Friday, September 19, 2014

The best parts of the week

It doesn't take much.

1. Listening to this song:
Do you even remember Dashboard Confessional? I remembered them the other day, and it was good. So many memories, so much angsty scream/singing to an out of tune guitar. So many feels. 
So long, sweet Summer.

2. Painting with the kids every day after school this week. I don't really know where this new craze came from, but it's kind of nice. On Monday, out of nowhere Jackson asked if I would buy him some paints and some construction paper. You can't really say no to that, can you? So off to the store we went, and when we came home we sat on the floor and he painted four pictures in a row. Lainie even came over and painted with us. It was nice, all three of us sitting there painting silly pictures together. Peaceful, quiet. Everyone was happy. Now we have this gallery wall, and the kids want to see if they can cover the whole wall from end to end by Christmas. 

3. Rain. It rained three days in a row this week - albeit off and on - which is my favorite type of weather, second only to crisp, chill, early winter days that are overcast and smell like lit fireplaces. Both types of days are rare in Arizona, so it's a pretty big deal when I get one, especially for three days in a row.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

22 {more} things I want to do with you.

John F. Kennedy hugging his wife
  1. Find the Orso
  2. Live on the beach
  3. See the rest of Italy
  4. See the rest of Europe - except the mean places {like Tunisia}
  5. Take a transatlantic cruise
  6. See Blink 182 live
  7. Spend Christmas in New York
  8. Visit Boston and your hometown
  9. Go to a masquerade party
  10. Design our dream house, even if we never get to build it
  11. Eat fish tacos on the beach in Mexico
  12. Mine for gold in the Bering sea
  13. Pick out a Christmas tree
  14. Dress up together for a Halloween party 
  15. Find a bear
  16. Drink Patron, not Mojitos
  17. Learn how to do something neither of us know how to do, together
  18. Go to a wine tasting and heckle the people who take it so seriously
  19. Take a motorcycle road trip
  20. Have a mobster movie marathon
  21. Stay in the tee pee hotel on Route 66
  22. Have a big, juicy, exciting, full life, together.
{Click here for the original list of 62 things I want to do with you, written three years ago this week, and showing what's been accomplished so far.}

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Why I Stayed.

#WhyIStayed I knew his threats were real.  #WhyILeft As a young mother of 21, I found the courage to leave a marriage of #DV for the safety of my son.

There's a hashtag going around Twitter right now that past victims of domestic violence are using to tell the stories of why they stayed with their abusers. All of this is coming out in response to the media craze about Ray Rice, and the video of him punching his then fiancee {now wife} in the face, until she was unconscious. 

I don't follow sports.
I watched the world series once, when the Diamond Backs played the Yankees, and I had a crush on the Yankees pitcher, Andy Pettit.
I don't read sports news, and I don't even know what team Ray Rice plays for, as a matter of fact.
I don't care.
I've seen the video of his fight with his girlfriend, and I've seen the comments and the reactions from the public, and from the NFL, and it got to the point that if I heard one more mother fucking person say something like "Well, we don't know what she did or said before the video to get him to punch her" or "You know it takes two to tango...maybe she had it coming." I was going to lose my fucking mind. 

I decided instead to tell you why I stayed. 

When I was growing up, I wasn't given the best examples of how men and women are supposed to treat each other. Healthy relationships weren't abundant in my life, and I was raised by an abusive man, who was primarily physically abusive towards my mother. Growing up, I felt the same way a lot of the people leaving shitty comments on the Ray Rice video seem to feel: like she should've done something about it, and since she didn't, it was her fault what was happening to her.

I was a kid.
I was pissed off, and frustrated, and scared all the time. 
Most importantly, I was wrong.

I didn't realize just how wrong I was until I met Jackson's dad.
Up until we met, I was a hell raising wise ass, who took no shit. I always said that if a man put his hands on me, I'd fuck his world up. I was tough, I was confident, I knew everything, I was untouchable, in my opinion. I dated one guy briefly who out of nowhere grabbed me by the throat in an argument, and I smashed a porcelain ash tray into his nose and left. I never saw him again. 

That was how I always assumed I'd handle things if a man was every violent with me again. 

And then I met Jesse.

It started out, I was going to keep our relationship casual. I was in control, I knew what I was doing. 
And then I got pregnant.
We decided to keep the baby, and figured moving in together would be make things easier, in an attempt to try to make it work and be a "family" for the sake of Lainie and this new baby.

I was determined to make things work.

It started out, that he teased me a lot. Making jokes about the way that I dressed, or did my hair, or my how much make up I wore. I'm a busty girl, and pregnancy definitely adds to that department, and being a punk-rocking 20 year old, most of my shirts showed some cleavage. He would make jokes, and I would laugh them off. And then he'd make more. And then his jokes became more harsh. And then they weren't funny anymore....and then they weren't jokes anymore. When teasing me didn't get him what he wanted, he would aim to make me insecure. 
He'd say things about how "gross" I looked, or go so far as to say that the way I dressed embarrassed him or made him feel like he was out with a hooker. 

Let me make it clear at this point, that I did not dress like a hooker. I dressed like a 20 year old who had a pretty kick ass body at that time. Tight jeans and tank tops, nothing made of pleather, no thigh high boots or bunny fur jackets, ok? 

It started with little comments that made me feel bad, but about things that seemed little.
I was determined to make it work, to make him happy, so I just figured I'd adjust my wardrobe.

It didn't stop there. 

Once he realized he'd gotten into my head, nothing was off limits. 
He gave me shit about my hair, my make up, my shoes, the way I talked, the way I walked {did you know I wiggle my ass too much when I walk?!}, everything. I started to feel worse and worse about myself. Once he was done with my outsides, he went after every little thing I did. I was a shitty cook, I didn't wash the dishes right, I bought the wrong groceries....the list goes on. 

I started asking him to approve my shopping lists. 
Making dinner made me a nervous wreck. 
Nothing I did was right. 

What I didn't notice was that the worse I felt about myself, and the harder I tried to please him, the more control he gained. 

The next thing I knew, he'd alienated me from my friends because he didn't like any of them and didn't want them in "his" house. I'd bought all new clothes, I had to have him approve my outfits before leaving the house, and I didn't do anything without his permission. 

None of that was enough though. 
He became suspicious of me, and every move I made. He went out of town for a weekend once and told me he had thought about putting cameras over the front door to make sure I didn't have any boys over, but instead decided just to have his friends "check up on me". 
I was 6 months pregnant.
When I was 7 months pregnant, and as big as a whale, he'd make me take Lainie with me any time I left the house, even for a moment, even if I was going to run an errand on his behalf. He'd check the timestamp on my grocery store receipt, and if there was too much time {in his opinion} between that stamp, and when I arrived back home, he'd grill me and Lainie until he felt satisfied that we hadn't gone anywhere else, or met up with anyone. 

And eventually with the control, came the humiliation.
I had started to get really pissed at how I was being treated. I wasn't a child! I did nothing wrong, I didn't deserve this! I started doing small things as a way of rebelling: throwing out my grocery store receipts, inviting my "banned" friends over and hanging out with them outside so he couldn't technically kick them out, etc. 
When he saw he was slowly losing control, he upped the ante.
He started humiliating me, in private at first, and then in front of his friends, and even in front of Lainie. 

I remember one night I came home from visiting my sister, and he didn't believe that it had taken me 20 minutes to drive home. He grabbed me when I walked in the door, and insisted I account for every second I had been gone. When I didn't comply he got angry. He insisted I had met a man, had sex with someone. I laughed in his face - how ridiculous! I was out-to-here pregnant, and swollen, and tired! I hadn't left the house unsupervised in months! Who exactly was I screwing?! 

In order to prove that he owned me, he shoved his hands down the front of my pants and into my underwear to "check" and make sure I hadn't been with anyone. 

I never told anyone about that before. 
It was so disgusting, and so violating, and so painful and rough and mean, and just plain fucking crazy. 

I felt completely alone, and totally at his mercy. 

And that's when the physical abuse really kicked off. 
He threw things at me, poured soda, ice water, hot Starbucks on me. He dragged me by the hair from my bed to the shower, and threw me in it with the water on full hot. He'd hold me down scream in my face, grab me by the hair and make me look at him, threaten to kill me.
One particularly bad night, he came home hammered drunk, and woke me up to make him some food. 
He sat in a chair in the dining room and watched me make him his dinner, not saying a word. When I was done, I turned to hand him his plate, and he just stared at me. 
Finally, he started counting: "3....2....." My hands were shaking. He paused forever between each number. I had a feeling I knew what would happen when he got to 1, but I stood there frozen. 
Finally he whispered "One...", and lunged out of his chair toward me. He tackled me to the ground, and started hitting me. 

I was pregnant with his kid. 
I had a 4 year old daughter. 
My family was not even on speaking terms with me because I was with him. I'd lost all my friends, I had no money, and I didn't even own my own car. 

I felt completely stuck there.

And, because of the intense emotional abuse that had preceded all of this, and the slow, methodical breaking down of my self esteem, my confidence, and my self worth, I believed I was to blame. 
I believed I deserved what was happening to me on some weird level. 

And that's why I stayed. 

I always thought "I'm stronger than that. I wouldn't be a victim. I know better. I am not my mother. I am not weak. I would fight back, I would leave."

What I didn't realize is that they don't hit you when you're still strong, when you're still aware, when you're still connected to the resources you need to get out. 
They hit you much later, after they've taken that all away from you. 

Once you're broken. 
Once you're scared. 
Once you're completely dependent on them. 

Once they get you to believe that it's your fault.

I don't talk about any of this often, or with many people. Most of what I wrote here today, I've never told anyone in it's entirety. 
But maybe we should talk about it more. 
I remember talking in some very small way about having been in an abusive relationship before, with some young girl, and her response was "You don't seem like the kind of person who would let a guy hit her in the face or abuse her."
I understand that she meant it - weirdly - as a compliment, but there was so much wrong with that statement I couldn't even begin to address it. 

Maybe more strong women should tell their stories, so that people stop thinking it only happens to certain types of girls. 
So that the girls it's happening to stop thinking it's only happening to them. 
Or that it's happening to them because they're weak. Because they're not strong enough to fight back. To get out. 

Every nine seconds a woman in this country is abused. 
Maybe we should talk about it.

If you are currently experiencing domestic violence, there is help available. 
Get out. Get to a shelter. Let someone know what's going on.
National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

Don't let your story end like this.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Kiss, love, couple, black and white, tattoo, neck

I fell in love with your eyes, your smile, the scent of your t-shirts, the way your voice sounds like rain. 
I fell in love with your ideas, the way you see the world, your originality, and your humble bravery. With the way you laugh, the crinkle in the bridge of your nose, your blue shirts, how you say my name.
I fell in love with the small moments of unexpected vulnerability, when you told me shy secrets in the dark, with my head on your chest and no one else around. One of your many tender surprises. 
Like notes written to me in Italian, coffee I didn't have to ask for, breakfast in bed. 
I fell in love with talking to you, the way you made me laugh, the way we understood each other. I even fell in love with our darkness. The accidental closeness that could only come from sharing the same scars, from making the same mistakes.
There are every day things, lulls, times when nothing exciting happens. 
And then the rest of the time is laced with a kind of magic.
A feeling as special and as captivating as the moon's love for the sea, and just as 




Monday, September 15, 2014

How to Movie Night with Kids

So true.  With #9 on the way and all the energy siphoned out by the other 8, I have virtually NOTHING left!!! ;)

After my post on Friday about movie night with the kids, one of my readers emailed me to ask how we do that without massive fighting, given that my kids are almost 5 years apart, and don't necessarily like the same movies anymore. 
When we first started movie nights, I never really thought about their age difference, honestly.
Movie nights started out as a seasonal thing, watching Halloween movies every Friday in October leading up to Halloween, and then watching Christmas movies every Friday in December leading up to Christmas. I think because it started that way, the kids got used to watching old movies, or movies that they might not pick themselves, or movies that were a little below their own age group {ahem, Lainie}, because they were holiday movies, so it was all in the spirit of things. 
Over time they got so attached to movie night, that now it's less about what we watch and more about the fact that we do it. It's not every single Friday, and over the summer we missed several months in a row actually, because no one really showed an interest in it. But we've recently revived them, and the kids are pretty stoked. 
Still, there are occasionally times when Lainie feels very grown up and absolutely does NOT want to watch a "baby" movie that Jack picks, or Jack absolutely will NOT watch Harry Potter for Lainie because it scares him, so if you're worried about fighting and bitching and finding a movie that works for every age group, I can offer you this advice:

1. Make a list of options. I do this by having the kids each write down 4 movies they want to watch each month. Neither of them get to veto each other's choices, but I get to veto anything I want if it's wildly inappropriate, too long, scary, terrible, etc. 

2. Plan in advance. We do it every week, but if you want to get crazy, you could do it at the beginning of every month, whatever makes you happy. Sit down with the kids and let them each pick one movie from "their" list of movies they wanted to see this month. For the rest of the week, I talk it up. "It's going to be so fun to watch Monster's Inc on Friday! I can't wait to see Beauty and the Beast with you guys!" blah blah, etc. Something about planning it in advance gives them time to come to terms with their destiny, and it gives the older child a chance to get in the spirit of watching a "little kid" movie. 

3. Watch two movies. We do this simply because Jack and Lainie are so far apart in age. It's a lot easier to get her to be a good sport - or even sometimes really enjoy - watching a movie Jack likes, if she knows that when it's over she gets to watch her movie. Also, most of the time Jack is passed out by the time the second movie starts, so she can watch Harry Potter if she wants without scaring the shit out of her little brother. 

4. Have snacks. If all else fails, throw ice cream sandwiches and popcorn their way until they cheer up and pipe down. Make it a whole experience, and then the pressure for the movies to be EVERYONE'S FAVORITES will be off. My kids are s'mores addicts, so we make s'mores or roast marshmallows, and make popcorn. I usually pick up something extra for each kid too, like barbecue potato chips for Jack and Rasinettes for Lainie. 

I'm not saying it's a perfect system, but we usually get through movie night with limited blood shed, so it's worth a shot. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Things that are good and things to fill your weekend.

1. It rained three times this week, and it was cloudy for more days than it wasn't.

2. Movie nights on Fridays with the kids. The kids have s'mores and I have popcorn, and we sit all on top of each other on a couch long enough for six people, and it's my favorite way to end the school week. Tonight we're watching Monster's Inc. and Maleficent.

3.  This song:
Stay With Me by Sam Smith on Grooveshark
I realize I'm probably 8 million years behind the trend on this one, but I don't listen to the radio so shit finds me late. Me and Lainie belt this one out like crazy people when it comes on though, and we both agree the strangely gospel feel to the chorus is unbelievable.
I really like that my kids are both getting to ages where they have music tastes. They both have favorite songs, Lainie has a few favorite bands. Music is a huge deal to me, and it's an ever present part of our lives in my house. I play it in the morning while we're getting ready, I play it while I make dinner, it plays non-stop in the car when we're driving. It's cool to be able to share that with them now, and know what music they love, what they hate, and find out what we have in common.

4. This recipe. I made this the other night, and we all loved it. The kids picked the mushrooms out, but still. Very comforting.

5. This website, that I check all the time, and yes, sometimes put on to watch while I'm dozing off. The falling snow is so peaceful. Add a little Phillip Glass from "The Hours" soundtrack, and I'm out like a light in 3...2...1

My insane fall/Christmas obsession combined with my love of cats and snappy cardigans puts me a cup of coffee with dinner and a vintage spoon collection away from definite spinster hood, I know.

Well, it may not be much, but there you have it.

Happy Friday.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

People I hate.

You Can Always Count On SomeECards To Deliver The LOLs - Ned Hardy | Ned Hardy

1. Couples who wear those matching unisex sandals that exist only to let everyone know how earthy and adventurous they are {example here}. We get it! You do thing outside! Together! All the time! Your shirt is probably made of flax or hemp or camel saliva, and you eat at trendy restaurants that charge $18 dollars for a salad that tastes like yard clippings, because it's all locally sourced! WE GET IT. Still, regardless of how hip and healthy you are, a girl shouldn't ever be able to accidentally put on her boyfriends shoes, and only realize once she notices they're a tad bigger.
Why does being healthy have to be synonymous with ugly clothes?

2. People that refer to themselves as their pets "parents". I'm sorry. No. Even if you don't call them your kids, if your cat gives birth to a litter of kittens, and you post on Facebook that you became the PROUD PARENTS of new kittens, I will kill you. You did not become the parents of jack shit. Your cat did. You are merely the giant human who will bug the shit out of those kittens for the next six weeks.
Humans can be parents to other humans. They are owners of pets. Period.

3. People that go out of their way to tell you how bad something is for you. Take diet soda, for example. People LOVE to tell other people how terrible it is for you. How if you're going to have a soda, just have a smaller size regular soda. You know the fake sugar causes cancer, right? The thing is, it's 2014. We all have computer and internet access, and we've all seen the reports and the studies, and have some level of understanding of what or who Monsanto is. They know the diet soda is bad for them. They just don't fucking care. 
So why should you?

4. Couples who share a Facebook account. Unless you're over 70, this is unacceptable. Why in God's name do you need to SHARE a free account? Is it because one of you doesn't actually want a facebook, and the other one just can't accept that? Is it because you're just so connected to each other that you've actually begun to melt into one huge human? Like two gummy bears left in a car on a hot summer day? Is this your way of letting everyone know how secure you are in your relationship, that you just have one community facebook account between the two of you, because there are no secrets here? Well, let me tell you this: it's gross. Stop it. Grow up and have your own identity, your own facebook, and take off those matching sandals, damn it!

Ugh. That's better. Feels good to bitch sometimes, right?

Happy wednesday. 

I myself am made entirely of flaws.

There is a writer that I can't remember the name of because I had a short attention span in high school, who had his fiancee read his diary before their wedding so that she wouldn't have any misconceptions about what a terrible person he was.
Not that he actually was terrible really. He just didn't want her thinking he was this supreme human being that we see people as when we're falling in love with them. He wanted to be sure she was aware that he was human, and in possession of so many flaws.

I always thought what he did was an interesting idea, but I go back and forth about whether I actually would have wanted to read the diary if I was his fiancee.

I mean on the one hand, of course! You get to learn the secret inner workings of this person's mind, heart, and soul? You know all their bad habits, and best of all: how they begin and end their journal entries! I mean whether or not a person starts a journal entry with just a plain old date, or whether they actually salute their inanimate journal with "Dear Diary" says basically all you need to know about said person.
And there's the intended benefit: really knowing for sure what you're getting into.
Just how fucked up is this guy? How weird is he? I mean right now I think he's this handsome writer who leaves poems on my pillow and blushes when I kiss him, but maybe he's really a derelict pervert, who grabs other girl's butts and blows on every bite of soup he takes even once the soup isn't hot anymore. 

You just never know.

On the other hand though, I think if we are handed all of someone's imperfections all at once they would 99 times out of 100 be too much for us to take, and we'd walk away. With the vast majority of people, you wouldn't likely make it past the first conversation if the only way they had to get to know who you really were and what deep dark secrets they'd eventually have to deal with, was for them to take them all on at once, without filter, and without context.

I think that's why people say not to talk about your relationship problems with your best friend too much. 
Your best friend isn't in the relationship. They haven't had the slow progression of getting to know your significant other like you have. They haven't been a part of the exciting - and terrifying - journey of peeling back the layers of who this person is, slowly, over time, delighting in the beautiful layers, and working together to accept the less amazing ones, like you have. So when you unload about your problems, you're effectively handing them ALL of your partner's flaws all at once, without enough context around everything for your friend to see the person as a whole person any more. All of a sudden they become warped into this freakish creature who is nothing but the sum total of his unbelievably loud chewing and past transgressions.

Sometimes too, there are things two people in a relationship do need to know about each other, that they're not ready to know just yet. Flaws or affinities may exist that you wouldn't have accepted in a partner before, until you were ready to accept that you possess the same yen.
It's easy to say you wouldn't ever want something, or accept something, or that you couldn't live with something, until you both have the same blood on your hands. 
And after that the knowing brings you together, instead of tearing you apart, so maybe timing does matter. When and how we discover things about each other, rather than just having a proverbial dump truck of truth and knowledge crash into us all at once.

I think we need to live in a sort of delirious wonderland for a while at first, totally punch drunk in love and fully believing that this person we've found can do no wrong, and also never farts in bed or leaves their fucking shoes in the Goddamn walk way, so that later, when we find out they do in fact do both of those things, we are softened and bonded and ready to deal with it. 

Sort of like babies. Scientists have said that human babies are born so cute so that mothers will instinctively want to protect them, and also so that when that new-baby scent wears off and mom realizes this cute baby shits on their things and cries all the time, they are less inclined to eat them.

I don't know.
I'm all for knowing a person so completely that there is no flaw, no secret, no bad habit, that could surprise you or shake your foundation of how you feel about them. But I for one really like the process of discovering and learning and figuring those things out. It takes years sometimes, but that's what gives us a history with people. The trials and errors and things we went through that exposed those details to one another, over time. 
So that at the end of the day, you have a long road behind you, a complete understanding of each other between you, and an even longer road ahead of you. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

6 things that are good right now

1. Lunches at Rigatony's where the sandwiches are as long as boats, and the company makes you laugh.

2. The fact that it's September, and we have our Halloween/Fall decorations out, and even if it's still 100 degrees outside, the next few months are my happy place.

3. An entire weekend with Jackson. We're going to play games, and watch movies, and roast marshmallows, and be best friends.That's what he said when he left for school this morning. 

4. A website that's making progress, and a friend that's building it and putting up with me saying things like "I want it to have like a boxy thing, that has check boxy things, and does the color change thing. Know what I mean?"

5. It's supposed to rain for the next four days.

6. We survived the Summer, and the busy season should be on it's way back into our house soon. Thank you, baby Jesus.

What's good for you right now?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Lately I've been ass deep in work, and when I'm not working on something I'm thinking about working on it, and annoying everybody with how much I talk about it. It's been really cool. {And that wasn't even sarcasm}

Lately it's SEPTEMBER and I couldn't be happier. From now until New Years, this is my happy place. The wedding and photography season picks back up, I feel like we can officially say we survived the evil Summer, it slowly - sloooooowwwwwly - starts cooling off, they put Halloween and Fall decorations in the stores, and it's once again acceptable to burn pumpkin and spiced apple candles and cover anything that will stand still in orange, gold, brown, black, and dark green leaves, pumpkins, gourds, what have you. 
Just wait. Next I'm going to bust out my knee high riding boots and sweaters, even if it IS STILL 90 DEGREES OUT, DAMN IT.

Lately I've been on a kick to rewatch all the shows I loved in the late 90's/early 2000's. Last we spoke I rewatched the entire series of Friends. Now I've moved on to Frasier and Gilmore Girls, and I feel suddenly compelled to dig out my old Baby G watch and Sketchers and Macy Gray CD.

Lately I've been too distracted to spend a lot of time with friends, or put on real pants, but last Friday I did both, and had my sister and my nephew over for home made cheeseburgers and a night swim. It was good. I used to give people that preached "Girl time!!" so much shit, but the older I get the more I realize that solid female friends do my heart so much good. It's not good for intimate, man/woman relationships to bear all the weight of each person's needs for attention and love. Having girlfriends to talk to who understand your female heart and know the hormone casserole you're baking inside you all the time takes a lot of that stress off of other parts of your life. 
I'm sure it's also good for dudes to have other dudes to hang out with so they can grunt and fart and do whatever weird shit they do together, but I don't know for sure because whenever they do hang out with their guy friends and you ask how it was they're just like "good." well what did you do? "not much."
So who knows.

So that's my lately. 
If you want to see what's been up in picture form, follow me on Instagram here.