Thursday, January 18, 2018

Let's talk about sex, baby

This sounds like such a cliché, but I can’t even deal with how much access my kids have to information that they might not be ready for.

All of a sudden they’re asking me about sex CONSTANTLY. When I had them a couple of weekends ago, I heard references to porn.

“What do you know about porn??” I demanded.

Zeke replied, “nothing, really. There’s sex on it? Like on the internet, there are places like Pornhub?”

For fuck’s sake.

“WHERE DID YOU HEAR ABOUT PORNHUB??!! Did somebody show it to you?”

I felt like my head was going to explode.

“No! My friend Hugo told me about it.”

“Oh my god. OK. Well, DO. NOT. Do you understand? It’s totally inappropriate.”

“Why? I thought sex wasn’t a dirty thing.”

“It’s not, but the way it’s shown on places like Pornhub make it look dirty. When you’re ready to have sex, I want you to have a great experience that’s safe and fun and happy. And that won’t be dirty. But right now, you should not be looking at porn. It’s not a healthy thing for you to see.”

He seemed satisfied with that answer.

“Ok, Mom.”

Josie was less placated.

"Mama, what is sex?"

I sighed. "You know how babies are made, right?"

"Yeah."

"That's sex."

"But how does sex end up with a baby? How do the sperm and egg meeting create a baby?"

Ah. That one I can do. That's not sex, that's science.  So I explained about egg fertilization and cell division.

"Does it hurt to have a baby?"

"Yes."

She thought about this for a while.

"Does it hurt to have sex?"

"Not if you're doing it right," I replied.

This is where being a smart-ass gets me in trouble.

As soon as the words left my mouth I immediately regretted it. Because what followed was a cavalcade of questions flowing from that one stupid quip. I finally had to end the conversation.

"I'm sorry, but we are not having a discussion right now about 'how to do sex' the right way. When the time is right - and that won't be for many years - we can have that talk. Some of it you will have to figure out on your own. That's just how it is. And I will be happy at that point to have any conversation you want to have. But we're not doing it when you're 8 years old."

"I'll do it when I'm 26," she said.

I started to say that she probably won't want to wait until she's that old, but I thought better of it and caught myself.  No need to make the same mistake twice.




Monday, January 15, 2018

So just look at them and sigh, and know they love you

My children are once again going through a time of turbulence. Once again through no fault or choice of their own. Once again caused by the capricious inability of the adults in their lives to get their shit together.

Their dad and his partner (wife? girlfriend? I have no idea and as far as I can tell, neither do they) are splitting up after 2 1/2 years together. This weekend has been a shit show. Fights and crying and recrimination.

It was my solo weekend. I had planned a very pleasant Saturday - going to the waxing salon, going to the blood donation place, heading up to the mountains for a solo night in a cheap hotel before a solo morning of skiing, followed by a non-solo evening of fun.

But then Saturday morning I ended up at Bonfils with a needle in my left arm while with my right arm I held the phone as both children and adults called me crying, asking me to solve their problems.

The children I can handle. I will always help them solve their problems.

I have lost patience with the adults.

The past couple of years have been hard on the children. And I have tried to hold my tongue as fallout from events and patterns in the other household spilled into mine. They view me as the safe haven. They trust me with everything. They walk into my house and I can almost feel the tension leave their bodies.

But if I say too much, I'll get dismissed as the bitchy ex-wife, the know-it-all, the one who can't mind her fucking business.

It's a diplomatic high-wire act.

Yesterday I cut the wire. When I came off the mountain from skiing to find multiple texts from my children and voicemail messages of them sobbing hysterically, I was done. I called her and told her that having my children calling me crying - or worse, running away to my house when they're supposed to be with dad -- was not acceptable or sustainable. That she and their dad needed to grow up and figure out how to create a harmonious household that didn't leave my children anxious and in tears.

"I don't want to hear about how you think their behavior is disrespectful. Find a way to earn their respect. They are manifestly miserable in your household, and you need to fix it. You are the adult. They did not choose to live with you, and they hate it, and you need to either figure out a way to make them not hate it, or you need to not live with them anymore."  I raised my voice. I know that what I said was harsh and that I said it harshly. But it needed to be said.

She chose option B.

To be clear, this had been a long time coming. They're not breaking up because I yelled at her. I don't have that kind of power or influence.

And quite honestly, it's not what I wanted. A happy, stable household is good for the children. Now things are in disarray again. I worry about them. Zeke in particular seems fragile and exhausted. It makes my heart hurt.

Last night, on my non-solo evening of fun, we were out watching a light-hearted, funny musical about dating. It was charming and hilarious. But there was one song in which the male protagonist described his relationship with his mother, who died when he was young. She didn't have a lot of time for him because she worked a busy, high-powered job, and then she died of a heart condition. In the song, the mother is singing to her son that he was always foremost in her heart, even though she didn't show it. It's his imagining of his mother's love letter to him from the grave.

True to form, I started to cry. Stuff like that always makes me cry now. Don't even get me started on the new Proctor & Gamble "Thank you, Mom" ad in honor of the Olympics.

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the weight of the responsibility I feel to be their constant. Not that parents ever really get a break, but my need to overtly step in as the protector feels particularly heavy right now. And maybe what's hardest is the knowledge that I can't really protect them from much of anything.

Life is hard. They're getting the lesson early.


Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Come on baby, wait and see, cuz I'm gonna take you surfin' with me

Most of you know the story.

Back when I was young and single and living in Atlanta, I was inspired by the movie Blue Crush and by a super fun surf lesson on the Outer Banks and decided that I would take a surf trip to Costa Rica.  I found a surf camp that did an all-inclusive lessons/board rental/hotel/breakfast deal, found some willing friends, and off we went.

While I was there, I ended up falling for a hot Australian surf instructor.

I ended up marrying him.

It ended up not ending so well.

I was always a sucker for a good story. We had a great story. But it wasn't enough to sustain us.

Anyway.

I still love the beach and the warm and the sun. I love to surf.  But it's been so long. My skills are beyond rusty.

back when I wasn't so rusty
In the throes of my recent crazy work schedule, knowing that I would be crazed until I finished a big federal court oral argument in early February, I decided that after the argument, I would treat myself to a birthday present of a surf trip.

I did some research on locations and plane tickets and decided upon Sayulita, Mexico. I did some more research and found a surf camp there that has a similar deal to the one in Costa Rica - hotel, surf lessons, surf board rental, breakfast.

 I put out the call for people who wanted to come with, but no one was available.

I still waffled a little bit.

Maybe I won't go in February. Maybe I'll go over spring break. Maybe I should save the money on something less frivolous. Maybe I shouldn't travel by myself. Maybe I'll be lonely.

I won that battle with myself. Meaning I decided to do it. I'll go by myself. I'll relax and surf and maybe make friends with other people in my lesson group.

Or not. Maybe I'll just hang out by myself and read and sunbathe and sleep.

Maybe I'll meet some hot guy and have a fling. I mean, it's not exactly unprecedented.

In any event, I found an insanely cheap plane ticket, so I bought it.  I made my surf camp reservation. I'm good to go.

It does feel a little deja vu-ish.  Back to the scene of the crime, so to speak, even though technically the crime occurred in a completely different country.

When I was still in the thinking-about-it-maybe-planning-it stage, I was talking about it with a friend of mine.

"It sounds amazing," she said.

"I know. Surf, sun, relaxation. Total chill-out time. I don't remember the last time I was able to totally relax like that, no kids, no obligations."

"Amazing," she said again.

I nodded.

"Can I give you some advice, though?"

"Sure."

"Don't come back married."

Roger that.


Monday, January 01, 2018

Celebrate what you want to see more of

My dear friend Lisa wrote this blog post and it inspired me.

I'm not one for New Year's resolutions - when he was here, Sam asked, "so, did you make any resolutions for the new year?" "Nope," I said. "Yeah, me either," he said.

But I believe in taking stock, in reflection, in gratitude. So I'm stealing borrowing Lisa's idea for a blog post.

It's been such a strange year. It has felt so disjointed to me, lacking any kind of continuity or theme.

I guess it's silly to expect periods of time to be thematically connected. Time passes. Different things happen.

But the past years have been somewhat easy to lump into categories.

2014 was the worst year ever. My marriage fell apart. Emma died. I felt sad and wretched and despondent and unhealthy. Deep breaths full of shards of glass.

2015 felt ever so slightly more hopeful - a fresh start. Still painful, still traumatic, but ever so slightly more hopeful. A house that was all mine. Efforts to heal and cope with all the loss. Venturing back into dating, some of which was ridiculous, but some of which was lovely.

2016 was fucking insane. More tragic deaths, reinforcing the importance of living without fear. And of course, the election.

On to 2017. More craziness, but also some sense of settling in to post-tragedy life.

And much to be grateful for.

I'm grateful for my mother and father.

I'm always grateful for them. My birthday gift from them was a trip to New York to see Hamilton on Broadway. They bring the family together on a regular basis - the beach in July, home for Thanksgiving, plus other visits in between. They are generous and loving. They are amazing grandparents.

My mother and I still talk on the phone every day. On the rare day we're not in touch, I feel off. Incomplete.

In June, they had their 50th wedding anniversary. My brothers and I threw a party for them, and from our perspective, it was as much a celebration of what wonderful parents they were as it was a celebration of their love for each other. And those two things are inextricably intertwined, I think. The strength of their relationship flows down to us, in the support they've always shown, the sense of fun and adventure our lives have had, the laughter and the travel and the emphasis on always learning and growing.

I know how lucky I am in that regard.

I'm grateful for my friends.

Through the magic of social media and modern communication, I'm still in touch with so many of my friends from high school and college and law school and beyond.

Some of them are here in Denver. I have four India friends in town, and eight or nine UVA friends (including five sorority sisters). I have some cousins here. I have friends from work and the neighborhood.

Lisa and Kristin and I have a WhatsApp chat that has been going on for the better part of a year. If I can't see them in person, being able to "talk" to them every day via recorded message is the next best thing.  Plus I get to see Lisa when I'm in Virginia, and she and her kids have been coming to the Outer Banks with us in the summer.

These are all people who love me and care about me. If I ever needed anything, I have a large support group to draw on. And they know that I would be there for them in return.

Knowing that is a powerful thing.

I'm grateful for my career.

Eighteen years ago, I took a job with a firm that practiced special education law. I didn't know the first thing about special education law. But since then, I've had the good fortune of working with amazing people who have dedicated their lives to educating children with disabilities, and to support them in their efforts. The work is interesting and challenging and rewarding, and I love it.

I'm grateful for my health.

I'm fit and strong. I almost never get sick. I may be 47, but there really isn't anything physical I want to do that I can't do. I ski hard, I hike hard, I work out hard, I play with my kids hard. In February, after a big case at work finishes up, my birthday present to myself will be a trip to Mexico to go surfing. I'll spend the next month and a half doing some dynamic/plyometric type drills to improve the "pop" in my pop-up on the surfboard, but any limitations in that regard will be skill- rather than age-related.

My ass still fits into my jeans and my mother passed on her good skin. Very few wrinkles. That plus hair dye keeps me looking younger than I am.

I'm grateful for my children.

They are beautiful and funny and kind. They enthusiastically participated in the women's march in January, and believe in equality and inclusion. They like to travel and are interested in the world around them. They are fun to ski with. They shower me with love and snuggles. They crack me up by saying, "Alexa, fart!" and then seeing what happens.

I'm grateful for all of you. It still astounds me to open up Statcounter.com and see how many people from all over the world have visited this blog. I love writing. I love feeling like I have a posse out there in the world of the interwebs.

In the coming year, I will nurture all of this gratitude - try to be a good friend, a good mother, a good daughter, a good sister, a good lawyer, a good writer, a good athlete. Continue to seek out adventure. Continue to seek out love.

Happy New Year.




Thursday, December 28, 2017

Jesus take the wheel

After they closed the Eisenhower tunnel on I-70 back to Denver, here are some things that, had I known them, would have spurred me to lean in the direction of getting a hotel room in Frisco for the night, rather than power through in a major snowstorm - at night - because I just wanted to get home:

  • The alternate Breckenridge-to-Denver-via-Fairplay route is a high-elevation route along the Continental Divide that takes you over two mountain passes via a narrow two-lane road, with many switchbacks and steep grades.
  • One of the mountain passes is Hoosier Pass, which rises to 11,542 feet and is one of the highest mountain passes in Colorado. Wikipedia informs me that it is "the highest point on the TransAmerica Trail, a transcontinental bicycle route that stretches from Yorktown, Virginia to Astoria, Oregon." Awesome.
  • The other mountain pass is Kenosha Pass, which tops out at 10,000 feet (still very high). Fun fact: it goes near the town of South Park and has been featured in the show a few times!
  • The entire route feels like a looooong, extended version of driving over Loveland Pass (albeit at slightly lower elevation), which I would never ever attempt in a snowstorm, at night, because I would be terrified of dying, and rightly so.

But alas, I didn't know any of these things. After living here for almost 9 years, it's kind of pathetic how little I know about Colorado, outside the confines of Denver and it's surrounding areas, plus the part of the mountains where I go to ski in the winter. I really need to broaden my horizons.

So that's how I ended up making my way back to Denver with my brother Sam and his wife Camille and their little dog, Walter, white-knuckling it for hours in the dark over snowy, icy, slippery roads, whose edges were barely visible to me so I couldn't see where I was coming from or where I was going. There were numerous points when I was scared of sliding off the side of the mountain because of the road conditions and steep grade. There were numerous points when the snow and wind were swirling so powerfully that I could not see anything beyond the car, so I simply had to stop in the road and wait for the visibility to improve because it felt like going backwards or forwards would surely end in our deaths.

Mercifully, Sam took over for the last two hours of the drive. He preserved my sanity.

By the time I got home, we had driven that day for over 9 hours in a snowstorm, over a total of five high mountain passes (before the really bad part of the drive, I had already driven over Vail Pass three times - long story, don't ask).  

After dropping Sam and his crew at their hotel, I was so fried and emotionally exhausted and worn out that I climbed into my bed, cried for 30 minutes, went to sleep, and basically didn't get out of bed until I picked them up at their hotel the next night so we could go out for dinner (which was lovely and delicious).  

When I closed my eyes, I had visions of sheets of snow blasted by the wind, illuminated only by the car's headlights. My body and my brain felt weighted down with a tiredness that overwhelmed me. 

I did not take this picture. I found it online. But this is what it looked like.
I was telling Kristin and Lisa about it the next day and Kristin asked how I got through it. The truth is, I don't really know. I just did. 

One thing that I am good at is pushing through pain, be it physical or emotional. I block out as much as I can so I can just focus on getting from one minute to the next. It's how I got through running a marathon with a herniated disc, Zeke's birth, climbing fourteeners, long plane rides with a crying baby when we were both sick. You just keep moving forward because there isn't another option. You can fall apart when you're done, but not before.

Sam and I distracted each other by playing music and harmonizing to songs we love - the Indigo Girls provide a nice challenge, with their vocal lines that swoop and swirl, trading off the melody and harmony. We did Bob Marley with Sam taking the bass line and me harmonizing on top of it. We told stories and tried to make each other laugh. 

Whoever wasn't driving would hold two phones, one with an altimeter and one with a map of our route, so we could call out the parts of the drive we couldn't quite see -- "the road is going to curve gently to the left coming up" "there is a series of switchbacks up ahead" "you've got a straight shot for a little while." 

I don't know what purpose the altimeter served, except to make me realize how crazy it was for us to be out in that weather with the bulk of the drive over 9500 feet. When we finally started to descend near Denver, there was something gratifying about seeing the altitude numbers drop.  Below 6000 feet, I joked, "we're practically at sea level!"

It's taken me a few days to recover from the experience, and I don't know that I'm fully over it. My chest still tightens when I think about it. 

I'm heading back up the mountains to take a ski lesson on Saturday, and the thought of the drive makes me nervous, which is not me at all. Plus the forecast is clear and the roads should be absolutely fine.

In any event, if something bad happens, I will deal with it. But here's hoping it doesn't come to that.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

12 years ago today

I was scrolling through Facebook tonight and saw a friend's post referencing how warm it was for December 9th.

I thought to myself, "what is it about this date that rings a bell?" It seemed so familiar, but I couldn't quite place it.

Then I remembered it was my anniversary.

Even thought it's not a day I celebrate anymore, I was stunned that it had completely slipped my mind. I'm very calendar- and date-oriented. My sense of time is very visual - I see my days and weeks laid out on a grid. I keep a calendar with everything written down, but I also can see it in my head.

I can remember things like the date I first met an ex-boyfriend I dated years ago, or when I went to a particular football game a long time. I remember other peoples' birthdays and anniversaries. The dates others died.

And yet my own anniversary - a date that was obviously extremely significant in my life, as much as I look back on the event itself as a mistake - wasn't on my radar at all.

Sometimes the way my brain compartmentalizes amazes me. I look back on being married and I can barely remember what it was like.

Today I was taking Josie and Zeke and Josie's friend Annie to a jumping/parkour/gymnastics/ropes course place. It's seriously badass.

In the car on the way there, Annie said, "Wendy, are you ever going to get married again?"

She is not, shall we say, a shy girl.

"Probably not," I said.

"Why not?"

"Because I can't imagine why I would. I don't want to be married."

"But why?"

"I don't know. I don't like people in my face all the time. I don't want someone living in my house and spending my money and bothering me all the time. I like to see who I want to see when I want to see them, and then they can go home."

"Do you want a boyfriend?"

"I don't know. I guess. It's nice to date someone."

Josie said, "she dates lots of guys!"

I laughed. I wanted to clarify that I've been on lots of dates, but I doubt she would have cared about the distinction.

My kids are very encouraging in this regard.

A few weeks ago Josie said, "Mommy, I want a step-father."

"You're going to be waiting a while," I said. "Don't hold your breath."

I do know this, though - if I do meet someone and it turns into something, I will remember, years later, the date and day of the week we met.

Until my brain decides that it's better for me never to think of the entire episode altogether, and if I do think of it, it seems like it happened to someone else.





Friday, December 08, 2017

At least I've never celebrated "pumpkin spice" season...

I think about recent conversations I've had, and just what I've been thinking about generally, and I'm incredibly bored by it.

There are certain conversational themes that I abhor, because they strike me as demonstrating such a lack of imagination. People who lament that it's Monday, or who when you greet them on a Wednesday and say, "how are you," respond, "well, only two days to Friday!" Women who repost memes about drinking, like those e-cards with a woman on it and the text is something like, "the most expensive part of having kids is all the wine you have to drink."


So boring. So basic.

And I feel like I have become one of *those* people, constantly whining about how tired and busy and frazzled I am.

I got a new job in September. And it's an amazing job, doing the work that I do best, for a cause I believe in, and I try to do it in a way that I believe is true to both my ethical and professional obligation to zealously represent my client, and to my personal drive to do the right thing morally.

But I've also never worked as hard in my life. As I've written before, I commute a long way, and during the workday I am so buried in emails and meetings and briefs and requests for guidance that I frequently don't eat because I lose all track of time and then I'm starving and exhausted and lightheaded. When I'm not at work, I have my phone and I get work-related texts and emails until 10 at night.

And all of this is in addition to trying to have quality time with my children, and trying to spend time with friends, and trying to read more and write more, and trying to have some semblance of a social life.

Somewhere in all of this I try to exercise.

Today one of the women in the office greeted me and asked how I was. I really, really like her - she's one of those people who you occasionally meet in your life and you immediately have a good feeling, like "I could really be good friends with this person." And I said, "I'm doing well. And I hate people who say stuff like this because it's so fucking unoriginal, but damn, I'm so glad it's Friday."

And then I drove home to get the kids, and while I was in the car one of Josie's friends asked if she could sleep over, so I set that up, and then I had to chase Zeke down at a friend's house down the street, and then he wanted to have a friend sleep over. So I organized all of this while also taking the kids to their board-breaking and belt-testing ceremony at the taekwondo studio, which took an hour and a half but felt like four hours, so everyone was fidgety and hungry.  It was great to see the kids break their boards and get their yellow belts, though.

Josie
Zeke
When we finally got out, I dropped Josie at her friend's, stopped by Zeke's friend's house so he could pick his stuff up, and then went home so we could scarf down some pizza.

I answered one final email and decided the work phone is going to be put away for the weekend. And I'm going to chill out and not constantly have a running list in my mind of all the things I need to take care of.

I'm going to contemplate things as they come. Just observe what's going.

Like, after we dropped off Josie, the boys and I were in the car and they were giggling.

"Mom?"

"What's up, son?"

"What's the 'c' word?"

"There's no reason you need to know the answer to that question."

"Is it 'crap'?"

"Sure."

I love 10-year-old boys.

We were all joking around while we ate pizza.  This is a friend that Zeke hasn't had over before. I'll call him Joe. He's a nice kid. But it turns out one of the reasons he and Zeke get along so well is that they have a tendency to get in trouble in school.

I asked, "what are the things that you tend to get in trouble for?"

"One time me and Zeke were throwing a football and were trying to get it in the trash. Plus I get in trouble a lot just for talking."

Being an energetic boy in school is a bitch.

"Can I give you some advice?" I asked. "Don't even worry about being good because it's the right thing to do. Just figure out what it is that pisses your teacher off and try to avoid it. The bottom line is, being in trouble sucks. And doing stupid stuff in class never ends well. Just try to fly under the radar."

"It's hard," Joe said.

"I know," I agreed.

"How late can we stay up?" he asked.

"As late as you want. I don't care. Just don't destroy the house."

"Ok, cool."

So now they're upstairs in the playroom, playing Star Wars Battlefront or some other game on the PS4. I'm sure they're using the worst swear words they can think of.

And I'm downstairs in my house. When I look around at my house and my rugs and my artwork, I think, "my house is really pretty." I feel good in my surroundings.

From time to time they "drop in" from the upstairs Echo, using the system like an intercom. "Hi, Mom!"  "Hi, guys!"

I'm listening to a Spotify radio playlist that the boys put on. I like to keep up with what the kids are listening to.

I'm probably betraying myself as a traitor to all of my indie-loving friends, but Nick Jonas's "Jealous" is really catchy.

I know there are shows on Netflix or Amazon Prime for me to get caught up in.

And I am breaking my rule by saying this, but I'm enjoying a glass of wine. Which, for me, is actually really unusual. I never ever drink at home, by myself.

Maybe it'll help me be more interesting.

Anyway, that's my night.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

And all those things I didn't say, wrecking balls inside my brain

This is what I should have said, when he started yelling at me ten minutes into our first date, when I had the audacity to (respectfully) express a different psychological or temperamental approach to dating than the one he had expressed.

I don't think I'm interested in talking to you anymore. I'd say, 'have a nice life,' but the odds of that are pretty much non-existent, so I'll just say 'good-bye.'

I was accused of trying to "mother" him, of telling him how to live his life, of lecturing him that his statistical approach to love - of believing that he'd have to go out on 30 dates before he would find anyone worthwhile, and that having only gone on 5 this year, he was doomed - was wrong.* He became louder and more irate as he talked, jabbing his finger at me and punctuating his diatribe with, "why are you doing that, counselor?" 

His voice was filled with contempt and he called me "counselor" as if it were an epithet.

I'm actually proud of being a lawyer, so it seemed like a misplaced insult to me. But unlike when I'm arguing in court and I can be prepared and dispassionate, my ability to come up with quick, logical, cutting zingers escaped me.

Instead, I was stunned and I gaped at him in disbelief. I have never in my life been spoken to that way by a date, and my eyes started to tear. I blinked them away before he could see them.

Rather than gathering my coat and my purse and telling him to go fuck himself as I scooted out of the booth, I asked, "why are you yelling at me? I didn't say any of those things."

Part of my reaction was because our exchanges before meeting had been lovely and encouraging. We texted, we talked on the phone, we even FaceTimed, and he could not have been sweeter. He's good looking and ridiculously smart and was interesting to talk to. It seemed so promising.

So to be attacked and berated right out of the gate was shocking. Surreal. Incomprehensible. I didn't know how to process it. I hadn't walked into the restaurant armed for battle, so I was exposed and vulnerable.

"I was just trying to talk to you. I don't know anything about you, so I'm trying to get to know you."

He threw his head around as if my efforts to make normal first-date conversation were too outrageous to be borne. His agitation was palpable.

"Jesus, I don't want to do this! I just want to talk and have fun! I don't want to feel like I'm being interviewed!"

"What are you talking about? I was talking about the sports teams we liked. And instead of comparing stories about who we liked growing up, you launched into a statistical analysis and talked about demographics and economic trends. You never even answered my question!"

"It was a malthusian analysis!"

I didn't know how to respond to that.

He continued, "I don't want to sit and do all the talking. You talk!"

Rather than gathering my coat and my purse and telling him to go fuck himself as I scooted out of the booth, I tried to talk. I don't even remember what I was talking about. I just remember him being fidgety and looking around like he'd rather be anywhere else.

I stopped talking and sighed and shook my head.

The waitress was walking by. He stopped her and said, "check, please."

We had been there for 15 minutes. We hadn't even ordered anything to eat.

Rather than gathering my coat and my purse and telling him to go fuck himself as I scooted out of the booth, I sat there throughout the process of waiting for the check and then waiting while she ran his credit card and brought the slip back.

While we waited, he started talking about politics. He is vehemently anti-Trump, anti-establishment, anti-anything run by old white men, and without any prompting from me - by this point, I was scared to say much of anything - he started this unbelievable rant in which his voice got louder and louder and he was irate and every other word was "fuck." Finally the hostess came over to the table and asked him to tone it down because there were children at the next table.

It was mortifying.

The check came back. He signed it.

I gathered my coat and my purse and scooted out of the booth. I did not tell him to go fuck himself. I said, "I'm going."

He stood up and his demeanor became almost sheepish.

"Can I give you a hug goodbye?"

Are you kidding me? I though to myself.

My nerve didn't fail me this time.

"No."

I didn't fall apart until I got home. I pulled into my driveway, still shell-shocked. And then I burst into tears. I cried as I walked into the house. I cried as I realized I needed to put the garbage and recycling bins in the alley. I cried in the alley as a guy passed me, walking his dogs.

I pulled out my phone and texted a guy I know, a guy who is always sweet to me. Our schedules never match up so we barely ever see each other, but we manage to hang out together once a month or so.

He was sympathetic and kind and supportive and outraged on my behalf. He talked me off the ledge. It was what I needed to hear.

But I slept horribly that night. I woke up feeling psychologically bruised. I still do, a little bit. I am generally one to say, "next!" in the face of a bad date, but I've never had a date like that. I think I'm done for a while.

All because I couldn't say from the beginning, go fuck yourself, dude.


_________________________
*For the record, I did none of these things. I simply stated that I had different thoughts about it.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Keep on keepin' on

"Do you think I should go to therapy?"

I was seeing my shrink for my biannual pharmacological check-in. Generally we just check in by email, but it had been long enough that he wanted me to come in and lay eyes on me.

"OF COURSE you should go to therapy!" he exclaimed.

I laughed. He's a nice guy who's from Michigan and looks like my dad when he was in his 30s - dark hair, glasses, jew-y. We have a nice rapport.

"Why? I feel fine, generally. The medication seems to be working."

"In the five minutes we've been talking, you've told me that you just started a new job with a lot of responsibility and long commute, you've talked about issues your kids are having in school and in dealing with the divorce, you're working on a major case for work while also planning a trip abroad ... you've got a lot of shit going on!"

"Yeah," I sighed.

"Yeah!" he said, giving me a look that said, "mmm hmmm."

"And you've said yourself that even though you don't feel anxious during the day, you're having anxiety dreams and still dealing with the middle insomnia that's plagued you forever."

"Yeah," I sighed again.

"Even if you're not in overt distress, it always helps to talk things out with someone. It's the best way to deal with anxiety. You know this," he said.

"Yeah. I know. It's just hard, thought. I'm working long hours, I'm busy, I've got the kids, and you're out here in the middle of nowhere. It's a schlep. I feel like I don't have time to do anything."

" I hear you. Anyway, here's the number of someone that I think you would like. She's like you - very smart and straightforward. Give it a try."

"Yeah."

I haven't called her. I haven't had time.

But I need something.

Medicine helps some. I have a prescription for an antidepressant and a non-Ambien sleep aid that doesn't work as well as I'd like. So I truly became my mother's daughter in Italy, when she and I found a pharmacy in Lucca that would sell us generic Klonopin and Ambien without a prescription, but only two boxes of each a day. We solved that problem by going every day.  You should see the collection in my nightstand now - it's impressive.


But I can't function during the day if I'm groggy, so I have to dance a fine line - I can't take too much too often. And the truth is, there are underlying issues that I have to deal with.

I absolutely adore my job. But it exhausts me, both physically and emotionally. The commute is tiring, thinking and writing all day is tiring, and I'm finding that being in caretaker mode in my job as well as with my kids leaves me with an empty tank. I love working with teachers and making sure they feel supported in their work. I love fighting their battles for them, and being the lighting rod with cranky opposing counsel or irate parents - let them attack me rather than the teachers.  But always taking care of everyone else means I don't take care of myself.

There are days at the office when I'll sit down, start working, and suddenly it's 3:30 in the afternoon and I haven't put anything in my belly all day except coffee. I'll go sleep at night not having had the energy to make myself much dinner, so I'll lie in bed feeling hungry but too tired to get up and do anything about it.  Sometimes when I don't have the kids and I get home from work at 6:30 or 7 and I'm so exhausted that I'll drink a protein shake and go straight to bed.

When I went for my every-eight-weeks blood donation, the nurse who took my vitals beforehand remarked that my hemoglobin levels were so low that I barely made the cutoff for being able to give blood. I don't eat enough, I don't sleep enough, I work too hard, I'm worn out.

So I ate a lot of steak for a week and started taking a multivitamin with iron.

I feel the effects psychologically as well. It can feel lonely. But even if I had the inclination to really try to date, I wouldn't have time for anything but a booty call or a fuck-buddy. Which can be fun, but ultimately not satisfying long term.

So I exercise. And I read and listen to audiobooks. And when we get some decent snow, I'll ski. I try to stay in touch with friends, going to concerts or dinner when I can.

I want to write more. It helps even a little bit.

I can try therapy, if I ever find the time.

So that's where I am.

Yeah.



Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Double digits, plus a month

My dearest, sweetest Zekey,

I am writing your birthday post a month late. I don't think I've ever been so delayed in writing a birthday post for either you or your sister, and I'm kind of at a loss as to how I let it happen.* This will be the subject of another post, but for now my only excuse is that for months now I've felt overwhelmed and exhausted and anxious, and my thoughts have been jumbled and disorganized.  It has paralyzed my ability to write.

So. Back to you.

You're ten years old now. You're smart and athletic and increasingly independent. I encourage that independence - you are free to ride your bike around the neighborhood, walk from school to tae kwon do class to home, as you see fit. You can go to the park with your friends without me. You're friendly and sweet. You're a huge pain in the ass, sometimes.

On your tenth birthday, we were in Italy. Mimi and Papa were in Lucca for a month, so you and Josie and I went for a week.  

In June I had started studying some Italian in preparation for the trip, and sometimes you joined me in studying. You have the family's ear for accents and languages - listening to you practice was lovely and endearing.  I was using the Mango program and loaded the app onto your Kindle, and the next time I opened the app I saw that in addition to Italian, you had started lessons in German, Japanese, and Mandarin. 


You were utterly yourself in Italy. In Lucca, you climbed up walls and jumped off of them, climbed up and down the stairs of Guinigi tower, and hugged the soprano who performed Puccini arias at the San Giovanni church.  You talked to waiters and shopkeepers in Italian, telling them "buongiorno!" "Si, grazie!" "Parlo un po' italiano."

On top of Guinigi Tower.
You climbed the tower in Pisa and explored the basilica.

You can't go to Pisa and not take this shot. I think it's the law.

At the top of the bell tower
You splashed around in the water in Vernazza and enjoyed a snooze on the boat ride along the Cinque Terre.

That water is disgusting, but it didn't stop you (in the black shirt) from fully submerging yourself


You were game and interested in looking at art in Florence.  Granted, you took the greatest pleasure out of taking extreme close-ups of David's junk with my phone, but you also admired the sculpture as a whole. When you walked into the Duomo, your jaw dropped and you exclaimed, "WOW!! Mom, this is amazing!!" When we were in the Uffizi, you did get to the point of saying, "I just can't look at any more paintings or churches," which, fair enough. We all have our limit.

At the Galleria dell' Academia in Florence

On the Ponte Vecchio
Being you, you also had some incredibly difficult episodes. Disagreeable. Oppositional. Infuriating. Frustrating.

I worry about you. You seem to be going through a rough patch. You cling to me and are emotional about the custody arrangement - you hate going back and forth and often tell me you only want to live with me. The divorce obviously still affects you deeply and I feel so guilty for upending your life because of my failed marriage. It's not fair to you.

About a month ago, you said, "Mama? Do you mind if I call you 'mom'? 'Mama' seems kind of babyish."

"Of course," I responded. "You can call me whatever you want. I never insisted that you call me 'mama.' It was just something that you and Josie did and kind of stuck with."

Now you make a point of throwing "mom" into conversations with me, as if you're trying on a suit that makes you look and feel grown up. It's adorable.

But when you're tired or upset, you reach for me and wrap yourself around me and say, "I love you, Mama," as you bury your face in my neck.

Even at the ripe old age of 10, you have no problem expressing your love for me. I'll take it for as long as I can.

Because I love you too, son. So, so much.

Love,

Mama

_____________________
*OK, I checked. I was a month late for Josie's post in 2014, because September of that year was when Emma died and I was a wreck.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

I got you babe

The other day, my friend Karen posted to celebrate her 16th wedding anniversary. I commented, "hey, I remember that wedding!"  

It was an extraordinarily beautiful wedding. It was held at an art museum in Memphis, the huppah was made of roses, and everyone was feeling the love and having a wonderful time.

As the maid of honor, it was my responsibility to make sure Karen's wedding gown was properly bustled.  Her dress had a series of ribbons on the underside of the train and we were having a hard time getting all the ties matched up. 

Finally, I just got down on the floor and crawled under her skirt. 


People laughed, and it was funny, but I didn't give it a second thought. She was my girl, and it needed to be done. It's what women do for each other.

Two of my closest friends and I have a WhatsApp conversation that we've been maintaining for about 10 months or so, which is a continuation of Facebook and text conversations that we've had for a while before that, which is essentially a continuation of conversations we've been having, off and on, for 31 years.

We are in different time zones and different countries, meaning that we have become used to a dialogue with something of a stop and start quality. Sometimes we type, more often we exchange recorded messages. Because I am in the most westerly time zone, there are mornings I wake up and there are 20 recorded messages I have to catch up on. 

Two of us are divorced and are sharing the experience of being a single woman dating in her 40s. Today's messages, for example, focused on my rants that can be summed up thusly: "MEN OF EARTH! BEHAVE LIKE APPROPRIATE EDUCATED HUMAN BEINGS! SHOW SOME RESPECT AND LEARN THE PROPER ORDER OF OPERATIONS FOR DATING!!"*

Sometimes the messages are funny, somethings they're vent-y, sometimes they're shockingly intimate (the statement, "well, at least he didn't have erectile dysfunction" was uttered on at least one occasion).

Sometimes they're either cries for or expressions of help and support. In fact, often they're cries for or expressions of help and support. 

Sometimes if one of us is going on a date with a new guy, the other two stand by on Mass Murder Watch to make sure she's safe.

And we are there for each other, totally. We have 31 years of knowing each other's back stories, of understanding, of familiarity. We have 31 years of having Been Through Some Shit, so we have more wisdom and maturity and strength both to offer each other, and to endure what life brings. I would trust these women with absolutely anything.

Many of my relationships with my women friends are like this. I don't know if it's a function of age and maturity, learning how to support and accept each other more fully than we've ever been either able or inclined to do. It could be a function of getting back what you put out into the universe - be a good friend, cultivate good friendships, and when you need your posse, it'll be there.  

If you're in a funk and you need an impromptu night out and a wing-woman, you're covered. 

If you need help indulging in your fantasy about where to hide the body, you're covered. 

If you need someone to listen and sympathize while you cry, you're covered.

If you need me to get up under your dress on your wedding day, you're covered.

----------------------------------
*Similar, I imagine, to the order of operations for math, or the reason you're always getting those math memes wrong on Facebook. To clarify, meeting and having a conversation in person comes before declarations of love via text message.


Thursday, October 05, 2017

Roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair

My walks to work started three years ago, a month after Emma's death, as a respite from sorrow. To have a regular activity that anchored me in the physical world and took me out of my head a little bit. The daily #walktowork pictures evolved shortly thereafter - it forced me to seek out the beautiful, the interesting, the weird, the funny. It helped me heal, or at least helped the scar tissue develop.

I would do that walk in the rain, and when it was -5 degrees and blowing snow, and when there was dirty slush from a snowstorm 3 days ago. I loved it. I needed it. 


Sometimes I would go down 12th Avenue and walk through Cheesman Park and admire the gardens in peoples' yards.


More often I would walk down Colfax, past the Fillmore and Ogden theaters, past the sex shops and tattoo parlors and marijuana dispensaries. 



Past the 7-Eleven where that crazy-ass lady was friends with the police dispatcher. Past the beautiful gold dome of the state capitol building. 


 Past urban art and urban poetry and blood on the streets.




Yes, that really is a big puddle of blood on the sidewalk, as long as a manhole cover.
And then I got a new job that is 25 miles south of my house. No more walks to work. No more gritty city. No more #dailydenver pictures. 

To be clear, I love my new job. Absolutely love it. But my office is out in the 'burbs and I have to drive. At least it's a counter-commute. 

Still, it's 40 minutes. I rationalize it that it used to take me 40 minutes to walk to work before, so it's the same amount of time commuting. It's not the same commute, though.

I am getting used to it.

I've been listening to a lot of audiobooks, which I'm really enjoying. I listened to some when I walked, but I found I had a harder time concentrating on the story than when I'm in the car.

I've been practicing my Italian in preparation for the trip the kids and I are going on in two weeks. If you need someone to say, in Italian, "this is creamy cod, a typical northern Italian dish," I'm your girl.

I drive through some beautiful scenery - wide open plains underneath wide open skies.

I am, by nature, an optimist. I don't know how to view the world from a place of negativity. So I am learning to like the drive. The routine of it. The views. 

It's not quite the romanticism of the open road, but it has its own charm. I don't mind it at all.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

I see who I want to be, in my daughter's eyes

My dearest Josephine,

This past Thursday, when I was driving you and Zeke to school, we were getting close to the carpool drop-off lane and I saw a dad and his son heading toward the school. The kid was wearing a tie and my heart immediately sank.

"Guys, is it picture day today?"

Zeke said, "yes."

You, with your purple-y mauve-y hair, clean but frizzy and sticking up from having taken a bath and then gone to bed with a wet head, started to cry. You were wearing leggings and a t-shirt. You looked fine, but it wasn't one of your more glamorous days.

"I don't look nice for picture day," you wailed. " I don't look pretty."

"Honey, you do look pretty. Your pictures will come out fine. Don't worry."

"No, I don't. I look ugly. My pictures will be terrible."

I dropped you and Zeke off and then parked the car. I needed to go up to the front office get the forms to fill out so that you could get pictures taken at all.

As I walked through the playground, I saw you with your arms around one of your friends as you sobbed with your head on her shoulder. A gaggle of little girls surrounded you, all rubbing your back.

"It's OK, Josie. It'll be OK."

It was utterly pitiful.

When you saw me there, you came and buried your face in my belly as you cried and cried.

"I can't go to school. I don't look pretty."

You were inconsolable.

"Don't worry, sweetie. It's going to be ok. I'll fix everything. I'll go home and bring you a pretty dress and something to fix your hair. I promise you'll look pretty. I'll take care of it."

I walked you up to your classroom when the bell rang. As I went to leave, I saw Zeke in the hall.

"Is JoJo ok?" he asked.

"She'll be fine. I'm going to go home and get her something to change into."

"Can you bring me a nicer shirt?" he asked. He was wearing a plain blue t-shirt.

"Sure. I'll bring something with a collar."

He smiled at me and went back to his class.

Two hours later, after I had delivered to Zeke his Polo shirt, I stood with your class as it lined up for pictures. I pulled you into the girls' bathroom and helped you change into a dark pink polka dot dress. Back out in the hall, in line with your class again, I gave you one of my old necklaces to wear, brushed your hair, smoothed it down with a de-frizzer, and clipped it back with a big flower barrette.

I felt like a stylist at a photo shoot.

It did the trick. You looked beautiful and polished and photo-ready. You and your friends giggled and held hands.  You were happy again, which was what really mattered to me. Looking pretty was important to you, so I didn't hesitate to make you feel that way.



I thought about that today, your eighth birthday, when I was thinking about writing your birthday post.  That incident, and its juxtaposition with your birthday party today, in which you fearlessly climbed walls while dressed in a Wonder Woman costume, encapsulated what you are right now.




Thursday you were all uncertainty and nervousness, worried about not looking pretty. Today you were all fierceness and confidence. Two sides of yourself, often at war. Sometimes you need me to boost you up, to convince you that your confidence is warranted. Other times you flex your muscles and acknowledge me from afar with a sly wave, as if you know that I'll be there, but you don't need me right at that exact moment.

I try to gauge where you are and adjust my behavior accordingly. I push you to have strength and independence, but will be there if you need to fold yourself into my lap.

I cheer you on when you're riding your scooter with the stoners at the skate park.


I wrestle and do gymnastics with you while we wait for Zeke to finish his football practice. I encourage your means of self-expression, be it pink or purple hair, leather skirts and motorcycle boots and crushed velvet baseball caps.



I feel a great responsibility to let you figure out who you are while making sure you know that I'm here to help you if you need me or want me. It's a beautiful dance that we do.

And you make me so proud. You're so funny. You're such a kind friend. You're so clever. You're so brave. You're such a sassy monkey. You're such a weirdo.

Being your mother thrills me. I absolutely adore you.

Happy birthday, my love. Spread your wings and fly. Be bold. Know that I'm here to catch you if you fall.

All of the love in my heart,

Mama



Sunday, September 10, 2017

Yahrtzeit

At first, a thing you did becomes a thing you did again. And then it becomes a thing you do. It's a Thing.

For the first anniversary of Emma's death, I had some of her ashes and thought it would be fitting to spread them from the top of a mountain. I found the hard climb, and the little ceremony I did at the summit, to be life affirming and emotional and moving and cathartic.

The next year, without even realizing it until it was upon me, I needed to do it again. I hadn't planned it, I hadn't even thought about it that much, I had been sick for over a month. But deep down, I felt like it had to be done, so I did it.

And then it became a Thing. A thing that I would do every year, with its own rituals and requirements.

Christin does it with me every year. We do a different fourteener every year. I wear my green Boston Red Sox hat every year, because Emma was a Sox fan.

Without fail, I cry at the summit every year.

This year we decided to do Grays and Torreys, two peaks that are part of the Continental Divide. They are next to each other but have enough of an elevation drop (at least 300 feet) between them that they are officially classified as different peaks. I don't know who makes up the cabal that decided that 300 feet was the standard, but there you have it.

Because we knew it would be a long day, we decided to stay up in Georgetown for the night so that we could get an early start. We were up at 4:15, out the door by 4:50, and on the trail at 5:30, well before sunrise. Christin is the gear queen, so we were well kitted-out with headlamps, but we could have made our way by the light of the stars and the glowing waning gibbous moon.

Moonglow at 6:15 a.m.
The trail is immediately difficult. The first half hour or so is always hard, because you're getting your muscles and your lungs and your heart warmed up. Plus the trailhead is over 11,000 feet, so you're already at altitude from the very beginning.

On the early part of the trail. You can see the two peaks (Grays on the left, Torreys on the right) with the saddle connecting them.
At first, it's a steady, if not particularly steep, uphill climb. Some of it is on an relatively easy dirt path, but much of it is loose rocks that require care and caution to avoid slipping and falling. Then it gets steep and stays that way, all the way up to the summit.

And it's hard. Man, is it hard. People in these parts like to talk about certain 14ers being "easy." Grays and Torreys are on that list. But for me, there's nothing easy about it. Climbing steep mountains is hard. Altitude is always hard. It forces me to be focused and determined and disciplined as I keep putting one foot in front of the other to make it to the top.

On the steeper stuff, I work in intervals of 100 steps - 100 steps, then I can stop and take a breather as my body works to make new red blood cells. When my breathing gets a little easier and my heart isn't pounding as hard, I say, "ok, let's go," to myself, and I start another round of 100 steps.

Along the way, we say hello to people and their dogs, admire the views, have some water, have a snack, take a picture or two.

The view back, looking at the long gulch we just hiked 
You count steps, you count switchbacks (only 5 more ... only 4 more....). I have an altimeter on my phone, so we counted that as well. "We're at 13,800 - only 400 vertical to go!"

And then we were at the summit of Grays. 




The summit of Grays. You can see from my mouth that I'm trying (unsuccessfully) to stop cryiing.
True to form, we got to the top and I started to cry. I continued to cry as we took our pictures. 

I think about Emma a lot as I hike. What she was like, what she would be like now. What she might be doing. Who she would be. She's there helping me through the steps and the breaths and the exertion. At the top, I get to let it out. 

Then I have to calm down and collect myself, because there is work to be done. There is another peak to climb. I don't know where I will find the reserves to do it. My legs are exhausted and shaking. 

The view of the saddle and Torreys from the summit of Grays.
But there is no way forward except forward, so off we go. Down the saddle, up another steep, steep peak. Even Christin, who has a much easier time with altitude than I do, is struggling. When we get to the low part of the saddle and then have to start ascending again, I can almost hear my muscles say, "bitch, what the fuck do you think you're doing?" It seems impossible.

Fifty steps. Stop to breathe and stretch my lower back. Remember why I'm doing this. "OK, let's go. We're almost there." Fifty steps...

And then we're there. We always get there. It's what happens when you keep going.

Torreys summit



What a gorgeous view
wow

where we've been, and where we're returning
And then it's time to head back. The descent is always welcome, but by the end of the day, it's as grueling as the ascent was. The unstable, slippery rocks are even more unstable and slippery going down, especially when your legs are toast, you're tired and hungry, and you're engaging every muscle in your core and thighs to maintain your balance and pace. 


Then it starts to hail. Because of course it does.

Christin, being the gear queen, simply shrugs and takes a rain jacket and rain pants out of her pack. I, on the other hand, am thankful that I thought to buy a $2 plastic poncho at the Family Dollar the previous night.
 And then we're done. We're exhausted and sore and shaking and our feet hurt. I feel like I couldn't hike another 10 feet if you held a gun to my head. But we did it. Eight and a half miles, 9 hours, two peaks, sandwiches, Kind bars, pop tarts, water, and a large can of Arizona iced tea.

One of the things I thought about as I hiked was the nature of memory, as it pertains to those we have lost. The truth is, most people die and after a generation or so (or less), they fade into history. We're not famous. The events of all our lives - triumphs, losses, love, pain, tragedy - all of those things that are so huge and elemental and overwhelming while we are alive - are often buried with us.

Rituals help. Birthdays, anniversaries, memorials, regular trips to a cemetery. In Judaism, it's the yahrtzeiht - the annual recitation of the mourner's kaddish on the anniversary of a person's death.

The rituals keep a person with us. The memory endures.

I'm not one for prayer, but this thing - this annual climb in Emma's honor on or near the anniversary of her death (which is today) - is an even more powerful substitute for me. It's not just words, or just a feeling. It's an act that requires every ounce of energy, endurance, strength, determination, and concentration I have. And because she is with me for all of it, it's all of my love as well.

This is Emma's yahrtzeit.





Monday, August 28, 2017

Cue the laugh track

Back in the spring, I made an impromptu trip to Virginia to spend Passover with my parents. The kids were with their dad and I was feeling lonely and like I needed to be around family, and I had the miles, so off I went.

While I was there, Lisa came over to say hi. She sat in the kitchen and hung out with us as we all bustled around getting ready for the seder. It was a typical scene for us - my dad cracking goofy jokes, my mom and I laughing as we made preparations, gossiping and telling stories. Noisy and funny and slightly chaotic.

At one point, Lisa made an observation that I found hilarious.

"I love hanging out with your family. It's like a watching a sitcom."

Our annual trip to the Outer Banks (where Lisa and her kids joined us for the second week) lived up to the billing.

We always get a house with a pool, which is lovely for cooling off after a day at the beach. I'm sure the dude who comes to clean the pool thinks we're pigs because we get sand all over the place, but the non-salty water feels so good after all the salt and sand of the beach.

The kids are in the pool CONSTANTLY. I am always amazed at their ability to spend 5 hours in the ocean and then come back to the house and spend another 3 hours in the pool. But they love it, and they sleep well afterwards, so it's fine.

They stayed in the pool even when it was raining.
Now, there are a couple of things you should know going into this story:

  1. Josie still has a hair trigger temper, and can go from sweet-and-calm to losing-her-fucking-mind in about 30 seconds.
  2. Zeke has an oral fixation. He chews everything, and every year we go to the Outer Banks, buy noodles for the pool, and he proceeds to destroy them by taking large bites out of them. It's super weird.

Anyway.

My niece Hazel is the master at thinking up new and exciting games, and for the kids' antics in the pool she came up with Shark. The person who is "it" has to stand at the end of the pool-deck with her back to the pool. The people in the water try to swim across without the shark jumping in and catching them before they get to the other side. I played it with them a few times - it's pretty fun and silly.

One afternoon, I was inside while all the children were in the pool when I heard Josie yelling about something. I'm not quite sure exactly what happened, but when I went outside to see what was going on, there was a big argument going on. Josie was accusing Zeke of cheating, Zeke denied cheating, others from the peanut gallery weighed in. Zeke continued to deny it until Josie became more and more irate.

She proceeded to lose her fucking mind.

She was crying and screaming and furious, ramping up the anger and indignation with every insistence by Zeke that he was innocent.

"YOU'RE CHEATING!! YOU'RE A CHEATER! YOU'RE LYING!"

"I'm not! I didn't do anything."

"LIAR!! LIAR! YOU'RE LYING!! YOU'RE A STUPID MIDGET!! YOU'RE A JERK!!"

"Josie," I implored. "You need to calm down and stop screaming." She was sobbing and out of control.

I also thought to myself, "midget"? what the hell is she talking about?

"I CAN'T CALM DOWN! HE'S A LIAR! HE CHEATED!!" She then turned to Zeke: "YOU CHEATED! YOU STUPID NUGGET!!"

Nugget? So it was nugget and not midget? or maybe both? 

I was getting confused. I was also starting to laugh but I couldn't do it out loud, so I was shaking and trying to keep it together.

"Josie, I don't know what happened because I didn't see it. But if he's being jerky and you don't like the way he's playing, then don't play with him. You always have that choice."

This didn't placate her. She continued to scream and cry as I tried to get her to either calm down or get out of the water and do something else.

At the end of her rope, she was shaking with fury and bellowed at Zeke, "I HATE YOU! YOU'RE A LIAR! YOU MIDGET! YOU NUGGET!! YOU NOODLE EATER!!!"

Noodle eater.

He's a noodle eater. And a midget and a nugget. But definitely a noodle eater. There were, after all, bites of foam noodle floating around the pool at the time.

Can we get this added to Urban Dictionary as an epithet?

Eventually I got her calmed down. She got out of the pool and I dried her off and got her something to eat, and it blew over. It was time for dinner anyway.

I didn't think, when we sat down to dinner, to give Zeke a big grin and offer him a big plate of spaghetti and ask if he wanted to eat some noodles. So it's not quite up to par, as sitcom scripting goes.

I'll have to workshop it.