Maybe…

I’ve never been very good at female friendships. Never. I say what’s on my mind. My humor is twisted and sarcastic. Sometimes I just don’t get other women. As far at female relationships go, I’m pretty bad at being a girl.

I don’t typically like to ask for favors like, “Hey, So and So, can you give my kid a ride to school today because my other kid’s leg is hanging off and I need to get in an ambulance now.” No, I’m more likely to call the school and tell them the non-maimed child won’t be making it to class today. It’s much easier than running the risk of putting someone out to ask for help.

I am aloof. I am aloof because I spent my formative years living on a 200-acre farm with no neighborhood children to play with. I am aloof because I was born this way. I was born with a tumor on my eye and looked pretty weird as a little kid. I was a target for questions, stares and nasty little girls. As an adult, a simple eye-roll, dismissive gesture or turned back brings those little girls right back into play.

I’m kind of a loner. I don’t like talking on the phone. I rarely think about texting other people. I don’t like to gossip and I’m pretty bad at small talk. I tend to seek friendships that are real, deep and lasting. People who don’t mind if I forget to call or text.

These traits don’t mean I’m unfriendly or bitchy or that I don’t like you. I don’t decline invitations because I want to. It’s because I have three children and, sometimes I can’t be in three places at once.

Sometimes I write on a stupid blog. Mostly, I write what I hope will be a not-so-stupid book. A book about a little girl and a ghost and some sad memories of bitchy little girls and a whole lot of loneliness.

Not one of the qualities I’ve mentioned is conducive to building new friendships or getting invited to join the PTO.

At my last residency, I was slightly shocked and surprised when another woman asked me to come help her pick an outfit out for her reading. Shocked and surprised that another woman thought I was “normal” enough to do such a thing! On some level, I know how dudes must feel when wives and girlfriends start grilling them for opinions. I was honored but found myself waiting for her to realize that she’d asked for help from a woman who’s really bad at being a woman.

Here, in my every day life, I’m sure there are mommies who think I’m snobby. That I’m brushing them off. They might believe that I actually enjoy saying, “Sorry, but I can’t make it,” and that I never feel guilty about it. And that’s my problem I guess, because I’m the one who chose to follow a dream. Maybe, on some level I am a failure as a mother and as a woman. One who has chosen to pursue a master’s degree while her children need her to do things like bake cookies and plan birthday parties and playdates and sell wrapping paper. Maybe some of those women are right and I should have waited to get my degree.

Maybe. But I don’t think so. Maybe I’m just bad at being a girl.

 

 

 

 

Scarlet Letters

Back in high school, I never really associated myself with one particular clique. I successfully maneuvered through a few and chose to steer clear of the girls with mean streaks. On more than one occasion, I risked my own life social standing and stood up for girl who was being bullied or turned into a social pariah. Maybe it’s the Libra in me, but I just can’t stop myself from fighting for fairness.

For some silly reason, as a teenager I thought we’d all eventually outgrow those bouts of bitchiness. Maybe it was just blind hope that led me to think people automatically turned nice when they were done growing up. Somewhere along the line, I was misled. I’m disappointed to report that there are vast amounts of adult women who have failed.

That’s right. In fact, if I could legally walk around with a giant rubber stamp and a red ink pad slapping a big red “F” on foreheads of all perpetrators, I would. I’d mark them all with their very own scarlet letter to alert the world that they have failed to evolve. Unfortunately, assault with a rubber stamp is against the law and most people can spot these stunted gals from a mile away anyway.

So, I even though I was way off the mark back when I believed girls grew into women capable of being kind/forgiving/tolerant/aware/supportive of one another, I can only assume that, like me, the world is filled with people who thought adulthood changed things. You know, the idiots who believed in some sort of mass evolution or future utopian existence…  Well, fellow dreamers, while there are oodles of nice ladies out there, apparently there is also a large contingent of female humans crippled by their inability to do the following:

1.  Make eye-contact and say hello to the women they see every day.

It’s not hard. Just move your eyeballs toward the person in front of you, tell your brain to form the word “hello” and then make your mouth move. If “hello” doesn’t work for you, here are several variations of salutations that might fit the bill:  good morning, good afternoon, howdy, what’s up? hi, how are you? or perhaps a simple and non-committal, hey. Because that’s better than nothing.

2.  Avoid gossip.

Especially when the persons with whom you are gossiping are too daft to keep the source of the gossip (you) close to the vest. It’s simple really…save the gossip for your husband or the family dog. They don’t really care about what’s happening at the PTA meeting/playground/gym, so your petty gossip won’t come back to bite you in the ass later.

Maybe now is also a good time to propose that women should refrain from forming pitchfork carrying mobs intent on annihilating the women who don’t fit their agenda or who, for some reason pose a threat.

Might I suggest that if you’re feeling the need to incite the masses, there are well-trained men and women who can be hired to psycho-analyze this disturbing behavior right out of your brain. I know, crazy…right? And it’s conveniently covered by most medical insurance, too.

Sadly, the reasons for Queen Bees and their Wannabees don’t seem much different now than they were when I was 15 years old. There are still groups of grown women prepared to attack if they don’t like the way another person talks, dresses, walks, thinks…

It’s depressing to think I’ll have to tell my daughters that the cliques never really go away. There’s always someone vying to be the leader but so few actually carry it off with grace and aplomb.

Playgrounds and play groups and beach outings and car pools…they’re still there. The perfectly coiffed women who married well, the harried working moms trying to stay on schedule, the moms trying to be perfect so their kids will perfect and popular, the former career-girls who now stay at home and apply their expertise to their family, attacking school-related functions with a vengeance.

I’ve tried my best to avoid all of the above, but as mommies, we all inadvertently stumble into a viper pit at some point.

Last summer, as I prepared for my grad school residency, the phone rang. (Here’s the part where I come clean) For a while there, I let unknown local numbers go straight to the answering machine, mostly because I never knew if it was school-related phone call or a mom from one of our schools trying to sell face cream. Anywho…on that day last summer, it was school-related.

The voice of a woman who I’d never met filled my kitchen and informed me that we were five dollars short on our tuition for the year. Okay.

And it was okay, until the tone of her message took a very snooty turn, reiterating twice that our payment should be X amount, as if we were idiots or some sort of pathetic losers whose five dollar shortage was causing the wanton destruction of a perfectly fine establishment.

My active imagination conjured an image of the woman on the other end of the phone. She became a sneering uppity WASP dressed in cashmere twin-set with a fluffy Pomeranian in her lap. I still haven’t met her, but the image sticks and her call seems to have set the tone for the year.

Now, months later, I look back at the years I worked in New York law firms and find myself missing the up-front and honest approach of my male co-workers. As much as I dislike gender stereotypes, I enjoyed working with men who said what they had to say and moved on. No grudges. No backstabbing. No fake smiles. No insecurity-induced sniping.

Boy, do I miss those guys.

Quota Filled!

One of the joys of motherhood is that sometimes you find yourself in situations that smack of the social hierarchy of teenage girls and the social pecking order that you assumed you’d left back in high school. One of the things that my grown-ups never shared with me was that, even as grown-ups, some people never stop campaigning for the title of Prom Queen. There will always be a gossip monger, a shy girl, a natural leader and her faithful hangers-on. Every group has a class clown and the handful of cynical girls who feel that the rest of us are simply a herd of vanilla sheep.

Baaaa.

There is a seemingly endless stream of adults who have carried those social quirks well into their (almost) middle years. Thankfully, most have outgrown their Goth wardrobes and realized that the black hair dye just makes them look sallow and old.

Last week, I attended a parent meeting for my daughter’s cooperative preschool and, since we’re the new kids, this was my first meeting. Upon arrival, as is my normal modus operandi, I located my clique because yes, we still kind of do that. I sat on the fringes, introduced myself to the stranger at the adjacent table with a smile then proceeded to become a fly on the wall. At least, I tried to be the fly on the wall.

Throughout the history of me, I’ve alternated between fly on the wall and girl who unwittingly finds herself running with the ‘social set’ despite what I think is my weird personality. I tend to alternate between funny girl and tortured soul. In high school I was surprised one morning by the class advisor informing me that I’d been nominated for Prom Queen. I was shocked, kind of grossed out and embarrassed but also thrilled that someone liked me. I was slightly upset that I was lumped in with some of the other nominees, a few of whom were of the not-so-nice variety of girls. Oh God, I thought, do people think that I’m one of them?

I’ve digressed, haven’t I?  Back to the preschool parent meeting…

Fly on the wall posture assumed, I sat back and observed. I think that, like most writers tend to be, I’m a people watcher. I’m not just a people watcher, but a people absorber. I sat and politely listened to the issues at hand at the school. Eventually the reminder that we are a cooperative preschool came up and someone on the executive committee attempted to tactfully suggest that, as parents, we should actually try to cooperate with the various committees. She nicely explained that responding to e-mail is a lovely gesture, as is attendance at carefully planned school functions. The word “cohesive” was thrown out into the room and that was when I noticed that a woman sitting near me began to squirm. Closer inspection revealed that the word “cohesive” was hanging over her head and poking her.

It was annoying her.

Moments later that woman, let’s call her Ann T. Social, spoke up and said, “On the subject of cohesion, I’m not here to make friends. I’m here for my child.” She said more on the subject but I was too busy thinking, Oh-Kaaay, she’s a kind of a bitch to listen.

Just days before our (cooperative) preschool meeting, I invited all of the moms in my daughter’s class over for a night out that involved cocktails.  One of those moms was Ann T. Social. Well, Ann didn’t even have the courtesy to acknowledge the invite, let alone show up. So as she made her bitchy announcement to all of the parents of the preschool all I could think was, what a fucking asshole.

Evidently mommies like Ann T. Social have already filled their lifetime friend quota. In the future, perhaps we should all be required to wear a highly visible Friendship Gauge. Just think about the convenience that the gauge would offer. As we’re introducing ourselves to new parents each year we can all just cut to the chase and skip niceties with the ones proudly displaying their already over-flowing Friendship Gauge.

No hard feelings, honey…I’ve filled my quota. See? It says so right here on my gauge.

Following Ann T. Social’s obnoxiously public snub of every person in the room, a few of us made eye contact, subtly validating that we each thought her remark seemed (über-bitchy) crazy. On my ride home I started thinking about the different personalities I’ve encountered in my fledgling career as the mother of school-aged children. I mentally checked off the list of women that I’ve encountered along the way. Yup, I’m pretty sure that high school never ends and I can’t wait to blog about it. Don’t worry; I’m fairly sure that Ann T. Social doesn’t read Narragansett No. 7.

Pay It Forward

Last week was a tough one for me. I battled with my old enemy, depression and struggled to pull myself out of its grasp. The holidays do that to some people, no? The downward spiral of feeling blue, self-hate and helplessness is tough to escape. More than anything, it’s frustrating as hell to get caught up in it and have no real defense except to ride it out and pray for that Zoloft to kick in to overdrive.

In the middle of Blues Fest, I locked myself in the master bedroom and read blogs. All. Day. Long. I escaped in the words and photography of others and caught up on my blog’s e-mail. I discovered some incredible new blogs…well, new to me. Dare I say, perhaps my bout with the blues was meant to happen? It forced me to sit down and pay some serious attention to my writing and “the blog”. Admittedly, my attention was elsewhere throughout December, so it was game on.

In the midst of my self-imposed bedroom seclusion, I was thrilled to find that a new friend, who happens to write a fantastic blog, had bestowed the Stylish Blogger Award upon me! It may seem small to you, but in the depths of my battle last week, my spirits were lifted. Thank you, Melody-Mae for your kind gift. I apologize for taking so long to pay it forward.

In order to accept my award, I am bound by the following rules…

  • Thank and link back to the person who awarded you.
  • Share 7 things about yourself.
  • Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers.
  • Contact these bloggers and let them know you awarded them. 

Here are my 7:

  1. I’m a yeller. Shameful, but true…I yell. A lot. I’m hoping this is the side-effect of parenting three small children. I pray that my decibel level will return to a socially acceptable volume as the children grow older.
  2. I can’t relax in my house unless the room I’m in is neat and free of clutter. This may or may not be a side-effect of my brain’s faulty serotonin absorption, but who cares. At least my house is (mostly) clean.
  3. When I go shopping, I pick up items, carry them around and pretend I’m going to buy the whole pile. Then I drop them off at various points around the store and leave. Sorry retail workers…but I have three kids and can’t afford the pile anymore.
  4. I’m jealous of my husband’s ability to run, like 30 miles a week. Where does he get the drive?
  5. I sometimes miss the days when my husband and I ran together…before three children.
  6. I love. Absolutely LOVE to cook. I wanted to go to the Culinary Institute.
  7. I’m famous for planning elaborate, detail-oriented functions…then not going. I’m a wallflower and slightly anxious in social situations, but my attention to detail is legendary.

Now, for the 15 nominated bloggers.

  1. Of Woods and Words. She’s a fantastic writer. I check in almost every day to see what is happening in the wilds of Wisconsin.
  2. Another Cookie, Please! A friend and amazing writer who writes about life while caring for her mother, who was stricken by Alzheimer’s disease.
  3. Mumsyhood. What can I say? Kitten takes the most incredible photographs of her beautiful daughter and shares the joys of new-Mumsyhood. She takes me back and helps me remember the wonder of my new babies. She always visits and leaves a comment for my blog. She’s been a HUGE source of encouragement. Thanks, Kitten!
  4. Freckles and Fudge. Vic’s photography is incredible and makes me long for the sun. She leaves thoughtful comments on No. 7. Her blog makes me smile and provides me with my fix for a beach day…even in the dead of winter in Maine. I can smell, hear and taste the beach when I log onto her blog. (Except for today when I logged on and saw stunning pictures of french fries and fish and chips. I’ve battled food cravings all day!)
  5. Inspire. Create. Bake. Need I say more? I salivate from the moment I log on and log off craving all of her recipes. Not to mention the stellar photography.
  6. For the Love of Blogs. A no brainer. This incredible community of bloggers is supportive and responsive. Through them, I have met so many wonderful new and talented people.
  7. Write Now, Write Later. Donna inspires me with her words and she’s a great source of information for fellow writers. She’s one talented and hard working lady. Plus, she asked me to guest post on her blog! Look for my post on Friday.
  8. Scenic Glory. Every single image is incredible. In fact, her blog is a visual feast. The graphics, the fonts…I love it so. Her posts are pretty awesome too! You should go check out her “What Would” Project.
  9. Crazy Days with IzzyB. Because she’s my friend. She makes me laugh. She bakes the most INCREDIBLE cookies. EVER. And I adore her Izzy who is possibly one of the sweetest little girls I have ever met. 
  10. The Coexist Cafe. She visits No. 7 often and always leaves the best comments. I lurk at The Coexist Cafe and steal the delicious vegetarian recipes. I read her very engaging posts and I am reminded of Dave and I before the three kiddos hopped on board. Her description of herself is as follows: “I am a writer, paralegal, eclectic Pagan, and vegetarian foodie and connoisseur.” Hmmm..sounds very familiar. 😉
And that, my friends is about all I’ve got in me today. These are the 10 that I visit and love. I suppose that stopping at 10 means I am breaking the rules of the award, but so be it. I just like that I get to share some of my favorites with you.

Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

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.

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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.