Tater Tots

Long, long ago…when I was young, naive and didn’t even want children, I remember hearing a pregnant friend of mine, who was also my boss and I thought was soooo much older than me, (in reality she was only about 5 years older than me) saying that her children were not going to be “spaghettio’s children”. I loved that term. And I thought it summed up my holier than thou, save the earth, I’ll be greener than you attitude perfectly. She was so cool, a liberal in our conservative state, a vegetarian, and a feminist when it was not cool to be a feminist. She kept her maiden name and only wore a wedding band, no fancy diamond engagement ring.  She had lived in New York, practiced yoga and despite being raised Christian had married a Jewish man and converted.  As many of you know, I have always wanted to be Jewish- so she was basically living the life I so wanted to have.  And if she is reading this now- she knows exactly who she is- if she doesn’t well than she isn’t as smart as I thought she was.

The thing is, I’m just not cut out for this life. I’m Catholic and though I want to be Jewish, my Catholic guilt will forever keep me entrenched in the cult…until, like my father before me, I decide its all a bunch of bullshit and just go with atheism. I love cheeseburgers, steak, chicken, fish…basically all types of delicious dead animals- so vegetarianism is out.  One puzzling enigma I can never seem to get over is people who claim to be vegetarian, except they eat fish. WTF? Since when is fish not meat??  These are what I call, (I know I may be treading in dangerous territory here) “non-vegetarians” – they are stupid people (sorry to actual stupid people- I know you don’t want to be lumped in with the “non-vegetarians”) just trying to put on a cool front and are probably sneaking cheeseburgers on the side.  I tried to be a vegetarian in high school- but that only lasted about a week before I discovered that the amount of vegetables I like are rather limited…oh and I was dying for a burger.  I like diamonds and shiny things- so an engagement ring was a must.  And although I consider myself a liberal democrat, the fact is I live in an extremely conservative state where I must walk a fine line so as not to alienate anyone who could be a potential business ally etc.  In fact, my very best friend in the world is a Republican (poor thing), but she and I agree to disagree.  If only more people could do that, our country and the world would be a much better place.

I’ve always had an endless fascination with the sixties and the whole counter culture movement.  Secretly, I still want to live on a commune, with flowers in my hair, no bra, off the grid, raising chickens, carrying my baby in a sling, and sharing everything with my fellow weirdos.  But, I hate birds, so chickens are out and I don’t know shit about farming or weaving shit on looms so my contribution to the commune would be limited. I like camping- which is about as close to living on a commune as I’ll ever get, but only in limited amounts of time, because eventually I have to get back to the 21st century- mostly because I’m a TV addict and I need to catch up on what’s going on with the Amish Mafia or Gator Boys or some other mindless crap.

In reality, I like taking showers. I like wearing a bra- my boobs are way too big to be just swinging around hitting people in the face.  And honestly, without a bra holding them up, it gets all sweaty and uncomfortable with them just hanging against my chest.  I like living in a house with air conditioning and heating.  I like having money to buy things, things that I need or just because I want them. I like owning a car and taking vacations. When I eventually had children, I tried every sling known to man in my desperate attempt to be organic, green and cool- but that shit hurt my back.  Not only did those things hurt my back, but they’re super complicated to figure out and I was always afraid I would suffocate the baby. Then I would be brought up on murder charges all because I was too stupid to operate a simple sling.  So, even though all the experts were and still are saying the closeness that the sling brings for mother and child is of great benefit….my kids had to ride in the stroller. One more strike against me in my quest for non “spaghettio’s children”.

In college, I so wanted to change the world, but only if it meant I got to carry big signs and sit on the shoulders of hot hippie guys at cool protests where people chanted, passed joints, and sang folk songs on guitar.  But, this was the 90’s, as a generation we didn’t have a cause to protest, we had never really experienced war, we were raised under the high rolling Reagan administration and were really more concerned with how big we could get our hair, the cute boys at the fraternity house and accumulating debt on credit cards they gave out like candy on campus to stupid 18 year olds. There were hippies on campus, probably many more at the liberal arts institution I attended than others at that time, but still, try as I might, I was not and never will be hippie material.

In college, I wanted nothing more than to traipse about campus with the hippies, playing hacky sack, smoking weed and following The Dead and Phish every summer.  But, hacky sack…well, I’m not good at any sports so even this hippie dippie sport was way out of my league. I didn’t have any money to follow anyone around in the summer…I’m assuming all of these ragged looking hippies secretly had rich, stupid parents financing their escapades.  The one hippie thing I did exceedingly well was the weed part. It really doesn’t take much to be good at that and I could still have my nice air conditioned apartment, clean clothes, a job and sort of be a normal part of society.  Perhaps if I wasn’t wasting money on weed, I could’ve followed those bands around each summer, but then without weed, what fun would that have been?

Moving right along, I graduated, got married, got a job and followed the straight and narrow.  Despite the fact that the first 7 or so years of our marriage was a haze of smoke and alcohol, we had fun and were for the most part responsible.  Then we had the novel of idea of having children.  I swear we must’ve been drunk when we made this decision.  When I found out I was pregnant, I was all at once, happy, sad, eager, scared, basically every emotion all at the same time.  At first I thought we would have a natural birth with whale songs playing in the background as the baby so gently slipped from my vagina with rainbows and doves.  Then I started reading.  Reading every book about pregnancy.  Everything was dangerous.  Natural child birth held dangers, assisted child birth held dangers, c-sections held dangers- its a wonder any child is born healthy.  I also gorged myself on sub sandwiches and Diet Coke, that is until half way through my pregnancy I found out you aren’t supposed to eat deli meats because of listeria (which I didn’t know what that was and am still not sure). But, I couldn’t give up the Diet Coke- sorry kids.  And so began motherly guilt.  I hadn’t even had the child yet and I was already feeling guilty for my shortcomings.  Every mother knows there is no guilt like a mother’s guilt, because you can never do enough, never be there enough, give them too much freedom, never give them enough freedom, never live up to all the pie in the sky ideals “so called” experts tell you you should be doing.  I suspect most of these “so called” experts are not parents themselves- because its obvious they don’t know shit about kids.

So when my child was born via emergency c-section, the postpartum depression was overwhelming.  Not only had I failed my vision of the perfect child birth complete with saving the placenta to bury under a tree in our back yard- but I also had gone completely insane.  I was intent on using cloth diapers- until I changed my first diaper. So that plan went right out the window before we’d even left the hospital.  Prior to giving birth, I envisioned myself buying all organic foods and transforming them into all organic baby food.  But, A. organic food is fucking expensive, and B. I have a job and don’t have time to be mashing up carrots and shit.  Thus, Gerber and I quickly fell in love.

Fast forward to today, and my whole fantasy about having non “spaghettio’s children” is a complete, utter and epic failure.  I am not a cook.  I don’t enjoy cooking and most of my cooking ends in disaster.  I also work a full time job and volunteer for everything under the sun because I’m a fucking idiot.  So cooking time is limited.  Furthermore, my kids hate everything.  One day I find something they like, a week later I fix it again and now they refuse to even sit at the same table with it or throw themselves on the floor as if I just threw hot acid on them.  We rely heavily on frozen food and restaurants- and since they hate everything that basically means chicken nuggets, tater tots, and canned green beans.  And again, even the green beans are a crap shoot.  Some days they proclaim it to be their favorite thing in the whole world and the next they act as if I’ve put rat poison on their plates.

Hence, I am not a hippie, not a vegetarian, not Jewish, don’t play hacky sack, live lovingly on the grid, and eat highly processed foods that are full of all kinds of chemicals I’d rather not know about. I do recycle and am all for wind power, gay rights and wish I could afford solar panels on my house- so I guess that’s about as “out there” as I’m going to get.  I’d love to compost- but that seems way too time consuming and the garbage disposal is so much more convenient.  As much as my young, full of hope self would’ve like, my kids are, in fact, “spaghettio’s kids” but I prefer to call them “tater tots”.

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.

God’s Mistake

I’ve always been taught that God makes no mistakes.  That whomever you are, whatever your condition, your lot in life,  what you have, don’t have etc…this was all God’s plan.  We were made in his image and therefore unmistakably perfect.  Well, I just found one little flaw in this theory; an anatomical mistake that God, Allah, mother nature, the universe or whatever crap you believe in overlooked in the grand design of the human body.

But before I let you in on that little discovery, I need to back up a bit and give you some background so you can understand how I figured this out.  If you know me… you know this, if you’ve read my blog… you know this, if neither of these apply to you, then I’ll just tell you:  I’m crazy.  Not the straight jacket, institutionalized kind of crazy.  Not that I wouldn’t mind a few days in the mental ward, the rest alone would do me wonders.  I’m quite jealous of celebrities that get to check into the hospital for “exhaustion.” How the fuck do you get to do that anyway?  Do you think if I rolled myself into the ER and said, “Y’all!  Check me in STAT- I’m exhausted!” that they would?  As greedy as big medicine and insurance companies are, I think not.  They’d probably tell me what I just tell myself all the time and probably what the celebrities need to be told as well, “If you’re tired, get some fucking rest.”

Its also not the doomsday prepper, Ruby Ridge, militia making, manifesto writing kind of crazy either.  That is, unless you call this blog my manifesto.  Perhaps it is, but I don’t think it quite measures up to all the great manifesto writers of our time like, I don’t know, Karl Marx or the Unibomber.  With all the whining my “manifesto” is filled with about my folks divorce, alcoholism, the cult, laundry, the fucking elf on the shelf- I’m pretty sure the Unibomber would look down his hooded little, bespectacled nose at my manifesto in disgust.  I mean really, I haven’t included any of the top manifesto topics like big government, conspiracy theories, the apocalypse, or how women should know their place.  One more thing to add to my list of failures:  poor manifesto writing.

Its my own special crazy or I guess just the regular kind- I don’t know… I’m not a psychiatrist, asshole.  Yes, I know there are millions more like me out there- but can you just let me feel special about one fucking thing here?  For the love of Pete, I’m asking for my own special kind of crazy- I don’t think anyone is going to wrestle me to the ground for the title of “craziest.”  So get off my back already. I’m not going to share all the gory details but let’s just say, my crazy includes bouts of deep depression that I expertly hide behind a lot of smiles, jokes, sarcasm and general gaiety.  I figure my “gift” is to use my misery to amuse others- done and done.

Anyhoo, being depressed is a pretty shitty place to be and I’ll try anything to get out of that black hole.  I’ve tried all the “tips” they give on the good old world wide web for curing the blues- well and the ones they tell you not to do too…pills, drinking, drugs, holistic healing, sex, prayer, massage, yoga, exercise…you name it, I’ve done it.

Recently, I went for my second Qigong massage.  If you’re not familiar- as I’m sure most of you are not- Qigong massage works with your meridian lines (whatever the fuck those are) through the use of pulsating acupuncture points and massage.  It releases all negative energy from your body and the effects last for weeks.  (I know it sounds like flake city- but it works, so you can go suck it.)  The first time I did it, I was completely blown away.  Its a powerfully emotional experience, most people will cry during the session and then boom- he somehow lifts all of that negativity away and you slip into an almost trance like relaxation.  (again- I know its sounds like total bullshit- but you can, again, go suck it).

At my most recent session, as he gathered my negative energy I found myself literally crying right there on the massage parlour table.  Tears were streaming down my face as he whispered in my ear and gathered the negative energy through the lightest of touches.  And guess what, I figured out God’s anatomical mistake.  When you’re laying down flat and crying, your tears stream directly into your ears.  Its quite uncomfortable if you’re trying to achieve your zen like trance, because all you want to do is interrupt his magical massage and say, “Can you hold on a minute while I get the tears out of my ears?”  So this time, I was so focused on the itchy, wetness in my ears that I couldn’t fully concentrate on the massage.  Argh…I can’t do shit!

So there you have it.  The big mistake is that your tears roll from your eyes directly into your ears.  I know, when you read the title you were expecting something way deeper, way more controversial.  But, what can I say?  I still believe the spirit in the sky doesn’t make many mistakes- but I think I got him or her- its probably trans-gender- on this one.

BTW- just in case all that shit the cult teaches is real…big ups to God.

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.