Monday, January 28, 2013

R.I.P. Twenties

My two biggest deals from 2003 - 2013

Tomorrow I will be thirty.


Three decades old.

I spent my 20th birthday in rehab
fresh out of the mental hospital,
so suffice it to say
it's been an interesting 10 years.

I had two babies
and graduated college
and worked 13 jobs.
Fell in love and hate
and like and lust.

I made friends
and lost friends
and fucked up royally
more times than I can name.

Today after work
Paul is taking me
on a surprise birthday getaway
and I can't wait.

My heart is full of the 
"how did I get here's?"
and peace.

There's a lot of peace.


I started to feel 
kind of sorry for myself last month.

Started to feed into
the fantasy of what my 20's 
should have been
what they had 
actually been.

And I mourned it.

I mourned that I had not partied,
I had not traveled,
I had not lived with roommates
or alone.

I turned those ideas 
over and over 
in my hands and in my mind.

Reflected on how 
I started getting sober at 20
and had my first baby at 21.
I felt good and sorry
and kind of bummed
until last week
when the pleasure of what actually was
started to settle in.

The lessons and adventures,
regrets and pain,
friendships old and new.

Things that I learned the hard way.

So here
without further adieu,
the top 10 lessons of my 20s.

1. Debt is easy to amass, impossible to evade, and painful to rectify.

The day I turned 18 I got 3 credit cards and a cell phone.
I went to college for 11 years and took loans out the entire time.
There is a very large number listed as my total debt on my credit report,
But I've also payed off a car and no longer receive 10 calls a day from creditors
so I've come a long way baby. 

2.  Being selfish can cost you friendships and/or an apartment, and "I'm sorry" doesn't always fix it.

A few years ago I lost a few of my oldest friends and got evicted from my apartment.
I didn't understand why for a very long time, but I do now.
The fact is if you show up at a friend's wedding without a card
but with your make-up done professionally
you are an asshole.
And if you pay your rent on your own schedule
because you are financially irresponsible
and expect your landlord to just deal,
you are also an asshole.

3. Really, truly sincerely, they ain't lyin' when they say
"You cannot love someone until you love yourself".

Two serious relationships, 4 intense crushes, a booty call,
and one debacle later, I can say with assurance
that no one was able to love me or fix me or know me
until I stopped needing them to.  

4. The baby stage of motherhood FLYS by.

I cannot remember what it feels like to nurse a baby
or to hear the sounds of my boys' coos and giggles.
It's been 3 years since an infant tub
was parked in my bathroom
and the scent of Johnson & Johnson baby lotion
hung in the air.
A slice of my heart aches with the thought and there is no going back
(especially because Paul votes NO on Baby #3).

5.  My parents' marriage is enviable.

When my grandmother died 5 years ago
each of her sons approached the casket to say goodbye.
When it was my dad's turn he asked my mom to walk with him,
and as he stood tearfully next to his mother's grave
my mom gently placed her hand on his back.
It was in that moment that I saw them for the first time
as the team they've always been.
There union is imperfect, as all unions are, 
but 22 years is not something to balk at and the big secret is the hard work.
The date nights and the laughs and the super intense hard work. 

6.  The best friendships will feed your soul.

They are the women who spent the night at my place
when the boys were at their dads
and I couldn't stand the emptiness of my house.
The ones who took me out for their birthdays
when I couldn't afford the gas to leave my house.
The ones who understand if I don't respond to emails and texts and Facebook messages
because they know I will eventually.
They are the ones who have front row seats to who and what I really am
and love me nonetheless.

7.  Quitting smoking is a bitch.

I picked up smoking 15 years ago.  Ugh.
I've managed to quit with both pregnancies and beyond,
but staying quit has been a beast.
I wish I'd never started and I hope my kids never do.

8.  Being responsible can be freeing.

I was never much of a birth control taker,
(Please meet Lucas and James!)
but last year I got an IUD (TMI sorry!) and hallelujah!!!!
I don't know why I'd never thought of it before
or why I lacked the wherewithal to take care of such matters
but I suppose life was exactly as it was intended to be.
And hello! the reward of a worry free sex life.

9.  You may not find your dream job, deal with it.

I spent 18 months post-graduation trying to find a job
I both loved and made enough money at
to provide the boys and I with the life we wanted.
I finally settled on one I like that comes with health insurance.
Because entry-level PR jobs are a blast
but so are health benefits and pay raises.

10. Practice forgiveness of others and of myself.

If I wanted to hang on to every sorry, miserable thing 
anyone's ever done to me I very well could.
I have the memory of an elephant and am an expert at revenge,
but I don't want to.
I want to be able to move freely about the world,
looking everyone in the eye,
never afraid to run into anyone, anywhere.
I've made so many mistakes but I can't change them,
so why would I torture myself over them.


Last week my girlfriend Andrea and I
were chatting about my amazing date night with Paul
and her fantastic weekend away with her husband.
She texted me,
"Are we really allowed to be this happy?"

And the answer is yes.

Yes we are.

Yes I am.

Goodbye angsty twenties
you were worth every drop
of blood, sweat and tears.

Hello thirties...
can't wait to meet you!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Let's Rally

My sweet friend Kristin
has a sweet friend Adam.

A sweet friend who is a musician 
in the band Timonium
and is the founder of 
the Echo Park venue Pehrspace.

A few days ago,
Adam had a brain stem stroke.

He deteriorated for hours
in an emergency room
because 36 year olds 
who run marathons
are not supposed 
to have strokes
and he wasn't 
promptly diagnosed.

He spent a few days in ICU,
is currently recovering
in the neuro-telemetry unit of the hospital,
and Kristin said he is improving
bit by bit every day.

Until today
I was unaware that the costs
associated with strokes
are the highest out-of-pocket medical expenses
in the nation.

A fact not lost on Adam's friends,
and a fact they don't want him to worry about
as he focuses all of his efforts
on getting better.

If you can and want to
go here
and pay it forward.

May the force be with Adam.


Monday, January 14, 2013

A Pact

People tell me all of the time
that I'm a good mom
but I don't ever really tell myself that.

I know what our life must look like
from the outside
but I also intimately know the reality.

I know my self doubt,
the feelings of failure that the boys have existed in a two home family,
the rapid fire schedule we keep,
the feeling that there just isn't enough time to just be.

Sometimes my patience is so short.

"Hurry let's go!"

"Get in the shower!"

"Stop fighting!"

"Stop crying!"

"Stop yelling!"




And then I realize
that I'm the one yelling
and I should be the one stopping
and we're all crying on the floor
because I'm overwhelmed with them
and they're overwhelmed with me.

So Friday I made a promise
to myself
on the drive home from work.

I promised myself
 I would not yell at the boys
and that I would slow down.
All weekend.
No excuses.

So I did.

I picked them up Friday afternoon
and we went to the park
of James' choosing.

I stayed back
and let them do them.

On Saturday I worked until noon
and when I got home
I packed a backpack full of snacks,
a few water bottles,
some hand sanitizer and warm hats;
and we got on the train
to the Natural History Museum.

A girlfriend of mine
bought us a family pass last April (thanks Adriana!)
and I still hadn't used it,
which is totally depressing
and proof positive
that I've been running hard
in all the wrong directions.

I left Lucas to the map
and the itinerary
and just went along for the ride.
It was glorious.

Later that night
we snuggled under blankets with hot tea
and "Lord of the Rings"
and fell asleep together
in my heating pad warmed bed.

Sunday morning
Paul brought breakfast over
and the boys sword fought in their room
while we chatted like humans
with our coffee in hand.
I didn't scream once which...unheard of.

We made it to the mall
and to the Apple store

and then to Grandma's without incident

and the zen was so obvious
my mom even commented
on how calm and happy we all were.

When I was pregnant with Lucas
I had so many ideas about
the kind of mother I wanted to be
and then he came out
and a lot of my mothering
has stemmed from adrenaline
and a need for survival.
As the hours became days
became months and years
I've fallen and scraped my knees,
held on until fingers were cramped and bloodied,
slept less,
then more,
cried and pled
and then stood up
and started over.

It's been a journey
and a lesson
and a tireless exercise
in these two little boys
making a woman out of me.

They are my greatest weakness
and my greatest teachers.

As we piled into the warm train on Saturday,
the doors closing off the frigid, biting air,
I went to snap a picture of us
and Lucas said,
"Mom...we're in this together!"

Yes love...we are. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Two Roads to the Same Spot

I met Paul at our Senior Luau
in September of 1999.

I was 16 years old  and had a crush on another guy
but I still remember meeting him that night
and thinking that given his 6'5" stature
and my love of high heels
he'd be the perfect prom date.

By February of 2000 we were a couple.
High school sweethearts in a big way;
first loves and everythings.
Sitting next to one another
on the bench seats of his '83 Caprice Classic.

And we went to Prom
and he left for college
and it was la la la la love.

Prom 2000

But like most good, sweet,
and innocent things
it came to an end.

Because I needed fixing
and he tried but he couldn't.

Because I needed loving
and he tried but it wasn't enough.

Because I was a bottomless pit
convinced an 18 year old boy
could solve all my emptiness
and he tried but he finally gave up
when he knew I'd drown us both.

And it was sad and I was devastated.

And we tried to keep dancing
and stay friends
but it was too painful.

And our lives had become too different
and I threw myself into a lifestyle
that had no place for him.

And I sunk myself in a counterfeit place
where I could forget about him and he moved on.
He chose his own path in his own wood
and we didn't speak for about a year.

Until we did.

Until I found myself
wounded from my life and so very lost
and needing to speak to someone who knew
who I was before I was what I had become.

And he answered the call and he came,
because that is who he has always been.

And because sadness and loneliness
and being 20 is super confusing
and fraught with impulse and irresponsibility
I found myself pregnant.

And we had two different ideas
about what needed to happen
and I felt alone
and resentful
and angry
and rejected.

And it was so hard
and it was so painful
and I crucified him
in thought and action
to myself and to anyone who would listen
because the wound was so deep.

And it took me a million years
times a million years
to realize that I hadn't been the only one
having an experience.
That he had had plans and ideas too
and now they were changed.

And in April 2004
our beautiful boy was born and Paul was there.

And that baby came home to furniture
his dad had put together.

And the first time Lucas was sick,
Paul drove him around in his Suburban until 6am
 because the noise lulled him to sleep.

And we weren't together
but we managed to be parents.

We did birthday parties and doctors appointments.

Picked schools and insurance.

And it was still hard and it was still complicated
and we made mistakes aplenty
but we limped along.

Limped off into separate personal lives;
mine which lead to another child 4 years later
and his into his own story to tell.

And anyone who knows me can tell you
that I really never stopped loving him. 
And it was years of hating instead of hurting
and stabbing each other in the back and in the front.

And if you ask him,
(which I have)
he stopped loving me for a very long time.

Always the more logical one,
he had closed the door and moved on,
placing me comfortably in the category of "Lucas' Mom"
and getting on with his own life.

And so we traveled for years,
each on their own path
but still in the same forest.
Peeking out every so often
to make sure the other was still safe,
even when we weren't meaning to.

And I don't know what happened
but suddenly we were back in front of one another.
Totally different but still the same.

And we circled one another suspiciously for months
and it was still painful
and it was still complicated
and there was still baggage.

And I kept saying, "Come on!"
and he kept saying, "Hold on!",
and there was a lot of "Slow down!"
and "What do you want?!?!"
until one day
there wasn't.

Until one day we must have said,
"The hell with it!"
and got on with giving each other a chance.
Buried old hurts and old selves
and got on with a new history.

This last year has not been perfect
and it has not been painful.
We've stayed out of the highs and the lows
and remained pretty much camped out
in Quiet No Drama Land.

Even in the rough patches and the growth spurts
we've managed to behave like grown-ups most of the time.
I think I only stamped away twice
which I'm pretty sure is a record.

I cannot describe the precious gift it has been
to love someone in a new way.
To burn it all down and rebuild it,
to be with someone whose worst
you've already seen
and bring out the best in one another.

Turns out those two roads led to the same spot.

I didn't know
it could be this sweet.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

See Ya '12

The week before Thanksgiving I was
almost done with my Christmas cards
and half-way done with my gift shopping.

I was pretty impressed with myself.

And then I blinked and I was wrapping gifts
on Christmas Eve
because I don't know what happened
but suddenly I was way behind schedule.

The holidays were a blur
and I've been near death with the flu
since Monday
so here
(3 days late)
is my end of 2012 post.


was for my 29th birthday

And February:

 was for flying


 was for a retreat in the snow

And April was:

 for starting a new job

and art museum adventures

May was a month for:

roaming in L.A.

and falling for this guy


 was a visit from this lady

a lost job,

and a trip to Palm Springs


 was for frozen peanut butter pie

And August:

 was for splashing

and sunsets


 we went to Sequoia

and pre-school

and third grade

In October:

my favorite girl and I ran from zombies

I threw a party

and my mom remained
the most awesome grandma
of all time.


 was for turkey

and voting

Not in that order

And December was spent:

in early Christmas with the cousins

setting up dad's old train set

tracking Santa

and having everything I've ever wanted.

We got all dolled up
and watched one of our favorites
get married

and we rang in the new year just like last year...
on the couch.

Last year I left a NYE party early to go home to Paul,
and there on my couch
right around midnight
is when we decided to give this,
to give us,
just the slightest try.

This year I felt pretty crappy at the party we were at,
and we ended up home around 11.
I passed out on the couch
and Paul kissed me awake at midnight
before putting me to bed.

I love him.

This year has been charmed.

Magic and joy from our family to yours.