Thursday, May 31, 2012

The World Revolves Around the Sun, Not You

Life has ups and downs, highs and lows, it ebbs and flows.  Hey, I made a rhyme.  Sorry, I'm a little tired, I'm easily amused.  Those high points are sure great aren't they?  Those low points can be soul crushing, can't they?  But, guess what... silver lining alert!  Those low points can be very educational and serve a great purpose.

I didn't think I had anything to write today as I am literally spent.  I'm all out of mental gas.  One daughter had oral surgery at the beginning of last week.  Another daughter had major surgery to repair a deformed breastplate last Friday and she just got out of the hospital yesterday.  I spent most every spare moment when not working at the hospital and paid about $40 in parking for the week.  And my son is graduating high school this weekend, and I had to attend brunches and ceremonies and whatnot somehow this week.  My son goes to an all boys school, so they had a  Mother/Son brunch, that damn thing made me sob like a baby as he presented me with flowers.  Oy, I'm getting verklempt just thinking about it again.  (and I'm not even Jewish)  And I'm still trying to get the third one back and forth to school and homework done and finish up lacrosse season.

Ok, ok... so anyway.  My point is not to say oh woe is me, and act like I have the worst problems in the world... I certainly don't.  Just letting you know my mental capacity is diminished because of this load.  Oh on top of all that, I had to empty out all my bank accounts to pay my sons $1,000 housing deposit for NYU this week.  And I'm doing this all alone.  Thanks, ex-husband, wherever you are.  It's such a tragedy you are missing all your children's milestones.  Oh, and I forgot to mention, I got a letter in the mail yesterday letting me know that after almost 12 years of legal divorce, my annullment was granted.  Makes one reflect and creates a certain sense of relief and failure.  :(

Oh crap, see I didn't want this to be an unloading of my woes, but maybe that was a bit therapeutic writing that.  Ok, so anyway, silver lining, yada yada... here it is.  With all this stuff that was going on, I've had some other issues pop up, like some people needing attention or having problems they wanted to talk to me about or family members wanting to educate me on one thing or another, or even my own children bringing up things that just don't need to be handled right now.  In the past I would have tried to handle everything, and put on my best crown of thorns and played martyr.  But this time, (and it was kind of hard because I am a people pleaser) I just said no.  I can only handle so much.  I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings, please understand I don't dislike you, I'm just at capacity at the moment.  No Vacancy.

Ya' know, when I was in college, I couldn't stand that God damn plastic doe-eyed Nancy Reagan and her patronizing and trite campaign of "Just Say No".  As if complex drug addiction was that easy.  Anyway, now I have some respect for her being 90 something and having lived with a spouse with Alzheimer's, that had to be heartbreaking.  Anyway,  I still don't like it but I adopted the "Just Say No" motto for some things.  (I still think it's a dumbass anti-drug slogan)

I had to firmly say, "I can't deal with this now, I will discuss it later".  And if that didn't work, I just shut it down.  I'm no good to my kids with an anyeurism or nervous breakdown in the hospital.  And no one is going to put a damper on me enjoying my son's graduation either by causing drama.  He's earned this, and so have I.  I paid what wasn't covered by scholarships, I was there when he needed papers proof-read, I was there when that girl broke his heart, I nursed him through sports injuries, I drove him to every damn activity under the sun, I was there at fundraisers and plays and conerts and his sporting events, I took him on all the college visits.  So bite me, you're not going to take this away from me.  Cue James Brown... Say it loud, I'm a Grad Mom and I'm proud!

Going through tough times has taught me it's ok to say no.  It made me realize when there were people in my life that suddenly shut me off (it was usually men that I dated that were going through a divorce), it wasn't personal (I hope), it was they had bigger fish to fry and some chick they went out with a couple of times who started whining about why I can't see them was last on the list to deal with.  Hey, it only took me 12 years to learn.  It was a two-fold learning experience, 1. It's ok to say no when you're overloaded.  and 2. Don't take it personally when someone says no to you.  Saying "Thank you, I understand" and giving space will keep that lasting relationship rather than pissing and moaning and trying to force someone to pay attention to you.   Don't be so quick to judge, you never know what someone else has going on.  It's not always about you or me, sometimes there are just bigger forces at work.  Love and kisses, now leave me the hell alone!  (just kidding, leave me lots of comments)  :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Don't You Wish Your Girlfriend Was Just Like That Other Chick Across the Bar?

I recently read a blog here -- that was an open letter to husbands about looking at other women.  Which got that internal dialog going in me, or perhaps it was just voice hallucinations from my psychosis setting in.  Either way, whoever was in my head, it was pretty interesting.

According to this blog, apparently I'm not the only woman to have experienced a lifetime of men commenting on other women to a woman supposedly important to them.  I have one question:


Ok, I have more than one question, but that's a good start.  No wait, I suppose I should ask this first... is it just me?  Show of hands, how many of you ladies out their have experienced a man who you were either dating or had a close relationship with, make a comment to you about another woman?  For example, you are walking down the street with your boyfriend and he says, "Wow, she has great legs (or a butt or rack or elbow, whatever)".

Now this isn't a man bashing thing gentleman, I need your input too.  I can name you very specific incidentses (that was my tip to RHONJ Teresa Guidice and her ingrediences) as far back as I can remember of men pointing out other women's attributes.  The first concrete example I can remember is my Father... yes, my Father, pointing out to me that Mrs. SoandSo had great legs.  Ewwww, Dad I don't want to hear that!  Was he trying to get me to model myself after her?  Was he telling me my legs were fat?  Or was he just on his third Rye Presbyterian at the Elk's Club?  I just remembered for some reason it bothered me.  Maybe I thought it was a betrayal of my Mom or Me (weird Daddy issues here) or just too kinda' "sexual" for a 13 yr old to hear?  Probably not a betrayal of my Mom, he was always telling us she had a "nice Caboose" and that all of us girls got the "Madigan Trailer".  Ewww.

Ok, let's just move on from that, too creepy, makes me think maybe I need to see my therapist now.  Anyway, next we have my high school boyfriend.  In hindsight, he was incredibly respectful until the last few months of our relationship.  Near the end he was a Senior in HS, I was a Sophomore.  He started making crude remarks about women when we were watching TV, like "Oh baby, look at her".  Well, maybe not so crude, but he was making it obvious he was starting to look.  In retrospect, he was probably getting ready to go to college and telling me, "Hey baby, I'm lookin'", 'cuz that's what happened eventually.  Oh well.  :(

Then in my adult life, mostly post divorce, I was with (dated) men on several occassions that said things like, "God she has a great ass", "Oh my God, look at the rack on her", "She has really nice legs", "I'd like to bend her over", "That girl over there in the red top, I slept with her".  Yup.  I've heard it all.  Those were all actual comments.  Now you may think I have let incredibly crass men into my world.  Maybe.  But I also know I have the type of personality where people feel comfortable and I tend to end up "one of the guys".  That's my fault, I forget to remind men that I need to be treated like a lady.  But it's also fun to be "one of the guys" too... to a point.  If I start "adjusting myself" give me a smack.

Or perhaps they were just testing to see if I was bi-curious?  Yes, men I know this trick, comment on a girl and see if I will take the bait and say, "Oh yes, she is so hot, let's ask her to join us!".  Ummmm... no.  (If there was a new car for me involved, I'd think about it)  Nice try.

Again, not man bashing but I've never done it once in my life and I've never heard another woman do it.  I can't imagine saying to my boyfriend, "Oh my God that guy has a great butt".  Why would I?  I just don't go around checking out guys all the time, and why on Earth would I point it out to my boyfriend, that's just rude?  Only reason I can see would be... to be a dick, try and make him jealous.  Not my style, not a game player.

So, that's what I want to know... what gives?  What the hell is that all about with the pointing out other women?  Is it:

A.  A subtle hint that you are gaining weight and he wants you to look like "that" broad.
B.  A hint that he wants to bang somebody else?
C.  A sign that he feels comfortable with your raunchy humor and thinks he can kid with you.
D.  A test to see if you will have a threesome.
E.  He's just an insensitive ass.
F.  A chick-like move to test your feelings for them to see if you get jealous.

It's one thing to say, "That woman has a pretty dress, that would look great on you."  HA!  Who am I kidding, we all know that doesn't happen.  And it's another to be staring at and commenting on a chick with  a circus tent in your pants.  Are there any men that don't do this?  I'd like to know your thoughts, especially you dudes...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Idiot Parents and Psycho Kids, Does Not a Good Family Make

Be prepared for controversy today.  I know some of you may have strong opinions on this one, but hear me out...

I was listening to a really crappy morning radio show the other day during the daily kid shuttle, only because every other station was on commercial break.  I was also curious as to what was so great about this morning crew of which people raved.  The answer was: nothing.  But I can now give an educated opinion that they suck.  I digress.  They were talking about a guy who had been shot in the city in front of some kids, which lead to why were the kids out with no supervision anyway?  (which I didn't see how that had anything to do with the murder, the guy was down the street and someone shot him)  So the clueless hosts started to rant about the lack of good parenting in urban homes.  Oy, why not just pull out some racial slurs while you're at it?  So the insipid male host went into full on rant mode emphatically stating that all children would be best raised by 2 parents.  That would be a Mom and a Dad.


He ranted on and on that there would be less crime if there were two parents and more supervision in the home.  Let me just point out one small detail that Insipid Host Guy missed -  if said supervision is a moron, it won't necessarily produce better behaved offspring.

Let me present a few different scenarios.  Now, this isn't a big ole pro-gay parenting rant, don't get your pre-conceived panties in a bunch, I'm just pro-good parenting... just let me present these facts....

* Lyle and Erik Menendez were raised by two wealthy suburban married hetero parents.  (For those too young for the reference, these fine boys were convicted of murdering their parents in 1989)

* I have 3 children and they have a lot of friends and know who does what at school.  Most of the kids that are perpetually in trouble at school come from two parent hetereo homes.

* My older daughter has a classmate who is a boy raised by two moms.  He's 15, star athlete, A student, well mannered, very masculine and dates girls.  I guess the gay agenda to raise a new generation of all gay, all the time failed there, huh? 

* I know some single hetero moms that are raising kids that haved dropped out of high school and are doing nothing but smoking pot and playing video games.  (the kid, not the mom)

* I know two parent hetero homes that have perfectly nice, smart children, but wouldn't know how to withstand a crisis or make a decision if their life depended on it. 

*  George Washington, first president, Founding Father, highly revered symbol of this country... was raised by a single mother.  (his Father died when he was 11)

*  Oprah Winfrey, the most successful and wealthiest female media mogul ever, was raised by several different people.  First by her single teen Mother, then her Mother and Grandmother, then just her Grandmother, then by the man she thought was her biological Father, then she ran away from home for a while, then moved back with Mom.

*  I know a local kid who was raised by two Moms (one Mom was biological via sperm donor), but by junior high the Moms seperated.  Both Moms are attorneys.  So then that made him a child of gay divorced parents, living between two homes.  He was a nice smart kid when he was little, now he's a slacker pothead hanging around with the kind of dirtbag crowd, who I'm not sure is even going to college.

*  A friend had a child with her first husband, he ran off and later she remarried.  The child has been raised by Step-Dad as if it was his own.  The child is well mannered, successful college graduate living in NYC.

* Shania Twain, a perfectly nice successful country singer was physically abused by her Step-Father.

*  President Bill Clinton was first raised by two parents, then Father died so it became a single parent home, then mother remarried and he was beaten up often by his Step-Father.  Although his treatment of females is questionable, he did become POTUS.

*Charles Manson was born to an unwed 16 year old runaway sometimes prostitute who kept trying to pawn him off to orphanages, relatives or other random people, having once traded him to a childless waitress for a pitcher of beer.  And we all know what happened to him...

*  Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold who committed the Columbine High School Massacre in 1999 were both raised in suburban hetero two parent homes.

*  And finally... me.  I have 3 children, got divorced when they were all under 7.  Later Dad disappeared completely, and left us destitute.  I didn't have any romantic relationships the first 9 years of  being divorced.  I work full time but still qualify for food and medical aid.  My oldest is graduating from a top all boys prep school and going to NYU next year.  My girls are both A students, good athletes, well mannered and go to a good all girls school.

My point?  Not sure, I started off thinking good parenting was the key, but some of my scenarios have proven otherwise.  There is no perfect formula for raising non-troubled children.  I'm not married but I'd say my kids are pretty good so far, but should I run out and get married just because Bristol Palin said my kids should have a Mom and Dad?  Which we all know is idiotic because she was an unwed teen mom who pushed her baby-daddy out of the picture.  WTF?

And that whole sanctity of marriage thing?  With people choosing purposely to have babies out of wedlock, the divorce rate for first marriages is (approx.) 50%, second marriages 67%, and third marriages 75%, I'd say that sanctity was shot to hell along time ago.

At first I thought the only thing to ensure decent kids is to not be an idiot, but I've seen offspring of idiots turn out well.  And I've seen children of nice people become deeply troubled.  However, I still don't recommend being an idiot parent like, oh say, the "Tan Mom" Patricia Krentcil.  But who knows her kids could turn out to be rocket scientists.  Not likely, but ya' never know.

Well hell, now I'm more confused than when I started this blog.  Is parenting just luck or chance?  Nah.  Um... maybe?  However I'd say it's safer to be a good parent than not.  All I know is that there is no magic formula like some would have you believe of having a two parent hetero home.  I am certain that the family dynamic does not pre-determine the success of the child.  Neither terrible parenting nor problematic children are exclusive of any one race, socio-economic group, sexual orientation, or living situation.  So... good luck with that.

Let me know what you think, is there a formula for parenting?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

My Own 50 Shades of Grey: The Time I Delayed a Rock Show

In this blog having an adult survival guide theme, I explore the many ways I have survived life and all the various crises that come with it, in hopes it can give others some insight.  A vital part of surviving life is to live a little.  In wiping children's behinds, clipping husband's toenails, scooping up dog poop, working 50 hours a week, and finding the missing soccer cleat... you can forget who you are.  I firmly believe that experiencing your interests in life bolsters who you are, forges your identity and gives you more strength to get through the tough times.

I've had my kids 100% of the time for the last 3 years.  They are all teens now so I can still manage to get out for a while without needing a sitter.  But that's provided they don't have a game, concert, rehearsal, practice, hair appt., date, or work.  I thank God that when they were much younger and I was first divorced, their Dad took them every other weekend (mostly) and I had time to myself.  I could let loose a lot more when I had a whole weekend to myself.  Now, I go out and know that everyone is home waiting for me, it's like being a teenager again.  Oy.
I'm not your typical woman.  Most other women pick up hobbies such as scrapbooking, yoga, knitting, baking, couponing, paddle tennis or book club.  Me, I'm still a punk girl at heart.  I first got into alternative music (back then we called Punk and New Wave), around 1977 when I was in junior high.  So, I've been a sort of alternative interest person since I was a kid.  I like weird people, good music, dive bars, art exhibits, and great old school DJs.  However, I also enjoy golf, fine dining, wine tasting, PTA meetings and long walks on the beach.  You wouldn't notice my alter ego by my suburbanite appearance:

Oh look, it's Biff and Muffy!

About 6-10 years ago when I lived in Denver I used to frequent this place that was a converted warehouse space that housed a 3-4 bedroom apartment and performance space.  I had a few friends that lived there and they threw a monthly party that showcased a few bands each time along with other exhibits including things like art displays, poetry readings, tattoo artists, piercing artists, body painting, and even light S&M displays.  The S&M thing was incrediby tame, just some dude in a leather Speedo and harness strapped to a rack with a girl in an outfit that was a cross between dominatrix and hippie Earth Mother was just flogging him with one of those leather fringe-y things.  No biggie.  I think it was more of a tactile awareness seminar.

Are you afraid of me yet?

Yea, it was slightly a freak show, but I felt inspired there.  I let my inner weirdo free.  Everyone was incredibly loving and friendly, it wasn't seedy.  Anyway, for a while I was dating one of the fine young gentleman that lived there.  He played in a band but he was also a paramedic by day.  One night his band was playing and we planned to meet for the festivities.  I was a size 4 back then, and I showed up in a cute mini skirt and form fitting, cleavage baring top, and high wedge sandals.  I arrived to find him, let's call him "Ira", ready for his performance in just a pair of leather pants and no shirt.  Yes he was quite chiseled.  It was obvious that we both found what each other was wearing that night very appealing.  *ahem*

See, I'm trying to not make this sound seedy and lurid.  Because it wasn't.  ... Really!

He was slated to perform soon but we decided we needed some alone time, pronto.  We retreated to his room without haste.  I felt alive, I felt desired as a woman.  As we were locked in our intense lover's embrace *ahem* ... knocks started at the door.  We were too consumed with each other to pay attention.  They became increasingly more demanding "Ira, Ira, are you in there?"  He ignored them, I was flattered.  "Ira, come on man, we gotta' go on."  (apparently the rest of the band was on stage tuning up)  "Ira, are you in there with Madge?"  Finally he throws them a bone, er uh I mean he says "Yea, hang on, I'll be right out".  Apparently this was a signal for them to start the heckling.  "Get off the babysitter, Joel"  (a line from the movie "Risky Business")  That one made me laugh, and have trouble concentrating.  Soon, it seemed there were several people pounding on the door.  Oh sweet Jesus, did the whole place know what we were
up to?

At first I laughed, then as more voices were heard and then his shoulder length hair kept getting in my face, I decided it might be time to let the show go on, his show that is.  But um, the timing was good I guess, and uh we were finished anyway.  Uh yea, so we quickly got ourselves together and he ran out of the room to get on stage.  He told me we'd continue after the show.  Rawr!

There he was up on stage growling his usual growl, dripping with sweat and sex appeal, and he winked at me.  I was high on sex, gin and tonic, and rock 'n roll, my friends!  I just had the lead singer!  I held up a rock show. 

He ripped through the show and we did what any late 30 something, red blooded American, rock n' roll couple would do after the show... we passed out.  No, not like drunk-like passed out, sleepy passed out.  I have my moments but I don't think I'm still 25, duh.  But for a moment I remembered I'm alive, I'm fun, I'm desirable, I'm a woman, and I still have a pulse.  Ain't no lie.  So, that was fun. 

But remember, it's important to seperate that from the Mommy stuff.  Don't be doin' the more adult stuff in front of the kiddies.  Priorities.   At first it was hard not to feel weird when my kids came back home but I learned to realize I have two identities.   It's ok to be an adult woman with her own interests when kids aren't around.  And no the aforementioned scene was not my only hobbie, I did other things like work out, watch movies with girl friends, Irish women's club, dinner with friends, hockey games, you name it.  Don't judge!

My adult time reminded me that I'm strong and vibrant.  And refueled me to get through the tough times.  You don't have to neccessarily do the stuff I did, uh book clubs and jewelry parties are good too.  Maybe I should have just gone to book club?  Yea, there's a time for that too.  You guys really need to get out more.  :)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Am I Supposed to Look Poor? Income Levels Should Have Uniforms.

I saw a status on Facebook the other day that said something to the effect, "If you're on welfare, how can you  afford a smartphone?".  Which made me think of a whole image problem I've had for a while.

The question is... if you're, shall we say... uh underprivileged, or uh living below the poverty line, or dare I say it "poor"... oh hell, if you're broke-ass broke... are you obliged to look the part?

Are you being a poser if you try to look wealthy when you're poor?  Or to think of it another way, if you are surviving with government assistance are you supposed to look the part?  And what is the part?  Dirty ratty clothes, a pair of brokedown Toughskin jeans, a pair of warn out generic K-Mart sneakers, messy hair, dirty finger nails?  When you go to the Department of Social Services do you demand to see the "poor and huddled masses"?  "Excuse me Miss, I'm here to inspect your dreggs of society to make sure they are poor and huddled."

Here's why I bring this up.  I know I'm like a broken record, but there was a time I was broke.  Right now, I'm mid range broke, but there was a time I was lowest of the low broke.  Long story short, ex-husband split and stopped paying support, I lost my job, unemployment got held up for like 6 weeks, no savings, got evicted, yada yada.  I had absolutely no income for 6 or 8 weeks with 3 kids.  I entered hot mess land.   I was cleaning friends toilets and writing real estate appraisal reports and ad copy for $10 or $20 here and there (I kid you not) for money to eat, while I looked for a full time gig.  So, I went to social services, and that of course took a few weeks to get through the red tape, I think about 6 or 8 weeks later foodstamps and heat assistance kicked in.

My background, grew up in a family with 2 parents who were Penn State grads, my Dad is a WWII veteran, both parents were white collar, we had belonged to a country club at one time, we travelled, eventually my parents owned a second home in AZ, all 6 of us kids went to college, some advance degrees, I went to college in Maine for 4 years.  Bottom line, basically I'm well bred and educated, I ain't no slouch.  Soooo...

When I had several trips to the DSS, I was thinking "how should I look?".  Should I look like a Wal-Mart shoper?  A dumpster diver? I remember judging people in the past and thinking, "you're in the welfare office, why are you wearing Baby Phat with your hair and nails all done talking on your smartphone?".  We've all done it.  Shut it!  No!  You know you have.  I was still trying to work and going on interviews so I would be dressed and ready for work, coiffed hair and makeup.  But I felt like I should go in there with no make up, hair in ponytail, sweatpants, kids in just a diaper, smoking and yelling at my kids about kicking their asses.

My Catholic guilt is actually palable, isn't it?  You can see the visions of self flagellation rising from my head, can't you?

My ex in-laws used to judge me all the time because I presented myself well, they thought I was taking the mountain of money small stipend that their son was giving me for child support and spending it all on myself.  HA!  My kids even defended me, they know I never spend anything on myself.  They have to prod me to do it.  I have gone a year at a time without buying a stitch of clothing for myself, only to be forced to because I wore out the crotch in my only good pair of pants or something.  I am just frugal and have enough dignity to try and keep myself presentable.  My in-laws refused to believe that even though I looked fabulous, I was only wearing a 5 year old $79 coat from JC Penney, a $10 3 year old Calvin Klein sweater from Marshall's, a $15 6 year old tweed skirt from Marshall's, 5 year old $19 BCBG shoes from Marshall's.  And I simply dried and straightened my own hair, tastefully put on makeup, and painted my own nails with a 2 year old bottle of OPI nail polish, and wore the only necklace and earrings I owned which were stylish pearls given to me by their son 15 years earlier.  Is that so wrong?

By being properly dressed or wearing something with a label and having my nails done and checking my email on my smartphone that was a free upgrade at contract renewal time and is the only phone I have now, no home phone... I'm sure I have been labeled by strangers as a welfare fraud case a few times.

Some people think you should be "real" and look the part of whatever your income is.  I felt bad for making myself look like a million bucks when I only had 59 cents to my name.  It reminded me of that old Carol Burnett skit when she plays Scarlett O'Hara and her house had burnt down but she comes to the door in a dress made from the curtains with the rod still in it.  That's me... sans rod.  I guess I'm more like the movie.  But I am kind of quirky, I would wear the rod.  OK, nevermind.

I do have to admit that I feel really guilty when I go into Wegmans wearing fabulous heels and a dress, hair and nails done and I pay with foodstamps.  But again, did my own hair and nails, clothes and shoes were either from Target or Marshall's and a few years old. 

I won't be on foodstamps forever.  I do work.  A lot.  But unfortunately for having 3 kids, my household size to income ratio is still below the poverty level.  And I won't be as brazen as Old Dirty Bastard of the Wu Tang Clan and go on MTV and ride in a limo to get my welfare check.  As I get higher paying and more frequent writing jobs, I'll be done with government assistance, but for now I need it.  Now, had my ex paid his child support, I wouldn't need assistance.  I didn't sign up to be a single parent, so I must keep plugging along to get to a level wear I can provide as if I were 2 parents.

So, I just ask that the next time you see someone coming out of DSS or paying with foodstamps at the store and they are well groomed and dressed properly... don't be so quick to judge.  We all need help from time to time.  Don't be hatin'...