Allow Me to Play the World’s Tiniest Violin

Disclaimer: I am not a book critic, but I am critical. Also, this is my blog so I will say what I want.

Ok. I am a sucker for memoirs. I don’t care who they are by, whether it is someone famous or someone I have never heard of. I’ve read memoirs by actresses, comedians, sports figures, etc. Some I enjoy, some I do not.

I recently picked up Brandi Glanville’s memoir entitled Drinking and Tweeting. At first the name didn’t ring a bell so I flipped the book around to read the back and gleaned the information I needed: Eddie Cibrian’s ex, now a cast member of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Ok. Now I remember the whole Eddie/LeAnn Rimes affair and subsequent marriage. I’ll take it!

It’s an easy read, entertaining in that breezy Hollyweird kind of way. I liked Brandi, despite my hatred for the Real Housewives franchise. I genuinely did feel for her over the affair and dissolution of her marriage. Cheaters suck and being cheated on sucks and that is a fact.

But then I read that her parents co-signed on a $1200 a month Range Rover for her after the split. Say what? Look, I understand the need for a dependable vehicle to transport your kids back and forth to school, sports, etc. and to get to work, but I take issue with any car payment that is $1200 a month. That is my rent! What the hell is wrong with getting a Toyota or a Honda or even a Volkswagen (still got that foreign appeal rich people like)?

Then came the $12,000 vaginal rejuvenation. At this point I had to put the book down and walk away for a second. Here’s the thing. I don’t know what Brandi’s vag looked like prior to her surgery. I don’t know if there were flapping lady bits dangling about or if things were hanging low or sagging and bagging. That is her private business. But the reason she gave for having the surgery in the first place floored me.

She wanted a vagina that Eddie had never, ahem, had access to.

Ok?

She does realize, I hope, that the vagina was not replaced, just given the equivalent of a tummy tuck. It’s not really a new vagina.

Moving on.

I have no idea what her ex husband pays in child support but I am assuming it is more than the average dad. In addition, Brandi earns $125,000 per season of RHOBH. By Hollywood standards that may not be much, but from where I stand, I’d be psyched to see that kind of money.

How on earth is this a struggle?

This woman does not know the meaning of struggling.

Struggling is being out of work in a shitty economy and collecting unemployment.

Struggling is putting food on the table for you family.

Struggling is trying not to have a major panic attack whenever life throws a little curveball (car repairs, house repairs, illness, DEATH).

Struggling is eking out a living on minimum wage.

It is decidedly NOT having to drive a luxury automobile, dress up and party with friends and having an elective plastic surgery on your lady parts! Nor is it earning $125,000 to be on a silly, trivial show about spoiled women.

By the time I finished the book, I was beginning to think this woman was a big pain in the ass.

Too much rehashing of her divorce, how much she hates LeAnn, what a bad actor her ex was, etc. She claims to have moved on, but the tone of the book says otherwise.

Honey, you lost me at Vagina.

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I Love the 80’s (except for the clothes)

Last month my daughter attended her junior prom. After debating back and forth whether or not to go (she didn’t have a date, then she did), she finally decided, three days before, to definitely do it! She had borrowed a dress from a friend, bought the shoes, purchased a ticket and booked the hair appointment. Once she procured a date, all that was left to do was order a boutonniere. 

She looked so beautiful all dressed up, makeup applied just so, hair in a low side pony tail with curls. She may resemble me, but I swear I was never, ever THAT pretty.

Anyway, due to the inclement weather, the kids (probably about 80 of them) were going to gather at a local community center for photo ops. Parents were encouraged to come take pictures so of course the husband and I did just that. I also wanted to get a load of all the other girls’ dresses.

Having come of age in the 80’s with all its neon gaudiness and puffy sleeved glory, seeing the girls in various strapless and spaghetti strap gowns without layers of tulle and bubble skirts was quite a culture shock for me.

(I should interject here that I attended neither of my proms but did go to a military ball with a douchebag my senior year, so I did get to experience the pageantry of a formal dance. And I did wear strapless, but the tulle in the skirt would have put Little Bo Peep to shame.)

I admit to getting a bit nostalgic as I cast back to my high school years and the fact that I did miss out on my prom(s). I began to wonder if I had made a huge mistake in not going. Not that I would have had a date; I would have had to go alone, which in retrospect doesn’t sound all that fun.

Then I thought, if I had a time machine, wouldn’t it be cool to travel back to high school?

The short answer is NO.

The long answer is, Yes, but only to redo certain things. Like my English final. And to NOT make out with a certain vertically challenged individual who has been known for the last 26 years only as “Monkey Boy”.

Also, while watching my daughter interact with her date (just friends) and pose for photos, I thought to myself, “I never possessed that kind of poise and confidence.” No, sir. I would have been tugging at my dress top, blushing furiously, and in general looking completely awkward.

So, last week I was talking to a friend from high school and I asked, “Wouldn’t you like to go back and do prom?”

Her answer: “But the music depresses me.”

I happen to love the 80’s music. It doesn’t depress me at all. Well, certain songs do, but it has nothing to do with the decade but more what I happened to be doing when that song came on the radio.

Then I thought, I really, really hate the dresses everyone wore back then. I know I didn’t hate them at the time because there was nothing to measure them against and bigger (weather your hair or the sleeves on your gown) was better. And the colors…so many pastels and dark blue and forest green. All solids, no sparkle. Just pouf.

Yuck,

So, I decided that I would like to experience prom in this generation. But instead of a time machine to take me back to my prom, I would have to have a machine that would make me look young again, shrink my body to pre-baby proportions (erasing the stretch marks as well) and allow me to blend in with the high school kids.

This of course opened a whole new can of worms. Even if I could do all of the above, one thing remains a huge issue:

 

I cannot dance. Unless it is in my car and I am chair dancing at a red light.

I certainly cannot twerk. 

So, I would have to miraculously be infused with the knowledge of today’s dance fads so as not to stick out like a sore thumb.

Problems, I tell you.

Seems like way too much trouble.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3cCbp_6IoQ

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What I Love to Hate

After reading my Rage post from yesterday, my friend, Liz (http://lifewithbellymonster.blogspot.com/) pointed out that I forgot to mention HGTV shows that cause so much ire in me that I regularly complain about them on Facebook.

There are more than a few shows (mostly on TLC and HGTV) that cause me distress, but the biggest offender by far is House Hunters and its cousin, House Hunters International. Watching these programs is guaranteed to raise my blood pressure and cause me to wish with every fiber of my being that I could reach through the television screen and throttle the people (mostly the female half of the couple, but the men have been persnickety enough to enrage me also).

In no particular order are the buzzwords that burrow into my brain and make my eyes bulge and my fists begin to shake:

  • granite (i.e. “I don’t see any granite.” Asshole, you don’t see any granite because there isn’t any there to see!!!)
  • double vanity (“Oh, we would be so divorced if we had to share a sink to get ready in the morning.”)
  • hardwoods (“I wanted hardwoods, not laminate…”)  I have hardwoods and while they are beautiful, they require work and need to be protected. In short, they can be a pain in the ass.
  • ‘small’ (as in, “This room is too small for Isabella.”) Isabella is fucking 9 months old, she doesn’t need a palace. She needs a place to sleep and keep her clothes and toys. End of story!
  • green space (just shut up with the eco friendly pc word ‘green space’. It’s called a yard.)
  • flow (“We entertain a lot and this house just doesn’t flow. I can’t see us living here.”) Then don’t. Don’t live there!

I also hate people who discuss their shoe collections. What is a shoe  collection? I own about 25 pairs of shoes (yes, they are mostly flip flops and sneakers, but I wear them on my feet and so they are shoes, no?) but never have I dared to think I would put them on display like the one woman who used the master bedroom’s built in book shelves to showcase her collection of high heels. Somehow, I don’t think a bunch of Pumas, Chucks and flip flops would have the same aesthetic as Jimmy Choo, Prada and Ferragamo.

When your budget is anywhere from $500,000-$1.1 million, I will automatically hate you. Where are the people with the tight budgets? The ones who have scrimped and saved to afford a starter home and not a McMansion? Those are the people I would be more interested in watching. They aren’t going to be boo-hooing over the lack of granite or having one measly sink in the bathroom.

For the love of God and all that is holy, stop talking about your kid’s toys! As in, “This would be a perfect place for Jackson’s toys.” (FYI, there was a real episode with a little boy named Jackson and his mother mentioned his toys no less than thirty times). Kids toys typically go into a toy box or closet in the kid’s bedroom, no? If you can have a bonus playroom, more power to you, but with ONE kid, I don’t believe your home is being taken over by his trinkets.

And here is the biggest thing that goes up my ass sideways: When the house hunting couple criticizes the paint color, curtain, furniture, etc. of the house they are touring. “What is UP with this paint color? These RUGS are hideous! WHO paints walls blue?” Then, when you see them after they have moved in, they have invariably painted the walls some grotesque shade of baby poop. Yeah, you go on with your bad self, you color blind douche canoe.

Why are all these people ‘self employed’ or ‘telecommuters’? Where are all the drones who work in retail, sell used cars, or work two or three menial jobs to cobble together an income?

Last but not least…when the couple/family is revisited after settling into their new home, invariably said home is filled to overflowing with brand new furniture. And from the looks of it, not cheap ass furniture that I would have to buy. Every room seems to have been professionally put together. Who pays for this shit? Because I know that after we bought our house we didn’t have anything left over to go out and buy a $3,000 leather sectional and dining table with seating for 10.

I am most positive that when I see the next episode, I will find something else that will bug me to the point of screaming and cursing at the people on the other side of the screen. Something new that hasn’t been mentioned in this post.

Stay tuned for that!

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Rage Against the Machine (and by machine, I mean menopause)

Listen, I know I am a ways off from true menopause: the cessation of my monthly friend, the curse, Auntie Flo, my period.

However, I have seemingly entered into what is known as perimenopause, a weird limbo of hideous symptoms and side effects that I am supposed to suffer with until the real menopause comes around the bend.

Here is the merriam-webster dictionary’s definition of perimenopause:

peri·men·o·pause

 noun \ˌper-ē-ˈme-nə-ˌpȯz, -ˈmē-\

 
: the period around the onset of menopause that is often marked by various physical signs (as hot flashes and menstrual irregularity)
— peri·men·o·paus·al \-ˌme-nə-ˈpȯ-zəl, -ˌmē-\ adjective
 
In addition to this lovely bonus of being a woman, I also have premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Again, for your convenience is the definition:
 PREMENSTRUAL DYSPHORIC DISORDER
: severe premenstrual syndrome characterized by symptoms (as depression and anxiety) that markedly interfere with normal daily functioning.
 
So, there you have it. Due to the PMDD, I am a walking, talking time bomb for the two weeks preceeding my period every month. Add in perimenopause and I am a lunatic for the duration.
 
Aside from the normal things such as weird periods and hideous mood swings during which my head spins around and a voice from the very depths of hell regularly spews forth from my mouth, I have become irritated with every day things that never used to bother me much.
 
Here are the top ten things guaranteed to make me lose my shit (note that most of them are road rage related).
 
1. People not using turn signals. 
This may seem innocuous enough, but when I am doing 35 miles and hour and come around the bend and see you just sitting there in the middle of the road with no blinker and no brake lights illuminated, don’t be alarmed if I slam into you. This hasn’t happened yet, but the day isn’t over.
 
2. Dog shit.
I have dogs. They shit. I pick up their shit when they shit in public. I expect the same from you, especially when I see said shit happening right in front of my house.
 
3. Rude cashiers.
I understand you aren’t solving the world’s problems or formulating a cure for cancer at your $8 an hour job. And I get that customers can be assholes (my husband does work in retail), but I am not one of them. So if you give me attitude, I will give it back. In spades.
 
4. People who walk in the middle of the road.
Newsflash: Streets were made for cars to drive on. Yes, I see that you are walking your dogs (and not too well since they were about ten feet in front of you) and my goal is not to kill you (as I overheard you ask: “What, are you trying to kill someone?”). BUT, when you cross the busy road that I am turning off of and I need to pull into a parking lot and there are people ready to rear end me, and YOU are weaving back in forth, not sure which side of the street you want to walk on, I will make an executive decision and slowly, cautiously, go around you. And then, when I hear you ask if I am trying to kill some, I will fantasize about backing my car up and running you over.
But I won’t do it.
 
5. Dirty dishes
When I leave for work (I work nights), I always make sure there are no dirty dishes in the sink. Invariably when I return home at midnight there are a hundred greasy, disgusting plates and glasses and every piece of silverware seems to have migrated from its drawer into the sink. Do not get angry  when I wake you from your peaceful slumber as I become vocal and ask aloud “Really? REALLY?” while washing the dishes and loudly slamming cabinets and drawers. 
 
6. Loud cellphone talkers.
I do not care what you did last night, who you are so mad at, what a dick your boyfriend is being, how much you hate your job, or anything else. I will be tempted to tear your phone from your hands and stomp it into tiny shards. I get doubly angry when I can hear someone caterwauling from the other end of the phone. Please, shut the hell up.
 
7. Long lines
Honestly, I know lines are nobody’s fault. I just hate standing in them. I have grown exponentially more impatient at as I have aged. This applies to grocery stores, gas stations, etc.
 
8. Crowds.
HATE. Just plain hate. Do not take me to a parade, a festival, or a water park. I will implode.
 
9. People who ride in those grocery store carts and don’t need to.
Here’s the thing. I get that some people need those carts and may not appear to. They could  be recovering from surgery or have bad circulation or something. But, when I see your family of twenty and two able bodied people are driving carts and the one person with crutches is WALKING, then I call bullshit. Especially when one of you is sitting in the cart sideways, blocking my access to frozen foods, asking your friend for their digits so you can program a contact into your phone. 
 
10. Driving
This may seem to be covered under the no blinker issue and asshats walking in the road, but driving, in general, infuriates me. As soon as I get into the car, my blood begins to boil. This is especially true in the heat of summer since my AC no longer works. I wish I could teleport. It would make life so much easier.
 
So, if you see a red faced woman (my natural complexion from June-October) sitting in traffic or driving towards you, or standing in your line at the store, be warned. It may just be me.
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Nostalgia

No season evokes memories of childhood nostalgia like summer. The heat, the humidity, the smells, the sights all make me remember long weeks of vacation where there was nothing to do but enjoy myself. No work, no responsibilities, no grown up challenges.

And nothing brings it all back like a trip to the beach.

In recent years, I have come to loathe beach days; the packing of the car, the crowds, the mess of sand brought home at the end of the day, the cost of parking. But, when I was very young, a day at the beach was akin to a trip to Disney World!

I can clearly remember my cousin Barbara and I planning what to bring, what bathing suit to wear, what our day would entail before embarking with our parents to Nantasket Beach. Back then, a day at the beach was just that: a full day (get there at 9 and leave at 5). This was before fears of melanoma and premature aging. In fact I don’t even know if sunblock existed! I can remember the smell of tanning oil or tanning lotion, but not BLOCK. At any rate, I suffered many a severe burn and now, at 42, I do worry about those long term effects.

Then, we played all day in the water, coming out only to eat a sandy tuna fish sandwich and some chips and cookies. Then it was back into the surf. We were more fish than human, I swear. And when it was time to go, we were so sad! We never wanted our fun in the sun to end.

Fast forward to now and a beach day causes me much anxiety and dread. Oh, I still love the ocean and swimming in it and enjoying the people watching. But now I spend most of my time under the safety of an umbrella lest the sun’s rays touch me. This in addition to SPF 50 sunblock applied to every exposed inch of flesh.

I get tired from all the fresh salt air and want to take a nap, but find the sand beneath my blanket to be too hard, and besides, if I close my eyes, who will watch my 7 year old? Oh, his father, you say? Well, yes, there is that, I suppose but of course I trust no one to keep a keener eye on him than myself. Not that I am paranoid by any means, but hey, it IS the ocean and the ocean is unpredictable.

So, true relaxation is out of the question. I cannot even read a book without being distracted every few seconds. The only time I am truly content is when I am submerged in the water and waves. But then, when I emerge, it is time to reapply the sunblock…which is another hassle.

I have lived in close proximity to the ocean/beach my entire life. I find it beautiful, soothing and wild.

This weekend, we are going to the beach (weather permitting), for THE DAY. A full day. Not a couple of hours, not for the morning. But an entire day, just like when I was a kid. The teenagers will be with us so they can help keep watch over my little guy. I am going to bring a good book (if my library holds ever come in) and some good beachy food treats to stuff in my face hole. And a comfortable lounge chair to nap on. Oh, and my trusty umbrella.

And I am going to try with all my might, to let go of my stress and recapture a little bit of my childhood and just live in the moment and enjoy being alive.

My husband can clean up the sand when we get home.beach-picture

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On the Wrong Side of 40

My birthday is in five days.

I will be 42.

Each and every year I ask myself, “How did this happen?” as if I should have been cryogenically frozen at the age of 21. As if life should just stop and allow me to stay young.

The paradox here is I have a young mind and a body that is starting to betray me on a daily basis.

Let me break it down for you.

I have teenagers so I am constantly exposed to new music, new trends, new celebrities, new everything. That doesn’t mean I like what I see or hear, just that I am not still living in 1989. I hear their lingo (and if that word doesn’t sound like something a middle aged dufus would use, well, if the shoe fits, I’ll wear it).

Having vowed to do what my parents would not, I try to be open minded to new things. And sometimes I surprise myself and like them.

I have embraced skinny jeans. The reason for this is less that I am interested in being a trend setter and more because I already lived through this trend once and loved it then and so love it now. Also, I have to say jeggings are surprisingly comfortable.

I have rejected the return of neon colors.

I find that I actually like some rap music.

And I hate Taylor Swift.

My kids think I’m pretty cool as far as moms go.

And for the most part, I think I am aging fairly gracefully.

Except for when I wake up in the morning and my back is cramped up and I can barely walk.

Or when I cannot read the print on the electronic check at the grocery store without my glasses.

Or when I notice strange white hairs growing out of my eyebrows.

And when I catch a glimpse of my leathery looking cleavage.

Then it becomes apparent to me.

I. Am. Aging.

Rapidly.

I will be 42 on Tuesday. 4-2. Forty two.

I was just 18 dammit!

I gave birth to my eldest when I was 24, which is the reverse of 42!

How can this be?

I am NOT cool when I post songs/videos to my cousin’s facebook wall such as “Naughty Naughty” by John Parr or “Radioactive” by The Firm. I am dating myself with my love of cheesy 80’s music!

I am not young, hip or happening when I pee myself (this happens only occasionally, thank God).

I am sure to an elderly person with a walker and a pacemaker I am nothing but a young whippersnapper, but when I was a kid, if someone was 42, they were fucking OLD. Old as in polyester pantsuit and sensible shoe wearing old. My own grandmother became a grandmother at 38…by 42 she was ancient!

Alas, time marches on.

I cannot turn back the clock, but I can try to see the bright side of things.

At least I’m not 90.

Now where’s my Metamucil?

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On Loss

In November, we lost my mother in law to lung cancer. In fact, tomorrow will mark the 6 month anniversary of her death. From the day of diagnosis, September 6th to the day she passed was two short months. Two months in which to absorb the shock of the diagnosis, endure tests, a hip surgery, multiple hospitalizations for one reason or another, one round of radiation, hospice involvement, and ultimately, her death. TWO months.

To say those two months were a whirlwind is an understatement.

It took a toll on me but I don’t think I realized, until now, just how much.

And I didn’t realize until I was shopping for a mother’s day card for my mom at CVS today just how much I miss her.

This is the first time in 23 years that I haven’t bought a card for my mother in law.

She and I had our ups and downs over the course of our relationship as mother/daughter in law. Sometimes we fought, sometimes we just gave each other the cold shoulder. Sometimes I felt great anger towards her. And sometimes I am sure she felt the same about me. But all in all, I feel that she and I had a very good relationship. I made time for her, didn’t forget her birthday or other occasions, brought the kids to see her frequently, and did my best to be a good daughter in law to her.

It is not easy watching a person you love die slowly in front of you. And you go through stages. First you try to have hope; hope that they will somehow beat the odds and rally and get a few good months to enjoy life. Then, when you see them struggling to eat a bowl of soup and they gag on it because the tumor is pressing on the esophagus, you start to feel that this isn’t going to get any better.

When you see signs of forgetfulness, confusion, and other behaviors, you feel sadness.

And finally, when the person flat out refuses further treatment, you know that there is nothing to be done but to keep them comfortable in whatever way possible. And accept the inevitable,

My mother in law came home from the hospital for the last time on a Saturday.

The following Friday morning, my husband and I went down to the apartment to see her and my sister in law (who, by the way was a saint and did everything for her mother). My mother in law was sound asleep; in fact she had been asleep since 3am that morning.

She would never regain consciousness but we didn’t know that then.

We sat with her for a moment, kissed her forehead, left to go about our day.

At 7pm that night my sister in law called me, upset, telling me Mom hadn’t been awake all day and she had a bad feeling that this was it. I told her I would come down, keep her company, because being alone in a quiet apartment, waiting for death, would spook anyone.

When I got there we checked on Mom. Labored breathing, but that was nothing new. Sister in law and I sat in the kitchen and chatted about anything but what was going on. We checked on her a couple of times. No change.

And then, something just seemed different. My sister in law said, “Lisa, I don’t hear her breathing.”

Just like that, she had slipped away.

I am thankful that she didn’t seem to suffer at the end. That she just went to sleep and didn’t wake up, that she didn’t cry out or seem afraid in any way. It brings peace to me now. And I know it did to my sister in law as well.

But still, the void. It’s great.

My oldest, especially, misses her Grandma. After, all, at 17, she was the firstborn grandchild and therefore has most of the memories.

I miss her too. And I think about her whenever something good happens to the kids that she isn’t here to see. Drivers licenses, proms, ball games, jobs, honor roll…wherever she is I hope she is smiling and enjoying the view.

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