April 2010

My vacation is officially over; tomorrow I go back to work.  I’ll be finding out about a promotion this week, the results of which will impact my career choices and my ability to move to a nicer apartment this summer, not to mention my ability to get out of debt.  But enough of that serious stuff!  For some reason as yet unknown to me, I only really want to post something entertaining.

I now bring you 10 Things at Which I Suck and 10 Things at Which I Excel.  (Please note I didn’t end my phrases with prepositions.  I expect points for that.)  I’m not putting anything obvious or cliche, like how I’m the best mom in the world or that I’m good in bed, but rather things that are less common and more interesting.

10 Things at Which I Suck

1. Gaydar.  When I started my current job, there was a guy who started at the same time I did.  I joked with him constantly, popped by his cube all the time, and was generally really friendly.  Then we went out to lunch and he talked about the girls he was dating.  I did literally say, “Wait – you’re not gay?”  We laughed about it then, but for some reason we drifted apart after that.

2. Keeping a Straight Face When I’m Telling a Sad Story.  Impossible.  It’s hilarious to watch.  When I was catching my mom up on the Fringe episode with Peter Weller, I bawled my eyes out.  “And then…” sob! “There was this letter…”

3. Winning Raffles.  If I buy the tickets, I know it’s just a charitable donation.  And yet I still sit there looking at the numbers when they call them…

4. Lying.  I just can’t do it, even if it pisses people off.  If you listen carefully, you can deconstruct my deliberate responses to discover that no, I didn’t exactly tell you that dress was flattering.  And that baby?  Well, isn’t he just precious.

5. Knowing When People are Lying.  To call me gullible would be an understatement.  You could tell me you were the cousin of the President of Uganda and I’d probably believe you.  If there is a president of Uganda.  I probably need to read more world news.  The only exception to this is my son.  I can always tell when he’s lying.  I don’t know how it works, but I love how it confounds him.

6. Hiding My Anger.  Piss me off, and you will know it – not because I’m yelling or anything, I’m just no good at hiding it; it shows right on my face.  I could never be a cunning villain with secret plots; I can only be one that gets mad and goes on rampages. 

7. Tech Shit.  Yeah, I pay my bills online.  I know how to play videos on YouTube.  My mom even showed me how to work a Wii.  I could probably learn how to download music and program a DVR, but frankly, I don’t give a damn.  If my computer gets funky, I just call someone who does it for a living.

8.  Drinkin’.  I mean, I can drink.  It’s just, I can’t drink a lot.  I get all dramatic and then I get blubbery and then I have sex with men whose tattoos I have to check to find out their names.  I haven’t truly been drunk in years.  Which is to say, since that wrestler guy.

9. Remembering That I Put the Water on to Boil.

10. Talking to Cute Boys.  But you knew that. 

10 Things at Which I Excel

1. Instructions.  Sadly, I’m not like Laverne and Shirley.  If you give me a rule, I’ll most likely follow it.  It’s terribly boring and depressing.  Just one day, I’d like to break a rule in a really dramatic manner.  You just wait.

2. Talking to Strangers.  I have no problem striking up a conversation with random people in the line at Subway.  I’ve actually been complimented on my social skills at people’s weddings (“Aunt Mildred just can’t stop talking about you!”).  As long as they don’t make me swoon, of course (see #10 above).  Funny enough, I think that’s why dating was so easy.  I never found boys on the internet to make me weak in the knees, although we always had lovely conversations.

3. Finding a Song for Any Occasion.  Not as in “the perfect song for your wedding”.  As in, you just said “candy”, so I break into the “I Want Candy” song, complete with hand jive.  Or, god forbid, you use the words, “A long, long, time ago” because I can still remember how that music used to make me smile.  Typically, I do this in my head as to not be murdered in my sleep.

4. Throwing Parties.  No, not late night drinkin’ parties.  Afternoon parties.  Holiday weekend parties.  Chit-chat with a beer while the kids play parties.  The kind of parties that people go to before the big drinking parties.  Can’t really do the latter with my son, but I’ll bet I could pull one of those off one day.  Although you have my permission to punch me if I ever do anything out of a Martha Stewart magazine.

5. Baking Desserts.  Pies, cookies, cakes – whatever.  I can make it from scratch and make it yummy.  I can even temper eggs now.  I long for school bake sales.  Last time they had one, I made four pies and dozens of cookies.  My son’s new school doesn’t do bake sales.  : (

6. Connect-4.  I will whoop your ass.

7. Organizing Things.  Photos, rooms, houses.  Watching Hoarders desperately makes me want to clean.  This weekend I organized my tiny storage space; everything fits in there like little Tetris pieces now.  At my mother’s house, I’ve been given permission to go room by room “helping her organize” when I visit.  Which is another way of saying, “Brainwashing her to throw things out.”  She’s coming around.  (Muhahaha*cough*hack*hrm.)

8. Cleavage.  It’s more of a gift than a talent.

9. Politely Correcting Other People’s Spelling and Grammar.  This week I went to a cafe where a note by the cash register said, “We need more one’s.”  Yep, I told them.  It would have killed a little bit of my soul if I hadn’t.

10. Speaking to Inanimate Objects.  No, not just my car in a cool “Kit” kind of way.  Like, “Okay, Sponge, I know you’re at the end of your life here, and you’ve worked hard, but I just need one more pan out of you and you’re done.”  Which I may have just done a few minutes ago.


Many years ago, I dated an artist.  He took some black-and-white pictures of me for his portfolio.  Nothing nekkid, but somewhat racy and corsety.  He has them on his web site, and sells them occasionally.  Two of them have been on book covers (although in those you can’t tell it’s me).  At the time and for years afterward, I thought they were cool and sexy and unique.

For some reason, they’ve really started to bother me recently.  I’m trying to figure out why.

Theory #1: It compromises my respectability.  What if someone in my sleepy little town sees them and goes, “Hey, there’s so-and-so’s mom from karate!”  Somehow I think I’d be more embarrassed than thrilled.  Random goth guys thinking I’m hot = okay; random people in town, not so much.  When did that change?  Hell, in my last show I mooned the audience.  They thought it was hilarious and so did I.  Am I suddenly stuck up?  What do I care what people think?

Theory #2: Get your peanut butter out of my chocolate.  Maybe it has more to do with my own insecurities about who I am (mom life vs. night life).  I mean, I love dressing up gothy on a Friday night, dancing front and center, and getting as many men as possible looking my way.  What’s the difference?  Am I only willing to enjoy that attention on my own terms?  Do I need to keep parts of my personality a secret? 

Theory #3: It could ruin possible future opportunities.  What if I go into teaching?  What if I become moderately successful in life and those pics come back to haunt me?  I suppose these days people get away with worse, and celebrity is usually helped by those sorts of things, but it bugs me.

Theory #4: I no longer like the pictures.  I don’t think I look attractive in them.  I don’t think they’re particularly special.  If they were capital-a Art, I’d defend it, but they’re not.  And yet they’re his most popular photographs.

My ex isn’t a big artist.  My pictures won’t be in exhibitions.  They’re probably not even on anyone’s walls.  They’re probably clicked through quickly online or shoved in a drawer somewhere.  I’ve asked him to consider removing them from his portfolio, but I feel like I owe him a reason why.

So why are they bothering me?

It just hurts.

That’s why they call them crushes.  If they were easy, they’d call ’em something else.

I was talking to a friend this week about crushes.  He has a new one; I’m just getting over one.  It occurred to me that crushes, like other horrible painful experiences such as death, have stages.  I joked about tracking the actual average stage durations so that people in the throes of a crush will have a general idea of how long their ecstasy/misery will last, but the truth is that a crush can be a week long or years long, depending on the circumstances.  Every crush is unique and beautiful like a snowflake.  And terrible like getting stuck in an avalanche and getting frostbite before the rescue team arrives.

M.D.’s Stages of a Crush

Attraction – The first stage of a crush begins like a light switch.  The person could be someone who you have known for years or it could be someone who just walked in the room – either way, something happens that makes you turn on.  It doesn’t have to be physical attraction at first; maybe he just said he likes The Cure and now he’s not just some stupid jerk but he’s some stupid jerk who likes something you like and now – now that changes everything.  Or last night you dreamed about a guy with black hair and blue eyes and then, suddenly, there he is, at a place with lots of guys who look like that but no – that guy is him.  The mind boggles.  What are the chances?

During this stage, you get a stutter.

Obsession – Is it obsession if we friend him on Facebook?  Of course not, that’s just normal!  Maybe he’s already our friend on Facebook.  Maybe we look at his page 10 times a day, and follow all the little links that tell us whose statuses he’s commented on.  Maybe we save a couple of his pictures to our computer (you can’t just save one – you need different expressions).  Maybe we look at the people who tagged him in their pictures and read their walls (and boy do we like it when they’re married).  Maybe we find out where he is going to be Saturday night and end up there but just ’cause it sounded like a good time.  Maybe we talk to someone we both know and somehow the conversation turns to him.  “What’s his story?” we ask casually. 

We might not have realized how much we actually loved that one movie, but man, he loves it so we do, too.  We watch it again.  It’s brilliant.  We wonder why he identifies so much with it.  If we’re friends, we talk about it.  I mean, that’s interesting, right?  Hahahaha…we have so much in common, don’t you think?  In this stage, we spend a lot of time on Craigslist’s missed connections wondering if he’s writing about us.

Confusion – Was that smile a “Thanks for the light” smile or an “I burn for you, too” smile?  Did he just deliberately brush up against us as he went through the doorway?  Why did he sit next to us at the bar?  Who knows, but every little tiny infantismal thing he does is now under investigation.  Motives are mysteries.  Interest is elusive.  He said he wants to go home – is that an invitation or does he want to get away from us?  This stage makes us cry.  A lot.

Self-Criticism– We can’t read him, so we wonder: what’s wrong with us?  Did we have dandruff on our shoulder last night?  Did our eyeliner smudge and make us look like Alice Cooper?  Were we too chipper?  Not chipper enough?  Are we too fat?  Too thin?  We think about his ex-girlfriends.  Can we look like them?  Act like them?  No, wait – they obviously broke up for a good reason.  He wants something different.  Are we different enough?  During this stage we have “Please Let Me Get What I Want” on repeat.  The life we’ve had could make a good girl turn bad.  We deserve his love.

The End – Last night, he laughed really hard and it sounded like a seagull.  Or he ate with his mouth open.  He could have gotten drunk and started telling racist jokes.  He could have shown up to a party with a really skanky girl we know.  I mean, we wouldn’t be seen with him after a mistake like that, would we?  How much older is he again?  How could we not have noticed how he always does that thing that makes him look so dorky?

On the other hand, he could have kissed us and wow, that was…wet.  And awkward.  Or maybe he told us how much he values us as a friend – just a friend – right as we realized he’s totally made a mistake.   Ha ha ha!  You thought we like-liked you?  How silly!  Once, he actually had really terrible sex with us, and asked when we could get together again.  We lied to him and deleted his number.  And his photos.  And unfriended him.

Ah, crushes.  What can you do?  That was all so funny!  What were we thinking?  What a waste of time!  We are obviously just too good for him. Sheesh!  Time to get back to life – clear our heads!  We’ve got places to go, baby – people to see!  Yeah!

Oh, wait just a second, now…who is that?

I just went back and browsed through my blogs.  You guys must think I have amnesia.  I can’t believe I write the same things over again like I haven’t just mentioned them.  The sad part is that I’m actually like that in real life too. 

I once had a boyfriend who thought it was cute when I told the same joke twice.  I asked him why he didn’t tell me at the start of the joke, and he said it was because he loved my enthusiasm.

I’m going with that.

To say I’ve been a little depressed lately would be a lie; I’ve been totally, completely, crying-on-the-shower-floor depressed lately.  I’m only telling you this because I’m not anymore.  (The fact that I keep it such a secret is another story.  I’d talk it out but I just don’t have the heart to deprive my therapist of her 20% coinsurance.)  Suffice it to say, it ain’t pretty.  When I’m depressed, it’s a major fucking snowball effect, until I roll to the the bottom of the [metaphorical] hill thinking I’m the fattest, ugliest, least desirable woman in a 100-mile radius.  No – farther.

Anyway, toward the end of it, I decided the best course was to fall back on my talent.  It doesn’t matter what someone looks like if they have talent, right?  And even at my worst, you can’t tell me I’m not a good writer.  Not the blog – I mean my fiction writing.  Right now I’m working on a really good story.  Since I was feeling so terrible, I decided to take a week off of work this month.  Just a mental break – I can’t afford to go anywhere anyway.  But my plan is to just write.  It could be fun fucking up my internal clock writing for a week.  I can do it.  Wasn’t Catcher in the Rye written in a week?

Yeah, yeah, I know I’m no Salinger.  You know me.  I can’t help but get carried away with things in my head.  My imagination’s already run wild.  You see…well, my book becomes wicked fucking hot pretty quickly.  It hits the bestseller list in weeks.  My mom’s so proud.  I go on Oprah.  And The View.  And Ellen.  I dedicated my book to Nathan Fillion, since he’s got such a great ass great comedic timing, and Ellen surprises me with him on the show, and he falls in love with me, and we are totally an item.  I’ve stopped my stress eating, I’m two sizes smaller, and I’ve had a makeover.  Like a really super haircut makeover.  Within months, I have a movie offer.  I have so much money that I can write all the time and I’m happy and my son’s happy and life is just ducky.  Joss Whedon meets me – he’s a big fan of my writing – and casts me in his next show, so I get into acting and singing, too.  All the men in my life realize  how stupid they were to miss out on me.  And people who didn’t keep in touch don’t even know my phone number now.  I have to make a fan page on Facebook.

I know – it’s so high school revenge fantasy.  So unoriginal.  Yes, I’m going to write.  No, I’m probably not going to dedicate my story – if and when it gets published – to Nathan Fillion.  And who knows if it will even be as fucking awesome as I think it’ll be.  But I like the idea.  And I’m not crying for the first time in weeks.  So life is ducky already.

I live in a little suburban town.  It’s adorable.  There is a town center with little church steeples, a little hardware store run by old men, a diner that only takes cash, a general store with all sorts of unique and overpriced knick-knacks, and a little candy store.  The library is still a small town library with battered old books.  There are farms everywhere.  Some of them are large and sell turkeys, flowers, plants, and ice cream, among other things.  Some are so small, I actually noticed while walking in my neighborhood that one house had a backyard that was actually filled with farm animals, including a rooster.

Here in town, my son is happy.   I knew before I moved here that it had one of the best school systems in the state, but I didn’t know how kind, innovative, and understanding everyone at the school would be.  My son is smart.  Really smart.  Not just “I’m his mom so I say so” smart.  But he’s hard to get focused sometimes.  He’s hard to convince to work on something he’s already learned.  But they do.  And at karate, where he’s learning discipline and lots of cool martial arts moves, they care too.  And at the school’s after school program.  I’m amazed.  He’s adjusted and he’s matured a lot since we got here.  He looks so big.  He loves it here.

I’m starting to get to know parents at cub scouts and karate, and they are nice.  I do my fair share of small talk, although I make a good effort at turning it into real conversation, even though it falls flat sometimes.  I tried making friends with some of my coworkers at my new office, but most of them talk about such inane shit that I can’t even take walks with them at lunch anymore because all I want to do is scream when they talk about some stupid coach in their kid’s soccer game again.  All of the people I know in the land of mom-ville are coupled parents, married, with big houses.  Or, at least, houses.  I’ve been surprised to discover that some of my acquaintances are lawyers or politicians, although some are also teachers and real estate agents.  They have careers, have settled down and are focused on their families.  They watch network TV.  They go to church.  I’m younger than they are.  I have a different haircut.  A very different haircut.

When I go out on the weekend – just me – in Boston or Worcester – I feel like I can breathe a little easier.  Not that the hometown folks are bad at all, but I like being with people a little…shinier.  Creative people.  People who like to dance, or sing karaoke, who like random and obscure bands or artists or authors.  Who wear unique and pretty clothes.  People who don’t think Bjork is just some chick who wore a swan to some awards show – if they can even remember her.

Last weekend, I went to a bar with a James Bond theme and dressed up like a spy – shiny red dress and black bob wig.  This weekend, I’m going to a burlesque show.  Next weekend, a goth club with an apocolyptic theme.   I like men with tattoos.  And black hair.  And mischief in their eyes.

Most of the people I know out and about don’t have kids.  They go out whenever they want to.  They ask me out during the week, and I don’t say, “I could never babysitter to stay that late on a weeknight.”  I just say I can’t go.  And I know I could never fall for someone who I met at a bar or a club or a show because they would want someone who could live the same life they do.  Someone who could stay out all night and have really loud sex in her apartment.  Fuck, I don’t even know how I’d manage to have sex in my own apartment.

When someone from town asks what I’m doing on the weekend, I don’t go into detail.  When I’m out on a weekend and someone asks about my son, I don’t go into detail.   I feel like I fit into two worlds and I’m not really a member of either.  I don’t think it’s about not giving one group enough credit to trust them with the other part of my life, but that I just want each part to myself.  I still haven’t figured out how I could live my life like this, balanced on this fence, but it’s working for now.  It’s not easy.  Sometimes it hurts.  But it’s symbiotic: one part feeds the other.  I just have to keep them from total cannibalism.