Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Working from home

Most days around here start the same way:
My alarm goes off, I ignore it as many times as possible, eventually when it's absolutely time to get up I roll over to find Jackson has migrated in the night from his bed, to mine. I wake him up, and slowly make my way out of bed. 
Waking his sister is a harder task, so I don't attempt it until I absolutely have to.
I feed the kids, dress Jackson, supervise teeth brushing, face washing, hair combing, and lunch box grabbing. 
We walk to the bus.
After it comes I go back home to a quiet house, early morning light streaming through the windows. I usually have a couple cups of coffee, check my email, my Facebook, Instagram, etc. Pet the cats, stay in my pajamas and let myself wake up at a slow pace. 
What the day entails is different all the time, but at 2:45 I do the same thing every day, Monday through Friday: I go outside to stand at the end of our driveway, and wait for the kids to come back from the bus stop. They wave at me as soon as they round the corner and can see me, Jackson runs full tilt, Lainie starts talking to me about her day from so far away she has to yell at first. 

When my kids were babies, I never got to stay home with either of them for very long. 
There was school to finish, and jobs to work, and bacon to bring home, and all that.
I was back at school and work before Lainie was 3 months old.
I was never really a stay at home mom, but I always wished I could've been. Deep down I knew though, that I would be bored out of my mind. I need to work, I have to have something to do with myself that's just for me. Something that's separate from being a mother.

When I was working at Walton, our daily routine was nearly impossible. 
We were up at 6:30, out the door by 7, not home until after 6 pm sometimes. In the two or three hours between getting home and getting to bed, there was dinner, homework, baths, and god forbid errands to get done. 
It was difficult, I felt like we never really saw each other. I felt like I was constantly running from one thing in my life to the next, and that was a level of stress I carried with me into every aspect of my life.

Now that we've settled into it, working from home has turned out to be the best thing that's ever happened to us. It was difficult at first, trying to get shit done with the kids in the house. It took a lot of trial and error, and setting boundaries that were new to all of us, but once we got the hang of it, I could no longer imagine being happy with things any other way.

Even now, we're a week into Summer vacation and Jackson is already so bored, he could claw his own eyeballs out for something to do, but still, it's really nice getting to be here with them for their Summer break. Lainie and Jackson both are in the last of the sweet years with kids, when they can do things for themselves, but still want your time and attention and don't think you're a total loser yet. 
I would do anything in the world to keep being here as much as possible for that.

5 Things You Learn When You Live Alone

Home is where the pants aren't

1. You learn how to ask strangers for help with things, and not give a fuck about that. Feminism is great and all, but sometimes we have to accept that the vast majority of women are shorter, and typically not as muscly, as the vast majority of men. Therefor, there is some shit we just have a harder time doing, like reaching high shelves and opening tightly closed jars. When you live alone, you can't just not do most of those things though. I mean what, are you just going to let those delicious spicy dill pickles go bad in the fridge because the jar was clearly closed by a sociopath? NO. You will walk your happy ass outside and ask the first person who looks stronger than you to help you open that shit, and no matter what kind of looks you get from them that say you are probably insane, you take your open jar of pickles back inside with your head held high, because who gives a fuck what they think? You have spicy pickles.

2. You learn to stop watching the news. Basically what happens when you live alone, have a vagina, AND watch or read the news, is you become convinced that like, everybody wants to rape you. The guy that delivers the mail? He wants to rape you. The landscaper across the street trimming those hedges? Oh yeah, he wants to get all rapey on you. The check out guy at the store? The bicyclist who comes down your street every morning? The pizza delivery boy? They are all just WAITING for their chance to rape the shit out of you. Turns out, there's probably not that many people actually planning on raping you. Most of them couldn't pick you out of a line up. So you stop watching the news, because it makes you scared of everyone, and that makes it harder for you to ask strangers to open your pickles.

3. You also learn to never ever ever see a scary movie with someone you're not planning on spending the entire night with. One time I went on a date with someone who took me to see a scary movie. At first I was all, yeah yeah, very clever. Take me to a scary movie so I cuddle into you during all the jumpy/gory parts. But then I realized how truly clever he really was, because at the end of the night I really, really, didn't want to go home. There was nobody at my house, and I'm crappy at being a grown up, so I was 99% sure I hadn't left any lights on for myself. Was sleeping with this person worth it to not have to lay in bed all night with the blanket pulled up to my chin, debating between getting up in the dark to walk to the bathroom or just straight up wetting the bed because I was too afraid to move? 

4. You learn how to deal with disgusting shit. One of the benefits of living with a guy is that you don't have to deal with most disgusting situations being an adult will present to you. Things like killing bugs, plunging the toilet when someone - not you of course - clogs it, fixing clogged drains and nasty smelling sinks, etc. When you live alone though, you learn pretty fast that the number of boys who are willing to come over at 2 am to kill a cock roach is very, very small, and gets exponentially smaller each time you actually make one of them do that. You learn to suck it up and kill the fucking thing, even if you scream so loudly the entire time, that your neighbors come over because they think you're being murdered. 

5. You learn that you do a lot of weird shit you don't really want anyone else seeing you do. For those of you who watch Sex and the City, you know these things as your Secret Single Behaviors. Things you do when you are alone in your house, that you're afraid you'd have to give up if you ever cohabited with a man. Things like examining your pores in the bathroom mirror, while you sit on the counter with your feet in the sink. Or ripping pieces of cheese straight off the block and eating it in clumps while you stand at the kitchen counter at 2 in the morning. Whatever it is, you learn the little things that secretly bring you joy, even if they're not the most normal.

If I could wish one thing on all girls in their 20's, it would be that for just a little while, they live on their own. 
I don't mean just live with other girl roommates and not have any guys around. I mean live 100% alone.
You learn so much about yourself, and you learn just how much you can really do on your own. 
And, I think it makes you so much more grateful to have another person to help out with shit when you do finally live with a guy.

Once you've dragged a couch up two flights of stairs and wrestled it into your apartment by yourself, you will never take your boyfriend carrying something heavy for you for granted ever, ever again.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

An Open Letter to my Son About Sex

Dear Jack, 

Every adult around you right now knows the story: last Friday, a confused, twisted, mentally ill 22 year old man opened fire into a crowded area, hoping to gun down as many people as possible, because he'd been rejected by women.
Because all of his self worth and sense of manhood resided in the number of women he had or had not kissed, touched, or had sex with. Women rejecting his sexual advances time and time again had left him feeling as though he were owed something. Because he believed sex to be a prize, a trophy awarded to the best of the best...and he saw himself as the best. He figured he at least deserved a participation ribbon.

Right now you are six, and you have no idea how complicated sex is.
You know where babies come from and how they're made, but your best friend is a girl, and you still think the word penis is hilarious, and you won't have much interest in doing anything other than peeing with it quite a while. 
But someday, that will change.

When it does, I want you to understand that it's OK to have sex, and it's also OK to NOT have sex.
Sex is only wrong when both people aren't 100% aware of  and consenting to the importance of what they're doing, and the consequences involved. Similarly, sex is only good when both people are.
So it's ok to pass on some opportunities because they're not right for you, and it's ok if some girls pass on the same opportunity with you because you're not right for them. 

It will only be good when you're both invested in it, so don't settle for someone who is merely willing, and don't worry about the people who aren't interested.

At the end of the day, sex is not a prize.
It's not a trophy. 
It's not owed to you, nor do you owe it to anyone else.
It's a shared experience between two people who are both super stoked about being there.
It's not a milestone you need to reach by a certain age. It's not a quota of experience you need to match with any of your peers.

It's private, it's personal, and it's unbelievably complicated.

It's not ever worth hurting another person over, and it's never more important than the value of a human life.
Most of the people you meet in this world will have had sex by some point in their life, but I guarantee you there are 1,000 things more interesting about them than all of those sexual endeavors put together, and there always will be about you too.


Monday, May 26, 2014

More than at least 13 things

I Love You More Than Ice Cream

1. More than strong coffee, with two sugars and flavored cream.

2. More than my favorite Blink 182 song

3. More than the first season of Grey's anatomy

4. More than a hot shower with TWO shower heads

5. More than a fried egg sandwich, with tomato and bacon and mayonnaise

6/ More than Christmas morning

7. More than the smell of Fall

8. More than watching Hocus Pocus and The Addams Family on Halloween

9. More than a good guitar solo in a Kansas song

10. More than dancing to Footloose

11. More than being the little spoon

12. More than being right

13. More than anything

I like you.

Friday, May 23, 2014

When you get out the hood

Probably The Most Offensive Gingerbread House Ever! - NoWayGirl

Earlier, I was talking to one of my homies about how different it is to live in the ghetto, as opposed to living in the 'burbs. It's a hard concept to grasp if you'd never lived or spent significant time in the hood. 
I mean, I'm sure people from the outside would be like "Uh, yeah, I'm sure it's different. There are no drive-by shootings in Chandler." But I'm not talking about the element of danger, or the crime, or ratio of crack dealers to crack users.
I'm talking about the general way of life.

When I was growing up, we basically always lived in the projects, or in ghetto of some sort. 
I'm a west sider, and if you're not from Phoenix and don't understand what I mean, it's the same as being a South Sider in Chicago, or from Oakland in California, or from Midtown in New York.
We lived in poor neighborhoods, among lower income families, or old die-hards, who had moved into that hood when it was new and pristine, and refused to give up their roots. 

I noticed some shit when I first moved out of the hood and into Scottsdale when I was 12. First of all, there are no ice cream trucks in the nice part of town. Maybe this is specific to Arizona, but everybody knows, if there's an ice cream truck that goes by your house, you live in the ghetto. They sell Mexican candy, and they accept food stamps. 
Also, nobody shares in the rich neighborhoods.
When you live in the hood, there is a sense of community that I have yet to find in the nicer parts of town where we live now. In the 'burbs, every house is a self contained, solitary unity. Garages that you pull into and shut tight, doors that are always closed, and backyards where you spend all your time outside - if you go outside at all, because hey, you can afford air conditioning. Why would you go outside?! 
In the ghetto, people are outside like, all summer. Few people have air conditioning {shout out to my old swamp cooler}, and if they did they usually couldn't afford to use it. So everybody's doors were open, and 90% of the neighborhood was outside.
You know how block parties got invented?
A bunch of folks in the ghetto, dragging all their food and boom boxes and alcohol outside, and sharing. 

Nobody does that shit in the burbs. 

In the suburbs, if you go next door to a neighbor you don't really know, and ask to borrow so much as a cup of sugar, they look at you like you're insane. 
If you drop by your neighbor's house to chat for a bit while you drink your after-work-beer, you are intruding. Why are you here? What do you want? This is weird.

Our houses growing up was always full of neighbors dropping by, chatting for a bit, bringing beer, hangin' around, and then wandering off. 
If you needed to borrow something, you went next door. No problem.
You needed a ride? Cool, they'd hook you up. 
Can pay your water bill and need to shower? Bring a towel. 

Maybe it's the fact that people in the hood have all "been there, done that"

They've all lived through worse than what they're living through now, so if you're in a jam and need their help, shit, they been there, done that, baby, come on in.
In the burbs, people don't know what it's like to struggle, and if they do, they're quiet about it. 
You don't sit around with your friends and bitch about how you can't get overtime right now, so you don't know if you can pay the electric on time. 

You keep that shit to your damn self. 

I don't know. I'm glad to be where I am, and I'm grateful I can offer my kids a better life. But sometimes I wish that they could know the sense of family and community that you seem to only find in the hood, where everybody looks out for each other, shares with each other, and knows one another. 

Because shit, they been there, done that, and nobody has a complete family anyway, so maybe if we all pull together and share a little bit, we'll get by a lot easier. 

I think when you get to a place in life where you don't need people to share with you, you forget how nice it is to share with them.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Awesomeeeee  Checkout my website and support my new clothing line and my mission to help orphans in Uganda

Earlier today, I had some work to do. Pictures that needed to finish being edited, galleries that needed to be made, CD's to burn, package, and mail out. And like a million "thank you notes" to write. I feel like the "thank you" notes are the best, and worst thing about my life.
I love getting thank you notes, don't you? I mean, it's really tight to take your time and energy and money, and spend all that shit on another person, in whatever way, and then get a hand written card back saying how much they appreciated it. 
And besides it seems like some super grown up, classy ass shit to do. 
I didn't grow up in a world of thank you notes or stationary...or real people that had those things, and knew the appropriate occasions in which to bust them out, seemed like the real pimps to me.
They're also the worst though, because they take forever to write and make my hand all crampy.


I had all this shit to do, and I sat down to get to work, but my stomach started growling.
You can't work on an empty stomach, you know. It's not good for you. 
So, off to the kitchen I went to make a little snack, when I thought to myself "Self, you should eat a salad. Salads are really good for you, and you have a pretty huge ass." 
Myself agreed with me that a salad sounded good.
Unfortunately though, there really wasn't much in the fridge to make a salad with. 
"Self" I thought again. "Maybe you wouldn't be so chubby if you had more healthy food in the house!" 
This seemed legit, so I figured I should go to the store. 
Work could wait a minute, ok, I need to eat to LIVE. Jesus.
It was a nice day out though, and since I was going to try to be healthier, I decided to walk to the store instead of drive.
I live in Phoenix, which I walk places basically never. Phoenix is not laid out well for walking. Residential neighborhoods surround little shopping centers and strip malls like vast oasis', and go on for what seems like forever. You can easily walk a mile or two before you even get out of your neighborhood and close to major street, where things like stores and shit would be. 
I don't live that far from the store - right behind it, actually - but my point is, I like never walk places, so I'm not used to that shit.
I walked a couple blocks, and was starting to really regret my choice, but I'd forgotten my phone, so I couldn't call anyone to come get me. 
I started thinking about how it's really nice that we live in a better part of town now, and not the ghetto where I grew up. If I was back in Sunnyslope today, I would not be walking to the store because I don't want to die right now. I'd probably just drive everywhere and be fat forever. 
Anyway, I walked like 27 blocks, maybe was hot, I lost count, and finally made it to the store. 
Turns out healthy food is expensive, so I got a burrito. 

Back at home it was time to get serious.
I sat down to work, just when my cat Keiko sat down next to my desk, and rolled over on her back, showing her little tummy and purring at me. You gotta reward that, right? Right. So I sat down to pet her for a few hours, because keeping close relationships with the people and things I love is important to me. 

While I was down there petting her, Jackson and Lainie came in and reminded me it was 5 pm, and time to go swimming. 
We all suited up, and headed out to the pool. The water was really nice, and we had a really good time. 

And now I'm writing this blog post.

Because I really, really, really, don't want to do anything productive today. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

What we forget, and what we remember

so true

On Sunday, my son Jackson turns 6. 
For some stupid fucking reason, I looked up his dad the other night on Facebook. I don't know why. I never do this. Most of the time I forget he even has a dad, to be honest. I know that seems weird, but my time spent with Jack's father has been reduced over the last six years to little more than a blur of unemployment, abuse, him coming home drunk, and the day I moved out of our apartment. 
I realized when I looked him up the other night that I had even started to forget what he looked like.
As much as I'm good at forgetting he exists 99% of the time, Jack's birthday is always a day that brings his dad to mind for me. 
I remember dreading my birthday my whole life, because neither of my parents ever gave a shit. 
Well, more than them not giving a shit, it seemed to be a good excuse for my dad to be extra hurtful and abusive, and for my mom to be even somehow more drunk and absent than usual. 
I have weird anxieties about my kids reliving the shit I experienced as a kid. I know I can't stop all bad things from happening to them, but I try to avoid the big shit that really stuck with me. Their birthdays being miserable is one of them. 
I make a big fucking deal about their birthdays. 
I can't help it.
I don't necessarily blow big money on gifts and expensive shit, but I make sure they know it's a big day. They get whatever they want for breakfast, I leave little notes and small surprises for them all around the house in weird places, they get whatever they want for dinner, one home made cake with just the family, and one fancy store bought decorated one with their friends. 

And it pisses me off that their dads don't give a fuck.

I looked Jack's dad up the other night because I wanted to see if he ever posted anything about my son. If, given the fact that his birthday is right around the corner, Jesse would say anything at least about that.
I'm not sure what I expected. 
People don't typically talk about the son they abandoned on their social media page, I guess.
But still, when I scrolled through two years of his status updates and pictures and found nothing about Jackson, I was sad. And angry. And frustrated because I know his father's absence will stick with him forever. I know that he will look back on these birthdays, and remember that his dad wasn't there. Frustrated because I can't convey to him at this age that it's better his dad isn't here. I can't make him understand that, and make him look back on the hole Jesse left in his life, with relief that he wasn't raised by that man.
He doesn't know that his dad is bad person.
He just knows he doesn't have a dad.

I guess no matter how much of the past we forget, there are some things we'll always remember.
The scent of my mother's perfume. My dragon birthday cake the year I turned 8. The soft heft of my newborn babies in my arms. The smell of liquor on Jesse's breath at 4 in the morning. And how on the day I left him, I hated myself so fucking much, but still somehow knew that I deserved better. That we deserved better. 

I make a big deal out of my kid's birthdays because I want them to remember that they deserve better than people who don't care that they were born.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

Being a mom is a complicated thing for me.
You don't have to know me very well to know that I never had a mother.
At least that's what I tell people.
She was an alcoholic, and she was distant, and we never had much of a relationship even when we lived in the same house.
Now that I have my own kids, I've struggled since the day each of them were born to understand the woman who made me, partially out of fear that I would be just like her, and partially out of remorse for giving up on ever having a relationship with her when I turned 18. 
As the years have passed, I've come to understand her more, and also less at the same time.

Mother's day always makes me think of her though.
She never asked for anything, always seemed grateful and appreciative for the handmade cards or the occasional store bought gifts we gave her.
But I never felt like she deserved an entire day dedicated to her. 
I'd wake up, tell her happy mother's day, give her whatever I had for her, and then run outside to play with my friends. There were no breakfasts in bed, or fancy dinners that we took her to. I didn't see the point.

The relationship between mothers and daughters always seems so tenuous and delicate. Difficult at best, and unbearable at its worst. We rebel against our mothers because we are them. We share their gender, their features, we're told from the time we're little that we look just like them. We walk like them, talk like them, date the same kind of men, make all the same mistakes.
We push them away, blame them for our issues, because they are the closest things to us. 
When we struggle with our own selves the most, we take it out on them because they are an extension of us, and us of them. 
When Lainie was born, I didn't know what I was having, a boy or a girl. 
I was sixteen, so right up until the end I was secretly hoping it might be kittens. 
She emerged, and the nurse declared it was a girl, and all at once my heart soared, and sank.
I recalled the ambivalence with which I treated my mother.
I recalled all the blame I placed on her, and understanding and forgiveness I refused her.
I was overcome with sadness for the fact that I had refused to see her for what she was: an addict, a product of a broken and unbelievably abusive home, a wife to an unbelievably abusive man, a victim, a woman, a broken spirit who was doing the best she could.

I'd never considered the fact that we are who we are, and for our own flesh and blood to not only refuse us understanding, but also to refuse to even attempt to know us as people is the most heartbreaking rejection of all. 

I know now that a daughter is a mother's clearest critic, her most magnified mirror, her most treasured love.
A few months ago one of my clients mothers was talking to me at her daughter's wedding reception, and she asked if I had any daughters. I told her I did, a ten year old. 
She smiled a knowing smile, and said "Oh boy. That's the beginning of the hard stuff for mothers and daughters. You must have a lot on your plate!"
I laughed and agreed that I did, and then she said something that stuck with me ever since:
She said a daughter is your sweet little girl for 9 years, your worst enemy for another 9, and then your best friend for life.

I'm sorry now that I never got the chance to experience the best friend part with my mom.
I know enough to know that that isn't all my fault, but I also know enough now to know that it wasn't all her fault either.

She wasn't a perfect mother. She wasn't even a great one.
But I remember one day after my dad had broken her leg in a particularly heinous fight, she was on crutches, her leg in a cast, and she took me to school because I woke up late and missed the bus. 
I hated school when I was a kid, and I hated leaving my parents all day, so much so that I usually cried through most of the morning in my early grades. 
I stood at the entrance to the school, not wanting to leave, and looked back and forth from the long hallway to my class room, and my mother's face. 
She was tired, she had a huge black eye and a broken leg, but she looked down at me and said "Do you want me to walk you to class?"
I nodded, and she did. It took forever, and she was clearly in pain, but on her crutches she walked with me, all the way to the back of the school to my classroom door. 

She was my mother.
And I'm glad she had me.

Happy mother's day.