Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas, Ladies

Your writing, your comments and this community have been a real gift this year. Many thanks and many blessings to y'all. xoxoxo

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Prototypical Mom

There is a fine line.

Between battles against words like "real-mom" and being the mediator between bio-dad and bio-mom, I parent the shit outta these kids.

I am a step-mom. And I parent Monday through Friday, with some help from the kids' dad and mom. I am a negotiator, a carnival host, a tutor, a library guide and a problem-solver. All this with the patience of fucking Mother Theresa.

Peering forward, my own personal time is growing dimmer and flickering like a spent candle. Peering backward, I see myself waving good-bye; the only-child self, the never-been-married self, the one who prided herself on being able to survive without anyone's help at all, thank you very much.

Self... I knew her once. She was lovely and serene, and who'm I kidding, she was perfectly fine as she was. And now, I once in a while find her huddled in the corner, playing solitary thumb war against her own hands, wishing for someone to notice her. "Hi there, little one! Why are you so small?"

I'll tell you: it's about selflessness. That wicked, horrid, tasteless word which, every time it is spoken, kills a fairy princess. Or else it kills me. Either way. It's about giving until there is not a single drop more of myself to give. It's about neglecting to change the cat box because each day is filled with a new homework adventure, a new emotional need thermometer and thermostat. And I'm so fucking tired.

Also, have I mentioned that children bring home germs? Yeah, I am gifted with those presents, too.

But I am superwoman. I've known this since I was a wee bit. Something about Type-A-ed-ness, perfectionista anorexic nonsense: age twelve, and simply cannot, will not fail.

So to find myself unwrapping elegantly decorated tinsel-laden presents of child diagnoses like "ADHD" or "conduct disorder," after having earned my bachelor's in psychology, having done my own research and adamantly discredited any suggestion that maybe he's just a little more amped up than he should be... I have free fallen a hundred stories into the sea of denial, relief, and I-totally-fucked-that-one-up, didn't I!

Now bio-mom is shouting, hands cupping her mouth, from the vast megaphone at the tops of city buildings, "Medication is the answer!"

And I, eating my words, picking up those labels, those diagnonsenses, shoving them in my pants pockets, praying no one hears her and swallowing every bitter bite have to convince her that, "Okay, maybe I was wrong about that, but hear me out here, he doesn't need drugs, he needs love..."

All this "work" I've put into myself to conquer my perfectionist disease tumbles down on top of me. I done fucked up, didn't I? I done told everyone I knew that MY kid doesn't have a stinkin diagnosis, and MY kid is struggling with homework, but I'm helping him to recover and dedicating every single minute I'm home to making sure that both kids are getting the attention they need and there's just no way that he's anything but stubborn...


Crow pie, or some colloquialism. Whatever. I'm fighting a losing battle here, and still have to play the role of mediator between two households, knowing that somehow the show must continue, and homework is still piling up, and really-- okay, maybe he does have ADD or ADHD or flying spaghetti monster madness and quite possibly he's a vampire, and yes he IS failing third grade right this moment, but I've been putting so much time and energy into him that he has brought up two of his grades from Fs to Ds in just two weeks and... I know we can do this, we can fight this battle because we're ARMED, bitches!! We're armed with confidence and crazy organizational skills and lots of little ideas and tips and tricks and...

But I'm only a step-mom. In fact, I'm not married. I'm a not-step-mom. I'm the girlfriend. I'm the life partner, and even the kids' school thinks I'm not qualified to register for the email notification of the kids' grades-- but okay to sign if the kids need permission slips for field trips and progress reports and phone calls. Because I'm available, but the social dynamics of our situation is just not Lutheran enough, and technically I'm not really even a legal guardian.

All the bureaucratical bullshit through which I wade sucks my rain boots right off of my feet. But you know what? Those kids' lives have changed for the better because of me. Nothing and no one can deny me that simple fact.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I haven't taken a breath in 36 hours. At least not outside of harsh, sharp gasps and wheezes, and I can smell everything. Like a starving hound. A fucking terrified, starving hound that fell out of a truck bed and can't find its way home. Is home where I'm supposed to go? Or do I stay in this horrible wilderness with this boa constrictor wrapped around me LIKE A CORSET OF SHAME AND PROPAGANDA? And something is just dragging the life out of me from between the coils, like five miles back I snagged my intestine on something phallic and as much as I'm fighting to keep it inside where it fucking belongs, so it can fucking do its job and dispose of shit I don't need no more, there is something with a fucking pit bull grip that's wrenching it out of me, but I keep straining forward and I think my heart just stopped. Just for a few minutes.

There, right there, it cranked back into gear, chugging away and I breathed so hard it hurt and then it stopped again, like, my heart knew that if I was just going to go on acting like that I didn't deserve to have a heart at all. I didn't even realize how long I'd been holding onto that breath because I need it just as much as I need my intestine, and I do not want to share things right now. You know?

Do you even know what's going on right now? So many horrible metaphors, this is fucking awful. It reeks. Just like everything else, don't you see? It can't be happening. It can't, it can't it and if it is? Oh, god. Shit. Everything smells. Everything. What the hell am I supposed to do?

Because I have no concept of it. No concept of supposed to. I hate supposed to. Fuck you. Don't tell me what I'm supposed to do. Fuck you. Shit. Bitch. You stupid son of a bitch, he's crazy, you know? What the hell were you doing? Were you careful? Yes, yes you definitely were. This can't be real, this can't be right.

I have been in and out of the bathroom all day, jetting around with this little box, staring and not breathing or even doing anything, I just sit down at my computer and stare at hieroglyphics, and everyone is speaking Chinese - did they all get a pocket Rosetta Stone without me? Why does everyone know what they're supposed to do except for me? Because there is no supposed to, there are only decisions to make but you cannot make a decision to solve a problem unless you know if there is actually a fucking problem in the first place, and that's where all the not breathing and wrestled intestines come into play.

So instead of sitting around and fighting the tsunami breaking my insides, I had to get an answer, and believe me: I laughed for the first time in days. Standing in the bathroom stall on my lunch break, counting the seconds with my forehead smashed against the wall and I could feel everything fighting to squeeze my limbs out of their sockets, and I shut my eyes so hard I saw Hell. And then I looked and I felt safe, and I breathed and I'm so relieved that I don't have to grow up yet. Of course I was late. I'm late for everything. When has the tardiness of anything ever bothered me before?

I smiled, and laughed, and came back into the office and told my first joke of the day. Wow, you perked up quick. I know. I know. It's just a beautiful, wonderful, two-degree day. I think I'll go for a walk in the gray outside. That blackened, syruppy snow has never looked so delicious.

Dear blackened, slushy snow: I could put you in a Big Gulp right now. I love you, blackened-slushy-snow. I want to slide my feet through you and catch hypothermia. Oh, hypothermia! It's so wonderful! I could get hypothermia if I wanted! I love you, option-to-get-hypothermia! I love you, sadistic wind and salty sidewalks that stain my pantlegs. Angry pedestrians! It's a beautiful day! I love you, dog-that-wears-booties-and-shits-on-the-sidewalk-because-there-is-no-grass-in-the-Loop! I love you, exclamation points! Oh, cigarettes. I don't even smoke anymore, but I'm going to eat cigarettes for breakfast just because I can. I love you all so much and I did not realize how much I love everything.

I am so glad I'm not pregnant.


Friday, December 10, 2010

The Strength of a Woman and Two Aleve Tablets Per Day

Sometimes I feel like an overused cliché.  Life isn’t about the breaths you take but the moments that take your breath away.  

Fuck that shit. Sometimes all I can do is take another breath, surviving breath by breath and when my breath is taken away, it’s only because I’m too fucking tired and numb to feel myself actually breathing.

I was given two hugs yesterday.  Two hugs before noon.  The first was from my daughter’s third grade teacher.  I had forgotten to send lunch money with the girls so I had to get out of my car with my camouflage pajama leggings, black furry boots and yellow furry teeth from not yet brushing.  My bright red coat drew attention to me, like a Christmas tree, topped off by a flagrant display of bed head.  I delivered the money and had almost made a clean getaway when the teacher approached to ask how my son was doing.

Instinctively I told her enough without telling too much.  Watching every word as they floated off my tongue, I painting with a brushstroke large enough to cover the entire canvas with one swipe, recanting how my 12 year old son was struggling with anger, hurt and resentment from having his ultra conservative, right-wing Republican, ex-politician (wannabe),”I will save the world for you” father sent away for a two and half year stint in federal prison for fraud.

The highlights of my lowlights reduced her to tears and induced her to hug me, there in my pajama bottoms, as the kids were making their way to class. She went on to ask if we were “okay” for Christmas. At first I wasn’t sure what she meant.  “Okay for Christmas”, I asked?  “Yes, do you need help with presents for the kids?”  Aside from the obvious, i.e., me looking like a cleaned up version of a disheveled street person, I was a bit taken aback by her offer.  So many people have come forward to help us.  All friends, no family; family has been busy looking after the convict.  I have had help from other moms and dads willing to pick up the kids, feed them dinner, take them to Brownie meetings….but help for Christmas? No. I had already explained to the minions, Christmas past was gone.  This year, we are going to be about family.  This year, we are volunteering our time to help with moms and dads and kids who are less fortunate than we.  This year, we learn the true meaning.  In other words kids, this year, you aren’t getting what you are accustomed to getting.

“No, we are fine.”  We won’t need help for Christmas, but thank you so much for thinking of us (insert hug here).  “This year, we will be a gift to others.”  I walked out the door, holding my head a bit higher and praying like hell I wouldn’t encounter another person above the height of five feet on my way to the car.

After quickly showering and attempting to present myself with some sort of professional modicum; a little make-up, a pair of heels, I am off to work for a few hours before my dentist appointment.  For the past six weeks, I have opened my eyes each and every day to a cocktail of Diet Coke and Aleve.  The soda is my coffee and the Aleve is to get me through the day without the right side of my lower jaw feeling as if a voodoo sorcerer has decided that side of my face needs to fall off.  The use of rusty instruments, dull from centuries of neglect was, in my opinion, totally uncalled for.  What was my unsuspecting doppelganger dolly supposed to do? But I say nothing because the Aleve works and I know I’m seeing my dentist in December.

Tall, dark and Greek dentist walks in after his assistant has taken it upon herself to ex-ray my roots to oblivion.  I am expecting the worst: Root canal, tooth extraction, partials, retainers, braces, TMJ, TMI, fuck it – you’re just getting old and need new teeth, etc.  He pushes and prods. He pressures and pokes. Then he looks at me with those big brown eyes and says, “Sweetie, you have never had problems with your dentally boring teeth. Are you experiencing a particularly high amount of stress in your life right now?”

And just like that, I gave into my pain and I lost it, in a dental chair, just before noon on a Thursday. I thought I was being so strong to stand up to these pressures but my teeth gave me away.  It’s the fucking holidays so let it flow, let it flow, let it flow.   Second hug was administered, immediately, with love.  Without knowing the financial strains on me, doc said the ex-rays and biting device, yes I said biting device, as in I am clenching my teeth, would be an early Christmas present. You know that shit only makes me cry harder, right doc? I am known to have the world’s ugliest cry face which is made exponentially worse when accompanied by a bib and goggles.

Once I’ve pulled myself back together, the dental assistant continues with her cleaning, simply shaking her head and saying to me, “the strength of a woman, the strength of a woman, it constantly amazes me the strength we have as women, you know?”  With my mouth open, I give her a nod.  “And the fight in a mother, there is nothing like it.  By the way, don’t worry about the gums bleeding, that’s just stress too, you are going to be okay."

Breathe.  I am breathing, and yet I am bleeding from my gums and my heart and my liver and my vagina and from the deepest, most indistinct fear that resonates within my soul that perhaps, I am not enough. 
But Friday arrives and I realize we’ve made it through another week. Give me breath, and I will give you life.  Life that doesn’t have to come from my body, but life I will sustain nonetheless, as a mother. Those moments that take your breath away are not always the happy Hallmark times; sometimes, they come in the form of unthinkable challenges and struggle for basic survival.  Either way, with the strength of a woman, I continue to breathe.   

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Got Nothing

Midway into a phone conversation with my mom...()my mother will be represented by the shark)

What do the kids want for Christmas?

You can do whatever you feel like doing. If you want to send a present, I can ask them what they might like. If you want to wait until you see them, you can do that to. If you want to stick a couple of bucks in their college savers, that would be great. Whatever you feel like doing Mom, we aren't doing much for Christmas this year.

What do you mean, not doing much for Christmas.

We've been scaling back every year and we decided last year that we weren't going to buy anything this year.

Not even from Santa?

Mom, the big kids know about Santa and the baby doesn't know the difference.

I can't imagine why you would deny the children Santa.

Well Mom, neither husband nor I are Christian, so there's that. I appreciate the intended sentiment of the season so we are trying to enjoy that with out all the consumerist stuff. The kids have so much, really they don't need anything.

Well, it's not about needing something.

I understand, but I gave probably a thousand dollars worth of toys and books to baby's pre school. The kids have too much stuff and what Christmas has become, the stress and shopping and obligation and all that, husband and I don't enjoy it and it's not the message we want to send the kids.

So you told middle child there is no Santa?

No, oldest asked us about presents and we said we weren't going to buy them this year but that a bunch of the grandmas and grandpas would be sending some gifts. Middle child asked about Santa and we asked her where she thought those presents actually came from. She said mom and dad. We said yes, and that Santa is a feeling, a feeling in our heart that we want to do nice things for people we love. We told the kids that in lieu of stuff, they were going to each get a day during our break to direct the events and that we would do whatever they wanted to, play games, go to the beach, do crafts... and that one day would be spent doing something mom and dad wanted to do like go visit great grandma. They were excited about it.


This is the conversation that sent me back to therapy. It was a long time coming so not entirely about Christmas gifts.

So, I seethed after this conversation and my internal dialogue went something like this,

"fuck you, fuck you and fuck you for judging me. Christmas with you and dad sucked donkey dick and now I'm a bad mom because I don't want to buy my kids thirty shitty, plastic toys each from Big Lots and Target? I'm a bad mom because I don't think love equals buying a bunch of stuff? I spent Christmas every year from age 6 on shuttled back and forth between parents and families, perpetually disappointing everyone by either arriving late or leaving early and then when I was finally sixteen, I got to do that 50 mile, icy fucking Wisconsin road, whiteknuckled trip all by myself. Merry fucking Christmas, because of that I hate Christmas. How dare you, "Hmmm" me when I get up every morning and I am present for my kids, and I deal with my stress and do the painful work of working my shit out rather than drinking it down or directing it toward them. Fuck you for thinking you did it better because you sucked and you are about five minutes away from getting completely cut off, x'd out, erased."

What does my mom do after our conversation?

Get online at Walmart and order about fifteen things each for the kids, send me an email saying she knows it's "so much trouble" but can I wrap the stuff and give it to the kids. I told husband this was "affection-aggressive" like passive aggressive but trying to take control of the situation by what seems like an affectionate act. It was not, I am certain of that.

So, I have more to talk to the therapist about, yay for me!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What the hell

is going on here.

Somebody better come up with a damn fine story and tell it to me ASAP.

I want to be entertained.


Let your fingers do the walking and type me up something good and fine and delicious. Give me something that causes you to laugh so hard while you're writing it that you're not sure you can type. Makes your soul cough up on my computer screen. Get's those voices in your head that say you can't write that! all rattled up and talking as you say it anyway.

Something I can sink my teeth into and chomp down on it like the pit bull that I am. Or caresses me like ribbons I would have worn in my hair when I was a girl if I would have known how. It all depends on what someone is willing to write.

Stop dreaming about my pumpkin muffins and write.

Do it.

Or, if you insist upon withholding your goodness and wish to remain distracted, try this


It'll entertain a bunch of wordsmithy clowns like you for hours.

Of course, one thing I always think of when I get lost there is how wonderful it would be if that thing was a vibrator. I mean, shit, just look at it tingling and dancing all over the place just because I give it a little word to tap dance about.

Write, bitches.

Don't make me get my crow bar.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Mocha Shame

There is a horse standing in a paddock beside our barn who is beautiful beyond reason. Her hips are large and firm, her markings lead the mind to the words 'exotic' and 'native', and her mind clicks away almost audibly as she captures with more savvy than most every smell, sight and sound that wanders her way.

She has been abused. Horribly. Where her mouth comes together on each side she carries small, black scars that are evidence of being yanked and pulled by hands that should never have been allowed to hold a pair of reins. On her back side just below the place that her thick tail joins the rest of her lovely body there are scars on either side; the result whippings that no horse would stand for unless it has been tied to an unmovable object with equipment from which it cannot break free.

She's been with us for four months. She spent the first one standing in the corner of her paddock trembling until we were far enough away that she felt she could safely eat the hay and grain we had quietly placed in her feeders. Gradually she began quickly walking or trotting past us as we placed her hay and grain. Eventually we could reach through the corral panel and she would quickly smell our hands and then run back to the opposite corner of her paddock.

After several weeks of having been allowed to pet, scratch and rub her through the corral panel I eventually opened the gate to her paddock and stood just inside her territory. Saying she was unnerved is a gross understatement. One thousand pounds of fear is nothing short of astounding. She trembled with such force that I could literally hear it from 30 feet away, her nostrils spread to an alarming diameter to accommodate her feverish breathing, and she remained frozen in place until more than 15 minutes after I had quietly exited her paddock.

We finally played enough mind games with her that we've garnered her trust. Being as horses are naturally inclined to be in an almost constant state of picking their way around in the social order of a herd, we never allowed her to be turned out with the rest of our horses. Thus, we became her only choices when it came to herd mates - herd mates by default, if you will.

Today she can be haltered, led, groomed, saddled and provided with gentle, consistent, firm and honest ground training (training without a rider on her back). She is practicing following voice commands of walk, trot, canter and lope and woah, but always in very brief training sessions and never without several moments of being startled and breathing heavily. Even still, she occasionally becomes so full of fear that she is simply rendered stuck in place.

Will anyone ever ride her again? We have a video of her being ridden by the 13-year-old daughter of her original owner. What happened between then and now is anybody's guess. Given a year or 18 months of consistent attention she may eventually learn that having a bit in her mouth and a rider on her back means nothing will come of it other than following simple commands and then having all of the equipment removed. Maybe. One of the keys of training horses is always ending on a good note - even if it takes an extra hour of your time to get to one. Maybe one day she will realize that training sessions with us always end with music she can relax to.

Almost every moment I spend with this lovely creature reminds me of the time I was standing ankle deep in piss and shit covered straw that had been lain in the stall so long before that I couldn't even remember when I'd done it. My care and feeding of the horse that belonged in that stall had been one of the first things to fall as my entire family tipped over an edge from which it has not yet fully returned all these 31 years later. That horse was alone. I was indeed his herd mate by default. There were no other horses on the property and I was the only one who would come visit. But what a neglectful herd mate I had become.

Once a day I would walk into the barn, fill his water bucket, dump a scoop of feed into his feeder, walk out of the barn and not return until the same time the next day. His stall progressively filled with piss and shit; becoming a wall-to-wall cesspool of filth. Without proper amounts of feed or hay he was slowly but surely loosing weight. He had also picked up the habits of stall walking (walking around and around in a circle in his stall until he became dizzy) and cribbing (biting down on a board of his wooden stall and then sucking air so hard that it has an affect similar to that of hyperventilation in humans).

By the time I got him out of his stall he had become almost completely insane. Not violent. Insane. Insane in the way of children who are found shut in the back room of some filthy house and have had so little stimuli that they are simply overwhelmed by almost anything. I haltered him in his stall and led him to the grooming station. His walking was that of a frightful horse - start and stop and start and stop. I put him in the cross ties at the grooming station, something he had not been exposed to for longer than I could remember, and he simply could not stand it. There he found himself in a familiar but not familiar space with pressure coming at both sides of his halter. He began to jockey around, tried to throw his head back several times, and his eyes became wider and wider until I could see the whites of them almost completely. I released one of the cross ties in an attempt to lessen the points of pressure he had to pay attention to, but his fear had already snowballed and the release simply pushed him completely over the edge. In his attempt to run away he lost his footing, fell onto the floor of the grooming station, and managed to get one of the ropes of the cross tie looped around his neck. His legs kicked against air, he continued to throw his head back, and his eyes eventually rolled up into his head as the rope cut off his air supply.

I ran in and out of the grooming station several times before running out of the barn completely and standing in the hot sun on the gravel drive and screaming at the top of my lungs,

"Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelp! Oh God! Oh Gooooooooooooooood! Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeelp!"

There was no answer. No one to hear me. No one could.

I leaned over myself and slammed my fists into my thighs over and over until I was grunting and crying and had begun to visualize taking the crude end of the hay hook and shoving it into the veins of my wrists so hard that I would die by way of causing myself nearly unbearable pain and bleeding out. I wanted everything to end. Disappear. Go away. Leave. Stop. Anything. I wanted to discover I was actually an alien and this was simply a horrid end to prove I was failing as a human on earth.

As I walked back into the barn I landed in the middle of a pocket of complete silence other than a pair of barn swallows angrily chattering about as they tended to their nest. Humiliation, disgust and shame had embraced me so completely that the entrance to the grooming station appeared to be tilted sideways.

My horse lay on his side on the floor no longer kicking or throwing his head. He was as silent as a day with no wind. He was still. He was breathing. He was alive. Somehow his struggle had caused the rope to loosen enough to stop choking him, but not enough to loosen completely. Thus, he had simply decided his place on the floor was what was intended for the moment.

I removed the rope then backed into the entrance and made kissing sounds to encourage him to raise his head and discover the rope was gone and he could now get up. Minutes later he heaved himself from the floor, turned and looked at me. I walked to his side, clipped a lead rope to his halter, and led him out the door of the barn and to the pasture. There I removed his halter and kissed at him again to remind him he was free to move as he wished. Once he realized the situation he was in he broke into a run and kept running until he disappeared over the small hill out of my view.

Back in the barn I grabbed a pitch fork and a shovel and then stood in the filthy stall I had let that horse stand in and began stripping it bare. When done, I walked out of the barn, closed the door, walked back to my family home and announced,

"I don't want that horse. Call those people from St. Louis who want him so bad."

The protests of,

"But you love him!"



wandered their way to my ears as I turned my back and walked out of the room. In my bedroom I sat on my bed and turned against myself even further than I already had. The hay hook kept crudely carving itself across my mind and I sat at the edge of my bed thinking of it, desiring it, until the sun was down, my room was dark, and the next thing I knew my mother was waking me up for school the next morning.

Within days the people from St. Louis were pulling a trailer away from our house that contained my horse.

"We'll take good care of him," the woman said from the passenger seat of their truck.

I couldn't even look her in the eye but said, "I'll get the gate," and ran to the gate as I watched my feet run along the gravel drive.

I've talked with myself about this a million times. It comes up every time I make a mistake. Every time I do something that inadvertently frightens one of our horses. Every time I realize we are late to do something or forgot to do it until the next day. Every time I try to remind myself that I was 13 when everything happened. I try to remember how many times my mentor has asked me who was truly meant to be checking that the horse was being well cared for. A 13-year-old girl with very little knowledge of horses? Or her parents?

I try to remember the amazement everyone has at how well my husband and I care for our horses. I've stood in the middle of our training pen and asked myself to remember all of the lessons, triumphs and moments I've had with every horse we own in that place. I think about how funny it is to watch our mares (female horses) every time I go into the pasture - how they immediately turn to me, the being they consider the leader of their herd, and follow me wherever I go. I try to hug myself, soothe myself with knowing this is a different day, a different person, different circumstance.

But it comes up. It disrupts my sleep. It grabs me up with shame, embarrassment and humiliation as if it happened yesterday. It shakes me by the shoulders and says,

"Piece. Of. Shit."

I want it gone. I want to walk into a room and speak of it as I did that poor horse,

"I don't want it."

Please, if you don't mind, let me speak of this here. Let me speak of it and be rid of it from this day forward. It is as if it is that hay hook, and I don't want it anymore.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Your Mission Should You Choose to Accept

So Mongolian Girl's comment got me thinking.
"Just a few nights ago I lay awake in bed in a state of insomnia brought on by remembering a horrid act I carried out when I was in my late teens. I was full of embarrassment, shame, self-loathing and regret as if it had just done it moments before."
I think we all have had a moment or seven that we regret, or wish we would have handled differently. Maybe we hurt someone else, maybe we hurt ourselves. So maybe you don't have to dig to the deepest cringe-worthy moment, it's up to you. But do you have a memory that hasn't entirely resolved itself? Or maybe you've worked through it but you still think about it. I think these would be interesting to read, and perhaps cathartic to write and read. I'm going to go work on mine.

This message will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck Jim

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Self-proclaimed sugar addict and self-help book junkie.

I suppose there are worse things to be. At twenty, I did not dream I would become the Old Mother who lived up the street chastising children for their candy consumption and then hoarding it all for herself. The one who walks gingerly while cats draw figure eights around her feet, drinking herbal tea, reading Charlotte Bronte and Byron Katie, smirking at the absurdity of the ignorant asses around her. No.

At twenty, I couldn't imagine feeling satisfied with my spreading hips. I couldn't fathom watching as my breasts quickly lose form and being comfortable with that.

There was never a moment where I could glimpse myself in the mirror and nod with pleasure-- if I was not built like the next spicy super model, that just would not do. I went to great lengths to starve myself-- thinner-- and berate myself-- smaller-- just so I could see the girl on the other side of the looking glass and not feel compelled to shatter her with my fist.

And yet somehow, without me knowing it, I grew up. The process must have happened so subtly that I didn't even notice the change.

Sometimes I surprise me.

Somewhere along the line of my experience, I became more turned on by making love than fucking. And somewhere in there, I quit hiding from my lover the pooch of my belly while on top of him. Somehow along the way, I began to look down at my flinging breasts and decided that they weren't so bad. Their loss of turbidity didn't knock me over nearly as much as I had imagined it would. And it startled me when the thought barreled through my mind, "This is me, this is perfect, and I love me precisely as I am."

The anorexic, the perfectionist, the self-hateful horrible bitch, these strangers whom I no longer cherished-- they were gone. When I realized this, it was a struggle. I panicked inside. Those girls who were me were missing, and I could not find them within... "Are they dead?" I asked myself, "Did they die painfully?"

This is the part where I flailed.

Eventually, though, the fervor with which I flung myself wildly and widely exhausted. For months, I think I curled up in a ball and slept. Life was too busy to wait for whomever I was now to make herself known. There were bills to pay, a degree to finish, and step-children to parent. There was a lover to quell and cats to feed and plants to water and a commute to drive. Too busy to notice that the larvae I was once had not died, but was hibernating. My body was my cocoon, whether I acknowledged it or not.

Only very recently did I begin to take note. Every self-help book I have picked up has begun to ring true, every day I feel less inclined to dress myself in a clown suit, and every time I see myself in the mirror without clothes on, I smile.

What we are not taught in high school is that who we are at the core will change. No, back then we were impermeable, impenetrable, and allowed to think that who we are then matters.

And that, my friends, is a crock of shit.

There are very few traces of who I was as a young adult in the woman I am now. I've shed the skins of an eating disorder, religious fever, and insecurity. Today, I become straightly giddy over chocolate, go out in public without doing my hair, without shaving my legs and armpits, without putting on makeup, and seek little approval from, well pretty much anybody. I unabashedly make reading suggestions of self-help books to my girlfriends who are struggling with shedding their own comfortable vices.

So I love sugar like a heroin addict loves getting high. I admit that being imperfect in the eyes of judgment is a perfectly sane place to be. But I do not scorn the me I was then. Without recalling who I was as a girl, I'd have little contrast to see how much I appreciate the growth read clearly within these now adult pages of my life.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Here's A Subject We Haven't Touched on Yet


Let me preface this by saying that I have never truly been in need of money. I've never been in danger of hunger or homelessness or anything of the like. I've wanted more, for sure. I've also never supported myself. I've always worked, but I married young and he's provided well.

I've also never spent more than I could afford and a tidy sum from every paycheck goes straight to the retirement account.

Which brings me to the train wrecks I see around me, people my age and younger, who have no handle on their finances whatsoever.

I work with a woman in her mid-40s. She has two young children and a husband. They also own a restaurant which, despite glowing mentions in the travel section of the New York Times, despite being named her favorite place in Nashville by Gwyneth Paltrow and despite being a favored haunt of the musicians in town, stays in the red.

The husband often goes weeks at a time without a paycheck and I watch my friend stress out more and more—taking out loans, telling her kids they can’t go to camp with their friends and wearing hideous plastic shoes.

The restaurant goes through one crisis after another. Last week it was a dead refrigerator. The husband goes to buy a new one, but, somehow, manages to buy a freezer instead. Or, as my friend put it—“they sold him a freezer instead of a refrigerator.” Another day of disruption while the fridge/freezer crisis is worked out.

All the while, his wife is carrying the financial load—providing the paycheck, the health insurance and the parenting since he works until late at night.

But she’s not blameless either—last week they threw a Halloween party for 50 adults and kids. They provided all the food, all the alcohol and pumpkins and carving kits for all the kids. I know their debt load has to enormous. Once she and I were going to the grocery store at lunch. She called her husband to ask if he’d “put that $35 in the bank.”


When’s the last time you worried over $35?

It infuriates me that she works her fingers to the bone while he indulges himself as this restraunteur/musician/foodie. She claims he can’t get a part-time job during the day because he has to be available for deliveries at the restaurant.


This is a selfish man who uses his wife to keep his ego afloat.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

MG Keeps Important Life Goal

I am not kidding when I tell you I sharted first thing this morning.

Just in case anyone is new around these here parts:
A shart is what happens when you think you're going to fart, but instead shit a little (or a lot, as the case may be) in your favorite (or old nasty granny) panties.

What the hell is going on around here? First 'The Elder' sharts, then I make a bunch of jokes about her shart (such as saying I'm changing her name to 'Sharta'), then I myself shart. It's as if I'm back in college living in the dorm and ending up with a menstrual cycle that was synchronized with the other four young women with whom I shared a room.

It's kind of like those stupid ass mother fuckers who cycle out here in the country. I don't know what they're doing, really. Training for some kind of future event? Competition? The Tour de France? Look, I'm tellin' ya, some of those fucker's asses are so big that their poor little triangle-shaped bike seats simply disappear in their butt crack. It's like watching a bunch of giant toads perched on lily pads with entire bicycles shoved up their asses. I regularly pray (or whatever that really, really, really hopeful thinking thing is that we Atheists do) they know toting an ass that size around behind them is never, ever going to win them a Tour de Anything.

Wait? Am I talking about menstrual cycles? Or how funny I think it looks when fat people ride racing bikes? Or sharting? Or what?

I think I'll stick with the analogy I'm attempting to draw between menstrual cycles and cyclist who are training for races.

(It should be noted that I hate the cyclists who are training for races when they do their training out here in the splendor of hillbillyville where I live.)

Have you ever watched, I mean seriously watched, cyclists who are training for a race? They ride single file and then take turns making little signals to each other to indicate that it is someone else's turn to take the lead. The person who is intended to take the lead bursts sideways out of the line, speeds up, and then eases into the front of the line to take over the lead.

Sometimes they signal with their hands, I've heard them yell signals, and sometimes it's as if they just know.

Seems to me this is a lot like women. Maybe not with their menstrual cycles exactly, but with who is going to take the lead. In the hard core women's circles I observed growing up there was a silent and intricate language that never stopped being spoken regarding who was doing what and who was in charge.

Having one's name on or off of a guest list could literally change a woman's entire life. Barely perceptible looks, glances and guttural noises could make or break a moment. Failing to send a thank you note (or one getting lost in the mail and never arriving at the home of the hostess) could end with doom, gloom and incessant questioning about a woman's ability to "care", "fit in" or "know better".

And, God forbid a woman didn't understand when she had been asked to lead. Missing, for any reason, the hand signal, spoken word, or written invitation to lead something (no matter how big or small), sealed a woman's fate in an irrevocable fashion. Even worse? Declining the invitation to lead. Only having a child or spouse being in the last days of a grotesque and terminal illness could, barely, save a woman from disdain should she deny the invitation to lead. Even then? It better be an illness that is difficult to pronounce and rare. And, the child or spouse better die on time, lest things linger on so long that other's become taxed by having to show care and concern for too long.

The decision to decline an invitation to lead due to work, child rearing, house cleaning or simple lack of interest? Really? You are only then admitting having a husband who cannot provide, lest you would not have to work, have at least one nanny, and be able to pay someone to clean your house. That thing about simple lack of interest? Just leave immediately. You are clearly not up to snuff for this kind of socializing.

I suppose it's the same with those fat assed people riding their bikes. I mean, if I was a cyclist in training and some fat ass was willing to shove a training bike up their ass and train, they better train to the point of being able to recognize the signal to lead. Otherwise? What's the point? Why sign up for something if you're not willing to be in it completely?

But, as Shakespeare said, there's a rub to this thing. I wouldn't cross the road to piss on a bunch of fat ass bike riders if they were on fire. I feel exactly the same way about those high-end, uptight, high class women's groups I observed when I was growing up. I just don't see the point in either one of them. What? I'm going to set the lofty goal of riding a bicycle for 100 miles in 100 degree weather? Or seeing if I can throw a little party with the cutest finger sandwiches ever?

I don't think so.

Of course, if I 'rub' a little deeper, I find that I'm truly enjoying the goal of keeping up with this blog to see if everyone starts cycling the same when it comes to sharting. If I think about that for too long it might make me feel funny. Feel all judgemental and everything about cyclists and uptight women's groups.

Naaaaaaaaaaaah. Not really. I think having a goal of synchronized sharting with a group of women I like is just fine.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I know I don't sound the least bit relaxed

This post is actually based on an email exchange I had with one of my feminist friends. She, recently pregnant after trying to conceive for a whopping month, upon learning that I was about to embark on in vitro treatment (see really lame ass backdrop story here), sent me this sage and never-before-heard advice (excuse me while I wipe the sarcasm off my screen):

"i have been thinking of you and Luisito and hope your treatment is going well... i was reading in one of my pregnancy books something that i found interesting and true. She was saying that she got pregnant after a stressful time and only when her body was able to relax. i would have to say the same thing, i got pregnant only after i turned in my dissertation and was finally able to lay around and do nothing and was stress free. i think that may be one key to conceive. well i hope this is helpful!"
I am fucking to the gills with women that have gotten pregnant within a few months of trying to conceive and pretty much anyone else that learns I have had trouble getting pregnant giving me conception advice especially as it regards 'relaxing' and to 'quit obsessing'. As you can see, they still offer this advice even after they learn that I am undergoing treatment, a decision that was gruelling to say the least and that has only come after several years of trying to conceive naturally and many sleepness nights trying to decide what the right thing to do is.

Over the past several years I have had ups and downs, high stress, low stress, been jobless, had great jobs, had my bank full of money, been broke, been at my highest, been at my lowest, been on vacation, and been in the day to day, had sex all the time, had sex infrequently, had sex on the right days and had sex on the wrong days, smoked, not smoked, gotten drunk sometimes, drunk very little, eaten healthy, eaten unhealthy and it just fucking hasn't happened. I know that common knowledge tells us that if I could only just relax and forget about it, it will happen. In fact, I'm fairly sure that it is advice that I myself have given to others at times. But having never gone through this you really have no idea how hard it is to hear it.

It's hard to hear because it basically makes me feel like I'm falling all the more deeper into a state of sadness and anger and isolation over my infertility because it is basically saying that the infertility -- a source of pain and turmoil in my life and in my marriage -- is essentially a problem that is within my own control and it is my own female hysteria that is to blame.

Just last week, my coworker, a woman in her late fifties who has never had children because she never could get pregnant, who in tears told me that her life has been empty without them advised me that I should cancel the in vitro treatment, and I should spend the money on a nice vacation and I'll see - if I could just properly relax I'd get pregnant. She was convinced that she herself never got pregnant because she was too devoted to her career and had put herself through too much stress to be able to get pregnant!

This whole process of infertility has been eye opening. It's allowing me to view yet another area where women are blamed and/or carry the bulk of the pain. We all know that women bear the brunt of the pregnancy, not to mention the bulk of the child rearing. But there are two areas that I was not acquainted with until I began to struggle with infertility that I began to realize it:

(1) the blame for the infertility that I described above, which literally EVERYONE comments on upon learning that you are having trouble conceiving, even your most die-hard feminist friends. EVERYONE knows someone who got pregnant just as soon as they went on vacation or just when they decided to give up, or just after they adopted a child or just after having their first in vitro baby. These urban legends which may be based on very real cases bleed through into our society's psyche and convince us somehow that seeking medical treatment is somehow unnecessary and is only for women who end up being incapable of controlling their obsessive minds. These stories pale all of the other stories of all of the couples who never conceive, who adopt, who seek treatment because they really need it, or because of male-factor infertility.

And (2) we also bear the brunt of planning for pregnancy (this case is entirely personal and maybe does not apply to any of you, but it certainly applies to me). We are the ones that are less likely to delve into our careers because even at 20, even though we aren't going to have a kid for 15 years still, we have in the back of our minds that we have to do something that is compatible with having a family. The worst part for me about dealing with infertility and coming to terms with the fact that I may never have children of my own was when Luisito and I contemplated having a childless life. We both decided, ok, it wouldn't be the end of the world, our lives would be a lot less complicated than our friends that have kids. But looking back at how I've spent the years and seeing all the paths I had not gone down because I didn't see them compatible with family life was excrutiatingly painful. You realize that you didn't get the family life or the career you were passionate about, you got some shitty assed in between bullshit that is altogether unsatisfying.

This post is a bit of a rant and I apologize for how unorganized my thoughts are, but I did need to vent a little. I also didn't edit this post because I'm really tired.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

stfu stephen

(cross-posted from my personal blog)
"If women liked sex as much as men, there would be straight cruising areas in the way there are gay cruising areas. Women would go and hang around in churchyards thinking: 'God, I've got to get my fucking rocks off', or they'd go to Hampstead Heath and meet strangers to shag behind a bush. It doesn't happen. Why? Because the only women you can have sex with like that wish to be paid for it."

Fry, 53, continues: "I feel sorry for straight men. The only reason women will have sex with them is that sex is the price they are willing to pay for a relationship with a man, which is what they want," he said. "Of course, a lot of women will deny this and say, 'Oh no, but I love sex, I love it!' But do they go around having it the way that gay men do?"

so sayeth mr. stephen fry. (and also here) now, i have no personal affection for mr fry, unlike much of britain. nor do i think as a public persona he is required to be infallible.

but i find his continued perpetuation of this stereotype of women as frigid to be insulting (and even potentially dangerous) for a few reasons:

a) it's just flat out archaic - what're we, in the 1950's?

b) he's a gay guy, speaking on something he knows nothing about

c) it insults women everywhere by implying that we only have sex either passively or manipulatively

d) the implicit passive role of women in sex is something we have fought long and hard to overcome - women have a right to their god-given built-in sexuality, including enjoyment, exploration and initiation of sex. reinforcing lazy stereotypes undermines that message, and diminishes the work of sex-positive feminism.

e) viewing women as undesiring, apathetic, or averse to sex *as part of their biological makeup* undermines the power and necessity of women's active, engaged, willing consent as part of sex.

and if society don't take women's "yeses" seriously - how do we expect them to take our "noes" seriously?!

women have enough messages out there about how they can't/shouldn't/mustn't enjoy sex. we don't need another clueless voice added to the chorus.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Look, listen, pay attention now.
This is important.
I just want everyone to know that I'm writing this post whilst hysterical with The Elder's previous post about shitting her pants at work and then saying she had to go without underwear all day and ended up with something she could only assume was diaper rash.
That's some funny shit right there. (Pun fully intended).
I'm changing The Elder's name to "Sharta" now that I know she shit herself. Especially since she reported she shit herself when she thought she was only going to fart. See? See how that works?
A fart that ends up being a shit is called a shart. Thus, my new friend Sharta. Kind of like Marta, but better.
But that's not what my post is about.
It's about going pee pee in my pants.
OK, no, wait - it's about having babies.
Except it's not about having babies.
Or, wait, no - it's about not having ever had a baby and still running into this pee pee in my pants thing.
Seriously, I thought the pee pee pants while laughing, sneezing, surprised, startled or otherwise momentarily out of control for one reason or another was an issue that landed in the camp of women who've had a baby or ten.
The first time I peed my pants as an adult doesn't count. I was 29-years-old and just tipped over the edge of a 5 story downhill run of a roller coaster in Dallas. I screamed like a 12-year-old girl, dug my fingernails into my poor friend who was screaming with his mouth open so wide that I thought we were going to discover his dentures embedded in the forehead of the man behind us when the ride ended, and promptly peed my pants.
Just a little.
When that 'just a little' thing happens, these are a few of the things I say.
1) Oh, I've peed, but not a full on pee.
2) Oops! Just a lil' spriggle.
2) Oh hell, should have told me your joke was going to be that good so I could have crossed my legs before I laughed.
(Yes, I know I put 1, 2, 2 when it should have been 1, 2, 3. But I'm getting to the depressing part and don't want to go back or I'll never write about it.)
The first time I pee peed in my pants (just a lil' spriggle, mind you) was a few summers ago on my porch. I was sitting around with a few friends and experienced some kind of half sneeze, half laugh, half cough.
(Yes, I realize 3 halves makes more than 1 whole, but I'm still continuing to type without going back, so deal, please, I really want to write this.)
I said, "Oh fuck! I just peed a little. Not a full on piss. Just a lil' spriggle."
My girlfriends laughed and said stuff like,
"Oh God! I've done that!"
"I have to cross my legs when I sneeze."
"I just kind of bear down over myself when I laugh really hard so I don't pee. The unintended consequence is that people think I think their jokes are so funny that I can't stand up straight because I'm laughing so hard."
I went inside and changed my panties and pants. Upon inspection, it really just just a lil' spriggle of pee.
On the way out the door I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. It stopped me dead in my tracks. I looked at myself in a way that I rarely do; with a deepness I cannot explain. Right into my own eyes. Not checking anything; hair, eyebrows, make-up. Just stopped in my tracks and staring.
It all came over me again. Childless me. I couldn't believe it was back. And this time I knew it was staying. That I wasn't going to get some kind of pass. That I was going to go back out onto my porch and look at my friends who reported also peeing their pants and keep thinking they do it because they have given birth.
When I was 35-years-old I was terribly alone and single. My personal life was a mess. And my proverbial biological clock was ticking so hard that it drove me to my knees. Literally. Down on my knees and kind of leaning, drooping, sagging against my bed crying. It was awful. I fucking hated everything about myself, my life, my ovaries and uterus.
I talked honestly about it with a friend. She had me write about all of the qualities a parent should have: Nurturing, tenderness, honesty, teacher, ability to ask for help, willingness to learn, acceptance, etc...
And then she told me to go carry out those qualities upon the world.
She actually said it that way. Or, well, this way, "Get up off yer fuckin' cryin' ass and quit acting like it's only people with babies who get to be nurturing, tender, honest and all of that shit. Shut the fuck up and go. You have those qualities already and have no right to keep them to yourself just because you don't have a baby. Go! Go take that shit out on the entire world!"
And I did.
I literally signed up to do volunteer work that exposed me to human beings, young and old, who needed the exact qualities a person needs to take care of a baby, or any other living human who cannot care for and defend him/herself. Since that time I've literally traveled the world doing this volunteer work. I've read countless pages of information to help me do this, written informational pamphlets and reports to help others do it, talked, presented, given, directed, negotiated, on and on and on with everything I've got to make the world a safe place for at least a few people. Probably more than a few, but most of them were so incapable of knowing they were being helped that I didn't get all wrapped up into being thanked. That's not why I was doing it anyway.
And then this past April rolled around and I started closing doors. I've got to be at home more. I can't be reading, writing, teaching, helping as much as I have been. There is a business to run that is one of my dreams and I want it to succeed. Doing both is impossible.
So, in February of 2011 my volunteerism at that level will end. And then I will be thinking more about never having had a child.
I dream of it; having a child. I always have a baby or a toddler that is mine. She is in my arms and looks just like me. Sometimes she is crying, others she is laughing, sleeping, simply resting herself in my arms. No matter what, she is happy. She is safe and I am always overcome with the bond she and I share and something inside of me that is fully capable of killing to keep her safe.
There are a million explanations I've given myself about why I've woken up with tears pooled in my eyes after one of those dreams. Allergies, not enough sleep, too much on my mind.
It's not that volunteerism didn't work, it's just that the hole inside of me is the size and shape of my child.
My days of menstruation are over. Menopause suddenly started and suddenly stopped for me when I was 39.
Today I'm just empty about it. Surrounded on the outside by reminders of what has never and will never be on the inside. It's as if all I can see is one billboard after the other filled with math equations and know I've never learned to count. As if I'm wanting to hug a tree but have never been shown what one is. As if the only thing I want for is sunshine on my face, but have been shoved into a dirty hole in the ground.
This time it won't pass until I'm into my 60's. I'm sure of it. Until then I will be doing this thing I do about wondering about adopting a child.
Don't try to talk me out of this emptiness. I want it. I want to want something this badly. I want to wake up crying about it, to be stopped dead in my tracks with my own reflection and have the world "childless" bear down on me.
There is nothing wrong with wanting something this badly. I will take it out on something. I will.

Enough Of This Serious Angst-y Stuff

Because I have something really important to tell you.

Last Friday, at about 9:30 a.m. ...

I shit in my pants.


At work.

I thought that just a little fart was going to come out. But it was a little more than that.

I race-walked to the bathroom and examined the damage.

Shit. In my drawers.

Took 'em off and stuffed 'em in the little silver box.

Now you have to understand that I am not the kind of girl who goes around without underwear. But for the rest of the day, that's what I did.

By the time I got home I had a raging case of what I can only assume was diaper rash.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Let's Do This

Okay, so let's do this. Let's talk about alcohol. I know a great deal about alcohol. I've consumed a great deal of alcohol - comparatively, I'll bet I drank more the week I graduated from college than Rube has her entire life, and I almost didn't graduate from college because I was too busy getting drunk to write my senior thesis. I had a year to write it, and I finished it in three days. I got a D.

Alcohol made me fat. I got really, really fat. But I was fat, active, and strong, like a fucking ox that could put away a handle of Jack and twelve pack, no problem. Fucking watch me. I got this shit.

We would have drinking competitions, you know, twice a week or so using various mediums. My team always won. In the world of college drinking, we were goddamn Texas. We were a sorority full of Starbuck. We were fierce, competitive, smart, hard, and sexier than everyone because of it. Some of them were a bit slutty, and some were prudish. I don't know, I'm just rambling right now. Either way, after a while we started calling any competition that involved drinking "wrasslin." With a last name like Rossi, it wasn't long until everyone started calling me Rassles. The progression was natural.

In a small college, you can't just expect to be accepted into the High Drinking Culture because you go to parties. You have to handle your shit like a professional. Don't be a public slut, always stand up, don't talk shit behind anyone's back, never fight for the attentions of a guy, but don't be afraid of ruckus.

We were snobs about it. Jell-o shots were for pussies. Dancing was fine, but conversation was better. If you need to puke, ask for help and go gag yourself outside. No shame in the puke 'n rally as long as you fucking own it and don't blame it on Alcohol. It's your fault that you don't know your limits, not Alcohol's. All Alcohol ever did was taste delicious and make you popular. We entrenched ourselves in this ridiculous, idolatrous ethical dogma of pack-class, competition, and booze.

And we did it...why? To impress guys, basically. I mean that's what everything boils down to, right? We were hoarding all of them to us, so that when they talked about us it would be with respect and friendship, not the way they talked about all the gutterskanks and critters. We were fucking "cool", no question. Other girls were submissive fucking cake-bakers who giggled and couldn't think for themselves and spent all their time sucking up and sucking cock.

It was easy to look down on the girls who couldn't handle their liquor, it was easy to judge them and basically hate on them from up high without ever really talking about them. We basically ignored them with silent disapproval, and made a point to laugh louder and pal harder.

Sometimes I feel disgusted with how highly we thought of ourselves because we drank "as well as the guys" or better. Even still, hanging out with male college friends, they always talk about how we could party just as hard even though we were girls, like it was a handicap or something, and we fed off of it.

I regret having that mindset then, because I probably missed out on meeting a lot of very cool women. At the same time, I'm proud of the person I'm growing into, so much that I don't regret being a snob at all. Gyna, one of my best friends, went to college with me, but we became friends a couple years after graduation. We knew each other, sure, because our school had 2,000 people. But I exclusively paid attention to people who woke up, hit the bong, drank themselves stupid, paddled each other with stop signs and threw beer bottles at cop cars. She was an academic and therefore too serious. How many other girls did I ignore because they couldn't hang? Why was so much of my life focused on being someone who could hang?

Everyone was too serious, and we were hilarious.

But college was all about using. We used people constantly. Guys did not take advantage of us: we took advantage of them. When I lost my virginity - and I was the last one of like, all my friends to do so - I was bonked out of my gourd, but it was superfun and I bled everywhere and I didn't give a shit, I was just proud that I could fuck without shame and attachment. In the following weeks he didn't seem to understand that he was just a means to an end. He thought we bonded, but I really thought he was kind of an idiot.

That's something that the using culture solidifies: the last two people at the party, lurking over everyone trading war stories. That's what it's about. The Last Men Standing.

I thought I had a problem. I considered that I might be an alcoholic. Obsessed over it. I gained so much weight my senior year and slept so much over Christmas break that my mom thought I was pregnant and made me prove I wasn't by seeing a doctor. I couldn't get health insurance for four years because of that visit. I told my doctor, "I'm in college, I drink a lot and eat ramen and Taco Bell everyday," and the doctor wrote that I abused alcohol. I did, of course. But I couldn't get health insurance for years, and I couldn't get a job that offered it.

Sorry, I'm just kind of babbling here.

After college, I quit drinking for about a year, no problem. Working three jobs, one of them at an elementary school. I just kind of decided that I didn't want kids smelling booze and cigarettes on me, so I stopped completely. It was easy. Everyone was shocked. Again though, people thought I was pregnant because I stopped drinking, but I was losing weight so after awhile they caught on that I was serious about being sober as long as I worked with kids.

Before I forget: Don't tell me drinking is not a feminist issue. If it gets to the point where someone assumes I am pregnant because I am (1) female and (2) sober, there is a fucking problem. Not just with me, but with the people making that assumption. If people are looking down on girls for their inability to handle their alcohol, it's a problem. If girls feel the need to get drunk to get laid, if they think the only way they can prove their worth is by getting drunk so they can look as cool as guys, it's a problem. And the reason it's a problem is because they're judging their worth as individuals on the scale that men judge other men, not the scale on which people judge people.

It's a problem because I associate that drunken behavior with men instead of with women, when there are just as many women who have a drinking problem.

Stereotypically, a drunk girl is just plain visually easier to spot. She's got longer hair that gets messy, she's tripping over her heels, her make up streaks. When she passes out wearing a skirt and a skimpy top, she's bearing more skin, accidentally exposing more hidden parts. Because you can see her fail to live up to the class act she spent so much time prepping to portray, it's easier to judge her. It's a shame.

Anyway, I watched my friends pile up on DUIs, which pissed me off because I was sober and they were obviously fucking stupid. There's no reasoning with that. I'm not going to sugarcoat that, you get a DUI because you do dangerous, retarded things. Sorry Zen Mama, but it's true.

After that, I started bartending and moved to Chicago. Drinking again. Fortifying my position in the using culture of Chicago came easily since I was a bartender (fucking industry people think they're rock stars) and played in a locally successful band (fucking music people think they're rock stars). So I always hung out other bartenders and musicians, some escorts, professional fetish models, tattoo artists - and I was tame compared to those fools, even though I could outdrink the lot of them.

Keeping myself away from drugs and coke was easy because I never had the desire to do it, but I drank a shit-ton to make up for it. The scene pulls you in, and you start feeling nostalgic for a time that existed before you were born and you feel like this, this is what it feels like to be a part of a movement, this is seduction, this is living, we are special and everyone else is livestock. You're the Rat Pack, Studio 54, you're Hunter Thompson, you're Bukowski, you're at the Roundhouse in London, you're listening to blues on Maxwell Street.

Our culture fetishizes icons of the past who lived hard and died young. The role models of my generation are the insolent punks and swank, gutsy pop culture figures that had so much intrigue and defiance surrounding them. They defined rebellion and sexed it up; we are a poor imitation of such a controversial and world-changing lifestyle. And thirty years from now when writers have immortalized our exploits in novels and movies, a new generation will emerge obsessed with us. It's so weird.

Since last summer and my subsequent two-month sabbatical from imbibing, I've cut down on alcohol considerably. Mostly because I was actually scared about my health. Okay, and because the hangovers were getting unbearable. After blacking out twice in a month, it was time. Seriously, I never blacked out. In ten years of drinking, I'd lost time once, and then twice in a month? Never again. Never.

I still go out a couple days a week, and I won't pretend otherwise. But instead of the goal of getting fucked up beyond inhibition on a case of PBR and battling a hangover at work the next day, I slow it down. I'm there to socialize and have a well-honed brew.

I could never be anti-drinking. I made too many friends using alcohol as a bonding tool, some of whom turned to AA or NA eventually, but I firmly believe the key is moderation and responsibility. I love the taste of beer too much to give it up completely. Am I addicted? Yes. I'm just going to go out and say yes. I guess my newest outlook on drinking is enjoying the alcohol for what it is (in low doses like The Elder) rather than how much liquid courage I stock up. Sure, I plan on getting drunk on my 30th birthday.

The worst part is, I'm still disgusted by women who are all giggly and falling over each other, fawning and fighting over men like angry chickens. I don't understand the cat-fights because I was above it on principle, and therefore a way bigger snob.

I don't know. I have no conclusion or point to all this, I guess. Just adding my business. Does this even make sense?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mommy Needs Her Medicine

I was nineteen and worked at a local steakhouse doling out Porterhouses that hung off the plate and tray after tray of Martinis and Gimlets and large sloshing glasses of wine. I had quite a few regulars that came to eat and I got to know most of the seatwarmers that parked themselves at our bar. While I picked large chunks of feta out of our cold trays and grabbed the first steak sent back to the kitchen to take home with me for dinner, I never drank. The regulars all offered to buy me a drink at the end of my shift as either a thank you for the night's welcome banter or to ply a young fresh woman out of her panties. I never accepted because my short drive home from the restaurant was riddled with cops and speed traps and Wisconsin's Not a Drop Law, made the penalties for driving with any alcohol in your system before you reached the legal drinking age, especially harsh.

So when the restaurant hosted a huge Halloween party that I attended but was not scheduled to work, where a number of my family members were in attendance, including my mom who promised to take me home, I felt comfortable having a drink with the people who I always politely declined as I sipped my diet cokes. Maybe because I normally eschewed their generosity or maybe because I was dressed like Marilyn Monroe, the free drinks came pouring in. It started with a margarita because they were on special that night. It tasted pretty good, like a high octane smoothie. The effects hit me immediately and the second margarita went down even easier. My senses were all numbed so this time, I couldn't even taste the alcohol. Two more of these and I found myself spinning in our bathroom. I miraculously managed to point my head right at the toilet as my body surprised me with a barf with no mouthwater or stomach turning foreshadowing. I was so drunk that my normal phobia about vomiting was absent. Emboldened by alcohol and apparently not deterred by getting sick, I attempted to hit on the restaurant owner's son until my gracious friend intercepted me, told me I had a little puke on my dress and ushered me home.

I was sick for three days. I didn't have even an ounce of alcohol for two years. I had a small glass of champagne on New Year's Eve with my boyfriend at age twenty-one, and one more overindulgence at twenty-four with business colleagues who were seasoned drinkers. After that last time, a night of three gin and tonics and another three day hangover, I rarely drank again. Save for the occasional glass of wine at a very good restaurant or splitting a beer with my husband over spicy Thai food, I never drink. I probably average one drink a month. My total annual alcohol consumption is what some drinkers put down in one night. My husband drinks the same way I do. We both have alcoholics in our family and our individual drinking habits, or lack thereof, are of comfort to each of us.

I am aware that in our culture, I am not the norm. I am the teetotaler, the prude, the one who leaves Happy Hour at 6:30pm just as everyone else is getting started. I am the one that will shoot you looks of irritation and exasperation that you won't even register because you are drunk. I am the one who will remind myself that there is nothing quite so annoying as a drunk person when you are sober. I am the one who will drive myself home safely, not putting families and individuals and light poles in jeopardy because I am too intoxicated to understand and consider the potentially horrific consequences of having too many Jack and cokes and getting behind the wheel. I am the one who will tuck myself in bed, watch Law and Order and wake up clear headed the next day regretting nothing.

I offer you this back story as a reference for what comes next.

I am absolutely worried and dismayed over the current female drinking culture. The whole Mommy Needs Her Medicine mentality, the young single girls drinking night after night, the women who come home to a glass or four of wine every night. I am sick of the television shows that not only condone excessive drinking but encourage it. I know emails like this are meant to be lighthearted but I don't like them.
Important Women's Health Issue:

* Do you have feelings of inadequacy?
* Do you suffer from shyness?
* Do you sometimes wish you were more assertive?
* Do you suffer exhaustion from the day to day grind?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, ask your doctor or
pharmacist about Margaritas.

Margaritas are the safe, natural way to feel better and more confident
about yourself and your actions. Margaritas can help ease you out of
your shyness and let you tell the world that you're ready and willing
to do just about anything. You will notice the benefits of Margaritas
almost immediately and with a regimen of regular doses you can
overcome any obstacles that prevent you from living the life you want
to live.

Shyness and awkwardness will be a thing of the past and you will
discover many talents you never knew you had. Stop hiding and start
living, with Margaritas.

Margaritas may not be right for everyone. Women who are pregnant or
nursing should not use Margaritas. However, women who wouldn't mind
nursing or becoming pregnant are encouraged to try it.

Side effects may include:
- Dizziness
- Nausea
- Vomiting
- Incarceration
- Erotic lustfulness
- Loss of motor control
- Loss of clothing
- Loss of money
- Loss of virginity
- Table dancing
- Headache
- Dehydration
- Dry mouth
- And a desire to sing Karaoke

* The consumption of Margaritas may make you think you are whispering
when you are not.
* The consumption of Margaritas may cause you to tell your friends over
and over again that you love them.
* The consumption of Margaritas may cause you to think you can sing.
* The consumption of Margaritas may make you think you can logically
converse with members of the opposite sex without spitting.

I feel like as a culture, we are encouraging women to drink to handle their lives rather than changing their lives or dealing with difficult, uncomfortable and painful feelings. Drinking has never fixed anything, it only adds shame and anxiety to the current set of problems. As a child of an alcoholic it is painful for me to watch the faces of the children of my friends and neighbors who drink in excess, knowing firsthand some of the issues those children will grapple with as adults because of their parents emotional checking out. It is painful for me to watch a woman I work with walk through her day like the living dead, sneaking off to her car for a beer in between clients.

I think this is a very important feminist issue. For me, the consequences of drinking so immeasurably outweigh the fun that I just don't understand why so many women willingly risk so much. This isn't meant to be a tsk-tsk to you Z. and I hope Mongolian Girl, who has gone through recovery has some insight to offer. I just think that when so many people condone excessive drinking, or treat a DUI like a right of passage that I had to offer up the alternative viewpoint.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Who are you calling a Princess?

I’m a girly girl, always have been. I don’t like fishing, hunting or camping, though I admire the women in my life who do.  They are able to bait their own hooks, pull the disgustingly slimy fish off the line, shoot a deer, field dress it and cook up both using an arsenal of creative culinary techniques. It’s reminiscent of those vintage Enjoli advertisements, I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan, and never ever let you forget you’re a man, cause I’m a woman. Wherein, I’m generally satisfied with Mrs. Paul’s beer battered fish fillets. Which by the way, is itself reminiscent of the smell of Enjoli.
Hunting in Wisconsin is more than a pastime or a hobby. When the season opens, work comes to a standstill.  Good luck finding a contractor during that week, unless you have some land “up north” with a few deer stands in it, you’re not likely to see one. They sit in these rickety old stands, generally alone, in minus twenty-fuck degrees. They don’t realize when hypothermia is about to set in because along with their weapons of choice, they have packed enough liquor to sustain that fine line between being drunk off your ass and being drunk on your ass. It’s not uncommon to see photos of them passed out at the top of a tree with a cigar in one hand and a rifle in the other. Does anybody else see this as dangerous?  I like to imagine the woodland animals with makeshift cameras and tiny reading glasses hiding behind rocks while taking detailed notes on the peculiar habitats of these large orange creatures:

It continues to drink from the bottle, causing loud noises to pass from the regions of its mouth and buttocks, the latter of which sends off an odor of most foul proportion.  Have not been able to identify a pattern to these guttural sounds, thus have ruled out the theory of a mating call.

Be that as it may. Here I am, living among the large orange creatures. I am certain I was communicating with one who happened to be on duty that night in Walworth County. He opened the door of my cell, handed me a blanket so thin it folded up to the size of a cell phone and pointed me in the direction of the green vinyl mat that would serve as my bed for the night. Just before he closed the door, I asked if he might possibly have forgotten to give me my pillow. The look he gave me was something along the lines of, boys, we got another one. “No princess, I did not forget your pillow.”

There is a big difference between a girl who doesn’t care for camping and a girl who is a princess.  I don’t like roughing it, woman against nature, but I also don’t need to be pampered. I’m not one to volunteer to sleep in a place with no running water but then again, I’m no prima donna.  After all, I survived my childhood.