Christmas Hookies

So much for meh.

In the wise and blunt words of my friend and fellow divorce writer, Chump Lady, the mecca for all of us who have been through the nightmare of infidelity is called "MEH". It's the magical land of not giving a shit. The place where we really need to be, after enduring the psychological warfare and injurious degradation of being cheated on, lied to, and for some of us, left.

It's the place we really need to be after having our lives not only turned upside down, but also turned inside out and set on fire and then left to burn while the ones who did the turning and burning walk away, unscathed and unbothered.

I've been there! I swear! In fact, probably 89% of my time is spent in Meh. It's lovely. All of my friends live there and yes, the grass really is greener.

Sometimes, though, I take a wrong turn and find myself standing on the outskirts of town. On the other side of the tracks. In that painful place where past indignities have left muddy ruts in the road.

Thankfully my trips to that land are few and far between. And when I do slip up and go there, my heart and what's left of my brain know exactly how to put it in reverse and get the hell out.

But not before I take a look around. Breathe in that old air and the old smells. No matter how long between visits, it all comes rushing back.

I left MEH for a bit. On Christmas, of all days.

I know, I know. "Come on Jenny! Seriously? GET OVER IT." I hear ya, and if it's any consolation the one screaming those words the loudest is me. Every single time I feel the tug of the old anger, of the resentment and the pain, I put those words on autoplay and try my damnedest to heed them.

Count your blessings. Be glad you're free. He did you a favor. Look at your kids. Pet your dog. 

All of these things. They're the truth, and my rational self knows that. But there's another part of me that can't help but go back every now and then. Despite the healing, despite the love, despite the growth and the time spent in Meh, part of me shrugs off the hands holding me in this good and peaceful place and heads back down that dark lane.

It looked as though I'd avoid it this time, at first. The kids and I had a glorious and quiet and calm Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. I had a surprise visit from the Barf Fairy on Saturday...no huge surprise since I work in a school where she practically has an office, but still. Gross. According to my Fitbit, I was for all intents and purposes dead on that Saturday before Christmas. Eighteen hours spent prone and lifeless, the other six spent either running to the bathroom or hunched over the commode, trying really hard to not pee my pants while barfing and just between you and me, failing spectacularly (cleaning up after a kid with the pukes is bad enough, let's not discuss cleaning up after a middle aged lady who has had four giant fetuses tap-dancing on her pelvic floor, mmkay?).

As is tradition, there were no real solid plans made between the children (okay, the young adults who are my kids) and their father. He and the missus were having a holiday open house, which I guess is something you do when you're still getting situated in your million dollar house. Easy now, girl. Steady.

Anyhoo. Where was I? Ah...yes. The kids took a vote and decided to head over mid-afternoon. We'd had our Christmas: presents were opened, ham and roadside potatoes prepared and consumed, many laughs were had. When they bundled up and headed out into the frigid winter's day, that little nudging thing happened, the whispered utterance that I can barely hear these days: there they go. this isn't normal. this isn't what was supposed to be. Listen, as far as the voices go, that one is easy to blow off. An empty house is something I rarely get these days, and so I relish it when it happens. Of course, I didn't do anything wild or crazy, in fact I ended up sitting there eating candy canes and watching The Santa Clause. Seriously. BUT THE HOUSE WAS EMPTY WHILE I DID IT. Also, Tim Allen has always given me the creeps. Anyone else?

The offspring returned approximately one hour later. This reminded me of the olden days when they'd leave with him and not return for a whole day. Or two! Now that was an empty house I most certainly did not relish, friends. Oh, it was okay at first. Kind of how I imagine solitary confinement would be nice for a few hours. But when you've lived with a home filled to the brim with noise and activity and the relative chaos that comes with four growing human beings, their absence is a huge and unnatural void. A void you eventually come to peace with, for the sake of sanity, but a void nonetheless.

One of the advantages of kids growing up is that they begin to call some of their shots, and one shot my kids have claimed is their time with Dad is limited. Not out of malice or dislike, I don't think. It's more a matter of putting in their time with a person who only makes so much time for them. You get what you give, people. It's taken me half a century to figure that one out and seeing it manifest in front of you is a sobering display. You get what you give.

They piled in the front door, cheeks red, hands clutching packs of socks from Costco and Amazon gift cards. One of them also carried a plastic container. The one holding this vessel plopped it down on the hutch in the living room and said, "Here's some Christmas cookies they sent with us."

Now, when I do leave Meh it's usually triggered by something. It's never spontaneous. I can tell you it never happens while I'm out with my lady friends or reading a book or sitting in the office at work. No, it's always brought on by something, big or small, that for some reason opens up the portal and sends me slip-slidin' away.

This time, it was Christmas cookies. Go figure.

Look. I don't even know who made the freaking things. All I know is that they showed up, in my little ramshackle rented home, direct from the formidable manse where the father of my kids now dwells. They were innocuous enough, in the blue-lidded Glad container. They meant no harm, I told myself. In fact, maybe it was a sign of humanness, glad tidings and good cheer and all that festive jazz.

But damn. As I cleaned up the remnants of our celebration; flattened boxes (putting them away to keep for next year because I will not be sitting there at 2:15 a.m. next Christmas Eve turning a tampon box inside out, dammit), putting gifts in separate piles under the tree...my gaze would settle on that container.

How nice. I thought to myself, how nice of them to send some cookies. And then I thought how nice it must be to pack a doggie bag for your kids in your beautiful huge kitchen of your stunning new house and send them back home. This is when I also thought jesus christ Jenny. Stop. THEY'RE JUST COOKIES, NOT A GAUNTLET. 

This is where I leave you, Meh. This is where I bid adieu to rationale and sense and sanity and get swallowed up in the gaping, dripping black maw of everything that is opposite of Meh.

Those cookies were a middle finger flipped right up at me, a defiant eff you from both of them, the man who changed the course of my life and the woman who held the wheel while he did it. The anger I've held back since learning of their sudden prosperity, just a few months before our youngest kid turns 18, bore first one small hole and then another and another in the dam I've worked so hard to build and maintain. I dubbed those cookies "hookies" for a few less-than-mature reasons and despite hating that immature, bitchy junior high girl who resides in my heart, I laughed a little.

I thought of what it must feel like to close on a house worth more than I will make in thirty years, thought of what a sense of stability and security must feel like. Thought of how my dear sweet landlord informed me that he and his wife will be selling this house, our house, our safety net, our home, in the next few years and how every single day, every hour of every day since he told me that I've grieved and mentally prepared myself and in my more delusional moments, fantasized about somehow buying it from them and never having to leave. Never having to uproot again, never having to explain my shitty credit or lack of savings or just how I ended up here to anyone, ever again.

Yes. All of this from cookies, folks. My mind is a many-leveled place, most of it considered "unfinished basement".

So I thought all of that and then I opened up the box and plucked out a cookie, the kind where a mini Reese's peanut butter cup is nested in a crystal-sugared dough. I ate it because it felt like a less defiant middle bird back at them and also because I am powerless over food, especially when my brain is doing an Elaine Benes dance of rehashing the past and stoking the coals of angst.

The cookie tasted like nothing. It was pretty, cookbook-perfect, but had no taste. Like an old timey Christmas window display, it was lovely to look at but empty inside.

I felt the reins loosen. My thoughts stopped churning. I felt the axis of my world reset, head back to Meh.

I picked up the hookies and I dumped them in the garbage. Not to worry, with the full go-ahead from the kids. Thanks to friends and coworkers, we are well-stocked with cookies that taste good. That taste like love. Life is too short to eat bland stuff. Make it count. Make it worth every bite.

Later that night, I took a picture of the trash can contents and showed them to a far away friend, a comrade in the divorce world. I asked if it was petty, and she said no. She said, and I quote, "Good for you."

Sometimes the detours take us to ugly places. Thankfully, we make it back.

Back to Meh.

I hope your holiday, if you partake in holidays, was a good one. If not, I hope today finds you at peace.


To The Moms Feeling Broke or Tired or Less Than: Don't Ever Forget...You Are Home.

This was a post that appeared on my Facebook page a few years ago. This time of year, many of us are feeling "less than": we have less money, less time, less "stuff". Social media, ads and the shows/movies that saturate our screens around the holidays make is seem as if everyone is living their best life with no worries, no stress and no problems. It's so easy to fall into the tar pit of woe, right? It's almost impossible to look at all of it and not feel as if there's no way we can keep up, or even enter the race. I was feeling this way, too, and then my sweet wise kid and I had this conversation. I try to keep this story close, for those inevitable times I feel less than. I hope it helps you, too. 

I started writing my blog almost exactly 5 years ago. The reason I wrote was twofold: I had to get it out, and I wanted other women who were going through the pain of infidelity, separation and divorce to feel less alone. Five years later, those two reasons are still front and center. And that's why I'm going to share with you what went down tonight.

Just when I think I'm all grown up and healed and HEAR ME ROAR, BITCHES something like this pops up out of the blue while I'm at the grocery store with my son:

We were standing in front of the Fancy Cheese section and William said, "When we were at dad's on Christmas they had this soft cheese that you put on crackers." I picked up a small wheel of Brie and asked, "Was it this?". Affirmative. I handed him the brie, and he said, "They had these big crackers, really crunchy. You broke off a section and put the cheese on it. Can we see if they have those here?" I smiled at him, and nodded. Then my boy, my quiet and kinda awkward 14 year old asks, "Does dad still tell you that he doesn't have much money?" I always hate these types of questions because if I don't say anything they think I'm hiding things, and if I say too much I worry that I'm...well, saying too much. So I just answered, "Your dad and I haven't discussed finances in a while."

The boy was silent for a second, inspecting the brie like a mother inspecting her newborn. Then he said, "Well, if he does tell you that he's broke, I think that's not true. Because they have a new kitchen. With an island and marble counters (god bless this sweet kid who doesn't know it's surely granite, not marble). And they got rid of their carpet and put all new wood floors all over the house!" I was pushing the cart down the cracker aisle now, my knuckles taut and white on the handle, my mind reeling with images of remodeling and memories of the new kitchen I once had. "I wonder if they have a big fridge" I thought to myself. But William wasn't done. "They redid the basement too. And there's a couple of new, massive flat screens."

He finally stopped. His cheeks were a little pink, maybe he was feeling traitorous, maybe he could see the glints of pain and jealousy (yep, jealousy) in my eyes. His voice was soft, more mumbly than usual when he spoke again: "All I'm saying, Mom, is that if he's telling you he is poor it sure doesn't look like it."

I will admit that hearing about all the "newness" hurt. It hurt something fierce. And I absolutely HATE that it hurt. I hate that things like this still have the power to evoke old feelings, feelings that I think are finally, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, dead and buried. I hate feeling the smooth tendrils of envy creeping up from my heart, entwining my throat and poking at the backs of my eyeballs. I really, really hate that a 14 year old kid sees the disparity between his parent's lifestyles.

A bit later I was driving William to a friend's house for a sleepover. "I'm sorry I got kind of weird after you mentioned your dad's new kitchen" I said. "I know that having you guys with me is worth so much more than new counters and all that. Are you okay with how things are? Even though we don't have cool new things?" I said this to him, in the dark car. 

"Mom" he said. "When I was there, it was nice. But it didn't feel like home. It's never felt like home to me. Home is where we're with you."

Gah. I waited until he was safely inside his friend's house before I let the tears fall. I cried because it killed me to feel those awful things again. I cried because I'm sick of struggling and pinching pennies and renting instead of owning and trying to play Tetris with groceries in my teeny tiny refrigerator. I cried because once upon a time I had a new kitchen in an old house, and it was in that new kitchen my husband told me he was leaving.

Mostly I cried because my son told me that I'm home. Home.

I am home.

I can't afford a new kitchen or new televisions. But there is some room in my budget for little things, like fabulous tequila and a bag of limes and a new candle. I couldn't find any Fresh Linen scented candles at our grocery store, so I settled on one called Soft Cotton Blanket. The candle is burning now and I think it smells nice, although since most of the blankets at my house reek of dog and feet and teenager, I don't have much to compare it to.

So I'm sitting here, enjoying what I think is the scent of soft blankets and my latest obsession, homemade margaritas. The tears have long since dried up and it appears as though I've made it through yet another ambush attack of those awful Divorce Arrows relatively unscathed. 

All is okay, again.

I'm telling you this, my sisters, my fellow members of this insane First Wives Club, because I know that we are all in different stages of repair. And although sometimes it seems like some of us have cleared the big hurdles and are all moved on and grown up and are HEALED, we still find ourselves back in that place again. That hurty, sore place where everything is fresh and sharp.

But you guys, guess what? We are okay. We can be sad and mournful when we need to be, but then we get over it and light candles and squeeze limes and have our kids tell us that we feel like home to them.

I still wish I had a bigger fridge, though.


No More Yanky My Words. The Blogger Needs SLEEP: That Time I failed NaBloPoMo. Hard.

The title of this post is paraphrasing the character Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles and I hesitated to use it because of the negative stereotype that character reinforced. My brother is Korean-American and I try to be hyper aware of these things. That said, it's the feeling behind these words that resonate with me today, not the tone. I NEEDED SLEEP LIKE LONG DUK DONG NEEDED FOOD.

If the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, I think there should be a section of pavement down there named "Jenny Avenue" or "Hausfrau Lane" because my intentions are almost always good and quite often end in failure. I'm picturing a cool, old-London-town cobblestone.

I tried. In an attempt to redeem myself there may be two posts today and then I'll pick up where I left off, tomorrow. I'm thinking my Tinder tale really needs to be told and I'm hoping to overcome my embarrassment long enough to get a good story out of it. Because it's weird for me to expose anything less than classy here, right? Sigh.

I set out with nothing but noble ideas yesterday. I worked a full day, and throughout the day made my mental list of what was going to go down Friday night:

  • dinner (nothing fancy, probably a mishmash of leftovers since we have pesto pasta and taco ring remainders in the fridge)(yes I said taco ring, God help me)
  • the gym
  • a martini
  • washing of the bedding
  • catch up on my tv shows
  • write a post or two here

Here's what happened:

  • ate some cauliflower with dill dip
  • fell asleep on the couch at 7:15 while watching Seinfeld

I have a few hazy memories of this Rip Van Winkle evening: a young person, hopefully one of my kids, gently removing the Roku remote from my hands and turning everything off. Walter crying at my side and another young person (this time I know it was my daughter because I was mentally willing her to hear him and let him out and she responded) helping him. Waking up in that weird confused state, not knowing if I was supposed to be getting ready for work or what and then stumbling down the hallway to my bedroom, removing the accouterments of the day (basically: taking off my bra and my pants) and falling into the cold bliss that is my bednest. At some point I did regain consciousness long enough to exchange some messages with a sweet friend, the topic was Tinder and as I fell back asleep I started writing about it in my head, so there's hope for a post later.  

According to the old Fitbit this was the longest stretch of shut-eye I've had in weeks. I doubt the validity of the "1 hr and 43" awake minutes but there's no questioning the rest of it. I woke up ready to seize the day and so here I am, clickety clacking on the old laptop, going back and rewatching the Seinfeld episodes I slept through and chugging coffee. Also there may be taco ring for breakfast. I will neither confirm nor deny this. 

To those of you who have been following my NaBloPoMo journey, I'm sorry to have failed you. I hope you forgive me and accept the offerings I will shove your way today. 

Yours in restfulness,



Et Tu, Louis?

It's also too short for sexual misconduct, buddy.

At this point, I can't be the only one wondering if there's ANY decent men left in the entertainment industry. The avalanche of accusations that began with that garbage human Harvey Weinstein and shows no sign of stopping revealed my longtime pretend boyfriend Louis CK to be one of the bad guys. According to several different women, he had has a habit of locking women in rooms with him, removing his clothes and then masturbating in front of them.

It sounds like a set up for one of his jokes, right? Only it's real life and it's gross. Apparently, it's not new behavior. A friend who has worked in the comedy world for a long stretch of time confirms that there have been rumors swirling through the industry for years about creepy, predatory behavior from Louis. Now, the rumors seem to be true.

The minute I read about what he'd done, my perception of him changed completely. No longer was he the sardonic, insightful, female-supporting ginger of my dreams. In that moment he became the disgusting pig who exposed himself to me when I was an innocent kid riding my bike down the sidewalk. He became the two teens who tried to rape me at a kegger in high school. He became the guy who pushed things a little too far when it was blatantly obvious I'd had too much to drink at a party in college. He became the passenger who "accidentally" pressed up against me when I was a young flight attendant trying to cram carry-ons into overhead bins.

In short, he became every man who has forced a woman to see, hear, feel or do something against her will.

How many more of our idols will fall? I mean, we haven't even really begun to hear from the music industry yet. This is just the movie and t.v. sexual assault crew!

I am beyond proud of the women and men who are coming forward and speaking out. And I'm beyond ashamed at those who toss around the standard victim-blaming reactions: why did you wait so long? Why didn't you just leave when he got weird? Why did you drink so much? Why did you continue to see him/go to meetings with him/date him/work with him? Why did you wear a low-cut shirt? Why did you leave your house? Why were you born?

The thing we need to be asking is why do men do this? And more importantly: can it be stopped? As a mom to three young men, it sickens me to think of them doing anything like this to someone. Did all of these guys grow up in a home where they were taught that just because they were male they were given carte blanche to do whatever they want to whomever is unlucky enough to be within eyeshot of their dicks?

It's so good that victims are speaking out and SO freaking good that finally, they are being heard and believed. It's a start. We need to ensure that there are repercussions, consequences for the crimes and affronts these men are committing. Boycott their movies, don't buy their books and stop watching their shows.

Breaking up with pretend boyfriends, too.

If you need me, I'll be over here praying that Idris Elba is a good guy.

*I've decided to challenge myself and do the NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month, and write a blog post every single day of November. I figure it's the kick in the ass I need to get writing again. I've made this one with about three minutes left of November 9th so you can see how well it's going so far. 

Stay tuned. And thank you for being here.


Abandoned Blog Posts

Oh dear. This one is going to be lame. When I decided to bite the bullet and take the NaBloPoMo challenge I made a little promise to myself that I wouldn't do a Cop Out post. In my mind, the Cop Out post is one of the following:

  • A wordless post. Yes I do understand they have their time and place but as someone who has around 3000 pics on her phone I think I can try harder.
  • A rerun. Again, not dissing the occasional "Best of" or "back by popular demand" thing, but the whole point of this challenge is to actually challenge yourself. (we'll maybe have to revisit this thought towards the end of November and I find myself doing this once again at 11:30 p.m.)
  • A Facebook post copied and pasted here. Now this one, is only kind of a cop out because I think there are a fair amount of you who read stuff here on the blog but not on the Hausfrau facebook page. And we've had some really great conversations on there. BUT. Again, I'm not convinced that's really challenging to me. (also I may flipflop on this one as the month wears on 😂)
  • A listicle. Looking back on this blog, I remembered when posting here was a regular occurrence and I used to do a little something called "Ten on Tuesday". Actually...now that I think about it, those were kind of fun to write. So maybe that's not super cop-outy. But still. 
But. I am so tired. Our school conferences started tonight and I was there much later than usual. I got home around 8:30 and absolutely crashed on the couch. Luckily Walter woke me up just in time to get this done (really he woke me up because someone had left food out on the counter that he couldn't reach and it was killing him). Got the kitchen tidied up and now here I sit with the minutes of November 8th swirling away like dandelion puffs in the wind.

"What in the world can I write about?" I asked myself. For some quick inspiration, I looked through all of the posts stored here...among those that have seen the light of day are dozens that I started and never finished.

So what I'm going to do here are put the titles of these abandoned posts, and perhaps the first couple of lines. Some of them never progressed further than a title...a couple didn't even get a title, they're just a sentence or two.

I'll put those here and then we'll see which ones YOU think are worthy of finishing. Add a comment here or, if I share this one on Facebook, add one there. The one with the most votes (um or even one vote, if I'm being realistic) shall be finished. Ready? Here we go:

1, Double Feature I love going to the movies. Love, love, love. I remember the first movie I saw in the theater: Disney's The Aristocats. My dad took me and I can still recall driving to the theater, in the backseat of his Chevy Vega, babbling excitedly about the kitty movie and watching the blurred world speeding by through the windows.

2. Untitled It was a hot, swampy day. Miserably so. I had run to Costco after work, for dog food and a few other essentials (all of my offspring are living at home this summer...I could go shopping every single day of the week and we'd still be out of something). 

After the dance of the checkout

sure I'll take a box, if you have one handy!
uh...no the cantaloupes aren't mine
aww shoot is it too late to add a yogurt?

I joined the slow, plodding death march towards the exit, receipt clutched tightly in my hand lest I lose it as I've been known to do. Don't ask me to explain how it happens, losing a long white slip of paper in less than a minute. All I know is, it's quite possible.

3. My Eyebrows Are Leaving Me When I was younger, they were thick and full. They looked like dark brown caterpillars arched over my eyes, threatening to adjoin at the tippy top of the bridge of my nose. They were wild and free and I loathed them.

My best friend, in the throes of an angsty teenage girl fight, called them "your hairy rainbows". It was a very apt description.

4. Google is NOT YOUR FRIEND, BITCHES (no text with this one...I think this was a martini fueled idea that lost steam after I came up with the really creative title)

5. What It Was Really Like Having Babies in the 90's Believe it or not, there was more happening in the fabulous 90's than Full House, boy bands, Tamagochi and Beanie Babies. Some of us were having babies and I have proof in the form of actual snapshots that I keep "organized" in shoeboxes somewhere.

I had three babies in that decade and one Y2K baby as well (yay for that kid, it's easy for mom to remember how old he is). I'm so oblivious to the passage of time that when someone mentions the 90's I tend to think it was "just a few years ago" and not "decades ago". Like the old saying goes, time flies when you're having fun...or as I say, being a mom makes you fucking insane.

6. The Crappiest Walk Ever (picture of the poop emoji at the top followed by this text:) A fair warning: this post is not for those who can't handle talk of bodily functions. I know, it's gross but we all do it and sometimes we have to write about it. So, heed before you read: there's poop talk ahead. I don't want any pearl-clutching gasps or a-hole comments at the end. Ready? Let's go (LOL PUN TOTALLY NOT INTENDED BUT HILARIOUS AS YOU'LL SOON DISCOVER)

7. Underwear Selfies: Please Stop No text with this one either. Yeah, probably another martini one.

That's all for now, friends. I'm kind of embarrassed by how many of these I have.

See? I told you this one was lame. BUT I DID IT.

*I've decided to challenge myself and do the NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month, and write a blog post every single day of November. I figure it's the kick in the ass I need to get writing again. I've made this one with about one minute left of November 8th so you can see how well it's going so far. 

Stay tuned. And thank you for being here.


Happily Ever...Single?

Girl gets married.
Girl gets divorced.
Girl rallies.
Girl finds new guy and lives happily ever after.

That's how it seems as though it's supposed to go, right? For many of us, our divorce story wraps up with the great new guy and the happy ending.

For some of us, though, we don't get the great new guy. Can we still have our happy ending?

I really thought I'd have been remarried by now. If you'd have told me, when I was a freshly-minted divorcee, that I'd still be single at this stage in the game it would have made me sad. It would have made me wonder what the hell was wrong with me, what I'd done to screw up this time.

It wouldn't have occurred to me that I'd be happy. From my tender years all the way up until I found myself saying "I do", it was ingrained in me that the end goal in this life was to be in love. To find Mr. Right and have his babies and be a good wife and mom and maybe do something for a living too.

And then everything changed. My Mr. Right went away and left me with the babies. It felt as if I had failed, spectacularly, at being the good wife. My first instinct, once the pain abated enough for me to think about the future, was to find the second Mr. Right, and do it as quickly as possible.

I think that was when I began to understand that perhaps my original end goal wasn't all it had been built up to be. After dating several men, and having a couple serious relationships, I decided that I wasn't going to settle just for the sake of meeting some imaginary stipulation. Oh, I came really close, with John McCain **. Super duper close. I knew he wasn't truly the one for me but I considered sucking it up because life with him would have been comfortable and safe.

And then I decided that I'd try to have a comfortable and safe life on my terms.

Society tends to paint women like me, those who stay solo for an extended period of time, as odd or defective. We are either fire-breathing career women or anti-social spinsters or wizened party girls out on permanent prowl. There's a person I work with who asks me, every few months, if I'm dating anyone. She means well, I know, but the sad/hopeful eyes that accompany this question kind of freak me out. Like, am I a project to be taken on? An incomplete person, in need of my missing half?

I always tell her the same thing: I'm fine! I talk to guys here and there, I see one or two once in a while, I exchange smiles and what might pass for flirtatious banter in some circles with fellas now and again. She sweetly reminds me, then, that "it's never too late" and that "the right guy is out there". And I mumble something like "yeah I suppose" and then spend the rest of the day wondering if I reek of desperation.

We've discussed this here before, the whole "not dating" thing. But I think it's good to revisit it now and again. Not only for those who are newbies to this club, but also for those of us who need a reminder now and again that we are the ones who get to decide what's right for us.

Not dating isn't giving up on love. It's not closing off our hearts or man-hating or anything like that. I do sometimes wish for a more regular, permanent relationship. And then I'll have a weekend with my kids, or time with my dear friends, and I realize that I do have regular, permanent relationships already. Just not with a dude.

I choose to see this time as my happily ever during. I'll worry about the after, later.


*I've decided to challenge myself and do the NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month, and write a blog post every single day of November. I figure it's the kick in the ass I need to get writing again. I've made this one with about 30 seconds left of November 7th so you can see how well it's going so far. 

Stay tuned. And thank you for being here.

** I heard it through the grapevine that McCain found himself Mrs. Right and got hitched. I am beyond happy for him, and for her. Truly. 


Bang Bang

"Did you hear about the church in Texas?"

That's what my 17 year old asked me tonight. I replied yes, and also remarked at how sad it is. "A one year old was killed" I said. "And a pregnant lady. One family lost someone from three generations."

He agreed it's awful. We both shook our heads and I said "Something needs to be done" and he said "Yeah."

And that was it.

That's where we are, America. It's happened again. And it will keep happening. I'm not going to go too deep on this right now, for a few reasons.

  1. I am nobody in this situation. This tragedy, this crime, didn't affect me or my family or anyone I loved. My opinions on the subject aren't at all important or relevant. After heinous things like this happen, the Bloggers of America tend to voice their feelings via long Facebook posts, open letters to their kids and little jottings just like this. This isn't about how I feel or how I'm supposed to talk to my kids about it. It's about the people who died in a church and the asshole who killed them. 
  2. It's late. I've been looking at pictures of the victims and reading about their lives and it's overwhelming (again) when you picture each of them, how they lived and how they died and the wanton waste of it all is too much.
  3. We are at a place in this country that is so bad and so divided and so quick to boil over that discussing what happened and why it happened leads to fighting and meanness and I don't want to make these people's deaths a mockery by using them to make a point. Not now. Not here.
  4. Honestly, how deep can we go with it? A bunch of innocent folks were killed by a person who shouldn't have had guns. But, he did. 
I am in Minnesota. Hunting and guns are pretty common around here. I, personally, have never even held a gun...I guess there were BB guns at my grandparents' farm when I was little, but I never went out with the cousins and uncles and grandpa to shoot things with them. 

Guns scare me but I have friends who own them and use them responsibly. I don't believe they should be taken away. I think if you go through training and gun safety classes and are of sound mind, go for it. When the kids and I were going through some pretty terrible times, kind people gave us some of their hunting bounty. That venison jerky was a hit with the kids and so was everything else. The people who used their guns to get those deer are good people. Kind people. This isn't about them.

My friend, my bestie, was robbed at gunpoint not once, but twice. She was terrified and rightly so. The persons who pointed a gun at my homie were neither kind nor nice. This is kind of about them. 

Over a million and half people have died by gun-related incidents since 1968. That's more than the number of service people killed in all of the U.S. wars combined. Of course not all of those are mass shootings. Some are accidents. Some are suicides. Some are justified shootings (there's another topic for another day, right?). But some of them are people who were killed by someone who shouldn't have had access to a gun. This is all about them.

I don't know what the answer is. We need to do something, though. Because this is just going to keep happening. And the really horrible thing is, we're getting used to it.

*I've decided to challenge myself and do the NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month, and write a blog post every single day of November. I figure it's the kick in the ass I need to get writing again. I've made this one with about 5 seconds left of November 6th so you can see how well it's going so far. 

Stay tuned. And thank you for being here.


Gym Nauseam

Last January, I think it was about two weeks into 2017, I took several deep breaths, sucked in my gut and walked into the gym:

Looking back at this picture, I am cringing over all the dog hair on the pants. I'm kinda cringing at the pants themselves (mesh panels aren't typically my thing but clearance racks are so, yeah). Cringing one more time over the dog hair.

I'm also proud. Proud of myself and proud of my son the gym rat who never, ever gave up asking me if I wanted to come with him.

Ten months later and it's a regular thing. Four or five nights a week, sometimes six, I'm there. Usually with my youngest kid, the aforementioned gym enthusiast, quite often with my daughter, and occasionally all alone. We go later in the evening, after dinner. We all like it when it's less crowded. We usually close it down, the last ones to leave (having worked retail for years, I take pains to ensure we are out promptly at closing time...I don't want to be "those customers" who overstay their welcome).

Ten months...in my mind I'd envisioned a whole new me after ten months of regular, moderate-to-strenuous exercise. I thought the weight would simply fall off, revealing the old Jenny, the taut and toned and lean version.

I guess it did, to some extent. I have lost some weight. Of course the boobs went first, and then the paunch began to dwindle. Pretty sure I lost a chin! I still have an ass the size of a Volkswagen but it is definitely less shelf-like.

But there hasn't been a magical transformation. Nobody has said "Wow! You look like you've lost weight!" The clothes I wore last winter have been dragged out again and they all still fit (roomier than before, for sure, but they are definitely not way too big).

A few years ago, this lack of physical evidence would have been discouraging to the point of giving up. Heck, a year ago even. For some reason, though, this time I don't care. I mean, yeah I am a little disappointed that I'm not a size 4, but it hasn't bummed me out to the point of giving up.

You know why? Because despite the still-bountiful butt, despite the fact that I still have beefy arms, I feel good. I feel better than I did ten months ago. I'm sleeping like a baby, my mood is a thousand times better and I think (hope??) it's easier being around me now.

We had our wellness checkup at work a month ago and while I'm still fat, my other numbers were fantastic. Cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure...all in the super healthy range. My resting heart rate is 59 bpm.

I know what I could do to really see a change in the weight. This ain't my first rodeo. I know that I could reduce my daily caloric intake to something drastic and cut out everything delicious. I also know that life is short and if I die tomorrow I'm going to be happy I had a piece of pumpkin pie last week, a martini on Friday night and some popcorn at the movies with my kids on Saturday afternoon.

I'm at the age where the metabolism slows down. I'm also at the age where I give less of a crap about stuff that bugged me a few years ago.

When I look at that picture, I can recall exactly how I was feeling that night: weighed down with insecurity, self-loathing and oh my gosh so much sadness. I don't feel that way anymore.

The weight may not be falling off, but I've already lost a ton.

*I've decided to challenge myself and do the NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month, and write a blog post every single day of November. I figure it's the kick in the ass I need to get writing again. I've made this one with about 1 hours left of November 5th, so you can see how well it's going so far. 

Stay tuned. And thank you for being here.


Movies, Marvel and My Boys

I've written about the way movies have touched my life more than once here. And I've written about how movies have been a special part of the bond I have with kids before, too.

But it bears repeating: there's something so special about going to the movies with my kids. I don't care how poor we are or how busy we are...I will always, always make the time and scrape up the money to go see movies with them.

Today two of them went to see Thor: Ragnarok with me. Henry was home for the weekend and William is still around (senior in high school) so we caught a matinee.

As much as we love movies, if they're Marvel we love them even more. We've seen just about every Marvel movie together, sometimes all four of the kids and me, sometimes just one of them. They are part of our story, they are a family tradition. I know it's not as Norman Rockwell as, for example, a football game after the Thanksgiving dinner every year, or an annual family portrait. But it's our thing. It's our jam.

So today I sat between two tall boys. We shared popcorn and we laughed and we all looked at each other when an actor who has been a huge family inside joke for years made an unexpected cameo. We stayed after the credits to see the secret scenes and we discussed our favorite parts on the way home.

I know the day will come when they won't go to the movies with me. They'll get busy, they'll get older, they'll get married and someday they'll sit in a dark theater sharing a big old tub of popcorn with their own babies (maybe). So today I just enjoyed it. I soaked it all in, my boys, the sweeeet reclining seats, Idris Freaking Elba and Mark Ruffalo and that Hemsworth guy.

One of these times, it will be the last time. And as sad as that makes me feel, I know it's the way life goes. The natural progression of things. It's bittersweet.

But today, we had Thor and Hulk. Today was good.

*I've decided to challenge myself and do the NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month, and write a blog post every single day of November. I figure it's the kick in the ass I need to get writing again. I've made this one with about 12 minutes left of November 4th, so you can see how well it's going so far. 

Stay tuned. And thank you for being here.


Crazy Plant Lady

Move over, Cat Lady. There's a new spinster in town.

I don't know when it started. Maybe it was all those years ago, when I was a true homeowner with a yard of my own and my mother in law offered up some of her hostas. They were moving, and our yard was painfully empty of anything decorative. It was all grass, bushes and trees and was crying out for some ornamental greenery. I accepted my mother in law's hand-me-down hostas, not aware that they were the gateway plants.

Next up was a bunch of ancient peonies from a sister in law's house. They were soon joined by some sedum a friend was digging up, a couple of butterfly bushes from a neighbor who was doing some landscaping and a tiny maple tree sapling we saved from imminent death-by-mower.

This tree was 4 inches tall when we found it. The kid with the hose is now 20 and the tree, which still resides at our old house, is now about 40 feet tall. The kid is 6'4".

They say one man's trash is another man's treasure...in my case it was several women's plants becoming my horticultural bounty.

When the kids and I had to flee from that yard and that house, I dug up what I could, and with the blessings of our sweet landlord I planted a little bit of our old life into the earth of our new one. You can't take it with you, that's for sure, but I proved you can bring a lot of it along for the ride.

And then I started in with the potted plants. The summertime annuals. There was a deep built-in planter by our new front door, and a large wooden deck at the back which was seemingly custom-made for a colorful suburban jungle. The perennials gave me great joy, for sure, every spring their unfurling leaves and resplendent blossoms served as a reminder that while some aspects of life were painfully unpredictable, there were a few that could be counted on year after year.

But those annuals- talk about a clean slate. All those pots and planters were essentially blank canvases ready for their flowery masterpieces. As soon as the garden centers started popping up, I began to dream of what that summer's deck display would look like.

There was just one problem: those garden centers weren't giving these things away. Sure, annuals are cheap but they add up and a mom on a tight budget can't exactly go crazy with something as frivolous as flowers.

I do one little splurge, and that's for our school Plant Sale. It's a fundraiser held every spring, and I allow myself to indulge. Just a little bit. I choose new flowers, new colors, new shapes. A beloved coworker once told me the secret to a pretty pot was "one filler, one spiller, and one thriller" and so I pore over the flyers every March in search of the perfect trios.

That's my one extravagance every year, and it fills up a bunch of spaces. There's always more room, though and that's when my thrifty, bargain-hunting skills come into play. I've learned that if you wait just long enough, those garden centers start to do markdowns. Wait a bit longer, and they practically give them away.

And so I wait. And then I bring home all of those Charlie Brown plants. The bedraggled remains of the garden centers...the tired, the poor, the bent-stemmed, dried up masses yearning to be bedded and watered. It's usually a glorious Saturday afternoon endeavor, and at the end of the day I walk around with my dirty fingernails, sore back and sweaty t-shirt and admire the castoffs in their new homes.

It doesn't end there, though. I also do plant rescue, if you will. Take, for instance, the Office Poinsettia. A parent brought it into the school office, and it added some holiday cheer to our school headquarters. After the season ended, the poinsettia was losing leaves and looking grim. Someone said "We need to throw that thing out" and my heart hurt a little. Poor poinsettia! So I googled a little bit, discovered they really can be a year round plant and brought it home, which was now starting to look like the island of misfit plants.

So it continued. Secretaries get LOTS of plants, you guys. Did you know some secretaries don't keep them??? I do. I keep all of them. And sometimes I'll take the rejects from the other secretaries.

I think rock bottom for me was the time I found a single succulent leaf in the hallway. I picked it up, brought it home and plunked it into some dirt. Guess what?


Here's where it gets weird, my friends. You know how the seasons change, and all the pretty green stuff dies and winter begins and we are plunged into a world void of light and sense and joy? Most people accept this change and go along with it. God's plan and all that jazz, am I right?

I can't. At least, this year I can't. It started to get cooler here in Minnesota. Meaning, one week we had a tropical 90 degree stretch of days and the next week it was 40 with a chance of flurries. This is the time when we are supposed to bid adieu to summer and all of the non-hardy lovelies which adorned it.

This was the time I broke. I was looking out the sliding glass doors that lead to the deck one night, and a very grief-like feeling settled into my bones. I'd already taken in the succulents, those guys get a "get out of jail free" card every year. Just because. But that night, I looked at all of those bargain basement babies and something not quite sane bucked up within me. And so I went out and picked a few to save.

I couldn't bear to see them die. So I saved them.

And that's why I have a poinsettia bush on my kitchen table and some clematis in the tchotchke nook (this is the goofy section of house between the living room and the sliding glass doors). I meant to plant the poinsettia during the hottest days of summer, but I forgot. So it stays with me one more year. None of it makes sense. None. Of. It.

Being the navel gazer that I am, I searched for meaning in this odd display of white knighting. Is it a symbolic gesture? My babies are all grown and I need something to nurture? My own mortality is looming and I want to cheat death? Or am I just batshit crazy?

I don't know. All I know for sure is I have a begonia to water. And a sweet potato vine that needs some attention, too.

*I've decided to challenge myself and do the NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month, and write a blog post every single day of November. I figure it's the kick in the ass I need to get writing again. I've made this one with about 2 1/2 hours left of November 3rd, so you can see how well it's going so far. 

Stay tuned. And thank you for being here.


The Post About Underwear

It's almost 10:00 p.m. and while I was just starting to fall asleep on the couch I remembered this "blog post a day thing". So. Sat up, opened the laptop and stared at the smooth, open white space here for a spell.

A fellow writer gave me some good advice over on the Hausfrau Facebook page today. In regards to this writing every day effort, she said "Hint: It's easier to post every day when you aren't aiming for "a great one." Don't worry about hitting it out of the park; a base hit is all you need to keep moving forward!"

This is excellent advice. Therein lies my problem, not only with putting something down here every day, but I *think* with the whole writing thing in general. It's not that I'm always aiming for "a great one". I'm just always aiming for "a good one". Something readable, not too boring, somewhat relatable.

So what's a blogger to do? I asked people for some topic suggestions, and got some good ones. One of you mentioned the tagline at the top of this page, a quote from the incomparable Dorothy Parker: "What fresh hell is this?". Why did I choose that particular quote and image (from a painter I absolutely love) and what they both mean to me now that several years have passed since my divorce and the birth of this blog. Good questions, and I will get back to those later. Maybe tomorrow night at this time, ha!

And then someone (hey Betsy!) brought up underwear and finding/recommending some for "women of a certain age" that don't roll. Betsy is a longtime friend from the Facebook page and this is not the first time she and I have discussed undergarments. We have both had the unfortunate experience of feeling the waistband of our undies slowly rolling down our hips in the middle of the day.

I figure you have a few options at this stage in the game. You could drop some serious cash and get some really high quality drawers. I feel like expensive underwear wouldn't roll. Like the waistband is way too refined to give up on you while you go about your daily business.

You could go bigger and higher. Meaning, bigger underwear with a higher waistband. Granny panties, alright? Now we know why grandma liked her panties voluminous.

You could go commando, I guess. A friend of mine does this. I don't. No judgment, believe me. It's just that like I'm most at ease when there's a little cushion in my checking account, I also feel better when there's an extra layer between my goods and the world. Also, I share a desk and a chair with a coworker and I like her.

I have found some good underwear and I'm going to share my find with you now. Believe it or not, it's from American Eagle. My daughter has always liked their Aerie line and about a year ago she mentioned they have a great sale every few months: 10 pair for $30. Three bucks a pair? That's Target prices! I decided to give them a try.

The sizes range from XS up to XXL and they come in many different fabrics and cuts. My favorite is the Boybrief, this style in particular:

They're cotton, they have a super wide waistband THAT STAYS IN PLACE and they are comfortable as hell. Of course all I buy is black, but they do come in tons of other colors.

I also like this style:

They have a really wide lace waistband, which also stays in place and is super comfy. They are a little more fancy, in case you're looking for that. I have a few of these in black and they're fabulous.

(I have to pause here because I'm cackling away- I'm watching Seinfeld while I'm writing this and it's the episode where Kramer starts worrying about his sperm count so he skips the underwear. "I'm out there Jerry, and I'm loving every minute of it!" Okay. Back to the britches.)

And that's what I know about underwear. Keep an eye out for the 10 for 30 sale. If you have daughters at home or a friend who wants to split the ten with you, even better!

Bottom line: This is not a sponsored post, my friends, as much as I wish it was. I just believe in the power of a good recommendation, and I wish I'd known about this underwear ages ago.

Okay. I definitely did not hit it out of the park with this one, folks. I don't even know if I dinged it. But dammit, it's a post. And the underwear really is the most comfortable I've worn. I swear.

*I've decided to challenge myself and do the NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month, and write a blog post every single day of November. I figure it's the kick in the ass I need to get writing again. I've made this one with about two hours left of November 2nd, so you can see how well it's going so far. 

Stay tuned. And thank you for being here.


I'm a middle aged suburban mom who hates "This is Us"

By all accounts, the Bloody Mary should be one of my favorite cocktails. I love vodka. I enjoy several forms of the tomato including marina sauce and salsa. I love olives/pickles/celery. I should love Bloody Marys.

I can't stand them.

Oh, I've tried. Over and over again. People have sworn I just haven't tried the right one, and that when I do, I will be converted and my remaining days will be spent sucking down the spicy confections. Sometimes, when I'm out with my best friend and she orders one, I'll think about asking for a sip. Just to see if I've outgrown my distaste for them. And then she gives me her olives because she hates those and you can see why we're such good friends.

The same goes for the highly lauded show "This is Us". I should be all over that show. I love crying. I love drama! I love schmaltz. I love Milo Ventimiglia. I should love that show.

I can't stand it.

Like the Bloody Mary, I have tried really hard to like "This is Us." I sat through 6 or 7 episodes of the first season and waited patiently for the love to arrive. It never did. Instead, I found myself disliking it more with each episode. My eyes rolled, my attention waned and before I knew it, I was hate-watching. There is way too much television out there to be wasting time hate-watching, so I peaced out and gave up.

Apparently I am in the minority because it seems as if every other woman in my demographic has fallen head over heels in love with this show. People talk about it with exuberance and reverence and deference. When I admit that it's not my cup of tea, I'm regarded with narrowed eyes and suspicion. Like I just said I eat puppies. In this group I'm in on the facebook, a group for parents of college kids, I was straight up mocked for not liking it. WOMEN LOVE THIS SHOW YOU GUYS.

My reasons for not liking it are pretty simple. It doesn't move me. Okay, the very first episode, with the guy from that old show Simon & Simon as the gruff-but-loving doctor and the little abandoned baby...I may have shed a tear or two. But that was it. I find the writing to be hackneyed and predictable. After the first couple of episodes it was like catching onto the beat of a song. Banter, pause, laugh/kiss/hug, pause, long emotionally charged monologue with serious face, cut. Rinse and repeat.

The acting (aside from *maybe* the dude who plays Randall) is not great. Kevin? He makes me think of Joey Tribbiani as Dr. Drake Ramoray. Mandy Moore is just so MUCH all the TIME. And Toby? Don't get me started. My creep-detectors went haywire when he was onscreen. I don't know if it's the actor or the way the character is written, but he is gross and if Kate was my homegirl I'd be telling her to run, fast.

And Kate. Ahh. One of the novel points of this show was how they were going to feature a fat woman as like, a real person. With feelings and stuff. As someone whom society considers fat, I think I'm supposed to be Team Kate. We should grateful to have a representative on a super popular show, ya know. I suppose it is good and progressive to have a less-than perfect size zero woman on television being shown as just an everyday gal and not the funny sidekick or the eccentric cat lady. In that respect, yay! What I couldn't get past was the acting by the woman who plays Kate. She seemed, to me, to be practically expressionless most of the time, aside from when she was reciting yet another of her verge-of-crying speeches. I could never really tell if Kate was pissed off, sad or happy.

Listen, I'm not disparaging those of you who love this show. If anything, I envy you.

There's nothing like getting swept up in the embrace of an hour-long distraction from the rat race. And lest you think I consider myself Roger Ebert or anything, please know that I have watched every episode of Sex and the City at least ten times. I'm not special nor am I particularly qualified to critique a television show. And I did only watch six episodes...for all I know if I'd stuck it out I'd be the one joking about "getting my Kleenex ready" every Tuesday night.

Maybe it has to be like all the other shows I've fallen in love with- it needs to marinate for a while. I've been late to the party with so many others: The Wire, Breaking Bad, The Office...perhaps This is Us, like revenge, is a dish best served cold.

*I've decided to challenge myself and do the NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month, and write a blog post every single day of November. I figure it's the kick in the ass I need to get writing again. I've made this one with about 3 minutes left of November 1st, so you can see how well it's going so far. 

Stay tuned. And thank you for being here.


Portland Panic

Every five or six years, I get to do something really cool. Five years ago a long-gone beau took me on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Amsterdam.

Next week, thanks to the kindness and generosity of a long-time friend, I will be going to Portland. Hood River, to be exact. This friend, Kathy, is the kind of person you really doubt exists until you meet them. She's journeyed to hell and back, a couple of times, and remains one of the sweetest and most benevolent women I know. She lives in Oregon, has for several years. For her 50th birthday, she decided that she wanted a gaggle of her old timey friends to come out and celebrate. And so we are.

Of course, my broke ass couldn't afford a plane ticket. Guess what? Kathy bought it for me. See what I mean about this earthbound angel?

That's why, when I started to fret about the trip a few months ago, and when the fret morphed into mild anxiety which in turn blossomed into full-fledged freaky deaky panic, I had guilt. Here is someone doing something beyond lovely for me and in return I become a quivering, sweaty banshee.

Group texts pop up and I'm incapable of responding with the exception of a lame smiley face. Emails plopped upon the ol' inbox are read through with a stone cold slab of dread ensconced in my gut.

What's there to be anxious about, you ask? Oh honey. Grab something to drink and get comfortable. Imma spin you a yarn about the trippy funhouse that is my brain.

First and foremost, there is the certainty that I am not worthy of this. Good luck convincing me otherwise, therapists with impressive credentials and seemingly endless patience have tried to no avail. Simply put, I don't deserve it. My secret fear (well, it was secret, until now) is that I will go, the fun will happen and when it's all said and done Kathy will regret spending the money, time and energy on someone like me.

But that's basically a given with me and anything good that happens. Let's get to the meaty part of the mental, shall we?

Flying. Oh, not the actual up in the air, lookit all these cotton candy clouds part of it. I love flying. The former flight attendant in me wishes we could do it more often. No, the part that sends an icy, jagged talon of terror sliding down my vertebrae is worrying about whether or not my butt will fit in the seat. True story. I'm not a slim woman by any stretch of even the most active imagination and the fear of not fitting in chairs is very real. Add to that the spate of "omg you should have seen how this fat lady was treated on the airplane" stories floating around online and what you end up with is a woman possessing prodigious hips and ass unable to sleep thinking about that moment she dips her rear end down on Delta's finest cushions.

After that comes the next worry: smell. Anyone else have this incessant fear of stinking? Just me? If it's not my breath (a penchant for coffee, curry and cheese that reeks does a mouth no favors) it's my armpits (I use "natural" deodorant because I worry about the aluminum and "natural" sometimes means "reminiscent of a bear den in high summer") and if both of those crevices are fragrance-free it will be my feet (Birkenstocks are what I wear in the warm weather months and if you're familiar with them you are most likely aware that they sometimes exude their own special miasma. And it ain't patchouli.)

Are you beginning to feel very, very sorry for whomever draws the short straw and ends up next to me on Flight 1503? I sure am.

Another fear is that of fitting in. I've known these women, all four of them, for at least 35 years. One of them much longer than that. And yet I am convinced I don't mesh. They are successful, beautiful and have all made good choices in life. Unlike yours truly, who is awkward, barely scraping by and for the most part always feels like the lady-version of Seth Rogen in social settings. I am eternally the poor one of the bunch. The fat one. The weirdo who somehow managed to slip, unnoticed, into the inner circle of the cool people. I guess I'm always terrified of being discovered, of someone turning around, pointing an accusatory finger and announcing YOU ARE NOT ONE OF US. WHO LET YOU IN HERE??

Something else that is inspiring this interminable trepidation? FOOP. Fear Of Offending People. As a diehard introvert, it is imperative that I get some recharging time every day. Hell, there have been entire weekends I've devoted to not interacting with anyone owning less than four legs. Unfortunately, those of us who desperately need chunks of quiet time are often also filled to the brim with anxiety. This anxiety causes us to wring our hands and create incredible spirographs of "what ifs" in our heads. "What if they think I'm not enjoying myself?" "What if they think I'm being rude?" "What if they're all out there whispering about what a gd freak I am?" "What if they don't want to be friends with me anymore?" OMG you guys- I legit just made myself nervous simply by writing this fantasy what if scenario. If only I could harness this power and use it for good.

The last completely insane vexation? Wardrobe. It's going to be hot, in general, while I'm there. We're spending one night/half a day in a beach house (see, you think I was kidding about what kind of giant hearted friend Kathy is??) where it will be cool but the avg. temp for this time of year is about 90 degrees. I am not a hot weather lover. I do what I can to avoid being outside when it's warm here in Minnesota. Listen- I won't sit on the patio at a restaurant if it's over 70 degrees outside. Kathy assures me that the heat there is a different breed than the humid and oppressive kind we experience here. But still...I don't wear shorts. I don't bare my arms. I wear cropped leggings and big swingy tanks and lightweight sweaters or long sleeved jacket thingies- picture clothes from Gymboree if they carried women's XXL and everything was black, white or grey. I've treated myself to a few linen items, thinking of all the Eileen Fisher clad ladies I see at Costco and how they look presentable and not like toddlers who dressed themselves while hangry. This worry isn't so big, though. Worst case scenario is that I sweat and rest assured I will have my natural deodorant with me so what could go wrong there, amirite?

I was puttering about the kitchen this morning, and mentioned to one of my sons how this consternation of mine was really putting a damper on things. He looked at me, with what was either gentleness or pity and placed a strong, reassuring hand on my shoulder. "Ma" he said, "this is how you get before you do anything that involves a change in your routine. When you get back, I guarantee you'll be standing in this exact same spot laughing over how you were tweaking."

He's right, of course. Somehow I'll wedge my rear end into that seat, my friends and I will help our dear Kathy ring in her fiftieth year and we'll laugh and since I'm there we'll weep a little and then when it's over I'll be so glad it happened. Just like the wise young man in my kitchen predicted.

Kathy, if you're reading this, please know: I am beyond humbled by your kindness. I cannot wait to be with you while we ring in the fifth decade of an incredible life. It's an honor to be one of four people you chose to surround yourself with on this most notable of occasions.

It is imperative that you understand this rambling, self-deprecating internal dialogue happens constantly...whether I am steeling myself for the walk from my car into Target or for a five day trip with good friends. The monkey on my back is called anxiety and trust me when I say this is no Marcel-from-Friends type monkey. This King Kong is big and pernicious and knows exactly where to poke and prod in order to cause the most damage. It causes me to doubt myself, to question my very worth. It makes me see myself through the most critical filter.

And perhaps the most damaging, most injurious thing it does is suck the joy out of what should be the tingly anticipation of a good time. Where most people would be giddily ticking items off their pre-travel to-do list, I am in knots over what could and what most likely will, go wrong.

I am not just looking a gift horse in the mouth, I am going over that damn equine with a fine-toothed comb of worst case scenarios.

Writing about it has helped. Going out for cocktails with one of my fellow travelers last night also calmed the raging chaos in my mind. We laughed about it and clinked glasses "TO NEUROSES!" and just being around someone who understands was therapeutic.

Deep breathing, walking, reading, loving on my kids and my dog...these are all things I can do to alleviate it as well.

And time. Time marches on like a determined mother effer and as we all know, heals most wounds. Even the self inflicted ones.

NAMASTE, readers.


Sex and the Single Mom

My talented and fierce friend, Shannon Lell, wrote a short, sweet and lovely essay about what she's learned about sex since becoming a single mom. Her writing, as always, elicited smiles from me and again, as always, made me think.

We hear a lot about sex and the single ladies (by the way, hello my name is Miranda according to every SATC online quiz ever). It's long been a safe topic of conversation, of speculation and of course, inspiration. Think of all the t.v. shows, books and movies we've been blessed with, all revolving around the escapades of the single gals.

Sex and the single/divorced moms? Hmm. Not so much. Oh, there are tales, for sure. Single moms are kind of, sort of well-represented onscreen and in writing. But the focus is almost always on the MOM part, and if the SINGLE aspect is addressed it's usually pointed out as an obstacle for her to overcome or a symbol of her plucky perseverance.

When single/divorced moms and sex are discussed, it's often in a negative light. Society tends to focus on how sex has been the cause of our single-motherhood: we had too much sex with way too many men and had too many of their babies (my favorite commentary on this one is "shoulda kept your legs closed!" 🙄). Or perhaps we didn't have enough sex with our partners...raise your hand if you've heard this little ditty before: "If he's not getting it at home, he's gonna get it somewhere else!"

The difference between single dads and single moms, as viewed by the world at large, is startlingly different. Whereas single dads are seen as sweet, somewhat hapless saviors doing it all on their own (omg! he learned how to braid his daughter's hair. I can't even with this cuteness!), single moms are often seen as mooches, a drain on our already stretched-too-thin-resources (omg! don't tell me my tax dollars are paying for her poor choices!). 

In the cases where the light shined on us is bright and positive, it is almost exclusively due to our badassery as mothers. Which is wonderful, don't get me wrong! It's refreshing and validating to be acknowledged. We still have work to do, though, when it comes to recognizing that single/divorced moms are also women...women who have libidos and urges and sometimes, have sex.

Single and divorced moms face two prevalent stereotypes. The first is that of the horny, wanton Jezebel in search of, nay...IN NEED OF a man. Any man will do, people, so guard your menfolk when the cougars are on the prowl! Then the pendulum swings way over for the second single mom caricature: the saintly martyr who has put herself and her wants on the back burner in order to do what's right by the children she brought into this world.

But just as the crew of ladies on Sex and the City taught us, Sex and the Single Mom isn't a one-size-fits-all deal (insert any of a trillion possible SATC jokes here, you guys...puns totes intended and I am not sorry at all). Sex post-divorce and peri-parenthood can be many things: exhilarating, daunting and god help us, sporadic. For many it's an afterthought, when all of the mothering, working and stressing about both of those things are addressed and taken care of. For others it's a challenge to heal from traumatic splits and the very thought of exposing oneself to even the mere chance of more hurt is enough to shut down any burgeoning lustful hankerings.

Time is also quite literally of the essence when it comes to sex and the single mom: when do we have it? Give me a room full of single/divorced moms and I will give you a room full of varied schedules. Some of us have every other weekend to try and get busy, some a week on/week off to get on/get off, others are in the trenches 24/7 with nary a break in sight.

And let us not forget the mental and physical calisthenics which are commonly necessary to find a safe, willing and available partner for all of this sex we're trying to have. I can only speak for myself here, and as an official Single Mom™ I'm going to go on record to say IT'S A JUNGLE OUT THERE. Or so I hear. Dating when you're a mom is a whole different ball game compared to dating before you became a mom. Simply put, it's not just you out there on the line; it's your family, too. Not everyone seeks a life partner when they swipe right but for those who do crave something a little more on the serious side, our children are part of the package we present to others (eventually...it is never a good idea to introduce kids to someone in the early stages of dating. Never.)

The exception to this "family dating" thing is, of course, the time honored tradition of having a FWB with a side of NSA. Friend with benefits, no strings attached, and before you pop a knuckle clutching those pearls please know that this is not only okay, many times it's the healthiest of all options for the harried and horny single mom. The trick to this option is finding the right person to fill these shoes. Sometimes it's a fellow single parent, sometimes it's not. The beauty of these relationships are their simplicity: both parties are on the same page, both agree to be safe and both (hopefully) walk away satisfied. Many single moms who have sole/full custody of their children and aren't ready for a full-blown relationship find this to be the ideal, if temporary, solution to the "what's a girl gotta do to get some loving" problem.

Now, I do realize that not every single/divorced mom is chomping at the bit to copulate. Some of us don't, and don't want to, for a myriad of reasons. Whether they're religious beliefs, a need to take a nice long break from it or just because THEY DON'T WANT TO RIGHT NOW OR MAYBE NEVER AGAIN, it doesn't matter. One of the best elements of the whole sexual freedom thing is the freedom to not do it. A lot of women take that time to work on themselves: mentally, physically, spiritually. Learning to love the skin you're in is truly one of the greatest love stories of all time.

We can't forget to mention those who do go on all those first dates, who get winked at and nudged and who bravely meet potential beaus at coffee shops all over this great land of ours. Some of us really do enjoy the dating game, and we persevere...sometimes finding Mr Right, sometimes finding several Mr Maybes.

The point is, there are millions of single/divorced moms out here, and while we have quite a bit in common, we also have a million different ideas of how to navigate the tricky, fun and sometimes-intimidating world of sex. Whether you are the one swinging from the chandeliers with your lovah while the kids are away or the mama who is content with Netflix and chips, the most important thing in all of this is that you are doing what works best for you. ❤

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