Tuesday, May 4, 2021

I Think COVID Fatigue Stole My Cinco de Mayo Mojo



Cinco de Mayo always gave us an excuse to act like college kids. Imagine a bunch of forty-year-olds running around in bathing suits and giant sombreros, posing for pictures with inflatable, human-size Corona bottles, licking salt and sucking lime wedges to soothe the tequila sting right before jumping into the pool. My girlfriends and I would spend the few weeks prior scouring Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Etsy for THE Perfect Cinco De Mayo Adorable Tank Top. My husband and his friends would spend the same weeks growing out ridiculously unattractive mustaches. You'd never guess based on these descriptions that we are mostly all incredibly respectable, often quite Type A, never-late-on-a-mortgage-payment, sometimes even a little boring grown ups. Which is probably why we love throwing these parties: they let all of us loosen up and have a good time with each other. (The tacos are a bonus.)

I spent Cinco De Mayo of 2020 moping. I longed for my backyard to be filled with tipsy friends and loud music and itchy, stick-on, dollar store mustaches that would always inevitably get gross and sweaty and fall off. 

"When this is all over, I'm going to throw The Biggest Damn Cinco De Mayo party EVER!" I declared. "I'm going to throw a July 4th party too! And St. Patrick's Day! What about Easter?!? Can I throw a loud Easter party? And I was thinking of a luau...!"

I swear, I am not exaggerating. That might have even been a direct quote.

That's how I got through COVID Cinco: planning all the parties I was going to throw in 2021.

Yet here we are. There are no stacks of tacky sombreros or liters of tequila sitting in the pantry waiting for the party guests. There are no five-pound bags of shredded cheese in my fridge. There are no plans being brainstormed to convince the local grocery store manager that we must have the Corona store decorations with the face cut outs for a cultural project for our schools (yes, those stories have worked every single time).  And I realized recently that there is also no desire for this party. 


I can't figure out why. COVID is definitely not "all over," but things--and life--are definitely more normal. We have found a way to live within this new (hopefully still temporary) normal. I don't have a reason other than: I just don't feel like it. 

I am realizing that I just don't feel like doing a lot of things lately. Some of it is life, its hectic-ness, the end of the school year. Some of it (I admit this begrudgingly) are these new hormones that seem to be insisting on warning me that my 50s are approaching. But I think that some of it is the mental and emotional fatigue of this past year...the sensation that I am still getting my bearings after these last 14 months.

I just don't always feel the lightness and frivolity of my pre-Covid self.

And I think that I'm going to give myself permission to be okay with that for now.

So this year, I'm going to dig out my perfectly adorable Cinco de Mayo tank top circa 2019, have a margarita (or a few) with some friends, and possibly plan The Biggest Damn Cinco De Mayo Party EVER for another year. Maybe it will even be next year. Don't worry. I'll give y'all enough notice to order your shirts and grow out your mustaches. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

A not-so-private love letter

I wrote this in 2010 and it was originally posted here, as part of a love letter blogging challenge. Eleven years ago, and this--all of this--still rings true.

Happy 19 years to the man who will forever remain my buzz long after last call.

Dear P, 

When Momalom put out a challenge to write a love letter, you immediately came to mind. I hesitated, though, because really...what would people think...that I am choosing to profess my love to my husband? And on the Internet?? Seriously, how corny and codependent is that? I thought of so many other clever "loves": my stilettos, my cocktails, my pillow. Even writing a love letter to my children, although very predictable, would have been more acceptable, I suspect.

But I chose you. I think I owed it to you and to Us to be honest. To put it out there. You have never been afraid to shout it from the rooftops. And as loud as I usually am, I think you deserve a little more noise from my side.

Plus, our love affair started on paper...post-its stapled shut, letters on notebook paper...the lines impossibly and frantically filled with confessions, promises, and fears.

So let me just say it...the cliche...the thing so often found inside greeting cards this time of year: I don't know how I got so lucky.

I don't.

I look around and find it impossibly delicious that you are mine.

There was something about you, from the beginning, that made me stop breathing. Literally. I would stop breathing when you walked into a room. What is that? Really. What is that? And although I can say I think you're hot as hell, and although I am sure you'd love to hear that it was your amazingly rugged good looks that did it to me, it wasn't. It was something else entirely. Although, even now, ten years later, I still can not name it.

The absolutely most amazing thing about it is this: when you walk unexpectedly into a room, and I look up and am surprised to see you, in that moment when the realization hits that it is You, I still get a flutter...there is still a very slight, very shallow, very sudden intake of breath. Oh. It's you.

Some of my love is shallow and silly. Sometimes, when we're out on a date night, I scan the room. I look at all the men there and I pretend I don't know you and I am always amazed that you are the only guy I would want to buy me a drink. And probably take me home.

Some of my love is the kind that can only grow from the everyday: raising children, paying mortgages, real life. When the children are sick, you wake up right alongside me (sometimes without me), you take the temperatures, you clean the vomit, you hold them close until they fall asleep. You make them feel safe. When the house needs cleaning, when the dinner needs cooking, when the laundry needs doing, you just do it. You don't point it out. You don't ask for props. You never call it "helping."

But even more than my partner at home, you're my partner in crime. There is no one I have more fun with...no one I'd rather get slammed drunk with....no one makes me laugh as much as you do. How is it that I have married a man who can be at a club with me til 4:00 in the morning, partying like a frat boy, and then be Daddy the next day, so often better than I can be Mommy?

You love like no one I know, yet you don't offer it easily. It's hard to get to you. It's hard to matter in your life. As sensitive and passionate as you are, you reserve that for a very select few. You simply don't have time, you say. And, as you so honestly put it, just don't care. You don't care about being politically correct. You don't care about what others want or expect. You answer to nearly no one. Yet for those of us who have been lucky enough, your loyalty is frighteningly intense. You will go to the ends of the earth for someone you love, but always expect the same in return.

From the beginning, you put me first. That was our deal. Above everything and everyone, we would make Us our priority. And even after the kids came, even after life became more and more difficult to juggle, you've held me to that. You've held Us to that. When I get caught up in Life: the bills, the responsibility, the kids, the general noise inside my head, you call me on it. You want to talk. To drink wine. To listen. To love.

I love you as much for this constant desire to make time for us as for your absolute refusal to put up with my shit. I can be tough. I can be clingy. I can be whiny. I can be bitchy. You call me on that, too.

Yet despite your total and complete commitment to me, you have your own life. You have your passions outside of Us. You need your time away, your time alone, to be your own self, separate from being mine, or ours, or theirs. Your love for the outdoors, for your bikes, for testing your limits, makes me love you even more. You are, without question, your own person, apart from your family. And so you understand why I need to have my own things, too. It is what makes you understand all of me...my blog, my friends, my interests, my latest crazy idea.

That is the best thing about you, I think, if I had to pick one (other than those forearms of yours): you understand me. Really, and truly, you understand me. You've seen my absolute best and, embarrassingly, my absolute worst, and everything in between. You not only accept who I am, but you want me to be more of it: you are the one who constantly reminds me to stop being afraid of myself.

So, no. I don't know how I got so lucky. I don't know what happened or how it happened or why it happened. Sometimes I look around, at you, at our kids, at us, and I still can't believe this has worked. I can't believe we are this happy...this in sync. So, yes. My love letter had to be to you. Because there is nothing and no one I love the way I love you.

Love,

Me

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The More the Merrier (as in more friends, but yeah, more writing too)



I've been revisiting a lot of my old writing lately.

Since I recently started taking online writing workshops, I needed to carve out some sort of daily work space for my writing and lessons. Silence has always been big for me. And no clutter. I like a space that feels my own and is silent.

Reality check.

I live in a tiny, noisy, love-filled house that I share with my three favorite humans. (Two of those humans are boys--teenage boys.) They are all amazingly respectful of my writing time: they turn down their TVs (to still-audible-in-the-other-room-levels), always apologize after they interrupt me, and only roughhouse and bond loudly over inappropriate jokes with their dad until they remember I'm sitting there.

I realized the writing had not been happening for way too long, so it was time to stop making excuses and find a way to adjust (anyone who knows me probably chuckled right there..I'm not known for my flexible adaptability). So here's what I did: I completely commandeered the dining room table (which is literally only used for actual dining when it's my turn to host book club and the rest of the time is the holder of all things random and pending). My shiny new red laptop and adorably kitschy turquoise mouse now sit there, along with printed reminders of my writing. My writing notebook. The 9 instructional books I wrote. The anthology in which one of my essays was published. And my blog books which hold 12 years worth of my writing.

Twelve years. Lately, every time I looked here, on this blog, instead of noticing how much I had written over the years, I would focus on the gaps of time between posts. I would focus on how many ideas never got put to paper (or screen). So while taking these courses...recreating and rebuilding my writing practice...I needed some reminders of what I've created through the years. Now, when I sit at my no-one-ever-dines-here-dining-table, I feel like it's my space. It is far from silent and somewhat cluttered, but I'm using the noise in my head to tune out the gaming noises and episodes of "Breaking Bad," and the clutter that sits on this table inspires me to remember what I have done and what I can do. 

********************************

The following essay was published in The HerStories Project: Women Explore the Joy, Pain, and Power of Female Friendship (edited by Jessica Smock and Stephanie Sprenger of The HerStories Project.) It was originally posted here on September 30, 2010.


The More the Merrier

I've been thinking a lot about friendships lately.

My dearest friend's 7-year-old granddaughter is having some issues on the playground. She can't quite understand how her best friend can be her best friend one day and completely ignore her the next.

"That's just rude, Gram. And it hurts my feelings."

It's tough being a girl. Women are difficult creatures. We desperately need each other but we push each other away, claw and snap and bitch, and talk behind each other's backs.

My friend assured her granddaughter that "one day" she'd find that one true best friend:

"Really, Gram? You promise?"

"I promise."


I told my friend that I thought that had been a terrible promise to make (we're honest like that). I'm not sure I really believe in the notion of a best friend anymore, although lately (and here's the truly ironic part) I feel I am in some of the healthiest relationships of my life. The notion of That One True Best Friend--the promise that little girl is holding out for--puts a whole lot of pressure on her and especially on the girls around her. No one person should be responsible for being every thing to anyone.

That little girl may be so busy looking for that One Girl that she may miss out on all the ones skipping happily around her on the playground.

* * *

In spite of the fact that most people would probably describe me as very outgoing, I've actually spent most of my life being somewhat anti-social. Growing up, I was never accepted into any of the Cliques Of The Moment, and more often than not, I'd find somebody who was "like me" (read: a little too loud or a little too dramatic or a little too awkward or a little too whatever I happened to be at the time) and I'd latch on. I'd found her: my friendship soulmate! And eventually, as is almost always inevitable with females, she'd screw me over. There was Marilyn in 3rd grade, who one day came back from lunch and abruptly and silently pulled her desk a few inches away from mine and refused to speak to me. I remember Lena, in middle school, who decided hanging out with "the other girls" was way cooler than hanging out with me (she was probably right). The list goes on and on. I realize there were probably many times that I, too, had disappointed them...I don't doubt that I said something completely inappropriate to Marilyn that day at lunch, but couldn't she have told me what that something was?

What I've come to realize over the last couple of years is that all that time I spent excluding everyone else to be with my One True Best Friend, I had missed out. A lot. On people, outings, experiences, adventures, life lessons.

I now find myself surrounded by a lot of really remarkable women...some I had pushed aside for years because I simply "didn't have the time" to spend with them. I am more open, less judgmental, and having a whole heck of a lot more fun. My "collection" of girlfriends are all incredibly different: with some I can discuss, in great details, Marc Jacobs's personal make-over...others shop "exclusively" at Walmart and Target. For some of my friends, sweating is restricted to dancing and sex...others are game for anything from a 5k to a full-out adventure race. I would not call any one of these women my Best Friend. I know who I can call in the middle of the night when my kid is running a fever of 105. I know who I can call when I'm desperate for a night of dancing and drinks. Some of these women know secrets about me that the rest of the world would be shocked to know. Others, I'm just starting to truly trust.

Today, I "asked a girl out." Well, that's what it felt like, anyway. I recently started to talk to someone at work who seems to be so amazingly interesting and intelligent and just plain "cool," that I stepped out of my old comfort zone and, after 30 minutes of chatting about designer galoshes, world-wide travel, Christian Louboutins, mamas' boys, marriage and children, I decided to make a plan to get together next week. This may seem like a totally normal thing to do. But for me, it felt foreign. This woman may become one of my girls. Or, perhaps we will get together and have absolutely nothing to talk about (although after that 30-minute-all-inclusive-chat, I doubt it!). But the point is that I have finally figured out that I don't need one Best Friend. I need lots of really fantastic friends. I am no longer disappointed, because I don't put all my eggs in one basket. I have lots of baskets, and I'm skipping happily around with them on the playground.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Returning to my writing and my self

After taking another hiatus from my writing, I realized (yet again) that I simply cannot not write. As it so often happens with The Universe, something perfectly timed landed in my lap (or my inbox, really), and I jumped back in. After completing the writing course with The Herstories Project, I decided to go down the memory lane of this blog and found this poem, which I wrote--how appropriately--after another one of my writing "breaks." I don't even remember writing it, but I thought: what a fitting way to come back here, to this space, and put my voice back out there.


Wish You Were Here


if you come back

to your words

your space

after a very long time


if you come back

does it matter

if anyone missed you

or only if

you missed yourself


if you come back

do you have to explain

to yourself

or anyone else

why you were gone



*originally posted here on October 4, 2014