Archive for April, 2011

Published by PaintingChef on 25 Apr 2011

I know you.

It happens to other people. It won’t happen to me. We have a plan. There are a thousand variations of the same protest and I’ve said them all. For years. Ever since I was barely old enough to imagine that fuzzy way out there time where I would even be entertaining the idea of wanting to be a mother. I knew on some level, I always knew. It wasn’t going to be easy. The women in my family had problems. Hell. I was 15 and I already had problems. Things just never really… did what they were supposed to do.

It’s easy, at that age, to sweep it all under the rug and pump your fists defiantly in the air and insist that you don’t care because you don’t want kids any damn way. Too much to do! Big plans! You shrug your shoulders, move on, and believe with every fiber of your heart and soul that you don’t care. That it won’t matter because you aren’t the mothering type.

Even to this day, if someone didn’t really know you and were to only observe you around a baby, they would be fooled. You would trick them. Because you aren’t mushy. You aren’t gooey. Babies don’t make you swoon. Babies make you cry. Babies are hard to be around. Babies are a symbol of your failure, of the brokenness of your body, of the collapse of your womanhood.

But you know it and I know it. We know what you are hiding, what you are burying so deep inside. Because we feel like we have to. People don’t like to talk about it. It scares them and makes them uncomfortable. They don’t know how to look at us or how to respond. And so they say the stupidest possible thing. We’ve tried. We’ve tried to share, to educate, to make our voices heard. But on our own we are just a tiny peep.

Look around you. Are you one of us? Are you sitting next to one of us? Are we your sister? Cousin? Daughter? Aunt? Friend? Co-worker? Are we your wives or girlfriends? We number in the millions. We are each one of us strong but we are too often silent. We have developed hard shells. We are champions of coping and dealing and just getting through the day. We are told we are flawed, that it is our fault. They tell us stories of a friend of a friend of a sister of a cousin twice removed. Adoption! Relax! Vacation! We roll our eyes and change the subject because they have no idea. They have no concept of how strong we are and how we have struggled.

I know you. I know the lengths to which you will go. I know about the pain you will endure, the money you will spend, the toll it will take in your bedroom. I feel the pain that you will deal with month after month, the roller coaster of hope and longing and optimism and utter, crushing defeat. I feel the loss that will wreck your world Month in and month out. An endless cycle.

I recognize you. You are weary and sore from needles and examinations and endless doctor’s appointments and tests. You are moody and tired and feel like a stranger in your own body. A calendar has taken over your life and a doctor rules your bedroom. You want to scream and cry and kick and punch and you have to keep it all inside because it’s not okay to talk about it. It’s a silent disease. You keep quiet to protect your heart.

It’s not fair. You have so much to give, you have so much love. You are not the person who is supposed to struggle to be a mother. It’s not right. It happens to other people.

Bullshit.

It’s happening to me. And I am just one of 7.3 million.

National Infertility Awareness Week is April 24th through April 30th. This year’s theme is “Bust a Myth” and this post is being written and submitted as part of the “Bust a Myth Blogging Challenge”. For more information on infertility, please visit Resolve.org.

Published by PaintingChef on 22 Apr 2011

There’s a good chance that naming Cher Horowitz as my Life Guru is one place I may have gone wrong.

This morning, my dad jokingly told one of our employees that I was in charge of “procurement” for our company because he thought he should play to my strengths. It’s true…sadly. I am very good at shopping. I am the person that you call or email when you know exactly what you are looking for but don’t have the time to look for it. I’ll get back to you pretty quickly with an extensive list of options.

But when my dad said that, I was a little surprised at how my heart kind of fell a little. To quote my life guru Cher Horowitz, “You think that’s all I do? I’m just some ditz with a credit card.”

Several months ago, Patrick and I decided that it was time for us to maybe act like grown-ups and investigate this mystical word we kept hearing people mention. It was time for a budget. Apparently flying by the seat of out pants was going to get us in trouble one day and Patrick was starting to lose sleep. It’s probably good that I married someone with adult tendencies as when I am left to my own devices, I quickly revert to someone who lives on macaroni and cheese and is mesmerized by shiny things.

I immediately informed Patrick that I was not going to be able to get through this exercise in torture without some sort of clear reward (of which financial solvency didn’t count) so we needed to figure out the bribe part of this equation first. We realized that we will celebrate our 10th anniversary this year and so clearly, a tropical vacation of some sort would be in order. We settled on the Dominican Republic, decided to invite friends since we see each other all the damn time and I was in.

I’ve learned a bit about myself since we started this, what I am and I’m not willing to compromise on or sacrifice. I’m cheaper than I thought but I’ll cut you if you try and take my stinky French cheese and I will go to my grave declaring manicures and my forty dollar face wash are necessities. It’s been interesting, seeing where we spend our money. I think it’s a good indication of what you value and I can tell you without a doubt that I am a shallow, shallow girl who is oddly obsessed with eyeliner.

All in all, it’s gone well. I get a little less prickly when Patrick asks me if I really do need something and he is sleeping better at night which I’m certain is not at all related to the roofies I’ve taken to slipping him. I think the main thing is that I’m learning to curb my instant gratification impulses. That’s something that I struggle with in several aspects of my life. But I find myself combating it on multiple fronts at this time in my life. Between the Lap-Band surgery and the budgeting plan we’ve adopted, I’m seeing that I don’t have to have it all right this very second. Cake? Yeah… probably magically delicious but I think I’ll wait an hour and see if I really want it. Purple glitter eyeliner from Sephora? Sure it could be fun but how many Tiffany concerts am I going to go to?

(Oh… wait… she’s touring with Debbie Gibson? Maybe I DO need that eyeliner)

Maybe 33 years old is a little late to be learning this lesson. But I figure better late than never and you know what? Some of us just need a little encouragement and I have learned that I can be bribed. I can be bought. And dammit… I want to go to the Dominican Republic.

Published by PaintingChef on 13 Apr 2011

Elyse.

Okay. Brace yourselves because I am about to do a 180 like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Remember that time? Where I was all lah-de-da, internet friends are the bestest friends EVER and all is good and perfect and lovely and if you don’t like it then you are just wrong and stupid?

Guess what sucks about internet friends? When they die. And you don’t know one single person who actually face to face knew them. So all you know is that they are gone. They’ve been gone for over a week. But you just found out and you briefly wonder if maybe that is the secret reason you haven’t slept well unmedicated in the past week but maybe that’s just you being selfish and WHY DID SHE DIE? What fucking happened? I have nobody to call or email or show up on their doorstep.

Elyse. You were my very first internet friend. I’ve known you longer than I’ve been married. You were the only person I ever knew who loved live music like I did. We met on a 90210 website for fuck’s sake. You built my two little homes on the internet. You never failed to listen to me, comfort me and make me laugh my ass off. You were my introduction into this whole notion that your friends didn’t have to be the people you physically encountered every day.

I have no idea what happened. Were you sick and never mentioned it? Was there an accident? Did you succumb to the darkness you fought every single day? I have no idea. I just know that I loved you and that you are gone. You are gone just when it felt like you were finding a little light. Farewell my friend. I love you so very much.

Published by PaintingChef on 11 Apr 2011

The person for whom the phrase “sisterfriend” was invented.

I’m not so terribly good with dates. I know my birthday. My anniversary. I’ve had my sister’s due date wrong in my head for like 6 months resulting in my getting her some emerald jewelry which is now just pretty and probably not birthstone-appropriate. But I’m good at getting it… close.

I was talking to my BFF Zube the other day and we were like… Hey! We’ve been friends for a while and we’ve never met! I wonder how long that’s been? We figured out it has been like 6 years. And that it was around this time, 6 years ago, that we crossed paths and things haven’t been the same ever since.

So that made me kind of want to talk about friendship in general but specifically what having her in my life has meant. But because you are probably sick of hearing from me, I thought I’d let her tell you about friendship instead. (And in case you are curious… I’m doing the same thing at her place so please check that one out too!!)

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, I decided to stop bombarding my poor family with e-mails of stories I thought were amusing. I had a penchant for baring my soul, though, so I chose, instead, to start telling my stories to no one in particular on the Internet.

And so, on March 22, 2005, a blog was born.

I wrote and wrote and wrote, and felt all smug about sparing my family the nonsense of it. Little by little people started reading what I had to say, and vice versa.

It was a bloggy little community. My village on the Internet.

Then one day, lo those six years ago, this chick e-mailed me after reading something on my blog (I was pretty tickled that SHE would e-mail ME because I’d read her blog and thought she was funny as shit and really, truly did not feel worthy!). I wish I still had the e-mail but I remember the gist of it. It said something along the lines of ‘Holy shit, dude, me too. We should be friends.’ I remember replying something like, ‘What?! You too? I’ll totally be your friend. Also? Let’s make out.’

And ever since? Susannah has been one of my best friends.

I think it’s kinda wild that I’ve never met my best friend. But only when I stop and think about it. When I’m not thinking, which is often, it doesn’t seem odd at all that when something momentous occurs, like people being stupid (right, okay, so even non-momentous), I run to gmail to share every juicy detail with Susannah.

We’ve laughed, we’ve cried. We’ve virtually hugged and virtually kicked ass. If you’ve ever had the intestinal fortitude to cross either one of us? Rest assured you have been torn to shreds on google chat. And that shit’s like voodoo. I bet your head hurts.

Everything about me? Susannah knows. And if she doesn’t know it? It’s because it isn’t there.

Well, except that I don’t know if she knows I am shoe-averse. And have only three pairs. I’ve stuffed those shoes way in the back of our friendship closet behind my 10,000 hoodies because I am, like, the anti-fashionista. And wielding that info would have Susannah turning on her adorable little heels, hopping on the next flight to Denver and kidnapping me for an afternoon of shoe shopping.

Hm, on second thought, not such a bad idea. See you in a few hours, chica.

Here’s the thing I adore about blogging. It’s like, better than a book. The characters and the stories are real. Susannah recently wrote about some of her favorite characters from childhood books and wondering whatever happened to them. And I? Do the same. Did Meg Murry ever get contact lenses and marry Calvin? Don’t get me wrong, I know now that glasses are hot, but when I read A Wrinkle in Time I was suffering from Four Eyes Syndrome, and so, so wished she would lose the glasses. Pre-teen angsty projection, y’all.

Ahem. But with blogging, I’m able to follow the characters throughout their trials and triumphs. There is no end. No storyline to stick to. The unexpected lurks at every turn. And for me, the unexpected was that I would come to love someone so dearly whom I’d never even had the opportunity to spend an evening with, dizzy on tequila and brownies. Our guts hurting from laughing too hard. And maybe one too many a shot.

Blogging has changed a lot since I’ve returned to it after a crushing three year Writer’s Block. It has been replaced, it seems, by short snippets on Facebook. Bits of stories. I miss the longer stories and the sense of community I used to feel. But, for all of the change, what I found six years ago when I started is still there. And I am always on the lookout for someone I might love. I’ll never forget that love can be stumbled upon in the most unexpected places when you’re in the habit of baring your soul, as writers do.

And Susannah, you are likely boarding that plane. Brownies are in the oven and tequila is on the table. Can’t wait to meet you, love.

For the record Zube… I TOTALLY knew about the shoes…

Published by PaintingChef on 04 Apr 2011

Hands down, the best version of “Where Are They Now” that ever existed.

Like most every girl about my age, I spent years wrapped up in the goings on of the Wakefield twins of Sweet Valley, Jessica and Elizabeth. Oh sure, people try and decide if they are a Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha or Miranda. Or maybe which one of Tara Gregson’s alters they might be. Team Edward, Team Jacob, which True Blood character, insert Harry Potter reference here, blah blah blah. But in the end ladies… you are a Jessica or you are an Elizabeth. I learned that when I was 10 years old and it hasn’t failed me yet.

Last week, Francine Pascal, the author of all but the very first Sweet Valley Twins/High/University books (Ann M. Martin wrote the first one, she of “The Babysitter’s Club” fame… by the way) released the long-awaited (at least by me) “Sweet Valley Confidential…ten years later” and it was like a love letter to those of us who grew up with those blonde haired, aquamarine eyed, perfect size six twins for so many years. I pre-ordered it and devoured it while Patrick was running the Knoxville Half-Marathon on Sunday morning… it was as close to a Sunday worship service as I’m going to get.

It was…well, actually if I’m honest, it probably wasn’t a great book. But that wasn’t the point. It was complete. I was satisfied. It covered the bases and I know what happened to everyone. And until there is a made for TV movie, I can close the Sweet Valley chapter of my childhood.

But that started me thinking about the other books I read and wondering what happened to the rest of those characters. Some of them were series and some were just books that were near and dear to my heart; books I would read time and time again. So here we go…

Whatever Happened To…

Anastasia Krupnik.
I loved Anastasia Krupnik and her bohemian family above all others. She was awkward and funny and fully versed in the smartass and snarky remark even at the tender age of 13. I wanted her to come to my slumber party and I wanted to sit with her in the cafeteria. I was envious of her room in a tower and wondered why my dad didn’t conduct opera on his stereo in the living room with his eyes closed. I DEMAND to know what happened to Anastasia. The possibilities are endless but I have no doubt that there were plenty of good stories.

The Sleepover Friends.
Kate, Lauren, Patti and Stephanie were in fifth grade and had sleepovers at each other’s houses every weekend. Their parents went collectively broke buying pizza and I loved these books… in secret. Because they were truly awful but damn if I didn’t want that long curly hair like Stephanie had. Four girls? You know there was a serious falling out once they hit high school… you just have no idea what it was over.

Anything by Christopher Pike
I still maintain, to this day, that “I Know What You Did Last Summer” is loosely based on the Slumber Party books by Christopher Pike. And those people were twisted. Mainly I just want to know how many of them ended up in prison or OD’ing…

Margaret Simon.
Are you there god, it’s me Margaret. TOTAL pre-teen angst. Again with the four girls (and Michael Patrick King thought he was an original…I scoff at you, MPK). Margaret, Gretchen, Nancy and Janie. In my ideal world, Margaret Simon and Anastasia Krupnik were roommates in college. I think those two would have hit it off. Those other girls were bitches…

Katie Welker.
I ADORED “The Girl With the Silver Eyes” by Willo Davis Roberts about a girl with oddly silver eyes and the ability to move things with her mind. Turns out her mom worked with a bunch of chemicals when she was knocked up with Katie and fucked her kid up but good. Katie wasn’t alone either… there was a whole herd of silver eyed kids with paranormal powers. Like little pre-teen X-Men.

Sure, more often than not, it’s better to use your imagination. (Although I was completely in love with “The Babysitter’s Club” as envisioned by Bret Easton Ellis and that’s the only reason those books aren’t on this list) But reading about Elizabeth and Jessica all grown up and getting caught up on all their friends and seeing that shit sometimes wasn’t all wrapped up with a big red bow wasn’t all bad. I like to think that these authors grow as attached to their characters as the readers do. Surely Lois Lowry wonders what Anastasia is doing right this very minute… (pause for brief google search to make sure Lois Lowry is still alive… she is but she also swears Anastasia was born in 1979 at the age of ten and is now only thirteen… party pooper)

Anyone you’d like to re-visit?

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