Tonight will be exactly one year since my life shattered into a million little pieces of shit.
A lot has happened in this last year.
So much of it is too horrific for words.
But some of it is actually … well? Surprisingly, some of it is not too awful. Dare I say, maybe even verging on nice?
I never thought I’d be saying that anytime soon.
But shit or shine, I can’t talk about any of it yet. There are trials looming and attorneys everywhere and court dates popping up like zits and it’s all very dramatic and expensive and miserable and blah blah blah.
I can’t wait until it’s all over.
In the meantime, my 82 year old mother decided that I did not have nearly enough crazy around me so she decided to get herself a new cell phone and then she declared she was going to learn how to text even if it killed
And my initial reaction was one of GOOD GOD, JUST PUNCH ME IN THE THROAT ALREADY.
Which was quickly followed by something akin to SERIOUSLY. GO HEAD. PUNCH ME. LOOK, I’LL EVEN STAND STILL. HURRY UP.
Because I knew what was coming.
*Ring Ring Ring*
Me: Hi Mom.
Mom: Andy? Andy? This is Mom.
Me: I know, Mom.
Me: I’m here, Mom.
Me: I’M HERE, MOM.
Mom: Peter! Peter! Come here. This new phone is not working. Peter! Are you listening to me? Andy can’t hear me either. What is wrong with everybody??
Me: MOM! Stop yelling at Dad. You’re phone is not broken. YOU ARE JUST DEAF.
Mom: Oh, Andy! There you are! Listen. I got a new cell phone. Nothing fancy. I told that young man at the store that I don’t want any bells or whistles. NO BELLS OR WHISTLES. I just want to get a call, make a call and text.
Mom: Andy? Andy? What is that loud banging?
Me: Nothing, Mom. I’m just bludgeoning myself with my crockpot.
Mom: Whatever for?
Me: Just preparing for the inevitable, Mom.
Mom: You make no sense. Listen. Hang up because I’m going to text you.
*Ring Ring Ring*
Me: Hi, Mom.
Mom: Andy? We got disconnected. DAMMIT. I think this new cell phone is defective? Do I have to go all the way back to the store now? Who’s got time for that? GODDAMMIT.IT.ALL.TO.HELL.
Me: Mom! Relax. You told me to hang up so I hung up.
Mom: Oh! That’s what you did? Fine. OK. Hang up. I’m going to tex…
*Five seconds later*
Me: Hi Mo…
Mom: Andy! I just texted you! Did you get it?
Me: Yes, Mom.
Mom: Text me back!
Text from me: Hey Mom! Congratulations on your texting! Love U!
*Ring Ring Ring*
.Me: Hi Mo…
Mom: Andy! I got your text! I just wanted you to know. Now, hang up. I’m going to text you again.
*One hour later*
Text from Mom: hello. this is mom. hello.
*two seconds later*
*Ring Ring Ring*
Me: Hi. This is Andy. I can’t take your call right now because my mother is driving me batshit crazy. If you leave your …
Mom: There are no capital letters on my phone. I can’t find them anywhere. I knew this goddamn phone was defective. WHO MAKES CELL PHONES WITHOUT CAPITAL LETTERS?
Pray for me.
If you’ve been around here for awhile, you know that my family has been going through something since June. I’ve been posting sporadically since then and only occasionally referencing the total suckage that has become my life, without getting into detail.
I thought that maybe I had it in me to continue posting innocuous, funny stories and use my blog as an escape from the bitter, harsh reality that I am living.
I admit defeat. The funny continues to elude me. I hope that won’t always be the case. But for the moment, it is.
My blog has always been based on my life. My stories are grounded in truth albeit garnished with a bit of exaggeration. I drew my inspiration from my husband and my kids. And my dog’s poop.
I loved my life. Even the poop behind the couch was expected, a familiar constant, a sign that yes, my life was average and normal and predictable but in a good, comforting way.
There is nothing predictable about my life now. I am struggling to find any source of comfort. I have been thrown into a new normal and I am floundering.
The man I have deeply loved for fourteen years, my husband for the last twelve, with whom I raised a family I adore, the subject of so many stories on this blog, is no longer the man I know. He hasn’t been for some time but I kept fighting to bring him back because denial is a wonderful thing. It shields you from pain so horrendous, you cannot even imagine.
But reality is brutal and merciless and it comes at you at warp speed when you least expect it, cloaked in a frigid coat of betrayal so staggering and cruel, it knocks you breathless and senseless, leaving you doubled-over with gut-wrenching sorrow.
For the preservation of myself and that of our kids, I have made an agonizing decision to separate our lives.
I am inconsolable. I am numb. I feel so empty.
I think I am still in shock.
And I am so profoundly sad that it is hard to simply breathe.
The rational, logical part of me knows that I am a strong woman and that I will be OK. That these were his choices and not a reflection on me. That I’ve already proven I can single parent, having done it for the last two years in one sense or another. That there are still blessings in my life and that I am so incredibly fortunate to have two wonderful daughters who really, if truth be told, are the only reasons I have continued to wake up every morning and get out of bed.
But I cannot reconcile that part of me with the emotional part of me which still cannot grasp the enormity of what has happened to us. The part that is wondering what is wrong with me, why wasn’t I good enough, pretty enough, whatever enough. The part that is heartbroken and feels like a colossal failure. The part that is desperately trying to make sense of this, the part that refuses to believe that the man I so deeply love could have done the things he did, the part that cannot come to grips with the overwhelming loss, the part that can’t look at anything without being blindsided by a memory of our life together.
Me: Helena, promise me that when Zoe goes off to college next year, you’re not going to go off the deep end.
Helena: I’m pretty sure I’m not the one who’s going to go off the deep end, Mom.
Me: Be that as it may, I’m worried that without your sister here, you’re going to feel some sort of void in your life and you’re going to try to fill it by acting out for attention and hanging around with the wrong crowd in middle school and letting your grades drop and, God forbid, turning to drinking or drugs.
Me: Promise me you won’t have sex and get pregnant.
Helena (mouth agape): MOMMMMM! STOP IT.
Me: Just promise me you won’t wind up pregnant and never graduate and live in our basement with my grandkids for the rest of your life.
Helena: I’M TEN! And besides, our basement is gross. It smells.
Me: You’re ten now. You won’t be ten forever. Do you remember all the things we discussed about sex?
Helena: Mom! You’re the only one who’s going to lose her mind when Zoe goes to college! I’m going to stay normal.
Me: Humor me, OK? Tell me what we discussed about sex. Go ahead.
Helena: I DON’T WANT TO HAVE THIS CONVERSATION.
Me: Do you remember all the stuff we talked about?
Me: You don’t remember anything? Nothing? At all? None of our talks? Penis? Vagina? Sperm? Egg? Any of this ringing a bell?
Helena: OH MY GOSH. Can you stop talking now?
Me: What does it mean when you get your period? You know it’s going to happen to you soon enough, right? So, what does it mean?
Helena: STOP IT.
Me: Answer me and I’ll stop it.
Helena (covering face with hands): Kill me now.
Me: I’m waiting.
Helena: UGH! It means you can have a baby. OK? Can we just go to Starbucks now?
Me: And how do you …
Helena: YOU JUST SAID YOU WOULD STOP IT.
Me: And how do you make a baby? Explain.
Helena: I bet none of my friends have to do this. I bet they get to go to Starbucks like normal people. And I bet they get to watch Glee. Why can’t I watch Glee?
Me: Never mind that. Explain sex to me.
Helena: How come we can talk about sex but I can’t watch Glee? Hmmm?
Me: You are evading the question. And don’t ask me what evading means, you know perfectly well what it means.
Helena: MOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMM! UGH!
Me: I can wait all day. You know I can.
Helena: OKAY. OKAY. OKAY. FIIIIIIIIIIINE.
Me: What? What did you say?
Me (in a sing-song voice): I can’t hear you!
Helena: UGH!!!!! I SAID THE “P” GOES INTO THE “V.”
Me: And the correct terminology would be …?
Me: Why can’t you say “penis” or “vagina?”
Helena (covering ears): OH MY GOSH.
Me: Helena, you’re being ridiculous.
Helena: NO, I’M BEING TEN!
*pulling up to school*
*Zoe and her friend Nicole hop into the car*
Zoe: Hey, Mom. Hey, Helena. So guess what? Today, I was going to biology and … wait. What’s wrong?
Zoe: Helena? Mom? What’s going on? Am I in trouble?
Helena: Mom wants to have the sex talk again.
Nicole: Again? Wow.
Zoe (rolling eyes): Why? Was Glee on last night?
Helena: Hah! I knew that’s why you won’t let me watch it! Geez, I can talk about sex but I can’t watch Glee. This world doesn’t make sense.
Zoe (sighing): So who slept with who last night? Who’s pregnant now? Who is glamorizing sex and setting a horrible example for the rest of us? What happened?
Helena: I KNEW IT!
Me: What happened? I’ll tell you what happened. You went to college and left a gaping void in Helena’s life which she will attempt to fill with illegal substances and the hot lacrosse player down the street. Oh, and your sister can’t say the words penis and vagina. Just a heads up.
Zoe: I’m not going to college until next year, Mom. And I think we all know who’s going to have a gaping void in her life. Why can’t you say penis, Helena?
Helena: That’s EXACTLY what I said. I mean, about the gaping void thing. That other word is just gross.
Me: Look, I simply want to make sure we are all on the same page.
Zoe: Mom, we’re ALWAYS on the same page. We’ve been reading the same book FOREVER.
Nicole: That was funny, Zoe.
Me: I’m just making sure. Would you rather I be the kind of mom who freaks out at the mere mention of sex? Want me to be Amish?
Me: Wait. I meant Mormon. Didn’t I? Wait. I did mean Mormon, didn’t I?
Zoe: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Helena: Neither do I.
Nicole: Same here.
Me: Never mind. Now, what do I always say about sex? Do you have to be married to have it?
Zoe & Helena (rolling eyes and answering in unison): No.
Zoe & Helena & Nicole (in unison): But you highly recommend it.
Me: What can happen if you have unprotected sex?
Helena: You can get pregnant!
Zoe: You can get an STD!
Nicole: You can get crabs!
*everyone looks at Nicole*
Nicole (surprised): What? You can! I read it somewhere. They’re like lice in your pubic hair. Look it up.
Helena (eyes bugging out of head): OH.MY.GOSH. EVERYONE STOP TALKING.
Zoe: I think Nicole should get a prize for best answer.
Me: When are you ready to have sex?
Nicole: Prom night?
*I have a seizure*
Nicole: Kidding! Just kidding! You guys have the best conversations.
Zoe: UGH. Seriously Mom?
Me: The longer you delay, the longer this goes on. Treat it like a Band Aid. The quicker you rip it off, the quicker it’s all over.
Zoe & Helena (rolling eyes and answering in unison like robots): You should have sex when you are in loving, committed, monogamous relationship and you’re old enough to be responsible for all the possible repercussions of having sex, including pregnancy, disease and surprise YouTube videos.
Me: Which is when?
Zoe & Helena: When you and Dad are dead or we’re thirty, whichever comes first.
Me: See? Was that so bad? Now, who’s up for some Starbucks? Unless someone wants to explain to me how a condom works first? Didn’t think so.
I may have mentioned once or seventeen times that I was born, raised and still live in western New York and that everyone in my immediate family up and scampered for greener, warmer, prettier, gamblier, Golden-Gate-Bridgier pastures long ago. My parents moved down to Southern Pines, North Carolina, my brother to Las Vegas and my sister to San Francisco.
Leaving me to rhyme out loud WHAT THE HELL? DO I SMELL? all by myself in western New York in the dead of several winters to anyone who would listen which was no one because everyone either abandoned me for greener, warmer, prettier, gamblier, Golden-Gate-Bridgier pastures or stayed put and froze to death.
For awhile, I took it personally.
Then I realized that my family moving to those places meant that I was going to have some pretty awesome places to visit because leaving your high-strung, uptight kin who already suffers from abandonment issues thanks to a five day stint in the neo-natal unit at birth because her twin brother hogged all the umbilical cords in utero which left her malnourished and tense and questioning her place in this cruel world, means that you are morally and ethically obligated to let her visit you anytime she wants.
You’re probably legally obligated to as well but I’m too lazy to look it up.
Then I thanked my parents and my brother and sister for not moving to Buffalo or Camden, New Jersey or anywhere in Pennsylvania.
This is the little train station that sits smack dab in the middle of Southern Pines.
Can you even stand it?
There’s something so Fried-Green-Tomato-ish about it, don’t you think?
Except there’s no Whistle Stop Cafe and no Idgie or Ruth or Big George stirring a pot of steaming hot barbecue, presumably with bloody remnants of a murdered wife beater’s corpse floating around in it.
The train pulls in almost every night around between 11:00 p.m., and midnight with its whistle echoing past the shops, through the town and all the way into the spare bedroom windows of my parents’ house.
It’s a comforting sound, almost like the town is welcoming me home, wishing me a good night and whispering to me not to let the bed bugs bite and then softly laughing because it knows all too well that no bed bugs will be biting since I inspected every inch of our hotel room the previous night before I’d let Nate and the kids unwrap themselves or the luggage from the shrink wrap.
I love that train whistle.
Except when I’m exhausted from a full day of driving to and from Myrtle Beach, narrowly escaping Jaws, losing at Scrabble three times in a row to my mother who can’t keep her grubby little hands off the triples and then repeatedly explaining to my husband that no, we cannot have sex anywhere in the entire state of North Carolina because my parents might hear us and no, you only wish the whistle was that loud and yes, actually, it would be the end of the world since they still think we ordered the kids from the Pottery Barn catalogue. Then, and only then, does the train whistle irritate me to the point of yelling FOR GOD’S SAKE, I DON’T GIVE TWO SHITS THAT YOU ARE ARRIVING, WHOEVER YOU ARE.
Unless you are Anderson Cooper, in which case, I very much give two shits that you are arriving. Three, even.
Every good southern town needs its own ice cream shop.
And it absolutely has to be on a corner and have “parlor” somewhere in its name or it simply doesn’t count.
Somewhere out there is a town zoning board with my name on it. Spelled correctly, in big neon lights, with the words “smart, talented and gorgeous” prefacing it.
Not that I’ve given it much thought.
This is Green Goods, an eco-friendly store right on Main Street.
It’s where my mother, an avid fan of recycling herself, bought me this fork bracelet a few years ago.
Is this not the coolest thing?
It almost made me forget about earlier that day when she smacked me upside the head for tossing an aluminum lid into the trash can instead of the recycle bin.
She’s freakishly strong for her age.
I thought this would look amazing in Zoe’s dorm room at college next year! Except, what is up with all the Yoo-Hoo? Couldn’t they have thirsted for something a little more color-coordinated?
OH MY GOD I REMEMBERED SOMETHING.
Twenty plus years ago, when my ex-husband Dave and I were looking for our first home, we went to an open house that was advertised as having a second family room in the finished basement. The realtor showing the house would not shut up the entire time we were there and as we walked downstairs into the basement, he yammered on loudly and enthusiastically about the brand new wall-to-wall carpeting and bar, both installed by the bachelor who owned the house.
Poor guy. He was probably hoping that we’d never even notice that the walls were covered, from floor to ceiling, with thousands and thousands of empty beer cans.
The sheer amount of blood, sweat and cirrhosis that went into those walls was impressive, to say the least. That is, if I could have said anything at all, which I couldn’t, since I was pretty much rendered speechless.
One of the few times in my life that that has ever happened.
Another time was when my mucus plug dropped out of nether regions and splashed into the toilet.
Just to give you some perspective.
Look at what else they sell!
Believe it or not, this stuff was actually kind of cute and hey, talk about re-purposing!
I do believe I might have found Oliver’s calling in life. Who knew pooping behind the couch could one day be considered a humanitarian effort?
I wound up not buying any of the PooPooPaper because then I’d have had to bring it back to mother’s house and she’d be all Well, isn’t that just the niftiest idea? And I’d be all Yep! And before you know it, someone would be all OH MY GOD, IS THAT A COLANDER IN THE DAMN TOILET? And then frantically rifling through a desk in search of a valid Power of Attorney to get her mother committed.
These are my new Keens. Child size 4.
They have nothing to do with my love of Southern Pines. I just like ’em. Even though my kids hate them and think they make my feet look like somebody beat them to death with an ugly stick.
And no, I have no idea where the entire right side of my shorts are. They were there when I put them on in the morning.
Corfu, the best Greek food in Southern Pines, bar none.
Well, except my mom’s own kitchen.
Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to eat dolmades and pastitscio and avgolemono and kourabiethes in my mom’s kitchen but really, Corfu is the next best thing.
And bonus! Corfu doesn’t stuff their toilets with strainers or slap their customers when they accidentally throw recyclables into the trash or sneak cigarettes in their bathrooms under the guise that it helps them with their bowel movements.
Trust me, their food is much better than their spelling.
Speaking of food, can’t you just smell the fried green tomatoes?
While we were down in North Carolina visiting my parents, we decided to take a day trip to Myrtle Beach. It was a two and a half hour drive from my parents’ house and even though I detest driving longer than thirty minutes at a time, I took charge of the wheel and let everyone else sleep during the ride.
Just call me a
thoughtful and courteous human being! With a husband who had a headache and a teenager whose learner’s permit was only valid in New York and a ten year old who can’t drive anything but me to drink.
Or you can just call me a martyr and get it over with already!
We got there about half-past WHO’S THE IDIOT WHO FORGOT THE SNACKS? I’M STARVING so we bought lunch before we did anything else because while Helena couldn’t wait to dive into the ocean, I couldn’t wait to dive into a low calorie turkey burger without a bun so I could pretend it was a quadruple cheeseburger dripping with grease, fat and angioplasty.
Then we hit the beach.
And by hit the beach, I mean one of us gingerly touched her bottom to the ocean and shrieked IT’S C-C-C-C-COLD before throwing caution to the wind and flinging herself into the frigid water while two others collapsed onto beach towels in a desperate attempt to soak up as much skin cancer as possible and the last one waded into the water up to her ankles to take this shot, only to regret it moments later when a small wave pushed half the ocean’s contents up her legs, past her underwear and straight into her hoo ha, giving her what amounted to a massive salt water douche that could potentially kill sperm from ten years ago.
This is your lot in life when you are built like an Oompa Loompa.
I bet my fallopian tubes are still peppered with tiny sea shells and look like those little macaroni necklaces kids make for Mother’s Day in preschool.
Nothing says I Love You Mommy like some blinged out reproductive organs hanging around your neck!
I think it was just about is-it-raining-sweat-or-am-I-having-a-hot-flash o’clock when we bought some ice cream and walked on the pier and looked down into the water and saw this …
Somebody squealed Hey, look! Cool! A Shark!
The squeal may have come from one or both of my kids. I’m not sure. I was busy having a small myocardial infarction.
Somebody else shrieked SHAAAAAAARK! SHAAAAAARK! OH MY GAWWWWWWWWD, HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT, SHAAAAAAAAAAAARK!
Don’t ask me who because I have no idea.
Don’t ask my kids either.
I can’t tell you what happened next because I was too busy grabbing Nate and the girls and pinning them to the deck with my body while screaming WE’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER BOAT and frantically looking about for a scuba tank that I could shove into the shark’s mouth and shoot with a rifle to blow the monster to bloody smithereens.
Why don’t piers come equipped with scuba tanks and rifles and Valium for just these situations?
And by the way, wouldn’t this whole premise make an awesome movie?
I should write a script. I’d make millions!
And then maybe I’ll invent the VCR and make zillions! Bajillions, even!
Thanks to the tourists standing to our left who were busy tossing their homemade chum concoction of leftover hamburger and crab cake and stupidity into the water with as much splashing as possible, our friend was soon joined by three of his friends.
I’d have gotten a photo of all of them thrashing and frolicking about but I may or may not have been passed out at the time. At the very least, I was traumatized by the thought of how close we came to becoming chum ourselves had one of us not had the presence of mind to exit the water, jump into menopause and demand an ice cream on the pier to ward off a long, slow, painful death by hot flash.
You know, as opposed to a short, quick painful death by Jaws and Company.
Who knew schizophrenic hormones could be so fortuitous?
Who knew I knew how to use big words like fortuitous?
A visual, to give you a rough idea as to how close we came to our own immortality.
In case you couldn’t tell, I’m the one with the mad Photoshop skilz!
And freakishly short legs atop a sopping wet, invisible wedgie.