Legal

Legal

As you probably know, not so long ago, Californians used the power of democracy to make recreational pot legal. If you’re an Angelino, then you were already used to having dispensaries on every corner, but now you don’t need a legit (wink wink) medical condition to purchase weed, you just need to be over 21 and ready to party.

First, let me admit that I am prejudice in favor of drinking. I’ve mastered it, at this point. I know not to drive, shop on eBay, or try any new hair removal products while under the influence.

Also, I still have some judgements about pot, probably stemming from it’s shady reputation on the legal front, and a lame boyfriend from the early 90s who still owes me money.

But I like to stay up on things.

I’ve got two teenage sons, and while we’ve talked at length about drinking and drugs, the dangers of getting into that while their young brains are developing, and the gigantic screw ups that can happen when you’re intoxicated, I’m not sure they take me seriously. Credibility is everything with kids, and I don’t want to come off sounding clueless.

Which is why I went to pot school.

My friend Wendy and I signed up for the respectable sounding “Plant Medicine: A Thoughtful Guide to Cannabis Use” workshop and showed up with sharpened number 2 pencils, ready to learn.

After signing in at the yoga studio where the event was hosted, we were greeted by our instructors, Jenna and Jenna. (I kid you not.) They couldn’t have been more lovely and, by the looks of it, not stoned.

We took our seats in front of a long table where the Jennas had set up small bowls of “flower”along with bottles, tablets, joints, bongs, and vape pens. Basically, all the stuff you dread finding in your kid’s backpack.

Wendy elbowed me. “Look at all that pot just sitting there.” 

It did seem strange. I looked around, feeling like any minute someone’s mom was going to storm in, with her hair up in curlers, and shut this whole thing down.

Then I realized, (some might say a tad late) oh yeah— we are the moms.

In fact, the room was full of our exact demographic, which actually made me feel pretty good. Forget the white Zinfandel and Andrew Bocelli CDs, sisters, we are on it!

The workshop started off with a brief history of Cannabis and the legal battles surrounding it, which have their roots in racism (big surprise), and continued with a little scientific info ,THC vs. CBD, terpenoids, and something called “the entourage effect.”

We took notes.

We passed a few buds around in little bowls and peered at them with magnifying glasses, sniffing them like a fine wine. It was pretty fancy and so LA.

The Jennas wrapped up class with a lively question and answer period, during which I asked about edibles, sharing that it was these that made me the most nervous when it came to my kids. When I said that being a more informed parent was one of my main reasons for attending the workshop, Jenna smiled and said, “Bless you.” I think she may have bowed a little. #potteacher’spet

We learned that, thanks in part to mistakes made in Colorado, California now regulates edibles (the candies, mints, baked goods containing THC) more strictly than it had when they were only sold as medicine. For this reason, it is now much more difficult to buy the amounts that would likely cause a severe reaction. Even still, the Jenna’s put on their serious faces, pointing to a graphic on the screen that they said was the most important of the day:

“You can always take more, but you can never take less.” 

While strains like Strawberry Cough, Pineapple Skunk, and Champagne Kush are hybridized to produce certain effects, the bottom line is that every body is different and only through trial and error can you really know what works, and what makes you want to wrap yourself like a newborn and hide under the bed for six hours.

I also learned that, unlike alcohol, there has never been a documented case of death or permanent physical harm from an overdose of pot. While it is possible to have too much (see above), and impaired judgement is a side-effect of marijuana use that can definitely lead to disaster, a binge drinker is at risk of dying of an overdose, while a binge smoker is probably only at risk for eating too much Kraft macaroni and cheese while couch-locked. Good to know.

The workshop left us feeling informed and curious.

Time for a field trip!

We decided to visit a dispensary called Urban Treez and strolled in all casual like. After showing our ID to a guy in the front who recorded our info (probably putting us on a watch list of badass hippie types, yo) we went up to the counter and met our young “budtender”, Angel. (You can’t make this stuff up.)

Perhaps embarrassingly,  I told Angel that I’m not that interested in getting stoned, but do have arthritis pain in my toes, and sleep issues brought on by peri-menopause, which I am hoping might be alleviated by a little ganja, so could he hook a sister mother up.

Angel suggested a  THC tincture called “Deep Sleep”, a CBD cream for pain, and a neat little disposable pen simply labeled CALM, which he said I could just “rip on.”

For medicinal purposes (ahem).

“How much?” I asked, holding out my credit card.

“That will be $120.00.”

Wt actual f???

It could be the 30% tax on cannabis products, but let me tell you—that shit is expensive. I imagined what my husband would think, perusing the statement at the end of the month. Let’s just say he might not understand.

“Hold up, Angel. I’m not sure I should put this on my card.”

Wendy and I huddled to discuss which product I should keep, and which I might put on next year’s Christmas list.

“If you don’t want it showing up on your card,” Angel said, “don’t worry. We run it through as Manhattan Clothing.”

Done.

After our products were all zipped up in the nifty child-proof bag they make you purchase ($1.50, but reusable), we said our good-byes and headed home, promising to report back after we’d tried out our products.

It was reminiscent of a Mary Kay party, only with armed security and more guys.

I ended up telling my husband all about it, of course, and he surprised me by being more open than I’d expected. As far as the products I purchased, here’s a quick review:

  • The “Calm” pen gave me a barely noticeable chilled-out feeling lasting about 45 minutes, which I chose to spend in a hot bath listening to the Oprah podcast (it’s still me, after all.) Not bad!
  • The sleep drops tasted like I imagine the Jennas’ bong water tasting, and acted like a shot of Nyquil. OK to have on hand, but not the sleep-aid of my dreams.
  • The CBD cream did nothing for my achey toes but made my feet soft and shiny.

The verdict? Even though I don’t think I’ll be adding another vice to the rotation at this point in my life, I did gain some knowledge and walked away with a more open mind, which is enough for me to call it a win.

Like, totally, dude 🙂

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Let It Go!

Let It Go!

This week, I was planning on writing about a book I just listened to, called Soulful Simplicityand how, while not exactly ground breaking, it had inspired me to do a major clutter clear and closet purge. (FYI, this moved me much closer to my lofty goal of creating my own capsule wardrobe for slackers, consisting of pretty much only jeans and white t-shirts. We will revisit this topic in future posts.)

But then, in keeping with my nature, another shiny thing caught my eye, and I dove head first down the rabbit hole of Bullet Journaling. I thought maybe I’d post about that instead, how it made me feel super organized, and also a little insane. images

The BuJo, as it is cringingly called, is either the neatest thing to spring forth from the personal productivity world, or sent directly from hell to make us all feel like losers with shit handwriting. In a bullet journal you track habits, make lists, and “migrate” tasks, all using colored pens and something called washi tape. It’s porn for the persnickity. It both soothes and creates anxiety and I totally dig it.

Soulful Simplicity and bullet journaling might seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum. One practice is all about paring down and getting less busy, and one practice elevates business to an art form, but it occurred to me that, for someone looking for order and reassurance, they fit together perfectly.

Get rid of all the stuff + Complete all the tasks = You will be OK.

My sister told me once that she is sometimes scared when she rides her big horse, Sharkey. At first I was surprised because I’m the kind of person who, if at all possible, tries never to do anything scary, so people who “feel the fear and do it anyway” are like sparkly unicorns in my world. The fact that at any moment Sharkey could decide he’s had enough and throw her off, doesn’t dampen the joy she feels as she gallops him around.

It would appear then, that it’s possible to hang on and let go at the very same time. Who knew?

Anyway, tomorrow I have a task written in my bullet journal: surgery.

Yep, tomorrow I will be bidding a fond farewell to my uterus. For all who have listened to my epic period stories and TMI rants about the whole sitch down there, this is indeed an event worth celebrating. It’s nothing really serious, but it still feels like kind of a big deal, parting with a body part and all.

There are only empty pages in my journal after the word surgery, because I have no idea what to expect, how long it will take me to recover, or just how it will feel to have my uterus gone. I can’t know for sure yet, but I imagine it’s not all binge watching The Crown and eating take-out. There are so many places my dark mind can go with this.

Will I have regret that I didn’t try more herbs, more acupuncture, more positive thinking to cure the stupid condition that got me here? (See? Bad attitude.)

Should I have taken the suggestion of the Chinese doctor who said I could fix fibroids by hula hooping a half hour every day? I mean, I hula hooped occasionally, but I never really committed to it, if I’m being honest.

Maybe I’m a quitter.

How long before I feel like my old self again, and should that even be the goal?

Or maybe none of that will occur to me, because maybe, just maybe, I will be too busy shouting from the rooftops— YeeeeeeeHaawww!! Free at last! Free. At. Last.

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I might look back on our trip to Hawaii, last summer where I was dead sure I would be eaten by a shark on account of leaking blood like a fucking sieve, and feel only pure relief to have that chapter closed.

Staring at all those blank pages in February, I can’t help it— I want to know what to expect. 

Hold please, while I consult my pretty Bujo “Feelings Tracker.”

Nope, some things, like feelings, can’t be planned.

Hard truth, I guess: Letting go is always a little risky, even when it’s liberating.

Which brings me back to closet cleaning. Right now, my closet is full of empty hangers, and I’ll admit, it’s a little tough to let go. What am I doing, I think? I’m not ready. I need these things. Even though I haven’t worn or thought about them in years, they feel like part of me, and I want them back.

I want the crochet poncho I made a decade ago, because it’s not just some ugly poncho, it’s  hours spent at home with my babies, and the rhythm of those early years. I want the cute velvet jacket because it’s me, twenty pounds ago, with a career and my own apartment and all that discretionary income. Sigh.

It’s not the things I’ll miss, it’s the person I was when I had them.

Look, I’m not saying that parting with a pair of tired wedge sandals is the same as having an organ removed but, in a way, for me, it’s not completely different. I’m ready for this operation– I’m past ready. It is my choice and I am lucky beyond measure that I am able to have it done.

Yes, and…

I just have to take a moment.

When I got pregnant I couldn’t believe the whole system actually worked the way the films in health class said it would. It seemed crazy— while I lay around eating gyros and watching Seinfeld, my uterus held the developing human, kept them hydrated, and even made a placenta, for god’s sake.

And when having a vbac with my second son, I was amazed at how my uterus ran the show. She performed like a champ, this organ that I’d barely noticed all my life, doing most of the work, contracting and pushing out an actual person. A miracle.

You did it, old girl. Thank you.

It feels really good to have those memories, and those aren’t going anywhere. As for the rest of it, I’m taking the reins, and letting it go, even if I’m a little bit scared.

Alrighty then. See y’all on the flip side 🙂

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Staring Down the Dark

Staring Down the Dark

I really did plan to write a cheerful holiday post today. I put the order in and sat poised at the keyboard, ready for inspiration. Instead, here is what came out: that time I thought I might die. Proceed with caution if this isn’t your bag 🙂

When I was a kid, I loved being afraid.

Grocery shopping with my mother, I would be drawn by a force I didn’t understand, to the far end of the meat section, where they stocked the chicken and pigs feet, frog legs, fish heads and tongue, all stamped with bright orange stickers, “Low low price!” I’d creep toward the display and stare at it, shivering.

It was brutal, scary, and weirdly soothing.

I learned then that if I could look long enough at the white belly, the bone, the hoof, my fear would eventually turn to curiosity. By the time I heard Mama calling me, the parts had lost their grisly pull, and although I never wished to see them on my plate, I wasn’t afraid of them anymore, at least until the next time we went shopping, when once again I would wander from the kid-friendly entertainment of the cereal aisle, into the place where nice girls didn’t go.

I remember creating haunted houses in the sweltering attic of our small house, hanging my dolls, bloodied with magic marker, from the ceiling, and arranging bowls of spaghetti brains, broken mirrors, and rubber knives in creepy tableaus.

As I got older, I added to the scene, with death threats scrawled on paper that I carefully burned around the edges, and descriptions like this, next to each installation: “This very baby carriage and it’s human contents was crushed by the axe of a madman!”

It was a little intense for the other grade schoolers in my neighborhood, so usually it was pretty much just me up there, hanging out on summer afternoons, hot as hell and perfectly at home in the dark.

My friend Risa told me that the fact that I wasn’t afraid of the dark was proof that I was The Devil. We were living in the Bible belt, so this was a pretty big deal. After I got over that first rush, similar to getting cast as the lead in the school play, I admit it gave me pause.

I had good reason to think she might be on the right track in her assessment of my character, but in the end I was way too insecure to think I could be the Anti-Christ himself. For one thing, I was having a heck of a time memorizing my multiplication tables, proof, in my own mind, that I would never be tapped for such an important gig.

By fifth grade, I was an avid reader of horror comic books. After comics came ghost stories like The Bell Witch. Later, while my friends were reading Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret, I read Amityville Horror and Helter Skelter.

I was the kid who was always looking up leprosy in The World Book Encyclopedia, or holding a seance.

My idea of fun was slipping into fear like a pair of comfy slippers and walking around for a while. There were a lot of demons inhabiting my world. For some of us, feeling scared helps us, well, not be so scared.

Once I grew up, my world felt a lot safer, and I mostly seemed normal-ish, at least when it came to my idea of a good time.

Then a few months ago, I decided to address a slowly percolating health issue.

Let me preface this by saying that all the tests have come back clear and I am basically fine. No biggie, as they say. But during the whole biopsy/second opinion process, my entire being was screaming “Are you fucking kidding me? This is a biggie– this is The Biggie!”

Even though I wasn’t conscious of it at the time, looking back now it’s clear that I employed the skills honed way back when, at the grocery store.

I looked.

Not at Google! I repeat: NOT AT GOOGLE. (Please don’t look at Google while waiting for test results. You’re welcome.)

I looked at what was scary.

After meeting with a surgeon who painted kind of a bleak picture, I found myself strolling the aisles of Trader Joe’s, planning my funeral, making a mental list of the friends who I could call on to help my sons and husband once I was gone.

Like a lot of women I know, one of the ways I cope with stress is to share with friends, which I did.

Some friends responded to my news with a big smile and, “Oh stop it– you’re FINE!” They meant only the best, of that I am sure and I love them for wanting to save me from my own dark side, but flipping on the lights isn’t always the compassionate move.

And plus, how could they possibly know I was fine, at that point? I couldn’t know that about them and I would never pretend to.

One friend and I talked about what we could binge watch during my chemo. We discussed the merits of something called “exposure burial” vs. cremation. I instructed her to save my journals but delete my texts, which she totally understood. We laughed about how crazy it was, but we never shut each other down.

She sat with me in the dark.

Although I had been talking funerals, and chemo, and loss, my real fear was of having to go through it alone.

By the simple act of not looking away, she told me that nothing about me was too scary. She would be there, even if/when things got that fucking bad. She would watch t.v with me, and find me banana popsicles, and help me change my bandages.

I’d do the same for her.

There’s an image in my mind that, if it had happened back in 1972, would have made all the difference: it’s of a little girl, at the far end of the meat section. She is shivering from cold coming off the refrigerated cases, and from what she sees when staring into them. She doesn’t want to look away, but feels her friend standing next to her, and knows she is not alone.

They both look.

And they are both afraid, and less afraid, together.

I’m Done With People Leaving

I’m Done With People Leaving

A mom friend and I were hanging at the park with our kids a while ago, when she casually mentioned that she and her husband were looking to relocate. LA had changed too much for her over the years and she was done. She wanted more space, and fresh air.

Just like that? I thought, but didn’t say.

I tried to sound regular. “You’re moving?”

“We’d love to get out of here,” she answered. “We’ve already started looking up north.”

I was shocked. Not shocked at her announcement, I’d already said goodbye to three dear friends and my sister in the past five years alone, losing them to lower housing prices and walkable neighborhoods elsewhere. It’s going around.

What shocked me was my reaction.

I was pissed.

I was pissed that I’d grown even just a little attached to her, this kind-hearted animal -loving urban farm girl. I didn’t want another long-distance friendship kept on life-support through social media.

One of the worst things about my face is it’s transparency. She saw me shut down. Later I got a text: Sorry if I upset you earlier. We are looking to move eventually, but it probably won’t happen for a while. I hope we can still be friends!

Sigh.

My fingers typed what I thought was the right answer: Of course we can. I’m an asshole! 🙂

In Los Angeles, you get used to people leaving and if, like many of us, you moved here from somewhere else with a full set of fancy abandonment baggage, it can be a pretty rough. Over the years I’ve learned that if it seems like someone is just passing through, it’s probably best to let them.

At this point, it’s about staying power.

Back in Nashville, my Grandmother had the same steadfast group of women friends for years. We called them “the Marys” because they mostly shared that name. If you were to run into one of them around town and drew a blank, you could throw out the name Mary and know that you had at least an 80% chance of nailing it.

For years the Marys gathered weekly for their “sewing group.” It was an afternoon of chicken salad, cocktails, and conversation, where occasionally something got hemmed.

They took turns visiting when each other was sick. The few Marys who could still drive at night would fairy the others to dinner parties, and the wedding receptions of  grandchildren. It was a bond forged over decades, a lifeline, as they chartered the waters of their own old ladyhood.

I don’t know about you, but that’s looking pretty good to me these days.

Recently I read the book Life Reimagined, in which the author, Barbara Bradley Hagerty, counts supportive friendships as one of the most vital ingredients in a long and healthy life. The evidence suggests that more than genetics, diet or even excersise, friendships keep us going strong.

It’s medicinal, people.

While the data supporting the link between friendships and our health was new to me, the idea of friendship as a lifeline was not. I’ve written before about how, as a kid, I fed my attachment hunger through close and durable ties with my friends. I may have had a wire monkey at home, but in the homes of friends, I was patched up and found a sense of belonging.

I was hooked.

Which is why when my friend Wendy tells me over drinks at a bar we know so intimately that we just call it “the corner”, that living in LA is just too expensive and that her family may, like so many others, need to pull up stakes, I freeze.

“I mean, look what you can get in Iowa for 300K” She says, handing me her phone. I scroll through her Zillow feed, unsure of the correct response. Happy? Excited? Envious? I am none of those.

I am hurt.

Look, I know it isn’t about me. I know it’s about this friend of mine, who may have to leave her hometown, her world, and move into the unknown, not because she wants to, but because she has to.

But at that moment I am unable see my way to being a grownup.

I pass my finger over the screen, scrolling past circular driveways and sprawling farmhouses with mature trees in every yard. The numbers are so low compared to LA home prices that I think there must be a mistake. But there is no mistake.

Or is there?

Taking a good size gulp of Pinot, I wonder if maybe the mistake is trying to have lasting friendships in a town of transients.

We finish our drinks and split the check. I tell her I’ll try to be supportive, but I’m not sure I have it in me. I don’t want her to leave. She understands and says what everyone says when these conversations have run their course. “It probably won’t happen for a while.”

It has occurred to me that LA would be a pretty hard place to be a Mary. Some days it’s a hard place to be a Maggie, so I can only imagine.

Oh well.

At least when we can no longer drive at night, we can get an Uber in like five minutes, so suck it, small manageable towns with low property taxes.

(Now, normally, this would be where I’d put in a big plug for LA:its beaches, its mountains, its tacos, and weirdos, and seventy degree default temp, and I’ll-never-leave-no-way-this-is-MY-TOWN!)Los Angeles California Skyline

But that would be a lie, at least the never leaving part.

It may be that one day my husband will have to cash out and move to cheaper less crowded pastures. That’s the reality for a lot of us in tinsel town, and other towns too, all across the country.

So where does that leave friendship? If we are all apt to up and move any old time, is there anyone we can count on, and can anyone count on us? Am I wrong to even want that?

This reminds me of the sand mandalas created by Buddhist monks. You know, where hours and hours go into the creation of intricate sand paintings, which are then purposely destroyed as a reminder of the impermanence of everything.

Non-attachment. It’s their favorite.

Maybe in about ten thousand more lifetimes when I am way more actualized it will be my favorite too, but I’m just not there yet.

Of course none of us knows who will stick around and who won’t. It could be housing prices, a bad diagnosis, or divorce, but the truth is that shit happens, especially as you get older. Maybe the dream of my own band of proud Marys is an effort to soothe the anxiety that comes with that midlife realization.

I don’t know how it will feel to say goodbye to the next friend who leaves. I only know that I can’t let myself go on a preemptive strike. As hard as it is, I will fight to stay open to these relationships, even without the guarantee. I will build my friendships not like a sand mandala, but like a Vegas hotel– built to last, at least for now.

We can’t know otherwise, none of us.

In closing, let me quote the often unappreciated genius of this song, made famous by the one and only Ronnie Milsap. I’m actually not kidding.

“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world

Wouldn’t have missed lovin’ you girl

You’ve made my whole life worth while, with your smile.

I wouldn’t trade one memory

Cause you mean too much to me

Even though I lost you girl

I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”

Feel free to sing with abandon at your next Karaoke night, after a shot of Jager. Now go forth with an open (or open-ish) heart, my friends!

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Faking It

Faking It

“Change is the only constant in life.” — Heraclitus

I have two sons, a teenager, and one soon to be. When they were younger, sometimes the only way I knew to how to show up was to just stone cold fake it.

Whether it was pretending that I wasn’t terrified of flying in order to get my then five year old  to board a plane, or acting like the toddler classes at My Gym were fun, and not actually the tenth fucking ring of hell, IMAGE_My_Gym_Children-s_Fitness_Center_4_mediumfaking it has always been a useful strategy in my mommy tool box.

People say little kids can tell when your lying, but I’m happy to call bullshit on this  myth because my boys fell for all of it.

Thank god.

Pretending I was relaxed and in control allowed me to be what I thought was a better version of myself, and I wanted that for my kids.

But lately faking it has started to feel, well, fake.

Last weekend, for example, I drop my oldest off at his sex-ed class, you know, like you do.

(I’ll for sure be writing more about the whole sex-ed thing. It’s a great program you can learn about here.)

Anyhoo…

Afterwards, I’m in the car with my eleven year old, who’s using my phone to find an age appropriate educational podcast we can listen to on the way to the park (not really – he was playing Doodle Jump), when a text comes in. It’s the teacher of the class, a friend of mine. From the back seat, 11 reads it to me. “We need fifty condoms, asap”. Apparently there was some kind of game planned for class that day and they were short a few supplies.

“Tell her I’m on it!” I chirp. I am the go-to mom, I think to myself, with satisfaction. Yep- cool and capable, that’s me.

On a roll, I decide to take advantage of the teachable moment and make sure 11 is up on all things condom. I keep it real matter-if-fact, like they tell you to, explaining to him in simple but accurate language, how they are used and why.

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I’m doing great, I think to myself.

But as we get out of our car and enter Rite Aid, I start to feel the tingle of something like embarrassment creeping up on me. I try to shake it off. Buying condoms is a life skill, I tell myself. “Come on, let’s make it quick, kiddo!”

(Time out— Just so you know, I am not usually hung up about sex stuff. Seriously. It’s probably one of the few hang-ups I don’t have, but I haven’t bought condoms since grunge bands were a thing, and apparently I am a little out of practice.)

So after going up and down every aisle, passing right by all the normal mothers who are there for sunscreen, or Claritin, we finally find aisle seven, now more aptly known (by me) as The Sex Aisle.

“What are those?” My son asks.

“Condoms,” I answer brightly, “like we were talking about in the car.” No biggie, I think, perusing the vast array of choices.

“Why are there so many kinds?”

Clearly, I am a what they call an “askable” parent. Awesome! But I ignore his query for the moment, and dig around in my purse for a pair of readers.

“Back up honey,” I say, “Mom needs to see.”

Someone passes behind us. Did I imagine it, or was that a snicker? I feel my face flush. I just need the cheapest, biggest box, and I need to get it before anyone comes and judges me for being all sexed up and desperate for rubbers at two in the afternoon.

Peering over my shoulder to get a better view of the merch, 11 asks, “Do they mean the skin of an actual lamb?”

Reader, I’m totally down with this conversation. I read Meg Hickling’s book, and at the right time I am capable of answering all these questions and more, but at this moment, I am feeling fifteen years old and I just want to get the goods and get the hell out of there.

I lift the plastic door of the case to grab some Trojans (brand loyalty is alive and well) when–DIIIIINNNGGG! An alarm sounds, making us both jump.

“What’s that?” 11 asks, but I’m busy reading the box I’ve snagged. Twenty-six, not nearly enough. Shit. I go in again.

DIIIIIINNGGG!!

“Are you stealing?” My son asks, as I frantically search for a bigger box, knocking something called a Pleasure Pack to the floor. I’m intrigued, but need to stay on task.

I reach in and quickly try to put it back—

DIIINNNGGGG!!

For the love of all that is holy,  can a person not just buy fifty condoms without the world knowing??? With sweaty palms, I fling open the cabinet, and try for a different box.

DIIIINNGGG!!!

“Security check on aisle seven!” blasts over the store intercom.

“Let’s get out of here,” I hiss.

As we make our way to the registers, I grab a few other things— index cards, pencils, Us Magazine, just to round out my haul.

“You dropped these,” 11 says, handing me a supersize box of Stimulations Ultra-Ribbed. My eyes dart around as I shove them in my basket.

At the front of the store, the cashier on register #1 looks a little judgey to me. Reguster #2 is some poor high school kid, so I opt for the zoned out woman on the end, and casually place my items on the counter for her to scan.

11 is watching me with a smile that says, “who are you trying to fool?  

I have to laugh

Once again, I’m trying to fake being cool, but he sees right through the act.

And you know what? It’s a relief.

The last thing my kids need is yet another person in their lives who is pretending they have everything figured out. Life is awkward, and strange, and sometimes you get embarrassed even when you know you shouldn’t be. Being myself is the only parenting trick I have left, and it’s no trick at all, which doesn’t mean it’s always easy.

The automatic doors slide open and we leave behind the frigid air of the pharmacy, plunging into the warm afternoon sun.

Just for a moment, the change takes my breath away.

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Do What You Love (and also some stuff you don’t)

Do What You Love (and also some stuff you don’t)

You know how everyone says that hitting midlife is so awesome for women because we stop caring what anyone else thinks and can finally be who we are, without striving to live up to some weird made up standard “out there?”

Well all of that may be true but, as always, I gotta flip that shit over and look at the underbelly, because I’ve got an issue.

The truth is that while I am happy to stop torturing myself over the fact that I suck at thank-you notes and drink straight out of the milk carton (sorry),  some of those old self-imposed external expectations worked pretty well, and I miss them.

Take, for one, staying in shape.

Fifteen years ago, I used to go to the gym regularly and I felt great! It was just a part of my every day, a healthy habit. But make no mistake, it was fueled by the mirror and the x-boyfriend and the stupid asshole size whatever-it-was that I thought I needed to be.

All of that is gone, and I am thrilled.

But what motivates me now? If it’s no longer the fear of not measuring up, then what? Of course I want to be healthy as I age, to be there for my kids and husband, to feel strong.

I get it.

But in the face of a night out with girlfriends and plate of garlic fries, let’s just say they those goals get a little bit fuzzy around the edges.

Garlic fries are so yummy, you guys.

And fifty year old me has been a good girl for long enough.

But just recently, I stumbled into a strategy* that totally works for me, and because this blog is all about helping the world, I will let you in on the secret now.

By utilizing the energy of my largely untapped and renewable resource, anger, I feel like maybe I’ve figured out the secret to bringing about positive change in my life, or at least getting some shit done.

Here’s an example: Yesterday, I knew I should go to the gym. (One thing I will never discuss at length here is exercise. 1. Because there are lots of people who do that and know what they’re talking about, and 2. Because zzzzzzzz…..) Anyway, I knew I should go, but I just didn’t want to.

Like I seriously didn’t want to.

I was pissed that I had to take time out of my busy life of doing things that I can’t explain right now but that are very important (not), VERY important (no, seriously not), and the nagging awareness I had that, at my age, it is more important than ever to stay active just served to make me feel more resentful, and therefor more likely to drink all the wine.

Hold up for a sec —

Before any of you leave comments suggesting I simply find an activity I enjoy, like salsa dancing or whatever, let me say that I’m a grown-ass woman. I lived through Jazzercise and Tae Bo and that dumb kind of walking where you wag your ass around, and it all sucks. But I want to be healthy, so I’m committed to figuring it out. (If the tone of this post is not to your liking, I totally get it. Feel free to skip the rest and go do your Prancersize.) giphy

Anyway, yesterday, for some reason,  I did not do what I usually do, which is try to make myself want to exercise. Instead, I let myself be pissed at a glaring flaw in the otherwise perfect human machine, which is that you have to drag it off the couch and make it sweat and breathe hard if you want it to work right. And even if you somehow managed to do that today, you just have to wake up tomorrow and do it all again!

Intelligent design? I think not.

So I did what I so often do, I vented a little on Facebook:

“Damn you bastard gym! I’m mad I have go to you and sweat in you and smell your stinky smell and listen to your bad pop music and to your grunting hairy guys! I give you thirty minutes. That’s all you get of my precious day.”

Just admitting how I really feel about the whole exercise thing gave me a boost.

This is bullshit, I thought, pulling on my Target sports bra. What a total pain in the ass, I musedas I closed my locker next to a naked water aerobics lady who seemed perfectly happy being there.

Weirdo.

Oh, I kid.

Anyway, before I knew it, I’d done thirty minutes of something that felt like exercise and was free to go! Changing in the locker room, right next to the same lady from before (why does that always happen?), I realized that a good chunk of the negative shit I have around going to the gym is really just me fighting my nature.

It turns out, I don’t have to want to exercise, or go to the gynecologist, or stand and chat with my elderly Republican neighbor with the hair weave who is just a really lonely guy, to do it.

I and I do want to do it. Or at least, I want to have done it. 

Feeling bad about the fact that you feel bad, only makes you feel worse. (There’s some Buddhism in there somewhere, but I can’t exactly find it.)

So, thus concludes the probably one and only fitness tip you’ll ever get from me. Also, I’m not giving up the fries.

(*This might not work for you, especially if you’re a nice person.)

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Will Prozac Make Me Nicer?

Will Prozac Make Me Nicer?

I’m not sure what’s up with me lately. I’ve felt tired and anxious, with a fluttering heartbeat and a semi-constant sense of dread.

That, plus pissed.

So boy was I relieved when last week I had a complete physical and received the fab news that I am a-ok, health-wise, and that my condition can probably be chalked up to just good old fashioned per-menopause.

The doc told me that several of her patients find that a low dose of Prozac helps with symptoms like mine.
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That sounds so 90’s.

It’s like the Rachel haircut of anti-depressants.

(Here’s where I stop for just a minute and say that I am so grateful that drugs like Prozac exist. It has helped several of my dearest friends out of the dark hole of depression, so I hope you don’t think I’m dissing your drug of choice. I am just a very neurotic and small minded person and I like nice things, even if they come in capsule form.)

Initially I’ll admit, I got pretty excited about my 10 mg of self improvement.

“What are some of the side affects?” I asked the doctor. I’m a smart consumer, I thought, as my hand made an almost imperceptible jerk toward the prescription she was writing.

Act casual, I thought.

She mentioned a short list of issues some people have experienced while taking Prozac, weight loss being one of them. “But you’re unlikely to experience any of those with such a low dose.”

I crossed my arms on the soft flesh of my new middle aged gut and smiled.”Oh good,” I heard myself say, almost convincingly.

My plan was to get the prescription filled and start taking my dolls right away so that I could be a new person by tomorrow. Why wait? My husband and kids would thank me! No more lectures about

Exactly How I Would Like the Bread Package Sealed Please.

Twist hard,

several times

and then fold over and wrap a rubber band around it.

Don’t forget to squeeze all the air out of the bag

and the reason you can’t find a rubber band

is that no one ever saves them

and no one puts them here in this little space

in the drawer,

where I’ve told you

the rubber bands should always go.

Am I the only one who cares around here?

It’s a small thing,

to seal the bag of bread and do you just assume

I will throw that stale bread away and go buy another loaf?

Is that it?

Well is it???

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In line at the drugstore, I had some time to think.

As much as my brain bugs me, what with all it’s shortcomings, I kind of like it.

Or, I’m used to it.

Or at least, I’ve tried to make lemonade, as they say.

I remembered a friend telling me that taking anti-depressants hadn’t changed her personality, it just made her not “stew” on things as much. But who am I, I wondered, if not someone who stews??

At that point, the lady standing behind me had a full-on passive aggressive sighing fit about the long wait. What a bitch, I thought. Geez! People need to get a grip. Talk about tightly wound! 

Wait, where was I?

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Oh yeah, do I or don’t I need some Prozac…

I peered into my phone, reading about other possible side affects, the ones my doctor had failed to mention. Side affects like clenched jaw, sleeplessness, anxiety (what the actual fuck???), cold symptoms, mild nausea, decreased appetite, increased appetite, loss of sex drive, constipation, dry mouth…

Later, I sat in my car, my little bottle of hope tucked in my purse,

and called Jo Dee.

“I can’t decide if I want to take them,” I said, enjoying the anti-depressant effect of  a bag of peanut M&Ms. “I just don’t know if I’m that bad off. When you look online, most people  say the side affects were nothing compared to how bad they felt before.”
“That’s how it was for me,” Jo Dee answered, referring to her own experience of depression years ago. “I just felt so fragile. Any little thing would happen and I would just start crying and go back to bed.”

“Yeah, I don’t have that. I do think I’m pretty irritable,” I say, stating the most obvious thing ever stated in the history of the universe. “I wish there was just something that would take the edge off when I need it. I should have asked her for Xanax.”

“Is that what Xanax does?” asked Jo Dee.

“That’s what a friend told me. She described it like, ‘Oh, it just takes the edge off.”

“But isn’t that what they say about every anti-depressant? That it takes the edge off?”

“Yeah,” I answered. “Tastes just like chicken.”

I went home, threw the bottle in the top drawer of my dresser, the one with my rhinestone jewelry from the 80s and all my boys’ baby teeth, and there it sits, waiting for me to decide.

My guess is that you haven’t heard the last from me on this topic, because I’m just so full of questions.

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Does my tendency to snap when my estrogen ebbs warrant a daily dose of medication?

Will taking a little bump of Prozac each morning mean I won’t get quite so worked up when caught in the incessant dinging of a group text from the parents in my son’s basketball league. DING!- “who’s snack mom this week?” Ding!- “I’ll do it!” DING!- “You’re the best!” DING!-“Thanks!” DING!-“Thanks so much!”

DING!-

DING!-

DING!

I don’t know. It could be that the bar for emotional health and a sunny disposition is just a little bit high sometimes.

Because group texts are annoying,

and don’t get me started on stale bread.