Saturday, March 14, 2015


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Million-Dollar Baby

My mother and I had a regularly-scheduled shopping routine, based on the days in which we knew certain stores would mark down clearance items. Target was a sure bet to mark down clearance on Wednesdays. Thursdays might indicate large mark-downs at Kohl’s. And, of course, we had our usual Saturday shopping date, to hit Target yet again, as well as peruse the mall. Our true goal was to find the best clearance items. The bigger the markdown, the more excited we got, like an addict getting a much-needed hit. Apart from groceries and basic household essentials, I came to a point where I would only purchase items on clearance, and I would make a determination on an item based on how I thought it would sell: if it was marked down to 50 percent off, did it look like a big seller at that price? Or should I hold out, hoping that the item will hit 75 percent off, and I will be lucky enough to get it for that price. My mother once asked me the question of if I thought we’d still buy only clearance items should we become millionaires. Well, of course, I told her. We would still buy our clearance items; we’d just buy more of it.
     When I married my former ex-husband, my mother began to immediately purchase clothes and supplies, for a baby that was neither conceived nor planning to be conceived any time in the near future. This did not matter to her. If she spotted a good clearance on anything from clothes to bottles to pacifiers to toys, she snatched the item up and packed it away in a Rubbermaid bin, safely tucked away for her anticipated grandchild.
     My ex-husband and I waited five years to have a child. By this time, a closet in my mother’s guest bedroom was stacked from floor to ceiling with bin after bin, all filled with clothing and what she found to be essentials. In those bins contained wardrobes for both a boy or a girl, from single to octuplets, so she was ready and prepared for either. In fact, she was so much so prepared that I did not have to purchase a single item of clothing for my child until the age of five.
     When contemplating a future plan of having children, I knew that first and foremost, I needed to have a girl. Some people want one or the other; others are simply happy to have a healthy baby. But for me, having a girl was a need, an essential, if I wanted any quality of life. In a conversation with a former coworker, I once announced that there was no possible way that I would ever give birth to a boy, because clearly that would be a sign of the universe unleashing hatred toward me, and I doubted I could love a boy, anyway. She nearly doubled over laughing at such a statement, one that was so bold and so narcicisstic, it nearly makes me skin prickle now.
     After 15 long months of attempting to conceive a baby, I finally got a positive pregnancy test. At the very first ultrasound, my child was a 7-week-old embryo, the size of a grain of rice. I demanded to know if the technician could see the gender of my child. She looked at me in bewilderment, and explained that that wasn't possible, as those organs had not yet been formed, much less anywhere near the size of being visible.
     I spent my time online reading pregnancy articles on various sites, and always advertised was the "Know Your Child's Sex as Early as 11 Weeks!" Though I knew it was likely a hoax, I coveted this product. Every time the pop-up appeared, I opened it and stared, thinking about getting my credit card out. Why did the test need to cost $250? After all, I was administering it myself--no doctor or medical professional required--and I'd learned that the pregnancy tests from Dollar Tree were more accurate than the more expensive pharmacy ones, so what could really be in this test that would require it to be so expense. I'd glare at the screen, perhaps enter my info, but then make it to the section to enter my payment method and quit. It was an epic test of my patience, waiting to find out if this now raisin-sized child I was carrying was a girl or a boy.
     When my big ultrasound finally came along after an agonizing 18-week wait, I was thrilled. I chugged a can of Sunkist orange soda, because I wanted my fetus to be riled up and moving around, allowing flashes of private parts. The wait in the reception room was agonizing, partially because it was finally the day that I could know the answer, and also because the Sunkist that I guzzled was causing my bladder to feel like a water-filled balloon ready to pop at any second. I mumbled under my breath and complained repeatedly to my ex-husband; who were these people at this clinic, making me wait like this! I analyzed the other pregnancy candidates in the waiting area, and found myself to be of much greater calabur than they were, as I often saw teenage girls who my nurse told me she needed to use child-sized blood pressure cuffs on, because they were so slight. Why should these girls get their ultrasound before me? After all, I was much older, and therefore I'd waited a much longer time than they have for this moment!
    When my name was finally called--45 minutes after my scheduled time--I nearly stormed through the waiting room and behind the double doors to get this party started. It was much to my dismay when I found my ultrasound technician to be a male. Is this an appropriate job for a male, I thought? Sure, I could see men doing ultrasounds of other areas of the body, but men don't even have the anatomical parts that they were viewing! I most certainly did not wish to discuss my reproductive health and habits with this strange man!
     Perhaps worst of all, my male technician was the silent type. My big belly was fully exposed, covered in the clear, sticky ultrasound gel. He slowly ran the wand across my stomach, saying nothing. He did not point out a single feature of my now pear-sized child: no head, no hands, no feet, no butt and certainly no reproductive organs. Finally, the silence in the room was too much, and I blurted out, "So, can you tell what it is? Is it a girl or a boy? Do the parts look like a hamburger or a hotdog?"
    He glanced at me with no more enthusiasm or excitement than he'd already expressed throughout the entire experience. He glumly answered, "It looks like a girl to you happen to be seeing your doctor after this appointment?"
     Most pregnant women would freeze at the words "do you happen to be seeing your doctor" while undergoing an ultrasound. Not I. I had already moved on to crying tears of joy that I was indeed having the little girl I insisted that I would have.
     The technician mumbled something about needing to leave the room for a moment, and when he did, I looked over at my husband with sheer excitement, overjoyed that we were having a girl. It was a time when no words would've been needed, but he looked at me and dully said, "Well, I guess it's for the best for everyone: for the baby, for you, for me. I don't know what you would've done if they'd told you it was a boy".
     When the technician returned, he brought with him the high-risk pregnancy specialist, who had to run a separate screen to analyze. My still-baking-in-the-oven girl was not cooperative at showing certain parts of her body--genitals excluded--and needed additional shots of her heart, to ensure four chambers, and of her limbs, to certify all four existed. Having an expert present was excellent by my standards. This meant I could get a second opinion on the sex of my child, just to be sure. When asked, she replied with, "I'm 99 percent sure that you've got a girl there. If I'm wrong, I'll come over to your house and repaint the nursery for you".
     When sent back to the waiting room to wait for my doctor, I gushed to my husband and quickly scanned the Internet for bedding. Before my name was even called, I had already selected her nursery theme; black and white gingham, enhanced by pink French poodles. How perfect...and the pinker, the better.
     When my doctor did call me back for my appointment, he asked how I was, and instead of describing how I was feeling, I answered simply with, "I'm having a girl". He replied with the same enthusiasm as my husband, likely grateful that I was having a girl, and likely even more grateful that the ultrasound footage taken by the specialist did not reveal any defects I had to be aware of.
     As a parent of a girl, one thing you most look forward to your daughter's first dance recital. You imagine your tiny little girl, hair in ringlets and bows, wearing a costume with much sparkle, gliding across the stage with poise and ease. I can still imagine the feel of my daughter's very first dance recital dress; it had a white satin top with poofy sleeves, and a navy blue velvet flared skirt that twirled along with her so beautifully. In her ringlets we placed a big pink satin bow, finishing off the look I had dreamed of for so long.
     When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, her one hope was to live long enough to see her granddaughter's recital. She was determined to go, even if she was wheeled in in a hospital gown with an oxygen mask. Sadly, she did not make this goal, and died one month before the dance recital.
     The evening of the dance recital was bittersweet; I was so happy to see my beautiful Shirley Temple-esque daughter perform, but I was devastated to not have my mom next to me. Actually, I was to have no one next to me. I had vowed not to date for 1,000 days, and the day my mom was admitted to hospice, an enormous fight broke out amongst my social clique, and I was the weak link who got tossed out of the 30-something Mean Girls clique.
     In an unusually generous move, my ex-husband offered to allow me to sit with him, his girlfriend and her children, which, quite frankly is the ideal situation for normal co-parents, which we were not, as he stated so clearly to the judge upon our divorce. I certainly did not wish to be sitting with the man I could not escape from for 13 years thanks to the fact that we shared a child, but it was still better than sitting alone.
     In my small town, the fresh flower supply had been exhausted by the dance recital. There was not even a bouquet of filler stems, much less an actual floral bouquet, to be found anywhere. I resigned myself to buying fake, oddly-colored silk flowers at Walmart. I discovered them in the Memorial Day section, so they were meant to be placed on the graves of loved ones, not given to a 5-year-old child after her first dance recital.
     I met my ex-husband and his girlfriend at the school where the recital was to be held, and while walking down the stairs, I refrained from kicking his girlfriend in the back of the knee, a move that would've most certainly taken her down, as penance for the fact that she was the other woman my ex cheated on me with during our entire seven-year marriage. I spared her, not out of kindness but rather out of the fact that I am a Jackie and not a Marilyn, and such behavior would be completely uncouth.
    When we reached the entrance to the auditorium, I found a local floral vendor selling live roses, and I had to stop to buy a half-dozen, to make up for the pile of burnt orange silk and plastic roses I'd purchased earlier. I was disappointed that the only color left was red, because red was just so...traditional. I'd once had a fiance who sent flowers at least once per month, and it was almost always red roses. I recall that Jackie Kennedy was given red roses upon landing at Love Field in Dallas on the day of her husband's assassination, and her bewildered comment that she repeated over and over while grieving: she was confused to be handed red roses, when the state flower of Texas was a yellow rose. Nevertheless, with red as my only choice, I quickly grabbed my flowers, some still thorny and dripping cold water.
     My ex-husband assured me that it was fine for me to stop to buy the flowers, and that he would be sure to save me a seat. Alas, with fresh roses placed in my arms, I entered the darkened auditorium, and I wasn't able to spot my ex anywhere. His hair is black, so it was fully understandable that I could not see him, but his girlfriend has wildly bleached-out hair that I had previously assumed glowed in the dark simply from the amount of peroxide it held. I was wrong. Not able to find them, I slinked over to a seat in the far corner of the auditorium, and tucked myself in an empty row, just me there, wearing my favorite vintage dress, teal with black embroidery, that reminded me so much of Jackie Kennedy, with its sleek A-line skirt, sash and silky finish.
     Tucked away in the darkened auditorium, slinking down like a hermit with an extreme social disorder, my thoughts ran wild. Those jerks, I thought to myself. They obviously did this on purpose, and what kind of people do that, anyway? Who leaves the mother of his child alone and shivering in the corner merely one month after her mother's death? I took solace only in the fact that I was wearing my beautiful Jackie Kennedy dress, a look that the girl with the glow in the dark hair could never pull off, though my beloved dress was quickly becoming soaked with tears.
     After my daughter performed--lovely amongst a group of other girls in which one fell, one went screaming off the stage and the rest stood and looked around--the spotlight suddenly illuminated my ex. I could see his black hair glistening from the half-bottle of hair gel he applied every morning in the glare of the spotlight. I had found them, and there was most certainly not a seat saved for me. I spent the remaining time glaring in his direction, silently thinking of a menagerie of insults and willing them to teleport across the auditorium and into his psyche.
     At intermission, the lights came on, and I could see them in full, glaring color. My anger was building and building as I rose from my seat, calmly grabbed my handbag and my bouquet of roses and began to make my way over to them.
     He never saw me coming, never noticed me creeping up from behind, likely because he was too busy stroking that glow in the dark hair of his girlfriend, who was not even been born by the time my ex-husband graduated from middle school. The closer I got, the angrier I got, and in a totally uncharacteristic move for me, I snuck up behind him and proceeded to beat him across the head with the bouquet of roses. Petals of the red dewy roses flew through the air, and I was silently praying the thorns would break through the protective plastic on the flowers, inflicting even more damage. I secretly imagined that the scene looked like the backseat of JFK's limo after he was assassinated, with Jackie's red roses laying everywhere, petals and stems scattered in the blood of the deadly shot.
     After I had hit him in the head several times, he and his girlfriend stared at me with a look equivalent to one that you would use when seeing a serial killer, not quite believing your eyes. I blurted out my hatred toward them--for leaving me all alone at my daughter's dance recital, suffering quietly in the corner--and I quickly turned and walked away.
     I very calmly walked back to my seat in the back corner, feeling nothing. As time went by, I considered this situation and realized this is probably how people inadvertantly become murderers: they set out with no intention of murdering, but someone does something that angers them to a point where there is no more rationality and they act with no forethought whatsoever.
 When I arrived back at my seat, I carefully placed my rose bouquets on the empty seat beside me, smoothed my A-line skirt and calmly sat down. I was acutely aware of the fact that approximately one-half of a city of 6,000 people had just witnessed me physically assaulting my ex-husband with flowers meant for our daughter, and I wished that I could tell them my side of the story, because if they knew, they would most certainly side with me and agree that the flower-beating was well deserved. I had to instead take comfort in the fact that I looked lovely in my dress and designer handbag, and they looked like country hicks, held hostage by a town and a culture that discouraged any independence or thinking.
     After the recital, my ex-husband and I avoided any eye contact, despite the fact that we had to both congratulate our daughter in the same room. I noticed a scratch on his cheek, and smiled smugly. Sure, he could've gotten that scratch while shaving, but I liked the idea of me causing it with my sneak attack.
     As the recital was held on a Friday evening, I had plenty of time over the weekend to think about my poor behavior. Sure, I felt some guilt, but not enough to make me want to apologize. Instead I felt more embarrassment, knowing that a great number of people had watched and now likely considered me mentally insane, which at that time, it was quite possible that I was.
    When I went to work on Monday, I guiltly admitted the story to my co-workers, even though it was starting to become an amusing memory. Craig, one of our season cleaning helpers, was at the same receital to see his granddaughter. Mercifully, he had not witnessed the floral attack, but said to me, "Eh, a man's not really a man until a woman has smacked him in the head with some flowers".


Well, well, well...

Here we find ourselves catapulting from the year 2011 to the year 2015, much like space travel into a whole new world. Yet again I have made myself promises and resolutions to blog and to do so on a regular basis, both for practice and because this way, I will have fresh material should I fall behind on a submission deadline at graduate school, where I am diligently working away to earn my MFA in creative non-fiction writing. My arrival at my graduate school intensive residency was disheartening, as all of the mentors tried to explain to me the remote possibility that I could become famous with a NYT best seller, and that perhaps I should focus my attention on a possible career teaching English and Composition at a community college.

Nevertheless, I still have not yet let go of my notions of fame and fortune, and I occasionally practice signing books, because I want to be ready when the time comes for my book tour.

There is virtually nothing in my life that has not changed since I last posted four years ago, and many of my changes have been more like struggles, along the lines of the Whack-a-Mole arcade game at Chuck-e-Cheese. I have faced terminal illness (not my own, obviously); death; probate court; custody court; a move to a new area in an attempt to get a fresh start, of which has failed thus far; almost charged with a felony and many, many more fun stories to come.

I promise.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I'm Sorry For "That" Night...

So, as it would seem, it is February. Once again. And it seems that every February, I commit myself to blogging, and follow through for like, a month. And then I find something else that takes my attention away, like Facebook or or something of that mind-numbing effect.

However, this time I am insisting that it be different, if only because I myself am looking for a mind-numbing effect--for myself. Sure, a little Klonopin is good, but only last so long, because before you know it, all those haunting thoughts are back.

Remember the guy I talked about in my last post, oh, about six months ago? Gushed about how he was perfect in every way? How I was convinced that he was my soul mate, and we'd be together forever and ever and ever? Turns out, I might have been just a little bit wrong...actually, more than just a little bit wrong.

After the arrival of the wild-cherry appliances that he so graciously bought me, things went downhill rapidly. This was around the time that we integrated our kids, so we then lived together full-time, officially. What I didn't realize by "live together full-time, officially", was that he thought this meant, "act as my slave and take care of my three children who will come and go at their own will, without any discussion with you, leave the house trashed and you can clean up the mess, because I am totally oblivious to the kids, much less the mess".

I was so determined to make this relationship work. So determined. First of all, after moving in together on a part-time basis, I had a lot of people to prove wrong--all those people who said it wouldn't work. Second, I once read in a book that the Kennedy family relied on two "rules": Kennedys don't cry and Kennedys don't fail. Failure was simply not an option for me. I could not fail at this relationship. No matter how badly things were going downhill, I would put up with anything and everything to avoid this so-called failure.

So, for about five months, I just took everything as it came, and spent much time defending my now-ex, who was quickly growing less and less favorable among my friends and family. I wish that I could tell you what I did during this time. I cannot. It's like my mind blocked it out, that I have no real memory of those months, other than a blur. I do know what I didn't do, a long list that includes reading a single magazine book, cleaning the house and doing really fun things, like drinking with my friends. After the relationship ended, my mom asked me what I did during all those months, and I had to admit that I had no clue. What did I do? Work all day, and then come home and worship him? This is what must I have been doing, because he was constantly glued to his computer, working on his medieval fiction "novel", so I should've had plenty of time for things, but I just didn't.

Sometimes, I think our minds block things out, or blur memories, just because we couldn't handle it if we had to re-live it like it was. I once had a horrible car accident, and I remember very little of it, despite the fact that I injured my shoulder and not my head. I've always credited this to the mind shielding you from such things, because if you really did remember what it was like, you may never drive again, in the example of a car accident. In this case of my deleted memories, I'd never date again if I fully realized what those eight months were like.

One of the things that my mind likes to block out is that the relationship turned from enchanting and perfect to abusive, just like that. At one point, I remember something irritating him, and I just saw the anger in his eyes, saw him grow cold. I even commented on it, about how I'd hate to see him truly angry. He smiled, but said nothing.

I got my first dose of his true anger when his teenage daughters were in my living room with my dog, and they both tried to rip a toy our of his mouth, because the dog has an awful habit of eating most every toy my daughter owns. He snarled and snapped, though he didn't actually bite or even make skin contact. But when my ex found this out, he hurt my dog. He literally beat my dog right in front of me. I was frozen, I was shaking and I couldn't move. At 32, it will always be a moment that I will remember as the loss of my own innocence, because no one had ever been violent like that in front of me. Shaking, I locked myself in the spare bedroom with my dog, not knowing what to do. I called the doctor the next day and asked for a prescription of Valium, only to be shot down because evidently, this is no longer the age of 'Valley of the Dolls'. Who knew?

And thus began the start of the demise of what we "had". I should've made him leave after that. A person that can hurt your animal is clearly void of feelings, and the bad news is that oftentimes, you are up next on the hit list. And I was. Not so many people knew, until the grand climax, the final event, when I was covered in bruises and could no longer hide it. I mean, c'mon. What can you really do in a situation like that? It's not like I could simply announce to my friends and coworkers, "Hey, I had a great day. I didn't get shoved into the wall today", even though that's what it was like. And "what it was like" is hard to put a label on. One of the few people who did know that there was some physical abuse in my relationship asked me after it was over...why did I put up with that? Why? As a criminal defense lawyer, he'd represented so many of these abusive jerks, but why me? Why would I stay, why would someone like me put up with that? After all, I wasn't the stereotype--I have a college education, my own house, my own income, I didn't share any children with him. I had no answer, but his question will always echo through my mind, because is there really a stereotypical woman that this happens to? As I learned, it can happen to any one of us...and you might not ever know.

By early December, I started to have "that feeling". You know, that instinctual feeling women have when they know deep down that their man isn't being faithful? Yeah, that feeling. And I was all-out paranoid, to the point of checking his phone and his Facebook and any other outlet I could find. And there was my evidence: his correspondence with some woman that he had a brief "relationship" with, who lived out of state. I saw the messages. I confronted. He admitted to the emotional affair. It was like someone had pulled the carpet out from under me. I mean...really? This woman was barely a two, and I am darn near a 10. Why on earth would he continue this "emotional affair" with this woman--a hamburger, no cheese--when he had me--filet mignon--at home?

We slept separately that night, me in the kids' room with my daughter, and him in my bed. The next day, he brought me roses, and I tossed them on the bed to die. That gesture didn't make a bit of difference. I mean, really? Did he really think that this would make up for the fact that he hadn't been emotionally faithful from day one?

I was so exhausted from the emotion that I took a nap that afternoon, and I awoke with a startle. Before I even opened the bedroom door, I knew that he was gone. I knew, because I could just sense it. And when I came out, all I had to do was look at the desk, and his laptop was gone. It was pretty clear at that point. But really? I mean, seriously? Who the hell just up and walks out on his live-in girlfriend with no warning, no reason--and while she's taking a nap, for God's sake? Suddenly, my life was playing out like a Lifetime Television for Women movie.

He didn't anticipate me being up when he walked back into the house to continue to gather his belongings. And when he did, the inevitable fight ensued, with him eventually getting to the point of throwing me against the wall, pinning me there and daring me to hit him in the face. Why? Probably because then he would've felt justified in punching me in the face. And all I knew--even at that moment--was that that would absolutely not happen. There are so few things that cannot be taken away from a person, and one of mine is my face. I'd made a "career" off that face, with years of pageants and local modeling. There was no way that I'd allow him even a split second to take a swing.

He backed off me at some point, and I calmly got my cell phone and called the police. He fled the house, taking off so quickly that he did not even bother to close his trunk before he left. The police were at my house in a matter of minutes, too soon for the physical bruises to show. There was no real evidence of what had happened. Sure, I could file a police report, but without physical evidence, little would come of it. So, I didn't.

And then I don't really know what happened for the rest of that night, and maybe even for that weekend, and the week after that and the week after that. My bruises were glowing for all to see by Monday, and I should've followed through and filed the police report. But I didn't. I was truly scared. Scared that he would come back and hurt me, or my daughter or my dogs. So I let it go, a decision that I regret to this day. Had I pressed charges, at least it would've been on his record, right? It's typical practice for me to run a criminal background check on all of my dates, as downright creeper-ish as that sounds. And he only had a few speeding tickets--big deal. But would I have changed my mind if he'd had domestic assault charges on his record? I don't know...

I have so little memory of the week that would follow. I still wonder, why? Why was I pushing myself so hard to just jump back into my regular life, even though this break-up was the equivalent of going through another divorce--two divorces in one year. How strong did I have to be? Why could I not allow myself time and space to grieve what was truly a gigantic loss?

My friend H came over the night that he left me. That I do remember, but I don't remember how she got there...did I call or text her? Obviously, I must've, because as great as she is, I don't think she would've had the psychic ability to show up at that exact moment, wine bottle in hand. And I remember that I let her smoke in my house, and for the next few weeks sat the wine bottle stuffed with cigarettes from that night. I simply didn't have the energy to even put it in the recycling bin. A few nights later, H sent her boyfriend over, and I just remember sobbing--all out gasping sobbing--on his shoulder, and asking the inevitable question of why, why, why. WHY? Why would a man just up and leave like that? But there is no answer, no answer that would ever make sense. By the end of the first week, I did virtually did nothing but cry, work, and cry. I went to my primary care doctor to announce my nervous breakdown, and she looked at me like I was a drug addict when I announced that I wanted something stronger than Klonopin to take the edge off the pain I was feeling. Again, I was shot down. I totally don't understand this. Evidently, from the impression I've been given, these prescription drugs used to be widely prescribed in the 1960s. What about me? Is this to say that I have less pain that someone would've had in the 1960s, and that I should just tough it out? I think not.

The only good thing that came of my doctor's visit was that she wrote me an excuse to get me out of work for a few days. It sounds silly now: "Please excuse J because she is having a nervous breakdown from a recent breakup". And then since I got to stay home, I could orchestrate my schedule of cry, sleep, cry. And it was during this time that I learned that my ex had beautifully executed his escape: I realized that his mail was no longer coming to my house. He'd already changed his address. He'd already arranged for help in moving his kids' beds out of my house, and had I delved further into his Facebook messages, I would've discovered that. Not only did he leave me, he PLANNED to leave me, all while pretending he loved me and that we would be together forever.

To get over the pain, I figured the absolute best thing to do would be to date. As quickly as possible, as much as possible. I went out with four men, within four weeks. The first one came along before I'd even disposed of the infamous wine bottle. But with each of these guys, I found their flaws, virtually immediately. "Red flags", everyone tells me they are called. And it would seem that by analyzing the red flags I'd been handed, each and every one of these men was interested in one thing: bashing me to build himself up.

Needless to say, I discontinued dating, because now it just seems like some half-assed sitcom that comes on in the middle of a season to fill time. It'll likely get cancelled because it sucks. Now I deal with my self-fulfilling prophecy of being alone for the rest of my life. And everyone asks, would that really be so terrible? Really? After all you've been through? But yeah. It would really be that terrible. Sometimes, I am consumed with hatred for my life. This wasn't at all what it was supposed to be, and the majority of that was caused by my own poor decisions. But where's my happy ending?

The entire thing--maybe even the entire relationship, looking back with perspective--was so hurtful that I wish, more than anything, that I could just give the whole thing back. I'd give back every single minute of those eight months, just to re-gain my own innocence and to un-break my own heart, not to mention that of my daughter's. She still asks when we will get a "new boyfriend", still tells me that she loves my ex, still calls his oldest daughter "my girl". And now I am lost...I brought him into my life, believing that he was it. And now what? He wasn't. My daughter is now four. I don't want to have a revolving door of men around her, so now I will forever question every relationship, every everything. I don't known when--or even IF--I'd allow a man to meet my daughter.

My heart is heavy with the implications of what I did: I allowed someone to move into my house, and I didn't even know him. Even if I didn't fail at the relationship, because so much of what happened was his doing, I failed myself and I failed my daughter. I have to swallow my own pride, and apologize to the two of us for "that" night, when I was so enchanted by this guy--this stranger--that I drew him completely into our worlds, and then eight months later, all of my beautifully executed plans imploded. I have to learn to forgive myself for that, for what may be the poorest decision of my adulthood. I'd like to say that my daughter won't remember this experience, but she will. And with all of me, I hope that she knows that was not okay, and the way Mommy allowed herself to be treated is not okay, ever.

As far as the ex...I don't really know what happened to him, where he lives, what he's doing. He hasn't contacted me since he left me. For the first couple of weeks, I had a really strong feeling that he was around--like that mid-1980s song that Michael Jackson did the chorus of, "I always feel like somebody's watching me...". And then, conveniently, my ex-husband ran into him at the gas station. For all the crappy things that happened throughout our marriage, the guy still does care, and it is in my benefit that he has the size advantage over my ex. After the gas station run-in--and my ex-husband did not even have a conversation with my ex-boyfriend--that feeling of being watched disappeared.

There's little consolation in those wasted eight months, other than what he left behind materially: my wild-cherry appliances. A battery for my car. A partially-finished room in my basement. A very stinky chihuahua. Everyone asks why I kept the chihuahua: isn't it just a memory of my ex? The chihuahua showed up a few weeks before my ex left me--a left-over from his previous marriage, and unwanted by everyone. And then the chihuahua stayed with me, and I decided not to let him go. I don't know what he's seen, how he was treated, especially after I watched my ex attack my dog. The chihuahua is named Charles; I jokingly refer to him as Charles the Consolation Chihuahua. I've tried to change his name to Patrick, as it would be much more fitting with my other dog, Kennedy. Charles just won't go for it, though, and my daughter also loudly protests the name change. Charles does, however, go for his new way of living at my house, in which he generally spends about 23.75 hours of every day in bed. I even serve him his meals in bed, to make sure my golden doesn't eat all of his food. He sleeps in my bed, under the covers. He is fiercely protective at me, and wants no one to talk to me, because he believes that I am his possession. Come to think of it, I think Charles the Consolation Chihuahua might have some abusive traits, in his issues with possession. However, I am very proud over the fact that he has grown his first fat roll, a huge difference from when he first arrived, and you could count the vertebrae on his spine, because he was so skinny. If there's a reason for everything, maybe that's why my ex came into my life: to make me the saver of the life of Charles.

Last week, one of my mom's coworkers was going through her Facebook, when she discovered a friend had changed her profile picture. The picture was now of this girl--with my ex. After this, I found out that this girl works with my ex's ex-wife, whom must apparently either hate this girl or be so oblivious to the fact that she was treated badly by my ex, because I am sure that she got a lot of the same treatment I did. I certainly wouldn't wish the guy upon any of my friends, that's for sure.

H is an ace creeper. The only thing she hasn't managed to crack are military records, which is unfortunate. She presented me with photos of the "new girlfriend", and much to our excitement, the girl is extremely overweight. As in, no amount of dieting, exercise or surgery could fix her shape. I described her as having the shape of a Weeble: Weebles Wobble But They Don't Fall Down. And for her sake, I sure hope she's got the "won't fall down" part taken care of, because if her new boyfriend manages to pull the same act, it will be hard for her to not fall down. If he could take me down, it wouldn't be hard to do the same to each and every woman that comes into his life, probably forever and always, from that night and beyond.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Wedding Tips for the Bitter would appear to me that I have taken an extended vacation from this whole blogging thing, though not entirely on purpose. I have a multitude of reasons that I could use as excuses, including the fact that as rumor has it, my ex stalks my blog to look for evidence that I am a poor parent to our daughter, or that it's been summer which equals tourist season at work, therefore lending me a lot less time for personal pursuits like blogging.

Truth is, I met a really fantastic man, and we pretty much had the first date that never ended: he basically moved in with me the night of our first date, and we haven't been apart much since, at least since we introduced our kids to each other. Previously, my blogging had my fueled by the flames of my anger that just sprayed out in no particular direction, but meeting the aforementioned man kinda dulled that fire and all of the anger I had inside me, and therefore, I was left creativity challenged, and usually I rarely have anything nice to say, and if it happens to be nice, I typically don't bother saying it at all. So, thus, I quit blogging for a while. But now I'm back.

Sadly, the really fantastic man is writing a fiction novel of his own, and has much more discipline than I do. While he is writing and revising, I am taking four-hour naps, brushing the dog, watching iCarly, shopping, Facebooking or any number of time-wasting activities that suit my fancy on that given day. Needless to say, my progress on what I hope will be my big break at last is sparse.

So, I have a friend who is equally as cynical and sarcastic as I. She has grown to become one of my favorite people, and we share a sense of humor that is so questionable, her now-fiance once asked her, "Are you sure you should send her that? It is a bit...offensive". She explaned that I wouldn't find it offensive, but rather humorous. And of course, she was right.

Over the weekend, she became engaged to her long-term boyfriend, though not unsurprisingly, as they've been building to this point for quite some time. She sent out a mass email to her friends, asking for wedding tips. I decided I'd reply in my own special fashion, a fashion that is probably duplicated and/or understood by few.

Thinking about tying the knot? Here's my list of realistic tips, and I am sure you will find them equally as helpful and warm and snuggly as I do:

First, CONGRATULATIONS on snaggin' N for life! Your ring is FAB. Did you have input on selecting it? Or did he surprise you with the ring style? I imagine you are quite pleased! I, of course, have the intense desire to inquire about carat weight, which I immediately did upon my second engagement, about like, 1.5 minutes after the proposal, but everyone told me this was bad manners and socially unacceptable. However, if you were to willingly offer this info, I would not complain. Remember, I relentlessly nag the boyfriend about rings even though he already bought me my wild-cherry appliances that could be considered a promise ring of sorts, I suppose, but I am still careful to point any and all rings out, as I have a talent for meticulously cataloging rings on both men and women. It's a shameless hobby. Alas, my boyfriend was forced to look at your ring as he was trying to drive yesterday. I am THAT shameless, that'd I'd risk a fiery death in a car accident in order to show him photos of rings.

Okay, so you want my wedding tips, huh? BAHAHAAAAAAA! Keep in mind that when I got married, I was a totally different person than what I have become now. So...

1. Why get married at all? I mean, now that you've got the ring and all...just sayin'. I'm gonna need some pretty hard-core benefits--preferably financial--to want to do THAT again. I mean, sheesh! What did I do to deserve that kind of punishment again?!? Though, admitedly, if Z asked, I would say yes, but that is due in part to a claim on his military benefits and pension that I'd only get if we were legally married. That being said, forever never seems like too long until you are wrong. Keep that in mind.

2. Since I suspect you will not listen to my advice on this topic at all, I may also suggest that you don't marry in September, as you have suggested you would like to do. Both of my failed marriages have been in September--my wedding that I *almost* went through with was scheduled for September 15 (2001, of all years--at a time when the entire country was at a standstill); and my "real" wedding was September 28. It'd be kinda funny, actually, if I got married and had another wedding in September. At least it'd be funny to me. I'm kinda weird like that.

3. Again, I know you aren't going to listen, but don't invest a ka-zillion dollars in your dress. I (unintentially) lost about 10 pounds in the few weeks before my wedding, and for some reason, it went from the boobs, which is never the case any other time I lose weight. So even before I walked down the aisle, I had bridesmaids trying to seal me into the dress with pins and double-sided tape. By the end of the ceremony, there was dried wax flowing down the front of the dress, from the taper candles that should've lit the unity candle (which wouldn't light, and should've been a sign). It was a pain to bustle, and dragged in the dirt, so the whole hem was filthy. I am pretty sure champagne was spilled on it in the limo. Before I made it to the reception, it was already in rough shape, and only went downhill from there. I later wished that I'd used that dress for the ceremony, and then changed to my wedding dress from my "first wedding" for the reception, as that dress was much more simple and didn't have a train. At any rate, both gowns are something that have been tossed in a closet at my mom's house. It's not like my daughter will ever wear it, or I'd like, make a quilt out of it or something. Though it just struck me that it would be HILARIOUS to make a quilt out of it for Jason's next wedding, and give it to him as a wedding gift. I don't know how to make a quilt, mind you, but I am sure I could find someone to do it for me.

4. Obviously, you will wear a tiara. That's a given. But don't even bother looking at bridal shops. Check eBay and online retailers, and don't get something that has a veil attached. That way, you can wear them separately, for comfort purposes. My veil was yanked multiple times, and since it was pinned in my hair so tightly, I am surprised it did not result in a severe case of whiplash. Or could wear MY wedding tiara, since you already have it in your posession! I could send you the veil, too! Bahahahaaa! "Something borrowed..."

5. Nobody signs a guest book. Like, half the guests or less will actually sign it, and of that half, probably a fair chunk of them will write nasty and/or perverted notes to accompany it. And really, are you going to look back at it anyway? Will you and N sit around on your anniversaries and look through your guest book? Plus, it just causes congestion at the door of your ceremony site, because people are too busy writing nasty sentiments to move their asses to their proper seating locations.

6. Cake rules. I don't need to tell you that. I didn't do the whole "save the top of the cake" crap, so the whole thing was gone by the end of the reception. I consumed, at a minimum, three pieces, so I could taste each flavor, and it was MY wedding, right? So I could eat all the cake I wanted. And I am sure cake became another addition to my filthy wedding dress, as did all the Coke I drank throughout the reception. Yeah, that's right. Coke. I was stoked to be able to drink Coke again, because I avoided it for about three weeks thanks to the whole tooth-whitening thing. Drinking Coke again was like being able to sip the Nectar of the Gods.

7. If you plan to wear hose--which I doubt you will, especially in Florida, go with thigh-highs, so you don't have to wrestle with them to pee. And dehydrate yourself if necessary, to keep peeing to an absolute minimum. Since peeing will require help so your dress doesn't fall in the potty, photos will inevitably be taken and will surface. Keep this to a minimum by peeing as little as possible.

8. One thing that pisses me off as a guest is when you get to the reception, and you end up sitting and waiting for your dinner for like, two hours while you wait for the bride and groom to show. So, I had a jazz band and hors d' ouevres for that in between time, when people arrived and when they got dinner, to keep them occupied and prevent them from acting like rabid monkeys, scratching and clawing and shrieking in high-pitched voices out of boredom and hunger.

9. I do not like "cover bands", so if any "dancing" was to be involved in this reception of mine, I had to have a DJ. People got live music with the jazz band before dinner. The DJ was a total nitwit, but by then, I didn't care. I just wanted it to be over so I could leave for Mexico.

10. I thought bouquet tossing was ludacris, so instead, I went with this Finnish tradition--and I am 100 percent Finnish, not that I care. So, the tradition is that all of the single women stand around the bride in a circle, and the bride is blindfolded. The bride has a TIARA and she is spun around in a circle, supposedly to lose her grasp of where she is while leaving her dizzy and nauseated, perhaps a tactic to take away from the inevitable thoughts of what she just did by commiting herself to sex with one man for eternity. I didn't lose my grasp on location, though, and like most contests involving a tiara, it was rigged for me to pick a certain friend. Alas, anything with a tiara is good, right?

11. About the favors...every wedding I've gone to has had crap favors. I can't think of a single wedding where I've enjoyed the favors, mine included. My original idea was little floral pots with seeds--you know, like "true love blooms!!!"--wrapped in a bow, and now I can't even remember why that didn't work out. So...I ended up with like, 200 mini flower pots. I ended up with personalized fortune cookies, two packed in mini Chinese takeout containers and wrapped with ribbon. Random but yet cliche. And because I hate when people clank their silver against their china for "kissing", I had these little "kissing bells" that were like little silver bells on a business card. And of these favors, I bet like, 75 percent were left behind and tossed in the trash. If you are gonna go with favors, go with something like handmade chocolates...or BETTER YET, I see Lush offers a wedding favor service. But I doubt men would be excited over bath bombs, but too damn bad. They probably came with a woman anyway, and if they didn't, that increases the odds that they would indeed enjoy a good bath bomb.

I am sure I will think of more "helpful tips", and I will message you when I do. Bahahahaaaaa! In the end, mine ended up as more, "Uhhh, Mom? Um...sorry about that day that I married that d-bag who ended up fathering your grandchild after we managed to waste $25,000 on a one-day affair..." I have no doubt, however, that yours will come with a happily-ever-after ending.

Truth be told, should I ever marry again, I'd rather take the money involved in creating such a spectacle and put it toward a fabulous new house, complete with outdoor hot tub, something I've been coveting for a while. Or a fab honeymoon in a location where celebs also honeymoon, of which I can no longer name, since I am that behind on my gossip mags. Or, like, an retainer account for the impending divorce that would inevitably follow any marriage of mine.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Not Absolutely Perfect

Because my mind thinks and thinks and overthinks some more, I occasionally drive myself crazy. Crazy enough to believe that it is a good idea to email the unrequited crush I have not heard from in two months. You know...just to see if *maybe* he wanted to get together for coffee or a cocktail?

Yeah, I am totally that pathetic. One of my dearest friends, whom has affectionately termed me her "lovey", came up with the term "lose-bag". After I sent that email and immediately regretted it, I spent the rest of the night feeling like a complete lose-bag.

He did answer me. I did not like the answer. He essentially told me that he'd "come to the conclusion that I was not absolutely perfect for him". Absolutely perfect? Is anyone absolutely perfect? Really? If there is such a thing as an absolutely perfect person, where would I find one to act as my mentor? Pretty harsh stuff, especially when used to defend quitting something we'd never even really tried in the first place.

He did, of course, ask if I'd like to grab a beer next week, so long as I didn't "expect too much so I wouldn't be disappointed".

In response, I sent this, what I feel is a beautiful, lovely, you-stung-me-in-the-heart-but-you-don't-need-to-know-how-much-you-just-hurt-me letter:

"While I am typically a fan of blatant honesty, I am not so much when I am on the receiving end. In my mind, I'd wanted to hope that you had discovered a preference for Asian girls or came to the conclusion that you were gay or that you found yourself trapped in an arranged marriage. To hear that you found me to be less-than-perfect, based on emails and no face-to-face experience, stings the equivilent of a ripped contact sealed to the cornea.

So, as much as I do want to meet you because I am so enamored with your blog and wholeheartedly see you as as equivilent of David Sedaris, though much hotter and not gay, I will have to turn down the invite for a beer, though it was likely my own invite in the first place. I am certainly not in the business of making people feel forced or obligated to socialize with me, because I doubt that social tension would lead to laughs for either of us. In the interest of setting the best possible example I can for my daughter and for others who foolishly see me as some sort of example of being a strong, independent single girl, it would be woefully self-defeating for me to sit before you, wishing I could change your mind and convince you that I am, at the very least, worthy of a chance, despite all my less-than-perfections. Seven years of marriage taught me that the only mind you can change is your own, so I guess I've gotta roll with my own wisdom and let it go.

For whatever reason--just like you have no relevant reason for feeling like I am not absolutely perfect for you--I did the opposite and placed you on a pedestal. Perfect in every way but one: you didn't even like me enough to call. Why I was willing to ignore what should've been the most glaring imperfection of all, I don't know.

Good luck. I truly mean that. I hope that you can find someone who sees you the way I see you, and that it will be mutual. Likewise, I am gonna hold out until I can find someone who sees me in the same way I see you, and can see me as absolutely perfect, whatever that might mean. And hopefully, that is the way it works, because as jaded as I am, I still want to believe that it does work that way and that it can happen..."

There's this tiny, angry child inside my soul who still wants to pout and cry and stomp her feet on the floor, and chastise my grown-up self for turning down the beer, because WHAT IF I could've MAYBE gotten him to LIKE ME had he met me FACE-TO-FACE. the same time...I have to trust in myself that I made the decision that is absolutely perfect, at least for me.