WORRY SHOULD BE A FOUR-LETTER WORD

Severed hand

I’m a worrywart. I am. I worry about everything. I’ll worry about the grasshopper brought in by my cat that’s missing a leg and wonder how he’ll manage in the world once I set him free. I’ll worry that the sudden tightness in my chest is a heart attack, and then I’ll start worrying even more about my family sifting through my stuff once I’m dead and being shocked by what they find.

Maybe I have my Polish Nana to thank. She worried about me living alone in New York in my 20s. Nana watched the news every night and heard horrible, horrible stories, which she’d recount to me in detail. “Ring me 3 times as soon as you get home,” she’d tell me as I boarded the Greyhound from New Jersey back to my Brooklyn apartment. “And don’t forget to always lock your door. Single women can’t be too safe nowadays.” (Yes, I was single even back then.)

Nana worried herself into a tizzy all the years I had a boa constrictor. She was convinced it would kill me in my sleep. She’d send me article after article clipped from newspapers: “9-foot snake wrapped around pregnant woman’s belly” and “12-foot snake bites woman and knocks her down.” She even offered to pay me $500 to get rid of it, which I finally did, but only because the huge rats I was going to have to start feeding her required a bonk on the head first with a hammer to stun them into submission, and that’s where I drew the line. (I refuse to bonk any animal on the head with a hammer.)

After I gave birth, Nana sent me clippings regarding the dangers of having a cat around a baby: “6-week-old boy dies after family cat falls asleep on his face” and “Cat sucks breath from baby.” For the record, I did not get rid of my cat, and I’m convinced these tragedies happened because cats are attracted to the sweetness of milk on a baby’s lips. Even though I do believe cats are plotting to kill all adult humans so they can take over the world, they are not however, trying to purposely smother infants. It’s against their belief system. Besides, their modus operandi is way more stealthy than that. They much prefer to trip an adult into oncoming traffic.

I know Nana meant well by all these horror stories, but is it any surprise I’m neurotic? My neurosis isn’t logical or cut-and-dried though. It’s not based on any rational, cause and effect notion, like, “Uh-oh. If my son climbs that fence, he’s going to fall, crack his head open and need stitches.” A more complicated, irrational formula is involved:

My Mood + Innocent Inciting Event = Complete Spiraling Out of Control = Panic Attack

For example, I write a weekly blog post for an insurance company and I’m focusing on ObamaCare and the changes in healthcare it will bring. (WAKE UP! I’m not done telling my story.) While I hate to use PMS as an excuse for being a little bit crazy and overly sensitive, I will, because I’m a slave to my hormones. So I’m in the midst of PMSing while writing a post on insurance (MOOD + Innocent Inciting Event).

The more I read about ObamaCare, the more freaked out I get. I notice that a single person who earns $33,500 annually will have to pay $258 a month in premiums and I begin to panic. $258 a month? How in the hell will I be able to afford that? (Mind you, it makes no difference that I’m not making $33,500 presently, nor plan on seeing that kind of money anytime soon.) $258 a month is the reason I didn’t purchase my Honda dream car! $258 a month means my son and I will have to eat Mac n’ cheese even more than we do now! (Note the spiraling out of control. Here comes the panic attack…)

This is all because I’m not married. If I were married, I’d be able to be on my spouse’s health plan. But wait—it says right here in this article that in 6 years insurance companies want to do away with spousal coverage altogether. What the hell is the point of getting married if you can’t be on your spouse’s health plan? It doesn’t matter anyway. I’m never getting married. Who’ll ever want to marry a neurotic bitch like me? And on and on it goes.

Sometimes it’s exhausting being me.

Is anyone else a worry wackjob?

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THE PORN CONVERSATION

naked barbies
When my son got his Xbox for Christmas, it had to be hooked up to our TV in the living room. It was a new flat screen TV, and since my son had one of those crappy, dinosaur TVs in his room, it made perfect sense. For him, not me. I have an open floor plan in my home, which means the TV room is near the dining room is near the kitchen is near the living room, if that makes sense.

The dining room doubles as my “office.” Every day, I get to listen to hyper preteen boys yelling and reveling in the game of Minecraft while I try to get some work done. Normally I pride myself on being able to work through distractions, what with the diva barking all day long at every creature that dares to breathe around her and the parakeets that don’t have a melodic bone in their feathery bodies.

But it eventually got to the point where the words Fuck, Shit, and Bitch being spewed from the mouth of babes was no longer conducive to my romance writing. I couldn’t concentrate anymore, so something drastic had to be done. (Something other than shipping them off to Abu Dhabi, which was my first choice.) Part of the fun of these Xbox games is being able to do multiplayer with split screens. Apparently, one can’t do that on a crappy, archaic TV, which would have been nice to know before moving all the equipment into my son’s room. Son had a fit of course, so singlewritermom had to get a new TV for her spoiled son to ensure her peace-of-mind.

Once the electronic devil was hooked up to my son’s new TV and the boys were ensconced in my son’s bedroom, I breathed a sigh of relief. With the bedroom door shut, their voices were muffled. I didn’t have to listen to the garbage that came out of their mouths any longer. But then I realized I could no longer hear the garbage coming out of their mouths, which meant I no longer knew what they were talking about. Which could be dangerous. There was no monitoring of mouths. And no monitoring of eyes. Which meant…

…the possibilities for porn were endless.

A mother never had to worry about any of this when I was growing up. If someone wanted to watch porn they had to go to a theater with sticky floors in Times Square. Or buy a shoddy VHS tape from a sex shop in Times Square. I didn’t watch my first porn until college, and it was only because my friends thought it’d be a hoot to go to a porn theater in Italy. It was a hoot until this guy plopped himself down in the empty seat next to my friend and started wanking it.

You can access the internet on all game systems if you have Wifi. Internet = Porn. Boys = Porn. My son is still innocent in my eyes, but when my neighbor told me she found out one of my son’s friends had been watching porn on the family’s communal laptop, well, I realized my “innocent” boy could be corrupted by one of his horny friends at any moment.

I know you can put parental controls on these systems, but it would require a boatload of changes to accounts, etc. and I will indeed do it, but for the moment, I had to channel my inner dominatrix and have a porn talk with the boys. (If there’s anything I know about talking to boys, or any males, it is to be brief. The last thing they want to hear is long-winded explanations about why they shouldn’t do something. Get to the point, and quickly.)

“Listen up,” I told them. “If I catch anyone watching porn, you will be in so much trouble my head will explode.”

They looked up at me, wide-eyed and embarrassed that I was even having a conversation with them about porn.

“You will never be allowed inside this house again.” I turned to my son. “And you, will have your Xbox taken away forever. Understand?”

“Yeah,” they murmured and went back to playing their game.

Just to seal the threat I let them know I could track their every viewing move on my computer, and I threw an extra arched eyebrow at my son’s potential porn-addicted friend.

Would I have had to make this announcement to my daughter (if I had one) and her friends? I think not. The only thing we girls did when we were younger was mash our naked Barbie and Ken dolls together. That’s mild compared to the kink that’s out there today.

CRAPTASTIC TALENT

I discovered this very, very funny site a few weeks ago: http://crappypictures.com. Obviously, anything with “crappy” in the title is going to get my attention, and even more so when it involves crappy things having to do with parenting. Amber Dusick not only details the many hilariously crappy aspects of the whole parenting experience in her posts, she illustrates them with stick figures.

When I first found her, I could only read one of her archive posts a day. She’s almost too funny in that way that makes my head hurt. Whenever I encounter people who are way too talented for their own good, I’m often overcome by a seething jealousy that makes me want to hate that person. It’s easy to do when it’s someone famous like say, Gwyneth Paltrow, who not only can act well, but has a damn good voice to boot. Or Justin Timberlake, who found much success as a singer, and turns out to be not only a great actor, but a freakishly talented funnyman.

What’s up with that? Were they in line more than once when God was handing out talent? Are they luckier than most? Good karma? It’s just not fair that one person should have more than one outstanding talent in life. It’s like winning the lottery twice. There’s no need for it.

Anyway, back to Amber, who mind you, is also young and pretty. I tried to find something to dislike about her, I did. But sadly, I couldn’t. She’s humble, even when she’s promoting her new book—a feat not easy to pull off as all of us on Twitter can attest to. Usually, I can dislike someone based on the fact that they’re just. too. talented. I can’t stand feeling unworthy in the face of another person’s tremendous gifts. But alas, I cannot despise Amber, because she’s just so spot on with her observations and she makes me laugh out loud.

Here’s an example:
http://crappypictures.com/the-uppers-downers-of-parenting-or-coffee-wine/

If you found that funny, we could be friends. If you don’t find Amber funny at all, then you probably shouldn’t be reading my blog. You may be one of the people in an uproar over Amber’s new book. Seems these folks think if you’re not ecstatic, grateful, and Zenlike over every aspect of being a parent, you’re the equivalent of Mama Britney Spears.
http://now.msn.com/amber-dusicks-i-quit-parenting-comics-are-controvesial/

Who hasn’t secretly longed for their single + 1 cat days while waiting out their child’s tantrum?
Who hasn’t wished they could leaf through a magazine while sitting on the toilet without seeing tiny fingers poking under the bathroom door?
Who wishes the word “quickie” was used to describe a cleaning wipe instead of your sex life?

Come on, Society, have a sense of humor! Being a parent sucks. Sure, it’s rewarding and fulfilling at times, but those times aren’t usually acknowledged until your kid graduates with honors from Yale and is going on to medical school. Parenting isn’t fun, (unless endless laundry, homework, and constant defiance happen to be your thing), but to admit that doesn’t mean you love your kid any less (it just means you’re counting the days until they’re out of the house).

My son went to Knott’s Berry Farm yesterday from 8 am to 9 pm. I made love to my peace and quiet like a long-lost lover. But come 6 pm, I missed the little f**ker and I couldn’t wait for him to come home. However, the next morning when he was demanding breakfast and asking me to Google something online before I had even had my first cup of coffee (while mauling the Diva, and causing her to bark nonstop), I kinda wished another trip to Knott’s was on the agenda for him that day.

This was the comment I left regarding that MSN article: “Any parent who doesn’t secretly think any of this stuff or that their kid’s s**t doesn’t stink is either delusional, heavily medicated, or a Stepford.”

Rottenecards_63871734_6s3hqctkgp

SCHOOL VACATIONS CRAMP MY WRITING

First let me start off by saying that I love my son more than anything. But after two-and-a-half weeks off of school for winter vacation, I start wishing he was like our pool table in the middle of the living room: something to indulge in recreationally when I’m in the mood. Funny thing about kids is that they’re with you 24/7 whether you’re in the mood for them or not.

A break from the whole routine of school is fine; a break from the whole routine of writing is not. I start getting extremely antsy and cranky when I’m off my routine. If I were in Hawaii, a break from routine would be fine, but at home all I can think of is how much I’m not getting done. (Which led me to the realization that I lack the ability to relax, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue to deal with in therapy.)

I’ll admit I let my son play video games way more than he should. If it affords me the time to get a little writing done, then Gamestop here we come. Yes, I was one of those women who swore I’d never let my child rot his mind with video games, rot his gut with soda, or rot his teeth with candy. That was BK: Before Kids. All those held fast beliefs flew straight out the window in moments of weakness and/or insanity.

I’ve been known to bribe my son with soda to sleep in his own bed, and to ply him with lollipops while I’m trying on clothes in a dressing room. I’ve let him have things he otherwise shouldn’t if I’m in the middle of an important phone conversation. Or huffing and puffing on the treadmill at home. He has impeccable timing, that son of mine.

The writing thing is tough though, because I do it at home. And because I care more about sleep than I do my writing, I have never been one to able to get up at four a.m. or stay awake until the wee hours to write. So I have to squeeze it in when I can. During the vacations from school, it is usually in between a thousand interruptions from my son, as well as his friends.

Here’s how it usually goes…

(Powers up computer)

Once upon

“Mom, I’m hungry. Make me breakfast.”

a

“Your son won’t let me play his DSI.”

time

“The dog pooped in my room again, Mom.”

there was

“Mom, what’s for lunch?”

a woman who

“Hurry! Your son fell off his bike and he’s bleeding.”

dreamed of –

“Mom, I’m hungry. Can you make me dinner?”

going

“Can I have a sleepover at your house?”

to Hawaii

I’m still hungry, Mom. Can you make me some popcorn?”

.

Sigh. Well, at least I got some writing done today.

(Shuts down computer)

I’d really love to know how in the hell other people do it.

IT’S MY MOM’S FAULT I’M SPOILED

My mother tells me my blog posts are too dark.  She thinks they negate all the years of her attempting to give me a happy childhood. I assure her I was in fact, born dark and no amount of sunshiny rah-rah sleep-away camps while growing up was ever going to change that fact.

So in light of current criticism I decided to give Mom her due. She certainly deserves it for giving me the best memories I have of all: Christmas.

Since my mom and dad divorced when I was eight, Mom had the daunting task of putting up the Christmas tree all by herself. No easy task as I discovered this year when, for the first time I had to screw a monster of a seven-foot tree into a plastic stand, with no one around to tell me whether it was straight or not. After an hour of trial and error, it wasn’t. Straight, that is. It still isn’t. I figured it adds to the whole charm of single motherhood.

For whatever reason, as a child I wasn’t too excited about decorating the tree. If my mom did it all, that was fine with me. But she’d force me. She wasn’t anal-retentive like I am now. I let my nine-year-old place ornaments on our tree, but I usually move them around more to my liking when he’s not looking.

Once our tree was fully decorated, I’d sit alone in the dark gazing at the twinkling lights, intoxicated by the smell of pine, embracing the silence. In those moments, all things were possible.

What my mother truly excelled at was gift wrapping. Every Christmas eve, she’d hole herself up in her bedroom for hours, creating masterpieces. One year all my packages were decorated with seashells; another year it was a smorgasbord of patterned ribbons cut and glued to make elaborate designs. Some years the gifts were covered with words drenched in sparkly glitter, other years it was miniature pine cones and buttons. I’m telling you, it was like MOMA in our house every December.

She always got me everything on my list too, sort of as a way of making up for the fact that she couldn’t buy me much throughout the year. An Overcompensation Holiday of sorts, and it resulted in me becoming extremely spoiled. The first year I was with my ex I handed him my Christmas list and told him, “Here’s my list. I’m used to having a BIG Christmas!” Poor guy. But at least the next woman he’s with will thank me.

In carrying on the spoiled tradition, I find myself doing the same with my son. Not the elaborate wrapping. My son wouldn’t care if his presents were wrapped in toilet paper. I get him everything he wants, though, within reason. He’s not getting an i-Phone or i-Pad this year like he wants, but he’ll get everything else. Am I overcompensating for the lack of a father in his life? Yeah, probably. Will he become spoiled? He already is. Am I setting up all of his future wives for failure because they’ll never measure up to me? Absolutely!

Don’t get me wrong. I do recognize the true meaning of the season and it’s certainly not gifts. At least not the monetary kind. My son will too, eventually, when I force him to volunteer at a soup kitchen one of these years. But for now while he’s young, all I care about is the look of joy on his face when he first walks in to the living room and sees all the gifts Santa has left. A child never forgets those moments.

So thank you Mom, for decorating the entire apartment  every year by yourself, while I sat on the couch pretending to help; for staying up until the wee hours wrapping till your fingers bled; for going into debt because you charged things you couldn’t afford; and for making Christmas the most magical time of year for me.

(This post is probably as warm and fuzzy as I’ll ever get.)