Sunny Days in DC

Jack of All Trades, Master of 3-ish.

On Forgiveness…

This weekend, two friends of mine showed up to spend the weekend with us. They were very close friends of mine in college. In fact, I like to think I had a hand in getting them together, although in my heart, I know their marriage was inevitable. They brought their son, and the six of us shlepped around DC in the rain.

Before they left, I gave them a present. It was their wedding present that I had never been able to give them, because I missed their wedding. See, the Friday before they got married, eight years ago, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. We had only just gotten my step father through his last round of chemo for cancer, and now my mom…

….you know what? I could make a bunch of excuses, but the reality is that I kind of lost my mind for a little bit. Everything in my world tilted on its axis, and…. I lost track of it. I thought it was saturday, but it was sunday… and that’s how I missed their wedding. I know how that sounds… how do you lose a day? But I did. I should have been more on the ball. I should have focused on what mattered, but I fucked up, and by the time I was on the bus to go to the wedding, it was already over.

I turned around and came home.

And what’s worse, I never told them. I spent years holding on to that wedding gift, hoping that someday, somehow, they would forgive me, even as I refused to call them. And the longer I held on to my shame for not being there, the bigger it got, until it was a crushing weight that I couldn’t get my head out from under.

“Just CALL them,” my husband said, “and explain! They’ll understand!” but it had been too long, and I was too scared.

Then, four years ago, and I don’t remember how, I did it. I picked up the phone, or I emailed, but somehow, I sort of explained what happened. We got back in touch, but it was like early cell phones: weak connections.

Finally, a month ago, they reached out and said, “enough is enough, and we’re coming to visit you, and just wrap your head around that.” And they planned it out with my husband. And maybe the first 20 minutes were a bit awkward, but then I gave them my gift. I explained that I had held on to it, but I don’t know if they really understood what that meant.

Through moving states, houses, and apartments, I held onto that gift. Through holidays, losing loved ones, gaining friends, I held onto that gift. The birth of my son, the loss of my job, one of the most amazing and also trying years of my life, and that gift sat in our dining room, waiting. Wrapped in wedding paper that grew soft and tattered around the edges, I held onto it, hoping that I would finally be able to be a part of their lives again.

And this weekend, I feel like I was. We talked like we had in college, but this time it was about adult things. Mortgage prices, and how to put clothes on your child for cheap (FUCK YEAH, eBAY!). We talked about car notes and strollers, and whether we could afford to have a second baby… and each word was a balm on my heart. Each time she smiled at me, I thought, “forgiveness…”

I let my shame keep me from my friends, and I lost years of time with them. For that, I don’t know that I could ever forgive myself… but this weekend, at the very least, I felt like I had the opportunity to start fresh… or maybe as close to fresh as I will ever let myself get.

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Hold Still; I have to stab you in the face

My first boss here in DC once said to me, “You’ll never make it in this industry; you’re not demure enough for a woman.” Well, fuck you very much, too!

As much as that pissed me off, what drives me to the brink of letting my head explode while candy comes shooting out, is when that shit comes from a woman.

Case in point: my friend is in a meeting today. One of the other women she works with pulls her aside after the meeting and tells her that she shouldn’t “speak so loud.”

Are you for fucking real? ARE YOU?! I MIGHT HAVE TO STRANGLE YOU WITH MY FALLOPIAN TUBES RIGHT NOW… they’re probably pretty small, so you’re gonna have to get up REAL close to me…

For some reason, I feel like chicks should support other chicks. Sisah Soljah. Keep it real. I’m every woman; it’s all in me. ALL of that. So, when I see a woman trying to hold another woman back, my eye starts twitching, and I have to fight off the urge to grab them by the shoulders and yell…

WHAT THE EVER LOVING FUCK?!?!

She’s “talking too loud”?! What does that even MEAN???? Like, was she YELLING? Was she screaming uncontrollably like I am right now? No? She was just being forceful and commanding? THEN GOOD. That makes you uncomfy in your little girl panties?! EVEN BETTER!!!!

What would possibly make this woman happy? Maybe my friend should come in to work in a knee-length skirt, never make eye contact, and only speak when spoken to. Maybe she should giggle when people look directly at her or ask her a question, and defer to this other woman. “Oh gosh, I don’t know, Laura* probably knows the answer to that,” my friend will have to whisper while wringing her hands.

Image

*It’s ok to look, just don’t make direct eye contact. Only whores and loud women do that.*

And this is the thing: for some reason, I consistently expect more from other women, PARTICULARLY women in business. YOU KNOW HOW HARD THIS IS, WHY ARE YOU MAKING IT HARDER?! I’ve had people treat me like my vagina is the hole that my brain falls out of when I stand up, and what’s upsetting is that a good 25% of the people who do that to me HAVE BEEN WOMEN.

I don’t get it. Are they trying to prove something? I know lots of men in business who respect their female counterparts, and are comfortable taking directions from women. Is this a thing where some women are trying to show they’re “just one of the guys”? Is she trying to assert her own power over my friend? Is she trying to take control over something, just for the purpose of control?

And more to the point: when my head DOES finally explode, what kind of candy will come shooting out? Leave your guess in the comments below.

Goodnight, good people of earth.

 

*I’m using the name “Laura,” but I don’t know any Lauras who are this stupid, so I am now forced to apologize to all Lauras everywhere. I am sorry. I owe you a Starbucks.

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In which I come of age all over Luke Skywalker’s face…

“The Graduate it on.”

“I’ve never seen it,” I text back.

“You’ve…. WHAT?!” My friend is horrified. She’s been opining on the symbolism of the water metaphors for the last five minutes, and I’ve been trying to wrangle Max so he doesn’t eat our cat. “It was my COMING OF AGE film! I would do a young Dustin Hoffman so hard!”

“Uh huh. Graphic.”

“What was yours?” She and I are similar in a lot of ways; we’ve finished the other person’s sentences before… but there are some areas where we could not be more different…

“My…?”

“Coming of Age film?”

“Cantina scene: Star Wars.” I’ve placed Max into “Baby Prison,” which is what we call the pack-n-play in our house. He’s chewing on a blue elephant.

“Never seen it” she writes back. I am FORCED to explain exactly what she’s missing, and how that scene completely changed my life forever:

For so many people, Star Wars was an eye-opening experience. Whether it was the magnitude of the story, the first time they realized that a Sci Fi epic could speak to them, the Good/Bad dichotomy, or the concept of a group of Jedi warriors who eschewed worldly connections in an attempt to develop the inner self. Star Wars sparked imaginations.

For me, it was a wholly different experience. I went to private school in Brooklyn, because the Public School I was supposed to go to had to finish investigating how a student managed to strangle a teacher with his own tie. Shockingly, my mom felt that an alternative to public education may be the best option for her small, White, Jewish child.

But it’s not like I fit in there, either. It was an expensive school, and most of the kids there were wealthy. They were neat and clean and tidy. The school was neat and clean and tidy. It was in a former church, so everything smelled of old wood, old books, and old money. I smelled like the Grand Army Plaza stop on the 2/3. But it seemed like this was what you aspired to; clean and neat. You got your clothes from United Colors of Benetton or Gap, and your backpack had your initials monogrammed on them. Well, I didn’t, but that’s what everyone wants… so I figured, that’s what I want. I guess. Right? Sure.

And then, one day, I guess because it was raining, they showed us Star Wars in a darkened classroom. And there, right past all the boring bullshit that I couldn’t have given less of a damn about (fucking sand creatures and robots? PASS!), was the Cantina scene.

THAT. I FUCKING WANT THAT, I realized. It was yet another moment in my life where I looked around and realized that nobody else was seeing what I was seeing. This was the instant that both Luke Skywalker and I realized there was life outside of our limited experiences. And not just people living off of his planet, but REAL FUCKING LIFE was happening just beyond the horizon of his tiny world. This was that first moment. And guess what? Real life is dirty, and it’s a crossroads, and there are different types of people, and sometimes they fight, and they’re rude, and yeah – they probably smell.

When I was a teenager, my mom took me on a road trip to California. Our car broke down in Death Valley, and we ended up taking Peterpan bus service back. It. was. Amazing. Someday, I’ll write a post ONLY about that trip, because it was life-changing, but for now: Cantina scene. Bus stops full of people traveling from one side of the country to the other. People talking to each other, and making deep friendships with lifespans shorter than a fly’s. Highway diners. Stretches of road that lasted for days… it was dirty and hot and you’d better hope you liked the people on your bus because before cell phones, those were the only people you had to talk to. Everyone has a story, because people without stories don’t go anywhere or do anything; they’re not on your bus. Your bus, your bar, your ship is going to be filled with people who have histories and needs and motivations. They’re happy, they’re sad, they want to meet you, or they want to be left alone. They have enough money to buy a plane ticket but are too cheap, or they stare enviously at your sandwich until you pretend not to be hungry and split it with them.

That’s the Cantina scene to me. It’s unsanitized life, but it’s honest and forces you to realize how much you miss by only meeting people who dress in Benetton. That one scene in that one movie added dimensions to my tiny world that just can’t be summed up in words. In fact, in high school we were asked to write about our concept of a Utopia. I narrated the Cantina scene. I failed the paper. It’s the one F I ever got, and the only time my mom ever approved a crappy grade.

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Jew, Too??

I used to have another blog, several years ago, and I had a tab on it called, “Ask A Jew,” because, let’s face it: at 1/2 of 1% of the world’s population, odds are high that MOST people will never meet a Jew.

And of those who MAY, I shudder to think that they’ll end up meeting some dickhole.

But on my previous post, I was asked why I still adhere to a religion that had a hand in ruining the marriage of my parents. And it’s a legit question. Why continue to participate in something that clearly negatively impacted my life? Or, religion at ALL, for that matter. After all, I’m a reasonable human being. I believe the theory of Evolution is probably as close as we can get right now to “truth,” but of course, it’s just a theory. Maybe another scientist will come along with something better; I’m open to it. And I believe in Black Holes, and physics, and I believe that Philosophy is worth learning, and that the person who reads lives a thousand lives before they die, while the person who does not read lives only one. 

I think I’m a fairly reasonable person. 

And I know there is NO factual basis for G-D. And I know that the G-D of the”Old Testament” (let’s be honest here) is a bit of an asshole. 

Yes. I just said He was an asshole. 

So… why be Jewish? Why engage in a faith that clings desperately to traditions, so frequently maligns women, and shrouds itself from outsiders?

And my answer to that question is…. Because I don’t think I believe the way other people do.

First (for anyone who hasn’t yawned themselves to death and passed out while trying to read this): I don’t believe the state of ANY religion is the fault of its deity. I think people are assholes, and generally will use whatever tool they have to continue their assholishness. Assholocity? Conjugate as you will. Religion is an easy tool, because it’s so ingrained in the lives of many people. But Judaism has some pretty fuckin cool shit. For example: You cannot take the eggs of a bird, if the mother bird can see you. You have to chase away the mother bird, and THEN you can take the eggs. Why? Because you have to consider how hard it is for her to lose her babies. She sees you take her children, and as a mom myself, I can’t fathom what that must be like.

EMPATHY. Not bad!

If you have pets, you MUST feed them before you eat, because they can’t provide for themselves. Your action of keeping them means that they are not in their natural environment, so they depend on you. Therefore, you have a responsibility to them.

Can you dig it? I can.

Now, none of that deals with the fact that, yes, in Brooklyn, 17 year old girls get married and have, like, 15 kids or some crazy shit. And guess what? We have child molesters, too. And in some synagogues, and I cannot go to these because I fucking lose my shit and start scenes, they make women sit behind curtains, or in another room, lest we tempt the men with our sexy, sexy double-x-chromosome-having-selves.

That. Is. Bullshit.

One time, I was six or seven,  my parents had a fight, and my dad grabbed me and ran out of the house. His Rabbi let my father take me to his house, and spend the night. The Rabbi SHOULD have counseled my father to take me back home, and work through the issue with my mother. He didn’t. You don’t let a parent run out of the house with the child, and terrify the other parent for HOURS.

But…. is that the fault of the religion?

Is Catholicism to blame for the Inquisition, or for child molesters?

I’ve been to Mass. I like Christmas (shhh… don’t tell the other Jews!), and you know what? No. It isn’t.

Those megachurches probably spend enough money, just on electricity, to provide hot meals to poor school kids in their district for a week. Is that the fault of Jesus? I don’t think so. Is G-D to blame because my father’s Rabbi was an idiot? No.

In my hubris, I would hold G-D accountable for a lot of things… but not the dickishness of people. I think I could do without a lot of the pain and suffering that goes on in the world… but I don’t blame G-D for that.

I think the greatest tragedy of humanity is that, for the first time in possibly the history of forever, we live in an era where all the global issues could be resolved; we finally have those tools… but we as a race choose not to use them. We could end hunger in Africa, but then what would the War Lords do for fun? The Muslims and Jews in Israel could live in peace, but then how would the arms dealers and local sheiks make bank?

I don’t blame G-D or religion for any of this. My religion teaches me that there is no Heaven or Hell; there is only what we create in this world, what we leave behind, and how we make others feel.

 

My hell is what I do to myself; my heaven is (I hope!) how my children remember me.

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I’m so fucking badass right now…

YEAH!!!! BAREFOOT!! IN THE KITCHEN! COOKING DINNER!!!

Ok. It’s spaghetti. And ok, I had to spell check the word “spaghetti” because WTF? AN “H”?! WHY DO YOU HAVE AN “H,” SPAGHETTI?! You know what you are? You’re pasta who’s gotten too big for his britches!!

Anyway, I wanted spaghetti for dinner, and since the husband was working (why are you working when you know I need to eat?!), I decided to try this whole “cooking” fad the kids keep going on about.

I gotta be honest; I don’t see this business catching on. I mean, using your fridge to keep vegetables? Where is Mama gonna chill her wine? And why are there so many knobs on this “stove” thingy?

Whatever.

I walked into the kitchen, opened and closed some cupboards loudly, but when the husband failed to emerge, I realized that the fate of our entire family rested on me. This was it, people. THIS WAS MY SHINING MOMENT! Tonight, I would look hunger in the face and yell, “NOT THIS HOUSE, BUDDY! NOT ON MY WATCH!*”

I grabbed a pot, filled it with water, and set that to boil. Then, I opened a jar of canned tomatoes, poured that in another pot, and set it to warm. I opened a cupboard and saw spices. I liked spices!

I ADDED ALL THE SPICES!!!!!!!!

Then, I turned to my pasta.

“Boil in water. Cook for 10 minutes. The longer pasta is cooked, the higher the glycemic index. Learn to enjoy your pasta al-dente.”

I’m sorry, but I have ZERO time for bossy pasta. I shall cook you until you are delicious! IN YOU GO!

I’m honestly not sure how long I cooked that pasta for. I was running around the kitchen shouting random words like “domestic goddess,” and “perfect wife,” and “where are my meds?”!

Eventually, when the whirlwinds of chaos subsided, the pasta and sauce were ready to go. Nothing fancy, my friends, just a good ol’ American dinner of pseudo-Italian cooking. And now, I write this in a carb-induced haze of happiness. I have provided for my family. No one will starve tonight. I may even make my husband rub my feet. I mean, after all, I go to work, I bring home the kosher imitation-bacon. Then, I cook it up for dinner?

Someone needs to find me a damn cape, because I am ROCKING this “Super Mom” shizz.

 

 

*Technically, yes, I could have ordered pizza. Thanks for ruining my awesome story, punk.

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I don’t know the international sign for “Do my panties smell like rye?”

I HAD been writing a lovely post, which was then interrupted by my FB acquaintance who felt the need to post photos of her baby in pink tutus (UPDATE!: They bought her a leopard onesie, just in time for me to throw up on my laptop screen). Then, I spent a few days wondering what it was I was going to write, and sort of generally being flakey and thinking “This whole ‘WordPress’ thing; what’s THAT about?” And I got totally philosophical and started questioning my place in the world.

Then, I got writer’s block, which………. I thought you had to be a writer to have? I dunno.

But then, some friends came over tonight and we were talking about travel.

“Oh!” I said, “And I never leave the US without cream.”

“Whaaa…. what KIND of cream?” My friend asked hesitantly… because she’s my friend, and thus, knows exactly where this might go.

“Weeeeeeeeelllllllllllllll….” I started, “When my guy and I first started dating, we went on a trip to the Netherlands so that he could lecture. There was a small town where the university was, and we were staying there for a few days. And, you know, when you’re a young couple, things are all fresh and exciting, and, you know, STUFF is happening… and stuff happened a LOT for us, which was great, but then…..”

“Then WHAT?” she asked.

“Well, then I started, you know… ‘baking bread’….”

“…………………what?”

“You know… it got YEASTY all up in my Magical Lady Forrest.”

“………………………….”

Now, you have to picture it, because (in retrospect) it’s pretty funny. I’m in this small town where almost nobody speaks English. I go to the local pharmacy, and behind the counter is a lovely young woman who probably thought that the most exciting thing that would happen with her day would be the new shipment of glow in the dark band-aids.

But then: me.

So now I’m like one of those chicks in the yeast infection commercials where they’re all sad and wearing sweats (which, I don’t understand, because being able to wear sweats makes me HAPPY, and these bitches are all mopey), except I’m in a country where the people speak Flemish, AAAAAAAAAAAND I have a feminine medical condition, because the universe hates me.

Back to the pharmacy, with the pharmacist who doesn’t speak English. From her perspective, I imagine the scene went as follows:

-Oh, here’s a nice young woman. She looks foreign. Huh. Don’t get many tourists here.

-Ahh, she’s approaching me. She must need something. I will try to do honor unto my people by being helpful and polite.

-Oh goodness. There appears to be some sort of language barrier! Ahh, the young woman is valiantly trying to overcome it via what I can only assume is some sort of interpretive dance/seizures. Her people are so brave.

-Ok, a lot of these gestures seem to be centered around her vag… she must need tampons!

-Oh. No. Not tampons. No, she seems a little disappointed…

-Why is she grunting and making scratching motions toward her pants? Oh my goodness! This woman must be mentally ILL! I will try to appease her by nodding my head vigorously, but darting my eyes toward the display of Swiss Army knives, in case she makes any sudden moves.

-I think she might be trying to tell me that her pants are full of angry, rabid ants.

… that part is actually not too far from the truth, when you think about it.

Anyway, it went on that way for some time, as I tried to mime “yeast infection.” I’m not even sure I could win a round of Pictionary if I pulled the “Yeast Infection” card. It seems so easy, but for some reason that just isn’t a common phrase in most travel books. Rarely do you see, “Good morning. I may have a yeast infection. Would you be so kind as to point me in the direction of your local witch doctor?’ in your “Lonely Planet Guides”.

Needless to say, I left there without cream. I suppose I could have gone to another pharmacy, but after the horrors of my initial attempt, and the ever worsening look of horror on the face of that poor pharmacist (who may or may not be scarred for life), I chose to wait until we got back state-side.

 

And THAT, folks, if the  bonus post for the night. Because I haven’t written in a while, and I’m too tired to edit. So, writing without editing. How’s it working out for me? Leave your hate mail below.

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That one time I accidentally attended an orgy, ordered a pizza and watched cable

Sometimes, it’s tough for me to make female friends. Not that I don’t get along with women, but the conversation eventually comes around to sex (because it’s fun and squishy and burns calories!), and I so rarely share the views of other women I know. For example, did you know that there’s such as thing as “post-sex guilt”?

But… why? It’s… did they not read the line above where I said both “fun” AND “squishy”?

Yup. Guilt.

I’m a fan of my lady bits. I don’t really see a problem there. Most men I know are fans of lady bits. I mean, I don’t name mine or anything, but, you know, HUZZAH VAGINA!

And I’m not a virgin. I wasn’t when I got married. I don’t have anything against people who choose to wait, other than the fact that I think you’re missing out on exploring a side of who YOU are, but that’s a choice, and that’s cool.

And that’s generally how my attitude is about most things. I don’t do drugs. You do? Not my bag, but whatever makes you happy. I didn’t drink before I was 21. I hung out with people who did. That’s cool.

So, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that when I went to college, I ended up making friends with the on-campus drug dealer, and convincing several members of our football team to take a tap dancing class with me. I don’t know, that just seems to be how things go for me.

And yes, they were graceful as butterflies.

Anyway, I had been dating this boy for a while, and when we broke up I took it kinda hard. Like, “I’m going to sit in my room with the shades drawn, play angry-woman music, and watch episodes of Daria on MTV. Leave me alone”- hard. So, like any good friends do, mine invited me out to a house party.

“Come! You’ll love it!” they said, as I did my very best to shoot scathing looks through their eyeballs and willed their brains to explode into popcorn (I was also kinda hungry at the time, too). It didn’t work. Popcornless, I agreed to go.

The evening started off fine. It was a house. A bunch of college kids. A couple of townies. Alcohol. What could POSSIBLY go wrong? I did some shots, had a couple of drinks, and tried to loosen up. About two hours in, I was as loose as I was gonna get. That equated to mostly bored. I want to say that there were a couple of hot guys there, but I was also drunk and in college, so my judgement is highly questionable. Anyway, I went in search of my friends to see what they were up to.

This is the part where, if this were a scary movie and I was the dumb blond, you would scream “Don’t open the door to the bedroom!”

But it’s not. And I’m not blond. So I did.

On the bed was probably the fantasy of at LEAST 20 people I know. It was a mass of writhing college-age kids all doing things to each other that would make me want to shower after. And possibly use hand sanitizer. You really can’t be too careful nowadays; I hear the flu is going around.

Anyway, I opened the door on a scene out of Caligula, blinked a couple of times, and saw my host’s pants on the floor.

“Huh.” I said, with my usual eloquence.

I took his wallet. I’m not proud of that fact, and if he ever reads this: I apologize, Tim. But let’s be fair; he was busy, and I wanted a motherfucking pizza. Priorities, people.

I took the wallet, went down to the kitchen, poured myself a bailey’s, and ordered a pizza. Extra garlic butter.

As a side note, have you HAD Papa John’s garlic butter? Because YES THAT WILL MAKE YOU SKIP AN ORGY.

Anyway, I took my Bailey’s into the living room and waited for the pizza to arrive. I was SUPER excited to learn that Tim had cable (thanks Tim!), so I hung out there and waited for the orgy to end so I could catch a lift home from someone after I sprayed Lysol on them the pizza to arrive.

I kept expecting them to finish up just as the pizza arrived, and waves of panic hit me as I considered that I might have to SHARE my pizza with a bunch of horny, hungry kids.

Thankfully, they kept fucking. (Yeah, youthful endurance!)

The pizza arrived, and I watched Daria on MTV and ate pizza until the orgy finished and I sobered up. My friends couldn’t believe I didn’t join in.

“Two things,” I said, “one, I didn’t shave my legs. But two: GARLIC BUTTER!”

……………………….

Looking back, it’s a wonder I had any friends at all.

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I Do Our Budget While Eating Ice Cream and Heating Up Pizza

I realized tonight as I stood in the kitchen, eating ice cream and waiting for our “organic microwave” pizza to heat up, that I am a pretty disgusting person. Who does this? ON A NUMBER OF LEVELS, WHO DOES THIS? Let’s break it down together.

1) I am eating ice cream. While waiting for my pizza to heat up.

2) I don’t do drugs, so this is how I take the edge off of doing our family budget. WTF?!

3) I should just fucking do drugs and be skinny.

I had a tough day at work… but it’s ok. The further I get from being unemployed, the more I realize what a bad head space it put me in. I don’t know if I’ll ever fully grasp just how much it messed with me, but as I find my groove in the new role, and yes even when I flounder, I look back at my life over the past year and realize how hard it was. 2012 was not my year.

The only good thing about it, was that my son was born…

…he makes it all worth it.

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