? Not really? Neither have I). So anyways, it's a woman's XL. I couldn't even get the zipper halves to touch, let alone get them zipped up. I comforted myself with the knowledge that North Face runs on the slim side. And then I'm sure I comforted myself with two chili-cheese burritos from Taco Smell.

For whatever reason, I hung on to that jacket. Yesterday I tried it on.

And I zipped it up. True, I looked a little like an icy blue sausage, but dammit, I zipped that sucker up no problem. As I stood there and looked at myself all zipped up in my bargain North Face, I felt proud. And that was when I realized that every drop of sweat, every drive to the gym in below freezing weather, every single time I sat down and did the same sets on the same weight machines was WORTH IT. Slowly but surely I am chipping away at this fat suit. And next month, when I put the jacket on again, I am certain that it may not only fit just fine, but it may be a little big.

That is the stuff that keeps me going.

And that's not the best part. I have been trying to figure out whether or not I should write about my daughter and her struggles with weight. She is beautiful, absolutely lovely. Tall, with alabaster skin and the prettiest blue eyes I've ever seen. A smattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose. I adore her.

She was always a little on the chubby side. She had that toddler tummy, and that tummy stuck with her until elementary school. When she got to about 6th grade, I was buying the kid's plus size jeans for her (you know the ones, they had them at Target and Limited Too...12 1/2 or 12 +, the equivalent to adding a "W" after women's sizes). She began putting on more weight in junior high.

I stressed out about it, but was scared as hell to say anything. I know that these are the years when one single incident, one off-hand remark can lead to a life-long eating disorder. I remember very clearly my first college roommate puking into the little sink in our dorm room after dinner every night. I don't want that for my daughter.

But I also don't want her to be the "fat girl". I already see her sinking farther into her books and her laptop instead of outward with friends and activities. I watched her pass up invitations to pools and beaches last summer. I see her obvious discomfort when we go shopping for clothes. She hides herself exactly the same way I've always tried to hide myself.

I don't want this to be her life.

My wellness coach, Faith, asked me what my goals are with this whole wellness thing. Aside from the personal stuff, my biggest goal is to help my Molly. I want to model positive behaviors for her, show her that yes, getting into shape is really hard work, but it's good. I've been waiting patiently for that light bulb to go off over her head, for her to approach me about exercise.

And this past week, it happened. Nine sweet little words uttered one night as we both got ready for bed. Like an afterthought, really.

"Mom, can I come work out with you sometime?"

So far, this is the best thing that has happened.

Stay well, my friends.


Methinks the lady doth text too much...

So, emboldened one night by some wine and the cajoling of a hen or two, I decided to send a message to my former lovah, John McCain.

I've been thinking a lot about him, ever since his totally out-of-the-blue Happy New Year via facebook. A few weeks ago I had dinner with the friends who originally introduced us, and that brought back a lot of memories.

And a lot of guilt.

I got to thinking how nice he was, how he showered me with kindness and affection. And how I just sort of left him hanging.

I didn't have any notions of hooking up or getting back together, really. Ok, maybe just a tiny bit of me can't help but think how different life could be right now if I had just been less psycho. But just a tiny bit.

More than anything, I felt as though I owed him a real apology.

And so last Friday night I sent a furtive text: "call me or text me" (my way with words deteriorates after a glass or two of malbec). The next day I felt stupid and juvenile for doing it, but figured that my dorky stab at starting a dialogue would be ignored.

But he responded. At first it was just a polite text: "how are you, how are things" etc. I got right to the point and expressed to him my guilt over how things ended between us. I told him that I appreciated how kind he was to me, and acknowledged the fact that I was a complete and utter bitch in return. I said I was sorry.

He expressed mild surprise. Asked me where this spontaneous remorse came from....I told him about my dinner with the friends, related how I have always felt that he deserved a proper apology.

And then I mentioned how I finally understood his disdain for texting, now that I am an iPhone user. Texting on an iPhone is rage-inducing. I miss my old, scratched up Blackberry like crazy.

That's when things went downhill.

Apparently the issue of texting was a sore spot with him. I vaguely remember some spirited banter between the two of us regarding my penchant for texting vs. talking on the phone. I've never liked talking on the phone, not even in the gabby teenage years. When texting came along, I was thrilled. It was a way to communicate without having to sift through all of the conversational b.s. that comes up when gabbing on the phone.

Maybe I'm not the most personable girl in the world, but I simply can't be bothered with long chats on the phone. And I don't think I'm alone.

I'd be willing to bet that there a more than a few other women out there, women with kids, women who are busy from sun up until sundown, just like me. Women for whom text messaging is a godsend.

How else could I communicate with someone when I am constantly surrounded by people? I work with 600 kids during the day, live with 4 the rest of the time. If I had to talk out loud on the phone and make plans and whatnot, I'd have to do it with:

a: Family Guy playing in the background.
b: a soundtrack of siblings trying to dismember each other
c: the fear of getting fired

Not to mention there are some parts of my life that I prefer to keep to myself, and not broadcast it to the kids.

It's been a painfully long time, but I do remember very clearly trying to have those long, giggly phone calls with various paramours. Trying to ignore the whines and banging on the other side of my locked bedroom door. Trying not to laugh when one of the angels would slide appendages and notes and toys through the crack between door and floor.

It's hard to be flirtatious and witty and all come-hither when someone is screaming that the toilet downstairs is overflowing.

I liken this phenomenon to that time when I was breastfeeding endlessly. By the end of the day, after I finally got the wee suckling down to sleep, the last thing in the world that I wanted was anyone else groping on me. Just ask Big Daddy.

When you work, when you're a mom, when you are tending a hundred different fires all day, every day, sometimes the last thing in the world that sounds like fun is trying to keep up your end of a conversation. There are nights when I'm lucky to get "good night" out in one coherent sound before falling face first into bed.

That doesn't mean I don't appreciate the occasional long chat on the phone...there are times when all of the planets are aligned, when I don't have to be somewhere or pick someone up, times when it's just me and the phone and the person on the other end.

That happens maybe twice a month. For real. In my world, the phone conversations I do manage to have are brief, often done while in the car (yeah I know, THAT'S BAD), while sitting the car waiting for a kid, or on my way from the car into Target/the grocery store/the gym/work. Add to that my horrifying inability to gauge whether a pause in conversation is just the other person pausing to think, or an actual pause. I am constantly interrupting. Socially, I am awkward.

When I send a text, I send you punctuation and grammar and complete sentences. I abhor the somewhat creepy texting abbreviations, in fact I believe that they signal the dumbing down of our society. Big Daddy uses those "Ur" instead of "your", and it's like fingernails on a chalkboard for me.

Me sending you a text isn't a sign of me avoiding communication...it's the opposite. Sometimes it's the only way I can communicate with any sort of lucidity.

So back to John McCain. I won't quote him verbatim here, after all, I do have a modicum of respect left for the privacy of the people who fall into my web life, but the gist of it wasn't pleasant.

What he said was, basically, "Texting is not real communication. And you like it that way."

Ouch. At first I was all like, "Well bite me, McCain. Apology retracted!".

And then I started feeling those spidery fingers of doubt and insecurity crawling up my spine. Perhaps John was right. Maybe I really do whatever it takes to not personalize things, to not show feelings or emotions.

Maybe I suck at communicating.

So I felt my cheeks burn and my soul ponder for a while, wondering if my inability to connect with people has been my downfall in life. I wondered if that was the reason a lowlife secretary was able to crawl in between me and Big Daddy so easily, because he was aching for communication? Maybe my ex-BFF and I would still be friends had I just opened the doors to my soul a little bit, and let her in.

Then I got over it.

Don't get me wrong. John McCain has every reason, every right in the WORLD to be pissed at me. Seriously. I treated him like shit. I regret it, I am truly sorry for it, but I did it.

I also know that I have a hard time opening up to people. There are a lot of us out there, who expend so much of ourselves taking care of kids and jobs and homes and everything else that we guard the precious shards of "us" like a prisoner guards his last smokes.

So that's where I left it with John McCain. Apology is out there, and believe me, it's sincere. It's an expression of remorse over my behavior, nothing more and nothing less.

My preference of texting over talking on the phone is part of who I am. It's part of the "Jenny Bundle", if you will. It's packaged along with my fierce loyalty, my never ending trust and my mad crazy trivia skills.

Whether I'm talking to you, texting you or emailing you, what you see/hear/read is what you get. My apology to John McCain was just as sincere via text as it would have been had I shown up at his door with a trio of violinists cranking out mournful tunes behind me. It saddens me that he saw it differently.

I'm glad I sent it, though. Regardless of how it was interpreted, I'm glad I sent it.

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