All posts by lisarpetty

About lisarpetty

I'm a blogger and the author of Misfit Academy. You can find my book on www.amazon.com. I am a work from home mom and hermit, and I like to talk about cats. Is there a home or a meeting for people like me.

Mama Knows Booze and Superheroes

Either the universe is trying to tell me something, or Ashton Kutcher is following me around with his Punk’D crew. Whenever I walk into a grocery store, some sort of awkward BS ensues. Perhaps I am not supposed to go grocery shopping.  Maybe I’m supposed to send my husband or my son out for everything and just stay on my couch throne with my cat and watch Shameless all the live long day.  NAH! If I did that I wouldn’t have such fabulous stories to share.

So, today my son and I were out running errands, which included buying taco fixings and liquor.  Because it is Friday, ya know. So, since we prefer one-stop shopping, we went to the only grocery store in our hood that also sells liquor.  We do not normally shop at this store, and today I was reminded why.

We walked through the produce section, stopping to pick up lettuce, and then all the way to the back of the store, where the official liquor section is. As soon as we were about to enter the liquor section, we were greeted by a tall (I think she was tall, but I’m five foot nothing so everyone is tall to me) blonde woman wearing a store name tag. She looked me up and down and then looked over at my son.  I thought she was going to tell me that he could not come in with me because he is not 21.  He is at the unfortunate age of 20 and a half.  Some stores won’t even allow underage people through the door.  So, I was waiting for her to ID him.  Instead, she greeted us warmly.

“How are you?” She said in a booming voice.

I said fine and asked how she was.

She said fine and kept standing at the entrance to the liquor section, staring at me.  She would not move. She told me she was reorganizing the liquor.  She kept standing there.

I said, “Oh. OK. Well, I will be quick. I know exactly what I need.”

“Mama doesn’t judge,” she said.

I laughed a little because I thought she was joking and because I laugh in uncomfortable situations. I took a step forward and she still didn’t move.  Finally, I squeezed between her and a box of riesling and headed for the vodka, leaving my son to figure out how to get past her with our cart.  I guess she stepped out of the way because my son got in.  Since, I was focused on the vodka and not my man-child, as all good mothers would be, I did not see her actually move.

I grabbed a bottle of vanilla Absolut and put it in our cart. I told my son to just stay there rather than try to maneuver the cart around the small liquor section. Mama walked from the vodka aisle over to the scotch section, two rows over.

I told her, “I need three bottles then I will be out of your way.”

She said, “Oh mama doesn’t judge!” She spoke like she was straight out of a Tyler Perry movie. Plus, I was starting to feel like she was judging, but I didn’t really care.

Then, she continued talking to my son and me, all the while referring to herself as Mama. I hadn’t heard anyone who is not a puppet on Sesame Street do this so consistently since Bob Dole ran for president. By the way, did you know that people who refer to themselves in the third person are called illeists?  It actually has a name! And here I was just calling them assholes, but I digress. Let’s get back to Mama.

As she continued on her Mama monologue, my first thought was, “Did she mix up her day and night allergy meds?” The pollen count has been high.

Then I thought, “No. She’s been sampling the goods.” This led me to one of the best ideas I have ever had, “Maybe I should get a job at a liquor store!”

I grabbed the Fireball from the end cap by the vodka, and then I headed to the scotch section, which was where Mama was stocking.  I just wanted to get out of there quickly, so I grabbed the scotch that she was currently putting on the shelf, as there was a bunch of it stacked on a cart in front of the entire scotch section.  It was a HUGE bottle of 12-year-old Glenlivet.  So, NOT cheap.

“Mama is a Jack Daniel’s girl!” she announced, as I grabbed the scotch.  Somehow, this was not surprising. I couldn’t quite picture Mama savoring some Glenlivet by the fire. I was willing to bet that Mama had put Jack in her coffee before coming to work. Maybe she had some sort of Jack Daniels pump that continuously monitored her blood alcohol level and pumped Jack in her system to keep her at Mama level.

I brought the scotch to the counter and grabbed the Fireball and vodka from the cart. I just wanted to pay and get out of Mamaland.  As I was putting the bottles on the counter, I noticed a package of Stoli mini bottles in different flavors. I put it on the counter and said, “I always like to try new flavors.”

“Mama doesn’t judge.  Oh no. No judgment from Mama,” she said.  Then she repeated, “Mama is a Jack Daniel’s girl.”

At this point, I literally looked around for a camera crew.  This had to be some sort of prank.  Nope.  It was just me, my son, and Mama.

Mama rang up each item and stopped a couple of times to double check that she had scanned everything.  This was when I thought, “Maybe she is on Vicodin or something. She’s really friendly and a little slow.  Maybe that’s it.”

Well, since I don’t own or manage the store, I didn’t stop to figure it out.  I put my liquor in the cart and scurried out with my son to get the rest of our taco fixings.  When we got out of earshot, I just said, “Okiedokie” to my son, to which he replied, “That was more painful than ordering at Panera.”  He was right about that.  Our last visit to Panera was painful, but he wasn’t with me at Kroger on loud superhero day. Now THAT was worse.

A couple of months ago, I went to Kroger super early in the morning.  Since I was up anyway, and since my hair looked like it was straight out of the Play-Doh Barber Shop, I decided to go to Kroger at 8:00 am so I could AVOID people. No such luck.
Apparently, my Kroger is the main district Kroger or whatever because there is always some strange crap going down there. This particular day was like a nightmare for introverted people with bad hair.

There I was, looking for the American cheese that the cat and the Maltese both like. The cat doesn’t eat cat treats or any other kind of cheese, and the Maltese is on heart pills that must be smooshed in cheese so she will take them. So, it was important to get the right kind. I had not gotten to Starbucks yet, so I was REALLY concentrating on the cheese. That’s when the loud music and some doofus talking like a game show host came over the speaker. At 8:15 in the damn morning. Did I mention I had no coffee and homeless chic hair?

Then, I saw the superheroes. Nope. I was not hallucinating and I had not had any of Mama’s Jack Daniel’s. There were people running around in superhero costumes. In the damn grocery store at 8:16! I ran my hand through my hair and looked down. I grabbed my pets’ cheese and a few more items and attempted to get to the cash registers.

Holy crazy crowd of geeks, Batman! The front of the store was blocked. I said a meek, “Excuse me” and tried to inch past Spiderman, Wonder Woman, and some woman who was obviously from corporate. I know this because she gave me her “I had my Starbucks! Bless your heart with that hair” smile.

She said, “HI!” as I passed her.

I said, “Why is this happening?”

She told me they were having a “bag off” for cash and prizes. The woman next to her said that she was competing. I patted her on the shoulder and told her, “I hope you have some liquor.”

I paid for my stuff, visited the in-store Starbucks and got the hell out of there. I have never gone back without being caffeinated.

Maybe I should just stop shopping.  I think between Amazon and Jet, I should be able to get everything I need.  I can just supplement my diet with Chinese delivery and pizza, to make up for the lack of refrigerated or frozen food.  It’s just not worth the awkwardness to go to an actual store.

Emotional Knee-Jerk Partisan Politics

A lot of people place themselves in little political or religious boxes.  They don’t research to find the facts of a situation.  They simply take a strong stand based on the ideologies they have learned throughout their lives.  It’s like an entire world of Cuban mothers-in-law and Italian fathers.  My way is right! Believe me; I know from experience.

I became a Democrat in fourth grade.  That is when President Reagan wanted to make ketchup count as a vegetable in the school lunch program. As a kid who relied on reduced priced lunches, I was floored.  I couldn’t understand how a grown up could care so little about kids.  Then my family told me that all Republicans were like that.  They wanted to spend money on war but not on poor people like us.  So, I thought that all Republicans were horrible, cold people.  I put myself in the Democrat box.

And I’m still not a Republican. I’ve been an official, voting, card-carrying Democrat since 1992.  I’ve only voted for one Republican and that’s because I knew her personally. Lately though, I feel like I don’t fit in the liberal box 100% with certain issues.  Here are a few examples.

 

Tearing Down Statues

We could burn down every Confederate flag, statue, grave yard, Dukes of Hazzard General Lee car and it still wouldn’t take away the cold fact that slavery existed in this country. I get that the REMINDERS will be taken away, but the actual acts are there forever. Instead of spending time and money on tearing down the artifacts of this horrible time in our country, why don’t we take the money we would spend on removing statues and donate it to the NAACP, the National Urban League, the United Negro College Fund, or a number of other organizations that specifically help African Americans. It still wouldn’t make up for slavery or the inequalities that African Americans still deal with, nothing will, but it would be more helpful than simply taking down mementos.

 

Taking a knee during the National Anthem

Colin Kaepernick began this trend in 2016 and now other athletes are doing the same. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of patriotism as I see it as the root of a lot of hatred for people of other cultures.  It gives people that whole my country and my culture are better feeling. So, I don’t care who stands, sits, kneels, or does cartwheels during the national anthem.  My only question is what is this actually doing? For real.  I know it is “raising awareness for how African Americans are treated”, but is it helping? Can anyone point me to a time when a police officer or other gun-toting individual was about to shoot an African American and said, “You know what? I was going to kill you, but since all these athletic fellers is protesting, I just aint gonna do it.”  Yes. That is how racists talk in my mind.

 

Protests after Inauguration

A bunch of really brave women protested after the inauguration in January.  They are far braver than I am because I would not have protested outside in Florida in January, much less Washington D.C. or other places, even with a nice, warm, knitted kitty-cat hat.  So, kudos to those women.  Again, though, I have to ask, what did this actually do?  Yes, it enabled people to join together and feel empowered and hug it out because we have a toddleresque tyrant as president, but what actually changed? It’s not like Trump saw all of the protests and said, “Melania, pack my rhinoceros skin luggage that the boys had made for me.  I’m not going to do this president thing.  I’m firing myself.  The people have spoken.”

 

Dress Code Hoopla

I’ve been in many arguments with my fellow Liberals over this one. In July, there was a big to-do over the Speaker’s Lobby dress code.  A reporter was not allowed to enter while wearing a sleeveless dress.  My liberal friends went to Facebook and Twitter with flames coming out of their ears.  How dare Paul Ryan and his buddies tell us we can’t wear sleeveless dresses?  [insert dragon roar of your choice here]  Well, if you READ the history of this dress code you would notice a couple of things.  1. Paul Ryan did not create it. (Yes, I think he looks like Eddie Muenster, too, and I really don’t like him, but totally not his fault) and 2. It is HARSHER on the men than the women. Men have to wear a full suit and tie.  With a jacket.  I’d rather wear a dress with sleeves, which I would rather do anyway as I am one of five women in the world who doesn’t equate showing every ounce of skin with “fashion”.

A lot of people also get upset about school dress codes because they are different for boys and girls.  The reason why there are different rules for girls is that boys don’t show up in booty shorts. I’m pretty sure the school would send a boy home if he were wearing a micro mini skirt.  If you want to blame someone, blame the fashion industry for making labia bearing shorts for girls and NORMAL shorts for boys.

I’m quite sure that some of my readers will not be a fan of this blog. That’s OK. For some reason, these are divisive issues, as are most issues now. In my ever so humble opinion, the only way to bring our country back together, or as together as it can get, is to jump out of our partisan boxes.  Let’s talk to each other as human beings rather than enemies.   Let’s get to know each other as people, not political candidates. Do a little more logical research rather than emotional thinking.  Above all, everyone needs to vote for the candidate that represents them best.

 

 

Middle Aged Crossfit Failure

 

My husband is a big Groupon fan. The man loves to save money. He is always buying some sort of package deal.  A couple of weeks ago he bought a Groupon for 10 “Functional Fitness” classes at our local Crossfit gym. If you are not familiar with Crossfit, it is a meathead weight lifting and gymnastics combo for the truly insane. That is the official definition.  Anyway, these classes were supposed to be for beginners. So, I went along with the husband.  After all, we know a couple of people who LOVE Crossfit.  Here is how it worked out for me.

Day One – I breeze through my first ever Crossfit class at 44 years old. Well, I didn’t BREEZE through it exactly.  I got a touch out of breath during the burpees, and those butterfly leg, arms all the way up sit ups were no picnic. My couch pouch kept getting in the way. But I did it. I did the whole half hour class. Thirty solid minutes of sweating. I didn’t cheat with the lunges, either, even when the instructor was not looking.

As soon as I got home, I took a shower to get the gym floor dirt off of me. Did I mention the burpees? I pretty much ate the floor during those. So, I also did three loads of laundry to get the gym off of my clothes, carrying the full basket up and down the stairs with minimal tenderness in my thighs. I thought I was a warrior.

Day Two – I notice something different as soon as I get out of bed. I am walking like a brand new porn star who just filmed a gang bang flick using no lube. Walking is tough, but sitting on the toilet is impossible. I put both hands on the toilet seat and gingerly lower myself to a seated position while crossing my eyes and saying “Holy mother of fuck!”

Getting up from the toilet requires a firm hold of the door knob. I vow to myself that I will not leave the house until this pain goes away. I DO NOT want to have to touch the toilet or doorknob in a public bathroom, and with my IBS it would be a necessity at some point. I work from home so it’s doable to just not leave the house for a bit. Plus, it should only take a day or so for this soreness to go away, right? I am not a complete couch potato. I exercise a few times a week. I shouldn’t be sore for that long.

I try two Motrin with breakfast. Nothing. So, I use that “Deep Blue” essential oil I bought back when I was a sucker. I toss it in the trash as I actually feel WORSE after applying it.  Fucking snake oil.

By the end of the day, I am so tired of being in pain that I go into the bathroom and take a Tylenol #3 leftover from a dental procedure last year. I might as well have taken a Sweet Tart.  It’s like a placebo. I follow it up with vodka at dinner. Still no pain relief. I stop myself at two drinks because I don’t want to be that woman who dies from mixing a pain pill and vodka while trying to walk normally again.

crossfitDay Three – Before I get out of bed, I think that my pain should probably be better now. This is proven incorrect as soon as I move. It’s been a couple of days, right? Really?! Really?! I almost fall while getting out of bed. Walking is still challenging, and I still have to go up and down stairs while clinging to the rail and using all of my arm strength to stabilize my useless quads. Now, just to add to the fun, my lower abs and whatever those muscles are on the side of your boobs have started to hurt like a fothermucker, too.

I hobble around the house, cursing Groupon, my husband, Crossfit, and especially myself every time I have to go upstairs, which is too often. It seems like it hurts worse today than yesterday. This is just cruel. Who are these people who do Crossfit regularly? I pour myself a big glass of wine right at 5:00. It does nothing.

Day Four – My right leg is slightly better, but my left still bites me when I move. I take a hot bath, so hot that I sweat, and put Biofreeze on my thighs as soon as I get out. This makes me feel 20% better for like 30 minutes. Go me.

I finally give in and do a Google search for “horrible never-ending pain after Crossfit.” My results tell me to drink more water and “stretch it out.” Because water cures everything, right? I give the one finger salute to the computer screen and start gulping water. The only thing this does is make me have to pee even more often than I do already. So, this means I have to get on and off the toilet more often. Have I mentioned how much I hate the world right now?

Day Five – I’m finally able to sit on the toilet this morning without frantically gripping the seat and lowering myself like an 80 year-old nursing home patient. I call that a win.  It is still hell to walk down the drive way to retrieve the recycling bins, but I get it done. I got down the stairs without doing the sideways crab walk and clinging to the rail with both hands. I only had to cling with one hand. I got more than 1,000 steps in on my Fitbit. My “FUCK!” count is way down. It’s a miracle. I finally feel like I may live.

So, I paid $45 for ten classes and only used one. My husband keeps saying he is going to do another class even though he was in the same amount of pain I was in. I will never go back. I would rather say goodbye to the remainder of my $45 than pay thousands of dollars for surgery and rehabilitation after being carried out of Crossfit on a stretcher.

What about you? Are you a Crossfitter, a couch potato, or somewhere in the middle? Let me hear from you in the comment section.

This was originally published on  Knot So Subtle.

 

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 pre-diabetes.

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.

fathers
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.

fathers
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 sleepover 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 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 them, 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.

Middle Age: The Verbal Charades and Bad Hair Years

According to a few random Google search results, I have found out that 45 is the official beginning of middle age.  This means my son has been INCORRECT in calling me a middle-aged woman for the past ten years.  I was still considered a YOUNG adult until now.  Now I am 45 and ½.  So, I’m in the infancy of old age, but I can tell that I am definitely middle aged based on my shrinking vocabulary and shriveling hair.

It used to be that I could flat iron my hair and look good for three days.  Now, I fall asleep on it for 30 minutes and wake up looking like a Founding Father.  You know, I get that stringy “I’ve been forming a new nation and I have no time to run the boar’s bristle thing through my hair” style.  Because that’s what the founding fathers would’ve called a brush when they were middle aged.

Sometimes, my hair looks so bad that I just want to put it in a ponytail, but even that won’t work.  I get these little hairs that bow out on both sides of my neck.  I end up looking like a more haggard Ben Franklin. Not only has my hair gone all Ben Franklin on me, but I can’t form real verbal sentences.

It seems like the day I turned 45, I forgot a bunch of everyday words.  So, I substitute phrases with “thing” in them.

Closet Thing = Pantry

Foot Thing = Ottoman

I can just imagine what would happen if I were on Jeopardy.  I would know SO MANY of the answers; I just would not be able to actually say them.  Cue the music.

THIS IS JEOPARDY!!

Fast forward through canned audience applause and Alex introducing the contestants.

Lisa: Movie Stars for $400, Alex.

Alex: This actor is known for his role in Taxi Driver.

Lisa: OH! I know him.  Fuh – Um, sorry! Wait! He’s that Italian guy with the mole.  And he’s in all of the mafia movies with that other Italian guy.  Crap! Um! He was in that one movie with that one dark-haired guy who recently had prostate cancer.  You know, the one who has the funny comedy team parents.  He played that guy’s father-in-law. And he had a cat.

Alex: Yes. Who is Robert De Niro is correct!

Young contestant: But she never said, “Robert De Niro!”

Alex: Shut up, kid.  You’ll be middle-aged one day!  She said, “Robert De Niro.”

So, that’s middle age for me, so far.  There are other shitty things, like aches in joints I didn’t know I had.  (Young people, I’m talking about the joints that connect bones, not the kind that is legal in Colorado.)  There are a lot of good things about middle age, too.  One is that I don’t really give two shits if my hair looks like Ben Franklin’s.  I notice it, but I don’t get upset about it.  Well, not TOO upset.

What about you? Are you middle aged?  Do you have that I could sign the Declaration of Independence hair?  Can you still speak in full sentences without some version of “you know! That thing in the kitchen that cuts the food?”  Leave me a comment and let me know I’m not alone.

 

 

“At Least You’re Honest”

I’ve heard this a million times. Well, maybe not a million, but a lot.  It has been said to me whenever I say something unpopular, which is often, I guess.  I’ve been told that I “certainly don’t mince words” and several other clichéd ways of saying “please, just lie to me.”  I really don’t understand how honesty, something that used to be valued, became the least common denominator.  People would rather have some fictional version of reality than the truth, I guess. I have always found that annoying.  I just say what’s on my mind. I’m surprised that I am so straight forward as I learned very early in life to hold things in.

When I was two, we lived with my grandmother and step-grandfather for a bit.  When none of the other adults could watch me, my thirteen-year-old step-uncle babysat me.  He also forced me to perform fellatio on him.  After weeks of this, it finally dawned on me that this just wasn’t right.  He had told me not to tell anyone, but one day, when I was standing next to my grandmother in front of the refrigerator, I decided to say something.  I thought that my grandmother would certainly put an end to all this. In a way, she did because she ended any talking about it.  She got angry at me when I stumbled through my two-year-old version of what was happening. She didn’t wonder where I got the vocabulary to talk about a penis going into my mouth.  It was 1974. There was no internet and porn wasn’t widely accessible, at least not to toddlers.  Instead, she assumed I was just talking trash.  Grandmother told me, “We don’t talk like that!”

So, I didn’t.  We eventually moved out of my grandparents’ house and I never spoke of what happened, until it happened again.

I was quiet about it for five years until I was seven going on eight and decided to speak up again after a particularly terrifying night with my step-uncle. When I finally told on him, again, my big brother asked me why I was lying.  He was 17 at the time and should have beaten the shit out of someone who was raping his sister.  But no, like most people, he didn’t want to deal with the truth.  Since I did not receive any counseling or medical care after this episode, I assumed the rest of the family didn’t want to hear it either.  They simply couldn’t handle the truth. It was easier to just not talk about it. So, I didn’t.

The other day, I was unfriended on Facebook for being honest.  This person had posted something like, “If you are always saying ‘just being honest’ people hate you.” I commented that I really didn’t care if my honesty offended others.  The person told me that my friends probably didn’t like me, or something to that effect, and unfriended me.  When I noticed she unfriended me, I said “okeedokee” to myself and went along with my day.  This was a writer I had never met in real life, so it was no big loss.  Even if it was someone I did know in real life it would be no big loss because a “friend” who tells me to stifle myself is not a friend.

I am grateful that this particular former Facebook friend posted what she did and unfriended me.  She inspired me to take another look at how I have been communicating. I figured out that though it may seem like I have no filter, I have been holding a lot in, and that’s not good.  Holding everything in gives me stomachaches and headaches, and it gives me horrible writer’s block.  Every time I go to write something honest, I stop myself.  No more.  I intend to finally finish that memoir I have been procrastinating on. I’m going to be honest, and that may piss off some people, but I’m not sure I care.

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lion

I wasn’t looking for a cat the day I met Andre. I think I was looking for a car charger for my Blackberry in Best Buy.  My husband, Chris, was next door at Petsmart buying dog bones, or at least that is what he was supposed to be doing. Instead, he came into Best Buy with a big smile on his face and no bag in his hands and said, “You have to see the kittens!”  Kittens?  It was odd that my husband was excited about baby cats as he was the dog person in our relationship.

“We have a cat already, and she’s old,” was my reply.  Our cross-eyed Siamese, Kidder, was about fifteen at that time.  I knew she would not appreciate a youngster.

“But they’re so cute!”  It was like my husband had been drugged with some cat-loving potion.  I just shook my head and followed him next door to Petsmart.

A lot of Petsmarts have cat adoption rooms, and this was the case in Indiana. The local ASPCA had several cats who needed homes. This room had a row of windows and was located right next to the dog food and treats. There were three levels of cats in cages.  Chris led me to his favorite, all the way at the end of the row in a bottom cage.

IMG_2472
Beautiful Andre

My husband was interested in Andre’s brother, a much shyer version of the cat we would eventually adopt.  Like Andre, he was a long-haired gray and white beauty, with a beautiful mane. Unlike Andre, he was incredibly shy. I crouched down to peer in this kitten’s bottom level cage.  He scurried to the back corner.  My husband wanted to pet him and get to know him, so the Petsmart person took him out.  The kitten immediately ran under the cages.

I sat on the cold floor and tried to lure the cat out.  He moved farther away from me. I looked up at my husband, who was standing next to Andre’s cage, and said, “This cat will never make it in our house.  We have two dogs and an old cranky cat.”

That’s when Andre, one level up from his brother and a couple of cages over, started grabbing my husband’s shirt.  My husband moved a little, but Andre kept pushing his paw out and trying to grab my husband.  It was like he was saying, “Forget about my brother; take me!”

“Now that one stands a chance. He doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything,” I said, and I was right.

When Chris and I got Andre home, we set him up in the guest bathroom with a baby gate.  This way the dogs could see him and he could see them, but they were still apart.  I figured that Andre wouldn’t want to jump the gate, and that our old cat Kidder would not jump in.  I was wrong on the first part.

We were barely home for ten minutes when Andre jumped the gate and walked right up to our Pit Bull/Black Lab, Mario.  Mario was used to cats, but the only time he had ever seen a fluffy tail like Andre’s was on a squirrel.  Mario hated squirrels.  So, he lunged at Andre.  Andre was not impressed or afraid.  He got on his hind feet and directed eight pounds of kitten fury in Mario’s face.  Andre boxed Mario’s face until he winced and backed away.  From that moment on, Andre was the boss.

Chris and I soon learned that Andre hated medical interventions more than he hated large dogs.  Andre’s first vet visit at 8 months old went great.  Everyone in the vet’s office loved him.  After all, he was a handsome boy with smooth, fluffy fur.  He was a lover, just like he was at home.  Andre snuggled with the vet, the assistants, and even the receptionist.  He seemed to love people.  For some reason, his loveable behavior at the vet’s office changed the next year when we brought him in for a checkup.

As soon as I put his carrier on the examining table and opened the door, Andre hissed and opened his mouth like a snake with unhinged jaws. Every time the doctor laid a hand on him, he tried to bite the doctor or the assistant who was holding him.  Finally, I helped two vet assistants hold him down.  Andre was insane, and totally not the sweet boy he was at home.  Every annual visit was worse than the last.   I decided that since Andre was an indoor only cat, he would only see the vet if he was sick. So, of course this is the cat that developed colon issues at age five.

When I first noticed Andre straining in the litter box, I thought he had the dreaded urinary blockage that male cats are prone to.  After a few vet visits, it was discovered that he was constipated.  Because of his behavior, Andre had to be sedated for every visit.  He would not tolerate a simple physical exam, never mind the ultrasounds and x-rays needed to diagnose his severe constipation.  And let’s not even talk about the enemas.  A few times, my husband, my son and I had to give Andre glycerin suppositories at home when the Miralax and Cisapride, the go to regimen for this level of constipation, was not working. We learned to cover him with a beach towel and work quickly so we could avoid battle scars.

When Andre turned eight, his megacolon was formally diagnosed.  During this time, Andre could no longer defecate on his own. The medication was simply not working.  The only thing that would work was the glycerin suppositories, and even they didn’t work all of the time.  Our only other choice was major colon surgery.  This would involve multiple visits to the specialist, in addition to the surgery itself.  As I may have mentioned, Andre did not tolerate medical procedures well.  The recovery from this surgery would be brutal, and being sedated multiple times in a short amount of time would be hard on him.  Chris and I made the very tough decision to end Andre’s suffering.

My husband was with Andre in the end.  I preferred to keep my last memory of hugging Andre in the dining room before putting him in the crate for his final trip to the vet.  I told him how much I loved him, and how sorry I was to be sending him off to the place he hated most.  Andre snuggled me, like he had his whole life.  He put his paws around my neck and squeezed. According to Chris, Andre fought the vet and his staff up until his last breath.  He fought the injection that was supposed to calm him down, and he fought the final injection that ended his life.  Andre came into our lives like a lion, and he went out the same way.

Catcallers and Creeps

I grew up in South Florida, where the weather is warm and the people are weird.  When you can run around half nude most of the year, I guess it can make you a bit odd.  I know, not only because I’m still recovering from living there, but because I had to interact with catcallers and creeps whenever I left my apartment.

The apartment building we lived in when I was a teen was on a circle.  So, traffic would exit the circle and onto the street I lived on, and then another street intersected with all of that.  It was a busy intersection and an all-around clusterfuck of traffic.  This was where the dumpster for our building was located.  Guess who’s job it was to take out the trash?

I felt like I was on stage whenever I did that walk of shame to the big, green, rusty dumpster. I hated the fact that I had to live in an apartment when all my friends lived in normal houses as the universe intended. So, I was always afraid someone would see me carrying out my meager apartment trash.  I was also a bit tired of the occasional honking and yelling from the cars that would whiz around the circle.

Me 15
I looked like THIS when creeps were hitting on me. I can only imagine what would have happened if I hadn’t looked like a 1970’s British school boy.

One day, when I was 15 and at the height of my trash anxiety, the granddaddy of all catcall creep episodes happened.  The garbage man took a fancy to my sweaty shorts, tank top, and shiny acne-faced look.  He started yelling and whistling at me from the back of the truck.  Lucky for me, they didn’t stop for the contents of my dumpster.  So, I wasn’t forced to run for my life in flip-flops. The truck kept going around the circle, with the truck riding creep yelling at me. Honestly, what did he really think would happen?  Did he think I would run after the truck, jump on the back with him, and ride off into the next South Florida thunderstorm while inhaling dirty diapers and Budweiser cans?  I shook my head over that one for a while, until I met a creepier man at the beach.

A few weeks later, while still only 15, I was at the beach with my friends.  Hollywood beach has a great broadwalk.  (No, it is not a boardwalk, as autocorrect is trying to tell me.  Look it up.) It’s not one of those boring full of only nature without any indoor plumbing beaches.  I hate those.  If I want to see nature, I will turn on the National Geographic channel. Hollywood Beach has a nice, paved walkway where you can walk or attempt to run into nice, innocent walkers on your bike by ignoring all bike lane rules. It also has stores, restaurants, and assorted ice cream places.  Our next creep was seated on a patio in one of the bar/restaurants.

Now, I will say that OBVIOUSLY this guy had partaken in the bar portion of the establishment quite a bit.  This is the only explanation for his behavior.  Well, I suppose he could have had the eyesight of Mr. Magoo since he didn’t notice that I was 15 going on 12. The gentleman in question, and I do use this term very loosely, was a middle-aged French-Canadian (We got LOTS of French Canadian visitors in Hollywood.) wearing a bikini bottom bathing suit and a desperate lack of soap or deodorant.  He was red, smelly, and creepy.

“Can I buy you zee drink?”  He asked me, as I walked by, barely filling out my newly shoplifted blue bikini.

I wanted to reply with, “Can I buy you zee mirror or zee working nostrils?”   Instead, I said, “no thank you.”

He answered in a way that only someone who is truly drunk and or impaired from the smell of their own body odor can.  “Iz your loss.”

Yep. That is what this lobster red, smelly, scantily clad, OLD man told me.  That is was MY loss.  YES.  He was right. I’m still kicking myself, 30 years later, that I didn’t get drunk and have stinky old man sex right there on Hollywood Beach.  What was I thinking?

I still look back to my time in South Florida and imagine what could have happened if I had been a more adventurous girl.  I could have married the trash man, or moved to Canada, or been murdered and dismembered.  One or the other.   Now, I live up north where people cannot run around half naked most of the year unless they really want to freeze to death.  I’m also 45 now, so I don’t get catcalled as often. I’m OK with all of this.

 

 

 

Finter, Winter, Sprinter, and Summer, oh my!

Boo Boo knows how to keep warm.
Boo Boo knows how to keep warm.

I can remember sitting on the patio of a restaurant in Cape Coral, Florida, saying goodbye to local friends and colleagues before my husband, son, and I moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana. I felt pretty good about the move. South Florida had gotten gritty, crowded, and nothing like it was when I was growing up there. I knew it would be cold up north, but I also knew there would not be tourists or as much traffic. I knew prices would be lower. After all, we were buying a house that was twice as big as our Florida home for LESS money.

One of my Florida friends, a bridesmaid in my wedding and fellow teacher, warned me about the cold. She was originally from New York and told me that my nose would constantly run and bleed all winter. She also told me I would never feel warm, no matter how many layers I put on. I rolled my eyes. I worked from home. I would just crank up the heat. No big deal. HA! You were right, M.

As I mentioned in Bite Me Polar Vortex, winter was cute when we first moved to Fort Wayne. There were deer in our backyard since our house was near the woods. The snow was like glitter. It was almost like Santa himself would appear on our lawn, which was buried under glitter, at any moment.

My new neighbors told me how wonderful it was to have four seasons, and how they could not imagine living in Florida. I looked forward to these four seasons I had always learned about in school: winter, spring, summer, and fall. I soon learned, that the seasons have different names when you are a Floridian.

Summer

This is truly my favorite time of the year because it is very Florida-like. A couple of years ago, temperatures in the Midwest got up to 100. I LOVED IT. Even though I hate reptiles, I must be one. There is nothing better than hot rock weather. So, from about mid-May until the beginning of September, I am OK with going outside.

Finter

Most people call this season “fall” or “autumn.” Really, for a southern person, it’s just winter light, or finter. It’s cold, windy and dreary. It even tends to snow in late October. UCK! The leaves are pretty, but finter still sucks.

Winter

This is by far my least favorite time of the year. I now understand why Pagans started having winter festivals and celebrations hundreds of years ago. It was to keep people from committing suicide. Winter is dark and cold and just all around miserable.

Sprinter

People like to think that spring begins at the end of March. It does not. Up here in Yankee land, the leaves do not grow back and flowers do not bloom until at least May. Early spring is still winter-like. It’s the time of year when you can get pinged in the head with freezing rain, hail, or sleet.  I still don’t know the difference. I just know that it’s hard and cold and miserable.

So, what are the seasons like where you live? Are you lucky enough to live in Florida, Southern California or Hawaii? Feel free to tell me all about how warm it is. I promise not to hate you. : )

Great Dane Lab
Sophie is the only one who is dumb enough to like winter.

The Jordache Smell

 

“You’ve been wearing those same pants all week,” Dickhead (not his real name) said to me in front of everyone in the hallway right after sixth-grade math. Until that moment, I had a crush on him. I looked into his smirking face and hated him and his dark good looks.

“Um, no I haven’t. I have a couple of different pairs, and anyway I washed them.” I stammered, trying not to cry.  This was total bullshit, as I had only one pair and we did not own a washing machine.  We took our clothes to the laundromat once a week.  My dad, whom I rarely saw thanks to divorce and his lack of interest in his own children, had just bought me a pair of dark blue Jordache jeans. I was so excited that I wore those jeans five days in a row, a big middle school no-no. So, instead of having “the Jordache look” I probably had the Jordache smell. No amount of Love’s Baby Soft could cover that up.

 

Dickhead and the others laughed at me as I walked away, turning red and feeling embarrassed about having only one pair of designer jeans. This was worse than the time I got my period on my chair in science class. I marched down the hall, staring straight down at my Trapper Keeper and trying to suck the tears back into my eyes. This is when I realized that I was poor.

I’m surprised it took me that long, as our little family (just mom and me – my brother lived with my father) had received government cheese twice.  It wasn’t bad, really. It was just a big block of American cheese. Also, I had taken some cold baths by candlelight when our electricity had been turned off due to non-payment. If the free cheese and cold baths hadn’t tipped me off, I probably should have realized we did not have money when we had to move into a two-room efficiency apartment with no kitchen. We did dishes in the bathroom sink and cooked dinner on a hot plate. We ended up staying only for a weekend because the landlady got drunk and hit on my mom. The apartment was attached to the landlady’s house. My mom borrowed some money, and we moved back to our two-bedroom, two-bathroom place somehow.

Even with all of these blaring clues, the poverty did not hit me until I became a middle school fashion outcast. Everyone had designer jeans, and I got made fun of a lot for not having the proper clothes. My father, during one of his rare moments when he remembered he was my father, had taken me to Burdines in his little MG convertible to buy the jeans the week before Dickhead called out my poor hygiene. I was THRILLED about the jeans, obviously. Today, they sell Jordache at Walmart, but back in the early 80’s they were only at Burdines or Macy’s or Jordan Marsh – places where poor people didn’t shop.

jordacheShortly after this, at Christmas, my mom’s boss bought me a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt black denim jeans because my mom could not afford them. I had seen the commercials and just had to have them. So when my mom’s boss asked her what I wanted for Christmas, she told him. He didn’t know what size I was, so he just grabbed a pair at Jordan Marsh and told my mom to exchange them. Of course, the pair he gave me was size “tall and skinny.”  I have always been size “short and stout as the little teapot.” After I exchanged the jeans and got the right size, I was able to rotate my pants throughout the week. I even got a pair of Sergio Valente jeans from my mom, but I hated them because they had pink threading. My mom has always loved pink.  I prefer black.

When I was in eighth grade, two amazing things happened.  First, the county changed the school boundaries.  This enabled me to leave McNichol Middle where everyone picked on me, and start attending Olsen. On my first day at Olsen, I met Hillary, a super nice girl who introduced me to all her friends. I finally had NICE friends who were not mean to me. Hillary also helped me dress better. She told me I needed to get Guess jeans and huge EG socks. Hillary also taught me how to layer my tank tops to match my layer socks. She helped me with my eye makeup so that I didn’t look like Ozzy Osbourne pretending to be a raccoon anymore.

 

The second amazing thing is my mom met my step-dad.  Until then, my mom had been super protective of me.  I wasn’t allowed to do much. My step-dad encouraged her to let me hang out with my new friends. I went to the mall, to the movies, and to the beach like a normal 13-year-old Floridian. My step-dad also liked to shop. He would bring me home Guess jeans and other cool things from Macy’s.  I had the right clothes and the right friends. Life was finally coming together.

I still got picked on by some kids for being chubby, having pimples, crying in math class (I’ve always loathed numbers) and sucking at every team sport ever played in middle school PE. I still had bad hair days because I insisted on having my hair chopped into an 80’s do, against Hilary’s advice. Overall, though, eighth grade was a big positive turning point.  I didn’t even wear my Jordache jeans anymore.  Guess was WAY cooler.

Originally published on  Knot So Subtle .