Tag Archives: mom

Cautionary Tale

13 Feb

on October 26, 2014, my life changed in a way I truly never thought it would, I knew it COULD but like so many other carefree 44-year olds, I thought I was immortal.  I knew that I had health risks that made me more susceptible to having a stroke than most  other people and I also knew that I didn’t take care of myself the way I should have but this is all said in hindsight while I type with one hand because my left hand has not fully regained movement, especially fine motor skills. I had an Ischemic stroke which occurs as a result of an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. It accounts for 87 percent of all stroke cases.It affected the right side of my brain therefore the left side of my body, that’s the way it works, the side of your brain affected is opposite the side of your body affected. I never lost the ability to speak, and was walking within days in the ICU. my arm mobility was good as far as being able to move it up and down but my hand didn’t come back until December or so. The cause of my stroke was largely due to just not taking care of myself, I have to take medicine called Warfarin also known as Coumadin because I have a titanium heart valve and atrial fibrillation. because of this medication, I need to have regular blood tests to monitor the INR level in my blood. Coumadin is a very finicky drug and its affects can be lessened or heightened by the amount of Vitamin K ingested. Blood tests are required to determine if the correct INR level is being reached or if your diet and/or dosage of Coumadin should be adjusted. I stopped monitoring my Coumadin because it was nearly impossible to work full time, be a divorced mom and get blood tests regularly. 

Prothrombin time is measured in seconds. Most of the time, results are given as what is called INR (or international normalized ratio). If you are taking warfarin to prevent blood clots, your doctor will most likely choose to keep your INR between 2.0 and 3.0.

The night of my stroke was the Sunday before my very favorite holiday, Halloween. I felt totally normal, maybe a little spacey, maybe I was drooling a little bit, but I was able to walk around and sort of talk, my 13-year old was worried and called 911. luckily. He recognized the signs of stroke from a commercial.

STROKE

Suddenly 5 EMTs were in my house to take me to the ER, I was covered in glitter because I had been working on my sweet sweet mermaid costume for Halloween. I would have loved to see video of myself drooling, black t-shirt tied around wet hair. like a turban because I had just gotten out of the shower and I read that a shirt was better for your hair than a towel to dry it. I must have looked and seemed literally crazy because the EMTs asked me if I had anti-psych meds and asked my kids if I was always like this – um, nope only when  having a stroke. I got to the ER and went through all the tests there to confirm that I was having a stroke and they determined what kind  and gave me a drug they told me would break up the clot. so I spent a week in the hospital and then went on to spend 2 weeks in an inpatient rehab where I had extensive therapies, physical, occupational and speech.

I’ve been told I’m an inspiration, I have a joke in my set that starts, “being a divorced 40- something single mom  living in a college town, I have often thought of writing my memoirs titled “Cautionary Tale”, if I’m an inspiration at all be inspired to take care of yourself so you don’t end up having to be inspirational and you can just live your damn life as healthily and as  long as possible, I feel like a fraud because often the past several months all I’ve wanted to do is lie in bed and eat Ben & Jerry’s ice cream but it wasn’t an option, my mom, sister and 200 other people including my two kids would never have let that go down.Be inspired by selfless people who do for others.

I have made enough mistakes to last a lifetime but I won’t beat myself up over this most recent one, anymore. I have learned from it and I am 22 lbs lighter since leaving rehab where I inexplicably managed to gain 4 lbs, while barely eating and exercising regularly.

My life will definitely be different from now on but different doesn’t automatically = terrible. I’m pretty excited about the changes, even though stroke is the number 1 cause of acquired disability in the country, I am not fully disabled, I am left with the deficits in my left hand and some cognitive issues, though when I told a close male friend that I am now extremely forgetful, cannot multi-task, and don’t have an attention to detail he told me he’s been like that his whole life, so yet another way I am stereo-typically male. I cannot return to work full-time but will be returning to work with children, on a part-time basis,  which is truly what made me the happiest in my professional life. I am taking the state mandated training online so when I am ready to find a job I shouldn’t have any problem. Its hard for me to buckle my belt which has become necessary because of the weight loss, so between my pants not staying up and the brain damage, I could have a new career in politics. I am seriously looking into designing an app for me and the other 3 million people on Coumadin, that tracks and logs vitamin K intake. My life is far from over so be inspired by that not my recovery because that was mostly luck and stubborness.

I haqve been writing and performing stand-up comedy for about a year, I have written material from this experience that I hope is funny,(some of which is in this post) I have no affect in my voice (meaning I sound pretty robotic) and my timing is terrible but my number one goal is  to get back up on stage.

Tomorrow is valentines day and I am valentine-less again this year but I have 3 gorgeous rented dresses hanging in my closet and tomorrow I will choose one and put it on and go to a fancy event called the Heart Ball where I am volunteering for the American Stroke Association and the past several months have shown me that I am absolutely surrounded by love every day of the year.

valentines day

An Open Letter to the “Hot Facebook Mom” Maria Kang

19 Mar

Dear Maria,

First of all, let me say that I dig that you have a message and a vision for your life. I read through your blog and I could relate to some of it (I was unmarried and not financially prepared when I got pregnant the first time too! The second time I was married but not financially prepared and now I’m neither married nor pregnant and not financially prepared for life in general).  I didn’t really find much else that spoke to me, but that’s okay. I respect your story and your journey thus far.

maria

I saw once again that you wanted to know what my, and other moms who don’t make fitness a priority,  excuse is.  Maria, while I appreciate your concern, I find what you’re doing to be just more mom-shaming, wrapped in what you think is an inspirational message.   I’m not even going to touch on the fact that I find it to be fat-shaming as well,  which I do, but for the purpose of this letter, I am just going to address the mom-shaming aspect. However, I will answer your question at the end of this letter.

Let me just say that I am a huge proponent of moms not shaming other moms for their choices.  I find parenting hard enough without having to concern myself with Polly Perfect who is constantly on Facebook proclaiming to the world how perfect her kids are, accompanied by pictures of little Sally and Billy  munching away happily on homemade organically grown apple sauce. I assume this is not the impression you want to leave, but I may be wrong about that. It seems that looks are extremely important to you, so I can imagine your need to control every aspect of what is even thought about who you are is extremely important too. I’m not judging, just pointing out that I find you to be a bit of one of those moms that I avoid at baseball practice.  Or on Facebook. Or in life. Ever.

maria

According to the picture you posted above, as well as what I’ve read about you in your blog, I know that you have three sons, born in 2009, 2010, and 2011, and that you are tired. I can only imagine! I know you don’t have a nanny or a chef and that you are not an athlete or a fitness model and you work over 8 hours a day. One of those arrows up there supposedly points to your stretch marks, but I’ll be damned if I can see them, but that’s not the point.

The above picture, which I  know is small, also says that you “practice consistency, persistence, discipline, intensity, patience, desire, focus, and faith”.   Good on ya girl! I do too, though I find patience to not come naturally to me,  I do try to practice it.  I’ve got the desire part down pat though, know what I’m saying? Yeah you do.

Maria, you are absolutely gorgeous, that is for sure. It is obvious that you have made fitness and “being hot” a priority in your life, and you have since the age of 16 when you started competing in beauty pageants.

I have NO PROBLEM with beauty pageants. My sister was in the past an actual beauty queen, and she still is beautiful, though I’ve had it with her wearing her crown for every family function. I understand  prioritizing what is important to you, that’s what life is all about, right?  I DO have a problem with your holier than thou attitude directed at those of us who do NOT make those things a priority. I KNOW being fit and being healthy are important, though just to be clear, and I’m sure you know this, skinny does not automatically mean healthy and overweight does not automatically mean unhealthy.

Maria, you may or may not be mortified to learn that we are actually not all that different.

This is from your blog,

I’m a wife, mother, business owner and nonprofit founder.

I dream.

I set goals.

I plan.

I take action.

I reflect.

And I repeat.

Well, me too bitch! I mean bitch as in girlfriend, no disrespect meant, because while you do irk me a little, we are similar. That’s right, Maria, you have a lot in common with a mom who has two boys, and is overweight, and exercises very lazily 3-4 times a week, and is right this moment drinking a Coca damn Cola, because I also dream! I set goals! I plan! I take action! I reflect! And I repeat! I couldn’t help but notice that you have a vision board next to your treadmill. GIRL, mine is in my bedroom.

I know there will always be people who insist that their way is the only and right way. The debates between those who have chosen to bottle feed their children rather than breast feed, those who choose cloth diapers over disposable, those who co-sleep rather than not, those choices are all valid and good choices.  Figuring out what works for ones own family and filtering through everything that is out there about what you SHOULD be doing is one of the toughest things about being a parent in my opinion.

I understand that you have chosen to prioritize fitness in your life, and that is a good and valid choice. Maria, I will now answer your question. My excuse I guess,  is that I just haven’t made fitness a priority in my life, but it’s not an EXCUSE, it’s a choice. It’s a choice you may not agree with, and that’s fine, but it doesn’t mean that because you have made it a priority in your life that I am any less the person or mom that you are.  The words that are on your picture as far as things you “practice” are not exclusive to you and your commitment to fitness.  This year I have chosen to conquer fear to do something I have always wanted to do, stand-up comedy. I write daily, even if it’s just something like this, I am someone who constantly tries to learn from my past and is striving to make myself the person I want to be, not only for myself, but for my children. I want them to see a mom who is not afraid and who kicks ass. I think those are things you want your children to see in you as well, we just see the end product as something different. And it’s okay! We’re both right!

So Maria,  let’s agree that maybe you knew you were stirring up some controversy when you posted your “what’s your excuse” picture, because I think you did. You’ve been blogging for a long time, since 2005, but nobody gave  you much thought before that picture took off and went viral. I don’t think you’re a MEAN person, and I know you think you are impacting the world in a positive way. If I could wish anything for you it is that you would come from a place of support rather than shame, because we are not all that different and maybe we could learn something from each other, but it is hard to listen to someone when you feel they are attacking you.

Also, your boys are adorable and I wish you nothing but luck in your endeavors.

Love and donuts (I’m sorry, now I’m just being a brat)

Amy

Happy Galentine’s Day AND Happy Valentine’s Day

13 Feb

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and today is, from what I understand, Galentine’s Day.  What, prey tell is Galentine’s Day? Galentine’s Day is from an episode of “Parks and Recreation”, a show starring the very talented and hilarious Amy Poehler as well as an equally talented and hilarious supporting cast including Nick Offerman (and his EPIC mustache), Aubrey Plaza, Aziz Ansari,  Rashida Jones, Chris Pratt, and Rob Lowe. See? Why aren’t more people watching this show? Including me actually since I don’t watch it on the regular either. I know, I suck, but in my defense I just now figured out how to program my DVR.

Anyway, Galentine’s Day is a day invented by Amy Poehler’s character Leslie Knope,  to celebrate the women in your life. It doesn’t matter if your gal-pals are married or otherwise attached, Galentine’s day is a day to let the gals in your life know that you love and appreciate them. Here is what Leslie Knope herself has to say about the day –

What’s Galentine’s Day? Oh, it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lillith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.

Sounds like fun! I am extremely fortunate to have an excellent support system of women near and far that I call friends. Some are family members, some have been my friend for over 30 years, some for not that long, some I haven’t even met in person but thanks to social media we have become friends. I share in their lives and they share in mine. They are my biggest cheerleaders and I know when I need anything, they are there. We have cried together, we have laughed together, we have gotten outraged together over my seemingly endless bad luck regarding relationships, and we have nervously laughed at my sometimes terrible decisions, because if WE can’t laugh about not being able to stop texting someone who clearly doesn’t want to be contacted simply because I think I thought of the PERFECT way to explain why I sent so many texts to him BEFORE, then who can?

So to my gal pals I say Happy Galentine’s Day! I love each and every one of you and I thank you for being there for me.

galentines

As for Valentine’s Day, I grew up with a father who felt it was important to give his daughters Valentine’s presents and/or candy and/or flowers and because of him, the day is much LESS about having a romantic relationship than it is to shower those you love with love, and a balloon or little box of Scooby Doo bubblegum balls (spoiler alert, that’s what my children are getting from me this year).

I have my fair share of stories of Valentine’s Day plans that went terribly awry. My personal favorite is when I was dating someone and we had plans for him to come to my house for dinner, this was when I was in my 20’s so when I say “my house” I really mean a crappy studio apartment. I searched all day for a heart-shaped baking pan and I made a delicious yellow cake and topped it with whipped cream and strawberries. Rick never showed up that night or called until the next day.  I don’t remember why he couldn’t come over, but I do remember that over the course of about 6 hours while waiting for him, I ate that entire cake with a fine white wine (just guessing since I don’t remember but it was probably from a box).

I’m not involved in a romantic relationship this Valentine’s Day, BUT I can guarantee you, I will feel loved and I will show love. I will be spending the day with my two favorite Valentines, my kids, and I will tell them that I love them, just as I do every day, and I will hug them a little tighter than usual and I will tell them that no matter what, their mom will always be their Valentine, and this will creep them out immensely, but hopefully when they are older they will carry on the tradition of looking at Valentine’s day as a day to show appreciation and love to everyone just a little more than they do every day, and that being single on Valentine’s Day is not a big deal.

And I may or may not, just for old time’s sake, eat a whole cake with some wine.

heart-shaped-cake

 

 

What the Hell? Christmas Edition

16 Dec

christmas

Before you balk at the title of this post,  I like Christmas. I like the food. I like Christmas specials. I like the songs, though if I never hear “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” ever again in my life, that will be fine with me.  I like to get presents, and I like to give presents.  I like that this time of year seems to make people want to give of themselves a little more than any other time. I like my family and I love spending time with them. Having said all that, there are a few things about this time of year that I just don’t understand.

Let’s start with what I find the most heinous of all Christmas-related phenomenon, Elf on a Shelf. I kid, I don’t find it the MOST heinous, and I will most definitely be writing about it shortly. However, without a doubt, what I find the most heinous is that big bucket of peppermint scented poop  known as black Friday. I understand the appeal of shopping on black Friday.  For several years on Thanksgiving I would peruse the sales flyers and outline my plan of attack for the next day. The next morning I would wake up at 4:00 am, grab myself an Egg McMuffin and a coffee, and dash into the Target or Toys R Us, or Joanne’s Fabrics, to pick up  whatever was on my list. I would save some money and get the boys some toys that I might not be able to without the black Friday sales.  I understand for a lot of people, they treat it the same way I did.

Now, this is why we can’t have nice things. Black Friday is now starting on Thanksgiving day, people are literally being attacked over sales items, and do you know the number one seller at Wal-Mart during black Friday this year? Towels. A mother fucking bunch of towels. Not that I don’t appreciate a luxurious 5 thread count cheap towel, but come ON. This might fall under the category of irrational anger, but dammit, I’m angry about it.

And yes, I understand that Christmas shouldn’t be about presents and commercialization and let’s all hold hands and sing around a tree like the Who’s down in Whoville. I am ALL for that, I really am, BUT, there won’t be a Christmas where I don’t give those I love a Christmas present, even if it’s very small, because I just want to. I give of myself, and sometimes myself is in the form of a gift card or a pair of earrings.

So far, I have used the word “Christmas” rather than “Holidays”. This is because I grew up celebrating Christmas, and these rants are CHRISTMAS related. All Christmas was for me growing up is what I listed in the first paragraph. I can count on one hand the number of times I was in a church, not including for other people’s weddings,  but I did consider myself a Christian growing up. We had a nativity scene, and I knew the whole story about the baby Jesus and Mary and no room at the Inn and following the Northern star and all that jazz. I don’t recall being told the story, but I assume I was, and didn’t just piece it together through Christmas songs and specials.

As an adult, I don’t consider myself a Christian, more like an agnostic, or sometimes, an atheist, depending on whether the University of Alabama wins its football games or not (settle down, I’m kidding). I have tried to educate my boys about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the fact that some people don’t celebrate anything at all, and that to some people Christmas is more religious than it is for us, and  it’s all fine and good. The same rule of life applies, believe and/or celebrate what you want, as long as your beliefs and/or celebrations do not hurt another living creature.

I tend to say “Happy Holidays” as a catch-all for this time of year. Does this make me ANTI Christmas? Is this me waging my own personal war against Christmas?  Hell no, it’s not. This is me being cognizant of the fact that not everybody celebrates Christmas. Why in the tinsel covered hell does it matter if someone chooses to say “Happy Holidays” OR “Merry Christmas” OR “Happy Hanukkah” OR “Happy Kwanzaa”? It doesn’t to me. Thank you for the greetings, may you have a happy whatever as well. End of story. I don’t feel the need to go into this further because it is Elf on the Shelf time.

I don’t get this Elf on the Shelf thing. At all. I read that it was to help children become “more excited” about the impending holidays. WHO ARE THESE CHILDREN WHO NEED TO BECOME MORE EXCITED ABOUT THE HOLIDAYS!? The day after Halloween, mine start counting down to Christmas. I don’t need and/or want some creepy elf to help us in any way, thanks. Maybe I saw Poltergeist one too many times, but the fewer clown/elf dolls in my house, the better.

Happy holidays everybody.

elf

I’ll Stick to my Own Rules, Thank You

8 Dec

the rules

I just wrote a post a few days ago about being a “leaper”, meaning, someone who jumps in wholeheartedly with both feet into love, and how this is all well and good until you find yourself jumping into a swimming pool void of water, then you’re there, alone, with a broken heart, but that in the end, it is worth it and that I will ALWAYS be a leaper.

Sadly, I find the very nature of any kind of broken heart, whether it’s after 20 years, or 6 months (and mine falls in the 6 month category. What can I say, I fell fast and hard) is the equivalent of being on a roller coaster. Not the most original metaphor, but it is accurate. I could try to make it more timely and say that it is like being on a flight simulator, but I think roller coaster does the trick.  I am not feeling very much like a leaper right now, unless that leaping is a swan dive out of polite society to live humbly with my children, never speaking of dating again. Just hanging it up. Never mind. I had a good run. Let’s just call it a day.

In one weekend I have gone from feeling pretty okay to terribly sad to literally Googling “Does he miss me?” which let’s face it, is pretty pathetic (according to Google he probably does, so  thanks for that Google.) Google also directed me to brush up on The Rules. Remember this book? Back in the 1990’s you couldn’t swing one of Madonna’s pointy bras without hitting some woman who was RAVING about how this book changed her life and helped her nab the man of her dreams. All she had to do was behave like an entitled spoiled princess, and this presumably was the milkshake that brought all the boys to her yard.

I have never been much for rules in general. Blame the fact that I’m an Aquarius, and it is constantly the dawning of me, but besides obeying the very important rules that accompany flying (listen to the damn flight attendants) and obeying crossing signals (BIG RED HAND MEANS DON’T WALK), I consider myself someone who doesn’t take kindly to being told what to do for the most part.

I recently re-read The Rules and by recently, I mean within the last 2 days, not broken heart related exactly, but I found it when unpacking and gave it another go. Hell, maybe I could learn something, since I seem to suck so much at all things romantic. Very soon after starting to re-read it, I remembered what I disliked so much about it when I read it the first time, back when it came out, and now that I am the mother of two boys, it’s even more apparent. This book presents men like they are, for lack of a better term, dumbasses. Women come off no better for we are sorceresses just spinning our webs and waiting to ensnare some poor hapless dumbass to call our very own.

An ongoing theme in the book is that we women really have no say in our own romantic lives. I should wait for the man to contact me, I need to be vague, I need to remain as neutral and non-interested in the man as possible. This book is essentially the EXACT opposite of who I am as a person. I am a wear my heart on my sleeve oh my god you’re so funny please think I’m funny and let’s be in love together for as long as we are then let’s part and have good feelings about each other and not regret anything.  While my flavor of milkshake seems to be of the “thanks but no thanks and good luck to you in your future endeavors” variety, I have more respect for men as human beings than to adhere to this particular set of rules.

If you live by these rules and swear by them,then more power to you. Good for you.  I admit, there are a lot of things I should work on. I am a work in progress. I will never be someone who just stops growing, though right now I’m stuck in the maddening head space of all of a sudden not feeling smart enough or pretty enough or kind enough or cool enough or sexy enough, because of one person. One person who was nothing but nice, which sadly doesn’t make it any easier. Something I don’t think I need to work on though is how to be more aloof. Screw that. I will stick to my assertion that someday, even sans rules, someone will join me in my heart on my sleeve oh my god you’re so funny please think I’m funny and let’s be in love together for as long as we are then let’s part and have good feelings about each other and not regret anything kind of love.

Of course, tomorrow may be another feeling all together, but that’s okay. I have my own set of rules and they haven’t failed me yet –

1) Be kind
2) Love yourself
3) Embrace whatever feeling you’re feeling and know it is okay
4) No shame or guilt for authentic feelings

As far as rules for “man nabbing”….no idea. None at all.  I think the best I can do is abide by my life rules and not forget that even though I am a work in progress, that I am enough right now, dammit. Right this very second.

day onew

Leaping Before Looking for Almost 44 Years

4 Dec

satc

I have watched every episode of Sex and the City, probably more than once. Definitely more than once. Now that I live in a fancy house with a DVR, I can binge-watch many episodes in a row, though I wouldn’t suggest doing it after drinking a couple of mason jars full of red wine, yet, here we are.

I’ve analyzed the characters and tried to figure out with whom I most identified. I think, like most women, I’m a little of all four. I’m a little sassy and sexually liberated like Samantha (and who hasn’t had sex on a moving fire truck), I’m pragmatic and a little cynical like Miranda (and bartenders ARE fun), I’m a little dreamy-eyed when it comes to romance like Charlotte (and dust ruffles really are dumb), and like Carrie, I have fallen in love with a man who just wasn’t ever going to be what I needed him to be. I have done this more than once.

With that in mind, and in the spirit of the show, I can’t help but wonder, am I doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over no matter how much work I think I’ve done on myself? Is this my cosmic fate?

My 12-year old son is reading a book called and the name escapes me now because wine and old age, but it is about a society that at first SOUNDS Utopian, but the more the book is read the more it is revealed to actually be a dystopian society. One of the key points in the book is that everything is very regulated and true love is not felt. People are matched with partners for marriage and everyone must take a pill to keep from experiencing love. My son recently asked me if I would choose to take a pill like that. I said absolutely not because sure it numbs the pain, but it numbs the other stuff too. the good stuff, and no amount of leaping into what turns out to be a giant pool void of water overshadows the good stuff. The good stuff is SO GOOD. Of course, I even more recently joked with my mom who knew my answer to my son that I would like to change my answer.

I am self-aware, almost to a fault. I have gone to therapy, I have read books, I have read blog posts, I am all about claiming my baggage, sitting down to dinner with my feelings, taking a dip in lake Amy (that’s me), and working on my part in any situation, learning, and moving on. I’m cute, I’m hilarious, I am good enough, I am smart enough, and gosh darnit, people like me.  I have an open mind, I’m not bitter, I go all in, I love big and that is probably part of my issue. I have been known to leap before looking. More than once. And dammit if that doesn’t hurt like hell.

I have no idea what the future holds, but I won’t stop leaping, and even though I’ve dated, that is, gone on more than one date with, a total of two people in the several years that I have been divorced from the boys’ dad, I hope the boys see me as a woman who is not bitter and who is pretty awesome and who is at least jumping in. Because the jump is worth the fall, and I don’t want them to ever think it’s not. And MAYBE,  I will jump and fall on top of somebody. This got dark. I blame the wine.

Slumlords, Hell Holes, and Gratitude. This Post Has It All

20 Nov

The calendar has moved beyond all things spooky towards the season to express gratitude.  However, I feel I can’t do that fully without first talking a little more about something scary. A haunted house of sorts. No, this has nothing to do with the terrifying creatures  in Washington DC, this is not another political post.

The house I’m referring to is not so much a house as a yellow trailer covered in tin sheets the same thickness as aluminum foil. A place that was literally falling apart under the feet of all those who dared enter. Someplace so horrific that hot water refused to make its presence known. Are you stumped? Cue dramatic music…..it’s where I USED TO LIVE!

I moved the boys and myself into the above-mentioned hell hole because I could afford it, it was a nicer part of town than the hell hole where I lived before, and it had a big yard for the dog. I am a woman who has made some stupid decisions, and lots of mistakes. I am nothing if not fully aware of how imperfect I am.  Choosing to “make do” in the little yellow trailer was not in my top 5 of dumbest decisions I have ever made. That should tell you how many mistakes I have chalked up in my 40 something years. It was solidly in the top 10 however.

The place itself wasn’t HORRIBLE at first. The landlord said we could paint! How nice! I’ll just throw away all the weird stuff left behind by the last tenants. I don’t think I need any more Halloween decorations, especially not jack o”lanterns that are supposed to plug-in and light up and have cords that look like they have been chewed by…um…something…and are covered in electrical tape.  I also don’t need any more Easter decorations featuring creepy bunnies wearing sundresses and straw hats. That in itself is not bad, who doesn’t love a rodent in clothes, but the dresses were covered in some kind of red and presumably sticky substance. I’m going to say raspberry jelly just in case any of you are eating while reading this.

So, I painted the living room dark green and made curtains with greens and blues in the fabric. It was adorable! I couldn’t open the windows because the ones that were not painted shut didn’t have screens and this is Florida, open an un-screened window for 2 seconds and risk catching malaria (and whatever else mosquitoes carry).

The boys picked out a nice bright blue paint for their room. This would be fine. This would be just fine. Until things started breaking and it became very apparent that my landlord insisted on making the repairs himself, and that meant a full day with him in my place, tinkering away with parts that he had more than likely pilfered from junk yards, and the repairs would not stick. The only time that something that he fixed stayed fixed was when he replaced my air conditioner when it went out. In July. In Florida. And he didn’t return my call about it being out for 2 1/2 weeks.

I learned tricks to keep things working that were almost broken. My refrigerator teetered at death’s door for months and months, but I learned that if I adjusted the temperature every now and then, that would breathe some life into it. I changed the door knob myself when it became so loose that my door could be opened whether it was locked or not.

When my hot water heater stopped working I could not fake or fix it myself. It was still summer, so I was okay with taking cold showers, but the boys weren’t as easy-going about it, so I broke down and called the landlord. After a couple of weeks, he arrived with duct tape and screwdriver in hand. I don’t really know much about water heaters, but to me, this seemed like he was woefully unprepared to actually fix the problem. I was correct in my assessment of the situation. It broke again a few weeks later. I called him again and told him that I had no hot water once more. Here’s where it got really ugly. It broke the second time at the end of the month. I told him I would not pay rent until it was fixed. He would not fix it until I paid rent. We had reached an impasse. One that meant I would be living without hot water for the next two months.

At this point, I had heard from a lawyer friend that what the landlord was doing was illegal. I did some research on this thing called “the internet” (thank you Al Gore) which is really so much more than cats and porn and blogs (not that I don’t love blogs…and cats…and porn) and discovered that my friend was right, the slumlord was wrong, and I sent him a letter using the words “pursuant” and “statute” and I told him that he was wrong and that he must be used to dealing with people who were afraid of him and/or stupid and that I am neither of those things. He showed up, sprayed some tire sealant all over the hot water heater (no joke. Tire. Sealant) and called it a day. My water still wasn’t hot, but it was very chemically tasting and smelling, so it was a good trade-off.

Here’s where the gratitude part comes in. I was able to tell my landlord that very next day that we would be moving out within the week. I could do this because my brother and sister-in-law offered me and the boys the chance to move into their HUUUUGE house in a beautiful neighborhood in town, for rent that I can afford, because my brother had moved to Texas and my sister-in-law was ready to join him.  As of a few weeks ago, the boys each have their own room, we have two bathrooms, I have an indoor laundry room, a dishwasher, closet space, a yard for the dog, and so much more. To say I am thankful seems like an understatement, but I am so very thankful for their generosity. I am extremely fortunate to have a generous and supportive family who COULD very well let me flounder in my own stupid mistakes, but they don’t. They help and comfort and support me and have never made me feel like a loser who makes bad decisions.

thank you

In the midst of hot water heater-gate, part 2, I had a little breakdown after a very unladylike screaming match in the yard with my FORMER landlord who dropped by to ask for money one night. I had sent the boys inside so that they wouldn’t be scarred for life at hearing their mother cursing at an old man, but they snuck out onto the porch and heard me doing just that.  After he left I was crying and saying that I was so sorry for making the boys live someplace so awful and that I was trying to get us out as soon as I could. It was a great moment in parenting for sure.  My eldest, who at 12 is smarter and more sensitive than a lot of adults I know, said “oh yes mom. Be sorry for putting a roof over our heads and working to feed us and give us things we need. Suck it up”.

I am so grateful that the boys appreciate that I AM trying. We appreciate our family so much, and we can all agree that we will NEVER take hot water, or each other, for granted. This Thanksgiving, or EVER.

gratitude

 

Blurred Lines and my Opinion on Feminism. You Know you Want it

3 Jun

The ridiculously catchy song featured in this awfully cheeky video  is called Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams.  If you don’t know the song or you didn’t click the link to watch the video, you really should do so now. I’ll wait.

Was I right or what!? So catchy and that video is so bad, it’s hilarious, but in an unintentional way, I think. The ridiculously overt sexuality of all of it is, well, it’s ridiculous. Scantily clad beautiful women constantly licking their lips, and biting their fingers, and at one point there is a stuffed dog and a (real) lamb thrown in for, I don’t even know what for really.

The lyrics are… pretty…well, they’re bad. They’re just bad. I’m not going to post all of them, but this is the chorus

And that’s why I’m gon’ take a good girl
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
You’re a good girl
Can’t let it get past me
You’re far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted
I hate these blurred lines
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
But you’re a good girl
The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty
Go ahead, get at me

My first instinct when I heard the song, besides “that sounds like Marvin Gaye” was it was misogynistic,  but I was wrong. The definition of misogyny involves the hatred of women. No hatred here.  It’s sexist, right? Granted, the video looks like it was made in a warehouse and cost about $40 total, but does the mere presence of women wearing bikinis with plastic skirts over the bottoms (can I just tell you, BAD idea) make it sexist?

sex·ism

noun \ˈsek-ˌsi-zəm\

Definition of SEXISM

1
: prejudice or discrimination based on sex; especially :discrimination against women
2
: behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex
Well, referring to women as “animals” would probably be considered fostering a stereotype of the social role of women as sex objects I presume, though he does say that the previous man in her life tried to “domesticate” her and that she presumably fought that role because she’s an “animal” but I presume switching one societal stereotype for another doesn’t make it any less sexist.
Another of my issues with the song involves this line in particular –
You wanna hug me
Hey, hey, hey
What rhymes with hug me?
“Snug me”, ‘bug me”, “slug me”, all acceptable rhymes. “Fuck me”, however, is not, and I presume that is where they were going with that.

My biggest problem with the song is the whole “blurred lines” concept, like a woman can’t be a “good girl” if she “want(s) it” (and for the sake of argument, let’s just assume sex is “it”).My views on feminism, and I appreciate your patience up to this point because I know you have been waiting breathlessly for this part, is that a woman can be whatever she wants, and do whatever she is comfortable doing.  If a woman wants to be a Jedi in the streets and a Sith in the sheets (like you needed any more proof of my nerdiness) or vise versa, or any or no combination of those words,  then have at it, and make those terms mean whatever you want them to mean. Women can work, they can choose not to work, they can get married, they can choose not to get married, they can have a lot of sex, they can abstain from having sex, and so on and so on. Not one of these choices make a woman less of a woman.

I have read far too many comments in regards to this video about the “sluttiness” of the women (and apparently there is a topless version that was banned from YouTube). I don’t agree when women who are portrayed as sexual beings are also viewed as something “bad” or “slutty”. The crux of feminism to me hinges on this concept. Women should  be allowed to behave  in whatever capacity they are comfortable without being called names or being told they are setting back the women’s movement when they dress or behave a certain way. I see this when women insult other women for what they are wearing ALL THE TIME. You cannot judge a person by their clothes, but let’s say that woman in the short shorts and halter top does have a lot of sex. So what?

I will say, I think men are exposed to a lot of this crap too as far as how society defines what makes a “man” and all that. Sorry, guys. I’ll write about that another time.

So in conclusion, yes, that song is sexist, the video is silly, and part of feminism is respecting other women’s choices.  Nowhere in the definition of feminism does it say “must adhere to stringent rules and wear comfortable and sensible foot wear or will be accused of setting back the women’s movement and will be kicked out of the sisterhood.”

Definition of FEMINISM
1
: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2
: organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

It’s a Boy. Two, Actually

30 May

booksThe last day of school is approaching in T – 4 days. Tuesday, June 4, is the day. The day I have circled in red marker on my calendar. I have never looked so forward to the end of a school year in my life.  Not even when I was the student. It’s so much more stressful as the parent.

It’s been tough, as any and all of you who read this blog on any kind of regular basis know. If you don’t read on a regular basis, let me sum it up – eldest son lost his mind this year, his first year of middle school, and decided to do as little as possible AND do everything with a terrible attitude and argue everything from the color of the sky to his middle name (slight exaggerations MAYBE).

Thanks to his super freak out plus modern conveniences like school websites that show practically up to the minute updates on his progress, (or shows what homework I know he DID, but did not turn in for whatever reason) as well as teachers (and I do appreciate it) emailing and letting us know what we knew already because of the websites, his dad  and I have been big balls of stress this year.

Facebook updates from parents who seem to never have any problems or issues with their kids certainly don’t help, nor do reading comments on those posts that say things like “that’s a reflection of great parenting!” True, it probably is, but that means that we are NOT great parents?  But I know I’m a wear my heart on my sleeve parent, and person, and many parents, and people, feel the need to present a certain front. I should probably do that…but I don’t.

It also seems that I have read many tug your heart-strings stories about kids who are saddled with the task of raising their siblings while working a part-time job and living in a box all while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA.  SO, as any concerned parent would do, next year I am kicking my 12-year-old out of the house. I am kidding, of course. It does make one wonder just what the hell factors are present that motivate some children and how I can do the same.

My kids are awesome. I just want them to do the best they can do and my eldest has not done that this year. They are both so clever and  could do anything, and anything is what I want them to do. I want the world to be their oyster, not their dried up chicken nugget. I really should have eaten dinner before writing this.

So here we are at the end of the year, and even though math camp and some extra work on math programs loom in the summer horizon for my 12-year-old, the summer will be so much more relaxed than the school year.   I can be a mom again, not some stressed out drill sergeant wildly clutching my chest as I vacillate between helicopter parent and letting  my kids have autonomy and dealing with the consequences  on their own if/when they don’t do what is expected of them. I can also get to know my kids again.

About 10 times this year I have said “that’s it! I can’t do it. I’m done with this” to my friends and/or the boys dad.  I’m not even sure what I meant, but I imagine I meant I was done with this being a grown up responsible parent thing. This summer, I’m going to be less of one. We all deserve a break dammit. We’re going to try all the new frozen yogurt places in town (Three have opened in the last few months) and stay up until 10 and go to the beach and start with a clean slate in August.   I have missed my boys.

We have had plenty of talks about how the behavior that was exhibited this year, will not be exhibited next year. He understands, he says that he had trouble adjusting this year. I nodded my head and agreed with him and gave him a big hug rather than going over in detail any issues he has had. We’ve already done that. And this is the beginning of a stress less summer. EXHALE.

sand heart

That Time I Got Lucky in Las Vegas

23 May

Way back when I was in my 20’s, I was fortunate enough to have a job that allowed me to travel all over the country. I was a , we’ll call it, “meeting planner”, because I really don’t know what other title to attach to it, and when I preface it by saying “we’ll call it”, it sounds very intriguing, and since I recently bought a pair of very large prescription sunglasses, and one person told me I looked like a European movie star from the ’60’s, I am all about intrigue.

SO, here I am in my 20’s, traveling all over the country setting up “meetings” for a “company” that may or may not (may) have had some “unsavory business practices”, but I was very naive, and nobody was getting hurt, except for the people who were using their life savings to buy into what the company was selling, but again, I clung to the hope that perhaps SOMEBODY was making the kind of money with the system we were selling that they were told they could make. Also, I was very selfish about enjoying the travel and money. I am AMAZED that many people in their 20’s seem to have their shit together, because my 20’s were all about me and partying, unlike my 40’s that so far are about my children and…hmm…can I say my children twice? Because there ARE two of them.

Anyway, one of my business trips took me to Las Vegas, NV (NV is probably not necessary but there it is). I was so very excited to go to Las Vegas because I have said for slot machinemany years that I plan to retire there and be one of those old ladies who spend their afternoons in the casino, bucket of quarters in one hand, gin and tonic in the other. Sadly, now all of the machines give out a ticket or some such nonsense when you win and also even more sadly, I really hate gin and tonics, but that part of my white trash dream can be modified easily enough.

When I used to travel, I would park my car in long-term parking in a lot that was located off airport property. The trips would take me away for a week at a time, sometimes more, so this lot was a necessity. From there I would take a shuttle bus over to the airport and go on my merry way. This was all pre 9/11 and I haven’t flown much, if any, since then, but then I would roll my giant ass suitcase (filled with booklets and other crap for the meeting), and my not so giant suitcase filled with sensible work dresses and 3 lbs. of makeup (I don’t even wear a whole lot, but I own a lot and I travel with a lot), off the shuttle bus, tip the nice men generously to check my suitcases and I would go relax and have myself a latte and peruse the airport shops for some worthless shit that I did not need. The money I spent on soy candles and earrings and corkscrews or whatever interesting must-have item I found in an airport shop every single time I traveled is sorely missed these days. OH 20’s…you came and went too fast.

The lot where I parked was not free, of course, as not many things in life are. I usually managed to save just enough money from my trip to get my car out of the lot, but not much more. For some reason that I cannot remember now, I did not have a bank account. I traveled with CASH. I know, right? What was I, a damn caveman? This means that not once but twice, both times involving a bar, I lost all my money and had to borrow money for the rest of the trip and to get my car out of the lot. The times that happened, I was fortunate enough to be traveling with a group of wonderful people who were also in their 20’s, but had their shit together more than I did and at least had credit cards and bank accounts.

I traveled to Las Vegas alone, which is pertinent to the story. On the way back home, I had just enough money to get my car out of the lot. I was so proud of myself. If ONLY there hadn’t been a delay in my flight and I wasn’t stuck at the airport being taunted by those slot machines. They would beckon to me “come on, stick a quarter in me. You may win. You may win BIG”. I have no willpower. NONE. I slowly fed all my quarters into the slot machine, and I watched my money dwindle down to nothing. What’s even crazier is that I told myself that if I won really big I was going to just stay in Vegas. I didn’t have much in Orlando any more, and my friends there would love to come visit me in my high rolling bachelorette pad, and the guy I was dating would just have to find a way to pay for his own food. And gym membership. And clothes. And other girlfriend.

I didn’t win big, BUT I did win enough to get my car out of the lot. Lesson learned, right? Not so much. I was YOLO before YOLO was even a thing (mom, that stands for You Only Live Once), sometimes to my detriment (please see years…too many to reference here) but SOMETIMES, it is fabulous and fun and amazing to fly by the seat of your pants.

As a mom, I see SO much of myself in my boys and I have NO idea how to tell them how to figure out when they should go with their gut, and when they should carefully measure their decisions because honestly, some of my fly by the seat of my pants decisions have led to amazing things, and I don’t want them to miss out on THEIR amazing things.

There is no pretty bow to tie this up at the end. We’ve established that I make poor decisions sometimes,  but sometimes they work out okay, and sometimes better than okay, and sometimes they hurt like hell (me and others). My wish for the boys is that they experience their amazing things AND they make measured decisions. There HAS to be a happy medium, and I think they can find it, especially with my constant story-telling about the time I almost had to resort to prostitution to get my car out of a parking lot or the time I thought that eating escargots all night then drinking copious amounts of whiskey would NOT end up with snail carcasses being vomited down the side of my sister’s car. Kids love stories.

J. A. Allen

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