Category Archives: Random Posts

My Old Wedding Dress

The Party's Over

The Party’s Over

My son’s graduation is over. It was the first big celebration that I had to share with my Ex-Husband. See The Unspoken Pain of Sharing Celebrations. I made it through. And by that I mean I stayed off the six o’clock news. In the weeks before the graduation, during the graduation and after the graduation some bad things happened, and some very good things happened. I’m too close to it right now to write about it. But in the midst of all the brouhaha, of the visiting relatives, of the planning and anxiety, the tears (some mine, some not), something quite unexpected happened . . .

I got rid of my wedding gown.

My sister was staying at our parents’ home. When she left she cleaned the old bedroom — her old bedroom. She dusted, organized, threw things out, removed bedding and vacuumed — even under the bed. To clean under the bed, she pulled out everything stored there, including an airline cardboard garment box. The box had the logo of the airline, along with my maiden name handwritten on it in black marker.

It was my wedding dress.

I couldn't find a picture of a box like the one my dress was in so here's a cardboard coffin.  Draw your own conclusions.

I couldn’t find a picture of a box like the one my dress was in so here’s a cardboard coffin. Draw your own conclusions.

Now, I’ve written before about how I have dealt with the mementos of my lengthy but ultimately failed marriage. Wedding Leftovers — What To Do With The Dress and The Wedding Album — Time to Reduce it, Perhaps by Fire. And the gist was that I sold my rings, reduced the number and manner of presentation of my wedding photos, but I kept the wedding gown in a box under a bed at my parents’ house — untouched.

And I’ve also written before about how I moved into a hoarders home and had to clean it, see That Hoarders Smell, and that I’m also trying to clean out my parents’ home, which is too full of stuff. See Goodbye Hoarders. I’m a big believer in getting rid of things. It’s my free therapy. See Craigslist Angel’s. It truly is contrary to my belief system to store something I would never use. So when my sister pulled out my wedding gown to clean under the bed, it suddenly felt kind of stupid to put it back.

I’m supposed to be cleaning out my parents’ house. I shouldn’t be keeping any of my stuff there, I thought.

Rule One of de-cluttering is to get rid of stuff that doesn’t belong to you. My parents shouldn’t be keeping a big box of white dress for me, taking up valuable real estate under the bed.

When I first married I really wanted to keep my dress. My parents, who are still married, had a big church wedding back in the day. My mother looked beautiful.

Classic Grace Kelly, though I submit that my mother was more beautiful.

Classic Grace Kelly, though I submit that my mother was more beautiful.

I like tradition, antiques, old houses, etc. and I totally would have worn my mother’s wedding gown when I got married. But my mother didn’t properly preserve it, it yellowed and she eventually just threw it away. My young self chastised her for this over the years and I swore I would always keep my wedding gown just in case future daughters unknown to me at the time might want to wear it. So after my wedding, I carefully packed away my gown, according to the instructions from a professional. And I left it at my parent’s house. I’ve moved many times over the years but the dress stayed at my parents’ house.

I did have daughters. See Fertile Myrtle. Technically this meant that there was a possibility that one of them might want to wear my dress. But the dress is woefully out of style. I got married when women were still allowed to have straps and sleeves. Still, any dress can be altered, and there is plenty of material to work with. But none of my daughters have any interest right now in vintage clothing, except for Halloween or dress up days at school. Even if they did, call me silly, call me superstitious, but it seems like bad Mojo to marry in a used wedding gown, even heavily altered, from a wedding where the marriage did not last. I’d gotten a lot of suggestions from my earlier post on possible other uses for the gown — dye it black and use it for Halloween, donate it to particular groups that collect gowns, theater groups, etc. But as I looked at the big box with my birth name on it, I was sure of two things:

(1) I need to get it out of my parents’ house; and

(2) I sure as hell didn’t want it in my house.

I also didn’t want to take the time to find a proper home for the dress. I didn’t much care whether or how it was used again. And I was also quite sure that I didn’t want to touch it. I was almost afraid of the damn thing.

 Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham, wearing her tattered wedding dress. (Source: blogs.indiewire.com)

Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham from Great Expectations, in her wedding dress. (Source: blogs.indiewire.com)

It was freaking me out.

So I put it in my car — my beloved car, where I spend way too much time. It is my refuge. See My Very Own Personal Olympic Games. But since my car is my refuge, I didn’t want to leave the gown in there either. Bad Mojo. I didn’t want it to infect the only space I have for me. Then I started to have visions that I would get into a car accident and they would find my bloodied wedding gown in the wreckage — and think I had some connection to it — that I had kept it for sentimental reasons –that I was purposely driving around with my wedding gown because I must still be in love with my Ex-husband and — and NO!

I’ll say it again. The gown was freaking me out.

I’d been doing some Spring cleaning in my own house (free therapy after an emotional time) and had a couple of things I wanted to drop by Goodwill. Goodwill, if you don’t know, is a charitable organization benefiting the disabled which is funded largely by Thrift Stores. (Yeah, I looked it up.) During my move from the marital home I spent a lot of time at Goodwill, giving away many of my possessions. I’ve shopped there, too, finding good buys, especially with furniture and wall decor. So I stopped by my house and grabbed the few other items that I planned to donate and took myself to Goodwill, making a special trip. Had it not been for the gown I would have waited until I had more stuff to drop off, but this had suddenly become quite urgent.

Still, I had some doubts. Consequently, I had a little conversation with myself on the ten minute ride:

Should I take the dress out of the wrapping?

(Why should I? I don’t want to see it.)

But what if I’d hidden money or something valuable or embarrassing in the box?

(But I didn’t. Those pesky photos of my husband and a stripper were never stored there. My boudoir photos I made for my husband during happier times have long since been destroyed.)

What if the wedding dress had yellowed or gotten otherwise ruined?

(Well, then the kind folks at Goodwill will dispose of it for me.)

Shouldn’t I let my daughters see it one time? Maybe try it on?

No. They’ll want to keep it, because they are hoarders-in-training. I can’t even let them know that it was in the car, because they’d have what I would deem as a morbid interest in it. And, it’s my dress, my memories. My kids did not exist when I got married. They have no right to keepsakes of my memories that predate them. I still have some of the wedding photos, that’s enough. If I abided by the reasoning that I must not destroy things related to my relationship with my kids’ father, then it follows that I should have kept the boudoir photos for my kids too, right? Wrong — and ick. Plus, if I saw any of my girls try the gown on, even just for fun, I think I’d have a panic attack and start screaming to the visual representation of my younger self standing in front of me — Run! Run! RUN! See Almost a Runaway Bride. No, I could not handle it. No, no. Did I say no? No.

Just, no.

Plus, when you think about it, my husband wore a rented tuxedo when he married me. He didn’t even keep his wedding attire for more than a day. Why do I have to keep this — thing — forever?

So, without any ceremony or further ado, I pulled around to the back of the Goodwill thrift store and left the box that contained my wedding gown on the concrete slab.

And that, as they say, was that.

And you know? I feel really good about it.

One less thing in my parents’ house, one less item from my marriage that I have to think about or make room for.

I have lightened my load. The dress wasn’t even my house yet it still haunted me. Just being in close proximity to the box that contained it led to irrational thoughts. It needed to go. I’m sure at one point one of my kids will ask where my gown is. I’ll simply say that I got rid of it, just like my mother had. If my girls marry, they can choose their own dresses, without resurrecting my vintage error in judgment.

As my oldest child is moving on to his next stage in life, preparing to leave the nest, it seemed like a good time clean up some of my old stuff. It was time to grow up and stop storing items I can’t even look at under a twin bed at my parents’ house.

So I’m good with it. So good.

Just Me With . . . no wedding gown, not anymore.

I can’t help but wonder how much it’ll go for in the store, it sure cost me plenty, in more ways than one.

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The Unspoken Pain of Sharing Celebrations

2013 Pasadena Rock n Roll Half Marathon

 

*This is a long metaphor or twisted analogy. It may not work, bear with me. You’ve been warned.*

Imagine you were in a horrible car wreck, broadsided by a drunk driver.   You were seriously injured.  You lost mobility, time, and a sense of hope. You gained scars, fears, and pity.

Imagine you rally, survive, and for some reason, want to punch fate in the throat by training for a marathon, something you had never considering doing before, having usually enjoyed team sports, or the arts.

Imagine you train, battling old injuries from the car wreck,  acquiring new injuries from the training,.  You run to the soundtrack of self-doubt announced from the voices in your head and repeated on loud speaker when you get home by the real people closest to you:

You don’t have to do this.  You can’t do this.  It’s too much.  Just being able to  walk is good enough.  Why run?

Imagine you also battle financially because of lost time, work, and pain and limitations from the injuries, and a lawsuit that finally settles for minimal damages, because your pain and suffering are not visible or quantifiable.  You have, reportedly, recovered from your injuries.    The drunk driver was not injured.  He was not prosecuted and retained his license to drive and does so without restrictions.

Imagine you sign up for the marathon anyway.   It’s the big kind of marathon,  similar to the  Olympics where runners start and end in a stadium full of people.  Most of the real work takes place on a journey through lonely, winding roads, though, with very few spectators.

And imagine running, without a partner, not part of a pack, and certainly without an endorsement deal.  No one really gets why you’re doing it at all.  You do get encouragement, however,  from unlikely sources – complete strangers you pass on the road.  They clap, they call out to you,

You can do it. Way to go.  Looking good!”

The kindness of strangers.

The kindness of strangers.

Imagine thinking that they are wrong, you can’t make it, that no one really expects you to make it, that it is ridiculous to even try and that your time would be better spent on more traditional endeavors for people like you.

Imagine wondering  if stopping halfway might be good enough.  Imagine knowing that no one would blame you for simply walking it, “It’s the finishing that counts, you don’t have to finish like the real runners,”  the voices say.    Imagine a cramp, then another, imagine feet on fire, imagine pain in joints that had never been there before.

Imagine continuing to run, regardless.

Imagine entering the stadium after over 26 miles and starting the last lap around the track to reach the finish line.

Imagine feeling suddenly and surprisingly overcome with emotions as the crowd cheers, because some people there know that in the recent past you couldn’t get out of bed — let alone run or race.  You also know that some of the cheers are coming from people who don’t know a thing about you, but they recognize a woman fighting not only to finish, but finish in objectively solid time regardless of any personal struggles.

Imagine the emotions taking hold so suddenly and with such intensity that it causes you to stumble as you take your last steps.   You stop dead for a moment and put your hands on your knees, trying to catch your breath and blink away sweat and tears.

Imagine seeing out of the corner of your eye,  a flash of color? Another runner trying to pass?  Is your mind playing tricks on you?  Are the cheers for the other runner?  You raise your head, wipe your eyes and try to sprint, hoping that your pumping arms will convince your legs to rise from the dead,  but you have so little left.  Still, you begin to run, the end is in sight and the crowd, pardon the overuse – is going wild.

Imagine right before you cross the finish line being wrapped in a blanket — covered by the flash of color that had come alongside of you.  The flash of color from the driver, the same drunk driver who had broadsided you and put you in the hospital.

Imagine looking up to see his fist raised in the air and his smile as you are reluctantly led across the finish line by him, being robbed of the opportunity to cross on your own — which you would have done, which you could have done, had you been permitted.  Had you not been intercepted.  Had you not been broadsided, again.

Imagine seeing your unwanted escort in running clothes, but without a bead of sweat.  He did not run 26.2 miles. He was just one of the thousands in the crowd, and, from the smell of it, he had recently eaten a hot dog.

Imagine the crowd on its feet, those who know the story —  cheering you not for finishing the race despite the odds, but for your obvious show of public forgiveness by allowing the embrace of the drunk driver who had taken so much from you and caused you so much pain.

Imagine the front page newspaper story, showing a photograph of you in visual defeat, being assisted across the finish line by the man who inflicted the injuries you fought so hard to  overcome.   Imagine looking at yourself as you’ve now been memorialized to others, as a woman lost without his assistance, a woman who could not have finished on her own.  Your mouth is open, seemingly in a cry of gratitude, but you know that is was a cry of despair that no one heard above the roar of the crowd,

No!  Let me finish.  I can do it.  He didn’t run.  He wasn’t there.  I did this.  I did this!

Imagine the newspaper headline:

They did it!  They did it!   They did it together!

Iconic photo of father helping his son over the finish line.  But I always wondered whether the runner had wanted to limp over himself, or whether the father's actions disqualified him from being recorded as a finisher.

Iconic photo  from 1992 Olympics of a father helping his injured  son finish the race. But I always wondered whether the runner had wanted to do it himself, be remembered for finishing on his own.

*                                      *                                      *

Imagine my son’s graduation from high school, with honors, and six college acceptances later, headed to a very selective college — accepted there because of his grades, test scores, challenging course load, essay, and leadership in many extra-curricular activities in both the arts and athletics.  His accomplishments, not mine.  But such accomplishments were not achieved in a vacuum, or even from a partnership,  but achieved in a home atmosphere of encouragement, physical, psychological, emotional, and visual support created by me (and my supporters), coupled with a belief  that we are just as good as everybody else.  No excuses.   I wore myself out making it possible for him to have opportunity and yes, the expectation, to achieve.

But now that it’s time to celebrate, imagine being hijacked at the finish line by the guy who, on one snowy night long, long ago said to me, his long time wife and mother of his five children, simply, “I have to go.”

Imagine sharing the podium with a runner who didn’t run — and who, previously, had broken both your legs.

It’s sickening.

It’s not uncommon for distance runners to vomit after a big race.

Just saying . . .

Just Me With . . . graduation festivities around the corner. 

Could somebody get me a bucket?

Related:  Misplaced Praise of a Father

The High Powered Law Practice: Tricks of the Trade on How to Deal with Teens

So, it wasn't "LA Law" long ago, but a 80's pop culture reference is always nice.

So, it wasn’t “LA Law” long ago, but a 80’s pop culture reference is always nice.

Many moons ago I worked at a high-powered law office.   Long hours, doing anything and everything for the client, emphasis on family or work-life balance was actively discouraged,  there were glass ceilings, glass doors, and glass elevators, along with supervising attorneys or opposing counsel who were equal opportunity assholes.   Sometimes it seemed as though people took great pleasure in making junior associates’ work life miserable, and making sure they had no other life.   The money was good, though, so I can’t really complain.  Plus, I learned a lot.

I’ve left that particular practice behind, but now I’m dealing with teens.  Demanding, self-focused, pompous, teens.    I’m outnumbered.  Most of them weigh more than I do.  Some are taller than I am.   At times they behave as if  I couldn’t possibly offer anything of value while simultaneously requesting everything I have to give them.  Recently it occurred to me that some of the tricks of the trade I learned in my high-powered white shoe law practice can be transferred to how I deal with these large, smelly, mouthy people I grew in my womb and propelled from my hoo-ha (except for the ones that were surgically removed).

Sometimes, it seems, these once cute and cuddly balls of smiles and coos are quite simply, the enemy, trying to break me down.

But Mommy, Esquire, is used to dealing with the enemy, the big boys, the man.  These children don’t scare me.  I have life and legal experience behind me.   Here are a few tricks of the trade I learned from my law practice that I use on my children.

1.   Stand up.

To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird

When dealing with a difficult opposing counsel, client, or supervising attorney, it helps to stand up, even when on the phone.   It’s a power stance and works even if your opposition is taller than you are.

How I Met Your Mother, "The Chain of Screaming"

How I Met Your Mother, “The Chain of Screaming”

Once a senior partner stormed into my office to yell at me about an expense form.   This partner had a reputation of screaming at young associates for ridiculous things in order to break them down, hoping to draw tears.   He usually got them.   I was just waiting my turn, but I have a strict policy against crying at work.  It is one of my few rules.   Do NOT cry at work . . . but I digress.   Remember “How I Met Your Mother” the  Chain of Screaming episode?   When being yelled at is just part of the job?   Well, that stuff happens.  But when my number came up I was busy.  I didn’t have time for his crap.   So when he found me in my office sitting behind my desk and started to ream me out . . .

I stood up.

Marshall stood up to his boss, on "How I Met Your Mother"

Marshall stood up to his boss, on “How I Met Your Mother”

He was not expecting this physical display of strength from a first year, female associate. He actually sputtered like a truck with an empty gas tank going up a hill.    (I admit I was slightly taller than he, but still . . . )  I listened to his rapidly dying rant,  and while still standing I calmly explained why I had submitted the perfectly valid expense form, and he left — quietly.   He never yelled at me again.

It was a beautiful thing.    A beautiful thing.

I’ve tried the standing thing with my teens as well.  It works.  My son is seven inches taller than me, which I expected to happen.  But I have a daughter who is model tall — she’s got four inches on me, and I’m not short.   Still,  when any of them come at me with ridiculousness,  I stand up.  It unnerves them.

I will not have them standing over me.  I will not.

2.   Create a Paper Trail.

The Rainmaker

The Rainmaker

No matter what was said, what was agreed upon, whose “word” was given,  or whether there was a handshake,  it doesn’t count unless it has been memorialized in writing.    Opposing lawyers can amicably agree on the smallest or the largest of issues, but they always follow it up with a letter, “Thank you for meeting with me today.  The purpose of this letter is to confirm your agreement to produce  ABC documents to be by X date.”    Is it repetitious?  Sure.  But it’s better to have it in writing if there is a sudden memory loss down the line.

Works the same with kids.   It could be something simple like telling them what you expect, but also writing on a whiteboard an instruction, like,  “Empty the Dishwasher.”   Or it could be a matter of more importance like, “Curfew is at 11pm.”

Or an issue of public policy like, “I will not bail you out of jail or raise your child.

Equally effective is to request something in writing from the kid.   Then later, when the child inevitably forgets what he or she said, you can whip out the document and gently “refresh his or her recollection” of what actually transpired.

Me:  You’re late.

Kid:  You never said . . .

Me:   Yes, yes, I did.  I told you.  Then I texted you,  and you responded.

(Slowly pull out smart phone, begin to scroll.  Pause for effect.)  

Kid:  . . .

Mom:  Shall I  print it?

3.  Some conversations should be had “behind closed doors.”

As an associate, nothing caused more fear than to be summoned into a partner’s office and told to “close the door.”    The partners knew what they were doing.  They were creating a power balance, or, more accurately,  they were reminding the associate that he or she is not in a position of power.   And the associate?   A sitting duck.

Philadelphia

Philadelphia

So, as a parent, I find it effective to summon a teen into a room, tell him or her to close the door, and invite him or her to sit down.  (And if you can pull off Denzel’s facial expression above, you’ve got it made.)  Pause, always pause before you begin to speak.  (I learned from depositions that the pauses are not reflected on the record, but they make people uncomfortable and the witness will have a tendency to fill the silence with golden nuggets of information.)  The teen might start to explain something you didn’t even ask about,  at the very least he or she will listen to what you have to say, and may be thankful that  he or she made it out alive.   Bonus, if you have more than one kid, the others will become deeply concerned that they will be next, and may be more likely to evaluate their recent behavior and/or any (written) lists of things to do.

In conclusion, end the meeting with, “Let’s keep this between us.”

Just Me With . . . lessons from a law firm. 

Double Sinks in the Master Bath – Must We Have Them? Really? Part I

Double Sinks in the Master Bath

Double Sinks in the Master Bath

Two Sinks: Now standard in new construction for Master Baths.   It’s another “must have” shown on the real estate shows.  Having previously written about the “Open Floor Plan” a commenter suggested I  discuss other popular real estate “must have” amenities.   There are  many, from walk-in closets,  stainless steel appliances, and granite counter tops.    But here I’ll address Two Sinks in the Master Bath.   People just have to have these, according to many of the House Hunters couples on HGTV.   Some of these HGTV couples are so disappointed when the master bath doesn’t have two sinks, it’s a deal-breaker.  By the way, HGTV does a good job of showing same-sex couples on their shows, but the two sink thing seems to be proffered has a heterosexual couple “must have.”  I’ll address it in kind.

From what I understand, these are the reasons why this is so popular:

1.  We can get ready together in the morning! 

2.  I don’t have to deal with his/her mess in the sink, I’ll have my very own sink!  

3.  His and her sinks in the Master Bath means “I’ve Arrived!”     

Yeah, okay.  I get it.  I really do, but I’m not sure that requiring two sinks in the master bath  is the best use of construction dollars or should be a deal-breaker.

1.  We can get ready together in the morning! 

Oh, that’s cute, but think about it.  In this world when everybody has personal devices for everything, when people don’t share cars or phones or computers or even closets, why are high-end houses still designed so that a couple can share a bathroom in the morning?   The whole point, from what I understand, is that couples can both be brushing their teeth or whatever at the same time.  Really?   In a large home, especially a home that is new construction, or one that carries a price tag that starting at over a half a million dollars, or one  where each child, nanny, and guest has his/her own bathroom, why are the husband and wife supposed to brush, rinse, spit, and floss together?  Not to mention pluck, shave, or otherwise groom.  I don’t care what you say, HGTV, but most husbands and wives are not going to openly share their nasal maintenance.    And though I’m not completely sure what men do in the bathroom, I’m reasonably sure I don’t need to see it.

Let’s face it:  regardless of the existence of two sinks, some things will be done behind the closed bathroom door while the spouse is elsewhere — anywhere — but standing at the adjacent sink.

And for those couples who are completely comfortable sharing bathroom activities with each other?  They don’t need two sinks.

2.  I don’t have to deal with his/her mess in the sink.  I’ll have my very own sink!  

Even when couples won’t use the bathroom as the same time, they want their own space.   As I’ve heard repeatedly on HGTV, this breaks down to two concerns:

a.  Women want/need space for all their skin, hair, make-up products.

Carrie's bathroom in Sex and The City

Carrie’s bathroom in Sex and The City

b.  Men leave shaving stubble in the sink, and women don’t like to see it, clean it or use a sink with said shaving stubble.

Dude shaving.  I honestly don't see a problem with seeing this in my bathroom, but I digress . . .

Dude shaving. I honestly don’t see a problem with seeing this in my bathroom, but I digress . . .

Alrighty then.   Having two sinks will create two separate areas for two different kinds of messes, right next to each other. His and her sinks?  His and her mess.

Ew.  (Doesn’t anybody clean?)

I think we can safely say that both a man and a woman have the potential for leaving a mess in the bathroom.  Given  blow drying and flat-ironing of long hair, the skin and make-up products, it seems like the women would be more likely to be the slobs in the bathroom sink area, though on HGTV they are usually the ones to complain.    The complaint about the man’s mess seems to be mostly about shaving stubble.  It appears HGTV women are very put out about seeing shaving stubble in the sink.   Does having two sinks make it better?  Not really.   I doubt that the woman who is really bothered by the sight of beard stubble will be able to enjoy her adjacent sink  within view of said beard stubble.  Again, isn’t somebody going to clean the bathroom?

Anybody?

Having two sinks will only ensure that one is always surrounded by woman’s  mess/stuff and the other will be surrounded by a man’s mess/stuff.

Still, somebody will have to see and wash up next to the other person’s mess — and now there are two sinks to clean — or not.  It’s kind of like the Hoarder who, instead of throwing stuff out, simply rents a storage unit.

But I get it.  It’s a perk.

3.  His and her sinks in the Master Bath means “I’ve Arrived!”   (I really think this is the true reason why couples crave the two sinks.)  

But . . .  

a.  Not everyone is in a couple.

Yes, you’ve arrived, but uh  —  not all adults are coupled up.  Sometimes you arrive all by yourself (pun not intended — well, maybe a little).  It’s not always a his/her, his/his or her/her situation.  Sometimes it’s Just Me . . . heh heh heh.  I remember a scene from the movie “It’s Complicated” where the main character, a divorced woman, was redoing her bathroom and wanted to get rid of the second sink. It was just a daily reminder that she had no partner, which she was okay with, but the sinks apparently were not.    My single sister has a two sink master bathroom that came with her newer construction home.  She uses one sink, and the other holds her curling iron.  Seems a waste.

Two sinks in the Master Bath are just kind of stupid for single people, and a bit insulting.  I can almost see the existence of two sinks being a deal-breaker for a single person.    And if  person becomes single after having insisted on the double sinks?   Might as well tile “Failed Relationship” on the back splash.

b.  Not everyone aspires to be in a couple.

Having a second sink when single might invite a relationship where one is not welcome.   Remember vintage Barney in “How I Met Your Mother”?   When giving Lily the tour of his Fortress of Barnitude, he explained,  “I make it crystal clear to every girl who walks in here that this is not the place to leave a toothbrush, this is not the place to leave a contact lens case, this is a place — to leave.”   I mean, the guy has a king size bed with only a full size blanket and just one pillow.   As to the bathroom, Barney added,  “What? Only one towel?  What? No hair dryer?  You know where I keep that stuff?  Your place.  Beat it.”   Clearly, the Master (or Lady) of the house does not always have or welcome a guest planning to stay long enough to warrant a second sink.   Nope.  As Barney said, sometimes a person wants his or her home to say,  “Our work here is done.”

Barney's Bedroom in

Barney’s Bedroom in “How I Met Your Mother” Season 2. Barney would never stand for two sinks. Never.

The Solution? 

I know I can be a rebel, but I think that what I think people really want is  — wait for it —— their very own bathroom!

Why stop at the sinks?   I mean, if you’re loading down a house with all the must have stuff let’s go all the way —  I’m talking his and her separate, private bathrooms!   In the old days, many of the very wealthy couples had his and her bathrooms.  Let’s extend the royal treatment to suburban McMansions.

New Construction

You hear that, new construction designers?   You wouldn’t necessarily need that much more room, depending on the design and a bit of creativity.  Some of these high end master bedrooms have a separate seating area and his or her walk-in closets.  If there is space for all that, they could design his and her bathrooms, especially in those palatial homes and possibly even in more moderate homes.   It’s funny in these houses with every amenity imaginable and  the cars get their own room and guests have their own suites, can’t the Lady and Lord of the house brush their teeth alone?     And I’d bet it would be a huge selling point.  Huge.

Sunny Von Bulow's private bath, as depicted in the film,

Sunny Von Bulow’s private bath, as depicted in the film, “Reversal of Fortune.” Mr. Von Bulow described it as her sanctuary. She’d spend hours in there, especially after being drugged with insulin . . . but I digress.

Even for singles, we can keep that second bathroom on lock down and not within view, and only a privileged few could earn a key to this “executive washroom.”  It would be a “special guest” bath.  As an added bonus, it would serve a dual function of keeping  our guests the heck out of our stuff.   “No, I’m sorry, honey, you use that bathroom.”  heh heh heh

But I get it.  For most of us regular folk there might not be space for two completely separate baths connected to the master bedroom.

I’ll offer  another, less radical, suggestion.  When remodeling or buying new construction or house shopping, consider having only one sink in the Master Bath,  make the assumption that a couple will not actually be in the bathroom together, or if they are, they are not both using the sink at the same time.   Instead, use the money saved to install a larger, easy to clean counter space, creating an area that can accommodate all the products with great lighting and plenty of mirrors.   Or, better yet,  design personalized storage for all of those products and hair appliances so they can be used and put away (or left out)  while still hot.   And that one sink?  Make it and the  counter easy to wipe clean of the shaving stubble,  you could or even install a sprayer.    (Or get a maid.)

Let’s put a second (or third) sink where it belongs —  in the hall (children’s) bath.  It always amazes me when this is missing in a space that would allow it, especially in homes that are meant to accommodate more than one child.   It’s kids that  brush their teeth together while another small child is sitting on the toilet.   Kids aren’t concerned about modesty, have less products and consequently less need for counter space.   But trust me, you want them washing those grubby hands.  Any preschool teacher or parent will tell you kids tend to wash better and brush teeth longer with a buddy.   So let the kids live dorm style.  Just teach them to clean the sinks, all of them!

Aw, let the kids wash up together!

Aw, let the kids wash up together!

Just Me With . . . no master bath at all, so I’m talking, excuse my expression,  — out of my ass.   We are a family of six sharing one bathroom.  I would love to have another sink — anywhere!

Many thanks to the commenter David Travers, who inspired this post, and to HGTV, a channel that I watch, enjoy, and criticize frequently.

Maybe I’m just jealous.

See also:

Double Sinks in the Master Bath, Part II

An Argument Against the Open Floor Plan

and How to Unclog a Toilet While Under Sedation

Liebster Award

Liebster Award

Liebster Award

Many thanks to  Annie, at Simple. I Just Do.  for nominating me for a Liebster Award!   The Liebster Award is meant to recognize and promote bloggers who don’t have a ton of followers (under 200, to be exact).   I’ve said it before, but I tend to break most blogging rules.   I didn’t mean to take so long to respond to this though, truly I didn’t.    With apologies for my tardiness, here it goes.

First , some random facts about myself:

1.  I could go the rest of my life without eating ice cream or chocolate and be okay.

2.  I have never seen Pocahontas or Finding Nemo.

3.  I have a hard time thinking of facts about myself.

4.  I once received a kiss on the cheek from a member of The Rat Pack.

Now, I’ll answer Annie’s questions:  

Questions:

1.  Mac or PC?

PC.  One day I’ll get a Mac, but no can do on the budget right now.

2.  Best book series you’ve ever read?

I haven’t read a book series since I was a kid.  I guess I’m not one for the series.  One and done.

3.  Favorite section of the art museum to visit?

          I haven’t been to one in an embarrassingly  long time.  But I like paintings more than sculptures.

4.  Most annoying thing (that bothers you)?

I honestly can’t break that down.  There are too many.  Lately, well consistently,  it pisses me off when people say “Oh, that poor boy,” when they find out that my son has four sisters.  Don’t get me started . . .

5.  Night Owl or Early Riser?

Both, which is not good.  Not good at all.

6.  What would your friends say is your best quality?

I don’t know, funny?

7.  At what temperature do you turn on the AC?

Hmmm.  It depends on who is home.  I often turn it off and open the windows.

8.  Beaches or Mountains?

Beaches, the sound of the ocean is comforting.

9.  If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Food, meh.  No answer here.

10.  Worst chore?

Cleaning the toilet, or more accurately, the floor around the toilet.

11.  Current guilty pleasure?

Honestly, sometimes I feel really guilty about, yet derive great pleasure from, blogging.  Weird.

Now I’ll nominate my own people and ask them questions!  I will massage the rules and nominate only 3, and ask only a few questions, easy ones.

And the award goes to . . .

And the award goes to . . .

I hereby nominate the following blogs for the Liebster Award:

WriterMom 

Women Without Limits

Southern Jezebelle

Please take a bow.  I invite my followers to drop by the above blogs, as I have found them enjoyable.   Click on, baby, click on.

Now, here are my questions for these freshly minted Nominees, answer as many or as few as you’d like:

1.  How do you like your eggs, if you eat them?

2.  How many TVs are in your home?

3.  Did you go to your senior prom, if there was one?

4.  Do you use more than two fingers to type?

5.  Do you have other writing projects, apart from your blog?

6.  Do you have a smart phone, if so, what kind?

7.  How do you like your coffee, if you drink it?

Here are the Liebster Award “rules” :

1.Thank the Liebster-winning Blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog.

2. Post 11 interesting facts about yourself.

3. Answer the 11 questions your nominator asked.

4. Create 11 questions for your nominees. 

5. Nominate 11 blogs of 200 followers or less which you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen.

6.  Display the Liebster Award

I’m honored to have received the award (again — yay!).  Soon, I hope, I will be technically ineligible for this award, as I’m almost at 200 followers!   Thanks to my readers and followers for finding and sticking with me!    And thanks again, Annie at  Simple. I Just Do.  for nominating me!

Just Me With . . . a Liebster Award. 

Going Away to School — and Staying There!

the common app

My oldest is going through the college application process.  It’s stressful.   I’m not sure whether he’ll get his first choice, I’m not sure how it will all work out with financial aid/scholarships, etc., but that is my stress.  I want him to concentrate only on getting in somewhere, somehow we’ll figure out the rest.   He and I agree on one thing.  The goal is for him to go to a residential college and live on campus, preferably hours or even a plane ride away.   I know there are many different ways to get a college education, from living on campus to strictly online.  And I know it’s a personal and family and financial decision.   But I want my son, and then later my daughters, to go away.  It’s largely because of the divorce.

For years the children have had to navigate a visitation schedule on top of all of their many activities.   I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  The cute little visitation schedule that divorced families create when the kids are little turns to a burden when those same kids hit middle school and beyond, especially if the kids are involved in sports or other school activities.  You can divide time all you want, put at some point there are many other demands on those same hours.  You think you can’t split the baby?   Try splitting a teen.  When kids get older, parents are no longer in control of their time, other people and institutions set your kids’ schedule, and let me tell you, they don’t care about the custody order.  But for us, when something pops up on the calendar, our first thought for years has been, “Wait, is that a Daddy day?”   The schedule has given the children an added stress that’s frankly getting really old.

Also, though I was able to keep the kids in the same schools, we had to move to a neighborhood that carries a bit of a stigma (understatement).   It’s safe;  it’s just not very nice.   The kids had no choice in this.  I barely had a choice, except  as a compromise to keep them in the same school.   It was an obvious compromise, just like so many things in our daily lives, occasioned by the divorce.  My Ex-Husband has remarried, and I’m assuming happily remarried, but for the kids that carries with it an obligation to meet and mingle with an entirely new extended family.   It’s not that there is anything wrong with the new people, it’s just yet another community that the kids are unfamiliar with, did not choose to join, and to which they have no connection.  It’s an addition to already divided time.

Wait, where are we going now?”  is something my kids have to deal with a lot.

Animal House

So yes, fly, fly away, little bird.  Go and study and stay in one place.

I support my son trying to get into a school where he would have to live on campus, one that is not close to home, where he will not have the ability or expectation to come home on weekends.  I want him, for the first time in his life since childhood, to live and STAY in a community of his choosing and not commute between two or more worlds.   I want him to make friends and have the ability to hang out with them whenever he wants, without regard to his parents’ schedules.

Right now, my kids are  living in a very artificial world.   Usually, for two parent families or single parent families when the other parent is not in the picture,  a teen is not required to spend Saturday night with his or her parents and siblings.   Normally, a kid is not required to travel to another house for a three-hour dinner on a school night unless they have a valid, acceptable excuse not to go.   In our house there are days that my kids leave the house at 7:00 am and do not return until after 8:30 pm on a school night and then start their homework.   Don’t get me wrong,  family time is great. Having dinner together is important, but as kids get older on which days that happens and how much time it takes should naturally change, without getting lawyers involved.  The way it is now?  Not natural.

And as my son ages out of the required visitation schedule, I do not want him to be anywhere nearby where he’ll either feel pressure to continue to honor the visitations or guilt when he doesn’t.   Imagine if he was living at home while his younger siblings still went on the visits.  His not going would be a statement.  His choosing to go would be a statement.   I don’t want him to have to make statements anymore.  I just want him to study and grow as an adult and connect with family because he wants to, not because he’s required to, or is afraid of the fallout if he doesn’t.   I want him to be able to make plans for consecutive weekends.  (Gasp!)  And I don’t want him to need a ride or a car or permission or explanation.   I want him to manage his own schedule without regard to the custody order entered into when he was elementary school.  And I don’t want him to have to adapt to new people, extended families,  and sketchy neighborhoods that were the choices of his parents– not him.    It’ll be the first time he’ll be on an even playing field with fellow students of similar abilities.  He’ll actually live where he fits in and won’t have to commute elsewhere to put time in different communities.   I  want him free from being defined by his neighborhood, his parents’ marital status, or an old court visitation order.

I want him to be somewhere where no one is expected (or required) to spend time with either parent.

My son is troubled.  He’s a complicated, quiet young man.  He’s anxious to go away.   He understands the difficulties of the home situation more than he talks about and he plays the game.  He picks and chooses when to approach his dad about a change in the schedule, knowing that asking too often will make his dad angry and might draw a “no” when he really needs a “yes.”     My ex-husband is sometimes less open to the kids choosing to spend time elsewhere unless it is a sanctioned school activity.  He takes it personally.   In response to the boy’s request to go to an end of the season sports party (they’d won states — yay!) on a “Dad Day” my ex-husband texted me, and said,

 “He’s going to have to miss things to spend time with me.  The kids need to know that.”  

Well, no more.    I want the boy to  live in a community of his choosing, day and night, a community  that reflects his interests, his abilities and his personality.   And one that values his time.     Of course I’ll miss him and  I’ll look forward to him coming home on holidays and some breaks, but I think it would be a breath of fresh air if, for the first time, when Mom or Dad want to see him, we will have to carry our behinds to him, on his schedule, that is,  if he’s available.

Just Me With . . . a little birdie planning to leave the nest —   or should I say “nests.”

 All of this reminds me of when I went away to college many moons ago, and  my ex-husband, then boyfriend, still scheduled my time with him.   See, The Night I Became Cinderella.

Goodbye Hoarders

A&E's Hoarders

A&E’s Hoarders

It was with a heavy heart that I heard confirmation that the A&E reality show “Hoarders” would not be filming new shows.   Hoarders has been cancelled.

Having purchased a partially hoarded house I found some comfort in Hoarders, which profiled one or two homes an episode and “cleaned house” with the help of Psychologists, professional cleaning crews and the hoarder him or herself.

I know that some folks complained that the home owners were being exploited and objectified for entertainment, since audiences seemed simultaneously to enjoy and be disgusted by seeing the filth and mountains of mess (and sometimes poop).  It seemed to me that the hoarders were getting help that they would not have otherwise received and  were the better for it. The crew never laughed at or belittled the hoarders, instead they just tried to convince the hoarders that something had to change.  Getting rid of the hoard was always a safety and mental health issue, and usually a financial necessity.   Yes, it was a television show, but it wasn’t just about entertainment.

As for me, I found some brethren. I was not aware of the show while I was cleaning the worst of the worst out of my new house, a friend told me about it and said I should watch.   When I did, I found that  the shows  gave me comfort.

Comfort you ask?  Among the piles of wet papers and rotten food?

Yes, comfort.  Because until I saw Hoarders I didn’t know that I was not alone in stumbling upon a collection of bottles of urine.   Hoarders showed me that  people other than the former inhabitants of my house have found themselves at a point in life where the kitchen is as likely a place to dispose of  human waste as the bathroom.  In Hoarders I saw how, like with my house,  a home’s smell can make visitors gag while the inhabitants remain completely unaware of the stench.   And at the end of each episode of Hoarders, I was amazed at how the hoarded houses looked after they were cleaned out, and it reminded me of how far my house had come.

So yes, comfort.

Now, as I help my parents clear out some of the decades of accumulated clutter in their house, I find myself using the techniques I viewed on Hoarders.     I’ve learned to understand how so many things can simply be piled up —  unused or incorrectly stored.    My parents are not clinical Hoarders, and their house is still functional and the front rooms pristine.   However, the private areas and attic and basement are full, and unsafe.   My parents are like a lot of true hoarders in that  they are old and  grew up with next to nothing.  Though my parents went to college, married, had children and bought a home, they were never wealthy.     And they never moved.   As a result, decades of stuff has never been relocated or inventoried.

My parents, and their parents before them, lived through some of the most economically and socially challenging times in United States history — the Wars, the Depression, the time both before and after the civil rights movement.    I think they grew up with an underlying worry that they could lose what they have at any given moment, or that someone would  try to steal it from them.  So, like some of the clients on Hoarders, they ascribe value to things that no one would buy, and by piling up mountains of stuff, they endanger the most valuable possession they have —  their house.

The show Hoarders helped me to know that even the most unlikely item has a story, that sometimes the story  needs to be told before the item can be discarded, and that when the smallest treasure is exhumed from its grave of stuff, it triggers a memory — of a different time, a different place,  a different person.

As I help my parents clean out I have specifically utilized a few Hoarders tricks:

1. Lay out a tarp to place items on, they look different in the light of day.

2. When cleaning out a closet, dresser, or any area, I don’t stand there  and pull out items one at a time.  Instead, I  take everything out at once and set it all out,  assuring my parents that we’ll return the items they choose to keep, but we need to get everything out first.

I’ve learned it’s easier for most people to  justify keeping an unused item in a closet– it’s not hurting anybody — but it’s a lot harder to justify putting useless things back in once they’re out.

3. Try to do as much in one day or sitting as possible.  It’s never a good idea to allow extra time to think about items.

This was the genius of Hoarders.   It wasn’t  just for filming that the task had to be accomplished in two days.    It’s better for the hoarder to have to make quick decisions.

4. Remove discarded items immediately.

Even when possessions are marked for trash, there can be a “declutter remorse” if there is a bag or piece of furniture or appliances or tools left in view.  It’s just too tempting for someone with hoarding tendencies to revisit the trash, go through it and bring stuff back in,  promising to fix it, or find a use for it, or sell it — later.  I’ve been known to load my parents’ trash in my car and take it home to put out in my own trash, just to avoid the temptation to “trash pick.”

A&E’s Hoarders may be cancelled, but it has and will continue to help me.  Now, as I watch my Dad go through piles of once expensive clothing piece by piece, stuff  that’s over forty years old, suits that he has never worn and he probably  inherited, clothes that have mice dirt on them and moth holes in them, I think,

What would Matt Paxton do?” and I feel better.

And as I clear an area, making it easier for my parents to get around and find the things they  actually need, I know that no matter how hard the fight was,  the process is important, especially when it helps them locate and display —  or even sell —  the things that do have real value.    Plus, I feel better making the home safer.  But it ain’t easy.  No, it’s not.

Matt Paxton from Hoarders

Matt Paxton from Hoarders

So thanks Matt and the whole Hoarders crew. You helped. You really did.

Just Me With . . . among many other things, a collection of vintage Ebony and Look magazines, a couple of flat mice (but not cats!), a tractor, bowling shoes, and more patience than I thought I could ever conjure up.

Related Posts:

Piss, Puke, and Porn — The discoveries I made inside my new old house.

That Hoarders Smell — How to get rid of that awful smell.

Toilet or Kitchen Sink —- Who Can Tell?  —  I saw some nasty stuff in the old kitchen.

Exhumation by Accident — I dug up something in my yard.

Craigslist Angels — One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure  — Giving Away Christmas Decorations Can Be A Very Good Thing.

You Don’t Have To Bring A Date, Come Alone! Come Alone! COME ALONE!

A Dinner Party Invitation

A Dinner Party Invitation

I’ve been invited to a dinner party. A fancy sit down dinner party with a cocktail hour preceding it.  It’s a happy occasion, celebrating the wife’s successful battle against cancer. I still remember her tearful message on my voice-mail, canceling her son’s lesson because she had found out she had cancer, “I  just want to see my boys grow up,” she’d said.

But after multiple surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy treatments,  she’s been cancer-free for ten years, hence the party. I’m not usually invited anywhere, let alone a society-like dinner party. And even though I often avoid social settings, I decided that  I would go.

The pink  invitation was addressed to me,  “and Guest.

Huh.

I immediately started to think of who I might bring, though no good choices came to mind. It was a bit of a stressor, still, I fantasized about what it would be like to bring a smart, well-spoken man who knows his way around a dining room table.  My old college friend (with seldom used benefits)?  No, too complicated.   As I was pondering my situation, I eventually checked my voice-mail.  Cheryl had called to make sure I’d gotten the invitation.  She was afraid I’d gone away on vacation and would miss it.   She added that  she didn’t know whether I was seeing someone or had someone I take to events like this but she wanted me to know that she’d be happy to see me come alone.   She said I should feel totally comfortable coming alone and that would be just  great.  They’d just be thrilled to see me, and I could come alone.

That was nice.

She wanted to make me feel comfortable about COMING ALOOOOONE.

Remember Steve Martin in the classic "The Lonely Guy" ?

Remember Steve Martin in the classic “The Lonely Guy” ?

I delayed in responding.  I’d recently attended her son’s graduation party alone and though it was nice, I was a bit uncomfortable and felt very conspicuous.   See I Almost Crossed One Off of My Bucket List of Men to Do.

As I continued pondering, a possible potential date came to mind — a man I’d met through group therapy. He’d recently quit group so it was completely appropriate (if freaking weird) to see him outside of the therapeutic context.   I was going over in my mind how I’d introduce him.   “We used to work together,” sounded plausible.   (Yes, we worked out our tortured psyches, but no one need know that part.)   It would be weird, maybe too weird,  since he knows much more about me than a casual friendly date would need to know.   But he’s a smart guy who, I have no doubt, would be able to talk to the people at this dinner.   I tweeted a random query about it to my friends who live in my phone about whether that would just be too weird.  I received a response that  I should just go alone because being single is awesome.

There it was again, “Go alone.

Suddenly I felt that it was some sign of weakness that I even considered bringing a companion.

In the end,  I left a message for Cheryl saying that yes, I would love to attend, but that, “As it looks now, I’ll be coming alone.”   I guess I just wanted to leave the door open, even just in my mind.

Shortly after, I happened to be outside when Cheryl drove by my house (in her very nice Jaguar convertible).  She stopped and exclaimed how thrilled she and her husband were that I would be coming.  Then she elaborated.  She said she thinks it’s  just great for me to come alone, that she was single for a long time and she became so tired of bringing someone she’d have to entertain.   She started going places alone, she explained.  “I can’t tell you how many weddings I went to alone.  I’m just like you.  It’s better not to bring just anybody.  If it was somebody special, sure, but there’s no need to have to entertain somebody else.  Plus, there will be plenty of people you know. Some of the folks from the graduation and The Martin’s and . . .”  She proceeded to name  couples.

The one couple I did, in fact, know, but  I’ve ever had any meaningful conversations with them.  At the graduation party they extended a warm hello and then walked around the pool hand in hand.  I can’t fault them for that, I  mean, it’s not their job to entertain me.

Then Cheryl said —  again,  “I’m just thrilled you’re coming and I think it’s great that you’re coming alone.

Crap.

I know she meant well.  I do not fault her at all.   But it had an effect on me.  I abandoned any thought of bringing an escort.

But why wasn’t I encouraged to bring a date?   This is a dinner party!   It’s not a wedding, Baptism or Bar/Bat-Mitvah.  For family religious ceremonies it doesn’t really make sense to bring a rent-a-date. Those occasions are sacred and there will be pictures that the family will look at forever — and I don’t want them looking at a picture of my random date and think — “Who the hell was that?”

But a dinner party?    Why not bring a companion, even if he’s not someone special?

I know why.  It’s the new black.  It’s the new black for women to go alone.

Well,  it’s not so new for me.   I’ve done it for years, both before and after my divorce.  See, ” The Night I Became Cinderella” and “The New Walk of Shame for the Single Woman, Going Out Alone.”  My ex-husband hated going anywhere. I could get him to go to my work formal once a year and that was about it for those kind of events.    Other times I went solo and told people my husband had to work.  After we had children, I would just say my husband was home with the kids.    So for me,  I’ve done the new black.  For me,  it would be the new free to go somewhere with a man.

I’m sure it’ll be fine.  I’ll talk to people.  I’ll be my own designated driver and won’t drink.  See,  “My Kids Think I’m an Alcoholic.”   I’ll be prepared to be seated with all couples.   But truthfully, sometimes that’s just not festive.   See, “I Went To A Wedding Alone.”  Yes, as Cheryl pointed out, I would have had  to entertain a date, but he’d also have to entertain me.   If the couples are uncomfortable or just not gregarious I’d know I’d have someone to sit with.   Let’s face it, this isn’t a get together with old college chums or a girls night out.   It’s a sit down dinner party in the wealthy suburbs, and all that that implies.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but being single  means I can have a date if I want, right?  Isn’t that the bonus of being single?  Choices?  Options? — Even if the options put me outside of my comfort zone?  But according to Cheryl, my only logical and fiercely independent option seems to be to go, bravely, alone, yet again.

Damn it.   I’ve been out of the game for so long now I’m not even allowed to have a partner — for anything!

Humph.

In the end, even  though the invitation originally said I could bring a date, the multiple congratulatory comments persuaded me to RSVP for one.   ( I chickened out.)

I needed Cheryl to say, or for me to say to myself,  “You can go alone, but it’s fine if you want to bring a date, or companion, or whoever.”    Oh the sweet freedom — to bring  a male friend, or gay male friend, or hell,  a paid male friend (not that I could afford that — heh heh heh).

But because of the new black, it has been made abundantly clear to me (in my warped mind) that I should  go alone.  So I will.

Humph.

Screw the new black.   Next time I want someone to walk in and out with,  and know who I’ll be sitting with ahead of time.  Yeah, yeah, I can go alone, but I don’t have to, damn it.

Oh well. Maybe I’ll get lucky.  Or maybe Cheryl is planning to fix me up with one of the older men of means who is similarly unattached.

Just Me With . . . no date, boldly going where no man has gone before . . .  or with . . .  at least, not as my date, anyway. 

Star Trek

Star Trek

My Kids Think I’m An Alcoholic

Drunk Bree on Desperate Housewives

Drunk Bree on Desperate Housewives

Yes, my children think that I’m an alcoholic.  It came up one night when my girls were in my bedroom.  I try to keep my bedroom nice, as a retreat for me.  I didn’t realize that it would attract my female offspring.  They keep their rooms like hoarders-in-training but come to my room to relax.  It’s just not fair . . . but I digress . . .

One night when they were lounging in my room one daughter told me she thinks I’m  an alcoholic.

“What?  Why?”  I asked, completely shocked.

“Well, a recovering alcoholic,” she clarified, and further explained,  “I’ve never seen you drink.'”  She pointed out that she’d seen my sisters and my best friend drink but, “You never do, Mommy.”

“Even Daddy drinks,” she added.   I must have made a face of some sort because she quickly said, “But not too much.”

She went on, “But Mommy you never drink so I figured  — you can’t.   And you never have alcohol in the house.  What grown up never has alcohol in the house?”

Well damn.   The kid has it all figured out.  Her sisters chimed in and agreed.  “Oh yeah, I thought that, too,” said one.  “Me too,” said another.  The one I call “The Quirky One” just smiled.

But I’m not an alcoholic!” I protested.

Recovering alcoholic, mom,”  she corrected me.

Crap.

Sooo.  My kids think I’m an alcoholic because I don’t drink.  Yup,  It’s very difficult to prove that you are not a recovering alcoholic if someone thinks you are.

Am I going to have to throw a few back at the dinner table just to show my kids I’m not a drunk? Bring a six-pack to the High School Football game maybe?  Down a Bloody Mary at breakfast?

Damn kids don’t know my life.

The truth is, except for the college years I’ve never been much of a drinker.   My ex-husband was absolutely and totally against drinking, see My High School Self and The Night I Became Cinderella.   I didn’t make my own decisions about it,  Instead, I followed his lead since he had very strong opinions that theoretically made sense.  He had come from a family that had been plagued by substance abuse.  Most of his siblings have had issues, serious issues.  Even his mother, her first  and second husbands, and his estranged father reportedly had bouts with addiction.    He’d seen some bad things caused by alcohol or drugs and feared the propensity for addiction might be hereditary.  I’d seen the effects on his family and vowed never to expose my own children to that lifestyle.   So he and I were going to be different.   I didn’t drink, except at college where I drank behind his back with my college friends whom he never really liked.    After we were married we only kept alcohol in the house for holidays.  Bottles of hard alcohol collected dust on top of the cabinets until they were wiped clean and set out at Christmas.   We were definitely  not a “wine with dinner” family.  My husband and I  shared a few drinks over the years, but by and large I completely missed the  typical partying or bar hopping of  youth and the happy hours of the young professionals.  Then came the pregnancy and breastfeeding years where I had to abstain anyway  —  so it’s been years since I’ve been any kind of drinker.

No matter,  after double-digit years of marriage and five children my husband left me.   I  could do whatever I damn well pleased.

Unfortunately, at the time that meant taking anti-depressants.

Fact: You’re not supposed to drink when taking anti-depressants.   So, I didn’t.   I follow directions, you see.  I’m  obedient like that.  No drinks for me while I was on the meds.

No matter, after a very difficult “discontinuation period”  (aka “withdrawal”),  I’m off the anti-depressants. Technically, or should I say, medically,  I can drink now.  Hooray, hooray!

But I still don’t drink.

First, I’m a complete lightweight.    After not drinking for years, I can’t hold my liquor.   Half a drink and I’m  tipsy, and not in a good way.

Second, since I roll solo most of the time, I’m always my own designated driver so . . . can’t drink.

Third,  now is not the time to start having alcohol at home, not with a house full of teenagers.

And fourth,  I’m the custodial parent of five children.  I’ve got responsibilities, I can’t sit at the local bar with friends every night.  That ship has sailed.   I missed it.  Damn it.

The gang hanging out at Mclaren's on "How I Met Your Mother"

The gang hanging out at Mclaren’s on “How I Met Your Mother”

So yeah, I’m free to do what I want now — except that I’m not, not exactly, not really.   Story of my life . . .  but I digress . . .

But this is what kills me — my formerly anti-social, teetotaler, judgmental ex-husband is now the life of the party.    After years of telling me that  drinking was wrong, that he was afraid of addiction, that he didn’t think kids should be exposed to alcohol — now  he drinks and to our kids, he’s the normal one  . . .   but me? Me?

Hello, I’m Mommy and I’m  an alcoholic.

Just Me With . . . a drink in my hand.   It’s coffee. 

It begs the question:  If my girls think that because they’ve never seen me drink I must be an alcoholic, what do they think about the fact that they’ve never seen me date?   I mean, their Dad has found love and remarried.  I, on the other hand, have not.  I abstain, or so it may seem.  The girls probably think I don’t occasionally enjoy the company of a man (or keep one in the house)  because I’m either:  (1) still heartbroken about their Dad,  or (2)  have herpes.

Humph.  Offensive, either way.

Related:  Getting Off The Meds

My Cheating Husband Was Packing Viagra

The Viagra Bathtubs on the Beach

The Viagra Bathtubs on the Beach

Although my husband and I were regularly engaging in “the physical act of love” (channeling Ross from Friends), whenever he wanted, and I mean, I really mean — whenever he wanted, see Sex On Demand,  let’s  just say that such activities did not require a huge time commitment.

I had suggested that my husband talk to his doctor about it, but he declined.  No, he would not.  No.

Fast forward to after my husband “broke up with me”  and moved out, taking surprisingly few possessions, saying he’d come back for the rest.   As I discussed in  When I Needed A Helping Hand,  I didn’t want him to keep coming back to get his stuff so I decided I’d pack it up for him–not to help him, but to help me.  Like mothers often say to children — “in or out,”  he had chosen “out,” despite my begging, and I mean, I really mean — begging him to reconsider.  So, I thought I’d help the process along if for no other reason than to keep him from prolonging it.

One night, after the kids were in bed, behind my closed bedroom door, my sister, a friend, and I packed up his shit.   At one point I pulled out one of his suitcases he’d used for his last trip, an island vacation which I’d recently discovered he’d taken with a lady friend.  See My Worst Super Bowl, Remembered.   I intended to use the suitcase to pack some of his things.

The suitcase, I noticed,  still sported the airport  tags.

Lovely.

It also contained some papers,  which I read.

The papers turned out to be  receipts for my husband’s prescription for Viagra,  well actually Levitra, a “sister” (or should I say bro)  erectile dysfunction drug .  The prescription had been filled  in the week prior to my husband’s  romantic island vacation with his sweetie.

What the  . . . hell? 

I read it, showed it to my sister and friend.   They both said, if I recall correctly, “Ew.

There it was, in my hand, evidence that my husband had pursued the best that  modern western medicine had to offer in order to  enhance  his sexual relationship with another woman, the woman he was not leaving me for, or so he said,  though they had secured an apartment together and that’s where all his things were no doubt going.

Lucky girl . . .   she got his stuff, and his stuff on steroids . . .

Looking back, I  remembered I’d previously discovered (and suppressed) facts in support of this information — facts that suddenly made sense.

His doctor had called the house to confirm an appointment.

I had wondered:  Why?  Why? When we were going through this god-awful thing, was my husband making doctor’s appointments?   I was the one who was sick, wasn’t eating or wasn’t sleeping and was constantly crying — why was he going to the doctor?

The pharmacy had called to tell him his prescription was ready.

I had wondered:  What is he taking?  He’s not sick!  He’s a mean son-of-a-bitch, certainly —  but he’s not sick!

Later, after his stuff was packed and gone, at some point in my post-separation cleaning frenzy –I’m the polar opposite of a hoarder, when I’m upset I throw everything out — I’d  found a letter from the insurance company, dated right after the romantic trip time, stating that yes, based on his doctor’s recommendation, the  unnamed medication in question would indeed be covered by insurance.

I had wondered: What?   Had he paid the full price for the Viagra in order to get it before the trip because insurance hadn’t kicked in yet?   

According to the dates and bank receipts which showed a $200 plus expenditure at the pharmacy on the eve of the island trip, yes, yes, he had.

Ouch.  But it all made sense now.

I wanted to scream, “Did he tell his doctor that he needed this medication for use with his girlfriend and NOT his wife?  DID THE DOCTOR KNOW THAT LITTLE FACT?????” 

Not that it mattered.

I tried not to think of his chemically enhanced love-making to this woman.  She brought him newness and adoration, he brought  . . .  drugs.

Inserting this again because my husband and his sweetie literally had  Viagra on the Beach.

Inserting this again because my husband and his sweetie literally had Viagra on the Beach.

I packed his crap a little faster after this  discovery, as I recall.   Just a little bit faster.

And I think I washed my hands.

Just Me With . . . a medical discovery.   

After everything was packed I called a friend  When I Needed A Helping Hand.