Friday, March 30, 2007

You've Got Hatemail!

Dear Marie,

I know that it must be rough, working for minimum wage at the local big-box store. I know that your employers are cold, heartless, impersonal, moneygrubbing bastards who only care about their bottom line, and not about their employees. I feel for you. I really do. Everyone should have a job that they enjoy. I hope you'll find one someday.

Beyond that, I really do empathize with you. I mean, my looks have really gone downhill since that third pregnancy, and you know how bad that can make a woman feel. I'm self-conscious and overly sensitive. I feel like people are always judging my looks. So I know how you must feel, walking around God's green earth with a face like a baboon's ass. It would make anyone a little cranky.

It must be a rough gig, standing behind that counter all day, measuring out fabric and ribbon by the yard, snipping those scissors up and down, up and down, all that folding, all that pinning. All that incessant smiling and politeness to the customers must be a bitch. Compared to that, dragging my whining, pinching, incessantly complaining offspring, so desperately in need of a snack, around running errands is a freaking cakewalk. I should be baking *you* a cake, Marie, in all that free time I have. You know, since my life is such a damn pleasure cruise with these shrieking children biting each other in the cart.

I can understand your mood being down, since your life is such a pile of shit. But here's what I don't understand: when some bedraggled woman comes up to your counter, bearing fabric for measuring, cutting, folding, and pinning, and that woman is hauling two obviously hungry and tired children with her, and that frazzled woman JOKINGLY tells her oldest daughter that if she doesn't behave, she may have to leave her with the nice fabric lady...

where the fuck do you get off telling her that you'd call Social Services on her, because you're not a damn babysitter?


It's obvious that you're unused to the ways of children, and the various things their mothers say to them when they're being irritating. I can grant you that. How could you know? Your wizened, shriveled loins couldn't produce a living thing if they tried - how should I expect you to understand communications between a mother and child?

It must have been my mistake for talking to my child within your earshot. Lord knows you frigid, malicious bitches love to eavesdrop, seeing as you have nothing better to do with your time. I'll be certain to remonstrate with her using my telepathic powers next time, rather than burdening your ears with my silly little parenting jokes.

So much for the ears. But next time, Marie, when you open your wrinkled yap to bark out some ill-willed retort, I have a suggestion - fucking. bite. me.

Thanks for the fabric!



Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Happy Hour

So, last night, as I was refilling my convenient little pill holder (you know, those little daily boxes that you only have to load up once a week, then all your meds are ready and waiting every night? love that thing), Husband looks over my shoulder and says, "What the hell *is* all that?"

Good question. It's Happy Hour at Jane's house. My cocktail of choice?

Oh, a little bit of this, a little bit of that, a dash of the other. Shake with ice. Drink quickly.

And the thing is, it does make for a happy hour. I've been closer to "normal" (head not spinning around backwards, knives not brandished at hapless Jehovah's Witnesses, children relatively unscathed) than I have been in a long time, and I've been enjoying it.

But sometimes, it doesn't quite cover everything, and I get back to feeling less-than-happy again. It starts with the eating. And the shopping. And the sleeping. And the intense desire to move somewhere else. And the niggling feeling that there must be something better out there.

Of course, I know better. This too shall...

Meh. Screw it. I'm going to bed.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Standing in the checkout aisle at the local Great Satan (Wal*Mart), I always read the covers of the magazines on the racks, checking to see which starlet is in rehab, who's hooking up, who's breaking up, who's knocked up, how to lose those last stubborn pounds, which sex secrets I *need* to know to please my man, how to cook a three-course dinner in a crock-pot. Then, last week, for the first time in my entire life, I bought one. There it was, sitting in the front row, luring me with the promise that, for only $3.95, I could find my authentic self. For someone who's been struggling to find my place in the world, now that the world as I know it is in constant flux, the temptation was just too much. I had to have it.

Later, after the kids were asleep, I arranged my pillows just so and crawled into bed to find myself. Three hours later, I turned out the light and snuggled in to mull over this new idea. According to these people, all I have to do to be authentic is to do what *I* want to do. To hell with society and its strictures. Rest of the world and your needs, be damned. To find the real me, all I have to do is what I think, what I feel, what I need, what I want. All the time.

Shit, I thought. For $3.95, I could have told *you* that.

What do I want? What's standing in the way of what I want? How can I get what I want? I couldn't sleep for thinking (hardly unusual, in my case). I want the *chance* to do what I want. To leave the house on a moment's notice. To go where I want, when I want, without packing extra snacks or making extra stops. To sleep as long as I need to, when I need to. To spend hours in my favorite chair, reading my favorite books over and over. To keep a clean and orderly house, where things aren't always sticky, and I'm not always sweeping up crumbs and wiping off fingerprints. I want abs like I had when I was sixteen, and skin like I had when I was twenty. I want to wear tight-fitting t-shirts with suggestive slogans on them. I want to curse and shout and cry when I'm angry. I want to spend lazy summer days doing nothing at all.

It should go without saying that I have none of these things.

And so, it follows, I should be unhappy. And for quite some time, I was. I'm too lazy for a husband and children. I'm too selfish to be part of a family, where everyone sacrifices a little for the common good. I was never willing to take mine for the team, even though I expected everyone else to take one for me. I felt like a stranger in my own skin, living a life that was meant for someone else.

Then, last night, in that lost hour of changing clocks, it came to me. Maybe I'm not the most important person in my world anymore. I thought about my daughters, who depend on my for everything from survival to wisdom, guidance and security in an insecure world. They are so young, so tender, and so new to this life. They have all the possibilities before them that I once had. And maybe, just maybe, it's okay if I'm not the prettiest girl in the room anymore. Perhaps the slow spread of my belly is a badge of honor in the face of the world. Look at me, ridiculously thin and beautiful women. I have brought forth new life. I have made people where there were no people before. And perhaps these people are more important to me than I am to myself, at least at this point in my life. Perhaps the most important thing I can do with my life is not what I want, but what they need.

My daughters need a role model. They need someone to teach them that it's okay to fall down, but that you have to get back up to make it worthwhile. That you're going to have your heart broken, but that it won't last forever. That it's okay to wear pants that clash with your shirt, and socks that don't match your shoes, if it makes you feel good. That it's never okay to hurt someone else for your own desires, or to let them hurt you for theirs. They need someone to teach them how to make pancakes and piecrust, someone to teach them how to flirt and how to protect themselves. They will need someone who is there for them even when they can't be there for themselves. And I want to be that person. More than I want to fit into my skinny jeans, more than I want eight consecutive hours of sleep, I want to be that person for my children.

Maybe that's the real me. Maybe by being authentic with them, I'm discovering my authentic self. Maybe this place, right here, right now, with my family, is my place in the world. And maybe that's okay.