A Tale of Two Fathers

Now, don’t go getting too excited. This is not a story about how I was raised by a nice gay couple. Nope. I was born way back in the 70’s. Two men were not allowed to get married and adopt a baby. This was REALLY frowned upon back in the polyester and disco era. The only two men who could openly live together back then were Burt and Ernie, and they had separate beds even if they were in a one-bedroom apartment. Nope. This is a story of the two fatherly type men in my life – my never around biological father and my fantastic stepfather.

This is where I get my sarcasm and my tendency for high blood sugar.

This is where I get my sarcasm and my tendency for high blood sugar.

Like everyone else on the planet, I have a biological father. I mean, duh, we all need TWO parents in order to become a person, right? But I use the word “parent” very lightly when it comes to my father. Really, “sperm donor who cheated on my mom and left for good when she was 7 months pregnant” is more accurate. Yep. My mom finally had enough of her husband’s Mad Men level philandering and kicked his ass out when she was full of pregnancy hormones. He left, taking both cars with him. Asshole.

I saw my father about five or ten times in my life. When I was first born he told everyone that I “looked Asian” and that I couldn’t possibly be his kid because my mom was a big ole cheater.   Not true. Then, as I grew older, I began to look EXACTLY like my paternal grandmother, his mama. So, he could no longer deny that I was his. He did, however, continue to deny to pay child support, but I digress.

I don't have any pictures of me WITH my father, but he did take this picture of me at the park, hanging with a duck.

I don’t have any pictures of me WITH my father, but he did take this picture of me at the park, hanging with a duck.

The few times that I did talk to my dad as a kid, I liked him. My mom always told me what a crappy husband he was, and I knew that he rarely visited me, but I still liked him when I did see him. We seemed to share a dry, sarcastic sense of humor. He was intelligent, musical, and a little mystical at times. He read my Tarot cards and told me stories about the ghosts that haunted his house. I found him fascinating and like all kids of divorce, I used to wish that my parents would be back together. It never happened.

The last time I talked to my father was horrible. I was 14 and my mother had just married my stepfather. I was excited because my stepfather was going to adopt me and then I would have the same last name as him and my mom. We were going to be like a “normal” family. Growing up as the lone custodial child of a single mom (my brother lived with my father), I was always chasing “normal.” So, I was THRILLED that my stepfather was going to adopt me.   I told my father the good news over the phone one night. He got angry and said, “Well then you’re not my daughter anymore.” He hung up. I never talked to him again. He died the next year, at age 49, of a heart attack in a Denny’s parking lot. I was 15.

At first it hurt to lose my father, even though I barely knew him. All of the future “should have beens” came rushing through my mind. He should have been there to see me graduate from high school, and college, too. He should have been there to walk me down the aisle when I got married, both times. He should have taken me on vacations to spend time with his parents and his sister and her kids. To this day, I really don’t know his entire side of the family. I thought we had years ahead of us to work through our fucked up father daughter relationship. We didn’t. To this day, I will not let someone leave or hang up the phone if they are angry with me.

I got out of the “my father died” funk when I realized he really wasn’t ever a father to me. Now, my stepfather, on the other hand, was a father to me. Not only did he teach me how to cook, clean, and not be an asshole, the man taught me that he had my back, right from the beginning.

This is where I get my ability to make lasagna and clean a kitchen floor on my hands and knees.

This is where I get my ability to make lasagna and clean a kitchen floor on my hands and knees.

Before my mom even married my stepdad, he was there for me. Since he was 19 years older than my mom and already retired, he took me to the orthodontist and other appointments when mom was working. So, during these drives in his 1977 HUGE green Lincoln Town Car, we had some good talks. One time, I told him about a boy at school who was picking on me. This boy was calling me “pig lips.” I never really thought much about my lips one way or another, but once this jackwagon pointed out that my lips took up half my face, I spent most of the time trying to pucker inward and hide the majority of my huge lips. My stepdad set me straight.

One day, he sat me down on the couch and put a pile of fashion magazines on the coffee table. He flipped through them and said, “Look at all of these gills (he was from Boston and didn’t pronounce his R’s). They get shots in their lips to make them fullah,” he informed me.

“Well they’re stupid!” I said with all of the seriousness an embarrassed 13 year-old girl can muster.

He didn’t stop; he kept flipping through the magazines, pointing out the “gills” with full mouths, and telling me I had what women paid plastic surgeons to get. It took me years to believe him. Now that I’m in my 40’s, I’m glad for my pig lips because they look a lot less pruny than skinny lips.

One of the best things my stepdad ever did was teach me how to drink. He had a very liberal policy on alcohol. He figured if you don’t make it a “big no no” then kids wouldn’t want it so much. I think he’s right about that. My stepdad bought me my first drink at one of those private clubs in Boston (I don’t remember if it was the Elks, the Eagles, or what, but you know what I mean). I was 15 and he had just picked me up from the airport. I had flown up to meet him in Boston, where he was visiting family. My mom was going to fly up in a few days. On the way home from the airport, he had to stop by this lodge of sorts and talk to a friend. My guess is it had something to do with betting on something as the man’s only vice was gambling. So, we sat down at the bar to wait for his friend and my stepdad asked me what I wanted to drink.

“A screwdriver,” I said, being sarcastic and not really knowing what the hell a screwdriver was.

He ordered it for me, and the bartender actually gave it to me. I drank it. Now, this was not the first time I ever drank alcohol. It was the 80’s and there were these things called wine coolers that high school kids could somehow get from stores who sold to teens. I’ve got lots of stories about wine coolers, but that is for another blog.

After that, my dad let me have drinks here and there. On New Year’s Day when I was 17, I came home from a sleep over with my friends. I told my parents about how one of my friends had drunk too much and barfed. I had not had any alcohol at all, so I held her hair. My dad immediately went into a lecture on “how to drink.” Here are his rules:

  • Stay away from the “dahk” stuff. (Dark stuff — Whiskey, dark rum, etc)
  • Stay away from the sweet stuff. (No froo froo drinks)
  • Don’t Mix. (That one is pretty self-explanatory. Stick with the same drink.)
  • Pace “yahself. Just keep a little buzz.” (Don’t over do it.)
  • Have some “watah.” (Stay hydrated.)

The man was right. I got all the way through college and young adulthood without barfing from drinking. I was 31 the first time I puked from alcohol, and that was the first of only three times. The three times that I have gotten sick from booze have been because I broke one or more of the drinking rules.

My son with grandpa.

My son with grandpa.

My stepdad was not only a great father to me, but he was an amazing grandfather during the short time that he was in my son’s life. After my son was born, I went back to school to get my Master’s degree. My mom and my stepdad babysat my son. They took him everywhere with him, to the mall, to the grocery store, everywhere. My stepdad even let my son “help” him build a trellis. Unfortunately, my son’s time with my stepdad was too short. He died when my son was 3.

Father’s Day is always kind of tough for me because I don’t really have a father anymore. I do have lots of wonderful men in my life who are fathers. First of all, there’s my husband, who, like my stepdad, took on the role of stepfather to my son. Then, there’s my son’s biological father who has maintained a good relationship with our son even though we live several states away. He also always paid child support, unlike my father. Last but not least, there is my father-in-law, who is a kind, warm, and friendly man. He would have to be; he raised my wonderful husband.

 So, we’ve talked about me enough. What are you up to on this sappy Hallmark card holiday weekend? Leave me a comment. I love hearing from you.


D and C Lessons Learned

Last week, Monday was more craptastic than usual. Instead of going to work, I had to go to the outpatient surgery center for a D and C. Contrary to what your grandmother may have told you, that does not really stand for dusting and cleaning. It should be called a VUS (violent uterine scraping). While it did SUCK, I was happy to have a day off of work. I got to sleep until 10:00am on a Monday, so that was kind of cool. I forced myself to sleep in so that I didn’t have to kill a pet or family member during a fit of hanger. I had my last drink of water and my last bite of food at 11:45pm on Sunday night and I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink again until after my dreaded procedure. By the time I woke up at 10, I was a little irritable, as I already knew I would be. In addition to this little lesson, I also learned a few more things before, during, and after my D and C. It’s your lucky day because I will share them with you, just in case you or someone you have to co-habitat with needs a little tidying up in the baby holder.

Stay the hell off of Web MD. Seriously. No looking up your symptoms before the procedure itself. No matter what you read you will have cancer or some sort of rare parasite that will eat your blood vessels and make you speak Swahili.

Bitch session boards blow. Every asshole with a negative story is out there, posting it on multiple discussion boards. When I looked up Depo Provera, a treatment my doctor recommends for my condition, I found 5,678,932 posts about becoming fat and crazy. People blamed everything on Depo. I was waiting for some whacko to say, “I grew a rectal unicorn horn 13 seconds after my first shot. This makes sitting on my husband’s lap a felony in 37 states.” Let’s face it; people love to bitch online. Not many people want to post when all is normal and fine.

You are a pissing queen. Yes, you will likely need to abstain from food and water for 12 hours before your procedure. That won’t stop them from asking you for a urine sample to do a pregnancy test. They ALWAYS ask you to pee in a cup. You could be missing an arm and a leg, and somehow manage to crawl into the ER, leaving a trail of blood from the car to the sign in desk, and the nurse would say, “OK, we will be happy to stop that bleeding as soon as we get a urine sample.”

Fasting is not a good diet plan. There are people out there who fast to lose weight. Those people are morons. You know what I did as soon as I was allowed to eat 16 hours after my last meal? I ATE like a pig. And I kept eating, FOR DAYS, because I was STARVING.

The pussy parlor is closed. Don’t bother styling your pubes, or shaving them all off, or applying rhinestones to your outer labia, or anything vag beauty related. Your surgeon and the staff have seen it all, and legally they are not allowed to Instagram your nether regions. You will be on a gurney, not a shiny pole or a .com.

Afternoons CAN be a delight. I used to always schedule procedures for the early morning hours because of the dreaded fasting. I might have mentioned that I tend to get a little hangry. My D and C was scheduled for 1:30 in the afternoon. I dreaded it because I thought I would starve to death. The time actually worked out well because my blood sugar was so low by the time we got to the surgery center that I didn’t have the energy to be nervous.

Let the nerves flow. Sometimes, you’re just going to shake like a fish with Parkinsons, and that’s fine. (Cranky people, it’s OK. Michael J. Fox would totally laugh at that if he read my blog.) Dr. Feelgood the anesthesiologist will give you a happy shot and it will all fade away.

It ain’t tequila, toots. You may be able to do shots with the fellas and not barf, but you will slur and repeat yourself and stumble from anesthesia. You will also not be able to spell or punctuate properly. Don’t write anything for at least 5 days. Just don’t. No one is stronger than whatever is in that mask and IV combo.

Accidents happen. The couch is your friend. Just stay there. Hold a cat if it helps to keep you seated. Stairs are not your friend. Stay away from them.

The Poo Choo Choo derails. I have IBS and I usually poop 4 times a day. Seriously, I am the type of person who gets the runs if it is 5 degrees too hot outside or my internet goes out. So, constipation is not usually an issue. Not usually. When I have surgery, my system just SHUTS DOWN. When this happened last week, I drank a big glass of gritty Miralax and that did absolutely NOTHING. So, I called in the troops. I sent my husband out to buy liquid glycerin suppositories. In case you are lucky enough to not be familiar with them, glycerin suppositories are like dynamite for your ass.  You might as well yell “FIRE IN THE HOLE!” when you insert one. And you should really insert these on your own, while you are no more than 14 centimeters from the throne. You do NOT WANT TO walk after using them. They work. QUICKLY.

Thank you for reading this. As you can tell, I’m still a little loopy from that mask/IV cocktail on Monday. I understand if you want to stop following my blog now. I usually don’t write about uterine scrapings and poop on the same day. Hey, at least there aren’t pictures. Seriously, I need to read this piece again and again since I’m one of those lucky women who needs a “dusting and cleaning” every 4 years or so. Good times.

 Leave me a comment. Tell me about your awesome medical experiences. After what I shared with you, you should have no shame about anything, really.

 

 

 

 

Your Worst Best Friend Ever

See how good my friend looks here?  And she is holding my cat bff.

See how good my friend looks standing next to me here? And she is holding my cat bff. I love this picture. 

I know I am a self-described hermit, but lately, I have felt a little lonely. DON’T TELL ANYONE THIS. You will ruin my image. Anyway, yes, this cat-loving loner has felt the need for more human companionship. Sure, I live with the boy and the husband, and they are both my best friends, but there are times when a strange, awkward woman needs to talk to another strange, awkward woman. And that is where friends come in.

I have friends, just not a lot of them. After sitting here alone on many Saturdays, I have asked myself, “Self, why do you not have more friends? You’re charming, and you don’t have any noticeably strong odors. Why are you not out more?” After a lot of thinking, and a pot of coffee, I have discovered the reason. It’s because I suck as a BFF. It’s true. Read on.

I moved without telling my friends once. Yep. I was so upset while going through my divorce that I moved two hours away and didn’t tell most people. When I’m down in the dumps or going through drama, I don’t really talk to people. So, I didn’t mention the move to another county. Oops.

I don’t want to talk about feelings. When I am upset, I write, or I exercise, or I talk to my husband or son. I will never call you crying in the wee hours of the morning. I expect the same respect for sleep from you.

I turn my phone off at night. See above. I am allergic to midnight drama. Unless my husband or son is out, my phone is off at night.

I never talk on the phone. If you need to call me, it better be urgent and you had better text me first, or else I will look at my caller ID and step the fuck away from my phone if it is not my son, my husband or my mother.

I would rather hang with the fellas than the girls. I’m not talking about going out with random guys. If you have read about my childhood, you know that men scare me. What I mean here is that I would so much rather be home, in my jammies, and watching a movie with my husband or my son. They are my fellas. Girls’ night out just sounds hellish. And since it likely requires real pants and a bra, it sounds plain old uncomfortable.

I roll my eyes at vaguebooking. If you want to get all teen-girl emotional on Facebook, I will add you to my restricted list. I prefer straightforward communication. Don’t hint at any issues you have with me; just tell me.

I have nothing bad to say about my husband. Seriously. Sure we have our ups and downs, but I am not going to bash him to you. I prefer to do that shit straight to his face. And it makes me uncomfortable when you bash your husband. I might consider him a friend, too.

I don’t care about shopping. I buy most things online. I loathe the mall and I don’t want to share a dressing room with you and try on skinny jeans.

I prefer to do most things alone. I bought my wedding dress alone. See above. I don’t like shopping, so I like to get it done quickly when it is necessary. If I had shopped for my dress with someone, I would have had to hear her opinions and try different things. This way, I bought the dress I liked and then I ate lunch. Done.

I would rather have scotch than wine. It seems to be fashionable for moms, and women in general, to love wine. I don’t hate wine, but I would rather have hard liquor any day.

I don’t share your love of chocolate. The good news is that I will likely give you any chocolate I have unless it is GOOD dark chocolate or a Reese’s cup. Then, you’re on your own.

I won’t come to your Botox/MaryKay/Avon party. I’m just not that vain. I wash my face and put on moisturizer, and that is about it. I do get my Elvis Presley sideburns waxed, but that is so I don’t get mistaken for a really short cross-dresser. I live in the Midwest where people aren’t so tolerant of such things.

I will never hold your hair while you puke. Hell, I don’t even want to be in the same building with you if you are puking. That shit could be contagious.

I go to the spa alone or with my husband. I wear hearing aids, so I don’t really hear well. I don’t want to try to have a chitchat session over running water and other assorted salon background noise. My husband either talks louder to me or happily chats away with his spa person while I give mine one word (hopefully correct) answers until she stops chatting.

Right now you’re probably wondering how in the hell I have any friends at all. I wonder this myself. After all, I do have the emotional availability of Sheldon Cooper. Why do some people like me and want to spend time with me? I can’t be sure, but here are a few guesses.

People think I’m funny. Most people, aside from Sheldon Cooper, like to laugh. So, they are attracted to funny people.

I’m short and stubby, so most people look good standing next to me, especially if we are photographed together. I can make anyone look like a long, lean super model.

I’m stupidly generous. I will buy you lunch for any old reason, and I will never forget your birthday. This is why my husband is now in charge of the money. You may have missed your window on this one.

I will tell you the truth. If you ask for my opinion, you better want an honest answer because that is what you will get.

I can keep it together in tough situations. I’m usually not a crier. I fight tears through a combination of holding my breath and visualizing kittens. When I do cry it is usually due to fever related illness or scary doctor visits.

Having said that, I would accompany you to your scary doctor visits. I know what it is like to fear things like “biopsies” and “procedures.” I will hold your hand through scariness even if you break it. I’m tough like that.

Yep, I can see why I hang out with cats most of the time. As a super best friend, I flat out suck, but I do make a good horrible best friend. Everyone needs one of those to make them appreciate their BEST friends, right?

So, what about you? Do you have ONE best friend? If so, who is that person? What makes you a good or bad friend?

 

 

Not Digging Duggar #‎callthemout

Unless you live in a cheese-lined cave without wifi, you know that Josh Duggar recently confessed to molesting multiple young girls when he was a teen. Honestly, that didn’t shock me. What is making my stomach turn over this whole situation is the fact that A LOT of people are defending him. I keep seeing Facebook posts from multiple “friends” who think that Josh should be forgiven because he was a teen when this happened.  And now that he is an adult, all of his abusive behavior should just disappear because he apologized and found Jesus. Well, that might work for Josh and his family, but I know for sure that time has not healed the horror his victims experienced.

My teen step-uncle molested me when I was a Sesame Street watching pre-schooler. I know that sounds like an episode of Jerry Springer or Dr. Phil, but it is actually my reality.  He was the first of two pedophiles in my life.  He was 13 when he first began touching me inappropriately, and 17 when it finally ended.

The abuse started a year or so BEFORE this picture was taken.

The abuse started a year or so BEFORE this picture was taken.

I remember the first time Arnold (not his real name, of course) forced me to perform oral sex. I was 3 and I was sitting on his lap in the recliner just outside of my grandma’s bedroom. Her room was directly off of the living room. My mother and I were staying at my grandmother’s house at this time. I don’t think anyone was home. It was dark. The big, old floor model TV was on, tuned in to some 1970’s show. I don’t remember the show, just the noise of the TV and the flickering lights. Arnold was babysitting me. I will leave out the graphic details. I will just tell you that I was very frightened, and I started crying. This made him angry, and he shoved me off the chair and stormed from the room.

Some time after that, I was alone in the kitchen with my grandmother. While we were standing in front of the refrigerator, I tried to tell her about what was happening with Arnold. Her sparkly blue eyes turned cold and blank. She told me never to talk like that again. I shut up immediately and never said a word about it to her again.

We moved back to Florida not too long after this. When I was in third grade, Arnold came to live with my mother and me in Florida. From what I could overhear when my mother talked to my grandmother on the phone, Arnold was having trouble in school and was too much for grandmother to handle. So, the adults thought it would be a good idea for Arnold to live with my mom and me.

Since we lived in a two-bedroom apartment, Arnold slept on the spare twin bed in my room. Previously, Arnold’s bed had been home to my stuffed animals. They were relocated to a garbage bag in the closet, which I wasn’t happy about because I thought they would suffocate.

There were two big incidents that I remember when Arnold lived with us. The first one occurred one day when I had to come home early from school for vomiting. I remember the grown-ups thinking that I vomited because I got overheated on the playground or something like that. I thought that sounded silly, but I had learned that as a kid I shouldn’t question them. Mom picked me up and brought me home. When Arnold got home from high school she went back to work.

I was lying on the black and white couch when Arnold said he wanted to “play a game.” I had been watching TV and snacking on the potato chips he had given me. I had eaten quite a few when he started his old tricks. He unzipped his pants. I immediately started to feel sick. I’m sure he must have said something first, trying to persuade me that this was a good idea, but I don’t remember any of that. I just remember vomiting potato chips. He smacked me for puking on him and the couch, and I started crying from the vomiting and from being smacked. To this day, I still cry when I puke. Neither one of us mentioned any of this to my mom when she got home.

Shortly after that, Arnold abused me for the last time. I had a bad dream and woke Arnold with my crying. He told me to come over to his bed. I’m not sure why I complied, but I did. At first he held me and comforted me. I started dozing. The next thing I remember, Arnold was on top of me, with his pants off. He was pulling down my pajamas telling me, “It’s ok.” I didn’t think it was ok. I don’t know where I got the energy, but I got out from under him and ran into my mother’s room.

My mother’s boyfriend went into my room to get Arnold. This is actually ironic because a couple of years after this my mother’s boyfriend became my second abuser. But on this particular night, he played the role of hero. I’m not sure what happened or where Arnold slept the rest of the night. I heard yelling. The next day, I was sent to school, just like any other day.

After school, Arnold was sent home on a plane. Before he left, he was sitting with my brother, who lived with my father. Arnold and my brother, Timothy (again, a fake name) were close in age and always got along well. They were talking about how horrible it was that Arnold had to leave. I was relieved and couldn’t wait for him to leave. Timothy was angry with me, and blamed me for this. He asked me why I “lied” about this. I was stunned. I really couldn’t believe that my big brother was not taking my side, but I didn’t want to tell him the truth. I’d already learned from my grandmother that no one really wants to hear the truth about sexual abuse.

Arnold is in his 50’s now and I still hold him responsible for what he did to me as a teen. I don’t know what he has done as an adult, and the truth is it doesn’t matter.  I wouldn’t forgive him if he cured cancer, saved all the baby seals, adopted all of the homeless kittens, or found a way to make kale taste like vanilla cupcakes.  He still violated me.  He took my trust and my peace of mind.  He is the reason that men make me nervous.  Even now, 40 years later, men scare me.  I feel incredibly safe with my husband, my son, and a couple of close male friends, but other than that, I am on edge if I am somewhere alone and a male approaches me.  My “uncle” taught me to fear men when I was 3.  He was never punished for this. The police were not called. No jail time was served. People tell me I should forgive him, and move on. I’ve moved on to a happy, normal life, but I will never forgive him. I bet Josh Duggar’s victims know what I mean.

 

Hamster Wheel Philosophies

I was just on the elliptical, AKA the Hamster Wheel, and “Days Like These” by Asia came on. Since I refuse to leave the 80’s music behind, I have a lot of older songs on my iPod, but this one really motivated me right as my arthritic left ankle threatened to give out. I kept going, and thinking. “Days like these, I feel like I can change the world” is the chorus and is repeated throughout the song. So, I started to think about what I would do if I could change the world. I’m talking about the entire world, not just the life of one person etc. What if I could sit at a big marble desk, or maybe cherry wood, and create my own list of commandments that must be followed. HMM…. I think they would go something like this:

  1. Political arguments would end. Seriously, you are not going to persuade the other side. Whether you are a conservative, a liberal, or a little of both, you have likely thought about why you believe the things you believe and no amount of arguing is going to change that. All of the debates and arguments just bring stress and take the focus away from, well, actually changing the world. So, duct tape your mouth and actually get out there and HELP people.
  2. Evangelism would end. This is the same concept as political arguments, only, in my humble opinion, with double the arrogance. Anyone who thinks they KNOW the mysteries of the universe and can SAVE someone else needs therapy, and good strong roll of duct tape. It’s a big universe out there. We know a lot less than we think we do.
  3. Truth serum would be pumped into the water supply. People lie, sneak, cheat and steal too much. The real kicker is most people lie to themselves; they tell themselves things like, “I tried my best”, or “I do eat healthy.”
  4. People who abuse children would be beaten and have their children taken away permanently. There would be none of this, “Your abusive drunk daddy went through a few therapy sessions and now you get to live with him.” If someone cannot get himself or herself together enough to be a decent parent, then that person does not get to be a parent. Period.
  5. The breeding of pets would end. There are thousands upon thousands of animals that are euthanized every year. We don’t need people breeding more pets just because some people want “pedigree” animals. Are you a pedigree person?   I bet not. So, go adopt a nice mutt than needs a home rather than worrying whether he or she has “papers”.
  6. War would be illegal. People would have to talk about their differences and agree to disagree. People would also be educated on how to spot a sociopath. Violent rulers like Hitler and others like him are sociopaths. Studies show that most people will follow the commands of someone who appears to be “in charge” or “of authority.”  Stop following crazy people and they won’t be able to lead. Stop bombing the #$@#$ out of people and they won’t hate you.
  7. Racism would end, for real. You may think that racism went out with Jim Crow, and you may be in a coma. The day that President Obama was elected, some local idiot drove down the street with a Confederate flag on the back of his pick-up. I really doubt that this was a coincidence. In order to stop racism, for real, we need to stop focusing on, well, race. We need to stop asking for an applicant’s race on forms. It does not matter. We need to stop focusing on differences and, instead, start focusing on similarities. We are all people. It does not matter if we are brown, paste white, peach, or any other color. We are all people.
  8. Everyone would have healthcare. Everyone. This would include dental care. There would be no deductibles or certifications or approvals. People who are sick or injured would receive care. It is possible. There are some countries doing it successfully.
  9. Teachers would be paid more than professional athletes. I mean, let’s pull our heads out of our behinds for a moment and actually think about this. Someone who chases a ball around for a living can make millions of dollars, but a teacher can barely pay his or her bills. In addition, more and more people are spoiling their children, making teachers’ jobs that much harder. Say no to your child and yes to increasing salaries for educators.
  10. Trophies and awards would be earned, really. We are the “good try” culture and it’s killing us. If little Timmy keeps getting trophies and ribbons for half-assed work in school, scouts or whatever, then he is really going to have a hard time living in the real world as an adult. In the real world Timmy’s boss isn’t going to pat him on the head and say ”good try” when he loses his company’s money. Timmy will be fired. Rewards are for good work, not mediocrity.

That is all I can think of, right now. If you can think of more, add them in the comment section. I know that there are a lot of other changes we can make to this world, a lot. It’s not perfect; we’re not perfect. So, we need to all work together to change the world.

To My Son, the Graduate

My son, my one and only child, graduates this week. So, in the spirit of letting go, I tried to imagine what life will be like for him in ten years. This is what I came up with.  

 

June 1, 2025

Dear Son,

You always told me that you were going to live with us until you were thirty. We would laugh, and laugh, and joke about you living in the basement, but the funny thing is that you weren’t fucking kidding. Here it is, ten years after you graduated from high school, and well, you are pretty much hanging out in the basement all day. Sure, you go to school, but when you’re home, you are downstairs watching that holographic TV of yours, a gift from Santa. Just like when you were a kid, I’m still making you scrambled eggs and coffee in the morning. Well, I didn’t make you coffee when you were a little kid, and I do make pancakes on weekends. So, I suppose I don’t make eggs every day, but you get the point, right?

This is difficult for me, as I do adore doing your laundry, especially when you leave your underwear wadded up in your pants, but you need to get the fuck out. I mean that in a nurturing way, with all of the love in the world. Seriously. It’s time to grow up. I’m not sure why you are failing to launch since I have done everything I can to encourage you to be a mature and responsible adult, but it’s time to sail away from the nest and become a real grown up. So, grab a suitcase or five, and get packing. I can run to the store and get you some boxes, too.

As you are packing your stuff, don’t forget your Batman footy pajamas from last Christmas. Most people buy them as gag gifts, but I know that the Dark Knight makes you feel safe when it’s, well, dark. And they are glow in the dark, in case your night-light burns out. I know how you can’t sleep without some sort of light. Let me know if you need me to get you a bigger night-light.

Take the package of floss from Costco. I know you won’t buy floss if you have to pay for it yourself. After paying thousands for braces, I’m not going to let your teeth rot out of your head. Just let me know when you run out and I will buy you more. I can pick up toothbrushes and toothpaste, too. You can pay me back when you’re a rock star some day.

We, well I, would still like for you to sleep over on Christmas Eve and the night before Easter. As you know Santa and the Easter bunny won’t come if you’re not sleeping in your mommy’s house. It’s a law. You do want presents, right? Make sure you leave your basket and stocking here. It will be hard to find Joker from the Dark Knight Batman movie holiday stuff now. It’s been a decade or more since that movie came out. I loved seeing it with you, even though you ate all of the popcorn.

I don’t mean to make this more awkward than it needs to be, but I just want to let you know that I will continue purchasing your condoms from Costco. Where else can you get a box of fifty grandchild preventers for $22.99? Your current girlfriend is a peach, but we both know the type of trash you have dated in the past. The last thing you need to do is make one of them your baby mama. You don’t want me to have to kill a girl, do you? I’m kidding, of course, kind of. I mean I wouldn’t actually kill your trashy baby mama. I would just threaten her and take my grandchild from her. My grandchildren will not grow up in a trailer park, understand? So, Costco condoms it is.

Sorry about that. I got a little carried away. Anyway, we, well I, want you to keep going to school, so we will still pay your college tuition. That PhD in music production will get you far in life, and it’s worth it. Your dissertation on Quincy Jones will be made into a famous book. I’m certain of it. Just remember to bring me on the Today Show with you. I want to meet Matt Lauer while he’s still alive. He hasn’t looked so hot lately.

I know what you are wondering, and yes, you can have all of the furniture in your bedroom, and the stuff in your upstairs music studio, and the furniture in the basement, and the stuff in the downstairs band practice area. Take it all. It’s yours.

The only thing you can’t take is a pet. I know how you can sometimes forget to feed them. I won’t bring up poor Fifi again, but, well, I guess I just did. Anyway, leave the cats and dogs here. You can always visit them. This way you won’t have to step over their poop when you forget to scoop their litter or let them out to go potty.

Don’t worry about looking for a place. We will take care of everything. We don’t want you renting a nasty apartment with bugs and loud neighbors. So, we will just buy you a condo in a nice building full of retirees. You like old people. They can be like faux grandparents for you. You can pay us rent when you get on your feet. No rush.

There. Won’t it feel good to be independent? In just a few weeks, you will be a real grown up with your own place and your own furniture. I will buy you new sheets and towels and plates and pans and groceries and whatever else you need. Just let me know what else you need, OK? Now, give me hugs and kisses. Mommy loves her little pumpkin.

Xoxo,

Mommy

Here's my little graduate 13 years ago.

Here’s my little graduate 13 years ago.

 

 

Middle School Brothel Culture

When I was typing the title of my blog, I asked my husband if there should be a hyphen in Middle School. He said, “No, and apparently there’s no hymen either.” Yes, he’s right about that, and unfortunately we learned a lot of things about middle schoolers this year that we would really rather not think of. It would be so much easier to stick our heads in the sand with the other parents. So much easier.

Middle School Lisa was NOT having sex.  Shocking, I know.

Middle School Lisa was NOT having sex. Shocking, I know.

When I was in eighth grade, the big rumor was that R and M had sex and used a blue condom.   This was big news because NO ONE IS SUPPOSED TO HAVE SEX IN EIGHTH GRADE EVEN WITH COLORED CONDOMS and we knew this. The girls gathered to talk about M. One girl created a nickname for her, “Butter because she spreads easy.” Well, even then I thought that margarine would have probably been a better name if that was the reasoning. I kept my mouth shut because I was glad to NOT be the victim of middle school ridicule for once, and if you looked at the picture above, you know this was rare. M was called Butter all through eighth grade and high school. No one was high fiving her or R for their actions. We all thought it was weird, really, and not cool. It was embarrassing for both R and M and neither of them bragged about it.

Times they are a changin’.

I have middle schooler and I have learned things that keep me awake at night. I mean, the drug dealing, huffing, and cutting were already horrors for me, but recently I learned that a lot of kids are having sex at 12 or 13.

Yes, you read that right. They are losing their virginity before they develop all of their molars, or brain cells. Here’s the kicker – they are also NOT USING CONDOMS. Here in the corn state, the kids are given the abstinence education version of sex ed. They don’t learn about birth control or STD’s. They are just told basically what sex is and to not do it until they are married. Well, that is obviously working well.

From what I am hearing, kids seem to be having sex wherever they can, even in school. Last week, I heard about two different “couples” having sex in school bathrooms, one in middle school and one in high school.  Last time I checked, the bathroom was a place where people, peed, pooped, and vomited. It’s not exactly a romantic place. Plus, people are walking in and out all of the time. There is nothing not icky about this situation.

Eight grade Lisa.  She really rocked the blue pantyhose.

Eight grade Lisa. She really rocked the blue pantyhose.

It’s a different world. When I was in eighth grade, my big concerns were how white my new Ked’s were or if my mom would let me go to the movies on Friday night. I fully understood that sex caused babies, and most likely a good beating.   There was no way that I wanted either. Now, if you get pregnant when you’re a teenager, you can get your very own TV show and become a “celebrity.”  If I had gotten pregnant, I would have gotten a beating and a trip to the abortion clinic.  I definitely would not have gotten a TV show.  Heck, this was back when MTV still had music videos.

You’re welcome for the awkward photos.

Disclaimer: This was originally posted on my fantastically unpopular Salon.com blog about four years ago. I no longer have a middle schooler and I have finally unclenched my shoulders from 3 years of horror.

The Idiocracy Age

Yep. Seems legit.

Yep. Seems legit.

Some people call this the Information Age because with all of the technology we have, we are supposed to be more informed than ever. You would think that all of this information would make us smarter. You would be wrong. In my ever so humble opinion, we have entered the age of Idiocracy.

If you haven’t seen the movie Idiocracy, please do. To be honest, it is one of the stupidest movies that I have ever seen, even worse than Step Brothers. Yes, there are stupid movies out there that do not star Will Farrell. All stupidity aside, Idiocracy paints a frightening picture of what we as a human race could become if we allow stupidity to be acceptable.

The more I read the paper, watch the news, talk to people, or just observe people, the more symptoms of Idiocracy I notice. Here are just the few that are annoying the piss out of me today.

There are web sites dedicated to showing people dressed as hot messes, usually in pajamas. First of all, don’t take pictures of strangers. That is rude and mean. Second of all, I think it is truly sad, and highly irritating, that people can’t seem to get dressed. Ladies, leggings are not pants. For real? Is this how lazy ‘Murica is now? It doesn’t take much to put on “daytime” clothes, or at least pants that don’t reveal your biological gender.

Football players and other athletes, make WAY more than teachers and fire fighters. Have you ever watched a sports interview? I did once, and that was enough. The sports “hero’s” answer to how he won the game was something along the lines of, “I ketch the ball, and I run and stuff.” Holy hell. This guy probably earns as much as the Kardashians.

The Kardashians are “celebrities.” This keeps me awake at night. I thought it was bad when Paris Hilton had a TV show, but I think even she is more “talented” than the Kardashians. Seriously, they are called celebrities. I feel sorry for Bruce Jenner.

Where have all of the grammar lessons gone? Please sing this to the tune of “Where Have all the Cowboys Gone?” I have had to block several “friends” on Facebook because I don’t know what the heck they are saying. They spell like Prince trying to write a song, and they don’t use punctuation. I see things like this, “Im goin 2 tha stor to by sum new jama pants i think wallmart has them does anyone want 2 go with me” HUH? Get a first grade grammar book, please, and a box of crayons.

Everyone blames the President for everything. I hear people talk about President Obama like he is a dictator. They blame him for certain bills being passed, etc. My favorite is when I hear that he has ruined the country, blah, blah, blah. I wonder if these people made it out of middle school. Because I don’t know about you, but I had a little class called Civics in eighth grade. In this amazing class, I RELEARNED that our government has three branches, and there’s this whole checks and balances system. Amazing. I say relearned because I first learned this in elementary school. The president does not have the power to make drastic changes to our country. I didn’t really like President W. Bush, but I never blamed him for the recession. I blame the fact that corporate greed has led to outsourcing. If you want America to be a wealthy nation, which is still is, keep the jobs and money, um, in America. Just a guess on my part.

That’s all I have for you today. It’s just common sense to me, but it seems like common sense is on its way out. Maybe all of the soda that people are drinking is eating away their brains. Maybe they are spending too much time watching “reality” TV. Maybe the Russians, or the Arabs, or whoever we are currently blaming for the state of our great nation, poured stupidity powder in our water supply.

Confessions of a Rogue English Major

One of my co-workers is taking a call.

One of my co-workers is taking a call.

Way back in the D-A-Y, when there were no hybrid cars and phones had cords, I went to college. Like most college students I had no clue what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. So, choosing a major was hard. First I tried “communications” and then “broadcast production.” None of those really fit my hermitish personality. Since I loved to make up stories, anytime I needed to take an elective I ended up taking a creative writing class. So, I racked up quite a few English credits. One magical day, after having a sit-down with my advisor, I realized that if I took a Shakespeare, a Victorian literature, and a grammar class I could get out of school with a Bachelor’s degree in English. It seemed legit at the time, so I went with it.

Soon after graduating, I realized if I wanted to actually use my degree and I didn’t want to go to law school or teach middle or high school kids for the rest of my days, I would need a Master’s degree. So, off to grad school I went to get a Master’s in English. I figured, at least I could teach grown-ups then.

I never really fit in at grad school because for the most part I don’t give a shit. I mean, I don’t find a lot of things, like analyzing poetry or formatting a graduate essay, important. Plus, I get bored super easily, especially when I have to listen to lectures. No one talks more than English professors or kiss-ass grad students. So, it was really odd that I became an English instructor. I’m not officially a professor because I ONLY have a Master’s degree, not a PhD. I have no desire to go back to school at 43, um, I mean 28, to get a PhD. So, I will just remain an instructor until I finally keel over from some sort of cat or ice related injury. Even so, in some ways, I still fit the English major mold.

For example:

  • I love to analyze movies and TV. My son shares this gift so watching movies with him is great. We have chatted at length about what the floating feather in Forrest Gump means. Clue: It’s not “just a feather” like my husband says.
  • I’d rather read than do most things. I spent my first year in college at Florida State, a huge party school. I stayed in my room and read while others puked up their bad beverage choices.
  • I like to write. I have always written for fun, or to figure out my feelings. Way back before the Internet existed, I blogged. I did it privately in this paper thing called a journal.
  • I will smack you if you use they when talking about one person. This is my biggest grammar pet peeve. “That person left THEIR book here” is not correct, damn it. Say “he or she” if you aren’t sure of gender.
  • I hate text abbreviations. Just spell out the words. You can even use speech to text on most phones now. There is no excuse for bad spelling. Well, unless we are talking about autocorrect. That is a big excuse.

Other than the above examples, I’m so not your typical bookworm. When my yuppie neighbors see me getting the mail in cat fur lined pajamas at noon, they probably assume I am a housewife. I doubt they think “college instructor.” Most of the time, I’m the most non-professorly English major ever. See, I just made up an incorrect word. I think I managed to irritate myself. Anyway, here are a few more ways I am very non-English major like:

  • I think formatting is the last thing we need to worry about.  I don’t understand why there are so many styles. There’s APA, MLA, Chicago, and a bazillion more. Who cares? Have you written a paper? Have you given your sources credit? Is everything legible? I’m good then.
  • I don’t speak pompous ass. In fact, I would like to smack new grad school graduates who show off their purchased vocabulary. They are the worst.
  • I hate Shakespeare. In my humble opinion, he was a shitty writer. I am pretty sure my college writing professors would have told him his plots weren’t believable. Plus, he wrote in verse. Yawn.
  • Poetry bores me. I have always hated poetry. Just write a normal story or essay and stop trying to be a bongo playing Bohemian.
  • I read crap. I would rather read trashy rock star memoirs than anything called “literature.”
  • I watch reality TV. My husband and I call it Train Wreck TV. We just can’t look away from shows like The Bachelor and Married at First Sight.
  • I’m fluent in sarcasm and profanity. I don’t speak in grad school words. I will gladly talk about someone’s teaching methods, but if you use the word pedagogy I might tell you to stop speaking like a fucking robot.
  • I fear conference presentations. Conferences are a part of academic life, and I hate that. I used to be a stand-up comic. If my audience isn’t laughing at me, I panic. Conference audiences don’t laugh at me even when I crack a joke because they are too busy squeezing their butt cheeks together and thinking of new ways to use pedagogy in a sentence.
  • I’m the queen of homophone errors. Count on me to use their when I should have used there. Always. I’m not perfect just because I went to school longer than most people.
  • I can’t explain grammar rules either. The English language has a lot of irregular rules. I still have to look things up. Einstein said, “Never memorize something that you can look up.” I try to follow that advice.

As you can see, I’m not really your stereotypical leather-elbowed tweed jacket-wearing, pipe smoking professor. I love my job because I help people be a little less afraid of writing, and because I can work in my jammies. Let’s face it; I really like the jammie part. What about you? What do you do for a living? Do you fit the mold for your job? Let me hear from you in the comments. I talk to cats all day and I need some human interaction.

My view at the office.

My view at the office.

Not Missing my Little Boy

As I flip through Facebook statuses, a lot of things make me roll my eyes. There are always super religious posts or political “arguments” on Zuckerberg’s brain suck site. No matter where you fall on the religiopolical spectrum, there is always something to piss you off or make you want to cry. I can deal with all of the usual visual hot air, but nothing makes me roll my eyes more than moms who post about missing their babies.

I’m not talking about moms who have had children taken from them. This is different. You’ve seen it. It usually happens on Throwback Thursday or any number of children’s birthdays. The mom posts a baby picture of her teen with a status about how much she misses her sweet little baby. I always found this to be hurtful. To me, it’s like saying that your current, older kid is not a kind, wonderful person. I always wondered how kids felt about it, so I asked my personal expert on all things teen, my eighteen year-old son. Here is how the conversation went:

Me: Hey, if I put a baby picture of you on Facebook and talked about how much I missed my sweet little boy, how would you feel?

Son: Like shit.

Ok. So, it’s not just me. Think about it. Imagine if your spouse put an old picture of you up and said, “I miss this skinny, blonde person.” That is how teens see this “I miss my baby” nonsense. Teens have so many hormones running through their bodies, which can make them even more sensitive. So, as a mom, I try not to hurt my son’s feelings. Also, truth be told, I DON’T miss the baby and little kid years. I wouldn’t go back in time even if it meant I would drop twenty pounds and about a hundred gray hairs.

I MIGHT have a tiny problem.

I MIGHT have a tiny problem.

I don’t really NEED to be needed. I applaud every step towards independence my son makes, not just because I am a lazy mom who would rather sit on the couch and drink wine and eat peanut butter cups. Well….. Seriously, my main job is to prepare my son to live on his own and not be an asshole. So, every step he takes towards being a sane, kind adult makes me hear a round of pre-recorded 1970’s sitcom applause in my head. There are so many good things about having an older kid.

For one, I get credit for Easter baskets and Christmas gifts. Sure, it was kind of fun to pretend that Santa or the Easter Bunny delivered surprises at night. It is much better to get full credit and thanks for the presents. Also, I can give my son his presents early since he knows that mystical creatures do not enter our home on certain nights. This is great because I would almost burst when I had to keep stuff hidden in my closet until just the right night.

I’m a better parent now than I was in my twenties, when I had my son. I have more patience now. I’m a happier, saner person. I’m happy with my husband, and not going through a divorce like I was when my son was little. I am parenting with love rather than a fear of losing control. I was a screamy yelly mom in my twenties. I got over that.

The boy is no longer a puke fountain. If he has to vomit, he knows how to get to the toilet or at least the sink. No more middle of the night sessions of running the carpet cleaner, the washing machine, along with my expletive spewing mouth.

They can pick you up when you fall on your ass. A few weeks ago, I fell on my ass in the driveway. Damn ice. It’s invisible, slippery, and deadly. I didn’t think I could walk after I hit the ground. My son helped me up and drove me to the ER for x-rays. He could not have done that when he was a toddler.

Really, there is an endless list of things I love about my son. Like most parents, I think my child is the smartest, most talented, funniest person in the world. In fact, I wrote this blog for Scary Mommy about why my son is better than any little kid. Now, this piece is written in Sarcasm. If you are not fluent in this ancient tongue, you might be offended.

So, what do you think? Do you miss your little baby? Let me hear from you in the comment section.

 

 

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