living out loud



First: this post has no point. It’s a mess, and so am I these days. I make no apologies for anything I write or put out there – this is me, and if we hang out together, I’m often very controlled because I’m self-conscious and don’t wish to be arrested. But in writing, I am all me. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, and there are people in the world who don’t think I’m even a slightly lovely human being. And while the people pleaser in me desperately cries: But wait! Give me another chance! to these rare individuals, the realist in me says: You know what? Eff those guys. I am not everyone’s cup of tea.

Also, please know: I made a little boy cry today.

He was a 5th grader, and today was his last day at our school. When I found out, I looked at him and said, “Well, poop, V. I can’t believe this. I’m really going to miss you a lot.” And he burst into tears.

I just want to take kids like this home with me. He was this big 5th grade, tough boy, and you know what he did? He let me hug him and gently pat his back, for like 5 minutes…just love on him. Right in front of all his big, cool 5th grade friends. I don’t always agree with the teacher whose class he’s in, but that lady knows how to create an emotionally safe environment for a kid to exist in, for 180 days.

I try to remember moments like that when I get really, really stressed out and mad at the politics of education, the inanity of education reform, and the crassness of society in general. I take those moments, tuck them gently and carefully into my heart, so I can draw on them to get through various and sundry dick work days.

We took Miss M to a nutritionist today. I’m not going to go into a lot of details, but my child’s a stress eater who associates food with love – like me. While I’ve been eating healthier (studiously ignoring the large bottle of wine in front of me from which I keep pouring glasses), and so has she…but we still need to do better. Her dad does better than me, because he is a total nut when it comes to commitment. For someone who refused to marry god knows how many other women before me, C knows how to commit to a cause. Me? I’ll agree to live with you, but I’m not committing to anything beyond a deep and abiding love and devotion. You want to run 3 miles a day? Go have fun…I might commit to trying that once or twice. That’s how I work.

I do agree with everything the nutritionist said, but I also want her to enjoy childhood. And my takeaway was: she should enjoy childhood. C told me I do this all the time: put a spin on things so they work in my favor. Is that a bad trait to have? I don’t think so. Man, y’all. Parenting. It’s a yin yang struggle.

At any rate, the reason I’m telling you about all that is that, at the end of the appointment, the nutritionist goes, “Wow, I have to say: I’ve worked with families where the mom and dad have split up. You two are the first people who’ve come here who actually are nice to each other and get along.” And that was one of the highlights of my day. Because more than anything else I do with C as we navigate raising a child together but apart, is to not be THAT person. I cannot, WILL not, be that person who talks bad about her ex. Because I don’t have a bad ex; I have a flawed ex…and vice versa for him. And our flaws just mean we make better friends than spouses.

The other highlight of my day was walking in the woods with my girl. After the appointment, I took her back with me so C could finish his work day. We did her homework and then we went for a little hike on one of my beloved nature trails. I love my child, but more importantly, I like her. She is going to turn into a fantastic teenager and a magical adult. I just hope I can get more vegetables into her and teach her how to budget. And maybe keep her room clean – it is back to hazmat status.

I’ve been reeling through the stages of grief these days. I do not do good-byes well, and I tend to get stubborn and stay in the Anger Phase a lot longer than necessary. But then someone will come along and go: You know, you really ought be getting over that anger by now. And my rage will flare because HEY! You are not in MY brain! And stop telling my heart how to live! And I think it’s perfectly acceptable to do that to people who feel brazen enough to get all up in your grill like they even know you and your particular kind of pain, and then try to tell you what you ought to be doing. Judge-y. As if they even know how to do that right. (Tip: do it secretive, that way people still love you.) (I’m kidding. Mostly.)

One day on Twitter last week or the week before, I threw up a tweet and created what I thought was my very own hashtag, but it turned out to, apparently, be a hashtag a brand of beer called Keystone Light likes to use a lot: #AdjectivesThatDescribeMe.

And so I will share these here (with some extras) now, just because I want to wrap this post up and it feels like a good wrap up:

sweet, insecure, giving, needy, ridiculous, angry, multi-layered, validation-seeking, cheeky, seductive, and sleepy.

But also:

stubborn, flirty, indignant, awkward, kind, judgmental, spiritual, quirky, passionate, moody, emotional, weepy, tolerant, liberal, fun, excitable, wordy, responsible, warm, interesting, angsty, grateful, honest, disorganized, bad feminist-y, indecisive, suspicious, complicated, idealistic, self-critical, slightly cynical, at times absurd, and often self-absorbed but also really thoughtful. 

When I look at all of these adjectives, you know which one pops out the most to me? Complicated. Oh, it is true, dearest Internet: I am a mess of a complicated woman. Woman on the outside, but girl on the inside. And I’m not even a sporty “F you!” kind of girl. I’m just a “please notice me and think I’m magical!” kind of girl.

And I couldn’t do it to myself, but I really want to throw the phrase “occasionally pathetic” in there. My mother (hi mom, if you’re reading) is going to be really mad at me for writing that, and I’ll get a phone call wherein she’ll tell me I am an AMAZING girl, a lovely girl, a fine and wonderful and winsome girl. (I’ve been drinking wine, Mom…I love all of your adjectives, and they are all true for me…except on Mondays at 5:00 AM, Sunday evenings in darkest winter, and maybe right after a heartbreaking breakup.)

And I drink a lot of wine, and lately beer, too. And I don’t care. One day I’ll stop or pull back, but today is not that day. I am eating a salad for dinner. With green olives. Because olives are amazing. Just like me…on my better days.