Saturday, May 25, 2013

Love and stuff

So this is an extremely unoriginal thought, but I needed a jumping off point.  Many, many relationships and marriages break up because of the loss of "romance", "the spark", "the butterflies", etc.  People expect the level of glee and infatuation that existed with their partner at the beginning to endure over the years, and when it doesn't, they split.

Here's the's not SUPPOSED to stay that way. 

Us-Circa 1994. Ages 24 and 25

When I met Mike, I was over the MOON crazy about him.  I had broken up with my college boyfriend of three years on the phone (ug) the night before I met him. We all hung out as a group for awhile and I put Mike in the "guy friend" category, which was something I was comfortable and familiar with. Then things changed, and he declared that he thought we should date. I was somewhat in a state of awe that he was even interested in me because he was the kind of guy I was always attracted to, but never ended up with.  I always dated the bookish dudes on the shy side who were fairly wimpy in general. This was an era I'm not proud of, I was mean to the wimpy boys.  Mike had tattoos and an earring (it was 1994) and was just crazy good looking. Mike was far from wimpy and made it clear from the get go that he would not tolerate my shenanigans, which made me like him more.  

Our relationship moved along really quickly, I knew he was THE ONE within a month. He says he felt the same.  We were engaged after dating for only 9 months.  I was giddy about everything at the beginning. I would be thrilled when the phone rang, my heart would beat faster when he took my hand, and when I was away from him I would feel an unnatural feeling of withdrawal.  It was weird, and had never happened to me before. Everything was romantic, sparks flew everywhere, and all I did was think about him. Do I have to study? Grad school, what grad school?

And so, we moved forward. We got married, bought a house, had two kids, and have careers. We've been together for 18 years now, which is insane.  We've gone through some tough times for sure, including times when money was tight, horrible fights, layoffs, and what feels like a gazillion funerals. We've watched our friends marry and divorce. We've gone through drunken brawls (with each other before we quit), and DUI's. All couples go through rough times, but luckily for us they usually pass. 

Here's another thing I don't think people acknowledge enough.  You can love someone and HATE their guts sometimes.  I have always loved my husband, but there have been many times where I didn't like him even a little bit. Billy Graham's wife, when asked if she ever thought of divorce, she said, "Divorce, no. Murder, yes." I loved that she said that, because it's 100% true. 

Then there are other times when things get so busy that I barely acknowledge my husband.  I work late sometimes, and my stress level gets bad. The kids have homework, and classes, and dirty laundry, and I have reports to finish, and we're trying to refinance our home, and my sister is calling, and sometimes I'm lucky if I remember to eat dinner. During those times, it's a challenge.  My husband becomes a roommate who helps with the bills.  And there are times when all I want in life in an empty house, just for a little while. Those times can swallow you if you let them. "Romance" is completely extinct during these times, and I think it takes a concerted effort to make time for each other.

That being said, I hate contrived romantic stuff.  I like flowers and jewelry as much as the next gal, but I don't want them on Valentine's Day. I hate Valentine's Day, I think it's stupid. It makes single people feel horrible, and couples feel obligated. This past Valentine's Day, I was in Seattle at a convention and had a lovely dinner with a bunch of school psychologists. I tell Mike to skip it every year. Then he has the people in his ear saying, "She SAYS she doesn't want anything, but she doesn't mean it. You better get her something."  That irritates the crap out of me and I don't understand why it's so hard for people to conceive that I actually mean what I say. Anniversaries-we try to do a good trip every 5 years. 10 was Cancun, 15 was a Caribbean cruise. Otherwise, we acknowledge it verbally and usually just go about our day. I'm proud we've been married for 16 years, but I don't need STUFF every year. The memory of my wedding day usually suffices, I had a ball that day. 

I don't remember how long we'd been married at the time, but early on my mom said to me, "He will never cheat on you."  She'd spent some time with us, I have no recollection of what we did, but I remember being kind of amazed at her statement. I don't know what convinced her of this fact, but it's never been an issue in our marriage.  I can only speak for myself, but it never crosses my mind, I've never met anyone who has interested me since, and I completely and totally trust him.  He's never given me a reason not to. Jealousy has never really played a leading role in our marriage, thank God. I don't know how we've avoided it, but we have.

My mother brought me up to be rabidly independent. To this day, she is somewhat amazed that all three of her children are all still married because we (me for the longest amount of time) were brought up with divorced parents. For awhile there, the line between independence and horribly controlling was quite blurry for me. I thought being strong and independent meant insisting that everything go my way. I've watched people I know with their partners and they are on them about every single little thing. This ends poorly most of the time, and I try hard not to be controlling, although I know sometimes I fail. I've gotten better, as so has he. When you love someone, you don't need to morph into them, nor do you have to like every single aspect of their personality. I know the things about me that drive him bananas, and vice versa.

So...where is the romantic love? Where did our spark go?  Here's when I feel loved:

  • When he cooks dinner. Which is all the time.
  • When he buys weird stuff I love at random times, like lemon flavored salt.
  • The fact that he actually made me a weighted blanket. I am indeed, a freak.  I like heavy blankets on me when I sleep, and he wondered if he could buy a little one that didn't have to go to his side of the bed.  He then decided to make one. The amount of work that went into this thing was insane, I think he liked the challenge. The result is a blanket that weighs about 17 pounds and makes me sleep great.  I know that's my  mom's favorite one. I don't travel with it. It's too heavy.
  • The fact he gave me a huge Amazon gift card for my birthday. Books-better than diamonds to me.
  • When I see what an amazing father he is, praising our children and telling him how proud of them he is.
  • The fact that he understands how monumentally important my friendships are, and doesn't trip when I go out of town to visit them.
  • The fact that when I went out of town last weekend to visit one such friend, he spent the weekend with the kids, putting a roof on the treehouse that he also built.
  • The fact that he listens when I'm sad and am missing my father.  He can't do a damn thing about it, which is really hard for dudes. But he listens every time.
  • The moments we have in parenting when the only option is laughter. Example: Child whose phone had been taken away for an unknown period of time, says to us one night, "Okay, I'm going to NEED YOU to tell me when I get my phone back. I'm sick of this, this is ridiculous!"  We looked at each other in awe, and burst into peals of laughter.
  • He makes me LAUGH constantly. I would rather be with my husband on our couch, laughing, than almost anywhere else on earth
Part of love is having that person know you so well, they'll tell you when you're being a jerk. He tells me when I'm overreacting. I know, I know, hard to believe I do that sometimes! He knows me better than anyone. I need coffee in the morning, stat! I can be mean, and need to be called on it. When I'm upset, "you need to calm down" is an unwise phrase to use with me. I know him well also, of course. Sometimes when he's upset about something, he just needs space. When I do talk to him (or yell) when we're having a disagreement, he needs a few days to let it marinate. Demanding a response right away is always the wrong way to go. He will not accept an apology if he doesn't feel it's sincere. He knows me.

Love doesn't go away, it just changes. If I went back to "lovesick Jane", nothing would get done. Mike is my best friend and my partner for life. He's not going anywhere, God willing.  Marriage is work, and fairly hairy on a day to day basis, especially when things get busy and challenging. I'm 43, he's 44.  We don't have candle lit dinners, I don't think we need them. I have never, ever received an "I'm sorry" gift, and wouldn't want one. 

Love is ever evolving, as people are. Some people change as they grow and go in completely different directions.  We've both changed a lot, but continue to be compatible for the most part. I am lucky as hell...and if I ever came home on Valentine's Day to a heart shaped box of chocolate, I think I'd gag. 

I'd rather have him unload the dishwasher. 
Thanksgiving, 2012. 44 and 42.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Abercrombie man...nice job, jackass!

I am evil and horrifically insecure...

I have never set foot inside an Abercrombie & Fitch store, or visited their website until today. I think I luckily missed their “era”, and I remember one particular cheesy boy band song that mentioned them in the 90’s. That pretty much made sure I would never shop there, plus the fact that their clothes are insanely overpriced. Today I went to the website and did a search to see if the accusations that are being made against the CEO and his stance against “large” women were true. I was hoping to be able to give Michael Jeffries the benefit of the doubt, just because I do attempt to be fair.

However…this is what I found, a direct quote from said CEO. “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he said in an interview with Salon. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.” 

Well, alrighty then. I suppose this man doesn’t really have the corner of the market on being a self-involved rich douchebag with no soul. But then last night on the news, I saw a story that mentioned that he will not carry any women’s clothes above a size 10 because he doesn’t want to sell clothes to “fat women.” Yep, anything above a size 10, which is LARGE in his store, is considered fat. I’ve been a lot of sizes in my life, as small as a 4 and as large as a 12. As women and as mothers, our bodies go through a lot of changes over the years, and in MY opinion, these can be beautiful changes. I was a size 10 for a long time, but when my father died, 25 pounds fell off of me within about 4 months. How did I achieve such a "lucky break"? Ummm, massive depression and grief, which resulted in me just not eating. I’d wanted to lose around ten pounds, I’d joked with my poor dad when he was still alive who was shriveling into a tiny, bony creature at the time. "Daddy you're at my goal weight!", which at the time was 140. I got a lot smaller than that after he was gone. I did not lose weight in a healthy way, and people around me became a little alarmed. I have an amazing husband who has loved me at all my various sizes over the past 18 years we’ve been together, and generally has never, ever said a word about my weight. However, when I dropped down to around 123 (I’m 5’8” ½), he said quietly one night, “I don’t want you to lose any more weight.” That's huge for him, he was scared

The sad thing about that is the fact that in the fashion and modeling world, that would STILL be considered too big. I have since put weight back on and am now at a size I’m happy with and my weight still fluctuates a tad, but I don’t trip off it. And I'm a hell of a lot healthier than I was at that time.

What the hell happened to us as a society? Marilyn Monroe, one of the most unequivocal beautiful women ever (especially before she became super famous) was a size 12-14. She was curvy and sexy and amazing. Marilyn Monroe would be too fat to shop at Abercrombie. Rita Hayworth would be too fat to shop at Abercrombie. Elizabeth Taylor would be too fat to shop at Abercrombie. I remember a commercial from the 80’s when a bunch of women were standing around admiring another woman and saying, “Look at her! A perfect size 6!” I think it was for some sort of butter-like product. But now, a 6 isn’t considered perfect at all. Look at “The Devil Wears Prada”, which was a film I truly enjoyed. Anne Hathaway’s character was referred to for awhile as “6”, in a low, disapproving tone. I thought it was hilarious, but sad at the same time. The movie was poking fun at the industry, but many of the things are TRUE. Even a 4 isn’t small enough.

So we have gone from this beauty ideal....: this horrifically warped beauty ideal:

I feel like these gals pictured above (two of whom are decent actresses) aren’t really to blame. I think they fell victim to this sick mentality of the day, which the lovely Michael Jeffries doesn’t appear to having any difficulties perpetuating. How convenient…for a MAN to be able to keep this train barreling down the tracks at full speed, with no regard to the health or well being of the thousands of young women who are being told they aren’t good enough.

I will say…I am pleased to see the tide turning just a bit with certain celebrities, even though I don’t really like any of them. In fact, they truly bug the crap out of me, BUT…to Beyonce, and Jennifer Lopez, and even stupid Kim Kardashian (before she got pregnant and lost her mind about her appearance), thank you for being proud of your bodies, which are not a size 00. They’re curvy and womanly and proud, and that is a relief to see in the public eye, at least a little! Two of my closest friends from high school were, and still are, totally gorgeous bombshells. There is not an ounce of anything on them that doesn’t biologically belong to them. They’re curvy and healthy and amazing, and while I can’t state their sizes (nor would I), I can say with certainty that they are NOT a size 4. And they’ve been stopping traffic for the 30 years I’ve known them. My men friends have told me that really skinny women freak them out, and to quote a close friend, “Why would I want to be with a chick who looks like a ten year old boy?” Excellent question. I have no idea why someone would want that. Of course, the teeny women often get plastic surgery and then appear like ten year old boys with water balloons under their t-shirts. Sexy.

Regarding the fat thing…I am deeply offended. I am offended as a woman, a mother, and someone who works in the mental health field with children. I know a young lady who is battling her weight who passed out at school recently because she had decided to stop eating. I know my beautiful daughter who pinches SKIN on her belly and asks me if I think she’s fat. Today’s ideal of beauty is so skewed, so backwards, and so incredibly dangerous. This has to stop, but  sadly, companies like Abercromie just help to exploit and encourage it instead. 

And to you, dear Mr. Jeffries, referring to the “cool kids” you believe you are marketing to...firstly, having worked with children forever and in my current profession as a school psychologist for 16 years, I can tell you some news. Even the “cool kids” feel like they don’t belong. Growing up sucks, and it sucks for most, although I’m sure that some suffer more than others. The “cool kids”, feeling pressured to perpetuate that facade, may swindle their parents into purchasing a $98 pair of jeans in a size 2 (that I might be able to get half of my calf into). But I’d imagine it’s really not going to make them feel gorgeous and wonderful, they are chasing an ideal that is unrealistic and sick. From a purely psychological standpoint, and Psych 101 at that, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that you probably weren’t the Prom King in high school. Methinks he doth protest too much. Good luck trying to compensate for ALL your obvious insecurities and lack of character, sir. Because for all your grandstanding about wanting to attract “cool” kids and good looking people, you’re not exactly eye-candy.

Enjoy hell.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Random is as random does.

I would just would like to point out that I thought of the title of this post while in the shower, and when I returned to the couch, Forrest Gump was on.  So there you go.

I am in a writing slump. Of course, a lot is due to a lack of time, but that feels like a lame excuse at the moment. I come up with ideas, jot down a few notes and then wake up in the morning and think it's stupid.  Why would people want to read what I have to say about things?  Who am I?  And then I remember that this pretty much describes what a blog is. If someone is going to read it, they'll get my take on things.

I have several drafts going.  One is excerpts from my actual journals from age 12 to now.  However, upon re-reading them, I just got depressed.  What a mess I was! There's some hilarious stuff in there, and I hope to get to it soon. I started one on the military, which probably would have surprised some people.  I am not anti-military by any means, and think our troops deserve a lot better treatment than they're getting.  I have a draft on gay marriage that just started to sounds rant-ish.  I have another about my dates to school dances, which I look forward to completing. I had to find the pictures first. And then I just screech to a halt.  So I'm just gonna write stuff.


I don't think I'm going to pay to get pedicures anymore.  It's not like I don't like them, but I can do my own. And depending on where you go, sometimes pain is involved. One lady kept punching me in the calves, which I think was supposed to be some sort of massage. I bruise easily, and did actually get a couple of bruises from that. I don't think you're supposed to return from pedicures with injuries. Same deal with manicures, I'll do my own. I have a huge container of stuff to do my own. I type too much, I clean too much...manicures get ruined. I love the gel ones, but they make my nails super weak.

Speaking of manicures. Those of you who know me know that I have unusually long fingers. When I was a teenager I thought maybe I could become a hand model. As it turns out, my middle fingers are entirely crooked. The right one leans right, left one leans left. I have many odd scars and deformities, but I never knew my fingers were crooked until it was pointed out to me by a man who was giving  me a manicure.  He didn't know a lick of English, but found a way to point and laugh, so I'd know what he was laughing at.  He pointed at both my middle fingers and made a gesture and a noise that sounded like "whoop! whoop!", while pointing in the directions my crooked fingers lean. I have that Beyonce song in my head now.  "To the left, to the left..."  I was somewhat taken aback by this manicurist, especially considering the fact that he had a 4-5 inch thick black hair growing out of a mole on his face.'re going to make fun of my FINGERS?  Years later, I learned that in some cultures, that's considered a point of pride. How long CAN you grow your face mole-hair?  I'll stick with my crooked middle fingers. I did tip the guy...and did not show him one or both of my middle fingers as I left.


Trusting people is a dicey thing.  As I get older, I find that the group of people on the earth that I TRULY trust gets smaller and smaller.  Some folks will always be on my list. Mike (of course), Renee, Lesli, Adam, the Santistevans. These are the people who know me best outside of family, some of whom I sometimes feel don't know me at all. I've been wrong to trust some newer folks, which stinks at times. However, when I eventually learn that they aren't trustworthy, it's always kind of a relief.  Check-mark! I know who I can't count on, which is a valuable thing. I think a lot of people trust me with their thoughts, their pain, their secrets.  And they can, I have an airtight vault of information and I'm a good listener.  I'm just wary when it comes to sharing too much of what goes on in MY crazy head. Be mindful, Jane.

Doing Nothing

Sometimes I feel guilty about doing nothing, but most of the time I don't. Work just drains every IQ point I have available and I arrive home Friday in a state of borderline intelligence, which to you non-special ed people is an IQ in the 70's. In fact, that's around where Forrest Gump was supposed to be.  It concerns me a bit that this is happening so frequently now and that I just turned 43, not 63. I walk into a room and can't remember what I'm there for. I put sentences together incorrectly and say things I don't mean.  "Maddie, go get in the shower."  "Mom, you just told me to clean my room."  Oh yeah...that IS what I asked you to do. I'm on auto-pilot.

So I believe that doing nothing is beneficial at times. Today is one of those days. I was so exhausted, I slept for a LONG time. I stayed in my pajamas for a long time. I've started laundry and texted with some friends and that's about it.  Mike is not a fan of doing nothing. So we try to meet in the middle. Today I think he gave me a pass. We've had something going on every single weekend for the last 6 weekends. 4 family gatherings, a concert in Berkeley, and a family funeral in LA. My house is not clean.  Maybe it will become so tomorrow.

Stick With It

I'm sad I never stuck with anything as a kid. I tried a decent amount of stuff, ice skating, ballet, clarinet...but never stuck with one single thing. I am talent-less. I've seen more plays than I can count because of who my dad was, but I never tried acting.  Never joined drama, never tried.  I enrolled in one class my freshman year of college, and got really good feedback on some of what I did, but I dropped the class.  I LOVE music, but have never learned to play anything.  My mom always took me to the ballet, and dance is something I totally adore and appreciate, but I quit ballet lessons. Bummer.  Currently, Maddie is becoming quite the artist and learning guitar and I'm going to do everything I can to foster those things.  We don't know what Stephen is going to want to do yet.  I have never participated in a team sport, ever. Neither has Mike.  It's a little strange, because we have no perspective when it comes to that with our own kids.  We've done a couple of little things, but no sport has really stuck with them either, and I don't want to force it.  What I want is for them to stick to the things they have a passion for.  I never really wanted to be an actor, but I wish I'd stuck with dance.  Yeah, I'm tall-ish and thin-ish, but I'm the least flexible person in America.  I can't even touch my toes.

People Keep Dying

What a silly heading.  I'm 43 now, and it doesn't appear that deaths are going to slow down any time soon.  Two friends lost parents this week, and last weekend we celebrated the life of my Uncle Chuck, who made it to 82. I'm not sure why I always expect people to stay the same age while I get older, but time is going by faster and faster.  I hate admitting this, but I'm to the point where I'm predicting who will be next, something I won't share.  I pray for no premature deaths, no accidents, no awful illnesses, no deaths due to irresponsible behavior, but all these things happen and we're not immune.  Waking up in the morning and being able to go in the backyard and hang out with our dove family is kind of a big deal. I have a list of dear people in my life who are gone and can no longer do that.

I'm Mean

I don't think that I'm an inherently mean human being, in fact I strive for the opposite.  However, I have a decidedly mean streak that isn't particularly attractive. I'm skilled at pointing out flaws in other people, and have been known to talk a fair amount of shit.  I need that to turn that down a tad. I'm not foolish enough to believe that I can say that I'll stop and change into Miss Merry Sunshine.  Eeeeuw.  That's not who I am. But I am lucky enough to be surrounded by people in my day to day life who have incredible strengths and gifts and kindnesses.  It might be wise for me to spend a little more time thinking about those traits in folk instead of flaws.  I know why this happens, it's to distract me from focusing on my own flaws, which is also a really bad habit.  I'm very, very good at that.  Why is that so easy for me, while actually accepting a compliment makes me incredibly uncomfortable?  Maybe everyone is like that.  Now, make no mistake about this-my sense of humor is not going to change.  My sense of humor can be mean-spirited at times, and incredibly sarcastic, but it's not going anywhere.  It's kept me afloat in life.  So, sense of humor stays, negativity needs to wane just a tad.


The longer I do my job, and the better I believe I am at it, the less I care about my attire or how I look. I hope I'm not spiraling into complete hag-dom, but it's no longer that important.  I'll dress nicely when I have a scary meeting, but that's about it. The rest of the time, I'm just proud I actually made it to work with matching shoes and didn't forget to put on deodorant.

I'm weary of my job turning into a 7.5 hour parenting workshop. I probably shouldn't be, but I am amazed at the lack of basic parenting skills that so many families know nothing about. Or perhaps they know them and just don't want to give them a shot. For the child who keeps falling asleep in class, take the television out of their room.  For the child with school phobia who is fine after you leave, LEAVE.  And if they call and are teary, saying they want to go home, don't come pick them up and take them to McDonalds. If your 6th grader comes home and claims to have no homework all week, they may not be telling you the truth and that's information you may want to pursue. Coddling your child and letting them do everything and anything they want isn't going to make them happy and secure. Ultimately, in fact, the opposite will happen and these parents will have an absolute hellion on their hands when they reach puberty, who will have no idea where the boundaries lie. If your focus is on getting the school to sign off on a work permit so your 1st grader can model and be in pageants, and are utterly uninterested in the fact your child can't read, you get to be on my list of The Worst People in the World.


I have committed to getting most of my news from Comedy Central, but that even ends up upsetting me.  The news sucks. I don't want to be uninformed by any means, but the more I learn about the total ineptness of Congress, Monsanto, the sequester, Plan B being available to 15 year olds over the counter, and people blaming every evil thing in the world on Islam, the more I want to welcome the stupidity that settles in my brain on Fridays. I need to read and see more good on the news.  Please. Come on, there are tons of good stories out there, folks. Don't make me go full ignorant and turn on the Kardashians. 

Guess that's enough randomness for one day.  Oh, one last thought.  My children may never know that this- # - is actually supposed to be a number sign and not a damn hashtag.  Which I still don't understand or see the need for.