Monthly Archives: February 2010

Cancer Changes Everything

Standard

R.I.P. Bocci

Last night the girls and I sat eating Bocce’s sauce and meatballs. Bocce is my kid’s best friend’s grandma. She is the italian version of my own grandma. She has 5 kids of her own and is widowed. She lives in an in-law apartment attached to her daughter and son in law’s house. We have known Bocce for 10 years. We love Bocce. And she loves us as evidenced by the sauce. She looks at my kids with the same love  that she has for her own grandkids. She takes my kids raspberry picking and shopping and makes them breakfast. She is family.

And here is another member of my family that has been stricken with cancer. Last year, her daughter, my friend, came over to tell me that Bocce had been diagnosed with non Hodgkin lymphoma. Not the “good” kind either. She is only 75 years old. That seems very young to me. But, Bocce was going to fight. Chemo, radiation, surgery whatever it took. She wasn’t going down without a fight because she has family to take care of. She knows exactly how important she is. And fight she has.

Going through this with my friend has been hard. I know the treatment center she is going to, I know the crisis that come with fighting cancer. I know exactly what it means when they say “you’re cancer free….but we need to do an MRI just to be sure” and then that MRI shows the cancer has spread to the brain.

Which is where we were last night. My kid’s best friend called to tell my kid that they found cancer in Bocce’s brain. He was very upset as was my kid. They talked for awhile and cried. My kid remembers what cancer in the brain means. It was only 3 years ago that my dad, her grandpa had a clean bill of health after 6 months of treatment only to have it show up in his brain and then die a few short months later. But they are kids and they have hope. They were scared, but they don’t know.

I do know. I know that all the hope in the world does not cure cancer. And I also know that I have never given up hope and I’m not going to now. I know the reality of losing people I love to death. No one is immune to death. There is no cure for death. It is a reality of life. I also know the tricks we use to avoid that reality. Sometimes we see death and dying as an inconvenience. Sometimes we refuse to overlook the daily petty irritations to lend our support to the person who needs it. Cancer strips bare the victim of all self righteousness and false pride. In the end cancer leaves the victim in the same innocent, needful state as when  they came into the world. And those of us chosen to be witness to a cancer victim’s life are truly privileged.

The best thing I ever did was set aside myself and my troubles to be there for my father as he went through the process. I have incredible memories and stories from that last year of his life. It was a powerful experience to say the least. The laughing, the crying, the support and the love. I know there are many people who are not equiped to deal with cancer. And that is ok, because I have no doubt a power greater than ourselves puts the people we need in our life at just the right moments so we never walk alone.

Bocce will not walk through this alone. Those of us who love her will not walk through this alone. And I do not see this as yet another tragedy. It is yet another blessing that I am willing and able to love and be there for my friends. It could be just as easy to shut down and ignore. I now know the way death is final and I take nothing for granted. I am not scared to react or act. I am not scared that cancer is yet again changing the landscape of my life and my children’s lives. I will allow it to change us. I will surrender to whatever comes next. I can’t control it, I can’t change it and I can’t cure it. But I can hold my friend’s hand and I can freeze Bocce’s sauce so that she can add to it next year with the tomatoes she grows in her garden. That is my hope.

I Love Martha

Standard

And before you start judging and rolling your eyes, let me explain why. She expects without judgement. Here, I will prove it to you.

I guess I have always been a Martha fan. When I was 21 years old and poor (no cable, only 4 channels) Martha was on Saturday mornings. Before bowling, golf and all those other incredibly boring sports would come on. So, I loved Martha out of necessity. There was something about the way she was so confident that everyone watching would really love to make a wreath out of wine corks that  kept me riveted. Her very helpful hints like storing your gardening tools in sand to keep them from rusting and how to make buttermilk from scratch did nothing to make me a domestic diva, but was far more interesting than golf.

I wasn’t obsessed. I didn’t insist on making sure I was in front of the tv, no distractions at 9 am on a saturday morning when Martha came on. Just if I happened to be up or not headed off to class, then I throughly enjoyed her show. She wasn’t the big deal she is today. Not very many people knew of her. She didn’t have her own line of products, she wasn’t friends with Snoop Dog, and she hadn’t been to jail. She was not the cultural icon she is today. But she was just as confident as she is today. More so, I would assume. That woman has drive. She knows what she wants and how she wants it and she is not afraid to do it herself. Isn’t that a positive way to be in this world?

How many celebrities do we see who climb the ladder of success and then turn into lazy, vain, ignorant people. Not Martha. She is still gardening, painting, cooking, entertaining just like she always did. The fact that she has such a wide circle of friends, who include politicians, rock stars, movie stars and no bodies says alot for her acceptance of the human race. Everyone thinks she is about being perfect. I don’t see it. I see her striving for perfection, for doing things the right way rather than the half assed way. I don’t ever see her making excuses. She just does what is expected of her. And everyone else whines about what is expected of them. I really admire that about her. She doesn’t slack. And she just assumes that the rest of us are like her. That we don’t slack. That we want to put in that extra added effort so that another person in this world will feel special.

Most of us don’t want to put in any extra effort into anything and when we feel pressured to do so we rebel and bitch about it. It’s not Martha, it’s us. She isn’t out there to make us feel bad about ourselves, we do that all on our own. She is out there saying that this is how it should be done and she accepts that we all want to do it the way it should be done. WE are the ones who say no. WE are the ones who resort to name calling and finger pointing. Not her. She doesn’t start it, WE do. By “we” I mean you because I do love Martha. I don’t agree with everything she says or has done, obviously. I love her but she isn’t a God. I respect and admire her. And my guess is you do too. If we can stop feeling inferior and judgmental and just see what this world has to offer and try, just make an attempt, to live up to an expectation, even if we fail miserably, we will have made this world a better place to be in.

So, in the end, it is bigger than Martha. But it can begin with Martha. Open your mind and then your heart. It’s a good thing.

Valentines Day and The Single Girl

Standard

Black on Vday? I'm wearing my heart pin....

I think there was a time in my life when I got excited about Valentines Day. I don’t remember when that was,which that is not to say I hate the day. I actually don’t really care. It’s nice, I like the decorations. My youngest was born 3 days before, so I think of her as my valentine. Even in the throes of my romantic entanglements as a youth, V-day never really caught me. I like it for the excuse to be crafty and use hole punches and glitter. That’s all.

The day has given me opportunity to examine the lives of my married friends and compare my life to theirs. Many times,when I dare to compare, my life comes out on the losing side. But V-day really does let the life of a single mother shine. Shine like the sparkliest glitter on the biggest heart in the dollar tree store! I do not have any expectations of anyone giving me anything. I don’t have to be angry that my special someone didn’t make me breakfast in bed, shovel the driveway or make reservations at a fancy shmancy restaurant. I do not have to open innocent boxes of cookies or slowly lift the dirty socks while trying to be sly, hoping to find the diamond earrings I circled in the Kmart advert. I do not have to be angry or disappointed in a day that sets the bar so high that even the good valentines can never live up.

But is it the valentine giver or is it the valentine receiver who makes the day a bust? I am going to go out on a limb here and say it is the receiver who either makes or breaks the holiday. Maybe the receiver only gets a cheap little card when he/she was expecting a trip to Cancun. That’s all on the receiver. The giver may be so thrilled to be giving a little card, thinking that it is the thought behind the little card that is gonna get him some tonight. Really, it is all just un-met expectations that lead to the ruination of the day. And many times, those expectations are never even communicated in the first place. The receiver just expects the giver to be a mind reader or the giver expects the receiver to be appreciative.

Then there are the couples who think just being in a couple makes us singles jealous. And they have to keep up the charade of being a happy couple especially during the holiday because they would rather be with someone than alone. I have outgrown that phase and I enjoy being single much more than I ever did being with some jerk. I am so grateful that I do not have to worry about any of this V-day stuff. There are no expectations, no crushed hopes, no dreams denied. There was just me and my kids, doing exactly as we pleased. Making sure that we all know about love, what we believe love is.

I don’t see how anyone could be opposed to valentines day. Oh I hear those curmudgeon whining that it is just a “commercial holiday” made up by a card company. Whatevah. It was made up by people, just like St. Patrick’s day, Presidents day and the 4th of July. All institutions designed by people to celebrate or commemorate events or people. What is so wrong with taking a day out to celebrate love? Sure, we celebrate it every day, we love every day. But why not take one day out of 365 to make love feel special. It’s like Mother’s day. We are mothers everyday. Do we really need a day specifically designated to praise us for being mothers? To be celebrated? Yes. We do. As do fathers and grandparents. How boring would this life be without simple celebrations. How boring would a year be without special days carved out to celebrate love, family and national pride? It is what you make it.

Today, I am grateful for the love I have received. I am grateful that I have a cupboard full of toilet paper because when I was married, we were constantly running out of toilet paper. I am so very grateful for having no expectation put on me to be/wear/do the most romantic thing. I am grateful for the love of my valentines. I am ever so grateful to be single and even more grateful that my friends are married. Not just because  they prove that the grass isn’t always greener, but because they show me that love does exist, marriages grow and change just like people. Valentines Day treated this single girl really good.

Perspective is everything. Expectations are premeditated resentments. Love today because we don’t know if tomorrow will ever get here. And I would suggest that on Valentines day, just go with the flow, love the one your with and give your married friends a big ole hug. Sometimes they need it more than you would ever believe. Love, not sex, makes the world go round. Kiss your babies, call your mother and send your boss a secret admirer valentine. If you spread the love you will receive the love. And on Feb. 15th go buy up all the half price chocolate you can find and have a feast. We deserve it.

Thank God For 80’s TV

Standard

lesson? never stand in front of a flying chair

My generation was the first of the “latch key kids”. We were the ones coming home to empty houses and afterschool specials. An after school special was a made for tv movie that had a theme we kids would especially relate to like teens and drugs, teens and sex, teens and divorce. They were designed to help us have conversations with our working parents. I was a bit too young for these after school specials. But I watched them anyway. Anything geared towards kids was a special. We didn’t have entire channels dedicated to kids. We had “specials” every once in a while. That’s all.

When Nickleodeon finally did come on the air, it went off at 6pm. So, it was just a couple of hours of cool kids shows like You Can’t Do That On Television. That left us  to surf either reruns of old shows like Mary Tyler Moore and Maude or watch the evening news, Wheel—-Of—-Fortune and Jeopardy. CHiPs was another rerun that was on and Kojak. Dr.Who and The Lone Ranger were generally always on channel 24 (PBS).

Now, we kids were not supposed to be watching the afternoon talk shows like  Phil Donahue or Oprah. Much of their content was questionable for young impressionable minds.Like the time Phil wore a dress on his show.  Sally Jesse Raphel and Jerry Springer and Geraldo were on the major networks. Phil taught us about cross dressing, Jerry taught us about relationships, Sally taught us about transgendered people, Geraldo taught us about racism and  Oprah taught us how to feel about it all. They taught us not to be scared of people with AIDS, that it was now perfectly acceptable for white people and black people to get married and that we all needed to make ourselves happy and not rely on others for said happiness (it was the 80’s, the “ME” decade).

We met drag queens and KKK members and single mothers and teen parents and “little people” aka midgets, and people who loved their pets more than their partners. If it wasn’t for Phil and Oprah we would have never known that too much excercise was actually a disorder and that pills and booze don’t mix. And sex, don’t forget all we learned about sex!! How to please your husband, how to get your husband to please you, how to know if your man is cheating, how to cheat on your man, how to tell if your man is gay, how to tell your man your gay. The new American family was becoming legitimized. Kids with two dads, being raised by grandparents, foster kids, kids living on the streets. Sally loved to do the shows with the homeless kids. And ofcourse there was the famous chair throwing incident on Geraldo.

While our parents were at work, we learned that we were good enough and smart enough and worthy of love and a large income and how to make couscous and salmon. Self esteem was the hot new buzz word. Phil would start with the disclaimer that today’s show had “adult topics” and all children should be removed from the tv viewing area and then do  show on incest. Ask me how I know. I mean, I was a kid and Phil specifically told me to leave the room. As if just by telling me to leave the room because of adult subject manner was gonna get me to move. What it did was make me go grab the chips and dip and make sure I was back in time for the juicy stuff.

Without Oprah and Sally telling me that I was equal and deserved equal pay for equal work, I would have never known! I have to admit, I was too young to actually be a “latch key kid”. And I was lucky enough to have my grandparents in town. All that meant was that I would catch the last of Guiding Light while eating cookies and milk (or peanuts and Pepsi)and then be banished to the playroom to do my homework, where I would catch one of the talk shows or after school specials. Gram wouldn’t kick me outside till 4, after my homework, and Oprah, were done.

I have to give these talk show hosts full credit for being prepared on my wedding night. Ok, before my wedding night(but they said that was perfectly ok and acceptable) They prepared me for high school, college and life. They told me about crack cocaine, the night club scene, swingers and cancer, STD’s and how to prepare for the end of the world. There was so much they taught me, that they explained to me, that they proved to me was “normal”. I think most of us can say this is true. Really, without these important people on tv, would we children of the 80’s be as evolved and accepting as we are today? I think not. We were on our way as most of our parents had their minds opened by living through the 60’s and the civil rights movement, the sexual revolution and the Beatles. But, our parents were not necessarily forthcoming with their own personal experiences which is why we needed to hear about Darren Robinson (the Human Beatbox…come on you totally knew that one!).

Today, our children have round the clock programming geared specifically towards their emotional and educational level. But really, what are they learning about the hard realities of life? Their programs teach tolerance but it doesn’t teach them that there are people in this world who are not tolerant.And the way to deal with those people is by whacking them with a chair. It is teaching them their ABC’s but are they learning about the 90 year old great grandma who is going skydiving AND bungee jumping at the same time? I mean, really, TV may have been our companion, but for our kids it is their babysitter. Look at us, how bad did we turn out? Is it not our generation who has given our kids Yo Gabba Gabba and Secret Life of the American Teenager (starring Molly Ringwald!!)? Those are two shows that never would have been born without a Phil show on LSD and a Sally show on families struggling with teen pregnancy.

Everytime I speak publicly I remind all the 30 somethings that without Oprah we wouldn’t even know the word co-dependent and we would all still be stumbling around our own sexuality. We owe these icons a great debt. While many of our parents were on the ME decade train and completely focused on climbing the latter of success, these talk shows were taking care of our emotional growth. Thank you Jerry Springer for all of the paternity tests and ways to confront our cheating baby daddy brother’s uncle. Thank you Sally for showing us the reality of running away from home. Thank you Phil for allowing gay married men and women to be out, loud and proud. Thank you Oprah for showing us that we can be black and rich. And thank you Geraldo for showing us how to forgive the assholes who break our noses. I love each and every one of you in a very special way. Not in a “I’m gonna be on Jerry for loving you” way, but special none the less.

F.D.K. (Funeral Director’s Kid)

Standard

 

No this was NOT my bed…

Growing up, I didn’t really feel connected to the human race. I always felt a bit different. I guess it is because I was adopted. Not only was I adopted, but I was adopted by a funeral director and a nurse. Not only was I adopted by a funeral director and a nurse, but we lived above the funeral home.  I thought I must have been dropped from outer space as I had no birth story, and I was surrounded by death and the knowledge of sickness. You can only imagine what conversations around the dinner table were like. My parents were pretty much done with each other by the time I was 8, so all they really had to talk about was their work. They were both workaholics. I don’t mean that as a “catch phrase” or a “label” they seriously worked all the time. They both loved what they did and hated their home life. Which left me either alone or with my grandparents, who fortunately lived a few blocks away.

At a very early age I learned how to walk without making any noise. Just like the Native Americans do when hunting. This was no easy task as our house was a 100 yea old Victorian with all hardwoods that creaked. Until I mastered this skill, I was made to stay in one room whenever there was calling hours or a funeral downstairs. I also learned to lip read cartoons and infer plot by body language because I was not allowed to turn on the volume on the Grieving people did not need to hear little feet running around above their heads or God forbid  Tom and Jerry. I didn’t question this. I just figured out ways around these rules.

Many times both my parents would stand calling hours. I remember being at the top of the stairs once and whispering very loudly “mom!! mom!! the cat is throwing up on the rug!! mom!! mom!!” and some stranger  opening the sliding divider and laughing hysterically at little me in my pj’s. Mom was not at all amused, to say the least. Not sure if it was because the cat puked or because I thought she needed to know right then and there.

Another unique thing about being the funeral director’s kid is that I believed “body” was a bad word. Because around my house “body” was always whispered. “Make sure you don’t go into the basement. There’s a ‘body’ here.” ‘When is the ‘body’ arriving?” “I have to go prepare the ‘body’ so I won’t be up for dinner” Really put a cramp in my bike riding because I kept my bike in the basement. And I know all of you who knew me when are curious. Yes, I did see a ‘body’ once. It was our 99 year old next-door neighbor Rose. I accidentally walked in on one of my dad’s men doing an embalming. Not pleasant. More because it was the first time I had seen a 99 year old lady naked rather than because she was dead. 99 years dead or alive is scary. My dad’s man about had a heart attack. I scared the bejeezus out of him!!

That didn’t scar me. It was just what happened. I felt worse because I knew I would get in trouble than I did for disturbing the sanctity of the embalming process. It was a total accident, but still, a punishable offense.  It was a good life though. My dad was almost always around and there was almost always a party happening downstairs. Dad would play music that the guest of honor would have loved and there was always a lot of laughter and everyone was always dressed in their best, smoking cigarettes. Some nights I would sit at the top of the stairs and just listen to all the adults chatting and laughing and sometimes sobbing. My dad was an expert at what he did and was very successful. And when we didn’t have a funeral, I would go exploring.

Our funeral home was beautiful. My parents were antique collectors. My dad was all about Victorian and my mom was all about Early American. So, the upstairs where we lived was all Early American and the downstairs  was all Victorian. So when I would go downstairs it was like entering a different world. Velvet couches and gold ornate wall paper and oriental rugs. Really a great place to pretend I was a princess. I wasn’t really allowed to play downstairs, but you know how kids are. My friends and I would go down and have seances and try to bring about the spirits. My house was the hot spot on Halloween.

We also had The Funeral Home Phone. The Funeral Home Phone would ring at all hours. The prank calls at 3am were always amusing. Ring Ring  ” George Washington just died! We need a hearse!!” snicker snicker. hang up. Well, that’s clever. I wasn’t supposed to answer The Funeral Home Phone. But when dad wasn’t home and mom was in the tub, the opportunity presented itself. I was 5 and I answered it just like my dad, mom and grandma did, or so I thought… “My daddy isn’t here but my mommy is in the tub. Hold on plwease! MOM!!! SOMEONE DIED!!!!!” Lucky for me that it was just one of dad’s men calling to check on a “body” that was being dropped off and he thought I was hysterical.

My dad had a few men who came and helped out every so often. They would come upstairs between calling hours (calling hours were traditionally 3-5 and 7-9) and drink coffee, smoke like fiends and talk and laugh. I was always around when the men came upstairs. They thought I was great. I would entertain them with dance solos and they would tell me dirty jokes. Other times, dad and I and the men would meet out for coffee and donuts and cigarettes. It was the late 70’s early 80’s, everyone smoked. But these men were a throw back to the early 60’s. The suits, the hair, the attitude. Really fun guys.

There were so many rules to living above the funeral home. Besides not walking loudly or watching tv with the sound on, I wasn’t allowed to play in the front yard. Gives a bad impression to have a little girl playing under the funeral home sign. We couldn’t have a dog. I wasn’t allowed to talk about who came and went to our house. If  my parents were on The Funeral Home Phone do NOT interrupt them to tell them the toilet is overflowing. That was apparently rule #1….who knew?

I still have a hard time saying “body” normally. I think it was 7th grade health class when our teacher was saying “body” this and “body’ that without whispering or any hesitation that I began to understand that the rest of the world said body and meant body. I said body and thought “dead person in the basement” .

Being a funeral director’s kid is pretty tough. Other kids were always asking me if I slept in a coffin. Didn’t I wish!!! Or if I saw dead bodies or ghosts. Well, duh, I lived over a funeral home. The only kid who was really kind of mean about it was the grave digger’s kid. How’s that for ironic? Overall it was a good childhood to have. I was part of our family business. I was always in charge of dusting the legs of the tables and chairs before calling hours and checking all the supplies in the bathroom. I did eventually learn how to answer the phone and take messages and how to stand calling hours. I still use my silent walking skills to my advantage and I can get the jist of any program on tv without hearing a word. Body puddy and embalming fluid aside, it was a good life.

Hiram Monserrate: The Violent Abuser

Standard

I am going to make this general and only about one aspect of domestic abuse. I woke up this morning to the news that Hiram Monserrate was being ousted from his New York State senate seat because of his misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. That is good and right. That he is fighting his ousting is just plain sick. He was fired with a vote of  53 to 8. And only God knows how corrupt those 8 senators are to actually vote to keep a violently abusive man in a public service position. If I were a voter in their district I would make it my job to make sure that those 8 are never re-elected to any public service position. But that’s just me and this issue is one that is close to my heart, obviously.

In this case, Monserrate attacked his girlfriend and cut her in the face with a broken piece of glass and then dragged her down the hall of his apartment complex to bring her to the hospital. He said he accidently tripped when bringing her a glass of water and it shattered and cut her face. Seriously. Classic. “She ran into my fist”. It is still a mystery to me how these men are believed. Now, the senate has voted him out because they feel his actions do not line up with the values supposedly promoted by the NYS senate. Makes sense to me. How could any man who attacks a woman be allowed to keep his job, in general, but most especially a man who is in public service and holding an elected position. That means that he has been elected by the voters who made their decision on many factors including what kind of person he was. Does he molest children, does he kick puppies, does he cheat on his taxes, does he beat women? Apparently yes, he does beat women.

His defense of his actions is to try to deflect criticism by distraction. He wants us to look at the fact that he should not be fired by his colleuges, he should be fired by his constituents. He wants us to believe that his being fired really is about his race and  his past actions in the senate. Flip flopping from a democrat to a republican back to a democrat when he saw he would be on the losing side if he didn’t flip back to his original stance. He stated “God is not done with me yet” Well let’s hope not.

He is textbook abuser. When caught in the act, he lies, he takes no responsibility, tries to blame anyone he can and then gets defensive. The sense of entitlement he is displaying is right on target with the classic narcissistic abuser personality. He just does not believe that he should be subject to the laws of man, NYS, or even morality. It looks like he seriously believes that he should get away with what he did. It is mind boggling to even try to reason out his logic. No remorse, no apologies.

There is so much that is wrong with this case and the way it was handled in the court system. But at least it is a start. It is a new story that is getting the word out about domestic violence. It is making people talk. It is making people angry. And it’s about time. If every case of domestic violence that the court saw ended in the perpetrator being fired from his job and given some sort of punishment maybe there would be a drop in DV cases. Why not try it? I mean, if you steal a car it is automatically a felony and there is jail time served. And that’s a car. Sure, I would be pissed if someone stole my car. But if someone hit my daughter I would be far more than pissed. These laws have to change. Now that we know better we should do better. Criminals who commit victimless crimes are thrown behind bars without much thought. Abusers walk around free to abuse and many times kill their victims and we as a society say “Well,  that’s a shame. At least they didn’t steal my car.” And look away.

No more looking away.

Single Mom Dating A.K.A. Dead Man Walking

Standard

Kinda scared to NOT reply to his "whatup" ... he obviously is no stranger to hair product though....

I have been single for awhile now. I made a conscious decision when I got divorced to take a year and collect myself, not date and totally focus on my kids. Not that a single, 30-something of three kids with an ex who lives in Dramaville is a hot ticket. There were some who were beating down my door, but I used to say to them ” if you want to date me with the condition my life is in, then I do NOT want to date you.” To the general public, that is unacceptable for a woman to say. There are so very many people, of every generation, who firmly believe that a woman without a man is just sad and less than. And I guess I may have bought into that idea for a time. Probably a reason I stayed married for as long as I did.

When I decided that the time had come to dip my toe back into the pool, it was shocking. First of all, most of my friends are married. They are just now experiencing what I have already experienced. So, they had no idea what it was like for me to try to balance working, raising kids, and having enough energy to devote to the dating process. I never really enjoyed dating in the first place hence being married with kids at a young age. My friends thoughts I was nuts when I was checking out internet dating sites. “But you are so pretty and funny and smart! You don’t need to do internet dating!! That’s for losers!!” Great, thanks for the encouragement. And which one of them was setting me up with their husband’s single friends? Yup. None.

Now, I had some far out experiences when I first started this journey. I didn’t really believe that I was going to find true love on the internet. But I figured I may be able to figure out what I liked and didn’t, what I wanted and what I didn’t so that I could, at the very least, avoid making the same mistakes twice. I was using this as more of a learning experience. I had spent 12 years in an very confined, controlled relationship (that’s putting it nicely) so I had a bit of a learning curve to conquer. What was unbelievable to me was how many guys out there are married and trying to scout out an affair. Some wanted long term affairs, some wanted one night stands. That was eye opening. It was hard to wrap my mind around a man that thought he was offering me something really great when he was offering me a no strings attached affair. And certainly not something I was going to wrap my legs around.

The ones who were not married were difficult also. Many of them had these ideas of what they thought a woman should do and be. One guy sent me a list of what was acceptable to him as far as jobs, body appearance, income, and had a  detailed list of what was acceptable as far as a woman’s children’s interests. Now, not to pass judgement but, many of these guys had never been married, were in their 40’s and still living at home with a parent or a sibling.

The more I put myself out there the more I thought my friends were right. The internet is full of perverts and losers. But wait, I was out there, what did that make me? A pervert or a loser. There were a few nice guys, but no one that I was clicking with. I really was not enjoying myself at all. So many of these “men” were just looking for a new mommy for themselves or for their kids. I was not interested in dating a guy who didn’t have a life already. This was a good excercise for me. It really firmed up what I was looking for in a partner. I became more and more picky. I was no longer willing to settle.

I also came to understand that I was a feared commodity. Married women feared me. Which I found laughable at first. I knew I was no threat. I knew that I was not interested in a man who had a wife, or even one that had recently had a wife. My playing field was getting more and more narrow. I was becoming more and more savvy. But some of my married friends were still leery of any laugh that passed between me and their husbands. Their thought was men are pigs but if we women didn’t cater to their piggish wants then they could not be pigs. Therefore, it was actually women who were the problem. This logic is almost funny. I agree that women who refuse to participate in an extra marital affair are part of the solution, the converse, that women who do participate are only PART of the problem. Men are the other part of that problem.

Many of these guys are such textbook, classic cases of dysfunction it was seriously bizarre. One email and they believed we were “dating”. One date and they thought we were engaged. Two dates and we were as good as married. Unbelievable. Part of my personal journey was developing and stating my boundaries clearly. What was strange was that I would state my boundary and these “men” would just simply not believe me. I am not sure if they thought I was kidding, or that I just didn’t really know what I wanted. But it was almost like what I had said they just didn’t hear. Despite me saying it repeatedly, to their face, in writing, with witnesses. Maybe if I had told them on Jerry Springer they would have believed me. Scratch that, they would have probably used the opportunity to propose on national television.

Recently I have been dating a man I met a few years ago. We reconnected recently coincidently and I genuinely like this guy. Not to the point of introducing him to my kids. We are getting there I think. But I am in no rush. I have not only survived, but thrived in my post divorce life. My kids keep me busy, I have great friends and work, school and a fantastic social life!! He is someone who is adding to my life, not draining it. He has his own life, rich and fulfilling and he is fun all on his own. He is not looking to me to complete him. He is looking for me to join him on his journey. To see if he may have a place in my journey. It’s good stuff so far. One day at a time my life changes. This too shall pass, the good and the bad.

Did I mention he’s a doctor?

One Little Piece Of Crazy

Standard

I have no idea how I lucked out to have three incredible kids. Especially when they are sick. Because if the curse that my mother put on me as a child had worked, I would have had kids that were exactly like me. But I don’t. And I am grateful. When I was a kid and I got sick I really believed the world was ending. And throwing up was the worst. I was pretty sure vomiting = death. No idea why I thought this, but the terror involved with puking far outweighed the actual unpleasantness of the act itself.

If I was feeling sick to my stomach (which was pretty often as a child) I would have to have everything a certain way so that I didn’t puke. Shoot, I couldn’t even say “puke” or”throw up” of”vomit” I called it getting “uppity”. Wow, what a wacko little kid I was!! And then when the time came for the actual deed to happen, I had to have a hand to hold and forget about me aiming anywhere. I tossed my cookies wherever I was because I was paralized with fear. You can imagine how nice this was for my mother to deal with.

There was the time I threw up down her back, the time I puked in my dad’s ear, and the time my drunk uncle tried to catch it with a tv tray which only made it splash. The older I got, the more prepared I became. I would have a plan at all times in all situations on what I would do and who I could grab if I had to puke. I’m not really sure what other 11 year olds were thinking about, but me, at any given moment, I could tell you exactly whose hand I would hold and what I would do if I got sick. I think this is what they call neurotic. Or maybe just annoying. If someone was throwing up near me, or on TV, or even just hearing someone puke in another room would send me into a panic for hours, sometimes even days.

I did finally get over my intense fear when I started drinking. Don’t get me wrong, before an evening of drinking commenced I would straight out ask a friend to hold my hand if I had to throw up. What a weirdo I was. When I became pregnant with my first, and the morning sickness began (which was coincidently on Mother’s Day) I was finally broken of my consuming fear of vomiting. Still didn’t like hearing others throw up, but I understood that I wasn’t going to die and I actually preferred to be alone when the feeling hit.

And then there are babies. I had three, not all at once, just in general. Spit up wasn’t an issue as I breastfed all three. They did spit up now and again but it wasn’t a big deal. And with the first two I had another adult around who took care of them if they had the stomach bug. And when my kids were sick, they were sick but not one of them ever acted like it was the end of the world. This further proved to me that I was a total freak as a child. Now my greatest fear became my kids becoming weirdo freaks like I was. I mean, it was really difficult being such a weirdo freak as a child. Always thinking about throwing up. Being consumed with vomit.

My kids really amaze me. Their little lives are definitely as screwed up as mine was, just in different ways. But somehow they do not have any of the insecurities or strange hang ups that I had. Not quite sure why except that I just refused to allow them to have those hang ups.

Case in point. Last night my almost 7-year-old woke me up by just standing in my doorway. I looked at her and asked if she was ok. She said “yes, but I just threw up.” I asked her where, all the while processing that she was not screaming or crying or in any way visibly upset. She said in her room. So, I get up and take her in the bathroom and check her out, she’s clean. Not a tear, nothing. No puke on her.I ask if she wants to brush her teeth and she does. I bring her into my bed and tell her if she feels pukey again to wake me up and we will run for the potty. She is good with that. Me at her age? I would have had a nervous break down if my mother had even mentioned to run for the potty. That would have meant that she thought there was a possibility that I would throw up again! Not my kid,she says “ok mommy” rolls over and goes to sleep.

About an hour later I feel her moving pretty quickly out of bed. I jump up with her and she actually made it to the potty and threw up while holding her own hair back. My children never cease to amaze me. I am so very proud that they do not have the vomit obsession that I had. I have no idea how it happened I am just glad it did happen. There is no way I could have dealt with mini me. Now if I catch this bug, that may be a different story….

Single Mom Takes Kids on Vacation (Hilarity Ensues.)

Standard

that is my “i’m trying to be happy” face….

So, this past spring, I decided to take my three kids on a  vacation. After all, I am an adult, we are a family and this is just what you do. Apparently it is not what I do. I was listening to A Prarie Home Companion the other day and they did a skit about Lutherans and how their vacations are always rittled with sickness and uncomfortablilty. Had I known that before I had my brilliant Let’s Take A Vacation idea I may have been more prepared with less expectation.

It was spring break and I “surprised” the kids with the idea just two days before we were leaving. I had booked a hotel in Virginia Beach! My oldest, who was 14 at the time, was not amused. My younger two (10 and 6) were really caught off guard but quickly warmed to the idea. Good, we were all on board with the family vacation! Well, not the 14 year old, she was soooo 14, I almost dropped her on the side of the road  to fend for herself. But I didn’t. Cause I am the mom.

We packed up the car with  everything we  needed on the 10 hour drive. We have snacks and DVD’s and headphones and games. This was gonna be great! A family vacation! And to be totally honest, I was kind of proud of myself to be doing this all on my own. No husband, no friend…just me and the kids. I am SuperMom. Well, according to me anyway. The 14 year old may have a different take on things.

And we’re off! Along about Philadelphia, I hear the first “how much longer?” Are you kidding me??? Kids actually ASK that?  We stop for a potty break and I buy a map. Yeah, I buy a map. I had my directions from mapquest, but I wanted a map.Let me explain. I like to feel spontaneous. Like taking a road trip to a place I have never been before with just my kids and no other driver spontaneous, so I  didn’t bring a map. Around about Philly, I decided that part of being spontaneous and fun would be to see where we are going. I bought a map.

I unfold the map and I see a line that goes right through the water. The Chesapeake Bay. My hands start to sweat, and I am not sure why. I would soon find out why. So, the directions have us going straight through Delaware from the top to the bottom. Ok, I have never been to Delaware. Yea Delaware! Oh how naive.  Ever been to Delaware? I am sure it has some redeeming qualities, I mean, I didn’t see one, but maybe you know of some. It was 3 hours of strip malls and road construction. Stop and go. Nothing to see here ma’am. I hate Delaware. Now I know. But I tried to keep the kids happy “Hey look girls! Another Walmart!!! That makes 5 and we have only traveled 15 miles!! 10 year old, tell me how many Walmarts is that in a square mile radius?” Kept them on their toes. The 14 year old just stayed asleep, waking up only to complain that she was hot and refusing to take off any of her three sweatshirts finding it more pleasurable to whine at us about her body temperature. Good times.

All the way through Delaware I am checking the map, knowing that we are getting closer and closer to the line through the water. My anxiety starts building. I don’t like bridges. But most people don’t. It is just a means to an end. It won’t be pleasurable for me but I have driven half way across the country, I’m not a wimp.

At the end of Delaware I see “Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel” labeling the line through the water on the map. And I start to feel really sick to my stomach. I am trying to convince myself that it could mean that there is a choice. Take the bridge or the tunnel. I would choose the tunnel. That’s easy. Ok, I reason things out with my 3 kids…it has to be an either or option. They agree with me because they are starting to get wary of my behavior, not because they have any idea what I am talking about.They have never seen me in full blown panic attack mode.

They are oblivious to the sheer terror that has overcome me. They don’t drive. They just trust me to get them from point A to point B. I always have, why would this be any different? Because I have to drive  17 miles across water. I seriously didn’t know that I had  Gephyrophobia, a severe phobia of bridges. Who knew? I didn’t. The closer we got the more anxious I became. But I was still counting on it being an either/or type thing. As we pull up to the toll booth (because not only will I have the pleasure of this Bridge Tunnel catastrophe, I get to pay for it too) I ask the lady “So, um, how long is this thing?” And she hands us a packet containing the history and blue prints of the damn thing. As if I would want to see ariel views of what I was doing. Or see the horror half constructed. I say “thank you” and she looks me in the eye and asks “Are you going to be ok?” And I look her right back in her eye and say “Let’s hope so!” And I peel out leaving smoke and tire tracks…

Ok, not really. I did proceed at a normal speed towards my greatest fear. Remember, at the time, I had no idea that this was my greatest fear. I was thinking it was just a bit of anxiety. Ha! So, as my anxiety mounts I tell the kids to shut off the dvd player and not move or speak. Not quite sure what them not moving or speaking was going to help, but that is just what I needed in the moment. I threw the information pamphlet at my 14 year old and told her to find out how long this insanity was and how long it was going to take. So, she sweetly starts reading me miselanious facts. I say through clenched teeth “Just tell me how much longer this damn thing is”. As I have the steering wheel clenched, I try hard to focus on the car ahead of me. I zone into the licence plate and pray. And I try to quickly analyze myself and why I am feeling so petrified? I have faith that the bridge is solid, I have faith that my driving abilities are such to get us safely across, so why then do I feel this intense, inescapable fear? Meanwhile, the little one in the back has found a tape recorder and is playing with that. I manage to squeeze out “STOP! NO NOISE!!” Yeah, this has officially turned into the trip from hell. And just when I think I can’t take it anymore, we hit the tunnel. Ok, I can breathe. The tunnel is so comforting. I love the tunnel. I want to live in the tunnel and never ever leave. But all too soon, we are headed up and out of the tunnel and onto the next bridge. Panic. My 14 year old is slightly amused by my obvious discomfort. She starts filming the scenery. And the funny thing is, no one is talking, or moving. I can’t even speak in complete sentences at this point and I say to her “Soda” and she hands me my soda which is literally inches from my hand. I take a sip and throw it back at her. She kind of laughs. It’s like I am in the fields of Vietnam or in surgery. That is how intense I was. I asked her every few seconds how many more bridges, how much longer. It was sheer hell. The next tunnel was again a bit of heaven. Being that it is a two lane bridge tunnel, I stayed behind the same car the entire way. That was also a blessing. I had zoned in on his licence plate and if I had had to look away or been distracted by a new licence plate I may have lost it completely and driven right off the bridge.

As if this isn’t bad enough, there were signs all along the way saying “DO NOT PULL OVER” and “KEEP DRIVING” so I felt like no matter what happened I had to just keep going. There was no way out. As we come out of tunnel number two and on to the last bridge, I try to use distraction as a means to get a grip on this fear. I tell the 14 year old to talk to me. Now, on a good day, the 14 year old isn’t that into making conversation with me. So, she, true to form, says “about what?” AGH!!! I don’t care!!! Whatever!!Distract me!!! So she says “Well, I can’t see the land yet, it’s really like we are in the middle of the ocean and there is nothing around…” AGH!!!! STOP!!! Different topic!!!! So, she tried. And as we exited the last bridge, I really thought I may just have a heart attack. That was way too much stress for one person. I wanted to cry and throw up and call someone to come get me. I am not strong, I am not brave, I’m a wimp. I didn’t want to be the mom anymore. I can’t hack it.

Now who though up something as horrible as The Bridge Tunnel? And why had no one thought to mention it to me? This was a hugely traumatic experience.I was scarred. I couldn’t stop talking about what a nightmare that was. And it was. All of my nightmares have to do with water, bridges and driving into water. Imagine having one of your nightmares come to life. And in that nightmare you realize that you are the sole responsibility for three kids. No one coming to the rescue, no way to wake up. On top of that the extra added pressure of being a good example for these kids and making sure they are having a good time on their vacation. Pretty sure sitting still and not talking while your mother is freaking out is not the traditional “good time vacation”. Although, my 14 year old did derive some sick pleasure out of it I am sure. The peanut gallery in the backseat finally say “can we talk  now mom?” Sure.

Drunk Uncles

Standard

gotta love 'em

  

Everyone has a “drunk uncle”. You know you do. He’s the guy at family parties who shows up half in the bag and then proceeds to stick his feet in the fireplace, or fall down the stairs. He’s the favorite of the children, he is the bane of the adults. He is generally funny and only shows up for family functions like Christmas or Thanksgiving or a baptism. The “drunk uncle” is always fun at church events.  

My “drunk uncle” eventually moved in with us. At that point, he wasn’t so much fun. He had the disease of alcoholism. That is a very nasty disease. And contagious. Alcoholism does not just effect the alcoholic, but the entire family. It makes those who love the alcoholic do really insane things. And generally they do these things totally sober. So, the alcoholic has the excuse of being drunk when they do stupid things, the family does not. Bizarre.  

Now, my uncle was funny. He had a very dry, sarcastic wit. By the time I came along, his rage had left him and he was resigned to dying from the disease. He drank without any boundaries. He had wet brain and reverse tolerance. But even still, he could come up with these one liners that would give me the giggles for hours.  

Just before my grandmother died, her washing machine was acting up. It was a big dilemma whether or not we should bother fixing it because my grandma was in the hospital after breaking her hip, so would she even be able to get down the cellar stairs to do the laundry? After much debate, my mother decided that the washing machine should be fixed because if she came home she would want it to be working. We just couldn’t think of grandma not being able to do the things she always did. We couldn’t imagine our tiny, spunky, matriarch not cooking dinner and doing laundry or any of the hundreds of things she did in a day. As it turned out, getting the washing machine fixed didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. It never really does, does it?  

We were at my grandmother’s calling hours. My uncle and I were standing in the receiving line shaking hands, saying thank you for coming and looking pretty rough.  My uncle was drunk-ish and every so often I would have to put a hand out to steady him.  The rest of the family was circulating and visiting, leaving me to watch my uncle so that he didn’t fall over or take someone down in the middle of a sorry- for- your- loss-hug.  

Towards the end of the line was a little old lady, a friend of a friend of the family. So, she comes along and gives us the hug and the look of sympathy and as she is holding one of my uncle’s hand and one of mine she says “It will all come out in the wash……” and she left us standing there, staring after her, lost in our grief. Until my uncle turned to me and said “Well, It’s a good God damn thing we got the washer fixed then, isn’t it?” At which point the two of us burst out laughing and drew looks of horror and recrimination from the family and all the guests. We had to hold each other up we laughed so hard.  

So, drunk uncles are not always the best under pressure and they may be annoying or embarrassing, but you can always count on a drunk uncle to take an unbearable situation and make it a laugh riot in the most inappropriate, unacceptable way. Go give your drunk uncle a hug.