Incredibly Worthless Superpowers

Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound?

Pffft. I believe we've all been blessed with superpowers. Some are just a little more super than others. And some, like the ones which have been bestowed upon yours truly, are absolutely worthless.

As much fun as it would be to be able to read minds or grow long indestructible Adamantium claws out of my knuckles (hello, bumbling-stumbling Costco shoppers, get the eff out of my way), there's something to be said for having extremely unremarkable abilities. We aren't constantly getting into epic battles, bad guys aren't trying to kill us and we don't have to come up with alter-egos in order to "blend in".

One of my worthless superpowers is the somewhat creepy ability I have to remember not only the names of the 700+ kids at the school I work with, but I have a 95% success rate when it comes to telling you who their teachers are, too. And about half of them, I know the parent's names. This power loses all strength once the kids graduate 6th grade and leave for junior high, though. When they come back to visit all I can see is the little baby face on top of a gangly young adult body and I'm forced to sit there and think of a polite way to say "Tell me your name again???".

My hair is another amazing thing. No, it's not beautiful but guess what? It doesn't get dirty. Scratch that. It does get dirty but it never looks like it. I could go weeks without washing my hair and I'm pretty sure it would just look better the longer I put it off. Of course the same can't be said for the rest of my body. If you've ever walked through the Beauty aisle at Walgreens and wondered who in the world buys those awful pink frilly shower caps...it's me.

Unfortunately I didn't procreate with another non-dirty hair person and only two of my four offspring "in-hair-ited" my hirsute abilities. The father of my kids had the kind of hair that looked greasy a couple hours after washing it, and actually left head-prints on our pillowcases. Prints of his head made from hair oil. One of the first things I did after he left was get all new bedding. #IkeaDivorceStory

Here's another worthless power I have: I can look at a pan or dish of leftovers and accurately gauge the exact size of plastic container we're gonna need to store it. Like, fish that little tub out of the Tupperware sea and every last bit of edible goodness will fit, right up to the brim. And I can find the corresponding lid in mere seconds. If I die tomorrow, it gives me some peace knowing I'm not leaving behind a drawer full of containers without lids that fit. We will talk about the horror that is known as "the last drawer on the left" in my bedroom at a later time.

It took a contest at work for me to fully realize another gift of mine: finding doppelgangers. We had a celebrity-lookalike thing and turns out I really do have a particular set of skills and if you give me a martini and an uninterrupted hour with the internet I will find YOUR celebrity twin. Here's mine:

This is me at work. Telling a parent it's okay. Whatever they're worried about, it's okay. Just drop their lunch/trumpet/boots/inhaler/backpack off and we'll get it to them. Promise.

Word of this talent spread, and before I knew it, throngs of teachers and staff were lined up next to my desk, begging me for assistance. Okay, maybe not throngs. But at least three people asked for my help. I found Partridge Family-era Susan Dey (there was absolutely NO indication of the timeliness of the celebs) and a couple more that I can't remember now. But believe me, they were dead on. Sometimes we play this game with the kids at school (on the down low, of course). We have a little Tori Spelling, a pint-sized Robert Pattinson (thanks Renae), Quentin Tarantino Jr., an even ittier-bittier Aziz Ansari and yes of course a miniature Shemar Moore (I actually dubbed that kid "Eyebrows" in honor of Derek Morgan/Criminal Minds). Find Your Doppelganger...it's fun. And I'll help you.

Do you need a little down time? A little chunk of the day where you are actually forced to stand still and just be? Come grocery shopping with me then, and I promise you I will find the slowest checkout lane. There, you will have generous amounts of minutes to check your Facebook, scroll through the Groupon deals and maybe just maybe perfect the art of the disapproving sigh/eye-roll/foot-shifting. It doesn't matter if the person ahead of me only has two items vs. the lady next door with the overflowing cart. Odds are, the person I chose to get behind will be using their credit card for the first time and can't understand all the buttons to push and/or the cashier will accidentally input the wrong price or maybe they will run out of register tape. Meanwhile, Full Cart lady is laughing and on her way out the door. On the bright side, I did have time to delete all of those emails from Groupon.

And the last superpower I have to share is one that I no longer claim to excel at...that honor goes to my best friend Danielle. For a long time I was reigning queen of WebMd, the diva of self-diagnosis, the high priestess of pairing symptoms with ailments. Many nights were spent in bed, laptop burning the tops of my legs while I dug through the internet armed only with the search terms "bloated stomach" and "thigh pain". I dubbed that mysterious abdominal pain "pancreatitis", my disappearing eyebrows as "hypothyroidism" and a throbbing ear as "spider laid eggs in there". In reality the real culprits were "half a tub of artichoke dip", "middle age" and "cracked tooth". Only one of those scenarios ended with medical intervention and vicodin.

Oh but did the tables turn on me when I turned to my BFF for medical advice. It was then that I learned of her magical medical prowess, and believe me when I say she put my Quincy MD abilities to shame. During a flurry of late night texts wherein I described my symptoms (cramps so bad I spent the night in the fetal position, crying), my homie sent me a malady I'd never heard of: Twisted Ovary. Oh how I wish I'd taken a sreenshot of that text...it probably glowed. Since then, she's been my go-to when I have a list of symptoms and my hypochondria is raging. Dr. Oz? Nah. More like Dr. Danielle. (of course, it wasn't really a twisted ovary, just perimenopausal menses and half a tub of artichoke dip, both treatable with time and self-loathing)

One thing I haven't added to my repertoire of worthless skills is knowing exactly when to stop writing. So I'm going to go out on a limb and end this post right here...but not before asking:


Fantasy Summer Camps

As I sit here, trying to figure out how I’m going to pay for my 15 year old’s hockey camp this summer (seriously? $500 and I still have to feed him lunch??) I can’t help but wonder why there aren’t really useful camps for our broods. I mean, yeah, my boy loves hockey and since he’s my kid I am obligated to say he’s good at it...but let’s be real. He ain’t no Wayne Gretzky. It seems kind of silly to spend my sparse funds on something that, at best, might become a fun pastime for him as an adult.

Let’s discuss things like important life skills, baby. Things these children will benefit from knowing long after the carpooling, lollygagging childhood days are over. Let’s arm them with knowledge that will assist them in making friends, luring lovers and getting invited to multiple holiday parties. Because if we’re being honest here, and I assume we are, I think we can all agree that the reason Bob and Karen have such a happy marriage isn’t because Karen learned how to ride a cranky senior horse named Caramel in the summer of 1989. They have managed to stay married because Bob knows how to fold towels and Karen knows what in the holy hell an HDMI cord is.

Instead of hockey camp, here are a few ideas I have for camps I’d actually enjoy spending money on:

1. CAMP “CLOSE THE EFFING DOOR”. There’s a trite old saying that goes something like, “When one door closes, a window opens”. I wouldn’t know about that because NOBODY CLOSES DOORS in my house. And I’m not just talking about the front/back doors. Nope. You name a door and my kids will leave it gaping open like Chris Christie’s mouth during a Trump press conference. Fridge door? Yeah. Guess what, darling? If you pull open that drawer labeled “Crisper” you have to shut it, otherwise the fridge stays open all night long. Kind of like Taco Bell but instead of a tortilla filled with mystery meat you get $20 worth of warm milk and e-coli.

Cupboard doors, bedroom doors, attic doors (I know it’s kind of Discovery Channel that we literally have bats in our belfry but leaving that door open is an invite to an Amityville nightmare I am not equipped to handle). Garage doors, entertainment center doors and medicine cabinet drawers. At Camp CLOSE THE EFFING DOOR the sanctity of leaving things as you found them (IE: CLOSED) will be lesson numero uno.

2. IKEA CAMP. At this camp, the kids would actually spend their days and nights inside their local Ikea store, learning things like how to assemble a desk using only an Allen wrench, their own tears and expletives. They’ll also learn the secret meaning of all those funny product names AND how to prepare a plate of kick-ass meatballs. Your children’s future roommates/partners will love you for choosing this camp.

3. CAMP COCKTAIL. Relax, people. No actual alcohol will be in the same proximity as your underage snowflakes. They will, however, receive a super-size serving of basic drinking knowledge that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Here is where they will learn stuff like how to salt a rim without clumping, how to open a bottle of tonic without the whole thing exploding like Mt. Vesuvius and the right way to cut a freaking lime. Won’t it be nice when Junior knows you like it shaken, not stirred? Ahhh. Family movie night just became a little more relaxing, mama.

4. HOW TO NOT BE A TOTAL DICK ON SOCIAL MEDIA CAMP. Yeah I know, Facebook is just for us old farts now but let’s be proactive in making the social media world a fun place for future citizens. At this camp there will be several offshoot groups, with topics like “Absolutely Nobody Wants To See Your Feet”, “You Shouldn’t Hit ‘Like’ on Sad Posts” and “Reading Before Sharing is Caring”. Counselors will train the kids to take viral videos in landscape vs portrait and how to organize snarky memes so they are instantly accessible during comment section fights.

5. CAMP TARGET Here, kids will learn from experts the Art of Targeting. Young Hazel will be a Cartwheel ninja after six weeks at Camp Target. Our babies will know exactly how to navigate the clearance endcaps, when the free popcorn is at its freshest and the right way to angle your cart so as not to block everyone’s path while you weigh the pros and cons of buying that chevron throw pillow.

There will also be a financial aspect to this camp: once your child masters the skill of “stacking” deals (sale price + cartwheel deal + pharmacy rewards + 5% RedCard discount) you will never yearn for “alone time” at Target again.

6. TOWEL CAMP This is the camp where kids finally discover how to live with towels. They’ll learn the right way to fold them (the tri-fold way or the highway, dearies). Experts in the field of terrycloth textiles will teach the kids that it really won’t kill them to use the same towel twice and that we know towels dry out faster when hung up vs. languishing on the floor because science.

There will also be specialized classes where the kids will find out exactly what towels should be used for (drying off their bodies, wiping up the floor after a bath/shower and covering up post-cleansing) and what they shouldn’t be used for (wiping butts/noses, rolled up under doors to hide the smell of ganja, left under a teenage boy’s bed until it’s actually a petrified masturbation fossil). Functional washers/dryers will be on-site in order to show the kids how much fun it is to launder said towels.

7. FUTURE MOMMY BLOGGER BOOT CAMP Because let’s face it, ladies...at some point we’re all going to write that “So long, suckahs!” final blog post and there has to be someone to document all of this incredibly important stuff when we’re gone. At this camp, I envision several breakout groups, kind of like the real live big time blogger conferences. Only at Future Mommy Blogger Boot Camp, instead of topics like “Monetizing Your Blog” and “Where To Find Awesome Free Stock Photos” the upcoming members of the Yoga Pants Mafia will learn stuff like this:

  • 100 Euphemisms For “Vagina”
  • How To Write A Listicle ;)
  • MEME FEVER! How to make ALL THE THINGS into a viral meme
  • The Open Letter: This Is How We Do It
  • For Boys Only: The Nuts and Bolts of Being A Daddy Blogger
  • Formula/Breast/Natural/C-Section/Vaxxer/SAHM/Working Mom Labels And How to Alienate People

Please note that these camps are purely fantasy and there is no way you can sign up for them. Not now, not last minute. There are no early bird specials and definitely no scholarships. You can add to the dreaminess if you like, while you’re perusing your calendar and your bank balance and trying, desperately, to find a place for your offspring to get all camped up this summer.

And if you do happen to see a camp like any of these, PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY AND SWEET AND PURE let me know.


You Don't Have To Be Friends With Your Ex. Really.

My camrade-in-divorced-arms and fellow writer, Tracy Schorn (aka "The Chump Lady") wrote a piece for HuffPost divorce about why we shouldn't feel bad if we're not exchanging friendship necklaces with our exes. And as I read it, I kept thinking about how tired I am of defending my decision to NOT be chums with my ex-husband every time a story about "Exies Who Are Besties" makes the social media rounds.
Case in point: The Hollywood Celeb's Guide to Harmonic Uncoupling. The latest duo to break up and join the rest of us here in Divorce Club are Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck. Jen (can I call her Jen? Since we both wear Danskos and are now both divorced, I think I can) recently had a very "read between the lines" interview in Vanity Fair magazine, wherein she says so much without really saying anything. She even drops the good ol' bless his heart line, which is the one reason I wish I was a southern belle. It just doesn't have the same feel when said in a nasally Midwestern accent. 
Jen's interview was touching due to her insistence that while Ben may have very well been playing Hide the Sausage with their nanny, he's still the love of her life and because of how much their kids love him, she intends to stay friendly with him. 
Most write-ups about that article include the words "classy" and "high road" but interestingly enough, only where SHE is concerned. Why are so many people insistent that those who are left to pick up the pieces be "the bigger person"? Where are the crowds encouraging the philandering spouses to take that higher road? To be the classy ones?
Is The High Road for ladies/the ones left behind only? 
Every.Single.Article written about exes who are buddies is trailed by a string of comments proclaiming that "more divorced people should do this" and "people need to put their petty differences aside" and the ever-popular "you need to do what's best for the childrennnnnnn".
These comments kill me. They kill me because not all divorced people can be friends with their ex. Sometimes, those 'petty differences' are things like pride, self respect and dignity.
Sometimes, what's best for the kids is to see their parent be strong. Be proud. And not take any more shit.
Kids are not blind baby squirrels. They know what's happening, even if the gory details are kept under wraps (as they should be). They can read between lines, they see things we think we have hidden and above all they can sense who is making a real effort to be part of their lives.
When people ask me why I am not BFFs with my ex and his wife, I say to them: "If these people had broken into my home, beat me nearly to death, stolen my identity and anything else of value from me...and then on their way out, started the house on fire, would you be standing here scratching your head, wondering why I'm not making Sunday mother effing dinner for them?" Nope? Okay then. Now, maybe you can understand why they are not the first people I turn to when I need a friend.
As the old saying goes, with friends like that...you get the gist.
I don't disparage my ex and his wife in front of my kids. I have not, nor will I ever, stand between him and the kids. I encourage my children, even after all these years, to keep their hearts open where their father is concerned. The crappy stuff? That's between him and me. Period.
You know what other headlines make me twitchy? The ones about those who have mastered the art of co-parenting. For example: 
Because apparently this is all some weird Hunger Games thing, right? Parenting after divorce isn't hard enough, now we have to worry about where the hell we place.
The term "co-parenting" implies two people working together. Co-workers, co-signers, co-stars. A team, a united front, two separate entities exerting equal amounts of effort to sustain something. Or someone.
For many of us, that "co" isn't there. If parenting was an airplane, I wouldn't have a co-pilot. I'd have a stowaway in the belly of the plane, who crawls out now and then to schmooze with the passengers and hand out stale bags of honey roasted peanuts. But the flying? Dude. I'm alone in that cockpit. It's not the way I envisioned it would be. It's not the perfect way.
But for now, it's my way. Our way.
And me talking about it here probably isn't taking the high road. It's most certainly not going to get me labeled as "Classy" and I can guarantee you not one person will comment "NOW THIS IS THE WAY ALL DIVORCED PARENTS SHOULD ACT!". I might be called bitter. I might be told to move on/get over it/be the mature one. I might not care.
For all of you who are in this same boat, who are struggling to just keep everyone and everything fine and happy, know you aren't alone. For those of you who have decided that being friends with your ex isn't your cup of tea, know you're not alone.
For those of you who have decided that the road you're on, regardless of elevation, is the high road? Rock on, my friends. There are so many of us here. And for what it's worth? I think we are classy as hell.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some roads to take.
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