Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I Love Jacques Cousteau/An Open Letter/[Your] Mom's a Whore

Monica: Mom, Dad, Ross smoked pot in college. And, Dad, you know that mailman you got fired? He didn't steal your Playboys. Ross did.

Ross: Yeah, well, Hurricane Gloria didn't break the porch swing, Monica did!

Monica: Ross hasn't worked at the museum for a year!

Ross: Monica and Chandler are living together!

Monica: Ross married Rachael in Vegas and got divorced! Again!

Phoebe: I love Jacques Cousteau!

Rachael: I wasn't supposed to put beef in the trifle!

Joey: I wanna go!

Judy: That's a lot of information to get in thirty seconds.
      --Friends, The One Where Ross Got High

That's probably my favorite episode of Friends ever, especially the part when Phoebe exclaims that she loves Jacques Cousteau (which I've been known to exclaim from time to time) and Rachael says she wasn't supposed to put beef in the trifle. I have absolutely no idea how many times I've laughed at that episode despite the many times I've watched it.

In real life, though, being barraged with information--it's not so fun.

In real life, if while you're getting ready for work at 6:45 in the morning after only sleeping for about three hours because one, your estranged husband insists on sleeping next to you and it creeps you out so much, you can't fall asleep, and two, your son, who's been harassed by his father and told all sorts of information he shouldn't know woke up at 3:45 after having just about the only nightmare of his life and you got up to see why the light was on in the bathroom at 4 a.m. and ended up staying in his bed with him until your alarm went off at 5:33, your estranged husband were to wake up and stare at you in the bathroom mirror while you put your mascara on and then after words and words and words follow you downstairs and tell you, as you're trying to leave for work, that the guy you didn't imagine would ever betray you has been forwarding the texts you've been sending him to your husband (complete with photos and all) and cite specific information so you're hit with the horrible realization that it's actually true and then continue to tell you, as you're walking toward the door, that he fucked one of your best friends about ten times while you were at work, being barraged with information--it wouldn't be so fun.

If, when you text that friend and asked if it were true, she were to tell you that she's sorry, but yes, she did, in fact, have sex with your husband several times right before we got married, after he and you had been dating for four years and living together for three, and if you were to find out that at least one of the times, one of the times of the fucking, happened right there in your bed, in your bed in your mother and father's house, in the bed you'd had since you were thirteen, in the bed you shared with your boyfriend, your soon-to-be-husband, your soon-to-be-husband with the unusually low libido, the unusually low libido so low it prompted you, after ten years, to ask for an open marriage, a request that he agreed to, only to go insane when you actually acted on it, telling you what a whore you are and taking three-and-a-half fucking years to get over it, bringing it up left and right, holding it over your head, over your marriage, over your life like a filth-splattered umbrella, despite the fact that first of all, you had permission, and second of all, he drove you to it, all the while when he'd been the one with the secret with the poison with the filth, being barraged with information--it wouldn't be so fun.

If you then thought about the time you woke up in the middle of the night and caught him having chat room sex with some girl, some girl who you contacted and she told you it wasn't just on the computer, that he'd come to her house, that he'd kissed her, and you then talked to your sister and she told you that when you were all in Chicago together when your older son was one and you were pregnant with the second and she and your husband, your husband who, unbeknownst to you had fucked one of your best friends repeatedly, at least one time in your bed, went to a club while you stayed, fat and pregnant, at your cousin's house with your son, he tried to stick his tongue down her throat and then when you talked to your mom later and told her about your husband fucking one of your best friends, she told you, without knowing your sister had already confessed, that your husband once hit on your sister, while you were fat and pregnant and caring for your already-born son, being barraged with information--it wouldn't be so fun.

It might even make you wonder just how much you'd actually missed.


An Open Letter to an Ex-Lover.

Dear C,

I think to myself that I don't know whether to thank you or to hate you, but since the reason I'd be thanking you is because you've made me hate you, I guess there's really no difference at all.

But, still, hate you or hate you or hate you even more, there are some things I want to say. Since I know you read my blog, this seems as good a place to deliver my message as any.

First, I truly do want to thank you, and not for making me hate you. I want to thank you for the way  you, and only you, ever, have made me feel. I want to thank you for making me realize, over and over and over again, that I'm still the me I used to be, the me I thought I buried, the me that I've mourned. I want to thank you for the magic and passion, the burning, the pain. I want to thank you for the wonky spine. I want to thank you for the dirty. Really, I want to thank you for every part of you you've ever shared, every part of me you've ever touched.

What I'm thanking you for, really, is making me see.

Second, I truly do want to thank you, but this time it's for the awful thing you've done to me. This time it wasn't a text saying something along the lines of, I can't do this anymore, it's too stressful like you sent the last time before you completely disappeared, the text I stupidly forgave you for. No, this time it was much worse.

I can't rationalize it this time. I can't say, well, he won't even be twenty-four until a week from Saturday; he's only a baby. Because technically it's not true. Twenty-three and 354 days is, in regards to age at least, a man. In regards to being so afraid of my soon-to-be ex-husband that you forward all correspondence from me straight to him--well, that's an entirely different truth. Allowing a person to control you in the manner in which you've allowed yourself to be controlled--well, all I can say to that is, Good doggie. Roll over. Sit.

Play dead.

And why, why, why you might wonder, everyone might wonder, I myself wonder, would I thank you for the awful that you've done to me? The betrayal that you've bestowed on somebody who, as you well know, would have done absolutely, positively anything in the world for you, who loved you blindly, stupidly, madly, rabidly? Why would I at all appreciate the feeling, the feeling, the goddamn fucking feeling of sickness and blackness and denial and despair I felt when I found out what you were yesterday? Why would I be happy about that at all?


thank you.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bouquet of Clumsy Words

Dignity. Pride. Self-esteem. Self-respect.

If you look up the definition of any of these words, the other three will somewhere appear on the page.

For example:

a realistic respect for or favorable impression of oneself; self-respect. 
a becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one's position or character; self-respect; self-esteem.
a sense of pride in oneself; self-respect. 
proper esteem or regard for the dignity of one's character. 
Also, if you were to perform a Google search with both the words pride and dignity, even without saying anything about relationships, you'll get results about relationships. People asking if they should "swallow their pride" in relationships, how they can regain their pride and dignity, and other things of that sort.

From the very beginning of our lives, we're taught the importance of these qualities. If we don't respect ourselves, how will anybody else respect us? is the primary question that girls get, most often regarding sex and why we shouldn't have it, but the question, of course, encompasses more. We're taught that we shouldn't lose ourselves for our significant other (what that exactly means, I'm not sure), that we should know our worth and not let people treat us lower than whatever that is (I'm not exactly sure of this one, either. How do we determine our worth? Is it like, I'm worth seventeen dinners and a lunch? Undivided attention every minute of every day? One text for every fifteen I send?). We're taught that above everything else, these things are most important.

It shouldn't shock you that I'm here to disagree. 

I think all the time about this one scene from My Best Friend's Wedding when Julia starts a fight between Michael and Kimmy. Kimmy says something to Michael about his job, Michael gets angry and starts to accuse Kimmy of not being accepting of what he does for a living, and Kimmy, instead of getting defensive and saying that that wasn't what she meant at all (because it wasn't), freaks out and starts crying and says it's all her fault, that she was the one who was wrong, and begs Michael to forgive her. Since I haven't seen the movie in years and can't find this clip on YouTube, I'm paraphrasing a bit, but you get the idea. Kimmy, instead of trying to maintain dignity or pride, completely gives in to Michael. And that, to me, is perfect.

Sure, I think dignity and pride and self-respect and self-esteem are important, but I think being with the person you love or care about and making that person feel happy and loved are more important. I hate the expression don't cut off your nose to spite your face, but in this case, it's the most apropos. Why would I intentionally not do something that I know in the end could make me feel better? To make a person think that I don't care in order to seem stronger than I really am? To act like I'm something I'm not because it's what all the books and experts and parents and people say I should be? To establish who has the power in a relationship? Call me devoid of dignity and pride and self-respect and self-esteem, but I don't want the power in a relationship. I just want to be happy.
The best revenge is living well.  Here's another one we hear all the time. But is revenge really what people should aspire to achieve? I mean, look at what it actually means:

the action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands.
Is this really what we're supposed to want?
Because if it is, boy am I far off from where I'm supposed to be.

In fact, right now I'm right about here:

the act or fact of fulfilling one's ambitions, desires, etc., through one's own efforts.
And I can't imagine another place I would ever want to be. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What Are You So Scared Of?

While I was talking to my lunch people today at lunch, the subject of open marriage came up. When I mentioned that five years ago I briefly kinda sorta had one, my lunch people had what I could only describe as a minor freakout. What?! What!? Shocked laughter ensued. What?! You don't seem that wild! the fortyish guy said. In the next few minutes, which was only a few minutes because the bell rang and that was all we had, among other things, the man said he wasn't that modern and then added that he could understand having an affair but no way could he understand having an open marriage.


Am I the only one who sees something wrong there?

This man is so conditioned by societal norms and so comfortable with the notion of dishonesty that he thinks it's better to lie to a significant other than be in a relationship that allows for seeing other people. And he thinks that line of thinking is fine, as undoubtedly would the majority of people faced with the same two options.

Now, I'm not saying an open marriage, or relationship, is for everyone. It certainly didn't work for me. What I am saying, though, is that if two adults decide that the best thing for them and their relationship is to not be exclusive, that's perfectly fine. It doesn't mean that they're "wild," having sex with everyone they meet. It might not even mean that they're particularly into sex at all. It just means what works for them is different from what works for the majority.

Really, though, it doesn't matter what it means. I'm not here to argue the merits of an open relationship. I'm here to express my dismay over the idea that having an affair is fine and dandy--okay, maybe he didn't exactly say fine and dandy, but he did say he understands doing that way before having an open marriage--but people deciding to see other people is not. I'm here to express my disquiet over the judgment and ideas these people had both toward and about me as soon as I mentioned the words open marriage.

I guess what I'm actually here to do is say that society, with its rules and its judgment and its stay-in-the-lines attitude, absolutely, positively, totally

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Always Doesn't Last Forever

One of my favorite things about being a server was being touched. When you're a server and you're in the wait station and you're crazy busy, there isn't always time for excuse me. There's the hand on your back as someone reaches over your head to grab a straw, the fingers on your shoulder as someone reaches past you to grab a lemon, the occasional hand on your waist as you're moved ever so slightly out of the way so someone could grab a pile of share plates. Some people can't stand other people's hands on them, but I've always loved it, and when the hands are taken away, it's always felt like something is missing.

When I was in high school, my high school boyfriend, Louie, had a specific way of hugging me. Instead of a regular hug where he'd put his arms around me and I'd put my arms around him right back, I would hold my arms up in front of me, crossed into an X, right fist to left shoulder, and left fist to right. He'd then encircle what seemed like my entire body with his arms (it wasn't too hard since he was 6'2" and I was barely 5'), and there we would stand, my head to his big, wide chest, until I felt ready for him to let me go. I used to tell him that was my favorite way to hug because it was the only way he could hug all of me.

The last time Glenn and I were separated, when I was feeling particularly lonely in the middle of one night and couldn't stand to be alone in my bed for another second, I went downstairs to the family room where he was sleeping on the couch and lay down next to him. Since he was lying on his side, facing the room, and since we not only have a pretty wide couch but also an ottoman that butts up against it, space wasn't an issue. What the real issue was, of course, was that I had no business getting "in bed" with an estranged husband who for months I'd had nothing but negative communication and interaction with, but what I have no business doing and what I do are often different stories, so onto the couch I got. I crawled across the ottoman, turned around, and positioned myself right into the crook of his body. I don't know what I expected, but I know what I hoped, and that's that Glenn's arm would wrap around me or he'd pull me closer by my hip or his hand would settle on my arm. I hoped for any kind of acknowledgment at all. After about ten minutes of not getting any, I crawled back across the ottoman and left, even lonelier than before.

Now that I'm once again sleeping alone, whether it be physically or mentally, sleep isn't easy. I just don't do well with too much space.

I don't know why I've always wanted to be cradled, to be touched, or for "all of me" to be held, but I'm guessing having a mother who didn't even bother to call me when I found a lump in my breast substantial enough for my doctor not just to send me to get a mammogram and ultrasound but also to see a breast specialist probably has more than a little to do with it.

But this isn't a mom blog. 

It's not a feel-sorry-for-myself blog, either.

It's just a blog blog, like all the others.


A few days after the get-onto-the-couch incident with Glenn, I was telling a friend about what I had done. God, Kelly, you make yourself so vulnerable, she said, shaking her head. How sorry she felt for me--how pitifully she regarded me--was amazingly clear.

My stock reply when somebody tells me I changed my hair came to mind:


I don't know any other way to be.

But that's okay because I honestly don't think I'd want one.

This same friend told me once that when her cat dies, she'll never get another pet. She'd already experienced so much loss in her life, she said, that any loss she could prevent, she would. Why get a cat if one day it's no longer going to be here?

I may make myself vulnerable--incredibly, stupidly, embarrassingly, heart wrenchingly vulnerable--but I don't think I'm the one who needs to be felt sorry for. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Bitchin' Ca- Matrix?

I'm not going to accuse Griffin of breaking my car, but even though it was working fine when we embarked on his driving lesson, about half-an-hour later, after leaving the park where he almost hit a tree, and after a whole lot of lurching and stalling, there we were, stranded in the parking lot of a Jehovah's Witness church with a car that wouldn't start. That's all I'm saying.

I know it wasn't his fault, and I'm not at all mad, but let me tell you, the experience was...well, the experience was an experience. A learning experience, I guess I would say.

Even though you'd think that it wouldn't be since I've kind of been here before.

Like in my long-ago post, I'm Just a Girl, I was once again confronted with a situation I'd normally rely on Glenn for help with, and like in that long-ago post, I'm not really in a position to ask him. Or at least I'm in the position of really, really not wanting to.

So I didn't. Instead, Griffin and I sat around wondering what to do and who to call. Luckily for me, the Jehovah's Witness church Griffin and I were stranded in wasn't far from the house of a former student I know really well, so I was able to get her to drive over with jumper cables, and, well, long story short, thanks to her father being gracious enough to come and help both her and me out, Griffin and I were able to get home.

Lesson number 1, a lot of which I already knew and is rolled up with a bunch of sub-lessons: I'm not as capable of doing a lot of things as I should be (although no matter how capable, jumping a car without an accompanying car is pretty much as impossible as it gets), and I'm way too reliant on Glenn. Still, I'm able to keep calm in a "situation," and although I technically didn't get my car started on my own, I did find a way to get it started. So in the end, I can get things done.


I've never really been concerned with material things, and I think nothing demonstrates that more than my attitude toward cars. I've never been one to care about the appearance of my car, and for pretty much ever, I've judged and scorned people who do. When I see somebody in a crazy big SUV, I generally think that someone's a showoff and an idiot; when someone, like my sister, for example, freaks out about a scratch or micro-dent on her car, I think she's shallow and superficial; if I'm driving and see someone with a TV in their car, I immediately think that person's an ass; when I walk out and see my neighbors, youngish boys who think they belong in The Fast and the Furious, washing and buffing their cars almost every single day, I wonder where the hell their mother went wrong. Way more interested on spending money on things I find enriching like food or experiences, I've long deemed people like the ones above inferior and for years have proudly displayed my falling-apart car as an emblem of my moral superiority:

1. when the roof got mildly dented by a falling tree branch during one of the last hurricanes, I ignored my insurance's call for claims;
2. when I somehow got the faint paint impression of a pole on the passenger side, I pretty much didn't care;
3. when, one by one, my hubcaps disappeared as is a problem for most Matrixes, I was like, who cares? It's not like a car needs hubcaps to drive;
4. when I bumped into a gas station median a few months ago and got a pretty significant dent on the passenger side (not far from that paint impression I acquired years earlier), I wasn't exactly thrilled, but seeing as how I was already missing four hubcaps, had a small dent in the roof, and paint that wasn't supposed to be there on the side, I figured it wasn't really such a big deal;
5. when the passenger side door handle cracked in half and came off in Keifer's hand, I have to admit I was horrified for a second or two, but not nearly horrified enough to spend almost $300 to get it fixed;
6. and when the back passenger side door cracked in half in Glenn's hand last weekend, I paused but in truth, barely batted an eye.

I mean, a paid-off car that I bought brand new that takes me on road trips and gets me to work and to pick up my kids and has room for my dogs and is good on gas, and did I mention the car is paid off, meaning I don't have a car payment and haven't for more than three years and if I keep up with the mechanical stuff might not for three years more?

It kind of makes the cosmetic stuff seem like not such a big deal.

Which brings me to

Lesson number 2: I knew my student drove a BMW, but when she pulled up in the shiny damn thing and parked it next to not just my dented-up, hubcapless, no-door-handled, but also filthy, dusty, hasn't-been-washed-in-more-than-six-months-since-the-last-time-I-went-to-the-oil-change-place-that-washes/vacuums-the-car, the-car-wash-part-wasn't-working car, I have to say I didn't feel very good, and when her dad drove up about twenty minutes later in his truck with the spotless, perfect-looking engine and put his jumper cables in the crud-encrusted, leaf-filled hood of my car, I felt, I think the word is, humiliated. Absolutely mortified. And so it would seem I care about appearances a little more than I like to think. And maybe, just maybe, people who like to have nice things aren't as horrific as I've made them out to be. 


My door handles and hubcaps should be arriving from Amazon some time next week.

Friday, September 12, 2014

You Take the Good

"Those who don't believe in magic will never find it."
                                        -Roald Dahl

Today, I wore a star on my face. A little gold star that from far away probably looked like a piece of dirt or maybe a mole. I wore it right smack dab on my left cheekbone.

Like this (try not to focus on the nose):

It wasn't planned. I want to say it ended up on my face by accident but that wouldn't exactly be true because it's not like I bumped into a gold star with my face. What actually happened was this morning when I bent down to pick up my shoes from the hallway right outside my bedroom door, it caught my eye: a single gold star shining on grey carpet, juxtaposed with my matte black shoes.

Where it came from, I have no idea. Neither Griffin nor Keifer has done any recent school work that would entail using tiny, shiny gold stars, and it certainly wasn't there when I put my shoes on the floor last night. Regardless of how it ended up there, though, there it was, and to me--well, to me, it was magical.

A magical gold star.

A magical gold star that appeared out of nowhere.

A magical gold star that appeared out of nowhere meant for no one but me.

Now, I don't know what you would do if you found a magical gold star meant specifically for you, but to me, there was no choice other than the one I made, and so I brought it into the bathroom, looked in the mirror, pressed the tiny, shiny, non-adhesive magical star to my skin, and what do you know? It adhered.

Just like magic.

As you can maybe imagine, the star invited commentary. Miss, you have a star on your face; Miss, there's a sticker on your face; or Miss, do you know there's a star on your face? were repeated throughout the day. Most of the time, a simple I know from me was all anybody needed, but one girl just couldn't understand. After she asked me if I knew I had a star on my face and I said yes, she asked me if I wanted it there (umm...if I didn't want a star on my face, and I knew it was there, would I have a star on my face?). When I assured her I did and walked away, I heard her saying she didn't understand why anybody would want a star on her face.

What I don't understand is why anybody wouldn't.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Imperfect Boys with Imperfect Ploys

As a feminist and someone with an interest in sociology, I've often wondered about men and women's roles not just in our society, but in all societies (or at least all societies I'm aware of. I realize there may be an anomaly or two out there. If there are, they're too few and far between to be relevant to this post).  I've wondered why and how it is that since the beginning of recorded history until now, men have been the one with all the rights and women have not. How is it, I wondered, that no matter where you look and no matter when you look, women couldn't vote...women were property...women had to cover X part of their bodies...women were stoned or covered in acid or their hands were cut off...women weren't allowed to work or go to school...women were ruled by men's decisions about their body? Was it simply that men were physically stronger? It couldn't be. Physical imbalance couldn't possibly explain the dominant role of men in societies everywhere.

Except I actually kinda think it could.

This summer there was an incident. For reasons that I don't agree with AT ALL, I can't reveal the name of one of the people involved, so for the sake of the story, let's call him Bob. Bob is eighteen and someone I know very well; in fact, I've known him pretty much his entire life. I also know his family, and he knows mine. We're like family, I guess you could say. Well, this summer, I was sitting down having a conversation with Bob--a normal, civil conversation with no voices raised--when, out of nowhere (like, literally, out of nowhere. I had witnesses to the conversation who confirmed it came out of nowhere, that nothing bad or antagonistic was said and that Bob is just a fucking lunatic), Bob says, maliciously and in no way at all kidding around, Fucking bitch.

I don't know what I did, but I imagine my mouth dropped open, I was so in shock. I know I didn't say anything. I was too surprised. And a second later when Bob stood up, said, Whore! and walked away, I also kept my mouth shut, just as I did when a minute later, he called me a pig. It wasn't until he called me a pig face (um, hello, have you seen this Greek/Italian/Jewish schnoz? Has Bob ever actually even seen the face of a pig?) that I said anything at all, which was that I didn't have a pig face because I had a big nose, and that it was funny because he was actually the one with the nose that kind of looked like a pig's. And that's when things got really crazy.

Bob, who's 5'7" and weighs about 230 pounds (there's a pig comparison there, but it's so easy, I won't point it out), came at me threateningly and, with the 90 pounds he had on me, shoved me against the wall and wouldn't move. He just held me there with his big belly, and there was nothing I could do. Nothing. And let me tell you, I was scared. Forget scared. I was terrified. Luckily, it was at that point that Griffin, a soon-to-be man who weighs 115 pounds and has never fought in his life, hit Bob in order to get him off of me (can I just say it's a good thing Griffin is the one I had there to defend me because if it were Keifer, I'd probably have been killed while he continued to sip his coffee and build things in Minecraft?). It was also at that point that things got a little crazier, the short version being that I was in between Griffin and Bob while Bob was hitting Griffin inches away from a sliding glass door and it was only because another man came along and was able to restrain Bob that Griffin and I didn't end up in way worse shape than we did.

What you're meant to come away with from that story isn't that Bob is an unstable fucking lunatic nutcase (although you probably did, and that's okay) but that it was all men running the show. From Bob's attack rendering me helpless to the fact that my fifteen-year-old son who I outweigh by twenty-five pounds had to free me to the other man who physically pulled Bob away (not once, but twice, but I'll stop the story there), it was all men.

I was absolutely, positively helpless.

Only two other times in my life have I felt that way, and yes, they both concerned men. One is a story I've already written involving an electrical cord and a rape, so excuse me if I don't go into it all over again. The other occurred when, five years ago, Glenn forcefully took my phone from me and refused to give it back. He came into our bedroom and ripped it from my hand, and no matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get it back. Honestly, Glenn is so much stronger than I am, my trying to physically get anything from him he didn't want me to have would be laughable if it weren't so frustrating, infuriating, and sad. Not only could I not get my phone--my phone, my very own phone, which I bought and paid for, which was MINE--but he also wouldn't let me out of the house. Because things were so insane, I tried to go to my sister's, but every time I did, Glenn blocked the doors. We have a front and a back one in my house, and try as I might, run as hard I could, bolt as abruptly as I did, every time I made a move, Glenn overpowered me and got right in front of the door.

Like this summer with Bob, like December 5, 1988, on that spring night of 2009, I felt completely and utterly helpless, impotent and powerless and entirely at the

--at the what?



(certainly not mercy, for not one of the men involved in these incidents showed any mercy)


(certainly disposal, for all of the men involved in these incidents saw me as an object, merely a thing capable of reinstating their loss of power)

--disposal of men.

Some of you reading out there, especially men, are probably annoyed or perhaps getting angry, thinking all men aren't like this, this blog is a gross generalization, plenty of nice guys abound and plenty of women aren't so nice at all; in fact, plenty of women fight just like men and are strong just like men and dominate people just like men, but I'm happy to point out that this is absolutely not the norm, and on a biological level, men are naturally stronger than women, and on an evolutionary level, they're dominant from their strong jawlines to their prominent brows. My argument is about none of those things. What is my argument then? I guess I'm not entirely sure (just like a woman, huh?). But when I take into account that even Griffin, who's half Bob's weight and one-hundred percent intellectual and therefore, zero percent fighter, hit Bob in my defense, which is something I would never do, resorting to screaming and panicking and freaking out instead, I think what it comes down to is this:

As "evolved" as we've become, as "civilized" as the world now is, as much "progress" as (it seems) women have made, women will be women and men will be men, and we will always--always--be at their mercy, and no amount of so-called equal opportunity or legislation or feminist ideology is going to change that.

And that really, really sucks.