Thursday, July 25, 2013

Made For TV - A True Reality Show

Early this cool morning, I am sitting and watching a myriad of children playing with each other with giggles, vivid stories, and extreme silliness.  While the weather is shifting, the mad rush to the beach is on hold during this family vacation.  The cooler air and wafting fog affords a couple of hours of parental amusement, as seven children, ranging in age from sixteen to five, unleash their imaginations – yes, they are shooting each other as zombies (both boys and girls), they are sharing funny videos from their handheld devices (so cute watching heads crowd around a small screen), and they are making memories to last them an entire lifetime.

Within a five mile radius, there are more cousins – the sleepyheads who will bound upon the seven already here.  There are in-laws and aunts/uncles within the same quaint little town.  Familiar faces  that can all be given the same label as they share a similar strain of the gene pool:  family.
My grand entrance to this family started twenty-two years ago.  It was 1991 and I was at a high school house party.  The kind of party that your parents tell you not to go to and somehow, you end up socializing and drinking beer with a large assortment of other young teens. 
To be honest, I do not remember who’s house we were at; it was an older (*ack* college student) kid’s house.  I was there with a few of my good friends and I remember walking around aimlessly taking in all the sort of unknown faces.  It was at this party that an older college boy took an interest in me and I was instantly curious…..”Ooooh, a college boy!”  I had recently graduated from high school, but I was a mere 17 years old.
Long story later, I dated this boy for a little while.  He was kind and like me, he was going to return to his college campus later that summer.  With my new adventure of embarking off to college, getting into a relationship was the last thing I would envision in the lazy days of the summer of ’91.
It all happened at an eventful July 4th party that the sweet boy invited me to.  I asked to bring my two best friends because I would not know anyone (again, a much older group).  During the party, I noticed the very handsome older brother of this sweet boy I had been meeting up with over the summer.  This older brother was very funny and intriguingly gross.  A few beers later, this cute man was asking me out.  My mind swirled because I was at the party with the sweet, younger brother of this cutie.  The sweet, younger brother and my best friend were becoming taken with each other; they were nowhere to be found but people say they were out on the paddle boat for hours (*disclaimer – they will both recount a slightly different version of events at this part of our story).  The cutie that had asked me out was also with someone else that he had brought with him to the party from his work.  Whoa.  This is NOT a soap opera, but real life.
Doug and I agreed to go running together and see how it went from there.  I was still reluctant to get into a relationship a mere few weeks before college; but dang, this guy was hot.  We went running together multiple times a week and we hit it off.  We would easily bang out a three mile run and follow that up with a strawberry shake from McDonald’s. 

Jeff and Cheryl also hit it off and began dating, despite different colleges, jobs and more.
Twenty-two years later, all four of us have been married seventeen years:  Doug and I tying the knot in May of 1996 and Jeff and Cheryl in August.  There are seven children amongst us.  There were the nay-sayers who shook their head when I got married at the immature age of twenty-two.  However, something in my deepest core told me even back then, that this course of action was my destiny and my fate.
As I continue to sip on my coffee and type, the noises continue:  Pop-Tart wrappers being torn and thrown by giant teenaged boy bodies; various mutant sound effects coming from imaginary play with bows & arrows and stick on mustaches; and the best sound of all – the laughter, the giggles, all emitting from the gaggle of kids that started with a young, summer romance.
Family.  At its best.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Survival Guide for Men

Dearest Men:

You have no idea what it is like to be a woman.  Oh, no, you clearly do not have any figment of an imagination to experience the vast geographical mental and emotional diversity of female-land. 

Let me explain to you what it is like to wake up suddenly and feel like this:

Yes, any woman will tell you precisely how she went to bed fine and woke up bloating out of her room, let alone her pants.  That muffin top she has been diligently working off at the gym has magically quadrupled in size.  Your wife suddenly, and strangely, looks five months pregnant.  No, it is NOT a beer belly and no, she does NOT have to take a dump. 

No one likes to talk about it but seriously, we women become mutant creatures that we cannot even control for that one week a month.  Be forewarned, keep your distance but do what we ask of you - your very life may depend upon it.  We are all over the place emotionally. 

How do I explain to you the reality of what we go through?  You men are fans of horror movies, right?  We women are not a fan of blood and gore, not just in the movies but in real life. 

Imagine this:

It IS gross.  This picture is precisely how we FEEL.  You know how you cannot focus on us when the football game is on and all you hear is, "Blah, blah, blah!" - well, when you are wondering why we might not be in the mood or we seem a tad bit unhappy; simply visualize the image above and give us an empathetic ten foot by ten foot buffer zone for about three to four days.

Howeverrrrrrrrrr (much emphasis added here), do not venture too far from that ten foot "Stay the F Away" zone - if it's 9 pm at night and I am wishing for some ice cream, the very best thing for you to say is, "Honey, I will go get you some ice cream!"  Know that I really do NOT want you to go for ice cream but I do want you to offer, so do it.  Pick up the keys and put your shoes on, but do not go.  I will tell you to not go but I will appreciate your offer.  I will also subsequently kill you fifteen times over in my head in a very violent manner.  I will curse your very stupid being and be angry at you, for not planning ahead (dumbass bastard, have you NOT figured out my cycle yet in all these years of marriage) and for not stopping on your way home to prepare for the Bloodacalyspe by buying me some Ben & Jerry's.  You will NEVER survive the zombie apocalypse if you have yet to document and predict my monthly uterus explosion.  Honestly, you should be thankful that you awaken each morning after I have asked you for salty French fries and sweet sugary ice cream and you have failed to deliver.  In my dreams, I have stabbed you in the eyes, I have peeled your skin off layer by layer, and I have punched you in the head with a variety of household objects.  Ahhhhh, estrogen and progesterone you wicked, wicked hormones.

Men, just remember that for your bad day at work, we women may have also had a bad day at work (professionally and/or at home) coupled with needy (or whiny) children, a hungry husband who has disappeared for fourteen hours to "cut the friggin' grass", while trying to scrub the toilet bowl (oh, why bother - the boys of the house will try to pee the poop stains off and I can just wait until next week when the blood is also gone), while trying to keep up with the laundry, while cleaning up cat puke, while paying the bills, while not burning dinner, while planning car pools for activities, while bathing the youngest, while getting books for and subsequently demanding that summer reading get done, while trying to exercise ourselves without giving our gym-mates real life nightmares of the movie "Carrie".................

Just get us the damn ice cream (and while you are out, stop at CVS for an extra box of Always Infinity Diaper Sized pads).  Congratulations.  You have survived another month.

Sincerely yours,

Women of All Womenkind

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Are You A Bra?

You know that saying, friends are like a bra – they offer you support when you need it.  What happens when your friends start to lose their elasticity or their underwire for you has poked through and been cast aside? 

In the past couple of months, three of my friends have been very much less than supportive.  I refuse to engage in drama, so despite the twinges of pain I felt in my heart from the crushing words these gals delivered to me; I simply nodded, put a figurative band-aid across my ticker and gave myself positive affirmations.  In fact, I actually whispered the words, “Screw you.  I will prove to you that I can do this.  I will do this.  For me, myself and I.” 
Putting me aside, however, my brain ventured down the path of over-analysis, much as it does on a daily basis and I began pondering (for the millionth time), why are women not supportive of women.  Every week I witness some form of degradation, some demeaning words delivered, some jealous actions played out and all of this by fellow females to other females. 

Your fellow estrogen carriers, the women who experience many of the day to day tribulations of being mothers to young children, daughters to aging parents, wives to busy husbands, homeowners, employees, employers – we ALL struggle to do our best with the weight of our own individual worlds on our shoulders.  Who has any right to try to pull that rug from underneath a fellow pair of boobs?
The wheels in my grey matter continue to grind and generate thought after thought after thought.  Last weekend, still tossing around the bad taste of being undermined by my peers, I moved on from analyzing this as an issue unique and specific to womankind.  Stories from the news permeated my outer-being and I was forced to comprehend that humans in general are simply not kind enough to each other.

If you strip us from all of our quirks, from all of our social groups, take away our religious belongings, ignore the thousands of shades of skin-color – what is left over?  Cripes, people – we are ALL human beings.  What is wrong with us?
I am not na├»ve enough to suggest that we all have to like one another, because honestly, we do not.  I do not expect everyone to like me.  I have a strong personality.  As a few friends have suggested, I am bold, I am authentic, I am fun and full of life.  I am passionate about many things in life and I will fight to the end for those things that I hold absolutely closest to my heart.  I will support you.  Yes, I will.  Sometimes, because of everything that I have on my plate, I am not the best in being there for everyone that I should be there for.  However, on the flip side – these are usually the friends that may need more than I, alone, can offer or perhaps these are the friends who offer little or nothing in return.
I am also not asking you to give constant, all out support and words of accolades regardless of circumstance.  Really, please do NOT support me if I decide to jump off a bridge.  You may absolutely, without a doubt, just give me a solid bitch-slap up against the side of my head and chastise me for being a downright fool.
The older I get, the fonder I become of my rose-colored glasses, indeed.  I am trying to make a habit of practicing what I preach.  I only preach the act of kindness towards our fellow human beings because I have viewed with my own eyes the very consequence of such acts.  Large or small, simple benevolent gestures may change the path of another lovely person:  that smile you just gave away – it may just offer a sad woman some hope for the day.  Think before you speak; perhaps a minor adjustment in your delivery and choice of words may not derail the emotional being of another but in fact, give him the boost of confidence to reconsider his choice.
For you women readers, think of how amazingly comfortable and supportive your best bra is – you can always rely on the support, the very fabric of your best bra keeps you contained and where you need to be at all times.  Your best bra is dependable. 
Imagine if we were all as reliable and uplifting as people, as bras are to women?
Be a bra.  You never know who may need you on any given day.