Monthly Archives: September 2017

Why does Hollywood keep breaking my heart?

I don’t remember the first time it happened. I’m sure I was young though. Youth is the time when idol worship is at its peak.

But I do know that since then it has happened on a fairly regular basis and yet I never grow any wiser. No matter how many times they rip my heart out of my chest and stomp on it and then run over its tattered remains with their super quiet, super environmentally-friendly, yet still super expensive cars, I keep becoming emotionally invested in celebrity couple breakups.  

Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale. Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe. Sarah Silverman and Jimmy Kimmel. Amy Poehler and Will Arnett. Diane Kruger and Joshua Jackson. Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor. Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder (a breakup so traumatic for all of us growing up in the 90’s that we’ll all be winos forever). Even my childhood heroes, Kermit and Miss Piggy, called it quits.

It never fails. They all take me by surprise (even though Hollywood’s breakup and divorce rate is approximately 104 percent) and I have to go through the five stages of celebrity breakup grief all over again.

Denial.

Anger.

Endless dissecting of the relationship with girlfriends despite the fact we know absolutely nothing about these people.

Wine.

Reluctant acceptance.

Not all celebrity couple breakups, of course. I was super relieved when Katie Holmes finally broke up with (escaped from) Tom Cruise. And ScarJo was never right for Ryan Reynolds. (Then again, neither is Blake Lively, in my not-so-humble opinion, but what’s the poor guy to do? I’m already taken). Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner both seem like annoying, just truly awful, people. As for Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston AND Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, I don’t feel bad because they’re all too good looking for me to ever feel bad for them for anything ever.

The last straw, however, was Chris Pratt and Anna Faris. This couple is the spark that started the latest dumpster fire in my broken, broken heart. I’m still in the “wine” phase of this breakup and may be for the foreseeable future. They were so perfect together. And happy. And oh, WHY, GOD, WHY? DOES YOUR CRUELTY KNOW NO BOUNDS? Where the hell is that wine bottle?

Just what is it about certain celebrity couple breakups that bother me so much? Specifically the ones involving famous people who ALMOST seem like the rest of us mere mortals, like Pratt and Faris?

Because it’s not that I worry that, well, if those two crazy gorgeous kids can’t make it work than who can? I’m very happy in my own marriage. I think my husband is sexy and an amazing father and wicked talented and I make it a point to try and touch his butt every single day. Vice versa, he makes me feel like I’m smart and confident and talented and really, really good looking, even when I’m sporting both little green Army men and chunks of chicken nuggets in my hair. And even if things did start to go south, we’re both too lazy to initiate a divorce, let alone go through with one.

No, I think what bothers me is that, like most delusional Americans, I am certain that I will be rich someday. Which I will do by writing bestselling books (speaking of delusional). You know, once I actually sit down and write them instead of sitting down and writing about how I will write them one day (or, my other favorite writing exercise, getting drunk and telling anyone who will listen how I will write them).

And when I do become rich, it seems inevitable that my marriage will fall apart. Super rich people SUCK at marriage. Famous people even more so. Super rich and famous people, like I completely intend to be, suck the hardest of all.

So, when I become a disgustingly rich and famous author, I mean, it’s basically like aiming a bazooka at my marriage license.

Sigh. I guess I’ll have to settle for only being a mildly rich and famous author. You know, where I own a yacht but not an entire island.  

Oh, the sacrifices we mere mortals make for love.

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The difference between raising boys & girls

Here’s a fun fact you might not know: Strangers love talking to parents.

I mean, LOVE it. Every time I leave my house with my kids, we are bombarded by strangers who ask all kinds of totally appropriate questions, like, “Are those gingers!? Carol, look, she’s got two gingers!” and “How did YOU end up with redheads? You don’t have red hair. Tell me your family’s genealogy.” and “Oh, are you leaving? Hang on, I want to rub your kid’s hair for good luck.”

Once we’ve exhausted the hair topic, however, these strangers almost always move onto the subject of raising boys vs. girls, since the other outstanding feature of my kids is that they are opposite genders. And, man, let me tell you, people have VERY strong opinions regarding this. This gender stuff is some serious business. I have learned so much. Almost all of it against my will.

And yet, all this unsolicited advice has had the side effect of making me pay closer attention to the biological differences of my own offspring.

Here’s a good example. My son, who is 3, always wants to wrestle with me. My daughter, who is 14 months, always wants to wrestle the dog. So, clearly, all those people who say girls are smarter are correct. The dog always lets Mae win. I, however, have a good 90 pounds on my son and do an amazing flying elbow move from the couch.

So far, I’ve won 378 times and Riker has won zero.

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg in the vast ocean of their gender-based differences. They both have very different views of danger, for instance. He tries his best every day to kill himself by jumping erratically around on his bed (in fact, he views that song, “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed,” as more of a how-to guide than a cautionary tale). She, meanwhile, is determined to kill herself by climbing to the top of our tall unsecured bookshelves.

I don’t know how much research has been done in terms of chromosomes and food preferences but I can tell you he loves chicken nuggets and hates vegetables. But SHE loves cheese and hurling whatever else is on her plate across the room. And once she runs out of everything else, she’ll hurl the cheese.  

She is by far the gentler of the two, always making sure to hug me after she smacks me full-on in the face and knocks my glasses off my face. He, on the other hand, will only hug me after hitting me if he draws blood. Although, granted, that could be more of an age thing. He’s a toddler, which basically means he’s a tiny psychopath, and she’s a baby, so leans more toward sociopathy.

Like any typical boy, Riker loves to play with cars. Mae, on the other hand, only wants to play with cars if they are her brother’s cars. She completely ignores the cars we bought specifically for her, choosing instead to use his to repeatedly run over her baby doll’s face.

Riker is definitely the funnier one, but Mae will occasionally do something she personally finds hilarious, like taking off her diaper and peeing on a pile of clean clothes.

Now, my daughter did start walking sooner than her brother…I think. I kind of fudged the facts in their baby books because I forgot to fill them out at an appropriate time (literally didn’t even crack them open before their first birthdays) and so just kind of winged it. As for talking, it’s hard to pinpoint when Riker started because he pretty much came out of the womb talking gibberish, which eventually turned into English, but since he never stopped to take a breath, I’m unsure when he said his first word. I do know his first sentence was “that’s not cheese” and her second word was “cheese,” so that right there shows you that I feed both genders way too much cheese.

Color-wise, they both seem pretty ambivalent about the whole pink and blue thing. When jumping full-bodied into a giant mud puddle, neither one seems to care what color their clothes are. But who knows? Maybe they would care more if their mother wasn’t such a feminist. But at least Riker is the more sports-oriented one. At his soccer games, he is on the actual field when he decides to lay down and play dead while his sister is busy licking soccer balls on the sidelines.

It just goes to show you. Men really are from Mars. And women clearly are from Venus.

And obviously children are from near Uranus. (Heh).

(Kid)-free at last, (kid)-free at last

Hey, do you guys remember what it was like before you had kids? Like, what you used to do on a typical pre-spawn Saturday, when you had a million hours stretched out in front of you where you could do anything you wanted? And, most importantly, if candy tasted better eaten out in the open instead of while huddled in a corner of a locked bathroom, like a junkie mainlining M&M’s?

Yeah. Me neither. Apparently there gets to be a certain point in parenthood where you can’t remember what it was like before you spent 85 percent of your day refilling sippy cups. Personally, I think this forgetfulness is a survival instinct. Your brain suppresses those pre-child memories so that your head doesn’t explode when you have to get up at 5 a.m. on a Saturday now and get ready and cook breakfast that no one eats and deal with three tantrums before finally getting them to soccer practice and then head to the grocery store because you’re out of milk and then immediately head back to the store when you drop the milk in the driveway and it explodes all over everything and then you look at the clock and it’s only 9:15 a.m. and you cry a little.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because at the end of this month, I will have four glorious days all to myself. No kids. No husband. No dog. Just me and my questionable decision-making skills, all alone. I’m heading to a beloved friend’s wedding in Portland, Oregon, and there will quite literally be an entire continent between me and my responsibilities.

And. I. Can’t. Wait.

I’ve never been away from my kids. Oh sure, an hour or three here or there but never overnight and certainly never in a long enough time frame for me to permanently ruin whatever is left of my tattered reputation. And I plan to fully take advantage of this particular gift I have been granted by the grace of the parenting gods and my friend Adriana’s airline points.

Because, see, a lot of moms will tell you that “I don’t even know what I’d do with myself without my kids.” Seriously, I Googled “What do moms do when they are away from their kids?” and the pickins were slim. It seemed to be a tie between blogs where moms boringly describe “it was great for 15 minutes but then I just missed the kids so much, so I just sat here like a lump until they came back” and news articles about moms who run away from their children permanently. Because even in motherhood, we women are still reduced down to the sinner/saint, madonna/whore archetype.

But not me. Oh no. I’m hitting that sweet spot right in the middle where I’m going to run off and do awful things and not feel guilty once and then come home to my loving family smelling like happiness and stale beer.

So, first things first, I’m going to start off slow. I want to read a book. Read all the books, in fact. And every newspaper and magazine from the last three years.

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Then I will drink all the booze. ALL OF IT.

Sleep in. Until 7 a.m. Maybe even 7:30.

Take a long, long, long shower. Or hell, a bath. And then actually style my hair into something other than “messy bun.” Like “purposefully messy bun.” And then I will pluck my eyebrow until there are two again.

Eat a cheeseburger for breakfast and an entire cheesecake for dinner. WITHOUT having to share ANY of it.

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Make a huge mess. And don’t clean it up.

Run around my hotel room naked.

Run around the hotel naked.

RUN AROUND THE ENTIRE CITY NAKED.

Smoke a cigar with some old men wearing fedoras.

Steal one of the fedoras and run away laughing maniacally.

Set my daily planner on fire and cover my face with the ashes and do a ritual pagan dance to every known deity devoted to chaos.

Write my novel!

Start a rock band!

Finally learn to juggle those fire sticks!

Buy a bunch of spray paint and become the new Banksy!

Rob a bank and give all the money to the poor!

I WILL DO ALL THE THINGS.

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Right after I buy my kids a bunch of souvenirs and text my husband dirty hotel room nudes, of course.

 

My bartender was a mixologist (& other horror stories)

You know how people are afraid of turning a street corner and suddenly realizing they are in the “bad” part of town? Or walking into a bar and seeing that’s it’s filled with bikers and ruffians? Well, I have the opposite fear. My fear is walking into a new place and realizing with horror that it’s fancy. That they don’t have bartenders, they have “mixologists.” That the clientele all look like they just walked off the set of “Girls.”

Of course, you’d think this would be a pretty rare occurrence but it happens more than it should because they’re sneaky now. Gentrification has ruined everything and everywhere. You innocently walk into what appears to be a dive bar when BAM. They just made it LOOK like a dive bar. Hand over $17 for that fancy beer you can’t pronounce, unsophisticated peasant.

Now, I realize what I am about to write next will give away my age and thus embarrass myself. Not my real age, of course. I’m not embarrassed about that. Being embarrassed about your age is basically apologizing for being good at not dying.

But it will give away my mental age and I AM embarrassed about that. Because I am a 36-year-old with the mentality of an 87-year-old. This is especially true when it comes to money. (You want how much for my gourmet coffee? Why, back in my day, it only cost an arm, not also a leg). But still, I feel I should share my experience because it’s time all of us un-fancy people band together.

And so…ahem…

All these fears culminated last week when my family decided to grab a bite to eat after my son’s soccer “practice” (and I use that term oh-so-loosely because he’s 3, they’re all 3, and so it more resembles extras running around in a disaster movie).

Let’s try a new place, we said. Let’s be spontaneous, we said. This is definitely a decision that will not blow up in our face, we said.

So, we strolled through our decidedly not fancy neighborhood until we came upon an innocent enough looking place. But then, just as we walked in far enough that making a quick exit would have been awkward, we noticed the Mason jars. The exposed ceiling. The iPhone photography on the walls. The white bartender…SPORTING DREADLOCKS.

And we knew, the color draining from our faces, that we had entered into a HIP ARTISAN EATERY (fancy slang for “we cannot afford this place”). It looked like every scene from “Portlandia” had been filmed there. And when we got the menu, which only had five items, plus a drink menu of craft cocktails that was 55 pages long, our fate was sealed.

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We tried to make the best of it. I got what anywhere else would be described on the menu as “the truck stop special” or perhaps “the big breakfast”. Here it had a fancy unpronounceable name that looked like a Spanish word had a threeway with two French words. It consisted of fried eggs, bacon, toast and “holme frites,” which after some Sherlockian deducing, I figured out was pretentious speak for “home fries.”

(When I got home, I Googled “holme frites” and even Google was like “wtf…that’s not a thing.”)

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A small cup of black coffee was $4 (I was too scared to ask for a refill). My trucker special was $17. (See? What did I say? 87-years-old mentally. I have to tell you exactly how much everything costs and then want you to be as outraged as I am. Why, I remember when a pack of smokes was $2 and a gal could get a free cocktail with a little flash of leg, dearie).

And forget a kids menu. While places like these don’t “actively discourage you from bringing in your kids,” they actively discourage you from bringing in your kids. Which is why they ate the ancient Cheerios and raisins lying at the bottom of the diaper bag that had been in there since my youngest was still renting out my uterus.  

But I will give the place this. It was delicious. And the place was beautiful. And the service was impeccable. Because I’m not here to insult these kinds of places.

You want fancy? Great. You want a small menu curated by an actual fancy chef? Fantastic. You don’t spiral into a rage when you have to spend $24 for a cheeseburger? Bully for you!

There is nothing wrong with any of that. There are people out there who will pay out the butt for local, fresh, organic, seasonal fare. And good for them. They will likely live very long lives with very clear skin.

So, I’m not saying get rid of these places. I’m saying stop making them look like a normal place I can afford until I sit down, see the menu and die of an aneurysm. Because the only way I am paying $24 for a cheeseburger is if it also gets me drunk. Very drunk.

It’s simply a matter of timing. I am not mentally, emotionally or financially able to eat at one of these places currently. I am at a place in my life where I need you to fling some chicken nuggets at my whiny toddler and throw some mushy mixed vegetables into my crying baby’s gaping maw so I can take three minutes to choke down something comforting and deep fried. Anything other than this is stressful and confusing and it makes me angry because I am an 87-year-old woman.

So, please, stop making fancy places look not fancy. Or, at the very least, if you have your heart set on that industrial-chic aesthetic, put an old lady out front who whispers to shabby families like mine before we walk in “they call home fries “holmes frites” here, sweetie, keep walking.”

 

Shut up, I’m tired (& other wise parental sayings)

I remember it like it was yesterday. But really it was this morning. I think. It’s hard telling. When you’re the parent of small children, roughly one thousand things happen between now and 30 minutes ago. Most of them involving bodily fluids. So, time is fluid, to say the least. (Shut up, I’m writing this on two hours sleep).

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Awful puns aside, the other day I was playing with my kids at the park when a pair of elderly ladies passed by us. While I was innocently watching my children put things in their mouth that did NOT belong, these ladies oh-so-rudely interrupted our private stick-gnawin’ good time with the unsolicited demand that I “enjoy this, it goes by so fast.” To which I replied “UGH, I’M TRYING!” but the women were already gone because I was too busy pulling the aforementioned sticks out of both kids’ mouths before I could respond. I would have been irritated by the whole thing too, except I then had to immediately teach my toddler to “discreetly” go potty behind a tree and wrassle a squirrel away from the baby (who, despite my best efforts, has turned completely feral).

Is there any phrase we busy moms hate to hear more than “enjoy it, it goes by so fast”? Yes. “Uh-oh, Mommy, I pooped my pants” is pretty high up there. But the former is in at least the Top Five.

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If there is a refrain to the melody that is modern parenting, that’s it. Enjoy it! It goes by so fast! *intense pots and pans drum solo* Repeat 1,000 times. Win a Grammy. (Grammy, in this case, means a grandmother, who you call crying hysterically, demanding they come visit immediately if they want to continue having grandchildren).

I don’t know if it has always been this way, since technically I only became a mom three years ago when a gigantic red-headed Viking baby exited my body, but there does seem to be immense pressure put on parents today to enjoy every single little moment. We are told this by strangers we pass on the street, by our own parents, by friends whose children are now awful, moody teenagers. I was even told to “enjoy it, it goes by so fast” by another mom whose daughter was only 6 months older than my toddler.

So, let me put this in no uncertain terms. I do enjoy spending time with my children. I enjoy the crap out of it.

NOW GET OFF MY BACK.

I put my phone down when they are playing at the playground, lest I miss one glorious minute of them going down the slide and/or eating old cigarettes butts from the ground.

On the flip side, if they even DARE touch my phone to play some annoying game while I am busy staring deep into their beautiful eyes, I throw the phone out the window. What’s the cost of a new phone compared to the possibility I might miss one of their adorable blinks?

I hold them. All the time. At this point, my body is like one of those foam memory mattresses, molded to the exact shape of my kids’ bony-ass bodies.

I once thought about getting a babysitter to go get a haircut and maybe a glass of wine but decided against it at the last minute. What if while I was gone I missed a major milestone? Like my baby saying her 17th word or my toddler discovering that all breakfast foods are not, in fact, icky? I may have stringy witch hair that hangs to my waist and look like an Amish cautionary tale, but I WAS THERE THE DAY MY SON ATE HIS FIRST POPTART, DAMMIT.

And while, and please don’t judge me, I let them watch (gasp) TV, I make sure to record them watching these shows, which I will rewatch while lying in bed instead of going to sleep because EVERY BREATH THEY TAKE IS PRECIOUS.

Ok? Ok? OK!?! IT ALL GOES BY SO FAST. I AM WELL AWARE OF THIS. And even me reassuring you that I am doing my best not to miss a single moment is making me miss a moment. A moment I will never get back! I haven’t even peed since they’ve been born! Too much time away from them! And yet, there you are, making me miss precious seconds with them so I can let you know I don’t want to miss a single second with them!

So, no need to remind me that it’s more important to play with them on the floor than to clean the floor. My floor is super gross. So is my kitchen. So is my entire house. Not an episode of “Hoarders” gross but it definitely is “my kids have wicked strong immune systems” gross.

And now all I want is to sit back and relax and enjoy the fact that I’m enjoying everything. Which I will do. As soon as I finish negotiating with my son how many chicken nuggets lawfully equal a popsicle for dessert and pull my baby out from under the couch where she is currently hiding with the squirrel she stole from the park.