What do Led Zeppelin and Butt-Dialing have in common?

They both mark the end of another Jenny and McCain chapter. 

Yes, it's over.  Are you surprised?  I'm not.  In fact, I was actually very worried about this very thing happening.

I worried about it, big time, before the trip to Amsterdam.  I worried about it during the trip, and after.  When he first asked me to go there with him, I balked.  I refused!  I told him, flat out, "No way."

You know why?  BECAUSE I KNEW THIS WOULD HAPPEN.  And now I have guilt.

While I was wrestling with the decision, the "should I go?" question, I kept thinking one thing over and over.  I even expressed it to my friends.  I did not want to accept this most generous gift, this once-in-a-lifetime experience for many reasons, but the biggest reason of all was this:

I didn't want to feel obligated to him.  I don't want to feel obligated to ANYONE.  Especially to someone with whom I share such a tumultuous track record.  That nagging little voice in my head kept saying, "Don't!!  You'll be sorry!!".  But for whatever reason, I decided to ignore that little voice.  I thought mayhap things would be different this time. Maybe I was ready to stop over-analyzing things and to just sit back and enjoy something special and amazing and wonderful. 

For a little while, that's exactly what I did.  When you find yourself "stuck" with one other person 4,000 miles away from home and with exactly $210.00 in your checking account, you'd be amazed at how quickly the doubts and worries take a back seat. While we were on our trip, I did have fun.  And I was grateful.  Grateful for the chance to step outside my stressful, hard-knock life for four days and see the world.  Grateful for yummy dinners and canal rides and the opportunity to suck down a dirty martini on another continent. It was magical and fun.  I wasn't Broke Ass Jenny, I was World Traveler Jenny.  And it rocked.

It rocked, and then it was over.  We came back home and reality rolled back in like a pea-soup fog.  I was Broke Ass Jenny again, working and parenting and fretting and doing all of those special things that make me who I am.  And McCain went from being Gentleman Travel Companion to...well, back to McCain.

We went out to dinner a few times, a movie, a couple parties and even a double date.  He hung out with me and a couple of my hens.  One gave her approval, the other one was on the fence.  And I started remembering all of the reasons we never "clicked" as a couple.

You know those gut feelings we get, as women?  Those hunches that cannot be ignored?  Well, my gut was full of hunches.  And they were the same ones that had been there the first time McCain and I dated.  And the second.  And the third.

One of the hunches was centered around my kids.  Despite the fact that he and I had dated, off and on, for almost five years, he and my kids had never met.  This was partly on me, because that's always been my modus operandi:  DON'T INVOLVE THE KIDS.  But, then again, he had never expressed an interest in them.  Granted, the thought of meeting four kids can be daunting to anyone, least of all a confirmed bachelor who never had children.  Still...it was something that was on my mind, and one night I decided to bring it up.  Long story short, the conversation ended with him telling me, in so many words, that he was in no hurry to mingle with my babies.  In hindsight?  A good thing.

Here's where Led Zeppelin came in: we were in his car one night, on our way to or from dinner, and for some reason I asked him, "What's your favorite Led Zeppelin song?".  He replied, "I'm not sure who that is.  I'd have to hear it."

Now, let me say this.  I'm not like some Zeppelin freak (although I have friends who are, and I love them).  I don't go see the cover bands, I don't have a kid named Jimmy and I don't have the lyrics of Stairway to Heaven tattooed on my back.

But it's Led Zeppelin, okay? Love 'em, hate 'em, ambivalent or superfan, most people born between the years of 1950 and 1975 know who they are. If you're lucky, you saw them perform.  Me?  I listened to my Led Zep cassette tapes on my little Sony boombox and wept over "Going to California" in my bedroom for pretty much my entire 15th year of life. I dreamed of meeting a skinny dude in patchwork bell bottoms with long curly hair. I sang along to Kashmir and Babe I'm Gonna Leave You and yes, of course, Stairway to Heaven.

Hear this: I am not saying that this was the moment I knew it was over.  What it really was, was a red flag, a flashing warning light.  You see, one of the things about me and McCain is this:  we don't have anything in common.  Other than the fact that we both love to eat, and to be honest, that's kind of a human being thing so it doesn't seem all that special.  We are exactly 10 years apart in age, but it feels more like 30.  I felt that way when we'd be out and he'd talk to me like one would speak to a child (walking behind me shouting out directions: LEFT! RIGHT! STRAIGHT AHEAD!), when he told me that the television I watch is "junk" and when he shared with me that he'd spent an entire Saturday (day and night) watching Christmas movies about single moms and widows on Lifetime (also known as The Vagina Network). I felt that way when he'd chastise me for looking at my phone.  Yes, just looking at it. 

It was the Led Zeppelin incident that made me realize we don't have enough in common.  I'm not looking for a clone of myself (dear sweet baby Jesus, never in a million years) but there has to be some common ground, some shared cultural "stuff" to make things work.  I'm not stupid enough to think that I'm going to find some sweetly aging John Cusack type out there, who loves every single movie and show and song and book that I do, but I do know that there is someone out there who, to sort-of quote my BFF Danielle, "Is going to rock my world."

Throughout the past month or so, while the walls around the McCain/Jenny romance were beginning to crumble, I kept hearing the words of another friend.  A guy friend, a man who is married to an eBay hen of mine and is an amazing husband and dad.  He sent me a message on facebook just prior to the Amsterdam trip and he closed with these words:

Aren't you ready for some security and stability in your life, Jenny? You deserve it.

I am ready for that.  Security and stability?  Yes, please!  Supersized, if you can.

But I'm not ready to give up being ME in order to have those things.  I'm going to continue to watch questionable t.v. shows, I'm going to keep doing trivia with my nerds, I'm going to keep checking in at places on my phone when I'm out and about.  Because that's who I am.

The Butt-Dial?  That was the clincher.  I had already decided to cool it with McCain when I made a stupid, foolishly middle-aged lady mistake with my phone.  Driving around one day, I had my phone jammed between my squishy thighs.  You know, so I could find it fast if it rang.  I also happened to have someone in the car with me, and we happened to be discussing the concerns I was having with the whole McCain relationship.  I was telling this person my worries about all of the things I babbled about already, and also about another aspect of the man that troubled me.  An aspect which I will keep to myself for now, but one that sent those red flags and warning lights into a waving, blinking frenzy.

You can guess what happened.  I got a text from him a few minutes later, expressing anger and shock about what I'd said.  At first I was all, "What are you talking about?" but then I saw that not only had I called him (I guess this could be called "thigh-dialing"?) but he had listened to me for 3 1/2 minutes.  I felt truly awful.  Truly.  My cheeks were burning, my heart raced.  I told the person I was with and together we pieced together what he had overheard. 

And it was bad.  Granted, he probably heard the gist of it out of context, but it was bad.  I felt like a huge bitch.  You can call me that, I'm owning this one.  It was a crass, insensitive and bitchy thing I did.  But it happened.

What else could I do, but apologize.  Which I did.  He was understandably pissed, hurt, offended...you name it.  I goofed. Big time.

But here's the weird part:  along with feeling all of those ashamed and awkward things, I also felt a tinge of relief.  Because the concerns I had been discussing were bothering me, bothering me something fierce, and I can't think of another way I could have ever brought those things up with him without the same end result.

We exchanged a few terse texts, I apologized again.  And that was it.

I feel shitty about the thigh-dial. If you know me at all, you know the last thing I want to do is intentionally hurt someone (yes, the two of you who are rolling your eyes, it's true...).  However, I am the kind of gal who tries to find silver linings in otherwise dark clouds.  I came away from this experience with one:

Silver Lining:  I could have gone for security and stability with McCain.  I could have sucked it up, ignored the red flags and the warning signs and hopped onto his coattails for a life of comfort.  I could have been one of those women who followed the dollar signs instead of their hearts.  When I first started seeing McCain again, one of my friends said to me, "Shit, Jenny, if he has money and he's into you, grab on and don't let go.  The first time you marry for love, the second time it's for money!".  Now, I love this friend and don't think I didn't consider what she said.  But if and when I marry for a second time?

It's gonna be for love.

And if this were a cheesy Lifetime movie, I'd end it with this:

We'll always have Amsterdam.


My New Year Resolution: To Stop Being Divorced!

No, I'm not getting married.  (hoo boy, I have some stuff to discuss on the relationship front, but more about that later..in a blog post tentatively titled "The Blogger and the Bad Butt-dial").

And yes, I am the same woman who has eschewed New Year resolutions in the past.  But here's the deal:  I'm tired of being divorced.  I'm tired of talking about it, writing about it, blaming everything on it. 

It happened, that can't be denied.  Did it hurt?  Hell yes.  Was it fair?  Hell no. 

Does it define me? 

Not anymore.

For the past six years, I have been Divorced.  For a long time, it was pretty much the only thing that you needed to know about me. 

"This is Jenny.  She's divorced."

Everything else was secondary.  The fact that I have four kids, that I can make people laugh, that I'm messy, that I can draw a really good picture of a deer...none of that mattered for a long time. 

It's my fault, really.  No, not the divorce.  I still blame that on my ass of an ex and the troll he was banging.  But letting myself become Divorced Jenny, rather than Just Jenny...that was mostly my doing.  I let it become my personae, my identity.  I talked about it, over wine and at classroom parties and in the grocery store parking lot. If you knew me more than five minutes, you knew I was divorced.  And in some ways, that's okay.  It's to be expected, when one has their heart ripped out, for one to walk around and want to discuss the fact that their heart was ripped out.  Talking about stuff like that is good.  It helps you process things, it lets others know that you're hurting and might need some extra love and maybe some comfort food.  It allows you to work through the grief and the rage. 

I wouldn't have started this blog if I hadn't been Divorced Jenny.  I was getting to that point most of us Divorced People eventually get to, that point where you see eyes starting to glaze over at the mention of the "D" word, where you find yourself repeating scary stories of lawyers and your kids finding lube at daddy's house so much that even your bestest of friends can no longer feign interest.

So I started writing about it, instead.  And that helped.  It not only helped me, more than I could have ever imagined it would, but it helped a lot of other ladies out there. And it still is. Every single day, dozens of women find my stories by typing "what to do when your husband leaves" into Bing or Google.  They stay, sometimes for hours, and peruse my ramblings. Sometimes they leave comments, sometimes they send me an email.  Sometimes they just read.  And that's good.  That's one good thing that came out of me being Divorced Jenny. I've helped some others through their dark moments. 

And writing here has opened a few other doors for me, as well.  Doors of all shapes and sizes, doors I wouldn't have found had it not been for this crazy diary of mine.  So yeah, I can say that being Divorced Jenny hasn't been all bad.

But now it's time for me to start remembering who I really am. Who I was before. Who I am becoming, who I will be. 

Oh yes, I will always be divorced.  But it's my hope that in 2013, and the years that follow, my divorce will end up being something like a bad, tiny tattoo on some hidden slope of my body.  Something I vaguely remember doing, something I may regret...but something that I don't see every time I look in the mirror. 

Enjoy the rest of 2012, my friends.  This year has been a sad one, for many of my friends and for so many in the world.  I hope that the remaining five days in 2012 are peaceful ones, days that we use to remember loved ones who are no longer here and to cherish those who are. 

Divorced Jenny, over and out. 


When I Think of Being Six

I think of my childhood, and my children at that age.

I think of the hundreds of six year olds I've had the honor of working with, and knowing, and loving over the past seven years.

I think of endearing speech impediments and chubby cheeks and missing teeth.

I think of furrowed little brows as they learn to master the scissors.

I think of their little shoes...the light up sneakers, the patent Mary Janes with scuffed toes, the tiny cowboy boots.

I think of their conversations I've overheard, wherein they discuss the mysteries of the universe.

I think of the squeals of joy when they discover, once again, that it's Monday and that means they get chocolate milk.

I think of knock knock jokes.

I think of fat crayons and drawings of houses and suns and clouds and trucks.

I think of them walking down the hall towards the playground, the "clomp clomp" of their winter boots and the "swish swish" of their snow pants.  I think of them charging out into the fresh snow and their runny noses and bright pink cheeks.

I think of how the scariest thing in the world is the boogie man under the bed or the memory of being lost that time at Target and how mommy cried when she finally found you.

I think of pink and blue and green backpacks strapped onto impossibly small shoulders on the first day of school.

I think of warm little hands reaching for mine as we walk together, of hugs and bright shining eyes and most of all...I think of their innocence.

I don't want to think of a six year old being hurt.  I don't want to think of one of them being terrified, not even for a second.  I don't want to think of being the parent of a six year old and waiting outside of a fire station, watching other kids run into the arms of their parents and thinking, "Where is my baby?".  I don't want to think of what happens to a little six year old boy who has something so broken in his head that he grows into a delusional, angry and murderous twenty year old.

I don't want to think of those things.  None of us do.  But today, we're thinking all of these things.  We are thinking of them, and crying, and praying and looking at our own children with a new set of eyes.  We are thinking of parents who have abruptly lost what is most precious to them, and how they are coping.  We are thinking of teachers who became super heroes in the blink of an eye.  We are thinking about guns and mental illness and what should be done about both of them.

I'm going to think about the good things now.  I can't think of the bad ones anymore.  I think, in order to honor those sweet babies, we need to carry on and face the world with a new kindness.  An awareness, too.  This is the time to love those six year olds, and the seven year olds and the little babies and the awkward tweens.  It's time to love, and watch, and be aware of the older kids, the ones who are no longer so adorable and innocent and who now wear giant basketball shoes and Ugg boots and more often than not, a scowl or a disinterested face.  It's time to walk down the halls of our schools and say Thank You to the teachers who love our kids for seven hours a day, who will be walking into their classrooms tomorrow morning and imagining what they'd do in the face of a horrifying lockdown.  It's time to reach out to the moms and the dads who seem to be struggling with their kid, who may need some help or maybe just a shoulder to cry on. 

I'm going to go to my school this week, and at the risk of being creepy I'm going to love each kid I see, whether it's with a hug, a pat on the back, a high five or just an exchange of smiles.  It's something I do on a daily basis...I truly love the kids I work with and can't imagine doing anything else but love them.  But this week, and the weeks after that...I'm going to love them even more.  I want them to feel safe.  I want them to feel secure.

I want them to feel like kids.


Sesame Street: D is for Divorce?

Have you heard?  Sesame Street is tackling the issue of divorce.  It's not the first time, apparently they wrote and shot a segment on divorce in the 90's (ironically featuring the most endearing depressed character ever, Snuffelupagus) but amazingly during screenings it made people sad so they scrapped it.

They've decided to give it a go again.  You can see some of the video segments on the Sesame Street website.  Yes, my kids are way beyond the Sesame Street phase of life, but I found out about this via a blog post on the HuffPost Divorce site.  I read that post, watched the videos and came to this conclusion:

D is for Divorce, and that's not good enough for me (sorry, Cookie Monster).

Don't get me wrong:  I'm not saying that I think the fact that this iconic television show/media entity is addressing divorce is bad or wrong; had this "kit" (as they call it on the website) been available when my marriage first started unraveling and the kids were younger I may have given it a shot.  What I have an issue with is the ideas about it that they appear to be expressing.  It's kind of like they're glossing over it, like covering marks and flaws on a wall with primer before putting down the final coat of paint.

Yes, I understand that this is a show for preschoolers.  I get that they aren't going to have Oscar the Grouch sitting on a therapist's couch talking about abandonment issues and troubles with his self-worth that stem from his parent's divorce.

But...from what I read in the HuffPost blogger's article, and from what I saw in the videos on the website, I think that they are making it seem like divorce is just another easy-breezy solution to one of life's pesky problems.  It reminded me of a segment that could have aired, titled "Jimmy Gets His Tonsils Removed".  Only this one is about a Muppet Fairy who has two houses now.

My biggest problem with this whole thing is a two-parter.  First part is, they are showing divorce from the perspective of a character whose parents divorced very amicably, and what seems to be at least a couple of years in the past.  She explains to her curious friends, with the help of Gordon, that nothing has changed, that "Mommy is still my mommy and Daddy is still my daddy".  Which is GREAT.  What I wish they would address, though, is the inevitable sadness, the worry and yes, the grief that happens when divorce hits a family.  This seems a little too light and sparkly (and yes again I have to remind myself it's for wee little ones) but having been a parent to little ones and also as someone who works with preschoolers, I can attest to the fact that they do indeed hurt during this process.  They hurt big, no matter how easy Mom and Dad may make it look .

I think the group that will benefit the most from this are the friends and classmates of the kids who are going through divorce.  It may make it easier for them to understand what is meant by "divorce" and why some days Sophia gets dropped off at her mommy's house and sometimes at Daddy's. 

My marital status very, very rarely comes up when I'm working around kids, but when it does, sometimes you'd think I just told them that I eat puppies for dinner.  "What do you mean, Miss Jenny...there is no DADDY at your house?".  In cases like this, maybe it will make things less uncomfortable for the kids who are going through a divorce.  And that's not a bad thing.

The second part that rubs me the wrong way about giving divorce the Sesame Street treatment is this:  I think it's planting a little seed in the very open, very absorbent minds of young, developing kids:  divorce is okay.  Divorce is what happens when mommy and daddy decide they don't want to/cannot live with each other anymore. Hey, you get two houses!  Your dad will still get down on all fours and give you horsey rides!  Mom will carve pumpkins with you!

For some kids, that is how it all goes down.  Mom and Dad decide, as a couple, that things just aren't repairable.  They both approach the divorce with preparedness, and an acceptance, knowing that this was a decision made by both parties.  These are the kids, in my humble opinion, that this video kit was made for.  I'm not denying that these kids are sad, and I'm not saying that their sadness is any less valid than any other children's sadness. 

But...and there's always a but...for many kids, and many parents, this is not how divorce happens.  Some kids wake up one day and Daddy has moved out, the hangers in his side of the closet now empty and his car gone from the garage.  Some kids don't see Mommy for a few weeks or even months at a time, and when they do, it's in the parking lot of some stupid restaurant approximately halfway between her house and daddy's house.

For some kids, time at Daddy's house means meeting a string of girlfriends.  Sometimes Mommy ends up living with someone who isn't exactly father-of-the-year material.

For some kids, Mommy and Daddy aren't going to sit on the couch side by side and tell them how sad they are that their marriage is ending.  Some Mommies and Daddies don't talk to each other, sometimes they can't even look at each other.  Some kids, sadly, end up being the messengers..."Dad said he can't take us on Thursday because he has a party to go to" or "Mom wants us to be home a little earlier tonight".

Unfortunately, from what I've read and heard and experienced, that's how a lot of divorces pan out.

The blogger on the HuffPost site closed her post (which I really did enjoy, and I'm not dissing her point of view at all here) by saying:

Divorce isn't necessarily bad. Divorce doesn't have to be a huge change. Divorce can be good. Divorce is not different. Divorce is change.

This is where I have to respectfully disagree.  And this is where I find myself not liking the "divorce is okay" state of mind.

Divorce is a huge change.  It's massive.  Aside from a parent dying, I can't think of anything else that will impact a child more than divorce.  Denying that is not only dismissive, it's kind of insulting to the child (and the adults) who do feel the change, feel it down to their core. 

Divorce is different.  If a child has been living with mommy and daddy, as a family, from day one?  Divorce is very different.  It is something that, like my ex said as he left, "happens every day", and yes, people do move on from it, but don't fool yourself:  it's different.  Even under the most ideal circumstances, anyone involved in the divorce is going to feel that difference.  Mom, dad, kids, grandparents, friends...nothing is ever quite the same.  Is it bad?  No, not necessarily.  Sometimes it IS good.  But it's always different.

And I guess that is what really makes this whole thing stick in my craw a bit:  I don't want my kids to grow up thinking that divorce is a great alternative to marriage.  I don't want them going into a marriage thinking, "Meh...if this doesn't work out, we can always get divorced."  I want my kids to recognize not only the importance of marriage (or a partnership, I can be progressive, ya know), but the meaning of commitment.  I want them to go into their adult lives knowing how to make well thought-out choices and be the kind of people who will go that extra mile to make things work.  Not only in their relationships, but in every aspect of life. 

I want my kids to be the kind of spouses for whom divorce is the very, very last, the very rock-bottom option.

I'm not stupid.  I'm not living in a fantasy world.  Life doesn't always work out how we think it will.  People change, life changes.  Nothing is guaranteed, and nothing is a certainty.  But I'd like to think that maybe, just maybe, if divorce wasn't so readily available, such a viable option, things would be a lot different for so many people.  I'd like to hear more stories of people who have worked through their differences, people who thought about quitting but decided that the time and blood and sweat and tears that they've invested in their families is worth giving it everything they've got. Call me naive, if you will.  But that's how I feel.

Yes, this is my reaction to a simple little video on Sesame Street.  You should have seen me when Cookie Monster started rapping about healthy foods.

Please let me know what you think about all of this...I'm curious to find out if my own "big feelings" have muddled my views, or if others have similar opinions.

Happy 12/12/12, everyone! 


The Truth about Consequences. And Ripples.

It's one of the first life lessons we learn:  for every action, there is a consequence.

We cry.  We're fed.
We try to walk. We stumble.
We touch a hot stove.  We get burned.

It's something that is so inherent, so deeply imprinted into our brains that we don't even think about how many hundreds, thousands, of times a day we go through the action/consequence do-si-do.

Truth is, everything we do causes a ripple effect.  Some are tiny, one-ringed little plops on the surface of the universe.  Others are like earthquakes, causing shockwaves that reverberate across our emotional, and physical landscapes for what seems like eternity.

Last night, I got a message from a friend on facebook.  I was out on a date, and checked my phone as we left the theater after seeing "Skyfall" (kick ass movie, my friends...kick.ass.).  The friend is someone I've known for several years, we met when my now 18 year old was in elementary school with her son.  Not close, by any definition, but according to the facebook, we're friends.

It was one of those things that shocks you out of the lull you're in.  Pulls you out of the comfort zone and back into the cold reality of life.  One second you're babbling on about Daniel Craig's amazing shoulders, the next second you're reliving your divorce.

The message said:

"Are you related to XXXX?"  Insert the name of my ex-husband's newish wife in place of XXXX.  Insert fist into my gut, too, while you're at it.  Because that's what it feels like, even after 6 years have passed, to have that name intrude into my day.

I hesitated a second, wondering what the protocol was for answering messages such as this.  I wondered why she was asking...are they friends?  Did XXXX mention me to someone?  Do I take the high road, and just respond with a simple "No."?

Of course this is how I answered:

"She's the skank my husband left me for.  So I guess in a way we're related.  Ha."  Because I am usually a high-roader, but last night I decided to test the driving conditions on the low road.  Conditions were, as they usually are, slippery.  I felt badly about that answer almost as soon as I sent it, hoped I hadn't crossed a line or started something nasty.

She quickly typed back:

"Is she in the xxxx business?  Young?".   Again with the fist to the gut.  Young?  I remember when people would use that word to describe me.  Will the insult of being left for someone younger ever lose its sting, its strength?

I confirmed both things in my next message:

"Oh yes.  And yes.  Why??  Did you cross paths?"  I was still wondering how this all came about.

I won't divulge any more of my friend's responses, since it is, after all, personal.  But the gist of it is this:

My friend works in a certain industry.  So does the woman who is now married to my ex. This certain industry has boards and associations and things of that ilk.  My friend belongs to them.  So does the woman who is now married to my ex.

One of the boards that they both belong to had a Christmas party this past week.  At the party, someone started chatting up my friend.  The name of my ex-husband's newish wife was brought up.  Conversation was had.

Now, here's where I get to the relevance of actions and consequences:

Remember what I said about how everything we do causes a ripple effect?  I mean, everything.  From the route we take to the grocery store, to deciding to buy a coffee instead of having a cup at home...from the people we decide to be friends with to making the choice to get involved with a married man.  All of these things can, and will, make a ripple.

How big of a ripple, you ask?

Big enough that someone you work with, someone who has seniority, loads of experience and yes...some power in your industry may just happen to notice that you have the same last name as one of her acquaintances.  She may ask this acquaintance about it, and she may find out things about you that perhaps aren't positive things.  The kind of things you most likely don't want someone in your professional life to hear.

And if you really want to know all about the ripple and how it spreads out and over and onto pretty much everyone and everything in your life, I'll tell you this:

Woe unto you when that person with whom you rub shoulders with, professionally, has also been the victim of "another woman". 

Because that particular ripple, my friends...that ripple never really goes away.

Every day we find ourselves having to make choices.  Big choices, little choices.  Choices that will affect you, those around you, and even people you haven't met yet.  The consequences each one of these choices creates vary.  You may choose to take a wrong turn and end up being late for an appointment.  You may choose to eat that iffy sushi and end up spending the rest of the day in the bathroom.  Or, you may choose to screw a married person and a few years down the road your dirty little secret becomes not so secret. 

When my kids and I part ways for any length of time, I bid them adieu with these two phrases:

"I love you!" and

"Make good choices."

Because the choices we make are so very important.  Don't you agree?


I'm a Divorced Mom. And I'm going to survive Christmas, dammit.

Christmas 2012 will be the seventh Christmas I've spent as a divorced mom.  Normally, this time of year sends me into a psychotic, neurotic, eating-drinking downward spiral.  My usual reaction to hearing Christmas tunes on the radio and seeing all of the commercials on t.v. with twinkly white lights and perfect families opening perfect presents while sitting in their perfect living rooms clad in perfect pajamas is to mentally curl up in the fetal position and rock back and forth until December 26th.

But no more.  Not this year, not ever again.

I'm taking Christmas back, mother effers.

As I look back on the past six Christmases, I am filled with a sloppy mixture of grief, joy, regret and a weepy nostalgia.  They were all so different, and yet...so alike.

There was the Big Money Christmas of 2006.  Our divorce was finalized on December 6th, my ex bought his new house on the 10th and around that same time he introduced our four kids to the woman who had helped take down our marriage.  I was devastated, and most likely a tad bit insane.  That was the year my movie star alimony and child support had just kicked in and I spared no expense for the kids.  We  not only had a lovely Frasier Fir in the living room, we had one in the family room as well.  Just because.  I had my neighbor/photographer take pictures of the kids and I for a Christmas card and composed a "Hear Me Roar" Christmas letter announcing the new lightness and happiness we were experiencing in our home.  The boys had a new Wii and a new XBOX, and my daughter had pretty much every single thing available on the American Girl website.  I thought that having a mountain of gifts under the tree would help ease their pain, at least for a little while.

There was the Pauper Christmas of 2010.  The year I finally lost my house after the movie star child support and alimony abruptly stopped when my ex quit his big money job.  Our first Christmas in the rental house.  The only way we had a tree and some presents under it was due to the absolute kindness and generosity of some lovely "strangers".  A man I had never met, and have never seen since, dropped off a big bag of gifts on Christmas eve, all wrapped and labelled with my kid's names.  I cried as I placed them under the tree we got from a charity Christmas shop set up by the local food shelf.

Our Christmases have been varied, that's for sure, but all of them have had one thing in common:  I faced each one with a sick knot in my stomach.  I was haunted not only by the ghosts of Christmases past, but also by the ghouls called "What Could Have Been" and "What Should Have Been". I lived in the past and dreaded the present. 

I'm a slow learner, folks.  It's taken me this long to realize that it's not Christmas I hate.  I hate how I react to it.  Whether I want to admit it or not, my piss-poor attitude towards the holiday and all it encompasses has done some damage to my kids, and has definitely damaged me.

I have let my bad feelings leach the goodness out of the season, and in turn infect it with moroseness and gloom.  I've allowed my circumstances to dictate the feel of Christmas, to orchestrate every moment of it.  I started feeling it again, a few weeks ago, when I turned the corner at Target and saw their Christmas section, all cluttered and festive and red and green.  That old familiar knot started forming, just below my heart.  I think I may have actually uttered, "I hate Christmas" to myself.

But then, something happened.  I can't pinpoint exactly what, or when it hit me, but it did.  And hard.

My kids are getting older, older by the second.  In a few years, they'll be grown.  And gone.  Off on their own adventures, living their own lives.  Do I want their memories of Christmas to be of a sad faced mom, crying into her coffee as they open their gifts? Or do I want them to remember their mom embracing the season, grabbing it up in a big bear hug and telling melancholy and remorse to step off?

I think they want the latter.  And so do I.

So I'm taking it back.  I'm not only going to survive this Christmas, I'm going to love it.  Love it hard, like I used to back "before the divorce", like I did when the kids were little and life was seemingly perfect.  Because you know what?  It's still perfect.  It's changed, that's for damn sure.  But it's perfect in its own way.

I'm still broke, there still won't be a ton of gifts, there won't be laptops or cars with bows on them or iPhones or trips.  I have to wait until the 15th to start shopping, because this paycheck is already gone to my landlord and my gas tank and school lunches.  But I'm going to get out the decorations, I'm going to play Christmas music and we're going to make cookies in the shapes of snowmen and trees and candy canes.  I'm going to get my free tree from that same little charity Christmas shop and I'm going to drag out my vintage Shiny Brite ornaments and fill that sucker up. 

The biggest, and bestest gift I'm giving my kids this year is the gift of a happy mom.  A mom who will no longer cringe when someone wishes her a Merry Christmas.  A mom who may not be able to get them the coolest things but can definitely give them something priceless:  love.  Love, and a lesson.

Life can be hard.  It can be awful and mean and it can hurt like a bitch.  But you can't let it scar you so badly that things which are beautiful and simple and meant to be enjoyed become dark and scary and painful.  I want to show my kids that life is good.  Even when it feels like it's not.

You know what's funny?  I started out writing a very different post today.  It was going to be a divorced mom's guide to surviving the holidays.  Here's the kicker:  I couldn't write it.  I couldn't write it because, to be honest with you, I don't know how to survive the holidays.  I only know how to endure them. 

Maybe next year I'll be able to write a post about the holidays...but not only about surviving them.

About enjoying them.

Happy Holidays to you, my sweet readers.  I wish you all the best of the season. 


Little Hausfrau in the Netherlands...some Monday Musings

Ok, "little" meaning "short".  Because here's a fun fact:  People in Amsterdam are freakishly beautiful.  Tall, statuesque, willowy yet athletic,  with big white teethy smiles and a casual elegance that all the J.Crew in the world couldn't help me attain.  I can't quite put my finger on what it felt like to be a short, squat albino with hay-like hair strolling amongst these attractive giants.  Let's just say, if I ever go back there I will pack a more sleek wardrobe.  Yoga pants and sexually ambiguous fleece jackets do not cut the mustard in the Netherlands.  And scarves.  Everyone wears scarves with demure panache.  Even the grandparents.  

So here's the scoop:  John McCain took me on a dreamy whirlwind trip to Amsterdam.  We left on Thanksgiving morning, and let me tell you..I was a neurotic banshee up until the second the plane left the ground.  And for a little bit after that, too. 

Of course I was worried about the kids.  I was worried about the dog.  I was worried that this was too much, too soon.  I worried about pooping, of all things.  Yes, I just said "pooping".  Because I don't have any sort of boundaries, I will tell you all about my borderline-obsessive fretting about going number two.

Call it "Fear of Farting" if you will.  In fact, my homie Danielle and I had one of the funniest text exchanges about this very subject just prior to my departure.  You know how you can tell when someone is a good friend?  Like, a really good friend?  When they will take screen shots like this one:

And also, when they will humor your insane bowel movement fears.  Love you, Danielle!

Were you eating while reading this?  I'm sorry.  But no more poop talk, I promise. 

Like Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes are wont to say, I had the time of my life.  It was a SHORT trip (three days) but we packed a lot of sight-seeing and even more eating into those three days than I would have thought possible.  The sharing-of-the-room thing wasn't awkward (although the fact that I am more man than woman was woefully apparent...like when I came out of the bathroom at bedtime wearing a big t-shirt, my glasses and had my sleep mask wrapped around my head like a do-rag).  He's also very neat, very organized, which is a stark contrast to how I roll.  Kind of a Felix/Oscar thing going on there. 

I spent a lot of time thinking.  I thought about how funny life is, how it came to be that my broke ass was strolling through the streets of Amsterdam, eating in the yummiest restaurants and sleeping under a down comforter that surely cost more than all of my earthly possessions combined. 

I felt like an imposter, at first.  The mommy guilt played a big part in that.  I saw families on vacation, kids in tow, eating at restaurants and posing for pictures.  It caused a big pang in my heart, thinking about the fact that my kids have never, ever gone anywhere, and here I was drinking $15 dollar martinis and walking down charming cobblestone streets hand in hand with my fella like I hadn't a care in the world. I found myself starting to look at John McCain and thinking of all the reasons we shouldn't be together.  All of the reasons he shouldn't like me.

And then I decided to do something so many people have told me to do: 

I got over it.  I told the guilt and the shame and the negative stuff to take a walk.  This was a once in a lifetime trip, something that should be enjoyed and relished and LIVED.  So I did all that.  I enjoyed every second of it from that second forward.

We took a canal tour, at night, in a boat that was built in 1909.  We toured the house where Ann Frank and 7 other souls lived in hiding for 2 years (that place was rife with spirits...talk about an emotional morning).  We took turns down little alleyways and ate in tiny restaurants and got tipsy in the hotel bar (they filmed Oceans Twelve at the hotel, by the way).  We talked about us and our history and where we are now.  As each minute ticked away, I felt the walls around my heart start to fall down, brick by brick.

Funny how I had to travel 4,000 miles in order to see things clearly, huh?  This must be one of those "can't see the forest for the trees" deals.  Mayhap I had to get away from the craziness that is everyday life in order to appreciate what it feels like to have someone treat me like a queen. 

Here are some highlights of the trip, with fancy bullet points:

  • File this one under "It's A Small World After All":  One of Danielle's BFF's, who is a flight attendant, happened to be working on our flight to Amsterdam.  His name is Todd and when I introduced myself (I recognized him from pictures) he hooked us up real nice.  Todd doesn't know this yet but I am destined to be the Grace to his Will.  Or maybe the Karen to his Jack?  We shall see.  Thank you, Todd!
  • I was shocked to see that they have little televisions in every seat on the planes now!  Actual moving pictures, the talkies!  For a few minutes I was all "we are now a nation of ADD riddled toddlers who have to be electronically pacified in order to sit still for more than ten minutes" and then I got sucked into "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter". And then "The Avengers" followed by "The Green Lantern". Little t.v.'s FTW!
  • Here is when I think I started to fall a little bit in love with my travel companion:  He's growing a beard/mustache thing for Movember.   Personally, I think it's hot, but apparently it's driving him insane.  We were discussing the facial hair and how long it will last, and after I pleaded with him to not shave it off, he said, "Well, the least you can do is change my blog name to Grizzly McCain."  
  • I almost got hit by a tall, attractive person on a bike.  Several times.  They bike EVERYWHERE there.  No wonder there wasn't a muffin top in sight.  Except for in the bathroom mirror at our hotel.  
  • I am now addicted to Stroopwafels.  Apparently they sell them at Trader Joe's.  I'm going to get some and eat all of them. 
  •  You know your trip is officially over, you know you are really and truly back home when you find yourself in the middle of a kid smackdown.  A smackdown that started over the big bag of miniature Toblerone candy bars I brought back as a souvenir for the angels.  Sometimes I feel like I am living with the cast of Little Orphan Annie.   
  • I have learned that when my kids miss me, they show it in varying ways.  One kid cried real tears when she and I finally saw each other, one was PISSED and let me know it, one played it cool but snuck (sneaked?) in a few extra hugs last night and one displayed a maturity and strength that I always knew was in him.  I missed them, with every fiber of my being..but I think this little break was good for all of us.  Even Big Daddy had to step up to the parenting plate, which apparently he did.  
  • And that's a good thing, because on the way home from Amsterdam, McCain started talking about a 2 week long trip around the world.  Details to follow.
And there you have it.  My trip of a lifetime, the condensed version.  I brought all of you there with me, sort of.  Several times I had to tell myself to stop narrating experiences, blog-style, in my head.  Did you know that they don't check for crazy at customs?  Mine got through just fine.

Happy Monday, friends. 


Thum Thtuff on Thursday

Yes, lame, I know.  But it's early and I'm doing this with only one coffee in me so cut me some slack, okay?

We are officially one week away from my BIG TRIP.   One week from today, I will be even more insane than I am today. 

That's kind of scary.

For those of you who live in a semi-normal world, travel probably isn't a big deal.  You buy your tickets, you get on the plane, and you go have fun or do your business or whatever.  And a million years ago, that used to be how I lived.  Spring break?  Hell yeah!  Let's go to Cancun!  What's that?  We should go to New York for the weekend?  I totally agree.  Let's go!

I haven't been on anything that remotely resembles a "vacation" since before Charlie was born.


When Big Daddy and I were married, the farthest we ever traveled was to South Dakota for a wedding.  Oh sure, we talked about taking family vacations, but remember...I was the first wife, the one who loved him in his "Willy Loman" phase.  We considered a family dinner at Fuddrucker's to be a treat of epic proportions.  By the time he started pulling down the big money, he was already groin-deep in Secretary...so a family trip was not very high on his To Do list, if you know what I mean.  He had other things To Do.

John McCain and I did go to Chicago for the weekend once, about 4 years ago during one of our other times together.  That was the last time I was on an airplane.  I found out I had lice three days after we got back.  That was one time I'm sure he was grateful to have less than a full head of hair. 

So suffice it to say, I am all kinds of crazy right now.  There's trip anxiety, packing panic, and oh so much GUILT.  My friends and acquaintances (which means, all twenty two of you) have told me to knock it off.  That it's high time I have some fun, and to relax and to leave the guilt here at home. 

I'm trying.  But it's not easy.  I even have Dog Guilt.

I think the bulk of my guilt is stemming from the absolute absurdity of it all.  Broke ass Jenny going out of the country on a whirlwind four day vacation.  The same Jenny who, just this morning, checked her bank balance on her phone before getting out of bed (and saying "Shit." after seeing said balance).  The same Jenny who has begun feeling the annual Holiday Dread creeping in already.  The same Jenny who talks in third person.  That's me, by the way.

It smacks of hypocrisy, it reeks of fraud.  The poor person inside of me is absolutely weeping over the cost of it all.  Granted, it's not my money, but still...

Anyhoo.  So there you have my travel rantings.  Sadly, there will be more. 

In the meantime, here's thum thtuff.  Some random thoughts and observations. 

1.  I'm thinking that at some point on the trip (yes, here I go again..told ya), I'm going to have to ask McCain to pee all over the toilet seat in our hotel room.  Just so I can feel at home.

2.  Can I tell you how much I hate those Hyundai  "Don't tell mom" commercials?  They need to show Dad getting a lap dance, and then looking over at his kids saying, "Don't tell mom".  I dare them to do that.  Gauntlet thrown down, Hyundai. 

3.  Did you see I mentioned commercials up there?  Yes, that's right.  I have officially become Comcast's bitch again.  Please don't judge.  It's getting cold here.  They had a deal I couldn't refuse.  It lasts six months and then it will be getting warm again so I'll cut it off again.  Until then?  I am awash in television. 

4.  Speaking of television, my beloved daughter had a health scare this weekend.  We spent some time in the emergency room and she missed three days of school.  She is 100% today though, and going back to school with glee (ok not with glee but she is going back).  I learned a lot while we dealt with this little illness...

a.  Put pretty much any guy in scrubs and he gets a little bit hotter.
b.  When the guy starts talking about his wife, he's no longer hot.  At least to me.
c.  I love my daughter so much, it hurts. 
d.  I don't know about you guys, but if I got a text saying one of my kids was in the emergency room, I'd be there so fast there would be smoke tendrils trailing from my heels.  I probably wouldn't wait and hour and a half before responding.  And then not show up.  Just saying.
e.  Kidney stones are excruciating.
f.  Moms and dads who are caring for a child who is critically ill are heroes.  And their kids are, too.  Do you know anyone in this situation?  Give them some love.

5.  Three of my favorite hens have lost their fathers recently.  They all had very close relationships with their dads, and are understandably devastated.  My heart is breaking for them...but I want them to know that one good thing is coming from this:  I am patching things up with my own dad.  I can't let another day go by without telling him that I love him, and that I'm sorry for being a cuckoo daughter and that he means the world to me.  Watching my friends deal with the loss and the grief was a big eye opener.  Now go hug your dad, if you can.  Or at least give him a call.

6. I have some amazing friends.  One of them showed up at our front door a couple of days ago, with a bag of "get well" groceries (from Whole Foods, yo...I have classy, organic friends, too) and some travel size goodies for me.  I guffawed out loud when I found the "air freshening" candle in the bag.  You know that sucker is coming with me for sure.  I'm already feeling the bathroom anxiety, folks.  The candle should help.  Poor McCain.  Who knew I could pack so much crazy into a carry-on?

And now I must get ready for my exciting day.

I'm livin' the dream, people.  You try and do the same. 


The Day After. And Everything Else.

It's alive!

I've been missing in action lately...my apologies to the four or five of you who have expressed concern.  I'm here!  It's been an intense and grueling couple of weeks and to be honest with you, I just didn't have the oomph to write here.

Everything I started to write sounded hollow and echoey, like I was yelling through a megaphone filled with socks.  I don't know what the deal is..is it the gloominess of November triggering some Seasonal Affective Disorder crap already?  Is it this damned election and the absolute WORST it's bringing out in people?  Or perhaps it's just me.  I feel drained and exuberant, jumpy and listless all at once.

I had my day in court with Big Daddy on Monday the 29th of October.  A huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to all of you who sent love and prayers and good vibes along with me that day.  I needed them, bad.  Talk about nervous.  Sweaty pits, nausea, stuttering...I was a class act.  Thank God my sexy attorney held it together, though, and I am declaring a winner.  Not me, not Big Daddy...but my kids.  They might actually come out as the victors in this one.

Don't get me wrong.  The judge wasn't like Tinkerbell in a black robe, spreading joy and fairy dust all over the courtroom.  In fact, she was a steely lady.  Tough.  Tough like boot leather.  She scared me so much I couldn't remember how much I make an hour, and as I spoke into the microphone in response to her question regarding my income, I stammered out: "Umm I think I make $XX.XX an hour.  Around that.  I think."   So obviously it wasn't my sparkly personality or firm grasp on facts that won me any favor.

Out of respect and a slightly murky idea of what is legal for me to gab about, I won't divulge any more detail.  I will say that my attorney was slack-jawed as we walked out.  I looked at him and said, "Are you surprised?  Is this a good ending or a bad one?"  He looked at me with his dreamy, vaguely ethnic brown eyes and said, "It's good."

I am, for the first time in a while, cautiously optimistic.  Because I know, very well by now, that ordering someone to pay doesn't mean they'll pay.  But this does mean that I will have, at the very least, a piece of paper signed by a judge saying my kids are owed money.  And that piece of paper?

That's a win.

Don't think that this is a windfall for me and the kids.  It's not, not by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, it's not going to change my present day finances very much at all.  Enough to maybe take the edge off a week or two every month.  What he will be paying in child support is probably less than the average car payment.  But I'm not complaining.  As I have said before, I'd be happy with an extra twenty bucks every week.  When you're stuck in a blistering hot desert, even the tiniest bit of shade is a welcome relief.  I'm grateful to have anything.

I'd be a shitty friend if I didn't take a second to thank my friend Danielle for coming with me that day, and to the others who offered to come, and to those who sent texts and messages and support and to the amazing Emily who joined us at lunch afterwards and gave my sexy attorney his new nickname, "Aladdin".  I have the best friends in the world.

So that's one reason for my absence.  I was nervous about court.

Another thing that had me feeling wonky was the election.  No, no...don't worry.  I'm not going to talk politics.  I'm so sick of politics that I would rather talk about football.  Or lawn fertilizer.  I saw friendships end over this presidential race, and that saddens me.  It doesn't seem as though our country has ever been more divided (at least not in the last fifty years or so) and this division is scary.  So much hatred, so much vitriol, so much doom and gloom and in your face and nah nah boo boo rhetoric.  I am trying so hard to teach my kids how to be good citizens, how to be good people.

It's hard to teach your kids things like that when there are adults all around them acting like preschoolers.

I don't see my friends as Democrats or Republicans or Smurfs or whatever.  I see them as people.  I may disagree with some of my friends about certain things, but one thing I do agree with is that we are all entitled to our opinions and our feelings.  I had to take a break from facebook due to the rising tide of anger and the back and forth that was going on (ok it only lasted 24 hours but still..I made a status update about it and everything!). My love of Scrabble and also the sick need to know what's going on in EVERYONE'S LIVES proved to be too much so I logged back on, and like a junkie sinking back into a stained crack-den couch with a needle stuck in my arm I started clicking "like" again. 

I'm glad the election is over, but I will be really glad when everyone figures out how to work together without all of this animosity.  Nothing good can come from so much anger.  Nothing.

I've also been occupied with something else the past couple of weeks, something not so awful and nerve-wracking:

I've been busy dating.  John McCain and I have been dating, and it's been really nice.  So nice, in fact, that he's decided to take me on a very super amazing trip over Thanksgiving.  I'm not going to get too detaily because I don't want Big Daddy and Secretary all up in my business (hi guys!  Henry wants me to tell you, "enough with the Hamburger Helper").  But I will say that it's something pretty darn special and a passport is required.  The kids are supposed to be with Big Daddy for Thanksgiving weekend, and I always get sad.  Doesn't matter what kind of plans I have for the day or the weekend, it's just a bummer for me.  So John, being the spontaneous and very kind person he is, offered to take me somewhere fun for the long weekend.

I hemmed.  I hawed.  I tried to come up with excuses.

But in the end, I said yes.

This might be a good time for me to tell you guys that when I'm with McCain, I sometimes feel like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.  No, I'm not a hooker, but you know when she's still wearing her whorish clothes and her hair is all prostitute like, and Richard Gere is gingerly leading her into the life of privilege?  Like when Barney the hotel concierge teaches Vivian how to use the silverware for the fancy business dinner?

I kind of feel like that when I'm with him. 

When we're together, I can't help but think of the stark differences in our lives.  He spends more on some of our dinners than I spend on groceries for an entire week.  This trip we're going on, I'm sure it's costing more than what I make in two months.

I feel as though I am somehow being unfaithful to my kids.  Is that insane or what?  But that's the truth.

As I told one of my BFF's....I'm conflicted.  I've been down here in the trenches for so long, covered with mud and dodging bullets and trying to keep my little troop safe.  Part of me feels as if going out and enjoying the Good Life is nothing short of treason.

I know that as I board the airplane with McCain, I will be nervous.  I'll be nervous about a lot of things:  flying, whether or not I packed the right clothes, how I'm going to conduct my morning bathroom business with a roommate (a single woman gets into a routine, folks, that's all I'm gonna say).  But I'll also feel some anxiety about my kids.  How they feel, knowing Mom is living it up, going to museums and seeing sights and being wined and dined while they are left behind.  My kids wear the same few pieces of clothing week after week.  The three still in school are on the reduced lunch program.  My eldest is 18 and doesn't have his driver's license, let's not even dream of him having a car.  They have gone so long without so much and complained so little.  And here I am, thinking about things like itineraries and jet lag.

I feel like Cinderella's stepmother, leaving poor Cin dressed in rags and mopping the floor while I get all glammed up for the ball.  I feel shady and phony and to be honest, like a bad mom.  Everyone tells me that this is awesome, this will be so relaxing and wonderful for me.  Telling me that I deserve to have something special like this.  But I can't quell that little voice in my head saying, "Your kids deserve better, too."

Mommy Guilt.  Making women crazy since the dawn of man.

And there you have it.  Just a few of the nuggets that have been taking up my time and attention over the past couple of weeks.  There was also the demise of a friendship, and of course the daily joy of single-handedly raising three teenagers and one 12 year old who may as well be a teenager.

Life has been crazy.  It's been scary and exhilarating and sweet and sour.  Above all, though, as always...life is good.  I hope YOU are doing well and feeling good and if you're not either of those I hope it passes quickly and that you are soon well and good.

Thank you... for being you. 


My Carrie Bradshaw Moment

Ok, so I'm not exactly Carrie Bradshaw.  If Carrie Bradshaw was an exhausted single mother to four kids, who wears black yoga pants with frightening frequency, then yes.  Yes I am exactly Carrie Bradshaw.

But here's what made me think of Carrie and moi in the same thought bubble:  Remember in Season Five of Sex and the City when Mr. Big reads Carrie's book?  The person I am kind of dating right now has read my blog.  I haven't felt this awkward since...well...on Saturday when one of my best friends met him and addressed him as "John McCain". He looked at her like she had just addressed him as a former POW/governor/presidential candidate, and then at me. "You call me John McCain?" he asked me. Thanks for that, Terri!  Love you!

Like Lucille Ball, I had some 'splainin' to do.  Keep in mind that on Saturday, my sweet big mouthed friend Terri was celebrating her birthday by renting out what is known as a Pedal Pub.  So she and 15 of her best friends climbed aboard this tipsy thing and pedaled around Northeast Minneapolis for the day (I think someone once said the same thing about me in the late 80's)  (waiting for the laughs) (no?  ok...).

One of my general rules of thumb is "no drinking during the day".  I broke that rule on Saturday.  And sadly, I broke it by drinking a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.  But hey, it's not every day you are pedaling a pub with 12 people you've never met before, right?  So I had a good excuse.  As the day wore on, I had a couple more.  And thus, the texting began.  Poor John.  He handles my liquored-up texting with grace and civility.  Or maybe he makes faces and says bad things to his phone, but he always answers and is always polite.  This time I was begging him to join us at the "post-pedaling" part of the day.  And he did.

Oh, what's that?  You just realized that I am fessing up to seeing John McCain again?  If you're judging me, stuff it.  If you're happy for me, thank you.  He and I have been off and on for the past five years.  I have attributed each and every one of our "break ups" to the fact that I'm mostly insane.  I'm a second guesser and an over-analyzer.  But I'm also a big fan of serendipity, and I think that if someone ends up in your life, over and over again, they're there for a reason and you'd better explore it.

Plus, it's nice having my clock cleaned out again on a semi-regular basis.  And he seems to have no allergies to cobwebs, dust and bat guano, which I'm sure he found in abundance between the sheets after I got out of his bed.  Yes, it's been a while.

I could go all therapisty on you, and explain that after years of rejection and head games I've deemed myself unworthy of love and therefore push away anyone who tries to get close, but the reality is, I'm difficult to love.  I blame a lot of things, including some pretty harsh abuse I suffered at the hands of a stepparent, my own parent's divorce, being married to a cheating a-hole and a few other random hurts.

Bottom line is, I pity the fool who dates me.  I cannot even begin to fathom what it must be like..the mood swings, the hot/cold fluctuations, the nagging insecurities and constant worrying about what my stomach looks like when we're naked together.  And that's just the first night. 

I'm a cargo ship's worth of crazy stuffed into a rowboat, if you know what I'm saying. 

I'm also starting to think about the future.  Right now, I'm still chin-deep in busy.  Busy with work, busy with kids, busy ignoring laundry and dirty bathtubs.  But it's not always going to be this way.  Someday, in the not-so-distant future, I'll be alone.  The kids will (hopefully) get up and out and on with their lives, my dog will get old, and I'll get old too.

I remember one guy I dated during my eHarmony days:  I named him Sad Counselor.  One of his favorite subjects to talk about was the fact that he was terrified of ending up alone.  Back then, all I wanted to talk about was the new hutch I had just bought from Ikea and the latest episode of Bones.  His "what if" talks bummed me out.  But now, I kind of get it. 

So back to the Sex and The City parallels: After finding out that his moniker was John McCain, he pressed me a little bit:  "Have you written about me?" he asked.  I should have been all distracting, like Carrie would have been, and avoided the question by perhaps yanking on his zipper as he drove. But remember, I had been drinking, in the daylight.  Drinking PBR. So I confessed.  Told him that not only had I written about him, I'd written several posts all about him and me and our "stuff".  A smart blogger would have gone home then, and quickly, furtively reverted all incriminating posts to draft form. You know, to hide them from prying eyes.  But I am not a smart blogger.  I went home, burned a bunch of pumpkin seeds in the oven, watched a few episodes of "Charmed" (seriously.  I'm desperate for cable, homies) and then went to bed.

Yes, John McCain read my blog.  He sent me a text the next morning, telling me that going forward, we would refrain from discussing politics on dates.  That's when I ran to my laptop and pulled up every post that mentioned him.  Read them through his eyes, read them like I was reading them for the first time. 

I cringed.  I blushed.  I think I may have actually groaned.  And then, finally, I hid them.  Because it's my blog and I can do that. 

Truth is, in hindsight they weren't ALL bad.  I said some nice things about John McCain.  I said some not very nice things.  But mostly I spoke the way I do in every single post:  truthfully.  And at those moments in  time, those days I wrote about John McCain, I wrote the way I was feeling.  I wasn't ready. 

He didn't say too much about what he read.  In SATC, when Big read Carrie's book, he felt bad about the way he had treated her.  He looked at the woman he was with, and realized he was being played just like he had played Carrie.

In my case, I fear the opposite is true.  I thought, right away, of things I had said about McCain that could be interpreted as hurtful, or worse yet, insulting.  I tried to not do that in my posts about him, because in all honesty I felt as though the problems with "us" were mostly "me".  Here was this guy, this great guy, who loved me.  He thought I was pretty, he wanted to be with me, he didn't judge me or call me fat or point out my shortcomings. 

We had our differences.  And yes, those differences are still there.  But time has passed.  All those big ducks I had in a row have been dealt with (oh yes, there's still more drama to be had but the end is finally in sight).  I've changed, changed a lot, in the past year or so.  I don't know if it's called "growing up" or "maturing" or maybe just "early onset dementia" but I feel different.  I feel more like, I hate to say it, Sad Counselor.  Thinking about the future and what it's going to be like when I don't have to drive someone to hockey or baseball or work or a friend's house.  When my nights aren't crammed full with confirmation, conferences, concerts and other commitments. 

And that's where the Carrie Bradshaw/Happy Hausfrau parallel ends. 

Or is it?  I'm going to close with the very last line SJP spoke, as Carrie, in the very last episode of Sex and the City.  It's a great quote.

"The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous."

Here's to all of us finding some fabulous.


Baby Elephant Legs

Have you read Jennifer Weiner's essay about the F-Word?  Read it here.  It's okay, I'll wait!

So.  Did you love it?  Did it resonate with you?  I did, and it did with me.  Resonate is an understatement.  Stuck to me like pine sap, it did.

It brought back some memories, some bad ones.  Memories I thought I had cleverly hidden, so cleverly that nobody and nothing could release them.

But there they were, flashing, blinking neon memories. Forcing me to reexamine them.  Relive them.

The worst of these memories involved two things that strike fear in my heart to this day:  boys, and swimming.  In fact, when I first opened up Ms. Weiner's essay, the picture at the top caused an instant lump in my throat.  Three girls, huddled at the edge of a pool.  One bigger than the other.  All in swimsuits.  Honestly, the photo alone dredged up long-forgotten emotions.  Her words were like, pardon my food analogy in the midst of a post about weight, the icing on the cake.  

It must have been 6th grade.  Maybe 7th, but by then the junior high nightmare had begun so I'm inclined to think it was 6th.  Anyhoo...a bunch of us, boys and girls, were swimming in the junior high pool.  They used to have open swim time on the weekends, and for a while, it was the cool place to go.

We were splashing and yelling and playing.  I remember standing in the shallower end with a few of my friends, water just high enough to cover our budding bosoms and my already budded belly.  A couple of the boys had goggles on, and were, unbeknownst to us, submerging themselves right behind our little group.

One of the boys shot up, and I'll preface this with my own decades-late jab: he wasn't the most attractive of them all.  In fact, I had already dubbed him Alice the Goon due to his unfortunate resemblance to Popeye's stalker/nemesis (remember her?  All forearms and pin head?).

He popped up through the water's surface, snapped the goggles from his eyes and yelled out:

"Jenny has baby elephant legs!"

For just the briefest of moments, time stopped.  For that second, I was still happy and still blissfully oblivious to judgment and mockery and pubescent cruelty.  I was still me.  Simply, Jenny.

Then time started up again and his words hit me.  They pierced me, and changed me forever.  It was over 30 years ago, three decades have passed, and I can still hear his voice, still smell the chlorine. 

I wanted to die. I wanted the tiled floor of the pool to open up under me and swallow me whole.

This wasn't the first time my weight had come up.  There was the comment from my little brother a million years ago, as we were looking through some photos of us at the beach, "You have a fat tummy."  There was the doctor's appointment with my mom, the diet they put me on that forever ruined my taste for carrots and celery.  Like Jennifer spoke of doing in her essay, I was the one sneaking bread topped with butter after school and late at night.  My mom was forced to keep the butter in the freezer, and I can still see those tattered slices with chunks of cold butter jutting out... tiny, pale yellow icebergs in a soft white Wonder bread ocean.

But..this was the first time it had been brought up by a peer.  By a peer who happened to be a boy.

From that day on, even to this very day, my weight has been an issue.  Not a glaring issue, God knows, I've had to deal with so many other things over the span of my lifetime, but an issue nevertheless.

I dieted myself down to a size 4 the year after high school.  I had taken a year to save money for college, and during that year I did little else besides work and work out.  By the time I started college, I was skinny.  There was a particular hallway in the main building on campus... a long, window-lined corridor.  The jocks (it was a major hockey school) would perch themselves upon the marble ledge under the panes and as girls walked by they would shout out numbers.  Numbers from one to ten. 

And just like the words of Alice the Goon still ring in my ears, so do the voices of the sporty boys.  "You're an EIGHT!" one called out to me, and for the first time in my young life I felt pretty.  I felt wanted.  I had to resist an urge to raise my now-thin arms above my head and triumphantly scream to the heavens, "YOU HEAR THAT, WORLD?  BABY ELEPHANT LEGS IS AN EIGHT!!"

Those are two of the most vivid memories Jennifer Weiner's essay in Allure magazine forced me to recall.  But along with those memories came some soul-wrenching thoughts.  I thought about not only what it was like to grow up as a "fat girl", but also about how it's been being the parent to a daughter. 

A beautiful, smart as hell, freaking hilarious daughter.  Who inherited my weight issues.

I have been blessed with four kids.  Four kids who are, for the most part, healthy.  They have been my constant companions since the first one showed up 18 and a half years ago, and together, we have been through thick and thin.  Literally.

I sometimes question the fairness of life.  I have pondered such big things as destiny and fate and plain old dumb luck.  I have marveled about the roulette game that baby making is, how mind-blowing it is to think that if just four of my ex-husband's millions of sperm cells had been a mere nanosecond slower or faster I'd have four completely different kids with me today. 

I wonder why, out of four children, only one of them received my metabolism.  And why it had to be my only girl.

She was my second baby, and from the instant they identified her tiny girly bits on the ultrasound I fretted.  Of course, like all expectant moms I worried about the biggies:  would she be healthy?  Would she have ten fingers and ten toes and would all of her parts be where they were supposed to be?  But there were other worries.  Worries that made me feel ashamed for even allowing them refuge in my mind:  would she be pretty?  Would she look like her older brother, he of the curly strawberry blond hair and the thick, sturdy physique?  Would she have her dad's beautiful blue eyes or her mother's gray/green ones?  Would she be smart, and funny and would she have good friends and a good life?  And lastly:

Would she be fat, like I was?

Of course, once she was born almost all of those frets were extinguished:  healthy girl, all parts intact and in place.  Lovely blue eyes and a wisp of dark hair.  I named her Molly and loved her immediately, loved her so deep and so true it was (and still is) sometimes almost overwhelming.

As Molly grew I kept a close eye on her.  She was strong, right from the start.  Strong in mind, and in body.  She was sturdy, like her brother, her stick straight golden brown hair cut in a little Dutch boy bob. She loved wearing her older brother's hand-me-down clothes and wore a backpack stuffed with treasures almost every second of the day.  Even as a toddler, she chose her friends carefully and loved those special few with a fierceness that astounded me.

And right from the start, she loved food.  Just like her mama.  Was it my doing?  Did I somehow pass on my penchant for eating my feelings without even knowing it?  Or was this something more than that...was it a kink in her DNA, a dimple in an atom?  I hate to admit it, but I did screw up sometimes.  I offered food as rewards, not often but often enough.

Potty training my daughter took about 3 minutes.  When she was about 2 1/2, I told her I'd give her a present if she started using her potty and swear to God, she put on the pink panties I'd purchased for her right then and asked for a Hershey's Cookies and Cream candy bar.  She never needed a diaper again.  My boys?  It took days, weeks..a month in one case.  And they all wanted a toy of some sort:  a Transformer or a Power Ranger or a Star Wars Lego set.  Only Molly asked for a treat.

Was it something else?  Was it the way I spoke about myself?  "I need to lose some weight."  "I look so fat in this!".  "Ugh..I hate my arms."  Children hear us just as clearly, if not more so, as they see us.  How many conversations did she overhear, chats between my friends and I as we clucked about who had gained or lost weight?

Most girls start to lose their little kid softness around 3rd grade.  Molly's friends started shooting up, thinning out.  Some were string beans, some were already sporting athletic physiques.  Molly grew taller, but hung onto that belly, those soft arms and legs.  Those sweet round cheeks.  By 6th grade, I was buying her jeans at Limited Too in their mini versions of plus size.  12 1/2.  14 1/2.  She wasn't obese, but she was bigger than most of the other girls in her grade.  I was worried, but vowed to not do what my own mother did and make weight an issue.  I offered healthy choices at home, and always reinforced to my daughter how beautiful and smart she was and what a good friend and good sister she was.

When her father left, things went to hell for a while.  I was lost in my own grief, and my parenting wasn't stellar.  To protect my broken children, I overcompensated:  You want to go to a movie?  Let's go!  You want candy?  Here, have some!  Pizza for dinner?  ABSOLUTELY.  Anything to keep you from wanting, my angels.  Anything to avoid having you look around and realize that your world is no longer what it once was.

Would things have been different if our lives hadn't been rearranged?  Would I have been more attentive to my shaken daughter?

The dust eventually settled and we began rebuilding our family.  My blinders came off and I could see that Molly was struggling.  She was big.  Bigger than her friends, bigger than the other girls her age.  Remember I said she chose her friends carefully?  Turns out she chose wisely, as well.  Her friends were, and are, a fabulous few girls who stood by Molly.  The subject of her size never came up.  They loved her unconditionally and for that I will be eternally grateful.  As far as I know, she was never teased at school.  She and I are close, and although I'm not delusional enough to think that she tells me everything, she never voiced fear or self loathing or worry about what other people thought of her.

And then...and then her brother called her fat.  I won't say which brother it was, that doesn't matter.  It came out during a stupid, typical sibling smackdown.  I will never forget her face.  I will never forget how she holed herself up in her room.  I will never forget hearing her cry.

Another thing I will never forget:  the way I took out all of those years of worrying and fearing on my own son.  I spoke not only for my own pudgy daughter who was wailing into her pillow behind a closed door, but for Jenny, with the baby elephant legs.  My son, who had tears rolling down his own cheeks, became Alice the Goon and the jock on the ledge and every guy who had ever called a girl a cow, a whale, a pig. 

Not my best mothering moment, to say the least.  But it happened.  And when it was over I knew that no matter what I said, nothing would take away what my daughter had felt.  Nothing I said would change the world we live in, where women are judged by their looks before their brains or their hearts or their ability to make someone think or laugh.  A world where someone like Kevin James is a movie and television star and gets a girl like Leah Remini and someone like Melissa McCarthy is a movie and television star and ends up with someone who looks like...well, Kevin James.

We live in a world where anything over a size 10 is considered plus size and some stores will only sell bigger sized clothing online, as if allowing fat women the luxury of shopping in an actual building is outlandish and horrifying (Old Navy and Target?  Nice.).  A world where even one of the strongest and smartest women I can think of wrote of how it felt to be fat when she was a size 12 (Tina Fey, I loves you somethin' fierce, woman, but that made me cringe).

I know that's a kind of doom-and-gloom outlook.  There are worse things in this world, things that suck more than being fat sucks.  And unlike some of those things, fat is something that isn't permanent.  It's just hard figuring out how to change yourself without changing who you are. It's hard figuring out if changing yourself is something that you want to do for YOU, or if it's something you want to do for others. Sometimes the only change we need to make is in that space between our ears.

I joined Weight Watchers in July.  I didn't do it in hopes of catching a man, or because I was worried about what other people think about me.  I did it because I was uncomfortable in my own skin.  I was snoring, not cute little chipmunk snores but big old man snores.  I did it because I found myself actually wheezing when I walked to the farthest ball field for one of my son's baseball games.

So far?  It's working.  I have lost 30 pounds, but I am still Jenny.  I am still me.

And my daughter?  My lovely girl with the skin like porcelain and the wit so sharp she could cut glass?  Last summer she started going for walks.  She'd take our dog and just walk.  She started talking to me about healthy foods and exercise and self esteem.  She picked up my dusty kettlebells and fired up the DVD that they came with.

She is tall now.  Tall and slim.  She is a junior in high school.  She has a best friend whom she loves and who loves her right back.  She recently approached me about some anxiety she was feeling and we got connected with a wonderful therapist who talks to Molly about how she feels, about her body and her dad and her brothers.  She's taking something for the anxiety and so far, it's working. 

We talk, every single day.  We laugh together and we make meals together and we sometimes just hang out together.  I help her with schoolwork and we talk about nothing and everything. 

I know that being healthy is something she will need to work on for the rest of her life.  Just like she'll always need glasses or contacts, she'll need to keep an eye on her body and treat it well.  I know she'll never be one of those girls who can eat like a linebacker and look like a supermodel.  I also know that she's strong and smart and has hopefully learned from watching me make my own fumbling attempts to attain self love, and self acceptance. 

My sons, including the one who called his sister fat...they are learning along with us.  They hear me talking about how much stronger I feel, how much faster and farther I can walk now (and run, holy crap..their mom is starting to run!).  They are noticing the healthier foods in the house and how much harder it is to convince mom that McDonald's or Taco Bell is something they need (we still get it, people...just not as often).  They've complimented me on my success with Weight Watchers, and one of them actually told Molly the other day:  "You are really pretty, Molly." 

And what about Alice the Goon?  Want to know what happened with him?  Thanks to the facebook, we got in touch a few years ago.  A bunch of people from my high school got together one night, and he was there.  There was no pool this time, no goggles.  No bathing suits.  I wasn't Baby Elephant Legs, and he wasn't Alice the Goon.  We were two people in our forties, with lives and families and some war stories to tell.  We hugged.  I said, "It's good to see you."

And he said, "You look great."

Somewhere, deep within my soul, the girl with the baby elephant legs smiled. 


New Reality Television Show: Paycheck to Paycheck (P2P)

Seriously.  If you see this on Bravo or Discovery Channel in the next few months, you let me know.  Because this is totally my idea.

Here's the premise:  focus on a couple different families every week.  And you know what?  Make one of them a financially comfy family, the other one a family that knows how to do the paycheck-to-paycheck two-step.  Give them a paycheck to live on.  I guess I haven't really thought out the details because I have no idea how much to pay them.  But give them the paycheck, give them bills to pay for and kids to spend money on and groceries and gas to buy.

Basic rules are:  You don't have credit to fall back on when you run out of money.  You must pay for all essential items:  housing, utilities, food, etc.  Extra points or credit (haven't thought of a scoring system yet, either) for creativity...stretching the budget, finding a way to raise extra cash, etc.

I would dominate on this show.

I'm finally getting to the point, financially, where I have a few good weeks here and there, when I'm left with a little sumpin' sumpin' in the checking account at the end of the day. But I don't let it go to my head.  I don't have a savings account, I don't have a retirement account or a 401k or anything fancy like that.  Those are things I lost in my divorce, and those are things I hope to have again, someday.  Until then, I am the Queen of the P2P (what all the cool people call living paycheck-to-paycheck).

I have been in pure survival mode since October 2008, and although I've become used to it, I pray the day never comes when I am comfortable with it.  Being in this mode, this "we just have to get through the next month, the next week...the next day" mode, it is a scary way to live.

Scary, yes...but damn if I haven't honed my survival skills to a razor-sharp point.

I have a few friends who have danced to the P2P music, of course I will never share their names but suffice it to say, that old adage of misery loving company is true.  I knew I loved one of these friends when she laid the truth on me one afternoon:  "Paper towels are a luxury item".  We cackled as only people who understand that sentence can.

Not to say that living the P2P lifestyle is one of misery:  it's not all that bad.  One good thing about living like this is you become almost hyper-aware of the absolute GOOD in life.  There's nothing like circling the drain to make one appreciate the little things.  And I mean the little things, trust me.

Living like this has taught me how to be flexible, how to make sure the essentials are covered.  It's almost like managing to use that last tiny chunk of butter in the dish to cover your toast.  Is that toast going to taste as awesome as it would with a big ol' slab of buttery goodness?  Nope.  But by God, it's buttered.

I have learned which bills can be paid a few days (or weeks)  late with little to no consequence:  AT&T will just send you gentle reminders for 17 days.  After day 17 though?  You pick up your phone to gab one day and find yourself sans service.  I always pay the biggies right on time, though:  the rent, the electric bill, the gas bill, the internet bill.  Most of those I have taken directly out of my checking account so there's no possibility of forgetting or taking my chances.  My garbage hauler will let me coast for a month.  The water bill from the city, they'll let me have an extra month or two as well.  The same friend who spoke the gospel about paper towels also turned me on to the fact that if you use your Target RedCard (I have the debit version, which takes the money right out of my checking account), it takes a few days to go through.  Which comes in handy when it's the 13th and the cupboards are bare.

I can hear some whispering:  "But Jenny, you are damaging your credit by paying anything late, don't you know that??".  Dude, I declared bankruptcy.  It doesn't get much worse than that.  I'm probably not doing myself any favors by paying a few things late here and there, but that's how it goes.

Today is the 14th.  I get paid tomorrow, and it's coming just in the nick of time.  I got an email telling me that two of my kids need money in their lunch accounts.  Henry has a retreat at church this upcoming weekend that isn't free.  AT&T just sent me another friendly text, reminding me "your bill is ready".  I want to text back, "My checkbook isn't."

But back to the reality show.  Doesn't that sound like a doozy of a show?  It would be kind of like that show where people live like Laura Ingalls Wilder for a while.  Only P2P is a condition that exists today, and it is something that millions of your fellow citizens experience every day.

I mean really, in a country where we tune in to watch an entire family of vapid brunettes who are famous for being famous, a gaggle of pretentious botoxed and siliconed middle aged ladies bitch about everything and everyone, and where we have made knocked up teenagers celebrities, wouldn't a show like this almost feel like a breath of fresh air?

I also thought about a show called "46 and Definitely Not Pregnant" but I don't think that would fly.  And although "Keeping up with The Hausfrau" has a nice ring to it, I doubt the sight of me going through my Netflix queue and refreshing Facebook on any given weekend would be very riveting.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go pay my phone bill.  Because I'm sure the people from Bravo are going to be calling soon.


A Few on Friday

So I guess the bowl post touched a few nerves, eh?  That was one of those posts that demanded to be written.  The bowl broke, the interactions with the kids happened, and then it was like my outstretched hands led me all zombie-like to the laptop to quickly tap out a little essay. 

That was when I realized that writing is a lot like an addiction.  In fact, if you look up the "Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism", just replace Drinking with Writing and it's actually kind of funny.  My favorite list is of course on my bookmarked website, WebMD.  If you want to have a little giggle, click here and then do the word-replacement thingie.  Or heck, replace it with whatever hobby/passion/coping mechanism you enjoy.  Like Words With Friends.  Or running.  Or scrapbooking.  Okay, I'll stop now. 

Disclaimer:  alcoholism is serious and not a laughing matter, of course. But the point is, I was so hypnotized with writing yesterday that I cut it kind of close getting to work.  I made it, of course, but still had words and sentences and images crowding my brain.  Took me a while to clear my head and get down to the business of playing with beautiful 4 year olds for the day.

I've been having some very interesting back and forth chatter (via email) with a bestselling, and amazingly talented, author.  Said author is giving me some seriously awesome words of wisdom and advice.  Said author would also no doubt deny ever knowing/talking to me if asked, so I'm going to keep the identity of said author private.  But one of the things they've shared with me, about writing, is that when you're first starting out, you have to be your own employee.  Like, you have to be your own agent, your own editor, your own publicist.  They told me that this is one time in your life when you can't sit back and kinda hope for, or wish for, or daydream about success.  They told me, "If you think what you produce is worthy of recognition then you have to be the one out there promoting yourself." 

Therein lies my conflict, and may possibly be what is holding me back from greater things:  I don't like to toot my own horn.  Do I like what I write?  I do, and I don't.  Sometimes I love it.  Sometimes, when I'm writing a post, I find myself crying but I'm not aware of it until a teardrop plops on the keyboard.  There are times, too, where I am disgusted with what I've written, and when I'm done reading the finished product I feel almost ashamed.  Like I did the other night when I made, and sadly also ate, Impossible Cheeseburger Pie. Please don't judge me.  We had all of the ingredients and honestly, my boys will inhale that kind of meal.  They get that from their father and his bizarre affection for Tater Tot Casserole.  Bleah.  But yes, that was me standing there in the kitchen, eating the edges of the Impossible Cheeseburger Pie like I do with pans of brownies.  Now excuse me while I go to WebMD and substitute Drinking with Eating.

But that's beside the point.  Point is, if I want my writing out there, I need to be the one spreading the news.  And that's hard for a wallflower like me.  (ha).  Really, though, I have some weird Midwestern modest passivity thing where I find it hard to brag, almost impossible to accept praise and accolades graciously.  So it pains me, almost physically, to ask people for help with anything, including something as innocuous as "Hey, take a look at what I've written, and tell me what you think". 

Apparently, though, that's what I need to be doing.  So if you see me standing there, with a horn in my hands and cheeks flushed, know that I'm trying really hard to toot that horn.  And if you want to help with the tooting, please spread the word.  If there's a post I've written that has really resonated with you, something that you think other people would like to read, go ahead and share it.  And here's the Minnesota Lutheran speaking:  Or don't share it!  Keep it to yourself, because I'll still be here clickety clacking away in the dark morning hours.  But I've received some amazing feedback, and the part of me that isn't swathed in insecurities and self-doubt would kind of like to see where we could take this.

That said, here's a few.  The kids need to get up and get going to we can get this Friday started, so it'll be brief, I promise.

1.  If you see me today, please avert your eyes from the tiny red spot on my nose.  The other day I noticed a little spot there, and as I leaned forward towards the bathroom mirror, I gave it a little poke.  A little squeeze.  And apparently that little red spot is directly connected to an artery, because I bled like a mother-effer for a good half hour.  Seriously.  Like, I had to stick a tissue on my nose like the men do with shaving cuts.  That was hot.  Anyhoo..the only scar from that bloodbath is a tiny red spot on my nose.  But it reminds me of that Seinfeld episode, where George bought the cashmere sweater for Elaine.  The one that was deeply discounted because of the tiny red dot on it.  George was all, "Nobody will notice it."  But everyone did.  And that's how I feel about my spotted nose.  So please, to quote Megan from Bridesmaids, as she was perched upon the sink dispensing of her food poisoned innards, "LOOK AWAY."

 God, I love that movie. 

2.  Note to the manufacturer of Moroccan Oil:  You need to put a little note (or for those of us who can no longer see, a big note) on your bottles warning customers about the damage your admittedly awesome product can cause to clothing!  My friend Kelly sent me a swag bag of Moroccan Oil products at Christmas time last year, and it is truly the only product I have found that will tame my frizzy hair.  No, it doesn't give me soft, bouncing ringlets or waves, but it does make my hair less sharp and dangerous.  I don't have strands of hair, people. I have stalks of hair.  But I put this oil on, every morning after my shower (can I tell you how working every day has improved my personal hygiene routine??).  Yesterday when I got to work I looked in the mirror and noticed a big splotchy blob on the front of my shirt, where my wet hair falls after I get dressed.  It looked for all the world as though I had barfed on myself en route to work, and then scraped it off in the parking lot.  I was sad.  Now I am more careful, and today I am wearing one of my giant t-shirts until my hair dries.  But you've been warned.  And by the way, Kelly??  I am now addicted to this stuff.  I just ran out of the cream and am picking up a new bottle ASAP.  THANK YOU!

That's all I have right now, people.  Time to boil an egg for breakfast and then ease on down the road. 

Happy Friday, my friends!  Be safe and be kind. 
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