A conversation with my 7 year old son, Bryce.
Bryce: Why do you smell like you’re going on a date?
Me: Because I have a date with Daddy tonight.
Brcye: Oh…well….I guess that’s ok then.
Some of you may recall that I’ve written about my visits with her every summer. Getting Old is not for Sissies She was 96 years old and passed peacefully in her sleep. It’s a blessing to know that her passing was quiet and quick. It’s heartbreaking for me to accept that she is no longer with us. A physical and emotional presence that reminded me every day to be my best self, even when I wasn’t.
This past week our family came together in her hometown of Bloomington, Illinois to celebrate her life and lay her to rest. We are a family strong in Catholic roots, and my Nanny was a devout Christian Catholic woman to her core. So, as you would expect, her service included a Catholic mass in the church where she was raised, and where she also raised her family. I was baptized in this church. My parents were married in this church. My grandfather was memorialized in this church. Our family’s life is intricately entwined with sacraments and services that took place in this church. I spent countless Sundays sitting in the pew next to her, learning how to participate in the Catholic mass by watching my grandmother. Memorizing the responses, imitating her motions of kneel, stand, sit. Kneel, stand, sit. This particular house of God has immeasurable significance for me in terms of emotional and physical memories. To stand in the sanctuary, in front of her casket, was almost more than I could bear knowing it would most likely be the last time I ever had cause to visit this place.
When the service started I was beside myself with emotion. As were the rest of my family. My Nanny meant so much to each and every one of us. We were all trying to manage our grief. The service was lovely, but something was missing. The priest gave the eulogy for my grandmother. This is not common. Typically, a family member would do it. But for some reason no family member had been identified or asked prior to the service to give the eulogy. I don’t know why, and wouldn’t dream of questioning the decision because I was not the one responsible for planning the service. But it felt incomplete. The priest did his best to honor my grandmother, but he did not know her. He could not convey with any depth of emotion or real intimacy the woman that she was, or what she meant to all of us.
I know I wouldn’t have been able to stand at the alter and talk about her without completely breaking down, and I’m talking about some serious ugly crying. And because I need closure I decided to write my own eulogy, of a sort, honoring her and my memory of her. So, this is what I would have wanted people to know about my grandmother….
Kathryn, or Kay, as most people knew her was born in June of 1921. She was an Irish Catholic Midwestern girl who grew up during the Great Depression. She often told stories about the depression, describing food shortages and what little money most families earned at that time. She talked about having one pair of stockings that she had to wash out by hand every night so she could wear them again the next day. She told these stories in an attempt to help us understand how good we had it growing up. I’m embarrassed to say that at the time we were just horrified to learn that she had to live without things like Doritos and Taco Bell.
My Nanny was very meticulous with her appearance. She wasn’t necessarily vain, but it was extremely important that she always look her best. Perhaps this was something learned during the depression, as she had so little material possessions or clothing. She learned to work with what she had. She did her hair and make up every day. She pressed her blouse and her slacks. She sewed clothes for herself and her children. Once, she made herself a beautiful camel colored wool-lined dress coat. She loved cashmere turtle-neck sweaters and wool blazers. She once made my cousin and I matching plaid, wool, pleated skirts to wear to Christmas Eve Mass. I would give anything to have that skirt back. She also slaved to ensure that her husband and children went out into the community every day as representatives of her household. They were meticulously dressed, pressed, and laundered. At her funeral service my cousins and I were laughing and trading stories. One cousin told me that she came to Nanny’s house one day wearing a pair of ripped and torn jeans. Nanny asked her if she bought the jeans like that, and when she confirmed that she did, Nanny said, “Poor girl. Can’t even afford to buy a whole pair of pants.”
She kept her home in the same meticulous manner. She made her bed every day. Hospital corners. She cooked and baked almost every meal from scratch and she always had a cake or pie prepared in case someone dropped by and she needed to offer them something. She knew how to refinish wood floors, kept a garden, and everything had it’s place. She tried to teach me the importance of these things. As a teenager I would laugh. Make my bed every day? Well, that was just crazy talk. But when I stepped into her home I would breath in the smell of freshness, with a hint of bleach, and it was comforting. I loved knowing that I would crawl into a bed that night with freshly washed and ironed sheets. And that I would wake up to the sound of eggs frying in the pan and the smell of biscuits coming out of the oven. My own childhood home was often chaotic and unorganized, so being in her home provided a sense of old fashioned comfort.
Given that my Nanny was a devout Catholic woman, she was truly a servant of God. She took her responsibility as a Christian seriously and every moment was a teachable moment. She prayed openly for everyone. She and my grandfather organized and coordinated a prayer group every week, and they were huge members of the charismatic movement within the Catholic church. No one loved Jesus more than my Nanny. Last summer when I was visiting her, she was worrying quite a bit about family members, and I said to her, “You know what you need to do. Just give it to God and everything will be ok.” That’s what she would have said to me. She looked up at me with wide eyes and said, “You have been listening to me all these years!!!!” Even when I didn’t want to, I was listening.
I have a strong personality, much like my grandfather. Nanny would always remind me that my tongue could be sharper than a sword. She would say, “Mind your words. They are like feathers, and once you let them go, the wind takes them and you can never get them back.” I didn’t want to hear it at the time, but over the years I found myself measuring my actions and words by whether or not she would approve. I can honestly say that in those moments where I held back, or didn’t do something impulsive because I knew she would disapprove, I never once regretted the choice. The thought of doing something that might embarrass her was unacceptable. She would often say to me, “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, and that covers a lot of territory.” Of course, I often did thing she wouldn’t do, and in my adult years I would sometimes tell her stories of my bad behavior. Sometimes she would laugh and other times she would roll her eyes and say, “Well, I will pray for you.”
She loved the Lawrence Welk Show. She would sing at the top of her lungs while cooking or doing housework. She made me homemade mashed potatoes and gravy every Sunday because she knew it was my favorite. She helped my grandfather manage their drive-in restaurant. She coached the young people who worked for her at the restaurant on how to mind their manners, develop a strong work ethic, and represent their employer and community with pride and dignity. She was an old fashioned, fierce, Godly woman who loved her family and loved her Jesus. She refused to talk poorly about others because she felt it was a terrible sin. She taught me about faith, unconditional love and how to respect myself and others through her actions. She could talk the talk and walk the walk. She held her loved ones to a high standard, and she voiced her disapproval when we fell short. But there was always love. She was love and light, with a little bit of sass.
The last time I saw her prior to her passing was last July during our annual summer trip. Her Alzheimer’s was progressing rapidly and she had become more emotional and confused. I knew it was the last time we would make the trip as a family. Too many people in the room made for a rough afternoon. As I was leaving and saying good-bye, she was the most distant she had ever been, like she was saying good-bye to the mail man. At the door as I was about to walk out, I turned around and said, “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” In an instant she lit up from the inside and said, “And that covers a lot of territory.”
She was laughing as I closed the door behind me.
It’s Saturday at midnight in the bar and I’m out with the girls enjoying a 90’s cover band and some ice-cold beer. The 90’s is my favorite decade, and every song brings back memories of high school and college, in such a good way. I felt nineteen again, and although I wasn’t drunk on alcohol, I was definitely drunk on memories and music.
You know that feeling, when all your favorite tunes are being played and your body has an almost involuntary reaction. It becomes this sort of instinct and rhythm combined. My nineteen year-old self was really into rock music. Imagine some air guitar, arms in the air, hair being thrown in every direction, and a complete and total disregard for the other bar patrons around me, other than my friends. It was just me, the band, my girls and the music.
Now picture a middle-aged woman, married with two kids, who drives the weekly car pool and volunteers in the PTA, throwing her long hair and rocking out to Alice In Chains, Metallica and Nirvana. The dance floor wasn’t overly full, so I stood out. I think at one point I might have screamed, “I’m with the band!” Except, I’m not with the band.
It was so fun, and in the moment I had no regrets. It was a great night. I mean seriously, when anyone plays Enter Sandman by Metallica, you throw your hair to that shit. It’s just how it’s done. I think the point where I really peaked and just let my shit go all over the dance floor was when the band played Man in the Box, by Alice In Chains. One of my favorite songs, and when I became aware of my environment toward the end of the song, there were a few dudes thrashing next to me, so I guess it was good.
Except, in the light of day, when I woke up with a very stiff neck and a screaming headache, I had a moment of thought that said, you-are-too-fucking-old-to-act-like-you-belong-in-a- White-Snake-video-and-oh-my-God-you-are-such-an-asshole! I woke up embarrassed. I know we all like to pretend that we don’t care what other people think, but the truth for most of us is that to a small degree, we do.
I’m a person who typically embraces the immediacy of a good time and enjoys being in the moment with my friends. We’ve been at weddings where Dan and I are the only ones on the dance floor, while the other couples are engaged in far more dignified conversation and interactions. Not shaking their asses to Baby Got Back. I always look back later and self-consciously think, damn, did we take that one too far? Shouldn’t we be past this sort of behavior yet? So Sunday morning, as I reviewed the events of the previous night, I thought to my self, are you honestly going to be the crazy lady that loses her shit every time someone plays some AC/DC?
Fast forward a few hours, and Dan and I are in attendance at a lovely baby shower/brunch for our dear friends who will soon welcome twin boys into the world. After a brief cocktail hour, where a few mimosa’s were going a long way to soothe my misplaced embarrassment, the father-to-be takes up the microphone and begins to welcome his family and friends to this celebration of babies, and also discuss some important events of the past nine months. He said shortly after they discovered they were pregnant, he received a call from his doctor and learned he had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
He said he spoke with one doctor who gave him “good odds” with a 60% chance of survivability. He decided that wasn’t good enough, so he fired that doctor and got another one who told him with 100% certainty that he would live through this cancer. That he could beat it. And he did. Over the past nine months, he fought his cancer while his beautiful wife managed a complicated pregnancy with unbelievable grace and strength. They kept the cancer diagnosis to themselves, for the most part, telling only a few people. Dan and I found out about a week ago, after he finished his last chemo and was able to share the good news with everyone that he was cancer free. We were all so grateful for his outcome, and we celebrated his health as much as we celebrated the babies!
A short while later there was a moment during the party and the DJ was playing some great dance music. There wasn’t a dance floor, just good music playing to keep the party lively. Dan and I were sitting by the bar and the father-to-be, along with another friend began an impromptu dance-off in the space next to us. Then the grand-father joined in, and these three grown men began taking it to town in front of everyone. It was crazy and awesome and hilarious and I started to cry a little. I was actually laughing first, and then found the emotion behind the laughter.
Here he is, grateful to be alive, lucky to have two beautiful babies on the way, and he wasn’t embarrassed by his super sweet dance moves. He wasn’t concerned about what anyone thought of him, or whether or not he looked silly. All three men were simply enjoying the moment, making the most of the mood and the occasion and the love. It was quite simply the most amazing celebration of life I’ve seen in a long time.
I found my perspective and some unnecessary but welcome validation in that moment. The truth is that I AM the mom and friend who will dance in the bar, or in my living room with my kids. I AM the person who sings at the top of my lungs when the song is good and the company is better. I AM the person who isn’t afraid to live in the moment and doesn’t care what strangers think because my life is not about them or what they may or may not think of my Saturday night amateur rock show performance. I’m done feeling insecure about this, and as we all know, insecurity is an asshole, and we do not choose to be friends with assholes!
So when I ask myself if I’m really going to be that middle-aged mom who loses my shit every time my jam comes on?
Well, this isn’t me, but you get the idea!
Have you ever had one of those moments when you’re being completely irrational, and you know you are, but you feel so angry and the anger becomes explosive and you just say and do things you know are ridiculous?
I had been to the doctor for another shot in my knee. I’ve learned that the hours following a shot are very uncomfortable for me. I experience a significant amount of pain and soreness for about five hours afterward. For this reason, I schedule the appointments for the late afternoon, then come home and ice my knees. Prior to the appointment that day I asked Dan to handle dinner. I would be arriving home right at dinner time and I didn’t want to deal with cooking and waiting on everyone while trying to manage the pain.
If I’m being completely honest, I was a little emotional before going to the doctor. I wasn’t looking forward to it. The shots hurt. And in hindsight, I think I just wanted my family to take care of me, instead of being the one who takes care of everyone else.
So, I get home and no dinner is being prepared. Dan is sitting on the couch with the kids. I’m starving, sore and starting to get pissed. I asked him what he planned to do for dinner and he said he was going to order Mexican food.
I get my ice pack and get settled on the couch with my knee propped up just so. Thirty minutes later, Dan is still looking online for a restaurant. He makes a comment about how he wishes I liked this one particular place that has always been his favorite. We never order from there because I don’t like their food. I said, “We can order from there. I’ll just order something I know they can’t screw up.” The last time we ordered from this place my dinner was horrible. And I should mention, that it’s almost become a joke in our family that when we order food, if any order gets screwed up, it’s almost always mine.
So I ask Dan to order me a chicken burrito, with mild green Verde sauce. Just a basic chicken burrito. He triple checked my order before he completed the online transaction. Now he’s super psyched that he gets dinner from one of his favorite places.
By the time the food arrives it’s been over two hours since I got home. I’m starving and in the throes of my knee pain. I’m really looking forward to this chicken burrito.
I hobble to the kitchen because it hurts to put full weight on my knee. I start sorting the containers and handing out food. The meal Bryce ordered is much smaller than we expected, so he finishes his dinner before I’m done handing out food. I can’t find my food. There are two wet burritos. One with a red sauce, and one with an orange sauce. Dan ordered the red sauce. We both realize that my order is wrong. Typical.
I open the lid and dip a fork into the sauce to see if it’s edible. Holy shit! It’s orange fire sauce! I start choking and gagging as the liquid fire slides down my throat. I involuntarily cry out, “Motherfucker!” Even Dan, who LOVES spicy food, agreed this sauce covering the burrito was almost inedible.
Dan offered me his burrito in exchange, but I hate red sauce. It tastes like starch and yucky things. He gets online to contact the restaurant to tell them they made a mistake and get me the correct burrito.
In the meantime, Bryce is asking for more dinner. He’s still hungry and there is nothing else in the order that he can eat. He says he would like some plain pasta. I look to Dan, expecting him to make the pasta so I can go sit down with some ice, but Dan has his burrito and is on his way to the table where he casually sits down to eat. He says the restaurant is sending over a new burrito for me. And he starts eating…
My anger kicks up to another level at this point. Like, I want to start yelling, but that won’t help the situation, so I tamp it down. I’m taking deep, calming breaths.
I start hobbling around the kitchen, making another dinner for Bryce. I don’t say anything. I can’t believe he just sat down to eat his dinner and is watching me limp around the kitchen, cooking, which is exactly what I asked him to help me avoid this evening. I’m so pissed. But if I lose my shit, somehow I feel like the asshole. So I suck it up and make pasta for Bryce. I have left-over sauce in the fridge, he just needs fresh pasta. Simple enough. Except that my knee is throbbing, and I can actually feel my heartbeat in my knee.
I finish making and serving him dinner, and clean up the mess. At this point, everyone else has eaten, except me. I go sit down with my ice. Another 45 minutes later and my new burrito arrives. And guess what….
It was the same goddamned orange fire sauce burrito they sent me the first time! I waited over an hour for them to send me the same fucking inferno-burrito! It’s like this burrito was made in hell, and Satan keeps sending it forth to taunt me!
I yelled. I cursed. I slammed cabinets as I limped around the kitchen, re-heating left-overs that I could have eaten over three fucking hours ago when I got home from the doctor. All I wanted was for someone else to handle dinner so I could sit and elevate my knee and deal with the pain. I was out of my mind with anger and resentment. I sat at the counter, eating my shitty left-overs, hating all of them with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns.
When I was done, I limped back to the couch. It was 8:30pm. I wanted to cry. I wanted to yell and throw shit. The anger was a physical pain in my chest and I had no outlet to get rid of it. I wanted just one member of my family to pay attention to me and care that I was upset. I looked at the three of them sitting on the sofas. All of them had their faces buried in their technology. All of them content, happily fed and taken care of. I flipped each one of them off. A prolonged, middle finger stuck in the air, pointed in each of their directions. I didn’t even care how inappropriate that action was. Not one of them looked up. Then I said, “Screw you guys.” No reaction. They hadn’t heard me because they were all so self-absorbed with their iPads, iPods and computers. I think I hate Apple products now.
So I left the room. Not one of them noticed that I even got up. I limped upstairs and put myself to bed. I laid there hating the whole world, lamenting the injustices of being an unappreciated wife and mother, and vowing from the depths of my soul to never wash their dirty underwear again, until I fell asleep.
A few days later we were having dinner with another couple. The husband starting telling a funny story about how he and his wife got into a ridiculously intense argument over an apple pie crust. It was in the same vein as my sad tale, so I said, “I completely understand. I lost my shit over a chicken burrito the other night.” As I was re-telling the story, Dan had no idea that I’d flipped him off and basically told him to go screw himself before leaving the room. As I retold this part of the story, he burst out laughing, grabbed me by the face and kissed me at the table in front of everyone. Then he said, “THAT’s why I love you!”
Apparently he likes his women like he likes his burritos. Fiery! 😉
It’s been a rough week around here. My family had a nice Christmas, and I’m thankful for that. But for everything else that has happened in the past ten days or so…well, all I can say about that is, “Hey world, go fuck yourself.”
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
The entire week of Christmas my son was terribly sick with RSV. For those of you who don’t have young kids, that’s a nasty respiratory virus that likes to linger and can often cause hospitalizations. Bryce didn’t need to go to the hospital, but he did require round the clock breathing treatments and he had a fever for six days. We were pretty much house bound the entire week of Christmas. My husband and I started coming down with symptoms on Christmas day. It only makes sense given how Bryce repeatedly coughed in our faces while we were caring for him. He can’t help it. He’s five. The upside to this was that during our quarantine, we binge watched all the Star Wars movies and all eight Harry Potter movies.
We then had to cancel our holiday travel plans due to the respiratory virus that began sweeping its way through our house. Our relatives thanked us for not exposing them to our hateful contagion.
Two days after Christmas, while this virus was happily laying waste to my holiday cheer and energy levels, I got on Facebook and found that the world had turned itself upside down. You know those moments in life where your reality sort of tips over and sends you free-falling? Two days after Christmas I discovered that an old friend whom I had known for more than twenty-five years had passed away. We went to high school together and we kept in touch mostly through Facebook. I know many people wouldn’t call that friendship, but I went to a small school, and many of us keep in touch with each other through this medium. We post pictures of our kids and laugh with each other over the trials of parenting. Well, this friend was a beautiful human being. She radiated sunshine and light. She was 40 years old and a mother of five beautiful children. And, as it turns out, most of us didn’t know she was suffering. I had no idea she suffered from depression. I think most of us didn’t know. She was always happy smiles and kind words, always giving of herself to help others. She was a great mom and the kind of parent you sometimes envied. You know, the one who seems to find the time to make everything from scratch and still look beautiful and like she totally has everything together. The day after Christmas she took her own life. My heart is broken for her family. For her children. I can’t even imagine the emotional pain she must have been suffering to make that choice. To feel like that was the only option left to her. Depression is a dirty, rotten, lying mother-fucker and it has claimed another beautiful soul.
Yesterday, my husband called our plumber out to the house because he noticed our hot-water heater was leaking. Well, not only does the water heater need to be replaced, but unbeknownst to us, it had been leaking for a while, and we discovered black mold growing inside the wall and under the flooring. We had a crew working all day yesterday, ripping out moldy drywall, wood boards and flooring. We had no idea it was inside the wall. I now have an industrial size de-humidifier in my house that sounds like a damn jet engine. And because of the holiday and drying out/treatment process, nothing can be done for about five more days. Half of my garage is tented off and part of the stairwell inside as well. The noise from the de-humidifier is deafening, and I have no hot water for the next week or so. I know, first world problems. Blah, blah, blah.
Last night, I went to urgent care to deal with this respiratory virus that seems to be getting worse. My lungs feel like they’re on fire and my throat feels like I’ve been swallowing glass. The doctor at the urgent care was super hot. (Huge sigh, accompanied by an eye roll.) I look like death warmed over and I’ve got that awesome bright red ring around my nose that’s all chapped and painful. I accidentally coughed in his face. I’m sure he gets that a lot. Whatever. He says I have bronchitis. He gave me good drugs, so I’m thankful for hot doctor.
Today, after not sleeping much and dreaming about friends lost, I was woken up at the crack of dawn by the sounds of the moldy men crew using electric saws to cut apart my walls, once again. After they left, my husband left for San Diego. He’s going to the Holiday Bowl with his best friend. While I’m home…sick…with two kids…all the pets…in a house that sounds like it’s sitting on an airport runway. He’ll be home tomorrow. He’s staying with his friend in San Diego tonight because it’s a night game. That means he’ll get a hot shower tomorrow before he comes home. I can’t shower. Because there is no hot water. For a week. I think I hate him a little bit right now, but it’s not really his fault. But I’m going to act like it is because I need someone to blame. I know, it’s the bronchitis talking.
This past week has really kicked the shit out of me. I’m exhausted, physically and emotionally. So instead of writing a Happy New Year post filled with bullshit optimistic resolutions, I’m just going to be thankful for my life. I’m thankful for my family, my recovering health (Yay for drugs!), that I have a house and the resources to fix what’s broken. I’m thankful for my friends, both real and imagined (that means you WordPress!). I’m thankful for hot doctors and urgent care centers. I’m thankful for pharmacies, pizza delivery guys, Advil, coffee and that box of homemade fudge my neighbor brought over. I’m thankful for endless boxes of tissues and Carmex ointment to put on my chapped nose. And lastly, I’m thankful for the heart that beats in my chest. The heart that fills with joy at the sight of my family and also breaks with sadness at the loss of a friend. I’m thankful for my ability to feel and love and grow from the hard things in life.
Happy New Year, world. Wherever you are, may your New Year be filled with light and love.
Labor Day weekend Dan and I went to Chicago without the kids for a wedding. One of my college roommates was getting married and we haven’t had a grown-up only weekend in almost a year. It was fantastic!
When I travel without my kids everything is different. I can drink wine on the plane, only pack for myself, and read smutty chic-lit on my Kindle instead of entertaining two kids for four hours with snacks, Ipad games and constant reminders to stop kicking the seat in front of them. I relaxed, enjoyed the flight into my favorite city, and did my best to get over the fact that I had to sit in the suck-hump-middle seat in order to sit next to my husband on the flight. No one likes the middle seat, on any airplane, ever.
Chicago was amazing, as always, and the wedding was so fun. I’ve been blessed in my life with the gift of incredible, life long friendships, and my college friends are some of the most outrageous, hilarious, intelligent, dynamic, beautiful women I know. We’ve all gone on to do different things with our careers and family, but when we come together it’s like no time has passed and we’re all nineteen again with fake ID’s trying to sneak into bars and pick up hot guys, except now those hot guys are our husbands.
Here’s the recap, and nicknames have been given to protect the guilty.
On the way to the wedding, TSGHLM’s (This Summer’s Gonna Hurt Like A Motherfucker-her requested nickname) dress split up the side. Dr. Evil and I took turns sewing her back into her dress on the Uber ride into downtown Chicago. Unfortunately, Dr. Evil gets car sick, and trying to sew TSGHLM’s dress caused her to become extremely nauseated. She managed to hold it together, I took over the sewing, and no pre-wedding car sickness occurred. TSGHLM’s dress was repaired and I can now add car seamstress to my list of party tricks.
During dinner Dr. Evil kept trying to build a glass pyramid on the table with all the empty wine and champagne glasses. The wait staff would calmly walk over and dismantle her pyramid without too much fuss and take the empty glasses. She would wait until they walked away and we would drain our glasses so she could re-build her crystal masterpiece. We had a lot of glasses. When they finally reprimanded her for her inappropriate behavior, she responded by adding another tier to her tower.
Also, at some later point during dinner, someone who’s judgment was definitely questionable decided that the party favors on the table, which looked to me like crystal candle holders embossed with the bride and groom’s name and wedding date, were actually small wine glasses. So they became wine glasses, and I’m still unclear on their actual function.
During the reception, Trixie decided to re-create the Patrick Swayze/Jennifer Grey scene in Dirty Dancing by crawling across the dance floor, on her hands and knees, in her evening dress, toward another of our friends sitting at a table. She completed the crawl but might have been too drunk to get back up. I was laughing so hard I missed part of it, but I’m pretty sure she had to call for an assist.
The Bride, whom we shall call Ellie, got busted in the bathroom for smoking an e-cigarette. The event staff had to reprimand her, at her own wedding! She also had her sister cut the tulle out from under her dress during the reception. Nothing says good times like vandalizing your own wedding gown on your big day!
There was a really beautiful moment when the DJ played Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper. Our small, drunk army of roommates and friends gathered around Ellie and circled her on the dance floor. We danced around her, singing at the top of our lungs while each of us took turns dancing with her in the center of our circle. It was a complete and total love fest as well as a gesture of loyalty and solidarity that has remained unchanged for the past 23 years.
I’m pleased to report that there were no public displays of nudity or pressed ham. And believe me when I say that’s progress, folks. At this point in my life, with this group of friends, I could never run for public office. There is way too much photographic evidence of the good times we’ve had in life. Dan showed me cell phone video of me rocking out with the ladies like a wannabe 80’s rock goddess on the dance floor, and I said, “Oh, that’s the wine talking. That’s ugly dancing! Delete that and we shall never speak of it.”
I woke up the next afternoon feeling like road kill. We spent the day like we would’ve in college. We laid on the couch, watched movies, ate good food and made fun of each other and our epically bad behavior. We’re forty! It’s like all maturity goes out the window when we’re together. We egg each other on and enable each other for the sake of entertainment and bragging rights. When I expressed this to Dan his most wonderful and appreciated response was, “I love your friends.”
Yeah, I love them too.
Once again, life has been busy and I’m checking in to say hello and tackle the Love/Hate Challenge handed down to me by one of my favorite bloggers, Kimboxin. In this challenge, I have to list ten things I love and ten things I hate, then nominate other bloggers for the challenge.
Initially, it doesn’t seem too complicated. How hard is it to list things you love and hate? So, I spent a few minutes pondering the many nuances of what it means to love or hate something. If you really think about it, love is not the opposite of hate. Indifference is the opposite of love, but I have not been asked to write about things to which I feel indifferent. So, for me, this is not an exercise of opposites, but rather a list of items that either make me feel extremely happy or extremely unhappy. Oh, and I’m leaving out the obvious stuff, like loving my family or hating anchovies. Seriously, who likes anchovies?
Hate, hate, hate….
1. I hate high-heels. Why, as women, do we choose to wear shoes that after about twenty minutes of wear feel like razor blades are imbedded on the inside? I admit, high-heels make legs and ankles look more attractive. They add that special something to a dress or an outfit that flats just can’t imitate. They are incredibly feminine and just make you feel fancy. I occasionally attempt to wear them. But high-heels make me feel insecure. Insecure in that I know the pain is inevitable, and I know that with one small misstep or slip, I will fall ass over tea kettle in front of anyone watching. Friday night Dan and I celebrated our anniversary. We got dressed up and went to dinner at Beso, in Hollywood. Then we walked to the theatre and saw Phantom of the Opera. The theatre was less than two blocks from the restaurant, and in the seven minutes it took to walk there, I honestly felt as though my toes were being severed from my feet. I then made the classic mistake of taking the shoes off while I was at my seat enjoying the performance, because my toes began to swell, which then made trying to put the shoes back on feel like a fresh new hell. After the show, I put on a brave face, and hobbled out of the theatre, hanging on to Dan’s arm for dear life. It was all I could do to maintain my dignity and not look like a drunk hooker falling down on the street. About half way up the first block, I said fuck it. I took off the shoes and walked down Hollywood Boulevard in my bar feet. I figured, what the hell? It’s the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and it’s probably one of the nicest sidewalks in the country. I did enjoy a laughable moment though when we walked passed a strip club whose marquee read, “1000’s of Beautiful Girls and 3 Ugly Ones!”
2. I hate being the center of attention, or having too many people looking at me at once. It makes me feel very insecure and nervous. Even at my own wedding, knowing that everyone was looking at me filled me with anxiety. I prefer to blend in with the natives. This anxiety does not exist for me in this medium, thankfully. I want people to read my blog. And it doesn’t feel like the same level of scrutiny for some reason.
3. I also hate crowds. Too many people. Too much noise. No parking. And people tend to behave poorly in large crowds. I prefer smaller, more low key environments. Causal, laid back places. Pubs, not clubs.
4. I hate allergies. I am allergic to everything. If I was stranded on a desert island, I’d probably be dead within hours from touching a leaf or a plant, or being stung by an insect. A handful of years ago I saw an allergist and she did that skin test on my back where they scratch your skin with a hundred different allergens and then see what you react too. Within seconds of the nurse applying the allergens, it felt like fire ants were biting me everywhere. The allergist sort of freaked out when she entered the room and it took several doses of antihistamine to calm the reaction and welts on my back. When I looked at the chart she gave me, it said one of the items I was allergic to was cockroaches. WTF? I want to know what part of a fucking cockroach they rubbed on my back to find out if I was allergic to it. Gross.
5. I hate most reality TV. Mostly because it’s not reality and there is very little substance to these shows. I don’t give a fuck about the Kardashians, the Desperate Housewives of any city, or who the Bachelor or Bachelorette is making out with this week. And don’t even get me started on the Duggars. There are a few reality shows my family enjoys, but we’re pretty selective. My family loves MasterChef, American Ninja Warrior, the Amazing Race, and more recently, BattleBots.
6. I hate hypocrisy. If you talk the talk, you better be able to walk the walk.
7. I hate it when people don’t take responsibility for their choices, or try to negate the choices of others. In life, your choices, for good or bad, is truly what defines you. Own them, and use your powers for good, not evil.
8. I hate Jalapenos. Does this need further clarification? I think not.
9. I hate technology when it doesn’t work. My last cell phone sucked. It was an older model Samsung that had the drop down keypad for typing. I preferred that to the touch screen because my fingers always hit the wrong key and it took me forever to do anything on the phone. So, one evening my friend was over for our regular Friday night wine o’clock, and I was bitching about my phone and how long it took to connect a call. And she said, “Can you just give it a second to let the signal come back from space?” LOL!
10. I hate skinny jeans on men. I can’t think of many things more emasculating than seeing men wear skinny jeans. Biggest fashion mistake, ever.
For the love of….
1. I love fresh, clean paper. There’s something about a new notebook or journal that fills me with excitement. It’s a clean slate. You can write or create anything. I would hoard them if I was crazy. But I’m not crazy. As far as you know.
2. I love office supplies. I have no idea why. I have always loved stores like Staples and Office Max. I love buying stuff that makes me feel organized. Shopping for school supplies as a kid felt like Christmas to me.
3. On this same note, I love making lists. I write lists for everything. Again, it helps me feel organized, and my brain needs this in order to feel peace.
4. I love getting flowers, for no special reason. Or for a special reason. That’s fine too.
5. I love giving and receiving compliments, especially when they are unexpected. Admit it. Getting a compliment at an unexpected moment can make you feel on top of the world. Especially because we rarely see ourselves the way others see us. And when you give a compliment, even casually, and you see that person’s face light up, it’s an amazing feeling.
6. I love it when I’m on the treadmill at the gym and one of my favorite Kid Rock songs hits the playlist. When Bawitdaba starts playing, it takes all I have to not start singing out load and head banging in front of everyone. That song, among others, just pumps me up and makes me feel like I could run a hundred miles. I can’t, of course, and about a minute into the song I have to slow down and remind myself that I’m forty and my knees can’t take that shit.
7. I love my husband’s photography. He enjoys photography as a hobby, and I love his pictures.
8. I love candles that make my house smell good. I specifically love Gold Canyon Candles. They are the best.
9. I love reading. I love being absorbed and transported by a story, and the devastation you feel when the book ends.
10. I love my husband. I know I said I would leave out the obvious stuff, but we just celebrated our anniversary, so it feels important to include him in this list. I love the life we have together, and the balance we share in our relationship. I’m proud of the man he is and I’m proud to be his wife.
I nominate the following blogs to participate in this challenge, if they so choose.
7. http://catsatthebar.org/ (I would love to see the cat’s perspective on this!)
It’s here. I couldn’t stop it from happening. For some reason that I don’t fully understand, I’ve been dreading this milestone birthday, and Superman didn’t show up to gallantly circle the earth at inhuman speed backwards to reverse time so I wouldn’t have to face the fact that I am now 40. Fuck you, Superman.
I woke up this morning and found myself continuously fighting back tears, despite the kisses and hugs and shouts of ‘Happy Birthday’ from my family. I didn’t want to appear sad or ungrateful in front of them, so I smiled and thanked them for their love. My son was so excited, and he dragged me by the hand downstairs because he wanted to present me with my birthday balloons. (My husband and I always set up balloons and decorations after the kids go to bed the night before their birthday, so when they wake up it’s like the birthday fairies visited to surprise them). But there were no balloons. Bryce looked confused. He stood there looking around the empty living room and said, “Mommy, where are your balloons?” He doesn’t understand that these things don’t just magically happen. All I could say was, “I don’t know, buddy.”
My husband could tell I was emotional and asked if everything was ok. I told him it was fine. He had this look on his face like he was disappointed that I wasn’t more excited to face the day. I know it sounds terrible, but I don’t feel like this birthday is any more special or different than any other, and the truth is that I wanted this birthday to be special. I’m 40. I suppose I was hoping for something out of the ordinary to help ease the transition. I didn’t get to do anything exciting for my 30th birthday. While all my friends were throwing themselves big, elaborate parties to celebrate entering their 30’s, on my 30th I was 9 months pregnant and having contractions. So I spent my birthday lying on the couch enjoying a celebratory pizza. I gave birth to my daughter four days later.
A group of my college friends and I had been planning a 40th birthday trip to Mexico. Since we all turn 40 this year, we picked a weekend to celebrate all of our birthdays together. Unfortunately, I had to cancel the trip for myself due to some financial constraints. The trip is coming up next month and I’m disappointed and sad that I’m not going. Most of my close friends live in other parts of the country, so I tend to feel isolated out here in LA. I’ve also been missing my family and the support and unity that come from living close to people who have known you your whole life. This is a big part of the depression I’ve been experiencing. I miss my people.
So this morning, as I faced the fact that I am now a member of the 40 club, I allowed myself to have a few minutes of privacy so that I could host my own little pity party. I cried and processed through my feelings. I cried for missing my best friends. I cried for missing my family. I cried for all the safe choices I’ve made and the risks I didn’t take in the last 40 years that have prevented me from doing much of anything that I could look back on and say, “Wow, that was so amazing and I can’t believe I did that!”
When I was finished feeling sorry for myself, I dried my tears and reminded myself that attitude is everything, and I have always been a badass, take charge kind of girl. I reminded myself that I am responsible for my own happiness, and it’s up to me, and only me, to change my attitude and embrace this new chapter in my life. Sometimes you have to be your own Superman. Sometimes the people who love you are so busy taking care of you in other ways, that they can’t foresee and anticipate all of your emotional needs. Sometimes you have to save your own day.
When I accepted this and embraced my new attitude, so many wonderful things happened. I had an amazing lunch with my dear friend and neighbor. She took me to a fantastic seafood restaurant down by the beach and we enjoyed several gourmet small plates, all made from fresh caught seafood. (One of the benefits of living alongside the Pacific Ocean). When I arrived home, there was a vase filled with beautiful multi-colored roses waiting for me, and my husband went to my favorite bakery to get a sampling of all my favorite cupcake flavors. The day was starting to look up.
That evening, my husband made dinner reservations for us at our favorite sushi restaurant. At first I was a little surprised that he chose this particular restaurant because we go there frequently. It’s sort of our go-to sushi spot and part of our ordinary routine. I thought to myself, “What’s special about that?” But my new attitude prevented me from suggesting we go someplace else. He made the effort to arrange our dinner and make the reservation, so I would appreciate his thoughtfulness and enjoy our date.
When we got to the front doors of the restaurant I started to slow my walk and hang back a little so he could go in first, but he was holding my hand and started to sling-shot me forward, sort of gently pushing me through the doorway. I started to turn around to tell him to stop shoving me, when out of the corner of my eye I saw several balloon bouquets…and a wall of our friends and family. I was sort of struck dumb as I stood there processing the room and looking at the excited faces of several people that I know and love. Some of my husband’s fraternity brothers were there with their wives and girlfriends. All of these men I love like big brothers, and their wives are amazing, too. My neighbor and friend who had taken me to lunch (and led me to believe she had other plans that night), was standing there with her husband, smiling radiantly. My godmother and her wonderful husband were there. Another very good friend that I hardly ever get to see because of her crazy work schedule came as well.
I was overwhelmed. I wanted to cry. Again. But this time the tears weren’t for self-pity, but for this amazing realization that all of these wonderful people were willing to go out of their way and come together to help make my day special. Some of them drove from over an hour away. I moved through the room, hugging and laughing and kissing all of these lovely people, and feeling happier than I can describe.
When I managed to make my way back to my husband, his face revealed so many emotions. I could tell he was happy, relieved, and proud. I hugged and kissed him fiercely, and thanked him for everything he had done to make my day so special.
Superman came after all. He may not have been able to reverse time and prevent me from turning 40, but he went out of his way to not only plan this party, but keep it so secret that he had to allow me to wallow in my self-pity in order not to spoil the surprise. He filled my day with my favorite flowers, desserts, friends, and love. And he didn’t forget the balloons, which were my favorite color, red.
Same Shit, different Dave
Listen to your inner self..it has all the answers..
Chef, Blogger and Food Photographer
Finding my way back out of motherhood -- while mothering
storytelling the world through travels & books
Jennifer Molidor, Ph.D
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sailaway from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain