I’m mad. I spend most of my days being mad. Mad that no one else seems to care. No one else is playing by the rules. Everyone else is acting like this isn’t a thing. That 400,000 people haven’t died. Maybe we don’t know any of them, but that makes us privileged. Privileged by race, socio-economics, our jobs, our health insurance, the list goes on.
I keep getting told that I can’t live my life afraid. Afraid of dying. Afraid of getting sick. Afraid of everything. I am so sick of being patronized with this “advice.” I am not afraid. I am caring. I care about others. I care about myself. I care about my family. I care about being around for my family. I am a fairly healthy adult, but I did get the flu one year that took me out for 2 weeks and led to pneumonia. My husband got tonsillitis last year and ended up in Cleveland Clinic ICU. And he’s way healthier than me. I’m just thinking you never know what strain you are going to be dealt, so I am not taking my chances.
So I stay home. My kids stay home. We haven’t eaten in a restaurant in almost a year. I don’t run races or train with my running group. My husband doesn’t go to the gym. 99% of my kids’ activities are via Zoom. Boy Scouts, viola, guitar, trombone. Robotics was an online tournament this year. I haven’t hugged my parents in a year. They haven’t hugged my kids in a year. We celebrated my nephew’s birthday in their doorway, masked for a quick present open.
Christmas was all Zoom. My family is small so we met in my sister’s freezing garage, masked and socially distanced by family and opened presents. No food, no hugs, just a quick sad celebration and them home. My husband’s families are bigger, so those are all Zoom, which I hate. You know what’s worse than social gatherings for socially anxious introverts? Zoom calls. Where you have to yell to be heard (not happening). Where your face blows up for all to see when you do talk, and when you do, you can only look at how terrible you look in the camera. So I stay largely silent, which makes me look like a super bitch.
My family and I have contracted into ourselves this past year. Some in our circle can’t understand why we don’t just loosen up. Why we are so strict. Why just one hug is a no-go for us.
I am so mad that this became political. Remember 9/11? We all got together and were one for a while. American flag on every porch. Remember WWII? Rationing of everything. Working together? We can’t even agree to put a fucking piece of cloth over our faces.
So, I am mad. Mad at the selfishness. Mad at the ignorance. Mad that I am the freaking COVID Karen when all I want is for someone, anyone to show a lick of common sense and the decency to just stay home.
I just might publish this rough, angry verbal diarrhea. It’s raw. Like I am right now. Maybe writing again will make me feel better.
So my best friend finally got married. I’ve wanted to write about the experience for over a month now, but couldn’t quite make up my mind on the tone I wanted to prevail throughout the post. Balls to the wall political rant? Sweet, sappy version? Or through my most comfortable form of communication…humor and self-embarrassment?
Naturally, I choose the last option. For those of you not lucky enough to be invited to a gay fall wedding, here’s an inside peek.
Attendees came from all walks of life. Some wearing their finest leather assless chaps. Some decked out in bedazzled sequins and feather boas. Some with not many clothes at all. The grooms shashayed down the aisle while Voguing in their rainbow suits. Disco balls and club lights flashed the crowds as they recited showtune quotes for vows. The ceremony concluded with groping and sloppy kisses while It’s Raining Men played riotously in the background. White doves were released and condoms were shot out of a canon. After the ceremony the guests lubed up appropriately and jumped into the big ole gay orgy pile.
Sound about what you’d expect?
Nah. Clearly none of that happened. Although sometimes I think that’s what some of my coworkers think I attended. What I did get to be a part of and experience was nothing short of beautiful. What it really was was an elegant, picturesque ceremony atop a swank hotel overlooking the Bay Bridge of San Francisco. Not a dry eye in the house as two of my favorite men on the planet exchanged heartfelt vows after waiting a decade to commit their lives together officially. Family and friends surrounded them for a delightful dinner followed by an epic reception, where toasts and well wishes abounded. Wine flowed freely while we danced the night away to a meticulously planned (and awesome) playlist of music. Cake was phenomenal. Best of all was my best friend’s dad, who like most dads on their kids’ wedding days, became quite sentimental and stood up and stole the show with a touching toast on how proud and happy he was for his son and his new son-in-law.
I had the privilege of reading a wonderful poem by Walt Whitman and the even better privilege of being an official witness to the nuptials. It was a wonderful heartfelt day, painstakingly planned down to last detail as most couples do to ensure one of the most important days of their lives is remembered fondly.
But alas, it would not truly be a story of my own if I did not in some way humiliate myself and bring up some form of bathroom humor. Now, if you’ve ever seen the SNL Gay Summer Wedding Xanax spoof, you’ll have some idea of the pressure I was under to look fabulous for this wedding. Too bad I had hopped off the diet wagon a full month earlier and was a bit disappointed the Spanx I chose did not completely transform my curves into the likes of Kim Kardashian. The Spanx, although $40, did not quite squeeze my baby food belly around to plump up my ass, nor did it hoist the girls back up to their original pre-children spots.
Dammit. Oh well, I was just happy to be a part of the whole experience. No one was looking at me anyways.
Then, due to a forgetful photographer, my boys were late to dinner. Which meant my wine glass kept getting topped off on an empty stomach, and before I knew it, I was three sheets to the wind. And I had to pee. Sort of dizzy and light headed, I stumbled down a flight of stairs to the ladies loo.
Now girls, we all know Spanx are not the easiest to get off for a quick pee right? And this one piece do-joby clasped at the crotch. Joy. Not easy to undo when sober, let alone 3+ drinks in. I had a genius idea, which I’ve accomplished before many times with swimsuits and said Spanx accoutrements that I proceeded to try once again. Just pull my undies and that fat grasping apparatus aside, hold it, pee quick, wipe and done! Thorough hand washing and I would be good to go.
Not so much. About halfway through I realized something was amiss. My tush started to feel wet. OH MY GOD, in my drunken state, I couldn’t feel my panties and didn’t pull them aside with the Spanx!!!! I was peeing right through my underwear. With a loud, “SHIT!” I went into emergency planning mode. Dress was clear of wetness, thank God, but undies and Spanx were soaked. I was alone, no phone, no purse, no girlfiends to call because hello! I was at a GAY wedding. Lots of men, most of whom are already extremely uncomfortable with girl parts, let alone ones in peril. I had to think fast. Undies gone, natch. I’ll just wear the Spanx, that’s fine. SHIT. Spanx soaked up the back. The whole apparatus had to go. Off comes the dress, then the spanx, then the underwear. I started to throw the underwear away, a causality of war, but then I realized I had nowhere to put the Spanx. This puppy was $40 freakin dollars!!! No freakin way was I going to throw this thing away to save myself a few moments of embarrassment. I have given birth for God’s sake! This is nothing on the humiliation scale of my life.
So I wadded up my wet undergarments into a paper towel and tried to make it fist size without much luck. I escaped the bathroom and had to walk down the side of a bar full of patrons into our private room, where not a few eyes glanced toward the conspicuous wad in my hand. I quickly threw it into my purse as my husband exclaimed loudly, “Hey, what’s that in your hand?” SHHHH! Not now! LATER!
I then got to spend a still awesome night surrounded by wonderful men (and some lovely chicks too I might add) who would have been totally skeeved out their #1 fan was without her britches and complete with nothing but the sheer will of God keeping my stomach sucked into a dress that really could have used some girdling power.
So there you have it. A wonderful wedding, turned into a story all about me and peeing my pants! It has to be embarrassing or I clearly wasn’t there. It was a wonderful night, a wonderful trip and a true joy to see my best friend marry his perfect match in life. And just over a month later, they are still married, so already they are beating many straight marriage success rates.
Love you both. Congrats Jay and Desi!
And now, if you need tips on attending a gay wedding, I give you expert advice by Key & Peele.
Every year I wake up on this day and think, I’m just going to ignore all the remembrances and try to live today like any other day. And every year, I can’t help but get sucked into remembering what was arguably one of the worst days of my adult life. I’ve written about my experience already, so i’ll just leave this memory of Jon Stewart, who, as usual, summarized elegantly the heartbreak of that day and the aftermath thereafter.
I’ll never forget, and I hope I never have to relive. SUCK IT ISIS!
8 years ago today, in a hospital in Washington DC, I birthed my baby boy. Well, they surgically removed him, but hey, I was there, and it wasn’t a walk in the park that way either.
We started excited to get up and go that morning to head over to the hospital that was an hour away from our apartment. We were told to call first to ensure no emergencies had happened that would push the surgery back. We called and were told that my 11:30 had been cancelled as I had already had the baby via emergency C-section.
Wait…what? I looked down. I was pretty sure I was still pregnant. Nope, he hadn’t fallen out feet first since that’s the way he was positioned.
Turns out when you have a very generic name, thanks Irish husband, other Jennifers also give birth on that very same day. Apparently, with the very same birthday as well. Except for the year. SHE was older. But hey, once you verify same name, month and day, the year is just an oversight. Didn’t matter, this kid was COMING OUT TODAY. I was done being pregnant. I hadn’t eaten all day and wanted to meet my son.
So they squeezed us in and by 3 p.m. Bear was born. It was not fun. Unknown to me at the time, I had placenta accreta, which meant that my placenta had attached itself to my uterine wall. Bleck. So, if my stubborn son hadn’t been feet first and unwilling to move, I would have been in serious trouble after delivery. So kid, I owe you one. You saved me that day.
The birth was just the beginning. I had spent an immense amount of time reading about MY pregnancy, MY body, MY delivery, and so on, that I kind of overlooked the whole taking care of a brand new person task that was now staring me in the face. They pulled him out, he gave the best wail I’d ever heard, and my husband looked at me the same way I looked at him. With wide eyed terror. What had we just done?! There was no going back now. This little person needed us to keep him alive. What the hell did we JUST DO?
I panicked, like all good mothers. Realized that the idea of being a mother comes instinctively is total and utter BS. I had no idea what I was doing. No instincts kicked in. I was totally and utterly knocked off my feet. I guess literally too because the anesthesiologist must have gotten to go home that day, because the idiots left my epidural in for 24 straight hours, which at the time I did not realize was not normal because hey, I was new to this whole motherhood, giving birth thing.
So there I was, numb from the boobs down, trying to take care of my son and be mother of the year just a few hours in. Mark and my mom were there, but there was no place to sleep, so each night they left me and Bear to drive the hour back to the apartment. Go ahead, I can handle it I assured them. I am SUPERMOM! I can’t feel my feet, but I can take care of this baby by myself! That was the first time I tried to handle motherhood all by myself and failed miserably.
By the second night, I hadn’t slept a wink because I was convinced he would stop breathing at any given moment, and tearfully called a nurse at 11:30. Will you…sniff hiccup sob…take him to the nursery…sob…for just a bit??? Sob hiccup…I’m not a bad mom…hiccup…I swear….hiccup…will you love him if he cries??? She assured me he wouldn’t be ignored in a corner, to get some sleep, and they would bring him to me when it was time to eat. Sure enough, they did. I slept a few hours. He hasn’t gone to therapy yet for the separation, so I think it was ok.
On the third day, they kicked us to the curb and I was happy to go. I had hubby and mom to support me 24 hours a day and the security and comfort of home waiting for me.
After some bumps in the road, he was breastfeeding well. Until I got a raging UTI from the catheter being in so long and had to go on some heavy antibiotics for 10 days. Pump and dump they say. Sure, no big deal, I’m three days in, I’m a pro. So, every two hours, I pumped two boobs empty, and dumped that precious tainted gold down the drain. 10 days later, all clear of painful peeing, I went back to nursing my 7 pound bundle of joy. Who, by the way DID NOT drink the 12+ ounces of boob milk I had been pumping and dumping every 2 hours for 10 days. I was in so much pain I think I would have fed anyone who asked just for some relief. I could have seriously supplied much of a third world nation with the supply I was generating. Needless to say, we got some backup supply while my body and I figured out what he actually needed.
So that was my first 2 weeks of being a first time mother. How did yours go? After all that, I wouldn’t trade a day of it. My son is one of the smartest, funniest, most handsome boys I know. I am blown away each day at his wit, brains, and thought processes. He is crafting his own brand of sarcasm that will one day rival my own. He asks questions that would stump Stephen Hawking, let alone get an answer from me.
We had a rough start at the beginning, but it was well worth the blood, sweat and tears. He’s my hero. And one day, we’ll live in his guest house in Malibu, because he loves his parents and wants to share his millions. Right Bear??
PS – Trying not to freak out, but I went back to insert pics tonight and couldn’t find anything before 2008. MARK!!!! The computer’s broken!!!
The year was 1998. 6 friends decided at 10 p.m. on a Friday night they couldn’t wait for Saturday morning to leave on Spring Break. We piled into 2 cars – one beat up Buick and one even more beat up Ford sedan. We set off, all of us under the age of 21, with a car trunk full of beer (and Zima for me, because I was a total chick who did and still does hate beer), a few clothes (more room for beer), a few pooled dollars and our sights set on a fuzzy description of a rockin beach house on the shore of Panama Beach one of our friends assured us was awesome. We drove that beer over five state lines for the next 22+ hours, rotating driving shifts. We had 2 walkie talkies (no cell phones yet) to talk back and forth between us and were occasionally entertained by a raunchy trucker to break up the monotony.
We arrived in a massive rainstorm mid evening if I remember correctly. Set to party for the next week on our Ohio sourced beer, Zimas and Cuervo. We carted all 800 lbs of beverages along with our bags inside and only then took a moment to survey our surroundings. It is here I find it hard to describe the magnitude of what we saw. I’m not sure what everyone else was expecting, but I had hoped it was kind of like a smaller version of the Golden Girls’ house. A nice open bungalow with an airy lanai upon which we could drink our morning coffees and watch the sunrise, while gentle breezes blew the surf in over the sand and gulls cawed above nearby. Leave me alone, I was 20 and really really naïve.
Let’s just say my fantasy wasn’t even close. It wasn’t even a crappy cottage. One that we could stay in relatively comfortably that provided basic amenities for survival for a bunch of 20 somethings. This was not it by a longshot. This was a desolate wasteland. An outbuilding of a destroyed house that survived a hurricane 10 years prior. I remember the shower amenity was outside and frankly, I don’t even remember a toilet being there. I remember A LOT of sand and strewn about furniture that had seen better days and had its own war stories to share.
After some heated debate about said conditions and who knew what about said present condition, 5 of the 6 friends deemed the house uninhabitable and not hospitable to getting drunk nightly. So, we decided to pack up and head for greener pastures. The lone friend left behind was pissed we were leaving and refused to come along with us. (I personally never knew what happened to him. I wasn’t really close to him. I am assuming he lived and has a very different version of the following story.) Therefore, we were down one beat up car and had to fit 5 people in one car along with all of our stuff for yet another trip across the state to by chance catch up with some other friends in Daytona Beach. By chance.
Vast amounts of the above pictured beer and liquor were left as casualties of that decision. With one trunk, 5 people in a 5 seat Buick sedan, hard choices had to be made. Sadly, most of the Milwaukee’s Best (aka Beast) were left, as well as most of the pop (who needed that anyways) as we tried to condense everything into one small car. We drove across the state for another 6 hours hoping to rendezvous with 2 fraternity brothers who had won their spring break trip to Daytona Beach. Now remember, no cell phones. We had NO way of contacting them. All we knew was they were in Daytona at a Holiday Inn and their names. Yeah, we had their names. So we had that going for us.
We arrived late that night and headed to A1A Beachfront Avenue (Sorry, couldn’t resist). We found a pay phone with a phone book. Yes, I just said those two things, and we looked up the Holiday Inn and on a wing and prayer called and asked for our friend’s room. The hotel would not put us through because they didn’t know who we were, so we drove down the strip to find contingency plans. A crappy motel was picked as too crappy to be fully booked and quite possibly in our price range. As we were driving down the main drag, we noticed someone familiar. By chance, the friend we were hoping to reach just happened to be walking down the street. Hanging out of the car like lunatics, we flagged him down. Miraculously, he told us to come on up to their room and yes, all 5 of us could stay the week with him and his friend. In their room with 2 double beds and a permanently locked balcony door (because let’s face it, high rise balconies and young idiot spring breakers do not mix).
Elated, we all group hugged and talked about our dramatic trip so far and proceeded to head out on the town. 2 girls, 5 guys. Makes you cringe now as parents doesn’t it? About to get shit-faced as best as possible whilst underage in downtown Daytona. Thank God for stowaway Zima and Beast beer. And now, one friend of age who helped supply the fun while you hid your underage stamped hand in your pocket. We were good to go.
The rest of the week was about what you’d expect. One friend won a belly flop contest. It was actually pretty freakin freezing, but damn if we weren’t going to wear shorts and flippy floppies on the beach and follow the guys around as they desperately tried to catch each and every wet T-shirt contest available (and no, us ladies did not participate, but really, if I knew what was going to happen to my body, you bet your ass I’d be up there shaking what was apparently a nice set of boobs that, unbeknownst to me, came with an expiration date. But I digress). Basically it was bars, bars, and more bars. Mornings spent sleeping it off. Afternoons spent replenishing on greasy food as sustenance for the night to come. Now, at mid-30 something, one night of this would probably kill us, let alone an entire week of it, but we were 20 and invincible.
A few us took a day trip to Universal Studios, whereupon my future husband promptly lost the car keys on the Back to the Future Ride. Problem was we didn’t notice it until we were headed to the car at the end of the day and, lo and behold, no keys. Oh and the owner of the car stayed back in Daytona, so we had to bribe the AAA guy to basically make us an $80 key to a car we couldn’t prove belonged to us. My husband has never quite lived that one down, but it does make a great story.
At the end of the week, our 2 gracious hosts got on their plane to go home and the remaining 3 guys and 2 girls piled into the teeny tiny Buick (complete with a brand new, very expensive, shiny spare key) and headed back to northern Ohio. Straight shot. Squished in the middle almost the whole time. Sometimes being the skinny bitch had its disadvantages. They never did let me drive. I had a bad driving rep even then.
So, there’s my spring break story. Will I ever let my kids go on Spring Break? Between this trip and my senior year trip to Cancun, oh hells to the no. Although, I guess by the time they are 20, I can’t stop them, HOWEVER, I can follow them down to wherever they go and spy on them the whole time. Hey, at least they’d have cell phones, so 90% of these stories wouldn’t have happened, but me, I’d take my pay phone and beat up Buick memories any day. Thank God I lived to talk about it.
File this under stories our kids will never hear. Heck, this may even be the first time our moms are hearing this story. I’m not quite sure they are ready now, 15+ years later. Sorry moms, but hey we returned OK!
Disclaimer* This is my recollection of the events. I’d love to hear from the other 8 people involved as they remember it. I won’t tag you or mentioned any names for fear your grown up cover will be blown, but you all know who you are. I hope you have the same fond, hilarious memories that I do, which most of the time are ended with the thought, “God we were stupid!”
So, Disney. We took our first trip at the beginning of December and there is so much to tell you, I have been sitting on it for a month. I have quite a few Disney junkie friends and don’t want to offend, but I also want to give an honest take from a self-diagnosed introvert with anxiety issues, a deep discomfort with large crowds and spending $7 on a Coke.
Before I get started, I will bookend our trip with some of my favorite pics. First:
This was pretty much the look on their faces for 7 days. They were thrilled to be there. They were troopers.
We didn’t get a stroller to avoid this…
…so they hoofed it around 4 parks for 5 days. They didn’t become crazy gotta-have-it kids either. They had some money and got what they wanted and sometimes had to be patient to get it. But get it they did…
Do you have any idea how hard it is to pack a Mickey Mouse Fantasia light saber to return home? We carried that thing from Orlando to Detroit. Totally normal in Orlando. In Detroit, kinda weird.
As a side note, Disney is marketing genius. From the time you step foot in Orlando, you are transported into this magical bubble where it’s all things Disney. You begin to feel weird for not having a pair of mouse ears on your head. You feel out of place if you are wearing a shirt without a character on it. I can’t believe I packed normal clothes. You totally look out of place when you do. And when you come back to normal land, you are a little weirded out that no one is wearing mouse ears or carrying a Mickey tote bag/lunch box/purse/backpack/body bag.
The crowds were heavier than what we were anticipating, but not as bad as I think it could have been. For me however, there were TOO MANY FREAKIN PEOPLE. People watching was A-may-zing, but that’s exactly what I want to do, watch…not interact.
We of course had lunch at the Royal Table in Cinderella’s Castle, where, for the only time during the trip, we became these parents: “You will get pictures with these damn princesses and eat your $30 chicken nuggets and LIKE IT!! We didn’t spend $250 for you to sit and stare at them!!!” And photos we got. Nevermind the fact we were caught off guard and didn’t have time to run a comb through our poor girl’s hair.
For the record, Bear would not be photographed with the Princesses. He’s not so into the ladies. Doesn’t G look thrilled? Then we got a pic with Cindy herself.
…but she was on a ciggy break, so we took a pic with her crotchless pantied knight instead.
OK – here she is.
PSYCH! ha ha. OK, we really did meet her and I do have a pic EXACTLY like the ones above of her and Cinderella, but it’s an actual PHOTO and ain’t nobody got time to scan that!
We introduced them to all forms of mass transit. First up, the plane ride, for which they were seriously geeked.
Until we started our descent and Will got airsick and passed out. Cold. Don’t worry, on the way home, he just threw up and got almost all of it in the vomit bag.
Always in the back. Always. Not a good sign. Back of the bus kids are trouble I tell ya. Damn youths.
And of course, Dad.
We did shows. Some were great, some were like meh. Like the Tiki Lounge, which I am told is nostalgic, but really more of an air conditioned place to sit down for a few minutes while some animatronic birds do schtick above you.
We were in a show, only because they had the $25 light up ears they were hawking, and a certain Disney junkie traveling companion for the day DID NOT tell us if you sit in the front rows during Fantasmic, you get REALLY REALLY wet and spend the whole show wiping mist out of your eyes.
We rode rides…
I just noticed, look at the lady behind us. How can you be so blasé on the Dumbo ride?! She looks like, “I am SO OVER this.”
I wish I had pics of us on the bigger roller coasters, but I was too busy holding onto my kid for dear life, you know, cause they could totally fall out.
But, by far, the most exciting ride…the FastPass machines!!
These are apparently a thing of the past. We almost never got to experience the magic of booking it to these machines only to find out they were done for the day or not available until 9 p.m. that night. If you did get one, which we did a few of them (you tend to get less if you are one of the few crazy people who SLEEP IN while on vacation at Disney), they were awesome. Remember that scene in Wayne’s World where they had the backstage passes and kept flashing them at everyone? Well, if not, go see it. Good movie. Classic for a 90s teenager. Anywho, that’s how I felt when we got to bypass all the schmucks in the hour long line. SUCKAS! I guess now they all have wristbands that you can go online at the hotel and essentially schedule your time to ride the rides (AHEM Cedar Point!!). We didn’t have one of these because we were GASP! offsite hotel vacationers and didn’t get one, so I don’t know much about them other then that sometimes it felt like we were traveling in steerage and not allowed in the fancy parts of Disney.
Another sad moment. We lost a dear friend. His name was Balloony. He was a $10 balloon that wasn’t tied tightly enough to his string. It was a sad moment in the Magic Kingdom. And no, we didn’t replace him. It was $10 freakin dollars. Every time we saw a balloon vendor walk by, we quickly diverted her attention. Ah, strategery.
We stayed one night for the parade. It was cool. We had some fun waiting for it.
Then I said forget this, I have full lives in Candy Crush!
Then it came on and was pretty dang cool.
We paid a gazillion dollars for character lunches.
Donald was outside sweating his balls off for a very special photo op. That guy always gets the short end of the stick.
We had good food.
The best restaurant had a baby with a leaf on his junk, which is apparently HILarious.
I attempted to take a Christmas card photo.
which clearly failed.
We almost got an eye poked out on Phineas’s nose.
Basically, we had a good time. It was exhausting. Really, you should train for 5 days at Disney. We were not physically prepared for the strenuousness of it. Overall though, we had a pretty freakin good time.
This day always bums me out a bit. Well me, and the rest of America. 12 years ago today was a day I’ll never forget. It just so happens the three days before that is a day I’ll never forget either.
Yep folks, I got married three days before 9/11. Which means my where were you on 9/11 story happens right smack in the middle of our honeymoon. The world had come to a screetching halt and we had to put on a happy face to squeeze every last dime out of our Caribbean cruise and overpriced day excursion in Cozumel.
It was 9:30 a.m. when the Captain came on for his usual morning announcements, except his tone was somber and he told us today was a sad day for America and to turn on our TVs and he would be back momentarily to brief us on what he knew.
We turned on our TV to CNN to watch the first tower burning inexplicably while the newscasters tried to guess what happened. Seconds later my new husband and I watched the second plane fly into the second tower on live TV. It still makes me nauseous to this day to remember that feeling. We watched in horror like everyone else that day when the Captain came back on to tell us we’d all been background checked and cleared. After an hour or so of watching the coverage, we stumbled shell-shocked out of our room to attempt to enjoy our day. It was a somber excursion to a beach in which I remember only wanting to talk about what was going on back in the real world. A couple attempting to relax next to us shakily shared that the husband worked in one of the buildings next door to the World Trade Center and he’d be at work if he hadn’t taken this vacation.
People needed a release on our ship and I think either that night or the next day they organized a memorial service for anyone who wanted to join. So many people were tied to people near or in the towers, trying to connect back home. Most were like me, just numb by how one minute it’s a normal Tuesday morning, and the next you’re not sure what’s happening in this world and if you can ever go back to normal.
It took me two days to realize CNN had never gone to commercial. It wasn’t until we got home that we realized the entire nation had pretty much stopped in its entirety. Cell phones were around, but not with the coverage as we know today and it didn’t even occur to me to call home to tell our family we were fine. Internet was not quite yet the go to source it is today and charged for access which was limited while at sea anyways. My cousin who was a travel planner and organized our trip frantically made back up arrangements for us to rent a car to drive back to Ohio from Miami in the event we could not fly out as planned the following Saturday.
It took forever to get for every single person to be cleared by the FBI to step foot off the ship. We were corralled out of our rooms in the morning and sat on various decks for 3 hours listening to conspiracy theorists, tall tales and hearsay being flung around the common areas like poo. The cruise line offered half off stays for the next week because so many people had cancelled for the following week.
Ultimately, we did make it home uneventfully. We rolled into Miami Airport on a shuttle bus, past heavily armed military units, bomb-sniffing dogs and people with mirrors checking under cars for bombs. Security was crazy high. Airports were eerily quiet and somber. The plane ride was even more quiet. You knew how tense everyone was when everyone cheered as we landed safely in Detroit. Cheered. NO ONE cheers when they land in Detroit.
We made it home and Monday returned to our lives. We’re still married happily and have two kids who have yet to know of that day. Fortunately, they’ll never have quite the same feeling about it as their dad and me. I just hope they don’t ever have a Where Were You When story in their lifetimes.
When my son turned 1, he was given a gift by my Aunt and Uncle. I always remember this gift because it is a light activated animal puzzle. When you take the piece out it moos, woofs, meows, oinks, and cock-a-doodle-doos per its corresponding animals. My Aunt laughed when I opened it and made the comment she was pretty sure I might not appreciate this as much as Bear would. Well 6 years later, the puzzle is still alive and well, even though various attempts have been made on its life. All but one piece have survived and it can not be found. See if you can guess which one it is. (This by the way is how G is greeted and goodnighted every night/morning whenever we turn the lights on or off. Enjoy.
I am a victim of Bitchy Resting Face. YES. And to be fair, these girls actually don’t have BRF in my opinion. I think they had to work pretty hard to look mean. I, on the other hand, just look pissed off normally.
I have tried different looks over the years to make me seem more approachable. One was growing out my hair. Apparently short hair makes me look even meaner. This may have worked if I hadn’t constantly pulled it back into a tight ponytail because I hate the feeling of hair on my neck. This caused my giant forehead and huge Dumbo-like ears to become my defining feature. Not a good look. Just ask my stylist who, when I begged to cut my hair short again, made me promise on my first-born that I will wear earrings and wear makeup EVERY DAY. For the most part, I’ve held up my end of the bargain, but on the days I don’t, you can bet I’ll see the most popular girl in high school at Costco, which doesn’t really bother me, as she didn’t know who I was anyways. These are also the days I get my picture taken. Constantly. For no reason.
Anyways, this is a big issue to have when desperately trying to fit in in high school. I remember wondering why for the life of me I could not make friends in my catholic high school after spending the first 9 years in public school. Take a fish out of water, combine with BRF, my introversion and the acute inability to open my mouth to make initial conversation with another human being, and I was out of luck. High school was a character building experience to say the least.
I was the most lonely my freshman year during my Intro to Typing class, which, unbeknownst to me, was an elective only seniors chose. I was seated behind what must have been the senior plastics of their day and desperately wanted to be included in their conversations on a daily basis. One day, one of the cool guys (who is totally probably fat and sad now, I wish I could remember his name) turned around to ask me a question. I looked up from my typewriter (yes, you heard me) to listen and he backed away with his hands in the air saying, “Okaaay, nevermind, sorry didn’t mean to bother you,” and then proceeded to snicker at the girl next to him about “what pissed her off?” That’s just my face dillhole. I was LISTENING.
One of my biggest pet peeves that happens from having BRF is people are constantly telling you to smile. Life’s not so bad! Cheer up! Whaaa? I wasn’t unhappy, nor was I looking at you, so please be on your merry way. OK, maybe I am a bit of a bitch.
One of our building maintenance guys thinks it’s funny to call me “Smiley.” He doesn’t know me, nor has he had more than a 5 minute conversation with me, but this doesn’t stop him from judging my unhappy appearance and feeling free to comment on the state of my face. I don’t look at him and out of the blue go, “Paunch!” No, cause that would be rude. Smiley, however, is apparently funny.
My question is, what do these people want from me? A shit grin on my face at all points in the day in the off chance someone is looking at me? Not gonna happen. For me, apparently my smiling is so rare that when I do smile, people make a big deal about it and insist on me telling them “what I’m so happy about,” to which I oftentimes cannot explain without sounding like an idiot.
To sum up, bitch face + introvert = not very likeable 1st impression. Sorry, it’s just the way I look.
I wrote this a while ago, but thought in honor of Mother’s Day, I’d reshare.
An Open Letter to My Mom
I owe you quite a bit. This mothering gig seemed easy through the eyes of a kid. How hard could it be really? I am only now truly beginning to understand the magnitude of what you did. The following is a list of things that I am truly thankful for, and it’s a working list, because there are things you did for which I am not yet aware because I am still new to this mothering thing, being only six years in…
Thank you for letting me poke at you every single Saturday morning to wake you up. Even though you worked full time and Saturday was your one day to sleep in, you let me tell you it was time to get up. And then, not only did you get up, but you promptly made us breakfast.
Thank you for letting my sexy swimmer boyfriend in the front door. I am not sure I will do the same for Gracie’s boyfriend, because I know what is on their minds and what they are going to try to pull with me in the same house. Also, thanks for letting me leave with him in his big white jalopy car too. Again, I am not sure I will let Gracie out of the house after the age of 15.
Thank you for the complete and balanced dinners. Every. Single. Night. After working a full day, without sitting down, you started cooking and had dinner on the table by 6 p.m. Never did we have a PB&J dinner, or mac n cheese five days in a row, you cooked actual food and served vegetables at EVERY dinner.
Thanks for working a full time job and then coming home to raise us. You never relaxed, you cooked dinner, packed lunches and kept a clean house for all of my childhood. It was amazing. I honestly don’t know how you did it. My house is a disaster at all times, lunches are packed in a rush in the morning, and dinners, well, see above.
Thanks for not killing me for how I treated my sister. I know now she wasn’t that bad, just kinda annoying in a little sister kind of way, and that I should have been way nicer to her. Thanks for telling me that one day she’ll be my best friend while I looked at you like you were crazy. You were right.
Thanks threatening to rip out a belly button ring if I ever came home with one. That was one mistake I was too scared to make.
Thanks for never letting me play with fireworks. While I thought you were totally uncool at the time, I feel the same way now. My poor kids.
Thanks for the weekends at the cottage, where food was always a given, and I was allowed to hang with cousins and my grandparents every single weekend of the summer.
Thanks for all the wonderful cards and cute thoughtful gifts for every Christmas, birthday, Valentine’s Day, Easter and so on. Every single holiday sneaks up on me, and I am still having trouble giving all the credit to a fat guy in a red suit.
This list is a work in progress. There are so many things I am thankful for that I do not know yet, and those that I am aware of, but have yet to remember in my sleep-deprived overloaded brain.
I love you mom and thank you every day for turning us into respectable adults (I use the term respectable and adults very loosely).
Jen (and Lisa too, since she lets me sign her hand-crafted cards on occasion).