Saturday, December 31, 2016

An Open Letter to New Years Eve 2006 Me.


Dear December 31, 2006 Me,

    Hey girl. I'm writing to you from December 31, 2016. I have some stuff to tell you, because I know how you're feeling right now. 

Today, you feel like your life has ended. Your heart was shattered today in that one phone call, where her voice said, "Is this Mrs. A? Are you still married to E?" and when you confirmed both questions, a spindly, bony and ghostly hand ripped into your chest, pulled out your trusting, soft heart and slammed it to the floor. It shattered into so many splintering shards that you couldn't breathe. But C, the sweet little baby girl growing in you needs you to pick yourself up. I know it feels like you can't. But this is not the end of you. 

THIS IS NOT THE END OF YOU. 

I realize you never imagined that this would be your lot in life. You've served him and your church, you've loved hard and expected that you were loved in return. This was not on your radar, even though the stirrings have made you uncomfortable. 

It's important for you to know, this is not your fault. 
You are not stupid for missing signs. 
"You need to forgive yourself for the blindness that put you in the path of those who betrayed you. Sometimes a good heart doesn't see the bad", as the quote goes. 




I also need to tell you that you aren't going to have the strength to walk away yet, and that's why you're not telling anyone. You don't want someone telling you what to do, because you are frightened more than you've ever been in your life. You don't want to have your baby alone. You don't want to lose the family you've tried to build with someone who is narcissistic and doesn't have the ability to love and respect commitment. That's how cheaters are, darling. They are selfish and deeply flawed and are not worthy of you. 

NOT WORTHY OF YOU. 

You are going to try and pick up those shattered little splinters and super glue them. It's going to be a rudimentary heart you recreate, full of cracks and holes, fear and anger and an intrinsic upheaval that makes you question your entire life. You won't know what's real. You'll say, in your head, that after a year you'll feel better. You will go on, forging as a broken family, and move to a big city, starting over. 

You will give birth to your little girl, and she will have saved your life, because if not for her existence, that fleeting thought of not having the will to live will be put off until you're strong enough to process what has happened. You will fall in love with her and she will be that glue for a little while. Your little boy's trusting heart will seal it. You will feel somewhat whole. 

Except in your fear, you will morph into a scarily submissive being; working nights and losing sleep, arranging life around his needs and happiness, to avoid the pain that nearly destroyed you again. You will tell yourself you're okay, that these are good years, that you are happy again. 

YOU'RE NOT YOU, THOUGH. 
He stole you.
From you, from your family, from your children. 

You'll spend summer nights backstroking in the pool and staring at the cool stars and wonder where life is headed. 
You'll throw yourself into church work and pray that God will make things turn out right. You'll pray for the good man that you were hoping for, that you just KNEW he was, is and could be.

BUT HE'S NOT. 

Because four years from now, you will feel like this all over again. 
And you will tell your family this time, and they will strengthen you. 



And you will leave and find a house of your own close to your brother and you will become hopeful for a moment. 
But you just won't have ALL of the strength you will need. You are terrified of sharing your children. You don't know how you could start over at 36. And so you will let him back in. You will feel sorry for him (I KNOW! Don't you want to scream at the us of 2011 and tell her to END IT ALREADY?!) and you will nearly lose your family over this decision. 

You will feel like you are losing your mind and so you'll quit your job, break your lease and take your family to Maine to work. You will trade in your cars and say goodbye to your life and drive for five days to a place you've never been. 

You'll fall in love with the people and the town and be able to breathe in church again and never want to leave. You'll drop off fan letters for your neighbor Stephen King and marvel at the pink trees in the chilly autumn. You could build a life there. 
(Can you believe you uprooted and went to MAINE?! Can you see your strength steadily increasing? I'm so proud! 2012 us is getting there!) 

But you will move on with the family and go to a suburb of Washington DC and rent a huge old dream house and weather Hurricane Sandy (in a tizzy, but still, you stayed strong). You almost decide to stay there too. But you keep moving, when your contract ends. You are so thankful that travel nursing is a thing. 

And so you end up in Florida. You work at the busiest ER in the country and again fall in love with the people. You gain strength every day and then a longtime friend asks you what the hell you are doing in this situation, the same question those who love you have asked for years, but it clicks. IT CLICKS, GIRL! 

And when it appears things are starting all over, and that your problems have followed you and not magically stayed in Arizona as you'd hoped, your strength tank is finally full. 

You will do it! You will leave. You almost ALMOST go to Chicago to start life over, just you and the babies. You will be near other family and it will be good. 
But then God VERY CLEARLY speaks to you. 

You have to go home. To Arizona. 
It's going to be hard. You are going to hurt. A lot. 
You are going to doubt yourself. 
You are going to wonder why in the hell you came back, because you didn't want to live in the desert anymore.

You are going to file for divorce, and it's going to shatter you for a while. You'll have to face him. Tell him no. Be strong for your children and find the courage that you were 100% sure you never had. 

But did you see it building through the adversity?

You will take time off, time to fall in love with yourself. You will find your voice and your heart will meld, filling in the cracks. It will take a year. But your family will carry you through. YOU will carry you through. 




And it will all make sense.

Because on New Years Eve, 2016? 

Girl, you are snuggled up with the love of your life. You know, the one you were convinced didn't exist? And he has gone through what you have. He was severely mistreated too, but healed and was able to hand his sweetest heart to you. 




That's him!

I know! Isn't this amazing news?!

The 2014 you fell in love. And it wasn't a coincidence. God brought you someone who had hurt like you had, who had the ability to love like you love. Someone trustworthy and handsome and kind. He's OUT there! He didn't want to live in Arizona and you didn't want to live in Arizona, but you are both ALIVE for the first time in Arizona. Oh, the irony.





You are going to blend a family with him. You are going to make more babies with him, but we don't know yet if any of them with make it to the finish line. You'll learn more through those trials too. But it's okay, because you know you have that strength now! 






Your first couple of years together will be hard, full of nonsense and lawyers and a funeral, but you'll be closer to him because of it. His parents will love your parents and your families will have their first real Christmas together in 2016. You will marvel at the imperfectly perfect holidays and realize that this big, wild family is what was always meant to be. It would just take mistakes that you'd both learn from, the biggest mistakes of your lives leading eventually to the biggest blessings. Your children will still be your children, and the five of them blended would finally see what it means when a man really loves a woman and a marriage is devoid of narcissism and selfishness. 

You two will have a heart for travel and go on adventures at every chance. You'll spend your honeymoon in Disneyworld, see the Walking Dead set in Atlanta; you'll walk the Golden Gate Bridge together and dip your toes in the Pacific in both San Diego and Malibu. You'll be proposed to in the warm sand of Panama City Beach, and cheer on the Seminoles in Tallahassee and the Bulldogs in Athens. You'll see family in Chicago and bring all the kids to Disneyland more than once. You'll find a favorite breakfast spot in Prescott and make your new best friends in Birmingham. 






You will close out 2016 having survived it, and look expectantly to 2017, because dreams were starting to be realized and you have a greater understanding for the beauty in every day of life. 

So, my dear hurting girl of 2006, allow yourself to feel that pain. Forge your way through it, to the other side. Hold on to hope. Remember you have a future. God promised that when He told you, "I know the thoughts I have toward you. Thoughts of good and not of evil, to give you a future and hope". 
Your future and hope are here. 

You are still here, stronger than ever. 
Someday, New Years will really be happy again. I promise you. 

Love,

New Years Eve 2016 You. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas, Aunt Marilyn



I need to tell you about someone. 

I need to tell you about my Aunt Marilyn. 

Right now, she is probably snowed in her home in the western suburb of Chicago where she lives, the area she's lived in for almost all of her life. She isn't here with us, enjoying the warmer weather and the comfort of our family gathering for the holiday.

And I miss her. 

Aunt Marilyn never married or had children, but she cared for so many. 

She is wise and brilliant, with two master's degrees and a life spent shaping the minds of middle schoolers. This is and of itself should earn her some prestigious award just for putting up with them, because no thank you. 
She has spent her life taking care of others. After my grandmother passed away and my grandfather developed Alzheimer's, she cared for him to the end. When an elderly aunt was widowed and became unable to care for herself, she cared for her through cancer, until the end. When another elderly, widowed aunt could no longer be independent, she brought her home with her for long visits, set up her long term care, and stayed close to her until she passed away at the age of 97. 

She has been selfless and giving, patient (with me most especially) and I have never heard her raise her voice in my 40 years. She is a beautiful soul. 



She spent years traveling with friends, seeing Hawaii and Canada, taking cruises. She was an incredible amateur photographer, hand-knit all of our Christmas stockings (even this year she added my husband and my new little nephew, Bennett!). She created ceramics, avidly read, wrote letters, and was a dedicated friend. She collects delicate little teacups and still has my grandmother's spoon collection displayed on the wall. I walk into her home and I am taken back to the years where I had not a care in the world, running freely through the house filled with the love of my aunt an my grandparents. My laughter bounced off of the walls and I was well cared for. I was a blessed and loved little girl, and I only wish sometimes I could walk back into that living room in Aurora, finding them all there, young, alive and welcoming me. When life hadn't hurt us all by premature funerals and health troubles, distance and sickness and loss forcing change in what always was. 

Things don't last forever. 

Suddenly we grow up and our families, the people we love and look up to, look older. Act older. Struggle with their health. Can't do what they used to. Have to make heartbreaking decisions to give up their homes for assisted living. Leave their independence in the past. 

And it hurts to see it happen. 

It of course is the circle of life, but it all just feels so wretchedly unfair. I want to scream until my lungs hurt, "Slow DOWN, time! Stop STEALING from me!" How beautiful it was to be an oblivious child. 

So here we are out here in the desert, 1800 miles away from Aunt Marilyn. She doesn't have the chaos of all of us at her doorstep, her great nieces and nephews hugging her, learning from her just like I did. Making recipes of our past, the Christmases that came long before me, with my grandmother and her sister baking the things I still make today with my daughter. We aren't there and she isn't here. 




So many years I'd wait expectantly for Aunt Marilyn to get off the plane and make the two hour drive from Las Vegas to our tiny little Arizona town in her expansive rented Lincoln Towncar, because that's when Christmas really began. She and Mom and I would bake cookies and sit and frost them, me dripping green icing on the carpet while we stacked little snowmen and bells into neat piles. They'd talk about pinochle and Uncle So and So and sit around playing heated games of Uno with Aunt Irma and Uncle George, also visiting for the holidays. My little heart was full and was convinced that things would never change. 



But over time, family members passed away. Travel became harder. All of the sudden we weren't able to spend Christmas together anymore. It was never the same again. Blessed? Yes. Joyful? Without fail. Incomplete? Always. 

All I have is this medium to tell you all how much she means to me. 

And so, Aunt Marilyn, I want you to know how much you are loved. How much we miss you. How it's never going home to Chicago if we aren't there with you. I wouldn't have fallen in love with writing, or reading, if not for you. I wouldn't believe strongly in myself if not for your encouragement when I didn't know what to do. 

I was less scared when I ran from Florida with my babies, starting a new life away from things that had broken me, because you offered your home to us. We didn't have to go, and came home to Arizona, but I knew you where there, and that made all the difference. 

You have always been just a phone call away. And I haven't been as reciprocal when you've needed me, and for that I'm sorry. Sometimes you're scared. You're facing things alone, without us nearby. But I promise you in front of whomever reads this: I will never leave you! When you need me, I will be there. I will be strength for you when you are weakened. So will Mom. You have us, without fail. You deserve nothing less. Because you have given your entire life, not asking for anything in return. You've been a strong female example for me, being a highly educated, independent woman before it was even cool. I was so blessed to have my Mom and you to look up to. 

I am so proud of you. Please never forget how wonderful you are, how thankful I am that I got to be your only niece and how much your life has meant to our family. Nothing would be the same without you. 

You told me not to get you anything for Christmas. So this is what I have to give, because it doesn't take up any space. I know you didn't want anything "new". 

I will always need my Aunt Marilyn. 

I love you, and, just so you know, Christmas is NEVER the same without you. 

Love, 

Cyn


Monday, December 12, 2016

How To Cover Your Tracks When Your Bestie Draws Porn On Your Kids' Homework


We've all been there, right?

We're just having a simple girl-talk conversation with our bestie. She is explaining this new, er, "position" that she's caught wind of, and, you know, wants to pass it along for when I find my feller someday. To be fair, we were both technically unencumbered at the time. Me, freshly divorced and in my "taking some time off" season, she, well,  I PROMISED I WOULDN'T TALK ABOUT IT.

We know some stuff about each other.



I mean, sweet Mary and Joseph, we MET under suspect circumstances whilst attending a rural Arizona high school. We were two ships passing in the night at a future Stanford graduate's house where about fifty of our closest friends were making some unauthorized version of Sex on the Beach (it's a DRINK) in a bathtub. Also known as a high school party, 90's version. I think we waved "hi" in the hallway while sipping bathtub juice and became fast friends on MySpace like ten years later. The rest of the story will come out some day. Maybe.

The bathtub drinking made it abundantly clear that sanitary practices elude high school students. Or maybe that's just more evidence that our town is TRULY the #1 least educated in the country. Maybe the fact that we made mixed drinks in bathtubs in 1994 was what landed us on the list in the first place.

I'm totally not making this up. Proof That I'm Not Lying.

Anyway, fast-forwarding to 2013, the explaining is taking place:

"So I think the leg goes like, here," she says, somewhat bewildered but yet intrigued, doing what looks like a cheerleader stunt move in stretchy pants in my living room.
"And the other one," she is now contorting into some position that looks equally unsexy and horribly uncomfortable, not to mention a poor plan for procreation, if that's the end game. I suspect not.

I guess she could tell by my "Seriously, right now?" face that I wasn't picking up what she was putting down. Dragging me to the kitchen by the wrist, she grabs some paper and a pen and goes to work.

"Now, LOOK," she explains, as though mapping out an equation for quantum physics (which, according to the drawing, may actually be simpler), "Do you see it now?"

And suddenly, the visual springs to life. "I get it!" I exclaim triumphantly, yet knowing that I will probably never implement these moves because I'm not rubber. I pick up the paper and go to flip it over and instantly shriek in horror. I place the paper the non-pornographic side up and at the same time, it registers with Bestie.

"OH MY GOD I DREW STICK FIGURE PORN ON YOUR KIDS' HOMEWORK!"

"Yes! YES! OH, I'M TRULY GOING TO BURN FOR THIS ONE! WHAT MOTHER LETS HER FRIEND DRAW NAKED STICK FIGURES ON A FIRST GRADER'S HOMEWORK?!"

"Doesn't she go to a Christian school, too? OH GOD."

"YES! And her teacher is pushing EIGHTY. She's NOT going to like STICK PORN on her worksheets!"

"What do we do?!" we both ask, our eyes wide and meeting, searching for solutions. Bestie picks up the pen and grabs the paper.

"I know! We'll just make it into something else!"

"What in the hell are you going to make THAT into? How are you going to covert a stick figure human wheelbarrow into Christian school appropriate non-stickporn?"

She quietly went to work.

The next day, my daughter triumphantly turned in her homework along with graphics of her new favorite character "Octy the Octopus", and she and her classmates running a really cool marathon. 




And THAT, my dear friends, is how you cover your tracks when your Bestie accidentally draws stick figure porn on your kids' homework.

It happens to all of us, right? 







Sunday, December 4, 2016

My Minister Husband Had A Second Family


Another article published at SheKnows.com! Yes, my life has been a Lifetime Movie. I just ask that Tori Spelling not play me on the small screen. Thanks in advance. :)


Read it here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Book Excerpt!


So, ya'll. My goal for 2017 is to complete my book and have it published. It is a book of short stories about fictional women's lives; some amusing and some, as you will note below, not so funny. I just wanted to provide an excerpt of some of the writing and I hope you'll find it on a shelf sometime soon! 


This is an excerpt from Chapter 3. 


                                                                  Image Credit

MaryJean’s old Tercel was in the carport, so she was home. Janey rapped on the door and heard nothing. She did note an odor that she equated with those patients in the ICU who were being unmercifully kept alive by family members in denial. The odor of early decay, it was familiar and sad, bringing her back to the critical care unit bedsides where patients would begin the process of putrefaction before even breathing their last breath. You don’t forget that smell.

Suddenly panicking, Janey pushed the door open, which had been left unlocked. The smell became forceful and unmistakable.
“MaryJean!” she cried out pleadingly, “Arthur! Are you here?” She noted that the swamp cooler had in fact not been fixed. It had to be over 100 degrees in the trailer, and it smelled of rot. Terrified at what she might find, Janey made her way through the trailer, creeping over the threadbare carpet, down the wood paneled hallway. Her heart was pounding, she was sweaty and scared, nausea rising in her chest. She pushed open the door to MaryJean’s bedroom, and blinked at the darkness. Blankets covered the windows in a feeble attempt to block out the heat. The bed was stained and unkempt. Her eyes finally adjusting, Janey saw a large, dark crumpled lump on the floor. Suddenly realizing it was a face down MaryJean, Janey ran over to her and immediately fumbled with the fleshly folds of MaryJean’s neck to feel for a pulse. There was none. Janey stood and straddled MaryJean, attempting to roll her onto her back. “MaryJean! MaryJean. Hey!” she cried out through strained breaths as she flipped the 400 lb woman onto her back. Janey fumbled for the on switch on the lamp, finding it and gasping when light flooded the room and she saw MaryJean in the gloriousness of death. Her face was scrunched and discolored, her mouth yawning open unnaturally. Bruising was on her chest, the front of her legs, the areas Janey could see. She’d been dead for at least a day, Janey thought, noting the bruising as blood that had been pooled by gravity after MaryJean had died. She smelled of dead flesh already beginning to break down, and as though she’d soiled herself upon dying, a common and severely unpleasant occurrence.
Janey pulled her cell phone out and dialed 911.
“What is your emergency?”
“I’m a home health nurse that came to check on a patient and she is dead. Could you send police? There is no need for an ambulance.”
“Right away ma’am. Address?” Janey provided the address and walked back out to the broiling living room, waiting.
The police quickly took report upon arrival and pronounced MaryJean. The medical examiner’s office came with extra help due to MaryJean’s size and it took unbelievable effort to roll her into a body bag and load her onto a gurney. “Christ Almighty,” said one assistant, “She should have laid off the donuts about 40 years ago. This shit is ridiculous.” He said, a visible sign of detest on his face. They all agreed. Janey, for some reason, felt significant shame as a lump rose in her throat. MaryJean deserved better than that. She was a poor woman, she was an obese woman, but she was a kind woman who did the best she knew how to do. She was someone’s mother and grandmother. She had purpose, regardless of her size and economic status.

As she was leaving, Janey remembered that Arthur had been nowhere to be found. She turned around to mention this to police, but they were already headed over to Arthur’s sister’s house, where they had tracked him down. MaryJean had supposedly been at her daughters, Arthur said. He wasn’t allowed to go, so he went to his sister’s. MaryJean had lied, her daughter was out of town. She died a hot, gruesome death, alone in a dirty old bedroom. Nobody knew until a nurse showed up. Janey said a silent prayer that her life would never end that way, at 57. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Somebody's Watching (A Flash Fiction Story)


Closing the front door to my condo, I heard the familiar thunk as the deadbolt slid into place, ensuring my nerves would calm for the night. Peeling off my nursing scrubs after a brutal thirteen hour day, I showered, put on my most comfortable pajamas, went downstairs to retrieve a glass of water and trudged back upstairs for bed. I crawled in gratefully, letting my weary bones settle into my plush mattress. I put on my sports talk radio app, so familiar voices would keep me company as I drifted off to sleep. I didn’t want to feel alone.

Yet I did want to be alone.

The condo creaked as the building settled and I shuddered. After a stressful day, I drifted off to sleep with my jaw clenched tightly.

At 3:16am, I awoke with a start, assumingly from a nightmare. I tried to sit up in the darkness and felt as though something had lifted off of me. I felt smothered and struggled to breathe. I was sweating, my heart was racing, my pajamas were clinging to me. My comforter was twisted, signifying a restless night. My head pounded. It took me over an hour of watching tv with my little lamp turned on before I fell asleep again.

I awoke for the day at 8:45, welcoming the flood of sunlight. I went to the bathroom and walked back to bed, yawning and picking up my cell phone from the nightstand.

I had 23 notifications from friends, who had commented on my photos.

My photos?

Blinking away the morning blurriness, I opened my Facebook app and clicked on the post with the notifications.

And then I screamed, dropping my phone on the floor and hearing a crack as the screen splintered. Picking it up again, my heart thudding violently, I looked at the pictures. Nine of them. Every last picture was of me sleeping in my bed, in various positions, the night before.


Posted at 3:16am


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Men Vs Women: Thanksgiving Planning Edition



The Holidays are such a busy time a year, aren't they folks? Ahh, yes. A chorus of ladies yelling out "Yes! Oh my gosh I am going to lose my freaking mind! There's too much to do!" as they march off to the grocery/department/black friday store with detailed, meticulous lists in hand, soft leather handbags slung over their shoulders, sensible flats covering tired Mama feet, a messy ponytail swinging behind them.

Where are the guys? I didn't hear any of them call out. Hello? (Adele voice), "Can you hear me?"

Nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

Because, though I love me the male persuasion, holidays are significantly less harried for their kind. 

And so, I bring you the Thanksgiving Brain, Women Vs Men:

Woman Brain on Thanksgiving:

"Oh God. It's a week before Thanksgiving. After work I'm going to need to peruse Pinterest for seven hours and start planning ridiculously complex side dishes and fondant shapes so as to go down in history and having the greatest Thanksgiving spread of all time, even in comparison with whatever they're having at the White House. Okay. The turkey. Should I bake it like Mom did? Or do I brine? What is brine, anyway? Okay. Check out "brine" on Pinterest. Or should I fry it? Nah, that seems so 2002. I still have oil burns on my elbow from THAT Thanksgiving. Brining is it. How many people are coming? Will Aunt Mabel and Uncle Lou actually make the trip from Albuquerque? They probably shouldn't drive on account of their cataracts. Or did they have those surgically removed this year? Or last year? I swear I saw it in cousin Arlene's super obnoxious and braggy Christmas letter. So if THEY come, (hopefully Arlene won't) then that will make (counting on hands) 13-14-oh no Arlene and Willy would be 16. Fingers crossed they're too busy making more enthralling YouTube videos of their cats to make the trip. 
So I'll make the list tomorrow after Pinteresting. Hey, did my kids break so many bowls this year that I only have a matching set for 9? Who has place settings for NINE? I'm going to need to research dishes. I can't have mismatched dishes. It would probably make Arlene's letter this year "We drove all that way and our host served us on mismatched plates. I also noted spots on the utensils and the decor left something to be desired. We won't be back", like a restaurant review on Yelp. 
Damn Arlene. Plus, I think she voted for _________________.  Don't even get me started. 
Which grocery stores have the best prices on turkey? Last year I was screwed going to that one store, they didn't even have store brand turkeys! I paid $42.00 for a dead bird. 

Now there's only two days left. I've been to six different stores in the last two days just to round out this list. And I STILL forgot the butter. Butter! It's like, a STAPLE! Well, after I make dinner tonight I'll head BACK out to the store. I'm sure it will be pleasant 48 hours prior to Thanksgiving. Oh, I need a decent tablecloth now, since the cute patterned one that matched the throw pillows now has a gigantic RED Crystal Light stain thanks to my youngest. I somehow need to sleep in between preparations, getting the house cleaned (I'll enlist my husband for that one. I'll even promise late night favors for a job well done) and working. Do the kids even have school this week? I have no idea. Oh! The Thanksgiving pageant. She's going to need me to find a pilgrim costume between now and tomorrow but HALLOWEEN IS ALREADY OVER. Where in all hell do I find a pilgrim costume now? I'd better thaw the turkey tonight so I can brine it 24 hours. Rosemary. I NEED ROSEMARY for the brine. Why did I decide to brine, again? Oh, here's a text from Arlene. "We're happy to say we'll be making the trip tomorrow with Mom and Dad. Looking forward to that fried turkey you're famous for!" 
Fried?
YOU'RE GOING TO EAT BRINED TURKEY ARLENE AND YOU'RE GOING TO LIKE IT OR CHOKE ON IT. PUT THAT IN YOUR LETTER. 
Instead, I reply, "It will be a wonderful time. Please drive carefully" (in the other direction) comes my thought. At 1am, I'll be able to pass out. Can't wait. 

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Today after work I'll boil the brine, cool it off, put the turkey in the ice bath, toast the bread, saute the celery and onions, finish the dressing, peel the potatoes, get the cranberries boiling, set the table, make sure the bathroom is stocked with the pretty towels and the Bath & Body Works hand soap, head to the Thanksgiving program and come home to wish for grim death. 




Man Brain on Thanksgiving:

"Hey, what time are we eating tomorrow?"

The Women Before Me


As my nine year old daughter stands on her stool, tearing toast into pieces, dropping it into a large bowl and complaining about HOW MUCH BREAD there is yet to toast, I am there, also nine, next to my Mom, complaining. "Mom, oh my god, why is there so much?!" and in the back of my mind "Why the hell is my brother not doing this?" (to date: he still doesn't. He just shoplifts all of the dressing from the rest of us. But this year, I'm making a secret stash of our own to keep at home, and no one remind him he has a key to my house. Thanks in advance). 

I do it because I'm female, and that's just what we do. For generations. We cook Thanksgiving dinner like nobody's business, and pass it down. And now I get it. All of the complaining has led to a feeling of gratefulness for having those memories with my Mom. I try and tell my daughter, "Somebody you'll be the Mama, and you'll do this with your daughter and tell her about how you used to make this same thing with your Mom and Nana". She just looks at me blankly like "okay", but I hope someday it will mean something. 

I not only remember cooking with my Mom, but also with my Aunt M, and even my Nana, who passed away when I was nearly six. When my Aunt M was discussing downsizing, she asked what things she has that I would want. My first thought: all of the recipe cards that are in the handwriting of she, my Nana and my great aunts. I like to look at them and run my finger over the loopy cursive that was signature for those generations, the same pieces of paper on which the women before me left their marks. In 2016, at 40 years old, those cards mean more to me than I ever thought they would as I rifled through them as a little girl. They are love letters from the women who felt like I feel, worked like I work, cooked like I now cook, loved as I love. Their DNA swirls through my veins and keeps them here, alive, remembered. 

So many of my recipes are printed off of sites like Pinterest, or AllRecipes. I realized NONE of my recipes are written down for my daughter and future generations, in the case that they'd want them. So, I have purposed to make the effort to write out the recipes that my kids love, the ones they ask for. I will transcribe in my own writing the super secret never tell another soul recipe for Mom/Nana/AuntM/AuntNene's Thanksgiving dressing. I will keep the recipes of our family together, add my own, and pass them to my children with the stressed significance of keeping pieces of your history, and who you are. 

First off, my husband's great grandmother, Florida (how great is her name?) saved this article. I am beyond pleased to know that cooking cabbage will serve to please my husband for life. Who knew it was that easy? 



I am grateful to have married into this family, I have the honor of carrying the name of the women before my father-in-law; women whose stories are powerful, women like my grandmother-in-law Erris who has passed away but her diamonds sit nestled in my wedding set among the new ones my husband bought; her blue topaz pendant is around my neck every day. I never met her, yet she lives on with me as the only daughter in the family. And I'm sure her Mom taught her the cabbage thing. 

Below, my great Aunt Nene's writing. She was beloved by my Mom and Aunt M and passed away shortly before I was born, but I have heard her stories all of my life. My Mom shares her name (their given names being Neva). Per stories, I suspect that my sassy attitude and stubbornness may come directly down the line from her. 



Aunt Irma,  "Irmi", who wasn't technically an aunt but more first cousin twice removed-- (if you'd like an explanation of what that means, my Mom and Aunt M will happily get in a knock-down drag-out sister fight of what the hell that even means. I've SEEN IT LIVE, ya'll)--she passed away in 2000. She was a spitfire herself, who later lost her sight to macular degeneration and her recipe cards showed the struggle. My memories of her include her hilarious laugh and she was the first woman I knew who snored like a freight train. She also liked to argue vehemently (to my amusement) with great Aunt Helen. 



Great Aunt Helen, we suspected, was on her way to 100 years old, but we lost her in the first weeks of 2012 at 97. She was sharp as a tack, read novels right up until the end, and had been a school teacher. She had been widowed since before I was born, and was present every Christmas out here in Arizona until well into my adulthood. My brother and I would always jump for joy seeing her handwriting on the greeting cards placed on the Christmas tree every year; we knew that a $100 check was nestled inside. So, clearly, we miss her more than ever. :) 


My Mom2, as I call her, has adopted me as her own from the beginning. She is the sweetest woman I know, and raised my very favorite person to be the best husband status guy that he is. She is one of those Moms you can call when you're a sniffling, crying mess and she'll empathize and pray you through. I'm only sorry it took us so long to find each other. She is mom-in-law GOLD. 

Oh, my Aunt M. Pretty sure the reason I can write is because of her. I mean, what choice do you have when your aunt, who frequently babysits you in your formative years, has degrees in english and library science and works as a librarian even past retirement? She taught me the joy in reading, the value of a good story. She believes in me to this day, and I'm thankful that she didn't have kids of her own, so I never had to share her, except with my brother who is always pissy, thinking that I'm her favorite. (I mean, how could I NOT be really? But still, she works hard to keep things even between us). And Aunt M can THROW DOWN in the kitchen (note to Aunt M: "throw down" is current slang for "you're a great cook"). I love you. 



My Mama's writing. My Mom. I get teary even typing about her because how can you NOT when writing about your Mom? Every time I cook one of her recipes I feel more connected to her. She's a "pick yourself up, dust yourself off" kind of Mom, and that's the only reason why I've come out such a fighter. Just yesterday she texted "Go for it all. Nothing you cannot do." She has always believed I am destined for great things, and made me believe it. Made me pursue it. I see the value in that as a Mom myself now, because I am no-nonsense like her, and my kids' behavior shows it. Seriously, my Mom kicks ass. That's the best way I can describe her. Also: don't EVER EVER EVER mess with her family. (ie: the day in first grade that my teacher didn't give me milk because I had forgotten my milk money; I offered her two pennies from my sweaty little hand that I had found in my desk. She refused it. I totally told on her, Mom called the school, got the teacher, and the conversations started something like "Don't you EVER...." and I had milk every single day for the rest of first grade). Do NOT make my Mom call you. And please know, I WILL TELL. 


My Nana. To this day, I still haven't been able to write about her, because I'll just cry. I had spent most days with her from birth to age 5, when Mom and Dad were working. She and my grandpa had traveled to Arizona from Illinois to help my parents after my brother was born, and she passed away one afternoon shortly after she and I were huddled on the couch watching As The World Turns. I have missed her every day of my life since, but have always felt a special connection to her, no matter how much time passes. She is with me, and waiting for me. 


Thanksgiving has seemed the perfect time to reflect on the women who have come before me, and what kind of holiday memories I want to pass on to my children and the future women who come after me. Take a moment today to reflect on all of the recipes and traditions that you keep to this day, to honor the women who have come before you. 

Where can you see their legacy? 


Monday, November 21, 2016

How To Battle Anxiety and How It Started For Me. (Newsflash: It Sucked).


It started the week I woke up suddenly, night after night, with my heart pounding, my hair sweaty and stuck to my face, usually around 3am. My life had been turned upside down. 
I had grown up introverted, self-conscious and loathing social activities. It was built in. Books were my best friends and I was more than happy to stay at home. In school, I felt the creepings of it in class; the desire for perfectionism unfortunately affected by a mind that wandered. I would feel stuck and panicky sitting somewhere for extended periods of time listening to teachings that in no way held my interest. It made me squirmy and impatient. 
But it wasn't until those nights I started to awaken in a blind panic with no resolution, seemingly nowhere to turn, that the anxiety switch flipped on. 

And it announced it's presence in my life with a vengeance. 

It started that week that I discovered that my marriage, my family was a complete lie. I was on the receiving end of unfaithfulness. There was a woman calling my house at all hours of the night, screaming on the phone, demanding to talk to him. He refused and would coach me through conversations with her, refusing to man-up and handle his own stupid business. I was married to a pastor, a chaplain. I could tell no one. Seek solace nowhere. I couldn't (so I thought) tell my family because they would make me leave. I was eight weeks pregnant. I wasn't sure I had the courage to do it. 

And so I didn't. And then I found out that this one was at least #2, and that there was much, much more to the story. And I stayed silent. I shoved down the feelings of fear, exquisite pain, loss of faith, unworthiness. His words swirled around me as I sat on the bathroom floor after throwing up yet again, after all, I was in my first trimester; he told me I looked pathetic. That he "deserved" a hot wife and this wasn't it. And I took it. ME! The sassy one who will tell anyone off in a heartbeat if you start with me. Slumped in a wrecked, weeping, pregnant, lonely heap on the floor. "This isn't my life. This isn't my life. This isn't my life" were the words that ran circles through my brain as I'd throw up again. 

That week, anxiety made it's debut in my life, and I've been fighting it like hell ever since. 



Admittedly, there are many people who have been through FAR WORSE than I have experienced. My story got even worse later on, and it has felt like the last several years have been stuffed full of intense trials. Many times I will look at someone else and think "but they are going through THAT so why should I be down/worried/in pain when in comparison, my situation isn't that bad?"

I'll tell you what I've learned:

Just because someone else has had a different experience than you, does not minimize your pain, your journey, because pain is relative. It is what YOU say it is. It's as bad as YOU say. Own it, and walk through it however YOU need to.

Ever since those days, my mind immediately goes to thinking the worst, because there have been a couple of situations now where I can say, "See? The worst DID happen! I was right all those years to think the worst, because it IS possible that it will happen!" (This was not a good realization). 





Anxiety is paralyzing, crippling and very, very real. When you have experienced a trauma, your mind goes into protective mode at the first sign of any trouble. Sometimes, your body will start with an anxiety reaction while you're not even thinking about anything. It's just anxiety being the asshat that it is. 

Do you ever: feel a tightness in your chest or core when fear of something out of your control is occurring or has the potential to occur? Do you feel uneasy, struggle with sleep? Find it almost impossible to clear your mind or focus on ANYTHING when you feel overwhelmed with fear an anxiety? Have heart palpitations, cold, clammy hands, shivering and an inability to get warm? 

It's all part of the anxiety game. It relentlessly attacks and makes you feel helpless and weak. 

But You Are Not Weak. 

I am learning as I walk through this life, to combat it. To silence the lies, the voice that torments and tells me that bad things will always happen because bad things have happened. I am surrounded by blessings and proof that there are far more wonderful things and moments than ones that break you. 

The most important advice I can offer is to practice radically caring for yourself. Giving your self space. Taking captive the initial thought that is thrown your way--picture it like a cloud--you see it, you acknowledge and don't ignore it--and then let is pass on by. 

Take baths. Read a really, really good book or story. Watch an episode of Golden Girls for the thousandth time. Call your Mom. Unless she gives you anxiety. Then call someone else. (Mine, for the record, does not do that). *disclaimer. Because Mom reads my stuff. Hi Mom! 
Physically exercise. When I went through the uncertainty and difficulty of divorce, I found solace in lifting and, most helpful, hiking. I felt in touch with God more on a mountain trail than ever I did in a church. I could communicate better there. I felt like there was nothing in the way of those conversations on a mountaintop.

Just don't ignore those feelings, because they won't just go away, like I originally thought. After a while, the anxiety from not walking through the heartbreak of adultery with someone I knew and trusted built up and manifested as headaches and acid reflux. The body is not meant to house that level of internal stress. 

So be kind, TO YOU. Acknowledge your thoughts but don't dwell on them. Seek a counselor's help when you need to (they are a godsend). 

And, above all, know that you are never, ever alone in this. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

That Weekend We Almost Killed Naked Santa and Nearly Wandered Into A Bondage Event


It was my husband's birthday weekend, so naturally, as any good wife will do, I wanted to give him an offer he couldn't refuse (no, not "sleep with the fishes" kind). Well, an offer no man ever refuses, actually.
So, we were going to go lingerie shopping, as normal married couples who still really really like to do stuff with their soulmates will do. 

We were out of town, spending a long weekend on in the sleepy, dreamy town of Carlsbad, California, just outside of San Diego. We had booked a beachfront hotel with a lot of our frequent-travel points and picked up some good novels to read on the beach. It had been a really long week, and we were looking forward to time with just the two of us.

So, we headed out in search of the closest Victoria's Secret. It was a Saturday, around 8pm. Finding a mall, we were dismayed that it looked a little deserted. I ran up to the door to check the business hours, and, sure enough, it closed at 8. "What mall closes at 8pm on a Saturday?', we couldn't help but wonder, feeling more than a little disappointed.

I, always being up for a good time, started doing a phone search of the area, looking for lingerie stores similar to the ones we have in Phoenix. You know, the ones where you go with your girlfriend to giggle at all the toys and yell across the room, "Hey! Have you ever tried this one?!" and take turns smacking each other with paddles emblazoned with the word "love slave" and wondering if the chocolate body paint is really as good as Hershey's (it isn't). As a side note, we did also wander into section where there was a video ad for "Clone Your Guy"; a "kit" with a mold maker and THAT'S ALL I'M SAYING. Only as we wandered by the display and glanced up at the tv screen, my friend couldn't help but blurt out, "Okay, this is a 'clone your GUY' kit. So why is the GIRL naked?" file this question under "Things we'll ask God about someday." Actually, probably not, because I'm not entirely sure that section of the store was God-approved. But it sure is good for giggles, (and for penis shaped confetti, which made it's debut in my life at my bachelorette dinner).

Anyway, anyway, anyway.

I hit upon a store called the Love Boutique about a 10 minute drive away. We headed in that direction because hey, who wouldn't want to go to a "Love Boutique"? I verified that it had a large assortment of bras and negligees that I was looking for and provided the directions to my raised Baptist, easily unnerved adorable husband. *keep this information in the forefront of your mind. 



Pulling into the parking lot, we drove around to the front of the building and my husband just stopped. He was staring at something out of the corner of his eye, but wouldn't directly look at whatever had just unnerved him.

Oh, just a gaggle of people who looked similar to vampires hanging out near the front entrance, puffing on cigarettes, their heads encircled with wispy clouds of smoke, making them appear even more dastardly.
"Maybe they're just having a Halloween party," I suggest. 
"Ok but Halloween was LAST week, so why would they have a Halloween party in November?"
"Well, you've got me there."




I stared as my husband rolled by, a look of trepidation on his face. He was now having an intense internal debate. How desperately do I want to have this night go as planned? How willing am I to wait until Victoria's opens tomorrow to fire this idea up?"

Answer: More Than Willing. 

Feeling as though we were under attack by these slovenly-appearing vampires, my husband presses hard on the gas pedal and we are headed out to the main road.

That is, until Naked Santa comes darting out from the side of the building and high-tails it across our headlights, disappearing into the darkness of the parking lot. 

My husband slams on the brakes and we pitch forward, looking at each other like, did that just happen?

"Okay. It can't just be me that saw a man in tiny santa shorts and a santa hat and nothing else almost get run over by us, right? I didn't imagine that?"

I nod in solidarity with my completely unnerved, wide-eyed husband who has now not only witnessed lingerie store vampires, but also a nearly naked Santa Claus in the span of 30 seconds.

"I saw it too. WHY IS THAT GUY WEARING THAT AND RUNNING THROUGH THE PARKING LOT?!" 

"And why are there both vampires AND Santa Claus? This doesn't go together at all. Let's get out of here."

"I need to get pictures. GO SLOW!" 

And so we rolled quietly through the parking lot, me catching a blurred action shot of naked santa and also of the smoking vampiress still hanging out.



"Do you still want to go in?" I ask, started to really giggle at my husband's terrified face.

"Nope."

"Aww, it's probably just a party, let's check it out!"

"Nope."

"I'll let you pick out some elephant shaped boxers or something, you know, the kind where the trunk is for...."

"Nope."

So off we drive, he being taken aback by all that was witnessed, me fervently searching on my phone for any kind of parties or special festivals the Love Boutique was currently having, to answer some questions.

And then, I found our answers.




 Sexy Santa AND his elves were there! We almost totally ruined the party by our near-miss with Sexy Santa!

Not only that ya'll, but there are even MORE classes in which to partake at the boutique! So I read the descriptions aloud to my husband as he drove.

"Hey! So they have bondage classes too! Is that a thing? There's like classes where you can learn to hog-tie and all that jazz? I thought that was a "learn as you go" thing for the bedroom, or, at the very most, found in a helpful manual on the naughty shelf at Barnes and Noble."

"What?"

"I'm serious! It even says bondage-friendly clothing is suggested. Is what I'm wearing bondage friendly? Because I just don't know."

"The jeans might be a problem."

"True. Contortionism is, I'd assume, difficult in jeans."

I kept reading.

"Oh, I guess jeans AREN'T suggested. It says I have to have my areolas covered at all times, AND I can buy pasties at the Love Boutique itself! I'm just impressed that the vampire naked santa store knows the correct anatomical term of "areolas". But I'd probably just wear a shirt. Oh, dangit, it's only on the 1st Thursday and 3rd Friday of each month. No hog-tying me this month, buddy boy!"


"Okayyyyy....."

"The class is called All Tied Up! It says it's for newbies AND experienced Top/Bottoms alike?
So you have to choose a Top/Bottom and stick with that forever? There's no spontaneity or varied position changes? That doesn't sound very progressive to me. 'Well, guess I'll be here on the bottom again. Here's the rope. Watch my areolas.'"

"Hey! There's also something called Club X. It says it's San Diego's largest pansexual leather group. What's a pansexual?"

"I have no idea. All I wanted was some new lingerie for you."

"Well now I have to google 'pansexual'. Okay! So it's someone who's totally fluid in their sexuality. Like, does it with whatever. Now we know. They even have their own flag."

"Learn something new every day."

"I'd say we've learned a lot today. Happy Birthday, Baby!"

*For those interested in Club X in the greater San Diego area, they do state that "Our primary goal is that of education with secondary goals of activism and social activities. We hold monthly meetings to this end." 

In my mind, that directly translates to, "If you'd like to have us on career day at your kids' school to display our goals of education, activism and social activities, we'd be happy to oblige and will make sure to cover our areolas and use gluten-free, vegan rope."

And we did, for the record, have a good weekend after that. After all, Victoria's opened at 10am. ;)








Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Letter To My Kids' New Stepmom


Dear My Kids New Stepmom,

I am writing to you in all honesty and truth, so that we can move forward in the relationships we have with my children. I want you to know that I do not hate you, I do not dislike you and I am not jealous of you. Having been divorced a few years, there are no strings I am left standing here clinging to. When the choice was made for the marriage to end, that was it for me. I accepted it for what it was and emotionally moved on. I am not one to act out of stifled maturity, not wanting to meet you, hating you, refusing my children to be around you or pretending that you don't exist. I have given my children permission from day one to build a relationship with you, even love you. 

Really, it's okay. 

I know I'm their Mom, and I know I'm a damn good one. You've probably guessed that by how easy they are to raise and how respectful they are of you and their father. And that's exactly the way I want it. I do not feel as though you'll "replace" me in their hearts or lives, because I'm a grown woman and able to behave as such. I am secure in my children's love and devotion to me, so I will never engage in competition with you. 

I thank you. Thank you for your kindness to them. Thank you for accepting them into your heart and into your life and new home, because if there's one thing I can empathize with, it's how difficult and maddening it would be to be a stepparent when a biological parent exists only to create discord and, in return, unhappy children who feed off of those insecurities and resentment. That would never be my desire for you or for my children. 

I am happy that we have built a kind relationship, built on our shared values, that has put the children first. I thank you for praying when my grandmother was dying. I thank you for easy text conversations devoid of weirdness. I'm grateful that the way we have treated one another from day one should be a testament to anyone who finds themselves a part of a family with stepchildren. 



It is of my opinion that it is up to the biological parent to be open, mature and emotionally adult enough to reach out in kindness to a potential or new stepparent. To give them a chance to grow a relationship with the children and allow children to see that, for their own benefit. As a result, my children speak freely of you in our home, free of condemnation. 

We may never be considered "friends", just because of the nature of our relationship. But we are comrades in the lives of these two wonderful little people that I willingly share with you. It is my goal to always keep communication as open and easy as it has been over the past couple of years, because it has been good for their developing hearts and souls. It's not easy to be a stepparent, I know. I've been there. So it is my vow that I will never treat you the way that I have been treated in the past. What good does that do anyone, most especially children? You, as another parent in my children's lives, deserve better than that, and so do they. I'm glad we did this right, as real women will always do. 

Onward in life, 

Cyndi

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sunday Vibes.


There's just something about a Sunday morning. For me, this is especially true in the fall, when it's football season and in early November, summer in Arizona FINALLY bows out, giving way to hiking weather for us.

The kids sleep in, the football pre-shows are on, I have time to wake up slowly with my husband and we are in no hurry to get out of bed.

This morning, I grabbed one of my current books, made my tea and curled up on the chaise lounge in our bedroom. It dawned on me that I am the picture of Sunday morning vibes, and just wanted to share a moment where life isn't rushed and stressful. No having to take care of a gaggle of kids because who cares if they're still in their pajamas by early afternoon?

Sundays when I was a kid were great times. In the winters, Mom would make monkey bread and coffee, Dad would build a fire. He always has cold feet so the vision of his socks slung over the fireplace screen getting warmed up is tantamount to all of my childhood memories. We'd all join up in the living room, hoping and praying that our team would be one of the two games we'd have broadcast in the tiny desert Arizona town in which we lived, 1,800 miles away from our beloved Chicago Bears. Twas the olden days, before Directv saved all of us.

Sunday Vibes. 

Most Sundays in current times, after we finally get out of bed, my son comes out to watch games with me, and a new generation continues the trend. I usually will make monkey bread just like Moms, and then I'll scream at the tv for a few hours, because, the Bears are usually ripe with the stench of disappointment. It is our last chance on the weekend before the Sunday blues set in, lunches have to be made for Monday, homework checks, backpacks ready, five kids bathed and tucked away by 8:45.

And so, until then, before their ridiculously high-maintenance selves start to ask for things constantly, I can be found in our room. With this.


I was encouraged in making my tea this morning. I never noticed the tags have inspiring little messages printed on them, and today, this one fell into my palm as though God was pressing a sweet reminder right into my hand. It says "You are unlimited", a timely message while I am transitioning my career into a new degree and a wholehearted push to become a published fiction writer. It's a scary world out there, even when you've been here for a while. So, thanks be to God for even the smallest of encouragements. 


So here, my friends, is my Sunday Vibe:

1. Readers, because I'm almost 41 and dammit.

2. Green tea, because I'm almost 41 and coffee is starting to irritate my stomach. Tis a sad day. 

3. Chicago Bears shirt, because I'm nothing if not loyal. Till the end, boys. Till the end. 

4. A book. Because I am a total nerd-girl and am never ever without one. 

5. Messy hair because don't care. 

6. Honeymoon souvenir mug from Magic Kingdom that says "Por favor mantengase alejado de las puertas!" because otherwise the monorail will rip your arm straight off. 

I love my Sunday mornings. 

What's your vibe? 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Unraveling The Entitlement Psyche: Or, What If We All Thought This Way? (Tongue In Cheek Version).


In keeping with the raucous spirit of protest going on out there, I decided it was time for me to chime on in. Because, if we're going to live in a society where nobody accepts the outcome of freaking ANYTHING, resulting in total societal gridlock, then you betcha (in Sarah Palin voice) I'm gonna let you know all the things that are NOT MY (tongue in cheek version). 




And so.


1. God is not the boss of me. 

Clearly He doesn't know what's best for me. I mean, He's only the omnicient and omnipresent being that created like, every single thing and person in the history of ever, but come on. There's no WAY He knows more than me, let alone what's best for me. Amiright?

2. The Denver Broncos are NOT MY Super Bowl Champions. 

Because they're from Denver, and I've never been there, so they can't be champions. The ACTUAL champions, are the Chicago Bears. The won SIX games, and only lost ten last season. Since this was an improvement on their previous 5-11 season, they should be given the benefit of the doubt and awarded the Lombardi trophy, seeing as how they IMPROVED and they participated in the season. It's only fair (sorry, my friend Chelsea, it's only right and you know it).

3. These Stepkids are NOT MY kids, so I shouldn't acknowledge their presence. 

I mean, I should only have enough love in my heart and room in my life for the two beings I spat forth in traumatizing cesarean sections and nursed with my own boobs, right? Just because my husband is totally the best guy ever, and he has kids, I can just ignore them and pretend they'll go away. That's socially acceptable in our protesty world, right?

4. The doctors I work with are NOT MY superiors and shouldn't be giving me orders. 

I mean, I went to school, too! I am a NURSE. They need to let me perform the surgery even though they're the only ones in the room that did four years of medical school and at least four years of residency (depending on specialty). I have participated in enough surgical procedures, and watched enough times, that I should be allowed to perform the next total knee replacement because it's not that hard. I don't like that they are allowed to write orders for me to fulfill and won't pay me the same, even though I have like, zero percent liability compared to them. It's Not Fair! 

5. The police have no right to pull me over or talk to me because they are NOT MY Dads.

Ok, so, partially untrue, because my Dad IS a law enforcement guy and I'm not getting into a power struggle with him because after 40 years of practice, I've learned. BUT just because I was writing this blog while driving 83mph on the east bound 101 (not really true, I'm on my couch, relax) and then rear-end that STUPID "Smart Car" (the irony), that cop has NO RIGHT to show up on the scene and ask what the hell just happened. I am not responsible for my own behavior and consequences. And I sure don't want him showing up when that strange man with the fake arm cast tried to pull me into his volkswagon and said he really loves nurses. I don't need their help, ever. It's not like they risk their lives to protect me every day.
*Side note: arm cast guy thing isn't real, because Ted Bundy is dead via the death penalty. Which I wholeheartedly endorse because, murderers kind of suck.

6. I'm not going to work the hours I was hired for because that is NOT MY schedule. 

Seriously, who cares if they hired me to work 12 hour shifts in the ER? I don't feel like it. After like four hours, I'm good. I KNOW that guy is in pulseless VTach in room 3 and will most likely receive a celestial transfer (ie: die) if I don't stay in there, but, I mean, I don't actually know that guy. I participated in defibrillating him for a minute, isn't that enough? Dude. Man up and get your own heart back into sinus rhythm.

7. It is NOT MY responsibility to do the work in my class, I should automatically get an A, because hey, I'm blonde. 

Isn't the syllabus, complete with the assigned items required to pass the class just a suggestion? I don't REALLY have to do all of that work, right? I'm blonde. It's sort of an unprotected category of special needs, isn't it? Oh my GOD, this is so much work, I can't possibly be expected to do this. Somebody make me a safe space to curl up in, cry and talk about my feelers. Because they're mortally wounded and I can't possibly go on. 

8. It's NOT MY responsibility to support my own kids. I think I should get lots of child support so I can have my life totally funded by somebody else. Because it was just SO HARD getting knocked up. 

I have kids. And I'm a woman. So I think that means that I don't have to work like everyone else. My kids' Dad should have to fund my life, even if I'm a total troll to him and he is already half responsible for them. I need more! I worked really, really hard to lie to him about my ovulatory patterns and get knocked up last time, so he should have to fund my vacations and my wardrobe full of faux paus. I will henceforth make him pay forever for having partaken in my subpar bedroom skills.  

9. It's NOT MY fault that I am lugging around an oxygen tank and have constant stridor when I breathe, and y'all should just fix me. 

Just because I smoked two packs a day for the last 27 years doesn't mean I should have to carry this oxygen tank with me everywhere. And that time that the nasal cannula exploded in my face because I was puffing on a Lucky Strike while wearing my oxygen WAS NOT MY FAULT! So, fix my lungs and my facial burns and reattach my scorched off eyebrows. I shouldn't have to pay the price for my health choices.

10. I have not had a president for EIGHT years, because Barack Obama is NOT MY president. 

I really don't care that people elected him. I mean, no one was listening to me when I was trying to tell them he was a bad idea! So I'm going to continue to sit over here and pout and hate every person who ever voted for him and I will NEVER EVER pray for him or his safety, and I will wish him to keel over from a heart attack while in office. I have never accepted that he won, even though it was EIGHT LONG YEARS AGO. I will hold that grudge to my dying day and that's the end of it.

The things that are NOT MY. 

Sounds legit in the face of the protests, right? 

Hey America, let's all get over ourselves and recognize that sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Sometimes we have to work really, really hard for stuff, and sometimes we're going to fail. Sometimes our team wins (Cubs!) and sometimes they don't (Bears). Some really unfair things are going to happen to us, and it's going to make us sick and drive us crazy, but it just is. 
Just go love somebody else, especially if they look, believe, love or think differently than you. It's not a suggestion, it's a mandate from the Creator of the universe.

Now, my cherubs, go forth and take responsibility for thine selves and perhaps, most importantly, 

CALM THE F*** DOWN.