Monthly Archives: February 2011

More To Love.

I was talking to an old friend recently about my desire to get fit again and he told me that if I really wanted to exercise or get fit–if it was “really [as in actually] important” to me–I would make the time for it.  My reply (which most parents will understand) was that if I get down on the floor and try to do a sit-up, my children attack me. To which he responded that when his DOG does that he just pushes him off.

Because, clearly, children are just like dogs. Clearly. Just. Like. Dogs.

Oh, no he didn’t!

Obviously, if we hadn’t been on the phone I would have punched him in the face. You know what? Even after we hung up the phone I wanted to punch him in the face. Even now as I’m thinking about it, I want to punch him in the face. I tried to assert myself–I mean, I do actually know what it’s like to have children around all the time; I was the person of knowledge within this particular discussion. However, since we were on the phone, I did what I normally do when faced with a confrontation: I mumbled something incoherent, felt like I was going to vomit, and then thought about it for about 16.2 hours.

And then, two days ago, I decided to make time for it and try out a Pilates video, since my abdominals look like melted wax, which I can assure you is not hot. For a solid 18 minutes I had the floor to myself, and then Luca came in and guess what. Yes, he attacked me. First he sat on my head, which immediately alerted me to his need for a diaper change, and then he started telling a story, very loudly so I couldn’t hear the instructors. And dude! Pilates is hard! You absolutely need instruction, otherwise it just looks like they are trying to fly. I asked Luca nicely to give me some time to finish my video (Good God man! Can’t you just give me a minute!) and he started yelling at me. So, since I am a mature adult, I yelled at him to stop yelling.

It amazes me that I am in my thirties. I have no trouble with the fact that I am getting older. Well, I am sort of pissed that no one cards me anymore, because that just seems like a common courtesy. And the fact that, apparently, when I get sick, no amount of EmergenC seems to do anything but make me pee more.  But really, the concept of aging ought to be a no-brainer.  I mean, it happens as time passes, right?  Why do people get so surprised by age?  It’s like they missed the most basic science class. What I do have a problem with is the shock of seeing my face in the mirror every morning. No one over the age of 35 should look at themselves directly in the mirror in the morning. Ever. Another roadblock in the way of my path to absolute self love? My abdomen. Really. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s still so shocking to me! It either looks like something you could draw a face on and make talk or it looks sad and deflated. And yes, muffiny. Maybe I could market it as a puppet for parties.

Here’s a tip. I suggest you never ask a four-year-old how old they think you are. Four-year-olds don’t get flattery. Rowan literally said to me when I asked him how old he thought I was, “I don’t know . . . um . . . maybe, um . . . 112?”.

So it isn’t that I’m getting older, it’s that I am older. I’m sure that I will feel this way even once I am a senior citizen, the idea of which is just insane. Someday I am going to be incontinent. Insane! One of my great consolations for having to have a C-section with Rowan is the fact that my vagina wasn’t stretched to India and back and that I don’t pee when I sneeze. Because a lot of women pee when they sneeze. Seriously. (I remember as I was being wheeled into surgery that I actually felt a teensy bit of relief within the devastation. A flash of a memory came to me as they were administering the epidural, of a friend [months after having her first child] sneezing and saying “oh, shit!” as she ran to the bathroom.) But alas, eventually my vagina will become what every woman’s on the planet becomes: disgusting. Wait. Did I just sort of cross a line there? It’s true though: there will come a day for each of us when we will be so old that someone else will have to wipe us.

Again.

Maybe I should dedicate a post to vaginas. Rowan could advise me.

What bothers me currently is that I am old enough to have things growing on my body. I have actually had to have things removed. From my face. Because they grew there. I grossed my own self out! When I went to the dermatologist for the, um, removal, I actually was sort of freaking out to the doctor about it. I kept saying, “I mean, really? Things can, like, grow on you? This is a thing that happens? I’m disgusting! How did this happen all of a sudden?” and she just nodded and smiled a little. But she didn’t really comfort me because, as it dawned on me later, after my giant ego went down for a nap that, she removes CANCER from people who might DIE. She probably wanted to tell me and my tiny little blemish to fuck off. But she didn’t. You know why? Because she’s mature and dignified.

Sigh.

Then there’s me. Older and muffiny? Yes. Mature and dignified? I think not.

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Filed under All of them., Children., Women and friendship.

The Pretty Boy, The Drunk Cowboy, The A-hole, and The Other Cowboy.

I dated a total douche bag in high school. Not only did I date him in high school, but I dated him all through high school. And when I say douche bag, I mean he was a complete douche bag. The douchiest of all douche bags, if you will. The few people that both read my blog and went to high school with me are all nodding their heads while they are reading this chapter because, dude. Douche. Bag.

So I never really dated. And now, as I approach my later 30’s as a married woman, I feel like I dodged a bullet. A big, fat, sexually transmitted bullet. That isn’t to say that I haven’t had a few dates in my life, just, I tend to be monogamous, and most people really annoy me, so I just never got into the whole go-out-with-a-different-guy-every­-night thing. Plus, I’m excellent friend material. So although I have always been adorable, and, really, quite fantastic, I rarely got asked out on a date.

Except for a few times, when . . . well, let’s just plunge right in.

The Pretty Boy

I moved to Virginia after graduating high school, not to go to college but, as it turns out, mostly to go to bars, drink underage, dance to Salt N Pepa, and work a forty-hour work week at a crappy company. My older sister was dating a guy that was a bouncer at various local clubs in town.  He was also in FAST Company, a branch of the Marine Corps where they train you to survive in the woods with one leaf and a sock AND how to kill someone with your pinky, so he was a big, scary mass of a man. For some odd reason, my sister had decided to like me enough to let me tag along with her when she went to the bars her boyfriend was bouncing at. By the time I met Pretty Boy, I had become a bit of a regular at this one particular bar, where I enjoyed a fine beverage called “The Leg Spreader.” Compared to my sister, I dressed conservatively.  Actually, compared to my sister circa 1992, I can confidently say that even Katy Perry dresses conservatively. I’ve seen her throw a suit jacket on loosely over a fancy bra and head out for the night. Not anymore, mind you, but still: the outfits I’ve seen! She drew a lot of attention—never welcomed, but she always handled it sweetly, while I just sat there. Occasionally, when someone really drunk approached us and tried to hit on my sister, I would get to take out my aggression over being ignored and tell the guy to piss off. But usually, I just sat there quietly, pretending to enjoy being invisible. So the night that The Pretty Boy came over to our table, I just sat there waiting for him to hit on my sister until I realized he was talking to me.

I’m sure we had an interesting talk. I was pretty cocky at that age, and if the conversation hadn’t interested me, I would have made it pretty clear. But he was so . . . so . . . pretty! I think his name was actually Dezi or something toolish like that, but he was alright—apart from the toolish name. And the nipple piercings he showed me while we were sitting there. I gave him my number and left for the night, thinking that he would toss it and that would be that. When he called me before the weekend I was shocked but game. I met him again at the same bar where my sister was taking part in a—wait for it—BIKINI CONTEST. Seriously. Even more serious is the fact that she WON the bikini contest and the cash prize that came with it.

Later in the evening, something happened that has only happened to me once in my life and will never, ever happen again. Ever. Ever, ever. I was dancing with Pretty Boy, and a man was dancing to my left but continually trying to “move in” on us. Over and over again this guy tried to move pretty boy out so he could dance with me. Pretty Boy confronted him and, all of a sudden: a brawl. I swear to the sweet, invisible, possibly-nonexistent Lord that I am not exaggerating when I say that a brawl broke out. Over me. And my sweet dancing skills. And my big hair. It broke out so bad that I was knocked down and kicked in the head five times, my sister was pushed over and all her bikini prize money stolen, and the entire bar had to be cleared.

That was the last night I saw pretty boy. He was pretty upset that his gold chain had broken in the fight and his Italian Horn pendant was lost. Never mind my mild concussion.

The Drunk Cowboy

Another bar, another night. I was in a terrible mood when I encountered the Drunk Cowboy. I had just watched my sister be approached six different times by six different guys (all of whom were turned down) and had endured the worst pick-up line of my life (a 60 year old man asked me for a quarter so he could call my mom and thank her for giving birth to such a beautiful girl). For reals.

So when Drunk Cowboy came over and asked me to dance, I said no thanks. He seemed surprised, but it was hard to tell with his giant hat. He walked away and came back 10 minutes later, leaving again when I said no thanks. When he came over the third time, I just felt bad for the guy. One dance couldn’t hurt, right? And it was a Color Me Badd song, so who wouldn’t want to dance to that? On the way to the dance floor, he stumbled a little, but recovered, so I paid it no mind. Here’s an exact transcription of what followed:

“Hi! What’s your name?”

“Sarah, what’s yours?”

“Drunk Cowboy. Where you from?”

[He begins to sway, and it becomes obvious that he is wasted. Like, waaaaaasted.]

“Syracuse.”

“So, what’s your name?”

“I just told you. My name is Sarah”

“Where you from, Sarah?”

“I just told you that too, Syracuse.”

“Oh. Well, what’s your name?”

O.K. Multiply this conversation by four, because I’m getting tired.

By now I know he’s wasted. It’s as if all the alcohol he has ever consumed throughout his entire life caught up with him at the exact moment. And after he asked me where I was from, for the fourth time, I watched as his eyes rolled back in his head, and he fell flat. Not knees-to-chest, but flat on his face in the middle of the dance floor. And he was out. And so was I.

The A-hole

It’s probably my fault for having pursued the A-hole. We actually met over the phone while I was at work. At times I can be funny, and when I’m on, I’m on. This day, I was on with a capital O. A-hole called; I cracked him up, and he called again. And again. Eventually I gave him my home number, and we began a long-distance relationship. We were close in age, but not geography—I lived in Virginia, he lived in Chicago. We spoke daily for months. We exchanged mix tapes and photos through the mail, and eventually I asked for a plane ticket for my birthday in order to fly the A-hole to our house for a visit. We clicked in person and got even closer—so close that after he left the first time, it was only a couple of months before he flew back out for another visit. This visit wasn’t as dreamy, and when he left, I was feeling sort of done with the whole thing, but we spoke about some things and committed to continuing our relationship. So we did. Until one night . . . my phone rang.

Here is the conversation that occurred:

“Hi, this is Sarah.”

“Hi, Sarah, this is Susie, and I want to know what you are doing calling and mailing my fiancé?”

“I’m sorry, what?”

“I’ve been engaged to A-hole for 2 years now. Who the hell are you?”

“I’m the girl he’s been dating for 6 months.”

“Well, I thought you should know that he is engaged to ME, and you should stay away from him.”

Etc.

It ended pretty well with her, actually. She was pretty understanding, considering I had no idea that she existed until that phone call. I broke it off with him right away, and in a very, very, very loud manner. So loud, in fact, that he replied, “Wow. I had no idea you were such a bitch!” Years later I saw him and he was all greasy and bloated. Single too. So I felt better.

The Other Cowboy

Yes, there is more than one cowboy in my life, sort of like there is more than one pendulum in my life. This one was sober, though, and you will soon see why.

When I lived in Virginia, I lived with my Mom. She had a housekeeper who came every week, and one day it was discovered that she had a son. He was my age and—lo and behold—single! What luck! So, a date was made. A blind date.

I’m pretty confident that people only have one blind date in their lives. When I opened the door to my blind date, I opened the door to an evening suckfest. There was the hat, there was the buckle that said something like “Kentucky,” and, let’s not forget, the tinted glasses. He had a stringy mustache and pale skin, and, at age 18, he was already sort of doughy looking. Then there was “the arm,” which, in and of itself, was not an issue. He had a “dead” arm, that hung at his side, and because I had no previous knowledge of it, I lingered on it as I sort of looked him over. He picked it up with his good hand and let it drop while he said, “I fucked my arm up.” And off we went.

He took me to Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut, people! Not even Applebee’s or Chi Chi’s! And it was the single most awkward evening of my life—not because we didn’t have some sort of conversation, but because of his arm! This guy was freaking traumatized over his arm! When the pizza came, he insisted on cutting it a second time, and he did it in such an angry, one-handed way that the pizza almost fell off the table five times. He talked about his drunk driving accident the entire time, and let me just say the story wasn’t that long. I mean, he drank, got drunk, drove, and hit a tree. He got a ticket, a DUI, and a dead arm out of it. End. Of. Story. I began the evening compassionate. I ended the evening wanting to kill his other arm. After Pizza Hut, and hearing the same story for the third time, we went for a drive. Where did we go? Let’s see . . . where would a completely traumatized cowboy go? Back to the scene of the crash, of course! Not once, people, not twice, but a total of three drive-bys. “Here is where I must have passed out. Here is where I skidded. Here is the tree . . .” And the entire time we were on this drive, I had to listen to the same REO Speedwagon album over and over and over again. I wanted to take the wheel and smash us into the tree.

All of this happened in Virginia. Turns out Virginia really is for lovers! I moved there in 1991 and left in 1993 and in that time had more bad date experiences that I’ve ever had in my entire life. I’m leaving some out here, to spare you the stories of The Impotent Soldier and The Cheating, Bomb-Planting Kickboxer. Already I’m on page four, and I don’t want to lose you all forever. So what I want to do now, if you have stuck with me this long, is ask you to share the story of your worst date. Make me feel better, people! Give me a reason to LIVE!

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Filed under Before Children., Confessions.

This One Goes Out To The One I Love.

It seems like it must be fairly common for married or committed couples with small children to find themselves scrutinizing their relationship, post-children. Particularly once the kids are asleep or, in those rare moments when they have a babysitter and can actually exit the house—together. Last night, as John and I were going out for our we-hate-large-crowds-and-most-people-so-let’s-avoid-going-out-on-Valentine’s-Day-and-go-out-a-few-days-before annual Valentine’s Day dinner, I had a moment in the car where I thought, “This is it. All we can talk about is the consistency of Luca’s poop and how smart Rowan is.” That lasted for the entire ride to dinner—although, to be fair, it veered off into me thinking, “I should always drive,” and “I hope this dress has ‘give’ so I can eat a lot of French fries.”

Once we were seated, though, and began talking, I realized  that I just really, really, really like my husband. He is just so . . . likeable. And hot. Let’s not forget that. Even the waiter (male, hetero [I actually knew him because, apparently, I know, like, everyone in Tucson]) when John got up to use the bathroom told me John was, “gorgeous.” Hells yeah! But marriage with kids is not without its difficulties and moments of dread, because, let’s face it, spending time with any one person for a lifetime is, um, daunting.

If you had told me when I first met John that he would someday be my husband, I would have checked your vitals, or at least your eyes for signs of redness. And then I would have laughed, because frankly, I would have thought you were kidding. Thor and I had moved here only months before John got a job at Bookman’s. So I was still infected with the dirty hippie love, and literally saw no man as a potential anything in my life. This was my immersion stage, when I had the inability to create any sense of self outside of the person I was dating. Good, healthy times!

I remember when John interviewed and his first day of work. I even remember what he was wearing (red vintage short sleeved shirt, blue jeans, converse.) Now, before you say “well, you must have been interested to notice those kids of details about him,” let me just say that I probably remember what you were wearing when I met you, because that is just how my brain works. I love the fashion. I remember the interview, because someone said, when they saw him, “good, we need a new guy to flirt with,” and I thought “flirt all you want, I have Thor!” Never mind that he’s at home cleaning his gun and doing bong hits. Never mind that he won’t wear deodorant and has started getting phone calls from strange women! Never mind that he’s chanting in the guest room for three hours a night and drinking his urine.

Wait. Where was I?

Ah, yes. I remember his fist day of work because he walked in with a seatbelt sweat line, and since it was my first summer in Tucson, I remember thinking, “holy shit, I should get the AC fixed in my car.” Other than that, John wasn’t on my radar. There are things that strike me now, like the fact that he would always, and I mean always, have a paperback in his back pocket. And each day at lunch time, no matter what was happening in the break room, he would sit on the couch and read, ignoring all the chatter, and not chiming in on the gossip. I respected him for that, while I was gossiping and chatting.

We started dating years later, after many failed attempts on John’s part to get my attention and me finally asking him out after two very awkward run-ins with him in which I felt myself blush and get all tingly. We were pretty much drunk for the first year, seeing as he was pretty shy and I was pretty intimidated. He’s smart. Like, weird smart, which comes in handy now that we have a kid that asks things like “were the prehistoric trees larger than modern trees?”but which, for me, was a teensy bit unsettling at first. I don’t think I completed a sentence for the first month.  It took us a while to get married, which is his fault because he went through the I’m-not-sure-I-want-to-get-married phase, along with the I-don’t-know-if-I-want-to-have-children phase. Once he got that out of his system, we were a go. As I told some friends the other night, when John finally asked me to marry him, my response was, “are you sure?” Because, dude, he was all, like, keeping his options open there for a while, and I just wanted to be clear.

He was sure, and now, years later, I find myself going, HOLY SHIT! I’m MARRIED! FOREVER! WHAT WAS I THINKING? WHY DIDN’T ANYONE STOP ME? But really, I couldn’t have it any better. This is a man that for the first year after I had two kids, rubbed my feet every night before bed and now rubs my neck whenever I need it, which is often. He has impeccable taste in music and is fuuuuuunny. Funnier than you. Funnier than . . . well, me! He is an incredible blog editor (hi, honey!) and offers me excellent advice about my writing. He never gives me a hard time when I come home from Buffalo Exchange with six new sweaters, ten new tank tops, some jeans, and another vintage coat. He is, as he once said, “old timey.” As a friend said recently, “you know, John doesn’t say much, but what he does say, I want to hear,” and that summed him up so well! I adore my friends, but there is no one on Earth I would go to for advice before John. You would probably try to spare my feelings, but John just tells me the truth. And he does it with great affection, and only a little gentle mocking. I’m pretty mockable.

Of course there are issues. For example, when John argues, he does it as if he’s before a grand jury, trying to get his client out of the electric chair. He argues like that about everything. Even, like, which shade of blue is better. And he claims, at age 40, that most vegetables still make him “gag.” His driving is a little questionable, and it became clear to me to me early on that I must never, ever, ever buy him clothing of any kind. He’s that picky. He’s such an Anglophile that if I come home one day to an empty closet and a note that says “Moved to London . . . sorry . . . will always love you,” I won’t be in the least surprised. He forgets things, which used to be hard for me but now brings great comedy into my life. Like the time I asked him to go get the mail, and I watched him walk to the bottom of the driveway, look left to right, and walk back up to the house without the mail because in the three seconds it took to get to the bottom of the driveway, he forgot why he was going there. I shit you not. I’m going to get a lot of mileage out of that one.

But really, he’s loving and loyal. He parents the children in ways that literally make me question my skills, and he has an unparalleled sense of social justice. Really, he has taught me to look at people and the world entirely differently, and he challenges me to grow. He is the most empowering person I have ever encountered and sees absolutely no reason why I couldn’t accomplish anything. No one makes me laugh harder, and I simply can’t imagine being with another human being. Because that would be weird. Marriage is hard. It’s hard even with the best partner, let alone some dick. Thank god I didn’t marry a dick. Some women marry total dicks. That must really suck. I want every woman to have a John! Clone and patent him, stat! Because my guy? He’s no dick.

Happy Valentine’s day, sweetie.

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Filed under Love & Marriage.

Stone Cold Sober.

When I’m feeling particularly terrible about something, it seems like the best way for me to process it is through writing about it, and sharing it with you so that you can all mock me, silently. So with that in mind, I approach the computer. But I have to say, I’m not really looking forward to this. Usually, I like to pour myself a hefty glass of wine, and over the course of a post, proceed to get just a teensy bit toasted. But I have been fighting a cold now for the last few days, and in order to win the battle, I need to be basically snorting vitamin C and mainlining water. Not to mention that this is the third time I have been sick in six weeks, making it feel as if I have been sick for six weeks. So there you have it. A stone cold sober blog post.

Shit.

And don’t think for a second that I’m all nonchalant about having been sick for this long. I looked up “symptoms of cancer”  last week because I have never been this sick for this long. So of course, of course, I must have cancer. It couldn’t possibly be that each time I get sick I have to keep doing the exact same things I do when I am not sick. That is to say, everything. And usually, the children, who can sense weakness, become much more demanding when I am sick. And they are pretty loud about it, so I basically get bullied into doing whatever it is they want me to do so that they will just be quiet.

Lately, even taking into account the fact that the kids have also been sick for over two weeks now, thereby restricting me to close quarters with them, I feel like I have no idea how to be a mother. To be totally frank, I have never felt really excellent at anything I do, other than possibly shopping. But motherhood is different, because when you aren’t good at it, you can tell, like, immediately. Or at the very least, when your grown child is standing over you with an axe. For me, the results really are almost instant, and lately, they reflect poorly on me. And it isn’t always that my kids behave badly—because for the most part, they are really nice kids—it is that there are more and more moments during the day when I honest-to-the-sweet-invisible-possibly-nonexistent-lord have no fucking idea how to parent.

It doesn’t help that I am an overthinker, overtalker, overprocessor, and, let’s not forget, an over-second-guesser. I probably overeat, too. And I definitely overspend when I am at Buffalo Exchange, but who doesn’t? I mean, the fashion! The deals! The fashion faux pas that the employees so haughtily make! What more could a girl want?

What do other parents do? (I’m really asking a question here, so you can really feel free to answer.) What happens to other families when their kids reach an age/stage where they are on the verge of gaining more independence but still can’t be trusted to do pretty much anything? Or when you, as a parent, are just plain overwhelmed? Don’t get me wrong, Rowan is potty-trained and talking in dissertations, but he still can’t get up on the toilet to poop. And I am still wiping his butt, because yuck. He tries to wipe it, but let’s just say that he seems to think that his mid-back is his butt. So yeah, I wipe. Then there is Luca. Luca is so sharp. His eye actually twinkles with mischief, and he has an astonishingly fine-tuned sense of humor.  He isn’t even three years old yet. He knows (pretty much) when he is doing something wrong. I know this because he usually does it while saying in a sing-song voice, “Maaaaaama! Yook (look) what I’m dooooing!” But he will still fall off the back of the couch or stick a plastic coin in his mouth and choke on it. So it isn’t like I’m going to be giving him his own car anytime soon. Or ever.

This leaves me constantly wavering between encouraging their independence and restricting them, making me feel like I’m constantly floundering. It’s unsettling for me, and I know that it’s hard for the kids. All the while I hear my internal critic saying “Consistency is key! Without consistency, you have chaos!” But their constant dependency is wearing me down, man. Rowan thinks that he needs me with him almost all the time. When he gets dressed, he even brings his clothes into whatever room I’m in so that he doesn’t get lonely and “cold.” And then it strikes me that my kids are little! I mean, Rowan is only four and a half years old! He’s been a humanoid for hardly any time at all! And Luca! So tiny! He thinks eating his boogers is a good idea! He doesn’t know! Add to all of this teeter-tottering between two distinct stages the fact that I can’t breathe out of my left nostril and I haven’t slept more than five hours a night for three days, and you have a volcano waiting to erupt.

And can someone tell me why men, when they get sick, just lay around in their bathrobes, taking it easy so that they can get better faster? Is this like, a law? Because it seems like a law. If it is, I’m heading to congress. Nothing makes me crazier when I am sick, than a sick husband. The unfairness of our roles becomes pretty fucking crystal clear.

So there you have two things I need to know the answer to. Please, assist me.

Maybe I’m brain damaged.

All I really want right now is to pull on my jammies, crawl into bed, pull up my crazy quilt, drink some hot tea, and watch reruns of Gilmore Girls. Is that too much to ask? Good God! Sometimes my blog posts read like my diary from the 8th grade. All, “I just don’t know what to do!” and, “I wish someone would just tell me what to do!” and “I wish that Pierre would ask me to the dance!”

Pa-the-tic.

But I’m sick. And tired. And sick and tired of being sick and tired. (You knew that was coming.) On the bright side, though, I do have fantastic hair. And really nice skin. At least there’s that. Now if I could just make sure I really don’t have cancer, we’ll be all set.

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Filed under Children., Confessions.