Wednesday, October 22, 2014

It's more about the CONTENT than the MILESTONE

My favorite photo of the trip. 
Sooooo TODAY is my 20th Wedding Anniversary and I feel nothing.  I see that as a testament to my marriage, actually.  I don't feel a sense of accomplishment, or sentimental, or terrified or any of the other typical feelings that wedding anniversaries conjure up.  Is that BAD?  I think it's GOOD.  You know why?  Because I have been married for 20 years, that's why.

I mean, are you supposed to CONGRATULATE yourself?  Congratulate your partner for putting up with you?  Should you view it as crossing a finish line, only to keep running?  I don't understand.

Don't get me wrong, I have TOTALLY begun researching the restaurant I want to go to tonight and looked at the menus on Open Table.  Now THAT is something I can really get behind.  I just feel, well, SILLY about celebrating this milestone anniversary and I can't for the LIFE of me figure out WHY.  So, I will just use this post to analyze my feelings, rather then pay a therapist or take meds.  Your welcome. But, do not misunderstand me, I anticipate using my new 20 year marital status for the next year, and ALREADY have used it, to get a better room or table or sympathy, or whatever I can get out of it, because believe me, Brad will.

Now, my Mom would be ALL OVER THIS.  She literally watched our wedding video more times than I am willing to admit, and hosted more viewing parties than I will even allow myself to THINK about.  I imagine that my Dad is celebrating the fact that I never moved back in with him in the last 20 years, or that he had to pay for maybe two MORE weddings in that time.

I think if we were getting on a jet plane to some exotic island tonight, instead of getting in the back of a smelly Uber cab on it's way to the Short North, I would be a little more inclined to be excited, but then I would really just be excited about the VACATION and the possible upgrade, more than the milestone, itself, you know?

It feels like we are celebrating Sweetest Day or something.  It feels forced and abbreviated.  You see, Brad and I took a vacation along Hwy 1 last summer that I considered our anniversary trip because I just KNEW that we would not be able to get away right now and I wanted to use my imaginary upgrade powers.

But, NOW we have booked a trip for the end of January to celebrate our anniversary, and quite frankly, it feels the way it feels when I buy myself a Christmas present early, while I am supposed to be shopping for others, and I end up wearing it or using it because I need it BEFORE Christmas and then I ask for something entirely different for Christmas, as if my holiday indiscretion never happened.

I just LOVE that feeling.  I just find that special cocktail of guilt mixed with anticipation so intoxicating.

So, if I am rationalizing, is today just a technicality... until January, or should we reminisce about California?

I chose the former.  Why look back?  Even if I DID get an upgrade.  I mean, what if the Upgrade Gods do not shine down upon me in January?  That is a very REAL scenario and one that I shall use to justify my assholery.

You know what?  I chose BOTH.  I say we wax nostalgic about Hwy 1 today, and then anticipate the future tonight, so we have something other to look forward to than our three daughters and I cycling (menstrual not Pelatonia) together one day. That is the answer.  There we go.  Therefore, we should NOT go to a fancy restaurant, and just get appetizers at like Applebee's or something, and then I don't have to wash my hair.  Done.

I'm just fucking with you.  You know me better than that, Brad.  Cool Girl vanished when you put a ring on it - the original GONE GIRL, if you will.

Alright, let's talk about Hwy 1 and how much fun it was.  The older I get, the more I like to DO things on vacation, rather than just CHECK OUT, like I used to, when the kids were little.  I think that goes hand in hand with cross body bags and wearing "dress" flip flops instead of heels to dinner.  It's a slippery slope to fanny packs and orthotics.

ANNYYYWAY, Brad and I drove from L.A. to San Francisco, and it was my favorite vacation the two of us have taken to date.  We have always vacationed well together because as Brad says I "become a COMPLETELY different person".  I guess I should take offense to that, and I would, if I hadn't been married to him for 20 years.  Gone Girl also possessed sensitivity, which has since been replaced with a hardened cynicism lens I view everything though, including myself. At least I'm still laughing, I guess.

Now, this began as a "Work Trip" so we attended the National Swim Championships in Irvine.  Guuurrrll, it was outdoors and was the "perfect" venue for that event.  Currently obsessed with Matt Grevers and Missy Franklin.  Check them out.  Fun Fact:  it is an unspoken courtesy that the officials wait for Michael Phelps to do his "butterfly arm slapping ritual" before they begin any race he is in.

Ok, so we began in L.A. and ate lunch at The Ivy on a Friday.  Of course, we were early, because we are OLD, and all of the starlets don't eat lunch until like 2pm, so all WE witnessed were smarmy Eurotrash, big haired Texans in their latest Louis Vuitton finery, and lonely Cougars bubbling over at the Mimosa Bar.  I was in HEAVEN.

Oh, and the whole time we are sitting there, we played, "Who would you want to see here?" and then Brad kept breaking in with preposterous sightings of antiquated "B" celebrities.  "Oh my Gawd, I just saw Tom Selleck walk out of the bathroom!" or "You just missed it, Cindy Lauper just left in a limo!"
Raspberry Rhubarb cocktail.  Soooo yummy.  And reasonable.  That is, if you think blowing your wad on one drink is sensible.  No.  No thank you.  No lunch.  Just more bread.  Thanks.  We're from the Midwest.

Next, we stayed at Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica.  It is by far the nicest hotel that I have EVER stayed at.  Loved EVERY minute.  At check in we were behind a very posh, but harried, emaciated mother, who asked very loudly, "Ummm, where's the nearest liquor store and pharmacy?"

We stayed at 6 hotels total in a 7 day period. I repeated that line at EVERY check-in. 

Anyway, we received an upgrade to their corner suite as a surprised Brad looked on as I announced our 20th anniversary stay.

Ummmm. where's the nearest absinthe grotto and hash dispensary?

The following day we had the longest leg of our trip from Santa Monica to Santa Barbara along Hwy 1.  We had a long stretch of highway in which I was not allowed to urinate or eat, and although it was scenic and I took a lot of pictures, I was convinced the entire time that I was just marinating in a urinary tract infection. I mean, instead of water boarding, the US government should just make a suspected terrorist informant go on a road trip with my husband.  I would have SUUNNNGGG like a canary, I was so physically uncomfortable in that car. I would tell anyone my deepest darkest secrets.  Hell, I would make shit up, like this blog.

Oh my Gawd, I've got to pee.

That whale sighting makes me want to pee.  Must have been the blow hole.

My eyesight is starting to go, I think I'm losing consciousness I have to pee so bad.

Finally, we found THIS Oasis along the coastline, and truly it was one of my favorite memories of the trip. It is called Ragged Point and it served us up some 805 Beer (a San Francisco area code) and grilled chicken, and oh, wait for authentic hippy couple that plays the Sitar or some shit while singing off key, as if they were Peter, Paul and Mary, minus one of the dudes, natch.  Enjoy.

I just LOVES me some bonafied hippies.  I admire how they just COMMIT to the sound and the clothes and the hairstyles.  I wonder at what point in my life I will just decide to stop time, and never buy another new piece of clothing again or cut my hair in a new way.  And what is the precipitating factor in that scenario?  Do I just get SO uncomfortable with progress that I have to hit the Pause button, never to Resume Play again.  In that case, I need to actively participate and analyze what ERA that will be so that it is a conscious decision and not a surrender, you know?  Like, CHOOSE what time period I was happiest and start dressing, speaking, acting and styling my hair accordingly.

Heeerrree we go.  And I know JUST the person who will be willing to give up the Good Fight, right along with me.

Ok, next on to Santa Barbara.  I loved The Square.  We stayed at a boutique hotel called The Canary Hotel. The decor was right out of Anthropologie.  Here is a sample.  I think if I had to do it over, I would have stayed in Big Sur one night, instead, and hiked, but you just have to make choices on a vacation like this and take notes, you know? Your welcome, hookers.
This is about the only space that wasn't hijacked by the wedding party there, at the risk of sounding like a Trip Advisor Troll. Cute hotel, though, and great rooftop pool. Santa Barbara is too interesting to spend all day at the hotel, though.

My favorite place on the trip, hands down, was Carmel.  We stayed two nights and my favorite night was at Clint Eastwood's place, Mission Ranch.  It is little more than a renovated Motel, just outside of town that overlooks a sheep ranch with a tiny inlet in the background.  The restaurant is exquisite and boasts an extensive wine list (it's California, peeps) and several unpretentious candlelit fireplaces on it's veranda, while hosting an equally unaffected karaoke session comprised of local retirees and a live piano accompanist, after sunset.  Of course I participated in both.  One of the best nights I have ever had, hands down, because it was completely fresh and unexpected. I mean, who could predict that they would be singing Elvis to a crowd of elated seventy-year-olds when they are getting dressed for the evening?  Not me.  And not Brad, I assure you.  Or maybe he did.  After all, we HAVE been married 20 years.
Karaoke.  They took it seriously, y'all.  You betta bring your A game, if the music is live.

One of the outdoor fireplaces.  Subtle and beautiful.

Also, I came across this little gem on the patio, which is clearly the inspiration for Garth on Wayne's World.  He was dining with his elderly mother, and would repeatedly become exasperated with her when she would feign self consciousness while taking photos of the sheep herd.  "Be yourself, Mother!  Christ!  Who CARES what other people think!"  Word. He's a little time capsule unto himself, now, isn't he?
Mother can be so irritating. 

While in Carmel, we hung out at the beach, ate and drank and shopped a little.  I just fell in LOVE.  I GET the hype about California now because of my experience there.  Mission Ranch is not to be missed and it is reasonably priced compared to everything else in the area with just a fraction of the ambiance.

I cannot end this trip without showing you this INSANE video that we encountered on the leg from Carmel to San Francisco.  We got off Hwy 1 and went 101, so that we could make better time.  And then THIS happened.

This cop came out of NOWWHERE and began swerving wildly in mild traffic for like TEN minutes, across four lanes.  When I googled "Why is a cop swerving across all lanes of traffic", because Brad and I assumed that it was some "freaky deaky Cali thing", and this was the first entry on Google, and I am NOT paraphrasing.

Answer:  "Common practice. Usually indicates a situation ahead.  Sometimes it means the cop is high, but not usually."


Well, the swerving officer just exited the highway with zero fanfare, nor explanation.  My money is on midday bong hits.

Finally, we arrived in San Francisco.  We stayed at another boutique hotel there called The Mystic.  The room was typical and really unexceptional, but the bar was amazing.  The bartenders are "mixologists" and the atmosphere is pure San Francisco = COOL.
I don't always drink Bourbon as a night cap, but when I do, it's usually something REALLY expensive and prepared by a mixologist.

The Highway 1 trip was a trip of a lifetime.  I hate to use the term "Bucket List" because that is morbid and implies that I will never do it again.  In truth, there are so many VERSIONS a person can do of this trip.  One could do low budge and stay at motels along the coast or even camp in some spots.  OR you could do an extremely HIGH END version where you begin your trek at the Chateau Marmot, then Shutters on the Beach (Casa Del Mar's sister hotel), La Playa in Carmel, Ventana Inn & Spa in Big Sur and finish up at the St. Regis San Francisco.  This is not even touching on Silicon Valley, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Malibu and the like.

My recommendation is just to DO IT and do it with your Bae, because any vacation with kids is just a completely different experience no matter WHERE you go.  This trip, like marriage, is just living moment to moment and appreciating the unexpected vignettes you string together as you look forward to the future.  As much as I loved the Casa del Mar corner suite, I think I was happiest finally relieving myself at The Ragged Point and then drinking a cold beer whilst ingesting half a roast chicken.

As a side note, I recently realized this is my 200th post.  In my mind, this is met with the same ambivalence as my anniversary, for it is not the milestone that should be celebrated, but the content. The jury is still out on that one, as far as I'm concerned.

This picture makes me have to pee.
He just LOVES it when I think I am taking a picture and it's a video.

This your first time at The Ivy?  I come here every Friday for the mimosa bar.  You look like a Pisces, no?

Happy Anniversary, Brad.  I think tonight's dinner will be EPIC because I'm gonna be married to you tomorrow, and the day after that.  Thank you for the content.  It's not perfect.  We're not always on vacation when it happens, but it's OURS and we built it and I'm proud of that.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Whole Foods, Tax Write Offs and Smart Cars

My view of The Whole Foods that day. DAMMMNNN.  My car is FILTHY!  Maybe I'll saunter on down to the Moo Moo Car Wash, now that my belly is full.

OKAY, sometimes I just become OVER a thing that has become a habit in my life, and I just need to take a BREAK, people.

The Whole Foods, that is a hop, skip and a jump from my house, is ONE of those habit-forming THINGS that has been gettin' on my LAST nerve.

Now, before I begin, there is an EXCELLENT blog on this topic that is ground-breaking, and is literally the Madonna to my Miley Cyrus.  Ruuuhhhspect!  It's called "Surviving Whole Foods" at

I just feel that the subject hasn't been exhausted, yet, and that there is a hole that I need to fill because NO ONE ELSE is speaking up, and I'm starting to suspect that Oprah owns The Whole Foods.

But, I digress.  I didn't mean to jump to conclusions, I am still in the "making observations" stage, soooo let's get started.

Just to clarify, I wrote this about a month ago, in the parking lot of The Whole Foods on my phone.  I shit you not. It is as follows:

So, I have a major LOVE/HATE relationship with Whole Foods, and as of late, I've decided it's UNHEALTHY for me.

For a while there, I was even walking through CONSTRUCTION with my family to partake of The Whole Foods Experience, if you will.

Here is my farm raised, grain fed BEEF, y'all.

No.  I do NOT want to round up my purchase to donate to a fund to put gardens in schools. So there.  First of all, my purchase ended in .19, and secondly, because I come here like a hundred times a week to purchase your overpriced, albeit yummy organic inventory. Now that ADDS UP, and I cannot write it off, and also because when pressed, you cannot even tell me the name of the organization that is handling said garden.

Oh I know, call on the organization called Supplemental Income Alliance?  How about The Fat Cat Executives of Whole Foods Ponzi Initiative? Or my personal fav, Rent Overdue 'Cause I Was Cut Off By My Parents Coalition? It goes without saying that it is impossible to claim a donation to something that is less than a dollar, twice a day, 7 days a week. Well played, Midwest Faux Hippie Chick.

And what's with that, too?  Where did all the authentic hippies in Whole Foods go?  When I lived in Boulder after college, the "health food" stores were always run by REAL hippies that like saw Vietnam.  It may have been from their playpen, in their diapers, like on T.V., but STILL.  They were high and they were sweet and they smelled bad, and they were all "No worries," because they genuinely didn't HAVE any, (because compared to Vietnam, forgetting your hemp bag really isn't a big deal) and I took great comfort in that.

Now the "health food" grocery store employees are just AWARE.  Socially, nutritionally, and globally.  And they smell like natural deodorant and coriander.  They are scrubbed clean, with something abrasive.  And they are WORRIED, people, worried to death. What have they lived through?  The Tech bubble bursting? I just don't get it.

ANYWAY, I just want to purchase my ridiculously expensive, just prepared 5 seconds ago sushi, and devour it in my SUV with the air on and the windows rolled down, sans chopsticks, while intermittently guzzling my equally indulgent Joe's Peach Tea that I've developed an addiction to, just enough to satisfy me to the point that I can move on to my next destination that is the Used Instrument Shop to purchase the wind instrument that my child will never master. Is that so much to ask?

So, lady at the register, you can take your shame based expression featuring those downcast eyes and  pursed lips elsewhere, because I am not pickin' up what you're puttin' down, Mi Lady.

And yes, I would like a BAG with that, even though I could comfortably juggle my loot leaving one arm free, and if it could be made out of baby seal skins sewn together by the tiny nimble hands of homeless six-year-olds, that would be great.  Oh, but NOT the one made by the homeless FEMALE six-year-olds, because that would be SEXIST.
I mean, SERIOUSLY???  You gonna show up at Da Club in that, Holmes?  Then you betta park it at the bike rack, Son.

Ok, and finally, I refuse to leave this subject alone without examining the sociology of the SMART CAR owner profile in The Whole Foods parking lot.

Why can't you apply those same Mother Earth lovin' principles of human behavior you display INSIDE the Whole Foods as you eewwww and awe over the latest organic kale macaroons, to that person driving the smart car at 180 miles an hour through the parking lot?

EACH TIME I am exiting my parking spot, I literally have to INCH OUT for like 15 minutes to avoid hitting you in your ridiculously tiny vehicle.  LOOK, I am saving YOU here.  My 8-year old daughter, Eva, could put you in Intensive Care with her big wheel if she wanted to.  You do not have immortality or "Smart Car Super Powers" because you are reducing emissions and conserving fuel.

Bring it, Al Gore.

Let's just put it this way...if you have to get down on one knee or SQUAT, even, to enter your vehicle JUST to reduce your carbon footprint , then just save yourself the humiliation and go get yourself a bus pass.  You are impressing NO ONE by whizzing around in your Mountain Dew mobile. I mean, do they make any other colors besides green?  We get it!  Environment.  Green.  You do not have to hammer it home!

Ok.  I'll stop there.  I just got full.  Maybe next time I write a blog, I will eat first.  Hashtag low blood sugar rage.

Can you write off Service to the Community?  I need to Google that.

My advice today is obvious and two fold.  Donate to organizations that you get a receipt for, except Salvation Army and street musicians, and don't buy a Smart Car.  LEASE one for Pete's sake. Oh, and double up on that insurance, while your at it.  Collision isn't going to pay your hospital bills.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Hals - My Teen Bae

Happy Burfday, Hals.  You are my main teen bae.  Wait.  Is that redundant?  I think that's redundant.  Now, how do you get the "a" and the "e" to mush together again?  Don't roll your eyes.  I'm not THAT old.

So, today is my primary child, Hallie's, thirteenth birthday.  She is officially on her way to becoming an adult and I think THAT warrants a humiliating blog, don't you?

Okay, so I've been thinking a lot about what I want to reveal about Hallie, and really if I were to do a diagram of her, she is precisely in the middle of becoming and adult and leaving her childhood.  Therefore, she vacillates between this considerate, pensive, mature, witty person and basically, well, THIS PERSON.

If you havent' seen ALL of these.  Google them on YouTube.  We are obsessed.

Hallie is Jimmy Fallon's character, SARAAAAAA!  "Cause H's are EW!  Therefore, we often call Hallie, ALLLAAAHHHH.

Hallie is a seventh grader and I feel like she navigates it's pitfalls with equal grace and clumsiness.  She is just CONSTANTLY walking that tightrope of insecurity and confidence.  I am continually fascinated with the inner struggle, and I try to just sit back and let her figure things out on her own because the biggest gift my parents gave to me were the tools to become INDEPENDENT.  Now, my room was a complete mess, and I was WAY more immature and anxiety-ridden than Hallie will EVER be, but I was completely in control of my own thought processes.  In essence, I was taught to think for myself, even if it was in direct opposition from my parents', or even society's point of view.

School pic.  We were going for a blond Arianna Grande, with braces, natch.

I tend to get all melancholy when one of my children reaches a milestone, especially Hallie, because she is my first.  If you think about it, you cut your teeth on your first child, for better or for worse, but I justify the bad because they also are the only sibling that knows what it's like to have the undivided attention of an only child. 

I distinctly remember getting down on the floor with her everyday when she was like ONE and going over the value of coins, i.e. a quarter, dime and nickel and the like.  I was all,  "This is a quarter.  It is worth twenty five cents.  Now pick it out of this line of of coins.  WHERE is the quarter?  Pick out the quarter.  Good girl!  You are SOOOOO SMART."  I would then show anyone that came over to the house how brilliant she was.  On the flip side, Eva, my third, rarely got her diaper changed unless it fell off from the weight and the dog started feasting on it.

So Hallie is in middle school, which I liken to Alcatraz for children.  Last winter she broke her wrist skiing over Christmas break and I accompanied her through the halls of her middle school and nearly escaped having a panic attack.  You see, Hallie had been getting all of this attention on social media and through texts and shit when it got out that she had challenged a tree and LOST, big time.  The SAME people who had expressed the shock and awe of the story, who had had a proliferation of condolences, looked STRAIGHT at her and then at her cast, as she navigated the crowd, and then looked away in sheer ambivalence.

Now, I did not expect the principal to make an announcement the moment we arrived, but I was COMPLETELY baffled by the social climate, and then I was immediately transported back to my OWN horrible middle school existence, and Hallie had become my portal.

Well, we made our way to the nurse's office and Hallie was all flustered and nervous about gym and how she was going to write with her right hand, and I took her aside, just as the nurse left the room and I whispered, "Now listen, THIS is your SAFE place.  If you need a break and you wanna be alone, JUST COME HERE, and you'll be fine."

Well, her face instantly morphed into Brad's facial expression he commonly uses when he thinks I am bat shit crazy and she says exactly what he always says at times like this sans expletives, and that is, "What?  What in the HELL are you TALKING about, woman?"

"Oh, nothing," I was transported back to the emotional present.  "Now, you had better run along to gym and give your teacher the nurse's note.  Call me if you need me."  I nearly sprinted back to my car as my chest tightened in disgust.

You see, when I think about middle school, I literally can remember like TWO scenarios, but mostly it is just a FEELING that I get when I recall that three year period, and then that FEELING makes me want to have diarrhea.

So, then, here I am again, cutting my teeth with Hallie, and I will be totally desensitized by the time Eves enters the worm hole that is middle school.

ANYWAY, when I think of Hallie, and I have been thinking alot about her these last few days.  I think I sort of view her with my Mom's eyes.  You see, Hallie was named after my Mom's mom, who was very young (39) when she died, and my Mom was simply ecstatic about that.  It didn't hurt that Hallie was super sweet and smart and caring, and looked good in all of the Janie and Jack clothes my Mom bought her.

Such a great picture of a picture. 

Hallie was special to my Mom, also, because she was her first grandchild and my Mom was not ill for most of Hallie's life so she could really enjoy her.  She thought Hallie "hung the Moon" and I agree.  I feel my Mom all around me lately, and I know that she is just as proud of who Hallie has become so far, as I am.

I do not IDOLIZE Hallie, but I do RESPECT her and her opinions and I love the perspective she has on life.  She is not as cynical as I am, but she still has the trademark acerbic wit, which is a refreshing take on our special brand of humor.  I have an absolute ball with her most of the time, when she is not annoying her sisters at mealtime or obsessing over One Direction.  Here's another hilarious SNL skit we are fond of.  Loves me some Paul Rudd, y'all.

Hallie is also a writer.  She has been writing stories since she was in preschool, I am not exaggerating.  I saved all of them, Hal, but don't ask me where they are because I have NO idea where I put them.  Hallie has actually been published, which is an accomplishment I may never achieve, and I fully intend to live out all of my "writer fantasies" vicariously through her, beginning by having a custom t-shirt that says, "Writer Mom".
Sleepover birthday selfie.  Clearly not the first one.

Get a load o' ol' CRAZY EYES.

Hallie, I am sorry that you are always FIRST, but I feel like the privileges tend to outweigh the responsibilities.  How many times have you heard THAT one?  Don't answer that and go put your bands on or you'll be wearing those braces on your wedding day!

I love you so much!  I just want all of your dreams to come true.  Except that one about touring with One Direction through Europe next year.  Have a Happy Happy Birthday, my love, and as a wise friend once told me (Hi, Kelly!), "You don't wanna PEAK in middle school.  In fact, you don't wanna PEAK while you live in this Gawdforsaken town at all!" AMEN. #southernsoulsistasunite

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What courage looks like

Missing some players, here.  Just important that I am in the center, really.

I have had a group of girlfriends for all of my adult life.  This is unique, in the sense that we were united by marriage because our husbands all grew up together.  This is even MORE remarkable because we are all not from the neighborhood the guys reached puberty in, and is probably the exact reason why we married them - because EWWW, right?

At first, when we were introduced, when we were all dating or first getting married, we were friends by convenience.  But, then, as we all started having babies and forging a relationship with each other, we became friends because we really enjoyed each other and we had more in common than just that our husbands loved each other.  We started to do things without them, and we talked about things other than our relationship with them. What I am trying to say is that at first, we sort of bonded by making fun of our husbands, and then we just became friends because we liked each other, and then we became CLOSE because we trusted each other and we were REAL with each other and because outside of that circle, there is no other friendship like the one that we have.  Make no mistake, here, we still TOTALLY make fun of our husbands and that element is the very CORE of our relationship to each other because that shit is what unions are MADE of, peeps.

Hashtag.  She works OUT.

Anyway, back on subject, there is an easiness with these women that I have with no other group of women.  We are not a posse, or a click, because we do not do everything collectively.  We live in all parts of Columbus and Colorado and truly, we live separate lives in terms of our individual family lives.  But, we always come together during a crisis - like the birth of a baby or milestone birthdays, or Christmas. My point is that we have separated and come together for the last twenty years and I can always count on the same two ingredients to be present - genuineness and laughter.
One of the best times I've ever had.  Bar none.

Well, now one of those friends is in trouble and all I can think about is how I have known these women my entire adult life and how important their relationships are to me and well, I am heartsick - just to my core, you know?
She's just lovely.  That is the word that keeps popping up in my mind.  Lovely.

Yesterday, I saw firsthand what courage looks like and it is my friend, Kim.  She was so strong and so brave and so graceful, it literally took my breath away.

There is a rawness that occurs when life takes an ugly turn that peels away all of the outer layers of our personalities to expose the jelly-like substance that is our soul.  THAT is who someone really is and I saw Kim's and Paul's and Cindy's and Susan's and quite honestly, I was in awe.  It is my privilege to know you, and to have known you for as long as I have.

And the women who were not physically in that room, WERE in that room and gave us all the capacity to be our best selves because we are supported - and when you have back up, you can do anything.

J.T. - wasn't there, but isn't this picture amazing?  Yes.  I am THAT grown up.

I laughed HARD yesterday, like I always do, and there were moments and inside jokes and conversations that I am grateful to be a part of, even under the circumstances, because I will take one REAL moment over 1,000 fabricated ones, any day of the week.
Klassy.  The wind beneath my wings. Clearly.

I realized that I've never written a post directly about Kim, although I've mentioned her many times.  Kim, you are the most thoughtful person I have ever known.  You ALWAYS put everyone before yourself and ensure that everyone is "taken care of," sometimes while eclipsing your own experiences.

Well, now it is time for you to take a back seat, my friend.  We now all are concentrated on the time that YOU are having.  It's payback time, in a good way.  Although you were never mentally adding up our side dishes and top shelf cocktails, it appears our bill is due and we are all getting out our Bluejackets debit cards.
I make her kiss me on the lips every time I leave the hospital room because it makes her so uncomfortable.  If this turns you on, then that's your problem.

I love you, hon, and I look forward to being your bitch.  It's about time.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Defining Moments and Public Perception

I go to games for the beer and the food.  Point blank period.

So during the winter, especially this very long one, I have found myself vacillating between watching award winning television and completely random documentaries on, of all things...wait for it... sports figures.

Those that are familiar with my current relationship with Brad, my husband of 19 years, (I say CURRENT because I never want him to get too comfortable in the role) know that he is a HUGE sports fan and that I could not be more disinterested.

We laugh sometimes when we fantasize about scenarios where I would buy season tickets to games and then we would wear matching jerseys with "Underwood" on the back.

"What would you do if I actually argued with you about the politics of a sport or the validity of a call?  How 'bout if I INSISTED that I come to an away game with you and your friends and one of them had to forfeit one of the four tickets you got because I was able to get a sitter on the fly and I'd been following the team all season?  Would you DIE?"  I say as I throw my head back and laugh and then involuntarily shudder.

Look, I KNOW women like this.  I am friends with women like this.  I am sure this is a very real connection they have with their husbands and they are not annoying like me at all, but I have made it very clear to Brad that he cannot have it both ways.  If I am to watch the games on the television, then I am taking the exotic location away game trips and I am going to ask question after question about the fundamentals of said games until he wants to put a gun in his mouth.

Look.  I respect the fact that people like to watch sports.  You just can't make ME do it.

And this is why Brad was positively miffed when we were out to dinner with friends and I brought up the Joe Namath documentary I'd watched that week on HBO.  I thought his jaw would dislocate, I swear to Gawd.

I elaborated to the table that I had always had an interest in Joe Namath, not because he was a legendary New York Jet or that he won the Super Bowl, or even that he has been inducted into the Hall of Fame, but because I remembered his pantyhose commercial,  growing up.

"What in the Hell?  Jody, come look at this!" I remember my Dad exclaiming from his seat on the couch.  "Joe Namath's got pantyhose on of all things!"

Of course my Mom was at the kitchen table, power smoking and talking on the phone to her fifth friend of the day as she waved him off with a slow figure eight featuring her lit cigarrette.  At any rate, I specifically remember looking up from my position on the floor amidst the well worn shag carpet and several wooden blocks to witness the camera panning down Namath's body to reveal his muscular, toned legs encased in beige colored hosiery. This became the birth of my interest in Super Bowl commercials and advertising, in general.

You gotta admit.  He was a BABE.

Anyway, the Joe Namath documentary highlights his career and his social life, but what makes him unique and groundbreaking, other than his obvious penchant for furry pimp coats, is how he was the first college athlete to negotiate a major contract with the AFL.  It was unprecedented at the time.  He also was the first athlete to sign huge marketing deals promoting random products such as pantyhose and shampoo.  Namath was good looking and colorful and talented, but most importantly, he was savvy, and he is the reason that Tiger Woods lost all those endorsement deals when it was revealed that he was a serial womanizing philanderer. You see, without "Broadway Joe" there would not have been those endorsement contracts to lose in the first place.

Namath's athletic and marketing accomplishments not withstanding, it seems that Namath's legacy will be the time he came on to a female reporter during an interview on the field following an aggressive day drink.

You see, Namath also acheived alcoholism along with all those wins, and he had fallen off the wagon after 13 years of sobriety, shortly after his divorce.  This, it appears, is Joe Namath's defining moment.

It just got me to thinking about defining moments and public perception.  I think if I were honest with myself, the stories I tend to share with my kids are the negative events in my life that eventually had a positive impact, but that I had to do a lot of soul searching to get to that place.  I'm talking about events where maybe I did a bad thing and then there were repercussions for that act, even if my behavior elicited an exaggerated response. The point is that I learned from it, and then adjusted my behavior.  These are your own fables, so to speak, with a conflict, a resolution and a moral.

We all have them, these defining moments and everyone knows what each of theirs are.  They are the events that shape you as a person and most of the time they are painful experiences, that if you are smart, you grow from.  It occurred to me while writing this, that, oh, maybe three-fourths of my defining moments involve public humiliation of some sort.  Hilarious.

Crosby Middle School.  Isn't she a BEUT?

One of these experiences was set in middle school.  Middle school is Hell on Earth for each and every adolescent girl in America, whether you are popular or not - whether you exist on the periphery, or you are head cheerleader.  The angst is universal because if you are part of a click, then you must succumb to the group dynamic, therefore denouncing any individualism you once had, as you embrace the insulating comfort that a posse provides.  However, being on the periphery also sucks because you are always longing for something that you assume is wonderful - the power of adulation and constant group companionship.

This ying-yang social phenomenon, coupled with surging hormones and increased academic expectations is the pressure cooker that is middle school.  I feel like specifically the female's social skills are honed in middle school and provides the basis for all future girl on girl social interactions.

So, back to the story.  In seventh grade, I had a girlfriend stay the night whom I had known practically my whole life.  I was on the edge of the "popular group" and she was fairly internal. We'll just refer to her as  "VP Francis Underwood" from House of Cards, because that is top of mind at the moment given the 13 hours of my life I just dedicated to him.  Anyway, back before Instagram and Snapchat (gasp!) our sleepovers existed in real time and we did things like read each other's notes, of which I ignorantly kept a Pappagallo drawstring bag full.

Can you imagine?  "Hey, let's go through all of the texts I've sent back and forth to my friends from the last year?"  What could possibly go wrong doing that?  I may as well have let her give me a rectal exam.  It would have been less painful, with fewer repercussions, I assure you.

So, as we are unfolding piece after piece of the executive rule lined, jagged-edged notebook paper, I came across one that I had NOT sent to my best friend down the street, who went to Catholic school.  I had composed the note the week I house sat for her family the previous summer. I had promised to write my friend "every day" that she was absent that week and keep her up to date on all the happenings at the Douglass Hills Swim Club.  For some reason, (a clear forshadowing) I never sent the letter, and as I read the letter during the prostate exam, I mean, sleep over, I determined it was incriminating, and quickly excused myself and threw it away in the bathroom in the center of our upstairs hall.

Long story short, VP Francis Underwood retrieved the note from my garbage can during the sleepover and took it to school, and on Monday morning I was basically met with a fucking seventh grade lynch mob in the Crosby Middle School cafeteria.

The note denounced the short shorts, provocative top, and high wedge heels that the MOST POPULAR GIRL IN SEVENTH GRADE, if not SCHOOL's mother wore at the swim meet that week in the summer my friend was on vacation and I declared that she "dressed like a whore".

Ironically, these women are now called COUGARS, as the social climate for stripperware for middle aged women has become mainstream, so please excuse the crass language, as I was a product of my generation and it's circumstances at the time. If this event were to occur in modern day, the woman and the little girl would have been flattered by the note and there would have been a ticker tape party in my honor that Monday morning.

In all seriousness, and because I am a parent now, I should NEVER have used that language, especially concerning an adult.  The proof was in the pudding.  I wrote the words and I could not do anything about the fact that they were now part of public consumption.

There was a moment, though, when I was confronted with the angry mob at the seventh grade section of the lunchroom that occupied three large round tables, that I locked eyes with VP Underwood, who quickly began examining the cuticles on her toenails.

I spent the rest of the seventh grade year and most of eighth grade ostracized.  The popular girl's mom read the note, as did her entire family, and because her older high school aged sister was extremely beautiful, popular and powerful, I endured several confrontations from high school girl possees, as well.

It subsided when I went to high school and my social world opened up to upper classmen and the popular girl and her family simulatenously moved away.

THAT event was a defining moment.  It is a folktale in my house, only comparisons are made to screenshots, texting and the "typed word" because let's be real, nobody passes notes anymore.

That two year exile taught me what it means to be a friend, not only how to be a good friend, but most importantly, forced me to consider what qualities I desired in a friendship.  I think a lot of women ask themselves this question at some point in their lives, I just began to analyze my friendships early on. Because, in my mind, if you ARE a good friend, then you DESERVE a good friend.

That is not to say that from that moment on, I did not experience female friendship angst.  It was just a moment in my life that I refer to whenever I feel betrayed or hurt or isolated where female companionship is concerned. But,  I always make sure to ask myself what role I played in the situation during analysis, or the entire exercise is pointless. Now, all of my closest relationships must be genuine and based on mutual trust.  I have very little patience for backstabbing or social climbing, and I won't tolerate it amongst my girls either.  One could say that I have learned to protect myself socially, so that that will never happen to me again.

VP Francis Underwood roamed the halls with her posse all through middle school and never acknowledged her role in my demise.  In high school, after Miss Popular and her Cougar Mom moved away, we became friendly again and became even closer our senior year.  We were even going to be college roommates, until she got into a better college at the last minute.  We never discussed what happened, but even though we were friends, I never fully trusted her.

You see, I had to forgive her to move on.  Sometimes forgiveness is not necessarily for the person who wronged you, but is actually more powerful when you do it for yourself... so you can let go.

VP Francis Underwood, in my mind, did me a favor, early on in the social maturation process, and in turn, I believe that defining moment has had an impact on my family, as well.  When I am trying to explain to one of my daughters why what they write can impact others and damage them, especially if it is taken out of context, which most taudry information is, I have an actual REAL LIFE personal experience to reflect upon that usually has an impact on anyone that hears about it.

But, who am I kidding here?  The hippocrite with the laptop has become the proverbial black kettle again.   My point is that defining moments are not fair sometimes and they are even cruel, but they do not need to reflect your entire life, just SHAPE it.

Joe Namath was at the Super Bowl this year, awash in his ridiculous pimp fur pelt, and he was SOBER.  His pallor was healthy, and he was coherent and gregarious and most of all, respectful to all of the commentators.

That moment that everyone remembered where he disgraced himself on national television has faded, just as the intensity of my misery those two years in exile subsided as I reconnected with VP Francis Underwood.  And just as Joe Namath will remember what it felt like the next day after he humiliated himself on the sidelines, the next time he wants to take a drink, I will think about what I truly want in a friend when I feel wronged or exposed or double-crossed.  Defining moments are motivators when they are at their very best, and hinderences at their worst.

I encourage you to examine YOUR defining moments and if your are feeling especially generous, the defining moments of others, and what your perception of those are.  I just finished the second season of House of Cards on this fine morning, where they discuss the importance of public perception vs. what is genuine.  It seems that on The Hill, public interpretation is just as powerful as reality, even if they are in direct opposition to each other.

I wonder if the girls in my seventh grade class, who maybe went to a Catholic high school or something, still consider me "the girl who called the most popular girl in school's Mom a WHORE"?  I guess there are worse blogger.

I just LOVE him.

My OTHER guidance for you today is watch House of Cards.  I just went on a major Netflix bender this weekend with Season 2.  (see:;postID=7896672049376336247;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=6;src=postname ) Robin Wright (no longer with the Penn) just won a Globe for it, which I predicted.  Fun fact:  Wright is engaged to the wormy guy from Six Feet Under, remember him?  The whiny boyfriend of Claire?  This is such a weird match because Wright is such a goddess.

Also, Kevin Spacey is exquisite.  I've worshipped him since The Usual Suspects and Glengary Glenross.  He is the real deal, as far as I'm concerned. Look for him to win the Globe in 2015.

Her wardrobe is unbelievable in this series.  Apparently, she's all over Narciso Rodrigez.

Also, I was turned onto 30 on 30 by my friends, The Diwiks.  They are these great documentaries that ESPN produces and are a good way to distract you, as you do laundry or bite your fingernails to the quick as they announce the approach of some new bullshit Polar Vortex.