Thursday, December 15, 2011


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. 

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.

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.


  1. I love your blog. It is good to know that somewhere in the world there is another woman whose life doesn't live up to the fantasy in her head.

  2. I laughed, I cried. Literally. I am laughing and crying as my 4 month old scratches me with her too-long nails so that I'll pay attention to her instead. Maybe I should read this out loud to her?

  3. Oh my gosh, darling Genna. You are doing the right thing, laughing and crying all at the same time...the best way to cope, with EMPHASIS on the laughing! Your children will be your salvation! LOVE LOVE LOVE, Aunt Sooz

  4. Oh Genna, You made me laugh, you made me weep. You're so talented and despite your protests, totally adorable and cool. May your fantasies become realities. ps...what if the coins really are from Papou???

  5. Genna, the reviews didn't lie! You had me laughing with tears too. You're hysterical and deserve a monthly column in Parenting Magazine. :) I wish we lived closer so we could hang out. Toddlers and craziness are right up my alley. I too am a huge muppets fan and believe in the magic. I was probably the only nerd in the theater who laughed when Scooter was picked up at Google. But can I just add in all seriousness, that I have to believe that when your boys grow up and remember the "puke" times, the one thing that will stand out the most is that "YOU" my dear were the one with them. Hang in there! You rock! Luv & miss ya, xoLu

  6. Hysterical and brilliant writing. I have an eight year old. Some people say, it gets easier as they get older. They're wrong. And quite frankly, rude for lying. HIYA!!

  7. Oh Genna, you are such an amazing writer AND mother. You are creating such wonderful memories for your sons. I know when they're older they'll look back and treasure these special times they had with you. Hang in there. I'm so proud of you! XO

  8. Belly grabbing, hysterical, out loud, pee in your pants twice laughter!! Keep venting luv--share your gift with us all.

    Next time, you will be in your "Rousseaus" rocking it!

  9. Ahhhh Reality..I struggle with that every day. Well said!

  10. can a boy get in on all this? ;) i remember a road-trip up to SF before you got married genna...

    miss you girl. hang-in there!


  11. Don't you just hate it when people turn to us, the mothers of infants and children out there, and say, somehow completely believing it themselves, "oh, these are the best days of your life. They go so fast!!! Cherish these moments while you have them...."

    This is not comforting, when so many minutes of what sometimes seem interminable days are filled with the thought: "how will I manage to survive this particular moment in time without a Child Protective Services call being made on me later?" and "when will the exhaustion and sense of parenting failure and worry that my child is really growing up to be a complete and utter jerk / deadbeat / crazed lunatic / narcissist (insert your particular list of fears here) end?"

    A quote I have come to cherish: everyone has a story, and everyone is working on something (no matter how well-fitting and complimentary the skinny jeans!). Thanks for sharing yours, which bonds us all in the great comraderie of misery (often reality) loves company. I hope your witty and engaging writing gives your heart a boost as you connect with what is obviously one of your great gifts: connecting with others through the very best kind of story-telling (truth-telling).

    --Marlborough Alum, Class of '90

  12. Hiya! I love your reading your blog! Thank you for the laughs, so glad I'm not alone as I feel I can totally relate to each of your articles :)