I guess I’m a “Lifestyle Blogger” now

On March 19 I bought an introductory unlimited membership to a local spin studio. The studio is so close to my rented home in a suburban community that I can leave my driveway at 5:26 and be on the bicycle at 5:30. Despite this level of convenience, I drove by that spin studio for 5 years without once booking a ride.

Spinning is feared by many. I always pictured a group of sweaty fitness freaks in beast mode pedaling on stationary bicycles. I’ve had many friends and coworkers claim to be terrified of even trying it. I took my first class back in 1997 and all I remember from that experience is the horrific pain in my mons veneris. I was told “You get used to it,” or worse “It gets better.” Yeah, that’s what I want. No feeling in my crotch.

It’s also like joining a cult. You’ll hear that a lot too.

Even before I had babies, I worked out inconsistently. I was born athletic, though a very particular type of athleticism. I’m not agile or coordinated. I can’t dribble, serve, hit, or catch a ball. I have endurance and strength. Those two qualities make me a prime candidate for spinning.

I took my first class March 19 and attended 3-4 classes a week until June 20 or so, after which I hit a lazy patch and missed all but 2 classes a week for 2 weeks. It’s really easy for me to become obsessive and inflexible. I have a problem with all-or-nothing thinking. Either I’m working out perfectly or I’m ruining EVERYTHING. I had myself convinced that taking off 4 days in a row had undone 12 weeks of working out consistently 3-5 times a week.

I’d love to be able to tell you that I’ve lost tons of weight and I look amazing, but I haven’t and I already looked amazing. But seriously, I weigh the same and I look better, but I’m toned, not thinner. I feel great when I spin and especially afterwards. My resting heart rate dropped 17 beats per minute in 3 months. I’m beginning to suspect that I can’t eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream every night and lose weight. That if I don’t also radically change my diet, then I’ll never see the results I want.

I don’t have a big dream; it’s just a little dream. I want to get dressed every day without having to consider if my clothes make me look fat. Okay, it’s a big dream.

I have struggled with bulimia in the past, so I have to be careful. I can’t count calories or “diet” because it triggers me to binge and purge. I won’t use apps on my phone or other “easy” tricks. Not today, anyway, and not tomorrow. I will endeavor to be less rigid in my thinking and accept the possibility that I will use phone apps or the like at some point. Today, my priority is taking advantage of the opportunity I have to work out at convenient locations that are offering affordable summer/newcomer specials. I start Bikram yoga on Tuesday. I hate heat and I’m kind of “myeh” about yoga, so this will be interesting. My mother was a yoga teacher and she once gave Chuck Norris private lessons. True story. He had to stop chanting “Om,” though because he would create a new universe every time. Also, Chuck Norris doesn’t do sun salutations. The sun salutes Chuck Norris.

Bikram yoga is also called “hot yoga” and I despise the heat. Still, it gets so hot where I live, it might be nice to walk outside after class and enjoy the cool 98 degree day.

I’m challenging myself to work out every day until I go back to work on August 10. This isn’t going to turn into a lifestyle blog, but I will keep you apprised of my progress. I would love to hear about your own fitness make-overs and successes. To borrow a joke from The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, let’s all turn our resistance up to “Gandhi.”

 

Posted in Dieting/Fitness | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

True stories that never happened

Fiction is the truth inside the lie.” Stephen King

My audience is a mix of complete strangers, relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Some of those acquaintances are coworkers. I never know who is reading my posts, only which ones are being read.

When I started my blog five years ago, about 20 friends comprised my audience. Two years in, I wrote a post that went as ¨viral¨ as any of my posts have ever gone (close to 3,000 views in a single day) and my fan base grew to include more strangers than friends, not in small part due to me alienating some of the friends. Because honestly, if you know me, you don’t so much want to picture me doing some of the things depicted here.

Other friends, coworkers, and acquaintances freely admit they forget to read, which is fine with me. The more I delve into more personal topics, the more I understand how my nearest and dearest might want to skip it. I totally get it, and I’m okay with you guys being disloyal assholes.

Then there’s the fact that I write about them sometimes, or I should say my versions of them. My worst offense is Toxic Best Friend (TBF). She’s a work of fiction in the sense that I change details and blend numerous toxic best friends I’ve had over the years into one amalgamous anorexic, OCD, narcissistic Borderline. What can I say? I have a type.

Everyone gets a pseudonym that makes sense to me and occasionally to them. A few named themselves: Trixiebell, Beezy, Odie. I screwed up and used a real name once. In the comments, she exclaimed, ¨Don’t I get a pseudonym?¨ In a private chat, she told me it was okay, but she was startled to be called out by name like that. I felt like a shit. Still do.

Although, to be fair, it was Odie’s guest post and he did it. So, NOT IT!

But I copy edited and didn’t change it. I figured she’d think it was funny. I didn’t think anyone but her would know it was her.

This blog world of mine can feel like a work of fiction because in many ways it is. ¨I shall try to tell the truth, but the result will be fiction¨ (Katherine Ann Porter) and ¨All stories are true. But some of them never happened¨ (James A. Owen).

The people in my blog are real people who never existed. They are fictional characters in a true tale.

A few days ago, an acquaintance read one of my posts. This acquaintance, I’ll call him Jean-Paul, remarked upon the craziness that is the Toxic Best Friend story, and then ¨jokingly¨ warned me that I better not even dream of writing about him on my blog.

Hahahaha! Oh, no. Never, never!

But seriously, I can understand Jean-Paul’s threat concern. Anyone who would write Toxic Best Friend Part 1: Always Bet on Bitch is not to be trusted.

I responded ambiguously that I had ¨barely¨ written about him, just to be a dick, then racked my brain. Have I written about Jean-Paul? If so, I definitely gave him a pseudonym. I’ve never had a reason to write about Jean-Paul. He’s never humiliated me at The Bellagio or broken up with me ten minutes before Open House.

But neither has anyone else. Those are true stories that are fiction about real people who don’t exist. They are tangent to the truth.

After reading Seeing Myself from Other Angles, my friend Clara admitted she was ¨dying to know who Donny is,¨ so I told her, and she was surprised. People can’t imagine us together. Even when we were together, people didn’t believe it. Crammed into a corner table at a pub in Galway, Ireland, Donny’s closest female friend Halina scowled at me and declared me ¨not even kind of his type.¨ She was right (she was also jealous as a motherfucker). He was completely my type, though. My long list of ex-lovers is lousy with people who were physically obsessed with me and emotionally indifferent to me.

Our mismatch resulted in dozens of funny stories. Unlike my Odie stories, they don’t quite feel like mine to publicly tell. Odie is mine. His persona is my invention, though I think most of you who know him would say his fiction is the truest fiction I tell. Besides, he doesn’t read the blog. Why should he? He lives it. He married it. Our stories are mine.

I think that’s what Jean-Paul was saying when he promised to end my life told me to never even imagine writing about him. His stories aren’t mine to tell.

Anyway, he has nothing to worry about. I have absolutely never written about Jean-Paul on my blog, so we’re cool.

Posted in Confessional Stories of my Past, Essays/Commentary, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Got a Long List of Dreck Troubles

Some writers travel seamlessly between fiction and nonfiction. For the past few months, I’ve been scribbling scenes and ideas for fiction into a notebook and the results are not what I’d hoped. There is something that rings so false in my fiction writing.

Yes, I do recognize the irony in that statement.

You get my meaning, though. If the memoir is fraught with the troubling claim “my life is interesting,” as Joe Fassler writes in Atlantic Monthly, then fiction is equally laden: My imagination is interesting.

No, it isn’t quite that. My ideas would make at least as good a read as some of others’ shit I’ve slogged through over the years. The problem is in the execution. My dialogue sounds cheesy. The descriptions are stilted or banal. The vocabulary is pedantic.

Why continue with something I’m so clearly bad at? Because no matter how much I make that argument, Odie insists I take my turn at laundry, dishes, and cooking. But seriously, folks. Why write fiction if I suck at it?

Good question! Man, you ask good questions. Go, you!

Every writer dreams of penning the next Great American Novel, whether he admits it to himself or not and I am no exception. I also have the urge to write stories that I don’t or can’t live, as well as to disguise and disown the ones I did. To protect the innocent. And the guilty. And the ones who plead “no contest.”

My story is magical realism-esque, philosophical, and kind of porny. That last won’t surprise those of you who read my last blog Seeing Myself from Other Angles. I should probably write a “Shudder Warning” or “Cringe Warning” at the beginning of any such future posts for those of you who actually do know me. Just be happy I edited that post to be way less explicit. I’m not trying to get on that 50 Shades bandwagon. Lee Child wrote that if you can see the bandwagon, it’s already too late to hop on it, but that isn’t the reason my story has those elements.

My friend JG posted on Facebook that she and everyone she knows hears the words “lonely Starbucks lovers” in Taylor Swift’s song “Blank Space.” The actual lyric is: “Got a long list of ex-lovers/They’ll tell you I’m insane/But I’ve got a blank space, baby/And I’ll write your name.” JG and others hear “Got a list of Starbucks lovers. “I get mishearing lyrics because I thought Pharrell Williams was singing, “Bring me down, Canan.” He could be Turkish. I didn’t know.

Melissa Dahl of New York Magazine writes that based on her research, “our expectations have such a strong influence over what we hear that they can alter our interpretations of the sounds.” I know for a fact that JG does NOT have a long list of ex-lovers. As for whether the current and only love will tell you she’s insane, no comment.

Evidently, those who listen to Taylor Swift or admit to the same do not have long lists of former bedmates making armchair psychiatrist diagnoses of them. Dahl later writes that’s the reason so many people mishear the lyric. Long lists of ex-lovers? No experience. Starbucks? Indubitable experience.

I never misheard the lyric.

Would they tell you I’m insane? Let’s say that I can think of at least one person who has never shared my bed (nor the counter of a public restroom, the hood of a car, a shower, a jacuzzi, a tent, a catwalk in an auditorium, Space Mountain…) who will tell you I’m insane. If I even think of just Donny, my co-worker ex from the last post, and imagine him replaying my shrill invective delivered via classroom phone 10 minutes before Open House, I end up firmly in the “Yes column.”

What makes a “long list”? The answer is different for men than women, and so is the judgment. That is the subject of an upcoming post along with my thoughts about the most obscene sexual act that no one is allowed to talk about due to the vomit-inducing yuckiness of the topic: married sex.

My fiction story isn’t about married sex. It’s about a compelling protagonist who has some obstacles to overcome. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Some friends become enemies. Some enemies become friends. At the end, the character is richer for the experience. (Thanks, Stewie Griffin).

In Hollywood-speak, it’s sort of The Matrix meets Memento with elements of The Notebook and Aliens thrown in.

Reading over what I’ve written so far of my fiction, I feel frustrated. Why can’t I take those scenes I see so vividly in my head and hear so clearly in my mind’s ear and put them on the page? It’s an existential problem that my beloved T.S. Eliot expresses so perfectly:

“And would it have been worth it, after all,/Would it have been worth while/After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,/After the novels, after the tea cups, after the skirts that trail along the floor — /And this, and so much more –/It is impossible to say just what I mean!”

Eliot’s frustration at the inadequacy of language to convey experience makes the hairs on my arms stand up. If a master like Eliot struggles with it, I will try not to feel too bad about my own trials. My plan is to keep scribbling my fiction, no matter how bad it is. If I keep practicing and keep writing then one fine morning… I, like other writers, will just beat on, a boat against the current, “till human voices wake us and we drown.”

Posted in Confessional Stories of my Past, Essays/Commentary, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Seeing Myself from Other Angles

I shouldn’t be overly surprised that my anonymous blog would eventually present me with a conflict of authenticity. When I began my blog, I thought I’d be a funny, sarcastic mom like Dooce. Later, I contemplated a transformation, self-actualization angle, but then Kelle Hampton Bloomed. The other educators who paved the way for teacher blogging leave mine fields of rubber rooms, pink slips, non-re-elects, and five-to-ten with good behavior.

Little hope of being a pioneer of anything. Lifestyle make-over, spiritual awakening, career overhaul, sex re-assignment. Name it. Someone else got there first.

Every day I think, “Tomorrow I’ll write something for publication” and then I scribble in my journal and dig myself deeper into the pattern of apathy and lethargy. The momentum of stillness. Shit, how do I know what’s ground-breaking, prosaic, trend-setting, unique, or middling until I write it?

Start where you are, the mentors all say: It’s the end of another school year. My 14th. The last two weeks feel like a relationship where you both know it’s over, but neither one of you has felt up to having “the talk.” Everyone is hoping that they’re doing enough to pull off a D.

My ex, Donny, and I were in The End Times so obviously that when one of us started a conversation, “the talk” hung in the air like something going bad in the fridge (or maybe the garbage disposal or the trash? Anyway, definitely in the kitchen). Imagine my surprise when he showed up on a Wednesday worknight with take-out and a movie rental which transitioned into mutually initiated, neighbor-banging-on-the-wall-screaming-“SHUT UP!”-sex. Then “the talk.” Over the phone. The next day. He called me in my classroom.

“But what about Wednesday night?”

“You had my favorite UCLA sweatshirt,” he said. “Anyway, I think you had a pretty good time too.”

I am still embarrassed over the extent to which I lost control of my emotions and the volume of my expletives, in my classroom, ten minutes before the start of Open House. He was pretty clever about not only how to get his favorite sweatshirt back, but when to initiate a dreaded phone call. It had a built-in expiration.

Well-played, Donny.

I think the killing blow was his smugness. Or the fact that he was right. No, it was that he beat me to the punch. I’d carelessly (intentionally) shoe-horned us into a 7-month relationship that should have been a one-night-stand. And I did have a good time. I couldn’t justify my bitterness, which pissed me off even more. Donny never promised anything, never said “I love you,” never kept a toothbrush at my place. The disputed sweatshirt was not a gift. He hadn’t left it behind. I’d worn it home when I was cold.

He never moved anything into my apartment except DNA. He once came to my house for a sleepover and handed me a magazine I’d read and left at his place with the accusatory, “You left this at my apartment.”

Today, The New Yorker, tomorrow The Knot?

Okay, fine, it was Us Weekly. What’s your point?

I wanted my indignant rage, but I didn’t get it. There is satisfaction in being the wronged party that I couldn’t feel with Donny’s rejection because we were wrong from the get-go and I was the one who should have broken it off. The only humiliation more demeaning than dating beneath me was getting dumped beneath me.

I still work with Donny, though I see him infrequently. We teach in different departments and don’t have friends in common. If we end up chatting in common areas, coworker witnesses’ frozen smiles say, “Please don’t let this get weird; but if it does, please don’t let me miss it.” Donny told me a story last week in the sign-in/mailbox room that ended with “I knew you of all people would get where I was coming from” (I did, but not for any of the reasons he’d hoped).

The ignominy and anger I once felt is as absent as the passion. There was never much of the latter. He was a place-holder-boyfriend for me, and I served a similar purpose for him. Although he was a tad more prudish than I about his holding places. Even my wall-pounding angry neighbor could tell I was theatrical.

Donny and I each married and procreated with the next person we got into a relationship with. His bringing her to our school’s prom less than two months after the Open House phone call hurt my pride more than my heart, but I couldn’t tell the difference at the time. It felt genuine, tangible, bona fide.

The phase I’m going through in my life right now is symptomatic of my journey into middle-age (though I looked it up, and I’m still two years too young to be middle-aged. Whew!). I’m intensely conscious of my transition from sexual being to invisible woman, a transition men don’t automatically have to make. Being married doesn’t erase my past. Monogamy is a choice, and it’s jarring for someone who enjoyed the game as much as I did. I feel like an essential part of me is slipping away and I can’t stop it. Donny is an artifact of that part of myself. I’ll always have that unspoken intimacy with him. If I know men, and I think I do, when he sees me, sometimes he probably thinks of the parts of me he’s seen very, very close up. I’m grateful for his discretion and for the balm of time, marriage, and children. Simultaneously, there is a side of me that would get a salacious thrill if he were to whisper to a colleague, “You know I hit that, right?”

The fact of another person in my present who recalls the me who was naked and single and 29-years-old corroborates her existence. And from angles even I never got to see.

Posted in Confessional Stories of my Past, Pure side-splitting comedy | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Spring Break Potpourri

Life with five and three-year-old daughters means listening to so much needless drama, all of it at full volume.

“No fair!”

“Spider!”

“That’s not a T-Rex! It’s an Allosaurus!”

Then there’s the bloodcurdling scream that makes my legs work faster than my brain. The pain scream.

While acting as Odie’s sous chef, Viva gripped the pan’s edge to flip a pancake instead of its handle. My heart goes out to her. I’ve made the same mistake and it hurts like hell. I got her fingers under cold running water within seconds, California drought be damned, while Odie fetched ice cubes and Motrin. She cried off-and-on between guttural noises of agony for the ten minutes it took the ice to work its numbing magic. Eventually, in a weak yet theatrical voice, Viva allowed that the pain would be greatly improved if she could watch cartoons in Mommy’s chair.

Relief flooded in. Once the negotiations start, I know she’s feeling better.

My life teems with negotiations. Spring break means I show up to parenting full-time, and students’ negotiations shift to email. I must say, though, knock on wood, the latest progress reports went out with nary a peep from them.

Sure, there will be some last minute begging and pleading before final grades, but that mostly comes from the parents. They simply don’t know any better, poor dears.

I brought home shopping bagfulls of notebooks, thick folders of tests, and class sets of essays. Everything that didn’t make it onto the report cards. My plan was to spend a little bit of time each day, maybe an hour or two, marking papers (Coworkers who read my blog, I can hear you. Stop laughing!).

I negotiated Friday the 13th “off” for myself, of course, because I’d already worked the whole day at school. Then Saturday, I negotiated for one complete sloth day. Which turned into two, which turned into seven (What time is it? Damn. Eight). And here we are.

Undoubtedly, my students are just as bad or worse. They had nine full days to do their spring break assignments. I imagine most of them are taking a look at the document for the first time today. Sunday afternoon at the latest.  As above, so below.

My spring break calendar has been delightfully full and blessedly empty: Full-time parenting, all 13 episodes of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Google image searches for my next tattoo, household chores, mourning the latest death on The Walking Dead (hashtag EverybodyAteChris), my first spin class and its resulting Acute Pudendal Neuralgia.

That means my crotch hurts. I expected it, I did. There’s only so much you can “prepare” for pain. Viva isn’t the only gal in this house pounding Motrin. With goblets of pinot grigio? Yeah, just me.

Kimmy Schmidt is superb. Most of my “stories” are hour-long dramas that make Odie retreat to another room with a backwards look that seems to say, “Who are you?” This half-hour comedy from co-creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock kept him in the room (hurrah for preserving marital harmony!) and had the best comedic use of spinning class in my vast TV watching experience. If I hadn’t already planned to attend class at the “new” spin studio I’ve been driving by for five years, this would have inspired me. My writer friend (he actually makes a living at it), who also watched and spun this week, posted some provocative questions such as “HAVE we joined a cult?” “Did I just float up to the ceiling, or am I hallucinating?” and “Is this the most amazing workout like ever, ever, ever?” (Yes, he does write for ABC Family). I’m taking my second spinning class tomorrow, assuming that I am able to sit on the bicycle, so I will explore these questions in depth in a future post.

My midlife crisis is humming along apace with Odie’s. These bitches are expensive. We’re relegated to middle class midlife crises, so I’m having to choose between the tattoo and the Botox (Note to self: be sure to tag this post “first world problems).

Pringles is working on her jokes. She still leads with the punchline, but her timing shows promise. Viva’s fingers appear unblistered. They both have ankles hanging out the bottoms of their pants and bellies visible above the waistbands. How am I supposed to finance my midlife crisis with two children growing out of their clothes all the time?

You’re right!

Grandparents.

I need to go make some calls.

Happy first day of spring! May all your noxes be equi.

Posted in I forgot to call this something | 8 Comments

Pretty Funny

Louis C.K. told David Letterman that in a sold-out comedy show of 15,000 laughing audience members, what he sees are the 1,000 people who aren’t impressed. Letterman chuckles knowingly. Anyone in the business of making people laugh can probably relate. I notice that Louis C.K. is not good-looking, but his fame and comic genius make him appealing. I have no doubt he dates women 20 years younger who would be considered “out of his league.”

I’m a teacher not a comedian, but as Neil Postman pointed out in his brilliant book Amusing Ourselves to Death, all discourse is entertainment now. I’ve even had commenters here tell me that if I made education “fun” I’d have an easier time with students. Even the president needs to crack jokes to keep the nation’s attention during important speeches.

Louis C.K.’s comments made me think of high school and how people develop their popularity. The genetically-blessed don’t have to do anything but be. Everyone else has to do something. I’ve seen an awkward boy on the autism spectrum with echolalia be taken in by a group of thugs who find him entertaining. At first, we teachers tried to “rescue” him, only to discover that somewhere in those thug hearts where there exists no trace of empathy or respect for teachers and learning, was a protective instinct to keep this kid safe from other bullies. He became a sort of bully mascot.

The chubby boy studies John Belushi, John Candy, and Chris Farley and becomes a comedian whose genetic disadvantage is his comedy brilliance. He’s able to attract a cute cheerleader girlfriend. Not an A-lister, to be sure, but one of the peripherally popular girls. Enough to get him invited to the right parties because he makes everybody laugh.

The intellectual elite are in a group by themselves. They are going places. They will run the world. All of those jerks who call them four-eyes, nerds, suck-ups, and losers are going to be begging them for jobs. These kids are going to top universities. They may long for the kind of popularity that we all long for, but they’ll be fine.

No matter when you go to high school, nothing much changes except the technology. Kids submit essays as Google Docs now and read textbooks on tablets. We teachers text our students homework reminders and run literature discussions via blog. The hunt for identity that characterizes adolescence is impervious to technological advances.

I was promiscuous in high school. It isn’t generally accepted for women to admit that, much less to brag about it. The dance of adolescence is supposed to involve boys pushing girls for sex and girls being the gatekeepers. “Nice” girls and “good” girls don’t “give it up.” For all that adults may think high school kids have lost all morality and are basically humping in the stairwells, that dynamic still exists. Longterm couples are probably having sex (we all knew that couple who disappeared together during every social event, or if you were as unlucky as my group, didn’t feel the need to seek privacy). Everyone else is navigating the rules: the explicit and the implicit ones.

Pretty girls don’t have to be funny nor do they have to work to attract men. So the stereotype says. If I’m funny, does that mean I’m not pretty? I’m married, so I don’t need to pursue other men, but I can’t help but want them to look at me with desire. I worked to be seductive and amusing. I never possessed the kind of beauty that made it unnecessary. My self-esteem is wrapped up in being funny and pretty. As I approach my 43rd birthday and tote around my adorable daughters, I relate to E.B. White’s narrator in “Once More to the Lake,” who sees his own inevitable decline and death in the person of his replacement: his son.

I feel a combination of pride and sadness watching my beautiful girls grow. One has big, wide-set eyes and silky blonde hair. The other is tall and skinny with thick wavy long hair. If all goes well, they are both poised to fulfill cultural ideals of attractiveness.

But you bet your ass I’m teaching them how to be funny.

Posted in Confessional Stories of my Past, Essays/Commentary, Pure side-splitting comedy | Tagged , | 5 Comments

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Posted in Confessional Stories of my Past, Essays/Commentary, Marriage, Pure side-splitting comedy, Work Related | Tagged , , ,

The Chore Chart

Thank you, to reader and commenter “Nancy” who wrote:

We just trade off [getting up with the kids]. He gets up on Saturdays and I get up on Sundays. Not as bad when you know what to expect I guess.

It’s almost too obvious, isn’t it? Of course we should take turns. Incontestably it would make our lives easier. Undeniably planning ahead is the way to go. And unfortunately it cannot happen since it would completely eliminate all of the quiet resentment that burns at the tender heart of my marriage.

“Have you ever considered some kind of chore chart or calendar?” the therapist asked us innocently. I shot Odie the look every husband would recognize and every wife reading right now can picture exactly.

“Would you like to answer the nice man’s question, Odie?”

The next thing we know, we’re in a Jennifer Aniston/Vince Vaughn movie where I’m explaining to my husband that nobody wants to do the dishes!

From there, we go on to discover that Odie’s “love language” is “acts of service.” We didn’t talk about mine, but later that week at happy hour, I brought it up to my girlfriends and they simultaneously and in unison said, “words of praise.”

He wants me to rise from my Saturday and Sunday morning slumbers in order to let him sleep in because I love him, not because it’s my turn. We have a schedule for who cooks dinner and who picks the kids up from school, and it works great. I have frequently requested we make a schedule for the other chores and duties around the house. We’re still in the early negotiating stages, but I feel positive about the outcome. Although Odie and I have different feelings about how the housework and childcare duties should get parceled out, the therapist announced cheerfully that “these positions are reconcilable.”

There can be a schedule of assigned chores with room for spontaneity wherein I demonstrate my deep and abiding love by scrubbing toilets. Unscheduled. Not because I have to, but because I want to.

I am looking forward to when the girls are older and they can do all the chores. That’s how it works, right?

Posted in Marriage, Parenting, Pure side-splitting comedy | 3 Comments

Sunday Blues

Weekend mornings have turned into a silent power game. Pringles wakes up between 5:30 and 6:00 every day. Like Jim Dear and Darling from Lady and the Tramp we wish we could teach her about weekends, and yes, I just compared my daughter to a dog.

Odie and I both hear her. His breathing changes. He’s fooling nobody.

“Mom!” she stretches the word into three syllables, “I’m hungry!” An invitation to The Big Bed is parental stalling tactic one. She scurries under the covers and nestles her blonde head into the Pringles-sized nook of my neck and shoulder. This is nice, I think. Cuddles.

From here, she announces in a full-volume voice, “Mom? I’m hungry. Mom? I’m hungry. Mom? I’m hungry.” If she doesn’t say she’s hungry for the entire time that she is in fact hungry, then her needs will not be apparent to me and she will starve to death.

“Sssssh! Whisper!” I demonstrate, “Daddy and Viva are still sleeping. Cuddle with me for a minute.” I hope the offer of the ever desirable Mom cuddle time will distract her from her agenda to get everyone up to begin The Fetching of the Snacks.

Game on. Odie is still pretending to be asleep. He wants me to get up with Pringles. I want him to get up with Pringles. Odie can’t go back to sleep after he wakes up in the morning whereas I can go back to sleep under any circumstances. Having babies and breastfeeding gave me an on-call doctor’s napping skills. I can fall asleep in 5 minute increments. I can fall asleep quickly and go deeply into REM sleep. Odie can only sleep when all conditions are ideal. He cannot nap. Should he fall asleep during the day, he cannot recover from it. He will be groggy and useless for the remainder of the day or evening. That’s right, I said it. Useless. I can go from deep sleep to full consciousness to active parenting with very little transition time. I don’t like it. I don’t prefer it. But I can do it.

Odie and I wait each other out. Every Sunday, I plead with Pringles to go back to sleep. The triumph of hope over experience. She does not go back to sleep.

Odie won today. I got up with Pringles, settled her in front of the TV with a snack and then peeked in on him, hoping that he was just awake enough to be unable to go back to sleep. My plan was to deeply empathize and then deeply dive back under the still-warm covers.

The best-laid plans of wives and moms go awry.

 

Posted in Marriage, Parenting, Vignette | 11 Comments

But I’m Here

One of my all time favorite movies is Postcards from the Edge. There are so many gems in that film, I find another perfect line of dialogue every time I watch. When the main character comes home from rehab, her mother throws her a big party. That’s right, and to stack inappropriateness on top of questionable judgment, mom proceeds to make herself the center of attention by performing a song and dance number at the piano.

“Good times and bum times/I’ve seen ’em all and my dear/I’m still here./Smooth sailin’ sometimes,/Sometimes a kick in the rear!/But I`m here.”

That pretty much sums it up. Whatever happened to Mrs. Odie? It’s partly not knowing what direction I want to go with my writing. I see myself as a social critic and satirist, essay writer, and hopefully a humorist. I want to write fiction too, and more than anything, I want to make money. Another part of staying away from writing is that teaching has taken up more than just my time lately. Just last night, my father asked me what has changed about the job because it didn’t consume me like it does now. That’s a long answer. One I am determined to answer when it isn’t after 2 a.m.

Parenting is like a black hole where marriages go to die. Love really is a biological trap. I’m still in love with my husband, but five years into this parenting gig I haven’t figured out how to bridge the gap between us that started with morning sickness and widened with an episiotomy. I miss him so much and I am sad that I will never get to be young with him ever again.

My daughters are simultaneously my favorite people and my tormentors. Their love is endless but so are their demands.

I feel like I just walked into the kitchen and now I can’t remember what I came in for.

“I got through all of last year. And I’m here.”

Posted in I forgot to call this something | 12 Comments