You're Just Going to Shed it Anyway

Over coffee the other day my friend and I got to watch, for a few minutes, this woman who was clearly, loudly, definitively, excessively not at all ok with who she was. Not even a little bit. And we kind of got to talking about whether or not anyone is comfortable in their own skin. My friend confessed that he is really not, and when I said that I feel that I most certainly AM, he gave me that look that he gives me sometimes that means I should stop talking and think long and hard about what I am saying because he knows I am totally, utterly full of shit.

Damn that boy and his 'knowing me too well' bit.

I have been thinking about this for the past couple days. Are any of us comfortable with who we are, with what we are, within our own skin? I really do feel like I am, but I could sight five blatant examples of why I am most likely lying to myself.  So maybe I'm not. Or wasn't, at least.

I am, however, pretty self-assured. Is that the word? Yeah, I think it is. I am not a vain person by any means, but I know that I am not terrible on the eyes and I know that I am freaking hilarious when I want to be and I know that I am smart and just tall enough and have good taste and my hair is fabulous and I am pretty damn good in the sack. I don't need you to tell me that, I already know it. I think I worked all the way through my "doubting myself" phase by the time I hit thirty.

And that was my point to perceptive-smurf the other day. My poorly articulated point. Something shifts in you when you hit thirty. Internally. And not in that oh shit my bladder used to be a lot stronger sort of way, though that happens too. Don't believe me? Just you wait...

Something just clicks after thirty and you get things. You see them more clearly. I can't explain it better than that, but those of you in the 30+ club will agree with me, I know you will. My friend Sheryl says that the shift at 60 is even better than the one at thirty. This fact makes me very excited to hit 60, 'cause I am totally digging the mindset that has come along with my new decade of age. It's just, well, quieter. Calmer. Even when it crazy fucking madness because you spent your twenties acquiring some debt, a job, a litter of kids that all have to be at different places at the same time, a bunch of friends with various neurosis and a dog you can never find the time to walk, it is still all easier because after thirty you master the art of taking shit in stride. Diapers aren't as expensive at 30 as they were at 22; even though the price hasn't changed, your perspective has.

Now, in my teens and early twenties, yeah, not so friends with myself. I kind of hated myself to be honest. I hated the sound of my voice and the color of my hair and the way my eyes point up but nobody else's do and the fact that I am really, badly pigeon-toed and that my feet are really big and my thighs are huge and even my cuticles...I hated my cuticles. (Honestly, still do. Cuticles gross me the fuck out.) And so I dyed my hair and stopped eating for a few years. And then one day I discovered this fun little trick called "slicing your arms open with razor blades". Not so much in the I want to die way as the oooh this feels like something and I haven't actually felt something more than self-loathing in a while and isn't red a pretty color and I shouldn't be doing this but you can't stop me sort of way. Yeah, I was a fucked up teenager. And so I sliced my skin open for a while, got all the way down to 98 pounds and still managed to be the one, the only, hideously fat 98 pound girl on the planet. I was HUGE. I was, like, a size ZERO. You should have seen me naked. Oh, that's right, you couldn't have. Because I absolutely refused to let anyone see me wearing less than 3 layers of clothes. That makes one's sex life fun, let me tell you.

I guess what I'm getting at is that I know all about being uncomfortable within my own skin. I don't know how I came out of that place, but I did and it was pretty abrupt. I think it had a lot to do with the good boyfriend that I had, the one that thought I was gorgeous and funny and smart and didn't care if I weighed 98 or 150, he was totally into me. I was going to marry me in a big ass church with every single person he had ever met in his whole life there to witness it. He was great. He did more for my mental health in 3 years than 15 shrinks could have done in 10. I dumped him, of course. For Josh, none the less.

And Hannah helped. Hannah and I were in the computer lab in high school one day (guess who was the editor of the yearbook in high school? Guess who also only had one date her whole time in high school? Think those 2 facts aren't mutually exclusive?) and I pushed up my sleeve to glue something, which I never did normally, and Hannah saw a bunch of very red, very oozey, very scabby marks up my arm. I got a really good yelling at that day. Like, a MOM yelling. Like, an "I will kick your motherfucking ass to kingdom come if you do not stop this shit right fucking now" yelling. That helped a lot. I don't think I ever carved into myself after that day. I was kind of glad to get caught. She noticed, someone noticed. God knows my father didn't pay enough attention to me to notice.

Tough love, baby. Sometimes the shit works.

Speaking of Hannah, we have, well, traditions. Strange, odd little traditions. Traditions founded in high school computer labs. Traditions like renaming bodies of water with pomp and circumstance and coffee creamers, and the CLF which I won't start in on now but maybe, someday, far from now I will tell you about that one, and Something in the Name of Breakfast at 9:16. We did Something in the Name of Breakfast at 9:16 quite a lot a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. We haven't in many years but tomorrow, at 9:16 en punto, we are doing Something. Possibly Breakfast. I am super excited.

And as for today, I feel pretty comfortable. Maybe not 100% comfortable, but I'm on my way. I am really digging me lately. Especially my taste in music. I have great taste in music. Maybe I'll burn you a CD.

the angries (most likely a very redundant post)

When the kids have a cold, we call it "the sneezes". When they are nauseous, we call it "the pukes". When we're all pissed off, we call it "the angries."

I keep thinking that I have gotten through the angries, and just like a cold, just when you think it's over it starts up all over again.

The reasons for it are shifting, though.

Yes, I am angry that my kids father does not call them and I am angry that I am reduced to sleeping in someone's basement and I am angry that I have to work until unholy hours at a bar on the two nights I could actually sit up and do a puzzle with my boys and I am angry that my daughter has so little attachment to anything that I can leave her with absolutely anyone and she is just fine, but that's not what's fueling the fire and keeping me up nights.

What gets me, what really kills me, is that I am realizing that I have a really good thing here, here in the Mile High City, and that I put it all on hold for so long for that chump that (see paragraph above).

I decided to skip the hotel and instead crash at my friend N & D's house. Last night I got home from work, and they had left lights on for me and turned down a bed for me. No one has EVER left lights on for me or turned down a bed for me. It totally made me cry (embarrassing confession there, guys...let's not hold it over my head, mmkay?). N and her mom and I have kinda spent a lot of the past week together and just let me tell you how flippin' nice it has been.

Very nice.

It is wonderful to have a community of sorts, people who know you and want to talk to you and enjoy your company. It's really a new concept to me and I am fumbling around it.

I don't mean to sound like I have been some crazy sort of hermit all these years, but my husband, well, he was kind of demanding of my time. He's pretty anti-social in general and doesn't really play well with others, and so we never actually did stuff. Stuff with other people. Example: N and her mom have known me for, oh, 3 1/3 years or so. They met Josh once, in a bar, for 5 whole minutes. They saw him again when L was born, but I don't think he actually said anything to them. Their husbands, if memory serves, have never met him. And they're, like, some of my best friends. Molly can probably count on one hand the times she has been in the same room as Josh.

So, I think that I gave up a lot of interaction in the efforts to be married. I gave up the coffee with the girls and the nights out writing with Andy and the lunches with Tim. Which I guess is stuff you give up when you get married, to a degree, but I think maybe I let my degree get a bit extreme. And I have absolutely no one to blame for it but myself. I could have easily said "Hey, I'm going out" but I never did. I sat there and waited for grumpy smurf to initiate something.

Dumbass.

My friend Chris once made a rather insightful observation. After saying some stupid thing or the other to me, he asked if I had ever noticed that all the men in my life were disappointments. I giggled at the time, but boy, oh boy, was he ever right.

I have a knack for picking these amazing, wonderful, powerful women to be in my life but when it comes to men, men in any role...lovers, friends, husbands, fathers...well, I just fuck it all up. I find the guys who will blow me off, ignore me, make me feel 5 inches tall, and I stick with them WAY past their expiration dates.

And this, my friends, is totally my own fault. I know it, I see it coming, and I do a big fat nothing about it. I create this for myself and I think I almost wallow in it a bit. But I think I am getting a bit better.

My friend D, N's husband, (yes, you) rocks. The Kasbah. He is kind and funny and nice. My friend C, S's husband, well, I kind of love him in that very scary like the dad I never had sort of way that makes me so very nervous. And they are both good men and not at all jerks. And Thad and Hot Gay Russell, both of whom I will someday shove back into their respective closets and then proceed to have torrid love affairs with both, possibly at the same time, because they are MEN the way men should be. All men should have to take man lessons from them. My friend Terry is great, and we have a for reals friendship based on nothing at all in particular except that we enjoy each others company, though he is very very drunk these days and so I know to keep my distance, 'cause we all knows how I likes the drunks, and I am very proud of myself for realizing that I have to keep my distance. That is true progress for me. I have managed to not once call Josh for anything I don't absolutely have to and that is extraordinary. Normally, I'd be blowing his phone up by now.

I think that at the same time as I am forging some real, lasting relationships with men, I am learning, albeit slowly, that I have to get rid of some, too. The bad ones, the ones that are one-sided. See, I have this thing for caring a whole hell of a lot more about people than they do for me and I always figured that I was just wired funny and should just get used to it, but I think that I am learning something here--that not all the men in my life have to be disappointments, and that I have some power to change things. Maybe that I am worth the good, solid, reciprocal relationships and that the others ones can just, well, go.

And so, of course, I am getting angry with myself for tolerating such bullshit from so many people for so long and I cry a lot again, simply out of frustration and a little bit of sadness at the thought of letting go of a few people that I really don't want to, but know I have to, but sometimes, just sometimes, the angries are a really good place to start.

And so here I go...

happy news

Let me first start by telling you the tale of a typical weekend here in Mr. Ladyland:

Friday afternoon: pick kids up from school
Friday evening: off to the job
Saturday 2 am: stumble onto air mattress
Saturday 9 am: out the door to pick kids up from sitter
Saturday all day: groggy groggy groggy shower around 11 am groggy groggy lunch tired tired feed kids dinner exhausted tired
Saturday evening: off to the job
Sunday 2 am: stagger onto air mattress
Sunday 9 am: out the door to pick kids up from sitter
Sunday all day: tired tired tired shower by 11 am tired tired..

You get it. Weekends are tough for me.

Let me now tell you about this weekend coming up:

Friday 10 am: throw kids in car and drive to Colorado Springs
Friday noon: drop kids off at sitters
Friday 4 pm: check into hotel room
Friday 4:03 pm: nap
Friday evening: off to the job
Saturday 2 am: draw curtains in hotel room and stumble into great big for real empty hotel bed that someone else made with, like, clean sheets and shit
Saturday sometime: wake up. Climb in bathtub. Read book. Order motherfucking room service.* Climb back into bed. Nap.
Saturday evening: off to the job
Sunday 2 am: back to hotel room with the actual bed with actual sheets and no actual kids in it, around it, near it.
Sunday sometime: wake up. Drink a pot of coffee. Listen. To nothing. Do the crossword. Nap.
Sunday afternoon: drive to Colorado Springs and have dinner with friends.
Sunday night: Snap. Back to reality.

Sheesh, that's gonna be nice.

*Perhaps there will even be time for a, dare I say it aloud and risk jinxing it, massage?

Oh, one other thing. The size 6 jeans I bought not 2 weeks ago? Too big. Tee hee.

from whenst we came

I have been mulling over this post of Sarah's all day about the kids from her block. Like, her figurative block. The block she has created for herself. She wrote this post today, the day I started writing my story in an old spiral-bound notebook B had leftover from his school supplies. I don't really dig the typing. I like pencils.

Anyway, my story begins where my story begins. Age 6. That's about as far back as I can remember with any real clarity. The day my parents separated. Whew, I remember that day. But that's not what this post is about. It's about MY block and how I am so not from that block.

I grew up sp freaking far below the poverty level we could not see it. We lived on $525 a month. 5 of us lived on that. I wore my brothers old underwear until I was 13. My father bought me my first bra at 16. The first time I bought new clothes at an actual store I was 17. We played in dumpsters. We ate at school, free breakfast and lunch. Dinner happened every few days. During the summer we all lost a lot of weight.

When I got pregnant with B I was a waitress, 22, single. His prenatal care and birth were covered fully by the friendly people at Planned Parenthood through Medicaid. Every month, when I went in for my check-up, they would have the social-worker chick sit down with me and go over the options for WIC and food stamps and subsidized housing and all that jazz and every month I would say thank you, no, I am fully capable of feeding and clothing and housing myself. They would look at me funny and say things like, "But you qualify for all this assistance." And I would look at them funny and say things like, "But I don't need it." I had a job, I had some income, and I had some pride. I like earning a living, albeit through waitressing or whatever random thing I'm doing.

I think back to the kids I grew up with, the kids on my block. We grew up in one of those income-controlled neighborhoods where almost no one had a job and almost everyone had a drug-problem. My mother certainly never had a job for one minute of her whole life, none of my friends' moms did, either. Well, there was that one lady, but we all idolized her and this story is not about her. Most of the adults we knew we not the best role-models the world has ever known or ever will know. We had no one to look to who "made it out" or did some great thing with their life. It was just this depressing cycle of pregnancy and welfare and boyfriends and social workers and police cars.

But I got out. With no role-model, no example, no guidance, no encouragement. I just refused to live like that anymore. It's no way to be. My brother also got out. It took him a bit longer, but he is busy living a lovely little life right now, complete with 3 kids, a wife, a couple dogs and a college degree.

But most of the people I knew, most of the kids on my block, are still there. Almost all of them have a bunch of kids with a bunch of different daddies, don't work and live off welfare. They kinda all live in the same literal neighborhood, actually. Nobody has a car, everybody has a track mark.

I don't know if this makes me a great big fat bitch, but I just don't get it. We all hated growing up like that. We used to talk about how when we grew up and how different things would be and on and on. Maybe I just got lucky, but I don't think that's it really. I didn't really ever have any help, there was no big break, I had to figure it all out myself, I certainly didn't have any great parental guidance or anything, I just got up every day and went to work. Above minimum wage work. I refused to accept for even one minute that the life I lived was the life I had to keep on living. I guess maybe no one told my old friends that.

So, my point here is that the kids from my block--so not the "kids from my block." My block has fences and gardens and shit. I sometimes find it hard to believe that I actual, for reals, grew up where I grew up. I mean, I wore cheap clothes and ate stale bread, but I read physics books while I did it. My head was always on Sarah's block. I thought everyone's was.

NaNoWriMo

Did you know that it is National Novel Writing Month? Have you started yours yet? Andy and David and I have tried to get together already to drink the night away inspire each other to greatness, but alas, out attempts have been foiled by my litter of children and their inability to ignore cute waitresses in short skirts. Or was it big gazungas? I can't remember. Anyway, I stood them up and they oogled the waitress.

We WILL be writing this month. Sometime. Wanna join us? It will be tons of fun, or a great big hangover, but either way, we're doing it. I think I have decided to maybe not so much write a novel, but just to put my story down on paper. It's kinda tough because I am missing chunks of my memory, but I guess that's where the "novel" bit comes in hand.

Me? Embellish? NEVER!

So, I will keep you posted as to our next planned meeting and you can come by. Bring a laptop and eat some pasta first.