Tag

Independence

Badass

On my exposed forearms, I felt the last lick of the warm sun that is still available in November in South Carolina. As we embarked on the long walk down the boardwalk that led to the hard-sand beach, I relished in this time spent with family, closing my eyes and breathing in the air, thick with salt. My brain automatically brought me to teenaged years at this spot: to fudge shops and beach biking and sneaking out at night with my cousin. My biggest worry at that point was how to act once we got to the party.

Amanda and I were a couple of attention-seeking 16 year olds (as all 16 year olds are) trying to seem older and more sophisticated to the 18-year-old, super-mature (*eye roll*) guys that we’d met at the beach earlier that day. To us, they were the picture of cool, and we probably seemed a tad over-excited when they’d asked us to a party that night. In retrospect, our parents probably would have let us go, but we didn’t even ask them- you see, it was all part of the illusion that we were incredibly badass.

Once we walked in the door of this unknown person’s family beach house and saw the rest of the guests draped all over each other in beer-induced familiarity, we both concluded that to fit in properly, we’d have to partake in the underaged ritual of drinking large quantities of alcohol in a short amount of time. I’m sure that it wasn’t my first time imbibing, but it might as well have been. Looking at each other and shrugging, we walked into the kitchen. Amanda opened a red cooler that sat on the tile floor and handed us both a bottle.

“Cheers?” she asked more than said.

Looking down, I read the label. Seagrams. Huh. “What’s a wine cooler?” I whispered.

“Not sure. I guess we can try.”

Try we did. Again and again we “tried” bottle after sugary-sweet bottle, until I went into the powder room, and the wallpaper pattern started swirling and dancing. I blinked my eyes, but couldn’t make it stop. When I went out to tell my cousin about the experience, she wasn’t where I had left her. In fact, she didn’t seem to be anywhere, and I noticed that the majority of the party-goers were gone. I asked (or more likely, slurred to) a girl by the door where everyone went. “Oh, they just went down to the beach gazebo. There was a band playing there tonight. We’re gonna go there if you want to join us.” She pointed to the remainder of the teens grabbing the last of the cans of shitty beer and shoving it into their pockets.

“Sure, thanks,” I said in my best impersonation of a nonchalant, normal, sober, 18-year-old.

They walked out the door, laughing hysterically at a joke that I didn’t get. I followed clumsily, confident that they didn’t hear me tripping over my feet and/or didn’t care. As we got closer to the beach, I heard the music from the band. What time was it? We left around 10:30, but how long had we been “partying”?

As I contemplated this, I walked sideways off the boardwalk, directly into the surrounding bushes. I lay there in a thicket, the branches cradling me, looking up at the half-moon. No one of the group that I’d been following seemed to notice my sudden disappearance. I sighed, relieved that I no longer needed to employ any energy. For what seemed like hours (probably more like minutes) I stayed there; after all, it seemed like a nice place to spend the night, Just as I closed my eyes, I heard a faint voice- “Kirsten, Keeee-eeeersten.” Louder and louder she called.

“Amanda, I’m right here,” I called back, kind of disappointed that I’d have to leave my new favorite spot.

Apparently she didn’t hear me, because she continued calling my name. “I’M RIGHT HERE!” I yelled back angrily, for some reason.

“Thank God- I had no idea where you’d gone!” She’d become very motherly at this point.

“You’re the one who left me!”

“I got confused- I thought you had gone with the group, so I followed along.” She pulled me out of the bushes and I struggled to regain me balance. “You’re covered in scratches- and your leg is bleeding! Let’s just get home.”

“Okay. Everything is spinning. I feel kinda—” Those were my last words before I threw up all over my once-cradle. Leaning on my cousin for support, we stumbled drunkenly down the boardwalk in the direction we had come. “Yeah, I think we should go home,” I agreed. “Do you know how to get there?”

“We’ll figure it out.”

Somehow, miraculously, we did end up getting our drunk butts home and into our beds without waking any of our parents or siblings. I looked over at the clock at my bedside and concentrated as hard as I could on the spinning digits. 12:00. Badasses indeed.

The moral of the story is clear: Don’t ever drink wine coolers. They make you fall into bushes.

Good Enough

The years after college were my most confident.
I was praised at work. I was enthusiastic about trying new things. At the age of 21, I was confident and blissfully happy.
I felt good enough.

When I turned 24, I took on a new teaching job that was a bit out of my element, so I studied. I studied my ass off, and presented to the class what I had learned. It was not easy (especially being amongst the hormonal teens), but I was given confidence by all the people who surrounded me.

I felt good enough.

Around that time, my boyfriend and I moved in together. I felt like I could be myself: silly, quirky, sarcastic. It was like the ultimate sleep-over with my best friend.

I felt good enough.

When I went to graduate school in the evenings, I raised my hand to participate in discussions. I worked hard to get high marks. My work ethic was good, especially when I was 9 months pregnant and couldn’t fit in the attached desks anymore.

I felt good enough.

I had my baby. She had the most perfect ears; I remember staring at the tiny swirl, the bluffs and the miniature valleys that formed an impeccable archetype. She was a good baby, but no matter how many books I poured over, I had no idea what I was doing, and neither did my husband.

I was stay-at-home-mom, wasn’t I supposed to know? Wasn’t that motherly instinct shit supposed to kick in by now?

Her pediatrician assured us that she was thriving: hitting her milestones when she was supposed to, but I still had so many doubts.

I felt just barely good enough.

My new position in life was strange because I hadn’t anticipated it. I wasn’t really sure what to do. Should I vacuum everyday? Make a roast? My mom always worked outside the home, so I didn’t have a model. None of my friends stayed home- they didn’t even have kids yet- so I couldn’t commiserate or ask questions. I was alone.

I strived to feel good enough.

I was blessed with another pregnancy a couple of years later, but without the distraction of work, I could really concentrate on how awful I felt. I was nauseated by every smell, tired in the middle of the day, depressed and more alone-feeling than ever. I withdrew, trying to hide myself behind my belly. I went to doctor’s appointments, my toddler by my side, my husband working extraneous hours to be able to afford another child. Or maybe it was to avoid me. Can’t say I’d blame him.

I didn’t feel good enough.

After my son was born, I felt slightly better, but still something was slightly “off.” I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. When the doctors asked me questions, everything seemed jumbled in my head. I couldn’t recall memories correctly. I was frustrated and never felt more dumb. I tripped over my own feet and couldn’t walk in a straight line: My body wasn’t working the way it was supposed to. My new baby was difficult. He screamed while my toddler ran in circles around me, holding her hands up to her ears to block out the noise. I had failed her. I was failing him. I was a failure.

I wasn’t good enough.

My husband left me.

I wasn’t good enough.

I wasn’t good enough.

I wasn’t good enough.

 

Secret Pleasure

Alone at last…

The embarrassing things that I file away in my personal shame folder are numerous, and I don’t think I have the courage to share them all, but I will say that I have an extraordinary love for 30-minute sitcoms with simple, somewhat fatuous plot lines, reading insignificant “articles” (and I use that term loosely) on the internet, and checking the time-suck that is Facebook every 7 seconds.

Another thing that I’m ashamed to admit is that I LOVE being alone. Like, I’m crazy about it. I’m wild for it.

If alone-time and I were bobbing along in the frigid waters after the crash of the Titanic, I’d probably make some room so it could float along beside me on a broken off piece of door. Just sayin’.

One of the main reasons that I like to keep this pleasure of mine a secret are the many judgements– some of them true- that could be thrown my way upon hearing this truth.

“How selfish- you have children after all!”
“You’ll come to regret that desire to be alone when you really ARE alone!”
“You must take issue with the social norms and customs that should be celebrated, not defied!”

To that I say… well, you got me.

Yes, I am a little selfish. Not always, but I’m a round character, a person who has many aspects of her personality. I am self-centered at times, but I am also warm and giving (or so I’d like to think). I can extend myself to others- especially my kids- because I’ve gotten the chance to be refreshed in my alone times. Think of me as a rechargeable battery.

I am convinced I’ll come to lament about the times I should have cherished in the past. The lack of privacy that comes hand-in-hand with parenting small children, the tiny voices that trail behind you, asking “But, why?” about everything, the enthusiastic morning wake-ups before sunrise. But don’t we always feel a sense of grief about times gone by and pasts that happened far too quickly? Regret is always going to be a definite, even among the happiest of people, so loving my “me time” should come sans guilt.

I’ve found myself with more alone time than ever since my separation, and I think it’s honestly made me a better (and more patient) mom. I went from being “Mommy” all day, every day to having a couple of weekends each month to myself.

I enjoy going to the movies alone; not sharing my popcorn and not compromising on what I’d like to see.
Dining out with only the company of my kindle is a treat, as I can leave whenever the mood strikes me and eat wherever I want.
I take long baths.
I go to cooking class.
I walk around the library.
I attend yoga.
I lay in my bed and watch 30-minute sitcoms with simple, somewhat fatuous plot lines.
I do whatever I want.

I consider this a secret pleasure, because our society makes it seem as though people who desire to be alone should feel ashamed. It is true, however, that being alone- even lonely- at times allows us to appreciate and grow to love the chaos that comes with being together.

Soulmate

soulmate
I could write a book about all the ways I love you…

I’ve finally found someone with whom I share myriad interests and passions.
We enjoy the same kinds of movies (horror and comedies- nothing that makes either one of us feel emotions).
We have the same taste in music (all over the place; much like my mindset).
Figuring out our food options is never an issue (sushi again? Sounds great!).
I think I’ve found my soulmate.

Continue Reading…

Ladies, Behaviors of a Man that you Deserve

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Ladies, find a man who you deserve.

Find one who notices the goosebumps on your thighs, rubs his hands together and blows his hot breath on his palms, then rubs his warm extremities on your legs.

Find a man who is dependent on you in some respects, yet invaluable in others. You should both better the other.

… opens his eyes on a lazy Sunday morning, smiles sleepily, and kisses your elbow, because it’s the first skin he can get to, and he needs to touch his lips to you immediately.

… who makes you laugh uncontrollably and genuinely.

… who appreciates YOU: your sense of humor, your quirks, your un-made up face.

… who doesn’t even flinch when you storm in the morning, angry and ugly; pissed at everyone, pissed at life, pissed at the morning sun. He just simply says “Coffee?” (Bonus points for making it himself)

… who doesn’t lie.

… who doesn’t judge.

… who hopes that you’ll talk back, then truly LISTENS when you do.

Ladies, you deserve the best, as do I, though sometimes it’s hard to realize that. We make excuses, we try to change them.
Love isn’t supposed to be hard.
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P.S.- I compiled this list based on my son’s actions toward me within the past 24 hours.

P.P.S.- Before you all “aww” about his behaviors, please note that on the flip side he outwardly refused to make his bed and/or clean his room, smacked his sister on the arm, and made up a song with the chorus, “Girls are such stupid-faces, with dumb butts.”

Backyard Bonfire

Wedding dress bonfire

Sizzle.

Crackle.

Hisssssss…

The tips of the flames licked the night sky as I tearfully witnessed the ivory satin turn to ash. He would be back soon, I knew.

“Went to take a drive,” he said, “to clear my head.”

 

Just like that, my wedding dress, and all it represented, was gone.

Hot Mess

**Disclaimer: Poor language choices to follow. Perhaps it shows the extremities of my messiness**

 

I am a hot fucking mess.

There is sand stuck to my exposed skin, laced between my toes, and caught in my windblown hair from yoga class this morning, held on the beach on this cold and damp and EARLY morning.

A freshly penned speeding ticket sits in the passenger side of my Prius. I mean, come on, isn’t the trooper aware that my car is unable to maintain speeds past 65 mph without beginning to tremble? I’m not exactly a threat on the road.

I had no time to put on makeup before, so my blonde eyelashes look like the white falsies that a drag-queen might wear to a diva competition and my brows, almost the same overly-milked-oatmealish color as my skin, look nonexistent. I must’ve scratched the side of my face while I slept, because I noticed a red gash stretching across my cheek. I squeeze my eyes tightly, trying to recall the dream from the night before that caused my abrasiveness. No memories though.

My finger nail polish is chipped: noticeably so. My toes too. Crap. I look like a hot fucking mess.

I focus on myself internally. That’s what really matters, right?

Continue Reading…

Better Than Me

Everyone had expected me to be upset by my divorce- perhaps a little angry, definitely hurt. I was all of those things, but my reasoning actually just came to me. It bulldozed its way into my brain and then sat there: horrible, awful, and unpleasant, just waiting for me to address it. So here it goes…

Why I’m Pissed

I wasn’t on the search for my future mate by any means. At 23 years old, as can be imagined, I had a list a mile long: smart, funny, good-looking… (the classics). Also, I was enjoying the single life.

I could do whatever I wanted, go wherever I wanted, say whatever I wanted- within reason of course; I still lived with my mom.

The truth is, he chased me down, and I knew (or thought I did) that he’d always idolize me. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that when someone puts you up on a pedestal, eventually you have nowhere to go but down.

I loved dating him, and I was deliriously happy when we moved in together. It would be a lie if I said that I had any apprehensions when we finally vowed to love each other in good times and bad. For richer or poorer.

In sickness and in health.

Pissed

Continue Reading…

Misconceptions

Life is a series of misconceptions.

When we are kids, this is more direct: the belief in a magical fairy who creeps into our bedrooms as we sleep to take our old canines and slip a couple dollars under our pillow; a 6-foot tall rabbA misconceptionit, who hops around laying chocolate eggs and leaving baskets of candy and fake plastic grass, wrapped in cellophane and a giant pink bow; an elf who flies from the family room curtain rod to the bookcase in the den at nighttime, surveying our behavior in December in order to report it to the big guy.

Okay, perhaps these are less misconceptions, more like lies.

 

But, as kids, we also have misconceptions about the people we are surrounded by. That our parents are always perfect. That everything will always turn out okay in the end. As a parent now, I have first-hand knowledge that the former is not true. Not even a little bit true. I am admittedly flawed, yet I try to live up to the conceptions that my children have of me.

And, perhaps it’s a little naïve of me to think so, but hopefully everything will turn out okay in the end, or, at least, how it’s supposed to.

Continue Reading…

Christmas Past, Christmas Future **one**

C-31 the code on my boarding pass proclaimed. Great, I thought: the cheap seats.

After a long stint Coming home after Christmaswaiting in an organized line for the flight attendant to take said pass, then another wait on the jetway while the passengers in front of me crammed their stuffed-to-capacity-and-then-some carry-ons into too-small overhead compartments, I boarded the aircraft and stood on my tip-toes to view my potential seats.

“Ladies and gentleman, there is a full flight this morning, so please be sure to allow these new passengers access to all the seats in your row,” a nasally woman’s voice came over the loudspeaker.  I noticed a few people who were already seated roll their eyes, huff, or curse under their breath. Sigh.

In a feeble attempt to get myself a seat that didn’t involve being sandwiched between a crying baby and someone who looked like a “talker,” I scanned available openings as I continued to amble down the narrow aisle.

Each time I found a potentially decent place to sit, I was rammed forward by the horde in back of me. Before long, I was given the choice of a middle seat in the back row of the plane, or one on top of the toilet. I chose the former so that I didn’t infuriate the flight attendant.

I began mushing my way into my destined residence in a flourish of body parts and bags and whispered “Excuse me!”s and “I’m so sorry!”s. In order to get to that particular seat, I had to apologize for my very existence.

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