Thursday, May 23, 2013

Weekend plans? Great.

So tomorrow I'm attending a wedding. The wedding of a high school friend. More specifically, my ex-boyfriend's wedding. My first boyfriend. The one I've had a...tumultuous relationship with, to say the least. 

WAIT UP I just checked and I'm not sure I ever filled you in on that. It's long and complicated, so I'll give you the highlights. 
--We dated when we were 16, for about half a summer. 
--I have another great story about that for another time.
--We broke up and even that was no simple matter. He seemed to feel really guilty, even though I agreed with him. 
--Despite his use of "We should just be friends," we did not, in fact, remain friendly. And by that I mean I tried to be friendly and he ignored me. 
--I think I wrote him a letter about his callous, asshole behavior in our mutual friend group? I'm not sure I'd advise my young self to do that, if given the opportunity...
--We finally got to the friend place again. It helped that he had a new girlfriend. 
--Things were slightly weird in college, but we didn't see each other much. 
--After college, he developed feelings again. I did everything I could to discourage these feelings, considering they were not reciprocal. 
--There was a pretty terrible bar conversation about New Years kisses, causing me to change my NYE plans to avoid unwanted kissing. 
--Things were silent between us for a while.
--He sent me anonymous Valentine's Day flowers. 
--HE SENT ME VALENTINE'S DAY FLOWERS. (It bears repeating.)
--He was mad that I didn't like them and I was mad that he kept calling to talk about it and I hung up on him repeatedly and he called anyway and tried to tell me they were friendly. 
--That was a few years ago and we're (basically) good now! 

He's getting married tomorrow. Did I seriously never tell you guys about getting red and pink Valentine's Day flowers from my ex? HOW DID I LET THAT HAPPEN? 

So...that's my life now. Keep an eye on my twitter, because it's sure to be entertaining! 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Book Club is coming back, like it or not.

So back in November, which was preposterously long ago, I told you I was starting a new Terrible Book Club book. (I'm not sure we ever actually named book club that...but I think it works.) I lied. I got absorbed into other activities and books. 

But have no fear. It's back. 

Earlier this week, I started (and finished) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. And while I strongly suggest you read this book--it's brilliantly written and beautiful--I also strongly advise that you do not read it in public. Not 50 Shades don't read it in public, but like...Ugly Cry don't read it in public. It's about a young woman with cancer and that's all I'll say about that. It's got a lot of feelings--the whole spectrum. It's a YA book but doesn't make you feel like you're too old for it. 

BUT THERE ARE SO MANY FEELINGS. And you all know how I am with feelings. 

Since I'm broken inside from this book, I decided I needed a break. So naturally my thoughts turned to Book Club. I have a treasure trove of non-thinking books! So as a sort of palette cleanser, I present to you the book I meant to read months ago but am starting today:

The Rules of Marriage by Wilma Counts. (Almost certainly a fake name, as pointed out by one reader.) I'll keep you posted! 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Should have read the fine print.

Do you all have backup spouses? You know, if neither of us is married by the time we're....? It's hardly a new thing--the cast of Friends were arguing over backup spouses while I was in middle school. (By the way, those characters were approximately the same age I am now. Don't think about it too hard, but my late 20s don't feel the way I was led to believe.They attended WAY fewer weddings, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and baby showers than I find myself attending. They also had a lot more casual sex. OH TV DREAMLAND...) A few of my friends have them, although I've noticed a distinct lack of consistency when it comes to the ground rules. 

We found ourselves in this conversation last night when I noted that the groom of an upcoming wedding offered to be my 2nd backup husband. 

One of the guys has an agreement to marry a friend of his if they're both single at 30. For me this is frighteningly close. I made my agreement when I was 20, and we agreed to get married if we're both 35 and single. This is, of course, biting me in the ass, as that man has been in a happy relationship for...years. I can't even remember how many. YEARS. This groom offered to be my 2nd backup with we were both 34 and single. I didn't take him up on the offer, which is just as well as I'm attending his wedding. 

I'm too old, I suspect, to find yet another backup. At this point it's basically admitting that I won't be able to find a husband the old fashioned way (internet dating, clearly) so I have to Rumpelstiltskin one to fruition. I should have stipulated that in the event my backup gets married, he is required to find me a replacement. Is it too late for that? Whoa, I think we just got on the train to Sad Town. Let's turn around. 

Back to my original question. Do you have a plan in place? What are your terms and conditions? 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Let's talk about mothers.

This was originally written two years ago for a lovely but now defunct website run by a friend. Reposting it today because it's timely and I quite like it. (Thanks to Mahnoor for asking me to contribute!)

“I love my mother as the trees love water and sunshine – she helps me grow, 
prosper, and reach great heights.” – Terri Guillemets

Let’s talk about mothers. I myself am not one—there is no way I’m equipped to care for another human being yet. But I’ve spent nearly 27 years with a mother, so I’m basically an expert on the subject.
Moms have, without a doubt, one of the most thankless jobs out there. We spend nine months feeding off them like a parasite and wreaking havoc on their bodies. Then, we stretch out their delicate parts and make our way into the world screaming, crying, and pooping. After a while, we stop that nonsense but spend adolescence rolling our eyes at them and lacing every bored statement with the underlying message of, “You do not know anything stop talking to me.”
Let’s not forget the adoptive moms who take in a child that didn’t have a home. The stepmoms who step up to the plate and combat the Disney stereotype of evil stepmothers. The foster moms who selflessly open their homes and lives. The surrogate moms who go through all that pregnancy garbage to help a family who can’t do it themselves. The host moms we had while we studied abroad and helped us through homesickness in a foreign language. The grandmothers who pass on years of wisdom and tradition. The friends who hug you when your mom is too far away for one. The mother-in-law we spend years worrying about. The dads who go through everything without a mom to answer questions about bras and muddle though boy advice. Godmothers, older sisters who stand in when necessary, your BFF’s mom. Mothers come in many forms.
And despite all they do, we spend large chunks of our lives rolling our eyes at them. Even now, I feel my eyes slipping around to the back of my head from time to time. Most recently, that eye roll translated to, “I can’t believe you think I would wear that dress. How dare you.” Forget that she spent literally years not only helping me pick out clothes but paying for them. Forget that she’s doing her best to talk me down from what is not the crisis I’m imagining. (Excuse me, but it’s tough to pick a dress for when you’re the maid of honor attending a bridal shower and you want the bridesmaids to understand that you are in charge and are not really looking for their input on silly games. That’s a lot for a dress to say!) Forget that she’s only making a suggestion to help out. I was momentarily 14 years old being mortified in the middle of a store and the only thing my angsty self could do was roll my eyes. (I apologized, don’t worry. The maid of honor stress wave passed and I realized that really?)
I mean, really, it begs the question: why does anyone still do this on purpose?? I’m not sure. I have a couple guesses, though. (And remember, I’m a self-proclaimed expert. These are really more like theories. That’s a more science-y word, so you know this will be relevant.)
People choose motherhood because kids come out on the other side. We pass through all that stupidity and turn into people. Adults. We realize that we were total brats, needing to apologize more, accuse less, and show some grace. (Unfortunately, we can’t do anything about all the ways we transformed their bodies all those years ago.) We listen to Mom. Really hear her, hear all the things she has to say. She probably said them before, but we couldn’t hear her over the sound of our collective sighing. A few years ago, I overheard my mother on the phone with a friend, talking about my sister and I being back in the house post-college. She said how much she loved that we had turned into people she liked. Not in a mother/daughter way. In a human way. It was one of those awesome moments that made me look at my mom differently. Maybe that’s why people embark on this whole “having children” journey?
Eh. Not likely. I have lots of friends, and none of them caused stretch marks or hospitalization. That seems like a pretty weak reason to have kids.
Standing with some friends, I watched a teenage girl and her mother. The teenage girl played her part remarkably well. At one point, the mom started dancing to the song on the store speakers. This caused a mighty eye roll and look of utter humiliation from her daughter. Looking for the mother’s reaction, I was surprised. I remember my own mom looking a little bit sad and a whole lot irritated. This mom…didn’t look sad. I realized that she was completely enjoying embarrassing her daughter. Understanding dawned on me—she was doing it on purpose. Was this payback? A small bit of revenge for all that screaming, crying, pooping, and sarcasm? Oh yes. As this mother laughed and kept pretending she knew “all the cool dance moves,” she was fully enjoying motherhood.

THAT is why women keep choosing motherhood. That moment of pure joy, seeing your offspring try to hide within her own hooded sweatshirt, knowing the circle of life is continuing. 

Thursday, May 09, 2013

My mom is awesome.

My mom taught preschool for most of my life. (She's retired now.) She doesn't swear and spells words out if she's quoting someone. She lets the words slide from her kids, but there is an eye roll and sometimes she sends out a warning. She sent me regular care packages while I was away at college, and always sends me emails when I'm working at summer camp. She has talked me down from many a panic. 

The summer before my junior year, the year I spent abroad in Ireland, my mom was getting rid of some of my dad's old clothes. We're talking stuff from the '70s and '80s here--Dad does not regularly clean his closet. I found this great blue fuzzy sweater and despite some signs of aging, it fit me perfectly. I took it and I guess she didn't realize it, but I took it abroad with me. It's in a lot of my pictures from that year. The summer after that, showing Mom all my travel pictures, she realized that the sweater had traveled a lot too. It was not a popular choice, apparently. 

Senior portraits rolled around during spring of my final year at Smith. Consulting Mom over the phone on wardrobe, she said, "As long as you don't wear that blue sweater!" 

There was no way I had considered that option. However...

I took my portrait, normal sweater and pearl earrings. It's not bad, actually. I got home from my session and popped into a friend's room. "I need you to take my picture in 5 minutes." She was confused but not entirely surprised--this kind of weird request was not unusual, from myself or any of our friends. I met her in front of the trees by our house, camera in hand and blue sweater on. My hair, makeup, and jewelry were still photo appropriate. "Amanda, just pay the portrait fee if you want your picture in the yearbook. It's not that expensive." 

"Oh," I replied grinning. "I just got back from that. This for my mom." She realized what I was wearing and shook her head. I posed exactly as the photographer had told me before, mimicking my actual portrait pose. (You can tell I'm sort of laughing in this one, though.) After a quick trip to CVS, I called my sister. Proofs from the real photographer would be sent to my school mailbox but also my home address--the people with money. I told Twin to intercept this letter at any cost. My father was brought into the fold for this. I cropped my newly printed picture and scrawled some letters and numbers on the back, as I'd seen from older proofs. A quick note to my mom asking for her opinion was written and my pictures was in the mail. 

She called me. "Of course I like it, you look lovely in--wait. What...are you kidding me?" My father and Twin, unable to hold it in any longer, sang like birds and gave up the real proofs. 

But guess what? I learned all this behavior somewhere, so Mom was not to be outdone. I received a care package not long after the picture incident. Some cookies and stickers she'd seen at the store. And a wrapped gift. A note about keeping pictures nice and showing them off. My mom had taken my fake picture and blown it up, then framed it--in a frame of her own design. Remember when I said my mom taught preschool? This picture frame was a hot mess. She hot glued all manner of trinkets and crap around the frame. Pom poms, seashells, a plastic bunny, buttons, sequins, pine cones, dyed's ridiculous. We cried laughing, passing this monstrosity around the dinner table. A nearby first year, unaware of the backstory, awkwardly tried to find a compliment for my mom's talent. I loved the mental image of my mother sitting at a small table in her classroom, glue gun in hand, making her 21 year old daughter a gift. I imagined her telling her friends what she was doing, laughing at what I'd done to deserve it. That frame still sits on a shelf, displayed proudly. (Lots of pieces have fallen off, actually. I need to do some repair work.) 

My mom is awesome. 

**Yes, I still have the sweater. 

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

I'm annoyed by technology.


I can count eight apps on my phone, off the top of my head, that allow me to send messages to someone. I'm not even including--

NINE I forgot Words with Friends has a chat feature

--the actual texting and calling features of a phone. Nine things that will put a notification in front of you if I want to get in touch. Nine beeps, buzzes, and tones. No matter where you are or what time it is, I can get a message to you if it's needed. And since you can take your phone pretty much anywhere, there's really very little to excuse not getting in touch these days. As far as phones being's like..airplanes, prisons, and jury duty, right? Oh, and the summer camps I do.
As smart phones soared in popularity and became the ubiquitous accessory they are now, I slowly steeled myself to the idea that people were probably tweeting and pooping at the same time, at least some of the time. 

We're not talking about pooping while texting today, though. My point with this is that really, what are valid excuses for not getting in touch with someone? When people say their boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever isn't getting back to them, I have some questions. Is this person a surgeon? Are they on call at the hospital and had to deliver a baby? Does this person work for a government agency? I'm told some of those places don't allow employees to keep phones on them. Is this person flying to Australia and in the air for days on end? Did this person swear off technology and embrace a simpler life? Are they an astronaut on the International Space Station? 

No? Well then you should be hearing back within a couple days. There's no excuse for radio silence, especially in the dating arena. 

(I promise I don't tweet in the bathroom, guys. I wouldn't do that to you.)

Monday, May 06, 2013

Attn: Pregnant Women and New Mothers


That was harsh. Congratulations on bringing life into the world, what a beautiful miracle, etc. 

But seriously. You are grossing everybody out. I'm telling you this because I care. 

You have to stop. You have to pull back with the crazy pregnancy-related antics. I'm not talking about weird cravings or all the things your hormones are doing. Rock and roll. Mood swing it up. I'm talking about the other stuff. 

First of all, you have to stop putting pictures of your insides on facebook. I mean really. Ultrasound photos are, I'm told, a very magical part of the pregnancy process. That's your kid! I'm down. When a favorite cousin was pregnant, you bet I wanted to see that kid. Good friends bring the picture when we meet for coffee? Sure. Your family should see that. But your dentist and the people from the office you worked in three years ago and your summer camp counselor? Less than thrilled. Keep that shit off facebook. Your child will appreciate it, one day. 
While we're on the subject of social media and parenting, it's not necessary for you to let me know how many times your child pooped or threw up today. Let's keep this clean, ok? Cute pictures are fine, the dirty details are not necessary. 

You also have to stop sharing the gory details of the birthing process. There are some people who are dying to hear how many hours it took for you to squeeze another human being out of you. They want to hear all about what the doctor said. I don't know why, but they do. But that is not true of everyone in a room! Consider three things when you're about to share a delivery story: 1. Is this an appropriate story for the situation? If bodily fluids are involved, maybe lunch is not the best time. 2. Is my audience full of any childless women? Perhaps they will be emotionally scarred by what you're about to say. Ask some of my coworkers. They forced one story to stop when I was allegedly losing all color in my face. 3. Did anyone ask to hear this? If you're just sharing because there's a lull in conversation, rethink your plan. All of this is doubled if you decide on a water birth, which actually makes me feel ill. Private Practice had that on one episode and I'm still upset it didn't have a warning. 

And finally, you have absolutely, 100%, without a doubt got to stop doing weird ass things with your breast milk and placenta. I mean it. This is not acceptable. Good for you, being one with Mother Earth and all that crunchy bullshit, but I do not want to hear about it. Breast milk ice cream, recipes for what to do with your placenta, breast milk's too much! You have to stop. If you're going to do that, do it in the privacy of your home and never, I repeat never tell me about it. 

Congratulations on your new bundle of joy! 

Friday, May 03, 2013

An apology.

I've rewritten this at least three times. I've wandered around the internet as I do it, because I need the distraction. It's the longest blog post ever, time-wise. 

I know I've been pretty absent around here lately. I'm sorry, because I feel like we have a certain vibe going, like this is a clubhouse where you tell me your problems and I tell you about mine. But right now...I can't. I can't talk about it. There's stuff going on in my life that's...hard. And shitty. But I'll get through it. And when I'm through it, maybe we can talk more. There's a lot to say. But I set myself certain rules when I started writing here, and also it's too hard to talk about. Even telling you that much is difficult. 

I keep myself busy. I like having projects and sorting through chaos. The busier a day is, the less time I have for meandering thoughts--the enemy right now. Nighttime is dangerous, when I lay down to sleep. My hands and brain aren't occupied, so other thoughts sneak in. I haven't been sleeping well. 

Give it time. Wedding season is approaching, so there will be LOTS to talk about there. And eventually I'll figure my life out and we can get back to normal. There won't be this big off-limits topic anymore and we can all move on. 

For now, I'll leave you with this: I got a message on tumblr from some blog with "booty" in the name. It called me adorable and asked if I would submit a picture for their blog. Success!