Category Archives: Living the Dream Baby

My mother made me cry today

My mother made me cry today

From: My mother

To: Me

Sent: Thursday, February 2, 2012 12:24 PM

Subject: Today

 

Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Shelby, happy birthday to you!!

 

—–Original Message—–
From: Me

To: My mother

Sent: Thu, Feb 2, 2012 5:00 pm

Subject: Re: Today

 

What? No pepper on my steak story?

Thank you

xxoo

 

—–Original Message—–
From: My mother

To:  Me

Sent: Thursday, February 2, 2012 3:33 PM

Subject: Re: Today

 

It was just 48 years ago this morning. You were so beautiful. Dad had said he wanted a boy, and then he saw you and cried. Before I left the hospital he went shopping…picked up pink curtains with cute little bunny rabbits, pink pillow (had to explain that a baby could not sleep on a pillow), and even pink waterproof pants (yes they had waterproof that long ago). It only took me 45 minutes to produce a perfect baby! Dad sends love and still thinks you are 30 and I just let him. Love to our most beautiful baby- –

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for steak with lots of pepper.

 

—–Original Message—–
From: Me

To: Your mother

Sent: Thu, Feb 2, 2012 5:36 pm

Subject: Re: Today

 

This is my Jane entry for today. You’ll be famous.

 

—–Original Message—–
From: Your mother

To: Me

Sent: Thursday, February 2, 2012 5:38 PM

Subject: Re: Today

 

I am famous — I’m your mom.

 

My happily ever after is right around the corner

My happily ever after is right around the corner

In 2009 my husband of 16 years, boyfriend for the six years before that, told me he was done.  He wanted a divorce.  He actually said he wanted a divorce for the last ten years but put up with it all because, well he didn’t like confrontation.  He thought we’d been such good “roommates” for the last few years that he would simply move into the guest room and we would continue that arrangement for, oh, say another five years.  By then he would be ready to leave. 

A lot more was said, but I was in such shock that I don’t remember a lot of it.  As you might imagine, while he was being a good roommate, I was being a good wife.  I put up with a lot, supported him and protected him while we were waist deep in his crap. I believed I was making an investment and the payoff was just around the corner.  At some point we would be happy again; we would look back and laugh at these hard times.

So my investment went bust.  Well, I couldn’t wait for him to be ready to move out, who wants a bad investment lingering around sapping resources?  So a few weeks after he dropped his bomb, I found myself tossing his things into his car and watching him drive away.   You see, that afternoon he left with the kids for lunch and the park.  He came back at 8pm.  It seems he had a glass of wine with lunch, never made it to the park, and drank straight through to dinner.  Then he drove home.  With the kids.  I was angry and rather than suppress as usual, I called him on being irresponsible. He became enraged at my lack of gratitude for taking the kids out for the afternoon. 

There was a time when I would stand there and take it, back before we were roommates.  I never would have confronted him.  I would have apologized for appearing ungrateful and told him he misunderstood.  But you know, that November, I’d had enough.  So when he told me I was ungrateful I took a deep breath and defended myself.  That’s when he threatened to leave.  And I started to laugh.  Like divorcing me wasn’t enough, wait, there’s more!  He might actually leave!  It was ludicrous.  He was ludicrous. 

I remember it was scary and exhilarating.  This man who I couldn’t imagine spending my life without… in a matter of days I suddenly couldn’t imagine spending another second anywhere around him.

Well, because he doesn’t like confrontation, and he doesn’t like to be wrong, and he doesn’t like paying his debts, we still aren’t divorced.  My attorney told me last week we have a mandatory settlement hearing first week in February. We must agree to the dissolution that day or the judge will end it under his own terms.  So I’ve been reflecting a lot these last few days.

I’ll finally be divorced first week in February.  For the right things, I am very grateful.

New Year’s Revolutions

New Year’s Revolutions

My kids and I have been discussing the resolutions we want to make.  I think goals are a good idea.  I think that reviewing where you are and thinking about ways you’d like to change or improve can only be a good thing.  We take the whole first week of the New Year to think about it since being on time or being prepared has never been a resolution.

So my Sam says, “I want a revolution too.”

“That’s ‘resolution’ little guy, but I like your spirit.”

“I want my revolution to be eating more dessert and less school.  I like school, but I don’t want to go to school.”

Which makes perfect sense to me.  For my part I’m going to try embracing holidays.  I really do hate them.  The older I get, the more cynical I become, every single holiday feels like an orchestrated event to get us to spend money and buy advertising space and humiliate ourselves trying to sing unsingable songs.  And with small children, the holidays cannot be dodged.  The decorating, the obligatory gift giving and card sending . . . it all makes me crazy.  Crazy with exhaustion and that feeling that I’ll never get a grip on it.  I’m always behind.

So this year, I’m getting in front of the holidays.  Every month there is some opportunity, and we are going to celebrate.  We are going to celebrate every damn holiday if it kills me.  We are going to have fun dammit.   That means decorating, a small gift exchange, food and some social activity for the whole family.  I will even hang the appropriate flag outside our front door as evidence of my holiday spirit. Ugh.

Which brings me to the first holiday.  Martin Luther King Day.  What on earth does one do for this holiday?  I’m being challenged right out of the gate.  How do you decorate to integrate?  Is there equality food?  What does a freedom gift exchange look like?  All I can think of is that we each take a portion of King’s great speeches and read them aloud.  And while that might sound educational and beautiful, come on, it’s lame!  My resolve is being tested only two weeks into the New Year.

I won’t be tripped up though.  I’ve got the glow of a New Year’s Resolution all over me and I will not fail.  I’ll probably lose that last ten pounds by then too.  Who am I kidding?

Excused from PE for life

Excused from PE for life

I have a girlfriend diagnosed with cholinergic urticaria.  There is no cure.  There is only pre-emptive treatment which means you have to know when an attack is coming.  And, that’s not possible.  Even if you could know in advance, there are only over the counter medications.  Big pharma hasn’t taken on the task of trying to fix this disorder.  And yet. . .

A quick look on Wikipedia says that this is a disease brought on by a rise in the body’s temperature, ie from exercising!  That’s right: an allergy to exercising!  And it has such an exotic name.  Bonus.

What I wouldn’t have given for a note to my gym teacher in high school, “I’m very sorry, please excuse my daughter from PE today and every day.  She has cholinergic urticaria which is untreatable and incurable.” No navy blue gym shorts of unfashionable length!  With my name in white fabric paint etched across my thigh!  No more teachers hollering my name from across the field!

Wait, were they teachers or coaches?  Come to think of it, they didn’t do either.  They were more like referees or parole officers keeping the potheads from sparkin’ up and too cools from humiliating the nerds.  Although most of the too cools got to take cheerleading as a class.  And what was that about?  A class?  For credit?  For cheerleading?  Seriously, I hope things have changed.

I digress.  I feel terrible for and envious of my friend.  I really do love to exercise, but I have no time and my butt shows it.  The thick layer of dust on my treadmill is testimony of my good intentions.  By the time I get home from work I’ve got two hours to do homework with the boys and cook dinner.  The idea of 30 minutes on the treadmill is a distant fantasy.  Maybe if I get up early…

But really, I sound so whiney about it.  Much better to say, “Sorry, I’d love to go for a run along the beach, but I have cholinergic uticaria you know.  I have to be careful.”

Stupid Christmas trees

Stupid Christmas trees

I am irked by the holidays.  I’d go so far as to say I hate Christmas, but I think God would be angry and I can’t have that.

I have a fake Christmas tree on my front porch.  It’s a hand me down from my mother.  I already had very nice compact tree for the inside of the house so this big tall one got relegated to outdoor decoration.  And amazingly, it gets lots of compliments from the neighbors who enjoy seeing a big 10’ Christmas tree all lit with multicolored lights and metallic bows.   Now, not only because of the God thing but also because the neighbors expect it, I have to put that frickin’ tree up every year.  I go to war with this tree every December.

I got new lights this year. I thought I would do something nice for it and it might return the favor.  About 2000 tiny jewel colored flickering lights in the night.  At least for a few hours and then they sputter out.  I’ve change the fuses now three times.  I’ve changed the way they link together so that they don’t.  Each strand has its own independent extension cord.  Wires flow from under the tree skirt.  Very high tech.  I fear I can only keep the lights on for about four hours at a time and then they blow out.  I’m so irritated with the outdoor tree I could cry.  I don’t even move the ladder back to the garage any more.  It’s on standby.

The indoor tree has proved just as uncooperative this year.  It’s a conspiracy of ornamentation.  It’s a prelit tree which came with now lost guarantees.  I stacked it up and plugged it in and several of the strands don’t work this year.  So off to Target for replacement lights.  A couple hours later and it’s up and down the ladder filling the voids.

My faith in the indoor tree is lost so I won’t decorate it.  It’s a naked tree.  As soon as I hang something on it, I know a strand will go out and I won’t be able to do anything if balls are on it.

The last few days I walk into the living room, glare at the tree and challenge it to screw me over.  Then I hold my breath and plug it in.  Whatever relief I may experience when the lights turn on is short-lived as I realize I need to walk to the porch and have a show down with Tree Number Two.

Considering my investment of time, these trees are staying up until Valentine’s Day.

To wake, perchance to exercise

To wake, perchance to exercise

I was thinking this morning, as I hit the snooze button for the second time, that my good and bad days are determined by one key event: getting out of bed.

To be more precise, getting out of bed when the alarm actually goes off.  For the first time.

It’s psychological and also physiological.  If I get out of bed when I’m suppose to at 4:45am I have an immediate sense of accomplishment.  I did it, I got out from under the covers! I can do anything!

After that I make coffee and get on the treadmill.  I’m taking care of myself, increasing my metabolism, burning calories, and waking up the engine that will power my day.  I can listen to Bill Handel and his morning crew and nothing makes me smile like an irreverent cynic with great sound bites.  He’s an equal opportunity offender and I am in love with him.

I pound out two miles, sometimes I even run for some interval training, and I’m good to shower and beautify.  Then, with the extra time, I can make my lunch and fix myself a couple of boiled eggs.  I can safely and cleanly eat these as I drive to work.  As everyone in LA knows, you have to multi-task when you drive or it’s a missed opportunity.

All of this happens while the children sleep.  I’m alone.  I’m uninterrupted.  I’m self-indulgent while still being responsible.  It’s truly the best feeling and tees me up for a productive day.  Sometimes I even have time to accessorize!

Mind you, I’m having this epiphany while continuing to hit the snooze button.

You know, maybe every day is too big a reach.  Maybe I need a day off so my muscles can recover.  I heard that somewhere.  So every other day might be more realistic.  I could live with good days 50% of the time.

And that’s about the time I notice I’ve “overslept” about 15 minutes and now I’m late.

But it’s totally worth it because of the invaluable epiphany.  I can’t wait to see what my epiphany will be tomorrow.

Deck the halls with boughs of brag

Deck the halls with boughs of brag

Actual photo from my 2005 Christmas card. I made some quip about "all through the house not a creature was stirring.... just not my house."

I haven’t sent holiday cards in three years.  I use to love creating holiday cards.  One time I drew a Christmas tree on each card, just the outline, and used my children’s toe prints to create the ornaments.  This year, I’m finally in a financial position to send cards, and I have some things to communicate.  There have been some big changes.

I haven’t decided how exactly to say all that I’d like to say so I’m paying attention to the letters I’ve been getting and, unfortunately, they annoy me.

I don’t like the impersonal trend toward ink jet address labels and Shutterfly messages, but more than that, they are all braggy brag.  “Our son was accepted into the Global Leadership Program for bilingual children with a political interest, and after graduating from first grade this year, he will embark on the program in Spain.”  Or the most irksome, “Our daughter has mastered the moguls and won her first competition.  Dad doesn’t understand why this second home in Aspen which was suppose to give HIM the opportunity ski is instead making Olympic hopefuls out of his children (Darn that work!)”  Seriously, this was in a letter I received today.

My letter would read something like this: “Dear friends, what a year!  I’ve finally hit stride as a single mom.  After a year of searching and hundreds of resumes sent, I’m back with my old employer, something I never envisioned myself doing.  I realize now how important stability, a pay check and benefits really are.  Big adventure and risk-taking are overrated.  It’s all about the orthodontic coverage, and I know that now.  My oldest son is gaining confidence although his daydreaming is reflected in his grades.  My number two son is doing well with his support systems and warming up to reading now that he’s in the third grade.  We’ve tackled many of his food sensitivities and his nose stopped running after three years!  Who knows how number three son is, I haven’t had time to look at him.  That’s right dear friends, I’m now solidly on the road to healthy mediocrity and couldn’t be happier!”

I do coffee too

I do coffee too

I got a job exactly a year ago.  OK, not exactly, more like 13 months ago and it’s given me some cause to reflect.  Being “out there” then was an interesting experience.  I suppose when you are competing in a large metropolitan area for a job with thousands of other similarly qualified candidates, it couldn’t be anything other than interesting.  And grueling.  The rules of engagement have changed for a job that is traditionally undervalued:  assistant.

First of all, I’m rather lucid about who I am and what I have to offer the market.  I’m an executive assistant.  I can almost remember where I was when we changed from secretaries to assistants.  I kinda liked the secretary verbiage.  It means keeper of secrets and I was.  I am.  I digress.

Many years later I know I am not a risk-taker.  I’m not going to be the guy in the window office trying to raise money or materialize profitable ideas.  I will however be happy to execute that person’s vision and in all other ways kick ass to make it happen.

And believe it or not, industries still need secretaries.  The cutbacks of the last few years have seen many of my peers cut loose and it’s been a mistake to let them all go.  One of my window office friends works in a small industrial tools office.  Highly specialized.  They let their two assistants go rather than sacrifice the “real” talent.  Now he spends three hours on some days trying to make an airline reservation.  He spent two hours yesterday uncovering his FedEx account number.  I think their investors would croak knowing this talented sales guy who could be out nailing contracts, growing their business and ensuring their long term success is instead spending hours trying to create a six leg travel agenda that an experienced assistant could do in ten minutes – then she could help put his sales presentations together, make sure he had all of his materials for the road show and be on stand by in case he needed items FedExed (an account number she has memorized).

What I do is not glamorous, but it is significant.  And sure a lot of people can do it, but there are a few of us who do it really well.  That’s what was interesting about the interview process, trying to figure out how they were separating the wheat from the chaff.  In the end I think it came down to direct honesty rather than strategy.  I was upfront, “This isn’t rocket science, I’m not developing new ideas. I’m not even interested in being creative.  I’m interest in making you succeed, because when you win, the client wins, the investor wins and, yes, I win too.”

I’ve been doing this too long, not be in for the win.  Secretaries can have killer instincts too.  I just wish I could have brought a few of my friends with me.

What happened here?

What happened here?

I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the whole process.  I’m writing an explanation in hopes that this will jump start me again.  I hear that works.

When I started blog writing over a year ago, I had tight deadlines, daily writing assignments on all kinds of topics.  There was a sense of urgency, I felt a responsibility, and I got it done.  I still get it done.  I write daily for several websites.  In the course of those writing gigs, I also was asked to blog from my unique perspective: the middle aged single mom, three young boys, one autistic, dating after 20 years, perimenopausal, retiring parents, one with Alzheimer’s point of view.  That’s a lot and you’d think there would be tons of material.  But even then, posting once a week, I would get stuck.

Then I lost the self absorbed blog.  Seems the demographic and I didn’t exactly mix.  And I missed it.  I missed the objective musing on this life and the hysterical qualities it had somehow acquired.  And speaking of acquisitions, I acquired in the last few years a boyfriend candidate, a hippie room mate, a really good friend, the belligerence of my absent-almost-ex-husband, an estranged brother, a circle of divorced mom friends, a full time job, a new set of co-workers, an old car, a crazy young guy friend, an old rock star, and a ton of threatening letters from CitiBank wondering when I’m going to pay off my ex-husband’s exorbitant debt.  Yes, bat shit crazy indeed.

So my life is richer than ever.  Almost always almost too much to handle, but one way or another it gets done.  And I’d love to write about it again which is why I started this blog many weeks ago.  But I find trying to pull together my old posts, new essays, ideas on post-it notes, memos to self in the margins of my Franklin, all just a bit daunting.  I found a note “fart on demand”.  I can’t remember for the life of me what that meant.  See, now I have to do research.  Add that to the list.

It’s sort of a big philosophical as well as practical question: how do I get on with it?  [Even at this moment, while I’m trying to think and organize ideas my Calvin is sitting at the desk across from me barking, literally. He’s my 9 year old.]   I think in the end I just have to do it.  My friend Belinda at the office told me yesterday that the only real great advice she got from her years of therapy post divorce was this:  In order to live your life, you must go through it.  So put your head down, aim forward and just go.  So that’s what I’m doing now.  But first, I’m going to give myself a break.  These postings won’t be perfect.  I’m mixing past and present, musing on the future.  Sometimes it won’t make sense.

It really is just like life.

 

A view from the laundromat

A view from the laundromat

Maybe two years ago my clothes dryer died.  At first I was broke and couldn’t afford to get it fixed.  Now, I’m just obstinate.  I could get it fixed, but I rebel against the plumbers that charge a $90 house call fee.  They tell you what’s wrong and how much it will cost.  They then apply the house call fee to the cost of repair.  It guarantees that there is no problem which is going to be less than $90.  What if it’s a loose wire or it can’t be fixed at all?  Really?  $90?  I also discovered that my electric bill went down $20 when I quit drying in the house.

Do the math:  I do two loads of drying a week.  That’s eight a month.  Eight loads for $20 in electricity and who knows in water and gas.  So let’s say clothes drying costs me $25 a month at home.  A fabulous local laundromat charges thirty cents for 10 minutes of drying in a double load dryer.  So I can dry all my clothes in one load for 30 minutes.  That’s $1 a week or $4 a month.  So I save $21 dollars a month by going to the laundromat.  Plus the freakin’ $90 for the house call.

And I have fallen in love with it.  Every Sunday at 4pm I pack up the kids and we drive a few blocks to the Clean Scene.  There’s a pizza place next door that sells $6 cheese pizza.  We go, we start the load, we walk next door and order pizza.  Ten minutes later either Steve or Mario will deliver it to us at the laundromat.  The manager of the laundromat – Andrew – is a really nice young man.  He is the middle of three boys so when my three little guys come in, I think he looks at me like an echo of his own mother.  There is a big screen tv and he’ll usually change it to the Simpson’s or some other kid friendly kind of thing when we get there.  I always offer him pizza and he always very politely declines.

There are lots of regulars and I’ll talk about them another time.  I find it mesmerizing being a part of this community.  It’s an intimate thing: washing your clothes.  It reveals so much about you: what you think about material possessions, how you care for them, personal taste, the types of people in your family, what size bed you have, the level of clean freak that you are.  The relationships are amazing.  Who do you bring to the laundromat?  Why?  There’s a woman that brings her grandmother who is in a wheelchair.  I imagine for the same reason I bring my three kids:  she won’t leave her alone and doesn’t want to get a sitter.  But maybe I’m totally wrong.  Maybe Grandma just loves it the way I do.  You can’t make any assumptions about the people in a laundromat.

It took a while for us to become regulars, but we are, and it’s some kind of weird wonderful.  I wouldn’t give it up.  For one hour on Sundays my kids and I are part of this tenuous, ethereal thing.  It’s a microcommunity.  We come together for such a short time then fall away. Then back again.

Kind of like a tide – or maybe I should say Tide.