Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Well Manicured Lawn

My Zumbalicious friend recently reposted a quote on Facebook that read, "if the grass is greener on the other side, maybe you're not taking good care of yours." How amazing the power of this collection of words, and how amazingly appropriate it is, given our currently belief system regarding just about everything we consume - including love.

I read somewhere last week that Gen X babies are less apt to divorce because they remember with clarity what they went through during their parent's divorce. And yet, divorce is rampant in our society. We treat everything and everyone as dispensable property without concern because, where there's one of something, surely a better one is just around the corner.

This is how I approach donuts, after all.

Data compiled by geniuses tells us that we Gen X'ers approach divorce differently - yet we are still divorcing. Why is that? I happen to fancy that it's because when the going gets tough, it is easier to fly instead of fight. It gets too monotonous to work on the relationship. We've got jobs, kids, money issues, and all the other stresses that go on behind closed doors. And walking away sounds like the way out.

I'm right there with the rest of you. I'm not married, so I'm not talking about walking away from a marriage, but things are difficult in my personal life just the same.

Allow me to play pity party for a bit.

Don't worry, I've got extra party hats - and the occasional feather boa for good measure.

Oh, and I've got vodka. Lots of vodka!

Right now, my life feels like it has been in a tailspin, about to plummet into the earth. Dramatic, right? I've got the flair for it. But it's true. For the past month and a half, I haven't had much opportunity to be in my normal routine. Blog posts have been nil, I haven't written more of the book, I've barely cooked, Princess has been gone, I've been to the fruit stand just twice, and although I've been going to a trainer three times a week, I've barely seen any difference.

I've even taken to having crazy dreams about standing in front of a tornado without being afraid and elevators that reach the top floor but get stuck. (The elevator does reach the top floor in my head, just so you know. It's not a metaphor for my intelligence.) All this boils down to the fact that I, myself, haven't been taking very good care of my life lately, and it's starting to surface in my dreams.

When our life is out of whack, our subconscious makes every effort to grapple with the chaos by working through it in our dreams. Fear about forces that may destroy everything I've worked so hard to create, manifests itself in a tornado that I approach with fearless abandon. Worry about whether I'll finally break through and realize success both in work and personal realms creates an elevator that brings me to my destination but won't quite let me out.

How can I free myself from all this insanity?

Easy - take care of my own lawn instead of looking to just let it die out. I need to get my weed whacker out and start yanking out those dandelions, then mow, trim, water, and fertilize my heart out. How can I expect things in my life to start getting better unless I take the time to cultivate and develop? We Gen X parents need to set a similar precedence for our kids, only this time, it will be to fight, fight, fight.

It's natural to let your habits go when stress takes over, but I've come to the realization that I'm not going to let stress win. This weekend, I scrubbed the apartment from top to bottom. I went to the store and picked up fresh fruits and veggies. I made out a menu and a grocery list for the next two weeks so that I can cook dishes I haven't made in quite some time. I'm writing the first of many blog posts and I'm moving on to my book after this. My work schedule is in place for the next month and all projects are laid out with a timeline for completion. And as for working out, the Fitness Nazi will have a more focused client from now on.

This is where it starts - with me, making small changes. Changes that may be small on the surface, but big enough to impact how I approach life - and hopefully how my daughter reacts to stress in hers.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Splish, Splash

Oops! I've done it again. (Britney Spears is playing in my head now...)

And I did it to myself, no less.

So before I get to my immensely important point that I know all of you are now waiting on pins and needles to hear, I have to tell you a joke.

Okay, ready? Here goes....

Every time I hear "done it again" I think of a small town in Northern CA named Dunnigan, and I always say, "oops, I Dunnigan".

I know....really bad joke. You can unfriend me on Facebook now if you want.


I'm in my third week of training with the Fitness Nazi. The first week was so bad that I contemplated quitting every time I attempted to do something ordinary like brush my hair...or sneeze. It got to the point that I secretly designed schematics to install a handle bar on the wall in front of the toilet to facilitate getting up and down. After all, I should not have to do Lamaze just to "take care of business"!

Day one was triceps and abs, which are currently my weakest muscle groups, or at least this is what Fitness Nazi believed because we spent a lot of "focused energy" on these groups. I'd like to "focus some energy" on a swift kick to a soft part of his body. (If only I could lift my leg to do so without sobbing.) I knew that I would be in pain for the remainder of the week simply because when I was driving home, I had to use both hands just to put on my seat belt and to turn the steering wheel. Trainers say that your muscles should reach failure, or that point at which it becomes difficult to lift even a paperclip.

I, however, reached epic failure. You like how I build suspense?

Day two was two days later. We worked chest and shoulders even though the day before I had just done Pilates.

Ahhhh....Pilates. Another word for "you'll discover ass muscles buried deeper than the tectonic plate".

I did cardio for an hour after my session and then took my very sore self home for a soak in the tub. By that day, my whole upper body was barely able to move. Funny thing about sore, half-working muscles, soppy wet clothes, and a nearby bathtub full of water - it's all bound to be the fodder for a great lesson in Murphy's Law.

Anyone else out there have a stubborn sports bra that is extra-tight when you're done working out? I have one that becomes like shrink-wrap once I sweat in it. Add in a heaping teaspoonful of triceps, biceps, chest, shoulders, and abs that really aren't functioning at full capacity, and pretty soon, you're standing in your bathroom, sports bra halfway off, arms flailing about, boobs hanging halfway out, bouncing up and down and crying like an over-tired three year old because you can't get the darn thing off.

And then I slipped and fell in the bathtub.

Face first.

Legs up.

Sports bra still halfway on.

Okay, I'm kidding about that. But it would've made this story so great, right?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Home, Home On The Range

I will finally be home on Friday after being out of town for the last two weeks. Hotels are good for a few days at a time. I don't have to make my bed, leaving the towels on the bathroom floor is perfectly acceptable, and I can run the A/C nonstop. (We all know I don't leave the towels on the floor or my bed unmade, but I totally could if I wanted to.)

Two weeks of hotel life straight? That's torture. I can't run into the kitchen and pop a bowl of instant oatmeal in the microwave for breakfast. No, I have to actually get dressed to grab breakfast. And when I'm hungry or thirsty any other time of the day, I have to go purchase my food. And don't get me started about the unfortunate housekeeping call during a bathroom moment experience. Unfortunate is the only word for it.

What is waiting for me at home is no better.

While I was away, my area had a mini heat wave. This normally isn't such a problem, but given that I've been gone and had a friend watching my place, the heat was problematic - especially problematic for my Honeysuckle, my Cape Plumbago, and most everything else on my balcony. Apparently I needed to spell out that the plants must be watered. Foolish me, right? Good thing Nurse Betty went over to just take a look at everything for me. She single-handedly salvaged my Star Jasmine and possibly by Bougainvillea. My dearly coveted Gardenia tree? Toast. Literally.

So, part of the weekend will involve a trek to my other mecca - Lowe's. I will most likely have to spend a mint just to get my balcony back to it's pre-trip status. I was sick to my stomach when I heard that the plants had all died. On the other hand, if the Honeysuckle died, no more bees! Yay!

Also on tap for me when I get home - a verbose boy cat who tends to yell at me for leaving him for two weeks the moment I walk through the door. His whiny meows that go on for hours and expelled for 30 second durations are annoying. I just love getting bitched out for being a bad person. And I wonder why I want to get married? His meows are so long and disturbing, it's almost as if he's trying to have a conversation with me.

In my mind, this is how it goes:

"Why did you leave me?!?", he yells up at me. "My litter box is sub-standard. You are going to change it out right now, aren't you? And the fat one made a mess of my bathroom. Please clean it posthaste, lest I have to endure it another minute. Have you seen the bird? She's pulled out all her feathers. You left her, and it's killing her. Well, I'm going to lounge on the couch and watch you clean up this house. Oh, and don't forget the hairball I left you next to your bed. Merry Christmas." His Pepe Le Peu tail stands upright with the tip rocking back and forth as he saunters away to his perch on the couch. It's like the shark fin in Jaws - the scariest thing because it's all you can see, and you know it's coming to steal your happiness.

Yes, I know I've reached a whole new level of cat lady by giving my cats voices, but in this case, his punishing screams and look of distress up at me seem to say all of the above. He's such a prissy boy. I imagine he has a stately English accent and if he were human, he'd be wearing a smoking jacket and carrying a glass of brandy. His name is Izzy, which fits his fuzzy, long, silvery fur, but when he acts like such a priss, we call him Sir Izzeford the Third. (Say it with a proper English accent, and it makes the whole situation just pop!)

Once I finish getting the house back in order, I'll have the grand task of grocery shopping. My cupboards and fridge are bare because in preparation for my travel, we ate up all perishables. I love being able to go and stock up on all the fruits and veggies and dairy products and neatly arrange them in the fridge. Yes, this is where my bowl-stacker traits come out, but once I'm done and satisfied with the results, I can finally relax.

Then we get to Monday. I've been looking forward to this day for two weeks, and yet dreading it at the same time, much the same way one dreads an enema. As of 6:45 am on Monday, I will be on the treadmill warming up for my first day of physical training. Yes, I'm starting with a trainer to help me get myself back to where I was.

But, I'm scared. This trainer is eeeeevil. I know this, because Nurse Betty used to go to him. But, I figure this is a perfect setup. He can kick my ass three days a week, and I get to call him every name in the book. He has to stand there and take it, because I'm paying him to kick my ass and take my verbal rants like a good little boy.See? I'm a freakin' genius.

Better stock up on Ben Gay and Motrin now.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Check This!

Is it just me, or is the self-checkout line at the local grocery store an overwhelming experience?

I tried using the service a couple of months ago to purchase just a few items, and in the middle of scanning, it barks at me, "did you scan your club card?" No, biotch, I didn't. I was too busy scanning my merchandise like a good little consumer instead of waiting in your long-ass lines. Whatever happened to "three's a crowd"?

Princess is submersed in all things BOP Magazine related, and is oblivious to me talking back to the machine like she's a real person. I move on to scanning another item, and it barks at me again to scan my club card. Oh. My. Gosh. Would you just shut up about the effing card? I'll get to it! I scan another item and she says it again. In my head, I've now climbed atop the machine and am jumping up and down on it while ruefully giggling.

Back to reality...

Okay, let me quickly scan my club card, lest Little Miss Hypersensitive throw a widget because I was too busy passing my Wheaties over the scanner. How come I always get the surly self-checkout machines?

It makes me feel as if I need to be one step ahead of it or that I need to keep up with it. I begin to fumble while my anxiousness grows, and a line of people waiting to use the machine is growing behind me.

I move on to a jug of tea and place it right back in the basket without bagging it. You'd think I'd just murdered someone. "Please bag your item," she says.

"Please kiss my ass," is what I say.

If I wanted to, don't you think I would have bagged the item? I mean, I know what a bag is. It's that little plastic thing over to the side that I used to encapsulate the rest of my groceries. So, I place the jug next to the rest of the bags. I'm surprised she didn't break out a country-twanging "Oh no you di'in't!" on me. One of her three metaphorical heads is now swiveling around on her neck as she says this, too.

The gentle, but oh so off her hormone meds female voice says to me, "unexpected item in bagging area." In other words, "get your shit off that silver section there next to the rest of your bags, lady."

Only, I do nothing, and the voice keeps saying it...over, and over, and over... And intermittently, she tells me to bag my item. Oh my gosh, she's going to self-destruct if I don't do something!

But I don't know what to do, so I look around at all the angry faces behind me that are waiting to use the machine. One of the angry faced women yells out from the back of the line, "you have to hit the button on the screen that says you want to skip bagging!" And under her breath, I hear her say, "dumb ass".

I hit the button on the screen, but the voice keeps repeating "unexpected item in bagging area". Princess breaks away from Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez long enough to sense the danger, and then reaches over to the tea jug and removes it from the bagging area. Suddenly the voice stops. I say thank you to Princess and then look over at Angry Face with a smug expression and continue on with the scanning.

Okay, so I might've given her the middle-finger temple scratch, too. But I totally did it with the left hand so that Princess wouldn't see.

When I was finished, I select the pay button, only I can't figure out where to swipe my card. There's so many buttons and swipey areas that I'm overwhelmed. I feel like my grandma trying to use a computer or an ATM machine. The only thing is, I should know how to do this. I grew up with computers.

Princess, again sensing that her mom has forgotten how to use technology, takes my debit card, swipes it, enters my PIN, and presses the OK button. She takes the receipt, hands me the card and loads the cart up. In less than 30 seconds, she has us ready to go. As we walk out of the store, she looks up at me and says, "Mommy, you aren't allowed to use that machine anymore. From now on, I'll press the buttons."

I'm so awesome. I've skipped turning into my mother and went straight to turning into my grandma.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fun With Irony

My all-time favorite scent is honeysuckle. I buy any and every honeysuckle-scented candle, lotion, wallflower and body spray that crosses my path. So when, last year, I stumbled upon a honeysuckle vine at OSH, I had to buy it! I mean, an entire vine devoted to making my balcony smell like heaven on earth? I'm so there.

By the by, while we're on that kick of listing my all time favorites, might I also mention that running away from bees and wasps is also my favorite?

Don't get ahead of me now.

This year has been its first opportunity to develop a solid amount of blooms. They are beautiful blooms, too. I've never seen anything so delicate and ornate. Look...

Exquisite, yes?

I think so, too. And I figured that with my new bistro set right next to it, I would be able to breathe in the heady aroma.

Did I mention that bees love honeysuckle blooms?

And that there's a ferocious, giant bumblebee who now lives to torture me?

Irony and I are no longer friends.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Is it just me, or does it seem like there's been a constant full moon out? People have been straight up cookoo for cocoa puffs crazy, and I can't figure out why. Everything is breaking, dying, or deciding that it is suddenly a rebellious teenager.

Yes, I realize I just called my daughter "it". You would, too, if you've been experiencing all the drama I've been through. Lucky for me, I'm told by a great many people that Princess' behavior is all completely normal.

You know, that doesn't help much? But thanks just the same. (Never mind the eye roll I do behind their backs as I pour another vodka cranberry.)

I'm feeling like the train is coming off the tracks in my life again. Just when things calm down, one minor shift can turn everything completely upside down. The thing is, that I'm not just upside down. I'm on Space Mountain, zooming by, twisting and turning in the dark at 55 mph with only the ghost of a light to show me my path, hoping to hell that someone above is controlling the movement of the car and that we don't go flying off the tracks. Slow down, for Pete's sake! Things are going so fast that I might need to invest in some Depends...and some Clorox wipes.

My life has become derailed.

The Big Fat Baby Cat is even running around this apartment like her tail's on fire, which is some feat given her rotund belly and fat face. Don't worry...just because I'm bringing the cat into the discussion does not mean that I'm suddenly going to become the next editor of Cat Fancy. I may own three cats, but I lack in enough chin hair to be considered The Cat Lady. Her behavior is just relevant to this discussion.

By the by, that little cat can run pretty fast for her size. (Which goes to show that I have no excuse for not getting my own butt on the treadmill. I'll get there - the gym is opening back up in a few days and I'll get back on it. Besides, if I don't? Mamma Bestie has a taser, handcuffs, and a nightstick, and she's not afraid to use any of them. Plus, they need some dusting off and apparently, I'm lucky contestant #6 who gets to be the honored recipient. Jeepers! That's what I get for mentioning a 5K.)

Tangent, anyone?

So anyhow, this month I finally verbalized my decision to move forward with writing a book. And when you verbalize the dreams of your heart, and actually put it out into the great universe, somehow God has a way of making things happen...and quickly. Connections are falling into place and pushing me far out of my comfort zone. (Like that time I tried a Crueller instead of going with my old standby - a rainbow sprinkled donut. Never again, people! The Single Girl is a creature of habit.)

Mamma Bestie always told me that if God brings you to it, He'll pull you through it. He's gonna need a heavy rope for this adventure, because He's sent this Single Girl off on a zip line over a 3000 ft ravine. Did I mention I'm afraid of heights?

Three cheers for irony! Pass me a donut...

Before I run off to start this new adventure, I'd like to take a moment to thank each of you for your support. This next chapter in my life is going to be a doozy, but I won't be able to do any of it without you. I'll still be here along the way, giving you lots of tales about how I'm messing up and learning the ropes, hopefully having some success. You, my friends, are my biggest fans. You are the reason I put myself out there, because you can relate to these stories of absolute idiocy personified. (And yes, I can be a complete moron sometimes. But a moron in supercute stilettos, which somehow cancels out the moronic behavior.)

So thank you. Thank you. Thank you. My train may be derailed, but it's flying high in the skies of hope. This calls for a celebration! Off to the donut shop we go! Oh, and if you see Mamma Bestie, tell her I'm at the gym, mkay?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Land of Forgotten Toys

Well folks, rapture didn't happen this weekend. But I did experience my own kind of out of body experience on Tuesday as I watched Nurse Betty's backyard (re: the land of forgotten toys) being demolished. Some of you may wonder why this day was so important to me. Why would seeing a backyard ripped to shreds be so cathartic? It's just a backyard, after all.


Hello? Remember me? The bowl stacker? The real-life version of Monica Geller? The one who has more fun cleaning up after a party than during the actual party?

You see, boys and girls, there are two types of people in life: the bowl stackers and the "I'll just throw this glass bowl in the one last vacant spot in the cupboard and hope to hell that it doesn't come crashing into my head the next time I open the cupboard door" people. I happen to be a bowl stacker - the kind of person who believes that organization and minimalism are key to a happy, orderly life. Go ahead and hate.

And then we have my bff, the antithesis.

Coincidentally, Mamma Bestie is a bowl stacker, too. Must be a brunette thing. Or a fabulous person thing? Or that awesome people seem to gravitate toward each other...

Yeah, that's it.

So, the bff is not a bowl stacker. So what? I've got insurance and a snazzy helmet to wear when I help her put away the dishes. (It's got sparkles and is all different shades of blue.) We could all learn a thing or two from her. She's self-sufficient, successful, beautiful, and can carry on a conversation with anyone (including random people she meets - like at the park, the grocery store, the gym, the gynecologist office...Ahem. I, on the other hand, prefer to be of the "stranger danger" variety and keep my distance, only getting near after checking ID, blood type and getting a full background check.)

When it came to her backyard, she knew she'd eventually get around to having it re-landscaped and thus the whole scene never really bothered her. Instead, she focused on having the inside of her house remodeled and refreshed, and then completely overhauled the front yard. Now that she can turn her attention to the backyard, she has.

I, however, looked at that backyard every single time I came over and imagined how magical it could be with just a bit of blood, alcohol, sweat, alcohol, and tears. (I'd certainly cry, too, given the overgrowth of thorny shrubs on her side yard. Plus, I'm a wimp.) Give me a few hundred dollars (money, money, money!), a crew of sweaty, shirtless men, (yowza!) and I'd have this backyard looking fab-u-lous! (Like me!) But seeing it sit, (cue sad music) year after year, summer after summer, vacant...lonely...decrepit, made me want to overhaul it that much more. My bowl stacking tendencies almost forced me to do just that when Nurse Betty mentioned last month that she was going to start interviewing landscapers.

What? Really? Hallelujah! Lord have mercy! My prayers have been answered!

I could (read: will) make lots of sarcastic comments about the state of this backyard in its pre-demo state. But the truth behind this backyard rip and renew is that we all have a little excess growth hindering us. We all have something that we've yet to take care of that's become a festering, Ebola-laden, feces-throwing, monkey on our back. And until we rip it off, however painful that may be, we won't realize the true beauty lurking beneath the overgrowth. Sometimes tearing away the surface reveals a beauty unimaginable.

For Nurse Betty, this is one of the very last steps in her post-mortem divorcee life. If she can tackle this backyard on her own, what can she not handle in life? Sure, it's scary. We've all seen one too many episodes where Mike Holmes stands in the kitchen of some poor soul with his charming smile and Canadian accent, telling the homeowner how he's made it right. Contractors can be shady. And trusting your gut is key. Nurse Betty is learning to trust her gut and stand on her own two feet.

The fact that her feet were standing in a backyard that looked more like the Serengeti Plains is beside the point...

Or that you could play a fabulous game of Marco Polo and never find one another...

Or that all sorts of inflatable toys were discovered during the demo...

But yeah, that's all beside the point. Totally...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Poke, Poke, Poke

I'm bored. Sigh….

Uninspired. Oh, woe is me…

Lacking in fun. Boo hoo hoo…

And when I get this way, I make my fun. Muah ah ah ah ahhhhhhh…..

Last night I finally bought a Kindle after 18 months of pining away for one. Kindle, Kindle, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

The first book I purchased on my new Kindle was Jen Lancaster's latest installment, If You Were Here. (I highly recommend this author. If you've never laughed hysterically on a crowded Southwest plane – while reading a book, which is apparently important that I clarified - so much so that people thought you were A) off your meds, B) having a heart attack, or C) about to have an accident in a town just south of vomit, then I suggest purchasing each one of her books and hopping on the first flight out.)

I thought the new purchase would fill the boredom void I've been experiencing. Alas, it did not.

Cue the suspenseful music, the wicked Grinch smile and the evil wringing of hands, as all villains do.

What, oh what, would possibly bring joy to my heart? I started making a mental list.

Trip? Nah. I'm heading out next week and at this point should just relocate to Southern CA.

Killer new stilettos? A trip to Nordstrom Rack and a pair of $20 Soffts that mysteriously made it to my car solved that last week.

Hug from Princess? Ew. Smellage times twenty these days.

Usually when I’m bored I start poking Princess in the arm. It’s a lot of fun. She’s like the little sister I never had, despite dressing my little brother up in my mom’s clothes when we were younger. (He’ll deny that one completely, just so you know.) She annoys me and does things on purpose just to annoy me, so poking her in the arm when I’m bored and want to stir up some fun is a nice little payback!

Since she wasn’t available, who could I possibly poke with just as much return on investment?

Think, think, think…

I had to do something drastic… Poke!

Still thinking. I might hurt myself.

Something lasting… Poke!

Think harder! Ow! I did hurt myself. (Note to self: must not poke own self to gratify boredom void.)

Or something sinister, laced with evil BFF plots. Poke!

...the music gets louder...

Aha! Hallelujah! Eureka! I’ve got it! Poke! Poke! Poke! Poke!

And somehow, some way, my car ended up at Home Goods last night. Just drove itself right on over. Like Kit…

Not so scary, you say?

Well, right about now, Nurse Betty has just raced home and changed all the locks on her house.

Or she’s relocated to Jupiter.

With no forwarding address.

She understands how dangerous that place can be for her. (See posts entitled King Me and In Keeping With Tradition.) The last time I went to Home Goods, she ended up with two of the most adorable Christmas ornaments ever.

E V E R!

Nurse Betty and I have this love-hate relationship with Home Goods. I love to go there and purchase one-of-a-kind works of crap art for her. She hates it when I send her taunting texts of what I am threatening to do purchasing for her. But this level of evil brings joy to my heart and makes me giggle like a little girl. Boredom problem SOLVED!

Cue Single Girl happy dance in the rain! (As all happy dances are done in the rain.) I was even doing the running man. Join me, if you will. *Parachute pants optional.

What does this have to do with Nurse Betty, you ask? Well, if any of you know Nurse Betty, you know that she's about to redo her backyard. Pics will be coming along with a full diary of what is happening, complete with my own sarcastic (read: intelligent, pertinent, fascinating, and downright awesome) commentary. But what is a new backyard without a fabulous lawn ornament?

Hee hee hee hee hee hee....

The pictures you see below are among the top contenders for Nurse Betty’s hideous fabulous new lawn ornament. Please vote on your favorite as soon as possible so that the item is not snatched up by some other sinister BFF with her own plot of world domination. Bonus imaginary donut points awarded to those who also name the work of art. Let the voting begin!

She who poketh the beast, runneth the fastest.

Yay for painted frogs!

Or a painted gecko?

Ooh! A slumbering buck tucked under a bush would be nice...

Here's Princess with a lovely green gecko.

A fishing frog is always a great accoutrement for a new backyard.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Mom Mug

Today is Mother's Day. It's the day for cards with the word "MOM" written out of curly noodles glued to construction paper, of inedible breakfasts in bed, and twelve blissful hours of reprieve from all our motherly duties. But what does this day really mean? Is it an opportunity to use the "It's Mother's Day" get out of all things chore-related card? I use that with abandon, much the way I use the Santa card at Christmas to keep Princess 2 in check when she's creeping up on the naughty list. Yes, I'm evil. And no, I haven't copyrighted that one yet, so feel free to use and adopt as your own.

Well, call me a late bloomer, or call me less motherly than the average bear, but it took me about nine years to really, REALLY understand what being a mom was all about. Funny enough, it didn't happen on Mother's Day. Grab your pillows, boys and girls. This mom is going to take you on a journey back in time. Hold on. This one may get bumpy.

It all started in 1999, when Princess was born. I was young (don't say a word), thin (I'm warning you), and a brand new mom. Seeing my bundle of joy being passed over to me just after giving birth didn't elicit some euphoric response of intense motherhood. I felt lost, unsure, and pretty much felt like running for the hills. What was I supposed to do with this pink-faced set of eyes staring up at me as if she knew me? I was clueless (I swear if you take a crack at that one...), and I felt no real instant bond with her. It wasn't until about a week later that I had that overwhelming sense of love, so great that it welled up great big crocodile tears at 2 am during one of her nightly feedings. And from then on, my gut reaction to protect her was always spot on. That ferocious mama bear syndrome was roaring in, loud and clear. Surprisingly, the ability to see the love she had for me was not always as honed.

Princess and I have been on our own for quite some time now, and we have had our share of adventures. We've learned to navigate our own new trials and tribulations along the way. Me, learning how to secretly date around a twelve year old who is known as the "Nosey Italian Grandmother". Her, learning how to trust her gut, stand up for herself, and keep herself out of useless drama. We've tested each other's patience over the past few months, and this has caused a strain on our relationship. So this morning as I pulled down a mug from the cupboard, I had to pull down my MOM mug.

Your MOM mug, you ask? Yes, my MOM mug. Princess gave me this coffee mug for Christmas when she was nine. Her school had a Christmas bazaar where students could shop for low-cost items for their family members on their own at school and give these gifts as Christmas presents. Princess purchased the MOM mug for me, not only because I love to drink coffee, but because it represented her love for me. Anyone else might have put on their best happy parent face at their Christmas gift, knowing it came from their child's heart, and responding that they love it so much, even though it's something they'll never use. But this gift brought tears to my eyes. And I got it - I'm a mom. I'm a mom. I'm finally part of that club. And I'm not just auditing, I'm a full-fledged member.

I never really understood what being called Mom meant. Sure, I'd been called that name, and a number of any one of its variations, over the course of her short life. And yes, there were times where it drove me absolutely nutter butter batty. Princess had the whole "Stevie" routine down way before Family Guy was ever around. Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mommy, mom, mom, mom, mom, ma, ma, ma, ma, ma, ma, mommy, mommy, MOM! Mamma Bestie's hubby used to impersonate her pretty well. Good thing they have one of their own now so I can return that little nugget of a favor. But back to the mug and why it turned me into a mushy, gushy, puddle of goo. (I said goo, not poo. You had to read that one over a second time, didn't you?) This mug not only represented who I was, but how Princess perceived me.

We moms sometimes forget that it isn't only what we do for our children, but how they perceive what we do. They keep track of those out of the ordinary special things we do, like sitting in a rocking chair by the front window during a summer thunderstorm, rocking, listening to the thunder, and not talking. They remember crazy times with pipe cleaners and sugar cookies. They remember tickle fights and movie nights under a makeshift tent made out of blankets. Our children perceive us as the great imaginators, the ones who can hug and kiss away a boo boo, the ones who cheer them on when they've done well, the ones who make them giggle. We are their biggest fans. We are their heroes. We are Mom. And today represents not only a deserving day off, but a celebration of who we are perceived to be.

Bringing down that MOM mug this morning only brought back a flood of memories, both good and bad, of the times I've had with my daughter. It also brought memories back of all the times I've had with my own mom. She has taught me how to love, how to listen, how to be a friend and a mother all at the same time, and how to be firm but judicious when I messed up. No mom is perfect, but to me and my perception, she is.

So here's to all the moms out there. May your mom mug be filled with all the love and get out of chores free cards that time could buy. Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Great Expectations

I turned 35 this week, much to my dismay and utter protest. If I had gotten my way, you'd have found me under my covers on Wednesday morning, sobbing, eating my way through a box of unsuspecting donuts. God was playing a cruel, cruel joke on me, yet most of those people around me couldn't understand my issue. It's just a number, they said. It's not everything, they whined. Age is a state of mind. Blah, blah freakin' blah! And might I add, bite me? Until you've had a birthday that makes you feel this way, then you have no idea what this feels like.

You see, when you're 18, graduating from high school, heading off across the country to college (or down the street, in my case), you set goals for your life. And eventually, these goals become expectations. By the time I was 25, I wanted to be graduated from college and on my way in a successful career. I wanted to own my own car and at least have the prospect of owning a home. By the time I was 30, I wanted to have the husband, the 2.5 kids, and the successful career as a teacher. And by the time I was 35, I wanted to have that nest egg of financial security and a sense of freedom to go and do as I'd like. Somehow, things haven't gone exactly as I'd planned.

If any of you truly know me, or have read these posts, you know I'm a planner. I'm by the book. Type A.

I'm a bowl stacker.

So to know that I'm really at the start of my career and still don't know what I want to do, to know that I am nowhere near close to owning my own home, and to realize that I might not ever be married scares the bejesus out of me. When you're 35, you're supposed to have things figured out. That's the great expectation. And I expected to have most everything figured out and secured down enough to face whatever "what if" that came into my life. God, somehow, had a different plan.

I know that we don't always become what we set out to be. And I know that life has twists and turns that are supposed to make experiences that we'll treasure for the rest of our lives. I know all this. I get it. And I believe this. I also believe that you end up in places, experiencing things that you are meant to be experiencing, because it will ultimately make you who you were intended to be all along.

Turning 35 was almost a representation of my failures in life. Failures, you say? What failures, Single Girl? Do you not have a roof over your head? Do you not own your car? Do you not have friends and family who love you? Do you not have a wonderful little girl who adores you? Yeah. I do. And right about now, you want to smack me for being unappreciative of all the gifts I've been given. Gifts that money can't buy. But to me, I received these gifts because of my failures. My failed marriage produced my daughter. And living without owning a car for so long taught me the value of it. And renting only allows me to dream beyond my wildest dreams of the day I'll own a home with a plot of land I can till into a Better Homes and Gardens photographic spread. And being perpetually single only teaches me that having a partner by your side who loves and cares for you is such a rare commodity that should never, ever be taken for granted.

Turning 35 meant having to face those failures and accept them as my life. It meant taking those great expectations that I had for myself and realizing that those expectations were only fantasy, brought on by too many airings of Cinderella. Glass slippers are uncomfortable and impractical anyhow. Regular stillettos are hard enough. But to me, my great expectation is that the curtain at the end of my life would close with a happily ever after ending. And so far, on the surface, none of these dreams have come true according to my timeline. This was my issue.

Ever see that movie Under the Tuscan Sun? In it, a divorcee purchases a Tuscan villa on a whim just after her divorce and cathartically remodels it, while remodeling herself. She has a tiny breakdown mid-movie where she verbalizes her dreams of having a family, cooking for her family, and having a wedding at this home. In the end, her dreams come true, just not at a literal level. Her family is a different family, made up of a mishmosh of friends and neighbors. A wedding takes place, but it just wasn't hers. In the end, she gets her wish. Well, if I look closely, I have had my great expectations come true.

I have my family. They are a mixed dozen of friends and blood relatives, but nonetheless, they are mine. And while I don't own a home, it will eventually come to me. As for my career, it's been eight years in the making and it's going strong. So while I had great expectations for my birthday, the day was a quiet celebration of failures that turned into successes. I spent the day refurbishing my balcony into a tiny oasis where I can now sit and enjoy the warm sun and cool breeze, and write this post.

Turning 35 has allowed me to accept these successes and move on with my life. I don't know what will happen and I have loose goals, but I'll spend the next 35 enjoying whatever comes my way. This is my greatest expectation.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Last Thursday I sat with a business book, wasting away the morning, when Mamma Bestie called. Our calls are few and far between since the little guy came into her life, and our visits are much more scarce. Who can blame us though? She's got a bundle of cuteness that limits her social life and I've got a travel schedule that rivals the President. Nonetheless, over the last year we've grown apart and it breaks my heart. So when MB mentions that she's about to do some yoga, hears that I've always wanted to learn, and invites me up to do it with her, I jump at the chance. I was already in my gym clothes and running through a litany of excuses why I wasn't going to go to the gym and this? This sounded fun. I could get in my cardio and have some much needed time with my bestie! Score!

She casually mentions that it's from a DVD that's part of this P90X workout routine... Sounds easy. Hey, I work out. I've got good cardiovascular control. I'm awesome. (At least I thought I was.)

P90X is mean, rude, and I want to officially kick its ass now. This routine was 90 minutes in total, but it took us four hours to get through it, what with all the hyperventilating I was doing. She said we were doing yoga, but she so lied. This was a "tie me up in a pretzel and hold that position while doing a flying leap" yoga. This was yoga that military intelligence uses to get you to spill the beans on all your national secrets! You think water boarding is torture? Let's see you do Warrior Three.

So the first 45 minutes was the crazy, "block this insanity from your memory bank" sort of yoga. But the last 45 minutes had me doing positions that were...well, only appropriate in the bedroom. (RE: The Frog) Some of them had me tied up in a pretzel so much that one flex had me moaning. (Evidently I moaned a little too well at one point.) And of course, when you get two friends together sweating (I was hyperventilating), breathing through the pain ("Just breathe", the instructor said. "Bite me." That's what I said.), and a bit punchy from all the stress of life, sooner or later one wrong moan will bring one of you to the point of giggles. And then more moans (with more gusto) ensue.

Giggles with your bestie are better than any other stress relief I know. We couldn't get through many of the other poses without some sort of laughter. But that wasn't the best part. I'm sure some of you out there have tried yoga a time or two. And those of you that have, know that yoga tends to bring you release other than that of the stress variety. How can I put this delicately? It, um, well... it....

It makes you fart, okay? Giant, wafty, big bullfrog croaking farts!

So there we were, doing some sort of "only appropriate if we were strippers or porn stars" yoga positions when I hear a tiny sound from my dear friend. And ladies, if you've ever been around her after she's eaten Baja Fresh and had the opportunity to hear (and smell) her burps, you'd know why my yoga mat suddenly ended up a few more feet to the right.

I'm no angel in this department. Did I ever tell you the story about our trip down the hill from Lake Tahoe after she and Murray The Monkey (her hubby, who used to impersonate a chimpanzee to make Princess giggle til she couldn't breathe, even though he fully denies ever doing it til this very day) got married? Well, we had Baja just before we left, and somewhere around the halfway mark, it upset both our stomachs. The Incredible Miss J (MB's other bestie who is a hoot and a half) was in the back seat with Princess, who was sound asleep. Baja gave MB the burps. Me, it affected in a location a wee bit south of burp. The first few escapees were silent and odorless, but they were more of a warning than anything. Soon enough they were bad enough to force the windows to be rolled all the way down, and MB used her heinous burps as a mere weapon against my chemical warfare. It was like bringing a knife to a gun fight. And poor Miss J in the back, suffering from our insanity. She deserved a purple heart for that one!

So back to yoga, the moaning, the giggling, and the farting. We'd neared the end of the routine and this meant that we'd achieved the ability to lie still, on our backs, breathing (me, hyperventilating), and just clearing our heads of all the stress. MB and I lie there on our backs, still for about a minute before our thoughts started turning to farts. I smile to myself just as she looks over, sees me smiling, and then she busts out laughing because she knew exactly what I was thinking. That's the brilliant thing about besties - we can be away from each other for a season, but no matter what, we still carry that bond that lets us know exactly what the other is thinking, even if it is about a fart!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Oh! Light bulb!

Last weekend the fish tank light burned out, and since then I’ve been on a mission to locate one that illuminates Sassy and Marmalade the way that the old one used to. We’ve purchased one that makes the water appear blanketed in sunlight (but made the water appear bathed in poo) and another that is supposed to enhance their colors (but only turned the water pink like Barbie’s mansion). Neither, however, brings darkness to light the way that the old one used to.

Sassy and Marmalade are two, very fat, very spoiled goldfish that dance at the front of the tank each morning as I start the bread toasting in the toaster. Sassy is orange and white and the oldest of the two. Marmalade is all orange and when we got her, she was about the size of a quarter. Now she’s almost as big as Sassy and round like a gumball. In all reality, these are Princess’ fish, but I love to see them dance and beg for food each morning. Makes me all happy inside and secretly I dance, too. (It’s cute. I shake my butt, just like they do when move their fins back and forth. If anyone ever videos this and sends it to You Tube, it will go viral, because white girl can dance! Holla!)

Why is it so darn difficult to find the right light bulb? Isn’t a light bulb a light bulb? (By the by, try writing light bulb consecutively three times. After awhile, light bulb doesn’t look like it’s spelled correctly. What’s up with that? Light bulb. Light bulb? Hmmm…odd.) The fish tank looks so bleak without the proper light. And incorrect lighting is no different. The right light makes all the difference.

The same can be said of life. In our darkest hour, a single flame burning brightly cannot reveal the correct path to resolution. Instead, it simply allows us to take our next step. (Or keep us from bumping our head on the nearest surface.) When our surroundings are completely dark, we don’t know if we’re safe, about to fall, or about to run into a wall. (Or for some of us – who shall remain nameless – the walls simply jump out at her for no good reason even when there’s plenty of light. Okay…we’re talking about me. Nurse Betty would’ve called me out for that as soon as she read it, so I had to fess up!) But a single light bulb, or in this metaphor, a single epiphany, can make everything seem crystal clear.

Each day we have the opportunity to learn from our experiences. You thought I was going to say “mistakes” instead of “experiences” didn’t you? Well, I firmly believe that there are no real mistakes, just opportunities to learn and apply that knowledge in the future. Like, when my car mysteriously ends up in front of a donut shop and a bag of happy sprinkled donuts is sitting in the passenger seat next to me screaming in fear of the impending ravaging, I’ve learned that a milk chaser cuts the sugar so much better than a coke. Things like that, you know?

Okay, so maybe I’m not talking just about the proper donut ravaging technique. (Or am I? Muuuuuuaahaaaahhhhahhhh!) We all know that past experiences can shape the way we react to our current surroundings. The right light can make all the difference when faced with darkness, though. In the morning, bright sunlight can seem oppressive to weary, tired eyes. And in the evening, the setting sun turns everything golden and fiery, with shadows appearing where buildings and trees once stood.

But when the sun is straight up in the sky, during that perfect spring day when it appears that the trees have taken a deep breath in and exhaled giant blossoms, the warmth blankets your face and feeds your soul.

That’s the kind of light that shapes you.

That’s the kind of light that gets straight to your heart and points you in the right direction. And suddenly, you know what you need to do.

Or in my case, the light points me to the nearest donut shop. Cue screaming donuts.

Shine on, my friends. Shine on.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Perception Versus Reality

How many of you out there have that one friend who makes each aspect of their life seem downright perfect? And how many of you know differently? Just as I suspected (because I'm awesome like that) - we all have that friend. He or she has the perfect spouse, the two car garage, the 1.5 children, and they make an exorbitant amount of money. They take dream vacations and have absolutely nary a worry or concern in life. Sigh...if only my life could be that perfect, you say!

Well guess what, boys and girls? It ain't all happy puppies and kittens behind closed doors. Chances are there's debt, there's marital strife, and overall discontentment with life. I'm not calling anyone out here, so don't start thinking I'm pointing any fingers. Although, if you feel like this resonates personally (again, because I'm awesome like that), I encourage you to eat a big plate of humble pie and take control of your unhappiness.

I've had this concept of "perception versus reality" floating through my head for a week now - don't make any comments about the lack of particulate matter beyond that one errant thought - and it wasn't until yesterday that I figured out what it was all about. What we perceive as reality isn't always truth, and social media outlets and personal airs often prevent people from seeing what is truly taking place on the inside. What would happen if we all simply wore our own heart on our sleeve and told everyone exactly just how it is?

In short, we'd have chaos personified! Think Something To Talk About with Julia Roberts. Remember that one scene at the luncheon where Julia's character starts unravelling the long laundry list of indiscretions these ladies had been hiding? Well, what if we took a more modern approach and posted exactly what was on our minds to our Facebook account? Let's pursue that, shall we?

Imagine a sunny Tuesday morning, sitting at your desk, just catching up with friends and family over Facebook. All is perfect in the world. Birds are chirping outside, the cherry blossoms are blooming, and the maid is doing your laundry. Chocolate, donuts, and ice cream have now become calorie- and fat-free.

Friend #1 Status Message (In Happy, Perception Land) : My kids are beautiful little trinkets from heaven. I found it so funny that they colored me a picture today...and who cares if it was on my new duvet?
Your Response : Why yes, I'm so very jealous. You have the perfect children! So cute!

Now back to reality... Let's try this again. And with a bit more oomph!

Friend #1 Status Message (In Reality Land) : My bratty, undisciplined children just ruined my new duvet! If only I were a better parent, and hadn't been polishing off that last bottle of red, maybe I wouldn't have been so oblivious!
Your Response: Your children are truly undisciplined and I can't stand being in the same room as you because of it. You are a lush.

Ahhhh....Better! Okay, so truth hurts. And it's not always pretty (like me), but what's the harm in telling it how it is? I refer you to my Hallmark greeting card writing BFF, and the post entitled "I'm Sorry You're Pissed".

And that got me thinking. What happened if we did the same thing in the dating world? He he he he he....

Imagine a brisk Saturday night at the local date night restaurant. A blind date between a boy and a girl commences. Let's listen in on their conversation...

In Happy Land:
Girl: I haven't had a date in 18 months, but that's ok. I've really been working on me, and my career has been keeping me quite busy!
Guy: A little "me time" is good. How about we order some food and get on with the evening?

Meanwhile, back in Reality Land, things are a bit different.
Girl: I haven't had a date in 18 months. The aliens keep kidnapping me and my four cats for their experiments back on Glargon 4. Do you speak Vulcan? Because I'm an international Star Trek ambassador and I'll need you to be able to understand me during our mating rituals.
Guy: See ya!

Right. Okay, maybe hiding one or two parts of the crazy is a smart idea when you're dating someone new. Just don't hide the important stuff, like Star Trek memberships and alien invasions. We all put our best foot forward and try to make the best impression on our prospective match. And sometimes it takes a second look to really see the true beauty of another person. Other times, you can sense the "stranger danger" ahead of you!

So what's the moral of today's story, boys and girls? Well, besides the fact that I'm awesome. (Holla! ...or Challa, as a nod to my BFF when I make fabulous french toast out of the oh-so deliciously dense, eggy Jewish bread and smother it in macerated strawberries.)

Ahem...I digress.

The moral of the story is that we all have a little honesty that is lurking behind the shadows, just waiting to take the bloom off of our proverbial roses. Life isn't always that rosy, no matter what kind of spin we throw on it. Your friends have their own drama at home and they would love to hear how rotten your life is too, just to take their minds off of their own crap. Ever hear that misery loves company? Sure you have. So open that bottle of red, give your kids some crayons, and invite your best girlfriends over. It's reality time!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Too Uncool For Words

The scene: This morning, 7:45 am, in the Living Room. Princess had finished getting ready for school, I was sucking down the last of my coffee to give me that much more of a caffeine high before I headed off to the gym. (Squirrel!)

Princess: Mommy...

Me: Yes, Bubba? (My newest pet name for her, derived from "baby". You have to say it with Martin Short's accent from Father of the Bride.)

Princess: (Doing her best Karen Walker impression, pointing awkwardly at me with a disgusted look on her face.) You''re not going to wear that to my poem recital? Are you? (The fear in her voice was as thick as a cake donut with no frosting to cut it.)

Me: (Dressed in workout clothes, hair pulled back, no makeup...literally disgusting.) Bubba, when have I ever gone anywhere in public looking like this? I'm always put together. I can't exactly go to the gym looking like a movie star.

Princess: I'm just sayin', Mommy. I wouldn't want you to embarrass yourself in front of my friends.

Me: (Inside, thinking that I'm so gonna ream her for that one someday. Think of something creative! Think, think, think. Aha!) In that case, I'm going to show up in my jammies and bunny slippers.

Princess: (Fear, pure fear on her face.) YOU WOULDN'T!

Me: (Smug as hell, knowing I just won this discussion.) Don't think I won't. And I'll call you Bubba in front of your friends. Doesn't embarrass me in the least. And guess what, sister? I don't have a problem embarrassing myself. I do it all the time. It's fun! Remember the heelies? (Side note, slipping on a pair of heelies just after eating a big plate of beans is not a good idea. Think coordination and need to hold in your core in order to balance, then add a side of gas... Yeah, do the math.)

Princess: Mommy, please don't!

Me: (I'm winning, I'm winning! Na na na na na na!) Then don't make fun of my gym-fab outfit here. Check out the stylish Nike's and my aerodynamic ponytail. It's the hotness.

Princess: (The guilty, worried look on her face is just priceless. Ha! I'm one smart Mommy.) I just don't want to see you this way at school. Please don't wear your jammies to my recital. (She starts heading toward my closet to pick out my clothes for the day, as if I'm incapable of putting together a decent outfit on my own. Wait a tick...The tables are turning. She's suddenly winning. Crap.)

Me: I'm not going to wear jammies or gym clothes to your recital. I'm going to look like a respectable Mommy. And don't be picking out clothes that make me look like I'm going on a business trip. (That's when she pulls out an outfit that was even better than I had in mind.)

It's official. I'm uncool and my daughter has better fashion sense than me. And so it begins....

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mixed Dozen

Okay, I discreetly remember sending a request through my direct line to The Big Guy Upstairs for no turbulence on this flight, and I even had a few friends send that same request through just for added bonus. Did God forget to write this one down? Do I need to get Him a new day planner or new stack of Post-It Notes? Maybe that delivery of sprinkled cake donuts got lost and he’s angry. (I can relate.) Because seriously, folks, this amount jolting and rocking should only take place in earthquakes and bouncy houses. (Which, by the way, I rock the Kasbah in bouncy houses…children beware! They should totally rent them to adults for drunken birthday parties. We have more fun in them than the kids!)

So I’m back up in the air at 30,000 feet after a two month hiatus on travel. It feels good to be back in this chair, although leaving Princess behind amid her tears and frustration caused by a job that brings joy to my heart but pain to hers creates a bittersweet reunion with said chair. She is my family in my Tiny World. She keeps the smile on my face, the grey in my hair (Ha ha! You can’t see it because I’ve dyed over it!), the worry and joy in my heart (Amazing how kids can allow you to feel both emotions at the same time.), and the encroaching wrinkles on my face (Shut up.). Without her, I would not be where I am today. Her existence has compelled me to push harder and love more.

I came to my Tiny World in 2002 after leaving a much tinier world for bigger and better things. Tiny World didn’t exist to me until my world became unraveled. But now I wouldn’t trade Tiny World for anything. I have learned a great amount since I moved here, and beyond the biggest lesson of self-sufficiency, I learned that the concept of family doesn’t exactly have anything to do with blood. Family is your network of friends, coworkers, and blood relatives. My blood family lives hours away from me, so when I moved to Tiny World, I developed my own family.

If you haven’t gone through a divorce as a parent, you’ve never realized the full depth of that old adage that it takes a village to raise a child. When you’re a divorced parent doing “it all” on your own, you soon realize that you need that village just to be able to get through the day. My family here in Tiny World is made up of friends that I treasure more than a box of a dozen donuts. If you put us all together in one room, we resemble something of a mixed dozen…

You’ve got your nutty ones (Mama Bestie’s Hubby fits this one), ones with sparkly sugar coating (Smudgie), ones that are so much better once you unravel their layers, and some that have such a rainbow of sprinkles on top that you can’t help but smile when you’re near (Nurse Betty and Mama Bestie). They come in all different shapes and sizes, and some are real donut holes! (But I love them anyway!)

My Tiny World family is there for me in all my good and bad times. We support, encourage, and redirect each other (…they redirect me home when my car mysteriously ends up in the parking lot of a donut shop). We are there to act like fools together, get drunk together, and create new traditions with each other. When holidays come around and seeing relatives is impossible, my Tiny World family invites me in as one of their own. We walk Christmas light-lit streets in the rain and wish each other Merry Christmas at the stroke of midnight.

We fight with each other, bring each other back to center and back to God, and introduce each other to our Tiny World families, thus creating a bigger network of villages. (I am not the village idiot, contrary to what some – Nurse Betty – may say.) Our mixed dozen may seem like a motley assortment of characters, but it’s just as zany as any American family, blood-related or otherwise. This collection just has a few more nuts than most!