Friday, September 26, 2014

Burning the Book

 













Everyone’s divorce story is boring.  Except mine. Mine’s amazing.

When you first find yourself dumped and alone.  Left for another woman. A single mom, with two babies in diapers.  Pathetic.  Fat.  Wronged.  Fat.  Angry.  Fat. You will tell anyone in the world your story.  And you think they care.  But they don’t.  I mean, mine they care about.  But yours, they don’t give a shit. 

In a long list of people that cared deeply and never got tired of hearing my incredibly unique divorce story, one man stood out.   My beloved UPS man, Peanut.  Out of all my paid friends, Peanut was the most sympathetic shoulder to cry on. 

Peanut and I had been front-door-best-friends for 6 years.  Being alone in a house with two babies day and in a day out, Peanut’s deliveries were THE highlight of my day.

I’m not certain Peanut was his Christian name but he wore it well.  Peanut was small in stature but a mighty moral force. After my divorce, I found myself buying things on Amazon just to see his tiny face.  I would one-click a single pair of socks if it would beckon my beloved Peanut.  He would deliver a package and I would deliver him a tale of a woman wronged for what seemed like hours because it was hours.  I would cry as he stood in silence. 

Peanut had developed throat cancer and had had his voice box removed.  When he really wanted to tell me how sympathetic he was to my drama, he would take out his artificial larynx, place it to his throat and a robot voice would say, “Eugenia, I really must be going.”  I like to think that I helped Peanut during his cancer battle.  Showing him that, in fact, things could be worse. 

This past weekend, my new, shiny husband Zack and I went on a much needed trip to San Francisco.   While there we ate and drank and ate some more, which I find is the only thing to do in San Francisco.  When a city is known for a bowl made entirely of bread…well, for me, it’s a city of bad decisions and carbohydrates.
When I eat out, there are certain rules I must always follow or I will make for a terrible dinner companion.

Number 1: Do not sit me in front of or near a mirror. 
I will spend the whole night staring at myself, which will lead to self-loathing and regret because I ate bread, which will lead to a conversation about bulimia and how lucky those girls are, which will lead to more guilt because bulimia is a serious disease, which will lead to me accepting me for me, which will lead to a late night Domino’s Pizza delivery in my bed while watching re-runs of The Golden Girls, which will lead to me being sad that I stopped writing, which will lead to me being sad that I have nothing to write about, which will lead to me blaming my ex-husband for not being more supportive, which will lead to me telling my divorce story, which will lead to absolutely nothing.

Number 2:  Never sit me near another table. 
Their conversation is far more interesting than anything my husband and I can talk about after several days together.  There are only so many times he can explain baseball, tell me how much he loves me, and try to convince me that I’m not fat.   He’s so stupid.  I’m sitting in front of a mirror.  I’m not blind.

I was digging into my second piece of artisan San Francisco sourdough bread convincing myself that because it was made in San Francisco there were less preservatives making the carbs in some way less carby, when a woman, her pregnant friend and her pregnant friends husband were seated exactly one and one half pieces of teardrop shaped bread away from us.  From my perspective, we were dining together.  My immediate impulse was to introduce myself and ask the pregnant woman, Erica, when she was due. 

I could tell right away that this was Erica’s first pregnancy. I could tell because she was proud of her baby bump.  When I was pregnant, I would hold my belly to make sure people knew that yes, I was morbidly obese but with child, not just plain old regular morbidly obese.  Erica was holding her stomach as though it needed support or it would fall off because she was so skinny.   She’s so stupid.  Erica didn’t realize that being pregnant is embarrassing because there is a human living inside of you that will eventually make its way out of your vagina and everyone knows it.  She didn’t realize that after the baby crawls out of her, she will find herself in a jumpy house unable to control her bladder at a childs birthday party and blame a toddler named Spencer for the wet spot.
Erica needed all of my wisdom and she needed it fast.  I had to tell her how to breastfeed.  How long to breastfeed.  About the too-infrequently-used “side-hold” position.  I needed to tell her about all the recalled baby products.  Is she taking her pre-natals?  What brand? Has she taken a babymoon?  Does she know how to swaddle?  Has anyone explained to her that you bite a newborns nails off?

My wheels were spinning as my husband gave me a familiar look.  It’s a slow headshake where he psychically tells me, “No.  They don’t need any of your wisdom.”   He’s so stupid.  I was about to gift the pregnant woman my knowledge anyway when Rachel, the single friend hijacked my would-be conversation. 

-Rachel is doing great.  Ryder and Natalie are also doing great.  Well,  not great.  They are doing as well as can be expected for two children whose father just up and walks out on them.  It’s just, why would Todd introduce them to his girlfriend without speaking to Rachel first?  If they are to co-parent shouldn’t Todd have introduced Cindy to Rachel first?  But it all goes back to Todd and his selfishness.

SHUT UP, RACHEL.  Nobody cares.  And so began the two hour meal with my husband and our dinner companions Rachel, Erica and Bob.  I was irritated to say the least.  There was no time for me to insert my expertise. Not an opening for me to brag about tandem breastfeeding.  No.  Instead, I had to listen to Rachel and her stupid divorce story. 

-Ryder and Natalie don't eat junk food.  They just don’t.  They don’t drink soda.  To them, juice is a special occasion.  They’ve never had McDonalds.  Well, maybe they do at Todd’s house.  He never cared about their well-being before the divorce but maybe he does now.  Maybe Todd being on his own will open his eyes to being a decent father.  Although, this latest stunt with Cindy is proving that he’s the “same old Todd”.

Yawn.  Who cares?  Get over it.  I looked at my shiny new husband.  I gave him the look of, “Well, now I need to insert myself into this divorce story. She doesn’t know a divorce story till she hears mine.”  Zack slowly shook his head.  Psychically reminding me, no one needs your knowledge.  He’s so stupid.  Rachel needed me.   

-And it’s not like Rachel was a prude.  She and Todd have always had a very intense sexual connection and that’s why the whole Cindy thing is making it weird.  For Todd not for Rachel.  Rachel’s doing great.  Rachel can tell that Cindy is jealous.  And Rachel feels terrible because all she wants is Todd’s happiness.  Nothing else.

It was at this point that I started to hear some oddly familiar divorce story lines.

“I don’t want you to take a side.   He needs friends right now.  He’s really broken.  You just have to ignore the fact that he walked out on his family for some young chick.  I’m sure Cindy is a great girl.”

I recognized it immediately.  The desperate attempt to seem sympathethic while passive-aggressively explaining that if they ever speak to Todd again, they are dead to you.  What Rachel had yet to learn, and I was dying to teach her, is in divorce there is a science to splitting the friends.

You keep your original friends.  The ones you came into the marriage with.

The couple friends that you made together, you split as follows.   If they are work friends that need Todd for financial gain, they sell their souls and stay with Todd.  If they are parent friends with kids at your school, they stay with you and go straight to heaven. 

There is one exception.  If you give someone the option to stay friends with the “Todd” of the marriage, they’re going to stay friends with “Todd”.   And here’s why.   While you are out there, scorned, trying to show people how “super” you’re doing, Todd’s actually doing “super”.  He’s not whining about you being a bad mom.  He’s in hog heaven.  He’s rid of you.  The nag who wouldn't let his kids have a McDonald’s happy meal.  And now, he’s got another woman to take care of him.  So, while you went from an intact family to a single mom raising the kids alone, Todd went from one woman to another. Someone is still cooking him dinner.  Someone is still washing his unders.  The only difference is you’ve been exchanged for a younger model who thinks Todd is a god.  And now, Todd’s a good-time guy.  He’s good company. You are the buzz kill.  No one cares that Todd lets the kids eat McDonalds.  They don’t care about anything at all except that Todd doesn’t bitch and complain while they are binging on artisan sourdough bread.

Rachel got up to go to the restroom.  Erica grimaced at Bob and said, “Wow, poor Todd.” 

And that was the end of Rachel’s friendship with Erica and Bob.  Rachel was pathetic.  And I used to be Rachel.  Sometimes I still am.  I looked at my husband, ashamed.  He got it.  And he loves me anyway. I guess he’s not that stupid. 

The meal ended.  My dinner companions left.  I still didn’t understand baseball.  I was still fat.  Zack still loved me and no one cared about Rachel’s divorce story.

And that’s the sad truth.  No one cares.  If you want people to see your ex for who he really is, you are wasting your time.  He’ll reveal himself.  And when he does, no one will care.  You won’t be vindicated because you will be a distant memory.  No one will feel sorry for you.  They don’t care.   They cared for exactly one week when it was gossip.  Then they stopped caring.

And if you land on your feet.  Married.  Happy.  Healthy.  Skinny.  Well, then Todd looks like the big hero.  Cause now you’re so much better off.  Todd did everyone a big huge favor by leaving you.  Thanks, Todd.  Dick.

It’ll take time, but you finally realize you need to put your divorce story to bed.  Close that chapter.  Close the book.   And your friends, your original friends who know where the bodies are buried.  The ones that have watched you feed your children Chicken McNuggets while complaining that Todd feeds the kids junk.  They share your story.  They lived it with you.  They hate Todd.  I promise.  It’s time to burn the book.  To look forward and live for the future.   The new book is going to be so much better.  The stories will be filled with everything you need.  Love, laughter, family, your original people, a bread bowl, Peanut the UPS man and world peace.  Also, if anyone wants to hear my divorce story, it's a real doozy and I'm happy to share it.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Luz













I’m back on junk. 

My junk of choice is the acceptance, love and approval of housekeepers.

The proof of my addiction comes in the form of an acrylic heart with a laser-etched picture of Jesus, which sits proudly in my entryway proclaiming he is love.

My disease has no limits.
I have; sung in the wedding of, thrown showers for, been the maid of honor for, dined at the Ivy with, put through school, roomed with and given all my good clothing to different housekeepers over the years. 
I have never fired a housekeeper.  I have; moved to a different country, gotten a job, lost a job, broken my leg, come down with mono and talked them into college.  I am too concerned with their approval and love to actually fire them.   

My addiction started at a young age.  My parents had a slew of "helpers" over the years but one in particular destroyed me.   Her name was Maura and she was an El Salvadorian pin-up girl.  A "Bom Bom de la Semana."  She had just arrived in the States and thought she could continue her “Bom Bom” status.  In the States, she was more like a “Bom” and never imagined she would end up cleaning houses. 

Maura had a habit of smoking inside our home and I took great pleasure in tattle-tailing on her.   One day, in an act of retaliation, she showed up to work wearing white Keds to which she had puffy painted the following phrase: "Genna es Gorda."  Not so loosely translated: “Genna is fat.”  I was a pubescent 13-year-old and I wasn’t "a thin." I also wasn’t "a fat" but it was the absolute worst thing she could have said to my weakened self-esteem.
That was the moment that destroyed me.  I became a desperate child needing the acceptance and love of all domestics. 

My family has always had boundary issues with housekeepers so my co-dependency never felt that odd.  Once, a housekeeper gave birth to a baby in our upstairs toilet.  My mother, knowing the baby was the reincarnation of her newly deceased father, wanted to adopt the child and name him Pancho.  Pancho's birth-mother had different plans for her son.  I have never met my would-be adopted brother/grandfather Pancho, but I think of him often. 
Pre-divorce I had Jenny.  Jenny wasn't my subordinate.  Jenny was my best friend.  She was with me for the births of my babies.  For the end of my marriage.  For the beginning of my new life.  Jenny was my rock.  We talked about growing old together.  Jenny told me everyday that I looked like I had lost weight.  Everyday.  She made me feel pretty.  She made me feel seen.  She wouldn't twitter all day and ignore me during meals.  But then I got divorced and had no money so Jenny quit. 
As it turns out, we were not soul-mates. 

Jenny was rock bottom.  

Like most addicts, I tried to go cold turkey.  This time it would be different.  This time I wouldn't cross the housekeeper/ best friend in the universe line.  
I asked my mother's longtime housekeeper-slash-bestfriend-slash-worst enemy Lucero, if she knew of anyone to replace my beloved Jenny. 
Lucero, whom we all call Luz, suggested I meet her friend Luz, whom we all call Luz.
I was toast from the get go.  Luz told me that I was not only beautiful but also skinny and so she immediately got the job. 
I was using again.  I didn't ask for a reference.  Didn't care if she could clean.  She thought I was skinny and that was good enough for me. 
We were soul-mates.

As Luz and I ate left-over birthday cake from her son Steven's party (which I was invited to but couldn't attend because of my mono) and drank coffee that she brought me in a travel mug from her house because my coffee is too weak, she gave me unsolicited advice about my life. 
Luz believes I have too much estress.  She feels very strongly about this and claims that the estress medicine that American doctors give out is not estrong enough. 
Luz believes that I am entirely too weight obsessed.  That I should drink more full-fat milk and the weight will simply fall off.  
Luz thinks that I look extremely young and therefore my uterus also looks young giving me many more years of baby-making ahead.  She has taught me the tricks of having a girl.  It involves the lunar cycle, odd sexual positions and a strict diet of beef tongue.  
Luz thinks I drink too much water.
I don't wear enough make up.
I don't rest enough.
I don't take time for me.
And Luz thinks I'm extremely thin so nothing else matters.

Last week she told me that she would understand if I needed to find someone else as she doesn't babysit and can only offer me a few hours of cleaning a week.  She gave me the out.  I gave her a raise.
Luz brings me little gifts all the time, like 
a Mickey Mouse Christmas snow globe and underwear to name a few.  But she recently gave me the greatest gift of all.

My youngest son Leo is what one might call “an eater.”  An eater is just a nice term that my mother came up with for someone who can become morbidly obese if they aren’t nagged daily to stop eating.  I too am “an eater.” 
One day Luz looked at Leo and said, “Ay lindo precioso, mi Gordo.”    I flipped out.   She was going to make him into a desperate needy child as Maura had done to me so many years earlier. 
Luz told me to calm down.  That I was acting estressed out.  That in her country calling someone "gordo" (fat) is a term of endearment.  It is a name reserved for the most special and loving children.   It has nothing to do with weight. 

And that's when it happened.  Luz freed me from my past.  I'm not fat.  I'm special.  So special that Maura puffy painted it on her Keds for all the world to see.  Perhaps it's no accident that Luz's name means light.  She enlightened me after 24 years of pain and frustration. I was finally free of my addiction.

That night, I slept a little easier.  The next day, Luz brought me an acrylic heart with a laser-etched picture of Jesus proclaiming he is love.  She said I needed more Jesus in my life.  That acrylic heart will forever and proudly remain in my entryway, because Luz gave it to me and Luz thinks I'm thin and Luz is my best friend in the whole universe.   


Thursday, July 18, 2013

A COMPLETE MISTAKE

I am beyond humiliated by a mistake post that came out a few days ago.
1. It was train of thought.
2. It was incomplete.
3. It was full of spelling and grammatical errors.
4. Something is wrong with Blogger as it is publishing things it shouldn't.
5. I want to die now. 
Please ignore what you read and forgive me.  That was NEVER meant to be published...though kids are pretty shitty.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sofia the First; and Other Tales of Divorce




I'm a couch potato.  Anyone who knows me knows that I can waste a good four hours in front of the television.  Some people garden.  Some read.   I watch mind-numbing trash in an effort to escape my reality.  My genre of choice is reality housewives or psychic housewives.

Lately I've gone against type.  I've been enjoying a more thought-provoking, scripted show.    A work of fantasy that makes me contemplate life.   The show, nay, masterpiece, is Sofia the First.  It's on Disney Junior and I go to bed early Thursday nights so I can wake up Friday mornings at 6:30  to watch.

It's about a "village girl" named Sofia who's  "doin' all right"  who  "became a princess overnight"  when her seamstress mother marries the King.  So sayeth the opening title song.

It's a Disney fairytale and for 22 minutes I suspend disbelief and attend a royal slumber party. (Not pass out in my sweats with a toddler's foot in my face. )  I ride a flying horse.  (Not a filthy car with an unexplained b.o. escaping through the air conditioning.)  And  I make music with the local trolls. (Not alone at my piano contemplating my operatic comeback at age 37.)  Friday mornings at 6:30  I'm not a couch potato mom in need of a root touch-up and a manicure.  I am Princess Genna.

But here's where they lose me.

Never has Sophia mentioned her father.  Not once.  In fact, the moment her mother marries the King she immediately calls him Dad.  That's not her Dad.  Where is Sofia's father?  Why is there no mention of him? 

Okay, so maybe,  just maybe,  and this is just me spitballing...

Sofia's father cheated on her mom with many,  but ultimately left the mom, Miranda,  for some local hotsy-totsy.  So the King, known for being "down with the villagers,"  takes pity on her.  He drops in on Miranda's little shop just to let her know that the whole kingdom is behind her and that she'll be "doin' alright" in no time.

Their eyes lock.   There's heat, but he's the King and married, and she's certainly not going down that road.  

The King and Miranda see each other from time to time at local ribbon-cutting ceremonies and Best Pet in the Kingdom competitions.  Things like that.

At some point, the Queen notices their mutual attraction and in an attempt to control the situation commissions Miranda to make her a gown to be worn at the big Inner-Village Peasants and Noble People Ball like they have at Downton Abbey.  

Knowing this is the job opportunity of a lifetime, Miranda slaves for days over the gown.  She works her fingers till they bleed.  She calls in the local woodland creatures to help.  The gown is a masterpiece.

Miranda shows up at the ball knowing she has ensured a better life for herself and Sofia, only to find that the Queen has done a full switch-a-roonie.  She's wearing some other local designer's gown.  The Queen whispers in Miranda's ear, "Stay away from my husband, you whore."

Miranda runs out of the ball in tears.  Is it not humiliation enough that her scumbag village photographer husband left her for a young circus clown?  Must she endure the humiliation of the Queen as well?  The King sees her leaving and runs after her.  He takes her hand and apologizes for his wife's behavior.  He explains that she struggles with bipolar disorder and is hideously unattractive. He apologizes because he knows he has been inappropriate with his advances.  He begs her forgiveness and gently kisses her wet hand.   It's raining.

The Queen watches the exchange and comes charging after Miranda but a mischievous woodland creature trips the Queen and she falls in a mud puddle.  The poor Queen has humiliated herself in front of the entire Kingdom of Enchancea.

That night, in an act of great selflessness, the Queen hangs herself.  The King is beyond thrilled to find her lifeless body dangling and immediately heads to the village to claim the seamstress and her, let's face it,  bastard child.  The King's teenage children are told never to mention their mother's name again and poor little Sofia, the kindly bastard child of the local seamstress is now Sofia the First with a talking pet rabbit named Clover,  played by American treasure Mr. Wayne Brady.

That's just one possible theory.  There could be a different back story but I highly doubt it.

Yes.  It's my favorite show but that doesn't mean it gets a free pass.

To this day, I  struggle with  what happened to Carole and Mike Brady's spouses.  There's no "every other weekend" for that Bunch.  Cindy never went to  behavioral therapy because her father abandoned her.  If Mr. Brady's wife had died why didn't they discuss her?  What?   She dies and they all just pretend she never existed?   And none of the girls rebelled?  Their father up and leaves Mrs. Brady for some chicky and gives up all custody of his kids?  He's got some new young trick who spends all his money and the kids are all cool with that?  Please.  That's not real life.  In real life, those Brady girls are slutbags.

Here is real life.   You marry.  You have the best of intentions. You try your hardest.  Sometimes it ends.  You share your kids with people who have hurt you in ways you can never describe.  You smile through it, cause you're "doin' alright."  You watch your young boys love another woman.  It hurts. You smile.  You make the best of things.  You cry when you don't get to spend Mother's Day with them.  You pray that only kind words are said about you and you do the same, though it kills you inside.  You meet a good man.  A kind man.  A man of integrity.  They call him Zack, not Dad.  You lead your children by example and you carry on.

And every Friday morning, you wake up at 6:30 to watch the fantasy version of divorce and mixed families with your two young boys.  You force them to sing the opening song with you.  Sometimes you wear costumes.  You squeeze them and hold on for dear life because you know these days of fantasy are fleeting and soon there will be real questions to answer.  The holes in the story will need to be filled and they will realize that life is not a fairytale after all.





Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Man-Jewelry, Scientology and Two-Buck-Chuck

I'm pretty sure I'm not as great as I think I am. Though it's up for discussion.

Divorced life is different from married life in a lot of ways. For one, you have no husband. You share your kids with someone you don't particularly care for. You are forced to move from your home. Your lifestyle changes. But most apparent, you shop exclusively at Trader Joe's.

It's a pretty good bet that on any given day I'm at the grocery store. I'm not a planner. I can't buy for the week and make that work for me like so many savvy mommies. I know my limitations. Organization is one of them. Also, diet, exercise, relationships, reading, spelling, learning stuff and follow through. Other than that I'm perfect.

Pre-humiliating-divorce, I would hit the local Gelson's for a this or a that, drop a couple hundred and think nothing of it. As a boost to my self esteem, I would run into Trader Joe's to visit with the commoners. I'd watch them buy Charles Shaw wine thinking to themselves, "It's so good and yet so reasonably priced." I'd think, how quaint. Their lips have never touched the ambrosia that is truly excellent wine and therefore they have no desire for it. I wasn't judging exactly, but I was judging.

Just last night I enjoyed a bottle of Charles Shaw. Alone. And I thought, "This isn't half bad for $2.99." I have joined the commoners. The riff raff. I'm not complaining. There are starving children in Africa who've never heard of Charles Shaw.

My point is this. Divorce changes things.

The other day I took a drive through my old hood. I drove up my street and passed the house I spent eight years of my life in. I felt nothing. No sadness. No regret. Nothing.

I then took that oh-too-familiar drive down the street...and there it was. My old grocery store. Gelson's. With it's over-priced food and over-ripe fruit. I wept. It was as though my car steered itself into the parking lot. Like I was driving Kitt from Knight Rider. Which would be rad. I was home, once again part of the grocery shopping elite. The lucky few who purchased Pirates Booty and pre-washed lettuce across the street from the Scientology Celebrity Center. Was this the day Tom Cruise would take a break from brain washing people to get a pint of Gelson's Famous Dill Tuna Salad? One never knew. Perhaps Giovanni Ribisi would stroll in to grab a Victor Benes' cookie before hooking himself up to the crazy alien meter so popular with Scientologists around the world. But today, there was no John Travolta or that crazy girl "what's her face" who was in all those movies and now is in a band...Juliette somebody. Oh no.

Ryan Gosling was there.

Let it be known that I'm not a Ryan Gosling fan. He wears too much man-jewelry for my taste. I like a man to be a man. I don't like a man who thinks the new trend of "friendship bracelets" is unisex. In real life, Ryan Gosling is as majestic as he is masculine, friendship bracelets and all. Ryan Gosling is the only exception to the man-jewelry rule.

I knew immediately Ryan was my destiny. I had been led back to Gelson's by a force greater than my own. Perhaps the alien Gods of Scientolgy had planned our meeting and so I did what any sane and rational woman would do. I casually followed Ryan Gosling around Gelson's with the intent to go home with a man who looks better in jewelry than I. It seemed as though it was, "in the bag." Grocery humor.

I used all my old tricks. The ones that worked ten years earlier when I was on the market. Now, I was on the market in the market and I was bringing the moves back. All of them. I did that thing with my lip where I casually bite it like I'm thinking, "Do I want the whole grain or the potato bread."

I was desperate for Kosher salt. The problem? It was right where Ryan Gosling was standing. Also, I didn't need Kosher salt at all. "Sorry, " I smiled. Lip bite. Tippy-toe reach. Slight sexy grunt. Hair swing. He asked if he could help. "I'm fine." Lip bite. Coy glance.

It was at this point that I decided to bring back the "fake phone call," a move that served me so well years earlier. I had an animated conversation complete with inside jokes with no one on the other line. This let Ryan Gosling know a few things about his would-be lover. A) I was funny. B) Sexy. C) Extremely important and D) Not crazy because someone called me on the phone and crazy people don't have friends.

At some point in my fake conversation my Ray Ban sunglasses made their way on my face. I was wearing dark sunglasses in the grocery store and I was awesome. I shopped my face off. I bought everything I could think of. I wasn't at Trader Joe's today. Oh no. I was shopping with my people at Gelson's, always one aisle away from Ryan, strategically placing myself where we would "run into" each other. At one point, I accidentally on purpose ran my cart over his foot. He loved me.

I was going to use him. Just long enough for everyone to realize that I'm doing great. I may be a tragic divorcee but I have taken Ryan Gosling as a lover.

"We have to stop running into each other like this." I said with an eyebrow raise and a dramatic hair toss. People were starting to notice our intense chemistry. Our heat. Suckers.

It was at this point Eva Mendes walked up to my boyfriend and the two began to inappropriately make-out in the deli section where I was about to buy the Gelson's Famous Dill Tuna. I thought...oh, he has a type. You know. Cause I look just like Eva Mendes. Like twins. They called his number. 47. I was 48. And this is when Ryan Gosling looked me dead in the eyes and said, "Go ahead, Ma'am."

Reality hit me like a case of Charles Shaw Chardonnay. Ryan wasn't flirting with me. He was being nice to the shlubby old mom with tampons and diapers at the top of the cart who was following him around the market like a deranged fan. The crazy woman who was wearing dark sunglasses and too-tight jeans. The woman sporting a hint of a moustache. I didn't belong at Gelson's anymore. I'm a Trader Joe's kinda person. I like to shop where hippies have no idea, nor do they care how old I am. Where I can buy vacuum-packed lentils and beets, frozen appetizers and Trader Joe's-brand organic milk. Where I can delight in two-dollar wine, confident no one is judging.


The following Monday, Leo and I were heading down an elevator. A woman joined us on the second floor. We acknowledged each other with a smile. Then, she asked me the following question. "Is he your grandson?"

The next day, my sister Vanessa and I were parking at the mall when the parking guy asked me if my 29-year-old sister was my daughter. Just out of the blue. "Is she your daughter?" Had my car actually been Kitt from Knight Rider and I could have told Kitt to run the man over, but alas, my car is not Kitt. It's just a plain old regular car.

I'm pretty sure I'm not as great as I think I am. No...I am. I'm pretty great.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

HIYA!


I am a dreamer.

Some would call me a romantic.  Many would call me misguided.  The way I see things happening versus the way they end up playing out are never remotely similar.
I'm all about that moment.  The fairytale.  The end of the movie when everything works out perfectly.  Where the guy professes his love because he can't live without you.  That moment you dance to a Motown song in your underwear alongside your family using hairbrushes as microphones.  I seek out these moments.  I crave these moments.  I genuinely believe they exist. For me, these moments always end badly.

Like the time I took the boys to Disneyland.  We were going to have the time of our lives at the Magic Kingdom.  We would wear mouse ears and take pictures with Goofy. (Fantasy)    The boys got the flu and puked on It's a Small World. (Reality) 

Or the time I took them down to La Jolla for the weekend.  We were going to run in the ocean mist building sand castles and digging to China. (Fantasy)  They both got the flu and puked on me in the hotel bed.(Reality) 

Or the time I road-tripped with them to San Fransisco.  We were going to sing songs from musicals and create inside jokes that we'd later repeat in front of their father and say, "You wouldn't get it. It's an inside joke." (Fantasy)  They both got the flu and puked for five hours solid in the car.  (Reality)

Or that time  I married a nice Greek boy who I met at church camp. We were going to be together forever.  We know how that one ends.

I am a dreamer. 

I'm also a huge Muppet fan.  This is not a fantasy.  This is a fact.  I love me a Muppet. My inner Muppet is Miss Piggy.  Obviously.  Though unlike Piggy, I have managed to contain my anger issues and have never karate chopped anyone in a fit of rage.  (Fantasy)

You can imagine my delight and excitement when it was announced that the Muppets were making a comeback. A new film to dazzle the dreamer in us all. I prepared my boys for months on end singing them The Rainbow Connection 100 to 150 times a day.   I love the sound of my own voice. (Reality)  I am an amazing singer. (Fantasy) We watched, daily, a bootlegged copy of the original  Muppet Movie off YouTube shot by a child watching it on his TV with minimal audio. It was free so I enjoyed it 10 times more. (Reality) I needed my boys invested in the Muppets.   A new generation loving those same foppish characters.  The ironic teachers of my time.  The Lovers.  The Dreamers.  Back on the big screen.  Watching my sons watch the Muppets would be a highlight in my life.  A moment unlike any other. 

THE FANTASY:
We arrive at the Grove.  It's a Winter Wonderland.  I am wearing skinny jeans and  high-heeled boots.  My hair is perfectly coiffed and I'm in flawless makeup.  The boys are in cords and Christmas sweaters with matching hats.  No need for a stroller.  The three of us walk, almost glide, hand in hand from the valet to the theater.  People stop to look at this darling family.  They sense I'm "doing it alone" but don't pity me because I look so good doing it.  Single, age-appropriate men without the baggage of ex-wives and mentally disturbed children try and stop to get my number.  I can't be bothered.  Today is about the boys...the boys and the Muppets.  We get popcorn.  Van and Leo look up at me with their big brown eyes and  thank me for being the best mom in the world. They speak with British accents as all classy people do.  We watch the movie.  It's brilliant.  During the final scene, the boys snuggle up to me and we sing Rainbow Connection in perfect harmony.  Our voices are angelic and the people sitting in front of us thank us for making the world a happier place.   I tear up.  Life is wonderful and I am blessed.  Yes, we've had a rough go at it,  but we are in a far better place.   Years later, when my boys have figured out that they love me more than their father, we will all sit back and relive that day at The Grove watching the Muppets.   The boys will be wearing ascots.

THE REALITY:
We arrive at the Grove.  It's a Winter Wonderland.  I am wearing ill-fitting skinny jeans and low-heeled boots making me look like a lesbian. My hair is high atop my head in a knot with a large clump of peanut butter caked in at my temple. No makeup.  The boys are in sweats and look homeless.  I walk from the valet to the theater with two, crying, 40 pound toddlers on my hips.  People stop to stare at us.  They sense I'm "doing it alone" and pity me because I look so stressed out doing it.  Single, age-appropriate men without the baggage of ex-wives and mentally disturbed children avoid me. 

Wisdom had stepped in earlier in the day.  I invited my mother.   Wisdom evaded her.  She invited my 90-year-old grandmother who immediately goes missing.  We find her accosting a young couple on a date.  She is telling them all about her dead husband who leaves her "pennies from heaven" in order to contact her.  They indulge  her because she is 90 and wearing dark sunglasses with one of the glass pieces missing.  She too looks homeless.  The boys are in good company. 

Leo and Van run around the lobby bumping into movie-goers with no apologies.  People stare and silently judge me thinking...Ritalin. Ritalin.   

A Rastafarian man walks by me wreaking of marijuana.  I attempt to suck in the air around him to give me some relief from the day.  Failure. 

I grab popcorn for everyone except my mother who insists she does not  eat nor like popcorn.  

We sit.  After 20 minutes of previews and a 15 minute Pixar mini-film the movie begins.

We run out of popcorn. Mostly because my mother has eaten it all.

My 90-year-old grandmother sits with her hands over her ears.  "It's so loud" she screams.  "Turn it down."  We ignore her.   Who is this crazy, homeless, 90-year-old?

The Movie is darling. I laugh out loud recalling my youth.  The Muppet Show.  I delight in memories of my Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy sheets.  Simpler times.  When I wasn't a single mom with two toddler boys.

I think about Miss Piggy and how I wanted to look just like her when I was young.  How after giving birth to Leo I sort of did. 

My 90-year-old grandmother screams.  "Oh, I saw this on TV the other night." There is no point in arguing with a homeless, 90-year-old woman wearing broken dark-sunglasses while holding her ears in the Muppet Movie...but I do anyway.
That is who I am. 

We are shushed by a humorless couple who take themselves entirely too seriously and obviously have a sexless marriage.

We are five minutes into the film.

Leo gets antsy and lies face-down on the hepatitis-ridden theater floor eating old popcorn and no doubt being pricked by used drug needles infecting himself with full blown AIDS. He sings, at full voice, something unintelligible. Rainbow Connection?  We'll never know.    Van screams, "Where ah ole da dinasoes?"   I explain there are no dinosaurs in this movie.  He crosses his arms and glares at me, furrowing his forehead and looking just like his father.  An overwhelming feeling of nausea envelops me.  It passes.

The sexually repressed couple turn again to shush us. I am tempted to karate chop them. I take a breath. Count to 10. I have calmed the sleeping Piggy inside me.

My mother, in a sainted moment, says she will gladly take Leo for a walk so we can continue to watch the movie.  I think this is a brilliant idea and ask her if she wouldn't mind taking Van and my 90-year-old grandmother as well.  She looks at me as though I'm crazy. "Just kidding," I say. But I am not just kidding. The perverts turn again to shush me. I karate chop their chair. "Sorry." I say. But I'm not sorry. HIYA!

Mother returns three minutes later. A shorter walk than I had anticipated. Leo squeals while Van stands on his seat searching for "dinasoes." The eunuch in front of me turns and says, "Can you please be quiet?"

Suddenly, the theater manager appears.   We are asked to leave.   I want to die. I'm THAT person. I'm the person that brings her screaming children to a movie.  I am white trash. I used to be the person that called the manager. I still am. I look at my sons, my mother and my 90-year-old grandmother who is staring disapprovingly at the screen with her hands covering her ears and her broken spectacles and I think…I want to karate chop every single person in this theater. I want to karate chop the manager. I want to karate chop my ex-husband for leaving me with two kids. I want to karate chop the world.

Time stands still as I'm faced with my rage and my reality.   The fact is, I don't like Disneyland.  I never have.  I hate sand and digging.  Road trips are miserable.  I'm trying to create memories with a two and three year old who I'm pretty sure don't remember five minutes ago.  Moments aren't created.  They happen. I have spent the past ten years trying to make a man who did not love me, love me. Trying to create moments from something that didn't exist. My life. This whole mess. It's all my fault. And suddenly I just want to karate chop myself. In the face.

Van looks a little green. We are but moments away from him puking. 

I leave the theater carrying two, crying, 40 pound toddlers on my hips back to valet. People stop and stare. I am defeated but I am wiser. Oh, I am wiser.

Next time I'll take them to Hawaii, cause I know they're gonna love it.

Someday we'll find it.  The Rainbow Connection.  The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Oprah


There are a few rules to “fitting in” in the cut-throat pre-school mommy world. Always act busier than you are. Always be in workout clothing. Buy organic and finally, volunteer to bring home the class pet on weekends and holidays. Van’s class pet is Dylan the Guinea Pig.

A guinea pig is neither pig nor fat person from the Republic of Guinea. A guinea pig is a giant, lazy rat that does absolutely nothing. Zero. Just lays there. Which sounds like a dream come true to me. In fact, in my next life I want to come back as a guinea pig. Sadly, with my luck I’ll come back as a fat person from the Republic of Guinea.

The other mommies at Van’s school have yet to catch on that I’m a complete mess on the verge of a total nervous breakdown the likes of which Anne Heche could not dream of. They think I’ve ”got my shit together” and am “the strongest woman they know.”

When life hands you lemons, say for example your husband leaves you out of the blue and tells you your whole marriage was a sham, you can do one of several things.

One:
Chop off his penis and be hailed a hero by women around the world only to wind up in jail the rest of your life forced to turn lesbian with a cellmate named Rosie who treats you like a slave and cheats on you with a be-tattooed Latina inmate named Yessica who spits in your cornrows every time you walk past her.

Two:
Commit suicide but first buy a full page ad in Variety for your suicide note which is written to your ex explaining that your blood is on his hands. That your children are motherless because of his selfishness. Outline every embarrassing moment making it impossible for him to ever show his face in public without being ridiculed by the whole of humanity.

Three:
Take life’s shitty lemons and make some lemonade. Pretend that “everything happens for a reason” and “time heals all wounds” and “bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, be the bigger person, bullshit.”

I have chosen option three though contemplate one and two seven to eight times per hour.

Since choosing lemonade, I have a new life philosophy. Say yes to everything. But not really everything because if I said yes to everything I would be holed up in a motel with the skeevy Persian man who leased me my new car.

So, when asked if I would take Dylan the Guinea Pig Rat Monster for a few days I gave my new go-to answer. YES! Because that’s what healthy, well-adjusted, scorned moms do while drinking rancid lemonade.

When I was eight, I needed a bunny. It was all that I wanted in the whole world. I begged. I pleaded. And finally, I got my bunny. His name was Fluffy. Or Furry. Or something ridiculous and we were in love. For three days. Until he started to smell. So I put his cage behind the house and would bring him food and water once a day. For three more days. And then I kinda forgot that I had a bunny living behind the house. And when I remembered, he was gone. Not dead. Just missing. Fluffy, or Boots or What’s His Name was somewhere out in the cold mean world trying to survive. And it was all my fault. And then I realized that the disappearance of Mr. Fuzz was not my fault at all. It was my mom’s fault because I was too young to be responsible for a living creature. I forgave myself. I blamed my mom. As I do most things.

As I placed Dylan the Guinea Pig in my brand new car I cursed the “yes girl” I had become. He wreaked of urine, rat poo, hay and seaweed.

I zipped up my Lululemon uniform. Looked at my watch, which hasn’t worked for four years, and said, “I’m so late. Gotta run to Whole Foods then I have a conference call.” All lies. First clue? I’m too cheap to buy organic. Then I joked, “Say goodbye to Dylan. You know I’m gonna kill him. I’m so not an animal person.”

The mommies laughed. It wasn’t really funny but I find when you are going through a rough patch people laugh at anything you say. It’s the wrong approach with me because the sad, fat girl living inside me believes that I’m actually funny. Is this thing on?

My kids were moderately excited to see Dylan. Van waved at him through the cage then ran off to play with, “a weely verwy cwoss dinosaur in the wiving woom.” I smell speech therapy. Leo, however, jumped at the opportunity to hold Dylan, mostly because Leo thought that Dylan was food as he probably is in his ancestral home of the Republic of Guinea.

I went to bed longing for the controlling arms of Rosie my prison cellmate. When I woke the next morning, Dylan was dead.

And though I’m sure it was natural causes that took this creature out of our world, I felt responsible somehow. Am I so powerful that just me saying something makes it so? I've always suspected. I felt horribly guilty. It was Fluffy all over again. And then I thought about how Fluffy was certainly not my fault. In fact, I’m pretty sure nothing has ever been my fault in my whole life. Ever.

How irresponsible of the other mothers to allow Dylan to go home with me.

As Oprah always said, people tell you who they are. You just have to listen. These mommies didn’t listen. I told them all, “I’m going to kill Dylan.”

I forgive myself. I blame the mommies.

God I miss Oprah.