Thursday, December 19, 2013

Creating Compassionate Change

I need to say something. This may not be something that you care about, so you are free to ignore me, but I hope you do care. I think it's important to care about the creatures that we share our planet with.

You may or many not have seen The Cove. You may or may not have seen Blackfish. If you haven't, I think it's important that  you do. If you have, I think you need to take time to think about what you have learned in order to make the right decisions regarding any action you may take.

When I first watched The Cove, I was so horrified that I swore I would never again attend a marine park. Ever. The images were absolutely heartbreaking in a way that I can't even describe. There was a lot of information presented at the beginning of the film, but all I could focus on afterward was the blood (SO much blood!) and the screams of the dolphins. I recently watched Blackfish. I found it more informative, less graphically disturbing, but just as important.

What both of these films tell us is that the way we treat marine mammals is wrong. Taking animals from their homes solely for financial gain is wrong. Separating families is wrong. Requiring animals to perform for sheer entertainment is wrong. Forcing groups of animals together in small spaces is wrong. This is all wrong and it is all cruel.

I went to Sea World as a child. I went as an adult. These are good memories; they were good times with my family. What I was taught from these experiences was that this treatment was okay. It was glamorous. There was the star of the show, there was the music, the leaps out of the water, the power of their splashes. I thought that these animals loved what they were doing as much as I loved watching them perform. I was wrong.

There is a saying that when you know better, you do better. I think we now know better. Marine biologists and behaviorists have made enough discoveries about the emotions of these animals that tip the scales in favor of change. I don't think that can be debated.

However, what most people are suggesting and urging and asking for is probably not the answer. Boycott Sea World and parks like it. Hit them in their pocketbooks where it really hurts. Close them down and end the cruelty forever. I admit that this was my first reaction, as I said.

But stop and think about this.

If Sea World and its likenesses close, what happens to the animals? Those born in captivity won't survive in the wild. Who is going to pay to locate a whale's pod and have it transported from California to Norway or from Florida to the Pacific Northwest? Who is going to oversee these assimilations? Forcing any park to shut down just to cease existing will cause more harm to these animals. This can't be the plan.

Sea World, being in the biggest spotlight, is in the best position to affect change for marine life. They have the financial resources to transform the existing entertainment platform to one of a sanctuary. Sanctuaries are the best option for the majority of these animals. Trainers and other park personnel who have known these animals and come to care for them could best help them through the transition. Observing them in a habitat closer to their natural environment would allow us to learn more from these wonderful creatures. Wouldn't it be wonderful to witness the birth of a whale not born in captivity, from a relationship between two animals instead of artificially?

Now, I don't have all of the answers. Obviously. I'm not a biologist. Or a zoologist. I do know that radical, reactionary behavior doesn't work. I think if we really care about these animals, that we can come together to create a solution that is more beneficial than harmful. One that opens up a dialogue where we all learn something and we create a better world for all living creatures.

This is the action I would encourage you to take. Boycotting can be a powerful tool, but communication can bring about real change. Talk to the decision makers and ask them to make better decisions. Educate yourselves on all of the options. Open those dialogues. Speak from caring and compassion rather than fear and judgment.

We now know better, it's time to do better.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I Suppose I Could Just Shave My Head

I have a lot of hair. It's like my hair took being a Leo literally and grew itself to epic proportions. On a daily basis. I have pregnancy hair, but permanently. It never goes away.

What this means is that I regularly kill hair dryers. I have to get a new one every two to three years because no mere mortal appliance can maintain the stamina it requires to dry my hair on a daily basis.

I killed one a month ago. It didn't actually die, it just gave up on warming up to hot air, like it just wanted to go in peace by blowing out arctic blasts instead of completely giving up. I let it. However, I still needed to dry my hair so I borrowed D's. For a month. It was one of those little travel-sized things and she hardly ever used it so it only lasted a month. Barely.

Finally, last week I bought a new hair dryer. It's cute. It's pink and black. I think it heard the rumors about me and hasn't worked its way up to full power yet, but we're getting along. So far.

Anyway, this was the conversation about the new hair dryer.

D: I like your new hair dryer.
Me: Thanks.
D: Did mine die too?
Me: Yes.
D: I like our new hair dryer.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Like Mother Like Daughter Like Grandma

I got the following text this morning from D.

"I have a gig tonight, it's an outdoor gig, it would be really nice to come home to hot coco and egg nog.... :)"

I glossed over the misspelled word and replied, "It sure would...."
She answered, "*cough cough* yes mom, it would *wink*"

I shared her message with my podmates and J said, "She is so like you."
Ha ha.

A few minutes later, there was this conversation.

Me: "What are you going to do without me on your own?"
D: "Probably die."
Me: "Probably."
D: "Haha. We will cross that bridge when we come to it."

And suddenly I was talking to my mom.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pros Only

Winters can be hard. Winters can be really hard as a single person. It's cold, the holidays happen, etc. It can suck.

So the Wife and I thought we'd make a list to make ourselves feel better about being single. Like a Gratitude List only for being single. The things we appreciate about being single. It was supposed to make us feel less sad, but it's had kind of the opposite effect. I don't feel less sad. I feel more happy. I feel really appreciative. At first it was just little things. But then it was just an overall feeling of, "I am really okay. Really." As in, I actually prefer this life. For now. I don't know what will come later, but I am really good right now. Without any convincing, I'm good. I'm good with me. I'm good with Now.

If you're not okay, or you need a little reminder that you are, here is a little list of some of the things we've come up with. We add to it regularly.

I can go home when I want. I have nobody to answer to.
I can flirt whenever I want with whoever I want. Everyone is fair game and so am I.
I can complain about being fat while stuffing my face with apple pizza and there isn't anybody to judge me.
My relationship with my kid is mine. Right or wrong, we will figure it out together.
The possibility still exists. I'm not stuck. Hope is good.
My future is mine. It is limitless.
The mistakes I make are mine and I only have to answer to myself.
I can set the heater at whatever temperature I want.
There is no video game talk in my house.
I can watch whatever, whenever I want on T.V.
My dogs sleep with me and I don't have to explain that.
No sports. I only watch the Kentucky Derby and the Super Bowl, and the latter for the commercials only.

If I get too cold, I have two very willing puppies to snuggle with.
Life is good.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Here We Go.....

Senior year. I have had thoughts about this year since D was born. There are emotions and stresses and all of that blah, blah, blah. Etc., etc, etcetera! The things is, shit's getting real, ya'll.

This week was kind of major. Not in a really life-altering way, more of a reminder of what's coming up. To-do list check-offs. We ordered her cap and gown. She thinks it's funny to tease me and said, "Are you ready to cry?" as she handed me the order form. As if. I don't cry when I have to shell out money. Okay, I do, but for different reasons. Last night we chose her senior pictures. Also last night, for the first time ever, she came home at 2:00 in the morning by herself. (Catching Fire premiere. Very important stuff.) And then she got up early and went to school. Like an "adult."

See? It's not that big of a deal. And yet it is. Every step takes us closer to the End. The end of childhood. The end of my days as a "mommy." It's terrifying, and heartbreaking and freeing. All at the same time. I'm glad there are these little steps to inure me to the idea that my little girl is going to go away soon. If we had to jump off the cliff all at once, I don't think my heart could take it. I know my sanity couldn't.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

How to Tell if Your Dog is Losing Her Freaking Mind

The carbon monoxide detector starts beeping at 4:30 in the morning because its battery is low. Like smoke detectors, these things only happen during the hours you should be fast asleep. You know that it's beeping, not because it wakes you up, but because your dog is clawing at your face to tell you that it's beeping.

You get up, unplug the damn thing, throw it in the coat closet, and head back to bed. Since both dogs are up, you let them out to potty and then call everyone back to bed. You think that you still have plenty of time to get a decent amount of sleep before you have to get up for work.

You are wrong.

The boy dog never realized that there was pre-sunrise drama, so he settles back down to sleep like a Good Boy. The girl dog thinks that the beeping signaled the end of the world and she wants to you stay up and freak out with her until that happens.

You pet her and tell her it's okay. That's not enough and she continues to pant as if the bed were on fire. You try to pull her close to you to reassure her. She pants her bad doggy breath right into your nostrils. She won't stop shaking. You try to ignore her and turn to the other side. She walks across your head, pulling your hair out along the way, so that her breath can be directly fanning your face again. You pull the covers over your head, thinking she'll eventually give up. No. She starts to walk in circles over you, walking across your head, your side, your head, your hip, circling faster and more frantically each time.

After about 30 minutes, she finally gives in and lays next to you. Only you can feel her staring at you because her face is half an inch away from yours. It's like her line of sight is boring into your cheekbone. At this point you are starting the countdown until your alarm will go off so you close your eyes and hope for the best.

You never go back to sleep.

When you get out of bed to take a shower, she goes with you. At this point the boy dog thinks it's just time to get up so you let them outside one more time but inform them there is no breakfast until after your shower. For which they follow you into the bathroom. Both of them. When you get out, you have to avoid stepping on dogs. One of which is perpetually ravenously hungry and the other of which is still shaking and insists on walking between your feet. For the rest of the morning. You nearly kill yourself tripping over her a dozen or so times and you would throttle her if she didn't have such big, sad eyes that look at you with absolute trust that you will make her world right again.

You sigh. You crate them both before leaving and just hope that your neurotic dog doesn't give herself a stroke while you're at work. And that she will allow you to nap when you get home.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

When Good Friends Go Bad

Last week, at book club, the subject of age came up. With the exception of one, we are all over the age of 40. A couple of us were talking about how our eyesight has changed just over the last couple of years. The skin under my eyes has gotten thinner this year. We are noticing small changes that amount to our impending mortality.

I shared a story from my late teenage years. I worked at a Hallmark, where I rang up many, many old women. Old women are always buying cards. Or at least they were back in the day before they started costing upwards of $4.00. I digress. I would hold my hands on the counter, watching them write their checks, comparing my smooth skin with their wrinkles and age spots, their gnarled knuckles. My hands became a source of pride, a symbol of my youth and vitality. And, because of this foolish pride, I have watched my hands age over the years with growing sadness.

After telling this story, M asked if that was really such a difference. I had her lay her hand down flat on the table and laid mine next to hers. "See how I have more wrinkles?" She looked down and gasped, exclaiming loudly, "Oh, WOW!!!" Um, okay. They're not that bad. It's not like they're all shriveled into dry tree branches. Plus, the weather here is very drying and I hadn't recently moisturized. No need to make me cry!!

I think I'm just going to wear gloves around her from now on.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Teaching the Birds and the Bees

Note: This isn't going to be very interesting, I just had sort of a random memory the other day that led to other thoughts and this is just how my brain works.

I learned where babies come because my sister was born when I was seven. I thought it was pretty disgusting. Once, when shopping with my mom, she asked me what I thought about black bras. Who asks a nine-year-old this question? My mom, apparently. I told her I thought it would make her a slut. She didn't buy it.

One day, when my sister was five, she came into my room, dropped to all fours on my bed, and started humping the air. "I'm making babies!" This is what happens when you take your five-year-old with you to breed your dog. Any time she wanted to annoy me from then on, she would hump the air on her hands and knees.

Because my mom had been so open about sex, I wanted to be that way with D. Except I didn't feel open and I was never really prepared. One night, when she was four and taking a bath, she asked me the dreaded question. "Where do babies come from?" I tried to answer as calmly and as simply as I could.

Me: Well, the man has a sperm and the woman has an egg. When the sperm meets the egg......
D: Ha ha ha ha..... The sperm meets the egg!! Say it again!!
Me: The sperm meets the egg.
D: hee hee hee, ha ha ha..... Say it again!!!

Yes, hilarity ensued. That was the end of that.

When she was nine, I was slightly concerned that she hadn't asked again. She had a friend who recently gained a baby sister. Concerned she might get wrong information from friends, I asked if she had any questions about that baby or birth and told her that she could ask me anything, secretly hoping that she wouldn't. We happened to be out at lunch and she said a quick okay, then took a bite of food. I thought that was it until she said, "Okay. So how does it happen? That thing, sex." Again, I explained as simply as I could using the physical description of the act rather than the "when a mommy and a daddy love each other" bullshit. She just sat there, staring at me. Finally she said, "Okay. That is even grosser than I thought." Which was the end of the conversation.

Over time, I did get used to talking about the subject. Mostly because I'm a smart ass and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. D thought she could embarrass me one night. While she had a friend over.

D: What is 69?
Me: It'a a number.
D: But what is it?
Me: A number between 68 and 70.
D: But what else? (while giggling and looking at her friend.)
(Oh, we're going to play that game are we?)
Me: It's a sexual position.
D: That's what I thought.
Me: Would you like me to draw you a picture? Are you sure you know? Maybe I need to make it really clear for you.
D: Ew, gross! No!! Mom, you're sick!!!

At least she left me in peace and went to her room.

Monday, November 11, 2013

I Guess I Can Try the New Beehive Hairstyle Now

J: Do you have aerosol hairspray?
Me: No.
J: Why not? How can you not have aerosol hairspray?
Me: Because I care about the environment. Besides, I don't use that much hairspray. Also - I'm not my grandma.
J: I can't believe you don't have aerosol hairspray. Everybody has aerosol hairspray.
Me: Apparently not everyone.
J: I can't believe you. Seriously.

A couple of days later:

Me: What is the deal with stupid aerosol hairspray anyway?
W: I have some. It's different now, it's not like it was in the 70's.
Me: Oh. Nobody told me that.
W: Yeah, you can join the 21st century now.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Excuse Me, What?

This conversation happened between D and me this morning. Please note that she asked me to make her breakfast before this conversation took place.

D: Does it seem crazy to you how grown up I am?
Me: How what you are?
D: Grown up.
Me: Um.
D: .......
Me: When was the last time you made a grilled cheese by yourself?
D: At E's house. It took us like half an hour and we burned the first one.
Me: Yeah. So what were you asking me? 

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Red Lipstick

When I was in college, I had a particularly difficult class with a particularly difficult professor. The only way to write a paper that would pass would be to write the paper that he would have written. In other words, I had to read his mind, which was nearly impossible as I am not someone who enjoys spending large quantities of time with lab rats. I did spend many hours sitting outside his office waiting to review papers before I turned them in. I spent hours inside his office while he scribbled red marks all over what I had already painstakingly written. Only to repeat the process.

The weeks spent in that class resulted in a few nightmares. It was my waking life, however, that became really bizarre. Any time that I couldn't get past a paragraph or a sentence for any paper I was writing for this class, I would go clean something. The bathroom I shared. Another roommate's dishes. The kitchen sink. My closest. Myself. I was taking up to three showers a day that I didn't need. My roommates loved me. My developing OCD would have frightened me had I been able to take a step back and see how crazy I looked from the outside. Instead, I was tunnel-visioned and head-down until the class was over and I was able to return to a state of normalcy.

The recent experiences with D and her (fucking) depression have brought some of that back. I don't have the energy to scrub my toilet four times a day, but I have made the effort to return to my former Self. The Self I was before I was aware of my own depression and before I lost myself in the Bad Relationship. This Self paid bills on time (with less money than I have now), made and cooked weekly menus with groceries bought specifically for that purpose, and generally had her shit together. She even invited other small children over to bake and decorate cookies, something this current Self would run shrieking from.

I still am not about to invite small children mess into my home, but I have started picking my clothes up off the floor more than bi-monthly. I washed sheets and put them back on my bed in the same day. I planned a week of meals and bought the necessary groceries. On a Sunday no less, instead of lying on the couch alternating between napping and watching other people cook on Chopped.

Finally, in order to complete the transformation of this New Self, I made a small purchase. The Old Self, while she had her shit together, did not pay much attention to her own appearance. She went days without putting on a spot of makeup. She expunged most semblances of femininity in favor of raising a daughter who valued her internal worth over her outward appearance. (Which, by the way, was completely futile as my offspring has always been the girliest girl she could ever be.)

My New Self, as she grows older, embraces her femininity. Her shoe collection alone can attest to this fact. She understands that she can be both strong and fallible whether she's wearing a dress and heels or going out as Plain Jane. She's a woman and she enjoys it.

To that end, I attended a lipstick party over the weekend with the sole intention of finding the perfect shade of Red Lipstick. I've tried to wear red before, because I think it's powerful and sexy, but never quite thought I could pull it off. Any red I attempted I immediately covered up with lip gloss to tame it down, silly it up, dilute the power, erase the real woman I wanted to be.

Don't misunderstand; I don't think that Real Women are defined by something as superficial and trivial as their lipstick. Or their hairstyle. Or their professions, their relationships, or their parental status. For me, this is my symbol of the woman I want to be. Put together. Strong. Capable. It's my new cape, the symbol of the hero I want to be for my daughter and for myself. It's smaller than a breadbox and will melt in the sun, but it represents more to me than just a stick of what is, essentially, colored wax.

My red lipstick is the detail that reminds me to pay attention to the details. It's the personal touch that tells the world I'm ready. And, more importantly, that I got this.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Not Today

“There is only one god and his name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: “Not today.” 
― George R.R. MartinA Game of Thrones

I love this quote. I think it is my favorite line from this whole series and, if you're watching it, you know there are some really, really excellent lines. Like anything that comes out of Tyrion's mouth.

So this may be disjointed because there are things I feel and there are things I want so say and there are things I can't say and they're all competing in my head. The main thought and concern is how desperately, painfully unhappy my Bugabooga has been. Depression is a motherfucker and it has a tight grip on her at this point in time and I hate it more than anything else. More than snow and the inventor of Crocs, more than people who hurt animals and even more than 50 Shades of Grey. But you know what? Depression doesn't give a shit. It's nastier than Honey Badger, who at least offers some entertainment and inspiration to be a Bad Ass. Depression just takes over and ignores all attempts to thwart it.

What depression is really good at is creating barriers between the depressed person and anyone who cares about her. This is what it has done with D. No matter what I say, or how hard I try, or how much I will her to be better, none of that gets through. She's under the invisible shield of depression. Except it doesn't work the way that a shield should, it doesn't protect her. It hurts her. It lies to her. It tells her she's worthless and useless and dumb and a waste. None of which is even remotely true. She's beautiful and talented and wonderful. She's loving and sensitive and this is how it takes advantage of her. Damn it.

And then there is my own depression, which acts more like a door. It shuts me in, and turns down the blinds and makes it darker for a while. Only doors can be opened, even if I have to pick at the lock for a while to get out. I think, however, that it relishes in the fact that it takes me away from her for a little bit, that it uses up the energy I need to help her. I hate it for that.

If the universe worked in the way that it should, D would feel better because of the simple fact that I love her enough to make it so. I'm the mommy, I'm supposed to make the boo-boos go away. I lost that power a long time ago and I desperately want it back. It's my right and privilege as a mother to make my child's life better.

But here is the thing I have learned, which was reinforced yesterday. We are not alone. If you are reading this, and can relate to what I am saying at all, and if you take nothing else away from my rambling, know that you are not alone. You are not alone in how you feel and you are not alone in that you have to go through this on your own. The thing is, that when you ask for help, you get it. I can ask for a million dollars or a pony until I'm blue in the face and it isn't going to happen but if I ask for help, it's there. It just is. In the form of friends, family, discovering that other people feel this way or have felt this way, or those who can't even comprehend what you're trying to say but still care and want to help and offer to help and do help.

I think D feels like she is the only one affected by her depression. She's not. It breaks me into a thousand pieces on a nearly daily basis knowing that she is so miserable and I can't change it. And then I feel like since I'm her mom, that it's up to me and me alone to Fix It and help her but that gets overwhelming and I get tired and I want to stop even though I know I can't. So I ask for help. She asks for help. And what an hour ago seemed insurmountable suddenly feels a little more manageable. Even if it's just for a little while. An hour, a day. It's enough to keep me going. It helps her stop crying for a little while.

It helps us say, in the loudest voice we can manage in that moment, Not today.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My (Non)Shrink

Therapist: "You still dress so cute."
Me: "Yeah, and I've gotten a little fatter."
Therapist: "Yeah, well. That happens.

Um, huh. Yeah, that's not very therapeutic.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Is it Because of My Potty Mouth?

Me: How do I say that I'm not attracted to guys old enough to be my dad, or overweight, or bearded, or guys who hunt or are general rednecks who only drink beer without sounding like a total bitch?

B: Say you're looking for "refined."

Me. Oh, good idea.

J: No, you can't do that. Refined wouldn't be attracted to you. I mean, come on.

This is why I'm still single.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


D had her senior photos done today. I tagged along for a bit. Not even 20 minutes in I decided that I couldn't handle it.

To the photographer: "Can you get just a couple of her with her nose scrunched up? Just one or two? She made that face all the time as a baby."

"Good grief, this is just like the setting of her one-year pictures. Outdoors. Denim dress. Her feet were just cuter then. Fatter. Adorable."

This is senior year. There are times I really want to kill her. Already. School only started in September. October is only half over. I think I could really strangle her.

And then, there she is. In that perfect pose, like a natural. That smile; it's always ready. Whenever I ask, as long as there's a camera in front of my own face.

This child. The one I love oh-so-much. The one that has grown before my eyes. It's a jumble of memories. The moments so full of pride that my heart could burst, the times I feel I have failed in every possible way. Strangely wrapped up in these images being captured on a beautiful fall afternoon. With that beautiful smile.

I am proud. Because she's beautiful and her own person. I'm desperately sad because my moment of influence is nearly over. We are so close to that finish line. I continue to cheer her on, pick her up when she falls, and bite my nails over those final moments.

What's the lyric? A picture paints a thousand words? It's a million more for a parent.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

God and Gays and My Kid

"They" say that there comes a time when you have to let your child go and trust that you have instilled in them the proper values and ways in which to view the world. But "they" don't live with my kid and they haven't watched the Really Dumb Teenager things she has done lately. For these Dumb Reasons, I haven't been ready to let go.

D started attending church a few months ago. At first it was sort of an interesting rebellion. I think I took her to church once in her life and I believe the bible is just a very old book with some nice stories. Also some not-nice stories. She didn't choose drugs or drinking or raccoon-rings of black eye-liner. She chose Jesus. I told myself it could be worse.

And then it got a little weird. She got a little judgey and wanted to know why I wouldn't go. She begged me to attend services with her. I acquiesced only when she got baptized because it was a Really Big Deal to her. (Unlike the fancy stepped tubs I was used to seeing as a child, they used a horse trough. Huh.) Surprisingly, my non-believing self did not spontaneously combust. Maybe Jesus forgives you when you're supporting your only child for his sake.

All along I tried to temper her fervency for the holy spirit with healthy doses of reality. She denied my claims of religious hypocrisy, holding fast to her belief that these were Good People who only had her best interests at heart. Unlike her mother who went through 52 hours of labor? Huh. Again. I finally just asked her to promise that she would think about what she was told, rather than just blindly accepting whatever was spouted in her general direction. I wanted to impress upon her that she could still decide for herself what is right for her because the world just isn't black and white, as much as one might wish that it were.

She came home after her most recent youth group complaining that the members there were anti-gay and she doesn't believe it's right. She opened up a bit more a couple of days later saying that the adult male in the group gushed about how "amazing" sex with his wife is while the other adults nodded and murmured "amen." "Don't you think it's really inappropriate to tell teenagers how great sex is? Isn't that irresponsible?" I've loved her more in other moments, but as soon as she said that, I was pretty damn proud of her.

She missed church this Sunday, partly because she was really sick, but partly because she wants to make the move to a different church. She wants to "love God" while being able to accept and be accepted. She decided she can no longer be a part of or support an organization that goes against her beliefs. Or the rights of hundreds upon thousands of people across the world, if we want to get down to the real issue.

I may be able to let go just the tiniest little bit. She does get it. She's showing real maturity. In this case. I'm not going to go all crazy and just throw her out into the world, but I might let her cross the street by herself. She's earned that much.

Because I love her and am proud of her and want to support her for standing up for what is Right, I have offered to help her find another place of worship by attending with her. If you're worried about me converting as a new fanatic, don't. I suppose I will be thrown out sooner rather than later. I have this mouth, you see. It doesn't come with a filter.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

How Marriage Works

This conversation took place today between my work spouse and me whilst on our way to lunch.

Me: "You always take the long way. Every single time."
Him: "Can there be one person today who doesn't yell at me?"
Me: "Seriously though. This is the long way!"
Him: "Am I allowed to punch you in the face?"
Me: "No, that is domestic violence."
Him: "This seems very one-sided."
Me: "That's how marriage works."

Operation Pug Transfer

Last week the Wife fostered a pug for a hot five minutes. Yesterday I went with her to deliver the sweet old girl to the next stop on her journey to her forever home. (Note: If you give up your dog for the sole reason that it is old and no longer "fun", know that there is a special place in hell for you.)

However, this isn't a story about rescue. Or maybe it is. I may need to be rescued from myself. You decide. Just don't judge.

We drove halfway to Eugene to meet this other dog lady. We skipped breakfast. Which is always a bad idea when the Wife and I are together because that's when we make bad decisions. Monumentally bad. Twenty minutes in, we realized our mistake. An hour in we were starving. And that's when the dangerous cravings started.

"You know what we haven't had in a while? Red Lobster."
"Well, we are halfway there at this point."
"Why not? We're spontaneous!"

We are idiots. A quick two-hour trip turned into an all-day event. The first half was fun. We laughed about old boyfriends and bad sex ("Your face is weird, but I sit on that sometimes.") and planned on ordering everything on the menu because we were famished. The trip home? Not so fun. I was sweating butter and wanted nothing more than my pajamas and my couch. On top of it all, we had the first big storm of the season. Buckets and buckets of rain. Monsoon-type winds. Windshield wipers that need to be replaced. It was not awesome. "We could be napping." "What? There aren't any restaurants closer to home?" "We really shouldn't be allowed out unsupervised."

Oh well, I guess it's a lesson learned. Until next time.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Most Monumentally Fucked-Up-Beyond-Any-Semblance-of-Recognition Week

It started Sunday with my teenager acting like a teenager. That is probably all I need to say about that other than my entire day was ruined and I questioned why anyone signs up for this parenting gig anyway.

Then there was That Episode of Breaking Bad. If you've seen it, you know exactly what I'm talking about and how difficult it was to function at all either mentally or emotionally on Monday. Knowing that other people were just as shell-shocked as I was got me through the day without overdosing on my anti-depressants.

Next came Tuesday. The day I will forever relate to the Red Wedding episode from this last season of Game of Thrones. Only the blood was shed in the office and it wasn't literal blood but might as well have been. That is what this lay-off felt like. The people that I most admire, respect, and trust all gone in one foul swoop. Until the next day when there was one more. All we've been able to do in the office is huddle together in small groups wiping tears and asking why, why, why? I was able to hold it together in the office until last night when I came home and sobbed for half an hour.

Words like "financial" and "strategy" and "consolidation" were thrown around. Meaningless words to a group of people who have been together for 15, 20, 25 years. At 7 years I am the kid sister of the group. This is a deep loss and it will take time to recover. What comes out of this at the end will forever be changed. Yes, this is a job, but when you work as hard and for as many hours and you come to know the person next to you on a more-than-personal level because you attend their weddings and their funerals and their birthdays and bridal showers and watch their kids grow up, these people become family.

I've spent the last three days processing my feelings. Anger, sadness, insecurity, wariness, a deep loss of trust. It hurts. We're all hurt and feeling bruised and exhausted and drained. And, because I have some bizarre, misplaced sense of needing to be a caretaker, I've made the step to organize a goodbye party so that we can have some form of closure. It's not my job. I haven't been there the longest, I don't know all of the stories and the history. And yet it's the one thing I can do because of the deep gratitude I feel towards these people. I can't change any of it, but I can do this. I can offer a time to say we love you, we honor you, we will miss you.

So, that's enough. Right? Surely that should be enough. If only.

In a moment of weakness I agreed to go to the United Way breakfast this morning. My condition was that it couldn't make me cry. I was promised it wouldn't. I was lied to. The United Way is very good at pulling on your heart strings in order to pull the wallet out of your pocket and they did it again. Because I didn't cry enough last night, I guess.

It's Thursday, we're near the weekend, I might be able to breathe again. I would be very wrong.

Because what did I see when I pulled into the garage at the end of the day? A fucking near-tarantula-sized spider on the wall next to the door into my house. I couldn't even walk into the house. It just sat there, daring me to go past it. If you've spent any amount of time here, you know how I feel about things with eight legs. Thank everything in the heavens above that the Raid was in the garage. Only when I sprayed it, it fell behind a box and now I don't know if it's dead or if it's going to seek revenge on me in the middle of the night in some pesticide-induced craze.

All of this can't be attributed to the full moon, can it? Whatever is going on, the Universe needs to get its shit together. That spider was the last damn straw.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Case Against the Pinky Toe

Pinky toes are completely unnecessary. Completely. I kinda hate them. Let me tell ya why.

First of all, and maybe most importantly, they don't fit well in the cuter shoes. They stick out at the side of sandals, they get smooshed into the sides of closed-toes, they get blisters almost as often as heels. Why for? Shoes aren't really made for pinky toes. Except maybe for those weird five-finger shoes that are an abomination to fashion.

Come on, shoes don't look cute with giant spaces on the sides. The Chinese were kind of right. Sorta. Feet should look a little dainty.  On women, not dudes of course. Now, I'm not advocating that we resort to breaking and binding the entire foot, that's just crazy, messed-up shit. But we can lose one toe per foot. We can.

I have mentioned this idea to friends before. Their response? "Oh no, we can't live without that tiny digit. It helps us balance!" Wtf?? Balance? What are we? Apes? Let me tell you, that toe does nothing. Least of all keep me from losing my balance.

I broke my toe once. The pinky, of course. I nearly broke it a second time recently. Same toe. Same useless pinky. I couldn't walk on that side of my foot. And guess what? I never fell over. Not once. Not once while I walking along, or getting out of the shower, or in the car, or any other place that I could have stumbled or lost my balance, did I suddenly need to use that stupid toe to keep me from toppling over. In fact, the opposite was true. Putting weight on it hurt, so I had to lean that foot inward. Instead of using the lame toe like some ape digit.

So there it is. We don't need this little toe. It doesn't work. It doesn't fit. It's too delicate and easily broken. It doesn't serve a purpose. It is a bane to our existence.

Do you hear that, Evolution? Can you make that a priority now? I'm okay with mine falling off tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Ouch. No, Really. Does This Look Normal To You? New Friend?

Labor Day weekend. You're supposed to do something awesome to close out summer, right? So I hear. So the wife and I went up to the lake to enjoy the last rays of the summer sun. It was nice. It was warm. And then I thought I'd venture out into the water. Not so brilliant. It was murky and clung to my flip-flops. Ew. It's much better to be back on shore.

We brought sandwiches with us. They weren't awesome. The lettuce was wilted. We discarded it. The birds noticed it. One, in particular, flew down next to the hand holding my sandwich. EEEK!! Birds!!!! Temporary Hitchcock moment! Whew.... Okay. He only wants a piece of my wrap.

Hmmm....How badly do you want my tortilla? Ten inches away? Yes. Six inches away? Yes. With a "peep-peep" thank you. At one point, my new friend fluttered his wings right in front of me. EEEK!!! Okay, breathe. Regroup.

I tore off a small piece of pesto-covered tortilla and put it on my leg. Out of curiosity. And, curiously, my new friend landed right on my foot. My toe. And then my leg. He hopped right over to his little pesto-covered morsel, grabbed it up into his beak, and flew off. He actually did this over and over. Alighting on my toes, my foot, my calf, my thigh. Whatever got him close to the food I offered him. He had a friend who was less brave, we tossed our carbs to him at a distance.

After we'd had enough, and our new friends had seemingly had enough, we hauled our supplies back to the car. Supplies. As in a small cooler with now-empty beer bottles, a towel, sunscreen, a book. Not enough to trip me up. Not really. But I still managed to get stabbed by a stick along the way.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the chair I was sitting on ripped while I was sitting in it. It wasn't a steep drop, but it was jarring enough. Landing straight on the ground. On my tailbone.

Yes, you would think I was bruised enough from this excursion. You'd be wrong.

The wife and I arrived back at my house. I took a quick shower, gathered food and drink supplies for the evening. I forgot my glasses. I'm old, I need them. So I jumped out of the car and hurried up to the door, catching my pinky toe on the lawnmower. OUCH!! WTF???

It's okay, just a stubbed toe. Only, looking at it, it looked a little crooked and set apart from the others. Not a good sign.

I've actually broken this toe before. I was told than that once you break a toe, it's that much easier to break it a second time. Shit. It throbbed. I drove anyway. My toe throbbed. I wanted to puke, but I ignored that feeling.

I downed some ibuprofen, I swallowed some vodka. I watched some cheesy tv. Something about sharks and ghosts and tornadoes. Incredibly lame, but cheesy enough to take the focus off of the pulsing in my swollen digit.

Tomorrow doesn't bode well. The temperatures are dropping and I hoped this would be the week that I wear the cute shoes I won't be able to wear in another month. My swollen pinky toe is already protesting and asking for freedom and breathing room.

Because it hurts like hell, I may need to accommodate. How much does one need a pinky toe anyway?....

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Beauty of the Bulldog

I've always hated the term "so ugly it's cute." This is probably because I heard it a lot as a child since I grew up with English Bulldogs. My mom got her first, Astarte, when I was four. Our dogs were never ugly to us, we loved them. I always loved and still love the little pit on top of their noses where the velvety, fuzzy hair is. I used to poke my finger in that little hole and pet that fuzz over and over with every dog we had. And they always let me. This is because English Bulldogs are the best dogs in the world.

They're the best because you can do anything to them and they don't care. They're like Honey Badger, they don't give a shit. Unlike Honey Badger, they won't bite two-thirds of your face off. 

I was a little bratty when I was a kid. Actually, our boy George found the perfect hidey-spot in the yard under a small grouping of palm trees. He loved this spot. I loved this spot. I was small enough to fit into his little cave and so I pushed him out every chance I got. Thinking back, I deserved to be bitten for this. I would bite someone pushing me out of my cozy nap spot. I get just grumpy in general when anyone wakes me up from a nap now. Push me off the couch or bed and you're risking losing your head. But George didn't care. Or he did, but he didn't show it. He just sat outside patiently, waiting for me to get bored or called into the house and then he would return to his little dirt den. 

I can't remember if it was Venus or Cassiopeia that my sister tormented endlessly. It was one of the white sisters. One day she thought that the dog in question would enjoy using her head as a pillow. Over and over she grabbed the dog's head and tried to lay it on her own. Except she was grabbing the poor dog's throat and finally the dog had enough and threw up. Dog vomit. All over her face. I laughed while my sister held back her own gag reflex, but I think she knew it was her fault. 

And seriously, how awesome is a dog like that? Wake it from a nap by shoving it out of its comfort zone? No biting. Repeatedly choking it to make it do something only a 7-year-old thinks is funny? No biting. A little vomit, but who could blame her? 

The English are the root of my love for anything smooshy-faced. If it snorts, snores or farts relentlessly, I will love it. (Note that this only applies to four-legs. Two-legs who exhibit the same behavior will be kicked to the curb.) I already know that I will have dogs all of my life and my next one may just be a little bully. 

I'm okay with the slobber, I'll just steer clear of the gag reflex. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Lesson From My Dog

I don't know if you've ever heard anyone talk about what they've learned from their dogs. It's usually said during the old age of a dog or shortly after their death. "My dog taught me how to live." "My dog taught me about patience and kindness." "My dog taught me how to love again." Well you know what? The only thing my dogs have ever taught me is that if you eat poop, you'll just throw it up. Or that if you eat q-tips or condoms, they'll come out in your poop. And if you bite someone, they'll likely bite back. As you can see, this isn't a big learning curve. Not that deep or meaningful. I mean, it's certainly good to know what happens if you eat poop or a condom, but it's not like I was hell-bent on trying it.

This summer my little hippopupamus Ruby Tuesday changed that. While I was 18 light years away from her in Tennessee, she stayed with her friend Gracie The Pug. I use the term "friend" lightly here since most of the time she has been anything but friendly to Gracie. However, the Wife and I insisted that they be best friends. I have repeated the phrase "Be nice" over and over and over and over. And over again.

So I wasn't overly confident about leaving her for over a week, even though I left a list of the "magic words" with our pet sitter. The first night our pet sitter asked if she could leave Ruby out in the house while she was gone for a bit. Uh, no. Better not. Let's not kill Gracie the first night.

But in the next few days I was texted photos of Ruby sleeping on the same couch as Gracie. Not right next to her, but I wasn't going to ask for the world. I received an update text relaying the bedtime story about how Ruby slept on one side of the pet sitter while Gracie slept on the other. The really shocking news? There were also two cats in the bed. WHAT??? Ruby slept with CATS???? Another photo showed Ruby sleeping on one side of a lap on the couch with a cat on the other side. Like four inches away!!! Holy hell!!!

Once I got home, I saw with my own eyes how my baby girl walked right past a cat. And she KISSED Gracie!! It's like I didn't even know who this dog was!!! On top of all of this, she was so happy. I mean, she's always happy to see me. She's a dog and she loves me. But she was bouncy and silly and doing this little horsey-kicky-butt-jump thing. She didn't even do that as a puppy.

Then I noticed a physical difference. My dog lost weight. A lot of weight. My little hippopupamus was replaced with a canine supermodel. Her waist was tiny. I could feel her ribs; who even knew she had any? I could even feel her spine.

With her weight loss she also lost her insecurities about being around other animals. She became accepting, even loving. And not like dogs have any big stresses in life, but I would even call her carefree.

So this is the secret to happiness. Get skinny. If I get skinny, I will be less irritable. If I can leap high into the air I will be nicer to people. If I can show off my spine and my ribs, I will be satisfied. Supermodel skinniness = happy life.

Now, if I can just get someone to reduce my meals to half a cup per meal. Twice a day.
Yeah, not so much.

Maybe I just shouldn't try learning things from my dog.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Pacific NW Vs. The South

We already know that the south is a different sort of place. Southerners have those cute twangy accents. They use words like "y'all" and "reckon" and "dumplin' ". They really like fried food.

Pacific NW natives, on the other hand, boast about their mountains and independent western spirit. They dine on fusion cooking and use words like "Starbucks" and "IPA" and "sasquatch." The Pacific NW is the birthplace of the hipster.

I was able to observe the differences up close on my recent trip to Nashville. The differences weren't as glaringly obvious as I thought they would be; there are more similarities between the two areas than there are differences. Still, those differences were pretty big.

1. Southerners drink something called sweet tea. If you order tea, you will be given a choice between sweet and non-sweet. I don't know how many gallons of sugar go into sweet tea and I probably don't want to know, but it is freaking delicious.

2. In the south, mac and cheese is considered a vegetable. So are hash browns and fried apples.

3. There is a conspicuous lack of good coffee. So you drink sweet tea with breakfast.

4. There is a distinct lack of micro brews. Or breweries. I don't think I heard anyone ask what was on tap the entire time I was there.

5. Whiskey is moonshine. And boy, are they proud of it.

6. There is a church every 10 feet. Sometimes there are five churches in a row next to each other. They aren't all baptist either. I saw two Jewish temples on the same block.

7. Speaking of churches, those southerners really love them some Jesus. There are these things called prayer walls in stores. Billboards dot the highways with reminders that "Jesus saves."

8. As much as they love Jesus, they equally love their porn. I saw the same number of billboards advertising porn shops and strippers as advertising that "God is Lord" from Missouri through Oklahoma.

9. When someone in the Pacific NW calls you "ma'am", it sounds like an insult and a comment on how damn old you are. When someone in the south calls you "ma'am", it's just damn polite.

10. This one isn't a difference. Just an observation. Hipsters are everywhere. You can't escape them.

11. The morning shows in the south tell you what not to say to a lady. As in, don't ask her age or comment on how tired she looks. They also would have you believe that all southern belles want to be married before the age of 25 and offer lots of tips on how to attract a man.

12. There really is such a thing as southern hospitality and people really are friendly. One of our waitresses gave us her delicious recipe for a cake using apple butter and wished us a "truly blessed" day.

13. I could spend hours listening to the low, slow drawl of a southern man any day. The NW can't even compare with their metro sexuality.

14. There are bugs that will sing you to sleep at night. There are also bugs that will latch onto your skin to suck your blood and give you Lyme disease but, hey, it's a trade off.

15. The south is just as proud of its Civil War heritage and its plantations as the NW is of its mountains and breweries. The only difference is that one of them involved slaves.

16. I don't remember seeing a single Subaru.

17.  Southerners apparently don't believe in recycling. They still use styrofoam boxes. gasp!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Happy 29th!!

I was in Tennessee last week (in case you're new here) and the morning news show there had a segment on things that you never say to a woman. One of these things was to never ask her age. I may be in the minority of those who don't mind this question. Because 9 out of 10 times I get, "No way! You are not that old!" So it's worth it just for that reaction.

The other side of that is that I earn my age every year. Each gray hair is most likely caused by my teenager. As much as it frustrates me, she's doing what she's supposed to be doing: finding her way. Even if that means that I stay up nights worrying about her or spend hours making sure she's keeping up in school or listening while she opens up to me about her relationships, feelings, or depression. The blessing of that double-edged sword is that she keeps talking to me. The wrinkles are because I have friends to be concerned about. The laugh lines are from our times together that I treasure above most everything.

Each year brings a little more self-acceptance. Reasons to like myself a little more. Opportunities to grow and learn and share.

In this last year alone I was able to accept my dad for who he is and what he offers. After 42 years, that was huge. I got my sister back. I witnessed the passing of two very special dogs, which is an honor I'm not sure I deserve. I saw more of the country than I ever had. I made better decisions for me and for D. I got a damn MBA. I learned to be honest and I risked getting hurt. There were struggles and tears and laughter and heartbreak and each experience added to the sum total that is Me.

I think each year that goes by just brings me closer to myself. There are things I do now that my 20-year-old self never would have dreamed of. I speak up. I stand up. If the price of Being Me is a few wrinkles or gray hair, it's the price I will pay. Knowing who I am and accepting that is priceless.

I'll be a goof and I'll make mistakes and I'll be a friend and I'll be the only mom I know how to be in each moment. I do the best I can and I fall down and I get up again and I try it over and over and over. I will laugh too loud and cry too often because it's all part of the experience of Being Me. Next year I will know more than I do today. I'll have better friends even if there are fewer of them. I'll still be a crazy dog lady.

It's all part of growing up. Or growing older. Or Being Me.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Disneyland Vs. Dollywood

Ha ha, yes that is sort of a joke. Because, obviously, there is no comparison. It's not even fair to mention them in the same sentence. However, I want to point out why Disneyland costs as much as it does. When compared to what Dollywood charges, it's a total bargain. Plus I love talking about Disneyland because it's my favorite place on the whole entire planet. 

Oh, Dollywood. We had to call it Dollywalmart. Here are some things we noticed immediately.

1. There is peeling paint. Everywhere. It totally gives the impression that nobody cares about the place.

2. There are no ride monitors. You know, those people who ask how many people in your party and then direct you to the appropriate seat line? That saves a ton of waiting time.

3. The people working there are either young kids boring everyone in line by talking about football statistics or really old people who should either be in retirement homes or hospice. It's depressing.

4. There is an attempt to create a theme by having Dolly songs playing in certain areas that have something to do with the songs. It's really a rather pathetic attempt.

5. Their "mascots" are a sad, sad Corduroy Bear and Strawberry Shortcake. The bear's feet were filthy and Strawberry Shortcake scared the kids away. I don't know if it was her giant head or her odd strawberry scent. Mixed with the BO of what was surely a teenage boy inside.

6. There are more food places than rides. I guess the goal is to entice you into a food coma so that you don't notice how lame the entire park is.

Now, I wouldn't complain so much had I not spent $130 for D and I to spend a few hours there. I would have spent nearly twice that to enjoy Disneyland for a day, but it would have been completely worth it. Because why? I will tell you why.

Every detail is attended to. Each restroom has a theme based on the "land" it is in. The restaurants and food stands continue the theme. The uniforms, yes, continue the theme. By and large, these areas are cleaned on a more than regular basis. Also? The employees doing the cleaning don't care that their job sucks. They're happy about it. I once saw a young guy cleaning up excess trash while on roller skates. I asked him if he hated cleaning up after lazy people. He looked at me with a smile, but also like I had a second and third head. No, he actually, genuinely enjoyed his job! Oh, and he wasn't 70.

The characters stay in character. Their costumes are impeccable. They engage visitors rather than slumping through like they wish they were dead. They make you believe the fantasy.

Which is really what it's all about, right? The fantasy. The illusion that, just for a little while, you have escaped into another world. The Happiest Place on Earth. A place where you can be your inner child, your most innocent, happiest self. You're entertained, you're treated like Somebody. You get caught up in the music, the surroundings, the overall environment. Rides are an adventure. You get to immerse yourself in another world. For a day, a few hours, a few days.

Dollywalmart was more like reality. Buildings require upkeep. Old people have to work because retirement isn't an option for everyone. Food makes you fat. There isn't much worth waiting for. Entertainment is expensive. Family time is a chore. Humidity sucks especially when you're surrounded by other sweaty people in an enclosed space with nothing to look at.

There is no comparison. Like I said. I'll always love Disneyland more than anything; I didn't expect to convert to Dollywood. I just didn't expect to be depressed. If you have a choice, choose Disneyland. Or Disney World. Or Ripley's Belive It or Not. At least you'll be getting what you paid for.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Driving My Life Away

Remember that song? It was by Eddie Rabbit. Coincidentally, it came on while I was driving back from Nashville on the way home. Actually, I think I was somewhere between Gatlinburg and Nashville and I was the only one awake so I was the only one it made sense to at the time. Pretty much summed up this whole trip though as there was more driving than any other activity. Which meant I learned a lot about driving. And half of the country since we drove across most of it. 

Buckle your seat belts, here we go.

1. I have no use for anything east of Arizona through Memphis. 

2. New Mexico is not the land of enchantment. False advertising. 

3. Arkansas asks visitors to keep its state green. I wish it had asked me to stay out of its ugly ass. 

4. Most places outside of Oregon omit the seat covers in their restrooms. I am too old to squat but, then again, it was the only exercise I got for 10 days. 

5. Those southern states really like their God and Jesus billboards, but I think they like their porn more. It was about a 3:1 ratio in favor of the "adult romance" stores. 

6. Nevada brothels offer hot sauce and souvenirs in addition to bad sex. Souvenir? Is that what they call herpes? 

7. The only places people live in Nevada are Reno and Vegas. And I assume someone lives at the brothels. 

8. California cops are mean and will write you a ticket very slowly while you are being eaten alive by mosquitoes. I wonder if he would have let me take his picture. 

9. Stuckeys no longer exist. This breaks the heart of the little girl inside me. 

10. Stepmoms provide the most welcome dinners and breakfasts. At least mine does. She rocks that grandma house like no other. 

11. Tennessee has the best rest area. Again, somewhere between Gatlinburg and Nashville. It had a separate building just for vending machines full of soda, juice, water, coffee, snacks, and desserts. 

12. A banana pudding festival exists in the world and one day I will go to it. 

13. The panhandle of the state of Texas should just disappear off the face of the earth. I would burn it down if there was anything there to burn. 

14. The only things you can buy in New Mexico are blankets and moccasins. And whatever you can buy at the occasional smoke shop. 

15. It's clear how badly I have to pee when I see an adorable Boston in the middle of freaking nowhere but I can't stop to pet/molest him. 

Best sites along the way:

1. The weird dinosaur statues in Arizona.

2. Actually, all of Arizona. It was really pretty. 

3. The rare toilet seat cover. 

4. Bathrooms that weren't totally gross. 

5. New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Memphis in the rear view mirror. 

6. My dad standing on his street corner to make sure I got in okay. 

7. Fruit and good coffee. 

8. The sunset over Nevada. 

9. In-N-Out!!!!

10. My dogs when I got home. 

A Little Side Trip

On our tour of Nashville, we took a little side trip to Gatlinburg. Of course "little" is a relevant term when compared to the 18-hour days (isn't there an 18-hour bra? 18 hours of almost everything is too much) of driving we had been doing; this trip was about 4 1/2 hours. Plus a brake repair day.

Anyway. If you ever have a chance to go to Gatlinburg, do it. It is beautiful. It's right at the entrance to the Smoky Mountains and is absolutely gorgeous!! However, not everything there is super great so I will tell you what you can miss and what you should see.

Pigeon Forge.
Pigeon Forge is the town you come to before Gatlinburg when you're coming from Nashville. Pigeon Forge is like a miniature Orlando. The highway is lined with tourist "attractions." There is the Dixie Stampede, a wax museum, Ripley's, more mini golf courses than I could count, and a bunch of themed restaurants. The only thing I want to visit the next time I go is the Comedy Barn. According to their signs they have a talking dog and a pig that can read your mind. I hope that pig likes thinking about bacon.

Dollywood is also in Pigeon Forge. Yes, as in that Dolly. It's an amusement park named after Dolly Parton. I have wanted to go here since it first opened. I grew up with parents that listened to her and I've passed on her legacy with "Jolene" to D. The first R-rated movie I ever saw was The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. A very wholesome movie, for sure.

Anyway. The moral of the story is don't go to Dollywood. It's a very sad place. It's like once it was opened it was just abandoned. There are very few rides but plenty of restaurants. And shopping. If you like trucker hats and gaudy women's clothing and cheesy souvenirs. We dubbed it Dollywalmart because of the crap for sale and the other visitors. Toothless, obscenely overweight, and dirty, noisy little kids. Not to mention everyone that works there is over 65. Poor old senior citizens cleaning up after 250-pound 8-year-olds. Sad. Just don't go here.

After you drive through Pigeon Forge, you come to a sign that says "Welcome to Gatlinburg" and you are immediately driving along the most gorgeous tree-covered road in the state. Possibly the country, but I didn't see enough to know that for sure.

Our hotel backed up to a pretty little stream. If we didn't think our room would turn into a sauna at night, we would have left the windows open to enjoy the sound. Our room came complete with a ladybug and peeking raccoon. We caught him trying to get into the trash can next to the vending machines. The cicadas completed our nature's soundtrack.

Downtown Gatlinburg is full of shops and tourist traps and restaurants. We spent hours there shopping and eating and whiskey-tasting. Whiskey tasting is free. And hilarious because they serve it in those tiny little cups that you get grape juice in during communion. So it's sort of sacrilegious and I think that's funny. Anyway, there are two main places to go. Ole Smoky Moonshine advertises the most, but I think Davy Crockett's is better. Still, I got two bottles each from both places. Apple pie, southern pecan, and chocolate. Don't ask me to share.

I absolutely cannot wait to go back and explore the park and the mountains and everything that doesn't have a neon sign on it. Except for the Comedy Barn. That pig will squeal when he reads my mind!!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Update From Nashville

Tonight ends Day 3 in Nashville. Tomorrow we head to Gatlinburg which means a four-hour drive and I haven't yet decided how I feel about that. On the one hand, it's four hours as opposed to 18 hours. Then again, it's four hours in the car. At least it's one time zone and one calendar date. 

So. Nashville. There are a lot of things I like here. A ton, really. There are some weird things here. There are some awesome things here. Below are the highlights and lowlights. 

1. Cracker Barrel is as close to eating at my grandparents' as I will ever get. 

2. Sweet tea just fucking rocks. 

3. Restaurants downtown are a waste of time and money. 

4. Walking where slaves have walked is a completely unreal experience. 

5. There is such a thing as southern  hospitality. 

6. Belmont may just be the perfect fit for D and if she doesn't go there I will. 

7. Cowboy boots are overpriced here. Also, I think only tourists actually wear them. 

8. Seeing famous people and ghosts is an everyday occurrence for the people that live here. 

9. Southern boys know how to lay on the charm. Fucking thickly. In ways that leave me in a puddle. 

10. Apparently there are things called warbles that crawl through the feet of your pets, traveling to their nervous system until they hatch out the back of their necks as full-grown moths. I neither want to see this nor have it confirmed as true. 

11. Southern dogs are just as hospitable as the people. 

12. Finally there is a place in the country that knows how to make chicken and dumplings. Oregon, take note. 

13. I do miss Oregon coffee. 

14. It is impossible to get away from hipsters. Even here. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Trippin'. Road Trippin'.

The wife and D and I left what feels like months ago on a road trip to Nashville. We finally made it here at 4:30 this morning and were passed out in bed shortly after 5:00. The shower I took was the best in a while. We're starting our day late but it was worth it to get six hours of sleep after about 6 hours of sleep in the last two days total. Below are some observations and lessons learned along the way. Yes, it's a list. You know how I like my lists.

1. There are a lot of cows in this country. And a shit ton of corn. 

2. If someone tells you that it will take two days to get from Oregon to Nashville, they are fucked in the head and you should ignore their uninformed suggestion. Or punch them in face. Or the nuts. Your choice. 

3. It is possible to get pulled over for Failure to Use a Turn Signal at 2:00 in the morning in the middle of Fucking Nowhere. Hopefully you will also get off with just a warning. 

4. There are bison at one single rest area in Wyoming. Blink and you will miss it. 

5. Nebraska is not an ugly state, but it takes 10 weeks to get through the fucker. 

6. The arch in St. Louis is gigantic and beautiful.

7. Bras are completely unnecessary on road trips. 

8. Girlfriends are the best to travel with. 

9. Idaho has a disturbing lack of highway signage. And apparently they need a wall around the city of Boise. 

10. The radio stations east of Utah are really into their oldies. And country. And religious talk.

11. If you stumble through the hotel after waking up and you need to go get your luggage so you can take a shower and you have dragon breath from not brushing your teeth for a day and a half and you look like ass, there will be a cute boy in the elevator. 

Best sites along the way:

1. The random dinosaur statue at the end of a row of corn. 

2. Sun setting in Wyoming. 

3. The giant bull statue somewhere. 

4. Gateway Arch in St. Louis. 

5. Any gas station when driving on fumes. 

6. Abandoned houses and barns. 

7. Puppies at rest stops.

8. Any bed anywhere after 2:00 in the morning. 

9. Texts with pictures of my dogs from petsitters. 

10. State signs. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Dirty Old Men Are Dirty. And I Like It.

The wife and I were out doing Tour of Homes. Which, for us, means critiquing houses that we can't afford. "That orange floor is obscene." "Why would you want a closet with a window in the front of the house?" "These doors don't even close!"

Whilst out assessing homes in a professional manner, we kept running into the same cute, portly old man. Tottering along ahead of his wife. After a while he asked if we were following him. Why yes, of course. When you find your dream man you follow him.

After finding him at yet another house he commented again on how we were following him. This was the conversation.

Wife: We are! We thought we'd lost you, we said, 'Where did he go?' But here you are!
Him: That's what she said last night.
Us: ........ Um. ......

We told his wife that he is sassy and she said, "You have no idea."

No, I think we do have an idea. We would adopt him if we could find him again.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

WTF Are You Eating Now???

Dogs are gross. As adorable as my Ruby Tuesday is, she might just be equally as gross. As in totally, completely, unbelievably disgusting.

She eats poop. We've talked about this. She eats the poop that she subsequently throws up. This also isn't news. You know what's new? This gross thing she did this morning.

Here comes Rembrandt into the bathroom while I'm getting ready for work. Now, I'm already not super happy with him because he has developed this carpet-licking fetish. Any time I find him alone in a room, he's licking the carpet. And when I yell at him he just looks at me blankly. "What, it's just carpet. Chill out already."

So he ambled into the bathroom and then started coughing and hacking. Probably coughing up carpet lint. I bet he'll start hacking up carpet balls if he keeps it up. And at first Ruby looks at him like she wants to know if he's alright. No. No, that's not what she cared about. She wanted to know if he was hacking up anything she could eat. She stuck her head in his mouth so she could catch it on its way up. "Oooh, whatcha got there? Dusty, phlegm-covered gook? Sounds tasty!"

Seriously. Dog. Wtf? You really want to eat what other dogs barf up now? Your own isn't fulfilling enough for you anymore? Does his spit make it taste better? Really, I want to know.

Guess what I did before leaving for work this morning? Yep. I kissed that little fuzzy mouth. I guess I'm not that deeply traumatized.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How to Thrive

I recently ended a year-and-a-half relationship. It's okay; it was necessary and a positive step. Even so, it's cause to reflect on my past relationships and what I've learned about why each happened and/or ended. There is one glaring variable in each and that is how much I have changed.

When I was first divorced, with a three-year-old daughter, I was afraid to be around other people. Specifically married people who had supposedly "gotten it right." I felt as if I just stood out, like there was a neon sign designating me as the failure in the room. I wanted so badly to have that again, to fit in with the "normal" parents. Now I find myself looking at these people and wondering if they're really happy, assuming most of the time they aren't. Marriage is hard.

I then went through a very difficult relationship that never gave me what I wanted. In trying to get what I wanted I bent, I twisted, I did everything I could think of to contort myself into what would make it work. Because I was Relationship Girl and I was damned if I wasn't going to make it work. I never got what I wanted and, instead, I lost myself in the process.

In the years after that relationship ended, I worked at finding myself again. Discovering what I liked. What I wanted from my life and who I wanted to be. I chose my friends carefully, surrounding myself with people who offered me the missing pieces of me. My security. My passions. My confidence. My humor. Self-sufficiency. Self-acceptance.

While discussing this most recent relationship with my hairdresser, I suddenly realized that I don't thrive in relationships. I thrive when I'm on my own. I've gained more out of my life in the times I've been "alone" than in any relationship I've ever been in. I thrive.

I shared this thought with a friend who expounded on it, saying that as women we focus on our partners, building them up until we, ourselves, are crushed. We fall behind in the shadows and expend all of our energy making sure the man in our life has what he needs to be secure. We lose track of what we need.

In each relationship of mine there has been an imbalance. Whether that imbalance was rooted in intelligence, a lack of mutual feelings, family backgrounds, or life stages, I feel like that is the core of why they didn't last. What I need is equality. Maybe equality will allow me the ability to thrive.

And, maybe, there is the possibility that I'm just not meant to be in a relationship. At this point in my life I value my independence over the many compromises that are required to be a successful partner. I've worked hard to be me and I'm not willing to just trade that away for the "security" offered in a relationship.

Maybe. I don't have the answers yet. I'm getting closer. What I know right now is that I have love in my life. I have a beautiful daughter who still needs me, even if for just a little while longer. I have love from friends who offer support, encouragement, and plenty of laughter. I have dogs who love me no matter what I'm going through and are happiest snuggling next to me. I have passions and interests and new adventures yet to be discovered.

These are the things that help me to thrive. I prefer thriving over wilting.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Bacon Is In Danger

I came across this little gem of a story today. You know what's super sexy in a man? When he looks like Ryan Gosling and he cares about animals. Oh, wait! The real Ryan Gosling cares about animals. Seriously? He is so hot right now I think he might spontaneously combust. Hot, hot, hot.

He loves his dog. He takes his dog everywhere. And he also likes pigs. He's a Wilbur-lover!! Uh-oh. Hold the fucking phone!! Pigs = bacon. By trying to protect pigs, he is bacon-blocking the rest of us!! If one tiny little spider can save one pig, just think of the thousands of slabs of bacon His Royal Sexiness can save!!

Well now, this is certainly a dilemma. Continuing to eat bacon might reduce any chance I ever have with Mr. Gosling. But bacon is delicious. But Ryan is hot. But bacon. But sexiness. Bacon. Beautiful man. Crap!

Okay, here's my solution. If Ryan Gosling sleeps with me I will give up bacon. People exchange sex for much less all the time, so I think it's a pretty fair trade. Sex for bacon. I mean, sex for the absence of bacon. (I think I can, I think I can!)

I will simply have my people get in touch with Ryan's people and he and I will save a few pieces of bacon. I mean pigs. We'll save pigs. Lots of Wilburs!

Take that, Charlotte.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why Do I Bother?

Spend an hour straightening my hair. Get this response:
"Did you straighten your hair?"

Spend 30 minutes curling my hair. Get this response:
"Your hair looks good. It's not frizzy."

Pull wet-just-out-of-the-shower hair back into a big clip because I'm either too lazy, running late, or too hot to spend 20 minutes under a hair dryer. Get this response:


Sunday, July 07, 2013

Uncle Lynn and Looming Mortality

This weekend I found out that my Uncle Lynn passed away. He had a stroke a couple of weeks ago and apparently the second one this weekend took him from us. Too soon, as they say.

My mom has/had three brothers and two sisters. She is the oldest of the six. My Aunt Renea will always be my favorite aunt, but I noticed my cousins commenting that Uncle Lynn was their favorite uncle. Each uncle has been my favorite at some point. What I remember most about Uncle Lynn was his zest for life and his big laugh. Of course he ate too much and drank too much and smoked too much, but that was him. He had big appetites.

Because I grew up in California and the rest of the family was in Mississippi, I haven't ever been especially close to any of them or known any one any better than the others. I just know that I love them all. And any time I was there to visit, Uncle Lynn gave me the biggest bear hugs of anyone. It is instantly home to me, even though I didn't grow up there. He will be missed. Going back now won't be the same. There will always be a large hole that only Uncle Lynn could fill.

His death, while sorrowful in its own right, has a deeper meaning to me. My grandparents are gone. All of them. They have been for a few years now. When that happened, I felt the shift. I think as long as grandparents are around, a part of us can still be kids. And now another shift has occurred, rearranging my world further. The first of my parents' generation is gone. Those details I take for granted are starting to slip by. My own mortality is suddenly looming closer. The time I have with everyone is swiftly diminishing. I feel the losses to come.

Uncle Lynn is gone too soon. In his honor, please find the nearest person that you love and give them the bestest, biggest bear hug from the bottom of your heart.

Monday, July 01, 2013

I Didn't Even Break a Nail

The Wifey finally got her patio furniture this weekend. I say finally because one recent weekend we spent  two hours in Lowe's trying to decide on a set. The sales guys looked like they wanted to kick us out of the store after question #33. Do they deliver? Do they assemble? How much is this? How much is that? They kept encouraging her to go online for her purchase, probably just to get us out of what hair they had remaining.

This little event also happened after she purchased a set for an astronomical price that sent her into massive hysterics. It was so outrageous I couldn't even support it or justify it in any way so the order was canceled.

So, finally. The chosen set (at a reasonable price) was delivered Saturday. Being the magnanimous friend that I am, I offered to help her put it together. She told me it would be hard, I told her it would take 20 minutes. Both of us were right and both of us were wrong.

Three hours and two gallons of sweat later, we were relaxing comfortably in the assembled chairs, our feet propped on the assembled ottomans, my cocktail on the assembled fire pit/table. D even helped, assembling an ottoman all by her lonesome.

Of course we took the opportunity to teach her an important life lesson: to know the difference between needing a man and wanting a man. Would we have preferred to have a dude around to do the dirty work for us? Hell, yeah. I would rather have been inside enjoying the refreshing air conditioning instead of lying on the ground getting feasted on by ants and cutting myself either with scissors or screws. The point was that we got it done. We didn't need a handy dude. We are handy enough.

The BBQ that she got? It took three dudes just to load it into her car. Two of us girls to unload it and reassemble it after they messed it up.

After all that work, we decided we did need a delivery guy. Sometimes it's just necessary to have someone bring you food.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Being A Bad Ass

A few years ago I went through quite a transition, at the end of which I think I came out stronger and a better person. Certainly better than I had been for a long time. I decided that I wanted to mark said transition with a honkin' big tattoo. After researching possibilities, I decided on a peacock. Peacocks symbolize royalty and strength, but resemble their cousin the Phoenix in that they signify new life and new beginnings. Because I knew it was going to be expensive and I wanted the right person to do it, it took a while to finally make the plan to get it done.

This month I spent two sessions getting the absolutely most perfect tattoo I could have ever dreamed of. Only it's not a peacock because I insist on the right to change my mind. Instead I got a lion but my incredibly talented artist (Holly from Mum's if you're inspired after this story) incorporated a peacock design in my lion's mane. He's beautiful, he's gorgeous, I couldn't love him more. And two sessions? Yeah, he's kinda big.

I know you're all going to ask and, yes, it hurt. It hurt like a mofo. When I got my two smaller tattoos there was no pain. Maybe a mild annoyance, but no pain. I have been living for the last 12 years under the false assumption that I am special and immune to pain. I am not. I wish I were one of those people that could just transform her mind to another place to avoid the pain. Instead, I get consumed by it. I practiced labor breathing, I hummed to the music playing in the room, I tensed every muscle that exists in my body.

But here's the thing. It was totally worth it. 100%. Enduring the seven hours of excruciating pain was totally worth the art I now sport on my skin.

Now for the dumb part. I love it. I love its placement. But it's not in an easy spot to show off. Especially in a dress. Which is what I wore to my friend's baby shower this past weekend. And, because it's so new and I'm so newly in love with it, I can't stop talking about it. Which just makes people want to see it. Duh.

At the end of the shower my friend kind of insisted on seeing it so a group of us trotted off to the restaurant bathroom for the Big Reveal. Her baby daddy happened to be there. Of course he wanted in on the viewing. Oh well, it's not like it's the first time I've exposed myself to a near stranger.

The funny part is that this baby daddy is a 6'6" tall black dude. (he claims that he and my friend are having a blaxican which amuses me endlessly.) When I turned around and lifted my dress up, he exclaimed, "Ouch! No way! You are a bad ass." There were other murmurs of approval before I returned to some modicum of modesty.

So apparently, that's how I do baby showers. Putting my tattooed ass on exhibit in the women's restroom.

I am kind of a bad ass though. And I know it sounds cheesy, but my lion is a reminder of how far I've come and that I have the strength to keep going. He's colorful, he's creative, he has a quiet dignity and a kindness about him. These are all things I hope to be at some point.

Although public restrooms probably don't offer the highest sense of dignity. Huh.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

It's Understandably Disturbing

This will be disgusting if you are squeamish. Or very, very private. Or, probably, male. Feel free to stop here. I'm not holding back on this one.

Are you sure you want to go on?

Okay, we're diving into the deep end on this one.

For years and years and years I was on The Pill. I liked being on The Pill. Short periods, no babies, minimal PMS. ("Minimal" being a relative term.) Last year, because I'm "old" and have high cholesterol and my gynecologist hates me, I was taken off of The Pill. She suggested an IUD. I considered suggesting she mind her own damn business and I wasn't paying her to take meds away from me.

Fast forward a year. I've gained 10 pounds, I have monster PMS, and every month I'm a walking crime scene. Not to mention the regular T-Rex vs. King Kong battles in my uterus. Ladies, some of you wish you didn't know what I'm talking about but you do. I whine to my doctor, hoping she'll put me back on my Beloved Pill. Nope. "You should really consider an IUD. Here is some information on Merena." Seriously? You should consider fucking off.

But the cramps got worse and I started to wonder if Aunt Flo shouldn't be renamed Aunt Niagara Falls. So a few months later I gave in. After calling my insurance company that I don't have to pay to have a foreign object inserted into my body. I also did my research on the internets. Pluses/minuses, pros/cons. Pro? I never want to give birth to another teenager again in my entire life so I'm okay with long-term birth control. Con? The foreign object in my body. Plus? It's possible I could stop having a period entirely. Minus? Foreign object in my body. Fine, let's do this. I made the appointment.

And now we come to the educational portion of this post. I am going to tell you what I learned that I shouldn't have and what I experienced that no "informative" online searches will tell you.

Do not look up videos online of IUD placement. Don't do this. You know, guys are lucky. Their junk is just out there all day long. "Oh look, there's my penis." "I'll stop and look at my penis while I'm getting dressed." "Time to pee. Why hello there, penis friend!" They're rather fond of waving those things around. I know that I have a vagina. We are intimately acquainted. I know when she's happy and when she's not. But I am not overly familiar with what she looks like, so I always feel a bit jarred when confronted with a full-on vagina. And, even though I've been told that mine is quite attractive, I always think it looks weird. This is what you will see in these videos. You will see soft, vulnerable flesh manipulated with a speculum while a small tube disappears inside. It's a bit unnerving. Just skip this part.

Also skip any videos that tell you about personal experiences. You don't need to know about That One Girl who had the worst placement experience ever and just insisted on sharing it with the internets. These women mean well, but they should just write that shit in their diaries and move on.

Do learn all that you can from reliable medical sources. All birth control is not created equally and neither are women's bodies. What works for me may not work for you and vice-versa. You want to make an educated, informed decision about your reproductive rights. Do talk to your friends. My friends assured me that the IUD is great and lovable and that it works for them.

Now, say you decide to go ahead. If you would like to know about the actual placement experience, let's continue. Because the freaky things that happen, you won't find in any so-called helpful research.

The advice I got from the nurse was to take ibuprofen an hour before my appointment. Done. The general advice I saw online was to have someone drive you home afterward. I didn't think that would be necessary, but I did have a back-up plan just in case.

The whole procedure is like a PAP Smear Supreme. Same stirrups, same speculum, same lying-down-staring-at-whatever-lame-object-is-hung-from-the-ceiling. In my case it was a dragonfly. I would like to suggest to the gynecological offices worldwide that you offer something comforting at these times. A puppy would be really excellent in helping to take our minds off of what is going on down there, but then everyone in the room would be distracted by the cuteness and bad things could happen. I really like those warm, freshly-warm-out-of-the-dryer blankets you get in hospitals. Even a teddy bear would be appreciated. Something.

Moving on.

This is like an extended PAP. There's some extra scraping. (In my case, this was probably clean-up because my doctor prefers to do this while you're on your period. Like in the middle of it. Something about the cervix being softer and making the procedure easier.) There's a numbing process and this is where is starts to get bizarre. "You may get a weird taste in your mouth and your mouth will go numb." Um, okay. What? And just as I was saying how very odd that sounded, there went my tongue. Numbness. It didn't stop there. There was some more scraping or pressure or whatever was going on. Some handoffs between doctor and nurse, some conversation between the two of them. And then, "You might feel like someone is squeezing your tonsils." This was during the actual insertion part. What? How on earth are my mouth and throat connected to my uterus? Oh no!! I can't swallow! My throat is paralyzed!! It won't move! What on earth is going on here?? I'm going to die!!!!! Oh, okay, wait, that's better. My throat is working again. That was some weird shit.

Remember how my vagina is allegedly attractive? Well, it turns out that my cervix and uterus are textbook. The whole thing went exactly as it was supposed to. Yay. Bragging rights. I have textbook reproductive organs. Right on.

I thought it was over, but there was one more step. The ultrasound. To make sure the tiny little piece of plastic went in just the right place. This entails the use of something that looks like an extra extra extra long dildo, complete with condom cover. At that point I just wanted to be done. I didn't want anymore intrusions into my at-this-point sensitive lady parts. I only looked at the picture on the screen to appease her and get it over with. Perfect placement. "You're good for five years. Have a nice day."

I was told that I would have cramping afterward, but by that point I'd already been cramping for days so it wasn't a big deal. I didn't need the ride home, but I did stop to get a milkshake on my way back to the office. Hey, I'd earned it. I left work an hour early and spent the evening on the couch, but it really wasn't worse than the worst cramps that I have. I had a little nausea so I decided against going to zumba. No need to act like a superhero. It's now been 24+ hours and I'm still cramping, but I'm also still having my period.

Overall, it wasn't all that bad. Few things are ever as bad as expected, but I thought you should know about those little surprises that nobody else mentioned. Throat-tightness and the inability to swallow might be a trigger for those with anxiety. I could have really freaked out over that, but it lasted less than 30 seconds.

However, if you want to milk it, it's completely fair to say that you don't want to cook or do dishes. Cramps are stupid and it's perfectly acceptable to spend an evening on the couch eating ice cream.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mommy and Me: The Teenage Edition

You know those Mommy and Me groups where moms get together and drink coffee and compare diaper brands while their babies roll around on the floor? They set up play dates and share ideas about naps and support each other through teething and first-day-of-kindergarten jitters. Pinterest now has whole boards dedicated to cute food and lunch recipes, the best craft projects, and suggestions for mother-daughter dates. Magazine articles discuss the fine balance between career aspirations and juggling sports schedules and dance recitals.

These are all great. Because being a mom is a tough job and these outlets and groups provide support for moms during these important formative years. But you know what? There's a huge segment of the population left in the dark. These are the moms of teenagers, who probably need the support more than the moms complaining that every shirt they own has a spit-up stain on it.

Teething? Walk in the park. Colic? That was nearly unbearable, but it ended. Those first days of school, while tearful, are reasons to celebrate. They're bittersweet milestones that we live for. I had oodles of patience when my daughter was a baby. I was so completely smitten with her. I felt like she was my purpose in life. When she cried, it was merely a matter of discerning the reason and Fixing It for her. Cake. Seriously.

Teenagers are a completely different animal. There are jokes about how hard it is and how they're these alien beings. The older moms I know promise me that she'll come back. I recently read a really beautiful analogy, something about how children are in their own orbit and during the teenage years it's dark because they're on the other side of the moon and you just have to wait for their homecoming.

Only I don't want to wait. I want it all to be okay now. I want to know that I'm not the huge failure I feel that I am on a nearly daily basis. I want her back now. The dark is too dark.

D has depression. I have depression. D has anxiety. I have anxiety. What all of this means is that there is an extra layer of difficulty. She finds it harder to concentrate; she's easily overwhelmed. But she constantly self-sabotages and I can't get her to see that. I find it harder to deal with her. When she isn't home at the designated time and doesn't return texts, I stare out the window waiting for the cops to show up at my door and tell me she's gone. We yell about what's fair and what isn't fair. There are empty promises and chance after chance after chance.

She's smart but she won't try. Her grades reflect her apathy. She has one more year and I feel like I can't do it. If she's not sitting right in front of me, I can't trust her to do what needs to be done. Hell, I can't even trust then that she isn't sitting there staring at Facebook or Tumblr. And, heading into her senior year, I shouldn't have to hold her hand and be on her every minute.

This is where we need a new kind of Mommy and Me. Maybe the kind where we drink bottles of wine and pass around the Kleenex box and commiserate about what selfish little turds teenagers are. The kind where we can say the dark, ugly things we feel and not be judged for them.

I have never felt more alone in my life. It's an endless cycle of just feeling like shit. She's difficult, I'm tired. I know that high school ends and she can do what she's supposed to do so I encourage, I prod, I threaten, I plead, I cajole. I get tired. I want to give up. I want to walk away or run away. I want to leave her to fend for herself because it just isn't worth it. What kind of mother does that? I feel guilty, I hate myself, I hate my life, it all hardly seems worth it. Guilt, guilt, guilt. So I try again but it's more exhausting. She needs me. I'm responsible for her. I don't want to fail. I don't want her to fail. I don't care.

I also am always holding back. I want to tell her that she's sucking the goddamn life out of me. That she makes everything harder for me and can she just get it the fuck together and stop slowly killing me. But the words never leave my mouth because they are not words you say to a child with depression. They are not words that a mother says to her child. And yet I need her to know, but I know that she can't handle it yet. So. The vicious cycle repeats.

Yeah, this isn't a happy day. I'd like to sit here and tell you that I will rally. That another day is another chance. That I'm stronger than I think. The truth is though, that isn't how I feel. These are the things They don't tell you. There is no help menu, no magic troubleshooting wizard. It's just hard.

The dirty truth is that sometimes, some days are just harder than the rest.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Things I'm Not Ready For

D will be 17 next month. Which means I have one year left to "enjoy" her childhood. I'm not ready for the ups and downs and the roller coaster of emotions that this will bring. I can't wait for her to leave, I can't bear the thought of her leaving. I'm so proud of her growing up; I want her to go back to being little. It's the best and the worst and the happiest and the saddest and the weirdest of times.

Our most recent development is dating. She has a boyfriend. A steady. They're going out. They're hooked up. Whatever the current lingo is, there is a boy who is significant in her life. He's the cat's meow. It on a stick. Her main squeeze. You get the idea.

What I'm most proud of her for in this little tale of puppy love is that she clearly set her boundaries in the beginning. There is a history between the two of them and she told him right off, "I'm messed up. I have problems. Decide right now if you want to stick around, because I can't have my heart broken." This is how you do it. Bow down.

At first it was sort of adorable. Their names rhyme. He brings her chocolate. He cute-asked her to prom (which is another whole teenage cultural trend that has gotten out of control, but is beside the point right now). And then it started to get serious. And I have started to freak out.

She loves to tell me things. Lots of things. Sometimes too many things. She told me the exact moment that she knew she loves him. And she was so deliriously happy about it. "We were riding back and this song came on and it was the first song we slow-danced to and I just looked at him and he looked at me and right then I just knew I knew how I felt I knew that I love him." Yes, read that without taking a breath because that's how she said it.

My heart broke a little. Because I am happy for her, but I can't completely share in her excitement. She's not my girlfriend, she's my baby girl. And this specific moment of happiness won't last. It's pure and new and so sweet and I know of all the heartache that's to come. I don't want her heart broken. I don't want her hurt. I want her to ride this little cloud of bliss into the sunset.

Over Mother's Day weekend she shared lots of stories and feelings with me. A big topic of conversation was the fact that the Three Little Words were said the week before (per my advice, she made him say them first. I repeat, bow down.). The cynic in me wanted to vomit while the mom in me wanted to cry. I don't think either was the reaction she had hoped for.

While we were having lunch she said, "You can ask me anything you want. If there's anything you want to know, I'll tell you." This was in relation to the boy because he is all she wants to talk about. But I don't want to know. I don't want to ask. I don't want certain images in my head. I don't need to know, it's none of my business, and for Pete's sake!! I'm your mother and we don't talk like girlfriends!!!! If you tell me how you feel when he kisses you I will have to pour acid in my ears!!!!!!!!!!

So I asked her if she's ever smoked a cigarette. Or been drunk outside the house. Or inhaled. These are safe topics. These are questions I'm somewhat prepared to hear the answers to. These are things that I can freak out about and she will understand and her feelings won't be hurt. I don't have to be fake-supportive or lie about how sweet it is. These are very clearly bad things and we both understand this.

I don't want to be the cynic. I don't want to crush her little spirit. But, damn it, boys are icky and she needs to put a lid on this until she's 30. Or until I die. I reserve the right to change my mind about either limit at any time.

The Martini Chronicles. Design by Exotic Mommie. Illustraion By DaPino