Wednesday, May 28, 2014


I think I lost a friend today
I blame you
I suppose she wasn't a good friend, I suppose maybe neither was I. 
She tried to contain me;
I was salt in her wounds-- 
but you cut her first.
I never had a chance to be a salve- you taught her to mistrust love,
confusing disagreement for disrespect.
You convinced her that she was worthless, I could never compete with your booming voice.

Maybe she never had a trusted someone disappoint her and still prove faithful.
Every comment, a skulking insult
Every injury, amplified; I would forever have to live down your failings, never had the chance to remedy my own.

we could never be good friends to each other because you trained her that smiles and promises are always empty, just lip service. That I would always step on her to get to the top always look down in victorious glee. I could never just be climbing, I could never just be me. 

You stepped on her, you denied, you laughed. Maybe I remind her of you, your biting words your slapping hand. 

I know it's not good to blame, it helps no one. 
But what do I do here? 
I know it's out of my hands now. I know there are no words to say.
I know there is no love without trust 
and that in the battle between fear and trust, one must crush the other. 

Maybe you don't care, maybe you don't know how to care. Maybe no one taught you. 

But I lost a friend today, and I blame you. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Regret, a poem

It isn't how they said it would be-
regret, that is.
It doesn't eat away at you; an ulcer of pity and wishes.
It doesn't taunt and chide, reminding you that you should have done more, been more.
It doesn't remember yesterday and back when with sorrow or shame.
It doesn't.
It doesn't remember at all. It doesn't look back or rewrite or remember or remind.
It doesn't.
It doesn't move forward or beyond.
No, it's the same yesterday (as it was today.) The same back-talking, teeth-sucking, excuse-making, you that was always there- that will always be there.
There they are. Here.
Hear the same voice. The same fight. The same words making the same arguments, trying to convince the same people.
Trying to change the same minds.

Only now, you're the only one listening.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

You are in charge of...

This is a sentence that I speak regularly, multiple times a day to the small (and occasionally big) people of my house. It is a useful tool for correction, encouragement, and empowerment. It can also be hilarious. Here are the most recent "You are in charge of statements:"

1. You are in charge of your own socks. Said to my daughter who couldn't find the socks she had taken off (against my advice) before we left the house. She didn't want to go "all the way upstairs" to find more and somehow it was my fault. I simply reminded her that "no, you are in charge of your own socks"

2. You are in charge of your milk. Said to my daughter after she accidentally knocked down her cup of milk for the 4th time this week. Accidents become less accidental when the perpetrator takes absolutely zero precaution and ZERO responsibility. Listen up folks, they can learn to put the cup at the top of their place-mat and control those elbows or they can go get a dollar out of their piggy bank and fork it over. They are in charge of their milk!

3. You are in charge of your own butt. This is a profound one, but it really did come out of my mouth. I said it to my son who was somehow trying to convince me that his sister made him moon her. Nice one buddy, stay classy kid. Nope, you're in charge of your own butt.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Week 5 Poem: Happy 32

If today were your first birthday, or your third or ninety-third
it would be a miracle,
a miraculous bursting of life
of bright laughter and red streaks.
If today were your fourth birthday or your sixty-second,
it would be a treat, a gift to the land and sky
and trees would sway their hips
with the rhythm of celebration.
It would be a rain cloud, heavy with promise,
bloated with blessing
that would weep if today were your sixth birthday,
or your sixteenth. Sweet, sweet sixteen times two,
is you,
And Karl Malone, and Magic Johnson and Sandy Koufax all know
just as well as I do (for the next 4 months or so) that 32 is where it's at.
a happy number (mathematically speaking) and what's good enough for Beethoven (goose) is certainly good enough for the gander.
Thirty-two paths of wisdom-
Read the Kabbalah or just count my thirty-two grown up teeth.
Call Belgium or traverse the counties of Ireland, you'll always find thirthy-two. I'll join you
until May
and then you alone will carry the thirty-two torches.
You are a celebration any day.
Happy Thirty-two,
Happy Birthday,
Happy you!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Do Not Answer

Dear Telemarketers,

I respect that you have a job to do. Really, I do. I can only imagine it must feel to call people who do not want to hear from you, who are rude, snappy, who hang up on you. I know you have to make a living just like the rest of us. I can't bear to hang up on you, but I also don't have time to talk, and I don't want what you're selling. So, after I politely decline and sweetly ask you to remove me from your call list (which you never do), I add you to my contacts. That's right, I save your number to my phone's memory, like all of the other people who I want to remember by name. Only your name is "Do Not Answer." To date, I have about 35 numbers listed under this contact name. And I see your name every time you call back (how do you think I know that you didn't actually put me on the 'do not call list' as I requested?) It may be cowardly, but it's brilliant and it saves me at least 4 headaches a week. If by some chance you are a new telemarketer who has never called before, don't worry, there's plenty of room for more in the group, so enjoy my voice today, because you'll never hear it again.

Update: Now that I've joined the hordes of owners of newfangled smart phone owners, there's a fancy little feature that quickly allows me to block calls from a certain number. I'm employing this feature and it's pretty effective. Somehow, I miss the daily calls from my good friend "Do Not Answer." And the satisfaction of... you know, not answering. Sigh.   ** If you use a phone without that feature, go ahead, add all the numbers you don't want to receive a call from to your own "Do Not Answer" contact name and get some relief!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Dear Bestie

      This is why I love my bestie. This morning, instead of doing my normal deliveries for work (I own a delivery service based business) I was home, moping and surfing the web (half productive- reading dishwasher reviews- ours broke, half destructive- some videos are better left un-watched), managing my foot pain and generally feeling badly about myself for not having participated in dominant culture's rituals of hygienic maintenance when my bestie texted. Cue the sad music as I immediately took this as my opportunity to tell someone just how badly I was feeling. It was dramatic, self-indulgent and in a word, wonderful. And, it was just the little boost I needed to get up and put pants on.
      As with most bestie-communication, a decoder ring is necessary to understand the conversation. The "scraping" refers to an  aspect of my wound care (I think it's a remnant medieval medical care techniques) whereby the podiatrist scrapes out any necrotic flesh from the wound, opening it up a little in the process, in order to ensure proper healing. It's not fun and it is discouraging to feel like you're moving backward instead of forward.
           'Nebuchadnezzars' are House Centipedes (the most hated and terrifying household bug I can think of.)  Nebuchadnezzar was a ruthless Babylonian king, most famous for throwing  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the furnace after they refused to bow down to a big statue he'd made of himself. Yeah, that gem. He was kind of a jerk and pretty imposing, so we call the terrible creepers by his name (unless you are my daughter with a 4-year old accent. Then you call them 'Never-Ka-Nevers!' As is, they should never, ever be anywhere near a 4-year old little girl's room, especially not her underwear drawer. Yes, this happened. Yes, it was traumatic. Yes, she still talks about it in hushed and devastated tones)  - because when they are in the room, you pretty much feel ruled by them.

     So, for moments like these, the times when you want to tell someone, "It's noon and I haven't brushed my teeth and I'm feeling so sorry for myself that I'm imagining being eaten alive by centipedes," for those moments, you need your best friend. Because sometimes, you're just out of your mind... and someone's gotta understand your particular breed of crazy.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Week 4 Poem

This morning the fog was so thick that it was hard to see. The kids thought it was great, I wasn't looking forward to the slow commute to school. When I returned to my desk after a day spent talking with my bestie and and afternoon with my kids, I intended to check Facebook, tidy up some plans for tomorrow, spend a few minutes writing and go to bed. A friend of mine posted a gorgeous picture of the fog and my poetry prompt was also on the topic of fog (an interesting coincidence since the prompts do not come from this region.) So with that, I reflected on the dense fog I saw this morning and the more figurative fogs that can come and go in life.

We left the house
while the fog still hung
thickly overhead.
There wasn't any need
for sight.
We already knew the way.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Dear Someday - Weekly Poetry Challenge (mid-week extra)

This poem was written based on a poetry writing prompt that I read. The prompt was "write a poem about someday in the future." It was sort of a futuristic theme but that didn't work for me because somehow I usually feel 1 of 2 things when I think about the future- really hopeful and longing or really melancholy. I went with melancholy and this is what came out. It was written in one quick burst and I haven't edited it but I think I'm happy with it.


I'll be done pining.
I'll be done apologizing.
I'll be done crying.

I'll forget that you were everything
and I
was everything else.

I'll remember that we are all 
made from the same stuff.
The same dirt, the same truth,
the same lies
the same bluffs 
called by the same love.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Dear Mom

     I've already talked about how tricky (and by tricky I mean down right exhausting and excruciating at times) to raise a little boy with a quick brain and a sharp tongue. It can lead to frustration when compliance and obedience seem impossible to achieve without a fight,  feelings of defeat when I forget what my goals are and yell or resort to behaving like a vindictive child instead of the parent. I have been embarrassed in public and looked at with something between disdain and pity a few times when I engage in what some perceive as "indulging" my son's need to understand why I want him to do something. We have learned that this little boy's nature is one that challenges authority inherently, values justice and logic above all things. He will fight for the rights of others and for his own rights. These can be amazing attributes in a well-developed adult, but a real doozy to deal with in a boundary-testing little guy who's still figuring out what the world is like.

     Our solution has been to set specific parameters and guidelines for tough situations for him:

1-When it's OK to disobey (If someone asks or even demands that you do something unsafe, unkind or hurtful to you or anyone else, you have every right to say 'no way!'),
2- What is the appropriate way to ask mom or dad or other grownups in charge "why do I have to?" (You may ask 'why?' as you are moving in the direction of obedience OR you may ask if it's OK if we talk about it first- but you may NOT hold your obedience hostage by standing cross-armed until you get a satisfactory reason. You need to trust us.)
3-When immediate obedience, no questions asked, is required. If mom or dad say something is not up for debate right now, you must trust that we have your best interest, safety and well-being in mind and believe that we will help you understand later (the middle of the road is not the time to ask why we have to hurry across!)

     These specifics have been helpful for our little analytic guy, but they don't cover every situation and they don't always take away all sting of an answer that he doesn't understand, doesn't agree with or is simply disappointed by. The grey areas, where I am tempted to simply say "because I said so" can be the toughest. He is smart, he knows what he wants and he doesn't want to be stopped. It is tedious to have conversation after conversation about what feels to me like the same issues, but I am convinced that it's essential to the type of mother I want to be and the type of son I want to raise. I want him to know that his trust is valuable and it is to be given where deserved. I want him to know that his desires matter and that in any relationship he enters into, who he is, what he thinks and feels should always be part of the equation. I want him to know that sometimes, not getting what you want doesn't mean you are unloved and that being angry at someone doesn't mean you don't love them. I want him to know that there is always a chance to turn around, say you're sorry, try again.
     And so, when all of the above tools failed last week and I had to firmly say, "I'm sorry that you don't agree, but I have heard your point of view and I am still choosing to say no for reasons A,B and C" he was angry. Angry enough to say something hurtful. Angry enough to say "I wish I never had parents, just like Huck Finn! That way no one could tell me 'no' all the time!" (note the literary reference in his fit of rage). I took a deep breath, I let myself be hurt, I let him see that he had hurt me and chose to respond kindly and honestly, "That's an unkind thing to say. I think you should think about if that is really true. I love you but I am not happy with how you're responding to my decision and I don't like the way you are treating me. I'm going to go finish my work now, but when you are ready, I think you'll need to ask my forgiveness for those words." He looked sheepish and somewhat embarrassed, but he did not apologize right then. He went to his room to work on some lego project while I went to my office without another word.
     I wondered if I had failed, if I should have punished him for those disrespectful words, if I should have demanded an apology right then and there. I tried to remember my hope for him. I prayed and I waited. That evening, I walked into my room, spent and empty, to find this little note on my bed and I was reminded of the grace that can enter in when we make room in the broken places.

Friday, January 10, 2014

To Who it May Concern (we regret to inform you) Week 3/ Poem 3

This Is Not What It Looks Like

This is not what it looks like
you don't understand
I'm not passing you over, not one who would stand
on your pulse, on your hope
I'm only a man.

This is not what it looks like,
it's just not for you--
some others fit better.
Surely you see, surely it's true.

Come on, be a sport, it's not about you--
don't make it a race thing,
don't start with those words.
This is not about you, you've already heard.

Someone else, I'm sure, will give you a shot
This is not what it looks like,
(but we want a man)
and as you're aware,
clearly, you're not.

Straighter teeth, smaller ass,
tighter arms, tits are fine.
(But you're too brown) it's just not the right time.
No, no, no, not keeping you back,
not pushing you down.
It's just, here, see the line?
I didn't draw it, I didn't decide.
It's not about you, don't choke on your pride

Can we just forget it? It's already done.
Just move on, no big deal.
Trust me on this one-- you've got so much to offer,

But this is not about you, and this is not what it looks like.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Warts and All

On this day, three weeks ago, I had "minor foot surgery." That's what I've been calling it- "minor foot surgery" because that sounds much better than saying "I had a massive colony of warts that was threatening to permanently take over my feet surgically removed ." It wasn't so bad. I'm lying, it was awful. The podiatrist sprayed some freezing solution on my feet (yes feet, there were warts on both feet. It's appropriate to be disgusted right now), stuck a sizable needle into the 'wart family' (as my son likes to say) and once the numbing took effect (about 7 needle jabs later- ouch!!)  burned the warts with a laser. The smell of burning flesh was cringe worthy, but not as bad as the next step. He took these giant cuticle-clipper looking things and began cutting the burnt wart bits out of my foot leaving bloody gaping wholes on my feet. I'm not squeamish and since I could feel nothing, I watched it all with fascination. He then began to shave the skin inside of the wholes, much the way you would raspberry sorbet, and honestly, that's pretty much what it looked like, pink, smooth, creamy foot-flesh. After he bandaged me up, and told me to take it easy for a few days (and by days, he meant weeks- minimizing jerk!) I actually thanked him. Yes, I knew, in theory, when I heard the scraping sound as he "removed all traces of wart tissue from the dermis floor" that it would hurt later, but one cannot exactly prepare for the descent of pain that has been artificially postponed via drugs. It's just so shocking. One minute I'm walking home on feet that I cannot feel, an hour later, "Mother of God, he ripped out parts of my foot!!"

 So, I spent Christmas break hopping and hobbling to the bathroom, sitting at my computer with my feet up, and generally not moving unless it sounded like the kids were seconds from death. My husband, who was also on break, picked up the slack, with only minimal evidence of frustration and was pretty much kind and catering- for three weeks. He's been great about it, but I'm getting pretty sick of myself. You know how people get sick and at first, you're all, "poor baby" and then after a few days you want them to suck it up and get over it. Well, that's how I've been feeling about myself- Come on, buck up! Fake it, till you make it. Be-Aggressive! Be-Be Aggressive! B-E-A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E! Except, it's freaking hard to fake it when every step hurts. I have slapped that inner-cheerleader in her face more times that I can count (though I do appreciate how cute she looks in that pleated mini.)

Three weeks after my 'little procedure' I am getting around (with a cane) but am still generally cranky and self pitying. Each morning, my husband wakes up before me, makes breakfast, and gets the kids ready for school. This is great, we are the kind of couple that shares parenting and household responsibilities. But this morning, when I heard my little 4-year-old daughter saying 'happy birthday' to my husband, you'd think something would have registered. You'd think that I would have hobbled out of bed and at least join them at the table to eat the breakfast that he'd prepared. Nope. I thought, "that little girl is a dummy. She doesn't even know when her daddy's birthday is. Ouch, my foot." When my son came in talking about dad's birthday I thought vaguely the same thing. When my husband finally walked back in to the room to get dressed, I asked, "why is everyone talking about your birthday?" in an exasperated tone. It seriously never dawned on me that it might actually be his birthday, It never occurred to me that while on this day 3 weeks ago, a psychopath (ok not really) cut my foot up, on this day 34 years ago, the man who cooks me breakfast and drives hours to pick up my favorite pillow (that I left behind at the cabin we rented with friends), and wipes poopy bottoms (seriously, she's four years old and still refuses to wipe herself) and carries the air-conditioners up 3 flights every summer, was born.

So I guess I can be kind of a jerk sometimes.

hobbling to the store to pick up his favorites for dinner.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Dear Non-Spanking Parents

Dear Non-Spanking Parents,

So what do you do when your kid gets a little too big for his or her britches?

Yesterday, my son turned nine. Today, he thinks he's a grown ass man. I love him, so much. He is clever and funny and snugly. He's a great climber and a fantastic imaginer. His mind is sharp and his insights astute- usually these are great attributes, but every once in a while that quick wit turns into a wicked-sharp tongue and he lets his mouth get the better of him. For a little context, he weighs 60lbs (he's like a less than a third of me on a good day) but, we've decided not to use corporal punishment  (though once in a long while an egregious offense will warrant a spanked bottom in our house- not saying whose) so generally, my size doesn't help me in the area of discipline. Nope, we're evolved parents who apparently "know better" than to damage our children with the type of disciplinary actions our parents doled out.

 Just last week my husband and I rented a cabin with friends and after a few mugs of spiked cocoa we all got to talking about what our parents did to us. I divulged the time when my oh-so-brave 17-year old self mouthed off to my mom. For more context, I was about the size I am now and my mom has always been a very little woman, maybe 5'2'' (Don't feel too badly for her, she packs a mean passive aggressive punch.) So as I was verbally disrespecting the woman who labored for 33 hours to bring me into this world (can you tell that my own motherhood has slightly altered my perspective on things?) she threatened, "If you don't shut your mouth I'm going to break it!" I, of course, with my brown lip liner, concussion-tight, high pony-tail and too-fitted RL Polo shirt, was a senior pulling straight A's without trying, had the vocabulary of a 30 year old adjunct professor, and was not afraid of my 5'2'' mother. I know you're cringing, I know.This is where that time machine hot tub would have come in handy (1- to take me back to prevent my 17-year old self from saying what I was about to say and 2- to soothe my butt if I didn't make it in time.)  But, no one did stop me from opening my stupid mouth and saying, (this is now playing back in slow-mo in my mind) ""  I think something must have happened between the time when I saw my tiny mother swing on me and when I came to, looked around and found myself landed on the kitchen floor against the washing machine (yes, our washing machine was in the kitchen- this was a rent-controlled, project apartment in Queens. No, we didn't have a dryer, we just laid our clothes on the radiators until they were crispy and smelled like whatever mom was cooking that day - arroz con pollo: good, bacalao- a pungent salted codfish: bad. You get what you get and you don't get upset.) Something definitely happened in that moment- she put me on notice that, at least for the remaining 9 months until I went off to college to do, whatever the hell it was I ended up doing, I was in her house. Mom's street-cred was reestablished and I knew that if she had to, she could take me out. It didn't fix all of our problems, and arguably, it didn't fix any at all, but, then again, I never tried to talk to her that way again.

So yesterday I heard my mom knit-picking at my son. He was already in a bad mood, for only God knows what reason. I think his 9-year old boy period was starting or something and every little request sent him off into a rant of 'why me?'s. I had asked him to do something, he fussed and I informed him of what the consequence would be. My mother, not satisfied with my lack of guilt tripping and snarky commenting, decided to chime in. The back and forth between the 64 year old and the 9 year old ensued and ended with him storming out of the kitchen. I asked him what was wrong and he literally turned into a character from "The Wire"

The conversation went exactly like this:

Me: What happened in there?
Tiny Boy: It's grandma, she's always getting me upset.
Me: Well, did you try to talk to her about it? You can use kind words to explain how you feel.
(and here's where the change happened- voice deep, scowl on his face, arms splayed in wide fury and invitation of conflict; has he been dipping into my secret stash of movies: Juice, Carlito's Way, New Jack City?)
Tiny Gangster: I don't know why she gotta be all up in my business!
Me: blink
Tiny Gangster: She's always talking trash... (he let his voice trail off, which was scarier than if he had punctuated the statement. Was he planning on making an example of his grandmother in front of all of her senior, nagging friends?)

In the end, I made some firm remarks about how to speak respectfully to and about his grandmother, but I walked away somewhere between stunned and in silent hysterics. This kid is no walk in the park. It was almost as bad as the time he was misbehaving in church and I quietly whispered, in a menacing tone "I would like you to change what you're doing" and he dead-pan responded "I would like to not smell your breath right now."

So, what do you think? Should I post this on one of those sweet parenting/"ask a natural mommy" blogs? No, I didn't think so.

So, I'm thinking I need a new plan, cause no gangster I ever met sat in time out.

At this rate, I fully expect my 4 year old daughter to declare, (with her 4-year old lisp) "snitches get stitches bitches" next time someone tattles on her.

mother of a little-man-on-fire

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Haiku Time - Week 2 Poem(s)

Four Haiku for this cold, cold week

one small, snuffed out life
I held him as he faded
it wasn't enough


I grew this flower
planted it inside of me
the thorns cut me still


O come, o come now
you shouldn't make me wait
torture is no cure


she won't stay this way
this small, this bright, this trusting
my one tragedy

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dear Abuela - Week 1/ Poem One

Dear Abuela

The smell woke me up.
I padded downstairs
one foot still sore from last week's surgery.
The podiatrist said "take it easy"
I thought, "he has no idea"
My mother, my children's grandmother
stands at the stove
stirring a pot of arroz con gandules
but I encounter my own grandmother
long before I see her.
She turns, hands paper thin,
and knobby,
steadily stirring
and offers my 8 year-old lips
a taste.
Bendicion, Abuela
Dios te bendiga

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year, New You, blah blah blah

    Every new year, we challenge ourselves and others to make big resolutions, goals, to become a "new you". Lots of people embrace this tradition, running out to take advantage of gym membership deals, joining dating services, looking for a new job. Others reject the tradition citing the hordes of people who fail or give up within months if not weeks. I understand where the fatalists and skeptics are coming from- I too call bullshit on the elliptical sale at Sears because I know that by March 14 it will be a really weird looking drying rack for my shower curtain (yes, I wash and reuse my shower curtains- don't let the industry fool you, they are machine washable! Save yourself $12.95 people!) But I also love the idea of new beginnings and each year trying to be a little bit more of who you want to be. Spending money to try to become who society says I need to be is ridiculous, but I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. So the quest for a worthy New Year's Resolution began.

     This new year, I was challenged (by my, ahem, counselor) to make space for my voice. This was a refreshing challenge (which actually felt more like an invitation than a challenge) compared to the constant "health/fitness/weight-loss challenges" which are really just, well, how can I put this, a shitty interior of self-denigration wrapped in a shitty exterior of societal conformity (chewy on the inside, crunchy on the outside, just shut up and pass me a butterfinger). Seriously though, don't get me wrong, I still plan on continuing to pursue health this year, it's just so freeing to think of it as a more holistic pursuit- one that includes my mind and heart rather than one that just entails me sweating on a mat in yoga class with some 19 year old's crotch in me face NOTE 1: I did catch the typo "me face" instead of "my face" but decided to keep it because if anything makes me feel like a gnarly freaking pirate, it's yoga class with 19 year-olds. NOTE 2: if 19 year old crotches are your thing, wrong blog). So, anyway, this year, in addition to yoga class, I will be making an intentional choice to write more. Maybe one day I'll be a "real writer"( you know, when I grow up) or maybe I'll just learn more about who I am.

My first 'challenge' will be to write one poem each week for the next 6 weeks. This sounds simple enough but I'm already overwhelmed (and excited). Let's see how it goes.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Dear Women and Men, Readers and Publishers (i.e. everyone)

Dear Women and Men, Readers and Publishers (i.e. everyone),
     I regularly talk with my best friend (who happens to be unmarried) about how to keep (and develop) my identity in the midst of my roles as wife and mother. I have always prized reading as one of the sharpest tools in my do-not-lose-myself bucket. So, imagine my, ahem, surprise, when it dawned on me that some of the titles we are reading may actually be reinforcing the stereotypical identity-loss that comes with wifedom and motherhood.  As I was editing my Goodreads list and browsing my friends' lists, I noticed something interesting, er, disturbing. There are a shocking number of novels out there with titles like "The fill-in-the-blank's Wife." There's The Tiger's Wife, The Pilot's Wife, The Time Traveler's Wife, The Traitor's Wife, The Doctor's Wife, The Diplomat's Wife, The Sea Captain's Wife, The Shoemaker's Wife (seriously? Do shoemaker's still exist? If so, where? I have a pair of busted Nine West sandals that have been begging for repair. I wore them to my sweet 16. I will never throw them out. Nine West is high fashion for someone with as much student loan debt as I've got.) The Saddlemaker's Wife (now this could get good...) and the list goes on and on. In fact, after a cursory amazon search for literary fiction with the word "wife" in the title, nearly 1,200 titles appear, more than twice that if you expand the search to include all contemporary fiction and literary fiction categories. I joked with my own husband that I should write a book titled "The Headmaster's Wife" as it seems denying my own identity or at least simplifying it to be merely based on my marital status is a surefire way to get published. Another quick search delivered the hard news that someone had already beaten me to the punch. Doh! Maybe I'll read The Headmaster's Wife over spring break. The title is generic enough to be based on my life, after all.

 Image Borrowed from A Girl's Guide to Taking Over the World
      Now, I am not, in anyway, suggesting that these books aren't great reads or well-written. I actually haven't read most of them. But it is noteworthy that while there are somewhere between 1,200 and 3,000 books on the shelves whose titles define women according to their relationship to a man (I did filter out for lesbian literature, though a few may have gotten past) the very same search on amazon for fiction with "husband" in the title yielded only around 250 results. After a few minutes of glancing, many of these books didn't even refer to the role of husband but rather, were books about women in want of a husband such as The Husband Thief, The Husband Hunt and A Husband for Margaret. It's also noteworthy that most of these "husband" books were not popular or successful titles while many of the "wife" titles were (more than a couple of New York Times best sellers).

     So why is that? I am assuming that many of these titles were chosen by publishers and not by the authors. They must believe that titling a book "So and So's wife" is going to sell more copies. Why? It's subtle, I know, but it seems indicative of a general cultural tendency to have women's identities be cast in the shadows (or if she insists on taking center stage, be relegated to the so-called "Chick Lit" corner- don't even get me started on the degrading way the publishing industry treats books that fall into this category!)
      I love my husband, love who he is, what he does, yes, but I don't want to be simply defined by who he is. But guess what, he doesn't want that either (read: this is why we are married). He doesn't have a blog so you'll just have to take my word for it. Besides, I've asked him. Repeatedly. You know why?  Because reminding each other, and the world, that as awesome as we are together, we are also individuals, is something that takes work both inside the home and out. Because I'm better when I'm more than his wife and he's better when I'm better. Of course, it goes both ways, but somehow everyone gets how great it is when I put something aside to see him further his career (which I have done) but not when he forfeits a goal for a time while I pursue my own (which he has done). It starts with what we say and what we believe and what we choose. It starts with the books we read our children and the books we read ourselves. So, while I'm not suggesting that any of these books be banned from the reading list of feminists, or women-conscious readers (in fact book-banning is the surest way to get a book added to my reading list) I am suggesting that we point out, talk about and debunk myths like this one: the identity of a man (husband) is more important than the identity of a woman (wife), even in her own story.

     In my story, which is both my story and his story, (and our story) who I am is just as essential as who he is. I want my children to see that and know that, and one day, I want my daughter to read that- on the cover of a New York Times best seller.


A woman, a writer, reader, a friend, a business-owner, a mother, a lover, a thinker and yes a wife of a husband (who doesn't feel the need to insert himself here.)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A poem for the season of Hope

I wrote this poem during this advent season as we meditate on hope. Hope is often described as this fluffy, light thing; a cloud, a twinkle, a feather, a dream. And maybe the act of hoping is white and bright. But maybe not. Maybe it's dark and scary and risky. Maybe it's like running away from the slave master, maybe it's running toward freedom. I think about hope being the marrow in the bones of runaway slaves. During advent, we light the Hope candle and it shines, but it only shines in the dark.

The North Star

If Christ be not that northern star, 
our beacon not to follow
in vain we make this journey far
and shelter in trees hollowed;
plagued by termites' vicious want --
as we are poured out by the master,
demanding lifeblood for his gain,
demanding reverence for his name.
See these bodies, the shattered alabaster. 
If satan's not the fearsome captor
then why do our feet flee so?
His hounds, they've caught my scent
I feel the River Freedom's undertow;
the lapping warmth, this liquid Lent,
my spirit beat, my body spent.
I'll wait there, wade there, severed from my own.
My fugitive family caught, my son; a bloodhound's bone.
If Christ be not that distant star
that beckons, points and leads,
then he would be the hollowed hole that hides me in the trees.
And he would be that lapping wave that carries on this broken slave,
and he would be my lonely head and he would be my son, half dead.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Dear Little Rock Star

Dear Little Rock Star,

My sweet, small girl. You are amazing. I love your chubby body, your deep clever eyes and your 4-year-old lisp. I love how you talk, how you move and how you sing. 

Today, you were so thrilled about having a "girls' day" with my besties (you are so cool you even get along with grown doggone women!) that you made up a song about it. The one hitch to "girls' day was that my friend's husband Dan was going to be hanging around too- you addressed that issue in your song and the resulting refrain was "Girls' day (pronounced 'gulls' day)...except for Dan!" You are so clever! 

One day, not too long from now, you will be able to pronounce all of your 'R's and I will cry, just like I did when you figured out how to say your brother's name correctly and stopped calling him 'beelah' which does not sound anything like his name.

But when that day comes- I will have this (luckily, Dan just happens to be an awesome musician who can create things like this) to remind me of my little rock star.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Dear Mothers of Daughters,

Dear Mothers of Daughters,

     Stop encouraging your little girl. OK, no, don't. But stop doing it in a way that is killing her and equipping her to kill.

     I hear it all the time. Subtle killers, disguised as encouragement, loving praise, confidence boosting little pep-talks. "You're so lucky to have such naturally straight teeth, other kids have to spend years in braces" "Do you know how many girls would kill for your long legs and thin waist?" "Don't complain about your flat hair, lots of girls are spending lots of money trying to straighten and flatten their hair to be like yours." Without even knowing, and indeed, while trying to do good, to tell our daughters that they are beautiful, we communicate that it's all a big competition, that our little girls' precious body exists to be an object of envy and is praiseworthy only in the context of someone else's lack. By constantly pairing praise and admonishment to be thankful with the highlighting of what other girls want or don't have we teach that there is a limited supply of beauty and loveliness going around. That if she has something, others must be in want of it.

     My little girl was born with beautiful fine, chestnut brown hair that highlights in the sun and curls into soft ringlets at the ends. We took a shower together today and she looked at me, her hair flattened by the weight of water, my tight curls barely weighed down and saturated, and said, "how come my hair doesn't curl up all over like yours. I want curls all over not just at the ends." I was tempted to say "are you kidding me?! you've got good hair, great hair, in fact. Do you have any idea how much I wanted hair like yours when I was growing up- hair that didn't frizz or grow to two times its size on a muggy day, hair that didn't require a half bottle of conditioner just to get the tangles out, hair that didn't hurt to be brushed?!" But I held my tongue and I reminded myself that I don't want to damage her wonderful sense of beauty with the self-injuring talk that I've been fighting against for all these years. So instead, I said, "I'm glad you like my hair, I really like it too. It's got curls all over, and that can be a lot of fun, but you know what, you were made beautiful too, with special little curls right at the bottom. They remind me of ribbon curls hanging from a Christmas gift" (she's all about ribbon curls).  And in that moment, I knew I had turned a corner and figured something out. We're talking holy spirit stuff, y'all, because I don't know where else the truth could have come from like that. I knew, right then, that it was my job to teach her to admire without coveting and despising. To accept praise without glorying in someone else's envy.

     The lie is that if we tell our daughters enough times that they are the best, that they will believe it. But it's not true, if we tell them that they are the best looking, have the best teeth, the best legs, hair, eyes, it will not give them a rock solid self-esteem. If we tell them that they are better than every other girl, it will not infuse in them a positive self image. If she has the best eyes, all the "pretty eyed" girls become a threat. If she has the thinnest waist, the new girl with a thinner waist is her competition. She will constantly be fearing the next contender who aims to dethrone her. She will always need to seek out the reigning champ to challenge and she will never be enough. Maybe not out loud, maybe not overtly, but in her heart, she will need others to be less so that she can be more. Because, she will have internalized a belief that there is not enough beauty, goodness, personality, charm, brains, whatever, to go around. And, if praise is always attached to another's pity, then it is costly and hard-won and scarce. And fickle. It can be taken away, lost. So she'll believe that she has to fight for it, to maintain her praiseworthy status and she will lose her god-given ability to enjoy others. This is the mean girl epidemic, the jealous girl trend. This is where bullying and belittling and biting come from. I am, because you are not. But this is a lie, and we don't have to the devil's dirty work for him.

     So my goal is to tell the truth. I hope you will join me in trying.

     Love and life y'all

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dear Overworked,

Dear Overworked

Found this in my journal from 4 years ago... still seems relevant today.

You know something it's time for some reflections when...

You make up a batch of whipped cream- no not for company or a fancy meal- just to eat it by yourself!
You throw a shoe at the dog because he smells.
You tell your son you're putting 10 minutes on the timer and secretly put 8 just to be spiteful.

Oh, oops, that was all me! Who is spiteful to a 5 year old you ask with doe-like innocence and wonder in your eyes. That would be me, I am sorry to say.

When is the last time you checked in with yourself to see how you're doing? Or better yet, when is the last time you checked in with another friend to see how each of you are doing? Time has got to be on the list of endangered resources these days, and I know it can be hard to find even a half hour to sit down and take stock. But if you can bear the thought- just hear me out for a sec- if you can bear the thought of leaving the dishes in the sink and the laundry unfolded just a little while longer. If you can let the kids run in the yard *gasp* semi-unsupervised, or *bigger gasp* set them down in front of a show for a bit, maybe you can find someone to talk to, to pray with, to kvetch to, moan, cry or laugh with for just a little bit. Or take the time to sit alone and be quiet.

Quiet reflection and talks with friends- I have been missing this big time lately. Big, big time. With all of the busy-ness there just hasn't been time for the "frivolous" self-care or self-assessment. But guess what, I'm a stingier mom, and a grumpier wife when I foolishly assume that it's impossible for me to make time for me. If I don't sit down to think, journal, pray, trouble soon follows. I am slowly learning that.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Dear Overachiever,

     I'm turning 32 and I've never been to a happy hour. I don't kow what that means exactly. Maybe it means nothing. I get a little melancholy every time I'm about to have a birthday. It's not that I'm afraid of getting older, exactly. I'm not.  Not afraid- not of getting older, per se. I don't worry so much about losing my beach body, because I've never had one. I don't fear gray hair or wrinkles- my mom looks great with her silver crown and her skin, though softer and looser, has a lovely bronzed healthiness to it that most admire. It's more the time that sort of freaks me out, the amount of time I have to experience everything, do everything, be everything.
     My best friend babysat my children last night while my husband and I went to marriage counseling (I'm still hanging in there, though I seriously considered firing the kind-hearted know-it-all after she slyly pointed out that I may be contributing equally to our communication problems. What am I paying her for, if not for ammunition that I can actually use in later fights at home? She and I will talk). During said friend's time with my two, not-so-low-key children, she played with them, ran around the house, listened to their stories, answered questions, solved riddles, explained the American legal system (yes, my eight year old now knows the difference between full and limited tort) and generally provided a space for them to enjoy one another. It got me to thinking, how often do I provide that space for my children? For myself? Each year as another birthday rolls around I make a mental list of all the things I haven't done: Happy hours, skinny dipping, skydiving, visit Asia, baked scones, used a reciprocating saw, learned to play the piano, worn a bikini, climbed a mountain, taken a painting class... The list goes on and on. Some things remain from to year, some things get checked off -master's degree- check, make love outside-check, begin writing again-check, start my own business- check (you can probably guess which one of these I'm most proud of). But, the list never gets any shorter and things like 'laugh heartily' and 'look deeply into my daughter's bottomless brown eyes' can seem so small and so low on the list that I forget to check them off, let alone to savor them. A few days ago as I was unbuckling her carseat she just looked so beautiful that I stopped and stared at her for a minute. She was a little embarrassed at first but then she settled into looking back at me. I told her that soon she'd be in a booster seat and then she'd be a big girl and I wanted to remember what it was like to see her small and round and soft with baby curls and itty bitty teeth. It felt like the spirit of God was smiling at us while we smiled at each other. That moment will never make the list of things that impress people. She's only four, she may never remember sitting there with me, in the driveway, just wasting time while everything on my to-do list had to shut up and wait. But, I will never forget that moment. I am writing about it now, just a few days before my birthday, before all of those other items creep onto that list. I'm writing it down first, to put it at the top of my list.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dear You, Dear Me, Dear Me!

     Why do so very many sentences seem easily translated as "you ain't shit"? I, myself, am both witness to, perpetrator of and (on my best days) revolutionary against these crimes of speech and thought. Murderous is the human heart. That sounds profound; I just thought of it, but surely someone has said it before. Murderous, because if I annihilate you, and, systematically, everyone around me (at least those who either refuse to worship me or pose a direct threat to my being worshipped, which I think is mostly everyone), then only I will remain and I can be God.  I know, I'm taking things a little too far (I can do that- I come by my hyperbolic tendencies honestly, by blood- I'm Puerto Rican, everything is a big deal- and by upbringing- my mother had a mediocre grilled cheese at a local deli yesterday, she proclaimed that they stole her money and that she would starve before ever eating there again, ever!). But hear me out. I'm no theologian, nor am I a sociologist. I'm not a social worker or a teacher. I'm not even a great blogger. I think I'm a good mom (the kids ate green beans last night and there was almost no bribery involved) and a decent wife (I am consciously practicing not controlling my husband's life, as in, I've stopped  taking such great interest in when and where he gets his haircut, though if you ask me the Vietnamese guy is the best cut for our money...) So, my qualification to assign deeper meaning and motives to peoples' words lies only in this- I have a heart. And I know what my heart hears when my mom says inquisitively "oh, you're leaving the house without earrings?" or "There's no rush, I can wait if you want to run upstairs and put some lipstick on", it hears; translation: you're not cute and you ain't shit. And, I know what my heart means to communicate when I say "Oh, you've already turned your air conditioners on? It's mid-May and 80 degrees outside, we wait until it hits 90 in June, you know, to conserve". Translation: you're a spoiled wasteful brat and you ain't shit. It explains why I don't want some people to know that I pay someone to clean my house (I'm lazy and incompetent and I ain't shit), and why I am ok if other people do know (they have one too so can't say anything.) It's why we say "I told you so" and why we act like we (I say we, because I'm hoping I'm not the only freak in the world who is damaged in this way) weren't hurt in the first place when some apologizes to us. So, yes, once I make others subtly feel small, inferior and once I make sure they are solidly convinced of my greatness, I can rest easy, as ruler of the universe, impenetrable to criticism, pain, failure and then no one will think of me, let alone say, "you ain't shit."
     This is very ugly to write down. This may need to be one of those posts I compose but never publish. There are lots of posts like that, for lots of reasons. Usually it's because it just a plain old crappy post. I"m mean really, who wants to read about the stale nuts in my banana bread (I thought I could tie stale nuts into something humorous, it didn't work.) It's ugly to write and say and admit, and maybe I will bury it because, generally, I refuse to be exposed. And yet, on my best days I resist the urge to be better than the closest adjacent fellow human, on my best days I am endowed with a spirit of truth telling and grace that shocks even me. True, these days may  be months apart (and by 'days' I may only mean one momentary impulse that lasts all of 35 seconds before I realize I've been dethroned and quickly set the peon in his or her right position...) but still, there are glimpses. I cherish those moments. The moments when my heart is able to see another and say, "I'm sorry that I just called you nothing, I'm mistaken, you are most certainly not nothing. You are a work of art, a work in progress for sure, but art nonetheless." I cherish those moments when I can expose a lie for what it is and the moments when I have the wisdom to stop up my ears, walk away, smile instead. I cherish those moments when I pray for my enemies, perceived and real, and can honestly recognize when I have been an enemy to someone else. The moments when I set my boundaries and when I respect the boundaries of others, asking forgiveness for my trespass. So, I am going to publish this post (it's actually a fairly safe bet, since not many are reading, but it's a step). I am going to choose today to be one of those days, one of those moments.

With my apologies for yesterday, and tomorrow,

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Dear Beautiful Hispaniola

I joined my husband on a work-related trip to Hispaniola. What a beautiful island. We didn't see enough. What a beautiful people. We didn't meet enough. What delicious food. We ate a lot.

My heart is fraught with turmoil over what we experienced. Like here, there are extremes of poverty and wealth. But, the poverty seems so stark when it is unfamiliar. Schools without roofs, kids without shoes, tap water you can't drink, or no water at all. The desperation was embarrassing (one boy yelled out in Spanish as we passed his thatched home in our SUV, "give me something, I have nothing") but the joy and kindness was even more embarrassing. The caretaker of one of the homes in which we stayed prepared a 'feast' of bony, but delicious chicken backs for us. The meat was scarce on the bones and I felt trapped between knowing that this was her best offering and the awareness of what an insult it would be to turn down what was surely part of her families food allotment. At one school we visited, 10 children hovered around and shared one styrofoam lunch container of rice. They didn't fight over it, no one tried to hog it all for himself. I thought of my own kids who cry like someone is ripping their toenails out when things aren't 'fair'. I pray God would give me (and my children) a spirit like theirs.
Here are the little ones who most captured my heart.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Dear Maker

Dear Maker,

I am wondering why in your name you don't give simpler plans, you know, clearer directions. Something along the lines of 'Thou Shalt not Kill, Thou Shalt not commit adultery.' Those are nice and clear, and to be brutally honest, they're hard enough for humanity to obey without any added nuance or uncertainty (I kid you not I was driving down 95 and there's a billboard staring me in the face. The billboard depicted the requisite hottie dressed in red- the closer you get to the casinos the more booby you see on the highway- and in large, boldface lettering, the commandment Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery, only the 'not'  was crossed out in red. Talk about blatant!) But for the rest of the everyday decisions (to be fair, choosing not to kill is not as rare of a decision as I should hope) it can be a little foggy. I was the kid who hated open ended projects in school ("well how many pages should the essay be?" "As many as it takes to convince me" GRR!) Seriously, I mean no disrespect, but it's like friggin' Ikea directions sometimes. They claim they're simple to follow but somehow the door won't shut and the leg's all wobbly! I'm specifically concerned about the vague directions you've given in the area of how many children we should have. I've got all the parts, got the partner, heck I've made two great ones already, but how far should I go? Is it OK to stop? Is it weird to let the chips fall where they may Duggar style (OK, no, not doing that)? My father-in-law insinuated (if you can call blatantly saying to my face insinuation) that he has less respect for people with smaller families (as in only having one or two kids) and it's just got me to thinking, you gave me this body, and in present day, I've got some control over whether or not and how many kids to have, so am I cool just saying, "meh, getting a little tired here, ready to move on to the next phase"?

Uncertain and Unsure,

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Dear Mediocre Honey Crisp Apple,

Dear Mediocre Honey Crisp Apple,

I thought we had a deal. If I remember correctly it went something like this; I will see you in the store, you will lay there beautifully bright, round, with glowing hues of yellow and orange and I will be convinced. You will deliver unspoken promises of healthier eating choices (which will boost both my energy and  my naturally condescending manner as I boast to friends about how "I eat seasonally") and I will (almost) happily spend the extra dollar and fifteen cents per pound so that you can come home with me and we can enter into this splendid contract of love. You need to fulfill your destiny and I need to stop eating cocoa krispies " Let's do it!" I beamed, "yes, let's!" you replied.

So what the hell?? I was counting on you. This morning, hungry and rushed, I grabbed a crusty, cranny ridden english muffin, fork split that mo'fo' and popped it in the toaster. Then I grabbed the butter, the strawberry rhubarb preserves (fresh from friggin' Lancaster might I add) and a table spoon. A table spoon! You feel me? I was preparing to slather, no, decimate, that toasted muffin with fat and sugar (a combination better know as the 'nectar of the Gods'), when you looked at me with your trademark chubby cheer and I knew what I had to do. I threw the butter back into the fridge, pulled the muffin out of the toaster and grabbed you, feeling your approval and your promising firmness in my hand. I didn't even look back as I walked out the door, Honey Crisp! I was making myself proud and my heart swelled within me. I started up the car, and the engine roared just a little bit stronger than it did yesterday. I waited for a red light to take the first glorious bite. I wanted to enjoy it, to not rush, to savor my sweet victory in the healthy eating battle. Mouth watering in anticipation, I took the first bite. The first, mushy, squishy, mealy bite. It must be a mistake, but the next 3 bites were equally devastating. Damn you Honey Crisp, you are neither honey nor crisp! You are a crap apple, you are a crapple and you've broken my heart today. And I may never forgive you.

Running away with the muffin man.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Dear Little Girl of Mine

Dear Little Girl of Mine,

Thank you for blowing me kisses just before you walk into the public bathroom stall, it will make the looks I get, in response to your screaming, (at the top of your lungs "I did Caca! Wipe Meeee!") infinitely more bearable.

With love and unending thanks for the humility you've taught me,
Proud Mama

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dear Ugly-Hearted Racist Guy

Dear Ugly-Hearted Racist Guy,

     I don't like you. I'm sure you're not too upset, since obviously, you don't like me either. The thing is, I like people. And, I like liking them. OK, I can be judgy when I want to be, like when people fuss over food that's like a minute past expiration- seriously, first world problems. I think the standard for food expiration in much of the world goes something like this, "Mom, I'm so hungry" "I know son, here we can eat this, it's almost food") or when customer service reps couldn't care less that they can't help you (my friend, if you can't muster an 'I'm sorry about that' or "Let me try this' you are in the wrong profession.) But seriously, people are dope- so different, quirky, comical. For someone who loves to look at the funny in life, the one thing that's a non-negotiable is the human race. From the 'caught in Walmart' photos (yes, I look at them and shoot milk out of my nose occasionally- it's therapeutic) to those awkward family pictures (not mine of course, mine always come out fabulous) to those tear jerking videos where 10 random people on the beach pitch in and save 50 stranded dolphins, or a soldier returning home from duty and hugging his newborn for the first time, there is really nothing funnier or more beautiful than people.
     But you, you searched for me on the internet, hoping to find someone to say ugly, mean things to. I wish you hadn't found me, but you did. I, being quick and clever and generally cooler and smarter (I certainly hope) than you responded with disarming humour and a sharp tongue which quickly put you in your place. That was all I would give you. That was all you deserved. But of course, your words hurt. They made me angry and they hurt. But I reserve those truer feelings for those who I like, love and trust. And only they will know that the ugly-hearted racist guy made me cry and stole my joy that day, making me wonder why it is that I like people. Tomorrow, I will start again, remembering the humor and kindness that makes up most of what I love about us. Tonight, I'm pulling the covers over my head and going to sleep.

Waiting for joy that comes in the morning.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dear Married Folks

Dear Married Folks,

My husband and I are about to walk, on purpose, down a dark and scary road. Really, that's what I envision every time I think the words 'marriage counseling.' Among other things, it's a scary road because of all of the freaks that reside there; consider what's more nightmarish; walking down a dark road littered with ex-cons or a dark road loitered by off-duty carnies from the Coney Island Freak Show? Exactly. Joining the world of counseling feels in many ways like joining the ranks of the deformed. "Is everything OK " "I thought you guys were doing so well?" "What do you need help with?"

We've been playing with the idea of counseling for over a year now, and are finally getting around to it (read: I've finally grown a pair of ovaries big enough to agree. Imagine that, the wife drags her feet while the husband readily agrees to marriage counseling; we are freaks!) Don't mind me, I deflect with humor and self-deprecation. The truth is, we're doing pretty well, I think. But, I'm afraid to go to counseling for the same reason that your 85 year-old grandma doesn't want to go to the doctor. She doesn't want to find out that things are worse than she could have guessed. Better to live with the aches and pains than find out that it's stage 4 melanoma. I'm good with that, granny. You wanna rock out your last years in the bliss of ignorance, cool. But I'm too young to pull that nonsense- if it's melanoma, I need to know now so I can chemo-therapize, radiationize, vegan, raw dietize, yoga blast that shit outta here! Wait, I'm not saying that there's a cancer growing in my marriage or anything. I love him. Lots. And, I'm sure of his love for me. After a decade of marriage, we've got lots of amazing things to show, but we've also got our old scars and fresher scabs. So, we agreed, it's time to let someone look under the hood. Yes, I know I'm mixing metaphors, deal with it (hey, I'm dealing with going to therapy...)

So that's the plan. Now, I'll employ my other faithful tactic for dealing with stress and fear (the first being the aforementioned deflection with humor and self-deprecation)- I'm probably going to go Rambo on therapy. (Full Disclosure: at first I wrote 'I'm probably going to go commando on therapy' but then I realized that that would imply that I was going to go to therapy without wearing any underwear. While that would certainly be an interesting experience, it's not really the one I'm going for here. Luckily, I remembered that the cinematic reference I was looking for was actually Rambo- dude goes berserk, takes no prisoners and is generally bad-ass for the entire film, and there's pretty much no mention of his undies at all. Yup, that's the one.) Yeah, so when something is scary, I often try to research the crap out of it, understand it, and be the best at it. I'll probably even compete with my husband a bit. So, don't be surprised if you meet my therapist on the street, ask her how I'm handling having to talk about my marriage with a total stranger, and she answers, "oh, she's handling therapy like a boss!"

Am I missing the point? Ah well, I'll let my therapist fix that.

Love and Life Y'all

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dear Life

Dear Life,
I want to wage a war that I can win. Daily, it seems, I fight losing battles. But today, just want to wage a war that I can win.

GI Jane

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dear Chubby Girl

Dear Chubby Girl,

Put your big girl panties on and walk away from that fool.

OK, that's a little harsh, and a little simplistic and possibly a little narrow. But really, maybe it's not. I'm a chubby girl too.  To be fair, 'chubby' is what people say when they want to make terms like overweight and obese sound cuter- whatever, doesn't matter. Whatever you want to call it, I'm that too. But, the title of this letter could easily read a hundred different ways: "Dear shy girl, Dear girl with a big nose, Dear girl with crooked teeth, Dear not- the-brightest girl, Dear girl with a past, Dear fill in the blank with whatever adjective you most fear someone will point out at a party. All of you, put those bloomers on, or if you prefer, your micro-fiber hipster panties- and walk away from the loser (I know, I know, he's not, he's misunderstood, he needs you, he doesn't mean it, he's not always that way, I don't know him like you do, he LOVES you) that keeps telling you that all of the aforementioned titles (chubby, big nose, crooked teeth, less than impressive wit, unmentionable past) are what make you lucky to have his mediocre 'love.'

Now, I recognize that people can grow and change and work through things, and I am not a fan of the ever popular cut and run tactics that most of Hollywood (not to mention the rest of American society) employ in the arena of marriage. Primarily, though, I am not talking to the woman who has weighed the pros and cons and decided to commit to an imperfect man (aren't they all, aren't we all?) for better or worse (what to do then is a topic for another day entirely...), I am talking about the girl who has that irksome feeling, that little voice that's telling her "you don't deserve this, don't keep dating him, don't move in with him, don't marry him" but is tempted to listen to the louder, harsher lying voice (ever notice how people get louder and more emphatic when they're lying? Same goes for the voice inside.) which says "remember, beggars can't be choosers."

 It's true, beggars can't be choosers, (well except for that time when I was walking through the Lexington Ave tunnel on my way to catch the 6 Train and a homeless man asked me for money because he was hungry. I had a fresh, uneaten, sesame-egg bagel with veggie cream cheese- hello, heaven!- folded neatly in a brown paper bag. I offered it to him. I was coming from an evening church service and was feeling all kinds of good samaritan-y. The man, who did not smell quite as fresh as my bagel, refused my love offering, citing "too many carbs". I was pissed, "what the hell?! Too many carbs?! Whatchu on the Atkins' Diet??" Bye Bye good samaritan, hello Xena, defender of NY bagelkind!) Generally speaking though, no, beggars cannot be choosers, but you are not a beggar, at least not a beggar of love from a man who doesn't want to give it freely. If you want to beg, beg grace from the almighty, I won't argue with that. Beg for patience and strength and the grace to be kind to others when it's hard. Beg for peace and acceptance and love for who you who have been made to be, beg for self-control to stop the bad habits and patterns you've fallen into (we all have them) and the perseverance to change into the woman you want to be. But beg a man to stay with you when he's already shown you that he doesn't want to? No. Don't wait for him to leave you (he probably never will- you give him everything and require nothing of him) don't walk on pins and needles trying your best to eliminate all of the things that you think make him uncommitted and uncertain about you, trying not to give him a reason to leave. You choose- choose love, choose life.

Now's the time in this letter for me to tell you all the reasons why you are worth loving and why you should "believe in yourself". But, I'm not going to- maybe I'm not in the mood, or maybe I know that it can't come from  a letter from some stranger  or maybe it's because I've never been good at gentle words of encouragement (kick in the pants being my preferred style). And maybe telling you to put on your big girls panties, and walk away is harsh. Or maybe it's exactly right.

Love and life,
From a friend.