Archive | June 2012

Obama-Care and Sex Explained

Please tell me that you get your news from a reputable source and not from me. If you seriously clicked here to find out about the Supreme Court’s healthcare ruling, then you should put yourself in time out or force yourself to watch Fox News all day.  Shame on you.

I did, however, make a June 28 resolution to read the whole 200-page opinion.  I am going to get on top of this by going to the primary source, and maybe I will pepper future posts with erudite allusions to the decision.  In the meantime, I am going to see which of the Justices have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts so I can follow them, just like I follow Ashton and Kelly Ripa.

But I don’t want to leave you empty-handed, which is why I am directing you to my guest post that appears today on a website I really love: Just Be Enough.  My guest post is all about sex, so check it out here.  If you hate clicking, I will summarize my post: it’s a steamy mix of positions and dirty talk– or how it’s hard to make time for my marriage when I have two small kids.

The bedroom is for sleeping

The bedroom is for sleeping

Have a great weekend and feel free to tell me how you are letting yourself off the hook today and how you are enough. For today.

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My Four Rules For Dinner With My Former Law Firm

When I RSVP’ed “yes” to the dinner I made 4 rules for myself:

1. No using the phrase “just a mom”
2. No denigrating myself for laughs
3. No apologizing for my choices
4. No pretending that any of the decisions were easy or cut & dried

BONUS RULE: No playing victim about how I left the law firm after maternity leave or what I am doing now.

The day of the dinner I hoped the babysitter would cancel. In my whole parental life (2 years, 11 months, and 3 days), I have never wished that– it’s blasphemy to wish the babysitter to flake out.

I double-checked the dinner invitation in hopes I had gotten the wrong date. I emailed Jeff at work in DC and told him I was sick and probably wouldn’t make the dinner, but it’s hard to make a fake cough sound believable over email. He called and said, “just go.”

It was weird to wear real clothes and leave the house at 6 pm. I stood anonymously on the train platform.  I could have been any old person going any old place. Once on the train, I packed in next to rowdy Cubs fans clad in royal blue and reeking of happy hour brewskies. I thought, “I should have brought my big foam finger,” then I would really fit in.

I thought about what my kids were likely doing at 6:15 pm (practicing screaming at the top of their lungs and marking the walls with crayons) and again at 7:00 pm (throwing food on the floor and trying to convince the babysitter they are allowed to have popsicles for dinner).

I considered simply riding the train back and forth to O’Hare for several hours so I could read my book, watch the sunset from the dirty train window, and send out mordantly funny tweets.

But I didn’t; I just went to the damn dinner.

When I finally got there, I hugged my former colleagues and filled them in on my life without using the phrase “just a mom.”  I looked at the pictures of their kids on their iPhones.  We talked shop and then talked about schools in the city and the evils of travel sports teams for kids.

I excused myself after dessert so I could take the train back home.

“Damn, look at me! I showed up at a dinner and had a lovely time. I followed my rules!” I skipped down Grand Avenue on the way home.  I couldn’t believe I actually showed up for the alumni dinner at my old law firm.

I went to the dinner to say a proper goodbye to my former life– the life of a law firm lawyer.  It felt like when you have coffee with an ex-boyfriend a few years after the break-up, and you leave Starbucks proud of yourself for having grown so much and for offering to pay for his coffee and biscotti (even though he was sort of cheap and asshole-ish about money when you dated him).  For me, law firm life is like that boyfriend from a long time ago, who didn’t treat me that great, but now that I have moved on, I am grateful for what he did give me.  And the better boyfriend, perhaps even the husband, is just around the next corner.

Yep, it’s just like that.

Have you said goodbye to a former life or self?  Did closure come right away or some months/years later? Do old jobs or careers feel like old boyfriends?

New Growth In Unexpected Places

New Growth In Unexpected Places

10 Things I Don’t Want To Hear Today (or Ever Again)

If I can’t go the rest of my days on this planet without hearing the following, how about just for the rest of today? How about at least until noon?

Have mercy on my ears today

Have mercy on my ears today

  1. “I went potty, but I didn’t wipe.”  This is Sadie’s new “thing”– bragging about going potty alone like a big girl, but refusing to wipe like just like an animal or a drunk fraternity guy.
  2. “I want my CD.” My children have outrageously abysmal taste in music, and you can read about my musical plight here.  I have started avoiding car rides with Sadie because I don’t want to fight the CD battle. The minute we step into the garage she starts begging for her CD and I start begging for immediate, onset hearing loss.  While it’s getting awkward having to walk everywhere (especially with my broken butt), it’s better than listening to Old MacDonald.
  3. “Chefs are the new rock stars.” My children don’t say this to me, primarily because they don’t know what cooking is, much less what a chef is.  But I have seen this little quip a lot lately, and it bugs me. If I want to experience a rock star, I can turn on the radio, or download a song for free or for the low price of $1.99.  But chefs? I have to make a reservation weeks (or months) in advance, get a babysitter, and then pay a lot of money to experience them. Did the Food Network make this up?
  4. “Have you read Fifty . . .” I am going to stop you right there.  I can’t stand talking about this book anymore.  Honestly, I can’t handle the conflict.  People hate this book like they hate partisan politics and pink goo in their hamburgers.  I feel compelled to match my interlocutor’s furor about this book, which is getting exhausting.  I am too codependent.  Let’s just agree not talk about it.
  5. “Have you seen the movie, [name any movie]?” I haven’t been to the movies since we had a white guy as President, so unless you are asking about The Wizard of Oz or Fame, the answer is “No, I haven’t seen that movie.  Have you seen Sadie’s booger collection? I’ll give you a peek at it for free.”
  6. Absolutely anyone saying anything before 6:15 AM. I don’t care if Simon is at the foot of my bed reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in Hindi. Or if Jeff is giving me a gift certificate for Canyon Ranch.  I. Don’t. Want. To. Hear. It. (until I have slept in all the way to 6:15 AM).
  7. “Mommy, Simon is drinking out of the toilet again!” Please don’t make me explain this.
  8. “Living the dream.” This phrase has run its course. It was over about 4.5 years ago, but I still hear it at least five times per week.  If you want to make an ironic comment about the state of your life, say something, anything besides this.  You’re giving dreams a bad name.
  9. “I think your hurt glute may be an expression of emotional pain.” Ok, I haven’t heard this more than once (on Monday from my shrink), but if he says it again we may have to move our sessions to the Cook County Jail where I will be held in lock up until someone posts bond for me.
  10. “My flight is delayed so I will miss bedtime.” Actually, there is only one person from whom I do NOT want to hear this and that’s Jeff who is due to arrive home in time to take over around bedtime.  So, if you never hear from me again, you can assume there was a delay and I had to do the bedtime routine alone, and it didn’t go very well.

What about you? What do you NOT want to hear today?

Being Named After Christ Leads To Rejection On J-Date

I am named after Jesus Christ, the savior of the Christian world, so naturally I tried to find a husband on J-Date.

NOT the symbol of my youth

NOT the symbol of my youth

What?

Don’t look at me like that. I like a challenge.

I found myself reminiscing about my stint on J-Date, which is best described for anyone who doesn’t know, as Match.com for Jewish singles.  I fit exactly half the criteria. I was single.  The Jewish part? Well, I was willing to learn Hebrew (I was a wiz at Spanish), and I hated ham, so I let my friend who had recently married a great Jewish man put me on J-Date.

She posted a picture of me that was a close-enough approximation of my Irish-Catholic face.  She answered the questions on my behalf.  She conceded that I did not keep kosher (apparently simple ham avoidance does not make one kosher) and that I was not exactly Ashkenazi.  While she filled out my profile, I played with her daughter, while weeping uncontrollably about being lonely on Saturday nights.

She also picked out a profile name that was religiously ambiguous.  Something like “Not a Shiksa.”  I can’t remember. Details are fuzzy.

The next day I got a few emails from nice gentlemen who had seen my new profile.  We chatted over email. It was just like my previous stint on e-harmony without all the questions about my stance on pre-martial sex or my favorite New Testament Bible verse.  I “met” a baker and a diamond broker (cha-ching) and a lawyer or two.  It all went so well.

Until they learned my name.

“So, what’s your name, Not-A-Shiksa?”

“Christie.”

“Your name is Christie?”

“Yes, like ‘Christ’ with an ‘i’ and an ‘e.'”

“Well, I am looking for a Jewish woman. I don’t date women who aren’t Jewish. That’s why I am on J-Date.”

“Oh.”

“Why are you on J-Date, if you don’t mind me asking?”

And that’s when I would usually sob and pour my heart out to the sweet mensch on the other end of the phone who asked a perfectly valid question, but got a perfectly long-winded, pathetic answer about my loneliness, my friend’s new Jewish husband, and how I had heard that Jewish men are always nice to their women. “Oh, and my therapist is Jewish,” was a line I started throwing in because I heard Jewish men like honesty.  And therapy.

“Well, good luck to you, Christie.”

“Thanks.”

How many times did I have that conversation? Probably about five.  Per week.  Every single time it felt like rejection, which it was, but it started to feel less personal each time Marc or Barry or Jonathan said he would pass on dating me because of religion. I told one suitor (I called them my “Jewtors”) that I was willing to convert to Judaism, but he said, “it wouldn’t count.”

Maybe it was weird to offer to convert before even meeting Neil, but I had a good feeling based on the grammar in his emails and the polite way he answered the phone.

These days, I often wonder how I will parlay my J-Date experience into something useful for my children.  Will I use it during a religious tolerance speech? Maybe I will use it when illustrating how to set yourself up for success instead of five-times-weekly rejection. Maybe I will draw on that time of my life when I give them dating advice.

Then again, they are smart kids, so they probably won’t be asking me for advice; they will ask their father (a nice Jewish man who never went on J-Date) and get some advice they can actually use.

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

Hooking up with Yeah Write this week!

Being New

F*cking platform sandals.

The Big Girl Shoes I Can't Walk In

The Big Girl Shoes I Can’t Walk In

I had to have them. After three go-rounds with Zappos I thought I had finally found a pair that was stylish and that I could actually walk in. But, I tripped three times on the way to the new moms meeting for Sadie’s new pre-school.

Good thing those shoes were cute.

I tripped walked in late to the meeting. In the back of the room I saw groups of moms chatting, sipping coffee and laughing. I looked for the one mother I knew, but didn’t see her. That’s when I finally admitted to myself that I was scared shitless nervous.

How come it seemed like everyone already knew each other? I wasn’t that late. I spotted a table with name tags and headed over there to write my name with a black Sharpie pen that was as big as a rolling pin. I wrote slowly, stalling for time. Was I supposed to also include information about Sadie, the whole purpose for my existence in this room?  I looked at other moms’ name tags and saw they had written their children’s names and grades.

Good. I took more time hovering over my name tag while avoiding whatever was supposed to happen next.

Once properly identified in permanent marker, I took a deep breath. I reminded myself this was not sorority rush or a job interview. We were already in the school; our first tuition check cleared last week. I also reminded myself not to trip when I was ready to make my first move at socializing.

I tried to remember the last time I was alone in a new social situation. I had flashbacks of being a new kid in sixth grade– I trembled with fear and managed a meek smile when the teacher introduced me. Everyone stared at me, but I survived until recess when Melissa Z. and Jennifer A. asked me to play with them.

I chided myself for the self-indulgent trip down memory lane. Now was the time to make a move towards the other mothers not hang back lost in a reverie about being a new student 30-some years ago.  I warned myself not to do what I always do: make it all about me.

Ultimately, this new chapter in our family’s life is not about me; it’s about my kids. They are my sole purpose for being here. And, I want to be the mom they deserve– the one who can do uncomfortable things, like introduce herself to strangers or walk down the street without tripping in her impractical shoes.

I hesitated one more second. Then, I stepped to the nearest group of mothers and said, “Hi, I’m Christie and my daughter will be starting school here in September.”

It wasn’t quite a battle cry, but it was the closest I had come in a long time.

So, all of you experienced parents who have already done this– do you have tips for the nerves that come with joining a new school? Your nerves, not your kid’s, that is.  I am sure you are better adjusted than I am and never went through this, but maybe you heard about someone who did.  Please share.

Updated Version of “Wheels On the Bus” for Karen Klein

By now you have probably seen the devastating video of the bus ride that went out of control when some children cruelly taunted their monitor, Karen Klein.  The whole thing was captured on video that you may check out here.

In honor of that bus ride, I have composed some new lyrics to the classic children’s tune “The Wheels on the Bus.” (If you don’t know the song in the first place, consider yourself lucky . . . so lucky that you can probably eat a whole pint of chocolate ice cream without any physical, emotional, or spiritual repercussions, so go ahead and get on that while the rest of us concentrate on the new lyrics.)

Fierce Monitor On Board

Monitor-Hero On Board

Updated Version: “The Wheels on the Bus” by Outlaw Mama

The thugs on the bus taunt “I hate you, you are poor, you are fat”/

The thugs on the bus taunt “I hate you,” all through the town/

The monitor on the bus maintains her cool, maintains her cool, maintains her cool/

The monitor on the bus maintains her cool, all through the town/

The video of the bus goes around the world, around the world, around the world/

The video of the bus goes around the world in about a day/

The people of the world say, “Oh hell no, oh hell no, oh hell no”/

The people of the world say, “Oh hell no,”and raise a bunch of funds/

The money that was raised goes straight to Klein, straight to Klein, straight to Klein/

The money that was raised goes straight to Klein, and soon she’ll buy the town.

Five (5) Signs I Am Not A Foodie

There are approximately 1,278 signs I am not a foodie. But since it’s Friday and y’all have to get to your lake houses and your bucolic beach retreats while I sit right here like every other damn day, I will just give you the top 5 signs.

1. I just don’t “get” heirloom tomatoes. They are shaped weird, their coloring is bizarre, they cost $37.00 each, and I can’t taste the difference.

2. Turn your foodie nose up all you want, but there’s nothing that Jose Andres (that Spanish chef who freeze dries bits of deer dung to make it taste like raspberry gelato) can make that tastes better than Velveeta melted in a crock pot with a can of Rotel tomatoes. Period. End of debate.

3.  Farmers’ markets– More like “where the hell did my money go?” How come I always leave a farmers’ market $50.00 poorer but all I have to show for it are some tomatoes I can’t begin to understand or appreciate? I also don’t know what kohlrabi is, and I have no idea what to do with all that kale. Farmers markets make me nervous and hungry for Velveeta.

4. My favorite dessert in the whole wide world — and I’ve been to Cleveland and Cabo– is not creme brûlée from Paris or parsnip carpaccio with carmelized sweet breads from Sicily. Nope. It’s the soft-serve frozen yogurt from Costco. Chocolate-vanilla swirl. $1.53. If I end up in a situation where I have to choose my last meal, I hope I am close to a Costco because it melts fast and I hate to miss a single drop.

5. Beverage of choice: Slurpee. Yesterday I had 45 minutes of babysitter time left on the clock and a full tank of gas. I could have gone anywhere and done anything. I brushed my hair, dug some lip gloss out from the bottom of my purse and went straight to 7-11 for a delicious, fruity Slurpee. Best $2.15 I ever spent.

So drive safely on your way to the cottage. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.

NOTE: The makers of the fine American treats featured in this post did not pay me a red cent to mention their goods.  Even if they offered, I would not accept a dime. My love cannot be bought.

Non-foodie nectar

Non-foodie nectar

Pot Smoking In the Park: What would you do?

I have a question.  What’s the protocol for the following situation, which is plucked from my real life:

My almost-three-year-old daughter and I went to the park on a balmy Saturday evening (approximately 6 PM) because she had a lot of energy and I had a lot of rage.  So we went to the park to deal with our excesses.  We were the only parent-child pair at the park.  The only other park guests present were three older “children” (about 21 years old, give or take) who were sitting languidly on the park bench at the edge of the play area.

When Sadie was ready to do her “climb up the slide backwards bit,” we were about 7 feet away from the other park people.  That was when the overwhelming smell of POT wafted right up my nose– it was so strong I almost passed out.  Sadie whiffed it too because she said, “I smell something.”  I told her she was smelling special cigarettes made of plants that make people feel fluffy and want to eat lot of junk food.  (Now that I think about it, it sounds like a description of motherhood generally.)

She ignored me.

I was too scared to report it because (1) Am I THAT old that I am busting kids for smoking pot in the park? (2) I was afraid they would kill me; and (3) I am so codependent that I want the pot-smoking kids in the park to think I am “cool.” Because what’s more badass that a mom with a broken butt hobbling around the park while being bossed around by her daughter?

I have an image, you know.

But seriously, no wonder their generation can’t get jobs.  I am not talking about pot smoking because every generation does that and much worse. I am talking about the lack of judgment.  Can you not wait until the sun goes down? Can they not go to the end of the park where there are less likely to be children? Like the section of the park where there is no slide or swings?  I wondered if John Quinones was going to pop out and feature my chicken-shitted-ness on a 20/20 episode of “What Would You Do?”  But, since he didn’t, I am featuring it here.

So I get to ask the question: What would you do?

 

My Kid’s Gonna Bust Through The Glass Ceiling (Wearing Plastic Boots From Old Navy)

Hope in a depraved world

Hope in a depraved world

Every now and then my kids do something that reminds me that I can stop with all the hand wringing about their gentle psyches and fretting about all the oppressive things this mean old world is going to do to them.  In those moments, I simply revel in their vitality and f*cking randomness.  And I know, for a few seconds, that every damn little thing is gonna be alright.

When my daughter wakes up from a nap and insists on putting on her filthy soccer uniform that she ran around in for three hours this morning (in 90-degree heat) and pairs it with her killer pink boots, you may see a combination of middle American bad fashion sense and poor mothering,  But, I have the sense that she’s gonna end up on her feet no matter what happens, and then she will kick you in the face with her plastic cowboy boots from Old Navy.  Then, she’s gonna kick through the glass ceiling and rule the planet.  And I am basically ok with that.

Further, this weekend Sadie received her first Barbie-esque doll as a present from her beloved grandparents.  Did I worry about her getting a doll with voluptuous plastic boobs and unrealistic proportions?  Yes.  And everyone, and I mean EVERY.  SINGLE.  PERSON. told me to lighten the f*ck up.   So, I put on my big girl pants that I wear when I have to do hard stuff like change my attitude or LET GO OF CONTROL, and I let Sadie enjoy her new doll.

Ariel Barbie Doll (image courtesy of www.comparestoreprices.co.uk.com)

Ariel Barbie Doll (image courtesy of http://www.comparestoreprices.co.uk.com)

For 48 hours this doll was Sadie’s beloved treasure– Sadie ate breakfast with her, played with her, and slept with her.  She showed me her tiara about 68 times.  Then, Sadie surprised me, as only Sadie can, by falling in love with a vintage video camera (from 1989) that Jeff found in the trash alley. If Sadie’s amorous feelings towards Ariel were puppy love, then her feelings for this video camera were straight out of The Thorn Birds. (God, remember when that first aired? I had to beg my Baptist grandmother to turn off Pat Robertson and let me watch this Australian priest screw his young lover.  When I sold her on that idea, I knew I could become a lawyer.)

Sadie and her new love

Sadie and her new love

Anyway, suddenly, Sadie was all “Ariel who? Where the f*ck is my camera? If Simon is touching my camera I. Will. Cut. Him.”  Now, guess what Sadie sleeps with? It rhymes with “lamera” and “damera,” and she’s so hopelessly enamored with this second-hand camera that is as big as her head (sans hair) and almost as heavy as her head (with hair).  And when Sadie insists on wearing her pajamas to the park so she can take pictures with her new camera, I say hell yes, then I grab myself a cold popsicle and sit back and watch her soar.

She's gotta work out to lift this thing

She’s gotta work out to lift this thing

Desperately Seeking Cure for Baby Fever

Is this how it’s gonna be from now on? Every time I see a newborn baby, I am going to get that heavy lump lodged in my throat and tears are going to pool under my eyelids?  If so, it’s going to be a little inconvenient for me to have to remember my eco-friendly tissues every time I leave the house.

I’m starting to notice that I am exhibiting a tendency to lose my sh*t around newborns.  At first I thought it was just a fluke– I met my friend Ann’s new baby boy, and as soon as I got back into my car, I gripped the steering wheel and cried like I did in kindergarten when a boy in my carpool ripped the arm off my Holly Hobby doll.

Oh how I cried.

I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t that I wanted to have another baby, but rather, that I wanted to be the baby.  Ann’s son looked so cozy and peaceful as he slept swaddled in his cushy swing.  How great does that look? Who doesn’t want to spend a lazy day swinging in a sheep skin seat?

I gave myself a talking to: “Outlaw Mama, you are tired and not thinking clearly.  You want to be a baby, not have a baby. Let’s get that straight. Now drive this car to Costco for a chicken bake and some frozen yogurt.  Chin up!”

But two days later I was at Millenium Park where hundreds of people had gathered to splash around in a public fountain.  Taking Sadie to the bathroom, I made eye contact with a young mother holding a baby that could not have been more than 4 weeks old.  I saw her weary eyes and the baby’s sweet face, and again, I found myself misty, which wasn’t the right condition for navigating a public restroom with a 2-year-old free spirit like Sadie.

My main weapon to squelch these percolating baby desires has been encouraging others to have babies so I can have a vicarious hit.  I find myself trying to convince my friends to get pregnant.  “You can do it! You’re such a great mom that it would be criminal not to have another!” Now my sister is pregnant, and I am asking some pretty invasive questions (even for a sister), because I want to come as close as possible to the baby experience without actually getting pregnant.

A sight more rare than Haley's comet: My pregnant belly

A sight more rare than Haley’s comet: My pregnant belly

My rational mind is clear about my own reproductive future: I am pretty sure that my womb is no longer accepting applications for boarders.  I am too tired, too grumpy, and too vain to do pregnancy at age 39 or 40.  Mostly, though, I am just sick of sippy cups.

But with each of my monthly cycles, I think to myself, “this might be my last chance to have a healthy baby,” as my 39th birthday looms. I wonder if these feelings will go away once it’s no longer physically possible for me to have another baby. If so, my next question is: when the hell is menopause gonna come along and shut this all down?