Sunday, September 29, 2013

It's not you, it's D.


What a yucky word, right? But, I had to start the blog off this way. I had to start with this word, this real- ugly word because this is the right way to break the ice.

It's like yelling at a party: "I have herpes!" (I mean, if you do, you should yell it out at a party, because everyone that possibly wants your vagina deserves to know.)

Like divorce. People deserve to know...

That I'm divorced.

Try yelling that out at a party. It's SUPER fun.



The thing is: it's ok. It really is. There was no blood, scandal, closet lovers or anything like that. We're super unoriginal when it comes to anything interesting. We're not a Mexican soap-opera. (Although I wish we were sometimes because that shit is fascinating.) We're Two people that fell in love and then fell out of love and decided to move on.

Sometimes the most painful things we have to go through in life are pretty basic. They are a streamlined, step-by-step journey that we just...get through. I hate to sound like a Hallmark card, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. There is always a silver lining around a cloud. Sometimes you go through something really shitty, but you know it is for the best and you keep trucking and try to drink a lot of wine with you girlfriends to get through it.

And it works.

So this blog is now kaput. I loved doing it. I really did. I loved connecting with other wives from miles away. I loved being a part of this community that was about supporting and loving someone from far away. I got e-mails from wives that had husbands deployed. I had women reach out that had recently become widowed. I had readers in China, London, Australia, Iraq, Ireland. THE MOON. (just kidding,) I mean. I had readers. I had people that listened and cared. This thing...this project...was awesome.

So, while the blog is done, I'll leave you with this. Love is worth it. Ok? Fight for it. Work for it. Try.

I did that, and I'm happy now where it led me, and I'm confident in the fact that I gave it my all.

And he did too.

And life is still funny, and weird, and good.

(And I have a chihuahua that thinks he is a cat. And I moved across the country. And I woke up this afternoon with said chihuahua sleeping ON MY FACE. And I felt loved. So, seriously. Life is good.)

Thank you all.

Goodnight for now.

See you in the morning.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

I'M TURNING 30 OMG WHY IS THIS HAPPENING. Also, let me tell you what I learned.


I turn 30 tomorrow.

Which is what it is.

The funny thing about 30 is that- it being a milestone birthday- everyone wants in. I've gotten all sorts of advice/affirmations/weird comments. Some of my favorites:

"30 is SO sexy. You just feel sexy all the time. And your consistent sex is just...consistent. And SO sexy. You're going to love it." (helpful, thanks.)

"It's not the end of the world. Shut up. I'm 50, you baby. Stop whining." (Thanks Mom.)

"You're never, going to be, like, in your 20's again. Does that make you sad? They're like...gone." (...)

"You're turning 30?! THAT'S AWESOME! Soooo...when are you going to have a baby?!" (Christ.)

So let's just get a few things straight. I'm turning 30 tomorrow. I woke up this morning on my Mother's couch. With my dog eating my hair, turning my neck into his own personal drooled up slippy slide. wearing pajamas with smiling clocks on them. As far as I know there is no baby in my belly.

And I'm pretty ok with that.

This is why:

The other night I got to thinking about how much I have learned in my 29th year alone. Which is pretty remarkable. We learn things through life, sure. But, the things I feel I have learned just in the last 12 months make me (reluctantly) embrace this new chapter called 30. So, let me share a few of these life lessons with you. Maybe they will help you. Maybe they will help you think that I am a slow learner. Maybe you will find me a genius and ask me to be your personal life coach. I don't know. Let's just go with whatever you feel, ok?

Things I learned as a 29 Year Old

It's Perfectly Acceptable To See A Dog, Fall In Love, And Take Him Home After Paying A Hefty Price To Make Sure He Has A Good Home. With You. (Sleeping Between Your Legs Which Makes It Difficult When You Want To Turn Over. Or You Know, Stretch.)
My dog, Sedaris, was definitely not part of the plan. The fact that I slipped on my flip flops today and realized that they were completely chewed through- rendering them not usable- was not part of the plan either. But you know what? Flip flops are replaceable...the way I feel looking into his cute and weird little face every morning is not. Sometimes you have to take a leap. A very expensive leap. It's worth it.

Also, plans are stupid.

It's Important To Surprise Yourself. And Not Just In The Way That Happens After Trying On Bikinis After Eating Bean Dip.
I surprised myself constantly in my 29th year. I was surprised that I finally mastered a perfectly roasted chicken. I surprised myself by following that up by become a passionate vegetarian. I surprise myself by remembering french phrases that seem to come out of nowhere when I'm tipsy or angry or tipsy and angry or cooking. Or cooking while I am tipsy and angry. I surprise myself by: Hiking the second largest mountain in the Adirondacks IN THE SNOW WITH SNOW SHOES ON. Finishing that book that I felt in the beginning I "couldn't understand." Forgiving someone I never thought I could. Using self tanner and failing at it and still finding it a worthwhile experience. Making that call. Sending that letter. Falling in love. Taking a long drive alone. Being ok alone. Writing something that surprises even me. Taking a chance. Another chance. Getting food poisoning and laughing about it, because that shit is funny. Painting. Not painting. Loving. Not loving.

Bottom line: I learned how exciting it is to find yourself in the middle of something- be it a botched self tanner experiment or the best short story you have ever written in your life- and to sit back, smile, and say: "Damn Girl. That was pretty unexpected. Nice work." 

Own your experience. Whatever it may be.

Your Family Is The Source Of Your Humor If You Open Yourself Up To The Fact That Allowing That Humor In Will Also Bring Therapy.
Anyone who has met my family knows that they are ridiculous. And weird. And conniving. And dark. And judgemental. But they are also the funniest fucking people on the planet, and until I realized this (in my 29th year!) I was never really able to appreciate them fully.

(Because we are all flawed. And dark. And we are all assholes. Stop lying to yourself. It's true. You're totally an asshole sometimes.)

My family are the kind of people that in one day will call me: stupid, lame, annoying, obnoxious...beautiful, incredible, smart, vivacious, and loving. My Mom still tries to call people that I am upset with to "give them a piece of her mind." Like she is Tony Soprano or something. I learned to find humor in all of these moments. And it was the best thing I could ever do.

Because they are funny as shit.

Be Ok With You Even If The Applebees Waiter is Decidedly NOT Ok With You.
One thing I learned:
I am me. I'm loud. I will order things on the menu that do not exist...calm down bro. I'm impossible sometimes. I'm opinionated, and easily get frustrated during Scrabble, and I can't always remember the names of the authors I have devoted my life to studying. (The other day I said I loved Dickens-Dickenson and THAT IS NOT A PERSON OR AUTHOR. IT IS A WEIRD COLLABORATION THAT SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN OF TWO NAMES AND I SHOULD HAVE MY BERKELEY CARD REVOKED.

But you know what: That's me. That's imperfect-little tummy-loud-weird-karaoke loving-chihuahua owning-margarita loving me. I have big boobs, no ass, a big brain, no lips, a big mouth, little restraint, lots of love to give, no filter....and...

I'm just me.

And I'm ok with me.

So this is what I've learned in my 29th year. A year of mistakes, triumphs, personal loss, personal growth, burritos, puppies, family, laughs, tears, scabs, wounds, heals, God, life, death, Vegans, renewal, and roses.

Not a bad year at all.

I'm ready for you, 30.

I hope you are ready for me.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Day I Stopped Caring What People Think. Because People That Love You Will Support Your Life Choices As Long As They Don't Involve Cocaine. (Or: The Day I Adopted Sedaris.)

I could you NOT take him home?

It might come as a surprise to some people, but a large part of the past 7 years of my life were made up of rules. While I was still a carefree individual, happy to go with my heart on a few things, the bones of my existence were rigid ideas of Right and Wrong. What I Should Do and What I Shouldn't Do. Black and White. Yes and No. There was little room for "maybes", "why nots" and delicious spontaneity. I had a very specific 5 year plan. And I clung desperately to it, blinders firmly blocking out anything but what was in front of me.

But, the blinders were ripped off. The 5 year plan crumbled. And that's how I found myself sitting on the floor of my Mom's kitchen, holding a puppy I had newly adopted in my lap as I bitterly cried and wondered oh my God what did I just do.


The day before I had first seen the puppy in an unexpected trip to buy cucumbers. (Because that happens to normal people all the time.) I saw him. I held him. I found myself asking when he would be ready to go home with me. My Mom stood next to me, and when I was presented with paperwork she started awkwardly giggling. "Uh...Mel..." she sang, trying to gently pry the puppy out of my hands. "You're're going through a lot right now...are you sure about this, sweetheart?"

I looked down into his little face. And his little paws desperately trying to climb into my shirt to be smuggled back with me to my sad little weird life. And I knew I was sure- but I did the rational thing.  I took a million pictures of him on my phone, stuck them on Instagram, and said that I would sleep on it.

I did this because it wasn't "right." It wasn't something "I should do." I was in the middle of a major life change, I was moving alone across the country, and as timing goes- this specific time to go home with a puppy sucked. A puppy was something you adopted with your husband. One year before you tried for a family. One year after you moved into your first house. 5 years after you got married. These were very real ideas I had about life, and I couldn't shake them.

What the hell was I doing in Ohio...alone...trying to go home with a puppy?

I wrestled with these ideas all night, trying to break down the limiting boundaries I had put on my life, and just as I was about to fall asleep my Mom came into my room and sat at the foot of my bed.

"I think you would be really, really good for that dog. And I think he would be really, really good for you. And tomorrow I'm taking you back to him, and you're going to take him home." 

When I tried to argue she just shook her head sadly. "No- Melissa...I was wrong to doubt you. You've been doubted so much. There is no perfect time to do things in life. So, why not make the perfect time now?"

So the next day we picked him up. After I spent about 32749832749 dollars on new things for him. And as soon as we came home, and he sat in my lap and looked up at me...I started crying.

The weight of this decision- my first decision made alone in a long time- really weighed on me. My Mom found me crying into a pot holder and immediately freaked out. "Oh my God...did he bite you?!"

"No." I wailed. "Well, yes. A lot...but...what did I do?! Everyone is going to think I'm crazy. Everyone is going to think this was a bad, uneducated choice! Everyone is going to think I'm impulsive, and destructive, and making wrong choices! Everyone is going to be so upset with me."

"Who's "everyone"? She asked.

"Everyone." I weakly returned.

And then she said the equivalent to: "Fuck them" but my Mom doesn't really use that word, so it could have been some weird made-up swear because that's what she does. But, she did it emphatically. She emphatically fake-swear-reminded me that this was my life and it was up to me to fill it with the beautiful things I wanted to fill it with. And maybe even the beautiful mistakes I wanted to fill it with. And whatever the hell else I wanted to fill it with.

And then she wiped my eyes on the pot holder. And I blew my nose in to it, because I'm gross. And then I took my new little part of my life out for a walk.

It was the first time he had ever seen grass. As he stood, quivering at the edge of the sidewalk, pacing excitedly back and forth...he looked up at me, as if asking for permission to step into the green unknown. I smiled and nudged him forward.

"Jump in, little one." I said.

And he stepped back.

Readied himself.

And leaped forward.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

I Support You. And Your Oil Habit.

I was sitting in a living room with a bunch of my Mom's friends, watching her nervously stack her notes against her thigh while I nervously stacked cheese into my mouth. We were at an event she was hosting- for a product my Mom had suddenly and passionately attached herself to and wanted to sell. She had discovered the healing benefits of essential oils, and now her house smelled like a Catholic church and she had this new job. I questioned this new endeavor of hers, and was not at all on the slippery oil bandwagon. In fact, I sort of teased her about it mercilessly, even right up until she had dragged me to this party for support where I supported myself with dairy products. She caught my eye mid-cramming-my-mouth and walked over, clutching a machine that looked like a robot hand.

"For God sake put the cheese down and let me read your imbalances."

"My what?"

"Your imbalances. It will tell you what your system is lacking, and then we can find the right oils to balance you."

"I bet Melissa's system isn't lacking wine." My 19 year old sister chirped next to me, as I fixed her with a glare. "I saw you have a glass before we came here, even though Mom said it would throw your balance off." She whispered.

"You never go to a tupperware party, an oil party, or any party that sells glass swan figurines without a glass of wine." I hissed. "Life lesson. Tuck it away."

Mom sighed loudly while attaching the robot hand to me, hooking it to a computer that immediately whirred to life. I admit I sat transfixed as it clicked and sorted colorful looking charts that were apparently reading my cheesy, wine rich sweat. A few minutes later it slowed considerably, before shooting a number across the screen. We all leaned forward to read the verdict...which basically said something along the lines that I was dying, a disappointment as a daughter, and should be covered in oils constantly.

Of course. 

"You need balance in your life, Melissa."

I needed more cheese.

The rest of the party had us sitting in a circle, passing oils around and rubbing it into our temples, the bottoms of our feet, and underneath our tongues. I felt like I was at a massage party gone wrong, and when they passed the lavender oil (for sleep) I accidentally dropped the contents of the entire bottle into my crotch. So, there I sat, with the room getting hotter,  and my warm little body became a natural diffuser. Essentially my vagina began putting me to sleep. My head lolled back on the couch as I struggled to stay awake, and my Mom's face was victorious. "See?! NATURAL. OILS. It works! You're tired!"

"I also smell like a prostitute from the Biblical times." I sleepily answered.

"I wish you wouldn't joke about this. I care about this. Can you try a little?"

It was a weak moment for me. I was drugged out on lavender, I was lubed up like a body wrestler, and I very much wanted to be away from the nonsense that was this party. "Listen Mom- good for you, ok? But, I'm going to go home. This is all...too crazy for me."

I wanted to take it back as soon as I said it, but her face fell as she nodded. "You're right. Ok. Go home. See you later?"

As I drove back home I couldn't stop seeing her face- once so hopeful and then immediately crushed. And I thought oils were crazy? I lived in Berkeley and had pee thrown on me my first day of school! Why couldn't I support her in this one thing when she supported me throughout my whole life?

I was, essentially, an oily douche.


The next morning over coffee, my oily faux pas forgotten, my Mom and I sat on the couch- mapping out my suddenly wide open and terrifyingly empty future. I threw out crazy ideas for the next year: travel more alone, change career paths, maybe revive that once old dream to start a children's theatre. With each idea my Mom nodded and smiled, encouraged and drew up plans. And as I sat cuddled up with her, feeling so supported and buoyed by her love- I realized something.

This was the same woman that LOVED my childhood dream of me being a whale trainer-when I was afraid of swimming. The same woman that published my first poem- which was about a bird that talked to God and then fell out of a tree. This is the woman who high fived me when I told her I wasn't going to college right after high school, but was going to "become a famous actress." Like that's an actual job title or something. She literally stood by and let me do stupid shit all the time because I declared them dreams. 

And I couldn't accept her robot hands and vials of oil.

We can't just let people stand in the wings of our life and cheer us on, only to duck out of the theater when the spotlight swings their way. We have to encourage, we have to rub oil all over ourselves and drink wine after, not before. We have to sometimes support our parent's crazy ideas- even when we think they would be better suited to...oh, I don't know...moving in with us and making us food all day.

Which is why I stood up, rubbed my stomach, and looked at my Mom with a crease of concern. "I've been having stomach problems all day. You wouldn't...happen to have an oil? That could help?"

She smiled at me, understanding my olive (oil) branch I was extending her way, and jumped to her feet.

"I do, actually. And since you're now interested...let's try a few oils! What else is wrong with you?"

"Everything." I answered. And held out my wrists to be anointed.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

So Today I was Totally Selfish and Stupid but God and Ricky Martin Helped.

This girl. I fight for this girl.

This afternoon Brett found me holed up in the bedroom with a stack of New Yorkers, the air conditioner on full blast, and still wearing my green snowflake pajamas from winter with a hole in the crotch.

"Oh my God. Are you sick?"

"Probably." I whined, before pulling the duvet over my head and slinking deeper down into my little cave of disgustingness. "You should go. There's a hole in the crotch of my pajama pants."

"That doesn't really mean anything...but..." he pulled the covers off my head and attempted a look of genuine concern through what I think was him biting back a laugh. "You want lunch? 2pm."

"I can't possibly think about food right now." I snapped. "My life is ending and for some reason all of my pajama pants are going with it. THIS IS THE THIRD PAIR IN A WEEK."

"Maybe you should wear other pants besides...pajama pants?" (this was said in a half whisper because the look I fixed him with most likely made him question everything from his existence to his short marriage to me.) "Just kidding." He recovered, "I LOVE polar bears and snowflakes."

For some reason this made me cry, and as I choked out an apology and laid my head back in my nest of pillows I struggled to say something more. I struggled to explain to him that my lingering sadness was selfish and unfair and he was being patient and everything a best friend should be. Instead, I wiped my eyes roughly and whispered: "I think I need some queso and a margarita."

"Done. Even though queso is gross. But, maybe after you go for a run? And...shower?" He answered, already pulling me into a sitting position. SO, an agreement was reached and I found myself at the gym 20 minutes later, climbing onto the treadmill and  reluctantly stretching my legs through my first mile. By the second mile I started to get into my groove and relax a bit. Going into my third, I got a sharp pain in my lungs and had to stop- surprised at the searing grip on my chest and also feeling super embarrassed because a hot girl next to me was on mile 6. (I was looking at her screen. Obviously.) I slowed to a walk and started blinking back tears.

Because I remembered something.

A few years ago I attended the funeral of the mother of one of my youth group girls. The mother was flawlessly elegant, sporty, young, vivacious. She was taken by cancer and way too soon. And, as I sat in the church that day, my hand coldly nestled in Brett's, my heart breaking for the little girl in the front row that just lost her mom, the pastor said something that I'll never forget. I guess before she knew she had cancer, she was swimming in Lake Tahoe and suddenly had a sharp pain in her side. Instead of giving up in the middle of the lake, flailing her arms for help or to quit, she simply- (and I quote) "swam on the other side. The one that didn't hurt."

Now, I don't think I have cancer- and that is not the point of this. I think I haven't really run in a few weeks and maybe have been eating too much queso. Why this story resonated with me was because at the very moment I was in bed being a douche bag with a hole in my pajama pants my little sister, with Cystic Fibrosis, was actually going in for lung surgery.

I was sitting there and moaning about my life while she fought for hers.

I begrudgingly went for a run she can never take.

And I do believe God smacked me in the lungs and was like: "What's up, asshole? Who do you think you are?!"

Or something like that.

The story of the mom reminded me that we can't just let life cramp us up and bring us down. While she did eventually slip peacefully away, she sure as hell didn't go without a fight. And Kayla, my sister, was fighting miles away. Fighting for every breath and every moment while I sat down and decidedly did not fight. I whined and hid my healthy body under a healthy duvet in my healthy-ish home.

I stepped off the treadmill to catch my breath. And wipe my brow.

And then I put on some Ricky-Fucking-Martin (my go to running jams, sorry,) and climbed back up. And I ran for Kayla. And I ran for the mom. And I ran for me.

And then I ate queso. I'm sorry. It's QUESO. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Don't turn out like me. But, if you turn out a little like me, that's ok.

Trust Me

I was distracted yesterday by all of the facebook posts about National Sibling Day. I scrolled through endless declarations of love, pictures of siblings with their arms draped around eachother's necks, and playful inside jokes peppered throughout my news feed. It made me think of my own 6 (!) siblings and how much I love them. And hate them sometimes. I will do, and have done anything for them. They are my Achilles heel. They are my weak spot. I have driven through the night to help soothe a break up. I've seen my sister's vagina pop out when she gave birth. I've told on my brother when he painted weed paraphernalia all over my mother's attic. I held my sister's hand after a heart transplant, and then brought her junk food the next day. I've changed their diapers, celebrated their successes, shut them in the dryer when we were fighting, and locked them out of the house in a  thunderstorm. They are the only people on the planet that undo me at the same time they make me whole.

I'd kill a bitch for them.

Being the oldest, I feel like I'm constantly wanting to protect them and have them learn from the (very, very many) life mistakes I've packed in over the past 30 years. I know I can't though. I have to sit back and let them get their belly buttons pierced and go on dates with "really, really nice, I swear!" guys that wear Ed Hardy t-shirts AND I CAN'T SAY ANYTHING. However, some mistakes are meant to be made by the oldest so the ones that follow don't have to go through the consequences of them. Which is why I drafted up this list- a love letter of sorts to the younger generation- of Things You Should And Should Not Do Because I Did Them And That's Enough.

Enjoy, my darlings. I messed up/learned a bunch just for you.

Don't trust wild animals that are not afraid of you.
In no particular order I have had: a tarantula follow me aggressively before blocking my path- leaving me stranded on a random hill for an hour, a squirrel try to walk off with my water bottle. (It literally pulled backwards with two little paws until it gave up and tried to climb my leg for it,) and a treed baby bear that was all: "Hey!" and I was like, "Hey! Cute!" and then Brett was all : "IF YOU SEE A TREED BABY BEAR YOU RUN BECAUSE THE MOM IS CLOSE AND WILL EAT YOU."

So, love nature. Just be suspicious of it.

Be nice to the homeless man that says "Good Morning" to you every day, but not to the one that jumps into your face and calls you a "stupid Native American slut."
Surprisingly, the latter cannot be reasoned with. And will throw a soda bottle filled with pee at you.

Carry pepper spray. But test it out before you try to use it. Make sure that when you do use it however, it is not in a windy alley and aimed at your landlord.
I don't think this needs much more of an explanation.

Avoid Captain Morgan at ALL costs.
You will vomit. You will vomit like your stomach is getting turned inside out and your body hates you and is on a singular mission to rid you of all necessary organs. You will probably vomit on wooden floorboards that have tiny cracks that will retain that vomit for years to come. You will embarrass yourself, cry along to the song "Everybody Hurts" on repeat, and then fall asleep in vomit and cold fried chicken. You will be 19 and turned off from alcohol until your 21st birthday...

wait. Maybe that's a good thing- Captain Morgan is awesome. Drink a whole bottle now.

Always splurge on underwear, wine, and good shoes.
Not all together in one purchase, because people will think you are a high end call girl/guy.

Learn how to play an instrument.
Or, just learn a few chords on the guitar and then tell everyone you meet you play. Just don't tell anyone at a bonfire because there sure as hell will be a guitar's like a necessity or something- and then you'll have to awkwardly explain that your fingers hurt to not be found out for your lie.

Don't Lie.
Well, you can lie sometimes. For instance: telling people you are a writer at the show "30 Rock" is a funny lie. Telling someone you love them when you don't: Not so good. Lie carefully and always for creative effect.

Always love your sister Melissa because she was a writer on 30 Rock and can probably buy you a lot of stuff.
Just kidding. But know that I made these mistakes for you. And I cherish the day that you all were born. And I'm so lucky you are in my life.

That's totally not a lie.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Once more for Equality. With Feeling.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

I grew up in a small town in an even smaller house and went to the tiniest high school you can imagine.  (I'm not joking. I'm friends on Facebook with my entire graduating class. There are about 6 1/2 of us.)
My town had the quintessential makings of small-towness. We had a general store where I would buy chocolate milk on the way to school. We had a penny candy store on the river that was run by the town's beloved Sarge and his son who was, in fact, a pedophile that lived in the back room. I spent many happy afternoons walking along the beach before stopping into Sarge's and picking out 100 stale penny candies that I paid for with a crumbled dollar bill I kept shoved into my sneaker. I rode my bike past boy's houses on the lake. I acted out shows in my backyard with friend. I tested out the electric fence that kept in the horses across the road, sacrificing a bird to see if it was on. (Sorry, PETA.) My fingers were almost always stained with blackberries, my shoulders always sunburned, and I lived a sheltered and idyllic life.

And then I met Justin when I went to high school.

Justin was friendly and fun, a spark-plug who sometimes wore eyeliner to school to match his cape. I was desperately in love and thrilled with the fact that my Mom let me go out with him alone for "dates." She would stand in the kitchen as Justin and I rehashed all the gossip from school that day and raise her eyebrows when I asked if we could go to Friendly's for a soda. "Sure." She would carefully reply, as I wondered why she didn't seem to care that I was going out with a boy. "Just- have fun. Lock the door when you come in."

"What if we're super late?" I'd press, and she'd shake her head, confused, as she patted meatloaf into a pan.

"I'm sure you won't be."

She was right of course, Justin was gay and I had no idea at the time. I had no idea because my town didn't exactly have a community where gay people felt free enough to be themselves. Justin grew up in the same small town and disappeared after a breakdown his junior year. It took me years to realize that he was broken down by the community, by a family that couldn't accept him, and he faded away into the folds of society while we ignorantly (and not so ignorantly) stood and watched.

It still haunts me to this day.

I moved away to Berkeley, California, and quickly was swept up into an environment and culture that was so accepting of everyone all the time. It wasn't even about the gay community. All sexual orientations, all religions, all shades, all walks of life- in Berkeley you were loved AND hated, accepted AND spit on equally. It was nirvana. It was the place that I could walk through campus with a police officer, chatting about the safety lecture I had just attended, and as we were caught in a cloud of pot smoke from a barefoot grad student 2 feet in front of us, the officer gently moved me to the side. "Oh, let's get down wind from this guy, unless you have potato chips in your bag." It was a place that accepted the green-haired angry conservative man that came to rant about the war every day in the main quad. I'd watch bleeding liberals leave him wrapped sandwiches and cups of coffee as he marched around, screaming his argument out on forgiving ears. It was a place that I could hang out with my guy friend Andrew and no one stopped to ask if we were a couple? Was he gay? Was he straight? Because no one cared.

In Berkeley I felt reborn, I felt renewed, and I felt like my Christian faith actually came into play in this city more so than in the small, white, "straight" town that I grew up in. The whole point of Christ's message was to "Love One Another"...and I was getting to see it put into action every day.

My conservative family was harder to convince about this message, and there were many family gatherings that ended in tears and me sloppily trying to illustrate how twisted it was that we were not a "Christian" community that embraced everyone. I have to admit, as an alley to the LGBT community, I did a bad job in my support. I picked fights. I got angry and hurled insults. I did, essentially, the very thing that goes against the message of love. It took me years and quiet, intelligent conversations to finally feel like my voice had been heard. And with my voice the voice of millions. And then today something amazing happened.

My conservative sister offered up her voice in the support of equality. She posted a banner on her Facebook page- on This Very Important Day- that simply said that she was for marriage equality for all.

I immediately commented: "Really?! I am so proud!"

To which she responded: "God, Melissa. I have a gay friend you know. I even have a black one."

It's a small step, but a giant one at the same time. And all we need to do is keep stepping one foot in front of the giant step or small step at a time...until we reach the goal.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Growing Pains. (Without crazy Kirk Cameron.)

I'm going to sleep in a cocoon of this after drinking it with vodka all night. Ageless!

“Look at how much we’ve aged.” Brett said to me the other day as we were going through an old box of photographs.

“I’m sorry. What did you say?”

“Aged.” Brett repeated, blinking at me, completely unaware of his major faux pas. “Like- we both look really old compared to when we started dating? We’ve aged? Physically?”

“Stop. Just…stop.” I said, holding up my hand while I closed my eyes.

“Why are you being weird? Look at this picture. Look- you’re so young!” He tossed me a snapshot of me at 22, sitting on the couch in our first apartment. All tan limbs and wet hair from a shower, smiling an unlined and hopeful smile. I snatched the photo and held it up to my angry face.

“Are you trying to tell me…that I look older than I do in this picture? Are you trying to tell me that I have aged? Do you want a minute to think about this before you answer? ARE YOU SAYING THAT I AM AGING?”

Brett sat back and seemed to finally feel the gravity of the situation. He thoughtfully pulled a hand through his hair while he regarded me warily. Finally, a look of recognition and understanding swept over him, and his features relaxed as he smiled at me sympathetically.

“Well, yeah.” He cooed. “But, don’t worry. We all are.”


I hate to be the 29-year-old woman that talks about aging, but I’m going to be the 29 year old who talks about aging, so get over it. Don’t screech at me about, “SHUT UP I’M SO MUCH OLDER THAN YOU I HATE YOU FOREVER YOU ARE NEVER ENTITLED TO YOUR OWN VAIN FEELINGS!” because: you get it, right? You’ve been there before. We all should be allowed to have these vain and selfish freak-outs about aging. (Unless you are 17, and then you aren’t allowed to complain about anything.) So, I am the 29-year-old woman complaining, and I’m going to start with a story about my boobs.

We all have parts of our bodies that we are secretly stoked about. We’d never admit it, of course, because that’s bad, but we all have areas we love and then areas we spanx into submission.

I love my boobs. (sorry Mom and Dad. I mean? Thank you I guess? No. Gross. Ok- moving on.)

The other day though, as I was getting into the shower, I caught my reflection in the mirror and froze. Had my boobs…had my boobs moved?
I frantically stood front and center and lifted my hands above my head. My mind silently mocked me as my chest rose. “This is you at 19” It said. And as my arms came down it snickered. “Aaaand 29.” I flapped my arms up and down maniacally, trying to measure the slight distance that had naturally happened over a decade. If I’m being honest, it wasn’t terribly noticeable, but when you live in and hang out in your own body all of the time YOU NOTICE THINGS.

And then I noticed other things.

Like the extra line on my forehead. The extra crease around my mouth. The odd freckle or dark under eye bag that had previously escaped my scrutinizing glare.

And then I did the only rational and healthy thing.

I cried.

Brett was home at the time and worriedly knocked on the bathroom door. “Are you ok? Um- do you…need something?”

In between choked sobs I told him I was fine. “But…my boobs!” I gasped tearfully. “My boobs…moved. They moved.”

He waited a beat before nervously clearing his throat and asking:


This was enough to break my vain-weirdo-spell and dissolve into giggles. I was having a conversation through a closed door about my boobs’ migration- as if they had decided the north was too much and they were looking into some beachfront property in Boca Raton. It was all too much. I was too much. This was hardly something to waste tears over, let alone good shower time. I literally pulled myself up off the floor and stepped under the hot stream of water where I forced myself to really look at my body.

I had:
Strong legs that recently carried me up a mountain IN THE SNOW. WTF. SNOW IS COLD.

Arms that were slightly toned from a lifetime of talking with my hands.

Boobs…wherever they wanted to be.

And, a stomach threaded with a scar that snaked towards my belly button -a physical reminder of a bad surgery in high school that made me lose 40 pounds and suddenly got boys to notice me.

Not all bad.

In all seriousness, it was the most frank interaction I have ever had with my body. It was like we were having a conversation that started out tearful and psycho-girlfriend-angry, but ended in acceptance and forgiveness and maybe a sandwich. This body is the only relationship I will have my entire life. I might as well be kind in it.

Bottom line? I am aging. On my way out the door this morning, as I was doing my make-up I noticed a pure white strand of hair lying coyly on top of my dark tresses. I could have freaked. I could have plucked it. Instead, I did a little smile back at my reflection in the mirror…and pulled on my highest heels. If this is my life-long relationship, my marriage to my body, I’m going to be the sexiest spouse ever.

29-year-old boobs and all. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

True Love, Demons, and other stories.

I mean...HOW can you blame me?

There's always that moment that you fall in love with someone. You may have spent time with them before, and you fall gradually until it finally clicks into place. You may be on your first meeting in San Francisco, drinking champagne and eating pancakes after only knowing each other before this day online- when they suddenly say something so...perfect you just fall in love. It's just done. It's final and everlasting and BAM. LOVE HEARTS STARS GLITTER.

That's how I fell in love with Brittany.

So, funny story: we had just met after starting a friendship online, and we're sitting there in San Francisco eating pancakes and drinking champagne. (See what I did earlier?) And I was leaning forward, hanging on every funny word this girl was saying and then she says IT. We were talking about funny fears and quirks of ours, and she casually said: "At night when I go to bed I jump the last few feet to get in. I know it sounds irrational- but I don't want to get too close to what could be under the bed, you know?"

I was smitten.

This is why: I don't know if it comes across in this blog, but I am sort of a grab bag of quirks and funny little things all mixed together with gumballs covered in lint and glitter. That's the best description I can come up with to illustrate that I'm just...weird. I'd like to think in a cute, fun way and not in a way that you would be afraid to leave me with your rabbits lest I boil them, but you may disagree.  (You shouldn't. I'm very against bunny boiling.) I just think we all need to embrace our little oddities and be ok with who we are. Even the parts of us that are adult and still slightly afraid of what could be under the bed. So, when someone is authentically awesome with me: I'm theirs for life.

After her confession, I immediately told her that I was an almost 30 year old woman who still closed her eyes for 3 seconds after turning off any light. Why? Someone once told me that the devil only appears to you in those 3 seconds, so if you don't want to see him- you best shut yo' eyes. I know it's ridiculous, but I've been doing it for 20 years AND HAVE NEVER SEEN THE DEVIL, SO IT OBVIOUSLY WORKS.

Brittany and I clearly went on to live happily ever after, cultivating a friendship that I cherish and adore. But, that's not where the story ends, so bear with me.
I've recently gotten into this very cheesy show called "Supernatural." The writing is horrible, the make-up on the ghosts and demons varies in believability according to how much the budget was blown that week, and the plot lines are confusing and laughable.

I obviously can't get enough of it.

I roped Brett into sitting next to me and watching it yesterday when I was home sick. My reasoning was that he could, you know, be here in case anything happened (like being attacked by ghosts and/or demons) and we could figure it out together. The episode was about a dead boy who apparently became a water demon and could kill people anytime they were near water. We got about half way into it, and I casually pulled a blanket over my head and continued to watch through the fabric.

Brett turned to me to ask a question and immediately started laughing. "OH my God! What are you doing?"

I sighed deeply. "I'm watching the show. Please be quiet. And tell me if the boy demon comes back."

"Why do I need to tell you that?"

"Because I can't see obviously. Who is talking now? Sam or Dean?"

"You're ridiculous."

He's right, I am, but he didn't understand the necessary precautions I was taking to make sure I was safe. It backfired, as I saw enough scary things through the thin fabric that the next morning in the shower, I washed up in record time with my eyes squeezed shut and the curtain open.

I'll be damned if I let the ghost-water-boy get me.

Thinking about all of this actually made me feel sort of lucky this morning. Sure, last night I employed Brittany's technique and launched myself the last 3 feet to the middle of the bed. Sure, I didn't dare to get up to use the bathroom because that was obviously when ghost-boy would want to strike. And yes, ok, maybe I did use a nightlight last night and warily regarded the shadows that it splayed out on my ceiling. And maybe I fixated on one shadow that looked vaguely human, but was probably a lamp. (And maybe it actually was my lamp, because I got up to check 3 times.) 

But, it's all ok. I'm colorful, imaginative, and extremely good at finding other people like that to be colorful and imaginative with. And that's a life worth living, isn't it? I would totally unwrap the blanket from my head to watch that story play through... until the credits roll.

(Also, I would like the record to show that I texted Brittany that I was writing about our conversation. Her reply was: "Yes! Make sure you say, though, that avoiding under the bed is to avoid the Mischa Barton character from the Sixth Sense!" Dear God I just fell in love with her again.)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My celebrity crush? Your mom.

Girls that say I am their celeb crush tend to be highly intelligent and creative. Or boys. 
For some reason I’ve noticed lately that the important topic of celebrity crushes keeps popping up in random conversations. I guess it’s a good ice breaker. You can saunter up to anyone at a cocktail party and throw out a “So, who would you bone if you could bone anyone in Hollywood?” and most people will have an answer.  Most people.

Brett never has an answer, because he rarely watches TV, has no real working knowledge of any celebrity names or facts,  and always seems vaguely baffled by the question when it is presented. He will mumble the only name he can connect to a celebrity face which is the WORST ANSWER EVER. ‘Angelina Jolie.’

No one wants to hear that Angelina Jolie is your celebrity crush. Women will instantly hate you, men will be a little squeamish because she has about 9 thousand children, and it is like saying Romeo and Juliet is your favorite work by Shakespeare. It lacks creativity.

I love him for it though. I love the fact that I know he finds the question inane and that he REALLY thinks Molly Simms is gorgeous, even though he has no idea who she is. I will usually jump in with that tidbit when the question is tossed his way. Which is socially obnoxious, but that never really stops me.

“He likes Molly Simms.” I’ll supply. “Which is obviously why he married me.”

“I don’t even know who Molly Simms is, Melissa.” Brett will try to interject.

“You nearly died when she got out of the shower in the movie "Benchwarmers.”

“We saw "Benchwarmers?”

and so on.

My answer varies on my mood and how much I dislike the person asking. If I’m trying to be difficult, I will say something like: “That guy that sat behind Leslie Nielson in “Airplane.” I think he was in a Chevy commercial once too.” Or  “The jack-in-the-box guy. I know you can’t see his face, but I find his voice very manly.” Or, the even better response: “Jodi Foster.”

I’m not trying to be the most annoying person on the planet, but sometimes I just can’t help it. I know that a simple “Ryan Gosling” or “George Clooney” would pacify the masses and firmly establish my femininity. But, I find that sort of obvious attractiveness incredibly dull. Give me Zach Galifianakis with bean burrito in his beard and THAT’S what I’m talking about.

I was thinking about all of this when an old friend posted a link to my facebook featuring our shared childhood celebrity crush, Jonathan Taylor Thomas. (or, JTT to be intimate.) We were obsessed. We cut out every picture of him in Tiger Beat magazine and poured over every article and interview he was in. I knew his favorite food (“pasta!”) what he liked to do in his down time (‘read and skateboard!”) and the most desired characteristic of his dream girl (“down-to earth!”) these generic and manufactured interview responses kept me going and made me feel like I really connected with him.

 I like pasta too, JTT. I like pasta too.

On one occasion we took the celebrity crush to a new level when we took pictures of him on the TV screen during an episode of "Home Improvement" and then made an album splicing those pictures next to pictures of us. I dressed for our couple pictures in a flowy, bohemian skirt with a paisley print that matched the rubber bands on my braces. In my mind that is exactly what a "down-to-earth" girl wore. And modeled in her little book of creepy photos. 

While I no longer entertain celebrity crushes to that sort of passionate level- as a teenager saying JTT was my celeb crush was representative of who I was. A dorky girl well versed in pop culture with a slight personality disorder. Affiliating myself with him was a peek into what made me tick. Which was a whole lot of crazy.

And that's why we ask that question. We ask it to harmlessly look into someones inner workings and to get a sense of who they are as a person. If you say your crush is "Angelina Jolie," I will immediately think you are slightly douchey. (And Brett is not douchey. Just ill-informed.) If you say your crush is Jake Gyllenhaal I will immediately be bored with you. If you say Channing Tatum, I will think you have a penchant for STDs because that man looks like he created them. 

If you say Zach Galifianakis with a bean burrito in his beard I will know that I found a soul mate for life. And then I'll offer to buy you a drink. And then we can stand in the corner of the room making fun of the girl who answered "George Clooney." BECAUSE SERIOUSLY? GEORGE CLOONEY? GIVE ME A BREAK.

Go out there and be original, my friends. And make a creepy photo album to show it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Don't Worry About The Bitch Faces. I Like You!

So, if you don't care what people think of you- just don't wear underwear! Simple. 
I was leaning against the bathroom counter at the bar, looking at my nails while I yelled in to my peeing friend that there was a lump of feces on the floor in her stall and to try and avoid it. It could have been a brownie, but the kind of place we were in made that possibility highly unlikely.

(It's too bad that someone defecating on the floor was not the unlikely situation, but moving on.)

As we both laughed/gagged over this predicament, another girl sauntered in to the bathroom and gave me a cold and disgusted once over. I know this girl, I've seen her around. And, much to my total bewilderment, this girl hates me and I have no idea why. We have never spoken to one another. I don't even really know her name. YET, every time I bump in to her during social events, I do my awkward bob-and-wave and she looks at me like I am a mystery brownie lump on a bar bathroom floor.

It kills me.

I smiled hugely at her in my nervous and very attractive way, and then proceeded to wash my hands vigorously. Like I was trying to prove my impeccable sanitary skills? Show that I am too cool for the environment and waste water because "water was SO 2010?" I don't know what I was doing. Oh, wait, yes I do.

I was being weird.

When I recounted this story to a girlfriend a few days later, she stopped me as I was mid-exaggerated re-enactment of the mean girl's eye rolling. "Wait," she said, holding up her wine to stop me. "You said you don't know this girl?"

"I have NO idea who she IS!" I cried, throwing up my hands. "I only know that she has a bangin' body, owns a lot of pairs of white shoes, and HATES ME for some reason."

"Then why do you care, exactly?"



The thing was, I did care. I cared an awful lot about someone who I did not know and I had never actually seen smile or be human in any way. And I was complaining about it to a friend that I did care an obscene amount about. I had wasted good wine and cheez doodle eating time talking about this mean girl, and that is unacceptable. You do not waste that precious cheez doodle time. 

I dropped the subject and moved on to more important and worldly topics (probably something celebrity or hair related. No judgements. I can't be brilliant all of the time,) but I couldn't shake how disappointed in myself I was for giving something so unhealthy in my life a large amount of attention. I really cared that this girl didn't like me. I cared that my waitress the night before was rude to me- so I tipped her an insane amount. I cared when people didn't like me,  didn't want to hang out with me, and I AM AN ALMOST 30 YEAR OLD WOMAN WHO COULD BE CONSIDERED IN SOME CIRCLES TO BE SEMI-INTELLIGENT.

It was like I kept putting myself in the position of the fat kid in stained sweatpants, always getting picked last for the kickball team. I was so focused on that awful feeling that I ignored all of the good, healthy things around me.

And I cared enough about myself that I really didn't want to be like that anymore.


It reminded me of when I did theater and was constantly thrown into a mix of people who had permanent bitch-faces and a fun assortment of personality disorders. I was 13, in full makeup cowering behind the stage during the local production of "The Sound Of Music", and the handsome 16 year old actor who played the asshole Rolfe walked up to me and sat down.

I couldn't breathe. Mainly because he was 16 OMG and VERY CUTE OMG and also very gay. (didn't know that at the time.) He looked at me tremblingly adoring him and tremblingly wishing my cue wasn't coming up, and he laid a perfectly manicured hand on top of mine.

"Listen. I know you are going to be something someday. Definitely not an actress-" (Thanks, asshole Rolfe.) "But you'll be something. I feel it. And you should know something." He took a deep and dramatic breath and closed his eyes before snapping them open and looking imploringly into mine. "There are always going to be people prettier than you. Smarter than you. Richer than you. But don't let them determine your worth. Don't let them bring you down. And for GOD SAKE, take care of your skin."

I decided to take gay Rolfe's wise advice and put it into play 17 years later. Last night I washed my face very carefully, and called up a friend for an evening chat. We talked about plans for the future, reminisced about shenanigans from the past...and I never, ever, not even once brought up something that wasn't worth bringing up. I was content with the fact that the right people like me. The right people would cheer me on and call me to eat cheez doodles and wouldn't give me a bitch face in a random bathroom. And these people were the ones worth focusing on. Worth calling at 1am. Worth sharing with them my thoughts on Jennifer Aniston's new boy toy without judgement.

Life is too short to let yourself be brought down.

And life is definitely too short to not take care of your skin.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lean in. Drink wine. Maybe not at the same time.

We basically looked like this. But girls. And not bald.
The three of us girls stood by the closed door in our bathing suits and flimsy towels, hopping awkwardly from foot to foot as we anticipated going outside. It was 9 degrees and storming but given the over-all wind chill factor it felt roughly -678 degrees. We clutched glasses of wine and cursed under our breath, waiting for the jump.

Fernanda ran out first, jumping into the hot tub that we were torturing ourselves for with a slick little leap. Her wine never sloshed over the rim and I wished for the 3,794 time that weekend that I was as cool as she was. I was second, and as soon as my bare feet touched snow, I froze. Literally and figuratively.

"HAND ME YOUR WINE!" Fer yelled over the sound of the wind, swimming forward with a hand outstretched to help me. "I'LL HOLD YOUR WINE. JUMP IN NOW, IT WILL BE WORTH IT. JUMP! NOW!"

I did as she demanded, screaming obscenities at the top of my lungs while I hurled myself ungracefully into the swirling water. She smiled and handed me my perfectly protected drink as the hot water forgave the last seconds I had put my body through. She was right. It was worth it.

Jodi came third, and Fer nudged me as Jodi ran screaming out into the snow. "Grab her wine too. Help her in." I reached out for Jodi's drink as she splashed gratefully in next to us, her hair already white with frost. And then she slipped and did a nose dive into the water and came up laughing. Which is why I love her. And it was ok, because her wine was protected in my hands.

We then leaned back into the jets and chatted aimlessly for an hour. We touched on deep topics, sad topics, and then the topic of my boobs. We punctured the sadder moments with whoops of laughter when we saw each other's hair and eyelashes turning white from the snow. We cupped our ears against the chilly wind while we maintained conversation. And then we decided that we were probably going to die out there, so we went inside- the wine hand-off done backwards, but a seamless exchange all the same.

This might seem like an unremarkable story, but it held a lot of meaning for me. Lately my life has been a little crazy and I have been questioning a lot of the relationships I keep. I need someone to say: "Hey. What you are going through sucks right now, but I am going to be waiting with your wine in my hand so you can get into the good stuff safely. Ok? And, when you finally get your ass in here, you can have a drink and talk about your boobs. So- jump. I got this."

Or something like that.

Earlier in the day Brett and I had gone cross-country skiing, which I complained about bitterly right up until we strapped the boots on. I was cold. I was hungry. I peed 4 times before we left, which made me have to get naked in the ski rental's tiny bathroom while he waited patiently. I was basically being a little shit, and having a little shitty temper tantrum, which is sexy on NO ONE. I blamed my bad mood on a series of events that led us to this weekend, but even in my pouting mind I was wrong to act this way. I mentally slapped myself and pushed off into the snow, gliding along expertly, taking in the scenery and the muffled quiet and the sound of my own heart selfishly and childishly beating in my chest. We came up to the trail and I stopped cold, Brett almost toppling into me.

"What's wrong?" He asked in a strained voice, because he had probably had enough.

"There's a drop." I said, pointing with my pole. "There is a sheer drop. The trail isn't flat. You said it would be flat."

And then Brett said the one thing I really needed to hear. "It's only as steep as you want it to be. I've seen you go down steeper drops. Bend your knees and lean into it."

(And then he said something about "you might want to do this now, because there is a family of 12 behind us, so please don't take all day thinking about it like you usually do," but that was less poetic.)

And I leaned into it.

And made it (shakily) down.

The rest of the day went by with quiet serenity as we glided through the trees and ice patches and BEAR PAW PRINTS WTF. And then we got to a drop that made the last drop look like a wet dream and I halted once more. THIS DROP basically led to a burbling creek. Unless you pulled a sharp right. And if you have ever been on those long-ass skies you know that sharp rights for beginners are like unicorns in the middle of a grocery store looking for soy milk. Not entirely realistic.

Brett halted briefly before expertly handing the drop/death curve and then turned up to holler at me that he could give me the point-by-point directions for making it down. As he started in on instructions, I held one gloved hand up to (nicely, I swear,) silence him.

"I got this." I said calmly, taking in his bewildered face.

"Are you sure?" He asked.

"I have to know that I can do this in my own way. I know you want to help me, but I can do it. I'll come up with a way to do it, ok? Just be supportive? I'm going to just lean into it."

He blinked twice and then smiled. "Ok."

And then I leaned down- sat my ass on my skies- and slid down. And fell over at one point and couldn't get up.



I guess if I had a moral to this story it would simply be: "Surround yourself with friends that will hold your wine for you as you lean down into the steep slopes of life without dying or physical injury."

Or maybe something like: "Hot tubs in -76890 degrees are never a good idea health-wise, so maybe don't drink while you do that or maybe don't do that at all."

Or maybe the moral would simply be: "Always have someone there for you. Trust your instincts. Make your own way...and lean the fuck into it."

Put that onto a t-shirt and smoke it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


I wanted to write a post about Valentines Day, because this blog is supposed to be about love and marriage and alcohol. Except, when I sat down to write the only thing I could think of were the Valentines I received as a kid.

You know the ones. The boxed sets covered in popular cartoons that you folded in half and passed out to every kid in class. The rich kids attached theirs to mini candy bars. The kids with edgy parents bought real cards from the museum store in Boston, and my Mom was the worst because she would just buy whatever box of Valentines she found lying near the cash register. Which is why in 5th grade I had to hand out Care Bear Valentines to everyone.

Which was insufferable.

Anyway, I would always shove all of my Valentines in my bag and wait until I got home to look at them. There, in the sanctuary of my bedroom, I would pull out all of my crushes Valentines, (yes, I said "all." I had crushes on everyone, even at one point my 45 year old math teacher,) and I would pore over the Star Trek/Animaniacs/Ren and Stimpy love letters searching for a clue that they loved me back.

I would try to decipher if "May The Force Be With You, Valentine" meant that Tim really, really liked me and wanted to support me in my future dreams and desires. He was basically wishing me strength and love. Or maybe he was telling me to go my own way.

Or maybe his Mom filled out his cards for him at random.

This ritual was exhausting and usually ended in tears and prank phone calls. Because even back then I was a walking "Desperate Housewives" reality show.

When I grew up and actually had real relationships and not just ones in my head, Valentines Day became this Thing that was still ritualistic and exhausting. Some guys were into it, some guys forgot it existed and gave me a gas station rose and a slurpee by way of apology. I always felt like I had to figure out what THEY felt about the holiday so I could be the ultimate cool girlfriend that appreciated everything-or-nothing-or-whatever-you-want-I-love-everything-you-do!!!!!!!

One boyfriend rented out an entire room in a restaurant and set up a romantic dinner. I was touched by how over the top he was, but also extremely uncomfortable and did this thing where I put green beans in my mouth to make me look like a walrus. (I was 19. I didn't have a firm grasp of comedic timing quite yet. Or... still.)

One boyfriend ignored it completely, and then felt bad and gave me some conversation hearts that he had in his pocket- half melted and covered in lint. Cool man. I love these. 

And one boyfriend took me out for burritos that we ate in his car and then to see the movie the Spiderwick Chronicles. And, that was the best Valentines Day yet, so I married him.

I'm almost 30 now and have had a lot of Valentines Days. And, it took me about this long to figure out how I really feel about it.

It's the worst.

Don't get me wrong. I love love, I'm not going to throw a dozen roses out of the bed for eating crackers, and I eat chocolate basically every 5 seconds. But, I don't need a specific day to tell people I love them or surprise them with a chocolate foil wrapped trout.

You know what day I find really romantic? February 15th. The hoopla is over, restaurant reservations are suddenly available, and ALL THE CANDY IS ON SALE.

Tell me you love me then. Give me a folded Star Trek Valentine then. Or maybe just make me a martini and tell me how gorgeous I am all-day-every-day-all-of-the-time.

Now that sounds like a perfect Valentines Day to me.

(The author will be spending her non-Valentines Day with a bowl of macaroni and cheese and zombie movies. Because nothing says "I love you" like brains. Because you need brains to say "I love you." Everyone knows this.)

Friday, January 25, 2013

I Know Everything Because I Am Perfect.

This is me and my sister. We like to sing about the fact that we are sisters while wearing casual outfits.
The great thing about being the oldest in a family largely made up of girls is the fact that my sisters often come to me for advice or comfort. The bad thing about being the oldest in a family largely made up of girls is the fact that my sisters often come to me for advice or comfort.

See what I did there?

Recently my Mom called me and let me know that my sister had called off her engagement. I immediately went into "big sister" mode and was packing a bag of booze and pajama pants before I even hung up the phone. "I'll be there is 3 hours, but I need to stop and get shrimp." I said, grabbing a stack of I HATE MEN mixed CDs I bizarrely have just hanging around the house.

On the drive there, while I watched the farmlands peppered with OSU and Jesus paraphernalia roll by, I thought about relationships and broken relationships and flawed relationships and the fact that I have used this blog to write about my relationship for the past year. I had hoped that somewhere along the line I would finally figure everything out. Maybe become a relationship expert. Happily dole out advice  from the safe and snug and everlasting arms of my marriage. People would want to hate me, but they would see the twinkle in my eye and the twinkle in my patient husband's eye as we gazed lovingly twinkle-eyed at each other. This gazing would maybe happen while I was holding a perfect roast or something AND THEY JUST COULDN'T HATE US BECAUSE WE WERE SO PERFECT.

Surprisingly, a year later, I'm still not perfect. And Brett isn't either. And I have no idea whatsoever how to prepare a roast. So, driving home to help put my sister's life back together made me feel like I was walking onto a construction site with only a half eaten bologna sandwich and a few q-tips. I didn't have the tools. I didn't know what I was doing. I couldn't even pack a proper lunch for this big assed project, for god sake.

So, I decided to just pretend to be perfect the whole time I was home.

My heart ached for her, but I never showed it. I would cook meals, pour champagne, smile and act like this was just a little bump in the road for her and so not a big deal. I encouraged her to buy red lipstick, I made sure I was perfectly put together every day while hinting she should put herself together too, and then I would lock myself in the bathroom and cry bitterly from frustration into my mother's hand towels. I told myself I was helping, because she was tiredly smiling at dinner, absently sipping champagne, never mentioning his name, and styling her hair every day. I WAS BEING AN AMAZING BIG SISTER! LOOK AT ME!

I was being the worst big sister ever.

I caught her crying in my cry space one night, and as I stood outside the door, wondering what to do, I decided to finally do what I should have done the first minute I stepped in the door. I held her. I let her cry and streak her brand new mascara all over my neck and (somehow) in my ear. I held her until she stopped crying. And then asked her if she wanted to get drunk in our pajamas together.

 Then I drunkenly and elaborately plotted the death of her ex.

And I finally got out those "I hate men" CDs and we danced to them wildly and stupidly and not-at-all-sexily.

And I told her that no love is ever perfect. No relationship is ever finely hand stitched together. No one has the answers at all, and we're all kind of figuring this out as we go.

And someone will come along who was happy to be perfectly imperfect with her. And they would argue. And he would be a douche sometimes. And they would never have all of the answers together.

And that's all I could ever wish for her. A totally imperfect life.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Take the plunge. Just drink rum first.

"You have to go down." Brett whispered behind me as I furiously wiped snow from my face. We were standing on top of THIS MOUNTAIN:
and I wasn't having it.

"I can't. Oh my God if you love me you would not make me do this." I hissed at him through a maniacal smile I was putting on for the rest of the family.

"It's a bump. A tiny bump. Your 5 year old nephew is staring at you."

"He's YOUR nephew too. In fact," I said, backing away and crossing my arms. "I'm slightly concerned with how you haven't really "adopted" him yet after 6 years with me. Would you like to talk about that? Your feelings maybe of being an uncle? Do you not feel ready for the responsibility? I'm happy to work through this with you."

"You're stalling." Brett hissed back before fixing a brilliant smile on our nephew who was hopping foot to foot while watching us with a mini furrowed brow. "Elias..." Brett cooed. "You are the best, BRAVEST nephew ever! I love you!"

"I LOVE YOU UNCLE BRETTTTTT!" Elias sang back, before breaking off in confusion. "Why is Auntie crawling?"

At this point I was, actually, on my hands and knees backing away from the gaping mouth of doom. From the corner of my eye I saw my sister and her fiance Clark board a flimsy sled and speed giggling down the hill, all pink cheeks and youth and promise. I looked over my shoulder to meet Brett's annoyed face and Elias' concerned one.

"They are young." I snapped. "They are closer to the ground, so they won't sustain as much injury."

And then: two things happened at once. Brett sighed and looked at the ground, saying: "Do you really want to go through your life afraid of everything?" At the same time Elias got on his hands and knees and whimpered: "I'm scared of the hill too, Auntie."


So, they had me. I grabbed on to a black inner tube and march-crawled back to the top of the hill. After letting about 32 people go before me, I closed my eyes and pushed off.

But, I had dug my boot so deep into the snow I actually was only inching- slowly and painfully- down the massive mountain. My brother-in-law was bent over laughing, Brett's mouth was hanging open in shock, and my nephew was back to hopping from foot to foot, cheering me on and then breaking off his cheers with questions of "Is she dying?"

Finally, Brett walked about 2 feet down to me and reached out his hand. "Go down the hill with me." He said.

"There is a slick of ice down at the bottom. One of us may snap our necks and-"

"You just have to let go, sweetheart. I mean, sometimes you just have to go down the damn hill."

I looked up at his snow covered form then, and tentatively took his hand. I knew he was right. This was the last day in 2012, and I was spending it swigging from a thermos of rum and tea and crawling around the top of a hill. Not my finest moment. If I wanted anything for myself, and for the people I love: it was to show them that being courageous and taking a leap of faith once and awhile is the right thing to do. Sure, you might break your neck on a patch of ice. But, more often than not you will have an awesome ride.

So did I have an awesome ride? Um. Not really. I might have dug my nails so hard into the inner tube I broke one off. I might have screamed my head off as we sped over the ice bumps. Brett might have been laughing so hard into the back of my neck I'm pretty sure his tilted position and guffaws made us GO FASTER, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

But, I did it.

And went again.

And Elias spent the rest of the day zooming down the hill with his Uncle Clark, who patiently was the last person on the mountain with him. He even peed his pants because he refused to get down when we were all ready to go.

Happy 2013, everyone. Take the plunge.

Just wear a helmet. And bring a thermos of rum.