CHANGE IS AS COMFORTABLE AS A CACTUS UP YOUR ASS

I welcome change
I hate change. And yet I crave it. I’m a creature of habit, but I get uncomfortable and frustrated when my life becomes stagnant. Living in the suburbs of Southern California was supposed to be temporary. 2 years—max. Enough time for my ex and I to save up money and move back up north which we both agreed was a much better environment to raise our son.

Welp, 11 years later, things didn’t go quite as planned. The ex and I split and there I was, stuck just trying to keep a roof over my son’s head. I don’t necessarily regret staying in this area for so long, (even though I have nothing but horrendous memories I wish I could lance out of my brain), because I provided stability and a somewhat decent environment for my son for the first 11 years of his life.

But we’ve exhausted our time here, and while I would have loved to give my boy a nice suburban upbringing with extracurricular activities ad nauseam and vacations once a year, I just can’t. So I’ve decided to do the only thing I can think of to bring some free diversity and experience into my child’s sheltered life—move to a big city. Chicago to be exact. Yes, I know it’s freaking cold and windy there. And yes, I know it will be a huge culture shock. My son may hate it. I may hate it. The diva, who doesn’t like weather below 70 degrees, will definitely hate it.

But here’s the logic behind this move: I want my boy to be exposed to different cultures, food, customs, colors of skin, mindsets. If he winds up not being college-bound I want there to be a plethora of other opportunities available to him. I personally want to be able to make more than $12/hr without having to drive an hour. I want to be able to visit the world’s largest aquarium without having to add 3 hours onto the journey for being stuck in LA traffic. I want to be able to walk outside my door and stumble upon a street fair, Farmers Market, musicians. I want various experiences at my fingertips because the truth is I’m dreadfully lazy and unmotivated. And I suck at planning outings. Oh, and I also want to associate with people who speak grammatically correct English, no more “I don’t got no more.” And I really want to live in a place where every other person hasn’t done meth or sold meth.

Basically, I want to be able to grab the boy by the hand sans Xbox controller and say, “Hey, let’s go explore the city and see what we find.”

Am I freaking nuts?

AN APOLOGY TO SKINNY BITCHES

Opposites
I rag constantly on models, actresses, and skinny bitches in general, because, well, they’re skinny…and obviously disciplined (or neurotic, bulimic, or anorexic). But I’ve a newfound respect for them. I’ve come to learn it’s really hard to be a skinny bitch—especially after 40.

I have always been somewhat obsessed with my weight. Not to the point of compulsively dieting or working out, but always mentally obsessing. Because I despise exercise, a quick fix to lose a few pounds would be to just not eat. No biggie, since food doesn’t excite me all that much, and I’m not a stress eater. I much prefer to chew my nails and make other people’s lives miserable when I’m stressed out.

I’ve never had a weight problem per se, but I’ve never been a skinny bitch either. I’m half Italian and half Polish, which explains why excess carbs go straight to my ass. I grew hips at 16 when I went on the Pill and they’ve been with me ever since. I fell in love with my son’s father when he uttered those 3 words I always longed to hear: “You’re too skinny.” He liked thick women with big asses. Who wouldn’t love that in a man?

It wasn’t until my ex up and left me with a 1 year old and I started fantasizing about driving head-on into traffic that I began taking happy pills which packed on the pounds. I didn’t care—better to be fat and (somewhat) happy, rather than thin and batshit crazy. I did manage to eventually lose the 30 pounds I had accumulated from eating bagels drenched in butter, much to the delight of literally everyone around me, including the mailman. You never realize how fat you’ve gotten until you A. See yourself in photos and B. Receive congratulatory comments about how much weight you’ve lost from people whose name you don’t even know.

Weight management is like being bipolar—sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down, but there’s always fluctuation. So when I stopped working out regularly once again and began eating crap like salty snack mixes, Almond Joys, and pizza, the pounds crept back on. Here’s the frightening thing though. While I may have always had thighs, hips, and an ass, what I NEVER had before was a stomach. So when all of a sudden I had this fucking muffin top hanging over my waistband, I was horrified. According to my rules of karma, everyone should have 1 area of their body that doesn’t give them a problem no matter how much they eat or drink.

After a few months of whining and feeling sorry for myself, I started working out regularly again. No results. Then I started eating slightly smaller portions. Nothing. I cursed my 46-year-old metabolism, and saw myself turning into this flabby, middle-aged potato-shaped woman with a lot of cats. I became depressed. I napped a lot. I took the Why bother? approach. Summer crept closer and closer, which meant shorts and tank tops. I knew a burka just wouldn’t go over in my neighborhood.

So I finally, finally got my ass in gear and took charge. Made a goal, started getting B-12 shots in my ass for energy, bought some green detox powder that tastes like mowed grass, plus a high-quality meal replacement drink that becomes gluey paste if it sits too long. I started exercising and using little 5-pound weights. But I did not actually start noticing a distinct change in my body until I took drastic measures. What did I have to do? I had to go to Hell and stay there. In fact, I’m still there, because I’m 6 pounds away from my goal.

For the last month, I have been working out every. freaking. day. I have NEVER done that in my life. I drink that green crap for breakfast, a meal replacement for lunch, and have a salad with maybe some tuna in it for dinner. I dish out lasagna and pizza for my son while biting my fist in frustration, but I have not caved yet. I went to a 4th of July party and didn’t drink alcohol or eat dessert. I had guacamole without the chips, and chicken instead of beef.

Sure I may feel great, but are you kidding me? This is no way to live. How do the skinny bitches do it? I mean, yeah, I’ve lost weight, but I had cherry tomatoes for dessert last night when I was craving something sweet. Fucking cherry tomatoes! That’s insane to have to do that all the time. In order to be skinny, you have to omit carbs (the good ones, anyway) which means you can never eat a goddamn sandwich or a burger. Certainly no chips. Or tortillas. No to sugar. And steak. And pasta. And potatoes. And what you do eat has to be in minute amounts. Plus, you have to exercise like 2 hours a day!

I applaud all you skinny bitches, because it’s damn hard to stay skinny. The will power and discipline needed is enormous and commendable. I think it was Julia Roberts who once said that in order to be thin you have to say no a lot when it comes to food. Yeesh.

So Brava to all the skinny bitches out there! I’ve decided I don’t want to join your masochistic club (the dues and obligations are way too high), so I’ll be admiring you from afar, instead.

How many of you are skinny bitches? And how in the hell do you stay that way?

DEPRESSION IS

nighthawks-edward-hopper
“Nighthawks” by Edward Hopper

WARNING: The following post is NOT warm and fuzzy. Proceed at your own discretion.

Depression is a fickle bitch.

It’s PMS, road rage, PTSD after returning from Iraq, or staring down at your beautiful newborn and feeling…nothing. It’s partial paralysis after a stroke, a blown-out knee, an unwritten novel, failed dreams. Constant pain from a herniated disc, dialysis, gluttony, the inability to leave the womb-like safety of your home.

Depression is the faded ink stain on your favorite shirt, the dormant stage of a daffodil bulb. Or a zombie apocalypse.

Depression is the dress you buy for when you’re 5 pounds thinner, only to find it years later crumpled on the floor in the back of your closet.

Depression is failure for not being able to “snap out of it.” It’s unfulfilled potential, too many hours of sleep, and medical bills for undiagnosed ailments. Relationships gone sour, regurgitated food, clogged arteries, and one too many glasses of wine.

Depression says No before getting smacked across the face by a parent. Depression says No to the babysitter who molested you, the assailant who raped you. Depression says No to the men you try to please to fill the hole. No to extra work hours in place of family. No to your child about…well, anything.

Depression says You’re Not Worthy. How could you be with Hep B-tainted blood, tract marks on your arms, semen deep inside you from someone who shares your DNA? Or simply that your sexual preference is different from mine.

Depression says It’ll Never Get Better. Because you’ve tried everything. Because the meds can only do so much. Because cognitive therapy doesn’t work when your words and thoughts are diseased. And in response to all those success stories about others who have overcome this beast, you scream, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Depression says I Don’t Love You. I never wanted you. I wish I had aborted you. I beat you for your own good. It’s how I was raised. It’s the only way I know. It runs in the family.

Depression says You Could Have Done Better. Because a B+ is not an A, 2nd Place is no Winner, and if only you had worked harder…If only… If only you were thinner, smarter, taller…

Depression seduces, giving you that tingly feeling in your groin. It brings you to that moment when morals, doubts, marital statuses are forgotten. Depression gets you completely naked, ready, and willing…and then whispers, “I don’t want you,” before slinking away.

Depression leaves scars in the form of cutting, tattoos, or grooves in the brain like well-trodden areas of carpet. It can be obvious and deafening like angry feedback during a concert. Silent and seething like a small gas leak. Or brains splattered all over the wallpaper you never wanted in the first place.

It’s selfish and maddening and sensitive and organic. It’s suffocating, lacking in compassion, intuitive and creative. It’s paralyzing and hopeless and cerebral and methodical. It’s both powerless and powerful. Bright light when you remember how you once were; darkness over how you are now. It’s prison, then parole. Purgatory. An apathetic Heaven or Hell.

It’s the underachieving, New Age pessimist and the overachieving, Mensa tyrant. The insanely talented Oxycontin-addicted Narcissist. The gold-medal winning, anal-retentive introvert who wonders, What now?

Depression is Jim Carrey, Eric Clapton, Agatha Cristie, Edgar Degas, and Princess Di. It’s Reddit co-founder, Aaron Swartz, J.K. Rowling, Marilyn Monroe, John Hinkley, Jr. It’s “That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” Nietzsche, (but if it does end up killing us, it’s only because we’re desperate for the pain to go away). Depression is Mike Tyson, Mike Wallace, Terry Bradshaw, and Oscar-winning director, Malik Bendjelloul.

Depression is the doctor, the artist, the addict, the mother, the Vet, the student, the Walmart cashier.

Depression is the unemployed and the employed, the psychiatrist who treats you for symptoms, the terminally ill, the convict, the mortician who will dress your dead body. Depression is your parent, your child, your spouse, your grandfather.

Depression is a petulant child throwing a tantrum in the middle of the supermarket on a dog day afternoon. “See me,” it cries, before retreating once again into invisibility.

TESTOSTERONE IS SOME FUNKY STUFF

BOOBS

Lately, it seems like all my son wants to do is wrestle with me. It’s hard to admit I’m getting too old for him to be body slamming me, but one session of wrestling runs the risk of 10 sessions with a chiropractor. The boy’s almost 12, so I can’t throw him off me like I used to. He’s rough. He hurts, and he takes sadistic pleasure in hurting.

One day, my son came home from school and we wrestled on the couch. Then he proceeded to sit on my head and fart. Who does that? Boys, that’s who. I can’t help but think if I had a daughter, her and I would be sitting quietly next to each other on the couch, doing needlepoint or scrapbooking or texting.

As I was cleaning up a hairball the other day, my naked son came up to me and declared, “I have a pubic hair. Look, it’s on my balls.” He was so excited I didn’t have the heart to tell him it was probably dryer lint. “I’m going through puberty,” he said proudly. “I even have a pimple.” He pointed to what may or may not have been a mosquito bite on his forehead.

I remember how I couldn’t wait to get my period. My best friend and I were in competition to see who would get it first. I won, and she was devastated. I had become a woman first. Yay me. My son can’t wait to shave. I tried to tell him once he shaves, he’ll have to shave EVERY day for the rest of his life. That he’ll quickly come to hate the daily obligation, eventually grow the defiant, non-shaving man’s beard and look like Zach Galifianakis. It fell upon deaf ears.

Puberty cannot come fast enough for him. Every day yields a new “symptom” of it—his throat is sore, his balls have dropped, the hair on his legs has darkened. Sex Ed started yesterday, and he was so disappointed to learn girls go through puberty before boys.

There’s a constant internal battle going on inside me over what’s appropriate to discuss with him. On the one hand, I want him to feel comfortable talking to me about sex, but on the other hand, I don’t want to feel like I’m living on The Mustang Ranch either. Out of the blue, my son will suddenly blurt out words like sex, or tits, or orgasm. It’s like he has an X-rated form of Tourette’s Syndrome. Whenever I ask him where he learns inappropriate crap like sticking dollar bills in the G-strings of strippers, for example, he always says Family Guy. How fantastic is that?

We were having a perfectly lovely conversation last week in the car on the way to soccer practice. I asked him who the most popular boy in his class was. He had no idea. But the most popular girl? He didn’t even have to think about it. “Gisella.” When I asked why she was so popular, he answered, “She has big tits. They’re like…huge!”

Sadly, I didn’t have a fork to stick in my eye at that moment, or bleach to rinse out my ear canals, but he understood my open-mouthed horror, because he quickly said, “But I don’t look at them. I look at her face. She has a beautiful face.” Uh-huh.

Of course, I threw in my 2.5 cents about how he should never objectify women—that it doesn’t matter how pretty a girl is if she pulls the legs off grasshoppers and sets her dolls’ heads on fire. But again, it fell upon deaf ears. I know this because a few days later when he was describing the girlfriend he was going to have in the future, he mentioned, “Big boobs, nice legs, a beautiful face. I don’t much care about the ass, but it can’t be too small.”

I have come to the conclusion that I am no match against the ridiculous surges of testosterone in a budding preteen’s body, and that every other word out of my mouth when discussing sex with him will be condom, because I sure as hell am not ready to be a grandma at 48.

WHAT YOU TALKIN BOUT GWYNETH?

Stupid stuff

It took me a while to gather my thoughts for this post. I had to first gather the pieces of my exploded head and put them all back together again. What made my head explode? Not men this time, no. It was the asinine comments made by a celebrity. Usually I ignore what a celebrity has to say. About anything. Unless it’s George Takai or Morgan Freeman. Or my future husband, Al Pacino. As for every other celebrity and/or model, they need to understand that the general public doesn’t respect anything that comes out of their mouths simply because they make too much damn money. Anyone who spends more on a child’s birthday party than what an average home costs in California is not rooted in reality.

Let’s take Gwyneth Paltrow for example—the celeb who made my head explode. I already dislike her, because 1. She’s blonde and I’m not, and 2. She’s super skinny and I’m not, and 3. She’s very rich and I’m not. So the bitch already has 3 strikes against her. As if those weren’t reasons enough, I started to really despise her when I discovered this funny little piece written by Jamila Rizvi (who I don’t know, but I automatically like because she looks more like me). Gwyneth is a health and fitness fanatic who I’m guessing doesn’t consume more than 50,000 calories in a year. During the holidays she admitted she splurges a little, which probably means she consumed 5 salted cashews and a handful of popcorn with butter. That’s certainly enough sodium to make anyone gain half an ounce in water weight. So what’s Gwyneth’s solution to getting back on track after all that gluttonous splurging? A cleanse, of course—a cleanse that’s “warming, filling and doesn’t feel like a sacrifice.”

Great! Sign me up, because I’m positive I must have 17 pounds of chocolate and Christmas cookies impacted in my colon.

Gwyneth explains, “Our winter detox has looser guidelines and restrictions than ones we’ve done in the past but here is what we’re avoiding: dairy, gluten, shellfish, anything processed (including all soy products), nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant), condiments, sugar, alcohol, caffeine and soda.”

Wait, what?

Breakfast is a cup of freaking herbal tea. Fine, I might be able to hang with that, but come lunch time I’ll be ready to eat my own arm, so what’s to eat? 6 cups of hot water with chickpeas. I stopped reading after that, because while she suggested things to do to make you less hungry (Wearing socks and drinking MORE herbal tea), my guess is she must eat her money to stay full, since no human can remain conscious on a mere 300 calories a day. But stars and models are a special kind of breed so I’ll forgive the insane dieting rituals they must put themselves through to remain emaciated.

Then came the announcement last week of Gwyneth and Chris Martin’s separation—no, wait, “conscious uncoupling.” Gwyneth introduced the term many of us hadn’t ever heard before. It’s basically a new-age, no-drama approach to the splitsville process coined by the psychotherapist, Katherine Woodward Thomas. “The process of conscious uncoupling involves breathing exercises and a lot of self-reflection to ‘break up victimization,’” Ms. Thomas said. Right. So instead of wallowing in self-pity for years like I did, lamenting the fact that I was a complete dumbass for choosing my dysfunctional partner in the first place, or going the no-drama route as opposed to say, having to call 911 because he threatened to kill me, I imagine Gwyneth and Chris sat down to dinner one night and in between Gwyneth asking Chris to pass the brussel sprouts without any seasoning, butter, or oil, she asked him for a divorce as well. Now that’s what I call congeniality.

Now again, I can forgive Gwyneth for being an airy fairy head, because let’s face it, you have to be somewhat kooky to survive Hollywood; what I can’t forgive is her making ignorant and downright stupid remarks over something she knows nothing about. On Page Six of the NY Post, she talks about wanting to spend more time with her kids—a noble gesture, only she should have stopped there, because she goes on to say “things are more difficult for her than other moms, because of the demanding nature and unpredictable schedule of her acting career.”

Uh-huh. Do tell, Gwyneth.

“I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as, of course there are challenges, but it’s not like being on set,” Paltrow said.

You’re damn right it’s not like being on set. You want to know what it’s like being on set? I’ll tell you, because I have, in fact, been on set and it sure as hell doesn’t give you varicose veins from sitting all day for a stinking office job. When you’re a lead actress, you roll out of bed and in to the hair and makeup chair. Then you go back to your private trailer and wait until they’re ready for you. You see, all the tedious work is done by a stand-in (which I’ve been) so the lead doesn’t have to stand on her feet for hours under hot lights while the crew sets up the shot. As soon as things are ready, the actress comes out, does her scene, and returns to her trailer where she is free to do whatever she wants—have sex, sleep, exercise, eat then vomit, get a massage, yap on the phone, online shop, fart around on Facebook…she can even have her kids with her if she so chooses because there are on-set tutors!

Gwyneth bitches about not being able to do a routine with her kids because, “When you’re shooting a movie, they’re like, ‘We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks,’ and then you work 14 hours a day, and that part of it is very difficult.”

Yes, it is indeed very difficult to have to work 14-hour days for only two weeks out of the year when you could be working 9 to 5 every day, and then rushing home to make a box of Mac n Cheese before soccer practice, racing home after that to get homework done, a shower, bedtime, after which you collapse from exhaustion into bed yourself. That’s my idea of quality time with the kids X 100. (Check out this delicious open letter to Gwyneth from a working mom.)

What do you mean that’s NOT the routine you were referring to, Gwyneth? Your nanny does all that crap for you? You just wanted to be home to kiss the kids good night? Why didn’t you say so? It’s extremely stressful to have the nanny thrown off her schedule. Everyone knows that. So next time, Gwyneth, let’s have your nanny make these comments instead of you, because as I said before, no one wants to hear complaining from someone who has probably never had a “regular” job and makes more money in a second than they’ll ever see in a lifetime. Mmmkay?

IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT YOU CHOSE CRAPPY MEN

Bad Decision

2014 is the year I’ve decided to take back my power. Nobody likes a whiny little bitch and God knows I’ve blamed myself for my craptastic life way too long. Women have a tendency to do that all the time—blame themselves for everything that goes wrong. They become the “victim,” which in turn leads to depression or apathy or alcoholism (or all three) and trust me, that’s no way to live.

2014 is the year I start blaming other factors for my craptastic choices. So if you’re a woman who has made craptastic choices in men and blamed yourself, read on to realize why it wasn’t your fault.

BLAME HORMONES. A U.K. study found women who take the Pill choose the “wrong” man. Women are attracted to men whose genetic makeup is dissimilar to their own. But women on the Pill end up choosing a more genetically similar mate, which would be like the equivalent of having sex with your first cousin. Ultimately, it all has to do with a man’s smell. If she’s on the Pill and her man smells like ass, she won’t realize it until she’s gone off the Pill. Then her man will make her want to hurl every time he gets close, and no amount of Drakkar Noir is going to change it. So, kudos to being responsible with birth control; Boo to unknowingly choosing a man who stinks.

BLAME BIOLOGY. Women are hard wired to respond to a confident man. It has to do with survival of the fittest and all that caveman nonsense. The problem is that confidence is often coupled with douchebaggery. His level of self-confidence usually doesn’t match his successes…or morals…or values…or ability to remain faithful. And by the time we’ve figured that out, we’re the ones left feeling like crap because they’ve chosen yet another asshat. So, kudos to wanting to propagate the species; Boo to choosing an unevolved Neanderthal.

BLAME ALCOHOL. Alcohol is the mother of bad judgment. Why do people look so much more attractive when you’re drunk? Because alcohol impairs your vision so everything looks fuzzy and out of focus. You don’t notice the numerous imperfections or you’re too drunk to care. So when you end up marrying a man with a peg leg and an eye patch at an Elvis Chapel in Vegas, chances are in order to make that union work, you’re going to have to remain drunk throughout the marriage. So, kudos to being a fun party gal; Boo to choosing road kill that should have remained on the road.

I don’t know about you, but blaming everything else under the sun but me for my mistakes feels pretty liberating. It’s like finally seeing the results from dieting, without having to do all that pesky deprivation and exercise crap.

What else can we blame for our mistakes?

THE HOLIDAYS—MAY THEY REST IN PEACE

Bah humbug

I can’t lie—I’m glad the holidays are over. Yes, I’m one of those people. But when you have no family to spend Christmas with and no significant other to kiss at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, the holidays blow. I survived by drinking more than I should and religiously following the posts on a site called Emerging from Broken. It was on this site I learned I was not alone. There’s many, many more like me who either have no contact or minimal contact with their terribly dysfunctional families.

Every day I’d peruse Facebook even though I was continuously assaulted by happy people getting together with their families. Even worse was seeing photos and postings of my own happy family. It stung. A lot. It wasn’t so much the lack of them I was missing. It was the lack of a family to call my own. Most people who are estranged from their family have chosen to create their own—usually through marriage. In my case, it’s only my son and I.

At some point in December, my son threw out those dreaded words no single mom ever wants to hear: “Why can’t you marry Daddy so he can come live with us?”

“Because Daddy is engaged to be married to another woman,” I told him. The boy is 11. Sorry, but I’m just not sugarcoating it anymore. At least my response succeeded in halting the conversation in its tracks.

We spent Christmas day with my friend’s in-laws who have graciously “adopted” us. There are advantages to celebrating with other people’s families. In between the ham and the pumpkin pie, the conversation turned to religion (a big social no-no) and ended with my friend’s husband banging his fists on the table and accusing his father of refusing to acknowledge his nephew’s homosexuality. “Why can’t you admit your nephew is gay, Dad? Say it!” he screamed.

This drama didn’t faze me in the least because hey—it ain’t my family. So I got up and went into the other room with the kids. It was very freeing. But New Year’s Eve was a completely different story. Who wants to go to a party where everyone is coupled up, or worse, there are 3 token single men all vying for my drunken attention? No thanks. Plus, everyone’s an alcoholic in my neighborhood, or a meth head (or usually both), so if driving is especially dicey under normal circumstances, can you imagine on New Year’s Eve?

But after a meh Christmas and an utterly craptastic New Year’s Eve, the Gods of Fair Play decided to reward me with a book contract for my hot mess that took me over a year to write and edit. It’s called THE MEATBALL MISTRESS and it’s about a sassy Italian girl from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn who flees to the Jersey shore after finding her fiancé in a compromising position. She’s, of course, bitter and cynical about men (I really had to stretch to write about that!) and meets her match in a guy who’s probably the biggest commitment-phobe in Jersey. So how do they wind up falling in love, you ask? Hmmm…

Since I literally thought I was going to end up burying this one in my backyard underneath a mound of compost, I’ll admit I’m pleased. Hopefully this recent euphoria will work to balance out the emotional upheaval I’ll be experiencing next month when I turn 46.

So how were your holidays?

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