Mother Ferocity

Being a mom changes you, and in more ways than just expanding your hips and making your boobs more pendulous. It can soften you, and at the same time give you an edge. I’ve been thinking about this for a while. First, with my kids, I felt this supreme tenderness and I cried a lot. It could have been hormones, but I like to think it was just my heart expanding.

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Over the years, I’ve gotten better at being a parent, and I’ve felt a curious change come over me. My softening has been counterbalanced by…this…Mother Ferocity. At first, it was just with my kids. Like, if another kid was bullying them on the playground, I felt this rumble in my soul that erupted not as a roar, but as a lowered razor-sharp voice and the slow pronouncement of the words “No! That is not appropriate!”

But when did this ferocity translate from the playground to the grocery store, restaurants, a walk around the block, business, and the dentist’s office? When did I start telling random strangers to be careful, don’t act that way, keep your fingers to yourself, stop doing that…and when….when did I start giving THE LOOK to anyone whose behavior I disapprove of? When did I become a stone cold, controlling, mofo?

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I gave THE LOOK to the pimply-faced hotel clerk yesterday when I was having trouble logging in to the Wi-Fi. This was our conversation:

ME: Wi-Fi was included in my room, but it won’t let me sign in.

CLERK: Oh! Yeah. You have to log on to the Club site and then enter in the password.

ME: Yes. I get that. But what’s the password?

CLERK: Huh. I’m not sure.

(Here is where I gave her THE LOOK and let silence vibrate between us.)

CLERK: Uhm…maybe I should go find out?

ME: Good thinking.

Hello, Mother Fierce! I’ve really got to rein it in. I am not everyone’s mother, nor do I need to educate or train or guide. I need to breathe, soften, and replace the steel edge with a…spork? Spoon? Whatever. I need to maybe be a little nicer.

I’m convinced of this because I think my ferocity is rubbing off on my kids. The other day, my nine-year old was working on his Legos and a group of neighborhood kids was playing outside our house. He ran to the door in his underwear, threw it open and yelled “Keep it down out there! I’m trying to concentrate!” Then he gave them THE LOOK, waited in the silence, then shut the door.

I shouldn’t be proud of that, but I sorta am.

Deep breaths. Deep. Breaths.

Embarrassed By Me And Other Random Thoughts

If my life right now were a Lifetime movie—which I would be totally okay with—it’d be that part where there’s a musical montage of a disheveled woman with bad hair stumbling, walking a dog alone, getting tangled in the leash, tripping outside, being unable to zip up her pants, etc. And it would be sad-yet-hopeful music playing like this:

And I would be looking out a window with my hand pressed to the glass AND IT WOULD BE RAINING.

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I totally feel like that right now. Most days, I really do try to look on the bright side, but right now, looking at the bright side is sort of like staring into a red, puckered, cat’s anus. Yes. That is the appropriate simile. Cat’s. Anus.

I’ve just had…a long few weeks. I’ve been doing really good with yoga, and walking and eating well, but then I had this little twinge (for over two weeks) that turned out to be a stress facture (AKA sprain) on my foot, which means no more walking or yoga for four to six weeks soooo….fuck it…bring on the brownie ice cream. I’m actually really, really mad about this. I was doing so well!

And my narrating gigs are sort of drying up. Like I feel like I’m the girl in high school and it’s prom and suddenly everyone’s whispering that I have chlamydia or something and not only is no one asking me to dance, but I can’t even get friends to rent a bad limo with me. (Side note: I never went to prom or any fancy dress dances.) The desperate emails I send to companies of “Hey! I’m available for hire, sailor!” are getting a little old. And it’s hard on the old ego to see so many narrator friends getting great books and reviews while I sit back, feeling invisible. Or worse for a narrator, feeling silent.

What else can I whine about?

Oh. My vagina.

So. It hasn’t TOTALLY dried up.

(pause pause pause)

I mean my WORK hasn’t totally dried up. (Not my vagina. My vagina is fine and it’s…well. Enough said.) So. I am narrating a terrific book called “Love Sex Again” by Lauren Streicher and it’s reminded me that I really know nothing about my own body, and I’ve spent most of my life being embarrassed by myself. And I don't think I'm alone in that. It’s only been recently that I’ve even been able to SAY the word vagina, and I’m pretty sure that’s because I’m forty and I just don’t care anymore. Why does my vagina make me sad? It doesn’t…it’s just…I wish I’d given myself more credit, more love, more understanding over the years. I wish I could do all of that now, but I’m still embarrassed…by everything about...me.

Which brings me back to my lack of confidence with my career, and my weight, and my appearance and…and…don’t even ask me about my writing and creative work.

When…when…WHEN…am I going to stop being that whiny woman looking out a window where it’s raining and become that free, curvy woman in a sundress who is sexy and lovable and quirky…even if she’s wearing a wooden shoe? Where's my uplifting ending to a Lifetime movie?

Any minute. Any minute now I’m going to stop…what? Staring at this cat’s anus, and go outside, and PLAY.

 

 

. ###

Bonus:

Here are the tweets I did not post while narrating today, mostly because I was afraid I might seem unprofessional:

TWEET 1)

I’m learning so much about my vagina!!!

 

TWEET 2)

Apparently, I should run out immediately to buy a vaginal silicone lubricant. It may turn my atheist husband into a believer in the almighty. Maybe.

 

TWEET 3)

Women should feel more comfortable to tweet about their twat.

 

TWEET 4)

There are pelvic physical therapists who will manually work your pelvic floor muscles for you…and light your cigarette afterward.

I Haven't Been Writing And The World Keeps Spinning

writing I haven’t been writing. This isn’t tragic or earth-shattering, and there’s no weeping or dramatics going on with me. I’ve just decided that, well, I need a break. I’ve been pretty much writing every day since I was…seven? Eight? And over the years I’ve developed quite the ego that my work is so great and that the world just hasn’t noticed my greatness.

And then…it dawned on. Holy crap! Maybe I’m like one of those contestants on American Idol who is shocked, SHOCKED to hear that I’m tone deaf and I have no future in the arts. Maybe, just maybe I need a reality check.

I’ve been working so furiously and a bit maniacally, that I’ve never slowed down enough to really look at my work and see what bits are working, and what bits need work. It’s hard to do that when you’re constantly producing. And that’s been me. I’ve been a writing machine. A factory. And there’s no beauty in a factory. In fact, most factories smell like boiled eggs.

So last month I quietly stepped back from my writing group to take a breath. I stopped sending out the endless queries to agents and publishers that have thus far been a constant source of “no” and the self-doubt and self-loathing that comes with every rejection.

I’ve started watching more movies. I’ve started reading for pleasure. I’m blogging still, but just a bit. You know, when I have something important to say about Bigfoot or my kids, or magic or something.

What I’m not doing is working on a new novel. I’ve toyed with it, flirted with the idea, but it’s bored flirting.

This is not to say I’ve given up. I haven’t. I’m just taking some time to breathe. To reflect. And to really, really listen to myself and figure out if I am, indeed, tone deaf, or if there is a way to reshape my words so that they have more impact.

I still have stories to tell…but the next one I tell…I want it to have a real purpose. I want it to mean something—not just to the reader but (perhaps more importantly) to me.

Maybe when all this snow melts and it’s spring again, maybe then I’ll sit down and begin to type. Until then, I’m narrating and working hard to bring other people’s stories to life, while I hope my own stories will wait until I can do them justice.

On Starting A New Novel and Muskrats

I’m here. I’m here. I’m feeling a little blech with the blog. I love doing it, but sometimes I just need a mini-break. Plus, I’m starting to think of the new project I want to work on (while I collect rejection slips on my memoir “Popsicle Toes”), and that’s starting to take over my brain. The idea is churning around in my head. It’s like, a novel starts with an idea, but then it starts to branch out and become a web. It’s very insect-like actually, spinning of ideas, seeing what sticks together, how everything connects, what mates are consumed after fornicating. Wait. Maybe one of those things doesn’t actually belong in my writing-as-insect metaphor. Hmmm.

Anyway.

I know I want the next book to be literary fiction and I know I want there to be a high conflict and a lot of action, and now I’m letting my brain do the work. I just sit back and wait.

Last night my brain woke me up. I dreamt I was with the kids and Kealoha and I were all packing to go camping. (We never camp, so you know this is a dream.) Franz and Moxie kept talking about something in the woods. “Ma, Ma! Are you sure we should do this? We’ve heard there’s Something In The Woods”. I said “We’re fine. We’re fine! There’s Nothing In The Woods!” We walked to the car and started to drive away and then my brain went black and I saw the words “The family was never seen alive again.”

Yes. I actually saw subtitles in my dream. And I woke up with a gasp.

First, that is NOT the story I want to write and second, I’m pretty sure the Something In The Woods was inspired by watching reruns of Lost and seeing a muskrat on my walk the other day. I was walking by the pond with my friend K and all of a sudden the cattails started shivering. Then I heard crunching. When I saw the muskrat, it all made sense, but that moment BEFORE seeing it was a little nerve-wracking. I mean, shivering and crunching, that’s the stuff of Stephen King. (Or a decongestant-inspired hallucination.)

A muskrat is basically a giant RAT that lives in the water. Eeek!

So. My brain is occupied with birthing another novel. Luckily, unlike a real pregnancy, this process doesn’t make me nauseous.

It does make me spacey. I mean, more than usual.

I think I have the opening scene ready and I’m almost, almost ready to start writing again.

I’m so looking forward to it.

Another "Wah is me" blog

I’m sitting in my house and it’s quiet. Super quiet. Kealoha is at work and the kids are at their dads’. I’m not teaching or narrating right now. In my head, I had my whole week planned. Every day, I’d wake up and write for an hour, then go to the gym for an hour. I’d stick to my Weight Watchers plan. In the afternoon, I’d read and work on syllabi for my classes.  

Uh….

 

Today, I’ve cleaned the house a little, but then I watched an episode of “Breaking Bad” even though it’s depressing. Weight Watchers makes me obsess about food and feel guilty for everything I eat until I just say “oh, fuck you” and eat whatever is in reach. Today, lunch was leftover chicken wings, a cookie, and a handful from the chocolate tower. I sat at my computer and clicked on random crap instead of writing. I thought about working out, and then I took a nap.

 

I’m so…meh. I don’t know if it’s the weather, or if this is my default position for when I have time to myself. Instead of accomplishing all the things I never have time for, mostly I just lie around the house. Lay around the house. Whatever. Mostly I just put my body on the couch, snack and take random naps.

 

Luckily, the New Year is coming so that means I can start everything over in a couple of weeks. I’d tell you what my resolution is going to be, but apparently, instead of accomplishing my To Do List, I feel another nap coming on.

 

I do have a little Christmas wish before I curl up for a fifteen-minute cat nap. I’d like to get some of my boundless energy back, and certainly some of my writing mojo. This year I’ve taken a real pounding with that, and it would be nice to feel like my writing was actually moving me forward instead of making me feel like I’m on a treadmill. Of course, to actually have some momentum, I should probably actually write something. Which I will put at the top of my list…for tomorrow.

If I'm not Blunder Woman anymore...then WTF?

On Twitter yesterday I found out that @WanderingWilbo had posted a tweet about me. He said he was having an existential crisis about my upcoming nuptials. Ha! Turns out he wrote a whole blog about it. Read it HERE. His existential crisis is only echoing my own. I think I’ve been struggling with this all summer long. I mean, who am I anymore? Do I need to hold a skull and just get this monologue out of my system?

Apparently so.

I took great comfort in being Blunder Woman for a time. I liked being her. She was fun; and she was me. Truly me. I was single again, out of the closet with my romantic writing, and totally embraced my awkwardness, even when I fell and broke my foot, even when I had bad dates followed by even worse relationship(s). (Two dates is a relationship, right?)

But I’m not single anymore. Nope. Me and Kealoha are walking down the aisle. (He’ll walk; I’ll shimmy.) So, who the hell am I if I’m not desperate and nerdy? If I'm not Blunder Woman, then am I no longer funny or relatable, or god help me, quirky?Something very strange has been happening to me, and I hesitate to even say the words. Over these last two years…I’ve grown up. Really. Damnation! But it's true.

It started innocently enough. First, I had to get tough enough to believe I could make it on my own and raise my two kids with kindness and love. Then I had to suck it up and work really hard at earning an income through teaching and narrating. Then I had to pump iron and be all Rocky Balboa when it came to my writing and not give up. And every time I fell over or broke a bone or cried on my kitchen floor while my sister said she didn’t know how things could get any better, but maybe they couldn’t get worse…all through that, I’d do what the song says. I’d pick myself up, brush myself off, and start all over again.

At nearly forty, I’m starting all over again with Kealoha by my side. Gone are my thoroughly awkward days. I have confidence now. I believe in my writing and in myself. And I have the comfort of loving someone who loves me for my quirks and not in spite of them.

But if I’m not writing about my anxiety and heartbreak, what do I write about?

I’ll tell you what…and it’s taken me all summer to figure this out…I may not BE Blunder Woman anymore, but I can still channel her. And I may be getting married, but I can still remember every painful moment of being alone. And I may be happy, but inside, there are characters who still want their story told. (And Kealoha assures me I'm still quirky. I think my friends would agree.)

Honestly, I didn’t even think anyone was following my story. I’d sort of given up on the whole quirky writer thing. Then something else strange started happening. In the last couple of months, I’ve heard from several readers and many friends who’ve told me they are reading my stuff. They read my work and laugh or just remember it, and I can’t tell you what that means to me. I thought I was writing to an empty auditorium and every day it’s like I get to see someone else’s face who’s been sitting in the seats listening to me go on and on. I just can't get over that. I'm not talking to an empty void. There are people out there! PEOPLE!!! (Yay.)

I don’t know what stories I’m going to tell or what happens in my future, but I can tell you that I’m still, at heart, awkward and nerdy, even if it’s covered with a sheen of confidence.

I may not know exactly who this new woman is that I’m becoming, but maybe there’s something wonderful in that. I guess I’ll just have to turn the page to find out.

Hokey. But true.

In short, this summer I almost gave up (for the hundredth time), but I’m back. I’m writing again. I can figure out how to be happy and still be a writer. And I hope you’ll continue to read my work and see how it’s all evolving.

Diet Update

Not that you NEED to know this, but I've finally lost some weight. Nearly 3 pounds. Sure, it took a month, but consider that I was narrating during that month. Now that I'm on my super vacation (meaning no teaching and no foreseeable narrating) I'm going to up my workout time, and down my potato chip time. Not 'down' as in 'snarf'. 'Down' as in reduce my time with potato chips.

I can do this. I can totally do this. My stomach is already thanking me.

Random Thing #1: Bea Arthur and The Titanic

I’m sitting down to blog and have no idea what I’m going to blog about.  

So I’m going to program my computer to post random things throughout the day.

 

#1

 

I just woke up from a nightmare. I dreamed that my friend K. was pregnant. (Not Kealoha, another friend). And we were talking about her baby and she said she wanted to name the baby Bea Arthur. “You’re not serious,” I said. “Oh, yes,” she said and rubbed her belly with that warm I’m-so-pregnant smile.

That wasn’t the nightmare part. The nightmare part was there was this shipwreck and I decided to rescue all the people. So I swam down to the bottom of the ocean, looked around the ship (there was an air bubble in there thankfully) and no one was there. There were plates of food just abandoned and music playing….and I guess everyone had escaped already….except for me…I woke up with a gasp because I realized that I had no idea how to get to the surface.

 

So, Bea Arthur baby and possible drowning. Ugh. What does it MEAN?

 

 

A Typical Conversation b/w Me and Kealoha

SETTING: My green couch (fka as Arnie’s green couch) at 6AM. Kealoha hands me a coffee. I take a sip.

ME: You put cream in my coffee.

K: Yeah.

ME: But you didn’t put any sugar in it.

K: Uh…yeah. You never have sugar in your coffee.

ME: That’s what I’m saying. You made me coffee the way I like it. I didn’t have to tell you.

K: Uhm. Yep.

(We drink our coffee. I’m thinking “it’s a miracle!”. Kealoha is probably thinking “She’s a little weird in the morning.”)

Kealoha points to my new pajama pants. They’re red and covered with teeny tiny hearts, like a million of them.

K: I like your new pants.

ME: They’re awful, aren’t they? I’m afraid I’ve become one of THOSE women. You know, the women who wear ridiculously tacky things. In public. And don’t care at all.

(Pause)

K: You’re talking to a man who’s wearing a jackalope t-shirt. Anyone who has any doubt that we’re made for each other should just take a look at us right now.

What I Did On Vacation OR Bring On The Gladiators!

Ahhh….vacation! What have I done with my vacation from social networking and endless/obsessive tweeting and status updating? I’ve been watching “Spartacus” with Kealoha. Man, it’s a good program. It’s brutal and colorful with great music and complex characters. There are also lots and lots of naked gladiator men. I’m talking full-frontal here. Full-frontal, people. And the men glisten…not like sparkly vampires, but they glisten like hot, sweaty, manly men. Sure, the ladies are naked too. In fact, pretty much everyone is naked, even the animals. It is ancient Rome after all.

What else have I been up to? I’ve had some good quality time with the kiddos. And since I haven’t been obsessively online, I’ve had time to cook. I made homemade pasta one night (fettuccini) and then a three course Indian dinner with chickpea curry, spicy potatoes, and chicken in a lemon yogurt sauce. I also worked out. I had a friend over for dinner and gossip, and I met my writing partner J. for coffee and a game of Quiddler. (He won, but I’ve clobbered him on the last three games, so no hard feelings.) I also read and wrote a bit. I took a shower. (This is a major achievement.) I made brownies from scratch. Good God! Why would I ever return to social networking again? I’ve had so much time on my hands!  If this continues, I may learn French or how to scuba dive, or I don’t know, solve global warming!

Okay. Probably not. I have three more episodes of Spartacus to go.

The point is, it’s been awfully nice backing off on the whole “Must Promote Writing” thing. I think I just went overboard. Now, I’m trying to be kinder and gentler about it. Hopefully people are reading my work and interested. If not, meh.

I think maybe I’m starting to relax a little (and without Valium!). I think my new life has finally settled and I can stop being so manic, or at least put my energy into more writing, cooking, time with the kiddos and Kealoha.

I’ll need the time too, especially since Kealoha is officially moving in! Wohoo! Yes. It’s true. Like they did in Happy Days, Kealoha gave me his cardigan sweater, sang me a song, and asked to pin me.

Actually, he just pinned me.

Uh….

The point is, he’s moving in. We’re taking this to the next level, which means, combined households, two toothbrushes (or four if you count the kids’) and endless nights of whatever series I’m (we’re) currently obsessed with. (Right now it’s Spartacus, but Battlestar Gallactica is next followed by Firefly.)

I could get used to this more relaxed life, one filled with less social-networking and more real-life living.

Vacation is good. It’s really, really good.

So is Spartacus. Seriously. Mmmmm. Naked glistening torsos and serious action sequences. Spartacus! Spartacus! Spartacus!

I should probably stop now. Really. I’m starting to hyperventilate.

Free Rubs From My Mom To You

So yesterday I was all  'meh'. Today, all is well. Of course, I cleaned the house from top to bottom, finally did the To Do List that's been freaking me out, and ate a gigantic sandwich followed by a cupcake thus rushing my body with food-endorphins. Ahhhh.

While cleaning, I found this rat. My mom picks up stuff like this randomly. I act cool like I'm still 16 and too awesome to care, but honestly, every time she presses this rat's belly I laugh. And miraculously, I feel like someone likes me. So, from my mom to you, free rubs. As in free compliments, not actual rubs, although she is single and looking to date a good man. Just FYI.

Why Am I So Meh?

I’m in a writing funk. And not ‘funk’ like bad 1970s disco music and an afro (which would look really bad on me).

I mean a good old-fashioned “I don’t want to write” funk. In fact, there’s not a whole lot I want to do. I don’t want to exercise. I don’t want to eat healthy. I don’t want to think hard. I don’t want to debate. I don’t want to stress. Basically, all I pretty much want to do is wear yoga pants all day, watch my On Demand shows, and eat Cheetos and pizza while drinking wine. I’m not even joking. That sounds soooo good to me.

I think I really should’ve had a bit more of a vacation. But I worked all vacation, and I was sick and wah wah wah. I don’t really have any reason to complain either. It was great to work. I’m so excited to get a check for it next month. In terms of acting out an audiobook, I think I did a pretty good job, so it was satisfying. (I did this cool gravelly voice with a thick Spanish accent. He was called "The Deathless") And I’ve been getting great press on my writing. And now I’m back to teaching, which I love. And Kealoha and I are great. Kids are too. Then why am I so….meh?

I blame…

The moon. Hormones. The weather. Grey skies. The media (for making me feel guilty for laying around eating Cheetos and pizza and drinking wine). I blame Geraldo.

He hasn’t been blamed for anything recently, so why not. Unless…geez…he’s not dead is he? Geraldo is still around, isn’t he? I take that back. I don’t blame Geraldo. I blame Justin Bieber. There. That felt good. That felt real good. It’s all his fault.

I’ve got a To Do list with about a hundred things on it: write, edit, teach, parent, prep, plan, read, clean, exercise, work on a CV, promote, fix….Arrrrhhh!

I’m not doing any of it. Not a thing. Except, I am writing. I am blogging. It’s probably good for me, even though I’m not saying anything worthwhile here. I’m sure you understand. Tell me it’s not just me and that the feeling of “Meh” is an epidemic. That’d actually be a really comforting thought.

Where’s my wine? That’s one thing on my To Do list I can manage tonight.

In closing, I leave you with this. Why? Because, well, at least I’m not blind and I don’t look like the bust she creates of Lionel Richie.  That’s something, isn’t it?

My vacation: it involves a lot of coughing

It’s always funny to me the way you imagine something going and then how reality happens. For instance, I’d imagined a holiday vacation from teaching in which I’d hang out with the kids, we’d do art projects, and then when they were with their dad, I’d read and write and, you know, frolic.

A Message from Me and Richard Simmons

I've been meaning to blog all week. I mean, there's so much to cover...from the crazy Thanksgiving with my family and friends and the idea that it's not really Thanksgiving until my sister says "boner"...to shopping on Black Sunday with my ex-mother-in-law who is now a good friend...to the admission that I bought sweat pants because I have finally crossed the line and have plumped up like a hot dog. (Thank you overeating, wine, and PMS.)

But I'm resisting the urge to blog. Why? Because I'm also doing National Novel Writing Month. Or NaNoWriMo. The goal was to write 1667 words a day and at the end of the month you have an entire novel. I'm on Day 27 and I'm at 45,163 words. I am THIS close to finishing! The book is called "Foodies Rush In" and it pretty much sucks. But it's a first draft and I didn't have any of it written at the beginning of this month.

For the next two days, I'm locked up in my house with nothing to eat but Chex Mix and Thanksgiving leftovers. I'm writing. I'm doing it. I am going to finish this novel and possibly have to buy a bigger pair of sweatpants. It's okay though, because I know that somewhere out there someone loves me. That's right. And his name is Richard Simmons.

Guess what? He loves you too. Here's the video to prove it.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I'll be back in December, which is just a few days away.

Grab the tissue. I'm all nostalgic because of holidays.

We are inching ever closer to my favorite holiday of the year. Yes. Thanksgiving. Of course, that’s my favorite holiday. It’s the only holiday that’s entirely focused on FOOD. And, yeah, giving thanks. I mean, I love Christmas and all that, and Fourth of July, and Easter can have a pretty good brunch and all…but Thanksgiving? Come on. It’s brilliant.

Holidays always make me a little nostalgic too. I start to look back on my life and then I look forward and then sideways and then I get dizzy and then I get all emotional and start crying at holiday commercials and I’m all “Oh, he gave her a puppy!” It’s kind of pathetic. This year is no different. I already feel the tear ducts kicking in.

This year, though, all I have to do is look back one year ago and it’s enough to make my throat get all choked up and those tears don’t even threaten anymore, they just start flowing. Not with sadness, though. Ohhhh, no. It’s joy. Simple, uncomplicated joy.

A year ago, I was still newly separated from my husband and questioning how on earth I thought I could be a single mom. What had possessed me to break up our marriage and our family? I was at a little apartment (that cost a lot) in East Grand Rapids. I was a few months in to my contract with teaching at Kendall, and I was facing the first holiday without having my kids with me all the time. And, let’s be honest here, I was really lonely.

Last Thanksgiving my friends Brendan and George invited my mom and me and the kids over to their place. It was so nice to be included in a family. One of the things that was so hard when I separated was that fracturing of the family. My ex (a year ago) had met and was committed to the woman who is now his wife, so their holiday season was a first for him in building a new kind of family. And I couldn’t compete with that. I was barely hanging on with working full time, writing, trying to get published, and trying to keep my emotions together.

We survived Thanksgiving. It wasn’t as painful as I thought and it helped sharing it with friends. And then the rest of the holiday happened. Last December, I broke my foot, on the day we got our Christmas tree and I was so proud for hauling it in myself. Sometimes I still cry over the moment when I was on the ground and my two kids were trying to help me get up, and I had the realization that I physically couldn’t move, and I couldn’t take care of them, and I tried not to cry in front of them. That Christmas I asked my ex to take the kids, because I knew with the cast and all, that I couldn’t drive them around to look at lights. I couldn’t get presents under the tree. I couldn’t carry them to their rooms if they fell asleep. My mom was there to help me, but it was a holiday season that I spent feeling entirely alone, literally broken, and barely able to keep my head above water financially.

What a difference a year makes.

This year, I am in my new house, my dream house, with a beautiful backyard and the kids have their own rooms and we have two spirited/demonic cats. My sister and brother in law and her kids are joining us for Thanksgiving. My mom will be here, as will Kealoha, who every day I love a little bit more. He makes me feel…cherished. Cheesy, maybe, but it’s true. And it’s funny to me that I’ve known him for so long, but only now have I really been able to see him. And…I’ve got my books out there and I’m finally getting some acknowledgement for all the hard work through some interviews coming up in local papers. To top it off, Kendall is looking at possibly renewing my contract for another year.

Last year I didn’t feel like I could offer my kids anything. I questioned all my choices…and worse than feeling like a bad mom, I felt like a bad person. That’s all changed. I have a confidence I never suspected was even possible. And somehow, through sheer determination and maybe because I had no other choice, I have built a future for me and my kids. It’s more than a future, really. It’s a family. My house, both literal and metaphorical, is filled with friends and family and laughter and good food…and…yes…hope.

See? See what holidays do to me? They make me go crazy emotional. What can I say? I have a lot to be grateful for. I don’t know. This year, well, it’s enough to make a slightly dramatic, overemotional, 37-year-old writer/woman/mom believe that there really is a little bit of magic left in the world.

And if there’s magic left in the world, maybe, just maybe Bigfoot exists too, and that makes me really happy.

My first mammogram! Yay! OR My boobs meet the Scone Maker

I had two very weird medical experiences this week and they both make me feel old…and oddly itchy.

Warning, the following might contain a little TMI which is really T&A. At least the T part.

I had my first mammogram and all I can say is OW! It’s routine. My doctor recommends having a ‘baseline’ between 35 and 40 and since I don’t know if I’ll have a full-time job next year or insurance, we figured 37 was a good year to start. Walking into the Lacks Cancer Center for a general mammogram must be frightening for normal women. For a woman who’s also a writer, it’s a downright House of Horror…of the things that Might Be. I sat in the waiting room and looked around and thought “Shit. One of us here probably has breast cancer. Which one of us is it? Is it me?” And then I won’t tell you all the horrible things I thought of. It’s enough to say I thought about my kids and how much I love them and I was about in tears when they called me in.

The nurse led me into a weird corridor surrounded by tiny changing rooms. “Undress everything from the waist up and put on this little shirt.” She was awfully friendly about it. So I got nekked and put the scratchy little shirt on and then went to the Top Secret Waiting Room where three women were already waiting. We were all braless and in these awful shirts and I have seen my boobs’ future. Boobs, meet my knees. Hello, knees.

There was a nurse (wearing a brown habit, and they called her Sister), a 90-something women in a walker, and a woman who looked like she probably had college kids. There was awkward conversation that I tried to not listen to. I was too busy thinking about the weight of my boobs and when would they really give up and accept gravity?

Then I got called into the little room. Another nurse was there and she positioned my body up to The Vise. I mean, the mammogram machine. She told me to undo my shirt. I looked around looking for candlelight or at least to hear a little Lionel Richie love music, but no. Nothing. Then the nurse gently lifted my right boob, placed it on a cold table and then told me not to breathe as the Mammogram Vise smooshed my beauty into more of a scone than a pancake.

Ouch. It was disturbing. The whole thing. A) That the nurse just cradled my boob B) That she could actually lift the boob and place it on a table and C) That I could actually think about scones and get hungry as my boob was being pressed into a triangle.

I tried not to look at the image as it appeared on the wall. I don’t know what a healthy mammogram looks like…and I have now spent approximately three hours of my life researching images on google and trying to remember what the Xray image of my breasts looked like compared to what the should look like. It’s worse than trying to remember the names of the people you went to high school with.

The whole squeezing boob thing happened twice on each breast. It was painful. For real. But now I feel like I have crossed the threshold into Middle Age. There’s no denying it. I’m part of the Women’s Club now. I have gone braless with three other women of varying shapes, sizes, and ages. I’ve been fondled by a nurse. And if that doesn’t get me into the Sisterhood, I don’t know what will. And honestly, I hope to not do it again for another five years.

Growing up is okay…but getting old…that bites.

The other experience was in the allergist’s office with my son. At least there my boobs were safely under wraps. Except for that one moment but, sheesh, what can you do?

That story comes later.

(And in case you’re curious, no I didn’t flash anyone. I was just making a joke.)

Not a NonBlog. A Real Blog. I'm baaaaack.

When I said I wasn’t going to blog for a whole week…I meant a business week. And I meant a business week with a bank holiday in it.

Aw, fuck it. I’m blogging. Yes. There are words here that will never go in to my novel, but let’s face it, I’m writing a gothic historical suspense messed up novel. My current words don’t belong anywhere near that. And when I don’t blog, I then have to schedule a therapy appointment and as much as I love my therapist (Dr. Dave) he costs me money.

Not that I really need to talk to him about any of this.

Random things I wanted to blog about but have not:

My mom was so excited to get “Blunder Woman” in her hands that she started crying. Seriously. She’s so cute. And she’s very proud of me. There are a lot of writers out there whose parents have never really understood their passion for writing. My mom on the other hand? Well, you know those crazy parents that support their superstar football players by wearing body paints and squishy hats and screaming “THAT’S MY BOY! KILL THEM, TIGER!!” That would be my mom. If I let her paint herself and wear a shirt that said “My Daughter Is A Writer” she’d totally do it.

My Mom. Internally.

She told me that she sold one of my books. (I’d given her two.) She said, “I told a few people at the retirement village that your book came out.”

“Oh?”

She paused for a really long time. I could see her collecting her thoughts like apple picking in her mind. “Actually,” she said and I could hear the excitement in that one word. “I’m telling everybody! I showed the woman at the gas station and I talk to people in the grocery store and I was talking to this 80-yr-old woman at the apartment and she wanted to buy your book so I sold it to her! And I told her that it was X-rated and she said that she was really looking forward to that.”

I just shook my head. And then laughed. The book isn’t x-rated. Not exactly. I mean there’s not a lot of bonking going around. There is a lot of thinking about it. And I guess there are a lot of clitorises. Or would it be clitori? Mostly, there’s some language. Fantasies. Little people. You know, every day romantic comedy stuff.

I could go on here but I have to go teach a class and now I’m terrified I might actually say the word “clitoris” to my students.

(Pause)

See why I need to blog? I can’t carry this stuff around with me. Seriously. This stuff’s got to come OUT. And there’s more, but I’ll wait until tomorrow.

Cheers,

Tanya

Nonblog #1

I really want to blog right now. Seriously. I want to blog right now so bad, I'm sweating. It's like withdrawl symptoms. This week at the doctor's, he said I should cut back on coffee because it might be contributing to my anxiety. Internally I said: "Are you serious? Anxious? WHO? ME? I'm NOT FUCKING ANXIOUS!!!"

I'm a little anxious.

Here's what I'm not blogging about: love, communication issues with my ex and his wife, the idea that even if you're moving forward your past goes right along with you, why you shouldn't overcook pork loin, what I should work on for NaNoWriMo, how I have utter political fatigue, Kealoha says he loves me, and where to put my anxiety if I can't blog or drink coffee or run.

Buh.