Secretary Goes To College

Molly sent me a text this morning:

Dad just texted me. He's coming here tonight. With her.

Remember when I wrote about the never ending hurts of divorce? Texts like this are part and parcel, baby. Now, this wasn't a big hurt. Not even a medium sized one. It was more like a mosquito bite.

I played it cool, texting back Yay! Free dinner! or something along those lines. Because tell me what college student doesn't welcome a meal that

a: doesn't cost them anything, and
b: doesn't come from the dining hall

I felt happy for my daughter that she'd be getting a good dinner. I felt uneasy for her because I know how uncomfortable she is around her dad, and the stepmother only makes her feel more uncomfortable.

And yes, I felt bitter. Bitter that now he shows up, almost a month later. Rides in on his white horse and takes her out to dinner, his sweet new family in tow. Where was he when she was crying when the university's website crashed as she was in the middle of filling out her application? Where was he when we filled out that God-forsaken FAFSA? Where was he at her high school graduation? Where was he when we were running around town a month ago, spending a small fortune on things like mattress covers and closet organizers and string lights?

Don't get me started on what I felt when she sent me a text later that said All three of them are here. They wanted to see my dorm room. Bitter would have been welcome. Because what I felt was a sick, quiet rage. The first thought in my head? How dare she?? Really, though, Secretary visiting my girl? She has no right to traipse into my daughter's dorm room, the dorm room I helped her furnish and set up. How dare she go there and play the role of College Mom, visiting her girl on campus and bringing a grocery bag full of ramen like someone who gives an actual shit?

I know I should be over this, I know this kind of knee-jerk "angry ex-wife" reaction is symptomatic of someone who hasn't truly accepted everything that's happened. And that's probably true. I'm a big talker about "moving on" but when it's all flayed open and laid bare in the light of day, it's painfully obvious that not all of me has moved on.

And that's okay. I'm showing myself some grace here, some forgiveness. My feelings are valid, even if they are unfounded and immature. I'm going to let them roll in, like a vengeful, sad tide. And then let them roll back out from whence they came. Back into that odd, roiling sea of feelings.

I'm going to remind myself, for the millionth time, that none of this is about me. That it's a good thing, having a dad who is alive and who sometimes acts like a father. I'm going to keep these icky thoughts and this twinging anger to myself, and the next time Molly and I text or Face Time I'll ask how dinner was and tell her that I hope she had a good time (and that I hope she ordered steak). I'll tell her that I love her and that I can't wait to see her next weekend, and when we're done I'll feel proud of myself for not being a shrew and for keeping a lid on the stinky hurts that once again hit me out of the blue.

And I might even laugh a little, thinking about one last text she sent me this afternoon:

Seriously? I hate ramen. 

I love that girl.


Dumb Stuff I Did

Just in case you're feeling low, feeling like you need to know there's someone out there who does things...really dumb things: this post is for you. It's like a public service announcement from me to the world. I started out writing a "Oh, hey, so this is what I've been up to" kind of post and then realized that I have been walking around doing dumb things. Thinking dumb things. Buying dumb things. And I wondered to myself, "Self? Am I the only one who does this shit? Or do other people do things just as spectacularly dumb only they don't talk about it?". Self was too busy lighting a candle to reply (you'll understand the candle reference in a sec).

You ready for the dumb (and dumber) things? Here we go:

I bought a pregnancy test at Walgreens. You might recall that I am suddenly period-less. And my brain is having a hell of a time accepting it. So naturally, I began to think, "Hmm. Maybe somehow I'm pregnant." Yes, it was a lucid thought, and it came to me while I was completely awake and sober. But guys, buying the pregnancy test, while surely a sign that I'm losing my mind, that wasn't the worst part. (one might argue that me actually taking the test when I got home was the worst part, and that might be a winning argument). For me, the worst part was that I had a story made up just in case the cashier questioned me. Actually, there are so many "worsts" in this story I will give up trying to decide which one is Queen of Them All.

I'm 47, I am pretty much celibate and I took a pregnancy test. I had a story about a fictional niece ready to go if the cashier looked at the test, and then at me, and blurted out, "Okay, the Starburst and the Frizz-Ease Hair Spray I understand. But seriously...a pregnancy test? Come on, Grandma Moses. I don't even know you and I can tell you with 100% certainty that there ain't no bun in that oven."

Oh, and because I don't want to leave you all hanging? IT WAS NEGATIVE.

Another dumb thing I did: I bought yet another candle with the word "Linen" on the label. People think I'm fairly intelligent but there's a slight chance that I was hypnotized at one point in my past and the hypnotist implanted into me the inability to walk past a candle that is labeled "Linen" and not buy it. It doesn't matter what other words are on it. It could probably say "Dog Turd Wrapped in Clean Linen" and I'd pick it up. Later, as it burned merrily away on the mantel, I'd sniff the air and say, "Kids? Did the dog crap in the house?". But I'd also catch the crisp, clean undertones of fresh linens so there's that.

Here's another dumb move: I signed another two years of my life away with AT&T. And I went back to iPhone. In my defense, I'd been dealing with this phone for a year:

I didn't slam this one down, I swear! 

Since the new iPhone is coming out, the old ones are dirt cheap. Did you know you can buy phones and get it all set up with most carriers at Target? You can. Add in a gift card and the extra 5% off when using the Target RedCard and BOOM mama gots herself a new talkie device. Now all I need is for the Targets in Minneapolis to start selling booze and I'm pretty much done shopping anywhere else, ever.

An added bonus was that somehow my entire iTunes library, which had disappeared, came back to me on the phone. I am awash in memories and music again. P.S. When did I love Maroon 5 so much?

Another really dumb thing I did might end up being kind of smart. I'm really behind on my blog reading. It's been a cuckoo two weeks! Moving Molly into her dorm, Charlie moving out into a house with his friends (oh yes you read that right. I AM DOWN TO TWO KIDS!!!), getting the other two yahoos ready for school and me starting a new job. It's been a whirlwind.

So anyways. A couple of weeks ago, I made myself a delicious gin and tonic and sat down to catch up on the blogs. I stumbled upon one of my favorites, Mommy Shorts, and saw that she was running a giveaway thing. Normally I can't be bothered with giveaways, because it's SO.MUCH.WORK. "Like so-and-so on Facebook" "Follow me and my grandma on Twitter" "Share this post twelveillion times" "Blog about it!". Sorry, I just want to win something and not have to move my fingers so damn much.

Well, yay for Mommy Shorts, because she made this one so easy. Just come up with a funny quip about what your house smells like, and which Method air freshener scent you'd like it to smell like instead. I'm always talking about how I smell like divorce, so naturally I wrote about that. She liked it, she really liked it! And now I'm in the running for a $1000 Target gift card. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY LINEN SCENTED CANDLES THAT WILL GET ME?

I'm way behind on there because I loathe posting reminders for people to vote. I don't care, really, because no matter what I win a $50 Target card and the whole line of air fresheners. #FreeStuffRules  However, if you feel like voting for all the divorcees in the house, go here and scroll down. I'm "Jenny and Middle-Aged Dating" and you have to vote down below all the pretty pictures. Here's mine:

Nobody has to know that by "dating" I mean "spooning with a body pillow"

I know there are several more dumb things I've done, but my fingers are now exhausted. Plus, I have to get back to work. Here's to being employed, right?

Dumbly yours,


P.S. Please tell me your dumb stuff.


Dude, Where's My Period?

Well. I'm late.

For the first time since I was in my breeding years, my period is late. Time was, a late period sent me into an ultrasound-imagining, baby-naming, "was that a kick?" tizzy. I loved being pregnant and would have done it more than four times if things had been different. A late period was exciting!

Now? Ugh. No. Not exciting. When I realized it had been a while since I had run, hemorrhaging, into the bathroom, I checked my period app and realized with a big Shaggy Rogers "ZOINKS" that my period was a week late. For a brief flicker of seconds I got those baby butterflies going again. And then I remembered:

  • I'm 47 years old. 48 in less than a month.
  • It's been a long, long time since I've had sex. I mean, the kind that makes babies. 
  • My tubes are tied (yeah, this one is kind of a biggie, huh?)
  • Did I mention it's been a while since I've done the bump-and-grind? Played hide-the-sausage? Experienced a Close Encounter of the Penile kind? IT HAS. A pregnancy at this stage in the game would be something of biblical/National Enquirer proportions.

So this can only mean one thing: menopause is approaching. It's not just a far-off phenomenon, something my friends and I can joke about when we're sweating our asses off or trying to remember what it was like to have an actual waistline. It's a reality, and with every day that passes, it's getting closer.

Of course, I brought this upon myself. Just over a week ago I bought three giant boxes of my beloved Kotex SupahSize tampons (I cannot resist a 'Buy 3/Get a $5 Gift Card Free' deal at Target). Swear to God...as I stacked the boxes in the red plastic cart I thought to myself, "Now watch me hit menopause, lololololol.....". They are now sitting on a high shelf in the bathroom closet and they mock me every time I go in there for something. (yes I still have the receipt)

From what my doctor WebMd tells me, this is not just the "oh my gosh I'm such a bitch this week" peri-menopause stuff. This, the first missed period, is kind of like the first horseman of the menopausal apocalypse. It means that the rattling sound you might hear when I walk by is not a pack of Tic Tacs in my purse, it's my shriveled ovaries, which are now like two macabre maracas flopping around inside my pelvic cavity.

I'm waiting for the night sweats to begin. The insomnia has already been here a while, but oddly enough hasn't affected me very much. I'm one of those super annoying morning people and even skidding by on 3 or 4 hours of sleep doesn't seem to dampen my "HEY! GOOD MORNING!" vibe. And of course I'm always a little bit psycho. That has been my modus operandi since before Aunt Flo made her appearance. 

The skin/hair thing? That's another symptom I'm having trouble dealing with. On one hand, if you have spent any amount of time with me, you probably know that I have beard envy. Seriously, if I could be a guy for just a month or two? Oh the beard I would grow! I imagine running my fingers through a thick, bushy Grizzly Adams size hairball on my chin. How warm it would keep my face in winter. And mine would be red, like Dexter! Or Yukon Cornelius' in Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer.

Ha! Remember him licking that icepick?


On the other hand, thus far I've only had to deal with about 4 hairs on my face. What they lack in numbers, though? They make up for in girth. I think I could grow those four hairs out and string a ukulele with them. They don't just grow, those suckers crown. I am actually terrified of the whole beard thing now. Hold me.

And please, don't get me started on that "vaginal dryness" and even more daunting, "thinning of the vaginal walls" business. Yep. It figures. Just when I finally have the time and energy to start getting my freak on again, I'm going to have to worry about a vagina made out of dollar-store tissue paper. You thought buying economy sized boxes of gigantic tampons was awkward? Wait til young Bobby at Walgreens has to ring up your bottle of "Lady Lube". Gah. 

For all of my bitching and moaning about my period, the thought of it never happening again fills me with a weird sense of loss. Oh sure, how nice to never again be standing there talking to someone, and have a shrill voice screaming in my head OH SWEET BABY J THERE IS A CRIMSON WATERFALL IN MY PANTS. It will be super great to not fumble around in my purse for a tampon and finding nothing but hair elastics and chewed gum wrapped in receipts and then having to MacGyver a maxi pad out of toilet paper in the bathroom stall at work. 

And yes, it will be refreshing to not have packs of bears and dogs follow me around for that week or so of intense menstruating. 

But it is the first time I've ever truly felt old. And I hate that. I already feel like a creepy interloper any time my friends who have younger kids are sitting around talking about adorable things like kindergarten and bedtimes and my dusty Crypt Keeper voice chimes in, always starting with the phrase, "Back when my kids were that age...". 

Because even if my kids are getting older, it kind of felt like I wasn't. My brain seemed to have found a comfortable resting place somewhere between 33 and 40, and my body has been playing along. 

Until now. While living in a world where I can co-exist with white sheets again sounds a little bit exciting, it's going to be tough for me to separate myself from something as big and as final as menopause. 

Then again, I thought divorce was going to kill me. Menopause can't be scarier than that, right? 

At least there are no lawyers involved. 

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