Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I'm obnoxious.

There is something about being home that makes me revert back to being a child. The second I walked in my Grandfather's door it was as if I had lost about 20 years and went up 3 dress sizes. (The food. Oh my God. We should all eat like New Englanders.) He even puts these slippers out for me that are essentially two giant pooh bear heads that you cram your feet into. That ends up being my footwear of choice the ENTIRE weekend, and there is nothing like walking around with your feet in pooh's head that makes you feel super sexy.

So, I regress. Majorly. And I have never thought about it until this last trip.

One morning Gramp and I were drinking coffee in the kitchen as I watched him prepare the turkey for dinner. (Notice I said watching, not helping. I am a total ass.) Totally out of character for him, my Gramp looked up at me and said out of the blue: "You know. Your Grandmother would have been really proud of you. You've turned into an amazing woman."

My jaw dropped and I stared at him and then I stared down at my pooh bear heads on my feet. I was wearing snowflake pajama pants, one of Brett's old shirts, and my hair was still in little braids I had absently constructed as I watched him cook food for me. I felt anything but womanly. I didn't even feel adult.

"Well." I said. "Let's not go that far."

He frowned at me over the naked turkey. "You're being weird."

"No, you're being weird!" I sang out, and then clamped my hand over my mouth, trying to silence the sing-songy Melissa that comes out when I am nervous or uncomfortable. Or drunk. I cleared my throat and looked him in the eye in the way I imagined an adult woman wearing pooh slippers would. "Gramp. I feel like I have no idea what I am doing with my life and I feel anything but womanly. What would Gram be proud of, exactly?"

He was quiet for a long time, and I felt that I had shattered the one adult moment we had shared this entire trip. I slowly unthreaded the braids from my hair and patted my pooh feet lovingly. "She would be proud of you because you chased your happy." He grunted, shoving the bird into the oven. "That's all we ever wanted for you, and you did it. You've grown up a lot."

It was refreshing to know that his idea of success and maturity was not measured in 401k plans or glittering job offers. He didn't care that I wear pajamas that are actually intended for toddlers or that I am still in school at 28 years old with my ovaries covered in a layer of dust. He was just proud of me for chasing...something. For leaving my small town and going after a dream and a life and not ever really giving up on it. To him, that dedication made me a woman. And a grown up. It was weird to see myself through that lens.

I guess the whole point is to make sure we are open to the possibility that we're not total fuck ups. To be willing to look at ourselves the way other people see us- because sometimes, for good and for bad, that is the most realistic interpretation of who we are. Maybe I spent the rest of the day twirling around the kitchen in my slippers, (I discovered that the pooh head is so heavy that if you get yourself going in a good spin you can rotate several times because the weight propels you forward...yes, I realize how awesome you now think I am...) AND MAYBE I stole the pickle and cheese tray and ate the whole thing by myself, AND MAYBE I made up a song about Christmas and sung the whole thing to Gramp really loud in my stage of a kitchen, (some of the winning lyrics? "It's Christmasss...CHRISTMASSSS....CHRISTMASSSSSSSSS!") but these things didn't make me a child, they made me a very eccentric adult with an insatiable need for attention.

I'm ok with that adult. And I kind of like the fact that she's not always polished, she's not always quiet, (well, never, actually.) but she is colorful and loved and a little bit insane.

And I am still chasing my happy, Gram. And I promise I will never, ever stop.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy Everything.

I'm so embarrassed I have been gone for so long.

I blame the holidays. I truly was in my hometown- which means we have one meat shop, one liquor store, one wal-mart AND THAT IS IT. So, I don't apologize for eating turkey in the general great expanse of nothing with my Grandfather.

Don't judge.

I went home for Thanksgiving, as you can tell. And I spent the holiday religiously- meaning I was in my slippers and unkempt hair the whole time. It was bliss. My Gramp even put out cheese cubes for me. I MEAN, WHAT IS BETTER THAN THAT? Nothing. I may be a California girl and know about all the fancy ways to entertain, but you put a plate of cubed cheese in front of me and I WILL LOSE MY SHIT.

I love my Grandfather.

It was a weekend of white zinfandel (his favorite wine,) home videos, Melissa in pajamas, and epic dart wars/air hockey tournaments. My Grandfather put in a game room when my Gram died, and believe me: it gets used. Although I think his vision was a place to bring the grandkids together,not have them at each other's necks...but still. It is a great place.

So, I came home to Berkeley, approximately 5.6 pounds heavier and that much more depressed. I met my personal trainer on my arrival and this is AN ACTUAL CONVERSATION WE HAD:

Her: (Amazonian, Venus Williams-ian,) "You've gotten flabby in the ONE week I was not working with you."
Me: "Don't you have a soul? Or pumpkin pie? I feel like no one loves you or something....I mean, the way you gnash your teeth at me."
Her: "That is not really nice, is it? Do 100 push ups. NOW."
Me: "I'm ovulating. I don't know why I said no one loves you. you. But I cannot procreate with you, so..."
Her: "3...4...5..."
Me: "Oh my God. I don't know if you know me, but I will not be doing 100 push ups."
Me: "I feel like I am special in my own way..."
Her: "I give up. But I don't. Because you are paying me."
Me: "Yes! I pay you to say nice things!"
Her: "Your hair always looks nice when you come in. And I like your perfume..."
Me: "Finally. NOW we are getting somewhere..."

I am horrible at personal training.

Being home has sparked something within me that has been eating away at me ever since. Number one, PEOPLE CAN AFFORD HOUSES IN NEW HAMPSHIRE. I kept an eye on real estate stuff while I was home, and I was sickened to discover I could probably afford a 4.5 bedroom house with servants quarters, a laundry room, and an in-law apartment attached. We went to visit old friends...and they welcomed us into their beautiful ADULT HOMES THAT THEY GET TO LIVE IN TOGETHER. It was hard to see. I came home to my studio and I immediately spent 50$ on Christmassy decorations to make it feel un-dorm-like. I called Brett immediately:
Me: "So, I found a tree....I named him Marvin."
Brett: "You named...a tree?"
Me: "Well. Of course. You thought he would just go nameless? I'm not a horrible person, you know."
Brett: "But...Marvin? Wha..?"
Me: "It's awesome. And he misses you. So I feel like you should shut your mouth before you upset everyone."

And that is the story of how Marvin came to be.

Moral is: family will always try and lead you away from the one thing that (maybe only you) believe in. But, they mean the best. Family is about: awkward moments, mustached kisses from aunts, secrets kept from Mom and Dad, sibling love/rivalry, laughter, joy, sweat, tears...

Life is full of awkward, sweaty, Stanford-trainer-moments. It is up to us to take a step back, laugh,

Happy Holidays everyone. May your family be less weird than mine.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

8 Weeks until I am TOTALLY SEXY and in a bathtub with a turkey leg. Naturally.

I woke up really, really sick today and I woke up in a very, very dramatic way. The second I opened my eyes and groggily realized the little sore throat from the night before had turned into a full blown earache/swollen gland/aches and pains extravaganza, I lost it. I laid there in bed moaning out loud: "Oh no, OH NOOO" over and over again as if that was going to magically restore my heath.

I don't usually mind being sick, but when I am ALONE and there is NO ONE TO MAKE ME SOUP AND PAT MY HEAD It sort of loses its romantic appeal. I also had a workout today that I really didn't want to miss.

Yes. You heard that right. I did not want to miss a workout.

I'm not fat by any means, but I'm also definitely not in shape. The one day I was late to class and had to sprint up 4 endless levels of stairs and nearly died was the day that I felt like enough was enough. I got a gym membership the next day. And then I spent that day scouting out where all of the hot tubs and spas were. And then the next day I started working out.


It's amazing what happens when you tell people that you are working out again. It releases a barrage of back-hand compliments. "Oh good," a friend told me. "I mean, you need it, right?" Another friend gushed: "You are going to look SO HOT! And it won't take that long, because you're, like, not fat at all. You're just soft! Oh my God, I can't wait to see how good you are going to look!"

Now, I'm not going to tell you all how much I weigh, (123 pounds) because that is not the point of this story, (I only weigh 123 pounds, goddammit) and I won't submit to the noise my friends are making since I know that they only have the best of intentions. (123. fucking. pounds.) It is about health, I get that, and my friends are just excited that I am making some life changes and won't be curling up in bed with a glass of scotch balancing on my stomach as I read.

Or, I will, but that stomach will be SEXIER. And probably flatter, which will in turn provide a better table-top for my booze.

So now you see why I was despondent over missing that workout.

Junking myself up on Nyquil, I took my sick, soft ass to the couch and woozily googled Tina Fey pictures. This is one of my favorite things to do. I don't know why. I'm not normal. I came across this picture, and my life was changed:

It was the single funniest thing I had ever seen. Especially hopped up on Nyquil at 11am. I immediately, (continuing to make good choices) banged out an e-mail to a photographer friend of mine. This is exactly what it said:

hi guys!
I have a pretty amazing idea.

I was thinking of doing a boudoir shoot- but a really awesome one. I want to mimic Tina Fey's esquire spread, captured in spirit with this picture.
This is what I am thinking: me in a bubble bath, eating a turkey leg, wearing rain boots. Or posing with empty bottles of champagne, clown dolls, stuffed monkeys in my wedding dress. OR if we could get a BUNCH OF CATS...well, I don't know what we would do with them, but it sounds promising.

I have a million more ideas, all better than the last in my brain.
I know we can't get a million cats, but we CAN get a turkey leg.

I look forward to your reply and hopeful continued friendship.

I had decided in my drug induced haze that the most logical reward for getting a hot body would be a photo shoot with a turkey leg. This made total sense to me, and I even thought "I could make this a book and give it to Brett for his birthday!"

Because everyone knows that there is nothing a man wants more than a picture of his wife with 4,000 cats and stuffed monkeys.

Sometimes I am just too sexy for my own good. Or, I will be. In 8 weeks.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

You're Doing Everything Wrong.

I really love when people admit that they have no fucking idea what they are doing. It warms my heart. It makes my stomach tickle. I find nothing more beautiful than admitted weakness.

It's all of the other bastards out there that really get me down. You know everything? You're good at everything? Awesome. Here is a cookie. A COOKIE ATTACHED TO MY FOOT WHICH IS NOW IN YOUR FACE.

So, you can imagine how thrilled I was when, on the phone with a friend, she soothed my anxiety over the details of my life. Details like I live in a studio apartment, my husband lives across the country, and everyone around us seems to be doing it "right." She countered with the gorgeous argument: "Well, maybe everybody else is doing it wrong. That should be the name of your book. "You're Doing Everything Wrong."

I actually had to sit down on the floor- in the middle of a store- because I had never heard anything more profound in my entire life. "You could even follow it up with a sex book." she continued. "You're still Doing Everything Wrong."

"I've always wanted to share my 2 positions. It's selfish, really, not cluing the world in on that."

"Well, there you go." She laughed. PROBLEM SOLVED.

It made me think back on a time where I was having cocktails with THE WIVES: a group of woman from Brett's office that were all newly married, and all very proper and "doing it right," no doubt. While I love these ladies an insane amount, they are not exactly the crew that I would drag my Edward barbie doll out of the closet with. For some reason, the topic of lying came up.

(As it naturally does over a cheese plate and bottle of Cabernet.)

"I would never, ever tell a lie." One wife dramatically declared, taking a tiny sip of wine. Meanwhile, I had gulped mine down and blurted out: "Lying is like snorting cocaine. SUPER FUN in small doses and it makes life more interesting. But you probably shouldn't do it, a wedding or a baptism or something."


In all honesty, I have never, ever snorted...well, anything, but especially not cocaine. This is just a PRIME EXAMPLE of Melissa "not doing it right" by going for the most inappropriate joke at the most inappropriate time. I spent the rest of our cocktail hour reassuring them that I was not a druggie and didn't actually lie on a regular basis.

Which was basically a normal night with the Wives, anyway.

There are countless times in my life where I second guess every thing I say and every thing I do. This can be helpful once and awhile. I don't need to dump half a bottle of champagne in my shoe at my husband's work mixer. I don't always need to be the first one up dancing at, before the bride and groom. The word "fuck"- being an English major at Berkeley-probably shouldn't be my favorite and most used word. It's not like I don't have more to choose from. That all being said, I don't have to wake up the morning after a dinner date with friends and crucify myself for every flaw, every awkward movement, every thing that I did wrong. BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHAT? You're doing everything wrong, I'm doing everything (and I mean everything,) wrong...


I'm flawed. I make up stories. I taught the kids I use to nanny how to do a really authentic Indian-cab-driver accent. I talk too much, I'm wasteful with paper towels. I totally cheated on a test LIKE LAST WEEK and I'm not always a very patient person.

But I would do anything for someone I loved at ANY time of the night or day. I make a killer baked macaroni and cheese. If you are in my home you will be treated like a king or a queen. and I know how to pour a proper glass of wine.

So, maybe some people think I'm not doing everything by the rules that they created and hold the rest of the population to. Maybe I'll have kids. Or not. Maybe I'll adopt a bunch of monkeys and name them all "Esmeralda." Maybe I jar peanut butter for a living and go home to my husband, dog, and stuffed deer collection. Maybe I'll wear sweater sets and pearls and be the head of the PTA.

Um. No. Actually, I would never do that.

The point is- I'm not doing anything wrong. There is a good chance I'm doing everything wrong- but I'll take it.

We're all doing the same thing, whether we realize it or not. Fucking up, making mistakes, making memories, laughing, learning, loving, breathing.

No one on earth is doing "it right."


except Chuck Norris.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Every time you tell your girlfriend you love her, a puppy gets it's wings.

(Taken at the "New Moon" premier. And yes, that is a bottle of wine in that water bottle, thankyouverymuch.)

I called my father today in need of some comfort only my quirky father can provide, and this is the conversation we actually had:

Me: "Hey Dad. I just need a pick me up. What are you doing? Wait. Let me guess. Sitting in the den, watching football?"

Dad: "I resent that. I did a lot today. I took my neighbor's junk to the dump and stood in the yard talking with her for an hour. She has a bag attached to her abdomen that collects her poop, Melissa. Her husband died last year and I was the one to carry him out of the house. It's been a fruitful day."

Me: "You do realize that I am putting this conversation on my blog later, right? Even if I can't tie it in in any way? I'm doing that."

Dad: "I forgot that I can't tell you anything."

So, there that is.

I have been a bit down for about a week, but only my nearest and dearest can tell. I was talking with a close friend on the phone recently and she just came out and asked me why I have been so out of it. "Your blog entries are totally depressing." She said. "I know something is up- they haven't been very funny lately."

"Ah, but this is where you are wrong." I replied emphatically. "They have been funny. You're just confused. Or maybe they were so funny you cried, thinking that they were sad?"

"No. They were sad. You are totally bumming me out everyday."


I don't know why I am sad. Well, actually I do, but I DON'T HAVE TO TELL YOU EVERYTHING, BLOG. I'm doing that thing I do when I am pretty depressed. I put on a maniacal face. I am overly enthusiastic about everything. I maintain a hectic social life with ridiculous stamina. And then I cry myself to sleep.

It's super attractive.

I called upon a friend today when the noise got too loud in my head. She is, quite literally, the only friend I have that I simply cannot shock. She knows more about me than Jesus. I could tell her: "Hey, I accidentally killed someone," and she would just nod, take a sip of wine, and be like: "I'm sure you had a good reason. What should we do with the body?"

Friends like that are rare.

We met for lunch and she let me launch into a diatribe about life as she sat serenely across from me, nodding and soothing and motioning the waiter to bring more wine. I was surprised at the force behind my words and the emotions I was vomiting out onto the table. I was so used to biting my tongue that having the freedom to unleash my (carefully chained) fury and sadness was pretty liberating. And exhausting. And needed.

When I was done, she said the exact thing that my soul was aching to hear. "Do you know that you are beautiful? You are beautiful, and you are giving, and I am so lucky to know you and to love you in this life."

Fucking A.

I think I actually melted a little bit. My shoulders slumped, my tongue went slack, and suddenly- every vile thing that had been brewing inside of me was gone. I looked at her, pushed all of the emotional vomit aside, and said: "Did I ever tell you how fantastic you looked in that red dress when we went to Lo Coco's? I mean- you are a stone cold fox."

And I was back.

We sat there for hours, giggling, drinking red wine, and reminiscing about the day we met. We met on craigslist, actually. I had placed an ad looking for girls to start a book-club, and among the many pictures of penises I got, she replied and we met in a coffee shop.

"You came in wearing that yellow dress" she started-

"And I saw you in all black, being all European, and I was like, fuck."

"It was love at first sight." we sort of both said, but not really because life isn't a movie. In all reality she said it and then I echoed it and then we said it again a few times. Sorry to ruin the romance of it all.

But our lives are like a movie. We've seen each other through divorce, marriage, new beginnings, sad good-byes, love found and lost. She's lived with me, she's fed me, I loaned her my "Twilight" book and we both became obsessed to an unhealthy degree.I ate my first (and only, I swear) pot brownie with her, I have wept in front of her. I have been my best in front of her. We have held hands through so much that life has tossed our way.

Yes, maybe finding her meant I had to stare at a plethora of e-mailed penises, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Girlfriend's are the sisters in life that you choose. And I would choose her everyday.

On the way home we were talking about how I intended on taking my Twilight Edward barbie doll out of his package so he can go with us to the theater. "Can we put him between us, and each of us hold his little hand through the movie?" She asked.

I swear to God I looked at her, and was filled head to toe with ridiculous love. "Yes we can." I replied. And then I hugged her. And hugged her. And whispered a fervent thanks for the woman that she is.

Which is kick ass. Obviously.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

28 is the new AWESOME.

(Fucking Terrifying.)

I was sitting in a cafe today with a friend as we excitedly went over details of her upcoming wedding. Ok, maybe I wasn't exactly "excited," but I was mustering up enough froth to throw her off my scent. It's not that I am not happy for her. I truly am. She is, quite literally, the sweetest woman I have ever met and her fiancee is a dreamboat and so, so good to her. They are going to be fantastically happy. I know it. I see it every time I look into her face. But since I am a selfish and childish bitch I don't want anyone to be happy...ever. In fact, every one's husbands should just move across the country. Girls on one side, boys on the other. Then we could all be in the same boat! Fairs fair.

See? Bitch.

Somehow, kids came up, (naturally,) and she asked me if I was planning on being a stay-at-home Mom. I sat there blinking at her for a few moments, feeling oddly like I was hovering outside of my non-impregnated body. I shrugged gently, just to give my limbs something to do and so she wouldn't think I had fallen asleep on her with my eyes wide open or anything.

I ended up telling her that I had been in school so long that I would really like to have a career at some point. "I'm 28." I said. "I've been in school for 5,678 years. I'd really like to earn a paycheck. Like, a lot of paychecks."

The only thing that bothered me about this conversation was the fact that it felt like it was too early to be happening. But it wasn't! This friend is THE SAME AGE as me, has been to grad school, has a career, owns property.

I own a killer David Sedaris collection and have a teddy bear and a plastic vampire doll shoved into my sweater closet.

Practically the same thing.

It reminded me of the day before when I was opening up a gym membership because I'm tired of calling my weekly wine-bottle-walk exercise. The (very fat, seriously? At a gym?) guy taking my information started creepily hitting on me:

Guy: "So, is there a Mr. Cottle?"

Me: "Well. Yes. You see that there is because I wrote down his information. But, he won't be on this account. Because, like you can see in front of you, he lives in Pittsburgh?"

Guy: "Why would your husband leave someone like you?"

(at this point I had to look down at myself to see what exactly this guy was seeing. Work-out clothes, messy hair, and definitely a distinct dribble of coffee down the white of my front. And a smear of toothpaste on my cheek. So, I totally got why he was into it.)

Me: (always, always trying to make a joke.) "Well, ask my therapist. HA! Just kidding. Um. Don't I get a card, or something?"

Sliding my card across the table he ruined everything about out our glorious moment with this:

Guy: "So, you're 28. Finishing up a Ph.d at Berkeley, then? That is so cool."

Me: "Oh. Well, yes, that is super cool. But no. Nope, I'm just finishing my undergrad. But...Go Bears!" (awkward fist pump.)

Guy: "You're 28 and just finishing your undergrad?"


Ok. That was mean.

To be fair, he was very nice, waived my entrance fee, and creepily called me on the phone number I left IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, so I shouldn't be so harsh. However, he struck a nerve. A nerve that only I cared about, sure- but a nerve all the same.

I thought about this as I walked home from the cafe, weaving in and out of a endless plethora of happy couples holding hands. (Seriously? Hold hands at home, not in the middle of the fucking sidewalk.) I knew I was being unnecessarily mad. I knew I was a little bit off my rocker. Only when I reached the comfortable and dark confines of my dorm-like home did I sit down and work through my thoughts like a big girl.

A few days before Brett had chuckled into the phone with me about how scary it was to think about us buying a house in Boston. We could potentially be relocating there, and as we started to talk mortgages, careers, possible kids, we both ran out of breath from panic and he said: "Hey. Doesn't this sometimes feel like a ride going too fast? Like, get me the fuck off and stop this thing?"

Now, Brett would never say "fuck," so I embellished that a bit, but I was filled with a sweeping sensation of gratitude when Brett was so...honest. No, he doesn't mean "get off the ride" in a suicidal/homicidal/divorce-icidal way. He just meant that sometimes life trips along so fast that we can only see the muted colors of it as it whizzes by the outer realms of our vision.

While it's dizzying and fun, sometimes it is nauseating. Sometimes you feel like you need to stop for a bit. Sometimes you just want to get the fuck off and...breathe.

This world is designed for us to keep on marching forward. Technology is constantly evolving, cars are getting to the point where they can probably drive YOU and make your coffee on the way. 28 is now an age where you should be well on your way to a doctorate, have a house in the suburbs and 2.5 children. While I want most of these things, (definitely the car that makes me coffee,) I'm also content staying right where I am.

I'm content with watching a zombie movie on a school night. I'm content with knowing that I have a teddy bear on cuddle stand-by if I ever need to pull him out of the sweater closet. I'm content with life being a little slow, a lot of colorful, and perfectly imperfect.

My sweet friend in the cafe wasn't the one to make me feel like I needed to be anywhere at this age. I'm the only one comparing myself to everyone around me, but I am done with that for now.

Because, frankly, I feel bad for the 28 years olds out there that don't have a plastic vampire doll in their sweater closet and a 2$ bottle of wine in their fridge. This life I have is pretty fucking fantastic. And magical.

And mine.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Oh, And I Also Do This In My Spare Time:

I don't just blog folks. I'm a fish singer.

I didn't kill anyone.


When I walked into class today my professor looked me up and down. "You look horrible." She said.

"Well, I think you look really pretty, so now things are awkward."

"Are you feeling ok? You look...sad."

I didn't really stop to examine why this woman insisted on playing therapist. If anyone asks me how I am feeling I will plunge on happily because there is very little in life I love more than talking about myself.

"I think I just got into a fight with my husband and I'm beginning to think that maybe it was my fault and I have too many balls in the air and I just dropped them all in fact I think I completely lost a few and I don't know how to do anything right now and I'm really confused and angry and so fucking tired of being around myself all of the time." I took a breath. "Also, I think I'm going to throw up."

She sent me home.

Brett had called me out on a few things earlier in the day and he was absolutely and totally right. And because there is nothing worse than your husband being absolutely and totally right, I handled it with about as much grace as a four year old in high heels. Which is sort of what I was feeling like right now: a child playing dress up. A representation of what a child thinks an adult is supposed to be, when they really just look like a drunk midget stumbling about.

I was beginning to feel like a drunk midget. That makes sense probably only to me.

I haven't always made the best decisions but I have to trust that I'm doing more right than wrong and I have to trust that I will learn from my mistakes. This territory feels so uncharted sometimes and I often feel like I am doing this without a compass. It's frustrating and tiresome, and I'm often completely lost- but sometimes the scenery is unexpectedly beautiful.

The other day I was at a Blockbuster with a friend recounting in gory detail my neighbor's fight from the night before. Basically, at 2am the married couple next door had tried to kill each other, and I was pretty certain that one of them had succeeded.

"Did you call the cops?" he asked. A rational question.

"THEY WERE BEATING EACH OTHER. What if they found out I called? Then they might BEAT ME." Even as the words came out I was ashamed. I'd like to think I am a generally good person, but no, I hadn't called the cops. Instead I had clutched my mace, sitting upright in bed. I don't know who I was expecting to mace or why I needed a weapon. It's not like they were clubbing each other in my living room, but whatever.

To his credit, he was gentle on me and didn't tell me I was a horrible human being. He even admitted that, in the same situation, he wasn't sure what he would do either. Still gripped with my shame I spun on my heel to face him.

"Oh my God. I didn't even check to see if she was dead! Do you think I should? She could just be there, DEAD right now!"

At this point we were standing at the counter, about to pay for my movie. The cashier held it in mid-air as she gazed at me, horrified. "I'm sorry," she said, "but I feel the need to tell you that what I heard you just say sounded really, really bad."

"Oh. You think I killed someone don't you?"

She gaped back at me.

I didn't even explain, I just grabbed my movie and left shouting over my shoulder: "You have my information in the database! In case you really think I did anything which I didn't!"

My friend turned to me incredulously as we rushed out. "Now she is really going to think you killed someone. Why did you say that?!"

"I don't know!" I cried. "I don't know why I say most of the things I do!"

"Well, look at it this way: now the cops will show up and you can point them in the right direction."

The cops never showed up, so this girl is an asshole too. She missed her chance at being a decent human being SO I'M NOT ALONE. It did make me think though and realize that: 1. I can never go back into that Blockbuster again, and 2. I needed to grow the fuck up and stop being a whiny little girl.

Sometimes during this challenge I have moments of unexpected greatness. I've blown myself away (in a really humble fashion) with how I've handled this trial. More often, however, I'm a drunk midget and I don't want to be a drunk midget any longer. I want to fill those big girl shoes and work it. It's as simple as JUST DOING IT and setting my can of mace down for awhile.

This post is filled with many analogies and even a Nike slogan, so I know it's confusing. My point is: figure out the kind of person that you are and own it. Make mistakes, but learn from them. Never, ever allude to murdering someone because people don't forget that shit and I'm probably going to get arrested.

Most of all, tell your husband that he is right. Because he is. This time.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


My Mom called me this afternoon and asked if she could interview me for class. "It's a piece on welfare abuse. Could I ask you a few questions?" I was honestly flattered she wanted to interview me, and since I was spending my day in one of Brett's old work shirts, drinking coffee and youtubing cat and baby videos, I was grateful for a bit of brain stimulation. "I think I can make some time this afternoon." I said carefully, because I never like to make myself appear too available. "Or in 5 minutes. Whatever you prefer."

My Mom sighed deeply. "I'll call you in 5 minutes."

I stretched my legs, refilled my cup and 5 minutes later my phone rang. I didn't answer because I was still putting sugar in my coffee. My phone rang again and I picked it up and sang out a long 'hellooooooooo!' She wasn't pleased.

"Where in the hell did you go in 5 minutes?"

It was my turn to sigh as I licked a crust of sugar off the end of my mug. "Mom. I am a very busy and important person. I can't tell you where I was. It's top secret."

"You're a jerk."

"Well, I'm feeling like you are not being a very professional interviewer right now."

"Melissa Beth!" she cried, exasperated. "Ok, fine. Interview starts now."


"Mom? Are you going to ask me any questions?"

"What do you think I should ask? I don't know how to interview people. I'm a nursing student. You're the writer. Just come up with some questions and then answer them for me. Let me grab a pen..."

"Soooo, you want me to interview myself?"

"You've never had a problem talking before."

"Wow. I'm really surprised CNN hasn't hired you to be a hard hitting journalist. Your skills are amazing."


I took a long pause, slurping my coffee into the phone as I pondered her question. Finally, choosing my words carefully, I offered: "It's bad."

She declared the interview was over.

Before you think I am a total and heartless bitch, I actually love my Mom very much and we laughed about the "interview" on the phone for a long time. We're barely 19 years apart, and I know that the way we interact is hard for some people to wrap their minds around. The first time I brought Brett home he looked on in wide eyed- horror as my Mom and I traded zings across the table. In my family, calling someone "a little shit" is a way of saying you really, really love someone. Cooking my family a big dinner one night I dropped a pan on the floor, badly burning it. My Mom has not fixed the burn, instead fondly pointing to it and calling it the time "Melissa ruined everything." Fuck the pictures of me on the walls. That's my real mark.

About an hour or so later I found myself at my in-laws for Sunday dinner and 7-loads-of-laundry-because-it's-free night. We all cooked together, meaning I read the Sunday funnies out loud while drinking wine at the table as they cooked. Tonight I was amazed at how natural it has come to feel hanging with my in-laws alone. I've always loved them, don't get me wrong, but they were always, intrinsically, his. In marriage sometimes the lines are drawn. You love the other side, but not as much. You fight in hushed whispers over where to spend holidays, who to vacation with, etc. Luckily, we haven't had a marriage like that, but as fond as I was of my in-laws they didn't actually feel like mine until Brett moved away.

And then here I was, stretched out on their rug, cuddling their dog as they made me a delicious dinner.

Reverting to childhood much?

Over dinner as we laughed and ate and enjoyed one another, they both gave me some pretty huge compliments that made my face go all weird. I never, ever know what to do when someone says something about me that is truly kind. The first time Brett told me he loved me my face turned to gummy and I think I looked like I had a stroke on the left side or something.

Super attractive.

Tonight, my in-laws basically gave me a thumbs up about where I am in my future career and who I may be becoming as a woman. They even complimented my skin, which was great because I had spent all night in a gay bar and was struggling to conceal a giant stamp of a bunny on my right wrist. It was just...nice to hear that I'm doing ok. I'll admit that I need vocal affirmation once and awhile. I'm not a robot. I need to hear that I am loved, liked, ok, doing well, exfoliating properly. It's a basic human need, and as long as I don't indulge it unhealthily, it's normal.

They may not be super jazzed that I insist on being a writer, and my Mom may not be thrilled that she has such a sarcastic daughter- but they claim me and love me, and it felt really wonderful to be someone's kid tonight.

There are times I demand to be taken seriously, and I wear heels and pearls and I'm bitchy and efficient and tired, tired, tired. So it was great to check in with the ones that sustain me while Brett is away...and let them parent.

My Mom ended up staying on the phone with me long after our very successful Katie Couric-style interview. She read my newest blog out loud to me on the phone and had to stop several times because she was laughing so hard. (To be fair, my Mom laughs at everything, so I'm not claiming to be the next Tina Fey or anything, ok?) Hearing her laugh through the phone, I actually started to cry a little bit from happiness. I was sitting in a slant of sunlight. I was wrapped in beloved cotton and had a delicious cup of coffee in my hands. Someone that loves me was laughing over something I had created.

It was a pretty perfect moment.

Today I was more than a wife. I was a daughter.

I can't forget that that is where I started...and will always, always be.

"Hi, My Name is Carla..."

This weekend I went out on a date. Dates are imperative when your husband lives 2,568 miles away. I called my Mom to tell her.

"YOU'RE GOING ON A DATE?!" she exploded. "Melissa, listen- I KNOW you miss Brett, but...don't go on a date. You're being ridiculous."

I held the phone up to my zipper and zipped it slowly. "Hear that, Mom?" I asked. "That was me zipping up a really fabulous dress. It makes my boobs look great. I am so excited for this date."

I was just being a little shit because the date in question was a "date" with my very handsome, very gay friend Andrew. I eventually told her, don't worry. I'm not totally heartless. Not totally.

Over drinks in the city Andrew learned I had never been to the Castro. He couldn't handle it, especially when I asked him if there were any gay bars there. "It's the CASTRO. God. Get your coat. We're going now." Soon we were running through the wet streets of the city, arm and arm and I couldn't help but think this was the most non-romantic/romantic date ever. It was as if a swell of music should have been playing as we laughed and ran with our hair floating behind us. (er, me.) I actually started humming my own theme music as we came upon the first bar, but it was pulsing a Taylor Swift re-mix so I had to give it up.

Andrew planted a vodka drink in my hand (I was not allowed to drink beer,) and got down to business. "Ok." He whispered conspiratorially. "What's our story?"

I bobbed up and down on the balls of my feet excitedly. "Oooh! this is FUN!" Dropping my voice to a whisper I replied: "I got it. We're both students at Cal, I study English, you study Anthro-"

"Melissa, that is our actual story."

"Oh. Right. Ok, how about this? I study comparative literature at Cal, you study...bones..."

He cut me off. "Ok, this is our story. We're roommates. Your name is Carla. We live in New York city but we are here scoping out an opportunity for my medical residency next year. We go to Columbia, you can study English if you want because you're pretty bent on that- and we leave Tuesday. We're both 25."

A new identity is magic.

I suddenly felt so mysterious and empowered for some reason. Like I had a veil around me that allowed a whole different, 25 year old side of me to come out. Maybe that's what everyone goes on about role playing.

I turned to a couple next to me and stuck out my hand. "Hi. I'm Carla from New York and I am 25. I leave Tuesday."


We ended up having an amazing night. Gay men really seem to like the kooky straight girl that can't get her fake name right. I have never danced more, laughed more, or been showered with more compliments. I even took the back-handed ones, like the drag queen who told me that he "simply needed to do something with that hair." After we partied ourselves out Andrew and I got into pajamas and fell asleep watching the movie "Babies."

How is that not the most perfect evening imaginable?

So this morning I am a bit hungover, I'm creaking in joints that up until now have never protested, but I'm feeling very loved and fulfilled and lucky. Yes, my husband is 2,568 miles away, but he has a wife that is actually living and not draped over her couch covered in dried dustings of cake. Anymore. A date, whether with a great friend or a date by yourself is essential in life. Sometimes we need to shave our legs, do something with "that" hair, drink a little wine, and dance.

If I can't love 'Carla', how can I expect anyone else to?

Date yourself. You'll thank me later.

Friday, November 4, 2011


When I was a little girl I would fill journals with ideas of the kind of woman I was going to be. I was very specific, too. "Dolphin Trainer" "Marry Joey Lawrence." "Famous lead singer of an all-girl U.K. band." Never mind that I was crap at swimming, could be Joey Lawrence's child, and funnily not British. I was bent on being a really fabulous woman. I would write letters to myself thinking I would read them in the future. They would say things like: "GET OUT of Belmont and MAKE SURE you get famous before 18!!!!!!!!!!!! IF YOU ARE NOT FAMOUS BY 18 AND READING THIS, try for 22." I don't know why I was so specific or so weird, but I still have the journals, so the proof is there.

Proof that I have always been this way, I guess.

As I grew up I was a pretty fabulous person, in my humble and narcissistic opinion. I knew I wasn't going to be popular by being pretty, (this is not me fishing for a compliment. I am well aware that I'm not an ogre or anything, but let's face it...I had a uni-brow until I was 17 and people always told me I looked like that "sweet little girl that died" ANNE FRANK. I had no lofty ideas, ok?) So, I became funny. Well, funny-ish. Ok, obnoxious. I was loud, I was weird, I did things for attention like pin garbage in my hair and roll one pant leg up as high as it would go. The day the most popular girl, Sam Flynn, (hi Sam,) came into English class with some wrappers and garbage in HER hair, I knew I made it.

And then I had a horrible botched gallbladder surgery when I was 17, lost about 35 pounds, and a few boys started noticing me.

High school was a dream.

Surprisingly, (or stupidly,) I stuck to my dream of being famous. After a few years of idling my time away in Belmont I quit my job, packed up my car and headed for the bright lights of...Palo Alto, California. (Yeah, overshot a bit north of Hollywood.) I quickly figured out that I was a horrible actress, so I just decided to make my own adventures. I applied for a job as a bartender, and when they asked me if I had experience, I just swallowed my catholic guilt and lied boldly. "Yes. I'm actually a really, really good one too. I'm good at making the...drinks."

I had never bartended in my life, save the one time I made a bunch of drinks I dubbed "The Melissa" and 4 of my friends threw up after one. But I was determined. I got the job.

I lost the job 3 weeks later.

The thing was, I was 21 in California, I had about 20 dollars to my name, but I still managed to make life one grand adventure. I taught myself how to bake. I tried every job out there that I could. I made interesting friends, interesting memories, and traveled on a dime. Maybe it wasn't what society expected of me, but it was my adventure. I may have been flawed, but I sure as hell was interesting.

I grew up, as people do, and had different adventures. I met/stalked/married Brett. I put myself through school as I tried (and ended up loving,) being a nanny. I traveled with Brett- more adult travel now, but as fulfilling as traveling with nothing. We had champagne on the top of the Eiffel Tower, we walked beaches of southern Italy, we swam in the Mediterranean. We snuck boxed wine into the Vatican. We adventured.

So, this leads me to tonight. A night where I came home from a full day and collapsed on my couch. I greedily reached for my laptop, and before I knew it I had spent the entire evening watching T.V. on my computer. Darkness settled around the un-tended corners of my apartment, I still had my jacket on, and when I snapped the lid shut of my laptop I blinked rapidly when I was suddenly plunged into darkness. I contemplated sleep.

It was 7:10 pm.

Staggering to the bathroom, remembering I had dinner plans with a friend, I looked at my face hard in the mirror. I looked- tired. I looked lined and washed out and so very tired. I was horrified when I realized the only thing I wanted to do was put on pajamas and sleep. I AM 28 YEARS OLD. On Friday nights of my past I was usually painting or singing or discovering...something. And all I wanted to do was curl up in a bed and be...uninteresting.

It made me think of the T.V. show I had watched that evening. A couple was talking about how they were in a rut and how they had lost their "spunk". An evening happened that ended where their car was stolen and they were more concerned about the pot pies they had left in the back seat for dinner.

I totally related.

NOTHING sounded better to me than a good pot pie and my fuzzy socks. But, I rallied. I even pulled a brush through my hair and joined my friend for dinner.

I had a great time.

I'm not trying to say that we all need to shirk responsibility and cater to every selfish need to live out our own adventures. Marrying Joey Lawrence would indeed be selfish because while it may be "exciting" 1.) I am so not attracted to him anymore. Google him. 2.) WHO THE FUCK KNOWS WHO HE IS? and, also, I married someone that at 10 years old, is dreamy enough that if handed his picture, I would have swooned on the spot. Joey Lawrence who?

THE THING IS: we have to create our own adventures. I confess I looked in the mirror tonight and wondered if I would ever be exciting again. In fact, the other day, a sweet, stupid woman told me that the only thing I had to look forward to was raising a family. "You've done it all, sweetheart," she trilled. "You have one last adventure in your life."

What she didn't realize is that she was wrong. Yes, a family is an adventure on my horizon, but it is not my only one. I may be tired right now, but there is so much more to come. You cannot be a crazy broad like me and not have something brewing on the back burner. There will be trips, hopefully books, failures, frustrations, laughter, love, blood, tears, maybe zombies. I may need to take a pause right now, but I am only as old as I define.

I am the author of my adventures, and I'm not giving up. There may be new lines on my face, but they are lines I will add to the pages of the book of my life.

I'm still exciting. I'm still learning. And who knows?

Maybe garbage in the hair is the next big thing.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day.

Today was the kind of day where I came home an had to massage my jaw because it was aching from clenching it for hours. I hate days like these. I knew as soon as my feet touched the floor that I should probably spare the public and not mingle amongst them because of my foul mood. My entire walk to school I tried snapping myself out of it, but I knew it was over the moment I silently seethed as the barista at my local coffee shop took my order, took my money, and then didn't come back for 25 MINUTES with my coffee. There was a man standing next to me as I paced the floor in demonstrative annoyance, his eyes warily flicking over me and my rigid composure. I was a bit sweaty. I was late, and I was acting like an ogre.

Not my best moment, unfortunately.

It was downhill from there. My coffee exploded on me in class. It started raining on my way to my internship, and I was wearing summer clothes. When I finally made it to the office, soaked to the bone, I realized I needed to step out again to pick up a package. I stopped in to my friend's office on the way out and asked to use her umbrella for the long walk. She sheepishly smiled at me and procured a child's dalmatian umbrella, complete with two floppy dog ears and a bright red tongue that was hanging off the front. "I grabbed this from my niece this morning. It has a hole in it, but we can just duct tape it up and it will do the trick!"

So there I was, 20 minutes later at a busy intersection with flip flops on, soaking wet, and awkwardly bending under a giant cartoon dog's flimsy shield. Do you think I felt grateful that I was at least protected from the pounding rain? Well, I did, actually- but not as grateful as I should have been.

I whipped out my cellphone and dialed my Mother. "Let me just tell you exactly what I look like right now." I said the second she picked up the phone. "I am soaked. I am under a leaky dog umbrella. I think I HAVE SNOT RUNNING DOWN MY FACE, but I am not quite sure. It could be anything at this point, really." Of course she broke into peals of laughter, and demanded a blow-by-blow detailed description of the giant dog ears that were bending under the weight of the rain. A block later I was feeling better. So I called a friend and shared it with her as well.

I absolutely needed to laugh about my day because it was so fucking ridiculous. And I knew I needed to snap out of it because the only reason the day was so bad was because I decided it would be the second I opened my eyes. Of course, battling the desire to drag the shitty day out turned into a constant one. I bristled when I was doing laundry and saw someone was just having their crap hang out in a washing machine, rendering one only usable. My microwave beeped innocently 3 times to signal that dinner was done and I wanted to toss it out the window. HOW DARE YOU BEEP WHEN I AM TYPING. YOU ARE SO RUDE, MICROWAVE. Seconds before Brett and I chatted on the phone I had to remind myself that it was not his fault that it rained today or that we had bought a microwave together that beeped. I actually had to say these things to myself. You know why? Because it is so easy to be angry. To blame. To point fingers and take a simple off day and blow it entirely out of proportion.

Bad days when I lived with my husband were very different. I remember one day I stomped in the door, jumped into the shower, and probably brattily did not offer a kiss or a decent "hello." When I was finishing up a note slipped under the bathroom door. All it said was, "Drink This. I'll make dinner." I opened the door to find a very full glass of wine resting on the floor.

He didn't get into my face and call me out for being a world class jerk, but he did remind me that there are other people in my life and my general moods affect them. It's okay to be selfish once and awhile, but there is really no excuse for being an asshole.

I sat on the floor in my pink bathrobe and slowly sipped the wine. And then I got up, ate dinner with my husband, and did the dishes as a thank you. And I kissed him hello.

Living alone creates an environment where you can stew in your own juices forever if you don't snap the fuck out of it. So you have to get creative. You have to call your Mom as you are under a dog umbrella fishing your floating flip flop out of a storm drain. You have to laugh about it all. (But maybe after shedding a few frustrated tears.)

I am not letting the day get the best of me. Maybe I do have to write a paper tonight on a book that I (ahem) have not finished. Maybe no one is leaving me notes under the door with a glass of wine, (I'd probably call the cops if someone did,) However, I am fully capable of creating my own happy. It doesn't have to come from anyone else. At least not this time.

I guess this "wife experiment" is paying off.

It helps that the fucking microwave is now unplugged.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why can't all my friends live in my sweater closet?

Not creepy at all....

Being a "separated wife" (Brett hates when I say that, but it is technically true grammatically and globally, but whatever,) It is imperative for me to maintain my female relationships so I don't 1.) Only talk to my fish, and 2.) lose my fucking mind. Tonight was a quintessential girly night. 3 girls, 2 1/2 bottles of wine, one plastic Edward doll from "Twilight" and a burger run in pajamas.

If only men knew how simple it is to win over a females heart. I swear to God if Brett came home with a Bella doll for my Edward and a bottle of red wine wrapped in french fries, I would marry him all over again.

I love the fact that each of my girlfriends arrived in her pajamas. I think when I opened my apartment door and my friend Anja immediately started changing in to colorful plush pants my heart skipped a beat or two. After 3 glasses of wine my "Twilight" Edward doll came out. I understand this might be a bit creepy, but let me emphasize the fact that HE ACTUALLY LIVES IN MY SWEATER CLOSET, SO IT'S NOT LIKE HE'S OUT ALL THE TIME. In fact, he only comes out for special occasions. And tonight was a special occasion for sure.

Still decked out in pajamas we decided to cross the street for some really good burgers. And then it only seemed natural to stop by the local theater and purchase our "Breaking Dawn" tickets for the showing 16 DAYS AWAY. AND THEN it only seemed MORE natural to pose with the movie poster. I mean, why not, right? It is totally normal for two slightly tipsy woman in their late 20's to pose with a picture of a teen-age girl lusting over a dead, vampired young man.

It was the sort of night that I really needed, even though I am mid-week through a crazy scholastic time. When we all got back home and everyone was packing up to return to their boyfriends I had to suppress a twinge of frustration that sprung up sort of maniacally. I wanted to keep these girls here with me all night long! Why did they have to go crawl into the beds of the men that they love? Couldn't they stay with me, HERE, in my sweater closet with Edward?

It sort of made me chuckle later when I was alone with my thoughts and 3 smeared wine glasses. I was amazed at how incredibly selfish I am in my relationships. I want them to come over, make me laugh, eat junk food with me as we stayed up talking all night. Leaving was never an option. It never even danced across the outer stage of my mind, actually. How sad was that? That sort of realization made me examine other relationships in my life and wonder if I was hoarding them away as well. Did I allow people to flow through my life freely and of their own accord, or did I try to dam up their waters?

The thing is, tonight was amazing. I don't think I laughed more, wore uglier clothing, or consumed as much fat as I did tonight. But it also made me see that if we really love the people in our life, we have to love them without concrete expectations.

If my loved one was only a car ride away, you best know that I would party with my friends before I sleepily curled next to him hours later. I'm actually so proud and so happy that my girlfriends are both in such loving, healthy, and lovely relationships. I think I can share them. I better learn how, because Edward takes up a lot of room in that closet.

You know how the quote goes...the tighter you clutch on to sand, the faster it slips between your fingers. I think I clutch on to too much in life. I'm going to release the grip a bit from here on out and see where the kernels of sand fall.

I'm grateful for my gorgeous friends, for their happiness, and for pajama pants that come in neon colors. I can relax into that. I can enjoy that for every ounce of what it is worth.

I can open my palm and see where things flow.

By the way, in a completely unrelated note, a bunch of people are screaming on my street right now...and for about 5 seconds I thought it was a Zombie apocalypse.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Zombie Fighter

A friend recently turned me on to zombies. He kept extolling the virtues of the genre until I gave in- even though I told him that the movie "The Princess Bride" scarred me for life.

That fucking rat that fights Wesley. Do you blame me?

So, on Halloween, fresh off of my vomit-free flight, I settled in with some zombie movies and a very large glass of wine. To my complete surprise, I wasn't scared. I was enchanted, really. Disgusted, yes- but utterly and totally enchanted. The next day when I called to thank him he asked me a question that sort of turned my world upside down. "Do you think you would survive a zombie apocalypse? I mean, there is a quiz online that can tell you if you would. But, do you think you could?"

I started the quiz about 20 minutes before I was supposed to be in class, and not surprisingly abandoned the whole thing when the questions got too long. On my walk to campus, however, I could not shake the connection that was forming in my head. To me, at least right now, surviving a zombie apocalypse feels a hell of a lot like surviving this year. Do I have the smarts? The skills? The innate desire for survival? Would I be the one pulling it together, making it to the end or would I be the poor fuck that gets bitten and demolished a few scenes in?

Would I let this get the best of me?

Here is something you should know about me. I can shoot a gun while holding a beer, but I also cry over paper cuts. Brett said it most eloquently: "You are the kind of woman that cries over small stuff, but triumphs over the real, scary things in life. You could deliver a baby without a whimper, but you will sob over a simple wound." THIS IS TRUE. I will go on about how cold it is outside, and whine and wail my way through a winter, but the day my car got stuck in a snowy ditch during the worst storm of the year I fashioned a flag out of a sweatshirt and stayed warm and safe (in the car) for 7 HOURS. Soon, a plow truck happened upon the scarlet shirt waving it's call in the stormy air and I was "saved." And dry eyed. Real shits got nothin' on me.

My friend's question made me analyze the kind of woman and wife that I was. Would I fight to the death, or abandon ship when the going got rough? Would I be the kind of person that would wield weapons and protect the ones I love, or would I be sniveling in the corner?

This is what I came to: I am afraid, admittedly, of the small things in life. I jump at shadows, I sleep with a light on, I lay awake in bed at night mentally walking myself through my sins. But, at the same time: I kill spiders with nary a hesitation, I boldly fight for my education and my voice and I don't back down, I have run for my life, I have fought for things I am passionate about, and I never show sweat where sweat should not be seen.

Maybe we should all act like we are on the brink of a zombie apocalypse. Where would you stand? Would you help board doors or would you tear them down in panic?

We definitely have the choice in life. We can sweat the small stuff, but rise to the occasion when the occasion presents itself. And people: the occasion is presenting itself. Right now. Now is the time.

Kiss the person you love. Take the class you always wanted to take. Get into the best shape of your life. Tell that one horrible thing in your life that it is forgiven. Fight. Bear arms. Stand up for what is yours and what is sacred and what is beautiful.

I'd totally be the chick making it to the end of the zombie flick, bud light in hand. I can wield a gun. I can make you love me. I can shoot you dead.

It's all in my control.

It's all in your control.