You can lead a horticulture...but you can't make her drink!

My apologies to the late, great, amazing Dorothy Parker. I totally ripped off one of her quotes for the title of this post. Also for the "tag line" at the top of my blog. Sorry, Dot. There are times when you're asked "If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?" and part of me always wants to answer, "MY GRANDPARENTS" or "JESUS CHRIST" or maybe even "ALEC BALDWIN" but I always say, "Dorothy Parker". Have you ever read anything she's written? If not, you should. Soon.

And "you can't make her drink"? Please.

So...a while ago, someone in the blogoshpere posted a link to a little thing that the major THEATRE (if you spell it that way, it's so much more SERIOUS. If you say it with a haughty British accent, even more so.) here in Minneapolis was doing. "Bloggers Night at The Guthrie" it was called, and for whatever reason I decided to throw my hat blog into the ring.

Now, let me set the scene: Am I regular theater-goer? Noooooo. Please! The shows I see usually involve a sweaty band/orchestra/choir instructor, metal folding chairs and small programs that are printed on pastel paper and can easily be made into a MacGyver fan because the gym/cafeteria we're always in is always stifling.

Have I ever been to the theater? Yes! I used to love going to plays. Back in my more bohemian days, it was fun to go see a show at one of the small, hip theaters here in town. I even went to a few at the Guthrie.

Do I like going to the theater? Absolutely. I am one of those flighty souls who gets absolutely lost in whatever I'm watching, whether it be a play on a stage, a brainless show on t.v. or my dog twitching in his sleep. I love to watch everything in a play: the acting, the scenery, the props, the lighting, the people in the audience. I love getting sucked into the story, like you do with a good dream; startled when the lights come on and feeling a tiny bit like you do when you wake from a quick cat-nap (foggy and dazed..or maybe that's just me).

I love going out for dinner or drinks or ice cream afterwards, and discussing the whole thing. "Were you crying at that one scene? Because I was about to." "Did you see the cool table in that cottage??" "Could that one village guy, the one with the green vest, have been any hotter?". I love it.

The last play I went to was on a date, with the guy I dubbed "Sad Counselor". It was actually a pretty good one, I can't remember many details but sadly, I do remember that he was wearing scratchy wool pants and I also remember making out with him, in his car, in a Timberlodge Steakhouse parking lot. What's wrong with me?

Obviously I haven't been to one in a long time. So I was beyond giddy when I found out that I'd been selected to be part of the Guthrie's Bloggers Night. They are sending local bloggers out to different shows throughout the season, and in return, we bloggers are going to tell the world about our experiences.

My first night out is next week. I'm going to see "A Burial in Thebes" which is an adaptation of Sophocles' "Antigone". Antigone is actually a character I am familiar with. Her family tree makes mine look like one forged from puppy breath and rainbows. Which is my way of saying, chick is tragic. I'm sure the play will be a tragedy, but I'm interested to see what kind of adaptations they make to try and modernize this ancient, but mesmerizing, tale.

I am super thrilled to have been chosen for this event, and I look forward to both seeing the play, and then gabbing about it here. Now the panic over what to wear to the THEATRE is setting in, though. Time to pore through my burka collection and see what I can deem as culturally worthy. I'm guessing I can't wear an Angry Birds hoodie or a Columbia fleece jacket.

On a pathetic note, I have no Cabin Boy news to share. We did hang out and watch football the other day, but it was a Kid Day and therefore nothing above a G-rating happened. I'm not getting a good vibe from this one and to be honest with all 8 of you, I'm thinking this may end up just being an occasional cabin hook up. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but that old stupid naive optimism always sneaks up on me. How many more times do I have to club it like I'm playing Whack-A-Mole before it just stops??

Oooh! And I am also super excited to announce that I'm embarking on yet another fitness quest. I used to run, back in the day. Not like marathon running or anything like that, but I would go for jogs. I loved it, and haven't done it in YEARS. With my new schedule the way it is, I'm finding it harder to get to the gym with any regularity so I figured, "Hey...there are awesome trails right outside your front door, you have a sweet yellow dog who will go with you..why don't you start running again?".

And so I did. Yesterday I did my first real "run". And by "run" I mean walk fast, run for intervals, walk again, repeat, etc. It felt AWESOME and boy did I miss those endorphins. Plus I think Walter was ecstatic about having his Big Mama actually keeping pace with him for once. Now if I could just figure out how to stop him from pooping 3 or 4 times every time we head out.

Of course at this moment I am in heavy fleece pajamas, sniffling and chilled with what I presume is my first cold of the season (having 600 sweet, hacking, runny nosed kids hug you every day will sometimes give you a little more than warm fuzzies). But I'm still going to go out there and do it all over again before I have to be at work today. Maybe. I still have my period so I do worry about bear attacks. We'll see.

So have a super Friday my people. I am now going to go stalk my followed blogs and if Lin has done her Fill in the Blank Friday I may have to do the same.


Happy Hausfrau Birthday To Meeeee

So today I turned 45.

It sounds so freaking old, I am still having trouble believing that I am somehow attached to that number.

Statistically, and according to my genetics, I am just about mid-life right now. Today. This very second.

Is it half-over? Or is it just half-revealed?

I have my kids. I have my health. I have an un-effing-believable group of friends. But there are days when I wish things were just a tidge different.

I don't have much money, nor do I have the things that moneyed folks have, but that kind of "stuff" has never been very important to me.

My credit is awful, the only thing I really own outright anymore is an 11 year old truck. We live paycheck to paycheck...heck, sometimes we barely make that.

Someone might read these things and say, "How in the world can she be even remotely happy? Where could any joy be found in that kind of life?"

Well...I'll tell you. I find the joy in the little things. Like having a group of 10 girls, all in 8th grade, running up to me with hugs at our first confirmation meeting last week. Do you know any 8th grade girls? Then you know how remarkable that scenario is.

I find the joy when I walk through the front door after a tough day, and my dog is so happy to see me he howls, starts rearing back like a stallion and actually smiles at me as he comes in for a hug. I find it when he and I take early morning walks, and the only sound I hear is the far-off honking of some random geese and our footsteps on the path.

I find the joy when a parent at school pulls me aside and tells me that I've made their child's life happier.

I find the joy when a friend calls me up and asks if I'd like to go out for an impromptu lunch date.

I find the joy in the butterflies I feel at the beginning of a new relationship....even though I am probably the most cynical, least romantic soul on the planet, it's good to know that those butterflies have survived.

I find the joy when my favorite waiter buys me a birthday shot.

I found the joy when I looked around my best friend's house the other night, the night of my big birthday party, and saw the beautiful faces of the best friends a girl could ask for. A house full of people I respect, people I admire, and people I love. Some friends in that house have been part of my life since I was a scewed up teenager...some have only known me as the screwed up middle aged woman, but they were all there, helping me celebrate another year survived on this Earth.

I found the joy when I clicked on facebook this afternoon and saw what seemed like an endless parade of "HAPPY BIRTHDAY JENNY" posts. Seriously, if nothing else, facebook has made birthdays better.

I found a little bit of joy when I realized today that I'm coming down with a doozy of a cold. And then thanked God for only giving me a cold to deal with. I know it could be worse.

I found the joy when a friend stopped me at school today to tell me her daughter couldn't believe I'm 45. "That has to be a joke, mom" her darling daughter said, "she is not 45."

I'm finding the joy night after night as each new, fresh t.v. show is unveiled. Hello, Modern Family, CSI (Ted Danson? He might be ok.) and tonight, Terra Nova. I even watched Two and A Half Men with Ashton (not sure about this one...is it just me or has Ashton Kutcher only ever played one character, ever? And that's Ashton Kutcher.).

So you see, I am finding the joy where I can. And I don't have to look far. For every hurdle I've had to jump, for every heartbreak I've had to endure, there has been a joy to be discovered. If I hadn't been through what I've been through, those joys would have been harder to find, if not impossible. And not only harder to find because I am growing more and more blind every day (seriously? I have to take my contacts out to look for mustache hairs.) but because now I know what's REALLY important in life.

Good kids, good friends, good times.

I can hardly wait to see what the next 45 years has in store for me.


Fill in the Blank Friday...

Yay Friday!!!! This week has FLOWN by...I'm looking forward to what is sure to be an epic weekend. Here is my version of the blogosphere's "Fill in The Blank Friday".

1. The best thing I did all week was being able to help out a friend in need. It's not often I'm the one someone calls when they need help, and not only was it an honor to be there for this friend, it gave me warm fuzzies knowing what it felt like to be on the other end of the helping hand. It's a good feeling.

2. Fresh new t.v. shows in September make me super happy.

3. Pets are just like having kids without most of the worry. I just wished they lived longer...a good friend of mine lost her fur baby this week. Rest in Peace, Sammy.

4. The people in it is the best thing about my life.

5. With the cooler weather I am looking forward to no longer having bras that smell like a yeast factory due to the excessive cleavage sweat I experienced this summer. Bleah.

6. Something's that on my "wish list" right now is for the kick ass year all of my kids are having so far in school to continue. They are all doing so well, it's amazing. I'm so proud of them!

7. This weekend I am going to be surrounded by the most fabulous babes in the world and celebrate my birthday! My BFF is throwing a party for me tomorrow night and I am absolutely giddy with excitement. Cannot. Wait. Get ready, 45...here I come!

Join in on Fill in the Blank Friday by copying the blanks, filling them in on your blog and linking up at The Little Things You Do so others can check you out.

Have a good Friday my sweet friends. Hug your dogs, your kids, and don't ever forget how wonderful YOU are. And if you're in the mood for a dirty martini tomorrow night, give me a call. I know where you can find one (or seven).


We've All Been SheenWashed: Charlie Sheen has made Domestic Violence Funny

So, I watched Comedy Central's "Roast of Charlie Sheen" the other night, in the company of my 17 year old. And I'll admit right here, in front of all 17 of you and God, that I laughed. I laughed my ass off. I laughed, my son laughed, we looked at each other and laughed in unison.

I posted on facebook about it, and "watched" it with a couple of my good friends, commenting and chatting about it as it progressed.

And after it was over, I found myself thinking, "Wow. That Charlie Sheen. What a survivor!". I began to understand why so many people love the man, loved him on Two and Half Men for so many years, and refused to jump the Sheen ship when he went apeshit.

The next day I felt kind of dirty, like I used to feel when I'd do the walk of shame home from one of my Nights Of Bad Choices back in my twenties. I felt like I'd rubbed up against someone at a concert or in a crowded bar, and picked up not only a really bad vibe but quite possibly an STD as well.

I didn't feel this way because of the sheer brutality of some jokes that were said during the roast. Sure, the one directed at Steve O. about the death of his friend, Ryan Dunn, made me cringe. I actually felt sorry for him at that moment. I wasn't filled with shame because of the fact that innocent people were dragged into the roast, people who weren't there to defend themselves (hello? Suggesting that Sheen's kids are destined for a life of 12 stepping?). There was a joke about Casey Anthony that killed any brevity, that made me instantly dislike the guy who told it, but that wasn't what made me feel so very icky.

It was the dawning realization that I had participated in what boiled down to a glorification of a criminal. A repugnant, vicious, abusive, criminal. Sure, he was being raked over the coals, every single skeleton in his closet was dragged out, bleached and left to dry under the spotlights.

But in the end, every one of those people on there closed their bit by saying how much they loved Charlie Sheen. What a great guy he was, what an inspiration, a stand out. A man among men.

And that's just wrong.

I felt bad because of the double message I was giving my 17 year old, what he was gleaning from this very public spectacle. I tell my boys, at every chance I get, to be good men. To be men who are kind, and gentle, and understanding. To be men who love women and treat them with respect at all times.

And here we sat, watching a man who has abused at least two women, abused to the point of injury and criminal charges, being almost worshiped. In fact, his last wife was sitting in the audience, watching and laughing along at jokes about how "she's not very bright. Unless Charlie is throwing a lamp at her head."

I wasn't physically abused by my ex-husband, I will clarify that right now. But, I will go out on a limb and say that some of what he's pulled over the past few years would definitely be classified as emotional abuse. The cheating, the lying, the time he came back and said all was well in our world and then left...the hiding of money, the refusal to pay child support. Calling me names in front of our kids, making fun of my weight, my family....making fun of ME. That hurts. Not as much as a punch in the eye would, or as much as having a knife held to my throat would, but still. It hurt. I can't imagine sitting in a crowd, laughing along while comedians joked about "that time you had to cash in your kids' savings bonds to buy groceries" or "remember when he sneaked into your room at 2 a.m. and started crying about what a mistake he'd made? That was awesome" or "how about the time your son came home, crying, because Secretary had pulled his hair. That explains the buzz cuts!". No, I can't imagine.

Charlie Sheen abused his last wife, Brooke Mueller, by putting his hands around her neck and then pulling a knife out and holding it to her throat. While he did that, he supposedly said, "You'd better be in fear of me. Tell anybody and I'll kill you."

His second wife, Denise Richards, had a restraining order against him. In that order, she described how Sheen had pushed her down, thrown chairs at her and threatened to kill her.

And last fall, as he was just about to embark on his very public nervous breakdown, he apparently tried to strangle a call girl and threatened her in a hotel room. While his ex-wife Denise, and their two daughters, slept just a few doors down.

We also can't forget the years of acknowledged drug use, the alcohol abuse, the solicitation of more prostitutes than Dr. Drew could ever dream of rehabbing, and the general "bad character" behavior he exhibited.

While all of this was going on, he was being hired, and being paid huge amounts of money by the bigwigs in Hollywood. He was, as they say, coated with Teflon. Nothing he did or said seemed to hurt him.

Until he upset his boss. That was the straw that broke the moneyed camel's back. Not the fact that he hurt the women he supposedly loved, not the fact that he unabashedly participated in the prostitution of young women, or the fact that he did some of this while in the presence of his children.

Charlie Sheen was called out because he insulted his boss, Chuck Lorre. Not saying that what he said and implied to Mr. Lorre is anything less than wrong, but why was it that single act that resulted in his escort out the door of Hollywood? Why didn't anyone who worked at Two and A Half Men ever call him out on his previous behavior? I just started watching that show, and you can literally see his decline. In the last season I've been watching, he spends most of the show sitting cross-legged on the couch, face gaunt, spindly arms crossed in front of him. The man was very obviously not well.

We all know the story, it's not only a dead horse by now, it's a pile of bones that used to be a horse. No use in beating it anymore.

But here he is again, rising from the still-smouldering ashes of his career. And here we are, applauding him, laughing with him, doing the "aw shucks, he ain't so bad" water cooler talks.

And there I was, with my 17 year old son, laughing along with Charlie Sheen and the assorted B-listers who stood up to roast him. Telling my son, in so many words, that what Charlie Sheen did in the past was ok. That you can do vile things, horrible things, and in the end, get paid to sit on a stage and field insults.

Charlie Sheen is the one who did all those bad things. Why am I the one who feels guilty?


Analyze This, Mother-Effer

And I mean no offense. Mother-effer* has become my bestest swear word, the one I drag out like most people pull out their favorite scarf or perfume. My trivia team took first place the other night, the night I of course had to skip (it's too hard to go regularly once school starts). My friend Danielle told me, the next day: "You were missed. We all predicted what you would have said, though...'Mother EFFER.'"

So to the point of this post: Yesterday I attended a session with Charlie and the counselor he's been seeing. I have to take a moment to crow about my boy. He is like the oldest, wisest old man in the universe trapped in a normal 17 year old boy's body. There are times I can almost see the conflict, the struggle, the angst riding through his mind and soul. And yes, I know that's true about almost every kid this age. But what I find to be so amazing about my boy is his drive to do something about it, the fact that he acknowledges what's not right in his world and his desire to change the things he can.

Take this counselor, for instance. One of the wonderful ladies at Charlie's school who are there to counsel and help kids suggested this guy last year. This particular psychologist is wildly popular and is almost impossible to get in to see as a new patient. But you know who made it happen?

Charlie. He called, he went to the office, he left notes and voicemails, asking this man to see him. What 17 year old does that? I think Charlie just felt it in his marrow, that this is the person who could help him sort things out, and do it in a way that would give him a nice new shiny set of tools for him to keep and use as life unrolled before him.

So yeah, I'm so proud of my boy.

Anyways. Charlie has been wanting me, and the other kids, to come with him. I won't go into too much detail here, out of respect for Charlie and his privacy. But he feels as though we could all benefit from this guy's help.

And he's right. I mean, even the most "normal" among us could use a little mental tweaking now and again, right? Take the past few years and dump that on top of all the other "normal" stuff and you have a little family who could really use a soft-spoken outsider to try and smooth things out. But getting the other kids to go isn't as easy as it sounds. They balk, they cringe, they conveniently find random places to be at the times Charlie goes to see The Counselor.

But after spending an hour in the mellow, glowing light of this man's office, I think I need to make it more of a priority. For them. For Charlie. And for me. Never mind the fact that The Counselor was wearing flip flops, and used words like "shit" and "fucking" once in a while...I get that his primary audience is teenagers and like Johnny Depp in 21 Jump Street, he's just trying to get them to accept him. He seems to have reached Charlie, and therefore I'd go see him if he was wearing nothing but nipple tassels and Saran Wrap.

One of the things that we discussed last night was how detrimental it is for the kids when Mom and Dad have an acrimonious relationship. The Counselor seemed genuinely shocked when he found out that Big Daddy and I do no communicating outside of texts and emails. Like, his jaw actually dropped a little. I honestly felt a little stupid, and a lot immature. "So, say you guys are at a school conference or a game...what goes on?". I explained to him that Big Daddy doesn't attend conferences, hasn't since Charlie was in 5th grade. So that's a non-issue.

The games? The concerts, the shows? I've discussed that here before. We simply don't speak. We don't sit anywhere near each other, so it's not like there are two people who are obviously avoiding contact. And sometimes, if my ex in-laws are with him, I'll talk to them.

But Big Daddy and I? Nope. I know some of you have talked to me about this, in particular a very wonderful friend who has every reason in the world to NOT speak to her ex. This friend, however, is not only amicable with her ex, they are....FRIENDLY. I admire this friend for about a million different reasons, but this may be the most impressive.

I can't do it, though. I just cannot fathom the idea of me and this man, sitting next to each other in some bleachers or in a wavy row of metal folding chairs or sitting at the same desk in a stuffy elementary school classroom. I just can't.

And I need to have that analyzed. Analyzed like a mother-effer.

Because it's hurting my kids.

And that just isn't mother-effing ok.

*in real life, I say the whole word out loud, like a truck driver or drunken sailor or 2nd grader who repeats what he hears at home. And I know some bloggy ladies like to really lay it all out there and throw down the F-bombs. But today I'm feeling genteel and ladylike. So I shall keep it semi clean.


My Divorce Made Me a Better Parent

I wouldn't recommend getting one to improve your parenting skills, but it hit me this morning: I've become a better parent since my divorce.

Not saying I was a horrible one prior to entering splitsville, and who knows what life would have been like for all of us if Big Daddy and I had weathered Hurricane Secretary and stayed married. But I truly believe, with all my heart, that I am a better parent today than I would have been if I'd stayed married.

Sure, I've made my share of mistakes with the kids since being solo, said things, done things that in hindsight, probably shouldn't have been said or done. But overall, I think going through the hell of divorce has made me a better person, and in turn, a better parent.

I think it's the result of so many things, some huge and obvious, some so very subtle and tiny that they can only be felt, like a soft breeze.

The biggest contributor to this New and Improved Mommy is, of course, the fact that I am solely responsible for my children about 90% of the time. You pick up on things faster, learn to read their body language, figure out their nuances when it's you and you alone dealing with them.

I was so worried, at the beginning, that I wouldn't be able to do it all. And I'm proud of myself for not only doing it, but most of the time doing a pretty good job.

Are the kids all Rhodes Scholars, future Presidents and brain surgeons? No. But they are growing into fine, responsible, kind and funny people. There are still moments when I shudder to think of them as roommates or spouses, what with the pee all over the toilet seats, the empty ice cube trays, the socks stuffed into couch cushions, but that's all surface stuff. At their cores, they are good people. They have their issues, of course, I think the five of us put together maybe have more issues than National Geographic, but my babies are good people.

The irony of this is that I have only one person to thank: Big Daddy. If he hadn't done the things he's done, if he hadn't made the choices he made, I wouldn't have evolved into who I am today. I would most likely be a good mom, a good person...but I wouldn't be ME. Learning how to do this on my own has given me more education, more life lessons than I could have ever possibly learned while parenting with a partner.

When you do this massive job all by yourself, you are quite literally being baptized by fire. There is no training, no "breaking in" period. One day you're a team, the next day you're all by your lonesome. You no longer have the luxury of saying to the person next to you: "I've had it. They're all yours for the next 4 hours." You are the one who makes sure homework is done, showers are taken, bellies are full and souls are fed. Nobody for you to call when you're running late, and say "Go ahead and get that stuff out of the crockpot and make sure they start their homework and oh yeah toss that load of whites into the dryer. And let the dog out!". You become the Alpha, and your kids, the Pack.

The beauty of this situation is, of course, that you and the kids grow and learn together. You become a solid unit, a front line that faces all obstacles and all joys together.

In some ways, I pity Big Daddy. I feel bad for him because he has no idea what it's like to parent these kids. He only gets bits and pieces of it, the leftovers from the feast. He doesn't have the connection the kids and I have, the history. And that's sad. Sad for him, yes, but more importantly, sad for the kids. They've missed out on having a full time dad and even though I do a good job of wearing both hats, there are certainly gaps in my coverage.

Who knows what the kids will see when they are all grown up and look back on their childhoods...will they see those gaps that were left by the divorce? Or will they instead look at the whole sections and smile, remembering how the five of us banded together and made the best out of a decidedly sticky situation?

I'd like to think they'll take a cue from their mom, and smile.


Ten on Tuesday

Random thoughts, observations, confessions and rants on an absolutely gorgeous September morning. Thanks to Lin at Linny's Vault for linking up the Ten on Tuesdays again!

1. The Missoni for Target line launched today and I am sitting here, seriously considering leaving my house in my current state (sweaty from my walk and with high octane tuna breath from my lunch) and going there. Going there with the $104.00 in my checking account. Yeah, it's not going to happen. I will keep my fingers crossed that a few months from now, as I'm lurking in the clearance area of Women's Shoes, I'll find a pair of the Missoni Rain Boots marked down to $4.97. In my size.

Actually, now that I really look at them, they're not all that great. I mean, really...I am the person who spends 99% of her time in jeans/yoga pants/sexually ambiguous hoodies and fleece jackets. And the 1% of the time I'm not wearing those I wish I was. Kind of silly for me to get all hot and bothered about this stuff. Mayhap I should click over to the Columbia website and check out the new fleece for fall. Sigh.

2. Do you ever go on long streaks of eating one certain thing? I do. And for the past week it's been tuna salad and Premium Fat Free saltines. I have to stop soon before I develop mercury poisoning but I'm sitting here next to a bowl of tuna and crackers and feel as though life is just fine and dandy for the moment. And my version of tuna salad? Tuna (doy), Miracle Whip Lite (are we going to have a problem now? I like it. End of story.) and about 10 baby dill pickles all chopped up.

I. Am. A. Man.

3. One of the scariest things ever happened at school yesterday. A first grade boy, one of my favorite kids there (and yes I realize I say that about almost every kid but this one in particular makes my ovaries ACHE), had a seizure on the playground. One minute he's playing football, the next he's on the ground. I've never seen anyone have a seizure before, never felt that kind of helplessness. All I could do was hold his sweaty little head in my hands and wait for the nurse to get there. Which she did, in record time. End of story? He's fine, we did all the right things for him and he is most likely back at school today, playing football and stealing the hearts of every grown up he encounters. But I could live the rest of my life in peace if I never had to see anyone go through that again.

4. I love focus groups. Last week I attended one about dog food (showed up, they said they overbooked, handed me $100 and said "Thank you, you can leave."). Last night did one about baked beans. I think the highlight of the night was when the moderator guy asked us, "If this can of baked beans was a person, and this person knocked on your door, who would it be?". I said, "Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs." The guys said, and I'm not kidding: "Mike Rowe dirty, or Mike Rowe cleaned up?". I said the latter. I will do just about anything for $75, apparently. Today I have one about soup. Judge me all you want, I'm going to be filling the gas tank of my truck with soup money in about 3 hours. This is how we roll in the lower class, ladies.

5. Finally, thank the good Lord and that mean bitch Mother Nature, the heat has ended here in Minneapolis. Today it's in the 70's, breezy, sunny...perfect. I think I would give up both caffeine and sex if it meant I could have good sleeping weather like this for the rest of my days. Ok, who am I kidding. Just the caffeine. The sex is so rare it's not much of sacrifice these days.

6. Mean people really do suck. One of my best friends was insulted at Costco yesterday, completely unprovoked, completely random and out of the blue. A bitter, angry old man yelled something rude and cruel to her as he drove by her in the parking lot. When she told me, I wanted to go all Charlie's Angels and track that effer down. Why are people like that? I have to think that they are so utterly miserable or riddled with mental illness that it leaks out of them like it did with the man in the parking lot. But that's no excuse. My friend is a beautiful, strong, funny woman who didn't deserve that verbal slap in the face. I hope he has diarrhea in the middle of the night tonight.

7. Facebook. I can't decide if I am in love with it, or only go on it because I hate it so much that I can't quit it. I don't know if any of you remember the Craigslist/Segway guy I went out with? He's on facebook, and we're "friends". So every once in a while he'll shoot me a message, about something random. Once it was to ask if I was still collecting vintage Christmas stuff (I'm like an onion, there's layers. We'll get to my Christmas ornament hoard later). He said "I think of you every time I see them." (and no I didn't ask where the hell he is that he runs across vintage Christmas stuff). So I reply something lighthearted and upbeat and "oh haha you silly boy YOU REMEMBERED THAT, YOU MUST STILL THINK ABOUT ME". And then he doesn't respond. For about a month, and then there will be another little "oh hey, blah blah". So I can't decide if he's flirting, opening up the lines of communication or just trying to toy with me since I banned him from the backdoor and basically stopped seeing him because of it. But it's turning me into a facebook stalker and I don't like it. Like, if I see he posts, I'll click on it. And then maybe while I'm on his page I'll see what he's "liked" or commented on. Until I start to give myself the creeps. Sometimes I'm a little too much Single White Female for my liking.

8. Kids are back in school, it's the second week now and I am delighted to report that so far everything is smooth. Charlie hasn't overslept yet, and if you know me and our morning struggles, this is nothing short of a miracle. I even handled my first math freakout just fine. And yes, I meant MY freakout. William had a worksheet on metric stuff and my upper lip started sweating by the third question. Metrics made zero sense to me when I was in 5th grade..why are they still pushing this stuff on us? We're dong FINE with the old school way. Aren't we??

9. I'm now thinking maybe I should go to WebMd and see what the symptoms are for mercury poisoning. Last night I went on there to see what it means when you have a sudden weight gain that is centered primarily on your stomach. It said, "This usually means you are eating too much and not exercising enough, fat ass." Sigh.

10. New tv shows are starting soon...Ted Danson is taking the Grissom role on CSI this season. I'm thinking that show should have been ended a year ago. Laurence Fishburne, who is pretty awesome, couldn't even keep things exciting last year. We'll see how Sam Malone does. I'm thinking it's time for this one to retire.

Have a happy Tuesday my friends!


September 11th and Two and A Half Men....

I don't like 9-11 posts. I made my own, last year, but that was because this blog was new and I was trying really hard to be like everyone else in the blogosphere.

Because, what is there left to say? We've all talked about where we were, what we were doing, how we reacted, what our kids said, yada yada yada.

We've talked through our feelings, discussed to death what must have gone through the minds of all involved...what it must have felt like, leaning out of one of the windows on the doomed buildings, feeling the heat of the inferno behind you, the howling of the wind in front of you, and having to choose between burning to death or jumping to it.

Everyone has seen the pictures, read the "Where are They Now" pieces...wept while seeing the memorials unveiled and hearing the family members of the victims proclaim their love for the lost ones.

But here I am again, writing about it. I watched some of the shows today, watched them with my guard up high. I made the younger boys watch a special on PBS, at one point Henry turned to me and said, "Please, can we change this? It's so sad." I told them that it's our duty to watch this stuff, year after year. It's our responsibility to see the video clips over and over, watch that second plane float into the side of the South Tower.

We need to relive those moments. We need to show our children those moments....because we owe that to those people who stood at the broken windows that morning. We owe it to those firefighters who trudged through ash and debris and walked into the gaping maws of death. We owe it to the families, the business travelers, the flight attendants and pilots of the planes that were hijacked.

It's our duty, as a nation, as Americans...as human beings. We can't let this become a sepia-toned flashback. We need to remember the sheer horror of that day, the way it felt when we saw those people jumping from the 100th floor of the World Trade Center, the way it felt when we saw newscasters weep and saw big burly firemen crying.

Because it can't happen again.

Will it happen again? I don't know. In my heart of hearts, I suspect that there will be more. I think of the thousands of military people who have perished since that day, lost their lives in this insane war that we waged out of revenge, to retaliate. We haven't seen the last, nor the worst, of things. I feel that in my heart of hearts, and yet I carry on, as we all do. Help my eldest child make college plans, practice spelling tests with my youngest.

Life goes on.

And on a completely unrelated note, I am also pretty sure that the end of days are near for a whole 'nother reason.

I have fallen in love with "Two And A Half Men".

How did this happen? Blame Comcast. Blame Comcast and their damn On Demand crap. Blame me, and my boredom for deciding to give this infernal show a chance on an impossibly boring Friday night.

I laughed my ass off. I fell back in love with Jon Cryer/Duckie (hello? Sexually ambiguous best friend from Pretty in Pink? You'll love us but never expect us to sleep with you!?!). I was fascinated by the video documentation of Charlie Sheen's decline (watched a very early episode and then watched a very late one...it was like watching Biggest Loser, episodes One and Ten). I decided that Berta was my new favorite television character (she had me at her description of Alan's lovemaking: "Three pumps and an apology". God help me, that could be the title of my book.).

This television show is insanely popular, and I could never understand why. When Charlie Sheen went apeshit, I couldn't figure out why it was such a big deal. "Cancel the stupid show" I thought to myself.

And then I bit the apple.

Now I find myself wondering what will happen. Will Ashton fill the slimy, creepy shoes that Charlie has left behind? Will the show make it? How can I get my hands on the clothes that Alan and Charlie's mom wears...you know, the breathtaking St. John wardrobe (eBay friends, you totally know what I'm talkin' about, right??)?.

The boy on that show is also pretty awesome. Lucky kid...I think I read somewhere that both parents were arrested for some stupid drinking/drug stuff back in the day, and decided to head out West and get their kid into show biz. If I'm not mistaken, he's now the highest paid kid in television...maybe we could learn a thing or two from his humble, white trash beginnings?

So, all of that said, I'll bid all of you adieu with these thoughts:

Hug your family, tell them that you love them, and live life with thoughtfulness and purpose. It's the best thing you can do to honor those who didn't get the chance.

And if you haven't already, watch a couple episodes of Two And A Half Men. It's a really good diversion from all of that thoughtful purposeful living.



The Kid Weekend Dilemma...what's a (divorced) mom to do?

Some of my divorced friends have different schedules, but all of us seem to find ourselves in the same quandary from time to time:

Having an adults-only event/party/date/whatever to attend on the weekends you have your kids. Sometimes, it's a no-brainer. A concert that you've been looking forward to for months, a wedding, a special event that only comes around once (like 40th birthday parties). Sometimes you have to weigh the pros and cons.

And sometimes you just have to go with your gut.

My gut almost always says, "Stay with the kids." It's been like this since day one for me.

The kid free weekends? Bring it on. Those are mine to do with what I please. If I want to go out with my friends, I will. If I want to sit on my couch and watch movies, I will. If I want to go over to my friend's house, drink wine with her and laugh my ass off until 2 a.m., I will. In divorce, you have to get your silver linings somewhere, and I discovered mine on those 4 days every month when I found myself alone with absolute freedom for the first time in years.

But...those other four days? The two weekends they're with me? I found myself protecting those, guarding them like a cat guards her kittens. Invitations would come, and I'd almost immediately turn them down without a second's hesitation. "Nope. Got my kids. Sorry, can't." If it was something super special, like the aforementioned big birthday parties, or an evening wedding, I'd think long and hard about it. Procure child care, arrange sleepovers, and always, always dealt with the guilt that would come with the decision to be away from my kids on "our" weekends.

However, now that the kids are getting older, that clear black and white division between Kids and No Kids weekends is starting to soften into gray. The kids spend more time away from home, hanging out with friends, doing their own thing.

This weekend was a Kid weekend, and it was also the weekend I had an event to attend. An event I was so excited about, something I was looking forward to attending for the past month. The second Minnesota Blogger Conference. Tickets go fast, and I was thrilled to have nabbed two of them; one for me, one for a friend. When I got the tickets, I was fully aware that the conference fell on a kid weekend, and when that nagging guilt started to creep its way into my brain, I pushed it into a dark corner, shushing it.

The conference was going to be held in downtown Minneapolis, attended by a few hundred fellow bloggers. They had several speakers, several different sessions we would be able to attend. I was looking forward to two of them in particular: a session regarding the legalities of blogging (because even though I've been given the all-clear on mine, sometimes I worry about my truths being held against me) and one about finding a novel already written in your blog. And there was also free lunch, which thrills me down to my core anytime.

The guilt stayed put in that dark corner, up until a few days ago. I started thinking about the kids being home without me for that whole day, from 8:00 a.m. until about 5:00. No different than a mom leaving her kids by themselves to go to work, I rationalized. But...this wasn't work. This was something that was solely for ME, something that didn't get me paid, something that didn't benefit anyone else but ME.

I started feeling selfish. And guilty. The guilt? That's nothing new. I have felt that one so many times, and for so long, it's like feeling the arms of a long time love wrap around you in your sleep.

Selfish? That's a relatively new one. I felt it a while ago, when I finally got my hair cut. It was at a "salon" rather than "my deck" and was done by someone who is certified to cut and style curly hair rather than a good friend who used to be a stylist. And it cost some money. More money than I have spent on myself in years. As the woman cut my Duggar hair, I felt guilt moving over to make room for that new feeling, selfishness. I thought to myself, "How dare you spend even a cent on something as stupid as a haircut?" "Don't you know there are a million other things you could use this money for? Starting with your KIDS?" and on and on.

Now, I may be called many things. Lots of things. Like, maybe flaky. Awkward. Goofy. Semi-whorish. But selfish? That's a new one. Even when we did have a healthy income, my needs and wants were taken care of only after theirs. Even when I was married, it was extremely rare for me to do anything just for me. I realize now, typing this out, that it sounds a little more like martyrdom than selflessness, but that's how I rolled. And obviously, as our finances thinned out, I did a great job of putting myself last.

But that hasn't proven to be a winning technique. I am in dire need of some attending, in just about every area a person can be attended to. One of the things I want to change is this woeful, pathetic pattern of neglecting myself.

And that's hard for me to do.

Which brings me back to the conference, which happened today. Last night the guilt was suffocating. I was at my friend's house, I'd helped her with an after school project and we were sitting back and relaxing for the first time all week. I kept thinking about waking up early, going downtown and then about my four children, stumbling around the house without any supervision. I started thinking about how long it had been since I'd shopped for groceries, if any of them would remember to feed the dog or let him out, what would happen if something started on fire or broke or flooded.

The guilt won. I made arrangements with my friend so she could get into the conference and I decided to skip it.

Today I'm feeling mixed emotions. We slept in until 10:30, so obviously that first week of school had left all of us needing some extra zzz's. The kids did nothing spectacularly different today, we didn't weave pot holders as a family or pull weeds for the elderly neighbor. They all hung out, some with friends, some solo. I did the usual glamorous things I always do: laundry, picking up, complaining about picking up, cleaning the kitchen, making meals, loving my children.

Every now and then I've thought about the conference. All of those grownups, having adult conversations, learning new things, bettering their blogs and maybe making some connections that would help them realize their goals as writers. I thought about the free lunch, and wondered if they had cans of Diet Coke available.

And once, when one of my kids had a fit about something super important like a video game or me not buying a new one for him, I felt pissed at myself for chickening out. "This was worth missing it?" I thought after the tantruming child swore his way down the stairs to the mancave.

Then, we made plans for the evening. We laughed, a couple of them started helping clean the house. One of them wanted to curl up next to me on the couch and talk about stuff. One ran in and out of the house all day long with various members of his posse trailing along behind him.

It was a kid weekend.

I am left feeling ok about my decision to stay home. I'm certain that as feedback about the conference comes streaming through facebook, Twitter and my fellow Minnesotan's blogs, I will feel small tides of regret washing up, but for now, I'm ok with what I did.

Next weekend, there will be ME time. A friend's 40th birthday party and a potential hookup reunion with The Cabin Neighbor. Cocktails, laughs, late nights and zero guilt.

This was, after all, a kid weekend. And I am glad I spent it with my kids.


Things I Learned over Labor Day Weekend

So the kids and I were delighted to be invited up to my BFF's cabin for labor day weekend. It was kind of a last-minute thing, but I was THRILLED because my poor Les Mis babies hadn't had a real "vacation" all summer long. I wrote about her cabin before, and this time was pretty much exactly like that one....

Except this time I swapped spit with a man.

Yes, I met the neighbor. And yes, there was an instant connection. How much of that connection was due to the vodka/cranberry drinkies, I don't know. But thank GOD, there was a connection.

Did I mention that there was some connecting going on?

Relax, bitches. The kids were all asleep.

So what did I learn over Labor Day weekend?

I learned that my old rule of thumb "you are pretty much guaranteed some action if your legs are sporting four day old stubble, your boob sweat has congealed into a crusty layer kind of like cooling lava, and you smell like lake water" still holds true. Oh yeah, and I added "plus you're wearing a ginormous maxi pad because of course you forgot that you were going to bring Aunt Flo along for the weekend and there were no tampons to be found in the wilds of Wisconsin".

I learned that one of my children still hasn't mastered the art of losing at anything with grace. And if he loses a two-player game of Mario Cart on the DS while enduring a 2 1/2 hour drive, there will be blood. Ok, not blood, but a pretty sizable smackdown. And some hair-pulling. At least they kept their seatbelts on.

I learned how to make a turkey. Don't laugh! I've never made one before. Ok, I did once but in true Jenny style, I screwed it up somehow. My BFF is the best cook I know and she showed me how to use Diet Coke to make what was seriously the yummiest turkey I've ever had.

I learned that sunsets are even more beautiful when you are relaxed and surrounded by laughing kids and good friends.

I learned that I need to get rid of my truck. I used my friend's minivan and filled it up...it was about $45.00. To fill up my truck? $160. I'm no math wizard but that ain't right.

I learned that my stupid phone works better in the sticks of Wisconsin than it does here in Minneapolis. AT&T...rethink service. Effers.

I learned that my BFF's husband is pretty awesome (I kind of already knew that, but). Not only did he once again put up with my smelly, shedding dog, but he also put up with my not-so-smelly, shedding 17 year old son. Not only put up with Charlie, but engaged in conversation with him, showed him how to use a jet ski and taught him a little bit about what kind of things a really good dad does.

And perhaps most importantly, I learned that you don't need a bazillion dollars to have a picture-perfect long weekend. All you need is a friend with a bazillion dollars and a sweet cabin. Just kidding. I think the most important thing I learned was that I didn't forget how to make out with someone.

And that if you wait around until you think you look/smell/are dressed perfect, you may miss out on meeting someone pretty cool.

Ooh, and I also learned that I need to keep a stash of tampons on me at all times.

Hope you all had a beautiful, relaxing and safe Labor Day weekend!
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