Category Archives: truth

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. – Elie Wiesel

Social Media posts are a real bummer these days, am I right? I miss hamsters eating burritos!

I heard some complaining that they were tired of the depressing posts about the former Stanford student who got off easy for sexual assault and the responses to Emily Doe’s letter she read in court. Chances are, they aren’t the 1 in 5 women who have had the pleasure of being the victim of unwelcome sexual advances or God forbid, rape and sexual assault.

And enough already with their feed being inundated with comments, stories, and various posts about the Orlando shooting and a desire that our government reassess – or at least have a grown up conversation about- our gun laws, I hope to God their privilege protects them long enough to never fear being open about who they are or who they, or their children, love.

When “Black Lives Matter” compels you correct someone with, “ALL Lives Matter” and remind everyone that being a cop is hard. Yeah, it’s got to be a real breeze to worry about driving or walking or breathing, all while being Black.

People are screaming out to be heard because of a constant reminder that many of us are marginalized and not enough, just as we are, to be left the hell alone. If it is depressing to see our pleas and reminders of the way so many people are treated- DO SOMETHING. If you are one of the privileged, SPEAK UP! I’m tired and weary of preaching to a choir that already agrees, but I cannot be silent.

If nothing else, let’s make a deal. If you want us go back to cat videos, pictures of our kids on the first day of school, and what we are eating for dinner, and God knows we ALL want that, listen and take a second to look at your privilege. If you can use it in any way, use it stop hate and reject anyone who wants hate and fear to be the path we take in our country.

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July 7, 2016 · 2:17 pm

These Are Days

These are days, you’ll remember
Never before and never since, I promise
Will the whole world be warm as this and as you feel it

“These Are Days”, 10,000 Maniacs

I remember receiving the message from a vintage friend. He told me that our friend was sick. Fucking Cancer. I gotta say, yeah cancer sucks, but you gotta give it to fucking cancer for getting you off your ass and take stock and tell people that they are loved and let them love you. I was lucky enough to have that chance with her, and over the last two years of her life, especially during the last six months, where we had several conversations over email, text, and Facebook. I remember she was at the hospital doing a iron infusion and was bored and her iPad wasn’t streaming and couldn’t go anywhere or do anything. She was telling me that she just finished her sad little pop tart and now what?

I told her jokes. Really stupid, bad jokes. I found funny videos.  We made up a song about needing to pee but being attached to an IV pole. She asked me about the things going on in my life, so I told her about my silly life. It felt really uncomfortable telling her about my problems when she was desperately trying to not die and fight cancer. We reminisced about sleepovers in junior high, listening to Purple Rain and those horrible parrots her mom had, which, by the way, terrified me every time I slept over. I was too embarrassed and didn’t want to be seen as ‘not cool’, although I suspect my Pat Benatar hairstyle and Harry Caray glasses probably negated any concerns.

One thing we talked about was our hang-ups and when we think someone else has got it all, we’ve got to remember that chance are, they are just as insecure as we are. When we were teenagers, I thought my friend was so amazing and so cool. I was so envious- she was smart, kind, popular and so beautiful. She had AMAZING hair, and her smile? Man, she had a radiance and glow that was contagious. I’m glad I got to tell her that. But really, I was happier to hear that she wasn’t always so sure of herself, but that she had learned, especially because of fucking cancer that the critics mattered a whole lot less than her own truth.

One thing we talked about was bad days- and good days too, but when we’d complain about the shitty things, all I kept hearing in my head was, “there will be days.” There will be days- days when you just don’t know if you are doing any of it right. Days where it just seems too, too hard. They seem to go on forever, but these are just days. There are other days where you feel invincible. Where ideas flow, energy is plentiful and love shines on you everywhere you look. These never last long enough, these days.

This is our life. A series of days, good and bad, and none of them are on our terms. I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, but I’ve learned that most things will happen with or without my input. People I love will have beautiful, healthy babies, get new jobs, buy their dream homes and have wonderful relationships. People I love will get stupid fucking cancer. People I love will struggle over things big and small. People, who I think have it all, have crap days, but I just might not see them. And some people will avoid these days at all costs, not only ignoring the bad days, but missing the good ones completely.

I have had all of these days too. I guess what I am trying to say is that I can’t give everything to each of these days. I have to accept that they are just days in my life and all get to have a place in my story. And after my friend died, when we were sitting at her house after her funeral, I was struck with a sense of gratitude that I got to have a role in the story of her life. Maybe it was just a small part, kind of like when I got to play “Friend #1” in the Buffalo Grove High School presentation of “Oklahoma!”. I killed it by the way. I sat on that grassy knoll and pretended to be really devoted to whatever the lead chick was saying. My point is, I had a part. It didn’t matter if I was the lead or in the background, I was part of the story.

Lately, I’ve put a lot of stock into not only letting my bad days define me and the days that follow, but also the size of my role in the story. I’m working hard to take steps to pursue a dream, and I’m getting close to realizing it. But then I get scared and want to throw it away. I get stuck in my own hang-ups and start comparing myself to others. I take things personally. And really, none of it is anything more than my own insecurity and fear and remember that the critics don’t count for much. Then I remember my dear friend and how these are just days. Beautiful days that I want to remember.

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Filed under fear, self-confidence, truth

Planning the Perfect Mother’s Day?

Hey Moms! What are YOU doing on Mother’s Day? Planning to wake up to hot coffee in bed at 9:00 a.m., sunshine streaming in, while the birds are chirping? To the sounds of children laughing- not fighting- as they carefully prepare your breakfast? The sound of the limo honking outside, filled with your best mom friends, whisking you away to the spa…only to return on Monday morning, AFTER the kids are dropped at school? You’ll call home in the evening to say goodnight to your family, since you had received exactly zero texts or phone calls, regaling the fights, complaints, or ‘where is the…’ inquiries, that you contend with each day, and hear your family say, “We love you, thank you for being a great mom, and don’t worry, everything here is fine!” You return home the next day, to find that yes, indeed everything IS fine… and clean. Your family comes home that evening to say that they needed help- hired a cleaning crew and ordered dinner- because honestly, they don’t know how you do this each day! Ah, can you imagine?

Well, hold onto your hats Ladies, because I have found the only thing that could possibly compare. Luckily, after spending my day at work, rushing to get the kids from school, mailing out my own mother’s Mother’s Day card, dropping the kids off at soccer, hustling over to the store, returning to get the kids, feeding them dinner, reminding them to get in the shower a dozen times, AND fighting with a 9 year old about a 15 minute bedtime extension, I finally checked my email sometime between taking off my bra and falling asleep to Criminal Minds. Unbeknownst to me, I had been in a lather about how I was REALLY going to spend Mother’s Day, when my family’s favorite pizza place sent me the ONLY true option for Mom:

CEC Email

What the Funk?

Listen, marketing people at Chuck E. Cheese: this is NOT how you thank mom. This is how WE bribe our kids to stop doing some frustrating thing they keep doing. You are at the very least, a reward system. We hate Chuck E. Cheese, but go because we can sit in a booth alone for a moment, we can eat decent pizza that hasn’t been left over and discarded, because the kids are too busy running around playing inexpensive games, with the hopes of winning one piece of crap that will generally keep them pretty subdued in the car ride home. We go to Chuck E. Cheese because it is raining. We go because our kids really love it. Please don’t confuse my love for them, however, with a desire to spend the only day all year that someone MAY ask me what I want, at Chuck E. Cheese.

But here’s the thing. My kids are still young and to them, Mother’s Day is about celebrating me and spending time with me. And for all my whining sometimes about being overworked, underpaid, and exhausted, I want that too. Sometimes I get caught up in what seems like constant arguing, the wrestling and the grossness of little boys, but I also really like my kids. They make me laugh. They are good guys and I smile more when I’m with them. I also know that my time is borrowed with these creatures I created, that in a few short years they will beg to do anything BUT hang out with me and then, I can go to a spa and eat a full meal in peace. In what seems like a blink of an eye, my kids will be off on their own and most days I won’t have the luxury problem of too much to do each day. So for now, I am content doing something that makes them happy because as you know, Moms, a day with happy kids makes a pretty damn good day. And if in the process, I get to do something that I enjoy as well, that’s even better. I like rollercoasters. I like kettle corn. We’re going to Knott’s Berry Farm.

F you, Chuck E. Cheese.

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Filed under Mom Rant, Motherhood, parenting, truth, What Really Happened

Oh My Lanta

 

“But the one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.

The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”

Neil Gaiman

These days, I feel like I’m going to either throw up or poop myself. Neil Gaiman talks above about walking down the street naked, being exposed, but I never felt comfortable, or compelled for that matter, to strut my kibbles and bits in public. My discomfort manifests in a complete loss of the bodily functions I have come to rely upon. It’s gross, but you have my word that I won’t go into detail. I’m not that kind of writer. I will say that this isn’t the first time I’ve felt like this (and wasn’t pregnant). I know what this is. It’s my gut. It’s telling me that I’m headed in the right direction, that what I’m about to do is going to be significant in my life and it’s exactly right. I’d call it a cleanse, but that’s a bit too L.A., plus, it doesn’t include cayenne or ginger.

My first memory of this shit show was in high school. I loved singing and wanted to perform. Early on, I auditioned for the school musical and didn’t make it. Still, I joined choir and sang anyway. Later that year, I auditioned for “Concert Choir” and didn’t make it either. That was okay, I knew I wasn’t really ready. I loved singing and didn’t mind Varsity Choir (which took anyone who signed up). In Varsity Choir, I yearned to get better. I wanted to be good enough to make it into Concert Choir and even more, I wanted to be in “Expressions”. Expressions was a 24 member ‘show choir’-think Glee- not with quite as many cheesy renditions, but just as much drama. From the first time I saw them perform, I knew I wanted in. I sang well, but when I had auditioned my sophomore year, I didn’t make the group and I knew why. I wasn’t ready. I worked my ass off the next year, and when I auditioned, I was terrified. For the days leading up to the tryouts, I was sick. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t do anything but work on my routine and mentally picture myself making it. I knew I was good enough and I knew that the director saw how hard I worked all year. My gut told me I would make it and I did. That was something I hadn’t felt in the previous auditions. I had never been so physically certain that I was doing something, that for me, was big.

The tricky part about my trusting my gut, is that her pesky sister, ‘self-doubt’ shares space nearby and is always eavesdropping on our heart-to-heart talks. And in the moments where my gut lets me rest, she likes to sneak in and whisper in my ear. “You’re not tall or skinny or pretty as the other girls trying out. You’re decent enough as a singer, but really? There are better ones out there. Why don’t you just stick with choir. It’s so much safer and you won’t be as hurt when you don’t make it.”

I listened to her. Considered what she had to say. She was right about so much of it. I wasn’t as tall or as thin and didn’t look like some of the others, but I was ME. I had a good attitude and I worked hard. I was ready, able, and (sometimes more importantly) willing to do whatever my director asked- if it meant jumping up to second soprano or helping the small group of boys in the tenor section to help and increase their presence. I was funny, a nice kid, and you know what? I was good enough to make it and take my place in that group. I offered something special- each one of us in that group that year did. And it made us great.

Over the years, I can point to several examples when I have experienced this same level of nausea. There have been times when I allowed self-doubt to share her opinions loudly and gave her the power to lull me into a false sense of safety in certainty and ignore my gut. Each of these times, I’ve had regrets because in addition to giving into my fears, I actively avoided and ignored something that made me incredibly happy. When I have told her to F off, with all the grace I can muster, and gone with my gut, I’ve gotten it right.

I talk to my kids about their gut and when something in their belly feels right, it’s right and when it feels wrong, it’s wrong. I keep it simple and leave the poop talk to them, which they’ve mastered at much more appropriate times. Like dinner. Instead, I try to encourage them explore the things that make their heart sing, to let that voice be louder than self-doubt, which I suspect will invariably creep in. As a mom, this feels right, but it also forces me to push myself as a creative person to listen to my own advice. How can I ask them to follow their instincts if I won’t do the same? It’s simple. I can’t.

A few months back, I did something I always wanted to do. I had an opportunity to write and perform a 10 minute set of stand up comedy as “The Virgin” in Nicole Blaine’s Virgin Sacrifice show. I was incredibly proud of it and humbled (and thrilled) by the feedback I received from real-life comics and writers. I’ve been pursuing my writing and have found myself in the midst of some fantastic creative breakthroughs and with that, a big bout of the barfs. It’s odd though. I haven’t heard self-doubt yet. I know she’s there, paying attention, trying to find her chance to chime in, but it’s oddly quiet. I’m taking full advantage of her silence, though, writing away, and enjoying my Pepto-Bismal Parfait.

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Filed under fear, Motherhood, Personal Growth, self-confidence, truth

Little Green

“There’ll be icicles and birthday clothes
And sometimes there’ll be sorrow”

Joni Mitchell, Little Green

It would always start the week before. I’d find myself slip away a bit, not really a depression, more like melancholy. I’d open my closet, find my pity party dress, get all dressed up, and ready to jump into a week long funk. For years, I didn’t know why. It’s my birthday. I’m supposed to be excited to celebrate another year and to spend time with friends and family. I’m supposed to be happy, right? And yet, year after year, exactly one week before the day, I was a wreck. Anxious, hiding, waiting for it to be over. At the same time, I wanted to be celebrated and loved.

For years, I felt an emptiness on my birthday that I could not fully articulate. As an adoptee, feelings of abandonment came up that I could easily justify away, but never really ignore. I found that my justification was for others. My arrival into a new family was a happy celebration, but I always felt a little like a commodity. I was the THING that changed their lives. This baby made things better. This is an INCREDIBLY uncomfortable thing to say out loud and I don’t for one minute think that my parents or any other adoptive parent think of their child as property or something other than their child. But still, despite knowing that my parents didn’t feel this way, every year, I felt sad because of the day I was born. I was given up, a mistake and something that was not good news for a teenage girl. I spent years denying that this sentiment because I could easily point to a million reasons why I was grateful and lucky. I never told my parents because my birthday was one of the best days of their lives. I appreciated that this was true for them, but it also made me feel guilty for not always feeling the same.

So every year, this abandoned little girl crept towards me, and year after year, I’d try to avoid her. A couple years ago, I started to pay attention and not run away from her. I slowly let her get closer and take up space, but still kept her a safe distance away.  I’ve grown accustomed to her though, and over the course of years, I’ve let myself get to know her. Listen to her. Tell her it’s okay. Okay to feel like you were a mistake, lots of people, adopted and biological, feel this way. But what I’ve also been able to do is look at it differently now that I am mother. When my kids hurt or struggle, I want desperately to make them- and myself to some degree- feel better. I want to tell them to NOT feel that way, that they SHOULDN’t feel that way, but here’s the thing: THEY DO. It’s all them, and if I give them the space to feel whatever they feel, maybe I can help them give it a voice and hopefully, they can come to some reconciliation. I hope I can be a better friend and partner to others, that I can listen and say, “I see you’re broken, and I’m just going to hold you until you feel a little better.” I’ve learned that was all I wanted, and by doing this for them, I’ve had to hold myself and to do the same. So, I’ve given myself permission to feel sad on my birthday and for some birthdays, I do. It’s MY birthday… not my parents, not a young girl who ended up in a sticky situation, not my own children. It’s MY birthday, and I’ve discovered a beauty in celebrating my life, even the parts that hurt. The broken parts of us all make the others more shiny. They all make up the woman I’ve become, who, by the way, I now know isn’t a mistake.

P.S. Don’t worry Mom, today I’m very happy. Thank you and Dad for giving me the best THING I could ever have. A beautiful family who may not get me most of the time, but loves me always. I love you.

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Filed under Motherhood, Personal Growth, truth

Not Dark Yet

The other night, as I drove home after an evening of sharing, listening, talking, “Not Dark Yet” by Bob Dylan came on the radio.  Feeling a little melancholy, I immediately thought of you, my former best friend.  I can’t believe we live so close to one another, despite being a couple thousand miles from our hometown, and yet I don’t know you anymore.  You don’t know me, either.  Our lives have moved so far from one another and it seems really strange because for so many years, since we were kids, we were best friends.  I thought it was so special that a girl and boy could be best friends and never have to become Harry & Sally.  We spent so many hours talking, listening to music, watching tv, doing nothing, playing guitar, singing in the car, going to concerts… oh the concerts.  I saw my first concert with you- I think it was your first too.  Billy Idol, Rebel Yell.  1984.  Your mom brought a book and read in the 11th row and we laughed when we smelled pot in the air for the first time.  You looked like Anthony Michael Hall and I was Molly Ringwald.  We watched each other fall in love with other people, had our hearts broken, talked about everything .  We would stop talking for unknown reasons and then we would be friends again.  We were good, good friends.

People assumed we would get married one day.  I think we were the only two who didn’t agree.  That’s not to say we didn’t wonder. I can only speak for myself when I say I wondered.  I felt it was at least something I should ask myself and you- was our friendship more?  I wasn’t even asking because I wanted us to be together like that, I just wanted to make sure we weren’t ignoring something.  But I think that my asking the question changed our friendship. I’m sorry if it did.

I remember when you got married.  I was so happy for you both.  I remember when you started dating her and I saw how happy you were and when I saw you two together, I knew it was good stuff.  I also remember feeling left out.  Not because I was jealous or wanted to be in her place, but because I saw your new life and knew I wouldn’t be part of it.  I saw other friends be part of your joy and I was now on the outside.  For some reason, I always thought I’d been a groomswoman in your wedding, and when you and the guys were all were talking about seeing Levon Helm in New York and I kept thinking, “Why wasn’t I there?”  The girl you were best friends with since childhood would have been there with you guys, just as she was when we waited at midnight for gas in Wisconsin after seeing The Who.  I realized that there was no longer a place for a grown woman in this friendship of men.

It hurt for a long time, I was angry and I resented you.  But now, I am just happy to have such good memories and hope they are good ones for you, too.

I bet you are a good husband and a good dad.  I have no doubt that you work really hard to make a good life for your family.  I also am certain that you are a good man.  I hope you still play guitar a lot.  You play beautifully and I miss singing with you.  Especially Dylan.

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Filed under Music, NaBloPoMo, Personal Growth, truth, What Really Happened

Is it Hot in Here or is it Just Me?

Image

The fine folks at BlogHer have been kind enough to give those of us participating in NaBloPoMo for August daily prompts to help us blog each day.  The prompts are only if needed, and for me, today, ’tis needed indeeded.

Monday, August 5, 2013
What makes a woman hot? Is it something physical, an intangible personality trait, or something else entirely that labels a person as hot?

Really?  Sheesh.  In that case, let’s do this.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of hot is:

a : having a relatively high temperature;
b : capable of giving a sensation of heat or of burning, searing, or scalding;
c : having heat in a degree exceeding normal body heat.

This really makes me think the answer to this question is simple.  Menopause.  Menopause makes a woman hot.  Also, wearing too many clothes.  That will make this woman hot.  Or if the heat is on too high.  Or if it is 95 degrees in Chicago in the summertime and I’m not in A/C.  Who’s hot then?  Me, baby, me.  Oh, and let’s not get started on Mexican food.  That will make me hot in a flash! (get it… hot…flash?  I’ll be blogging all month, thanks.)

But that’s not really what this question is asking, right?  Let’s use another reliable source, shall we?  Hit it, Urban Dictionary:

1.someone thats EXTREMEMLY good looking but not like cute, more like sexy. when they walk by u turn ure head and wish u had a pause button or something.
2.something that is in some way attractive

Aside from the fact that ANYONE can post their own definition and the use of proper spelling and grammar is apparently optional, this is really what is at the heart of this question, isn’t it?  And you don’t really want to hear about why all woman are hot in their own ways either.  The question is basically asking me to blog about what I think makes a woman hot, isn’t it? I agree completely with Urban Dictionary’s first entry, with the exception being that someone needs to be extremely good looking.  Obviously, there are people who are just good looking, but that doesn’t mean I find them ‘hot’ or get hot when I see them.  The qualities that I find attractive in others is hard to define- it is a look, a way they carry themselves, the way that they look at me.  It can be a gesture, a smile, the way they look in glasses.  I just know it- I feel it- when it’s there.

Tomorrow, the question asks if I would want to be known as hot.  I’ll just answer now.  I’d be lying if I said no.  I think everyone at some point or another in our lives, wants to feel desired physically by another person.  And when I feel good about myself, that only adds to the mix.  I feel attractive to ME and that confidence shows through to others.  That, is hot.

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Filed under NaBloPoMo, self-confidence, truth, Uncategorized