Category Archives: Pop Culture

To Whom It May Concern (yes, you)

I didn’t want it to have to come to this. No one ever does. Love means never having to hire a lawyer. Or at least it should.

But, alas, here we are. It is indeed regrettable but unfortunately necessary at this point.

And so, it is with a heavy heart that I must inform you, dear children, that you are in violation of our prenatal agreement.

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Actually, you’ve both been in violation of various parts of it for quite some time now. Remember Section 1, Subsection C, Paragraph 2? Thou shall not give the mother stretch marks?

(Note: I don’t really know much legal jargon so I just mixed in a bunch of Biblical vocabulary to make it sound more official. Also I was getting high on cheeseburgers every day during the drafting of the original document so I can’t really be held responsible for my state of mind at the time).

Well, I do have stretch marks. Lots of them. My hips look like they’ve been mauled by a cranky tiger.

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But since you both kept up your end of the Principal Birth Accord and came out healthy and with the appropriate amount of digits, I’m willing to waive the Stretch Mark Clause. Especially in light of the fact that you have both remained healthy and have kept all the aforementioned digits in excellent condition. (Although I do feel it pertinent to remind you at this juncture that Section 5, Paragraph 6 forbids those digits from coming within three inches of the nasal area).

However, I need you both to immediately cease and desist with any and all public tantrums. A fetus is able to hear inside the womb starting at around 16 weeks, so I know you heard me when I said “you are never allowed to flop on the floor, kicking and screaming, while occupying space on public property.” This is what’s known as a verbal agreement, kids. Which is legally binding.

Probably.

Which means that last week, when the two of you threw a simultaneous tantrum inside the grocery store because you both got the exact same number of stickers from the cashier, which made Defendant No. 1 mad because, and I quote, “I wanted more stickers than her,” and made Defendant No. 2 mad because, and I quote “MORE ‘DICKERS, MOMMA,” you were in violation of Section 8, Subsection K, Paragraph 2, AND Paragraph 7 (the latter of which specifies that any and all tantrums may not be about something ridiculous and/or dumb).

And did you or did you not kick my bladder in acquiescence when I asked you to agree that thou shalt never complain about what I cooked for dinner? Let me refresh your memory: You both did. Hard. In fact, one of you agreed so heartily that I peed myself a little.

And yet, almost every meal that is not composed of just a giant bowl of ketchup is met with a resounding chorus of whining and various other dramatic theatrics. Meaning you are in violation of Section 10, Paragraph 37, also known as the “Shut Up And Eat It” stipulation.

And I think we can all agree that last night’s flagrant disregard of Section 17, Paragraph 1, commonly referred to as the “No Pooping in the Tub” restriction, was highly regrettable and caused no small amount of distress, both mentally and physically, for all involved.    

As is noted in great detail in Section 26, Subsection F, Paragraph 3 through 119 of the Prenatal Agreement, I love you both very much. Which is why, despite these unpleasant legal matters, I am still willing to act as your Maternal Unit with the priviso that you reread and reacquaint yourself with the particularities of Section 45, also known as the “Knock It Off” contingency, and Section 48, also known as the “So Help Me” eventuality.

Cordially Yours,

Momma

 

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Everything is cold & dead & stupid & I hate it

I’ve been sitting in this coffee shop for exactly 46 minutes now. And yes, I see you over there, Annoying Hovering Couple, with that dual stink eye you’ve been giving me for the last 17 of these 46 minutes in the hopes I might feel pressured to hurry up and finish my business here so you can have my table.

But the joke is on you. Because I can’t think of anything to write and so will probably die here at this table. So take that croissant you pronounced in the uppity French manner and shove it.

Ugh. Sorry. I’m just in a foul mood. Is there anything worse than January? Well, yes. I mean, torture is pretty high up there. Human trafficking. War. Extreme drought. Animal cruelty. That gross YouTube guy. Culottes. People who put raisins in chicken salad.

But January comes in at least a solid 770 on the list of Worst Things.

It’s cold. Everything is dead. There’s only one major holiday and you spend it hungover.

The bills are starting to roll in from Christmas. Nothing fits because of those ten (fine, 12) pounds you gained over the holidays. Everyone keeps bragging about how they’ve already done their taxes while you’re over here like, it’s not even May yet. And then they correct you and tell you they’re due in April but you don’t care because you got a mad case of Seasonal Affective Disorder and everything is stupid and dumb and ugly and stupid and I hate it.  

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And there are still two months of winter left to go.

Ugh.

I know. I know. First world problems and all that. I’m trying to see the bright side. I really am. I even flirted with the idea of giving that Danish idea of hygge a whirl. Because lighting a candle and wearing a big floofy sweater will solve everything. But then everyone on the Internet kept arguing about how to actually pronounce hygge and I got annoyed and started drinking copious amounts of wine while randomly yelling out “I’m doing Hoo-GAH!” until my husband made me go to bed.

Honestly, it wouldn’t be that bad if I could just curl up in bed with seven blankets and read a good book. Which I would read for all of five minutes until finally giving up the facade and just binge-watching all the seasons of “Arrested Development” for the third time on my laptop.   

But I can’t. Because I made the seemingly well-thought out decision to have children.  

Don’t get me wrong. Having children is great.

In the summer.

When you can go places and do things.

But in the winter? Before they’re old enough for school? Having children is inhumane.

Every morning, there they are, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and not caring that you got drunk practicing hygge the night before. Eager and ready to do things no matter how crappy it is outside. Happy and healthy and impatient for you to throw out a bunch of creative and imaginative and educational crap that their spongy little brains can soak up.

All of which I am happy to do.

In the summer.

And most of the early fall.

But all I want to do right now is hibernate in my blanket fort.

Sigh. Luckily, my love for my children is slightly stronger than my hatred of January. Which is why I took down the “No Kids Allowed” sign outside my fort. And why I will suck it up and smile and throw out a bunch of creative and imaginative and educational crap for their spongy little brains to soak up inside our fort.

Because I am a good mom.

And also because I’m trying to distract them from the fact that I am clinging to their tiny little furnace bodies for warmth.

 

Well, there’s always tomorrow

I have never wanted to star in a reality TV show. I have happily hate-watched enough of them to ever wish that kind of scrutiny on myself.

So, imagine my surprise, then, when I had kids and suddenly realized I was one.

Every day of my life now is pretty much the kids binge-watching their favorite reality show, “Keeping Up With Momma’s Sanity.” Followed by the spin-off, “Here Comes Vodka.”

Those adorable little sponges absorb every single little thing I do with their big eyes. And then repeat everything I say with their even bigger mouths (including curse words they “may” have overheard a “certain” parent say).

Which is why I want to be a good example for my children. I really do. I want to be the friggin’ best example of humanity that has ever existed for them. But since that will never happen (I once told my entire second grade class that Santa didn’t exist), I’ll settle for trying to be the best version of myself for my kids.

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Here’s who I want to be. I want to be the loving dog owner who is always patient and kind with her aging dog, Buffy. The kind of owner who never gets annoyed with his incessant, loud barking because she knows his eyesight and hearing is going and so every fast movement and loud sound is clearly a gang of pirates attacking the house, which can only be stopped by his heroic barking efforts.

I want to be the loving mother who keeps her cool at dinner when both kids are complaining about the home-cooked meal placed in front of them, even though they also complained about lunch. And breakfast. And every meal the day before. And the day before that. And everything I have placed in front of their mouth holes that wasn’t chocolate since the day they came into existence.  

I want to be the confident professional(ish) writer who works hard and leaves a beautiful published legacy for her family.

I want to be the loving wife who definitely doesn’t bury her husband under an angry verbal avalanche of “guess what YOUR children did today?” as soon as he walks in the door.

But here’s who I am.

I am the loving dog owner who patiently tolerates my aging dog Buffy’s panicked barking…up to a certain point. And then I will yell back “SHUT UP, BUFFY! SHUT UP! YOU’RE KILLING ME! YOU’RE *definitely not a curse word* KILLING ME!”

I am the loving mother who once snapped and threw both kids’ dinner plates out the window.

I am the professional(ish) writer who, when suffering from a bout of writer’s block, slams shut her computer and yells “WORDS ARE DUMB” and then hides in the kitchen to shove unhealthy amounts of cheese in her mouth.

I am the loving wife who also assaults her husbands with verbal tsunamis, verbal monsoons and, on one particularly bad day, a verbal tornado (when he was still in the driveway).  

Sigh.  

It’s enough to keep a girl up at night worrying about whether or not she’s ruining her kids.

But then I remind myself that, from time to time, I’m also the mom who will spend hours every day reading books to her children until they get sick of it (and they never do). And I am Darth Vader Momma, who will have light saber fights with Stormtrooper Riker with one hand while holding Baby Yoda Mae in the other, and even resists the urge to correct her 3-year-old on why this situation goes against “Star Wars” canon.

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I’m also the loving dog owner who carries her dog up and down the stairs when the temperature drops too low, kicking his arthritis into high gear. And then gives him all the mashed potatoes her daughter didn’t eat because him such a good wittle puppeh, isn’t him? And then quietly cleans up the vomit the next day because his aging system can no longer handle human food.  

I am the completely not confident writer barely scraping by who still writes and never stops writing because she loves it. And then fiercely hates it. And then loves it again.

And I am the loving wife who makes naughty stick figure drawings for her husband and hides them in his computer bag.

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I am a work in progress. And ultimately, perhaps that’s the best lesson of humanity I could teach my children. That no one is perfect but every day is another chance to be a better person.  

Eh…nah. It’d be much better if I was just a much better human overall. One who didn’t eat her kid’s last chicken nugget when they weren’t looking.

But still, every day is another chance to be a better person.

This is my face.

My son has spent approximately 1,277 days on this Earth. My daughter, roughly 455. Counting the ones I took today, I have exactly 18 billion photos of them.

Oops. Sorry. 18 billion and one. They just did the cutest thing, you guys.

And they look amazing in every single one of these photos, even including the newborn “Benjamin Button” ones.

(No, YOU’RE bias).

By contrast, I have been alive on this planet for about 13,200 days. Thanks to the invention of the selfie, there are now probably 18 billion photos of me floating around too. The only difference is, I like seven of them. Actually, more like six (in that one photo, my eyes are doing that weird thing).

Yes, I know. Female hates how she looks in photos! Shocker!

This revelation is right up there with me admitting my feet are always cold and that I don’t understand the appeal of “Entourage.” But I bring this up for a very good reason. Because I have recently come to terms with some vital facts and it has made a huge difference.

I’m 36. This is my face. I need to get over it.

Now, if those three above sentences don’t seem like a revelation to you, congratulations, you are likely a man or a well-adjusted, confident woman. However, if you’ve ever taken 100 almost identical photos of yourself and then agonized for hour and a half about which one to post and then spent another 33 minutes trying out different Instagram filters to find the one that thins out your face the most, then you understand how huge this is.

I have wasted so much of my life either trying to micromanage every single photo I appear in or avoiding cameras all together. Because all I saw in every photo of me was every flaw a single human body could possibly house. Too fat in this one. Nose all wonky in this one. Too pale. Stomach rolls. Greasy hair. No makeup. Arm flab. Dumb smile. Double chin. Triple chin. Everywhere a chin, chin. Crow’s feet (or, in some lighting, the whole damn crow). Forehead pimple. Bad posture. Crooked teeth.

I can go on…

Dark circles under my eyes. Cellulite. Sausage fingers. Flat hair. Dull hair. Frizzy hair. Freckles. Acne. Acne scars. Thin lips. Fat thighs. That weird flub that hangs out around the side of your bra.

Yeah. It’s exhausting hating how you look in photos. Especially in this social media era where photos are taken and shared roughly every 2.3 seconds.

And so, I decided to just let go. Let it all go. Let go of the iron grip I was using to try to hold onto the face that got shared in public. BECAUSE TECHNICALLY IT’S ALL THE SAME FACE.

This is my face. This is my body. And in every photo, that is how I look at that particular moment.

Guys. GUYS. The freedom that comes with this revelation…you guys…such a weight has been lifted.

I’m now more than willing to let my husband take a picture of me playing with the kids when I’m in my pajamas and sporting my best Swamp Witch hair. Because I want to remember that moment. And because, yes, some days I look like a Swamp Witch.

Now when a parent wants a photo of me, I don’t say “how about later, when I look better?” I shut up and pose.   

And now when my friends whip out that cell phone, I smile and BOOM. That’s it. Done. No more “let me see it” followed immediately by “let’s take another one” followed by “let me see it” followed by “let’s take another one” followed by “let me see it” followed by nothing because we are dead because we got caught in this stupid loop and couldn’t get out because no matter how many photos we took, we magically never ended up looking like Angelina Jolie.

(Which is so dumb. Because even if we did look like Angelina Jolie, we still can’t afford Angelina Jolie’s stylist, meaning we still wouldn’t look like Angelina Jolie.)

Of course, every road that leads to brilliant revelations like this one are full of potholes. I mean, do I still want people to only post photos of me where I look good? Of course. I’m still embarrassingly vain. But now, if they don’t, it no longer bothers me because it’s more important to me to be part of the picture. To be part of that memory. To have people in my life that want to take a photo with me at all, than it is to look great in it.

Oh god…guys…is this…is this what being well-adjusted feels like?

 

Boogers: A love story

There are a lot of mysteries in this world we have yet to solve. Why do we all accept kale as food when clearly it’s gross? Why do we all remember it as Berenstein Bears and not Berenstain Bears? Why do we all hate Anne Hathaway and her stupid face so much?

And then there’s black holes and stuff.

But while there are a million think pieces on Anne’s dumb horse face and our collective desire to punch it, I have yet to see professional, or even armchair, intellectuals address a much more important mystery, even though it is an issue that affects millions of households across this great nation of ours.

Yes, as common as it is, the blight of chronic toddler nose picking remains one of our last great taboos (and this is in a society that has made Irritable Bowel Syndrome a household name). So much so that even all those “Well, actually” guys who know everything about everything (but especially about whatever current topic you are discussing) are quiet on the issue. Star Wars? Feminism? The history of craft beer brewing? They’re basically experts. Yet bring up boogers? Nada. A resounding silence. Nothing except for the faint, squishy sound of a tiny, chubby finger shoved up a tiny nostril.

Sigh. Clearly, I get easily worked up over this issue. Because this one hits close to home.

My son, my beautiful, baby boy, is a nose picker.

It started out with just the occasional experimental nasal expedition. But now? Pffft. He’s gotta have a hit every 20 minutes or so.

What the hell is up there that is so goddamn important?

I mean, there has to be a reason. It must be something. Something must be worth all those nosebleeds. Something must be worth the endless punishments he’s given every time that finger finds its way back to its adopted home.

Is it nature? Some biological instinct? Although I can’t imagine what survival skill is represented by this habit. Unless, perhaps it’s a leftover part of our lizard brain from our caveman days? Maybe boogers were an all-organic pigment for cave drawings? Or a natural glue for the busy caveman on the go?

My own personal pride makes me doubt that it’s the other side of the coin, that it’s nurture. I pick my nose in secret. Like a lady.

It could have a nutritional aspect to it, I suppose. His body is probably screaming out for something with protein since all he’ll eat these days is cheese crackers and chocolate-covered raisins. Do boogers have protein? Either way, it’s gotta be healthier than the “cheese” (and I use that term oh-so-loosely) holding those crackers together.

Maybe the compulsion is psychological in nature. A distraction? A coping mechanism? Digging into his nose is a physical manifestation of digging into his psyche? He did watch a rather stressful “Sesame Street” episode the other day.

Is it a scientific experiment? Seeing if it’s possible to touch his brain? There are days he goes past the second knuckle. He’s gotta be somewhat close.

Maybe he is quite literally digging for gold. Are boogers kid currency? Has anyone investigated the seedy underworld of the kiddie black market? Two boogers in exchange for a gram of uncut Nerd candies? Three for a pack of candy cigarettes (are those even legal anymore)? An ounce of mucus mixed with blood for a used fidget spinner?

WHY DO CHILDREN DO THIS?

And more importantly, how do I get mine to stop?

Ugh. Truly, this is so frustrating. It’s enough to make me want to punch someone. Where’s Anne Hathaway when you need her?

The Summer of Aprill!

This summer, you guys. This is the summer. The summer I will think back on when I’m old in rosy, golden, Instagram hues. Full of sunsets and ice cream on the porch and ridiculous neon-colored cocktails. My husband and I, still somewhat youthful and virile, our two children still small enough to be enchanted with bubbles and sprinklers; all of us just grabbing this summer by its humid balls and not letting go until mid-September.

The summer of adventure!

The summer of picnics!

The summer of books!

The summer of road trips!

The summer of the sandwich because it is too bloody hot to cook!

Oh yes. This summer, you guys. I want each day to end with dirty faces and even dirtier feet, piles of wet clothes and towels on the floor, and then for someone else to clean it all up.

(Well, two out of three ain’t bad).

We even have an almost real vacation planned. Three whole days in a tiny lakeside cottage in New Hampshire. In which the contents of our cooler will consist of only grillable meat and booze. Because it’s the summer of coolers full of grillable meat and booze!

Sigh. It’s going to be perfect.

Except.

Because of course there is an “except.” You wouldn’t be reading this if there wasn’t an “except.” No one wants to hear about how happy people are. Myself included. Gross.

So…

Except for one very important detail. And it’s the same detail pretty much every summer. That torturous, barbaric act of beauty known as having to shave on a regular basis. Legs, underarms, lady parts; not to mention, a few other new and fun areas because I am now in my mid-30’s and hair follicles are just springing up willy-nilly like a surprise birthday party from Hell.

And I just. can’t. anymore.

Oh sure, having to de-hair my entire body roughly every other day for four months straight might seem like a small thing in regards to the Big Picture. I mean, there are people out there with Real Problems. But when you are expected to be completely smooth and hairless and yet have a body where your shins are sporting a 5 o’clock shadow no matter how thorough you are in the shower, it tends to put a damper on the season.

See, I am one of those lucky women who is naturally *insert bad Eastern European accent here* hairy like Russian bear. It’s dark. It’s thick. It regrows at an almost illegal speed. I would survive well in the Siberian wilderness.

I have to use men’s razors, y’all. And only then because using a weed whacker seems ill-advised. And not just any men’s razors. The kind with, like, six blades and descriptive words like “turbo” and “titanium” and “also works for sad, hairy ladies.”

And every sunshiney morning, it’s the same thing. Dragging my stubbly ass into the shower. Standing there dejectedly as the hot water rains down. Looking at my titanium turbo double-edge sad hairy lady men’s razor and sighing dramatically. Internally debating whether I can make it one more day without shaving or will stories of local Sasquatch sightings start popping up on the local news. Knowing deep down I have to shave. Again. Then alternating between crying and launching into an angry internal feminist rant about archaic beauty rituals meant to keep women in their place.

And please don’t tell me the solution is to get waxed. I haven’t had my hair cut in 18 months and am sporting a full-on Amish look currently because I can’t get my life together enough to make an appointment at the salon. Plus, I had both my children via cesarean and am kind of done with having things brutally ripped from my body.

No, the only real solution here is to somehow convince society that letting women have body hair is ok. Because it should be. Because it’s ridiculous. Because I added it up. I roughly waste 74 hours of my summer doing this awful ritual and for what? It serves no real purpose. It’s not like I’m trying to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming.

I get why Michael Phelps has to shave his whole body. I don’t get why I have to. *grumpily crosses arms*

So, what do you say, society? Huh? Hairy women? All of us in our natural state! Let’s do this! Viva la revolucion!

Anyone? No? Hello? Sigh.

Fine.

*grabs scythe and heads back into the bathroom*

Fun mind games you can play at home

No matter how strong your relationship is, there will come a time when your love is put to the test. And this moment will come when you least expect it. It could be next Tuesday. Or a Saturday two months from now. But it will happen. And it will happen right before dinner time. And it will go down just like this:

MAN: What do you want to eat?

WOMAN: Oh, I don’t care. Whatever you want.

MAN: Pizza?

WOMAN: Except that.

MAN: Burgers?

WOMAN: Or that.

MAN: Sigh. Chinese?

WOMAN: Nah.

MAN: What. Do. You. Want. To. Eat?

WOMAN: Whatever is fine.

MAN: *primal man scream*

WOMAN: Why are you freaking out? It’s just dinner. Pick something already.

MAN: Fine. Italian.

WOMAN: Ugh. We just had that three weeks ago.

MAN: *bangs head on steering wheel until unconscious*

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Why do women do this? More importantly, why do so many women do this? Did we all get together at a super secret meeting and decide to do this as punishment until the female-male wage gap is closed?

Ha Ha!

That’s none of your goddamn business.

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The point is, many, many females are guilty of this. I’m one of them. So, while I can’t speak for all women who do this, I can try to explain why I have done this.

See, this whole awful carousel ride from hell revolves around the fact that what I really want to eat is tacos. But YOU have to suggest it so that the calories don’t count. Because female logic. (This logic is also telling me that maybe you will suggest something better than tacos. But you won’t. Because what I really want is tacos).

Still with me? No? Alright, let me break it down for you. See, I can’t just SAY tacos. Because today I’ve already eaten scrambled eggs, sausage, THREE pieces of toast, a gyro, half a bag of peanut M&M’s, three chicken nuggets off my toddler’s plate, seven of his French fries, the rest of the peanut M&M’s, and a gigantic tub of Starbucks frappuccino that is basically caffeine-infused, semi-melted ice cream.

So, clearly, I can’t suggest tacos. Because I should eat a salad and run five miles instead. But I don’t want a salad and I don’t want to run five miles. I want tacos. But, again, I want YOU to suggest tacos and then I will reluctantly go along with it, much like a hostage forced into a cheesy, melty, crunchy corn shell prison they have to eat their way out of. That way none of the blame can fall on me. Because I’m already feeling like a Fatty McFatterson and society has told me since practically birth that the worst thing a white woman like me can be is fat.

And yes, I know I’m being ridiculous. Of course I’m being ridiculous. But why can’t YOU just hurry the hell up and suggest tacos already?

So, to sum up, what do I want to eat? Tacos. Which I will never, ever admit. Because regardless of my size, I will always feel guilty when it comes to food. Which is why I have to do a series of infuriating mental games in order to eat in peace. Which is why I will shoot down every single suggestion you make until you finally land upon tacos or we both of starvation.

And which is why, while you think asking “what do you want to eat?” is the simplest question in the world to answer, to me it’s loaded with deep, dark psychological land mines.

Which is why there are never any winners in this particular argument.

Of course, not ALL women do this. I’ve heard many wonderful tales of females who have refused to give into these ridiculous and impossible standards of the perfect body ideal and can eat food without guilt and self-loathing. And if you happen to find one of these ladies, one not hung up about food, hold onto her. HOLD ONTO HER AND NEVER LET HER GO. Buy her tacos and feed them to her like a servant feeding Cleopatra grapes.

And then send her over to my house so she can slap my face and tell me I’m beautiful and to knock it off with this body image bullshit.