Archives for December 2010

Hello, My Name is Katherine and…

It’s just beginning to dawn on me. People are beginning to talk about how much I drink my favorite beverage, but I can’t help myself. I know it isn’t appropriate to demand that sip of liquid comfort before I’ve even eaten breakfast, yet it calls to me from the refrigerator. I’m continuously drawn to the shiny double doors where I am met with a warped vision of myself in the gleaming stainless steel. Oh, God…is this how I look to everyone? Is this what my addiction is turning me into? In a trance, my eyes flit over my skewed reflection as I begin to cry. I don’t care how inappropriate I’m being because it seems that no one will listen. No one understands my frustration. No one knows how deeply that bottle calls to me or how unable I am to shake the cloying hold of its contents.

I watch as is pours into my cup and my mouth waters with anticipation. I can already feel it on my tongue and long for the cool, sweet taste that will wash through my mouth when I take that first soothing sip. It will make me sleepy, I know that much. I won’t eat dinner because I’ve drank too much…Again. Sometimes, I find a forgotten stash in the living room or under the bed and I can’t help myself, even though I know it won’t taste good. It will be old and sour, but my hand raises the drink to my mouth anyway. I do it knowing that eventually, someone will find me with that sour drink in hand and make a disgusted face. They don’t even try to hide their disgust anymore. They have at times, ripped the bottle from my hand and thrown it in the sink while turning a deaf ear to my pleading cries. While I’m under it’s spell, the bottle makes me do stupid things like draw on my face with markers or bite the dog. My speech is all garbled up and they have no idea what I’m trying to say which frustrates me beyond belief and sends me running for another drink of liquid sustenance.

Today, something clicked and I think I’m finally beginning to realize that the world doesn’t revolve around me. With the help and support of my loving family, I have resolved to toss this monkey off my back in 2011. Yes, that’s right…I’m turning over a new leaf…taking the bull by the horns. Today, I’m bidding a fond adieu to that milky crutch. My new mantra? I love sippy cups…I love sippy cups…I love sippy cups.

p.s. – Seeking a sponsor, preferably female and under the age of three who has also experienced a crippling addiction to dairy products of any kind. Also, you must love squishy baby dolls, puppy dogs and have a high tolerance for screaming tantrums.

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Fat Pants and Pasta

I’ve done it. I pulled my fat pants out of the closet. Over the next week, maybe two, I’ll don my fat pants everyday and admonish myself for eating all of those sweets and decadent foods that never used to amount to extra pounds. Was it the antipasto platter on Christmas Eve? Perhaps it was our Christmas day roast beef and piles of butter-laden sweet potato casserole, which by the way, was far too delish to pass up. I made chocolate bark and ate at least 20 pieces. I baked chocolate cheesecake brownies and helped myself to approximately 10 of them as they cooled. Those brownies are killer with their light and fluffy mascarpone cheese topping. I make them just once each year and they are gone so quickly that you have to act fast or risk missing out for another 364 days. Here is a picture that some nice lady took of her delicious looking chocolate cheesecake brownies. Clearly, she is able to exercise much more self-control in their presence than I am, after all she kept some around long enough to capture them on film. Mine were far too elusive this year and are now but a sweet memory.

Last night I made an enormous pile of homemade pasta with flour, semolina and eggs. Not exactly the entree one would normally turn to in order to maintain her svelte figure, but so magically delicious. Homemade pasta is a family affair, full of love and sweet memories. I spent many hours along-side my Uncle Joe learning how to make pasta. He showed me how to build a volcano-sized pile of flour and tutored me on the correct number of eggs one used to feed a crowd. (There was always a crowd for his pasta.) He would carefully mix the dough, deftly mixing and kneading it to the proper consistency. We’d roll it through the pasta machine, over and over again. He’d allow me to turn the handle as that ball of dough was worked into one long, smooth shape ready to run through the machine just once more and sliced into mounds of pale yellow noodles. All the while, his hands worked the dough, adding flour when needed and hanging the pasta on drying racks throughout the kitchen. I’d catch the stray noodles and eat them raw, making him laugh that infectious, happy laugh. His eyes would sparkle as he gazed at me with love.

I can see his hands now when I close my eyes. Each age spot and scar and that thumb that he broke playing baseball before he went off to fight in World War II. His hands were the hands of a life-long stone mason. His hands were the most gentle hands in the world. I loved sitting on top of his big, round belly as he watched television and taught me how to say “bicycle” in Italian. I loved inspecting his hands, turning them over and over and inquiring about each cut, scrape or scar. He would jokingly declare, “You did it!” when I wondered over his injuries, old and new. His hands taught me to cast a lure and catch a nice bass. His hands taught me how to play slap-jack, swing a golf club and eat butterscotch sundaes from Carvel. His hands lovingly prepared hundreds of delicious meals.

Uncle Joe isn’t here to make pasta with me anymore and each year, I miss him so. Yet, I’ve kept his tradition alive and I often make homemade pasta with the children. Last night, Cookie and I cranked out a heap of pasta. I kneaded each piece of dough and fed it through the pasta machine as Cookie turned the handle. We made enough noodles for an army. She caught the stray noodles and stuffed them into her little mouth while her beautiful eyes sparkled with delight and we laughed together. I wished that Uncle Joe was there to see her. I don’t think he’d mind seeing me in my fat pants either.

I Am Six. Hear Me Roar!

Nothing sums up life in the Faherty household quite as well as the following…My friends, feast your eyes upon Joe’s first grade school picture.

His sixth year will go down in history as the year that picture retake day coincided with “pajama day”. I will forever hold the memory of adamantly instructing him over and over and over again that he was under NO CIRCUMSTANCES to remove his blue chambray button down shirt from Crewcuts until AFTER the picture was taken. This will be remembered as the year that my mommy instincts told me that shirt was coming off the minute the classroom door snapped closed behind me. Spiderman always wins, doesn’t he?

Our usual familial chaos caused us to miss the first photo day. The picture you are looking at was our one and only shot at recording him in his 6-year-old glory. Yet, something about it screams, Look! You’ve captured my essence! Is it the crazed look in his eyes, paired with the fake smile aimed at showcasing his newly missing tooth? No, I think not. The entire photo showcases Joe and his fantastic sense of self. His smile is confident. He feels cool. He’s making eye (camera) contact…a rare thing for Joe. He clearly felt good when the photographer snapped this bound-to-become Faherty folklore shot. He hasn’t been tainted by self-doubt and remains blissfully clueless to the humor. He simply feels invincible in this photograph. I can see it written all over his face.

He exited the bus on picture day happy as a clam. You see, I had let go of my need to control the minutiae of life and let Joe pick the background of his 1st grade picture. Laser beams aren’t generally my style. At all. Laser beams paired with cheesy Spiderman pajamas is my worst nightmare. “Don’t worry, Mom” he said, “The picture people thought it was really cool!” I bet they did, Joe. I bet they did.

You know what, buddy? I think it’s really cool too. There will be no better record of your 6th year of life. I love you and your Spiderman jammies. Don’t grow up too soon, my little boy.



Gotta Laugh

I’m not entirely sure what’s going on, but I’m laughing. At this particular moment I’m having a fantastic chuckle. Either I’ve entirely lost my mind or the monster is back in it’s cage. Whatever the case, I’m laughing and I’m not about to begin questioning the origins of my good cheer. Let me recount the past 15 hours and bring you to my happy place…

Tuesday, December 21, 2010. 5:20 p.m.

Stella, the fantastic Jack Russell Terrier who I love so, decided that a light dusting of snow is simply terrifying. So much so, that she laid frozen and cowering in the dark backyard, inches from the open door and the box of treats I was shaking as I called her name. Granted, by the third attempt to get her to walk, my calls probably sounded sickeningly sweet and somewhat like a crazed serial killer trying to flush out her prey.

With dinner in the oven and the kids coloring at the kitchen table, I assessed the length of snowy ground I’d need to cover in my socks and went for it. Scooping Stella off the lawn, I ran back to the patio and WHAM! The ball of my foot connected with a rock at the edge of the patio. A large, unmoving and pointy rock. Stella and I fell to the ground. I realized that my hand landed on Stella’s left foot and we both entered the kitchen limping and whining. She recovered quickly while I sat fighting tears with a pack of frozen peas on my foot trying to judge the extent of my injury. David came home and knelt down to have a look. He lovingly picked up my swollen left foot and marveled at my swelling toes before poking his finger directly into the sweet spot where the rock left its imprint. I saw stars and he said, “I think it’s just a really bad bruise.” Dr. Dave poured me a glass of wine and sent me upstairs to the master bedroom. He kindly put the children to bed and fetched me two more glasses of Pinot Grigio as the night wore on and my pain increased. I managed to knock back 2 and 1/2 glasses before the throbbing was sufficiently dulled and my eyelids grew heavy.

Somewhere right around 10:00 p.m., my body was signing off for the night. I was sliding into a blissful, albeit somewhat buzzed slumber when the bedroom door swung open. Like a monster, Dave was just a silhouetted, hulking form in the doorway with the hallway light shining behind him. Through my sleepy and somewhat buzzed fog, I saw that he was holding something out in front of him that was squeaking and strongly smelled of barf. I sat up and turned the lamp at my bedside on, illuminating the room. His arms jutted out stiffly holding Kate away from his body. Her feet dangled limply and she gave a little whimper. My eyes focused in on the remnants of dinner clinging to the front of her footie pajamas. She squeaked a pathetic “Mama”, and reached for me.

Gingerly, we extricated Kate from her puke-sodden footie’s and changed her into a fresh pair. I snuggled her despite her pungent odor and she happily sidled in to my body while she sucked her fingers. It took about ten minutes before I felt her tummy begin to convulse…and so it went. For the next five hours, we bathed her, held her, changed her and helped her through her sickness. I periodically jumped off the bed to fetch a towel and landed squarely on my injured foot. She slept with us in our beach towel covered king-sized bed, but somehow managed to kick me in the gut for the better part of the night. At one point, her feet were firmly planted on my right cheek. I was too tired to care.

Finally, morning arrived and David insisted that I get out of bed. So with a mere 3 hours of restless sleep, I rose and hobbled downstairs. I sipped a cup of coffee and peppered Joe with instructions on how to put on his snow pants/snow boots/gloves/backpack. Finally dressed, (this is no small feat for the unfocused 6-year-old with ADHD) Joe matter-of-factly announced, “Bye, see you tonight” and walked out the door. Dave and I were too distracted to notice that he was mimicking Dave’s morning “farewell” ritual. As we inspected my swollen, purple foot and pontificated about breaks and bruises, we heard the Saab’s engine roar twice in rapid succession. I screamed and through the window saw the car’s exhaust blowing piles of snow into the driveway. Dave ran like I’ve never seen him run before. I jumped off the window seat and landed on my bruised/maybe broken foot sending pain that felt like knives through my leg.

Thankfully, Kate is napping. Joe, the Saab and the garage are unscathed and I’m sitting with my foot elevated and blogging about the whole ordeal. Where is Gwen? My little Cookie took it upon herself to clean up the house and is now playing outside in the gently falling snow. Life is good. A little crazy…but good. And it looks like we’ll be having a white Christmas.

This is my brain on chaos…

At 9:45 a.m. on Friday, December 17, 2010 that carefully constructed, thin membrane that protects me from chaos, disorder and depression was destroyed. Having spent most of Wednesday night changing passwords and scanning my laptop to remove a virus, I was exhausted. Somewhere around Thursday, the kitchen began accumulating everyone’s clutter and the counter top on the island was barely visible. By Friday morning, in the 10 minutes before I was to head out the door for Gwen’s preschool Christmas celebration, Kate’s hand suffered a cut that her grandmother tearfully declared was in need of stitches. Kate sat before me looking freaked out and pale, with a towel wrapped around her tiny hand. Gwen’s celebration was in 20 minutes. I had just the one car. I can’t even begin to explain the meltdown that began in my brain.

I had to call David at work and ask him to come home to take Birdie to the hospital for stitches. As I ran for the phone to call the pediatrician, my shin connected with the dishwasher door that had been left open. I saw stars as I fell forward and screamed a loud, filthy word. My mother, still crying over Kate’s gash, left the room. The phone was thrown across the kitchen as I limped around trying to reign in my thoughts and walk off the excruciating pain in my leg. Unable to control what was happening, the chaos finally took me out at the knees. I felt the darkness that had been lying dormant begin to grow and gather strength. I looked at the clock and saw that I now had just ten minutes to get to Gwen’s party. As I limped out the door, my mother told me that I should rub my leg to avoid a bruise. I wanted to scream.

The drive to Gwen’s party was horrible. The guilt I felt over not being with Kate for a visit to the hospital and stitches was overwhelming. I beat myself up for allowing someone else to watch her while I got ready for the Christmas party. Under my watch, I can control what she touches and where she climbs.

Halfway to the preschool and running late, I realized that I had left the house without my camera. On top of everything, I wouldn’t have a single photograph of Gwen’s preschool holiday celebration. The darkness swirled with renewed strength and grew with each moment. I told myself to take deep breaths and let it go. I told myself that Kate would be fine without me. I tried to convince myself that calling my husband home for emergency reasons was acceptable. His company would understand why their Senior Counsel needed to leave. There is absolutely no inconvenience there, right?

Gwen was beautiful and silly with her construction paper antlers and her little nose painted Rudolph red. She sang and giggled. I don’t have a single photo. She gave me a precious gift, handmade for Christmas and ate treats with her friends and their little siblings. I wistfully thought of Kate and how much she would have enjoyed the afternoon. The darkness swelled and I winced as I thought of the battle ahead.

Suddenly David was there with Gwen and me. He stopped in to tell me that Kate’s gash was just a small cut. She didn’t need stitches. The drama and tears had only served to give me that final push into the depths of disorder and ultimately, opened the door to that monster called depression. I’ve been battling it all weekend. I slept for several hours yesterday afternoon after manically scrubbing the bathrooms. I’ve taken my medicine each morning. I try to get the monster back under control and I’m not sure I can. Trying to regain order in the house and get the kids reorganized is too much when I feel this way. I’m on edge. I don’t want to be. I wonder what it would be like to reach inside and rip this swirling, angry darkness from my body. What would it feel like to not revisit every painful word or clueless, selfish act? How would it be if I didn’t internalize the narcissism of others? What if I didn’t take so personally their patterns of selfish behavior? What would it feel like to be normal? How would it be to deal with only Joe’s ADHD and his organization and focus? How would be different if the people in our lives attempted to fully understand the quirks that each of us has?

This afternoon I will lace up my sneakers and run. Perhaps running will help.

On Running

January, 2001 was the month and year that I decided that the corporate legal world had seen enough of my talent. In January of 2001 I truly believed I was still that little pot-smoking hippie, outdoorsy chick who grew up in the Adirondacks but was forced to sell out to The Man. That was the month and year that my new fiancé said, “Sure, I’ll move to North Conway, New Hampshire because you once spent a day there in the midst of your previous unhappy marriage and thought it was idyllic.” Okay, well that’s not exactly what he said, but this is a blog, not a book.

In my 28 years, I had never encountered a person who accepted that the act of running away might be an acceptable means of therapy and rebirth. Then I met David. The love of my life that was, as I found out, a go-with-the-flow kind of guy. He wisely recognized that I was being suffocated by my own existence and that perhaps, running was precisely what I needed to do to find myself.

I had been divorced for exactly seven months. My ex-husband got my dog, the house, some friends and even a few of my family members in the settlement. Truth is, I walked and told him to keep it all. I was too exhausted to fight over a life that made me miserable enough to ponder death. Granted, I had hoped for a bit more support and understanding, but as Joe’s preschool teacher once wisely said, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.” The problem with that sentiment is that I was upset. Somewhere along the line I had lost myself in my quest to become what everyone else expected me to be. I had lost my true self and the people who were supposed to be closest to me didn’t even know. Unfortunately, the last known sighting of the real me was a 19-year-old who liked to camp, smoke a little dope on occasion, write short stories and listen to folk music. I was under the impression that I was still a decent skier, which thrilled Dave because he’s an incredible skier and had spent several years doing just that in Sun Valley.

I had it all planned out. We’d move up to North Conway where we would ski. We would drive to the mountain in our blue VW van; we’d hang out and just…hang out. (I had stopped the pot thing by that point.) I’d be living the dream…living off the grid and returning to my roots. I’d start braiding my hair again and I’d wear fleece. I’d live in jeans and my Birkenstocks. I’d just ‘be.’ I happily boxed up my Jimmy Choos and invested in a new pair of ski boots.

We drove to NH in a blizzard. He drove a Ryder truck full of our possessions and I drove my little Honda with Rosie O’Kitty ensconced on the passenger seat. Six perilous and blizzard-filled hours from Brookfield, Connecticut, we pulled into our new home in the White Mountains. In reality, we had rented a shack. A freaky little shack in the woods because that’s all that would accept our dog on such short notice. (I wish I had photograph of the place to prove that I actually lived there.) Our previously delivered van was parked between some trees, which I assumed was meant to be a driveway. There was really just too much snow to figure it all out.

Dave began work right away, leaving me to my solitary existence. I was consulting for my old company and working from home. What this really meant was that I sat around in pajamas all day and lorded over the contracts for my old company. I deciphered legalese for non-legal personnel and sat through phone conferences while I watched the snow that continued to fall outside of my window. I also watched Regis and Kelly and discovered HGTV. I was alone in the woods of northern New Hampshire in a tiny shack on a lake where the snow never seemed to stop falling. It was uncomfortably quiet and the snow was clean. Pine trees were weighed down with mounds of snow and occasionally, I’d hear a muffled thud as a pile slowly slid from the boughs and hit the ground. I was alternatively freaked out by the solitary nature of my new existence and thrilled to have done something so spontaneous. My new-found freedom both thrilled and terrified me.

I braided my hair and wore fleece. I skied alone on a weekday after one of the biggest snowstorms of the year. The peacefulness and freedom I experienced on that day will stay with me forever. Despite the breathtaking peacefulness and freedom I felt on that day, I came to the realization that I’m a really shitty skier. Dave won a mogul competition and I skied on the long, winding groomers with old ladies and seven-year-olds. Dave skied the glades and I secretly cried because I was cold and my feet hurt. I silently freaked out on the chairlift as I took in the endless peaks of the White Mountain range and became overwhelmed by the vast wilderness that thrived beneath the carpet of trees. From that chairlift, it seemed that sea of trees and undulating mountains never ended. I found myself looking forward toward where I imagined Canada was. It was a beautiful, but somehow lonely expanse of mountains full of dark mysteries that terrified me. That vast, overcast view intimidated and frightened me. I often contorted in the chairlift, twisting to see the view to the south where I longed to see the buildings of New York. What had I done? I was stuck now, somewhere in the middle of who I once was and who I was to become, but I had no idea. I felt homesick but never wanted to go back.

I began living a rather hermit-like existence. I realized that I had no real idea who I was or what I was doing with my life. I was a blank slate and my only real connection to humanity was David. I sat at my computer each day, reading contracts and sitting through conference calls. I e-mailed my insights and opinions. I drove to the post office. I let the dog out. I stared at my face in the mirror. I drove aimlessly. I looked at my teeth. I inspected my skin. I started braiding my hair in intricate patterns. I read cook books. I was bored.Out.Of.My.Mind.

I craved a cocktail at a swanky lounge and I wanted to get there in a cab. I wanted to walk through the doors of Barney’s and inhale the heavenly scent of luxury. I longed to aimlessly wander the shoe department of Neiman’s and try on shoes I couldn’t afford. Unknown to Dave, I began to realize that Hippie Chick was, well…kind of an aimless loser who was better off dead.

Thankfully, somewhere around April the snow began to melt. We piled into the Vanagon with our bikes and explored the trails in the mountains. From my Santa Cruz Juliana I watched spring come to the White Mountains. I got muddy; I fell down a hill backwards and laughed when I stopped sliding. My braids grew longer. I jumped into the river with my clothes on. I drank cold beer on a porch with a spray dried mud on my back. I wore Birkenstocks and shorts every day. I stopped second guessing myself and began chipping away at the carefully constructed walls that it had taken years to build.

Once summer arrived, we spent our weekends hiking a trail to a deserted oasis on the river where we lounged on the rocks, swam and ate our lunch next to the crystal clear water. I rode my bike to the top of Bear Notch. I swam alone in a deserted lake and soaked up the warm sun from a raft surrounded by masses of trees and silence. That glorious silence forced me to confront myself and I haven’t stopped yet. I’ve discovered a lot about myself in the past ten years and I sometimes hate what I see.

We stayed there for only seven months. I’ve come to realize that my dream place wasn’t meant to be a permanent, but rather, served as a temporary shelter. Ultimately, David gave me the gift of escape and patiently waited nearby as I let go of my past. In that tiny shack in the woods, I confronted ghosts and tried to exorcise my demons. I discovered that I wasn’t who I thought I was and realized that I had no idea who I was to become. Sensing I was on the verge of a long process of change, I squeezed a bit of abandon and soul searching into seven short months.

I’m all for a posh get-up, some killer shoes and a filthy dirty martini, straight up, please. I don’t love red meat. Sometimes I enjoy a long, skinny cigarette. I still like running, but don’t always have the time. I like going to spas and salons, especially after a weekend digging in the dirt or splashing through mud on my bike. I can go days without makeup, but have been known to inexplicably crave a makeover. I like fancy underwear. I rarely wear shoes anymore, but knowing they are on stand-by in my closet is nice. I think I’m ugly, but try my hardest not to let you know that. I listen to the Grateful Dead but happily switch to Cat Power or Weezer or Pearl Jam… Jeans are my current uniform. I can’t relax unless my surroundings feel pretty and uncluttered. I refold the laundry that David already folded. Sometimes I don’t shower for a day and a half. I know that I don’t want to go back into the legal world. I know that I need to be creative to thrive. I feel completely socially inept at all times and I think you think I am too. Feet freak me out and so do men with long fingernails. I never think I’m good enough, smart enough, funny enough, pretty enough or that I’m a good parent or wife. I’ve battled depression for most of my life and I’ve grown tired of hiding that fact. My shack in the woods introduced the path to clarity. It was there where I finally began accepting that I didn’t need to hide my eccentricities and faults. I learned that I can never be perfect to everyone, but I never seem to be able to stop trying.

Counting My Blessings

We drove up to LL Bean in Freeport yesterday to buy a new blue coat for a little girl who we don’t know. It felt fantastic. We explained ‘giving’ to the children in way we hoped they understand and let them help pick out the coat. Though, it is hard for little people to wrap their brains around a gift to an unseen person. They need to visualize a person’s face, I think. All that we could tell them is that there is a little girl who is four, she lives in our town, she likes the color blue and she needs a new, warm coat for winter. A good time was had by all, lessons were learned and we spent the day immersed in the holiday shopping rush.

I was just beginning to write about what a fantastic day it was, and then it struck me. The past two weeks have been ridiculously incredible. Making a girl (yes, I still call myself a girl) who battles a sometimes severe case of the wintertime blues, stop and smell the roses is a tough feat. What’s that, you ask? You’d like to know what has warmed my heart in this season of giving? Well, mostly it isn’t what, but whom

Gwen switched to the most amazing pre-school after we had a rather lackluster experience at her first alma mater. Thank you to my ballet mom support group who assured me that I wasn’t over-reacting to a couple of rough little boys, some hitting and a band-aid that went unmentioned by the teachers. Thanks to my new friend Susan, my little Cookie is safely ensconced at her new pre-school. She has attended for four days and, let me tell you, my little girl is beaming again. That dark veil of anxiety that had begun to cloud her beautiful little face has lifted. The place is magical and nurturing. Thank you, Susan for telling me about that fortuitous and coveted opening.

My new friend, Kitten from Mumsyhood bestowed her “Fierce Writer” award upon me. I am humbled, thankful and quite happily surprised that she paid me such an incredible compliment. Self-doubt tends to get in the way sometimes, but reading her description of me and my words brought tears to my eyes and made my heart swell. Kitten let me know that I’m on the right path. Kitten thinks I’m fierce. Thank you, Kitten.

Mumsyhood is a beautiful journal-style baby book, complete with fantastic photographs of Kitten’s gorgeous baby and all of their firsts. I love to read it and remember the wonder and awe of my first baby. She reminds me to slow down and take a good look at each of my ‘babies’. With three, life has become so hectic. Frankly, I sometimes get so lost in the day-to-day that I’ve forgotten that first-time mommy wonder. Head over to Mumsyhood and take a good long look at what a supportive, friendly and talented blogger looks like!

Have you ever spent time in the company of a person but never really gotten to know them? I did. I went to high school with one Mr. Sunny Lee. We passed in the hallways but ran in different crowds. He was smart and well-behaved and I was, well…not. My loss on all fronts.

Sunny, 1988
Luckily, Sunny and I connected courtesy of our 20th class reunion planning and Facebook. He very selflessly spent what I can only assume was a huge amount of time working on my blog this weekend. That was time he could have spent with his wife, Ro and their three adorable children. He took my very confusing and rambling description about how “I love old typography and I collect antique etchings and, oh…can you put some scrolly-things on there too?” and made my blog something that I love. He’s an amazing artist as well, having worked for Marvel Comics. I’m lucky to have made a friend, even if it took 20 years. Better late than never!
The Lee Family
Gwen has been dying for an Easy Bake Oven. I mean DYING! I happened to mention it on Facebook one day and, viola! Another school-mate from 20 years ago and her adorable daughter offered up a barely used oven and mailed it right out. Gwen was over the moon when the surprise box arrived and we’ve spent several hours baking delicious (barely edible) treats baked by the heat of a light bulb. Yum. Gwen sat down and drew Brittany and McKenna a thank you picture yesterday afternoon. It’s in the mail. Thank you, Brittany and McKenna for that wonderful gift. Gwen and I appreciate your thought!

Over the summer, I made a new friend on Facebook. We grew up in the same town in southern New York State, know some of the same people, but had never met. Her name is Patti and she has been one of the biggest supporters of No. 7. We share a weird obsession with photos of Suri Cruise dressed like a tiny, little woman, complete with high heels. They make us laugh. We also like to poke fun of those (un)Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Patti messaged me last week and let me know that she’s sending Gwen a box of her daughter Brigid’s beautiful clothes. Outgrown of course! We wouldn’t want Brigid wandering around nude, would we? Thank you Patti and Brigid. We’ll cook you a nice dinner next summer when you get back up to your beloved Vacationland.

Last, but certainly not least, Patty from Another Cookie, Please! I’ve known Patty for a whole bunch of years, but it wasn’t until I started blogging that we really became friends. Patty is an incredibly talented writer who is writing a book about her relationship with her mother, who was afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease. The snippets I’ve seen are touching and heartbreaking. I can only assume the book will be a page-turner. I can’t wait to read it.

Patty has been incredibly supportive of my blog and some of my darker posts in particular. Simply put, she inspires me. I’m thrilled to call her my friend. Head over to her blog and encourage her to keep writing her amazing blog.

Happy Holidays everyone and thank you for reading.

Dear Santa,

Almost every Christmas season, Dave utters the following statement or some variation thereof, “Sooo…we’re pretty broke this year…what do you want for Christmas?” Besides the giant student loan debt left over from our Boston stint, we have these three kids who continue to leeching off us, not to mention the mortgage so that they have a roof over their ungrateful little heads. Oh, and let’s not forget the car payment for that sexy grey mini-van I use to chauffeur them to their ballet and Mad Science classes.

I know, I have just lamented the problems of millions of people who are married with children. Yet, there’s something about that question Dave poses that implies I shouldn’t want a thing. I should just be happy with what I have…and I am. Really. Truly, I am. So I dutifully respond with a deflated, “Oh, nothing,” and inwardly sigh at what I’d love to have. An all expenses paid trip to St. Barts, complete with a bungalow on the beach, a nanny for the kids, a private jet and a black American Express card paid for by a generous anonymous donor. No? Too much?

I guess that wish list is just a skosh unrealistic. Sadly, so is this list…

• A new pair of Uggs because it’s damn cold up here in Maine. I know. Uggs are over, but I don’t care. THEY MAKE MY FEET WARM.
• A series of facials. Why? Because I’m desperately trying to cling to the last vestiges of my youthful appearance and because they make me feel good. Also, I haven’t had one in two years.
• Just one more pair of True Religion Becky bootcut jeans. Again, because I’m clinging to my youth and because I think they make my butt look good.
• A gift certificate for Williams-Sonoma. Why? Because when the catalog arrives at my house I get really excited. My level of excitement probably isn’t dissimilar to that of a 14-year-old boy when he finds a stash of porno mags.
• Those two bunny head cabinet knobs I’ve been eyeballing for months for the kitchen but can’t justify spending $50 when I have to buy the kids new coats, shoes or food.

Then there is the list of items that I think of throughout the year. You know those things that I need, but never seem to buy. Somehow, they don’t say ‘Christmas’ to me…

• Some mittens or gloves. Again, because it’s damn cold up here in Maine and my old leather Coach gloves are exactly practical for snowman building.
• Sweaters. Warm sweaters that don’t look like they came from my grandma’s closet. No offense grandma.
• A salad spinner. What? I like salad.
• A waffle iron. From Williams-Sonoma of course.
• Underwear. ‘Nuff said.
• Boobs. Just thought I’d throw that one in. You never know when Santa might be listening.
• Socks.
• I’m reaching now, huh?

Sometimes I need to remember that despite the looming student loan debt, the mortgage and the expenses that come with a family of five, I am truly blessed. I live in a beautiful home with four people who love me beyond belief. Not only does my husband have a job, but he has one that, with careful budgeting, allows me to stay at home to raise our children. Yes, the budget is tight and yes, funds are often dangerously low at the end of the two-week pay cycle but being here with these children is the most precious gift of all.

I was reminded of these things this week when, at two separate kid-related functions, I happened upon requests to “adopt” families for the holidays. At Gwen’s ballet class a candy cane dangled from a length of plastic pine garland. It held a slip of paper with the gift request of a 12-year-old boy. This year, he wants a book about bike maintenance and repair. That’s it. Of all the things he could have asked for, he simply requested that book. I grabbed that candy cane and put his request in my pocket while feeling ashamed of myself for being so materialistic. My “wish” list of unattainable items suddenly seemed utterly shameful when this boy’s unattainable item is a book.

Last night at Joe’s first grade musical, there was a table full of paper mittens, each holding a handwritten gift request. I scanned the table, marveling at the sheer number of mittens there. My eyes landed on a mitten reading, “Girl. 4 months old. Plain white onsies, 6-12 months.” My heart sank. I thought of my own baby who wears her sister’s hand-me-downs and gorgeous ones at that. She has three pairs of shoes. She has onsies. She has warmth and nutritious food and somewhere in my new town, there is a baby who doesn’t. I’m willing to go out on a limb and guess that there are several babies who don’t enjoy the comfort of size 6-12 month onsies. Suddenly, my worries over Kate’s $21 Moulin Roty stuffed goose and Gwen’s Barbie’s sickened me.

Dear Santa,

Please forgive me. I’m sorry that I forgot all of the lovely blessings and beautiful possessions that I enjoy each and every day. My children are warm, they have the clothing they need and we are able to feed them (mostly) nutritious food. They have books, art supplies and more than enough toys. With careful budgeting, they enjoy extra-curricular activities like ballet and Mad Science. We have a perfectly nice mini-van that I happily use to drive my little people to their social and learning endeavors.

This year, please feel free to pass me by for the people who need things like onsies for their babies. Somehow, I think that 6-year-old girl who asked for Polly Pockets would be far more thrilled to find them under her tree than I would be to find a waffle iron. Those $200 jeans seem just awful to me now.
One last thing Santa…we’ll be buying that 12-year-old boy the book on bicycle maintenance and repair, but please try to bring him something more.


Daddy, Please Come Home

Growing up, John Lennon and The Beatles always seemed to be playing in my house. I grew up in the 70’s. My parents had each and every album. They were played often and they were played loud. I first heard the word ‘fuck’ when my mother neglected to turn down the volume as John screamed that filthy, forbidden word. I was scandalized and thrilled. I sang Yellow Submarine at my kindergarten musical. I thought Lovely Rita, Meter Maid was about my godfather’s wife. I discovered the depth and emotion of John’s lyrics right around the time that my own tumultuous adolescent emotions burst forth. Right around the time that I gave in to the darkness that would over-shadow my life on and off right up to the present day.

I remember my father playing this song when I was small. I thought it was awful that John would scream so publicly about his mother. Later, as I grew older and my emotions were raw, I came to understand this song. At least, I understood what it meant to me.

I haven’t listened to this song for many years. Gone are the days when I would play it and allow my feelings of abandonment and anger drag me under. Though, I heard it today and relived my old pain for just a moment. I felt sorrow for the girl who was left so alone to face her demons. Mostly, I missed John.

Babs Redeux

We were walking through Toys R Us when I inexplicably gravitated to the Barbie aisle. Like a moth to a flame, the plethora of pink shades induced a trance-like state and pulled me straight into Barbie’s lair. With eyes glazed over and a thin string of drool beginning to slide down my chin (Okay, not really. I made that part up for the visual effect), I slowly meandered the corridor, perusing her wares. It was the price tag on Barbie’s Corvette that yanked me from my stupor. After I had shaken my head to clear the hot pink fog from my brain, I snorted at the ridiculous outfits that Barbie is wearing these days and thought, clearly, she hasn’t hired Rachel Zoe to tweak her style. I balked that in this economy, she flaunts her wealth with that hot pink custom Glamour Jet and her Glamour Vacation House. I mean, really…we find it hard enough to pay the mortgage every month, but Babs is sitting pretty with her Townhouse, Dream House, Corvette, private jet, Vespa and 10 different advanced degrees! Pet Vet my ass, I thought as I turned on my heel and began my haughty retreat. Just as I began muttering like a crazy woman, “I’m glad my daughter isn’t into you,” I was slapped across the face with a treasure from my youth.

The heavens opened up and poured a golden light on the box containing a re-released version of the 1970’s Country Camper. It sat on the shelf before me in its groovy orange and yellow glory. It enticed me with the promise of re-released 8-year-old bliss. In the battle between me and Barbie, she had pulled out her big cannons and began sucking me back in. With a squeak of delight, I skipped over to the box. My eyes were wide with joy as I knelt down and pulled the box forward on the shelf for a better look. I had to be sure that this was the same camper. I had to know that this was the vehicle that Barbie and I spent hours driving in the yard. It couldn’t be the same camper we’d parked next to the stream outside the barn…could it?

With my nose now almost touching the box, I carefully inspected the photos. From long-buried recesses deep within my mind, memories began pushing their way forward through the crowded thoughts that come with age. In a flashback, I saw Barbie sitting on her yellow plastic camp chair next to Skipper. They were warming their hands over the plastic campfire. I quickly turned the box, searching for the contents and found precisely what I was looking for. This was my camper and it came with all of the proper accoutrement for a Barbie-perfect outing! For example, those yellow plastic camp chairs and matching plastic sleeping bags. A loud, delighted gasp startled me. I looked around me and realized that I was the one who was panting.

Frantically, I jumped to my feet and searched both ends of the aisle for Dave. I simply had to show him this camper of bliss. “DAVE!” I yelled. No answer. I ran to the end of the aisle and looked both ways. No Dave. Annoyed that I had to leave my treasure to find my husband, I quickly walked through the store while frantically scanning rows of toys. I finally found him in the aisle housing some stupid Star Wars junk from like, 30 years ago. “Honey, you’ve GOT to come with me and see what I found!” I pleaded. He dutifully followed me back to Barbie Land and politely glanced at the 1970’s Country Camper before saying, “Okay, who wants lunch?” Off he went without even a glimmer of excitement. With a deflated sigh and one last lingering glance over my shoulder, I followed. I was over it and moving on when I saw her. Bathed in that same golden light from the heavens above was a pink box holding a special edition of the of the 1978 Glamour Barbie. Glamour Barbie!

I wanted to hate her but instead stood firmly planted to the floor of Toys R Us, staring at her gorgeous tacky hot pink and black stole and her sparkling too-tight hot pink gown. She had Farrah Fawcett hair and pink stilletos. She also had a body that is not humanly possible to attain but I didn’t care because she was my Barbie. She was that very same glamorous Glamour Barbie who camped in the Country Camper and lived in the Barbie Townhouse and drove her gaudy Corvette around my bedroom.

As Christmas draws near, Gwen has begun requesting Barbie and her “stuff”. My initial (silent) reaction was a resounding ‘NO’. Until the morning when I recalled stumbling upon the Country Camper and my old pal, Glamour Barbie. I didn’t love my Barbie’s because of how they looked. I don’t think I ever expected to grow up and look like her either. What I did want was her slutty wardrobe and her ridiculous houses. That Barbie Townhouse with the elevator was perfectly decorated and the view from the top floor was stupendous! Don’t you remember? How I loved placing Barbie and her friends into the elevator. I clearly recall it crashing to the first floor, reigning death and destruction upon the girls.

Often, my brother built model cars. He also had fireworks. We spent a few summer afternoons setting Barbie up in those replica American muscle cars. They must have been much more difficult to drive than the pink Corvette because somehow she always ended up tragically driving off a cliff before blowing up (courtesy of an m-80). We’d pretend she swerved to avoid a deer on the Pacific Coast Highway. Poor, poor Barbie.

Remembering those special moments with Barbie, (along with some more socially acceptable moments of imaginative play) I came to conclusion that I shouldn’t deprive my girl access to the world of Barbie. She should be able to decide if she likes her or not. She needs to cut Barbie’s hair with safety scissors and apply Barbie’s makeup with magic markers. She should be given the opportunity to smoosh Barbie’s face into grotesque positions and turn her into a disfigured, freaky monster. She has every right to inspect Barbie naked and change her endless supply of outfits.Yes, I’ve come to the conclusion that Santa Claus will be leaving the Glamour Vacation House, a Fiat and two Barbie’s under the Christmas tree. Welcome to Barbie Land, Gwen…after all, it is what you make it.

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