Waterways- The Prequel

So lately, I’ve been doing all of this Eastern medicine, reiki, detox, healing crapola, in an attempt to behave like a “normal” human being.  And its great.  It leaves me feeling incredibly calm and centered.  Most of it seems like just laying on a big heating pad while someone waves beads or feathers or something over my head.  But, I guess thousands of years of healing tradition must work or why they hell would they still be doing that crap?  And it works for me- so there it is.

Anyhoo, the reason I’m telling you all of this is as follow up to yesterday’s blog post, Waterways.  I was quite proud of it.  I asked my husband about it and he gave his typical man response, “yeah, it was good”. But oh no, every woman knows this brief review of my work will never do.  “Don’t you think its good?  I mean, like ‘real writing’?  It wasn’t humorous and didn’t include any cuss words”, I prompted.  “Yeah, it was different than your usual writing..not so frantic…ya know…not crazy” came his supportive reply.

Whoa ho ho!!  Back up a minute- NOT CRAZY!  Well, my dear sir, you have just thrown down the gauntlet.  “Not crazy” will never do in my book.  Oh no, I’ve laid awake all night giving my relationship with a water some deep and thoughtful consideration.  And my friends, let’s all jump on the USS Crazy Train, shall we?

My life on the water began before I can remember.  My dad owned an Aqua Cat.  Its like a Hobie Cat but smaller and less popular.  In fact, I think we may have owned the only one in existence; because ever since then whenever I’ve told someone we had an Aqua Cat they always correct me and say, “oh, you mean a Hobie Cat”. No dumb ass, an Aqua Cat.

If this is your first time reading my blog, let me give you a little background.  My parents were definitely not Ozzie & Harriett.  Or y’all probably don’t even know who that is- maybe Ward & June Cleaver?  Shit, I don’t know.  In short, they were both crazy and split up when I was about 7- the end.

Well, back to the Aqua Cat, in those early years when my parents still tolerated each other, we would often load up the old cat on the trailer and take it to the beach.  Now the beach was really just some spot on the Chesapeake Bay where they’d thrown out a bunch of sand- so I guess that qualifies as a beach.

Being the ever thoughtful and responsible parents the planning of picnic items and the like was not tops on their list.  We can just pick that shit up on the way out there.  So, we would stop by KFC- you youngin’s my not know this but those letters actually stand for something and back then we just called it Kentucky Fried Chicken- ah what simpler times they were.  And then we can swing by the beer & wine store on the way and pick up a case of B-bows (translation: Pabst Blue Ribbon) for Dad.  In Maryland, not only do you have to sell liquor at liquor stores, you also have to sell Beer & Wine at there own separate stores as well.  Why?  Who the fuck knows?  But, my poor husband got to learn this fact the hard way. The first time he came to visit my family he ran to the store to get some beer.  He was gone for over and hour and the store was literally at the end of our street.  This was before cell phones and I couldn’t figure out where the hell he was.  When he finally got home, he filled me in.  I had neglected to tell him this particular little quirk about the Free State and so he’d been driving all over the state from grocery store to convenience store far and wide before he finally asked someone.  Oopsy Daisy!

Oh wait, let’s get back to our beach trip.  So, dad’s got his case but wait there is also my non-drinking mother and his three CHILDREN with him.  Okay- we can stop and pick up a six-pack of coke for all them- that should last us all 8 hours on the beach, right?  Thank God, my mother at least brought some sunscreen or sun tan lotion- I don’t think anyone really believed in skin cancer back then so I’m really not sure how much UV protection it provided- but man you’d have a great tan.

So there we’d be at the beach.  Dad would off load the trailer.  The great thing about an Aqua Cat (no, I’m not mistaken, its not a Hobie Cat, asshole) is that you can launch it directly from the beach.  So, once the Cat was off the trailer, the entire family (including little toddler me) would all push the damn thing the million miles from the parking lot across the searing hot sand to the water’s edge.  Note, we were at the beach so of course the first thing you do is kick off your shoes- not giving a second thought to the fact that you may develop third degree burns on the bottom of your feet.  But, it sure gave us all motivation to get that motherfucking boat to the water as fast as possible so we could cool our heals.

Then we’d all sit down on the 3 towels we’d brought for all 5 of us to sit on.  We never had chairs or an actual cooler.  Dad would just pick up one of those handy dandy styrofoam coolers at the beer store, so then he could just throw it away at the end of the day.  I wonder how many of his coolers are taking up space in a landfill somewhere?  Well, at least he can honestly say he’s left his permanent and indelible mark on the world.

Anyhoo, he’d down 6 or 8 beers, ya know, just enough to take your small children out for a sailing excursion on the Bay.  Despite being drunk and depriving his children of hydration, he did make us wear life jackets.  I don’t even think it was a law back then, so thanks Dad for not letting us drown.  We’d set off with the wind in our sails to circle the lighthouse.  He loved to joke that sharks were also circling the lighthouse.  Yay!  We’re inches from the water, hiked way up on one side and he’s making hilarious jokes about Jaws.

So we’d be on our way back to the beach when, shit, the whole damn thing capsized.  No, not just one time.  This happened every time.  Thus, the life preservers.  We got really good at uprighting the old Cat.  Thank God we had the smaller less popular sister because I don’t think we could have hefted Hobie’s beautiful big ass over.

These beach adventures truly are some of the happiest memories of my childhood- believe it or not.  I was with my whole family, on a beach, on the water, in the water, laughing and having fun.  So, yeah.  Its not nearly as idyllic as the picture I painted yesterday of our current boat outings.  But, there is something about the water- that despite our family turmoil- the water made everything okay even for just those few days.  Burned feet and all.

 

 

 

 

I’m Forty

So here it is, 3 am, a week into the 40th year of my life and I’m wide awake.  I’m awake for a myriad of reasons, the main one being that I’m not asleep.  My mind races about everything. What needs to be done, what I haven’t done, what I should have done, regrets, grudges, shame, what will I do and when the hell am I going back to sleep?  Perhaps firing up the old computer and writing at 3am is not the fastest way to get some zzzzs, but I’ve also been reading for the past hour and that shit ain’t helping either.

The past few weeks leading up to the official marking of me as a, horror or horrors, middle aged woman, I received a lot of unsolicited advice from friends of mine in their fifties.  All of them seemed to be trying to reassure me that this was not in fact the end of my life.  Geez a monetti, if you keep telling me its not that bad- well then it certainly is THAT bad.  Lots of the advice sounded like it came straight from a motivational Pinterest pin.  “You’ll love your forties”. “You’ll look the best you’ve ever looked”. And my personal favorite, “Forty is the new 20”. Really, 40 is the new 20? I really must take issue with this one- because honestly 40 is not anything like 20.

At 20, I was in college, taking naps in the middle of the day, staying out all night, drinking copious amounts of alcohol, chain smoking cigarettes and well, ahem, other items.  I swore I would never work with computers.  I would live my life as a performing artist. I did not understand why my college was forcing me to have an e-mail address that consisted of just a bunch of letters and numbers that no one, except maybe Rain Man, could remember- and I was never going to check anyway.  I despised the idea of these new fangled cellular phones, because I did not want people to be able to track me down anytime of day.  And quite honestly, even though I live and breathe by my phone now- I still don’t like idea that people can track me down anytime.  I know I can put it on silent- its permanently on silent- but I’m going to have to check it eventually.  If I left the house, I’d simply leave a note for someone telling them where I’d gone- or maybe I wouldn’t and they would just have to wonder- but they certainly couldn’t just call me and find my ass.  I am wistful for the days when I just had a phone plugged into the wall and no answering machine.  If you called and I wasn’t there than too damn bad for both of us- or perhaps just too damn bad for you…I didn’t want to talk to you anyway.  I know this is a cliche attitude we’ve all heard a million times- but we’ve heard it a million times because its fucking true!  We’re all too god damned connected.

At 40, I cannot stay out drinking all night long and show up for work at 8 am as if I’ve just had a good 8 hours of beauty rest. I cannot smoke cigarettes- because they’re going to kill me.  I’m ten pounds heavier than I was back then (ok, we all know that’s a lie, but that’s the most I’m admitting to).  I’m married with two kids, a mortgage, a pile of debt, mental illness (don’t act surprised, we all already know I’m fucking crazy), two email addresses, a plethora of social media accounts, a full time job, and volunteering for WAY too many things all because I’m an idiot who can’t seem to say no to anything. Except PTA…I can’t stand PTA- I know that makes me a terrible parent….but…well sorry- get off my back already.  I can’t do everything….and those bitches are downright judgmental (sorry to my wonderful friends who are active in the PTA and make my childens’ school fucking awesome- but all your cute snack making, carnival coordinating and shit just makes me feel like a big fat loser).

Speaking of school, when have we, as a nation, decided that a leprechaun must visit every kindergarten room each St. Patrick’s day and tear shit up, pee green in the toilet and leave coins all over the place??  As if the fucking Elf on the Shelf isn’t bad enough? (see my hilariously funny post about that asshole- you’ll love it). That green bastard didn’t visit anyone when I was a kid.  They’re supposed to be sitting at the end of the rainbow guarding their god damned pot of gold- not knocking over chairs and tearing up perfectly good paper in kindergarten class rooms.  I love my children’s kindergarten teacher and I know this was not her idea- she’s forced into it because she can’t not do it when every other K class (I’m just going with K now because I’m tired of writing out the whole word) in the world is doing it.  Then my child comes home wondering why the hell the leprechaun didn’t stop by our house?  And we’re freaking Irish!! We invented this crap and no where in my “how to be Irish handbook” does it say the leprechaun makes visits to your house to spread cheer and glee to children.  Isn’t that Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy’s jobs?  In fact, St. Patrick’s day really has nothing to do with leprechauns at all.  The truth is, according to religious theologians, and as cited in the Bible, and according to a myriad of Vatican resources, it is a high holy feast day that should be celebrated with reverence by knocking off work early and getting shitfaced.  And as a good Irish Catholic girl (okay, middle aged woman), I abide by these rules stridently and with my head fully immersed in Guinness.

Alright, I know that as usual I’ve gotten way off topic here- so let’s get back on track.  Forty is NOT twenty.  It is TWENTY + TWENTY.  My ass is tired.  I work a full time job and take care of my children.  And I don’t want this to turn into a big old fight between working mothers and stay home moms- because yes I’ve seen the bumper sticker, “Every mom is a working mom”.  And its true, every mom is a working mom and it is a full time job.  But, if you’re a mom with a job outside the home- well then you’re a person working TWO full time jobs.  And that’s fucking exhausting. And I don’t like to hear about how women who “choose” to stay home do so because they value their children more than a career or some such bullshit.  I would love to have the “choice” to stay home.  I cannot count the number of times I’ve dropped my children off at day care and sat in the parking lot crying my eyes out because I DO NOT HAVE THE LUXURY OF CHOICE.  I do love my children more than my career- but staying home ain’t the hand I’ve been played.  So, if I want to bitch about having too much to fucking do and can’t make cutesy snacks and come to every goddamned PTA meeting- its because I’m working TWO FULL TIMES JOBS!!!! (motherfuckers) Again, sorry to my wonderful friends who are stay-at-home moms- you’re total rock stars and I’m jealous as hell.

Okay- again back to being 40.  It is definitely not the new 20. But, I do find I am much more comfortable with who I am and care less about what people think of me.  That’s part of why I started writing this blog.  I was tired of hiding what I really thought for the sake of someone else.  Here I can write about my life, insult, cuss, and be my true self (who apparently has a major potty mouth). Who am I kidding?  I still give a giant shit about what people think.  I’m still crushed with every rejection.  I’m still scared every time I publish a blog post at what people will think, if they’ll hate me, if they’ll decide I’m unworthy- you know, the regular.  I still am unhappy with my 125 pound frame (shut the fuck up right now…its true, it says so on my driver’s license). I still cry when someone I thought was a friend turns their back on me.  A friend of mine was just telling me that if people do that then they’re not good enough to be my friend in the first place- but it still fucking hurts.  But, I’m striving to love myself more and appreciate each moment.  (Alright, now I’m starting to cry- fuck, why the hell am I awake??).  I love my stretch marks and scars and see them as proof of a life where I’ve taken risks- lots of them- and I’ve survived.

And hopefully, my stay-home mom friends and PTA rock stars will not hate me.  I’m 40, I’m tired and I can’t sleep.  Cut me some fucking slack.

Broken Window

My parents split when I was 7 and it was tough.  I don’t mean Kramer vs. Kramer tough, but tough nonetheless.  There is a silver lining to divorce in that if done right, you get to spend more time with your parent (back then it was usually weekend Dads) than you would have if they stayed together.  When they were married, he was mostly on “business trips” or had “important meetings” he had to attend every weekend.  Once they were divorced, he had no choice but to take me on the weekends and spend time with me.

My sisters are both much older than me, so they did not have this lovely opportunity.  Not to make him out to be a saint or anything…he was far from it.  I do have lots of special memories.  Although, his probably aren’t quite as crisp as mine, since he was pretty much drunk all the time.  But, hey, drunk people are fun!

In 1983, Dad was forced into early retirement at the age of 49.  Ronald Reagan was downsizing the federal government and as a high ranking IRS bullshitter, he got the ax.  I was 9 years old and he decided a good, long summer vacation would be great for both of us.  We took a whole month and drove his beat up VW Rabbit down the backroads of the east coast to see the biggest hustler in the world…Mickey Mouse.  Now, I know you think I’m going to start talking about the magic of Disney- but I’m not.  Because this post is about a broken window, idiot, hence the name.

It truly was a wonderful experience, we would only drive for 2 or 3 hours a day and then stop at luxurious hotels (ahem, motels) that had all the amenities a 9 year old could dream of…  a pool, a vending machine, a bed with magic fingers- it was freaking awesome!  We ate fast food, stayed up late and watched CABLE TV (it hadn’t come to our town yet).  It was a great adventure that we were sharing, just the two of us.

Of all the special parts of this trip, including the fucking magic of Disney, there is one memory that will stand out in my mind FOREVER!!  We stopped at a gas station in a podunk town outside Savannah.  It was hot!  The drippy, humid, steam rising from the highway kind of hot.  My dad left me in the car (for you youngins, you used to be able to do that back then- or maybe he was just drunk) either way he went inside to pay.  All the windows were up and the doors closed- because you know, who cares if your kid dies of heat stroke.  He had more important things to worry about like getting a cold beer and some beef jerky for us.

Now, before I go any further, you need to know that there was a problem with the window on the passenger door.  When you rolled it down (with a crank- no we were not rich and didn’t have fancy power windows), it would sometimes slip down in the door and you’d have to push it back up very carefully with your hands.  So instead of getting that fixed, I was given strict orders to NEVER roll that window down.

As I sat there roasting in the 100 degree Southern heat, watching the Spanish moss sway in the breeze, I decided I could take it no longer.  And I did it.  I ROLLED DOWN THE WINDOW!!!!  Just as I was taking a breath of fresh air and starting to regain consciousness, Dad came bounding out of the gas station yelling at the top of lungs, “I told you not to roll down the fucking window!! What the hell is wrong with you??”

Well of course, I thought he was a total lunatic and just rolled my eyes.  “I was hot.  What did you want me to do, open the door?”  Then I started to roll up the window and it happened.  The crash heard round the world.  The whole window slid down into the door and smashed into a million pieces…and we hadn’t even made it to Mickey yet.

Well, of course, he was mad.  This was my fault entirely.  How dare I want to cool off?  How dare I be so stupid as to not just open the door?  How dare I break the fucking window???  So we stopped at a hard ware store and did the responsible thing, duct taped the whole window closed so that no rain could get in.  Of course, he also couldn’t see out that window, but at least the beautiful vinyl interior would be protected.

A few weeks ago, my car was in the shop and I asked him if I could borrow his car for the day.  Being the great dad he is, he gladly obliged.  As I was getting into the driver’s seat, he lodged himself between the car and the open door and said, “Now, I have to tell you one thing about this window.”  Oh for the love of GOD- not AGAIN!!  He explained that sometimes it doesn’t always roll back up when you roll it down and kindly suggested that I not roll it down.  Thanks, Dad.  Believe me, I will NEVER and I mean NEVER roll down one of your windows again.