Another Day in Paradise

Posted on September 26, 2014

It started like most days, the thrum of the alarm from my iPhone coming at me from the left, Sean asleep on my right. I swung my legs out of bed as Briar’s alarm called a “be-dee-be-dee-be-dee-dee-dee” answer to my “dee-do-dee” siren.

I padded down the hallway and watched as her hand patted the night stand until her index finger swiped the screen and quieted the alarm. I slipped into bed next to her, “You awake?” I asked. She hooked her arm around my neck and whispered “I love you, mom.” We stayed that way for a few minutes before I told her that I had to shower and she needed to get dressed.

Morning

The next ninety minutes were a blur of lunch making, backpack locating, sheet checking, food prepping, and hair detangling. There were tears and snaps, laughter and spills. We missed the bus. Somehow it didn’t feel like a failure. For whatever reason on this particular day I made it through without feeling like I’d failed before 9am. It isn’t always this way.

As I drove to work I had both windows open and the radio on pretty loud; the sky an extraordinary blue today, the kind of sky that makes you feel like anything is possible. I parked the car and walked across the parking lot. When I logged onto my computer I saw that my post on making lunches and crying uncle was up at Scary Mommy. I smiled, grateful that I am finding ways to soften my judgement toward myself. We’re all just making it up as we go, might as well write in empathy.

If you have time, pop over to Scary Mommy and read out about that time I called the BPA-free monster an S.O.B. and realized that good enough isn’t a crime.

Have you lightened up about anything?

HerStories—Leaving & Losing Friends

Posted on September 24, 2014

IMG_7865I remember a friendship break-up from my childhood. We met in the late 70s when my family moved onto a dead-end street. We were the only girls on the block and became fast friends. We enjoyed a fairly long leash that allowed for hours of playing outside. We did it all, from pretending we were roller-skating gymnasts to racing super balls in the gutters with Star War figurines tied to twig rafts. It was in seventh grade that things began to fall apart—new friends, different interests. I was a late bloomer, though I didn’t know it then. As the era of boys standing in corners and girls fluttering back and forth in front of them descended, I lingered near the black top courts during recess, clinging to the time when we all played together,

We had a fight in eighth grade, though I can’t recall exactly what it was about. I painstakingly wrote the lyrics to Elton John’s Your Song in pencil on notebook paper. I may have even recorded it on cassette from the pop station and labeled the tape something pithy. In any case, she was unmoved by my overture. She was in many ways like a first love, the only person that I really I believed was my best friend.

Over the years I’ve had other friendships, but I’ve never again reached that level of wanting a friendship back. Maybe because through her I realized that friendships aren’t promised to last forever. There have been other friends, women I’ve wished to connect with in the way that so many people talk about, but it’s hollow. I know now that there are things about me that make friendship unlikely and I’m ok with that.

When I was asked to review this book, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends, I wondered if I was qualified. I have online friends, women that I confide in and trust, that I think of when I am hurting, but real friends? Genuine, in-person friends? Not many that fit into the traditional mold (although I have an unexpected friendship realization I’ll be writing about soon.) I decided to sidestep my fear and give it a try, maybe the subject matter would shed light on why friendships can be so hard.

I have to tell you that it was nothing short of revelatory to read the stories in this book. I suppose I’ve had this very juvenile idea that women, normal women, share certain traits that I lack. Then I began reading unflinching stories of lost friendships. I think we all believe, no matter what the unspoken terms of a friendship may be, that we will be protected, that in the moment of conflict our friends will leap to our sides, blind to anything but the need to enforce our alliance. Arnbeya Herndon reveals how it felt to be left undefended. She does so with surprising humor, but you also realize that a heart is breaking. Her story, barely five pages in all, is incredibly powerful. I found myself rooting for her, but also being grateful for the reminder that there are circumstances that reveal character, not always for the better.

The other stories are equally unfettered by happy endings or saccharine editing. I was grateful to ride the emotion and wisdom of stories that owned responsibility, revealed life-long hurt, and acknowledged that relationships are hard work endured by imperfect and lovable people.

After reading it, the soft covers worn and curled by my flipping back and forth from Alexandra Rosa’s story of the friendship that never was and Alison Lee’s story of finding her way back to a friend, and so many other richly unafraid voices, I feel a sense of calm. None of us have it all figured out, though we all share an almost irrepressible hope for connecting and being cherished.

You may not have a specific ex story that comes to mind, but I bet in reading this book you’ll find shades of your own story and maybe, just maybe a mix of forgiveness and hope will take root. The ending feels much more like a beginning, with Katrina Anne Willis saying, “I choose the other side, where love and forgiveness abound. And most importantly, even when someone else might not, I choose me.”

My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friendships is available here. I will be lending my copy to a friend of mine, but I encourage you to buy a copy. I am delighted to say that Jessica Smock, one of the editors of the book, is from Upstate New York.

Because I believe in giving books as gifts, I would also like to give away a copy of the book. Please leave a comment, it can be a relationship story or something else. I will announce Sunday who is the lucky winner.

 

 UPDATED:

 

Sara, Stephanie, and Julie you are winners. Please let me know if you’d like Kindle versions or paperbacks. Janet, I will lend you my copy after Ashley is finished reading it. :)

 

Thank you to everyone for your stories, they were amazing to hear.

NFL-No F*cking Law

Posted on September 17, 2014

I’ve grown tired of the soft responses to situations, by the quotes of “he just overdid it” or “it is a private matter.” I’ve heard them blare “Are you ready for some football?” I’d like to raise the question, “Are you ready for some backbone?”

How about you treat your players like human beings and not animals? How about you hold them to the same standards you would hold your children or office employees to? How about, oh powerful NFL, you follow the letter of the law and acknowledge that dog fights, elevator beat downs, and scrotum switching are all against the law?

How about you do something more than add pink wristbands four games a year to suggest that you give a sh*t about women? How about you have a playbook so that you don’t bumble and stammer as you try to figure out just how bad a certain thing is?

See, the thing is, eventually you are going to sidestep your way into utter irrelevance because you refused to take a stand worth sticking to for yourself, your players, or your audience.

Abuse

Stitch Fix (the bitching & the fixing)

Posted on September 12, 2014

There are a lot of complaints that get thrown around these days, online and in person. I am no stranger to having people question why they should have to pay for something that my company does, “But it’s just an idea, it’s not like it’s a product or something that cost you money to make.”

Umm, wrong. The only reason you have the idea is because we came up with it. You didn’t walk through the doors of a public library, you came into a place of business—a place where employees come to work and earn the money that will buy their groceries and pay their rent.

I get a little annoyed when people gripe about Stitch Fix and its associated costs. The model is that they do the shopping for you, not that they scour the stores for the best deal for you. They can resell what they offer at a higher price than they pay for it. That’s what grocery stores and restaurants do, it’s what stores at the mall and online do. It isn’t criminal, it’s business.

You pay $20 for the chance that maybe they find something that you wouldn’t have tried on or would not have been able to find on your own. If they do a good job, that $20 comes right off the price of the clothes, if they miss the mark, it might cover their time, though I imagine that they spend more than an hour curating the outfits. I don’t really want to get into debate over living wages, but if you think their time isn’t worth $20, than you never should have signed up for the program.

Stitch

 

I’ve seen the video of a clothing item from a fix with a lower price tag than it was listed for—yes, that was clumsy, yes you can be annoyed, but it doesn’t mean that Stitch Fix isn’t a viable option for other people.

My latest fix came today, I think it’s about the 7th one I have received.

TheGoods

When I opened it and saw two pairs of pants I was annoyed because in my feedback I have made it clear that some of the styles they send are not great for me. This time it was different. The pants were the right style, the right length, and they were within the price range I said that I would pay.

The first pair is a mid-rise skinny in bordeaux. I couldn’t believe that they were long enough. They don’t do that thing that tight pants do on women with calves like mine, you know that thing where they go taut over the backs of your knees and don’t even touch your skin? I did a deep knee bend and they didn’t show my underwear or make me grunt. I smiled at my deep teal painted toes from my date with Heather Barmore the other day.

InseamToBoot

I know that high-waisted pants are coming in, but they are not going on me. These mid-rise were high enough that they don’t require tiny hip hugger underwear and not so high that they flirted with my belly button.

NoPeekaBoo

 

The second pair is some magical color between navy and black. Long enough and even cuffable!

Cuffable

 

The thing with these stretchy kind of pants, they can make you look flat in back. As I awkwardly tried to look at my backside and photograph it I was pleasantly surprised by the fit.

Boom

Let me talk about the tops, because I have agreed with some of the naysayers about the flowy and boxy styles they’d been sending.

Not this time. The first shirt actually made me moan. I love a long sleeve shirt, but the broadness of my shoulders and the length of my arms usually makes for very ill fitting stuff.

I am in love with this shirt. The quilted look on the shoulders has stretch and easily managed to extend from one side of me to the other without pulling in other areas. The black sleeves are stretchy and soft, same goes for the grey torso area. It’s like it was made for me.

Everything

The other shirt, which has an odd line in the earlier shot because I am neither a fashion blogger nor a planner, was a creeper. I wasn’t sure at first if I’d even try it on, but then when I did I loved the tail in back and the slits on the sides—not too high, not too low.

TailWink

The cap sleeves, which can be a problem with my arms and shoulders, were so soft. Usually I experience armpit torture, not to mention unsightly bra lines on my back. Not with this!
NoBind

 

After trying everything on I looked at the stuff within the context of clothes that I already have. Will they mix and match with things that I already own? Are they colors that I will get sick of before spring? Do I believe that the prices are fair? Will I wear the necklace?

The answer was that they all work. Both pairs of pants will play nicely with the boots I have and several of the sweaters that I own. The tops are perfect immediately as we have cold mornings and muggy days. When it gets even colder, they grey tee may need to go into hibernation, or I could layer it for weekends by the wood stove.

As I look at the box and imagine what it would have taken for me to get to the mall that is 45 minutes away—a sitter, or a free weekend day, the right mood…it goes on and on. Trying things on at home is so much less demoralizing than standing in the dressing rooms at some of these shops. I have my favorite store locally, which I still go to for jeans and tops, but the benefit of Stitch Fix is that it comes each month without fail. I can keep things or not, but it is my guarantee that once a month for at least a half an hour, I focus on me.

It won’t always be perfect, but it will always be worth $20 for that chance that it might be.

If you want to try it, here’s a referral. If you sign up and order a fix I will receive a credit, then you can go on to do the same thing on Twitter or Facebook or just through an email to a friend. You don’t have to do any of this. What I do hope that anyone who is reading this will do is consider the value of other people’s time; from the contractors who come to your home to give you a quote, to the accountants you work with to file your taxes, to the nurses who call you hon as they draw blood.

We’re all working and we’re all trying.And, maybe if we’re lucky, we’re looking fabulous as we go about our day.

 

The Wisdom of it Being About the Journey

Posted on September 7, 2014

SunsetCrownPoint!

 

We worked over the weekend. We had thought it would be a bit of a sneak-attack getaway, but it turns out that photo shoots at watermarks, no matter how amazing the resort or how kind the staff, are challenging on little sleep with three kids. We made the most of it, but the drive home was a gauntlet—missed turns, weak bladders, construction, stopped ferries, and all sorts of other impediments…I did some snapping, the girls did some whining, Sean might’ve done some selective hearing, and then at some point we just gave up.

“Another bathroom break? Sure, why not,” and then at that convenience store (beautiful, because it was in Vermont) we encountered a graduation party with a live band, so we snacked on bananas and pretzels as we swayed and tapped along to the sounds. Then, back in the car, we motored along until realizing that there was a camel in our midst. We stopped and marveled, saying things in an imagined camel voice like, “Nothing to see here, I’m just a part of the flock. Move along.”

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 6.15.29 PM

 

 

“Should we just stay in Burlington for the night?” Sean whispered. I was weak, ready to be done, whether it meant a hotel room or another 2 hours in the car. “Sure,” I whispered.

“Naw, let’s go home, maybe catch dinner in Bolton,” he said.

We trudged on, changing the music every so often.

“This is the turn we took on our honeymoon,” Sean said as we took a right on another seemingly nameless road. I searched my memory, our honeymoon was bliss, but all I remembered from the drive home was an—

“Oh my gosh, what is that smell? That stinks so baaaaad!” Avery blurted.

“Now, I remember,” I said.

We drove along Dead Creek marveling at the endless swaths of corn fields. We stopped to take pictures of cows. We played non-internet Words With Friends as the girls lamented our signal free status.

“Just ask each other for a 5 letter word with G,” I explained.

Ave said, “Give me a four letter word…”

I couldn’t help myself and said, “I’m good with those.” Sean laughed, Ave said, “Whatever,” and we moved along toward the bridge we needed to take.

“Is that it? Are we going on that?” they screamed. We did that parent grin, relief and a little bit of cockiness. “Sure is.”

Bridge

 

We saw walkers and I said, “Oooh, it looks like you can walk on this bridge.” The girls asked ‘please’ just as I looked at Sean with a face that asked the same thing. “Sure, if we can find a place to park, he said” We spent the next hour walking along the bridge and then the historic military site just below, along the banks of Lake Champlain.

 

Run

 

Scaling IMG_4681

 

There was no rushing, no fussing. The girls took the lead and we followed wherever their curiosity took us. Step by step the road funk and travel fatigue slipped away. We squatted to examine carvings in the stone, some historic, some sophomoric. We wondered aloud about war and about water. Before I knew it, the tickle of wet grass on my ankles and that particular sensation of night air passing from the lake’s surface to my face gave me a kind of timeless peace, summers past and evenings still to come. I willed a thank you out into the night for the unexpected time without boundary of minutes or rules.

IMG_4682

 

We drove quite literally into the sunset and I wondered if maybe happily ever after is possible night after night, rather than just once in a lifetime, when you just let go.

Unbelievable