Monday, December 17, 2012

On Family and Mental Illness

As you can tell from looking through the lack of posts on here, I have remained pretty mum about my divorce.  And that is how it should be.  The demise of a marriage is a sad thing, a crummy thing, and nothing that should be taken lightly and discussed at length in the same forum where one discusses dresses and giving blow jobs to Minnesota Twins catchers.  Moreover, I find myself incredibly busy in my new role in life, and most of the time, there simply isn't time to properly maintain the blog and keep everything rolling--I am quite honestly moving from the time I awake at 5 until the time I pass out on my laptop, drooling and talking nonsensically, sometime around 10.

But there is something to say, I feel, something we all need to say and discuss as we struggle to make sense of the events in Newtown, CT, events that cannot be explained by even the most brilliant among us.  And while I do believe that gun control is a very, very necessary thing, I think it is more important now to remind you, my friend, that mental illness affects us all.  And not just on the nightly news.  Not just in the face of an overwhelming tragedy.  Not just in the dead eyes of a disturbed teenage boy, remembered by all as a portrait of evil.

You know someone, I guarantee you, who struggles with mental illness everyday.  Maybe it is not them, directly.  Maybe it is someone in their family.  A parent who doesn't act the same as they had.  A child whose moods can no longer be chalked up to simply being at a difficult age.  A husband who doesn't get out of bed anymore.

I look at the face of Adam Lanza's mother on the computer screen and I wonder:  Did she know?  Did she have a fraction of an idea?  How did she handle it?  Did she know what to do?  These are questions, of course, that no one can answer, and that really, we have no business knowing.  But I wonder because I have been her to a smaller degree. 


There are arguments you have with yourself when you live with a mentally ill person. Whether you should confront the latest thing that has gone undone, the latest behavior that seemed odd or out of place.  If you should call a doctor......Again.  "What is normal, anyway," you say, with some degree of conviction.  You justify and you lie and you make excuses.  You spend days on message boards, looking for confirmation of the feelings that rise up in you and bite at your throat.  You don't find it.  Because the people who post on message boards, in many cases, have found their caretaker niche.  They have nice stories and medicines that work.  You have bills.  And kids.  And more bills.

I left (or, more appropriately, asked him to leave).  I did.  He was (is) sick, but I reached the end of my rope all the same, and let go.  I did.  I felt guilty and I cried and got mad at myself in a way that I can't even describe.  Imagine the worst pregnancy heartburn you ever had and now imagine it all over your body.  That is how I felt.  But I was mad too.  Mad at the world, mad at my husband, mad at the people in happy marriages on cereal commercials who had breakfast with each other.  Out of bed.  On their way to jobs.  FUCKERS, ALL.  I just wanted normal, I would tell myself on so many tear soaked commutes, sobbing openly to some Avett Brothers song or another.  When did normal become so unreachable?  When did it become a goal?


One day I was driving through town to work.  A police office was posted near the elementary school, motioning traffic forward.  He motioned me forward.  But I sat there, with my eyes glazed over, thinking of what I had and lost, what I was left with, how unfair it all was.  The police officer yelled to me and angrily smacked the hood of the car.  And I burst into tears and said aloud, "Don't you know?"  He didn't.  He didn't give a shit. 

I told myself that no one gave a shit.  The truth is, no one knew.  Big difference.  I had done a damn good job of making it appear as if everything was fine.  I had smiled and invented.  I had dressed nicely and dressed my kids nicely and treated my marriage as if it were a golden thing made of Cat Power ballads and chocolate truffles.  Since things have fallen apart, so many people have shared with me that they knew on some level, but they had not known how to approach it with me.  I wish that they had.  That is not to place any level of blame on them.  I openly take responsibility for the facade I had erected.  But I look back and realize that I would have done anything just not to feel so alone.  Even for a moment.  Because mental illness, no matter what side you are looking at it from, is a lonely place.


When the Aurora shooting happened, I received several texts to the tune of "That could be [my ex husband]."  We had recently separated, and it was hard not to agree.  The brilliant mind coupled with the on edge personality.  The inability to connect.  The lack of any visible success in the mainstream world.  The obsession.  I tell myself that it could never happen to him.  By turns he is a very loving person, I say, and this is overwhelmingly true.  But.  I have seen his eyes turn to flame, I have heard the comments, and I'm not going to lie:  there is a part of him that is very, very frightening.

I do not think my ex husband will kill anyone, and I wish him so much good stuff.  He is my children's father, after all, and in some parts of my mind, he is still the geeky 16 year old who liked swing music and The X Files on Sunday nights.  But every day that I wake up and my mind does not immediately wonder what kind of day it will be--what cruel reality that I have to hide today-- is an amazing gift.  An amazing, amazing gift.

There is guilt there.  I am sorry that I could not do more, sorry that things were lifted out of my hands.  I would not go back.  I would never go back.  And perhaps that is the thing that scares me the most:  that it was so easy to walk away.


The second he sat the breakfast plate in front of me, I choked up.  I was sitting at the table in my nightgown, fiddling on the iPhone that he gave me.  He sat it down and told me to eat and I stared at the tortilla and eggs and hummus and sriracha and how cute it was and the tears welled up.  And he looked at me strangely, balancing his own plate on his strong fingers, and said, "What?"  And I said, "You fixed breakfast."  And he smiled and said yes and sat down and we ate and I couldn't help but feel that yes, this is what normal feels like. 


Please be kind, gentle reader.  Be kind to those around you.  You don't know what their day holds.  You don't know who in their life is gone, what they fear, what battle they are facing.  Listen to your friends.  They may need help, and they may not know how to ask for it.  And especially, if you or someone else is going through this, reach out.  Don't be like me.  Tell someone.  You don't deserve to be alone.  No one does. 

It is sad that no one thinks of mental illness until we get a villain on our TV screens every night--someone to place all of our fears onto.  We should think of it so much more.  There should be more clinics, more accessible doctors, more money, more time, more help.  But mostly, there should be more understanding, of everyone involved.  And no one should hide.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Coming Clean

I am getting divorced.

There I said it. 

I have thought about how to say that on here for months.  As you can probably guess by reading anything that I have written from, say, fourth grade on, I thought of many flowery ways to say it, ways that extolled my continuing admiration for my now ex-husband, ways from a Hollywood publicist's notebook.  And while I do respect my ex husband for his many talents and because he is the father of my children, I refuse to say more than that.  I'm not going to lie to you anymore, nor will I lie to myself.

I don't really like him at the moment.  Cause, see, he tried to break into my house.  And as a general rule, I tend not to really be friendly with people who try to commit criminal offenses against me, my property, and those that I love.  JUST AS A GENERAL RULE.

I understand that this is a shock to many people, as I have done a damn good job of making things look rosy.  Part of you, during a divorce, wants to say that everyone else is unhappy too, that there is no truly happy marriage, that by putting the shellac on your personal pig of a union that you were only playing along.  And that is not true.  Some marriages, as I see it, are really quite lovely.  I wanted mine to be.  I wanted that so hard that I was willing to lie, to my family and to myself, and create a reality that just wasn't there.  I invented jobs that didn't exist, kindness that was nonexistent, a life that wasn't mine.  And I regret it.  I hurt myself enormously, I hurt my children, and I may have even hurt some of you.

My life has not been great during the life of this blog.  I have not had much money, I have scrimped and scraped and paid for a lot of gas with nickels.  I have worked and I have cooked and I have tried to be happy and tried to make others happy and I have failed in many ways.  I will say, however, that this blog allowed me to create a reality that I enjoyed and that got me through the day on some days that I don't think I would have made it through otherwise.

But things are so much better now.  This is not because I am getting divorced--it is because I am taking charge of my own damn life and that of my children.  I have a career now, a wonderful one that makes me nerd out and revel in my own nerdery, and all for the good of an institution that I adore.  I have a neat apartment and all my glasses match.  I have a new macbook named Ignatius who seems to always know when I need to breakdance to Peaches and Cream.  I have a family that loves me and has my back, even at times when, for their own personal good, they should not.  Most amazingly, I have kids who amaze me everyday--this morning, Alice rolled over in bed and said, her damp curls pressed in unruly curly-q's around her head, "Good morning, beautiful mommy!"  TELL ME THAT IS NOT AWESOME. 

And, strangely, I have myself, and I am getting to know me.  I am learning things--I like laying in my bathtub and listening to bluegrass.  I like yoga.  I have a nasty habit of trying to pick fights with people for no real apparent reason other than just because I want to and well, I need to change that one.  And I didn't know any of these things six months ago.

The other thing I am learning is just how important it is not to judge.  I'll admit--I used to judge people who got divorces.  They didn't try hard enough, I would think, they gave up, they wanted a wedding and not a marriage.  But the truth is, you just don't know.  Shit happens.  Wacky shit.  Some of it can be prevented; some of it cannot.  And, as a friend of mine eloquently told me not long ago, life is too short for that shit.  Being happy is kinda important.  And I refuse to judge people who are just trying to find that small degree of happy, even if they are going at it in a way that is totally different from the way I do it.  I am trying to just do me, and not worry about the extraneous opinions and worries.

So, saying all that, and knowing that I am inviting all manner of judgment, because, well, gentle reader, you did not just say that you were feeling less judgemental, in fact, you may indeed be Judgy McJudgerson herself, in which case, you are SORELY judging my misusage of the comma and probably readjusting your pearls and pursing your lips, I will share another important bit o' news.  I have someone new in my life.  A DUDE.  He's calm and responsible and smart and he vaccuums.  He is a little bit of my happy.

And if someone had told me that, had said all this stuff to me about their divorce and new bf and whatever, had laid it all out to me six months ago, I would have rolled my eyes and said something stupid that I had not one damn clue about.  But I have learned, folks, that you can't predict what will happen, and no matter how careful you are, no matter how much distance you try to put between, no matter how you arrange and schedule, some things just don't work on a time table.  And when I look at him, knowing how slow and careful we are and he is especially, cause shit, ya'll, boy is slow like molasses in just about everything, I know that there is something going on that is so, so out of our control. 

And, of course, it helps EVERYTHING that we live a good distance apart.  I FREAKIN HATE SIMPLICITY AND EASE, DON'T YOU?!?!  DIFFICULTY AND STRIFE 4 LYFE.

I am trying to be here.  In the moment.  I am trying to be a better person, a better daughter, a better friend, a better mother.  I don't know where the blog fits into that right now.  But I do know that I got some stories to tell.  And telling them...well, it makes me feel good.  And I've had too much time to not feel good, you know?  So we'll see.  And also...I have come up with some sweet ass outfits to wear to work.  Maybe today not so much.  But in general...yeah.  And seriously?  LEOPARD PRINT HEELS FTW. 

Today, I realized something about myself.  I want a normal life.  A normal guy, normal kids, a normal car, normal dogs, a normal job.  That is not something that I wanted in college, and something I beat myself up for in my dramatic post-college years.  SELLING OUT, I think is what the kids are calling it these days.  But it is something I am ok with now.  And I'm willing to make normal as pretty as I possibly can.

I appreciate you for reading.  Many of you are friends and I love and respect you all.  I hope that you will continue with me on this journey.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ch-ch-ch Changes

HELLOOOO 4.6 readers!  The blog will be going private today.  If you are still interested in following my exploits (and well, I've got some serious stuff going on), please email me at morgan (dot) kiser (at) gmail (dot) com and I will be glad to add you to a list of approved readers.  That is, unless you are a robot.  Or a zombie.  Or a fire-breathing robot zombie.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

First World Problems: Cooking on Your Vacation

I have wanted to share these thoughts for a while now because seriously people?  COOKING IN A VACATION HOME BE HARD.  No, not hard like distilling your own water from a dirty puddle or hard like making your own shoes out of tires and your own flesh.  Not hard like trying to feed your family with food stamps or wading through a pile of medical bills because you did something like break your leg whilst being uninsured.  I get that.  In fact, I've had a few sentences of this typed on here since I left for vacation because I thought it was a worthy subject, one that might help one of you guys with a real issue that you may have.  But then I started seeing a lot of comments on other sites from what I like to call, "The PRIVILEGED! Police."  If you haven't seen this, bless your heart.  You've been doing something worthwhile with your life.  Basically, The PP is the most politically correct group of internet commenters ever, like if the ACLU knocked up Jezebel and then Jezebel had the most amazing at home water birth while listening to music purchased from that feminist bookstore from Portlandia.  The Privileged! Police would be the product of that water birth.  And what they do is hang around websites and when someone makes a comment that reflects certain benefits they have received in life and perhaps does not show as much empathy for someone else because of this, (being white or able bodied or with a home are all common signs of "privilege"), they call the person out.  And really, that's a noble pursuit in many ways.  We all do need to be reminded (tactfully) that just being born healthy and in a society or community that values our lives is kind of like hitting the lottery, only you win it everyday, all day.

BUT.  But.  Some people take it a little far.  Not all the people.  Some people.  Just as with everything.  So instead of having a reasonable conversation about  things, you end up with a lot of people just using "PRIVILEGED" as a code word for "JACKASS."  And it gets almost comical.  But still...all I could think about when writing this was "PRIVILEGED." 

And, yes, I am.  I grew up in a white middle class family.  My mom was a wonderful mom who taught me how to cook and to value education above all things.  I had clothes growing up, and I never went hungry.  I went on vacation every year, usually to the mountains with my dad and the beach with my mom.  We were never rich by any stretch of the imagination.  And I DEFINITELY am not wealthy right now (my student loan companies would be happy to tell you that). But I do understand that I have more than others.  And that any personal things that I might have now have come from being born with all the benefits that I laid out above. 

So this is a long way of saying, I get it.  But I'm writing it anyway, because well, there are maybe some other jackholes out there who might want to talk about cooking in a vacation house.

(Which makes me wonder...say Mitt Romney wants to buy a new car elevator for his 15th house in La Jolla.  Where does he go for that information?  Are there car elevator blogs out there?  Do they have "PRIVILEGED!" disclaimers?  God, I hope they do, otherwise commenter FREEGANJILL from Poughkeepsie is going to lay into them SO HARD.) time on my honeymoon, my husband and I decided to stay in and fix dinner together.  We had lived together for a while before that and well, had two kids already (because we'se sinners, y'all), so there was none of this beginners-learning-to-live-alongside-each-other stuff.  We were a finely oiled machine in the kitchen in many ways.  We were at the beach, so we went to the market and bought these lovely shrimp, OMG I still remember how gorgeous those things were.  I decided to whip up some pasta with fresh tomatoes to go along side.  So we're cooking and we're laughing and we're drinking wine and we're sunburnt and it's all sweet, kind of like that scene in Annie Hall with the lobster except the shrimp were most certainly deceased.  And I remember it like it was yesterday:  Matt goes, "Your pasta's done."  And I say something like, "Ok, get the colander."  So he looks around and says, "There is no colander."  And I laugh because GOD WHO DOESN'T HAVE A COLANDER.  That's like not having a toilet paper holder.  Or sheets. It HAS to be there,  I think. MEN.  They just cannot find things, amirite?  I start looking for the colander myself.  And yeah, it's not there. 

And this is how I learned that if you have some boiling pasta and need to drain it, a newlywed (buzzed) husband holding a kitchen towel over the sink is a really sorry way to do it.

These are the problems one runs into when you attempt to cook a proper meal in a vacation home.  Peeling nonstick pans.  Plastic mixing bowls that were stained with marinara sauce sometime during the late 90's.  The knives that God forgot.  And all this is not to say that the owners of rental homes are some kind of negligent bunch.  I imagine it is crazy hard to keep up with all of your crap because we as humans?  We suck.  We fuck up stuff for the pastime.  Especially when it is technically not ours to start out with. 

Therefore, it is best to come prepared.  And this year, after many years of trying, I think I finally managed that.  And here's what I did. 

First, I got a really, really cheap open top plastic tote thing from the dollar store.  You don't want anything large, but you do want an open top so that you can just throw stuff into it before you leave and when you pack up to go back home--you don't want to have to diligently pack, you want to be able to throw.  And then I made myself a kit.  You'll want to think of a few meals you might cook ahead of time, even if they are easy things like breakfasts and sandwiches.  And obviously, you are only putting in things that are non-perishable.  Here's what I came up with:

1.  Cast iron skillet--large.  This is my kitchen workhorse, so I knew I could make breakfast in it (eggs, bacon, pancakes) and then if, worse comes to worse and we can't use the grill because of rain, I can sear a mean steak in it.  Try to think of a pan like this that you use often and take it.  I can guarantee you right now that the pans the rental has will be absolute shit.  No one puts their All Clad cookware in a vacation rental, you guys.  And no, you do not want to bring your whole set.  You are on vacation.  One pan will work fine.
2.  Microplaner.
3.  Two decent knives wrapped in kitchen towels--one with a serrated edge and one more like a chef's knife.  Most rentals will have steak knives because I guess they assume people eat steak on vacation.  Yummm, steak.
4.  Olive oil.
5.  Salt and pepper.  At the beach that my mom and I go to, we always go to the grocery store first thing after arriving on Saturday, and the S&P section is always raided.  Bring your own.  There is no sense in buying extra.  Save that cash for ice cream.
6.  Lemons.  That's what the microplaner is for, incidentally.  Lemons are multi-purpose--they taste great in a marinaded, can go in your drink, can be zested into pancake mix, put on an apple to preserve it once sliced, or even used to clean up the kitchen and microwave. Plus, they are cheap.  Grab a couple.
7.  Cinnamon.
8.  Homemade spice blends.  This was the real A HA! moment of my packing.  If you want to do "serious" cooking while on vacation, you'll need spices.  But who wants to do serious cooking?  And really, who wants to purchase all the spices you'll need just for a teaspoon of this or that?  We picked out a couple of blends ahead of time, stirred them up and packed them in empty spice jars to take with us.  For our needs, we decided on an espresso steak rub (yummmm, steak), my husband's BBQ rub and a Jamaican spice blend.  And think outside the block with it.  I discovered that the bbq rub was really tasty on very thinly sliced red potatoes that were then coated in cooking spray and then roasted in the oven.  The Jamaican spices added some fun to burgers and grilled pineapple rings.
9.  Cooking spray.
10.  Charcoal and lighter fluid if you intend on grilling, and you know you do.  (We stayed in a cabin once that had a gas grill on a closed in patio next to the hot tub and that was AWESOME, but most places just have the traditional "camp" style grill like you find in a park.  It will definitely get the job done.)

It might seem like a lot, but this was all super easy to round up, and a lot easier and cheaper than shopping for it once on vacation.

Now, once you are there, you really don't want to spend your entire vacation cooking.  And you really shouldn't.  Steaks and burgers are great choices because they don't require a lot of clean up or ingredients and taste really, really good.  In the past, I have even brought a couple of things to get my mind, and my shortcuts, working.  Homemade cinnamon bread (my Sam's favorite) is a tasty snack to have on hand, but makes really good french toast for Sunday morning.  Also, bringing a BIG premade sandwich is a great thing to have on hand:  you can bring it with you and then once you arrive, you don't have to worry about going back out to dinner or to the store and can step it up with the relaxing already.  My mom makes a great one on a big Italian bread that has ham, turkey, veggies, Italian dressing and marinated artichoke hearts.  You make it the night before you leave, wrap it in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, and then tote it in a cooler the next day.  It just gets better as it sits.  Gabby's favorite is this blend:  roast beef, sliced sharp cheddar, tomatoes and thin red onion slices on a hard French baguette with a sauce made from mayo and Dijon mustard.  Same general idea on that one.  Once you arrive, you just slice everyone off a hunk, serve it up with chips, and VOILA.  Dinner is served.

Now some will read this and say that this defeats the purpose of vacation, that a vacation is about relaxation and eating out.  And I get that.  My mom and I have a TYPED LIST of the restaurants we HAVE to hit next week while we are at the beach.  But here's the thing:  some nights you just don't feel like getting dressed to go out for dinner.  And your kids don't either. And the big difference between you and them is that if you feel a little sluggish during dinner, you'll be fine.  Your child, however, will morph into Charlie Sheen on a three day coke bender.  So staying in and fixing something simple is INFINITELY better than that scenario.  And this is even discounting the ever popular financial motive to cook-in.  For my family of 5 to eat in a full-service restaurant, we're looking at dropping at least $75.  To eat burgers off the grill at the cabin:  considerably less. 

And I reinterate:  you don't have to make it fancy.  Full confession:  I used packaged pancake mix on our trip, the kind you only have to add water to.  I don't think I've EVER done that.  And while I made considerable jokes about our chemical laden breakfast, it was really good.  Everything tastes good when you're on vacation!

Also?  Check for a colander before you make pasta.  Third degree burns are forever.

(No, Matt did not get a third degree burn.  He did get splashed a little, but that was nothing compared to the sunburn he got from laying on the beach like a slug and reading Harry Potter.  Ah, young love!) 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Shorts Story

I have written about shorts before and I guess I should just a post a link to that and call it a day, but I have a whole lot more to say on this subject.  Mostly because of an unfortunate video.

My husband, you guys, is Clark Griswold.  Vacations and Christmases are things that he takes very, very seriously.  He plans our family vacations according to this "Five Year Plan" that culminates with us taking our lovely brood to Europe (I'm thinking this may be more like a seven year plan or a ten year plan).  He plans and he plans and he plans and we always have a lovely time, no matter where we go.  This year, as I mentioned earlier, we went to a cabin in Gatlinburg, if for no other reason than to recover from the last two years where we have done massive, walking-intensive, historically themed vacations.  Our biggest goal was to relax...and rest...and relax some more.  I wanted a hot tub, and my husband wanted a theater room.  And that was what we got.  Matt planned even more stuff for the cabin--renting 90's comedies to introduce to the kids, buying a vast array of popcorn.  And he made a fun DVD of our past vacation exploits to show the kids when we arrived--basically just photo stills set to music.

So we got there and while the kids were running about, getting excited about the wonders of our home for the next week (we live in a single level house--the fact that our vacation cabin was 3 floors was all the excitement they needed), we loaded the homemade DVD into the theater room's player.  I popped some popcorn and we pulled them away from the pool table and video consoles and had a family viewing of vacations past.  It was really fun--seeing how much the kids had grown and reliving lots of fun memories.  Matt had interspersed lots of funny comments, so we laughed like fiends at inside jokes.  When the video was done, the kids were playing around with the little menu thingie and we found some assorted actual videos we had taken.  And there was a lovely video from two years ago that featured us playing putt-putt.

I was wearing a dress.

A dress that I thought looked really adorable on me and was super comfortable and cool.

And although I didn't do it, somehow someway, I came really, really close to flashing my underwear at my husband when I was leaning down to get my ball (REPEATEDLY).  Which means that there was almost video taken of my fluffy white ass. 

Moral of this story:  sometimes, although dresses are divine in the summer, you really just should wear a pair of shorts.

You guys, I love dresses.  I do!  If I had my druthers, I would have done little over the last month but sit at my work computer and order dresses.  It is truly all I want to wear in the summer because most are work appropriate (especially in the summer months when I [and everyone else] can really get away with more) and weekend appropriate and NEARLY everything else appropriate.  But there are times that you just need a good pair of shorts.  I KNOW.  It's screwed up.  It is a fact that I ignored for nearly 10 years.  But shorts serve their purpose so well.

This year, I ponied up for two pairs because there are two weekend days and I really only wear shorts on the weekend.  I am open to another pair--I really wanted a sailor-type style J.Crew Factory was selling, but  I didn't order online while I could and then the B&M Factory store didn't have them, and then, well, I'm always partial to a pair of crisp white shorts at the beach (where I'm going next week!).  But two pairs pretty much serves my needs very well, especially considering I still wear dresses and skirts, even on the weekends.  I always buy a pair of J.Crew 5" chinos, so this year I decided to get them in neon pink.  And guys?  So much fun.  I love those things.  I've been wearing them with a chambray shirt, but they are also really cute with simple v-neck tees.  And I also got these, because why the hell not?  Printed shorts are cool.  I pretty much told myself I was keeping them even if they made me look like I weighed 800 lbs because I liked them that much.  Luckily, they do not. 

Now, if you really need a shorts primer, you can go back to that link above and read all about it because I wrote it last year, and well, there ya go.  Here is the corollary to all that:

1.  Don't overspend on white shorts.  I mentioned above that I love the look of white shorts in the summer time, and I really do.  BUT.  White shorts are....white.  White like the snow, white like Connecticut, white like a virgin.  And, like all of the things above, they are easy to taint.  I find that I have never been able to wear a pair of white shorts longer than one summer.  They just get too stained.  And I have thought about this a lot, because I have had my white jeans definitely longer than one season and they show no stains of any consequence and really, what I think is that when you wear shorts, you are doing more things that invite dirt.  Things like meandering along trails and eating barbecue and chasing kids and eating drippy ice cream cones on the boardwalk.  Darker hues hide the evidence of all this in a way that white just can't do.  So get some fo' cheap.  My pairs the last two years have been from Old Navy, and they usually work out just fine--no see-through, decent material, a quality purchase for the 15 or so smackers you'll pay for them.  You might also find a good pair at Target.  A couple of years ago, their Merona brand shorts were made of really nice material and my mom and I happened upon them when they were on sale for $10.  And there are always 4th of July sales to think about if you don't want to go too cheap.

2.   Don't go too big on top.  I love the look of a pair of shorter shorts (4 in. or shorter) and a blousy, flowy top of some sort.  It seems like a good balance, you know, and I see it in fashion magazines all the time.  It is also something that looks horrible on me.  It makes me look big all over, like I might be an offensive lineman stuffed into a pair of chinos and stranded at a barbecue.  And I don't think it is just me.  This is a really hard proportion to get right.  I see a lot of people who look lost in swaths of fabric up top, which makes them look bigger and well, hotter.  And not hot in a good way.  Hot in a "HAND ME MY CHURCH FAN, BERTHA." way.  Although peasant tops are great on some folks, we just all ain't Marianne Faithfull, if you know what I'm a-sayin.  When all else fails, girls, shorts and a fitted, quality t-shirt is not a bad combo.  It usually hides that which you would like to hide, flatters assets like boobs and shoulders AND has the added benefit of being cool.  Even a nice ribbed tank top in a pretty color can compliment your shorts well.  Basically, what I'm saying is that less is more and simple is better and blah blah blah, I'm boring myself.

3.  Don't try to make them more than they are.  I was very tempted to type here that you really shouldn't try to formalize your shorts in any way because that is a skill best left to the true fashionistas among us, but then I remembered seeing someone pull it off.  For my mom's graduation, a friend of my mom's attended in white city shorts with a really pretty floral print Ann Taylor cardigan and a fitted empire waist camisole underneath.  She wore sparkly flat sandals and nice jewelery and pinned her hair up.  The look was classy, appropriate, and much, much nicer than 90% of what I saw other people wearing to the event.  That is an example of someone making their shorts work in a totally different place--she could have just as well worn the same shorts to a barbecue or over her bathing suit. In some ways, the key to this is to treat your shorts like they are a nice skirt and accessorizing in the same ways.  But like I said.  This is tricky.  Unless you have just the right pair of shorts, you're going to look like an idiot.  I feel like if you are doing anything where you would need to worry about all this, you could just wear a dress.  And you were going to do that anyway, right?

And let's remember the principal rule from my original shorts post:  NO1CURR.  Of course, I am paraphrasing, and maybe it's a bit harsh, but well, everyone else is so caught up in their own body flaws during the summer, that it is helpful to remember that no one else is worried that you didn't lose that last 5 lbs. and no one can tell that your legs have caused you more sleepless nights in your 29 years than you ever would admit to publicly.  To them, you just look like a happy person enjoying her summer.  And if they are the type to notice that you are perhaps not as thin as, say, Gisele Bundchen, well, you don't need them as a friend anyway.  Come sit with me, dear.  I'm sure if I know that meanie I can think of someone mildly related to them that once gave someone a blow job in a funeral parlor (TRUE FACT:  I do know of someone who did this, and now you all want to know who, don't you???), and if I don't, I can just make something up.

As an addendum, if you are truly shorts phobic, and really, you shouldn't be, but if you are, I will let you in on my favorite new secret purchase.  This charming skirt from Old Navy, currently $15 in store.  I'm wearing this sucker RIGHT NOW, you guys.  I had wanted a chevron dress for a while but couldn't find one that I really liked that wasn't full out maxi, so when I saw the skirt this past weekend, I knew I must try it.  And I really, really like it.  These type of cheap, flowy skirts usually put me on the one-way express train to Frumpsylvania, but this one has the nice print which brings the eye inward, and yes, does make you look thinner.  And the top is a roll-down style waist which means you can tinker a bit with the length AND the waistband is big enough to sort of "control" your tummy.  I'm not kidding!  It totally does.  And it is super comfortable.  I originally thought I might just wear it over my bathing suit, but guys, this thing looks really cute on, and yes, I am wearing it right now in the office, albeit with a jacket and my "dressy" sandals.  And like I said, you can get away with a lot in the summer, at least in my office, where, because of vacation schedules and such, I go whole days without seeing anyone of any consequence. 

I just won't be wearing it to play putt-putt.

Which I am exceedingly good at.

Anyone wanna play?  I'll wear the shorts this time!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Uncle Tony

*I was on vacation last week, and I have some happy, vacation-y posts that I plan to write because who doesn't love hearing about someone else's trip??? (Answer:  EVERYONE.)  I haven't had time, however, to get all of my vacation photos on the computer yet, and what's a vacation post without photos?  (Answer:  Mercifully brief.)  Stay tuned.

This morning, I read an article about xoJane staff member, Cat Marnell, leaving her position at the online magazine.  If you follow anything from the xo community, you know Cat.  She's the drug addicted one, the girl who writes about beauty products while high on angel dust.  It makes for some interesting, if not voyeuristic, reading.  I actually discovered  xoJane through Cat's article about the death of Whitney Houston, an article I found to be interesting, well-written and thought provoking.  Now, granted, I find it interesting because I'm the same girl who has a TiVo season pass to Intervention.  Something about addiction and the troubles related to it just "gets" me.  My husband says it is because I'm a masochist.  And maybe I am.  I like seeing people in turmoil, maybe because it validates feelings of hopelessness, loss, etc. that I also feel.  BIG ENGLISH MAJOR FEELINGS.

So I watched Cat tumble.  I follow her on Twitter, and I clicked on all the articles and read all the stories and watched them make less and less sense.  I watched her get a second chance in a line of second chances, I watched people crop up in comments, saying things that were adoring, praising her and her exploits in ways that were just plain worrisome.  And I thought about her, and wished her the best.  But most of all, I thought about my Uncle Tony.

No one ever gave my Uncle Tony a second chance.

When I was a kid, I was scared to death of my Uncle Tony.  He was tall and he laughed all the time.  LOUDLY.  He was much younger than my dad, so he came unencumbered with a wife or with kids for me to play with.  He was just him.  And whenever he walked in my grandmom's front door, I hid behind her recliner.  She even served me a couple of meals back there.

Uncle Tony was just a string of things really--a string of failed jobs that never materialized, a string of women who came around for a Christmas or a birthday and were never seen again.  A few had kids--one had a daughter, exactly my age, who was of mixed race.  She was the first even vaguely black person I had ever talked to or spent time with.  I remember praying at night that he would marry that woman because I was entranced with her daughter's hair.  He moved around a lot.  I don't think I ever visited his house or knew exactly where he lived.  My dad never talked about him that much and he never came to family cook-outs or anything.  As a young child, I never realized this was odd.  Uncle Tony was just different.

As I got older though, I realized just how much fun Uncle Tony actually was.  He was the master of the prank gift.  My grandmother subscribed to the National Enquirer, a fact that my grandfather LOATHED and constantly made deprecating comments about.  One year, Uncle Tony purchased every single National Enquirer when it hit the newstands and then wrapped them all up in a big box with a bow on Christmas.  He gave the box to my grandfather, who opened it up to great conster--hmm, no.  Basically just a whole lot of cussing.  Merry Christmas 11 year old Morgan!  It's no wonder I never met a fucking swear word I didn't fucking like.  Under the big pile of newsprint, however, lied my Uncle's real present to my grandfather--a bottle of Jim Beam.  And that tells you a little something more now than it did when I was 11.  At any rate, far from being the kid cowering behind the LaZBoy, I grew to love any moment when my dad and his two brothers were together.  The jokes were insane.  Every Christmas Eve, I got tucked into my bed with my sides literally aching from all the laughter.

But the thing is, I grew up.  My grandfather died, I graduated from high school and moved away.  I called my grandmother, like clockwork, every Sunday.  She would give me little news bits about Uncle Tony every time I called.  He didn't grow up.  He continued to bounce from place to place and job to job.  He came to live at a house my grandparents owned, where an old aunt had once lived and died.  He went on disability.  He totaled his car.  He lost his license.  And then, well after I moved to California, he moved back in with my grandmother.  She was happy with this arrangement, as she made no bones about the fact that he was her baby and had always been her favorite.  I don't know how he felt.  How would you have felt?  I can't imagine it was good.

One Sunday I called my grandmother.  It was a great sunny Northern California day.  I had tutored that morning, teaching some kid whose parents made more money in a year than my grandfather ever saw in his life about World History for $195 a pop.  Being footloose and fancy free after my 9:00 lesson, I had driven around the coast a little before coming home as kind of a "You're awesome for being out of bed on a Sunday" present to myself.  I picked up some deli salads at the store and then headed home.  It was early Fall, and we sat on the couch and ate and were getting ready to watch the baseball game when I made the call.  I chatted with my grandmother for a while and she told me about her assorted health problems, which was always the basis of these Sunday conversations.  Then she said, "Hold on.  Tony wants the phone."

I don't think I had ever talked to my Uncle Tony on the phone before.  I thought she must be joking.  But sure enough, he came on the line.  He quickly told me that he had watched a Cal football game on TV the day before as it has been broadcast nationally.  We had watched the same one--my husband was, and is, a huge Cal football fan.  He then asked "Do you live in those hills?"  I answered that I did.  He asked if I could see the water.  I answered that I could.  He sighed loudly and said, "I do believe that is the most beautiful place I've ever seen."

This really affected me, so much so that I remember all the peculiarities of that day, of the conversation.  I lived a life, one that while I enjoyed, I did not appreciate.  I focused on my own worries, about the bills, about if my shoes were ok, if I had budgeted enough in gas money this week.  At that point in my life, my Uncle Tony literally had nothing.  His voice carried that across the 3000 plus miles that separated us.  I felt guilty about what I had and took for granted, and I felt his monumental sense of loss and what he could have had and did not.

Ten months later I was packing up my life in CA, preparing to move back to the East Coast.  I was sweeping up the bamboo floor in my daughter's room when the phone rang.  It was my stepmother.  I immediately thought that my grandmother had passed, but it wasn't that.  It was Uncle Tony.  He had died, in my grandmother's carport.  She said heart attack, but she knew better and I knew too.  Somewhere along the way, I picked up that he was a drug addict.  No one ever told me, but I saw.  A slurred word here and there.  A rolled eye.  An Oxycontin bottle in my grandmother's kitchen.  So I knew.  He wasn't even 50 yet.  And he was dead, in a car, on a hot summer day.

I want to give you a big poignant thing about my Uncle's life, about how he helped someone or impacted a life in some amazing way.  But I can't.  Here's the truth:  he was a drug addict.  His whole life.  He was a faceless, sad Appalachian statistic, one of the many, many people who struggle with drugs in my corner of the world.  He lived and he died as a drug addict.  He was not glamorous; he was the opposite.  He was not a parent, he was never married.  He did not know the joy of rolling around in bed and sticking your ass out and knowing that someone on the other side would wrap their arms around you subconsciously.  He left behind a TV set, and that was it.

I read about Cat and her world in New York with clubs and friends and all night parties.  It is a world that I cannot even pretend to know anything about.  I think I enjoyed reading her stuff because it taunted me with that life--a life that I, shackled to responsibility at such a young age, never even got a glimpse of.  And while I want her to get better, it smacks me coldly to think of all the people on Twitter, telling Cat that she is a "rock star" and pledging their adulation.  She is not a rock star.  She is a drug addict.  Like my Uncle Tony who most people would have been happy to ignore had he walked up the same aisle as them at the grocery store.

Addiction is something I live in fear of, if I am completely honest.  I know that it is in me, somewhere, to have addiction issues.  Sometimes I think I watch Intervention and its ilk just to give me enough of a jolt to where I will not go down that road.  When my cousin moved into my grandmother's house after my grandmother left for the nursing home, she found countless liquor bottles my grandfather stowed in the wall and that, presumably, my grandmother never found.  Behind the old washing machine was a veritable wall of flat vodka bottles.  There was one particular bottle of Jim Beam she found that was almost shoulder height on her 8 year old.  Yeah, addiction issues:  we haz em.  I keep an old picture of my grandfather that I found during one of these clean outs on my bedside table.  The inscription on the back reads "Old Drunk Jack at the Scott County Fair."

(Of note:  We also found a certificate given to my Uncle Tony when he graduated high school, congratulating him on never having missed a day of school, from first grade on.  He never even missed a minute of school--no early check outs, no tardiness, no nothing.  Mull that one.  It's a sad thing to mull.)

So here I sit, writing this, about a girl I will never know and a man I barely knew.  I feel sad.  Maybe that is why I am writing this.  There is certainly a rather D.A.R.E. undertone to this article, and maybe I mean that, and maybe I don't.  I literally do not give a fuck what consenting adults do in their spare time--if you like drugs, fine.  Your thing.  Do I want my kids to use drugs?  HELL NO.  I guess I implore you to try to keep that which will destroy you in check.  And no matter who we are, we all have something like that.  I dare you to say you do not.

And I write for Uncle Tony because he can't tell his story.  He doesn't have thousands of captivated tweeps, waiting to RT with glee.  But his is a story that is repeated millions of times over this country, and it is no less tragic because he is not thin and blonde.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How My Stupid Skin is Making Me Healthier

I am pale.  Ghastly.  Usually by this point in the summer, I have applied enough self tanner to get a relatively nice glow on, something that, while not permanent at all, would at least be maintainable.  But not now.  I am the color of a sheet.

And why, you ask?  Oh, because my skin decided to declare war on me.  Fucking skin.

I have always had relatively sensitive skin.  My mom can still rattle off a list of things that broke me out as a small child (most notably heartbreaking of which was Mr. Bubble bubble bath which was the stuff rose colored dreams are made of), and I've never been one for heavy fragrances or scented products at all.   Well, except for the time that I decided--DAMN THE TORPEDOES!--that I would wear Bath and Body Works Sun Ripened Raspberry in all of its manifestations at one time.  I think I was about 14.  Around the same time, I also found out that I am HIGHLY allergic to all Origins products because they have some kind of fruit acid in them that turns me into Lobster Boy.  College was marked by my discovery that I am insanely allergic to Tide, and couldn't even use a washing machine after someone had used Tide powder in it, as the residue was enough to cause a week of misery.  ANYWAY, I use Almay Skin Relief Body Wash and coconut body butter and during the summer, I use self-tanner.  And none of this has ever given me a problem.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I planned a little getaway for ourselves.  We got a hotel room with a whirlpool, bought some champagne and ahem, some stuff, and worked out plans with my mother in law so that she could watch the kids.  In preparation, I went ahead and bought a box of L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Tanning Towelettes, and decided to do the ole double dip where I used my gradual tanner as lotion and then added the extra oomph of the tanning towels.  I used them a couple of times in pretty quick succession.  Yeah, it smelled.  Matt complained about it, as he always does when I use self tanner.  But ultimately, I guess he decided not to say too much because he didn't want to dare come between a girl and her horrible body image.

But then I woke up with hives down both of my arms.  At first, it was mostly confined to my upper arms, but by the time I got to work, it had spread down to my inner elbows and there was a patch on my right ankle.  All of these little TAN bumps running down my arms, all these little TAN bumps that itched like crazy.  I scratched and scratched.  Matt begged me to go to the doctor, but I decided against it because it was a rash that I've had multiple times before--I'm not new to this go-round.  I layered Eucerin calming cream over it, and a little bit of calamine lotion.  Still.  It itched.  Actually, that's not giving you an appropriate feeling of what it was like...hmmm...GOOD GRAVY IT WAS LIKE A MILLION FIRE ANTS BITING ME...GAHHH.

We went on our trip.  I brought my gradual tanning lotion with me, but Matt begged me not to use it, and since I was feeling romantical, I relented.  That and the fact that all of the scratching had made my skin start peeling so the tan was coming off in sheets.  ATTRACTIVE.  My upper arms looked like I had some kind of horrible skin disease where I was literally molting.  I wore a cardigan over my dress when we went out to dinner and called it a day.  Love is blind, ya'll.

Still, the itching did not totally go away, despite getting some better.  We washed our sheets several times, thinking that it was something there because it always seemed worse in the mornings.  I started confronting facts that I was either allergic to self-tanner or chocolate, and to be honest, I couldn't imagine a day without either one.  I sulked.  A lot.  Matt stayed on me though about laying off the tanner until we figured out what it was.  And then one night, after dulling myself with Benadryl and going to bed, only to wake up at 4:00 a.m.  with my mind racing, I realized that it was my robe.  My fluffy robe hadn't been laundered since I broke out and was the thing I put on directly after tanning.  If anything was coated in it, it would be the robe.  I washed the robe in hot water, hoping that was not really it, but within a day, it was over.

So, somehow, someway, I am allergic to that particular cocktail of self-tanner.  Which means that that very day, I was on the internet, looking at Kiehl's Tanner, which MUST be better for me, RIGHT?!?!

I have refrained though.  My legs are horrible, yes, but the stuff really does smell and is it worth putting Matt through all that?  Is it worth the obvious streaks that appear sometimes despite my best intentions?  Maybe not.  It is not the paleness that I abhor so much, it is just that I think the tan makes my legs look thinner.  And does it really?  Or is it all in my head?  And is it worth breaking out in hives for something that very well could be all in my head?

So on Monday I went running.  And then again this morning.  Running is the goddamn worst, and I don't care if you love it.  It's horrible.  But it works, and it is free, and if you play it right, you get to listen to good music while you're doing it.  So I'm back on that horse.  I am doing C25K again, because it has seriously been that freaking long, and I was surprised that it wasn't totally horrible this morning.  Ok, yeah, it was horrible.  But not as horrible as it could have been.  It was just mildly torturous, not "MY FACE IS GETTING EATEN OFF BY A CANNIBAL" torturous.  I gave myself a little victory hop when it was over before I remembered that GOD I FUCKING HATE RUNNING.

I am not totally back on WW, but I'm trying to be mindful while eating.  I'm trying to convince myself that there is no moderation in eating only vegetables for lunch.  I want to be healthy, I really do, so I am trying.  Did I eat a bowl of the celebratory dirt cake I made for my kids last night?  Damn right I did.  But today is a new day and the blueberries I had this morning were damn good.  And it is Berry Almond Chicken Salad time at Wendy's!  FUCK YEAH BERRY ALMOND CHICKEN SALAD.

I am a work in progress.  A pale, fluffy work in progress.  But maybe it'll stick this time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

So You Want to Have Sex With Joe Mauer: Coupon Clippers Edition

(Joe Mauer laughs at those who pay full price for beauty products.)

If there is anything less sexy than clipping coupons, I don't know it.  (Maybe nursing homes.  Maybe jorts.)  Coupon clipping is one of those loaded activities where you assume you know the kind of person who does it--an overweight housewife in a Tweety t-shirt, trying to feed her growing family on a kitchen full of processed foods (and now with shows like Extreme Couponing, we get more visual evidence to back up our assumptions).  At one time when I was in college, we got the paper delivered to us and I clipped coupons every Sunday.  However, I hardly ever used the actual things, mostly because buying three boxes of Fruit Roll Ups even with a coupon is more expensive than buying a bunch of bananas.  Plus, there was always the added problem of actually having the damn things with me when I was at the store and then trying to use them before the expiration date.  Blech.

And I'm not here to tell you that I've changed my sorry ways.  I still don't use coupons all the time, nor do I go out of my way to do so.  I'll go with the fresh bananas any day, thankyouverymuch.  However, I'm not averse to saving a little money, mostly because that means I get to spend more money later.  So every once in a while, when I get an email from Coupon Mom or Target telling me there are new coupons available, I make a quick run through with them and print out the ones that I like.  Sometimes there are very few things that I print.  Sometimes there are a bunch.  Frequently printed items are coupons for Allegra (I take it everyday), Kashi Steam meals, and Cascadian Farms cereal.  Target also frequently features a coupon for a certain percentage off of a clothing item, and these are great for the kids, especially since I have a fickle teenager who loves fast fashion.  After printing out the coupons, I just stick them in a binder clip and throw them in the bottom of my (new!) purse.  Then, when I go to the store, if I want to use one, I just pull it out.  I think I'm getting pretty good with them.  My mom noted that the last few times we have gone to Target together, I have used at least one coupon each time.  On my trip on Sunday, I saved $8.  So while I'm definitely not an extreme couponner, that $8 is well saved and will definitely allow me to buy some really stinky cheese or yet another lip gloss.

Now, most of you don't know this, but Joe Mauer finds saving money really sexy.  Sure, he makes eleventy trillion dollars a year just for looking hot and throwing a ball around, but that doesn't mean that he's going to spend it all.  Being Joe Mauer is not cheap.  I'm sure he has a skin care regimen.  And there's all of that cash he's laying down for places where he can sex you up.  Showing a man you are financially minded is a great way of saying, "I am not a gold digger.  I want you for your body only.  Now use that shin guard to tie me up and we'll reenact parts of 50 Shades of Gray in a light bondage meets baseball mash-up."

So without further ado, here are a couple of things I've purchased with coupons recently.

Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain.  I've written about Revlon's Just Bitten Lip Stains before, but this is a much different formula.  Basically, the lip stain is like a felt tip pen for your lips (with accompanying clear lip balm for a creamy touch) and this "kissable balm stain" is more like a big old crayon.  I have to admit that that enticed me way before I remembered I have a coupon for this stuff.  I love the idea of a big, fun adult crayon that I get to play with, because what is make-up really but fun stuff to play with?  I picked it up in the color "Romantic" which is a cool tinged red.  I was wanting something for summer that was light and could be smudged on but that would have all of the color that I like and need.  And I didn't want it to be too "done", not too glossy and something that could be defined a bit for work or smudged on playfully for vacation.  This stuff fits the bill, and I have to say, I love it.  The crayon is easy to wield and you can line your lips if you are so inclined or you can just say "Fuck all!" and put it on with no guide like the kind of free-wheeling free spirit who follows the Minnesota Twins around and eschews all major life responsibility.  The color is pretty choice as well--a light red that gives you a touch of the trendy brightness without being truly overwhelming.  Kind of like eating a cherry popsicle.  See for yourself:
(Yup that's me, sitting in my office, taking crappy pictures of myself.  Note that my hair is not normally that jacked up--I didn't straighten it or wash it because I was too sore from running and hiking yesterday.  So what I'm saying is that I'm ugly and out of shape.)
That picture was taken after I had had it on for a little over a hour.  Which brings me to my next point:  This stuff lasts better than your garden variety balm color.  Perhaps because it is a stain or something, the color is a bit more pervasive than what its silky texture would have you believe.  I wore it yesterday on our afternoon hike and despite sweating and carrying a 2 year old nearly the whole way back, it was still on when I got back in the car.  I will add that because it is such a nice texture on the lips, you will want to put it on often.  Especially if you are a lip biter like me.  

My verdict?  LOVE.  This is my summer lip color, far and away.  I am tempted to buy more colors, but know that I will be partial to this red.

Mauer verdict?  Hey girl.  When you wear that lip balm/stain/whatever, it makes me think of a fresh, wholesome night under the Minnesota stars with a crackling fire and homemade smores and my hands running down the length of your back and you leaning over and getting that balm all over my....DAMN GIRL.  THAT LIP STAIN IS CHOICE.

Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfecter B.B. Cream.  Okay.  I really can't say anything about this product that hasn't been said before.  The internetz love BB (Beauty Balm) Creams, and this is a relatively cheap version and so, basically, anything you want to see about it, you can find.  A lot of people love it.  Some people do not.  I, myself, really like it, but I went after it looking for a very specific thing.  It delivered on that, so I'm happy.  If I had expected more, I might not be.  

I am really quite happy with my Mary Kay foundation, but I wanted something a bit different for summer on days when I'm not at work--something more akin to a tinted moisturizer.  I have so-so luck with tinted moisturizers--some are pretty good (Laura Mercier) and some make me look like Snooki (Almay Smart Shade--I'm just too pale).  Also, I have finally gotten on board with a pretty reliable skin care routine, so finding something was going to be good to my skin was a plus as well.  So I knew I was going to buy this product, online reviews and coupon aside.  And really, it does what I need it to do.  It is nice to wear on the weekend, and even though I was dubious on the (lack of) color choices, the Light/Medium shade disappears easily and keeps me from any Snooki-esque color.  I can't really tell if there is any long-term positive affects from its skin-care side because I haven't used it long enough.  I do like it though--I like it a lot.  The coverage is light enough not too look too done, and it feels nice for summer.  I like the addition of the SPF.  I will say that how your layer it is key.  I generally just put it on directly after washing my face, but the other day I forgot and put it on after my regular moisturizer (Cerave).  It went on a little lighter, but I didn't notice it coming off or making my face oily (I have very normal, boring skin).  I will say that I prefer it applied after washing and without other creams used before it.

My verdict:  Definitely doable summer beauty.  The price point is nice (even without the coupon), and it makes me feel good that it is doing something for my skin other than just covering it up.  It might be too dark for me by the time fall rolls around, but by then I might be a more of a foundation-everyday-girl anyway.

Mauer verdict:  Girl, your skin is so nice.  So luminous.  So protected.  I want it to stay like that so that we can be doin' it well into our 80's.  Because girl, when I'm just a dude going around to traveling ball signings and telling stories about back in the day, I want you to be there.  I'll need a sympathy beej.

I hope your Memorial Day weekends were fun and restful.  Mine definitely was, and I found some great deals this past weekend (mostly for the kids, but I did find a great new bag for $60).  I got to see plenty of Mauer as the A's are currently in Minnesota, forgetting how to play baseball and forcing me into alcoholism. Harumph.  

Friday, May 25, 2012


This morning was awards day at my daughter's school.  She's in 7th grade, so it is her last year at this particular school (and would have been even if we weren't moving), so there was something already a little sentimental about walking in and seeing her getting her medals.  It doesn't help that she was getting her awards on the same stage where I totally PWNED her dad in academic competition.  PWNED, you guys.  It was bloody.  What an amazing, amazing night.

Where was I?

Anyway, Gabby told us that her teacher told her to make sure that we came, but she didn't really put a lot of emphasis on it.  Of course, we showed, as we always do.  Gabby made sure to pick out our clothes beforehand so that we embarrassed her the least we possibly could.  We were both really surprised that she let Matt wear a t-shirt with pi on it.

The awards day went pretty normally with a handful of kids--Gabby included--getting a lion's share of the awards.  They placed a bunch of medals around the kids' necks, and it was fun to see them walk around afterwards with their hands strategically placed so as to minimize the clink-clank of the metal.  Gabby, being in seventh grade, got hers at the end of the ceremony.  We clapped politely and tried to keep Alice from attacking these twin baby boys sitting behind us.

At the end of the ceremony, they had two retiring teachers come to the podium.  One of them is one that I had as a teacher myself in sixth grade and who had coached our academic team in high school.  She began crying as she spoke about teaching at the school for all the years that she had, and all the wonderful students she had had.  I found myself already tearing up, remembering what a good teacher she had been for me and for Gabby.  She then started talking about giving out a special Principal's Leadership award to a special student.  She went on to describe the student as someone who loved to learn, who was bright and intelligent while being friendly and fair, who always showed respect to her teachers and fellow students.  She talked about the student bringing in stuff she had researched at home and books she had borrowed from her parents.  She talked about the student impacting everything she touched and making it better for those around her.  By this point, I was full on crying.

Then she said that she had also taught the student's mother, and that "the apple had not fallen far from the tree."  She said that the only difference between the student and her mother was that her mother refused to sit in a desk the correct way and that the daughter did that, and everything else, correctly.

And since I'm bothering to type this all out, you know that the student was Gabby and well, I'm her mom.

Gabby walked up to get her trophy in her skin-tight jeans and hipster glasses, that perfect I-don't-really-care-about-my-hair triangle of hair falling over her forehead.  She had a blue American Apparel hoodie tied around her waist, for a reason I do not understand but probably would if I were 13.  She is awkward in that way that all 13 year olds are, but also beautiful in a way that amazes me and fills me with joy.  And she is mine.

I am closing in on 30 this year, and sometimes, all I can think of is the stuff I've done wrong.  I don't have a master's degree yet, much less the Ph.D. I once considered, I haven't found my dream career, my depressing coming of age novel lies in sad files on my work computer's hard drive.  I live in the hometown that I have the most complicated relationship with and spend most of my time abhorring with every fiber of my being.  I don't exercise with any regularity, and last night, I singlehandedly consumed more calories while sitting on my couch watching crap on ID than I probably should have in a week.  BUT.  I have raised a Gabby, and a Sam, and even an Alice, and they are amazing and smart and funny and not only do I see that, but the world does too.  It is mind-blowing.  For all the stupid stuff I've done, and let me tell you, there's a lot, I have done two things:  I have lived and I have raised amazing, brilliant, respectful kids.

I don't have really anything in my life figured out.  I wish I could impart something about raising these kids that would be wise and would inspire someone else to look at their child in a new way, but I can't.  For all my words, I don't have the ones that would do that.

Hillary Clinton once said that the best compliment you can give a mother is to compliment her child.  And that is true.  This morning, hearing all those wonderful things about Gab, the same child who only recently told me that she is scared of spoons, I felt so amazing.  Truly.  If I have managed to produce something that awesome, well, maybe I'm not that bad myself. (Which is probably the slippery slope encountered by anyone ever featured on "Toddlers and Tiaras.")

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Motherhood is...

I just saw a post on Facebook that pissed me off, which is probably going to be the title of the book that I will inevitably write.  In it, the author said "Motherhood is:  eating standing up (if you get to eat at all)."  And, of course, hundreds of people clicked "like" superfast with their superfast ninja Facebook mommy powers and then commented with a whole bunch of other stuff like "eating while washing dishes...and standing up!" and "in the pantry so my kid doesn't see what I'm eating...and standing up!"  Good God.

Ladies, get off that cross because we could really use the wood to build a house for our schnauzer.  His name his Hinkleton.  He appreciates your non-martyrdom.

I understand that the daily reality of motherhood is not always glamorous.  I mean, your fucking nipples bleed for one thing--there is nothing glamorous about bleeding nipples.  The first few days and weeks of motherhood are a torture that the Geneva Convention should protect us all against.  BUT....there are ways to keep yourself from having to withdraw from even the most basic of human activity.  I have three kids and not only have I never skipped a shower on their account (NEVER, nor will I ever--that is what bouncy chairs and Dads are for), I have never skipped a meal, a fact that is blatantly obvious to anyone who has ever seen my legs.  And I have had the vast majority of those meals while sitting down and consuming something that I enjoy, i.e., not the reheated and forgotten chicken nuggets left by some picky, overindulged toddler.

Guys, it is all about time management and appropriate parenting.

Now, I don't want to be one of those preachy harpies who tells you how to run your life, because really, my life is a fucking mess and I should be seriously looking into one of those life coach things to keep me from making patented Morgan "It seemed like a great idea at the time!" decisions (actually, I'm on a roll of good decisions lately, so let's none of us call the no-hitter, and really, I dare you to show me someone whose life, in one way or another, is not a total wreck).  But here's the thing:  if you have time to update your Facebook status, you have time to eat sitting down.  I mean, maybe you typed it out on your iPhone while standing up, but as a frequent typist of status messages on a phone, I can tell you that it takes a little bit of time (CURSE YOU FAT FINGERS!), especially when you figure in bringing up the Facebook app and then scrolling through and--oh, she finally had her baby!--and then bringing up the status screen and what have you.  So you definitely could sit down to enjoy your pb&j in that time frame.  And even if that was not an option for whatever reason, you can't tell me that there is not some point during the day, even between the hours of 11 and 2, when you could not get away from your children and/or work to eat something in a sitting position.

The author of the status goes on to say in a subsequent comment that every time she sat down, her kids asked for something.  There is a pretty simple way to avoid that too, my little croquembouches.  YOU TELL THEM THAT YOU ARE EATING AND TO WAIT.  My kids know, even the little one, that if I am eating (or getting dressed or talking on the phone), they are to hold their damn horses and do something on their own.  No one has ever died or experienced even the most mild discomfort because of this.  How did they know this?  Was it encrypted in their DNA?  Nope.  They just live in a house where we all respect each other and our needs.  That and I am sure to remind them if I have to.  I promise--you can tell your kid "no."  They don't explode.  Sometimes they kinda like it because they learn stuff and they get to be real, function individuals.  "What the fucking fuck?" you say?  If you have your own life and address your own needs, your child doesn't grow up to be a serial killer.  I KNOW.  Funny how that works, huh?

I love being a mother, I really do.  My kids are rad.  But I also love being a wife, an employee, a lady, a snappy dresser, a reader, a human being.  I will never give up any of those things to be a mom because the second I do that is the second I become a much worse parent.  So I'm not going to give up my monthly haircuts, my J.Crew habit (sorry, Matt), my job, my lunch, my shower, my Nars Orgasm blush, the occasional Miller Lite.  This doesn't make me less of a mother.  It makes me a damn good one.  Conversely, if you don't want those things, it doesn't make you a bad mother.  If you want to skip lunch and a shower and whatever else, go for it.  Just don't pride yourself on your misery and expect the rest of us to jump on board with you.

Since I think motherhood gets a bad rap for this and other Facebook-related transgressions, I give you an amended "Motherhood is..." status.

Motherhood is...
...knowing that neon was coming in a long time before this spring (tween girl's clothes were doing neon two years ago, all in a scheme to placate moms who want their kids to look how they did as a kid).
...hearing dubstep before anyone else your age.
...getting to relive all of your favorite books through the eyes of someone else.
...getting to bow out of someone's horrible event because your "kid is sick."
...finally getting to play with curly hair when it is the thing you've wanted your entire life and realizing that maybe it's not your bag after all.
...signing up to bake cookies for your daughter's class so that you can make a double batch and have yummy leftovers for the rest of the week.
...getting to shop in Delia's again and reliving every second of being 14 (and what you did in those pants when you were 14....).
...thinking that MIB: 3 looks atrocious but getting truly excited to take your son to go see it.
...getting to finish off the amazing mac and cheese from Panera out of your daughter's kids meal.
...being secretly happy your son "forgot" to shower the night before because when you wake him up the next morning his hair still smells like sunscreen and the beach.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Lifetime Movie Reviews: Sexting in Suburbia

Yesterday was Mother's Day as we all well know since there were hoards of disgruntled people crowding the card racks at Target and buying all the potted plants that weren't nailed down.  My family and I went out and celebrated a bit with lunch and shopping on Saturday which left Sunday for me nothing.  It was magical:  I took a long bath with a copy of Garden and Gun and mango exfoliator, gave myself a facial, and wore my favorite maxi dress to lay on the couch all day and mainline fresh strawberries out of a bucket from a farm.  My kids gifted me with earrings, sunglasses and a nightgown, a well-thought out gift from each that was so sweet that just thinking about it makes me want to tear up.

I used my time on the couch to watch Lifetime movies and baseball, which really, is just about the best combination ever. Until this weekend, I hadn't really watched a Lifetime movie in for freaking ever, a sad fact that relates the complete state of craziness in my house at this moment of our lives.  Needless to say, I was thrilled to be able to throw myself upon the mercy of the network and let them show me whatever it was they were showing--I wasn't picky.

And it was a good thing too, because Sexting In Suburbia is not a good movie.  It is pretty dad-blame terrible, to be completely honest with you.  It is completely nonsensical at points, and the characters are not even really that likable.  But here's the thing:  when I really started thinking about it, I realized that Sexting In Suburbia is really just about the most Lifetime-y of all Lifetime movies.  It demonizes sex, raises the mother to the role of judge, jury and executioner, and has the most elementary views of good and evil imaginable.  Basically, what I'm saying is that if you are a high school aged virgin who writes heavy handed fiction about death and irony and the problems of the world today, you will love this movie.  If you aren't, you're going to need some booze to get through it.

I'm just going to synopsize the movie for you, assuming of course, that you have no desire to really watch this movie.   What I'm basically saying is that this is going to contain "spoilers" insofar that one can spoil a movie that is pretty damn predictable.  And, you'll have to take some of this with a grain of salt, because when I started watching this movie yesterday, I didn't know I would be doing this, so there might be moments where my memory fails miserably.  I apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause you, although I really feel like I'm doing you a pretty solid public service in all this because I'm basically giving you two hours where you can eat, apply self-tanner, buy shoes online and send rambling text messages to your significant other.  YWIA.

The movie begins with some chick walking down the hallway of a high school, and people are pointing and laughing at her as they are wont to do in these movies.  Does anyone actually have this experience, I wonder? Maybe they do, because kids really are horrible beings, but I can't think of a single time in my high school experience where the entire student body just ganged up on one particular person.  I can't remember anyone really being able to raise that amount of concern toward ANY one thing, even important things like pizza or how freaking hot Coach Cassell's room was.  Anyway, the girl, who is really strikingly pretty I might add, opens her locker and a veritable avalanche of condoms falls out.  Again, I have to draw an analogy here to my own experience:  people in my high school were way too poor to ever fill someone's locker with condoms.  Seventy-five cents apiece, y'all--not for the budget prankster.   If anything, someone might take a single condom, tape it to the door of the locker and then stand back and guffaw when the locker's owner finds it.  I guess this is why the movie is titled "Sexting in Suburbia" and not "Sexting in Appalachia."

Anyway, prophylactic queen here takes the whole incident pretty horribly, and she goes home, vlogs, and then hangs herself.

(I will add that the only time I have ever seen someone vlog, it has been in a Lifetime movie.  Do people actually do that?  If you are a vlogger, please send me a link to your vlog, and please do not kill yourself.)

Now, this is one part of the movie I had a small beef with.  While Dina is supposedly doing the deed, her mother is hard at work as a real estate agent, which is one of the few Lifetime movie approved professions for a woman.  The mom is doing her best to fix a leaky faucet and really sale this house, all the while we know that her daughter is at home offing herself, presumably because mom is too busy to talk to or watch her vlogs.  And I  get that Lifetime isn't totally saying that all working mom's are negligent, because, seriously, why would they alienate more than half of their viewing base, but it really plays into the working-mom-guilt-dialectic and I really don't think it should.  The moral of story should be that the girl is driven to suicide because of sexting, and that's what the movie tells us....kind of.  The whole mishmash of Mom at work/girl hanging herself is not needed and really should have been avoided.  Bad move, Lifetime.  And, of course, as soon as Dina kills herself, we never see her mom actually working again because mom has dedicated herself to finding the person/sexts that drove her daughter to her untimely death.  Yeah, it takes a kid killing herself to teach her mom that she doesn't need to pay the mortgage or buy that 150th pair of shoes at Nordstrom. Moms these days, AMIRITE?!?!  *headdesk*

Dina's mom, Rachel, starts talking to friends and ends up finding the sext on Dina's phone.  Bless her heart, you guys.  That had to be horrible.  And then we flashback to homecoming, which is when the whole thing apparently started.  Dina and her boyfriend, Mark, had planned to turn on Boyz II Men's I'll Make Love to You and get totally carnal that night, and Mark had planned this shit, even renting a room at some classy hotel (Mark, for real, can you send me the place of your lovepad, cause I'm trying to get out of town this weekend, and boy is it a bitch trying to find a nice shaggin' palace?).  But Dina just isn't ready, you guys!  And I'm not making fun of that, because everyone is ready at different times, you know, and no one should ever have sex when they don't want to, EVER EVER EVER even if they are a horrible made-up Lifetime movie stand-in for imagined female purity.  But the whole thing just reeks of good girl/bad girl stuff, so Dina, I'm giving you the eyeroll on this one.  A little one!  Sorry!  Don't hang yourself!  Dina goes home and skips the afterparty, but then she thinks better of it, and takes a naked pic in her mirror to send to Mark.  And I'll say that as far as naked pics go, it's pretty tame.  Due to the American news media, I tend to believe that teenagers are all the horniest, craziest things alive, what with their rainbow parties and butt-chugging.  When you say "teenage sext," I'm thinking that it must involve full spread-eagle pictures, a lollipop and maybe some nipple clamps.  Not Dina.  Dina is the Jackie Kennedy of high school sexting.

And really, she shouldn't have bothered because at the time she is sending it, Mark is banging some chick named Skyler who is blonde and a whore.  Skyler is set up as the total villain in this movie--she not only lets Mark cry his heart-broken tears of semen into her vagina, but she also takes the field hockey captainship from Dina.  Whore!  She's also a total bitch to everyone.  And we're set up from the very beginning to see that she has the motive and opportunity to send out the sext to, like, totally everyone because she was boffing the recipient at the time it was sent!  Did I mention she's blonde?  STONE THE WHORE.

Rachel kind of pieces this all together and sees how the sext has gone viral, and this is when her Mommy-Sense starts tingling and she's all "FUCK ALL" to all sense of normalcy and common decency.  The school will not give her the answers she craves because of some shit about "privacy concerns."  Oh my God, whatever.  It's not like it is a law or whatever....oh, it is?  Well, that's not what my MOMMY BOOK tells me.  Rachel writes an op-ed to her local paper about the situation and it goes on the front page of the paper because evidently it is a very slow news week and the paper does not actually, you know, publish stories written by the people they pay to write.  And suddenly, she is the town pariah.  Dina's grave gets vandalized (someone spray paints "Dina Von Slut" on it, which while catchy, I have a very hard time believing someone would actually do, but then again, I've been known to have a way too lofty opinion of the human race), and someone puts a bunch of pictures of nooses in her Rachel's mailbox.  Then someone throws a brick through Rachel's window which also happened to Althea Tibbs after she gets raped by some white guys in Sparta, Mississippi on In the Heat of the Night.  What I'm saying is, the brick throwing is a little out of place here because we're not exactly dealing with the klan here--we're dealing with a bunch of suburban teenagers and their Adderall-addled parents.  None of this makes sense.  I think this is around the time I opened my first lovely bottle of Amstel Light.

Mark and Rachel then get together and realize that really, this is all Skyler's fault because she's a total slut, you guys.  For a movie that is about sexting and the dangers of slut shaming, this movie does a whole lot of....slut shaming.  So, of course, Rachel confronts Skyler about the whole thing because why the hell not.  It turns out that Rachel and Skyler's mom are all BFF's, which I'm sure was told earlier in the movie but that I totally didn't figure out because I'm evidently too stupid to understand Lifetime movies.  God.  So Skyler denies the whole thing and then Skyler's mom fixes some drinks and Rachel goes to the bathroom to cry and finds evidence of all the vandalism and intimidation stuff in there, OMG!  God, she's a slut!  I want to kill Skyler right now, the whore!

Rachel goes to the police with this info and asks them to arrest Skyler because policemen can totally just do a citizen's bidding if you ask really nice.  The police counter with the fact that they have information that it was not Skyler who sent out the text (she only sent it out once), but instead, it was Claire who was supposedly Dina's best friend, who is a brunette with bangs so is totally not.a.slut.  THE WORLD DOES NOT MAKE SENSE ANYMORE.  Also not making sense?  That whole Fourth Amendment that protects us all from unlawful search and seizure and having your cell phone records shown to a private citizen.  Except for, you know, moms in duress (I'm pretty sure that's how the framer's wanted it.  The Constitution breathes!).

Rachel speeds home and finds Claire in her house (?) watching old vlogs on Dina's computer as she is wont to do, I guess.  Claire starts babbling on about sorry she is for ruining Dina's life, and she is such an adorkable little slut-shaming driver to suicide!  Except it turns out that all she did was rat Dina's sluttish ways out to the field hockey coach (and she only did that because Skyler kind of forced her into it), and Dina was thrown off the team and lost her scholarship to college, which was the last straw.  Claire denies sending the texts, because she didn't even have her phone to send them, you guys--she totally left it in the limo by accident because she is just that kind of girl!  It's like if Zooey Deschanel was a spineless high school sidekick!  Cute!

We get a lot of flashbacks in all of this, and the only reason I tell you this is because one of them featured my favorite scene in the movie.  When Dina gets thrown off the team, she confronts Skyler and Claire about it, and in the process, slams a field hockey stick into Skyler's nose and bloodies it.  IT.WAS.AWESOME.  Which, of course, means that Dina has to go home and kill herself because she did something that differentiated herself from a doormat.  Funny how that works.

So who sent the sexts you guys?  Skyler?  Mark?  Claire?  Dina herself, overcome with the regret of having once considered being a sexual being?  NOPE.  It was totally....SKYLER'S MOM.  Rachel was stabbed in the back by her very best friend because Skyler's mom was totally jealous that her kid didn't get the scholarships and boyfriends and....was a total slut.  So, she did the adult thing and sent a naked picture of a teenager to 40 of the teenager's closest friends.  And she would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for her meddling daughter fucking around on her phone.  Oh, and the fact that she LIKE AN IDIOT kept the naked picture of Dina on her personal cell phone.  God, criminals these days.  I can't even with the stupid.  Skyler finds the photo and puts it all together because maybe she is the smartest person in this movie, and gets so upset that she runs outside, gets in her family's kickass Audi (MY GOD I WANT THAT CAR) and drives like a maniac on a wet road.  Did I mention she is texting as she does this?  Because she is.  What happens next, Lifetime viewers?  You guessed it:  she crashes, and we get this amazing shot of her bloody hand holding a really ghetto looking flip phone.  First off:  kudos to Lifetime for giving me two lessons in this movie.  1)  Sexting is bad and will kill you and 2) Texting while driving is bad and will kill you.  Second off:  the moral of the story is totally don't buy a ghetto cell phone without voice text apps.  Like duh.

Skyler's mom gets arrested for distribution of child porn and Rachel visits her in the hospital where she finds out that Skyler will never walk again, so there goes that field hockey scholarship she totally stole from Dina because obviously these are the only two girls in the nation that can play field hockey for this fictional college.  Rachel goes home to watch Dina vlog about pink gerber daisies, which was totally my wedding flower so Dina and I are kind of linked in a cosmic, dead/not dead, slut/not slut way.  In the middle of this, Claire shows up, which is really starting to get creepy at this point.  She may be a manic pixie dream ghost, you guys.  Anyway, Claire takes her to the school where she is having this very special program in the auditorium and is asking all the students to give up their cell phones for the rest of the semester as penance for driving a girl to her death because you know, tit for tat.

I told you that none of this made sense.

I am sorry that this is so freaking long, but I hoped you enjoyed it.  On the cosmic scale of Lifetime movies, with 1 being any kind of schlock they show at Christmas and 5 being "The Two Mr. Kissels", this rates about a 2.  I'm giving it that for overwhelming Lifetime-iness and also because I like it when brunettes come out on top.  Yea brunettes!  Keep it unsexy, girls!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Re-evaluating Style

I have always been into clothes.  As a kid, I would be thrilled to receive them as a present, even when my cousins and friends were upset to find clothes in a package in lieu of toys.  I remember events based on what I was wearing at the time, and shop for vacations with the frenzy and total devotion of a Pentecostal at an all-day camp meeting.  I like to shop, I like to think about clothes, I just like it all.

However, as I've gotten older, it has become harder and harder to dress this body of mine, and I don't always have the time to do it with the care that I should.  For one thing, I feel like sometimes that my body changes by the hour.  I get dressed in the morning and think my hips have been minimized, my breasts supported, my height lengthened.  I get to work and catch a glimpse of myself in the office window and find that maybe only half of that has effectively happened or that a belly that I wasn't aware of has appeared.  I buy something that I find extremely flattering in the store, and then bring it home and suddenly, it doesn't look that good.  How did this happen?  And I can't blame it all on the clothes--every morning when I stand naked in front of my bathroom mirror and take stock of things (yup--MASOCHIST), I see something different .

I blame most of this on Alice.  Yes, cute little Alice, the child who lightens up my life with her infectious wit, satiny curls and kissable cheeks.  She fucked me up.  For some reason, the third pregnancy and the breastfeeding and all of the rest of it made my body change in amazing ways.  It is much easier for me to gain (and lose) weight since Alice was born.  I have a more rounded tummy versus larger hips.  My hands have slimmed out and do not retain as much water as they used to.  All weird stuff.  And most importantly, styles that looked really nice on me at some point in my life no longer fit and flatter the way they used to.

The most egregious example of this is the wrap dress.  When I lived in California, I was a complete sucker for denim trousers and wrap dresses.  If there was a style of either of these items that I could try and find, 9 times out of 10, it looked good on me.  It was amazing.  I could buy things totally sight unseen, have it arrive in the mail, and it fit and looked like it was tailored just for me.  Plus, these two types of items totally fit into my post-college career lifestyle.  Now I look at my wardrobe and I have one pair of denim trousers and one wrap dress that I'm not even sure that I like.  Why?  Well, pants fit me weird now--I'm much more of a skirt/dress person--and seem to only make me look bigger.  And wrap dresses seem to make my boobs look larger and if they are not cut exactly right, emphasize the lower tummy bulge that has become the thing of my nightmares.

The really bad thing about all this is that while I've figured out the wrap dress thing, I still pick up items thinking they will look amazing on me and find out that after a few wears, they don't.  At no time was this made more clear to me than this past weekend.  And this time, instead of blaming my sweet two year old daughter, I'm going to blame my mother and 13 year old daughter.  Monsters, the both of them.

I got packed for my trip to Memphis in a real hurry since the school event I thought was going to end at 7:30 the night before our departure actually ended at 10:00 (don't get me started on this...if you were following me on Twitter that night, you know what I'm talking about).  I just kind of threw things in the suitcase and hoped that if things didn't match, I would be able to get to the mall and purchase items that would.  When it came down to the actual graduation, I took along a convertible style maxi dress that I originally purchased to wear in Jamaica and my J.Crew Jardin skirt that I hoped to pick up a t-shirt to match (the skirt is a gorgeous shade of royal purple, however, I suck at colorblocking and have yet to put anything with it that is not black or chambray).

After we arrived, I changed clothes to go to dinner and put on a little black dress with a crocheted top that I purchased for $10.48 off the Target clearance rack.  The reason I put it on was because a) Memphis is hot and b) it was comfortable after sitting in a car all day, listening as my darling Alice watched Strawberry Shortcake dvd's for 8 hours.  I felt comfortable in the dress at the restaurant--I felt slightly on trend even.  The next day, we were getting ready, and I showed my mom and daughter the maxi dress I had brought to wear to the graduation.  I was thinking of turning it into a halter style which I thought would be nice in the heat and wearing it with nude platform wedges.  But as soon as I tried it on, I started getting the side eye from both mom and Gabby.  And Mom, never a shrinking violet, goes, "I think you should wear the dress you wore last night."  And she goes and picks up the dress I had worn the night before out of my suitcase and starts to iron it.

This is when my mother and Gabby begin a conversation wherein they criticize almost every piece of clothing that I have in the suitcase, except for the black Target clearance dress.  Gabby says, "Mom, we get it.  You don't like your legs.  It's, like, obvious.  But hiding them just makes it worse."  And then my mom starts in on "Why don't you like your legs?  THEY ARE SO SHAPELY."  (I would now like to have the ELEVENTY MILLION DOLLARS I am owed because I have asked for a quarter for every time my mother has said that to me in my life.)  According to my mother and daughter, I should wear nothing but straight dresses and skirts, SHORT ones at that.  And I should never curl my hair and I should straighten it everyday.

Um....thanks, guys?

So I wore the black dress.  Because I was made to--they said if I tried to wear a maxi dress, they would not take me to Rendezvous, and MY GOD PEOPLE RIBS WERE HANGING IN THE BALANCE.  And I hate to say this, because it would mean that I need to say that someone else is right, but I looked damn cute that day.  I wore the same platforms and looked longer and leaner and younger and fresher.  Some guy even tried to hand me a free drink as I walked across Beale Street (and yes, I was pushing a stroller) and then tried to convince me to come party with him (presumably after chucking the stroller like a good mom does before she parties with total strangers).  When we got back to the car, my mom goes, "He wouldn't have said that if you were wearing that long dress."  Good to know, Mom.  Good to know.

So now I'm reconsidering my own personal style and what kind of looks I want to be a part of it.  As I approach the big 3-0, I want to look as young and happy as I feel, which is, well, pretty damn young and happy.  Straight dresses and skirts are the things that look the best on me at this point in my life.  So I am going to embrace that.  That doesn't mean that I got rid of my beloved black Gap maxi dress--I just will be saving it for times on the beach and backyard BBQ's and the like.  To be honest, it is kind of fun to think about it again and not to reach to the basics that I just "thought" did it for me.  I like to think.

I really don't have a choice in the matter.  My mom has sent me a text message the last two mornings with the words "Seen any short dresses you like lately?"  She's not letting this down.  And Gabby yesterday morning, when I put on that Jardin skirt, a black tee and a funky black belt goes, "Well, that skirt is not as horrible as I thought it was."  Thanks?  Ladies, this is what happens when you surround yourself with strong women.  Sigh.