Monthly Archives: January 2015

Kiss me

Kiss me

A male co-worker of mine invited me to a single’s party. It sounded almost as horrible as it appeared at first. The premise was, each person who was invited invited two of their single friends and then a bunch of single people mingle. It’s one decade short of a key party, but I’m curious, bored and single, so why not?
The good news was, the snacks were on point. I love a good pig in the blanket and I could’ve bathed in the cheese dip. Otherwise I was feeling pretty typically awkward standing in this crowd of strangers. I often look for the host’s dog about this time. Dogs love me, and frankly they love everyone. So much less judgey than people.
Anyway it was about the time that I was plotting to smuggle a shirt full of mini wontons into a coat closet when I spotted this face in the crowd. I swear the overhead light was lighting him up like a character in a bad (redundant) Hugh Grant romcom. My attention was almost immediately distracted by an boisterous southern gent, who no doubt sensed I was about to make off with a tray of appetizers.
Later in the evening, there was a call to gather in the back room for some horrible cheesy give away that would unscientifically pair two horrified singles together. As I tried to maintain my personal space in the crowd of desperate people I turned to find my guy standing right next to me.
I made some offhand joke about middle aged lemmings and he laughed acknowledging the bizarre concept of the gathering. We started to talk, the usual surface level small talk, jobs, recent celebrity news, the teetering woman stuffing her face at the snack table. He had just arrived in town to start a medical residency at the local hospital. After a half hour or so we were really talking, about real stuff. Politics, our hopes for the future, how he’d dreamed of learning to fly a plane, how I felt like I’m impossibly awkward on the dance floor. I could see there was something so much more complex about this guy. I felt a sparkle in my heart that I had not felt in a very long time.
You know that moment when two people realize that they have stumbled onto something significant? When they shyly venture into the game? We were there in less than an hour. “Do you want to get out of here?” He asked. There was no hesitation or question. So off we went.
He was driving an older model red Porsche 911 and I felt like a rock star driving off into the night with him. He was confident and funny and handsome. We laughed and marveled over our common interests. We drunkedly made plans for numerous future dates, to Ethiopian restaurants and Jonatha Brooks concerts, and drives in the country, and road trips to Asheville.
We met an aging drunk who believed that his contributions to the community were so significant that he was the self-proclaimed mayor. He told us if we ever got married that he’d officiate the wedding. We glanced knowingly at each other and said it was hardly even our first date. Later, as we sped off into the night the song “kiss me” came on the radio and it became our song.
In the wee hours of the evening, when he finally brought me back to my house, he kissed me gently as he held my hands and looked deeply into my eyes. He asked if he could stay and suggested that he would make an impressive omelette in the morning. I giggled, but politely declined. I had a feeling there were to be many opportunities for breakfasts together.
And I was right. I wouldn’t have another first date for over a decade. And there were many more breakfasts and dinners and concerts. There were late nights and early mornings and movies. There were amazing omelettes and walks in the rain. We read “To Kill a Mockingbird” together and he learned to fly an airplane. We danced in our living room as he sang country songs. He told me I had beautiful hands and was like a reliable Saturn. There were tears of joy and hidden pains. We became a nation of two, then three, then four, then five, as each of our beautiful daughters entered our lives. And it all started with saying yes to a party invitation.


This is my spring

This is my spring

I survived the fall wedding anniversary
The November birthday
New Years
There were no cards, only thoughts
The world seemed to be getting colder
And darker
I waited, with dread, for the late January anniversary
My heart clouded
My chest heavy

I survived each day
Shallow, breaths
Watched amazing fuchsia sunrises
Followed the path of waves
Peered into the fog
Studied the stars

I survived the most recent anniversary
The one that marks the day you left us
I was reminded of my daughters’ sorrow
I felt the love of my tribe
I cried

And today is my spring
I can feel the air fully filling my lungs
Once again
The weight of sorrow is lessened
I made it through the darkest days
It is accomplished once again

I know grief, like weather,
Is unpredictable
There can be snow in March
And April
But I know the trend is up
Each day holds more sunshine than the last
This is my spring

What I’ve avoided telling you for some time now: part 2

What I’ve avoided telling you for some time now: part 2

When I opened the garage door, I saw the grey motorcycle jacket hanging there. The sleeves extended as though Chris’ arms were still inside them. I unzipped the front, laid my head inside the jacket and breathed in as deeply as was possible.

We had broccoli to eat that night and Greek chicken. While we were at lunch, Chris asked if we could have dinner together. There was that weird twinkle, that strange energy that betrayed a simple dinner invite for something more, but I ignored it. I was pleased that Chris seemed interested in spending more time with the girls. I took it as a good sign. Over the course of our separation, it was exceedingly difficult to get him to agree to any set schedule. So it was a relief to know when the girls could see him. I was more than happy to host dinner.
Of course, Chris never showed up for dinner that night. The details that followed still feel to raw to share. Three years is not enough. I made the toughest phone calls I’ve ever made later that night. There are no words that soften that news.
The hardest thing I have ever had to do was tell the girls the next morning.

By the break of day my little house was full of people and coffee and tissues and love. So much love. My village rallied around me the way villages do when one of their own is down. I have never known such love and support as I knew in those blurry days that followed that horrible Sunday night. If we wanted casserole, it appeared, toilet paper, hugs, candy, cookies. I can never express how amazing my friends, friends of friends, teachers, family and strangers were for my girls and I. People really are at their best when things are at their worst.
On Tuesday morning, the second day after Chris died, I woke up from a restless sleep thinking about two things. I had a clear image of a photograph of the two of us in Times Square. It was a selfie we took on our tenth anniversary trip. We were happy. I knew Chris had kept it in a desk drawer in the living room. I felt an intense drive to get that picture. When I opened the desk drawer, taped to the back of that picture was Chris’ last note to me. He had written it that Sunday night, before he died. It was short, written in Chris’ characteristically neat print.
The second thing I woke up thinking was I had to call Chris’ girlfriend and invite her to the funeral. As well as I knew, they had broken up several weeks beforehand, but I knew she must be devastated too. So I called her and told her she was welcome and that she should have some time at the viewing. She loved him too and whatever complicated feelings I had about her and Chris, none of that mattered anymore.
I don’t blame Chris for committing suicide. I don’t consider it a selfish act. Chris was sick. He didn’t choose to kill himself because he was a quitter, he was standing in a painful fire and he needed to be at peace.
The year that followed was a tough one. The toughest year I had, the girls often slept in the bed with me. Sometimes all three of them and the dog too. I drank a lot and smoked a lot and hid a lot. I kept a cloak of fog around me.
But this is not a story of despair, this is a story of triumph. It is a tragic story of triumph, but still a story of triumph. Losing Chris, losing my husband, losing the father of my children and the person I once planned a lifetime with was devastating. That’s part of the reality. But the other part is I discovered my strength, my independence, my resolve to survive. My love for my girls and my admiration for their strength is endless. They are my super heroes everyday. Our bond as a family of four is undeniable, unbreakable and unstoppable. We are who we are because we have suffered deeply, not in spite of our suffering. We still cry, but we also laugh-a lot-and we love each other deeply. That is the gift Chris left us.

Like a sexy Saturn

Like a sexy Saturn

The person who can appreciate that I am a combination of old school J Lo and Fred Fisher will be my soul mate. Fred Fisher is an awkward male character that I pull out for improv now and then and J Lo is a spicy actress with an amazing backside.
I’m way sexier now than I was in say, junior high school, I know what you’re thinking…aren’t we all? Well no, I was 5’10” in 8th grade, which made for some ungainly couples dances. I was simultaneously a rebel and a people pleaser which made for some perplexing wardrobe choices. Couple all that with the fact that I was trying desperately to not appear uncool. It was like a train wreck in a shit storm walking in high heels.
Fortunately, I was fairly likable and much prettier than I was aware. And funny. That’s what probably saved me the most, my sense of humor. To a certain extent it was my nearly complete inability to embrace my awkwardness that made me kinda adorable. I didn’t know I was uncool, so I was playing the part of someone with a lot more charisma and self-confidence. I faked it until I made it.
I’m in my forties now and, for the most part, have learned to love the dork that I really am. I’ve fortunately stumbled upon an amazing hair dresser that’s given me a haircut my head can manage ( thank you Erica Snead) and fairly regularly put together outfits (with a lot of help for the ladies at la de da) that honor my colorful side and are still flattering. Having some latitude with spending hasn’t hurt either. Trying on red hair has proven to be a wise choice as well. But most of that happened because I stopped pushing against who I am (except maybe my natural hair color, but I consider my hair an accessory). Being in my forties has allowed me to stop thinking about myself so much and just be. And honestly, that’s the most attractive decision any of us can make.

What I’ve avoided telling you for some time now: Part 1

What I’ve avoided telling you for some time now: Part 1

It was a Sunday, a nice sunny Sunday that was unusually warm for January. I had been living separately from Chris for about nine months. He had recognized his girlfriend was crazy and that maybe the fact that I was a good person but a terrible housekeeper wasn’t so bad. At least that was the surface story.
Earlier that week we had seen a mediator to try to sort out our goals for our future and the future of our three daughters. The separation was getting pretty real. Chris was so emotionally tired, I could see it in his face and his frighteningly thin body. He was coming untethered and I was his last remaining tie. When the mediator left the room, he laid his head on my shoulder, and I put my arm around him. He commented that people who were getting a divorce shouldn’t touch so lovingly.
Later that day he sent me a text saying all he wanted was for us to look at each other the way we had over a decade ago, to go back to being our nation of two, to lay down together and let the troubles of the world go away. But we were very far from that reality.
After a decade of struggling to make our round peg fit into the square hole of marriage, we had grown apart. Chris had had an affair, come back to me and then returned to her. He was struggling with depression, and alcoholism and for the first time in over a decade I was starting to get a clearer picture of who we were together. I loved Chris, I wanted our family to be whole, our daughters to have a nuclear family, but I could see that was my fantasy.
I am fully aware that I was not perfect, I was needy and jealous. I was bad at communicating my needs and standing my ground. I was an enabler. I wallowed in resentment sometimes and was silent when I needed to talk. I had growing to do.
I loved Chris because he was an over-achiever, with a broken heart, a good man with a drinking problem and a genius with a total inability to see himself for who he was. Chris could not come to terms with the fact that he was a flawed human, or in short, human. He had suffered with depression for most of his life and believed treating it would deny who he was. So instead he worked and he ran. He ran literally and metaphorically until he couldn’t run any more. That day was sometime in January 2012.
Three weeks earlier he had taken out a $90,000 second mortgage on the house. He took a trip to a tropical island, he closed accounts, deleted information from the hard drive of our computer, he returned broken cameras.
On that Sunday, January 29th he was recovering from a 24 hour call at the hospital. Apparently it was a fairly tolerable call and he had gotten some sleep. I worked at the Unitarian Universalist church at the time and had a meeting after. Chris offered to take the girls to a nearby park while I was in my meeting. The two younger girls accepted and M went to spend the afternoon with a friend. After the park, we all went to lunch.
The conversation was strange, and not just in retrospect. I kept seeing glimmers of something in Chris’ eyes. Something that betrayed the surface meaning of his questions. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I felt an energy coming from him. It was needy and sad. He wasn’t just asking questions, he was seeking reassurance, closure.
We walked out to the parking lot. He put on his grey motorcycle jacket. He said, ” we should talk sometime.”
“About what?” I asked
” Just talk.” He replied
“Ok. We will”.
That was the last thing I ever said to him.



(Dad, Madeleine…you may want to skip this one)

The more I date, the more frequently I consider becoming a nun.
Almost purely out of curiosity, I recently decided to check out tinder. For those of you in blissful ignorance, tinder is a dating app that finds singles (who also have the tinder app) geographically located near you. You see the profile picture of said singles and either “x” them or “heart” them. If they “heart” you back you are a match and then you each have the opportunity to email each other lively conversation like “hi” or they can send you a picture of their penis. Ah! Modern love.
While I was in Chicago, where there is a considerably larger dating pool, I decided to give it a try. What I discovered is tinder is exactly like a crack addiction. At first it is an amazing rush and by the end (which for me was 5 days later) you are slumped over in a sobbing heap fully convinced that there are no reasonable human beings left on the planet and that you’ve traded all your dignity away for a moment of excitement.
Let me walk you through the stages:
Stage one: oh my god! There are so many amazing looking men on here!
Stage 2: I’m getting so many matches! I’m a gorgeous human being. If I move to Chicago I would be married to my soul mate in a month.
Stage three: penis pic
Stage four: weird sexual offer ” I could let you have sex with me while my cat watches”
Stage five:penis pic
Stage six: angry text with multiple curse words ( people really can use “cunt” creatively in a sentence)
Stage seven: penis pic
Stage eight: ” why yes, I am married and I have four beautiful children that I adore”
Stage nine: penis pic
Stage ten: delete account
Curiosity cured, faith in humanity questioned. It’s the same reason I never want to work retail again: too much exposure to the larger human race. The good news is it has confirmed my desire to date myself, I’m making myself a jammin mix tape right now entitled ” valentines day is for quitters”.

I’m mostly faking it

I’m mostly faking it

Let’s be honest, dating is more complicated than a Russian opera. But I don’t have to tell you that, you’ve already tired to figure out if you’re supposed to text right away, two weeks later, or send a sky writer. And please don’t tell me you tired to call, on the phone, that’s so 2000. Who are you, my grandma? Well, fear not, I’ve been doing tons of research (hey, I’ve been on like 5 dates in two years). Since I am now the self-declared expert of my own life, and I’m on a dating break, I’ve come up with some rules that may help you.

1. Pour at least one thing on you before you leave the house. Coffee works well. This way you don’t have to be nervous about spilling something on yourself. If you are me, you’re going to spill something anyway, and anyone who plans on sharing meals with me had better know that before going into date number two.

2. Lotion your hands liberally right before you arrive. The handshake will be awesome. Better yet, use Vaseline. Or chicken grease!

3. Arrive at least three minutes late wearing clothing inappropriate for the season. It will give you something to talk about immediately. If your date fails to mention that you are wearing a tank top in winter, he’s probably not going to mention that affair he will have six months from now either.

4. Periodically throughout the date make a random weird face, for no reason and don’t mention it. Bug your eyes out, touch your tongue to your nose, get creative. Along with making weird voices, I will make weird faces. I’ll be best paired with a dude who finds this endearing.

4.5 Yell: “Suck it nerds!”, if he doesn’t get it, he’s out.

5. Tell an embarrassing story that you don’t realize is embarrassing until you’re halfway through it. Know that this will be your next embarrassing story.

6. Cry.

7. Mention that you talk for all the animals that live in your house. They all have distinct voices, if your date is not willing to learn every animals’ voice, then it would be best to go your separate ways.

8. Date at unusual hours, start a date at 915 knowing you will fall asleep by ten o clock. (Note to self, these are best done at home, you’re too big to be carried out of the movie theatre)

9. Order what you want, offer to pay and then realize you left your wallet at home, which seems pre-planned, but if this guy knew how often I leave my wallet, keys, pocketbook, drivers license, car and couldn’t remember where it was, he would know me. Really know me.

10. Send him a text while you are sitting across from each other asking how it’s going.

11. Snack on food you bring in your purse. Or wallet, if you’re a dude, or if you just happen to carry only a wallet.

12. After the date, call him every hour on the hour, but pretend to be one of your dogs. Ask him if he’s going to be your new daddy and ask to be taken for a walk.

13. Change your phone number.

14. Have fun and stop thinking this date is your last chance at love, sex, help with the dishes. You get to decide what the rules are. And if you’re me, in the process, you’re coming up with lots of new material.

Pulling out

Pulling out

My last date was with a cat trainer, not professional, just as a hobby. When I arrived I saw him through the window and thought, ” oh, he’s cute.” Upon entering the restaurant I noticed a long stem red rose, how thoughtful. It was pretty much downhill from there.
He pulled out my chair for me, also thoughtful, but felt out of place for me. At five foot ten and size 12, I’m anything but delicate and fairly unaccustomed to chivalrous gestures. But I accepted, because I wanted to. Then he tired to help me with my jacket. It was raining that night so I was wearing a rather practical raincoat and I’d velcroed the sleeves tightly around my wrists. This created a situation where I was eventually trapped with both arms over my head and my raincoat over my face. I mumbled from underneath the coat that I should probably take it from there.
Over the course of a lovely dinner I learned about the abusive boyfriend his wife had left him for, the year he spent training cats and all 27 points of a 27 point inspection for big rigs. This was a nice guy, a really nice guy and he really wanted to make a nice impression. He was clearly trying hard to make this work.
At the end of the date, there was an awkward hug and then I smashed my pinky finger between my door and the rear view mirror of the car next to mine. I compulsively suggested that he text me and immediately regretted that. He did, a couple of days later and I politely declined. I felt bad, he was probably just nervous and deserved a second chance, but I’m probably just not ready.
I think it’s time for a little winter break. I’m enjoying catching up on my netflix series and resting. Maybe this spring, and maybe not. I actually feel ok. I’ve got lots of great friends to spend time with and I’ve always enjoyed me time. Even though my cats are embarrassingly boring, I think it’s time to pull out.

Bodies in motion

Bodies in motion

I spent some significant time this morning scrubbing a corner in my house with bleach. My house is inhabited by three children, two dogs, two and sometimes three cats and me. We could qualify as a hair and dust factory with a side classification for manufacturing dirty clothes and dishes. Granted, cleaning house was only a priority when I lived alone in my apartment in Atlanta. God, that place was so clean. And if you could ignore the gunshots and the domestic abuse, very quiet. But life is different now, different priorities and so many more hairy bodies, junk mail and old yogurt cups. And at least once a day there is an accident, of the spilling kind, the throw up kind, the fecal kind.
And it’s January, the shittiest month of the year. Sorry January, you just are. It’s after Christmas, it’s cold, it’s dark and it’s the anniversary. I really just want to hunker down like a grizzly bear and sleep, under the quilt. I do not want to make dinner, I do not want to exercise, I do not want to bleach the cat vomit out of that corner.
That’s the one, two gut punch of depression. I don’t feel like exercising, I don’t exercise, I feel less like exercising. I’m staring at my iPad, and getting plenty of high scores on puzzle forge. I want to eat gravy, on buttered cheese biscuits with a side of French fries, but I want them delivered to my bedside, getting up seems very, very difficult.
Thankfully, I have kids, they seem to need feeding everyday and I seem to be responsible for that. I made pizza last week. I turned on the oven.
So, Am i going to blob myself into February, will you find a a Jabba the hut sized greasy stain where my body should be? No. No you won’t. I’m putting one heavy foot in front of the other, taking a breath, and then putting the next heavy foot down. I am forcing, with great resistance and internal whining, myself to drink a big glass of water every morning. Im making a menu and a grocery list, those pictures of homemade granola were inspiring. I’m listening to my kid bug me to get up and do something with her (we planked together), I’m writing it all down, purging, I’m bleaching the effing corner.
I need a little nap now, cause it’s exhausting, but I’m doing it. January will pass and I will be a part of it. There’s no curse, just a moment of relative silence.

Premature rejection

Premature rejection

There are several things that everyone should have to do, in my humble opinion, in order to grasp the reality of being human. First off, Everyone should have to wait tables, it demonstrates how incredibly needy and self-involved people can be when they have empty water glasses. C’mon how GD important is a lime really?
Second, everyone should experience intense, horrifying loss, this could be a job, a loved one, a house. The good (?) news is life provides this one for virtually everyone. It sounds like a terrible wish for humankind, but it’s essential for growth. There’s tons of other things, but I’ve got to get my kids to school today…so finally, I believe every person should have to date as an adult. Bonus points if you are a single parent. Want humility? Date. Want to learn to deal with rejection? Date. Want to try to nonchalantly remove fish taco sauce from your cleavage? Date.
When I was seventeen and I waited by the phone, there was just the phone to be silent. Now there’s phone, text, email, snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and the occasional my space, to be silent. Are there rules? Cause I can’t decipher them. I’m afraid of calling too soon and appearing to be a stalker, waiting too late and losing my (what I can only imagine is a laser thin) window of opportunity. Is the day long silence a direct result of that joke I made about Ebola? Or because I didn’t at least offer to pay? I can be cool, get busy with other activities. Wait. I could just awkwardly pretend to watch Friends reruns instead of checking my phone, iPad and computer every 15 seconds. I like to imagine, that despite my awkwardness I offer a certain charm and delight, but getting a second date seems harder than getting rednecks to understand the Affordable Heath Care Act.
Rejection can feel so final, like your last meal in prison. Eff this up and it’s the last time anyone ever compliments your sweater. I keep telling myself that this could be fun, relax, enjoy, but sometimes dating feels about as fun as a calculus test written in Latin.
Wanna “what if” with me? What if that WAS the last time anyone ever complimented my sweater? What if I just blew my one chance because there is tarter sauce on my boob? What if the guy I should actually be with is the guy I passed up? What if the only guy that will ever ask me out is the one wearing fake deer antlers in his profile picture? What if awkward is the new cool? Huh. See what I did there?
I think rejection is nature’s way of saying, “next!”. I’ve had the great joy of having some really amazing relationships since Chris’ death, with really great (and equally awkward guys) and it wasn’t a struggle to keep up with them. It was actually pretty flawless, not in the sense that I never had kale stuck in my teeth, just in the sense that it was ok if I did.
Rejection sucks, and feels bad and makes you wonder where your next “meal” is coming from, but aren’t we better off if the mistakes just keep on moving out of our lives. If time has proven anything it’s that I am not getting any smoother in my maturity, so I had best stop looking for someone to make me cooler and instead look for someone to match my awkward.