Category Archives: Uncategorized

It’s a book, not a greeting card

For years I’ve received the same question. It comes at me from different sources – sometimes surprising ones. People that I’d expect to have my back will toss it at me in a manner which I consider slightly disparaging. I may (and do) disparage myself quite frequently. I’d rather you not. I find it unnerving and, some might say, petty.

For years I’ve answered the question using the same phrase. I should probably come up with something eloquent that would leave the interrogator in a state of awe, blindsided by my brilliance. As it is, I leave them with befuddled brows. They chew the inside of their cheeks, wondering just what I meant. “She’s a tad touchy” running through their minds.

Yes, yes I am. I am a high-strung and temperamental fusspot. The question being posed time and again only reinforces my sensitive nature and makes me withdraw from those who seek me out, with it blistered on their lips. Yes, yes, you’ve asked me that before…

I am an author. I begin again this process called editing. While I enjoy the opportunity to revisit my characters, my old friends they’ve become, I feel the weight of the work that’s yet to be done. I know I can do it. I have done it time and again. This has dragged on for years now. I am the first to admit it. I am also the first to mock myself. Those who are not writers won’t understand this solitary existence – the hours spent staring at the monitor, fingers tapping away on keyboards so worn the letters have come off, our bums, growing ever wider, are now hermetically sealed to our chairs.

I am an author. I begin again with all my writerly feelings shaken, not stirred. Frozen in this little spot for the next several months – editing nearly 400 pages. I’ll cultivate new neuroses along the way. Stay tuned. My Tweets will lessen – becoming more severe and self-critical in nature.  That is my prerogative. I excel at self-disparagement. I have few skills. That’s one. Do not disparage my self-disparagement. It’s the coal in my Little Engine That Could.

I am aware the question will be posed by many unfamiliar with the publishing industry. If you’re planning on being one of them, here, I’ve written out your question and my answer to save us both some time and irritation.

YOU: “You’re still working on the same book?”

ME: “It’s a book, not a greeting card.”

Be well, little Twitterverse.

 

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Stumbling, Fumbling Towards Perspective

I’ll let you in on a little secret; I don’t always like being right.

There are moments when I relish it, of course. Those tend to be when The Husband and I have had a discussion about something, and the following day I bring it up and he doesn’t remember ever having spoken to me about it. Whereas I can sit there and tell  him in no uncertain terms where we were standing, who was wearing what, what commercial was blaring in the background, and even what direction the goldfish were swimming, he will not recall the conversation. He’ll stare vacantly and shake his head. As I start to squawk and gesticulate wildly, all pretense of patience flying the coop, he’ll remain mild-mannered and somewhat curious about the floor show I’m putting on. When he eventually relents (out of a desire for peace, not a sudden flash of memory), I count it as a little victory. Go me.

But I digress. The times where I wish I hadn’t been right, those are onerous little buggers. I don’t relish those moments. I don’t toss them into my mental Rolodex of woohoos! They are the sad sighs, the hunched shoulders, the rapid texts to friends – in other words, signs of the forlorn. They are more painful – and vexatious to the extreme. I’m a pessimist, I know this will come as a stunning blow to those of you who have never read more than a few lines of my writing, or who have never met me in person… I have always been a pessimist, and, one day, I will die still having been a pessimist. The glass is half empty, and it’s fucking ugly, too.

Again, I digress. A few months back, as I do, I predicted a couple things would happen. I wasn’t looking forward to these events – they weren’t celebratory, like the “epic collapse” of the Red Sox this year. No, I just felt they were inevitable, and, in my Eeyore-esque fashion, predicted their dismal arrival. One of the issues was part of a cycle, a cycle I had continuously fed into. It’s one of my many flaws, feeding into cycles. In January of 2009, I put a stop to feeding into one. I have not relented. I’m quite proud of myself (quick, make a note that I said that). I won’t lie. It hasn’t been easy. Many times I have longed to continue the binge feeding of that particular cycle – but enough was enough.

This time, the same is true. I’ve reached a saturation point. This will not continue. I have sought and found perspective. I know, that sounds so lofty, doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t an easy find, mind you. Nothing with me ever is. It was rather a clumsy meandering.  I sort of tripped and landed painfully on top of perspective. But that bitch is mine now. At least this cycle stops here.

The other issue? That’ll take work. I’m great at work though. I like having that purpose, that thing to strive towards. A goal, as enticing as a box of Godiva truffles after a month-long diet. It’s a renewed sense of me and my capabilities.

In the end, being emotionally and mentally cruel to yourself is counterproductive for the whole growing and learning thing which constitutes our lives. Yes, yes, yes, I’ve heard. It’s also cruelty if you allow others to dump their problems on you. You’ve got to stop it. It’s not about who said what, or who did what. It’s about how much more you’re going to take before you’ve reached your saturation point. It’s about cutting the bullshit out of your life – and the bullshitters. Huddle and cuddle with those who’ll help you burrow into your soul. Those who’ll tolerate your silly little ways and love you just the way you are. Ditch the haters. Wish them luck and then back the fuck away from them. We’re all on a little march towards enlightenment. I’ve decided I’m only going to march with those who don’t give me flat tires along the way.

A-Rod’s Single, and My Linen Cupboard’s Still Too Small

Many years ago, too many to recall with any real clarity, my husband did something that annoyed me. I know this won’t come as a shock to anyone who follows me on Twitter, reads this blog regularly, or, say, has been married longer than two years. I can’t even recall what it was he’d done but my reaction to it has stuck with both of us all these years.

I was standing in the hallway of our then apartment and feeding clothes into the dryer. The washer/dryer was one of those stackable combos that are a necessity in small living spaces. This apartment was minute and, strangely, had no linen cupboard. None. I’m not sure what the builders thought. Perhaps I was to have brought my own? In any event, I was in the middle of a tirade, explaining yet again what my husband’s many faults are (lest he forget them for a micro-second), and I said, “I’m sick of it.” To punctuate just how “sick of it” I was, I tried to slam the dryer door shut. It bounced open, nearly braining me. This did nothing to lighten my mood. In fact, it turned into a struggle of “I’m sick of it! Sick of it! SICK OF IT!!!” as the damned thing kept flying back open and requiring another “SICK OF IT” verse. Eventually it stayed shut. Since that day, whenever my husband hears me say “I’m sick of it” he likes to repeat that moment…

In the hallway of our current home, there is a very small linen cupboard. Again, what were the builders thinking? There’s no proper storage anywhere in this place, unless you count the large, creepy attic. The linen cupboard is just two shelves, the top one brushes the ceiling, and I’m short.  I tend to just chuck things up there and hope they stay. In addition, there are four people in this family. Four people who need bath towels, beach towels, and sheets for their beds. To say this space is inadequate is a massive understatement. I struggle to get the damn cupboard doors shut every time I open it – and a lot of times when I open it, linens come tumbling down upon me. To close the doors, I repeatedly slam them, hoping they’ll stay closed. The Husband, who has hearing like a bat when it suits him, will shout from somewhere in our stupidly small home, “SICK OF IT, SICK OF IT, SICK OF IT!” This, the other day, irritated me enough that on the nineteenth SICK OF IT, I broke the inside hinge. The only times those doors have shut properly are when I’ve enlisted the help of my tall sons, or my visiting German mother, who folds laundry with military precision.

This defect of the home, coupled with my husband’s installation of my gorgeous, glossy red washer and dryer in the garage, does not endear the space to me. Yes, my washer and dryer are in the garage – a dark, oppressively hot garage with one meager bulb. The bulb’s sole purpose seems to be to lure in moths and other flying insects. It’s almost as if they lurk outside, waiting for the opportunity to  fly in and swarm around my head. This lack of a proper laundry room doesn’t go unmentioned. In fact, I like to bring it up whenever my husband passes by: “We should have bought that yellow house! It had a laundry room… or  the pink palace! It had a laundry room with A GODDAMN SCREENED WINDOW AND A LAUNDRY CHUTE!”

I need to remind you at this juncture to not feel sorry for my husband. He’s a man. In fact, he’s a man who saw fit to incorrectly install the glossy red washer and dryer in the garage under the lone bulb. Yes, incorrectly. You see, they’re side-by-side. This, for those of you who don’t do laundry, means you open the door of the washer and basically toss the wet items directly and easily into the dryer, which is so conveniently situated. Only, in my case, I load everything into a basket, close the washer door, pick up the basket, move over, put it down, open the dryer door and start throwing items in. My husband tends to avoid me during laundry times because of the laundry room previously mentioned, and because I shout, “THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO BE SIDE-BY-SIDE! THAT’S WHY THEY’RE CALLED SIDE-BY-SIDE! EVERYONE ELSE HAS THEM SIDE-BY-SIDE!!!” The space the appliances were installed in is small and the washer and dryer are big. So big that to place them the way they’re meant to go, you couldn’t open the door to enter our house. Therefore, they had to be placed further in the garage. This means the cords and hoses are stretched to their limit, and the dryer was placed opposite the washer, as it didn’t require water hoses. Yes, you can take the door off the dryer and switch which side it opens from but you can’t move the door on the washer. Ergo, the doors don’t match up and I DON’T HAVE A GODDAMN SIDE-BY-SIDE!

Is it wrong to ask that my next home have a large linen cupboard that doesn’t require a step-stool to reach it? Does that make me a bad person? And could it also have a laundry room that holds my washer and dryer SIDE-BY-SIDE and keeps me free of insect molestations? I don’t think I’m asking too much here, folks. Or how about a front gate that hasn’t rusted off its hinges and is hanging in a haunted house style fashion? Or a circuit breaker that doesn’t hate my hair dryer so much I need to dry my hair in spurts of 20 seconds because anything longer than that short-circuits the entire west-side of the house? I won’t get into the rest of the home’s defects. It’s old and we’re lucky to have it. That said, one day…

I hear A-Rod’s a single man again. I wonder how he’d feel about taking me and my linens away from here? I bet he’s got great linen cupboards… Swoon.

Down But Not Out

Things were put on hold. The Twizzy, my thoughts, my writing. I canceled plans I’d had with people. I dodged calls and a few texts.

I thought maybe I’ll paint. Painting used to be my special time to think. I used my landscapes as a way of transporting me years ago. Would it still work, I thought. I dabbled, I mixed, I spilled linseed oil all over the carpet, and dropped a brush with lilac oil paint down my white pants. Good thing that apron was so short… But did it work? Did I forget all the bullshit and the exhaustion? Did my jaw finally unclench? Did my desire to line up everyone who’s pissed me off in the last 6 years and crotch-punch them lessen?

Yes.

A little.

Fine, a very little, but I’ll take it.

Painting, much like writing, takes me away. I become so immersed, it’s like a mini-holiday. The trouble, with any holiday however, is coming back. The unpacking (this time mentally) of the baggage. Laying it all out in plain sight and deciding what needs to be done with each pile. I’ve decided I’d seriously like to fuck up some of the piles, just because I can. Most I’ll deal with in my own time. One has been helped along by friends. That’s the thing with baggage – you think you’re the only one who carries yours but you’ve brought friends along who, when they see it get too heavy for you, step in and offer a hand. Oh, sure, they’re not sporting kilts and carrying 2 bags at a time like the hot clerk in the hotel in Scotland was, but they’ve got ideas and advice and they’re pretty fucking cool.

My painting isn’t done – but it’s coming along. It sits in my college boy’s empty bedroom, admonishing me as I walk past. It’s kind of a bossy canvas but I love it.

As for The Twizzy, I’ll get back to it on Monday. I know Donna and Mill are eager to win more games.

And now I’m off to workout because: (1) today is my youngest boy’s 15th birthday and I will be eating cake (2) Game 1 of the ALDS is tonight and I’ll nervously be stuffing my face throughout. Go Yankees!

Have a great weekend everyone. Write, paint, read. 

Here, Take My Shoulder. I Have 2

You know that moment (or moments) in your life when you feel you just can’t take any more bad news or bad luck? You’ve hit the wall? You’ve had enough? You’ve reached your bullshit-threshold? You have actually thought of crotch-punching the next person who smiles at you?

Sound familiar? We’ve all been there – I’m pretty sure. People who haven’t must have an extraordinary amount of patience or good luck; perhaps a combination of both. I don’t even know the meaning of those words. I get road rage and have been known to honk furiously if the person in front of me is too busy fluffing her hair to notice the light’s turned green. MOVE YOUR ASS!

In any event, I’ve had many instances in my life when I just wished the world would swallow me up. When I longed to dig a hole and bury myself – which, actually, is impossible – I’d have to ask for help and I’ve no friends willing to bury me.  That’s what this post is about.

“If you could pick one flaw of mine that you think I should fix, what would it be?” I asked that in a handwritten survey I gave to my closest friends in high school. The only response that has stuck with me all these years came from my friend Annie, who replied with, “You’re too quick to temper.” I don’t remember any of the other ones. Not one. Hers I thought was hilarious. I’m pretty sure I disregarded the rest. I didn’t like to be told I had no self-esteem. Oh, yeah? The sky is blue, the grass is green, blah blah blah. But this? Fantastic. I have a temper? Not just a temper but a QUICK temper. What can I say? 1/2 German + 1/2 Italian = 1 Hothead

At that age I had already developed the habit of wanting to fix certain flaws in my make-up but was unable to figure out just what it was that needed fixing or how to go about doing so. I relied on my friends – and such wonderful friends they are. Over the years, I have witnessed death and dying. I came to a point where I dubbed myself The Grim Reaper. And, like all humans, I have experienced crushing heartache. Yet it was my collection of friends who have repeatedly picked me up, held me aloft, and propelled me forward – as I do for them.

Friendships that we cultivate in our lives are crucial to our emotional (and physical) well-being. I have discussed this before.  It’s healthier to reach out, socialize, lean on the shoulders of ones who love you than to bottle it up and cope on your own. Everyone knows this. Yet sometimes it’s easier to crawl into your shell, dig a hole and hide. I know. I’m the crawler/digger/hider type. My friends new and old? They’re the phoning, emailing, texting, show-up-on-your-doorstep-because-you-ignored-their-calls type, and I love them to bits. They are too marvelous for words.

My point is, if you’re going through something, reach out. Your friends are there and want to help. It is our empathy towards others that makes us astounding beings – this empathy we so conveniently use to put ourselves above the animal kingdom, while overlooking examples of compassion from within it. Every being with a normal sense of compassion wants to ease the suffering of those around it. Sometimes you can’t. All you can do is lend them an ear and some strength. Be there until they can get through the moment, break through the bubble of their misery and realize, outside it, there’s a whole world of possibilities. You never know when one gesture of yours would a difference.

People You May (No Longer) Know

My friend Jojo and I have an issue with LinkedIn. We’ll discuss this every so often and always with the same upshot: Why is this happening to us?

The People You May Know toolbar on the side of the LinkedIn homepage invites clicking. The first time I did it, I scrolled along the faces and names with casual interest, until my heart stopped. From then on, I clicked with a great sense of dread.

Like Facebook, the tool is meant to be helpful by matching up your email contacts with people who also use these social media sites. That said, it also throws in random people who are contacts or friends with people you’re already connected to. It’s a vast web of names to pick and choose from – you can hit “Connect” or “Add as Friend” at any time. The fact of the matter is, it also throws in faces and names you’d rather not connect to or befriend. People you’ve cut out of your life – or who have cut you out of theirs. Coming upon one of these reminders is a painful moment, a bit like stabbing yourself in the retina with a toothpick.

I decided, rather than put up with names I don’t care to see, I’d click the giant “X” conveniently located beside their stupid listings. Yeah, that’s about as helpful as strapping on water wings when you’re going over the falls at Niagara. Give it up. LinkedIn must view the “X” as a sort of game of recommendations. The more you click it, the more that phantom contact will pop up in your stream. Ew. Go away! It makes me have a sort of tic, where I go from “Aww” to “That Fucker!” within a millisecond. That’s not beneficial for anyone – least of all, people sitting in the same room as me when I blurt it out.

I went several months without clicking the People You May Know link – thinking this would be healthy and, by then, all my new contacts would have brought along a larger web of names so that the old ones would have been wiped away. No. This isn’t the case. They’re just all resting comfortably together. A mish mosh of faces and names.

Today I clicked it again. There wasn’t that heart-stopping moment. I sort of scrolled along with my eyes squinted half-shut, expecting it. And I was right. Oh, hi. There you are… Let me “X” you out. Again. 

It’s funny. The first time I hit “X” I was concerned that I wouldn’t have the option to ever see that name again. It was a letting go moment. I struggle with those! Yet I did it. It was a monumental decision on my part to click that blue “X”. My other friends all hailed it as a wise and healing move. Now? I hit that stupid “X” with abandon. “Hi. BYE! See you the next time I click on this!” Wouldn’t it be brilliant if every relationship that wasn’t working out in life could be removed by freely clicking an “X”? Imagine if everyone had a giant blue “X” on their forehead. It sure would make family reunions or discourse around a conference room table that much more interesting – nothing but a sea of hands, reaching over and slapping foreheads like they’re buzzers on Family Feud.

Alas, life doesn’t work that way. Sometimes you’ve just got to share the same space – even if now the only space you share is a listing on a website.

“Pushing Jelly Up a Hill”

“If you find it that horrible to do paintings for other people, why don’t you ever do any for you?”

I don’t recall saying I found it horrible. I may have said I found myself horrible during the process of painting a gift for someone. There’s the added pressure (self-imposed) of making sure you’re not handing over something that will insult the other person. “Here, it’s your birthday, have this ugly purple blob of paint.” Wouldn’t it be awful to see the look upon their faces as they think, “Um, what the fuck?” Not that any of my friends would behave that way, it’s just the way my mind works. It’s part of my damaged bits.

OK, fine, I may slightly recall saying I found it horrible… But by the same token, I don’t care to do any for myself. I began one last year that I haven’t touched in at least six months. It’s a large monstrosity that keeps getting moved about my house because my college son needs the space in his room when he visits, and, in my infinite wisdom, I chose to begin a painting that’s massive. The canvas is behind me as I type this – shouting, “You’re a bit of a failure as a painter, too!”

My last painting was a gift. I had written about it previously.  I finally completed it, and, stupidly cut it close. I’d decided I would hand-deliver it to my friend when I met her in NYC last month. The problem began when I decided this shortly before my trip. As it was oil, with thick strokes, it took that much longer to dry. The subject was a beloved pet, and, as such, it should actually resemble the creature. You can’t fudge something like you can when it’s a landscape. The eyes kind of need to go in the proper spot. Bushes? Meh, you can move those around. Eyes? Not so much. Days before I was to leave, I decided the bird’s beak wasn’t quite right, so I picked up the painting, and stuck my finger directly into his wing feathers. What? Why were they still wet? NIGHTMARE! I won’t go into details but by the time I got done messing with the bird’s beak, the painting sat on the floor in my room with direct sunlight and a fan blaring down on it for days.

It all worked out in the end – which is such a rare occurrence for me. I packed it in a shoe box and, days later, had the extreme pleasure for only the third time in my life of hand-delivering one of my paintings.

So why, then, don’t I paint more? I’d imagine for the same reason I don’t work on my manuscripts more. I begin, see my work, get disgusted, and stop. When I paint for others, it has a purpose. To please them. To let them know for that amount of time I was thinking of them, they’re important to me, and I’m grateful to be a tiny part of their lives.

This large canvas behind me is for me. It seems like a strange gesture to paint something for me. What is the point of letting me know I was thinking of me when I spend far too much of my time contemplating me as it is? It’s absurd, when you think about it. I’m not too terribly grateful to be a part of my life.

Oh, don’t worry. I’ll finish the canvas because I feel it’s important for my boys to see that their mother is capable of finishing things still. The first manuscript that took 5 years (the one resting comfortably with my agent?) hasn’t completely broken me.

I’ll finish the painting because I want my youngest son to have a reminder of our wonderful Scotland trip.

I’ll finish the goddamn thing so I have a piece to hang in that weird half-wall space in my living room.

I’ll finish the bloody canvas because  I don’t want my Del Mar painting (which is everybody’s favorite) to be my last big work. It touches me that so many of my friends like that one. It’s the most important piece I’ve ever done. Completed and shipped in 2009, it was the one I had most wanted to hand-deliver. Ironically, the person who always droned on about how I needed to “compartmentalize” and how getting me to do so was a bit like pushing jelly up a hill, would be proud to know I’ve succeeded in some small measure since that day. You see, I no longer have anything to compartmentalize. My compartments are empty. Clearly, the only time I’ve ever traveled light…

I will finish this fucking painting so I have something to stuff in one of my compartments, how’s that?

It’s Not a Hallmark Card But Here You Go

It’s someone’s birthday this week. I know, that sounds obvious. Clearly many people have birthdays this week. I meant someone in particular.

I just realized it as I sat here working on my latest manuscript. I’m supposed to be writing. I told my friend Christina I would begin again. My Manhattan birthday trip’s over, it’s time to buckle down. I have three manuscripts in the works but am still finding my mind going in a million directions – scattered, frenzied, stupid. Then I wonder if this is the start of Alzheimer’s. Maybe that’s why I can’t concentrate? I am old… Such thoughts take me down another tangent and make it so I’ve frittered away a good part of the morning, none of it on writing, most of it on worrying. My neuroses are limitless. It’s one of the perks of being me, I suppose.

Christina said, “I don’t care what you write, but write… every day.” This counts, yes?

My other manuscript, the first, that one’s still resting comfortably with my literary agent. I think it may have slipped into a coma at this point. Ah, well. I tried to get my mind off my latest failure and instead it saw the calendar – which brings me back to September 1st and, perhaps, my biggest failure. I dredged my feeble brain, why did September 1st hold what appeared to be a massive sort of consequence for me? It hit like a cannonball to the chest. I felt like you do when you realize it’s one of your best friend’s birthdays in a few days and you haven’t yet shipped a gift. You know that feeling? The OH FUCK feeling? Yes, that was it. Then, came the thought that I won’t be shipping a gift. It is, however, one of my best friend’s birthdays in a few days…

I could pretend I was completely and blissfully unaware of the day. That it would wash over me the way every other day does – with a slight sense of dread. But those of you who follow and read my blog regularly know I’m nothing if not completely honest with my horrid range of emotions. My easy excitability, fusspot attitude, and hotheadedness make me a veritable weathervane of moods. I’d imagine on September 1st, my weathervane will be planted firmly in the dour position with a few rapid swings into teary.

So, yes, I see that it’s your birthday coming up. The only good that will come of that day for me is that my boy returns briefly from college. I’m going to latch onto that happy thought to get me through the rest of this week. I don’t need anyone telling me to “just breathe” – I know how to do that. What you people don’t realize is breathing sometimes hurts – even if the pain has lessened tremendously with the passage of time and the company and kindness of other friends. I still prefer to hold my breath. It might have the added benefit of making me pass out.

So happy fucking birthday…

A Rambling Sort of Panic

It’s less than a week until I’m in New York again. I’d always planned to make a triumphant return. Instead, it would seem, I’ll be in full failure mode. I’ll skulk in tentatively, trying to avoid memories. “Should I be doing this?” It’s not unlike poking a hornet’s nest with a stick. Poke. Poke. Poke. Idiot…  You shouldn’t have come. You’re not ready for this. Maybe get a rental car? Drive north? See the gravestone while you’re at it.

In addition, the air travel itself is hanging over me like a black cloud. Every time I start to get excited, a horrid sinking feeling comes over me. I hate to fly, you may recall from several of my past posts. Not only is it frightening, but there isn’t anything decent to look at! The interior of the United States, when viewed from above, is about as exciting as a cup of congealed bacon grease.

I’m sorry to be Woody Allen about it, but the hours of horror involved in airline travel make the process that much more uncomfortable for me. Truly, I can’t wait to sit on the edge of my seat for 5+ hours, listening to every groan and whine the plane makes as it goes through its mysterious convulsions that cause it to randomly drop several feet. This always bodes well for my mood. The pilot will come on the speaker and, in a calm voice, try to explain why we’ve suddenly plummeted from the sky. It is around this time I begin to flip through my mental Rolodex of horrible plane journeys to see if I’ve ever survived that noise and motion before. This, by the way, is a very handy exercise for calculating just how much of a panic one should be in. Also, and this could just be my opinion, it’s one hell of a cardio workout because the body immediately flings itself into Fight or Flight mode. As for those rivulets of sweat pouring down between your breasts? That alone must be  – what? – 50 calories worth?

Ah, sitting tense, cross, and sweaty for 5+ hours – it’s reverse yoga. What’s not to love?

This leads me to another issue of air travel, other people. Please, if you see a pasty-faced red-head on the plane, do not attempt to make conversation. I will rip your face off and beat you with it.

1) I want to drink in peace

2) I want to read in peace

3) I want to drink in peace

4) I want to dream of napping in peace, and

5) I want to drink in peace.

Why do you all attempt to converse with me? Do you not see the frenzied look on my face? Do you not recognize my need to punch you in your thorax for smiling at me?

Why other humans feel the need to strike up conversation with me on an airplane is one of life’s great mysteries. There is nothing particularly compelling about me or my demeanor. I’m sure I’m not the only tense, angry, paranoid, sweaty person clutching their armrest and constantly adjusting their seatbelt. I must look like a cocaine addict, twitching away and giving off a malevolent vibe. Yet something about the sweaty cocaine addict look never fails to elicit smiles and hours of conversation. People will spin in their seats to talk to me – the young, the old, men, women, children. It matters little that I give them a look which could curdle milk. They long to interact with this sub-creature, who once asked the air steward to anchor the cocktail trolley to her seat.  Ah, yes, I’m the friendliest of air travelers. And the germs! Dear God…

By the time I arrive, I’ll be in an exceptionally dour mood. I will have sweat through all my garments, I won’t have relaxed the entire trip, I’ll be nauseous and tipsy. Ah, New York… Come! Embrace me…

As for my movements once there; this will be a tough and emotional time for me. I haven’t been back in several years, and the last trip was dreadful for reasons I won’t go into here – except to say, NO, CAPERS AREN’T RELATED TO PEAS!

Yes, New York is filled with memories. The good as well as the bad. I’m already in a panic! I don’t want to look at my favorite places and feel pain, but it’ll be there. It’ll settle on my chest like a goddamn Mack truck. The pain will float around in the back of my mind, too, and as I pass a familiar spot, the memories will come rushing back. I’ll be thinking, “I should have brought my sons with me” to keep me from being too maudlin. There’s a memory attached to everything and it’s really just a matter of time before I have a cry. I’m thinking probably at first sight of the Empire State Building, or maybe Gapstow Bridge – and don’t even get me started on TriBeCa.

So, New York – when you see me, be kind. Understand that I’m tired not only from lack of sleep. I’m beaten down. Haunted. I long to see my favorite places but at the same time, I dread it. They won’t be standing there in a happy light, welcoming me; they’ll have the past thrown over them like a giant banner screaming, REMEMBER ME? YOU SUCK AND YOU’RE STILL NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

I can do this. I WILL do this… and yes, I’ll cry. So be nice, don’t make direct eye contact or smile at me, and I swear I won’t punch you in the thorax.

Men, Boys, Balls, and GIANT Pink Boxes

For you new readers, I have two sons and a husband. My eldest boy I’ve had for 20 years next month. The Husband, well, he I’ve had considerably longer. To say I’m familiar with testosterone and all its ugly little flaws would be an understatement.

I wanted sons, don’t get me wrong. You see, males were an enigma to me. What better way to truly study the male of the species than by cleaning up their urine splashes?

As my boys aged, I learned something about myself, too. In the beginning, if they did something naughty to me, the look on my face (or my tears) would be enough to send them into fits of contrition – complete with soulful, “I sorry, Mommy, I sorry” apologies.

Soon my tears repelled them. They became a fear. I’m not quite sure when this happened. I’m going to say once they became teens. When they see me well up (which happens a lot) they recoil and leave the room. Maybe they give me an awkward pat or hug before. The point is, they want nothing to do with female tears. It’s as if they say to themselves, “What is that substance leaking from her eyes? I believe it will unman me.” And, their natural instinct is to run from the teary kryptonite. I tie this directly to testosterone. I also tie it to The Husband, who cannot stand to see me cry.

The boys have grown up in a house where nature programs are always on. Whenever an animal chase crops up, I say, “Oh no!” and then well up, knowing the eventual outcome. Poor little baby gazelle or whatever’s on the other end of those teeth and claws! I never really get to watch the end of the chase because there’s a drill in the house. The Husband will suddenly shout, “WHO’S GOT THE CLICKER? CHANGE IT BEFORE SHE STARTS CRYING!” and that’s the end of that. There’s my theory proven. Female tears scare the crap out of men.

You know what else scares the crap out of them? The female reproductive system. Discussing any sort of female discomfort appalls them. I admit it, there are many, many times I send The Husband down to the store to buy feminine hygiene products that I know very well don’t exist just so he stands in the aisle staring vacantly at tampons. This is usually punishment for something. It’s not like I do it for entertainment for me and my girlfriends… There are also times I send him down to buy the products IN BULK – because nothing is funnier than seeing a man wandering the store carrying a gargantuan pink box of tampons with a sour look on his face like someone’s just had a wee in his Cheerios. As a mother, I am well aware this will also happen to my sons and I’m OK with that. They’ll cope as wonderfully as their father did. They’ll come home extremely proud of themselves for having done the deed and they’ll get a round of applause or hugs and kisses.

The thing with teenage boys, though, is they don’t want to know that their mother is a woman. She’s just “mom.” When confronted with the fact she’s anything other than “mom” they get a little tense. This can happen when male attention (outside of their father’s) is bestowed on her or she attempts to discuss sex with them. Then their faces get a little screwed up. “What? Ew! Stop!” is a likely response. It’s not flattering, mind you, but I deal with it. Last night I did so by telling my son that giving birth is extremely painful for women because we have to squeeze something twice the size of a baseball out a space designed for something the size of a golf ball. (I thought I’d throw in sporty references, you know, to make him more comfortable?) The look of revulsion on his face should be enough to ensure he’ll grocery shop with me today.

It’s the little things in life, folks.