Monthly Archives: June 2010

Fer cause then you might marry a goat!!!

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where is the controversy?

I went to my senior ball with my best friend. She is a girl. I am a girl. We are girls. No one said a thing about us going to our senior ball together. Not the teachers, not the students, not our mothers. No one. Maybe because we both wore dresses? I don’t think anyone thought we were gay, and I don’t think it would have occurred to us to be offended if they had. We both had many gay friends so being included in that clique was pretty normal for us anyway. We went together because 1: we were best friends, 2: I was living in Texas at the time just home visiting, and 3: her live in boyfriend had just moved to South Carolina. Really, if you don’t have a partner, who better to do something special with than your best friend? 

We both wore black cocktail dresses and we had our pictures taken by the professional photographer. I think we probably even danced together. No one shut down the ball or kicked us out or condemned us to hell for having fun. That was 1991. Now, in the year 2010, a girl was not allowed to bring her girlfriend to her senior ball. I don’t get it. I mean, I do. I hear bigoted, ignorant, people who try really hard to force others to conform to their rigid ideas of humanness. I know they exist and I know they hold positions of power in society. What I do not understand is what exactly were they trying to accomplish by canceling the entire senior ball and blaming it on this girl who wanted to go with her girlfriend? Maybe they thought all the kids would hate her and attack her like some scene out of Carrie? How sick are these freaks who “run” the school, state, country? 

I watched a few interviews with the girl who was at the center of the controversy. It really didn’t seem like she was asking for anything. She just wanted to go to her senior ball with someone she liked. And, of course, the students would blame her for the cancellation of her prom…cause they are kids, without fully developed frontal lobes, so, they are not fully rational humans yet. Unlike the school officials, who decided it would be a good idea to ruin every kid’s prom experience because one kid wanted to bring a girl as a date and wear pants. Cause those school officials have fully developed frontal lobes and well, ok, maybe they don’t. 

It isn’t suprising but it is sad. I don’t ever remember caring if someone was gay or straight as a kid. It was just a non issue for me. I mean, for my gay friends it was an issue, I don’t discount that they went through their own private hell in coming out. But when they did come out, it certainly didn’t make me love them any less or change my view of them. They are beautiful people no matter who they hold hands with. To be honest, I don’t want to think of anyone having sex….not straight people or gay people or people I know or people I don’t know. Other people’s sex lives do not interest me. Why do they interest government officials? Because God told them to be interested? Ok, but we have separation of church and state so if God is talking to the elected officials then they should pick a new profession such as priest where it is perfectly ok to think about kids having sex. 

I do not understand who these officials think they are saving or helping. I do not understand why it is ok to discriminate. Since when, in America, the country that fights wars for peoples civil liberties, is it ok to make laws against an entire population? I know we have a long history of doing this. To African-Americans, to women, to Japanese, to Irish, to kids. We have blemish marks on our record as a country that is all for human rights. But we learned from our mistakes, right? Now we know better, therefore we DO better, right? 

Not yet. Apparently we are still screwing up. I can only imagine how ashamed we will feel in the future(not that many of us don’t already feel ashamed) when we look back and have to teach the early 21st century history which will include bans against same-sex marriage or gay adoptions. We will feel the shame. The same shame that we feel today when we teach about slavery and discrimination against women or against black people and white people marrying or child labor. It was wrong, we learned our lesson, we will not do it again. 

Except for the gays…they can’t get married. Cause that would be wrong? Gross? The beginning of the end of our society? Because gay people are LESS than straight people. That must be it. They don’t count. Gay marriage will hurt US!! In fact, they really don’t deserve any rights what so ever!! Not to vote or attend school or ride the bus. Oh now come on! That is taking it too far!! Just not to get married and we should make it really hard for them to adopt. After all, if the gays adopt all the kids, they could start a gay army and then take over all of us straight people and make us gay!! 

Gay isn’t contagious. You can’t catch it or “make” someone gay. I don’t get the discrimination at all. I can kind of understand the warped mentality of discrimination against women….we look different from men. Or blacks….they are a different color. Or kids….they are smaller than grown ups. But gay people? Gay people look exactly like all of the other minorities” we” have already decided to accept. How can we justify withholding basic human rights from a human being

But we do. And some of us yell and scream about it and some of us quietly protest. There are some of us who will love and accept our gay friends but when it comes down to it they will deny them, just like Peter denied Jesus when confronted. Why? How can anyone possibly believe that it is ok to discriminate. We are in the 21st century in a country that was founded on the idea that we should be free. I won’t argue with you, try to change your mind. But I know, from personal experience, that gay people live and love just exactly like you do and they make great parents and they have healthy, long-lasting relationships. I wish the powers that be could have had my upbringing because if they had they would have no fear and they would do what is right and good. 

But they didn’t. Although there has to come a day when we get over the tainted messages we were given as children and become adults who can incorporate the ideas and philosophies other than the outdated ones that parents, church or bigoted peers taught us. Just cause my great great grandma said it doesn’t mean I have to live my life by it. 

Today, my best friend and I are looking forward to our 20th high school reunion. She is married with 3 kids, I am divorced with 3 kids and we will go together. I said that everyone will think we really were a couple back then, and that we still are. And they will think that her husband is just our baby maker. We laughed at that idea. Who cares? I mean really, if you have time to worry about who your next door neighbor is doing then you have far too much time on your hands. Get some Pride.

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Gee, your hair smells terrific, or is it genetic?

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mom?

Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific was a shampoo in the 1970’s. There was a girl on the commercial with wavy blonde 1970’s hair and she would swing her 70’s hair around and some guy who also had 1970’s hair would instantly fall in love with her and say with big luvy dovey 70’s eyes “Gee, your hair smells terrific!” and they would live happily ever after. My grandpa loved this shampoo (or maybe just the girls in the commercial?) So, that is what I used at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I was a little kid so lucky for me it didn’t attract men with poofey 70’s hair….unless you count the guy in the blue Cadillac who parked on the corner one day and asked me and my friend to help him with directions on his map and when we approached the car his compass was pointing north if you get my drift. Ew.

I had reddish, curly hair as a kid. My mother was a big fan of the spit curl. You know where you take a piece of hair, usually in front of the ear, spit on it to make it wet and then wind it around your finger and secure it with a bobby pin. I usually wound up looking like a Hasidic Jew straight from Williamsburg, but hey, it was the 70’s, there were many of us little girls looking like Jewish boys because our moms had discovered the beauty of the spit curl. I wasn’t alone.

 I was “so lucky”,according to my grandma, because I had such beautiful curly hair and she had to perm her hair to get the curls to make the old lady hair style. Isn’t it funny how the older women get, the shorter  their hair gets until they have a white woman fro? My own mother is headed the way of the white woman fro. She hasn’t permed, but she is going shorter and shorter every trip to the hair dresser. I wonder why that is? And when I see older ladies with long hair I just assume they are some hippie throwbacks who don’t wear bras or gurtles or knee highs under their slacks and won’t conform to the standardized old lady hair. And I simultaneously envy and admire them. I dream of being one of them when I get old….but more than likely I will have the old lady helmet of curly perm and be happy with the retirement of flat irons and pony tails and big barrel rollers.

I started dying my hair when I was in 7th grade. Red. I wanted my hair to be fire engine red. My mother bought me semi permanent dye that African American ladies used. It was meant to be shockingly brilliant red. And it would have been if my hair were the texture of an African American woman. But I was a little German Scottish girl with curly hair.It came our red, and then washed out and rubbed off on my pillows, for which I got in trouble. Getting red all over everything! We tried henna which brought out my natural red highlights. I liked that but I wanted something less natural looking. I had no idea where this desire for red hair came from. It was like an internal force that was making me go red. My mother was a natural brunette who hadn’t started dying her hair yet and my grandma was always dying her hair jet black (made her look 20 years younger than she was). So why the need to be red? I didn’t know….

I finally found out about Manic Panic which was not available outside of NYC. But some of the super rad college kids we were hanging out with at the time had a supply. Oh if only I could get my hands on some of that red….then I would feel complete. In the meantime I settled for purple reds that my friends and I would get at the local beauty supply place downtown. One friend found a nice navy blue to use for polka dots over her stripped blonde hair. My other friend was generally always a jet blue-black gal and then there was me….the red head. Until the day I decided to go blonde.

Blondes have more fun right? Maybe, if they have never been a red head. So, we bought stripping agent (it’s a hair process, you perv, not like a stripper on a pole) and proceeded to strip my red hair. It came out a lovely shade of French’s mustard yellow. I looked like an idiot. Dark eyebrows with sunshine yellow hair. Shoulder length, frizzy (as I burned the hell our of my curls) bright yellow hair.  Madonna I was not. This was all done in my friend’s basement over her utility sink, no glamor for me. What to do besides hold my yellow head high and laugh along with the ketchup and mustard comments. And dye it back to red.

Then I decided that I would look great with black hair. Metallic black hair. But I was so pale I looked like I had some sort of disease that was sucking the color out of all of those I came in contact with. I was depressed, everyone around me was depressed. My hair was so black it was like life had become grey. I needed to go back to red and in a hurry!! So, I went to a real hair dresser this time, first time in my life for getting (or getting rid of) color. I knew this was going to be a job for a professional. I sat down in her chair with total apprehension. I didn’t trust hair dressers. The last experience I had with a hair dresser I went in wanting a shag and walked out with a mullet. But this black to red transition needed to happen quickly as I just landed my first job as a dance teacher and I didn’t want my black hole of hair to ruin my students enthusiasm.

They stripped my hair. They all agreed that would be the fastest way back to red. Strip it and then wait a day then dye it red. Ok, I nervously agree. They load up my head with bleach. It started to burn immediately but I dealt with the pain. After all, pain is beauty. I was a dancer, I knew I had to sacrifice for beauty. Until…my head was on FIRE! They immediately rinsed me out and apologized,as they slowly spun me around to show me what they were apologizing for. I had about an inch of white hair at the roots, then it was orange, orange as the fruit, then it was baby poop brown then at the ends it was still metallic black. There was alot of discussion and finger-pointing and blame flying around. Me? I just left. They begged me to come back the following week and they would fix it for me. I couldn’t even imagine what fixing my candy corn hair would look like. No thank you.

I went and bought some red dye, but didn’t use it for a week as was recommended by the hair professionals. They were very concerned that the roots were so damaged from the bleach that any more chemicals could make them snap off. Ok. I taught my students that first week with a bandana tied on. To be totally honest, it wasn’t the end of the world. I was never that vein to begin with. It was just annoying because at that point in my life I wanted to be looked upon as mature and responsible. Not like a freak with multi colored hair. Oh well. I learned a very important lesson. Never have any expectations and if you are lucky (like me…remember my grandma told me I was) then hair grows back.

About 7 years after this fiasco, I finally found a hair dresser who was a colorist. She did a great job cutting my hair. She really is an artist. And she had the greatest hair colors…everytime I came in she had a new color on her hair. White with turquoise stripes, hot pink, red with platinum underneath. Always spectacular. After 5 years of quizzing her about hair color, I finally allowed her to dye my hair. And I was so happy!! My hair was exactly the shade of red I had always dreamed it would be. This girl was a genius!!! She won my loyalty that day. That was 10 years ago and she still has the funkiest hair colors around and she still gets me to the red I want every single time.

Everyone always compliments me on how nice my hair smells. I assume it is because I used to use Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific and the smells just lasted. I never wear perfume but I am always complimented on how nice I smell. It’s my hair. Now, here is the strange part of the story. When I was 23 I sent away for my Non Identifying information to the NYS adoption registry. This is a registry that stores all information that the birth parents would release at the time of adoption so that if the adoptee ever came looking, this registry would have some basic info for them. My info came to me by mail and the first thing I read was that my birth mother had red hair…….
 
So, is hair color really genetic or is it a choice? In my case, I have to say it was a genetic desire which drove me to a choice. It was more than just wanting to look like Lucille Ball or Frenchie or Molly Ringwald. I knew, somewhere deep within that I had to be a red head. I believe everyone should be a red head at some point in their life. It is more than just a shade of hair color. It is definitly an attitude. I had the attitude without the color for many years and I always knew something was off. Once I found my outter red head to match my inner red head, I became myself.

I dyed my oldest daughter’s hair blonde last night. When she was little she would say “when I grow up I want to have gold hair” I have NO idea where she gets that from. I mean blonde? Really? But who am I to stand in the way of her inner blonde? I dyed my hair red through every pregnancy and said a prayer to have a red headed child. I got two brunettes and a blonde. Well, now I have two blondes and a brunette. Someday they will see the light and we will all live happily ever after as red heads….Hey! A mother can dream can’t she?

So, yeah, that is kinda weird that my birth mother is a red head, and that I always knew I was a red head too. Not the weirdest thing that has happened in my life, but kinda cool. Long live Gingers whether by birth or by bottle!!!!

Ok People, pull your pants up

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Yesterday I heard a great bit of wisdom. It said that the earth has been here longer than we have and “she” does not care for the everyday crisis of humans, but rather she knows that she will keep turning and producing despite our great tragedies. I hadn’t thought about the earth like that before. I was always so self centered, I just took for granted that the earth, and all of her great reserves, were here for me, for us. To think of the earth as her own separate entity, that she is detached from our great, or not so great sufferings, is quite a new concept for me. The earth is not here for us. We co-exist, the earth and us. But we don’t really, do we?

We use the earth for our own pleasures. More pleasures than she is willing to give. The earth did give us many pleasures of her own free will, which we accepted, and then began to expect. We expected that the earth would provide us with wood for fire to keep us warm and safe. Then we expected the earth would provide us with animals to eat, water to drink and food straight from the dirt. Then we got real smart and figured out how to force the land to grow exactly what we wanted. We re-routed water for our own purposes, we started breeding animals for our own pleasure. And still the earth accepted us. She allowed us to do these things, despite already providing what we needed. She graciously allowed us to take what we wanted, which was far more than we needed. And the earth did not punish us.

And at the heights of our collective intelligence, we started polluting and harming all of the resources that the earth had freely allowed us to use. We polluted the water, the air, the ground. Not because we needed to, but, because we were not as intelligent as we thought we were. We were reckless with our advancements, we didn’t know, and many times we didn’t care, about the harm we were doing…to the earth. And still she kept regenerating, renewing and turning. This separate entity, which is bigger then the collective of humans ever will be, grows around us.

Maybe she has finally had enough? In April of this year we had a major mine explosion killing 29 workers. Coal, which we convert to electricity, was being mined, as it has been for centuries now. Explosions in mines have been happening as long as we have been mining. In that same month, the Deepwater Horizon well exploded which killed 11 workers and is still not contained to this day. Just this month, another of our oil wells exploded, (although it was nothing compared to the Gulf disaster being that it was contained relatively quickly and only an estimated 300 birds were killed…that does not take into account the far-reaching effects on plants and wildlife yet un-noticed) in Utah. Yet another coal mine exploded last week in Columbia leaving at least 20 dead and 58 still trapped, fate unknown. And today, I just heard a report that a mine in China has exploded with an estimated 47 dead so far.

I know these things happen, have happened, time and again for years and years. As long as there are societies, there are tragedies. But when will we begin to look at these man-made tragedies and recognise that our benefactor has had enough of our selfish stupidity? I’m not big on conspiracy theories or anything that is remotely new age,but this looks like common sense to me. The earth has given us everything we need without us even asking. And when we did ask, she provided more. Then we began digging and drilling to meet needs that weren’t even needs. Let’s face it, she is pissed. Wouldn’t you be?

The earth is not ours to take care of. She is a separate, living organism who takes care of herself just fine, thank you very much. We are just a bunch  of silly humans who in general don’t appreciate how good we have got it. We are always striving for more and better. Without giving any credit where credit is due. Now, we have advanced to a point where we humans can continue on in the lifestyle to which we have become accustomed without as much damage to the earth. Yet, we refuse to change. Why should we? We have been doing it this way for years and years. Why stop now? I argue that we should change now because we know better. When we know better it is our responsibility to do better.

These horrible, death producing accidents can now be prevented. By NOT digging and drilling. By going back to using what the earth provides rather than taking what she does not readily give. Imagine your neighbor, whom you gladly share your sugar with, knowing that he doesn’t know where the store is. You provide him with sugar when he needs it. He is very grateful to you. Then his kid needs sugar and you still freely share your sugar. All of the sudden, the kid sneaks in through your basement and starts taking your sugar without asking, without thanking you. But you allow this, thinking the poor kid is just ignorant and he will grow and learn. Insted, he gathers up his friends and they start a conveyor belt to take your sugar without asking, knowing damn well that by doing this you will eventually run out of sugar. You give them a couple of stern warnings and they don’t seem to care. So, you disrupt their conveyor belt. Their only reaction is to find another neighbor with sugar and set out a new conveyor belt. How annoyed would you be? Me? I wold be annoyed enough to find a way to disrupt their new conveyor belt and have them arrested.

I don’t think this is end of the world stuff. I also don’t believe that the severe earthquakes in the middle east have no connection to all of the bombs we dropped over there. The earth is connected to what we do to her. Yes, she is separate and detached enough to continue to live, but, she has every right to be annoyed and I think she is finally saying enough is enough. Are we going to listen now? Is this the generation that finally sees the futility of the way we live off the earth? We are definitely evolved enough, we are the smarter, more educated, better equiped to do things differently. For our sake, the sake of the earth and of future generations we can do this. We can change, we can save lives. We have the ability now, the knowledge, that we didn’t have before.

Payback is a bitch. Let’s stop this here and now and put in the time and effort to discover new ways to live our lives. We know we can do it. Respect and faith that the earth will provide what we need. And maybe some gratitude for all she has given us already. A simple thank you for the grass, the trees, the rivers, the air. EVERYDAY. If I were the earth, I would really like that. Hydrofracking for natural gas, deep-sea drilling for oil, mining for coal are all as outdated as wearing your pants half way down your ass. I’m not saying that we should go back to candles and horse and buggies or everyone growing their own veggies. But, maybe we could pull up our pants and find a new way to make our statement.

Bounces off me and stick to you…

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Ya Know?

I really hate when someone tries to act all superior. They think they say something really clever (they don’t, they just THINK they do) and then you respond and the only retort they can come up with is to be condescending. Yeah, that’s not funny. That is ignorant. And lame. But it does piss me off so maybe their mission has been accomplished. I don’t know. The only mission I see they accomplished is that they made as ass out of themselves, made me dislike them more than I did before, and shown that they have NO idea how to be funny, have a conversation or at the very least be gracious, courteous or polite. Bad upbringing or some sort of personality disorder..I don’t know…or care for that matter.

So, let’s define polite. The dictionary says: marked by an appearance of consideration, tact, deference, or courtesy. What stands out for me in that sentence is tact. Being tactful means: a keen sense of what to do or say in order to maintain good relations with others or avoid offense. I love that idea. I strive to be a tactful person. I was raised to be tactful. To be welcoming to all, to treat everyone as I would like to be treated. Now, that did get me into some trouble. I wound up allowing people to use me, hurt me and take advantage of me. All in the name of being tactful.  Even when faced with people who had no idea what being polite was or lacking all tact, I received them with full on cheer and good attitude. I still do. The difference today being that I do not feel the need to keep these people in my life purposely. I can let them slide right back out of my life the same way they slithered in. No harm no foul and I still feel good about the way I behaved.

Now, courteous means: marked by respect for and consideration of others. No where does it say respect and consideration of others whom I like….just others. So, I am expected to be courteous to others whom I interact with daily. Others meaning other beings on this planet. What a lovely idea. Just imagine if everyone were courteous. There would be no more feeling inferior, which is the root cause of jealousy. If we treated everyone we came into contact with as an equal, deserving of the same respect and kindness that we know we deserve, this world would be a much nicer place.

So, which comes first? The asshole or the ass? I mean, do we pick out someone we do not like and then treat them like dirt, or do we feel like dirt and then treat others that way simply in an effort to feel better about ourselves? In my experience, it is the latter. If I am treating someone in a sub-human way it is because there is something very wrong with my personal view of myself and my life. Being arrogant means that I would refuse that notion and tell you, myself and all who would listen, that the issue really truly is with the other person. Don’t take that sentence literally. I have been around long enough, had enough “stuff” happen to me in my life that any ounce of arrogance was washed away long ago. I face life with humility.

None of this means that I am going to like everyone I come into contact with. I don’t. There are many people I do not like, many who do not like me (shocking right?). Some I have gotten to know and decided that I do not like them, some I have only had a brief encounter with and I know that I do not like them in that 5 minute span of time. Just a feeling I get. We all have that feeling. Sometimes we choose to ignore that feeling or sometimes we have to ignore that feeling for the sake of being polite and courteous. It’s called “living in a functioning society”. We all do it. It is necessary.

Which brings me to graciousness. This one is my favorite. It means:  markedly pleasant and easy in social intercourse. No, not sexual intercourse you perv…intercourse meaning interaction with society. The synonyms for being gracious are : cordial, affable, genial, sociable. Those are some beautiful words. I don’t achieve graciousness daily, but I do try. It is hard to be gracious to someone who is not gracious to you. When someone makes it clear to you that they do not like, respect or enjoy you, how can you possibly be expected to treat them with love? Impossible right? Nope. It might be difficult at first, but if that person is going to be a lasting part of your life, it is worth it. Not because of how it will make them feel, not because then you will look like the bigger person, not because then you will be written into  the will. No, because it will make you feel good about being you. And in the end, as in the beginning, it is all about you.

So, when I have to be gracious, courteous and polite in the light of someone’s disrespect, ignorance or arrogance, although it is difficult, it is so worth it. I have to brag on my dad for a second because he had this down to a T. He was well liked, respected and loved by many. He made people feel like they were the most important person in the entire world. And to him, in that moment he spent with them, they were. He was best friends with multi millionaires and cleaning ladies. They were all the same in his book. He was a wonderful teacher of how to be truly gracious. Not fake, not just going through the motions, but really appreciating everyone he came into contact with simply because they were a human being sharing the planet with him. A love for life and for the people living it.

His partner was overwhelmed with my dad’s ability to walk into a restaurant he had never been in before and walk out with at least 5 new  friends. Jim called him an outrageous flirt. And because of this special quality, my dad enjoyed life to the fullest.

I want that. I want to enjoy, not resent, others. I will never have what someone else does, I don’t want it. My life is unique and exactly the way it should be. The only competition I feel is with myself to be the best I can be. I have no desire to be as successful or popular or rich or as well-known as the guy next door. I don’t want fame, power or superficial success. I want the real deal and I know that it is all within me and how I treat others. I don’t do graciousness, politeness or courteousness perfectly. I am clumsy sometimes. But it is my goal and I will continue to strive for it.

My friend Lynn broke it down like this : Polite- doing something because one expects it whether you mean it or not
Courteous- doing so because you would want it done to you
Gracious- doing so whether someone expects it or not because it comes from your heart. I think that is brilliant. I’m not going to go out hugging strangers or handing out flowers at the airport…but I strengthen my resolve to be polite, courteous and gracious because it doesn’t cost me a dime and the rewards are priceless. No reason not to, unless you are resolved to being an asshole for the rest of your life, in which case, I will smile and nod and keep on walking. Really, what have you got to lose?

I’m with the band

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WHOOOOO!!

I did alot of drugs in the 60’s. Which was really difficult as I wasn’t born until 1972. That’s what drugs will do to you kids….but along with the drugs came the more damaging music. The music I was into was not your mama’s music. Well, maybe it was.I had a friend whose mom would pop in and no matter what we were listening to, NIN, Shriekback, PiL, she would ask “oh is this the Replacements?” and bop along in the doorway.  It wasn’t MY mama’s music that’s for sure. My mother wasn’t all that into music. Her favorites were Barry Manilow and Paul Anka. So, obviously, I would like Sex Pistols, Ramones and Concrete Blonde.I had another friend whose mother was all about country western music (that’s what she called it). When we were listening to music at her house her mom would come in and try to mosh with us, the whole time asking us “Is this how you do it?!?” My friend’s parents were weird…but funny.My dad listened to nothing but classical. That is, excluding his Village People stash of albums I found when I was 9…that’s a whole ‘nother blog.

 Music was a huge part of my life as a teenager. Knowing people in bands was the ultimate. My best friend lived next door to a local band, another best friend had a family member in a local band, another best friend was in one of the most talented local bands. I think at one point I knew more people in bands than not in bands. And they were all talented musicians. Watching bands practice, going to shows, hanging out after shows is what I did with my friends. I wish I could remember all the bands I did see. It was like having street cred when you could name off bands you’d seen before they sold out. Bootleg tapes, shows in the middle of the day, bands in basements. I suppose it was the 80’s. I suppose this was everyone’s experience.

Yet I cringe to think that MY kids would ever, EVER do or see the things I did and saw. I purposely live in a village that does NOT connect to public transportation so that where ever my kids want to go, they have to be driven. I can’t tell you how many times I “went to a friend’s house” only to take the bus to the city and see GWAR or Cro-Mags or some equally sick, loud, drunk band. I know my hearing has suffered from those loud shows. I’m sure the liver damage has reversed itself by now. My memory has gone down hill and I am aged,but I wouldn’t trade that adolescence for the world. I’m lucky I got out alive but while I was in, it was a blast!!

After a short stint as a crazy punk (once a punk always a punk), I moved on to the dirty hippy crowd. The music was way more tame, the people were way more mellow and slower to be funny. Everyone of them was always on some substance. There were no straight edge hippies. Off we’d roam, into the woods, for all night bon fires, to giant concert venus (rather than “shows”) getting there in somebody’s van or giant, 70’s, boat of a car. We would never turn down someone who needed a ride even when it meant they were riding in the trunk.

Yeah, I saw The Grateful Dead in Buffalo with Steve Miller Band opening. Yeah, it was a trip. We all camped out there for a couple of days, I think. Maybe it was a week, maybe it was overnight, whatever it was definitely an experience. All of you who have been to a Dead Show know exactly what I mean.  I vaguely remember some of the characters we met. Everything that happened there, from gathering water at the community well, to “finding” one of our friends who came with us but we hadn’t seen in a few hours, was an OH MY GOD moment.All of it was such an out of this world experience. Glad I had it, but it not something that could ever be duplicated….

I came back to reality with a few bumps and bruises and went to college at the birth of the club kid scene. Living in Philly and attending UofArts was a perfect combination for the club scene. I hated grunge, so off to the clubs we would go…dressed in beautifully hideous costumes, eyes tie dyed, hair florescent, shoes platformed. The music was still loud, the place was still packed, but I laughed more than I had in ages.

Being in a pit with punks, someone always got hurt. Being at a show with hippies, someone always overdosed. Being in a club with The Kids, someone always never slept. Occasionally, I would get tired and need to sleep so I would head down to South St. to a sweet little hippie shop to visit. Sometimes I would feel a bit irritated with the colors and obviousness of the clubs and take off for the weekend with my skinhead friend to see some local shows in NYC. It was a good life, a very full life without restrictions cause I was young and having fun!

When I got pregnant with baby#1, I gave up all of it. I gave up even listening to music. I went to shows very, very rarely when I was pregnant and when she was a baby. Little by little, I became a radio listener. It was embarrassing to admit to my friends. Yes, I knew the words to songs that were in the Top 40. Hey, don’t judge! I did what I had to at the time.

After I became a single mother, I began to introduce my kids to MY music. I played them Soul Asylum, Violent Femmes, Descendents, Bad Religion. They LOVED it. Suicidal Tendencies and D.I., T.S.O.L and Fishbone. I bought a Sirius Satellite Radio for the car and that was so much fun because  the monitor would show who the band was, the year and the song. So, the kids and I would quiz each other. This is how I began their musical education. Bob Marley, Journey, Led Zeppelin, Def Leppard, Blondie, Elvis, Velvet Underground. I made sure they knew who these musicians were, from what time period, and which ones I liked and who I didn’t and why. We spend ALOT of time in the car.

My kids have now moved on to liking their own music. And it really isn’t that bad. They listen to top 40 stuff, a little bit of rap/hip hop, most of it is tolerable. Every once in a while I will pop into my kid’s room and no matter what she is listening to I ask “Oh is this Eminem?” which always gets me the eye roll. My oldest went thru a stage where all she would listen to was the “new” hair bands like Good Charlotte and Linkin Park. That was annoying. But she got over it and now mainly listens to show tunes. Her younger sister has become all emo with the vampires and the black and maudlin so she is listening to the New Moon CD over and over and over (thanks Aunt Aubry). My youngest one doesn’t have an opinion yet, although when she was 3 she knew all the words to My Humps….which she sang to her nursery school class on  share your special talent day….with a special talent day dance…she did not run that one by me first. I would have suggested Blister in the Sun… 

Music is a huge part of our lives. I know when I hear a song it can bring me right back to what was going on when I first heard it.I also have some sort of OCD with music. I can’t listen to a song without choreography running through my head. Even songs I hate have a dance in my mind. Music makes me feel. And sometimes I hate to feel. So, now I listen to NPR talk radio. Then I get to think about how I feel. Occasionally, I will flip thru the radio stations, or pop in an old cd to sing along with but it never lasts long. I have trigger thumb when it comes to music in the car. The station tuner is on my steering wheel and when the kids are in the car they do the “Oh Oh OH I LOOOVE this song!!!Don’t turn it” as I turn it. I have no attention span when it comes to music unless I really like the song. And I have very strong opinions about everything we listen to.

I refuse to apologize anymore for liking Usher or Jason Mraz or Neil Diamond (saw him three times in concert in the round). Whatever. But, I am embarrassed to admit that yesterday, when the kids and I were eating dinner at a local restaurant, we were sitting next to an old hair band, I just didn’t know which old hair band they were. I tried to bribe the kids into going and asking them for an autograph. Not gonna happen. I thought seriously about going over and asking them who they were (cause they were obviously somebody what with the hair and the pretty, sleazy chicks hanging on them) but then I thought that might be painful to have someone come over and say “You guys look like you were famous at some point, in the 80’s, but exactly who are you?” So, I chickened out.

I was sitting next to Slaughter!! Oh, that made me laugh. Now, Slaughter was never on my radar as a band I liked, but I had many friends who loved hair bands back in the day. They looked exactly the same. A few more tattoos, alot more grey hair, blue tooths in ear, kinda fat, eating at a family restaurant, at 5 o’clock…with the families and the old people. Kinda sad. We all get older, even those who are in a band. A video on MTV does nothing to stave off old age. Sex, drugs and rock and roll baby…ok, maybe just rock and roll and  the early bird special. Guess I’ll leave it all up to the Youth of Today…..

All the single mommies (all the single mommies)

Standard

which ones come from a single mother home?

Put your hands up!! (I was singing the song…not trying to rob you)

When I finally faced the reality that I was now a single mother, I threw tantrums and kicked and screamed. You see, being a single mother was not in my plan. I got married with the firm belief that it would last forever. My grandparents were married for 50 years, my parents were married for 25 (and would have stayed married but their divorce is a novel in waiting). So, I just assumed that it was a forever deal.

Sadly, it wasn’t and therefore I am a single mother of three beautiful girls. Now, there are many positives to being a single parent. I don’t have to back up someone else’s bad parenting decision to present a united front for the kids. On the other hand, I have no one to back me up when I have to make parenting decisions. I don’t have to negotiate with another adult for things the kids want. Ofcourse, I also do not have the luxury of giving them everything they want because I don’t have another income. Ok, so being a single parent is hard.

This wasn’t something I chose, it was just the consequence of the marriage I had. So, we make the best of it. My problem with being a single mother to 3 girls was there was NO representation (that I could think of ) in film, TV, or literature. So, I couldn’t envision what this single mommyhood was going to look like. I had no way to romanized it or spin it in a positive light. All I could bring to mind were statistics and bad outcomes of kids I had known growing up….and my own experience also. And it just was NOT what I wanted for my kids.

I finally remembered One Day At A Time starring Bonnie Franklin and Valerie Bertinelli and Mackenzie Phillips. From what I could recall about that show is that they were all sorts of screwed up. One of the kids had a drug problem, one had an eating disorder and Schneider was always hitting on the mom. Yuck. As far from the Cosby Show as one could get. So, it looked as though I was going to have to start my own sitcom, write my own novel, present my own screenplay.

Growing up, the majority of my friend’s parents were divorced. The ones who had intact families were the exception to the rule. So, I had role models. But it was the 80’s, the ME decade, and so, they were not the best role models. Or at least not the way I wanted to live my life as a single mom. I had to redefine single motherhood to fit the way I wanted to raise my kids. So, I have set about to make a life that I never expected to have to make.

I knew I didn’t want to make my kids my equal. I didn’t want to saddle them with the responsibility of making me happy or give them the role of caretaker of me and my emotions. I didn’t want them to see me as the victim. And above all I didn’t want them to grow up thinking that THEY were victims. I had experienced first hand “the victim as parent” and the children of that family were not stable,  not well rounded individuals. Ok, so I had an idea of what I didn’t want. Now what did I want and how do I achieve that?

I wanted to have secure, emotionally healthy kids who grow up to be contributing, stable members of society. Isn’t that what every parent wants? I had to get over the grief that I had that there was  no one to join me as a witness to my children’s lives. That took some time as grief has no time frame. Then I had to refocus on my kids and what they needed from me. And what they didn’t need. That took some investigating. Becoming the mother I wanted to be was time consuming. And not something that happened overnight or without alot of thought. When I was married I had the luxury of letting life unfold without a whole lot of thought, knowing I had another adult there to share the responsibility of all decisions good and bad. Now, my priorities had changed and I needed to be more focused because I want to avoid my family becoming a statistic.

I can’t tell you I have any answers, I don’t. So far, despite major tragedies, my kids are very centered and have amazing coping skills and don’t seem to be as damaged as I believed they would be. Yes, yes, kids are resilient…as kids. They do carry their hurt with them into adulthood and eventually they have to deal with the fall out of all the things that happened to them as kids. My goal is to give them the skills they need to be able to deal, as adults, when they finally have the words and knowledge to understand what they went through as kids. My job, as their parent is ever changing. I cannot tell you that if you and I  just follow these directions then our kids will be perfect and have wonderful lives. I wish I could.

But for all of us single moms out there, we can do it. We can raise happy, healthy kids. Maybe we didn’t choose to be single mothers, maybe we did. But it is doable. Our kids have absolute trust and faith in us and we deserve their trust and faith. No matter how we came to be a single mother, I believe it is no accident that we are. We can create our own ideal, our own idea of family, our own standards and boundaries. It is hard, harder than having a participating spouse, but it is so worth it.

So, when you are sitting up late with a crying baby, or finishing up a school project, or teaching your teen how to drive, remember although you are alone in doing these tasks, you are not alone in your experience. There is something very special in getting to be the only parent. There is a closeness we single mothers get to share with our kids that is different from the closeness between moms and kids in two parent households. Not better, not worse, just different. No one can negate our experience or tell us that we are less than because we do not have a partner to share our kids with. We know, no matter the circumstances of our single mommyhood, that we can do this job as well as any other.

Our lives take a bit more planning, a bit more luck and a bit more work than a two parent home. We need to rely on others, we need to ask for help, we need to be stringent on who we allow in our children’s lives. We need to see everyone as a potential role model for our kids because they will make role models out of  the most unlikely people.  We have to accept that our family is not going to be traditional and our kids will most likely not lead traditional lives. But how wonderful that our kids will become adults that understand how to go with the flow, who accept others, whose “normal” is stretchy. Our kids will know that traditional roles don’t have to be followed because they have seen us, their single mothers, do it all. What an incredible lesson we can teach our kids!!

Our single mother lives are sitcoms. How many times have you been in the middle of some parenting dilemma (like the 6 month old just found out how to remove her own poopy diaper and the 8 year old is running to get you while you are spilling boiling water all over the kitchen floor because you tripped over the damn dog and the 4 year old has stolen the “childproof” scissors and is hacking away at the hair that she just recently grew on her previously bald head) and been simultaneously glad and sad that no one was there to witness the chaos? What can you do but laugh, clean up the mess and pray that the hairdresser can make your little girl look like a little girl despite her self inflicted crew cut in the front…

We wrote that. It is all ours. And it is funny. Just because there wasn’t another adult there to share it with does not mean it was tragic or less than. It is ours. As is the drama of the 15 year old and her grades and her boyfriend issues, as is the 11 year old and her perfectionism and her obsessions, as is the 7 year old and her desire to be as grown up as her big sisters but yet remain the baby for a while longer. It is all ours, the sweetness and the sour. Enjoy it with no regrets. Our kids rely on us for everything but we also teach them, by example, that they can rely on themselves also. Our example shows them that they never need another to make a life, they are complete without another. That if they choose to be with another, it is not a necessity, it is a compliment to the life they already have. What a great gift!!

I am a big fan of marriage and two parent households. I support all of my friends in their marriages and family pursuits. I enjoyed being a married person. Today, I enjoy equally my single motherhood. I never thought I would be able to say that. I know what the generalized  risks are for my kids and yes, I worry. So does every mother.That has not a thing to do with being a single mother, that is just being a mother. My family doesn’t have to be a statistic. In fact, my family will be as unique and special as yours.

Oh yeah….Alice…The Partridge Family…Who’s The Boss! We are out there!! Now, I guess I have to get a bus, teach the kids to sing, find a nice italian man to keep house for me while I waitress at a greasy spoon….

copyright@sparklingbytheway 2010