Trying to answer the question, “What have you been up to?”

Set aside your shopping list, put down the garland, drop the mangled lights from your hands and gather round.  I’m going to let you off the hook. I’m going to allow you an indulgent break where you will feel so accomplished just for thinking about what your annoying Elf on the Shelf is going to do next. I’m going to tell you all what I’ve been up to since I quit my job last March.

Nothing. Not a fucking thing. Sleeping. A lot. Drinking more than occasionally and probably more than anyone should. Feeling guilty about not going to the gym. Reading. Sleeping some more. Subscribing to no less than 10 life coaches for daily uplifting emails. Yes, my husband is ok with all of this. He just wants me to be happy. But mostly, I’ve just been sleeping.

Note: I still have 2 children at home. So it’s not all bon-bons and 6 hours of the Today Show. At least not every day.

This past week was different though. I finally got off the couch and enrolled in a writing seminar. We were given an assignment to write something. Imagine that. Dammit. I thought I’d be able to get away with just taking the seminar and procrastinating and hating myself for being lazy and never writing because I like to sleep all the time.

The assignment was to write something scary. Not Halloween shit scary. Scary as in something I should be afraid to tell the whole world. Not an easy task, I get nervous updating my Facebook status. I started thinking about all the Holiday parties coming up and the inevitable conversational questions of courtesy, “What have you been up to?” That is a scary question.

So, I’m ripping off the scab and being honest. Nothing is more frightening than being completely honest. Maybe I am just a worthless piece of crap? Maybe I take advantage of my husband’s love and just sit on the couch. Maybe I subscribe to those life coaches so I can read uplifting emails to make myself feel better about my laziness. (They “help” me feel good about sleeping all day.) Maybe I’ve traversed this road before.  Maybe I told my parents years ago when I dropped out of college after my first semester, “I’m just trying to find myself. Now how long will you pay my rent?” Maybe I  found myself pregnant soon after but, hey – everyone’s path is different. Maybe now I’m lost. I mean maybe I’m really fucking lost. Maybe I hated a very good therapist for telling me – “You’re not getting any younger, maybe you should find yourself and what you want to do pretty soon.” Maybe I was really angry he would say that. Maybe I thought he was a dick. Maybe I’m a Renaissance woman and I just need benefactors. Maybe I’ve got amazing shit to do.

If I can get off the couch. But it’s so God Damn comfortable. I’m embarrassed to admit it. The floor is cold. The couch is warm and familiar. But I still have nothing better to say at the next holiday party. Maybe next year I will. But first I guess I should try something. Anything. Maybe…

Now go ahead and pick up your shopping lists, string your lights and deck your halls. Arrange your Elf on the Shelf next to your 4th batch of homemade cookies. I know you have things to do. Don’t you feel better about yourself already? You’re welcome. Now if you will excuse me, all this self analyzing has made me very sleepy.

Full Time Slacker

I can’t figure out what to start writing about, where to begin, so I’ll start with my favorite subject – me. I quit my job. My full-time paying job. I still have my other volunteer gig where I throw food and insults advice at my children (with love of course) and wash dishes and do laundry. But now I’m even forced (with love of course) to mop floors and clean bathrooms because I had to let go of my house cleaner due to my lack of paid employment. It’s so cyclical man…

Almost makes me want to go back to work. Almost.

I had grandiose plans about quitting and what I would do with my new found freedom. There was the novel I would write, how much I would work out, how much weight I would lose – which would equal the same rate of the expansion of my consciousness and overall zen. I even went to the library and placed requests for no less than 20 self-help books.

So far, I’ve cleaned the house a few times and can no longer force my butt out of bed before 10am. I was working out daily, but I’ve been out of commission for a few weeks. No biggie… I know I will be able to hop right back into a two hour kickboxing class barely missing a breath or beat. Yeah right…I love how it takes 17 months to get into some sort of shape and 3 days to lose it. I’ve read none of my new self-help books, but I did finish a fabulous memoir about an alcoholic. I decided to start small and with something I could easily relate to.

As far as my overall awesomeness of spiritual utopia expansion,  I’ve unsubscribed from a few million stores on my email and decided I really need to edit my closet. Whew…I can feel the self-actualization sweeping over me. I’ve also caught up on some television shows and can now call the couch my new desk. Ass expansion, not mind.

But I’m seriously getting some mad sleep…and my email inbox is going to be cleeeeaaaann. Feel the sanctity of my zeal. Maslow, I can see the world from the top of this pyramid. Dr. Wayne Dyer, I am all good intentions. And new toilet paper roll, I am so picking you up and putting you on the roller. You will no longer sit there on top of the old one. It’s a new day and I’m making it happen! As soon as I get up from my second nap…

Humor with a side of Nervous Breakdown

I haven’t written in awhile forever. At least it seems like an eternity. To me. I encountered (and I use this term loosely) a major life crisis a few days after I wrote my last post. It was right after my birthday. A wonderful birthday. Four of my closest and dearest friends came from all over the country to visit me. We had a marvelous time making new memories while paying tribute to the old ones.  There were talks of kids, dating, husbands, careers and this strange little trip of a life. 

We all fell right in like 20 years had never passed. Just what I needed.

I can’t go into to it right now, my mid-life crisis, even though all of my favorite bloggers do. I thought about chronicling it, but could never write a coherent post three bottles glasses of wine in. I’m just waiting to find more humor in the situation. No one died, no one got sick…So no worries. Life will and does, go on.

Years ago, I used to attend this great little thing called Cosmic Coffee at my children’s school. (Keep reading – why – because I’m making a point, not just a strange segue). It was a small Montessori school and these were not your regular coffees. They were led by a phenomenal therapist, Michael Rebel. There were many skeletons from everyone’s closet which were willingly brought out into the light to dance circles around us. There were tears. For some hopefully, closure or at least clarity. I rarely spoke. Well, I rarely shared any story of my own. (Lest my own skeletons might have come out wielding machetes or  eating others’ flesh.) But of course I offered my two cents on other people’s twirling bag of bones and I argued, mainly with the therapist, a lot. I also cracked jokes. Constantly. I had a good friend tell me, “Right when we’re getting somewhere with a story or it just gets deep; you throw a joke in there. It’s really annoying.”

But that’s me — annoying and humorous. And that’s the way I deal with life’s craziness. Humor. If you can’t laugh at your situation, then you truly are at your end. At least in my book. 

So I guess I’m just waiting for some humor in my own situation. I do crack jokes about it to friends who know what’s going on.  If you can’t poke fun at yourself then what’s the point.  A few weeks ago I was at this great party. Two friends of mine, who are dating, started to get into a fight. So I barged right in  politely  interrupted and said:

“Are you kidding me, you two are fighting right now? Hold on, you really want to see a fight? Someone go grab Jason and I’ll show you a fight.”

They laughed, snickered and let their argument go. (Or just buried it to have it explode at a later time — ah –romance and relationships.) But the tension was diffused…Then I went on to parody some parents at my son’s tennis match. Good times. Humor through the pain. So what if it sometimes turns into tears. At least at some point you’re laughing.

The Bullying Epidemic

Some states of the United States have implemen...

Image via Wikipedia - This is a map showing state laws in schools dealing with bullying.

 

My family moved from sunny Florida to the beautiful Northeast when I was in 6th grade. I was delighted by my new school and the new friends I had made so quickly. But something changed, I’m not sure what happened. These “friends” within one weekend turned on me and made my life a living hell. I was cornered in the stairwell, picked on in gym class and  I was terrified. I locked myself in my room in the morning and cried to my parents about not wanting to go to school. Luckily after a month, my parents’ contract on our new house fell through and we moved to a different town. Somehow in this new school I made life-long friends I am still close to. But I remember…  

The bullying epidemic has always been around. Kids have always been tormentors, bystanders, or the tormented. None of this is new, but now we have a whole new way of humiliating our peers: the internet. Nothing is sacred. We also hear about it more often, too. So the pranks are widespread, as are the damages and the consequences.  

The recent suicide of a Rutger’s student after a web video of him having sexual relations with another man was posted on the internet does not say something horrific about our kids, it says something horrific about our society. I think (or would really, really like to think) most of the time the bullies do not realize the impact they have on their victims. It has been shown most who bully are just insecure about themselves and must attack first, lest they be attacked. Most bullies, it has also been shown, have parents which encourage this behavior either through entitlement, competition or their own actions toward others. It is most often defended by this perceived sense of superiority whether it be cloaked in self-righteousness or complete ignorance about the consequences of their actions.  

Just look at what’s happening in politics right now. The hate is palpable. And rarely do we discuss policy, it is usually just a twisting and reorganizing of the dirt until one party looks absolutely evil and inhuman. This is often what attackers do to their victims. They are blissfully unaware of the pain and make it commonplace where everyone can jump on the bandwagon and not feel guilty about the lies and hate they have spread. (Please note this case: While yes it is free speech, it is written by a person in power and is a great example of bullying.)  

Years ago I was given an assignment in a college class where we had to write an editorial to the local paper about some type of sociology subject. The school I was attending was located in Colorado and the timing happened to be right after the Columbine shootings. Much had been written about the subject, the school, the bullying, the victims, the perpetrators and on and on. However at one point, the principal of Columbine high school actually stated there was no bullying in his school. Studies have shown there was much more to the Columbine Massacre than bullying, but to think your school had no bullying? My opinion piece was so obvious it just simply said, “What? What hole or rock do you live in and under? Do you not remember your days at high school? Are you that out of touch?” It was published in the paper.  

This situation hit home for my family recently when my son was the victim of cyber bullying on Facebook. This was during the summer and when I reached out to his school to make sure the administration was aware and he was not placed in classes with these children, the secretary actually stated, “Well, they shouldn’t be checking their Facebook during school hours.” I was speechless and simply wanted to answer, “Put me on the phone with the person who signs your checks because the intelligence level of this conversation has just hit rock bottom.” Luckily, the administrator was a little more vigilant and made sure my child was placed in classes away from these bullies. When I posed the question asking for help and advice on my Facebook, the response was overwhelming. These are not isolated incidents.  

We have to address this problem. But we need to start at home. Schools and new laws can only do so much. We have to teach our kids  each person, however different they may be, is valuable and has feelings. But we must set the example. We cannot mock other adults or children with our kids and think they don’t learn a lesson. We mustn’t be blind, like a certain principal, and think our kids are angels. We mustn’t have an uncanny need to relive our childhood and ensure our child is the best football player/cheerleader/student body president because that’s the only path to true redemption. There are many paths.  

We must instill in our children the self-confidence to stick up for others being bullied. We must listen to our children and not shrug it off with callous statements like, “It will make you stronger.” “Just walk away and don’t say anything – you’re better than that.” These statements do not work and we must find the ones that do. Remember these tormentors are not adults who are mature enough to respond with reason. We must as a society realize that this is not simply a part of growing up. We must explain to our children that our homes are safe grounds and we as adults, must not be afraid to stick up to the parents of these kids and confront them.  We must, if our kids are younger, monitor their Facebook and question what is going on in their lives. We must somehow give our children the ability to stick up for themselves.  

We cannot stand back and continue to let this happen. While some victims go on and turn their torment into a successful careers, like Jodee Blanco, others do not.  Bullying can leave deep scars which never really heal. Yes, it might make them stronger as adults but that is only if they make it to adulthood, which far too many of our children are not.  

Saying Thank You… for a real good time.

My family and I just got back from a wonderful, fun-filled, never stressed, not a mean word spoken, everything went perfectly, vacation.  

Anybody ever have one of those?  

Really?  

No, I’m kidding. Kinda.  It was an absolutely fantastic vacation to Colorado even if I tend to “Clark Griswold” the whole trip.  

Super sketchy mountain passes, in a rental, might not be the best place to test your teenage son’s driving skills. At least I know the passenger side brake worked. Along with my yelling skills. (My husband would like to add there’s never ever been any doubt about my yelling skills.)   Luckily he did a great job — because it was nighttime and he was unable to “see” exactly how many feet we would plummet to our deaths if he swerved. “It’s all part of the experience…” 

But we did not plummet to our untimely deaths. Instead this family vacation consisted of only one missed flight and only one major fall. That’s a pretty darn good record in our family. The fall involved my middle son, a mountain bike, a gravel “road” and a wonderfully executed flip. We turned down the offer for Ski Patrol. Nothing like a $3000 bill for some gauze and band-aids. But hey, what kind of vacation would it be if everything went smoothly.    

I can tell you  there were no wheelchairs nor hangovers (though both would’ve come in handy).  Just good ‘ol family fun.  

My husband needs to be a "Flower Photographer".

My husband needs to be a "Flower Photographer".

 

This picture is right before I yelled, "Jason, don't let her touch those!"

 

We used to live in Colorado and we always like to drive by houses and places where we used to live. (That’s a lot of houses and a lot of places because I refuse to bloom where I’m planted.) Anyway, as we winded down some road in some valley looking for one of our old houses, my teenage son remarked, “I just don’t understand how people don’t go crazy living all the way out here.”  

My husband answered: “They do.”  

Then I added: “I did. But I was young and you were in Kindergarten, your brother was 18 months old and I didn’t have any friends near by. Papa worked an hour away Monday thru Friday and I waited tables at the local hole-in-the-wall on the weekends.”  

Ah, my first real taste of depression.  

Treeline

 

Good times. However this particular little house on the side of the mountain holds some really fond memories involving a raging forest fire, no car and an old Christmas tree under the back deck.  

Despite all that, I can honestly say I miss Colorado. Just not the tiny house 30 minutes from the nearest grocery store. Or waiting tables. Or forest fires. Or very little kids who don’t sleep through the night. Or the loneliness. But the mountains, the Sky and the people — I really really miss them.

My Precious

Wine, you and I have been friends for a long time. Longer than I’d like to admit. But I really think we need to have some new boundaries in our “relationship”.

There you are my pretty.

First, you must remain by yourself without my connection from Sunday until Friday evening. Yes, I know you always mean well. But sometimes my head does not agree with you the next morning. I won’t broach the subject of my liver…We haven’t been “tight” for years. I saw it on the road the other day with its suitcase. It was a pretty sad sight. But it looked happy and who am I to judge.

Second, you must stop calling my friends. It is especially embarrassing when you leave incoherent messages and start blabbing incessantly. I know you just love my friends, but sometimes they don’t like you. Even if you swear you’ve made a new breakthrough which answers all life questions.

Third, you must never ever get on my Facebook account. Your status updates, though quite witty, use far too many swear words and are rarely neutral. In addition there is no need to comment on everyone else’s statuses, nor is a thumbs up warranted for every friends’ posts. Though you think you’re funny, the next day you’re actually anxiety producing. And then when I must delete your “words” I just make other people look like they’re talking to themselves. So now you’ve embarrassed two people.

Fourth, you must stop tricking me into thinking, “Just one more beer, vodka, heaven forbid tequilla and then you’ll let me sleep.” Once you’re finished with me, there is no need for you to have one of your other friends  jump out and scream, “CHECK.ME.OUT. Shiny and new. Open me up and then we’ll make some calls.”

Now play fair you two.

We’ve been through a lot, you and I. And I’m really only asking for some little things. I’ve been your vessel for too long. No more tricking me with your silly tastings, pairing yourself with great food, cheese and bread and great conversation. So if you could just keep your end of the bargain, I don’t see us breaking up anytime in the near future.

Forever faithfully yours,

Juliet

P.S. We’ll talk about the dancing next time.

Oh what tangled webs we weave.

Oh what tangled webs we weave.

Coupons and Romance in Aisle 13

I think I have a winner for my Twitter competition. Now if I can just figure out how to use the damn thing…Details coming soon.

It’s Sunday and I’ve straightened the house — so much easier than actually cleaning it and now I feel semi-accomplished. I’m in my work out clothes, so my head’s in the right place. Even if I don’t actually exercise, at least I thought about it enough to get dressed.  Ah, today is turning into one accomplishment after another.

My lovely husband and I just had the previous night off from the kids. And what did we do on a kid-free Saturday? I’m embarrassed to admit it. We cut coupons, went grocery shopping, worked on a business plan, and then watched a steamy foreign film and … well I’ll leave the last part off the internet. It was a good night and now today, I’ve straightened the house…Mission accomplished. Where’s my banner and battleship?

Because currently I’m so utterly boring and I have no drama worth mentioning, I will leave you with some pictures.

A lovely picture from my garden…yeah right.

I kill fake house plants.

This is what I built last weekend, so you can see why today I feel so accomplished. I fluffed couch pillows…

I took a hike through some magical misty woods, until I spotted some weird building off in the distance.

Then I got lost in the plains of South Africa.

Ok, so I didn’t really do any of these things; my husband did…But did I mention I straightened the house?

Here’s to hoping your weekend was as “accomplished” as mine.