Tuesday, December 23, 2014


When I was eighteen, I once took someone to Opa-locka to buy heroin in the middle of the night. Well, maybe it wasn't quite the middle of the night, but it was midnightish, which was defintely late enough for it to be a pretty scary experience. It was just the two of us, a guy I barely knew and me, in the car, and when I say barely knew him, I mean it was the second or third time I'd laid eyes on him in a five-year period. All I really knew about him was that he was the ex-boyfriend of the sister of a friend of mine, that he liked the song Bitchin' Camaro, and that he was a heroin addict. And, of course, that he was cute.

Which is actually extremely relevant to this post.

I hadn't really thought about that night in a while, but a couple days ago, when one of Griffin's friends was telling me about his car having broken down (with Griffin in it) between two bad neighborhoods and them hearing a gunshot, it came to mind, and because it was relevant, I told Griffin and his friend the story.

I told them about how when I had my apartment with my sister, I drove someone to get heroin in Opa-locka in the middle of the night, and it was one of the scariest experiences of my life. I told them about how we drove up and down some side streets until we found one where a bunch of men were milling about, some on foot, some on bikes, and how the person I was with had me pull up next to a specific guy, only to roll down his window, take a look at the guy and scream, Go, go, go! in such a loud and urgent manner that I was sure I was about to get shot and killed right then and there and that he did that to me not once, not twice, but three different times, which means that three times in a span of about five minutes, I was sure I was going to die.

Griffin's friend then asked me why I would do something as stupid as drive someone to Opa-locka to buy heroin in the middle of the night, and before I could answer him, Griffin did by asking me a question. He looked at me and, never having heard the story before, not knowing anything more than what I've told you just now, said, It was a cute boy, wasn't it?

And I'm pretty sure that tells you absolutely everything you need to know.

The part about my watching him shoot up in my bathroom, vomit in my toilet, and what ensued on my bathroom floor immediately after pretty much only reiterates what you've already been told.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Beautiful Lie

When I was twelve and in seventh grade, I decided, for really no reason at all, that I liked some kid who I'd kind of met once while waiting in line for lunch. I asked around, found out who he was, and then, because writing is what I do, decided to write him a note and have one of my friends give it to him in the hall. Well, I'm a lunatic with inappropriate written all over me--ask anyone--so it might not come as a huge surprise that by the end of the school day, the last note I sent to him was note number four. Yes, that's right, I said four. I pretty much randomly chose a guy I knew not one little bit and wrote him not one, not two, not three, but four notes professing what amounted to my undying affection for him. It was a crazy long time ago, so who the fuck knows what those notes said? Certainly not me, but for some reason, I feel like I remember something horrific, something mortifying (yes, even more mortifying than my giving some boy I didn't know four notes in one day--when I wasn't even cute!) something along the lines of, Writing to you is the only thing I even want to do anymore.

(My God, can I die?)

Even now, all these years later, I shudder at the memory and feel like hiding in shame. All you sane people out there who know the line between what's acceptable human behavior and what's not probably can't imagine how I feel, so allow me to demonstrate. The best representation of the whole ordeal is this:

It's so painful, I can barely stand to look. It's a good thing, I'll bet you're thinking, I lived that horror so many years in the past.


You know that tagline on my blog that says I'm an introvert in person and an extrovert in print? It's not a joke.

Give me any writing medium--a note, a text, a blog--and I have no control. Everything inside of me just comes out, appropriate or not.

I know you know what I mean.

Mark Hoppus says the past is only the future with the lights on, and I have to say he's right because don't you know I've been doing the same things repeatedly for my entire life? Sure, the medium's changed, but the action, the inappropriateness, the perceived notion of somethingness that in reality doesn't exist--those things have all remained. But now...something's happened that's made me see. Something much more enlightening than the lights on.


I can't talk about it
(I'm learning, see?).


I can tell you something.

I know it's hard to believe, but I've had an epiphany. Really.

I hate to go all cliche, but I have no choice because every time I reflect, this stupid-ass saying goes through my head: Reality has hit me like a ton of bricks.

Among my recent realizations, realizations that, unlike realizations in the past, have really affected my behavior and my understanding of myself:

1. I have attachment issues. Like, seriously.
2. I am the worst judge of character in the history of people who have judged people's character.
3. If a person only knows a part of you, that person will never, ever see you as a real person. You will forever be a whisper of who you really are.
4. I am, at times, a caricature of myself.
5. All the passion in the world, and I'm not talking sexual passion, won't sway a person who doesn't want to be swayed.
6. I not only don't know when or where to draw the line, but I sometimes go so far over the line, the idea that there's even a line would be comical if it weren't so sad. To me, the world is sometimes lineless.
7. Wanting something really, really, really badly isn't always enough.
8. I actually bring some things--okay, a lot of things--on myself.
9. I'm not as sad as I like to think.

I know I kind of vagued that whole thing up, but--
epiphany, remember?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

I'll Sing Along

I had a short stay in a private psychiatric facility when I was sixteen (I wish I could say it was my first time, but that would be a lie). I was dramatic and crazy to begin with and my life was dramatic and crazy as well, and a crazy, dramatic life and a crazy, dramatic personality equal more drama and crazy than people are meant to handle. Super long story completely skipped over, I couldn't handle the drama and crazy and needed to kind of disappear from my life for a while. So I did.

Now, I'm not saying I need to disappear from my life the way I did when I was sixteen, and I'd hate to be the kind of girl to bandy about vague, nonscientific terms that don't exactly mean anything, like nervous breakdown, but I will tell you this:

I think I may need to disappear from my life.

Not forever. Not even for a significant period of time.

Maybe just take a little break.

Maybe just for long enough for me to remember how I used to be.

I mean, I'm sure everything is fine, and

the fact that I've suddenly gone from someone who immediately emails or texts people back the second she sees their text or email to someone who's so reluctant to email or text people back that it pains her to even open up texts or emails isn't the biggest deal in the world and the fact that I've gone from someone who used to read every one of the five to ten magazines she subscribes to at any given time to someone who can't even manage to get through a single article probably isn't call for alarm and the fact that I've gone from someone who's loved food, adored food, obsessed over food her entire life to someone who now has practically no interest in putting anything in her mouth doesn't mean very much at all, just like the fact that I've gone from someone who's spent her life on the phone to someone who can't stand to talk to people for a second also likely doesn't mean anything at all.

I'm also sure the fact that I no longer can spell a word doesn't mean anything and all the things I can't remember are pretty unimportant. And does anybody really think not being able to maintain a train of thought for a minute straight means anything at all? I'm sure they don't.


the way my judgment's flown leaped hurled itself out the window? That one might actually mean something.

(You want details? Oh, I've got details. Too bad you can't have them.)

Or my being so distracted that when I walked home from my sister's house today I passed the street I've lived on for twelve years and didn't even realize it until I walked about a mile out of my way? I'm thinking that one means something, too.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Holiday, You Bastard! 2014

Inspired by multiple friends' daily posts about things to be thankful for, a couple of Thanksgivings ago I made a things-that-I'm-thankful-for list of my own and published it in a blog. I'm pretty sure I skipped last year because when things are going good, we--I--tend to take things for granted, but since this year my life is absolutely back to falling apart and I'm once again seriously in need of finding things to be thankful for, I'm making another one. In fact, since I'm all powerful where this blog is concerned, I'm declaring that from here on out, my Happy Holiday, You Bastard! blog will be an annual tradition.

And so:

Things That I'm Thankful For, 2014

1. Bed. Okay, I just checked, and this one is repeated from the previous, but I promise, it's the only one. I've always said that getting in bed is my favorite thing to do and being in bed is my favorite place to be, but right now while I'm alternating between sleeping on the couch during the week and in Griffin's bed on the weekends, I appreciate a good bed like never before. This year, bed has got to be my number one.

2. Griffin. Soul mate, capital S. Nothing more to say, move it along.

3. The times when Keifer and I get along. Is there an opposite of soul mate? Just kidding. Sort of. I sometimes--often--wonder where Keifer and I went wrong. I don't know, maybe I overreact. Maybe Keifer and I get along the way most teenagers get along with their parents but because my relationship with Griffin is so not the typical, it seems worse than it is. All I know is that now and then, every once in a while, things with Kei are good. He comes out of his room, he sits down wherever I am, and he won't leave me alone. He makes me listen to Eminem, he tells me what's going on in his life, he engages in conversation, and he's an-all-around lovely human being. It's for these rare times that I'm grateful.

4. Blink-182.

5. Running. Yeah, I've got bum feet, and yeah, I've got weak ankles, and yeah, I've got arthritis, so no, running isn't always the most pleasurable thing, but the happy it brings me is too significant for me to give it up because a few things hurt. (Um, duh. I'm clearly not the kind of girl who just gives up because something hurts.) Plus, epiphanies come when I run. I may not heed them when I'm finished, but at least they come. Which brings me to

6. Epiphanies. Like I said, I don't usually heed them, but they definitely come, they totally make me think, and they absolutely make me feel strong, capable, and unstoppable for at least as long as it takes to finish the second half of my run.

7. Tattoos. How else would I chronicle the significant people and events in my life?

8. Dye and bleach. Obviously.

9. My really pale skin. Part genetics, part total avoidance of the sun. Altogether lovely.

10. Not being fat. I read some stupid article recently that said something about how after this girl lost weight, she was so happy...for about five minutes until she realized all the problems she had before she lost weight were still there and that losing weight is no remedy for happiness. I've also read other publications akin to that in the past. Well, she's an ass and so are all the other writers who assert the same thing. I'm going through a lot of shit--a lot a lot--and sometimes the only thing that keeps me going is the thought that I'm not fat. When I'm not fat, even the bad is better.

11. Recessive genes. Yay! From my perspective, at least, but not, I'm sure, from Griffin's and Kei's.

12. Musicals. Why can people not break into spontaneous song and dance in real life?

13. Boys. Cute, cute boys.

14. Exterminators. Otherwise, eww.

15. Razors. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I'm a fairly hairy person. Not shave-my-arms-and-knuckles hairy like some people I know, but I do shave my toes in addition to other things, and thank the frickin' lord I can. Who wants to be covered in a layer of hair?

16. Friday afternoons. Griffin and I have had a coffee date every Friday afternoon for at least five years. I don't know what I'm going to do when he goes away to school. And please don't jokingly tell me to follow him because I'm already fighting the urge.

17. Having the willpower to mostly give up dairy, grains, and alcohol. Seriously--what a difference it's made in my life. Sure, not drinking is kind of the pits sometimes, but I'd rather not drink than look and feel like crap.

18. Catalysts. Okay, so recently I've had a whole lot of bad happen, and please don't think I'm saying I'm glad for the bad because I'm not, but what I am saying is that if not for all the bad, I'd just status quo it up for the rest of forever. I needed all this bad. Badly.

19. Friends. I'm not exactly swimming in them, but I'm so happy I have the ones I do. I'm not one to live life alone.

20. The thirty-one-year-old guy I met this morning who was shocked when he found out I have a fifteen-year-old son and said he thought I was his age. It's always nice to hear.

21. Smartphones and their built-in cameras. Tailor-made for vain people like me.

22. My sense of humor. Everybody might not think I'm funny, but in my opinion, I'm fucking hysterical.

23. My job--sort of. It's probably not a secret that I'm not the biggest fan of teaching. What I am the biggest fan of, though, is forging relationships, both sustained and temporary, and not just because of the good feelings they give me. Over the years, I've had the opportunity to make a real difference in a lot of lives, and I'm not talking academics. For this, I'm truly grateful.

24. Mermaid. She may be old; she may be cosmetically challenged; she may be less than beautiful on the inside. But what would I do without her? How the hell would I get where I need to go?

25. Hallucinations. Life without my laptop? At this point, I can't even fathom it.

26. Routines. I hate to admit I'm so boring, but I'm a girl of routines. The aforementioned coffee on Friday afternoons, pizza on Friday nights, pancake night on Thursdays, fish on Sundays. My life is so not orderly, I need order wherever I can get it.

27. Mascara.

28. Nail clippers. I freak out when my nails grow a millimeter and keep one with me at all times. Nails that go past the tips of my fingers? No, thank you.

29. Memories. No eternal sunshine here, and I wouldn't want it.

30. The future. My life is pretty crappy right now, but as melodramatic and melancholy as I naturally I am, even I know that won't last forever.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Eat responsibly :)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

I Was Down In It

I've been thinking a lot recently about moving on, not necessarily because I want to think about it, but because my current place in life gives me no choice. Basically, either I choose to move on, or I suffer. Like mad.

While when given the above choices, the obvious one would seem to be the former, it's not so easy. If it were, millions of people wouldn't be stuck in jobs they dislike, bogged down in unhealthy relationships, trapped in painful addictions, or mired in any number of toxic situations. Unfortunately, for most people, including me, the adage about the devil we know being better than the devil we don't is horribly true, and in my opinion, the ability to break out of patterns, even patterns we know to be detrimental to our lives, is almost impossibly difficult.

impossibly difficult.
But not.

I have no problem admitting that for a long time, in a lot of ways, I've been stuck; in fact, I'll say not just that I've been stuck, but that, in some areas in which I've been stuck, I've kind of liked being stuck, or if not exactly liked it, gotten--energy from it? Purpose? I've actually gone so far as to romanticize some of the areas in which I've been stuck, thinking it proof of my passion, my devotion, my worth.

This "stuckness," it seems, has become a part of my identity. Think Trent Reznor's Pretty Hate Machine and you have a pretty good idea of what I mean (and if you don't know what I'm talking about, you need to find out. For the love of God, educate yourselves!). And I'm not just talking about one specific person for the last X amount of years--I'm seriously talking my entire life. I might have written this before, so forgive me if I have, but when the therapist North Star's parents sent her to when she was thirteen asked her if she was boy crazy, she answered, No. But my friend Kelly is, and her friend Kelly is here to attest to the fact that in the last 26 years, nothing has changed.

But it's got to.

You know, when I first started writing today, when I grabbed my computer and started this blog, I intended to make a grand proclamation of how today is the day I climb out of the quagmire, unstick myself from my stuckness, become a better woman. But, as often happens when I write, I came to a realization--I don't want to. Well, that's actually not true. Except it is.

I should probably explain.

There's a difference between pattern and personality.

As far as the boy craziness goes, the blind devotion, the stupid schoolgirl antics, the melancholy, the longing, the drama--I'm afraid those things are here to stay. Those are the things that make me, me.

As far as the me that revolves around things that are unloving, things that are uncaring, things that are unworthy, things that are undeserving, things that are un-anything positive or good for me in any way, well, can I just say, there's a fat lady somewhere and she's singing my song?

She's hard for me to hear, really hard (especially since I've been to countless concerts, many of them right in the front next to the speakers, and band practices and listen to headphones really loudly and as a result, seriously think I'm kind of deaf), but she's getting louder all the time.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I Love Jacques Cousteau/An Open Letter/[Your] Mom's a Whore

Monica: Mom, Dad, Ross smoked pot in college. And, Dad, you know that mailman you got fired? He didn't steal your Playboys. Ross did.

Ross: Yeah, well, Hurricane Gloria didn't break the porch swing, Monica did!

Monica: Ross hasn't worked at the museum for a year!

Ross: Monica and Chandler are living together!

Monica: Ross married Rachael in Vegas and got divorced! Again!

Phoebe: I love Jacques Cousteau!

Rachael: I wasn't supposed to put beef in the trifle!

Joey: I wanna go!

Judy: That's a lot of information to get in thirty seconds.
      --Friends, The One Where Ross Got High

That's probably my favorite episode of Friends ever, especially the part when Phoebe exclaims that she loves Jacques Cousteau (which I've been known to exclaim from time to time) and Rachael says she wasn't supposed to put beef in the trifle. I have absolutely no idea how many times I've laughed at that episode despite the many times I've watched it.

In real life, though, being barraged with information--it's not so fun.

In real life, if while you're getting ready for work at 6:45 in the morning after only sleeping for about three hours because one, your estranged husband insists on sleeping next to you and it creeps you out so much, you can't fall asleep, and two, your son, who's been harassed by his father and told all sorts of information he shouldn't know woke up at 3:45 after having just about the only nightmare of his life and you got up to see why the light was on in the bathroom at 4 a.m. and ended up staying in his bed with him until your alarm went off at 5:33, your estranged husband were to wake up and stare at you in the bathroom mirror while you put your mascara on and then after words and words and words follow you downstairs and tell you, as you're trying to leave for work, that the guy you didn't imagine would ever betray you has been forwarding the texts you've been sending him to your husband (complete with photos and all) and cite specific information so you're hit with the horrible realization that it's actually true and then continue to tell you, as you're walking toward the door, that he fucked one of your best friends about ten times while you were at work, being barraged with information--it wouldn't be so fun.

If, when you text that friend and asked if it were true, she were to tell you that she's sorry, but yes, she did, in fact, have sex with your husband several times right before you got married, after he and you had been dating for four years and living together for three, and if you were to find out that at least one of the times, one of the times of the fucking, happened right there in your bed, in your bed in your mother and father's house, in the bed you'd had since you were thirteen, in the bed you shared with your boyfriend, your soon-to-be-husband, your soon-to-be-husband with the unusually low libido, the unusually low libido so low it prompted you, after ten years, to ask for an open marriage, a request that he agreed to, only to go insane when you actually acted on it, telling you what a whore you are and taking three-and-a-half fucking years to get over it, bringing it up left and right, holding it over your head, over your marriage, over your life like a filth-splattered umbrella, despite the fact that first of all, you had permission, and second of all, he drove you to it, all the while when he'd been the one with the secret with the poison with the filth, being barraged with information--it wouldn't be so fun.

If you then thought about the time you woke up in the middle of the night and caught him having chat room sex with some girl, some girl who you contacted and she told you it wasn't just on the computer, that he'd come to her house, that he'd kissed her, and you then talked to your sister and she told you that when you were all in Chicago together when your older son was one and you were pregnant with the second and she and your husband, your husband who, unbeknownst to you had fucked one of your best friends repeatedly, at least one time in your bed, went to a club while you stayed, fat and pregnant, at your cousin's house with your son, he tried to stick his tongue down her throat and then when you talked to your mom later and told her about your husband fucking one of your best friends, she told you, without knowing your sister had already confessed, that your husband once hit on your sister, while you were fat and pregnant and caring for your already-born son, being barraged with information--it wouldn't be so fun.

It might even make you wonder just how much you'd actually missed.


An Open Letter to an Ex-Lover.

Dear C,

I think to myself that I don't know whether to thank you or to hate you, but since the reason I'd be thanking you is because you've made me hate you, I guess there's really no difference at all.

But, still, hate you or hate you or hate you even more, there are some things I want to say. Since I know you read my blog, this seems as good a place to deliver my message as any.

First, I truly do want to thank you, and not for making me hate you. I want to thank you for the way  you, and only you, ever, have made me feel. I want to thank you for making me realize, over and over and over again, that I'm still the me I used to be, the me I thought I buried, the me that I've mourned. I want to thank you for the magic and passion, the burning, the pain. I want to thank you for the wonky spine. I want to thank you for the dirty. Really, I want to thank you for every part of you you've ever shared, every part of me you've ever touched.

What I'm thanking you for, really, is making me see.

Second, I truly do want to thank you, but this time it's for the awful thing you've done to me. This time it wasn't a text saying something along the lines of, I can't do this anymore, it's too stressful like you sent the last time before you completely disappeared, the text I stupidly forgave you for. No, this time it was much worse.

I can't rationalize it this time. I can't say, well, he won't even be twenty-four until a week from Saturday; he's only a baby. Because technically it's not true. Twenty-three and 354 days is, in regards to age at least, a man. In regards to being so afraid of my soon-to-be ex-husband that you forward all correspondence from me straight to him--well, that's an entirely different truth. Allowing a person to control you in the manner in which you've allowed yourself to be controlled--well, all I can say to that is, Good doggie. Roll over. Sit.

Play dead.

And why, why, why you might wonder, everyone might wonder, I myself wonder, would I thank you for the awful that you've done to me? The betrayal that you've bestowed on somebody who, as you well know, would have done absolutely, positively anything in the world for you, who loved you blindly, stupidly, madly, rabidly? Why would I at all appreciate the feeling, the feeling, the goddamn fucking feeling of sickness and blackness and denial and despair I felt when I found out what you were yesterday? Why would I be happy about that at all?


thank you.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bouquet of Clumsy Words

Dignity. Pride. Self-esteem. Self-respect.

If you look up the definition of any of these words, the other three will somewhere appear on the page.

For example:

a realistic respect for or favorable impression of oneself; self-respect. 
a becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one's position or character; self-respect; self-esteem.
a sense of pride in oneself; self-respect. 
proper esteem or regard for the dignity of one's character. 
Also, if you were to perform a Google search with both the words pride and dignity, even without saying anything about relationships, you'll get results about relationships. People asking if they should "swallow their pride" in relationships, how they can regain their pride and dignity, and other things of that sort.

From the very beginning of our lives, we're taught the importance of these qualities. If we don't respect ourselves, how will anybody else respect us? is the primary question that girls get, most often regarding sex and why we shouldn't have it, but the question, of course, encompasses more. We're taught that we shouldn't lose ourselves for our significant other (what that exactly means, I'm not sure), that we should know our worth and not let people treat us lower than whatever that is (I'm not exactly sure of this one, either. How do we determine our worth? Is it like, I'm worth seventeen dinners and a lunch? Undivided attention every minute of every day? One text for every fifteen I send?). We're taught that above everything else, these things are most important.

It shouldn't shock you that I'm here to disagree. 

I think all the time about this one scene from My Best Friend's Wedding when Julia starts a fight between Michael and Kimmy. Kimmy says something to Michael about his job, Michael gets angry and starts to accuse Kimmy of not being accepting of what he does for a living, and Kimmy, instead of getting defensive and saying that that wasn't what she meant at all (because it wasn't), freaks out and starts crying and says it's all her fault, that she was the one who was wrong, and begs Michael to forgive her. Since I haven't seen the movie in years and can't find this clip on YouTube, I'm paraphrasing a bit, but you get the idea. Kimmy, instead of trying to maintain dignity or pride, completely gives in to Michael. And that, to me, is perfect.

Sure, I think dignity and pride and self-respect and self-esteem are important, but I think being with the person you love or care about and making that person feel happy and loved are more important. I hate the expression don't cut off your nose to spite your face, but in this case, it's the most apropos. Why would I intentionally not do something that I know in the end could make me feel better? To make a person think that I don't care in order to seem stronger than I really am? To act like I'm something I'm not because it's what all the books and experts and parents and people say I should be? To establish who has the power in a relationship? Call me devoid of dignity and pride and self-respect and self-esteem, but I don't want the power in a relationship. I just want to be happy.
The best revenge is living well.  Here's another one we hear all the time. But is revenge really what people should aspire to achieve? I mean, look at what it actually means:

the action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands.
Is this really what we're supposed to want?
Because if it is, boy am I far off from where I'm supposed to be.

In fact, right now I'm right about here:

the act or fact of fulfilling one's ambitions, desires, etc., through one's own efforts.
And I can't imagine another place I would ever want to be. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What Are You So Scared Of?

While I was talking to my lunch people today at lunch, the subject of open marriage came up. When I mentioned that five years ago I briefly kinda sorta had one, my lunch people had what I could only describe as a minor freakout. What?! What!? Shocked laughter ensued. What?! You don't seem that wild! the fortyish guy said. In the next few minutes, which was only a few minutes because the bell rang and that was all we had, among other things, the man said he wasn't that modern and then added that he could understand having an affair but no way could he understand having an open marriage.


Am I the only one who sees something wrong there?

This man is so conditioned by societal norms and so comfortable with the notion of dishonesty that he thinks it's better to lie to a significant other than be in a relationship that allows for seeing other people. And he thinks that line of thinking is fine, as undoubtedly would the majority of people faced with the same two options.

Now, I'm not saying an open marriage, or relationship, is for everyone. It certainly didn't work for me. What I am saying, though, is that if two adults decide that the best thing for them and their relationship is to not be exclusive, that's perfectly fine. It doesn't mean that they're "wild," having sex with everyone they meet. It might not even mean that they're particularly into sex at all. It just means what works for them is different from what works for the majority.

Really, though, it doesn't matter what it means. I'm not here to argue the merits of an open relationship. I'm here to express my dismay over the idea that having an affair is fine and dandy--okay, maybe he didn't exactly say fine and dandy, but he did say he understands doing that way before having an open marriage--but people deciding to see other people is not. I'm here to express my disquiet over the judgment and ideas these people had both toward and about me as soon as I mentioned the words open marriage.

I guess what I'm actually here to do is say that society, with its rules and its judgment and its stay-in-the-lines attitude, absolutely, positively, totally

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Always Doesn't Last Forever

One of my favorite things about being a server was being touched. When you're a server and you're in the wait station and you're crazy busy, there isn't always time for excuse me. There's the hand on your back as someone reaches over your head to grab a straw, the fingers on your shoulder as someone reaches past you to grab a lemon, the occasional hand on your waist as you're moved ever so slightly out of the way so someone could grab a pile of share plates. Some people can't stand other people's hands on them, but I've always loved it, and when the hands are taken away, it's always felt like something is missing.

When I was in high school, my high school boyfriend, Louie, had a specific way of hugging me. Instead of a regular hug where he'd put his arms around me and I'd put my arms around him right back, I would hold my arms up in front of me, crossed into an X, right fist to left shoulder, and left fist to right. He'd then encircle what seemed like my entire body with his arms (it wasn't too hard since he was 6'2" and I was barely 5'), and there we would stand, my head to his big, wide chest, until I felt ready for him to let me go. I used to tell him that was my favorite way to hug because it was the only way he could hug all of me.

The last time Glenn and I were separated, when I was feeling particularly lonely in the middle of one night and couldn't stand to be alone in my bed for another second, I went downstairs to the family room where he was sleeping on the couch and lay down next to him. Since he was lying on his side, facing the room, and since we not only have a pretty wide couch but also an ottoman that butts up against it, space wasn't an issue. What the real issue was, of course, was that I had no business getting "in bed" with an estranged husband who for months I'd had nothing but negative communication and interaction with, but what I have no business doing and what I do are often different stories, so onto the couch I got. I crawled across the ottoman, turned around, and positioned myself right into the crook of his body. I don't know what I expected, but I know what I hoped, and that's that Glenn's arm would wrap around me or he'd pull me closer by my hip or his hand would settle on my arm. I hoped for any kind of acknowledgment at all. After about ten minutes of not getting any, I crawled back across the ottoman and left, even lonelier than before.

Now that I'm once again sleeping alone, whether it be physically or mentally, sleep isn't easy. I just don't do well with too much space.

I don't know why I've always wanted to be cradled, to be touched, or for "all of me" to be held, but I'm guessing having a mother who didn't even bother to call me when I found a lump in my breast substantial enough for my doctor not just to send me to get a mammogram and ultrasound but also to see a breast specialist probably has more than a little to do with it.

But this isn't a mom blog. 

It's not a feel-sorry-for-myself blog, either.

It's just a blog blog, like all the others.


A few days after the get-onto-the-couch incident with Glenn, I was telling a friend about what I had done. God, Kelly, you make yourself so vulnerable, she said, shaking her head. How sorry she felt for me--how pitifully she regarded me--was amazingly clear.

My stock reply when somebody tells me I changed my hair came to mind:


I don't know any other way to be.

But that's okay because I honestly don't think I'd want one.

This same friend told me once that when her cat dies, she'll never get another pet. She'd already experienced so much loss in her life, she said, that any loss she could prevent, she would. Why get a cat if one day it's no longer going to be here?

I may make myself vulnerable--incredibly, stupidly, embarrassingly, heart wrenchingly vulnerable--but I don't think I'm the one who needs to be felt sorry for. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Bitchin' Ca- Matrix?

I'm not going to accuse Griffin of breaking my car, but even though it was working fine when we embarked on his driving lesson, about half-an-hour later, after leaving the park where he almost hit a tree, and after a whole lot of lurching and stalling, there we were, stranded in the parking lot of a Jehovah's Witness church with a car that wouldn't start. That's all I'm saying.

I know it wasn't his fault, and I'm not at all mad, but let me tell you, the experience was...well, the experience was an experience. A learning experience, I guess I would say.

Even though you'd think that it wouldn't be since I've kind of been here before.

Like in my long-ago post, I'm Just a Girl, I was once again confronted with a situation I'd normally rely on Glenn for help with, and like in that long-ago post, I'm not really in a position to ask him. Or at least I'm in the position of really, really not wanting to.

So I didn't. Instead, Griffin and I sat around wondering what to do and who to call. Luckily for me, the Jehovah's Witness church Griffin and I were stranded in wasn't far from the house of a former student I know really well, so I was able to get her to drive over with jumper cables, and, well, long story short, thanks to her father being gracious enough to come and help both her and me out, Griffin and I were able to get home.

Lesson number 1, a lot of which I already knew and is rolled up with a bunch of sub-lessons: I'm not as capable of doing a lot of things as I should be (although no matter how capable, jumping a car without an accompanying car is pretty much as impossible as it gets), and I'm way too reliant on Glenn. Still, I'm able to keep calm in a "situation," and although I technically didn't get my car started on my own, I did find a way to get it started. So in the end, I can get things done.


I've never really been concerned with material things, and I think nothing demonstrates that more than my attitude toward cars. I've never been one to care about the appearance of my car, and for pretty much ever, I've judged and scorned people who do. When I see somebody in a crazy big SUV, I generally think that someone's a showoff and an idiot; when someone, like my sister, for example, freaks out about a scratch or micro-dent on her car, I think she's shallow and superficial; if I'm driving and see someone with a TV in their car, I immediately think that person's an ass; when I walk out and see my neighbors, youngish boys who think they belong in The Fast and the Furious, washing and buffing their cars almost every single day, I wonder where the hell their mother went wrong. Way more interested on spending money on things I find enriching like food or experiences, I've long deemed people like the ones above inferior and for years have proudly displayed my falling-apart car as an emblem of my moral superiority:

1. when the roof got mildly dented by a falling tree branch during one of the last hurricanes, I ignored my insurance's call for claims;
2. when I somehow got the faint paint impression of a pole on the passenger side, I pretty much didn't care;
3. when, one by one, my hubcaps disappeared as is a problem for most Matrixes, I was like, who cares? It's not like a car needs hubcaps to drive;
4. when I bumped into a gas station median a few months ago and got a pretty significant dent on the passenger side (not far from that paint impression I acquired years earlier), I wasn't exactly thrilled, but seeing as how I was already missing four hubcaps, had a small dent in the roof, and paint that wasn't supposed to be there on the side, I figured it wasn't really such a big deal;
5. when the passenger side door handle cracked in half and came off in Keifer's hand, I have to admit I was horrified for a second or two, but not nearly horrified enough to spend almost $300 to get it fixed;
6. and when the back passenger side door cracked in half in Glenn's hand last weekend, I paused but in truth, barely batted an eye.

I mean, a paid-off car that I bought brand new that takes me on road trips and gets me to work and to pick up my kids and has room for my dogs and is good on gas, and did I mention the car is paid off, meaning I don't have a car payment and haven't for more than three years and if I keep up with the mechanical stuff might not for three years more?

It kind of makes the cosmetic stuff seem like not such a big deal.

Which brings me to

Lesson number 2: I knew my student drove a BMW, but when she pulled up in the shiny damn thing and parked it next to not just my dented-up, hubcapless, no-door-handled, but also filthy, dusty, hasn't-been-washed-in-more-than-six-months-since-the-last-time-I-went-to-the-oil-change-place-that-washes/vacuums-the-car, the-car-wash-part-wasn't-working car, I have to say I didn't feel very good, and when her dad drove up about twenty minutes later in his truck with the spotless, perfect-looking engine and put his jumper cables in the crud-encrusted, leaf-filled hood of my car, I felt, I think the word is, humiliated. Absolutely mortified. And so it would seem I care about appearances a little more than I like to think. And maybe, just maybe, people who like to have nice things aren't as horrific as I've made them out to be. 


My door handles and hubcaps should be arriving from Amazon some time next week.

Friday, September 12, 2014

You Take the Good

"Those who don't believe in magic will never find it."
                                        -Roald Dahl

Today, I wore a star on my face. A little gold star that from far away probably looked like a piece of dirt or maybe a mole. I wore it right smack dab on my left cheekbone.

Like this (try not to focus on the nose):

It wasn't planned. I want to say it ended up on my face by accident but that wouldn't exactly be true because it's not like I bumped into a gold star with my face. What actually happened was this morning when I bent down to pick up my shoes from the hallway right outside my bedroom door, it caught my eye: a single gold star shining on grey carpet, juxtaposed with my matte black shoes.

Where it came from, I have no idea. Neither Griffin nor Keifer has done any recent school work that would entail using tiny, shiny gold stars, and it certainly wasn't there when I put my shoes on the floor last night. Regardless of how it ended up there, though, there it was, and to me--well, to me, it was magical.

A magical gold star.

A magical gold star that appeared out of nowhere.

A magical gold star that appeared out of nowhere meant for no one but me.

Now, I don't know what you would do if you found a magical gold star meant specifically for you, but to me, there was no choice other than the one I made, and so I brought it into the bathroom, looked in the mirror, pressed the tiny, shiny, non-adhesive magical star to my skin, and what do you know? It adhered.

Just like magic.

As you can maybe imagine, the star invited commentary. Miss, you have a star on your face; Miss, there's a sticker on your face; or Miss, do you know there's a star on your face? were repeated throughout the day. Most of the time, a simple I know from me was all anybody needed, but one girl just couldn't understand. After she asked me if I knew I had a star on my face and I said yes, she asked me if I wanted it there (umm...if I didn't want a star on my face, and I knew it was there, would I have a star on my face?). When I assured her I did and walked away, I heard her saying she didn't understand why anybody would want a star on her face.

What I don't understand is why anybody wouldn't.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Imperfect Boys with Imperfect Ploys

As a feminist and someone with an interest in sociology, I've often wondered about men and women's roles not just in our society, but in all societies (or at least all societies I'm aware of. I realize there may be an anomaly or two out there. If there are, they're too few and far between to be relevant to this post).  I've wondered why and how it is that since the beginning of recorded history until now, men have been the one with all the rights and women have not. How is it, I wondered, that no matter where you look and no matter when you look, women couldn't vote...women were property...women had to cover X part of their bodies...women were stoned or covered in acid or their hands were cut off...women weren't allowed to work or go to school...women were ruled by men's decisions about their body? Was it simply that men were physically stronger? It couldn't be. Physical imbalance couldn't possibly explain the dominant role of men in societies everywhere.

Except I actually kinda think it could.

This summer there was an incident. For reasons that I don't agree with AT ALL, I can't reveal the name of one of the people involved, so for the sake of the story, let's call him Bob. Bob is eighteen and someone I know very well; in fact, I've known him pretty much his entire life. I also know his family, and he knows mine. We're like family, I guess you could say. Well, this summer, I was sitting down having a conversation with Bob--a normal, civil conversation with no voices raised--when, out of nowhere (like, literally, out of nowhere. I had witnesses to the conversation who confirmed it came out of nowhere, that nothing bad or antagonistic was said and that Bob is just a fucking lunatic), Bob says, maliciously and in no way at all kidding around, Fucking bitch.

I don't know what I did, but I imagine my mouth dropped open, I was so in shock. I know I didn't say anything. I was too surprised. And a second later when Bob stood up, said, Whore! and walked away, I also kept my mouth shut, just as I did when a minute later, he called me a pig. It wasn't until he called me a pig face (um, hello, have you seen this Greek/Italian/Jewish schnoz? Has Bob ever actually even seen the face of a pig?) that I said anything at all, which was that I didn't have a pig face because I had a big nose, and that it was funny because he was actually the one with the nose that kind of looked like a pig's. And that's when things got really crazy.

Bob, who's 5'7" and weighs about 230 pounds (there's a pig comparison there, but it's so easy, I won't point it out), came at me threateningly and, with the 90 pounds he had on me, shoved me against the wall and wouldn't move. He just held me there with his big belly, and there was nothing I could do. Nothing. And let me tell you, I was scared. Forget scared. I was terrified. Luckily, it was at that point that Griffin, a soon-to-be man who weighs 115 pounds and has never fought in his life, hit Bob in order to get him off of me (can I just say it's a good thing Griffin is the one I had there to defend me because if it were Keifer, I'd probably have been killed while he continued to sip his coffee and build things in Minecraft?). It was also at that point that things got a little crazier, the short version being that I was in between Griffin and Bob while Bob was hitting Griffin inches away from a sliding glass door and it was only because another man came along and was able to restrain Bob that Griffin and I didn't end up in way worse shape than we did.

What you're meant to come away with from that story isn't that Bob is an unstable fucking lunatic nutcase (although you probably did, and that's okay) but that it was all men running the show. From Bob's attack rendering me helpless to the fact that my fifteen-year-old son who I outweigh by twenty-five pounds had to free me to the other man who physically pulled Bob away (not once, but twice, but I'll stop the story there), it was all men.

I was absolutely, positively helpless.

Only two other times in my life have I felt that way, and yes, they both concerned men. One is a story I've already written involving an electrical cord and a rape, so excuse me if I don't go into it all over again. The other occurred when, five years ago, Glenn forcefully took my phone from me and refused to give it back. He came into our bedroom and ripped it from my hand, and no matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get it back. Honestly, Glenn is so much stronger than I am, my trying to physically get anything from him he didn't want me to have would be laughable if it weren't so frustrating, infuriating, and sad. Not only could I not get my phone--my phone, my very own phone, which I bought and paid for, which was MINE--but he also wouldn't let me out of the house. Because things were so insane, I tried to go to my sister's, but every time I did, Glenn blocked the doors. We have a front and a back one in my house, and try as I might, run as hard I could, bolt as abruptly as I did, every time I made a move, Glenn overpowered me and got right in front of the door.

Like this summer with Bob, like December 5, 1988, on that spring night of 2009, I felt completely and utterly helpless, impotent and powerless and entirely at the

--at the what?



(certainly not mercy, for not one of the men involved in these incidents showed any mercy)


(certainly disposal, for all of the men involved in these incidents saw me as an object, merely a thing capable of reinstating their loss of power)

--disposal of men.

Some of you reading out there, especially men, are probably annoyed or perhaps getting angry, thinking all men aren't like this, this blog is a gross generalization, plenty of nice guys abound and plenty of women aren't so nice at all; in fact, plenty of women fight just like men and are strong just like men and dominate people just like men, but I'm happy to point out that this is absolutely not the norm, and on a biological level, men are naturally stronger than women, and on an evolutionary level, they're dominant from their strong jawlines to their prominent brows. My argument is about none of those things. What is my argument then? I guess I'm not entirely sure (just like a woman, huh?). But when I take into account that even Griffin, who's half Bob's weight and one-hundred percent intellectual and therefore, zero percent fighter, hit Bob in my defense, which is something I would never do, resorting to screaming and panicking and freaking out instead, I think what it comes down to is this:

As "evolved" as we've become, as "civilized" as the world now is, as much "progress" as (it seems) women have made, women will be women and men will be men, and we will always--always--be at their mercy, and no amount of so-called equal opportunity or legislation or feminist ideology is going to change that.

And that really, really sucks.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Still, I Thrive

For our first married Valentine's Day, I wanted to do something special for Glenn but wasn't sure what. After exploring a lot of ideas, I came across a recipe in the food section of the Sun-Sentinel for chocolate bags, which involved melting chocolate, painting the inside of small bags with the melted chocolate, peeling away the small bag, and then, voila! having a bag made entirely of chocolate, which was then to be stuffed with homemade chocolate mousse for which there was a recipe, too. It definitely didn't seem easy to me, but it wasn't like the recipe was in a gourmet cookbook or something; it was right there in the newspaper, designed for the masses. If the masses could do it, I thought, then surely I could, too.

I'm sure you don't have to read what I'm about to write next to know what happened: the bags were a bust. I won't go into the dreadful details, but--oh, what the hell? Let's detail it up.

I had worked an entire shift at The Cheesecake Factory, and on my way home, my then best friend, Erin, and I bought the ingredients for the bags and then stopped at my mom's house so I could make the bags and then bring them home to Glenn as a surprise.

I melted the chocolate, got the bags that needed to be "painted," did the painting, made the mousse while waiting for the bags to solidify in the fridge, and then set to work peeling off the paper bag so I'd have nothing left but the solid chocolate bag underneath. And then everything went wrong.

No matter how many bags I tried to paint and peel, no matter how thick I tried to make the chocolate, I just couldn't get anything substantial enough to hold together on its own. Every time I tried to peel the paper bag off the chocolate, the chocolate either came with it or was so thin that by the time I got to a lower part of the bag, it'd crumble--if you could even call it a crumble. In truth, there may not have even been enough chocolate that wasn't attached to the bag for it to qualify as a crumble.

Being three months pregnant and exhausted from having worked a hectic Valentine's Day shift at Cheesecake, I have to tell you that those failed bags seemed like nothing less than total catastrophe. I tried coming up with some other way, some creative way to present the chocolate mousse, but since everything else seemed stupid, I threw it in the garbage can. And then I sat on my mom's couch and cried.

As I sat there on the couch watching Erin and my mother eat the mousse out of the garbage can, all I could think about was how it was my first married Valentine's Day with Glenn, I was pregnant with his baby, and I wasn't going to have anything to give him. It was supposed to be special, but because of my inability to recognize what I can and can't do, I completely messed it up.

Well. Fast forward fifteen years and four months to yesterday, Griffin's fifteenth birthday. You'll be completely unsurprised to find that I still haven't learned my lesson. Every year, he or Kei, whose birthday is five days before Griffin's, asks for some impossible cake, and every year, like a damn fool, I agree to do it. Dragonballs, Legos, Darth Maul's lightsaber, Blink-182 album art. They ask, I do (or to be more exact, we do. Glenn usually gives me more help than not).

This year, though, Griffin made a request that takes the cake. This year, he asked for a Rubik's cube cake. A Rubik's cube cake! Like I'm frickin' Cake Boss or Iron Chef or some other reality TV person that I don't watch because until I got rid of my cable, I didn't even know how to turn on my TV. I told him there was no way I could make him a Rubik's cube cake, that I'm not a cake decorator, and it was absolutely out of the question.

But what the fuck do you think I did?

As adamant as I was about not making that cake, and I was adamant, let me tell you, I started letting these thoughts slip into my head. Okay, so you don't want to make the cake, I told myself. You can at least check them out. Just look them up on the Internet, I thought. It's not like you have to actually do anything.


I googled Rubik's cube cake, and of course, because it's the stupid Internet, a million things came up. Images, recipes, tutorials. I clicked on a few pictures, opened a few links, read a few step-by-steps, and then clicked out. Me, attempt to make a Rubik's cube cake? Out of the question. Completely.


Monday night, there I was, literally up to my forearms in my first ever attempt at marshmallow fondant (which if not the stickiest substance known to man, has to be a close second. I seriously think I could attach things to the wall with that stuff. Like a refrigerator). The tutorial warned me it would be sticky and to liberally grease myself and the counter up with Crisco, which I did, but I must have done something wrong because my hands were like blocks of cement. If Glenn didn't use a spatula to scrape the fondant from the tops and bottoms of my hands and destroy the webbing it created between my fingers, I'd probably be dead by now.

The next day, Tuesday, because attempting a first try at making fondant and a perfectly cubed cake wasn't enough, I set out to make all-natural food coloring. Poison my children with traditional food coloring? Not me. Hours later, a bowl of cherry juice sitting on the counter top and a white square of cherry-juice-resistant fondant floating inside of it, I didn't give two fucks who I poisoned. Sometimes you just have to choose your battles, you know?

Additionally, while I'm asking you what you know, did you know you have to color the fondant before you roll it out repeatedly, whip out the Boys-Town, he-ain't-heavy, he's-my-brother ruler, and make the 45 evenly-sized squares? I wish I had. I do now. Also, did you know it's best to make the cake before cutting the squares so you have some inkling, any inkling at all, how big you need those squares to be to cover the cake appropriately? I sure wish I had. But I do now.

All that fondant? All those squares? The ones I spent hours rolling and measuring and cutting and perfecting? Lumped back together into a pile, broken apart into separate piles, and poisoned in red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. Left in the fridge overnight.

The next day, Wednesday--Griffin's birthday. Noon. I pull the fondant out of the fridge, drop the blue blob on the counter, roll it out, ready to make nine perfectly shaped squares, only to find that the liquid from the poisonous food coloring made it so soft, it was now more like gum than anything on this earth other than gum. Forming squares was impossible.

I know this is an incredibly long story, so let me just skim over the next seven hours of crying, frustration, hating and damning Griffin for his impossible request, and hysterical laughter when my all white Rubik's cube cake ended up looking like, according to Keifer, a spaceship with paneled walls, and according to an old student, a couch.

You know what? Just for fun, let's take a look:

Yes, readers. The above photo is, in fact, the Rubik's cube cake I spent three days and over ten hours working on.

I'll now skip to the part where a friend on Facebook suggested I arrange M&M's in colored squares, so I went to the store, bought two bags (along with a bottle of wine that, by that point, I felt like chugging right there in the parking lot at Walgreens), ripped off the fondant siding, and with a little (read: a lot) help from Glenn, completely redesigned the cake with an hour to spare before Griffin got home with his friends.

Just because I need to save a little face, let's now look at the redesign:

Not perfect, sure, but did you see the first version?


The point of this extra-large blog is not to pat myself on the back for a job well done. It's to reflect on my inability to realize the limitation of my capabilities and consistent attempt to do more than I'm able. I used the story of the chocolate bags and the story of Griffin's cake to illustrate, but this is a consistent theme with me. From major things like teaching a full load of AP Language and Composition classes along with two honors English classes during the day while also sponsoring clubs and driving an extra 80 miles twice a week to teach ENC 1101 classes for a year to getting an MFA while being a full-time high school English teacher, teaching night school, and raising two sons to minor things like thinking sanding and painting my dining room table and chairs when I hadn't sanded anything since seventh-grade shop class or taking my kitchen completely apart, cabinets and drawers and all, and painting it on my own will be a snap, I often find myself completely immersed in something that's impossibly hard for me to do. Sometimes it works out--like yesterday, with Griffin's cake--but sometimes, like with the chocolate bags, it turns into an absolute disaster. But the common thing, whether everything works out in the end or not, is that while I'm in the midst of the situation, whatever it might be, I feel like the Hellmouth is about to open and the world is about to end. I feel like I can't breathe, and like I can't do it, and I'm frazzled, and I'm frustrated, and I want to cry--and sometimes I do. But no matter how much I can't breathe, how much I can or can't do, how frazzled and frustrated I am, and how much I cry, it all eventually ends.

But I don't.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Don't Ever Look Back

Okay, so three days ago I finished the Runner's World Run Streak, a forty-day, one-mile-per-day minimum running challenge. The first thing I have to say is I've practically never felt so accomplished in my life (some of you may think that's not quite the right choice of diction since accomplished means highly skilled or expert, but believe me, it is). The second thing I have to say is that while I understand running between one and two miles a day for forty days, for a grand total of fifty-five miles, might not be a huge deal to a lot of people--like, say, my husband who runs that much, if not more, in a week--people should also understand that it's a lot to me. And the third thing I have to say is I actually have a lot to say, and since I like lists, well, here you go: a list of what I learned from running forty days in a row.

What I Learned from Running Forty Days in a Row

1. I'm a liar.

I began the Run Streak on May 26, Memorial Day. On June 2, after running seven consecutive days and almost nine miles, I needed a break, and I knew it. Same thing on June 8 and June 15. Being notoriously prone to run-related injury, I know the signs of overuse, and for the first time in my life, I heeded them. Instead of running, I did the elliptical (which really is just like running without feet hitting the ground) for 15 minutes and walked a mile+ on the 2nd and 8th; on the 15th, I was in Chicago without access to an elliptical so ellipting (ellipting? ellipticalling? I'm not quite sure how to verb that word) wasn't an option, but I walked about ten miles each day I was there, so I'm pretty sure I was covered. On June 18 I spent over 12 hours in an airport and couldn't do a formal run, but I walked two miles in the morning and sprinted through both Midway and whatever airport is in Detroit, so I got my exercise in that day, too. The point here, people, is no, I didn't exactly "run" every single day of those forty, but I'm calling the Run Streak a success nevertheless. If that makes me a liar, which I guess it kind of does, so be it.

2. My body is my body, and nobody knows it like me.

I read an article in SELF a few months ago called "Think Like an Athlete." An excerpt:

Really feel the burn.

Athletes get comfortable being uncomfortable. They anticipate the pain of a bonkers workout and embrace the fact that it's going to suck at points. Very different from us regular folks who freak out or shut down at any sign of exercise unpleasantness. "A lot of people panic when they experience any discomfort in their bodies," says Epstein. "Elite athletes do the exact opposite—they program themselves not to be rattled. You can see that on pain-threshold tests of elites; they become accustomed to the pain, and even while their bodies are in distress, their minds aren't. You can learn to do that just as you do any other part of training." How? You don't fear the hurt. Instead of backing off when breathlessness takes hold during a sprint, tell yourself, Relax. I know I'm going to be fine. This is not too hard for me, and I can do this. Then take your speed up one notch. Your body already knows it can handle the challenge. You've just got to prove it to your brain.

Kelly again. And a little history:

Yes, I already covered the I'm-injury-prone thing. If you're looking for technical information, in the past eight or nine years since I've been running, I've had, on more than one occasion, shin splints (but who hasn't?), Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and illotibial band syndrome; I've worn a boot on more than one occasion and been scheduled for foot surgery that I went so far as to be prepped for, IV and all, before changing my mind; my feet are also flat, I have arthritis in them, and one of my legs is longer than the other. I'm also not remotely what one would call "thin." In other words, biomechanically speaking, I'm a mess.

I'm also a fool. Despite these issues of mine, I read things, like the above excerpt from SELF, and I believe them. I follow very specific plans laid out by experts, like the SELF Drop 10 that called for running intervals at over 8 mph, and I think of their think-like-an-athlete spiel, and I push myself, and lo and behold, I end up hurt. Then, instead of running even a little, I can't run at all.

This time around, I knew what I could and could not do. I accepted that it wasn't all or nothing (see number 1), and instead of not being able to run anymore midway through the Run Streak, I completed the whole thing.

3. I'm unbalanced.

I see it in the mirror when I run at the gym, and I feel it in my stride. The right side of my body is different from, and does more than, my left (undoubtedly the reason why the list of injuries from above have all occurred on my right side). I try to correct the problem when I run, forcing my right foot to land in the same position as my left and straightening my torso, and I've tried to correct the problem when I'm not running through stretching, strength training, and physical therapy. It seems some things just can't be forced, and the "problem" cannot be fixed. Relying more on one thing than another is something I have to accept--I just have to learn how not to totally upset whatever balance I've achieved.

4. I'm capable of doing more than I believed.

(You may be sensing a theme here.)

Like I said in the beginning, forty days in a row and fifty-five total miles may not seem like a lot to you, but because of my history, I never thought I'd be able to do it (I hate to be repetitive, so I'll just refer you to number 2 for support). By following my plan and nobody else's, I was able to achieve it. Which brings me to number

5. History is not always the best indicator of the future.

When Glenn and I were separated, I once went to a therapist who told me that it was. I could see her reasoning, of course, but it's not the truth. At least it's not mine.

6. When Nike gave us the slogan Just Do It, they weren't fucking around.

So many times, I didn't want to run. My ankle hurt, my hip hurt, I was tired, it was raining, it was hot, I was afraid I'd get lost on the streets of Chicago, a storm was brewing five states away. If I listened to my excuses (the bullshit ones, not the valid ones like impending injury), I'd have failed. Sometimes we just have to tell the voices in our heads to shut the fuck up, or we'll never do what has to be done.

7. Running is a metaphor for absolutely everything.

But that one I already knew.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

(Not) Child in the City

A couple of years ago, North Star, on a sabbatical from work, bought a one way ticket to Europe, packed a bag, boarded a plane by herself, and then spent the next three or more months wandering around from place to place without a plan. I don’t remember all the places she ended up, but I know that, among others, Italy, France, Spain, India, Bali, Nepal and Thailand are on the list.  I also know that on her trip, she had a fabulous time, not just observing different cultures, but interacting with them, too. Like she tends to do, she made friends everywhere she went. Actually, I think friend is probably the wrong word. It might be better to say that while on her trip, North Star became an active participant in other people’s lives.

North Star believes herself to be so capable, she’s often said to me she believes if she were dropped into virtually any situation in any place, she thinks she would be okay. I think the same. Actually, that’s not entirely true. What I actually think is North Star is strong enough, capable enough, outgoing enough, and confident enough not merely to be okay in any situation, but to thrive. 

That’s North Star as I know her.

And then there’s me as I know myself.

If it were me on that trip that North Star took--and that's one astronomical if since jetting to Europe involves getting off of my couch--I would've found a bistro or cafe or whatever restaurants are called in France or Italy or wherever I'd decided to hunker down with things on the menu I could pronounce, parked myself there with a book so I didn't have to make eye contact with a single soul, and spent my days and nights in that same place. I also might have started smoking so I'd have something to do with my hands because gods know nothing makes me feel as conspicuous as having nothing to do with my hands.

While North Star busies herself with jetting across the Atlantic and trekking across Europe and Asia by herself (and did I mention her trip to Kenya? She's also gone to Kenya), I busy myself with pretty much the exact opposite. If Glenn or my sister isn’t with me, whatever I’m thinking of doing probably isn’t going to happen. I think, though I could be wrong by one or two, I’ve maybe done five things by myself in my entire life.  Of course, I’m not talking normal, everyday things like going to the grocery store or the mall or having a meal in a restaurant, I’m talking things that, at least to me, are significant. The list looks like this:

Things (of Significance) Kel Has Done Alone 

1. Drive to and attend a week-long Harlem Renaissance workshop in St. Petersburg
2. Fly to St. Louis to attend and be in Marnie’s wedding and then not only be dateless, but pretty much friendless, alone, and awkward at the reception.
3. Fly to Rhode Island for Erin’s wedding, where I was dateless (but admittedly not friendless, alone, and awkward) at the reception
4.  Drive to and attend The Ramones concert at The Edge in Orlando
5.  Drive to Gainesville and hang out with North Star’s then boyfriend while I looked for an apartment that I never moved into

And, well, yeah. That pretty much sums it up.

So why do I bring this up now? Why the comparisons between North Star and me? What exactly is the what of this conversation?

Next week I’m going to Chicago. And I’m doing it by myself.

Well, not by myself, by myself.

By myself with Griffin and Keifer.

But, really, with a twelve- and a fourteen-year-old who have no idea what to do or where to go, I’m kind of as by myself as I would be if they weren’t there. And I totally don’t mean that in a negative way. I love being with G and K--admittedly usually when I have one of them alone rather than both of them together--and doing things with them will be fun, and I can’t wait to show them Chicago, in Keifer’s case for the first time since he’s old enough to really know what he’s seeing, it’s just a point of not knowing what I’m going to do and how I’m going to do it and not having an adult around to help me.

And before anyone points out that I am, in fact, an adult, I’ll acknowledge that, yes, I am, but I’ll also ask—

have you met me?

Or if not met me, have you read me?

Because if you’ve done either of those things, you know I’m an adult only in years.

And now I’m off to the big city, solo.

I'm off to the big city solo for what I'm afraid is going to be six days of sitting around, saying, What do you want to do? I don't know, what do you want to do? 

I'm off to the big city, solo, for what I'm afraid is going to be six days of trying to coordinate rides on the L--which I'm already nervous about figuring out how to buy three week-long passes for--with rides on the bus but failing miserably and never ending up where I want to go.

I'm off to the big city, solo, for what I'm afraid is going to be six days of endless research trying to figure out the best way to consolidate trips but not being able to figure out the best way to consolidate trips and then maybe, possibly, probably, as a result, doing nothing at all.

I'm off to the big city solo for what I'm afraid is going to be six days of wandering around, lost, six days of feeling uncomfortable, six days of not knowing how to dress, six days of not knowing what to do, six days of not knowing where to eat, six days of disaster disaster disaster.

I'm off to the big city solo for what I'm afraid is going to be exactly what I'm afraid of.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

I, Gynecologist...You, Jane

'Cause I'm just a girl, little 'ol me
Don't let me out of your sight
I'm just a girl, all pretty and petite
So don't let me have any rights
                                      No Doubt

I'm not usually one to write "angry posts," but I'm so annoyed right now, I have no choice.

About an hour ago, I called my gynecologist's office to schedule a tubal ligation. Before the receptionist would even grant me an appointment for a consultation, she asked me if they'd delivered a baby for me--the answer is yes, thirteen years ago--and how old I am. She then told me I'd need to schedule an appointment to see the doctor to figure out whether I'm a candidate or not. When I told her that I have two children, am almost forty, and have been married for over sixteen years, she said she couldn't just schedule me for surgery over the phone without coming in to see the doctor, despite the fact that I had my well woman check at their office not even a month ago.

At first I didn't know what was going on. When she first asked me if they'd delivered a baby for me, I didn't see it; when, however, she asked me my age, I realized she was checking to see if I was "tube tie-able." And I was outraged.

Okay. Not scheduling me for surgery (albeit a super minor surgery) without me coming in to see the doctor (remember, despite my having just been in not even a month ago), I could semi-understand. Asking me if they'd delivered a baby for me (which is, I guess, really asking if I've had babies because I can't see them only being willing to perform tubal ligations on people who they've personally delivered children for) and how old I am is, to me, an outrage.

It shouldn't matter if I'm thirty-nine or twenty-nine or even nineteen. If I, as a woman, have decided I don't want (more) children, that should be my choice.

And it shouldn't be questioned.

The nurse doesn't know this, but before I made this phone call, I did a tremendous amount of research. Having been on the pill for the last twelve years constantly and off and on for about ten years between thirteen and twenty-three (for acne, people! Please), I felt it was time to switch birth control methods. Not only am I the worst pill taker in the world, forgetting my pill one, two, even sometimes three days in a row, but the dangers of taking the pill after thirty-five are no joke. Neither is the fact that my insurance stopped paying for my pills, so I had to switch to generic, or the weight I've gained since switching. So after a lot of thought, once I finished my pills last month, I didn't fill my prescription and am now extra hormone--as well as birth control--free.

When I decided to stop taking the pill, I continued the off and on research I'd been doing for years on the IUD. Lots of pros but too many cons convinced me it wasn't the method for me. The NuvaRing and patch both seem to be no picnic, and even skinny people I knew who took Depo-Provera ended up fat.

And that really leaves only one thing, which is how I ended up on the phone with the receptionist who felt she had the right to question the appropriateness of the birth control method I wish to use.

Can I just say, Bitch, whatever birth control method I wish to use is the right one?

In my opinion, that phone call and the subsequent appointment I have coming up aren't much better than the forced "counseling sessions" women have to sit through before being granted an abortion.

And these things are not okay. 

These things are not okay because who has the right to tell a woman what she can or can't do with her own body? Who has the right to tell a woman maybe one day she'll want kids, so for now she should pump her body full of hormones if she doesn't want to get pregnant or just not have sex? Who has the right to assume they know better for a woman than she knows for herself? Who is so self-righteous they think they know what's better for us than we do?

You think I'm going to say men, don't you? Well, I'm not.

What I'm going to say is going to make most of you think I'm extreme and insane, but my answer is everybody. Everybody and everything.

Men, other women, society. It's all built around demeaning and controlling women's lives, from the language to the expectations to the regulations to the stipulations.

And it's fucking disgusting.

Monday, June 2, 2014

It Gets Better?

I've always been
a realist

Because I've always been this way, I could always kind of blame my fault finding on myself rather than my children. If one of them didn't sing a song to my satisfaction or deliver a line exactly the way I thought it should be delivered when they used to go to the studio, well, it didn't necessarily mean they were bad, it just meant that I had unrealistic expectations and expected perfection. When they got A's and B's on their report cards or below the ninety-ninth percentile on their standardized tests, it didn't necessarily mean they weren't intelligent enough, it just meant they weren't as intelligent as I thought they should be. Until now, the faults I found really did epitomize the statement people make that goes something along the lines of, If someone isn't nice to you, it has everything to do with that someone and nothing to do with you.

Until now, even when I found fault, I could chalk it up to the perfectionism my therapist said probably isn't very easy to live with.

But now that it's now, my perfectionism is a scapegoat no more.

Am I being cryptic? I don't mean to be.

This post is just a hard one to write.

See, Keifer didn't make
the soccer team
a soccer team
the soccer teams he wanted.

Because he's been playing travel for so long and starting for the last two years, playing every second of every game, I guess I took for granted he'd make any team he wanted to play for. I think he did, too.

Obviously, that's not what happened.

The reality is, he tried out for four teams and made two one-and-a-half. (That one-and-a-half is because one is a B team, and I have a feeling everyone who showed up got offered a spot. I could be wrong, but most likely I'm not.)

The reality is,
checking soccer club websites repeatedly
sitting by the phone waiting for soccer clubs to call
made me
way too anxious
sick to my stomach
have to go the bathroom.

The reality is,
seeing that website without his name on it
not getting that phone call
hearing that one of his teammates made one team and two made another
made me teary
made me nauseated
made my heart hurt

made me question

absolutely everything.*

*This post has gone awry. I told you it was a hard one to write. It seems, I see, like I'm sad for myself, for some kind of loss, maybe the loss associated with the idea of Keifer as a soccer player I once had. That, though, is not the case. Any sadness I feel--and let me tell you, I'm feeling a whole lot of sadness--is for Keifer. Any hurting I experience is for him not because of him.

I may be a crazed perfectionist who wants nothing but right angles and straight lines, but what I want even more is for my children to be happy.**

**It wouldn't hurt if I were happy, too.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

A Story of, Oh!

Can we talk undies? Or less specifically, can we talk underwear (as in, bras included)?

I know this topic may seem frivolous, but it's something I've genuinely been thinking about a great deal--well, that and pubic hair, but for now I'll leave that one alone. I'm totally content to wait until another time to talk about the hairless trend that suggests nothing to me but pedophilia and a disturbing chasm between what is natural and what we, as a people, have become.

For now, I'll just talk undergarments.

Specifically, women's.

Specifically, women's undergarments of color.

Of course there's a story:

A few months ago, I was talking to a friend who had recently gone to the doctor. As she was relaying some information about the visit, she told me, seriously horror stricken--and I mean seriously horror stricken. Mock horror was nowhere to be found--that she hadn't been expecting to take her pants off and was wearing (gasp! Horror of horrors!) purple panties!

That's right, you read that correctly. She was wearing (gasp! Horror of horrors!) purple panties.

Panties that were PURPLE!

Are you horrified?

If you're not, perhaps you're not getting what I'm throwing down.

This woman went to a doctor's office and disrobed to reveal undies that were not white, nor beige, nor brown, nor even an inappropriately girlish yet semi-respectable pink, but rather purple. Throw-caution-to-the-wind, high-falootin', devil-may-care, may-as-well-admit-you've-blown-the-whole-football-team purple.

And of course I believe none of this to be true.

For sure, the story of the purple panties is true, as well as is my friend's horror and embarrassment over the "incident." But my feelings about it actually run more from shock and horror to an unbelievable lack of caring. Who the fuck cares what color underwear somebody wears?

At the time of her embarrassed confession, I chalked it up to her being much older than I am and therefore, having different ideas of what's respectable and permissible and what is not. Months passed, and I pretty much forgot about the purple underwear incident, but a few days ago, I got to thinking about it all over again.

There's a story, of course:

I was in my classroom talking not to somebody twenty-something years older than I, but a few someones twenty-something years younger, and the topic of underclothes color came up again. One of my former students, a girl of seventeen, said something about how having a hot pink bra named (I'm sorry, but I don't remember the bra's name) was absolutely the best thing ever. She kind of caught me off guard, because, really, how often does somebody make an announcement about a bra that has a name? so I said something like, Huh? and she repeated the exact same thing. I won't say it was contrived, but I will say that this girl definitely wanted to talk about her bra, and I'll also say that the fact that it was hot pink was definitely crucial to that desire.

We shared some words, I don't remember which ones, but they definitely reinforced the notion that this girl's bra being hot pink was significant, at least to her, and then two girls next to us joined the conversation. What was she saying about bras? they wanted to know. And so the hot pink color once again came up, as well as the name and the fact that she got it from Victoria's Secret, and then the girls did something shocking. The girls acted...shocked.

Hot pink? one asked.

Hot pink? repeated the other.

Bras in colors are fun, said the girl who was most likely, at that very moment, wearing a hot pink bra under her probably-not-so-coincidentally-hot-pink tank top.

I don't know about a hot pink bra! one of the girls exclaimed.

You could see it through your clothes! exclaimed the other.

It's pretty hard to hide a hot pink bra! came from girl number one.

Yeah, it'll show in anything you wear! came from the other.

The owner of two hot pink bras, plus however many black ones, polka-dotted ones, and who-the-fuck-cares ones, I felt like I was in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Were these seventeen-year-old girls seriously having a conversation about hot pink bras as if they were in some way risque or inappropriate? What kind of alterna-world had I stumbled into?

Apparently it wasn't an alterna-world at all, and after that conversation, my previous purple-panty conversation was, naturally, on my mind. After having been privy to both conversations, I had no choice but to come to the conclusion that this line of thinking may not be so anomalous, and it got me wondering. Am I the weird one? The questionably moral one? The one who doesn't know appropriate from not, just some harlot strutting around in her purple panties, hot pink bras, and nipple clamps?

Okay, that last one was a jest, but seriously, it's 2014 and women are shocked and/or ashamed by the color of underclothes?

It all equates to sexuality, of course, as well as societal expectations of women and what we've been taught is acceptable and unacceptable in terms of our "brazenness" in the bedroom and in all matters in any way connected.

It all equates to good girls don't but bad girls do.

Purple panties on a sixty-year-old woman suggest the idea of a sixty-year-old woman who is not chaste.

A bra that is apparent, be it the hint of a hot pink strap or the entire outline of hot pink through a lighter-than-hot-pink shirt, suggests the idea of breasts.

And you all know what not chaste and breasts mean:


And you know what sex means.


I'm sorry, I thought I said it was 2014.