Monday, September 22, 2014

I had a one night stand...

Did that suck you in?  Engage you in a way that made you want to read on?  I get it.  I totally do.  Because, Jay, the schizophrenic friend I made at my book signing this weekend, dropped the same line on me, and I was stunned with intrigue.

Jay is a sixty-one year old man, who by all accounts appears normal.  I sat outside of Breakwater Books on the green in downtown Guilford, and Jay rode by on his bike.  The apple cider and blueberry cake caught his eye, and he seemed disappointed when he learned that these items were merely a ruse to lure in passersby.

"Is this for free?" Jay asked.  I thought he was talking about my book, so I responded with a polite, "no, I am signing the books that I sell though."

"Oh, is this your book?" He asked of the paperback bound object on display beside the blueberry cake.

Jay dismounted his bike and introduced himself, shook my hand, and then asked if he could have some apple cider.

"Sure," I said.

"I've had four beers, and that makes me a little jittery," he explained.

"Oh, were you at the fair?"

"No.  I want to go, but I need to save my money," he began.  "I need to be able to get out of here fast if something happens."

At this point I realized that Jay struggled with some sort of mental illness.  I offered a piece of the blueberry cake, but he declined because, "I was going to go get some french fries."

The fries never happened, though.  Not for a couple hours at least.  I know because Jay stayed and chatted with me for nearly and hour before the event coordinator had a chance to come outside and offer me some relief.

I don't mean to imply that I needed relief from Jay because I found our conversation quite fascinating. Jay did have a one night stand--he and a girl went skinny dipping--very naughty, he knows.  That was the last time he really fooled around with a girl.  He rode the Greyhound, and his sister Annie lives in Madison.  His father had cancer, and they cut him open and put a bit bubble inside him.  His parents were really interesting people, and they drank bloody Marys on Sunday mornings.  Jay is not supposed to drink alcohol, but the alcohol helps to quiet the voices and make him less anxious.  He doesn't tell his probation officer that he drinks, but "they" are going to start selling the 25 oz bottles of Budweiser soon.

I peppered Jay with questions, and at one point I asked him if he suffered from schizophrenia.  He willingly confessed yes, and went on to tell me about his medications, his living arrangements, his trips to Argentina and Venezuela, and all about his life.  A couple of times he apologized for monopolizing my time and realized that he was probably preventing other people from stopping.  I could have agreed and found a way to politely ask him to leave, but I felt sorry for him and had a genuine interest in hearing his tales.

When I asked why he was on probation, he admitted that he had inappropriately touched a woman, and I felt a little uncomfortable about that.  I felt uneasy when he began complimenting me and telling me that I looked like an ex-girlfriend, but I didn't want to offend him, so I kept listening, kept talking, kept questioning.  Then Jay confided that he wished that his parents had known what was going on with him when he was younger because "I could probably be doing something better with my life right now."  Moments later he said, "I wish I had done something I could be proud of with my life."

After my talk with Jay, the event coordinator moved my table inside, but Jay remained seated on the bench watching the world go by, and the anxiety of my own mind spun fantastical tales of the potential danger I was in with Jay seated right outside.  He had a bike, and I was on foot.  Was I safe?  Would he try to follow me?  Would anyone notice if he did?

I've often wondered, at what point do the voices in our heads speak loudly enough to label a person mentally ill?  Were my thoughts just "nervous" as opposed to "paranoid"?  I tried to force my memory to record every second of my conversation with Jay because he was so unabashed in what he was willing to share with me.  It was nerve-wracking, fear-inducing, and entertaining all at once. So, while Jay got to recount his one night stand, all I had was one book sold.  To my husband's aunt.

Friday, September 19, 2014

I'm not a typical chic lit girl--Blog Giveaway

So, because I've been a terrible host and have ignored all of my fabulous guests who take the time to read this silly blog, I'm going to do a free giveaway.  In honor of my first ever book signing in Guilford, CT at Breakwater Books this weekend, I am going to give away 3 signed copies of my memoir to the first 3 folks who like and then message me on my facebook page.

If you are wondering where in the world wide abyss I have disappeared to, it's not been anywhere fun and exciting, I can promise you that.  It's the halls of the high school I teach in that have been holding me captive since the new school year began.  (I can hear your boo-hoos coming through the interweb) In addition, I've been working on my WIP--that's "work in progress" in writer lingo.  All of these characters are prancing around in my head, so I've been trying to let them slip out onto the page before they slip away forever.  This novel is my first attempt at writing fiction, and to be frank, I am ALL OVER THE EFFEN PLACE!  I know at some point, I will likely be able to reign all of these folks in and have a sit down to figure out who is who, but I feel like I was just plopped in the middle of someone's family, and I'm just trying to quietly observe while I get to know them.

What's been really helpful is that I am reading lots of fiction these days.  I'm also teaching my creative writing class, so it's great practice for me to talk about craft with the students and then put those tips into practice with my own writing.  I get a lot of reading recommendations from my friend Gina Henning on Twitter.  I blogged about her new release a couple weeks ago.

Gina recommended a fantastically fun chiclit novel, In Need of Therapy by Tracie Banister, and I gobbled it up in a matter of days.  Set in Miami, it is the story of an almost 30 year old, single woman who is highly driven to succeed in her new practice as a therapist.  As she engages in sessions with her clients, we learn about the inner workings of her friends, family, and lovers, and the writing is really fresh, relatable, and entertaining.  As I considered how to teach writing character to my seniors, I realized that I was having strong emotional reactions to Tracie's characters.  I tweeted her about my hatred for Tony who actually had the audacity to ask Pilar what her daily caloric intake is on their first blind date!  Seriously?  Who is this guy?  I wanted Pilar to get up and walk out when I realized that Tracie had evoked some really powerful emotions in me.  So, I went ahead and opened up my book in class and flipped to the pages where she introduced the deliciously sexy Mitch and the obnoxious meat head, Tony.

Sure enough, the kids were able to clearly identify the "character type" of each man and label them with the banal descriptions of "hottie" and "meat head".  "But," I pointed out to them,"the author never once uses those words."

"No one is simply beautiful, handsome, fat, ugly, mean, or any of those non-descript images," I said.  Every person in the room could see Tony, every girl wanted to wrap herself around Mitch, mostly because the words on the page were so full of vivid detail that we telepathically (as Steven King calls it) understood exactly what each character looked like and sounded like.

My point is, chic lit is not my typical go-to genre, but I've entered into a writing world that has accepted me on my merits, and I have to accept others on theirs.  I gave Banister a chance, and she wowed me with her writing, enough to move me to bring her writing into my class as a teaching tool.  Maybe memoir isn't your genre, but perhaps you're willing to give a girl like me a chance?  Why not, it's free!  Message me for a signed copy of your book!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Miranda Sings and Other Things

Sometimes I just miss being a teenager.  Every moment of life is so important, all eyes are on you--even when they are not.  Your voice has great importance in the world--or so you believe.  What you do matters.  It's socially acceptable to be zany and quirky and goofy and even obnoxious.

Today is picture day at school, and the senior girls wanted to make funny faces because these photos really don't matter.  They aren't their "senior pictures".  They are only used for school issued IDs that they don't even have to carry around with them.  This trend of goofing up the pics started a few years back when all the senior boys decided to wear the ugliest Bill Cosby sweaters they could find.  One year kids wore those big, black-framed Erkel glasses.  It's just silly.  Innocent and silly.  But it matters so much to them.  They plan their outfits days in advance.

Today the girls dressed up as the "you tube" sensation, Miranda Sings.  If you haven't heard of her, here's a clip of some of her work.

A group of girls donned their denim buttom-down shirts and bright red lipstick and got all excited to make faces that suggest they are either constipated or trying really hard to pass gas.  They got some push back from administration and the photographer because the state mandates that schools have a legitimate, usable photo identification of all pupils.  These girls were prepared to stand their ground.

I watched as they insisted, "No, this is how I wear my lipstick," or "this is my normal face."  They huddled together afterward in giggles and pride at their success.  Oh, the joys of youth.

My mind has been racing since I got out of the car this morning because I'm fuming mad over the latest iniqiuty of our education system.  NPR told the story of students and teachers at Madison Park (read about it here) who don't have schedules yet because the state has taken over the school in an effort to "improve" it.  Test scores should soar now that the kids aren't even going to classes.  Perhaps just let the teachers and administrators do their jobs?

I'm worried sick about the ISIS faction being the richest terrorist group because they are able to violently steal oil and bride officials to get the "verifications" they need for oil resale.  I worry about bills and debt and what's to make for dinner.  The health of my parents, the safety of my children.  Pretty much everything.

My mind constantly races with worry to the point where I have almost forgotten how to just relax and have fun.  So, as I watched the girls with their bright red lips hysterically laughing at themselves for being teenage goofballs, I felt a pang of envy for their innocence, for their giddy and jovial spirits because of all that doesn't really matter much to them.

Yes, knowledge is power, and if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.  I know.  But it is also true that ignorance is bliss.  


Friday, September 5, 2014

Where has the time gone?

I actually started planning my annual Holiday Kick Off party this week.  That's right.  I'm scheduling out as far as December right now.  And frightening enough, it doesn't seem that far away.

Last night was "back to school night" where the parents come in for a little meet and greet.  I felt like I was doing stand up comedy.  They were a great crowd, and many of them found my sarcasm and self-deprecating jokes to be quite comical.  For each group, I introduced myself as Mrs. Z--a point of major confusion for me because I've been Ms. S for 41 years.  But, for my 4 year anniversary present to my husband, I decided to change my name.  Four years.  I've been married for four years?  How did that happen.

My monologue continued, "For those of you who don't know me, I've been teaching here for 14 years."  Wow.  That's a long time.  It's been a whirlwind of a ride, one that at times I've wished to escape from, but I feel good about this year.  The students are adorably young and enthusiastic, and I am excited about being able to have discussions about books with the ones who actually read them.  *wink, wink*

"I've explained to the students," I said, "that my babies are 3 and 1.  They go to bed at 8:00, and I go to bed at 8:10, so if they email me with a question at 11:15 PM hoping for an immediate response (which has happened already), they will be disappointed."

3 and 1?  I was on maternity leave at this time last year.  Now the little love is walking and pretending that she can talk, shaking her head yes as if she understands when I ask her a question.  Where is my baby?

I keep asking the three year old if I can squish her up and put her back in my belly so that she can be born into a little baby again.  She says--quite defiantly--NO!  "I want to be a big girl."  But I don't want them to grow.  I want to freeze time and hold them in my arms and rock them and sing "Fools Rush In" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" to them.  There have been times when either of them has been insatiably upset, and I wished that I could nurse her to serenity, that our bodies melded together the way they did in infancy, and all they needed was the warmth and love of me.

One student, who is now a sophomore, had a few older brothers who were in high school when I started working here.  I so vividly recall her tiny little body gripping to the hand or attached to the hip of her mother when they came to watch basketball games.  She was so tiny, with wild brown curly hair.  Now she's as tall as I am, with gorgeous brown hair that falls midway down her back.

I'm scared of my girls growing older.  Nothing warms my heart more than the tender little child voice of my three year old who asks me every night to carry her up the stairs, rock her, and lie down with her.  Let the dishes sit,  I tell myself.  She won't want this forever.  I want to slow down the clock.  I want to feel the hours, the minutes, the seconds and have the time to etch these moments into my memory, tattoo them on my heart, record them in my journal, so that when they have grown, I can go back and relive this bliss.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

What I really want to say is...

There are some great lines from some fantastic films that reverberate with me, and at times I wish I could use them to satisfy certain situations.

Marc Whalberg is filming Ted 2 in Massachusetts right now, and my sister and I got to talking about some of the movies he's been in.  Inevitably, The Departed was first out of our lips.  Boy, there have been many a day when I wished I could've said...

Some other classic favorites of mine include just about every word that comes out of George Clooney's mouth in Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, but I really get a kick out of this scene.

Today was one of those days when I felt like Little Nicky when he wanted to kick the devil's ass in the pillow fight.  It's back to school time, and to your surprise and mine, some kids just aren't in learning mode.  *gasps while holding finger tips over lips*  I've asked this little bugger nicely to change his attitude, but he's apparently under the stronghold of Satan.  So, would it be ok if I do this?

I don't want to go all Breakfast Club on his ass.

Really, assigning detentions is more of a pain for me than it is for anyone else involved.  I have things to do.  I don't really want to sit in a room and stare at this obstinate little bugger for 15 minutes, nor do I think it will rectify the situation and prevent any future misconduct.  Maybe if I take a page from Rhett's book in Gone with the Wind, the kids will turn into teary-eyed Scarlets and weep themselves to sleep in hopes of finding some way to get me back.  Probably not, but who doesn't love this scene?
There is so much that I would prefer to say to these sassy little teenagers, but turns out much of it is not only unkind but unprofressional.  Alas, tomorrow is another day.

And speaking of tomorrow--good news! I'm back to working on that fiction book that I'm hoping to some day finish.  Because it's Labor Day weekend, I'm again offering the FREE kindlebook of my memoir this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday!  Click here to download a free copy, and if you like it (or hate it for that matter), PLEASE post a review on Amazon.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Going Pecans --a blog dedicated to Gina Henning's new book release!

I'm not sure you know this, but I'm sort of a big deal on Twitter (@KSZ714).  I have 568 followers.  Calm down.  I'm not going to let the fame go to my head or anything, but I do feel the need to do a solid for my tweeps (that's twitter peeps) when the opportunity presents itself.  One of my favorite gals is the ever-adorable author Gina Henning whose new release Going Pecans is making noise the world over.  I'm sure that you're following her on Twitter and friends with her on FB, and you too have enjoyed emoji cocktails with her.

What?  You don't know Gina?  Well, stop reading right now and Contact her--she's all over the interweb:  Facebook Author Page   Twitter  Website  Goodreads 

Order your copy of the book here on Amazon link: Going Pecans

So Gina has taken on the task of driving this crazy train, and I am thrilled to hop aboard with all of the others who are headed for Pecans, Crazy-town.  I'm like a hobo on this train.  I've been to Pistachios, Macadamias, Walnuts, Chestnuts, Cashews, and Almonds so often you could put me in a can, toss me on a shelf, and market me as mixed nuts.

The truth is, I'm a high school teacher of English.  That's it.  There's my story of Going Pecans.  It started seventeen years ago, and the ride has never ended.  Oh, I'm also a mother of two toddlers.  Two girls--1 and 3.  No need for specifics, right?

Since I happened to write a memoir about a time in my life when I was the conductor of my own little crazy train, I've decided to share an excerpt of my book for this blog hop.  For those who don't know, I drove across the country alone in the summer of 2002 because I felt that my life was falling apart.  I was Going Pecans--seriously.  The weeks on the road allowed me to experience things that I had never encountered in my life, like seeing Old Faithful erupt, the awesomeness of Moab,Utah, the scariness of being alone in Burley, Idaho in a shady little motel, and the garish decor of Graceland.  In this excerpt, I had arrived in Cody, Wyoming to find that the major entertainment for the night was--of all things--a rodeo!  While I realize this might not seem too crazy to a large population of this country, it felt to me like I had entered another world.  I couldn't believe it.  It seemed crazy for a girl from a small town in Massachusetts.  The night was one of the most entertaining escapes into a little slice of pecans that I had while on the road.  It's a little more light-hearted than the rest of the book because there are so many ways to go nuts.

From Finding My Way Home:  A Memoir about Life, Love, and Happiness by C.K. O'Neil

For the first time in my life I watched in awe as live men in Wranglers and cowboy hats saddled upon ferocious beasts fighting to maintain balance upon their wild backs.  Others galloped on horseback with their lariats swinging wildly through the air chasing after the fearful calves racing to safety.  It was the makings for a Marlboro commercial where Stetson men and women competed for the lead role. 
Wrangler and Dodge banners decorated the stadium.  The event blasted off with a parade of horses circling the arena.  Upon each horse sat a man, woman, or child proudly carrying a flag representing a sponsor, an honor to our country, or a symbol of the wild west.  A clown with puffy hair beneath a red cowboy hat wore a white polka-dot shirt with extra large overalls and oversized cowboy boots.  He wheeled around his red cart of tricks to begin the show.  He was silly, but then again, he was a clown.  I giggled at first and then joined in with the roaring laughter of the crowd.  In a few moments, he exitd right and the announcer introduced the first hero of the evening. 
A loud rumbling ring released the metal gates to the left.  To my surprise a man on horseback charged out alongside a running bull.  He finagled himself close enough to grab hold of the bull’s horns then lunged his body somehow straddling both beasts.  Instantly he swung his legs from horse to bull and tried to steady himself on the back of the angered creature who snorted and bucked wildly.  Within moments, the cowboy crashed down and the crowd gasped, then released a slow exhale. 
A series of events from barebacking to steer wrestling, barrel racing, and bull riding continued.  Between each heroic feat the silly clown offered comic relief.  I enjoyed a beer and popcorn as I took in this sampling of life in the West. Another bell, the gates burst again. This time an angry bull with a strapping cowboy on his back bucked wildly about the arena.  The bull was shreiking and mad, yet the man rode him with determination.  He believed he would win.  It was a contest of man and beast, and this wild animal wanted the man off his back.  The bull dueled with impressive strength and jumped with the sole intention of propeling his opponent off of him.  In all of this tossing and jerking about, the cowboy never lost his hat.  It was impressive, but it was also the final performance of the  rodeo.  
That evening I thought about the vitality of the show I had seen, and the danger and risk involved in the daily lives of these cowboys and cowgirls. To the audience, these strapping riders appear invincible.  I watched them all enter the ring, battle the beasts, and exit victorious.  As with most people, it was their strength and fortitude that I saw, but their battered bodies and behind-the-scenes defeats are not showcased in the stadium.  I’ll never know the stories of those who were so severely beaten by the bulls that they were rendered crippled.  For it is only when the body has been beaten that others can see the physical pains we suffer.  We all, at some point, appear to the world to be something other than who we are—stronger, more confident, more stoic, more at ease.  Yet appearances are not always what they seem.  Outside of a rodeo, few have the courage to admit that they are battling an internal beasts.

Going Pecans Blog Hop
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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Watch your step!

Sadly we have returned from our family vacation in the Outer Banks, and I woke up this morning with a stiff neck and a sore back.  Yes, I made sure to keep up with my training every day, but the exercise isn't to blame for my discomfort.  "What happened?" you ask.  Well, I of course wiped out last night.  At a gas station.  In Connecticut.  Trying to walk to the door.  Yup.  I'm a major klutz.

Picture it.  It's 9:00 PM.  Two sleep-eyed kids rub their faces and whine in the car, and the husband is inside taking a bladder break and collecting sweets for the final two hours of our drive.  I realize that the little babe could do with a final cup of milk for the evening, so I grab her cup and rush over to show it to daddy before he makes his purchases.  I'm running the twenty feet from my car to the door so focused on the milk that I don't see the curb, thus I don't step up.  My toes bang into the cement and my body catapults forward into the trash barrel then ricochets back and falls into the stacks of pre-packed firewood piled against the wall.  My head and hand crash against the glass, and I imagine I look something like this.

My arm is scraped up, my toe could be broken, and my alignment is definitely out of whack.  I stand up and look around and there is not a single car or human being who witnessed my major tumble.  Really?  Nobody saw that?  Come on!  It had to be hilarious, and I wonder if the gas station has video surveillance cameras that we can rewind for a playback.  

I fall a lot.  Often when I'm out for a run, the little devil who dwells in the sidewalk will pop out and grab a hold of my ankle.  Sometimes I manage to twist free of his grip with a few long-forward-lunging strides, but there have been times when that little fucker has brought me down.  I've fallen down stairs at the airport.  I've fallen off my bike and broken both arms.  You'd think by now that I would slow down and watch where I'm going, but why would I do that?  

Do you have a fun falling story to share?  

Monday, August 11, 2014

I Hate Drugs

When I started teaching, I wanted to help change the lives of my students.  Be a positive role model for young women, open doors of opportunity in the same way that they had been opened for me--through books.  It never occurred to me that part of the job would be watching kids suffer from terminal illnesses, losing students in car accidents, or knowing that they are struggling with drug addiction.  I wasn't prepared to deal with these emotional hardships.  Many of my colleagues don't.  They hear the news, they recognize the sadness, they attend a service or send a card, and then they go on with their lives.  I wish I could do the same.  Instead, I get in way too deep.  It's almost an addiction.

Yes, I'm a high school English teacher, so it is no surprise that when I finish a book, I have a hard time closing the cover on the characters.  They stay with me, and we continue to visit with each other in dreams or moments of contemplation.  Theo Decker, the narrator and protagonist in The Goldfinch, still stalks the hallways of my mind mostly because I so deeply empathized with his emotional turmoil, which helped me to understand his drug addiction. You can imagine that if it is this difficult for me to move on from a fictional character, it is nearly impossible for me to forget about the real human beings I know and love.

That's why I hate drugs.  More than anything, I hate heroin.  Let's look at the year in review so far.  In early February, the public conversation about heroin began to shift in the aftermath of Phillip Seymour Hoffman's death.  Only a month later, there is an explosion of news stories about the rise in overdoses across the nation.  By April, many news headlines lead with the astounding number of overdoses in the most unsuspecting of places--small town suburbs across Massachusetts (where I live) and the nation are on high alert.  In April, Governor Patrick declares a public health emergency.  July rolls around, and still the number of overdoses continue to rise.  Now we are into August, two-thirds of the way through the year, and Worcester, Massachusetts is making the news.  Vacation destinations like Cape Cod are issuing warnings to vacationers because the number of discarded needles found on beaches is becoming a problem.

This scares the ever-loving shit out of me.  First, I have had several (no, not one or two, but SEVERAL) students who either died, ended up in jail, or really screwed up their lives because of heroin.  I teach in a pretty affluent, predominantly white community where no one would suspect kids are doing heroin.  But they are.  They were ten years ago when OC's led them down a deadly path, and there are still kids in EVERY town who are getting hooked.

Thankfully, some have successfully recovered and are living healthy and happy lives now, but those stories are not the norm, and I think accessibility is to blame.  The drugs are easy to access and heroin is cheap, but finding a bed for recovery is nearly impossible and a recovery center is outrageously expensive.  One former student who spent nine months at a facility in Utah said the treatment center cost upwards of $35,000.  Fortunately, his family could afford it and he's been clean for 2 years now, but his story is more the anomaly than the norm.

The stories of recovery, and the work of Chris Herren and The Herren Project, give me hope and a desire to do more, and then I remember the ones who have died and I fear that this war on drugs is impossible to win.
I think the game has changed, and heroin addiction isn't what it used to be.  It's children.  Sons.  Daughters.  Mothers.  Fathers.  Sisters.  Brothers.  Cousins.  Uncles.  Aunts.  Friends.  And I fear more than anything that one day it could end up destroying the life of one of my babies.  I can't say "that will never happen to me."  I wish I could, but I know the good families that have been impacted by heroin, and I know the amazing parents who provided healthy and happy lives for their children only to see them messed up in this deadly shit.

These people need help.  When I read the stories and listen to the interviews, I believe that these addicts don't want to continue to hurt themselves or their families, but the addiction is so powerful that they are lost beneath the drugs.

Maybe instead of dumping buckets of ice water on our heads, we could all donate the $1.99 it costs to buy a bag of ice to The Herren Project or some other recovery center to help save a life.  That way, the donation to ALS isn't compromised or reduced, even though all of the Facebook posts will be.  Maybe you won't get the 25 likes from your friends who watch your video, but you will know that the friend or cousin or uncle or sister or brother who is in trouble can *maybe* get the help s/he needs before it's too late.

And yes, I put my money where my mouth is, and I just made a donation.  I hope it helps.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A round of Cosmos and Minolos for All the Ladies

I've taken to following these fabulous ladies at Forever Twenty Something. I love reading their posts.  And this recent one about online dating really spoke to me.  Oh, the days of old.  Reminds me of the time I received a text message from a guy I had gone on one date with.  Turns out he was a neighbor in C-Town, and we had met for about an hour or so of casual conversation.  The end.  A few days later, he sent a text message asking if I wanted to give him oral.  Seriously?  The guy was in his late 30's, and I'm guessing he was really only looking to move some ass rather than get into a relationship.  When I told a friend, he said, "well, you never know unless you ask."

I remember this episode of Sex and the City fondly.  I felt just like Charlotte.
Dating was all at once a boat load of fun, an escape from boredom, and a complete nightmare.  A seesaw of hope and disappointment. It's probably the number one reason why I will never get divorced--I'm kidding--I adore my husband.  Laugh, please, it really was a joke.

Before I met my husband (and likely after I watched this episode), I convinced myself that I was completely happy being alone.  I don't mean to imply that it was some make-believe story I was trying to sell to myself.  I really did like my life.  I traveled a bunch, had a great group of friends, went on plenty of dates, which turned into great fodder for story telling.  Years flew by, and I turned 34.  Still single, I was certain that I would never have children, and I was ok with that--even though many people felt sorry for me.

As much as I wished to find a partner with whom I could share my life, there was something really empowering about growing up on my own.  Over the past seven years I have spent with my husband, I have grown in ways I never would have imagined, but I wouldn't trade the years before 34 for anything in the world, especially since I had Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda to make me feel good about myself.  I've been fortunate in that at every stage of growing up, I've really loved my life, and that balance has helped me to have no illusions of grandeur about being single or married.  Both require a lot of work in order to be happy.

When I was young and had a more self-indulgent perspective on life, love, travel, and fashion, I spent hundreds of dollars on designer jeans and adorable dresses.  Now that I'm a working mom, I don't shop as much, and I treasure the times that I get to toss on the Hudsons and a cute top and head out for dinner and that one drink (because I have to turn around and drive home to the burbs).

One Sex and the City episode that has really stayed with me is "A Woman's Right to Shoes".  When it originally aired, I wanted to punch that bitch Kyra in the face.  I revisited it in preparing to write this blog and wondered if my perspective had changed.  Nope.  I still think she sucks, for the exact reason Miranda points out--she is a bitch for making Carrie feel bad.
What I loved about the show, aside from Carrie's poignant narration and the jaw-dropping lines of Samantha Jones, was the celebration of women.  Of friendship.  Of being single.  Of longing for love.  Of heartbreak.  Of being ok.  Each of the characters was a symbol of all that we should honor about ourselves as women.  Single or married, women have value, and we all flow in the directions of the rivers of our own lives.  Whether you are in your 20's and loving the early years of adulthood or still single in your 40's, or married with babies, or widowed, you are where you are supposed to be, so celebrate your life.  Call up a girlfriend and go get a cosmo.  Indulge on an item that makes you feel gorgeous because you are.  And you don't need a White Knight to tell you that.  Save yourself, and don't let nobody shoe shame you.  But more importantly, don't you dare going shoe shaming anyone else!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Some things to like about this thing called life

After last night's ugly post, I had a good rest and woke up with my precious little 3 year old love beside me. She crawled in at about 6:00 am, not to wake me up, but to cuddle for the last couple hours of her slumber. That's the best way to start a brand new day.  Her little body is so soft, and she curls right up into a C-formation, and I listen to her sucking on her fingers and watch her pet her lovey, and I can do nothing but smile.

So, I thought I would post a list of things that I've enjoyed of late.  I've spent a few nights this summer watching movies, and I really appreciated the outstanding performances of Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep in August Osage County.

While the story is dark and tragic, it felt real because of its raw honesty.  The beauty of the film is the depth of emotion it evokes from the audience because the characters are so real.  In the aftermath of the father's suicide, the family has to come together and pick of the pieces of what remains for the life of their drug-addicted mother who is dying of cancer.  Open a few bottles of wine, and out spill some jaw-dropping family secrets.  It is an authentic depiction of life, which to me is the truest form of art.  I loved it, not because it made me feel good--in fact it didn't do that at all.  But every second of the film made me remember that I am human and that life, love, and family are not easy for anyone.

I also FINALLY finished reading The Goldfinch (buy it here at by Donna Tartt.
The Goldfinch

What an amazing novel.  It's like three books in one, but it's worth the time it takes to read nearly all 800 pages.  The writing is absolutely beautiful, filled with description that evokes images and ignites the senses.  Though Theo Decker is (like Jordan Belfort) a scam artist, he is likable because of the regretful tone he uses throughout his narration.  Theo has a conscience, though he doesn't actually connect with his moral self until later in life, he gets there.  He evolves.  He is reflective, contrite, tender, and hopeful.

I've also registered for my first triathlon, (still time to register ladies) which I will be doing with a dear old friend from high school whom I've reconnected with via Facebook.  Sure, I've run into her a million times in the past 25 years, but those were coincidences.  Last week, we made plans to go for a run together, and today we're heading out for a bike ride. Without even trying, she swept me into this race, something I've thought about doing before but never followed through on.  For some reason, I felt safe committing to this challenge with her.  It feels like junior year in high school again, and it warms my heart to know that the byways of our lives have crossed again.  There is a sense of ease and serenity when life returns us to those we once adored but somehow veered away from in the choas of growing up.  A reassurance that our past is still with us wherever we go.  That's something that I really like about life.

Monday, August 4, 2014

I want my money back!

I hope I'm not the only one who feels that the biggest prick to walk the universe, Jordan Belfort, owes me some money back.  His smug face makes me want to vomit in my mouth.

<i>The Wolf of Wall Street</i>'s real Jordan Belfort.
Yes, I did it folks.  I watched The Wolf of Wall Street.  Against the recommendation of my parents, who said it was "all sex and drugs," I wanted to know what all the hype was about.  Granted, I'm nearly a year behind the hype, but cut me some slack, I can't stay awake for a 90 minute movie, much less a 3 hour bag of bullshit.  And who the fuck does this jackass think he is making a 3 hour movie about himself??????

So, here's why I am so angry.  This guy is a despicable human being whose greed and lack of any moral fiber robbed lots of people of their hard earned money.  He's a scam artist.  That's it.  And for some reason, I'm supposed to care about his life's story.  If you haven't seen the movie, don't waste your time or the $6 it costs to rent off Comcast because I would hate to see another dime going to this fucktard, drug addicted, scum bag.  There aren't enough mean words in the vocabulary of the world to express my absolute abhorrence for this man and his stupid friend Donny too.  The whole crew of them.  Here's a quick video to give you an idea of what the ENTIRE THREE HOURS is about...

His complete love of self.  Over indulgence in everything.  There were several moments when I wished that he would just overdose all ready so that the movie would end.  Don't get me wrong, I don't hate drug addicts.  I have a lot of compassion for people who suffer from addiction, but this guy is just a total self-loving, greedy, gluttonous, prideful asshole.  Did you hear the line when he claims that he was "very generous" with his money?  Really?  The hundreds of millions of dollars that you illegally scammed from people's pockets?  Wow!   You deserve a huge pat on the back for sharing.

What blows my mind is that Martin Scorsese actually made this shit bag's life into a movie as if the product had any artistic or cinematic value at all.  There was no growth, no character development, no moral discovery that the character undergoes which would have made the story minutely relateable to an actual human being.  The New York Times wrote a several page spread on him in which the headline's subtitle reads, "You can see why Leonardo DiCaprio wanted to play Jordan Belfort in the movie".   I don't see why anyone would want to pretend to be this douchey of a person.  Does Hollywood think the "little guys" are so envious of their luxurious lives that we actually have nothing better to do than sit around and watch these soulless, shallow, self-agrandizing criminals snorting coke off each others asses and banging prostitutes for 180 minutes?

I'm pissed that I was bamboozled into believing that this was a film of any merit.  I'm pissed that this ass hat wrote a book about his useless and wasted life, and I'm pissed that Hollywood turned it into a movie so that the masses could PAY HIM MORE MONEY, as if he hasn't screwed enough people.  He STOLE over $100 million!  

While he claims that he is a changed man, you can see him get all huffy about being questioned by reporter Liz Hayes in a 60 minutes interview.  Apparently, he's finding ways to avoid paying the reparations to his victims, and Liz is trying to get to the bottom of it. He's crying about "no one ever treating him so horribly", which I can't imagine. Surely there has to be someone besides me in this world who wants to spit in his face or kick him in the balls. I think if I ever met him it would be nearly impossible for me not to throw up on his shoes.

And the best part is that this piece of shit now works as a motivational speaker.  Come on!  What kind of world do we live in that HE actually has FANS?  I just can't take it.

I want my $6 back.  I want my three hours back.  And as far as wanting his life, I wouldn't trade my worst day on earth to be him for even a millisecond, but I wouldn't mind being able to close out my debt to Sallie Mae.  That's all I really want beyond the happy, healthy, and love-filled life I am blessed to have.  There but by the grace of God go I.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

It has to hurt if it's to heal

I love words, but the old adage that sticks and stones can break your bones but words can never hurt you is complete bullshit.  It defies Newton's laws of physics.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  If words can't hurt, then they also can't heal.  But they do both.  Words are powerful and painful.  Loving and hateful.  Kind and cruel.  And everything in between.  That's why a lot of people claim that they are not good writers.  Words are scary mother fuckers.  You choose the wrong one, take it out of context, add a different emphasis, and your compliment is turned to an insult in a snap.  Many people don't know what to do with that kind of power.  Some abuse it, while others try to control it, own it, master it, breath it, live it.  Give life to it.

I love words.  Even the stupid ones like big, fart, and moist.  Most of my life has been recorded in words, and it is hysterical to look back and watch how my use of language evolved.  The words I chose to match my meaning in 6th grade were simple.  Bland, but direct.

April 23, 1984

Today went smoothly execpt for Mrs. M.  She is a real jerk. (nothing new).  Something must of struck her 10,000 times.  I mean she was a jerk.  Tonight I did all my homework.  About the only fun thing in school is recess and VACATIONS.  At recess we help Mrs. G.  And on vacation we party!  I don't like all the subjects in school just a few.  Art, music, library, gym, language, and lunch.  I hate reading (Boring).  It is bad.  like my teacher.  Well times flying c-ya. bye-

(No date entered)
Dear Diary,

Today is the second to last day of school.  My teacher was wicked nice today.  I hate Michele and Stacy cause they always whisper about Mo and I.  I'm not talking to them at all.  

Bye bye for now.

My grasp on the dramatic power of words and appreciation for imagery and description evolved as I entered into middle school.

May 28, 1986 

Dear Me,

Today was a very terrible day, for one thing we had gym and music.  I didn't finish my french homework and Mr. V yelled at me.  I made up with Nicole and am worrying about my voice  So far in my life I've made out with 1 person, J.O. (gooshy & slimy)  I have a weird feeling inside me.  See me and K.L. were going out 4 2 weeks and that was a while ago.  Now I'm telling everyone I love M.L. but he's a dead cause because he's going out with J.B.  But I know deep inside me I'll always love K.L. no matter what.  I'd probably still be going out with him if I didn't waste 4 months of my life liking T.Z.  My life is so shitty i wish I was dead.  then I'd have no problems to worry about.  Well, bye.  I love M.L. even if I shouldn't.  

I find these entries hysterical.  They are the voice of a child long silenced by the passing years of life.  Had I not recorded her emotions, I'm not sure how I would ever recall that young girl.  That little me.  Perhaps we aren't supposed to, but then what is it all for?

Several events, whether banal or milestone adventures in my life, have been collected upon the pages of countless journals.  Reading the words brings pieces of my past back to life, if only for a moment.  Friends long forgotten are returned to me, and the memories of these scenes captured in words play in the theater of my mind.  My life's story.

Still, I continue to record my thoughts, for myself, for my daughters, for my readers--all 12 of you.  Each day I winnow through the puzzle pieces of vocabulary in my mind.   I  try to find the words that match the meaning of what I'm thinking and who I am.  Do they come together and create the right picture to show what I'm feeling, what hurts me, what heals me, and what brings me absolute joy and peace?

I found this poem midst my files, and it makes me smile.  I don't consider myself a poet.  I've made a few sorry attempts to craft poetry, but I struggle with the cadence.  The challenges of crafting rhythm and rhyme and diction into poetic form are greater than my lyrical talents.  It's enough of a struggle just to find words that flow together into sentences.

But this one, this one I like.  No, I love.  It brings me back to a place that felt simple and real, and I love that these words allow me to return to that place, even if only in my heart.

 “Midnight in the Kalahari”

I am white
Surrounded by dust
Connected by darkness and love
To a world that does not exist
A place that does not matter
A country?
A continent?
Is there a difference?
A distinction
So full of life.
What the world does not see
Kisses me good night.
The sun goes down
The night embraces all
Envelops me.
A million flashes crowd the sky
The magic flickers collide with the moon
The laughter of children
Traces the light.
No torch.  Only me.
Somewhere in the distance
Where I no longer want to be
Is home?
Is free?

 Yes, words will hurt, but they will also heal. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Oh, Home. Sweet (Old) Home.

My goal for the day is to get some laundry done.  I managed to wash the kitchen floor on Tuesday morning, which was a huge success that lasted about an hour before Thing 2 (insert laughter here) started tossing her snacks from her high chair.  Then Thing 1 came home and wouldn't take off her shoes.  The dog came in, and the floor was again covered in dirt.  Good times.  Mommy swept for the 3rd time, then got out the vacuum again.  Boy, that was so much fun.

When adults foster the dreams of children, they create this perception that life as a grown up is so much fucking fun.  Some day, you are going to grow up and be whatever you want to be.  You can do what you love, you can have your own home.  So romantic.

Owning a home is a lot of work, and my husband and I have a "shit that needs to get done" list which continues to grow longer with each passing year.  It's not that we haven't tackled any of the items on the list, but when one item finally gets crossed off, another two or three are added.  It's endless.

I love our house.  It's older than any living person in my family (except Babci), but it's lovely.

You can see in this picture that my husband needs to get some work done on weeding the walkway.  It's a total pain in the ass.  I've attempted to help, but I really don't like doing yard work.  Anyhow, we fell in love with the house as soon as we saw it.  It's a 1922 Colonial Revival, and so much of the original detail remains intact, like the slate roof, the glass door handles, the hardwood floors.  It even has a garage, which is more than I ever dreamed of in a home.

One fun detail about the garage is that the door opener sometimes works and sometimes doesn't.  So, on a day when I have somewhere to be--like today when I had to drop off my daughter at school--I sat holding the remote pressing the button relentlessly, looking I'm sure like a freaking maniac as I banged the damn thing in my hand.  Bang. Press.  Aim.  Shake.  Press.  Nothing.  I drove off with the garage door wide open.

What is also a really good time, is that our driveway doubles as a swimming pool when it rains.  You can see the drain in this picture above, but you shouldn't make the mistake of believing that the drain actually works to run the water out of the driveway into some far off land.  There was one storm when my husband got out there with a broom and was trying to swish the water off to the side yard so that it didn't overflow into the bulkhead.  We bought Thing 1 a pair of rain boots so that she could jump in the driveway "puddle", but it collects so much water, it's actually more like a pond and is too deep for her to stand in.  So. Much. Fun.

Above you can see that the breezeway door might fall down with the next gentle breeze that flows through.  The door needs to be replaced, then the roof because it too leaks when it rains, thereby serving the valuable purpose of protecting us from inclement weather as we pass from garage to home sweet home.  Yes, that's our dog Mary.  She's barking at me.  We have a deep love-hate relationship.

What really burns my ass is when shit like this happens.

Putting up a fence in the back yard was a HUGE accomplishment.  It was great to get that off the list.  Then a tree falls on it?  Really?  While it seems that there is little to no damage to the fence (thank the sweet LORD), it does add "remove tree" to our growing list of shit to get done.

Another fantastic finish was replacing the toilet in the downstairs half bath.  So exciting.  We no longer need to turn the water on and pull the top off to flush when the little one has to pee and won't make it upstairs.  As luck would have it--and I'm not kidding--it wasn't even a week before that new toilet was installed when the sink in the upstairs bath started leaking!  Sweet child of mine.

And so it goes, right.  This is what being a grown up is all about.  Sure, all of this is in part due to the fact that the house is so old, but my sister's house isn't nearly as old, and they have had to do a lot of work in the few years they have lived there as well.  It's just part of owning a home.  

I love my house.  I do.  I just wish that This Old House would come here and fix things up for us (before the tree falls on a neighbor's house) so that we can start a new list of things that need fixin'.  

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sign me up!

Well, I know it's hardly a blogpost, since all I am really doing is self-promoting, but that's what I've come up with for today, ladies and gentlemen (are there are out there actually reading this?).

I got my first "paycheck" from a book store this week.  I'm not sure how I am going to spend all $4.79, but I have a few ideas.  One of which, is to buy more of my own books to give away to all my delicious fans who are just chomping at the bit to get their hands on the hard-to-come-by hard copy available on  I think I can get two author copies with this check.  So, for all you memoir writers out there, when someone asks, "was the financial windfall from book sales worth putting your family secrets in print?" I assure you, yes.  I'm well on my way to being a hundred-aire.   Of course, even if I ever were to break $100, I'd still be in the red, but --as most authors will tell you--it's not about the money.  As you can see here,, the median income for authors and writers in 2012 was a whopping $55k.

No, this is really why I share my stories.  A book review like this.  I've been so moved by the heartfelt and compassionate responses I've received that I feel somewhat sure that the decade long commitment to this book was worth it.  Yes, I wrote the book for me, and it was a catharsis that helped me have the courage to stand before the magic mirror gate and not run away screaming.  But, I also wrote the book for so many other people, for so many of my students who believed (quite shamefully) that their families were fucked up because they had an uncle or a father in jail.  A drug addict for a mother.  A brother who died in a drunk driving accident.  A father who was murdered.  A father whose name was in the headlines of several newspapers for illicit activities.  These are kids who felt embarrassed by where they came from because EVERYONE knew their stories.  These are the kids who didn't realize that EVERY family had secrets that never made the news.  Some believed terrible things about themselves, their families, and their potential for success in the world.  While some of them dedicated themselves to scholarship, others turned to drugs.  Some even overdosed.  Some continue to fight their demons in silent shame, and some will never win that battle.  We are all screwed up, and that's nothing to be ashamed of.  Even the Brady Bunch was messed up, man.

Anyhow, I got lost in thought there.  The real goal of today's blog is to get you to sign up with your email address or "follow" my blog.  If you do, there's a signed copy of Finding My Way Home that will find it's way to you!  Or, if you get 10 people to "like" my author page on FB, you can win yourself a copy of the book as well!

Stay tuned for a chance to win #assfold t-shirts!  If you just can't wait for the chance to win one, you can order them now

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

And Let's Not Forget Sri Lanka

For a highly anxious person like me, the current events of the world are enough to make me never want to leave my house.  Even in saying that, though, I think to myself, maybe I'd be better off in an institution.  The world is a shitty mess right now, and I can't help but think that the end is near.  I'm wired that way.  Yes, the Prozac helps a little bit, but it can only do so much.  The rest is, as they say, up to me.

So, somehow I have to will myself to find peace and serenity when I can't even find produce at the local grocery store.  No, my Hannafords is not the store that is in the midst of a high profile protest, but it is right across the street from the Market Basket, so EVERYONE and their fucking cousins have crossed the street and completely corrupted my otherwise delightful grocery shopping experience. Yesterday I had to play frogger in the parking lot because people were ready to run pedestrians over to get the one open spot in the lot.  Ordinarily, there's always a front row spot.  I want my grocery store back.

Then I remember that these are my first world problems.  And honestly, the stupid grocery store fiasco is not what haunts me when I think about the chaos of the world.  I don't understand the problem with the Gaza strip.  It seems like a pretty simple solution would be to open the borders and allow the flow of commerce to provide opportunities for a better quality of life for the Palestinians, but what the hell do I know?  There's a video making its way around Facebook, some Dennis Prager dude who "concisely" sums up the Israel-Arab conflict by blaming the Palestinians for wanting the Jews dead.  I had to shut it off half way through because I didn't feel like I was learning anything that would help me understand how the situation has reached the point of air attacks and ground invasions.  I hit stop and thought, "please don't let me be the only one who thinks this is propaganda."

Let's not forget the situation in Sudan, the immigrant children, the shot down Malaysian airline.  It's like every day with this non-stop craziness.  I don't know how these people live through this shit.  I'm way over here in the comfort of my own home, and I'm paranoid as fuck that we are all going to hit the red button and blow each other up any second now, and the one voice I keep hearing in my head is that of Patrick Bateman.
I'm off to the dentist.  It's a great day so far.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I Potty'd like a Rock Star!

Well, as we all know from this blog's readership, I am NOT special.  I think the number of readers has gone from 3 to 12 depending on the topic, but let's be honest, no one really cares.  I'm not some fashionista journalist who used to work for Vogue advising on the latest trends that ought to make your closet this Fall, and I'm ok with that.  I like my mediocre life.  I'm not special, I'll barely make a blip on the radar screen of human existence, but I have you fine ladies to call my own, and that sort of makes my life rock a little bit.

Speaking of rockin...and rollin, you know that I did the Rock 'n Roll half in Chicago this weekend.  It was such a great weekend, made better by the fact that it was also my birthday.

Perhaps some of you know the story of my 40th birthday.  It was just last year, about 6 weeks after Fiona was born.  I wanted to go to see Bon Jovi because, let's face it, I was the target audience for that tour.  I'm a middle aged white girl who grew up "Livin on a Prayer", and now the only Bon Jovi songs I hear are the Rockabye Baby renditions.   When I heard that tickets were going on sale, I thought for sure all my girlies would want to go.  Gravity is having its way with our bodies, and it's been years since anyone has asked, "lay your hands on me".  Right?

"Who's with me?" I asked.  "It's now or never!"  Turns out none of my friends wanted to go to the concert. (In fairness, K would have gone, but she was out of state at the time) Out of pity, my husband offered a half-hearted, "I'll be there for you," and suggested that perhaps he and I could get tickets.  Realistically, that wouldn't work given that I had an infant on the breast every 2-3 hours.  While I wanted to "Never Say Goodbye", it quickly became clear, that my youth was behind me.  I was as old, fat, gray, and boring as I felt at six weeks postpartum.

I didn't go to Bon Jovi, but we did go raspberry picking at a farm.  My family graciously joined us at a restaurant to celebrate the big 4-0.  It was my siblings, my kids, my nieces and nephews, my parents, and my aunt, and we had a great dinner thanks to my husband, who tried to plan something fun even though I was a crazed hormonal lunatic who cried every hour and screeched in pain from the torture my nipples suffered each time the little babe latched on.  When we got in the car, I cried all the way home.

Now is a good time to fast forward to #41.  My friend Jen and I joined my cousins in Chicago, and we stayed at a fantastic hotel with the most lovely outdoor pool.

Radisson Blu is the way to go if you are visiting Chicago in the summer.  How is this for a gorgeous evening city view?

We had a blast, and for the whole weekend, I was a VIP.  Seriously.  I paid $195 for it, but it was worth every penny.  Friday night we got to see the Billy Joel concert from a roof top bar at Wrigley field, and we enjoyed complimentary (VIP) drinks and food.  Then, on race day, we had FLUSHABLE toilets with NO line in the VIP tent area.  We had coffee and breakfast before the race, and we returned to receive a massage, a full breakfast, and complimentary drinks post race.  Hello mimosa.  Yes, I'll have another.  It's not even 10:00 am, ok my third drink will be straight up prosecco then. There was even a charging station for cell phones AND they handed out ice cream sandwiches.

I know it was gluttonous and unnecessary, but it made me feel really good to celebrate myself and all that has happened for me this year.  Everyone deserves to feel as special as I did this weekend, and every woman should be able to come home and have her husband say, "I'm so glad you had fun!  That's awesome."  Every mommy (and daddy) should have a few days away from her kids because they can be little skootches, and we all need a release.  When my daughters saw me yesterday, the smiles on their faces could have lit up a midnight sky.  I missed them terribly and wanted nothing more than to hold and snuggle them forever.

I'm back in the comfort of my home with the piles of laundry that need washing and the dishes piling up in the sink because our dishwasher is broken.  I'm not a very important person, but for a single weekend, I felt like I was, and before I returned to the normalcy of my working middle class life, I sure as hell went down in a "Blaze of Glory!"

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What do you see?

The Adam Ezra Group is one of my favorite local bands that I've been following for years.  These lines from their song, Do You See is one example of why:

we are social creatures bound
upon the ones around
to value and define
our status all the time
yet still i try so hard
to omit and discard
that notion generally
what do you see

I think about this song all the time.  Mostly because I'm self-centered and the world revolves around me, so I'm constantly wondering/worrying/fearing about what other people think of me--both as a physical being and a person.  In sick ways sometimes, like if I died today, who would come to my funeral and what would they say about me?  I do hashtag searches of myself on twitter to see what students have to say about me.  I google myself to find the most mundane information because I'm really not that interesting.  

One of the most frustrating facets of being a human being is our tendencies toward narcissism, and during these summer months when the weather demands that we show more skin, I become more obsessed with worrying about what my body looks like.

I might have mentioned in a former post that I bought a bikini--a little Trina Turk inspiration to help keep me conscious of my caloric intake.  This little number right here...

Yes, that is me, I swear (wink, wink) my life on it.  I look pretty fabulous, huh?  

Of course my husband is the one person on earth who actually WANTS to see me in this swim wear, so I've done my duty as a good wife and sported the thing for the past two weekends.  Last Sunday we were at the beach, and I was feeling particularly whale-like and self-conscious about my belly blubber that won't go away even 14 months postpartum (MB, don't you dare mention the donut topped with ice cream and caramel sauce that I had for dessert yesterday as a potential reason why the blub still jiggles). 

I like to play a little game of figure matching sometimes.  I saw a couple approaching, and the woman was wearing a bikini as well.  She looked something like this, which I don't find unattractive at all.  
In my head, that is about what my body must look like.  So, I said to my husband, "see this woman walking toward us?  That's pretty much what my body looks like, right?"

He looked, then said, "No.  You look different."  I found this response completely fucking useless.  Different?  What the fuck is that?  Is that tantamount to the ambiguous "interesting" which is saying something while saying nothing at all because you don't want to be offensive.  Different, as in, you are bigger?  Smaller?  Toner?  Flabbier?  WHAT DO YOU MEAN, DIFFERENT?

A few minutes later, after the woman was a good distance away, he said, "No.  She was much bigger than you."  

Really?  Come on?  I say.  "That's pretty much what I see when I look in the mirror."

He ignored me and continued playing with the girls, and I assumed the conversation was forgotten.  I still felt flabby, but I cared a little less about it after seeing other women walking around with an air of confidence or complete disregard for what they looked like.  It seemed, in fact, that no one gave a shit about me, my #assfold, or my belly.  My husband thought I looked great, I feared I looked like a two ton tessy, but aside from that, no one really cared.

As we were packing up to leave, a gorgeous little thing, looking something like this, walked by with her boyfriend.
My husband turns to me and says, "that's what you look like."  I burst out laughing.  

"You wish," I said.

"Well, it's as off in the opposite direction as you were off with the other woman," he said. 

"Which means I'm somewhere in between the two?" I ask.

"Yes," he laughs.  "You look great, honey."

Really, is that what you see?  Because I just don't see it.