Friday, July 31, 2015

cheers, beers, and 40 years

Yesterday was my husband's 40th birthday. We took the afternoon off and went to the horse races and won enough money to buy one-and-a-half overpriced cocktails. I tried to drum up some pithy post, but per usual as of late, I came up empty handed.

Dr. Crabby, my alter ego.
My only profound revelations were:

1) We'll never be too old to pre-party in the parking lot.
2) We'll never be so rich that $16 dollar drinks don't seem like a total rip off.
3) I already knew I married a giant man-child, and had long given up the ghost of him "growing up," (which, though it often drives me insane, is part of why I love him - he prevents me from evolving entirely into the 98 year old woman I am at heart). But I think I am ready to stop waiting for the day when I am knighted as a real-life grown-up, when I officially "arrive" at adulthood. I'm starting to think this is an elusive and mythical destination. I, personally, have never had less of a clue what in the Sam Hill I was doing in my life. But you know what? That's okay. I'm learning to roll with it.

"You're in pretty good shape for the shape that you're in."
Oh. This might be one of those "had to be there" things, but, after the races we went out to dinner. We were sitting across the table from our two cousins, and there was a mirror in the wall behind them. Being vain, I was sort of covertly checking myself out in the mirror and I was thinking, dang! My arms look good! Must be that 7 minute workout I did that one time! And when did I get so tan?!

Then I realized it was a window not a mirror.

"My hair looks awesome today! Oh, wait..."
My tanner fitter doppelganger definitely thought I was a big weirdo.  
Also, remember these?
Hopefully this candy is not actually from 1975.

Remember when they used to make candy in the shape of cigarettes? Can you imagine what internet moms would do if these were sold in candy shops today? The 21st century has zero chill ;)

DM's gifts from my sister and bro-in-law. Personally I would have gone with Werther's Originals instead of Almond Roca but still, solid showing, Sis. "Apparently God put in-laws on this Earth to make you feel special on your birthday." -DM
That picture actually reminds me. I don't know why I have this recurring theme of Depends in my life. But anyway. Before I had my first child, a dear cousin-in-law told me to get Depends and wear them to the hospital, and post-delivery as well. She just said it was a lot more comfortable and less messy and saved you from ruining your underwear. So, I followed her direction. And I showed up to the hospital and they got me into a gown and the nurse said, "Okay, let's get you out of your underwear so we can check you." I replied, "I'm wearing Depends." And she responded something along the lines of, "What in the actual fuck?" Apparently this was not standard practice.

The End :)

"I am convinced that most people do not grow up...We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies, and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are innocent and shy as magnolias." - Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter

"I am still every age that I have been. Because I was once a child, I am always a child. Because I was once a searching adolescent, given to moods and ecstasies, these are still part of me, and always will be... This does not mean that I ought to be trapped or enclosed in any of these ages...the delayed adolescent, the childish adult, but that they are in me to be drawn on; to forget is a form of suicide... Far too many people misunderstand what *putting away childish things* means, and think that forgetting what it is like to think and feel and touch and smell and taste and see and hear like a three-year-old or a thirteen-year-old or a twenty-three-year-old means being grownup. When I'm with these people I, like the kids, feel that if this is what it means to be a grown-up, then I don't ever want to be one. Instead of which, if I can retain a child's awareness and joy, and *be* fifty-one, then I will really learn what it means to be grownup." - Madeline L'Engle

"People never grow up. They just learn how to act in public." (Usually). - Bryan White

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

update: i'm still a judgy B

I was late to pick up the kids yesterday. This hasn't happened in almost a year but it still makes me feel like nearly 5 years of motherhood is reduced to the 7 minutes late that I am. The kids seemed mostly unfazed though. I said, "I'm SO SORRY guys." And Colby replied, "Sowwy for what, Mama?" So it's not like they were locking this terrible memory away to be shared with therapists twenty years down the road. Or at least, Colby wasn't.

Jack: Mommy, I wish you and daddy didn't have to work on the other side of da fweeway. Den you wouldn't get stuck in twaffic jams. Wouldn't dat be so nice for you?
Me: Yes buddy. That would be amazing. Daddy and I would like nothing more than to live and work right here so we didn't have to get stuck in traffic jams. 
J: It would also be gweat if you guys could just have work but no meetings. Den you could finish your work faster and den me and Cowby could be da fuhst ones to get picked up instead of being da last ones all da time. :(((

And just to seal those gems into my Mother of the Year crown:

Text to DM: 6:07. It's gonna cost us some scarred psyches and $30 bucks. And now I am going to buy them In-N-Out and send them to bed bathed in french fry grease.
DM: Sounds like what I would do.
Me: Well, parental continuity is very important for children.

Anyway, this post is not really about that. It's about how I think I'm a nice person and a reformed judger but I'm not, I'll always be "in recovery."

So, as I pulled up to the school at 6:07pm, another car screeched into the spot next to me. She started running to the door but I was closer so I got there first. As I repeatedly tried to open the door with my fob, she angrily complained, "Oh my GOD, c'mon!" I told her she was welcome to try her hand at it, so she shoved herself in front of me and started jabbing her keys at the fob-reader thing, unsuccessfully. Apparently, it doesn't work after 6pm. One of the preschool teachers walks over and lets us in and this woman just brushes past everyone and grabs her daughter, saying (to whom?) "I have two other kids to pick up! We have to go!"

Apparently this was her first rodeo because she didn't realize that if you arrive even one second after 5:59:59, you start paying by the minute, and you have to sign the "consent to charge me for sucking at motherhood" form, in triplicate, before they will let you leave. (But, you get to keep the yellow copy to put in your Shitty Mom scrapbook!) This lady was huffing and puffing and getting seven sorts of pissy and I was having extremely unsympathetic thoughts toward her during this interlude. She was wearing riding pants and boots that had obviously just been used for their intended purpose, and I thought to myself, "Woman, you need to chill. Why are your jodhpurs in a bunch, anyway?! Because your riding lesson on your faithful steed at your fancy stable in Del Mar ran long? Puh-lease."

Then, this woman's face crumbled...  it just folded into itself, on no volition of its owner. And she began to cry. She scribbled her name on the charge slip, choked out "I just hate this!" and ran out the wrong door, dragging her daughter behind her, setting off the fire alarm in the process.

And I felt like a giant dick.

Why is my lateness any more righteous than hers? Who cares if she was getting a luxurious spa treatment and I was stuck in rush hour traffic after working all day? The truth of the matter is, I chose to be late. Or at least, I allowed that to be a possibility. Don't get me wrong, sometimes shit happens that is beyond our control and we're late and that sucks. But usually it's because we know good and damn well we're probably not going to make it in time, and we decide that whatever we're doing right now is worth the risk of tardiness. Yesterday, I looked at Google Maps. I saw that traffic was atrocious (because of the goddamn horses at Del Mar, incidentally). But two of my bosses came in to talk to me at 4:51 and 4:59, respectively, and I made the conscientious decision that the chance of disappointing my kids by being a few minutes late was a lesser evil than disappointing two senior partners in one fell swoop. Because I feel like as soon as I open my mouth to explain, 'Yes, I have been staying later but today I can't because my husband had a hearing in LA and my kids have to be picked up by 6 and traffic sucks balls because of the races and this CRAZY ASS weather and by the way WHY are So-Cal people fundamentally incapable of driving in the rain?! Even like, mist totally fucks them up..." I'm dead in the water. Just stamp "MOM" across my forehead, stuff some sticky used tissues and Hot Wheels in my purse and call it a day. And ultimately, it doesn't matter who/what/when/where/why. I let my kids down. So did she. We both lose.

But, the good news is, they'll probably survive. And, again, life is life and we have to make tough decisions and do our best to navigate these shark infested waters...

Wait. Dude. Sharks. Holy fuck.

Also this:

Sharkaphobia solution for our upcoming vacation to the Outer Banks.
Okay. Sorry. Got sidetracked for a minute there.

ANYWAY. My point is, I am a recovering a$$hole. And you and me and she and we are not so very different from one another. Do you ever blow it, as a parent, partner, employee, whatever? And you just feel so ridiculous and ashamed, and then that makes you feel defensive and angry, and all of these feelings are just fighting in your face and then it implodes and these dumb embarrassing tears and weird choking seal sounds come out of your head and everything is terrible? Ten times more so because everyone is LOOKING AT YOU like, "Uhhh, is everything alright?" And/or, "Do you need immediate medical attention?" Well, I at least know one other person with whom I share this unfortunate tendency. And I can tell you from experience she is judging herself harshly enough, she does not need that shit from me or anyone else.

Practice makes perfect :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

blogging is weird

Ladies and that one guy:

I want to apologize for being sort of lackadaisical this last while. I even missed my two-year "blogiversary" (May 31)! I can't believe I've been rambling that long and nobody's pulled me off the stage with a hook yet! I don't have a great excuse for being kind of MIA. Just life. Things got busy with the book and then I got surgery and people were dying and all the while I was busting my ass at work, staying late and taking on extra projects in attempts to get a promotion. But, that's apparently not happening, like, ever, so now I can return to regularly scheduled programming. I'm just kidding. I still don't really feel like blogging all that much :) I don't know what it is. I have lots of things in my mind. It just seems like a lot of work to get them out on "paper" at the moment. And one thing I know is that it's not worth posting just because I feel like I "should." Those posts sound just like what they are: forced.

You know something else about blogging? I never know what's going to hit, and what isn't. For example, I'll post something that I think is just hysterical, and people are like, Meh. But then I'll write a post and sit on it for months because I think it's totally so-so (e.g., The Text That Almost Ended in Divorce), and I'll finally post it because it's been 2 weeks and I feel anxious about neglecting all 7 of my adoring fans, and then it totally goes off like gangbusters (and by gangbusters I mean 77 people read it instead of 7 ;))

Blogging is a very strange phenomenon. When I Still Just Want to Pee Alone came out, I finally came clean to my pops about the blog (he didn't have any idea about it before), and I was trying to explain what, exactly, a blog is and I was at a total loss. Me: "It's kind of like a personal website, sort of?" Dad: "And a lot of people do this?" Me: "Millions." Dad: "What do you write about?" Me: "Just random stuff. Life. Whatever." Dad: "And people actually read it?" Me: "Sometimes." And I'm in a continual state of awe that people do. Even my husband! He reads every word (well, most of the words), even though he never reads anything but legal stuff, and he says I'm only "funny for a girl." Which is why I feel bad when I slack, because I feel like people are counting on me, even if it's only a handful. I have so much love for you all. I don't want to let you down. But I also don't want to feed you bullshit fluff. And let's be honest, you'll probably survive without me ;)

And another thing - just FYI - if you're going to write an anonymous blog, you should ACTUALLY BE ANONYMOUS, or, alternatively, give zero fucks about whether or not people get ruffled tail feathers and/or chronic butt-hurt-itis (that's the medical term), because when people know who you are and you wish to stay married/friends/employed/a member of the family/out of jail, the list of topics from which you may comfortably choose is quite short. What I'm saying is, I can't share the good shit! Maybe I'll write it all down in some secret diary for my husband to publish posthumously. I apologize in advance for any butt-hurt-itis caused by the bestselling memoir published after my death.

Here are some other observations about blogging that I've made in the past 2 years:

1. Readers feel a certain ... ownership over you. Some feel entitled to regular, hilarious/poingnant/on-point content. And I can understand that. It's like how I feel when a favorite show ends or a favorite author hasn't written a new book in ages... personally let down. But it's this same reason that I sometimes get a little squeamish about pouring my heart and mind out on the internet. Once I put my thoughts out there, they're not really mine anymore. They become public property. And from time to time I have an almost physical sensation that I am giving away tiny little slivers of my soul. AND NOT EVEN GETTING PAID FOR IT. That's the real kicker. I would happily SELL my soul to the highest bidder. But this giving it away like spare change to the hungry homeless panhandler that is the internet, well, that's a different story ;) < Winky face to denote sarcasm. (Which reminds me of this great post by Renegade Mothering: People who can't read sarcasm are the antichrist.)

2. This ownership comes with expectations. This doesn't really happen to me very often or to a serious degree, because not that many people actually read what I write and the ones that do either agree with me, or are super gracious and don't disagree with me publicly, or disagree with me but don't care enough to say so. But now that I have some "famous" blogger friends I see it happen all the time - people are like, "Oh my God, how COULD you?!" Or "I thought you were better than this!" Or "I came here to see THIS sort of content, not THAT sort of content! Fall in!" And so on and so forth. I guess it happens when you have any sort of celebrity, no matter how large or small. And people seem to think it's justified - like, "You put yourself out there, so you should expect to get called names on the internet." Pretty sure Grandma and her Golden Rule would find some fault in that logic but whatever.

This reminds me of something I shared on Facebook recently - a post from Erin Brown by way of Pink Sky Serendipity in which she admits to hiding annoying Facebook posts (and friends) "liberally and happily." Nobody is pinning your eyeballs open and making you read this shit. As I said, I know we're not supposed to live in echo chambers, and I don't mean to discourage discursive exploration of important subjects, but sometimes you just have to shut the front door on that crazy ass jiggery pokery applesauce, for the love of god, my blood pressure, and everything that is holy. As Brown writes, "Do you. Whatever that looks like. Hold space for others to do the same. And if it bothers you, hide away. Sometimes good fences make good neighbors."

3. People believe that their opinions should have some bearing on your life. Listen, I (usually) like hearing what other people have to say, just for shits and giggles if nothing else. But I am not actually going to use a Facebook poll to determine whether or not to redshirt my son for kindergarten, or any other deeply personal decisions. Hey, thanks for playing, though!

4. People that don't know you think they do. I guess it doesn't take a world renowned psychiatrist to figure out why one creates a false sense of intimacy by over-sharing with complete strangers on the internet. But still. Dude. You don't even know my name. Well. Except the entire town of Calabasas and anyone who asks me three times.

5. People that do know you confuse The Real You with your online identity. Now, I'm pretty straightforward and honest in what I write, but I certainly hyperbolize for comic effect. And lately I've noticed that even people who do actually know me project the traits of Mackenzie Cheeseman onto The Real Me. So, let me just dispel some myths for you (ones that I may have helped to create):

* I do actually like a majority of vegetables. I mean, I'd rather eat bread, cheese, or fried tequila, but I don't trust anyone who wouldn't rather eat those things. I eat roasted root vegetables for lunch on a regular basis, and I only cry about it a tiny bit. And the tears are mainly just for the added salt. This whole joke came about because I DESPISE the two main vegetables that all vegetarians are supposed to love: Eggplant (“Hey, can I get a tiny purple pumpkin in the shape of human kidney that tastes like dirt?” ) and Portobello mushrooms (it's like a slimy fossilized chicken cutlet). Go to any wedding, or restaurant between California and New York, ask for the vegetarian entree, and what do you get? A kebab of viscous vegetables that taste like soil. Gag. Oh. And spaghetti squash. Hell no.

By the way. Today I ate a salad (of my own free will) and I didn't even finish the miniscule cuplet of dressing that was served on the side. But that last part's not a good example because The Real Me would never do that and I think I might be suffering from some mysterious blunt force trauma to my prefrontal cortex.

* I am not the worst cook in the world. I mean, I still abhor it with the strength of a thousand suns, make that a million suns since I had to start feeding tiny angry little food critics every night. And I am not a natural in the kitchen by any stretch of the imagination. But I am capable of preparing at least 5 different meals that will not cause severe gastric distress or get me banned from future potlucks.

* I do not sit rocking in the corner in social situations. Yes, I suffer from crippling anxiety leading up to any and all social events, but they are always way less stressful than I envision. Yes, I would rather pluck my eyelashes out one by one than engage in small talk with strangers at the park, but nobody but my closest loved ones (not even including my dad), and, well, all 7 of you, are aware of this. I have actual friends who don't just hang with me out of pity or as part of some sociological experiment (I think). And despite my little sister's assertion that I likely have Asperger's, people don't walk away from social interactions with me thinking, "Somebody get Temple Grandin her hug box." (No offense to Temple Grandin or anyone else on the spectrum, including my beloved nephew.) I may well have Asperger's. But I am extremely adept at pretending to be "normal."

* I claim to not like people, but I am actually quite nice. Like, too nice. Like, even when I don't want to be nice, accidental niceness bursts forth from my face like Athena, forceful and fully grown, from Zeus's forehead. "Omigod, I am so glad you finally got out of prison! That's such a bummer about the meth! Of course you can stay with us while you attempt in vain to pull your shit together! We've actually been looking for a new babysitter!" I'm exaggerating. This did not happen. But it totally could/would. However, I must admit, I probably reserve the least amount of patience and kindness for the ones I love the best. Sadly, isn't that always the way?

* I do not completely suck at life. Not to toot my own horn, but I'm probably more on top of it than most. This is not humble bragging. It's basically just plain bragging. But it is in the spirit of full disclosure and being real. I am an excellent friend. I am an above-average wife and mother. I am damn good at my job, such as it is. I get shit done. Sometimes. Granted, as I have lamented here before, motherhood has been an extended exercise in lowering my standards. But even still, I am at least 63% perfect Pinterest bitch. I plan over-the-top birthday parties, gift bags, soccer snacks, and teacher gifts. I just made jam and fruit-infused vodka from plums from our garden, for chrissakes.

I am THAT MOM. If you DID know The Real Me, you would probably hate me. (Or at least, you would want to, if I weren't so. damn. nice. ;))

The other day a friend wrote to me, "How do you do all this shit? And be a mom? And work? Tell me your secret, or I'm going to assume it's methamphetamines." The thing is, I'm really good at some things at the expense of others. I will spend hours, days even, painstakingly creating a scrapbook for a friend celebrating the impending arrival of a baby, or the loss of a loved one, but I have not gotten my teeth cleaned in 18 months. I write actual letters, religiously send thank you's, and make birthday cards by hand, but I have 20 unheard voicemails. I have completely designed and decorated my imaginary Mediterranean villa on Houzz, but I will leave towering piles of non-imaginary folded laundry in my garage for a month. I read for hours before bed, but I can't possibly find the time to pack lunches or meal plan ahead of time. I will cook an elaborate meal for someone in need, and feed my own kids chicken nuggets vaguely shaped like dinosaurs. I don't remember the last time I went to the market for anything other than a harried emergency run. Themed cupcakes and Oreo pops for every gathering? Hand-painted holiday mani/pedis? Absolutely! Regular excercise? Are you crazy?! Ain't nobody got time for that! I also SUPER SUCK at sleep, which is actually somewhat useful in the getting shit done department.

Anyway. At the end of the day, my priorities are FUBAR. And that's all there is to say about that.

One thing that is NOT a myth - I can't write something short and sweet to save my life.

not actually me, or my life, unfortunately.
Like this post? Then you'll love my essay in I Still Just Want to Pee Alone. Buy it HERE!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

the text that almost ended in divorce

Alternate title: I am 62% insane.

I sent this to DM and asked him if it was kinda funny, or just made me look legit-crazy. He read it and replied, "Eh, it definitely makes you sound kinda nuts. But... you are... so..." His bottom line was that it wasn't funny enough to justify letting this much of my crazy show, but I don't often listen to what he says (don't worry, the selective hearing disorder is a two-way street).

So, DM was working from home the other day and he and I texted back and forth for a little bit about nothing in particular. Probably about houses we can't afford. We hadn't texted in an hour or so and then I get this text:

DM: It's just going to have to be in and out tonight, sorry baby.

Me: What?

No response.

Me: You know that sounds bad, right?

(Editor's note: I swear I'm happily married and don't normally jump automatically to the conclusion that my spouse is cheating on me. I actually used to be a very anxious and jealous person, but either a decade-plus of his undying love, and/or four years and 237 days of little humans sucking every last ounce of energy from my soul has left me without the ability to muster even one iota of suspicion. But for some reason, this day, this text, just hit me - it gave me that instant pit in my stomach.)

Still no answer.

So I call. No answer.

Text again: Dude.

No answer.

At this point, I basically feel as though my suspicions are 100% confirmed and he's not answering the phone or texts because he's trying to devise a cover story, and/or pack a bag to avoid the wrath that shall rain down upon him when I get home.

Me: Please tell me there is a reasonable explanation for that text.


Meanwhile, this is the insane freight train of thoughts going through my tiny skull:

I can't believe I'm going to be a divorcee.
With two small children.
I can't believe he's talking to me about buying our dream home all the while cheating on me with some floozy!
I can't believe he calls her "Baby" too! (insert Sam Smith song here).
Then again, every-other-weekend off wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
But how are we going to afford our lives without pooled resources?!
This might finally be my chance to find a sugar daddy and become a kept woman.
Of course this had to happen on the day when I guest-posted about the sad state of one's sex life when you're married with children. Everyone is going to say "Well, duh! Of course he stepped out on you. Suck it up and give the man a BJ once in a while!" (Pun intended).
I wonder if this hussy likes laundry, cooking, or blow jobs? We might be able to work something out...
By the way, I'm keeping the ring, dick.

Then, it suddenly dawned on me. That morning, the kids had asked for In-N-Out Burger for dinner (not my fave, as I'm a vegetarian and currently off bread.) DM answered "We'll see," (which usually means no).

Me: OHMIGOD. Were you talking about dinner???

DM FINALLY answers: Phrasing :)

Me: DUDE. I was 3 seconds away from calling a divorce lawyer.

DM: I am still unsure exactly what it was you thought my text meant?

Me: Um, that you were having secret sexytimes with some trollop!

DM: Like, in the 20 minutes before I had to pick up our children?

Me: It only takes 4.

DM: Ouch.

Twenty minutes later I get this text:

DM: Hey secret imaginary girlfriend: I'm coming over for some hot sex before I fetch the kids at preschool. Don't tell my wife Mackenzie Cheeseman.

Sigh. He's a good sport. And I need mental help ;)

That reminds me of this:

I in no way, shape or form condone drunk driving. But this cracked me up and would so happen to me, with my luck in combination with AT&T and my godforsaken iPhone -2.

Anyway, I'm happy to report, we are still married (just celebrated our 7th anniversary, thank you very much).

AND, I know how to keep things HOT.

With this kind of spice, that man's not going anywhere ;)