Tuesday, October 30, 2012

It's not going to be me. A lesson in letting go and moving on.

I am heading off to Camp Mighty in a few weeks, and in preparation I'm working on my life list.

I realized something as I scrolled through the list I made last year - some items within reason, some completely preposterous (which is sort of the point - go big or go home for chrissakes). I realized that it was all well and good to make a list of stuff I wanted to do - but a lot of those items were coming from a place inside myself of disappointment. Disappointment in my life choices, my accomplishments (or lack thereof), my success...... And then I got mad. I got really mad. Maggie probably wasn't expecting that to be one of the results of making a life list, but I went ahead and got mad at myself anyway. I don't know what yardstick I was using to measure my success, but at some point it became firmly lodged in my ass.

In related news, I need a new pair of pliers.

So I sat back and thought a lot about my life now, how awesome it is, and my dreams, hopes and goals for the future.

I am almost - not quite, but almost - at the age where I have to accept that I probably won't be seen on Broadway, and I'm never going to be crowned Miss America, and I might not ever be the editor of a glossy fashion magazine, and I should probably give up the dream of being CEO of a small start-up that goes public and makes me a millionaire. I'm not planning on graduating from college, or going to law school, or medical school, or business school. I will not be an international spy. I strongly doubt I will ever have my own private jet. Europe is damn expensive, and I honestly don't want to run unless someone is chasing me - and I would collapse and/or call 911 way before we hit the 5k mark. So I am going to re-think my approach to Life Listing. And life.

I am going to be the little guy, doing good deeds and trying to be the best I can be.
And learning to be okay with it.
There is nothing wrong with being me, as I am today. Don't freak out if you don't get to play tambourine onstage with Pearl Jam.
And once I had come to terms with my very own self (And actually, that process is still ongoing. The yardstick I'm wrestling? Splinters.) I could go ahead and take a fresh, honest look at my life list. There was stuff on there I didn't really want. Not really. And it turns out there was some stuff missing that I wanted so much I was actually afraid to say it out loud.

So the life list got tossed. I am starting from scratch, and it all begins with acknowledging where I am right this very minute. In the course of, well, charting my course, it has become apparent to me that dreaming big is fantastic, but being able to accept where you are - not just accept it, but make the most of it, celebrate it, revel in it, and be proud of it - is just as important.

And so I would like to announce that I am very proud of the following:

I am proud that I live in Hawaii. I live on the island of Maui, in the state of Hawaii, in the middle of the PacificfuckingOcean. Me. I do that. And so right there? That is my starting point. At the age of 26 my husband and I sold almost everything we owned and packed our remaining belongings and our newborn, and moved from coastal New England to an island in the middle of the ocean 7000 miles from our family where we knew 3 people.


We didn't have jobs lined up, but we believed in ourselves and in this place. We never thought about the possibility that it might not work out, and here we are 11 years later. My finest accomplishment is choosing my life here. I made a choice, with my husband, together, and then we just did it. No, wait. We didn't just do it - we knocked it out of the park. So really, everything else on my life list is cake.

But wait, there's more.

I am proud to (finally) have a clawfoot tub. I always wanted one, I found a classic cast iron tub - brand new -  on eBay and talked them into shipping it to Hawaii, and my friends Trouble and Johnny helped us get it in the house using a skateboard and the promise of beer.

I am proud to have (actually) sold our second car after years of debate, even though we have very limited public transportation here in our little town. I love getting up at 5:30 and being greeted by my husband and a hot mug of tea, and driving him to the vanpool. I am proud that we are saving money, and proud that we have been able to make it work, even though it is frequently inconvenient .

I am proud to (still) be a homeowner. Let's just forget about the mortgage, for a moment. I am proud that we may be broke, but at least we have kept and greatly improved our house in the past 7 years. It wasn't easy.

I am (mostly) proud of my writing. It may not be a paying gig at the moment, but I am proud of myself for sitting down at least once a week to blog. I am almost done with a first draft of my book, which is also a huge accomplishment for me, depressed ADD procrastinator that I am.

I am (incredibly) proud of my friends. They choose to be associated with me (unlike my family, who just have to make the best of it). I am surrounded by people who love me as I am, forgive me my mistakes, are honest with me when I need to hear it straight, and support my dreams and aspirations for the person I want to be. And they are super cool people in their own right - they make me proud every single day. Case in point: Thanksgiving. And this isn't even the whole crowd. This is later in the evening. And I have no idea who that guy is on the left. I think he's Duane's cousin, or something. Anyway, it doesn't matter. I fucking love that guy, whoever the hell he is.

I am (so very) proud to have a strong marriage and loving home life. I've been divorced. I know the feeling of watching someone walk away for the last time, and the sinking pit-of-my-stomach "I will be alone forever" worry that can consume you. It turns out that love absolutely means having to say you are sorry from time to time. Go figure. I'll bet that line is responsible for a whole bunch of disillusioned divorcees. So I do a lot of apologizing, and I don't know why Sam continues to humor me, but he has, and he says he will forevermore. I totally love this guy. I feel the same way about my kids. I put up with them and they put up with me and we all accept each others faults and apologies, and show up each day to do it over again. It's good stuff. I am hoping we make it through the teen years unscathed.

And I am proud of the items I accomplished and crossed off my old life list. That's right, it's my "old life list" now. I change life lists like I buy new underwear. Once a year, when it starts looking kind of worn and gray and stretched out, I toss it out and start fresh.

Oh what a feeling.

So I encourage you - whether you are attending Camp Mighty in person or in spirit - to make a list. 10 items, 100 items, or any number in-between. Remember, there are no rules. But start by loving where you are at right now, and finding the good that already surrounds you. Watch out for splinters.

Monday, October 22, 2012

What happens when a girl who can't touch her toes goes to yoga

I do not go to the gym. This is not for lack of membership (I had one until recently), nor is it from lack of convenience (there is a gym next to my kid's school). I don't really care to use the machines, because, you know, other people have sweated all over them. (Did you know that? Perhaps you didn't realize.) But I do like the idea of taking a class with others, if only because it will be really difficult to leave early without everyone giving me The Look - the look which says either "you poor dear, this was clearly too much for you" or "how rude to walk out in the middle of a class" or even "You just stepped on my hand" (which I have gotten a few times). Regardless, it's always awkward to leave early, so I take classes if only to embrace the herd mentality and force myself to stay for the full hour to avoid drawing attention to myself.

I tried aerobics "back in the day" when I also had Reeboks with an ankle strap and a kick-ass perm - and no matter how much I looked the part, I just couldn't keep up. The problem is, I am not nearly coordinated enough to take any sort of class. Either I get completely lost during the routine and have to just stop, or I get completely lost and end up hitting myself/someone else in the face accidentally when I turn left instead of right, or bend forward instead of back. Either way, because of my aerobics experiences, the idea of attending a Zumba class doesn't appeal to me no matter how many of my friends sing it's praises.

I tried spinning once, or as I like to call it, pedaling. I think that the entire concept of riding a bike inside when you live in Hawaii is dumb, but I put some happy juice in my water bottle and made the most of it.

Eventually I just threw in the towel, so to speak, and began a long break from any form of group exercise.

There is, however, one exception.

I love yoga.

I love the relaxing music, the stretching, the meditation, and the fact that I don't have to keep up with an instructor while they move at a breakneck pace. I occasionally fall over, and I have smacked people in the head (and one memorable time, right in the nuts) from time to time, but usually no one really sustained any serious injury and we were able to forgive and forget (unlike those Power Jam bitches from the gym). People in yoga classes are generally happy and peaceful - if they have anything in their water bottle besides water, it's probably kombucha.

But its not all zen and lightness of being. Every rose has it's fucking thorn. (musical interlude if you'd like)

Here are the things that I hate about yoga:

Downward dog. In fact, I hate sun salutations. There. I said it. I get nauseous and dizzy when I have to keep my head pointed down to the ground for too long, I hate moving through the same string of poses over and over again, and I don't find it relaxing or meditative in the least. Plus, I get sweaty. No thanks.

Forward bends. Besides the aforementioned dizziness when I have to point my head down towards the ground for any length of time, I can barely touch my KNEECAPS. Never mind my toes. And you can forget about touching the ground - that is a joke. There is one position in which I can usually touch the ground - when I am sitting on it.

Being in the front of the class. For obvious reasons, I prefer to stay in the back where I can modify the poses to my heart's content.

That bendy senior citizen in the Lulu Lemon. Lady, I am wearing my trusty green Walmart sweatpants and a t-shirt memorializing the "massage parlor" in my home town that got busted in 1995. I didn't realize that this was going to be some sort of a fashion show. You do know that yoga is traditionally done in, like, a loin cloth. Right? So the fact that I have even worn PANTS for this is already pushing it. And I know you are feeling pretty smug over there, in your stretchy breathable just-for-yoga and the grocery store-outfit, with all of your back bends and toe touching, and you can just stuff it.

Having the instructor "help me". Listen, here's the deal. I KNOW that every other person on the planet is more flexible than I am. Once during warm up at derby practice, one of the girls watched me "stretching" and asked if I was injured. My body just doesn't go that way. So when you get behind me while I am bending over and put your hands on my hips you better be my husband and you better have something better in mind then yoga.

Not that there really is anything better. At least, not where my gym is concerned.

My point is this. If you are afraid of yoga, don't be.

If you think you can't do it, you are wrong. This is one of those situations where I can say with total honesty that if I can do it, anyone can do it.

If you think you won't like it, you should try a few different kinds of yoga, until you find the style and instructor that works for you. Because some classes really suck, and some are just okay, and then every once in a while you find the perfect class and you will have the "AHA!" moment, I swear to you.

And if you think it isn't enough of a workout, well, you would be wrong about that. Yoga is what you make of it. Here's a few of your options in layman's terms:

If you like to get all hot and bothered, there is a class for that. It's called hot yoga, or Bikram - and it's a total sweat-fest. Have fun doing yoga in 105 degrees. I'll meet you afterwards at the bar where I'll be chilling in the ac while you clean yourself up. Please don't hug me until you have showered.
If you just want to get as close to an aerobics class as possible, and show everyone how coordinated you are (in your outfit AND your asanas), try power yoga, or Ashtanga. I can't keep up, but I'll hide in the back and drink kombucha with you.
If you want to chill the fuck out and get your stretch on (though I am pretty sure the yogis would take issue with that description) look for a class that tends towards the Iyengar style of practice. I will be in the back row, sitting on a pillow, focusing on my breath and wondering if I need a mint.

(I just signed up with Bloglovin and I have no idea what it is but I have to post this here.
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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The things I can't write about. Until now, apparently.

For the past few weeks, I have been really struggling with something very private. It has been a time of healing. Of personal reflection. A time to consider pros and cons, benefits and drawbacks, need vs want, expense vs value. It has been a hard road, and this weekend I finally came to a resolution. I found my inner peace.

And I thought, "You absolutely cannot write about that."

Oh, but I can.

I have been unemployed for quite some time now, by choice, while I write a book. I am looking forward to completing it, knowing that I can write a book when I always thought I couldn't, having it be published, perhaps having it be read by people not related to me. Or just uploading it to Amazon and hoping for the best. Either way. I want to finish it.

But I don't want to finish it just for those very valid reasons. I want to finish it because I am sick and tired of being broke, and I do not - it turns out - enjoy being a stay-at-home mother with no income of my own. I do not enjoy it at all. And there is one very, very important and life-altering reason why I want money of my own.

Bikini Waxes.

For months and months, I have been forgoing my bikini waxes in order to save money. "They are a luxury" I keep telling myself. "When you sell the book, you can get all the bikini waxes you want! You could even opt for laser treatment instead - that's like getting a permanent bikini wax!" So I held out this carrot. This wonderful, fabulous carrot.

Finish the book, get a bikini wax.

I tried to distract myself with alternatives. I bought a cream hair remover and my hands smelled so awful I gagged every time I brought them anywhere near my face. It smelled like I had tried to embalm my crotch.

So I thought "I'll just shave it!" And let me tell you, as a person who barely manages to shave her own legs without life-threatening blood loss, as a woman who routinely stabs herself in the eyeball applying eyeliner and had a permanent curling iron burn on her forehead from 1988-1992, the idea of putting a razor anywhere not only hard to see, but also EXTREMELY DELICATE WITH LOTS OF HIDDEN FOLDY BITS was a truly terrible idea. For a few minutes there, I thought I might have done some permanent damage.

Once the blood had clotted and I knew the danger had passed, I said to myself, "Fuck selling a book. If I have to start selling off my jewelry to afford a bikini wax, SO BE IT." However, instead of selling my family jewels, because Sam is still attached to them, I decided to just get a job.

Yeah, that's right. I decided to get a job, to pay for my bikini waxes. And by extension, to save my life. Because if I had to shave that region again, someone would find me dead in the shower. Death by Pink Safety Razor.

Basically, I am doing this so that my children are not left motherless. I am always thinking of others.

And so I went through a very uncomfortable few weeks that women who wax know is the imperative "regrowth" period. I also needed all of the self-inflicted wounds to heal. By the time I finally got on the table at the salon, I was almost giddy with anticipation. Any guy who has skipped shaving for a few days knows the itchy, prickly discomfort I was experiencing. Multiply that by 3 weeks and imagine it on your ballsack, and you may have some vague notion of my mental state. I was ready already.

"Woah HO!" my aesthetician exclaimed. "It's been a while!"

"Well, I know you like a project" I said sweetly.

She was almost gleeful. It was like the 70's down there, and she was going to see some serious results from her efforts. It was the perfect opportunity to take some before and afters, but having learned my lesson in the matter of intimate photographs after "The Great Missing Photos of 1994 crisis", I certainly wouldn't have volunteered. I'm just saying that, as a fan of the show "Extreme Home Makeover", I can assure you the reveal was going to be spectacular. Move. That. Fucking. Bus.

I walked out of there 20 minutes later with a spring in my step and a new lease on life. It was money well-spent. I was at peace, physically and emotionally. And my children would grow up knowing their mother.

When I got home, I announced what I had done.

"I wondered why you hadn't had an appointment lately." Sam said.

"I was trying to save money." I explained.

He stared at me. "What?"

"It seemed like a luxury. An unnecessary luxury. But my god, it was getting out of control down there."

"Listen," he said matter-of-factly. "It is a luxury. And I don't really care one way or the other. That was hardly 'out of control'. But I will tell you this: I would HAPPILY pay for you to have that done every month."

"I thought you didn't care one way or the other." I was triumphant. If I could get him to say he liked it, then I could justify getting it done on his dime, and not feel guilty.

"It's not going to deter me if you don't." he explained. "But it's definitely going to encourage me if you do."


There are a few more things on the personal honey do list that I have been putting off that might not be covered by my part-time job. Things that I plan to address when I "sell the book". Things like highlights to blend my gray. Getting my nails done. Botox. And now, I am thinking that it is SELFISH of me to wait.

If mama ain't happy, ain't no one happy. AMIRIGHT?

And so, I am making my appointments. Because its almost Sam's birthday and I am doing this for HIM.
Best Wife Ever. Right here. That would be me. And that is BEFORE I schedule our dual massage.

Because I'm a giver.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

In which I stop worrying about GMOs and start spraying poison INSIDE MY HOUSE

This post is for Jess, who moved into a new fabulous apartment last week and learned in the first few days that she had roommates who do not appear on the lease. Thousands and thousands of roommates. Keep fighting the good fight, darling.

Hi. We have ants.

Actually, everyone does. The shelf of poison at the local hardware store was almost empty last week. Previously sane, tree-hugging, ground water-protecting, organic-eating folks have lost their damn minds in the face of a total ant explosion. Facebook is filled with declarations of martial law over the ants. The hot topic of conversation in the coffee shop this morning? Ants. Ant wrangling. It appears to be an epidemic, and I don't do well with epidemics. *twitch*

Are you thinking that it's no big deal? Are you about to post a comment telling me to use cornstarch or borax or ant chalk or liquid drops of all natural non-toxic something something something or some other fabulous family friendly, organic solution to ants?

I really appreciate that. I really do. And living on a tropical island all I can say is I've heard them all, and you can just forget it. I am the Harold of ant chalk.

I have Borax all over the house. There are sticky drops of non-toxic (except to ants) *stuff* all over the place, and I have little ant traps scattered throughout the house like toxic, killer offerings, positioned in every windowsill, next to every door, under every piece of furniture. It is NOT HELPING. This is ANTS with ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.


Please save your self-righteous indignation for something more deserving - I have a problem, and this problem needs to be solved, because this problem is going to drive me BAT SHIT CRAZY. I am big on cleaning my kitchen and bathroom. I do not have food scraps and crumbs and sugar lying around. It may not surprise you to learn that all of our food is tightly sealed in Tupperware, Ziplocks, canning jars, or ALL THREE AT THE SAME DAMN TIME. I dry off the bathroom after each use of shower or sink like a crazy person. There is nothing good for the ants in my kitchen or bathroom. Nothing. Clean and dry and occasionally washed with bleach just for good measure (although I usually use baking soda to clean, which we can talk about later but hello, AWESOME).

Because the ants are not finding anything of value in the usual places, it might explain why they are in my bedroom. I mean, I love my bedroom, why wouldn't they? So last week when I was lounging in bed while the flu thoroughly kicked my ass, you can imagine my delight when I realized I had company. As I stared in wonder, several small black ants ran across my pillow.

And then I died a little inside.

I got out of bed and tried to figure out where they were coming from. I followed the sparse trail down to a corner of my window, right by the floor. Which is where I discovered that my floor was moving, skittering around with tiny golden-colored sugar ants that totally blend in with wood floors. I am not proud to say that I did a little something like this:

I sprayed. I mopped. I sprinkled and swept and baited and trapped. It was a genocide, right in my bedroom. A bloodbath. And still, they came. It was going on for hours, me hopping around and grimacing and celebrating victory over the little bastards, only to discover another trail and experience the agony of defeat. And then I discovered them crawling into the water glass on my bedside table and I think that may have been the moment when I snapped.

"Sam?" I called through the window. "I need you to spray for bugs."

"Well, I think you should take the kids and the dog and leave before I-"


"Right. Okay then. Want to close the window first?"

"Hell no, they are in here too. Just fire that thing up."

He came out of his shed holding a 3 gallon jug of god knows what and a sprayer, and began applying the contents liberally to every windowsill, roofline, molding, foundation - anywhere he could reach. The sprayer broke about half way through his enthusiastic application, and he just started sort of tossing the poison on the walls and ground to complete the task at hand. Meanwhile I was on my hands and knees under our bed with a rag and a can of Raid.

"Uh, Mom?" Max said in the general direction of my ass.

"WHAT HONEY?" I shouted from behind a basket of sweaters.

"Whatcha doing?"

"Killing ants."

"COOL! Can I help?"

The next thing I know he is on the floor next to me. "NO HONEY GO AWAY THIS IS POISONOUS."

"Then why are you under here?"

"Because I'm the grownup, and sometimes grownups have to do things that are bad for them."


"Because, Max. ALL THE ANTS MUST DIE."

To his credit, he did not argue with me. He crawled out from under my bed, and shooed Lucy away from the door, where she was listening intently. "Lucy, let's go. The chemicals have gone to her head."

"It smells good!" Lucy said cheerfully as they walked away.

God, I love those kids. But I hate these fucking ants. Seriously.

I  wish I could say that we have conquered them - that our liberal use of toxic and non-toxic products brought them to their little ant knees. But if I said  that, I would be wrong.

Just yesterday, I was sitting in the kitchen and I felt a little.....twinge. A little something on my back. No. It couldn't be..... I went into my bedroom and took off my dress - which was clear. I decided to just take a quick shower, just to wash the creepy-crawlies off. And that is when I took off my bra and discovered.......ants.

I don't know what to say. I don't know what to do. I literally have ants in my pants and I am now convinced that every tickle is a little ant army marching across my flesh.

This is worse than sympathy uku, or psychological fleas because I ACTUALLY HAVE THEM and I don't think I'll be able to handle wearing RAID full time. But I am willing to give it a shot. Lucy thinks I smell fantastic.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I don't share well. Get my straw out of your mouth.

One of my favorite memories that Trouble and I share is "the time that bitch ate my brie". We were at a restaurant, one of those cool wine bars where the actual 6 page menu is all different kinds of wine, and then the little drink card has a short list of food if you were so inclined. Heavy on the cheese and smoked meats.

I love that. That is how it should be.

Anyway, we were at this wine bar, and for dinner I ordered a glass of wine and a piece of brie with some bread. (I know, I know. The perfect meal.) Trouble had a friend visiting, a woman I had only just met, who had joined us for dinner. She didn't know me. She didn't know about my OCD tendencies, or my profound love of triple cream brie. And she casually reached right over, helped herself to a scoop of St Andre off my plate, and grabbed a slice of warm baguette.

Everyone at the table froze, waiting to see if I was going to stab her with my fork. Then Trouble burst out laughing and had to excuse herself. I switched to defense and kept my hand over my plate for the rest of the evening.

Long story short, I don't share my food.

It's not just the triple cream brie - and it's not just limited to food. I don't like people sharing my drink, either. I also don't share silverware, lipbalm, underwear or bathing suits without being grossed out and sure that I'll end up catching something contagious. This weekend, someone grabbed my drink and stuck the straw in her mouth, and if it hadn't been 100 degrees I would have thrown the damn thing away afterwards - but I was desperate, and I took it back and kept drinking, trying to breath through my paralyzing fear of having someone else's mouth germs in my own mouth. I tried to convince myself that the lime wedges in the cup would kill the bacteria.

Do not even get me started on how I felt when someone asked if they could have a bite of my sandwich.

It's not greed. I will happily say "you can just have the rest of that" anytime someone wants to try something I am eating. I will break it in half, ask for a second plate, cut/tear/rip off a bite, whatever. But if I have an ice cream, you will not be offered a lick (((shudder))) or an extra spoon.


And it's hard to not seem rude. I hate that my mind works this way. I *want* to be able to share. And I definitely don't want to insult anyone, or insinuate that they have germs.

And I am proven right time and time and TIME AGAIN because this morning I woke up with a cold and my first thought was: "I should never have shared that straw." I will now sit and punish myself for slipping. For not just handing over the drink and letting it go.

I deserve this cold. May it be a lesson to me.

Irony? After getting all bent out of shape about sharing a straw, I went to a strip club which is pretty much the least-clean place on the planet, and contemplated ordering a steak to eat right between the dancers legs, with their naked bodies not a foot away. With an extra fork and side plate, of course.