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”.

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.

Life Lessons

My father has always been under the impression that everyone else in the world is getting older except him.  That he is invincible and will live forever.  He runs everyday, swims in the summer, drinks like a fish, travels the world and lives life to its fullest.  I want nothing more than to feel the same way throughout my life.  He is approaching his 80th birthday and old age is finally beginning to rear its ugly, age spotted, gray haired bald head.  Nothing really horrible, just forgetfulness from time to time, the occasional unsteadiness on his feet, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, old people smell…you know, old people shit.

He’s had a few health problems as of late and went in for a check up a week or so ago.  The doctor took a blood test and told him to lay off  “the alcohol” for a week until the test came back.  Well, everything is looking hunky dory, and the doctor gave him the go ahead to “go back on the alcohol.”  However, he suggested he cut back his evening drinks from 3 shots of alcohol per drink to 2 shots per drink.  Btw, one drink for my dad is the equivalent of 4 for any normal person- if you’ve read this blog before, you’ll remember- he’s a professional.

So, after he told me the doctor’s “suggestions” regarding his alcohol intake I asked him if he was having a drink.  It was almost 9pm- an absolutely acceptable time.  Remember, he’s a professional, he doesn’t drink during the day- he has rules (alcoholics do not have rules, professionals do), 9pm is the magic hour- and then he only has TWO drinks.  Ahem- like I said two is the equivalent of four.  Anyhoo, when I asked if he was drinking he said, “Well, yeah.” (as if I’m an idiot) “But, its just wine- not whiskey or anything.  Wine is like juice.  It doesn’t do anything.  I’m only having 3 or 4 glasses.”  I love it- “WINE IS LIKE JUICE.”  Technically, he’s right- its grape juice- only fermented.  And isn’t 4 glasses the whole bottle?  But, who am I to tell an 80 year old man to part with his best friend?  Hell hath no fury like an 80 year old (or a toddler) who’s had his JUICE taken away.

This got me thinking of all the wise advice my parents have given me throughout the years.  Drugs are pretty much straight forward, don’t do them.  After all, my mother told me, “Marijuana killed Judy Garland.”  Well, if Mary Jane is what killed Dorothy then I definitely wanted to stay as far from that as possible.  My parents pretty much missed the 60’s entirely, being busy raising little ones of their own at that time.  So I don’t think she ever understood the difference between a joint and, I don’t know, shit like heroine, cocaine, prescription drug abuse…but whatevs.

She would also remind me every time I left the house on a foggy night, “Be careful, remember how Jayne Mansfield died.”  WTF?  First of all, Jayne Mansfield was a star about a million years before I was born and how the hell am I supposed to know how she died???  I’m pretty sure most of you are unaware as well.  So fyi, in case you’re ever on Jeopardy or something, on a foggy night her car went under a truck and she was decapitated.  Got it, Mom.  (Btw, I haven’t fact checked that- I’m just trusting that she knows her shit.)  Now, every time I see fog all I can think of is Jayne Mansfield’s decapitated corpse- yay- happy thoughts!  But, I digress.

Of course, my Dad was the expert on advice for alcohol or more like friendly suggestions.  I remember very vividly when Tylenol began coming in child proof bottles, I was about 8 and his “go to” for opening that shit.  One time in particular, as I popped the bottle for him, he told me (again I’m 8), “if you ever drink too much, just take two Tylenol before you go to bed and you won’t have a hangover.”  Good to know, Dad.  I followed this sage advice all throughout college.  That is until they figured out that- oopsy daisy- you could die of sudden liver damage by combining those two things.  Thanks, Dad!

My other favorite piece of advice from dear old dad is regarding drinking and driving.  Now to his credit, his story has changed as he has aged and he will NEVER drive after even one drink now and will not allow me to either.  But, as a kid, I really can’t remember a time when I didn’t have to kick beer cans out of the way to climb in the back seat of his mid-life crisis sports car. One time we were weaving down the road and were pulled over by our local Barney Fife and he asked him, “Sir, have you been drinking?”  Always the honest man, he said yes.  There my sister and I were, bouncing around the back seat, no seat belts and surrounded by empty beer cans and all the officer said was, “Well, I suggest you be careful and get those girls home right away.”  Thanks, officer!  For you youngins, it was the 70’s and they didn’t really take all that shit seriously.

In high school he told me a full proof way of getting out of a drunken driving arrest.  No matter that the legal drinking age was 21 and I was in high school- he is a realist so I guess he was trying to be helpful.  His advice went something like this, “Act real innocent and just tell the officer, ‘Oh my!  I never drink.  I just left the company party and they must’ve had something in the punch!'”  Yeah, I know you’re shaking your head, so am I.

A really great piece of advice they both gave me, and I mean this in all seriousness, was to major in something I loved in college- because once you get into the real world, unless you’re going to be a doctor or rocket scientist or something- nobody is going to give a shit what you studied or how well you did.  You should study hard but have fun, because the real world is a bitch.  I’ve been quite successful in my career and it wasn’t until just the past couple of years that the folks I work for figured out I majored in Theatre.  See, people don’t even read that little “education” part on your resume- its all the other bullshit you put at the beginning that matters.  Having majored in Theatre and had no jobs related to my field of study, I know, my friends, that this is advice you can take to the bank!

Watching them both, I learned that you have to let shit go, NOT CARE WHAT ANYONE ELSE THINKS, and go for it no matter what.  They didn’t always demonstrate these qualities, sometimes they did- but they showed me in their joy and their sorrows that life is meant to be lived….the best lesson of all.

And fuck, I just read that last paragraph- it sounds like they’re dead.  No…rest assured, they are alive and well and still giving me “awesome” advice all the time.  I’ll be sure to share it with you another time.