35

I shaved my mom’s head recently. Thereby bringing full circle a path we had started down more than 20 years ago when my parents dropped me off at college, and my dad turned me into a “street tough” with the help of a beard trimmer.

(This is the epic neck-shaving incident from the autumn of 1993, which I had the joy of retelling recently when I shaved the back of my own daughter’s head. But that’s another story entirely, unrelated to this particular cake-walk. My kid, she does her own thing. Oh, wait, maybe it’s not entirely unrelated…)

The night before my parents dropped me off at college in Minnesota, I asked my dad to shave the back of my neck. My hair was cut pretty short already in an angled bob (which, with what was left of the bad perm I had my senior year in high school, made me look like a human-poodle hybrid), and I wanted him to shave the back of my neck and line it up with the bob so I wouldn’t have to worry about getting a haircut for a long time. (I hate hair maintenance.) He obliged, I was happy, and neither one of us even remotely considered the possibility that my mother was going to hit the ceiling.

Which she did.

There was a huge fight, which took place in the bathroom of the friend’s house we were staying in, wherein she yelled at my dad for aiding and abetting me in what was apparently my pursuit to look like a “street tough.” And yelled at me for wanting to do such a ridiculous thing to my own head in the first place. It was messy and loud. But the hair was gone, and there wasn’t anything to be done for it except yell.

In retrospect it was a necessary argument to make the separation the next day a little easier on everyone, because my parents were about to leave me 1,600 miles away from home. This is, apparently, a big deal when it’s your firstborn kid. I’m starting to understand that a little better now that I have spawn of my own to launch.

Either way, thus was born the “street tough” legend that would come up in our family any time someone shaved part of their head. (Because that is the magical thing that makes you into a street tough, you know. Shave part of your head and BAM – street tough. I’m still not sure what that entails beyond the head shaving, but apparently it’s a bad thing. I mean, I did end up getting tattoos, too. Obviously the haircut was the first step down the wayward path of hedonism and crime I find myself on. Oh, wait. No crime. Damn.)

Which brings us into the present day, and my moment of truth.

I went up a few weeks ago to visit my parents and check in, specifically with my mom. She’s been having chemotherapy to deal with her breast cancer (last one finished this week, much to everyone’s relief, now on to radiation), and she’d landed in the hospital with an infection a week or so before.

She was home and fine, but I just needed to see her face. It’s difficult to be this far away from my parents when they’re going through this.

Chemo sucks. I think this is a truth universally acknowledged to be true. And one of the crappy things about it is that your hair falls out. But it doesn’t all fall out at once. It sheds in drips and drabbles and it leaves a mess all over the place. My mom does not do well with this kind of mess.

She had talked about going down to the local barbershop and just having them shave her head, but when I came to visit she still hadn’t taken the time to do that, which kind of surprised me. We talked a little bit about how annoyed she was with all the bits of hair being left everywhere, and how the mess was bothering her, and I could see from her body language that she was folding in on herself and deflating every time she talked about it. Then she mentioned that she kept meaning to go get her head shaved, but that the barbershop chair was directly in front of a large plate-glass window, and she didn’t want to go in and put herself on display like that.

We had been cleaning the hair off the bathroom floor while she was telling me this, sweeping up the bits that kept shedding as she went through her day. Vacuuming pieces of my mother up and discarding them, as she would put it. And though she was being very matter-of-fact about this story she was telling me, I could see this was bothering her. She needed someone to just do the deed. To take her by the hand and sit her down, and just be done with it.

So I did.

I sat her down on the bench they keep in their bathroom, got out my dad’s electric razor, and used the clipper extension to shave my mom’s hair down to the absolute nubbins right there. All of the bits falling to the floor at once. No more waiting for it to finish. Facing away from the mirror. No more dreading the plate-glass window. Just done.

She has a nice-shaped head.

It’s the same size and shape as my grandmother’s head.

I realized this as I smoothed my hands over her skull, brushing bits of hair to the floor, looking for parts I had missed. Gentle with my mom’s fragile skin, worn out with chemo.

The sense-memories that hit me as I did this, smoothing my mom’s head as I shaved off the remnants of her hair, took me back to the times I had put my grandmother’s baby-fine hair into the soft rubber curlers she used, helping her do her hair when her arthritic hands were too sore to be useful. I would stand behind her as she sat at her kitchen table, in the few years I was old and tall enough to do these things for her, before we lost her to cancer. Methodically putting her wispy, fine age-whitened hair into the curlers she would then sleep on.

My mother and my grandmother, their delicate skulls housing beautiful brains. Wildly different and exactly the same. Matriarchs.

Standing behind my mother in the bathroom, helping her deal with this moment in time that she had been dreading and anticipating ever since the diagnosis came down, I thought of how many times she cut my hair when I was a child. How many times I watched her cut my brothers’ hair. All the hair that had been through her hands, and how there I was, with hers in mine.

I turned the razor off and put it on the counter. I smoothed moisturizer over my mom’s newly-shaven scalp, watching her shoulders relax with the moment having passed finally. Letting go.

And then I thought about that evening in Minnesota, when my mom was so very angry at my dad and me for shaving my neck. For turning me into a street tough.

And I laughed.

Because here we were. Full circle.

I was turning my mom into a street tough.

And it was good.

34 (As in the number. Because I am done with weeks. So there.)

It’s been a while.

I have to admit, even opening a blank document caused me to feel like the elephant who has taken up residence on my chest shifted a little heavier. But I’m writing anyway. Fuck that. The elephant can just cope.

So what we have here is a perfect storm of depression and Life Events (which I will get into eventually), combined with a horrible self-destructive certainty that I am the world’s crappiest writer. (Not because I’m actually a crappy writer, I think I’m middling okay when I’m actually doing the work. But because I should be writing instead of wallowing inside my own brain with no audience to appreciate the level of lunacy I achieve in there. The material never stops, it just doesn’t get expressed.)

Writers who are not writing are crappy writers. I know this to be true.

My depression tells me I’m an awful writer who doesn’t deserve to put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard, whatever). And then I don’t write. Which makes me mad at myself for not writing. Which makes me more depressed.

You get the idea.

But I don’t like that life. So here I go. Writing.

Let me tell you a story…

At the tail end of Summer, early Fall, I met a guy at a farmer’s market. Seemingly nice person. Fun to talk to. And he behaved in a genuinely interested fashion, which I enjoyed. (Hey, it’s nice to feel LIKED, you know?) We hung out a few times. Had some good conversations. He made me laugh. He bought me a meal. There was some overt flirting happening. We spent some quality time texting. It was fun.

Then it got a little weird.

He messaged me out of the blue one day, maybe a week after the lunch date, asking what I thought of him moving to my hometown (from where he was residing, two hours south) if things went well when he met my kids.

Now, hang on just a minute

A) Dude had not actually been introduced to my children.

B) We had shared one meal. Just one. During daylight hours. In public.

C) I could count on one hand the number of times we had been in each other’s presence.

So now I started to become much more concerned about the level of clinginess being displayed by this adult human being. And I’m looking at the stories he had told me of his past relationships. And I’m thinking maybe distance here is a good thing.

I told him it was a bit soon to be having that conversation. He seemed to comprehend this in a reasonably intelligent manner, so we kept talking.

But things were decidedly amiss.

This became even more apparent when he abruptly ceased all communication. No warning. No explanation. (I’m not an idiot. I got the message quite clearly.)

I ignored the silence for about a week. Then, after some ruminating, and in a moment of downright pique, I sent one word.

“Chicken.”

Whereas the message I had sent voicing concern about his well-being the week before had gone unread and unanswered, THIS got a response.

(And if I had any desire to go back into my archives and revisit those messages I would copy and paste his reply to the very last letter, because it was rife with misspellings and godawful punctuation errors and I’m feeling particularly bitchy about the whole thing. But alas, you can’t have everything. So I’ll clean it up and paraphrase. He can’t say I never gave him anything. Asshat.)

He started with, “Well, there’s no need for name-calling!” (Because that’s the really important point here. Not the radio silence for the last week.)

And then he proceeds into this convoluted, badly-written story about how he got busy with his “new job and new girlfriend” and he couldn’t very well be bothered to message ME because how would that look?!

Sweet holy hand grenades.

Setting aside all the previous talk about how he wasn’t one to prioritize work over his relationships with the people he cared about, and how it was so important to be up front and clear with people. Glossing over all the lip-service paid to how it was so much better to be straightforward with people. (I could see I was going to have to just pretend those conversations never happened.)

All that aside…

Nope. I got nothing.

Seriously dude, is it really that hard to be the person you pretend to be?

I mean, to just send off a quick text, “Hey, I can see we’re not going to work out, I’m going to move on and look for an alternative. Have a nice life.” That’s all. Not asking for a complete dissertation on why things are obviously not meant to be. (I’m pretty smart, I can see the writing on the walls. It gets really clear, really fast. Yay for dodging bullets. Again.)

So I shoot back a message saying thanks for the explanation and that it was a jerk move to not at least mention to me that he was moving on. But hey, at least now I knew he was alive. (I may have gotten somewhat sarcastic. I may have been a bit irked.)

And, rather than leaving it alone, this nimrod writes back telling me he was “just trying to be friends” with me and that it was all in my head, so it wasn’t HIS fault I misunderstood.

So, instead of bowing out, he chooses to fucking GASLIGHT me.

Thereby rocketing right up the scale from mere asshole to gaslighting rat-fucker with that singular message.

(And yes, I feel very strongly that people who sell their reality as truth when it’s opposite the factual evidence are deserving of such colorful descriptions. Taken in small doses, this behavior is temporarily angering and damaging. Taken in a drip-feed over years, it is soul-destroying. Been there, done that. Bought multiple t-shirts.)

My response was succinct.

“Whatever you need to tell yourself to make your reality work for you, dude.”

I waited until I could see he had read the reply. (I suspected it wouldn’t be long. I was right.)

Then I blocked him.

Because that way madness and homicide lies.

Were I a different human, I would go back through the impressive message catalogue I accrued in the few weeks we were communicating, and I would plaster copies of those “friendly” messages wherever it struck my fancy. I would burn his fictional world down in the “friendliest” of ways.

But that would require energy. And he’s not worth my time.

I have to explain. Normally I would not maybe feel quite so strongly about this insignificant mosquito in my ear, but circumstances have conspired against me.

My mom got diagnosed with breast cancer.

And, because the universe likes to pull these kinds of bizarre juxtapositions sometimes, this happened on National Coming Out Day this year. Which also happened to be the day I decided to out myself on social media (because I feel representation is important, but I also didn’t want to have a bunch of weird individual conversations with people who didn’t know I’m bisexual).

So, after I’ve posted this thing that I’ve been pondering declaring for YEARS, I drive to work. It’s a beautiful day. I’m feeling pretty good about the universe as a whole. (Disappearing Jackass had only been incommunicado for a couple of days at that point. A mere annoyance in the grand scheme of things.)

As I pull into my parking spot at work, my phone rings.

It’s my dad.

I immediately assume it’s a phone call about my declaration.

It’s nothing of the sort. Not even a little bit.

My dad tells me my mom has breast cancer. That she had a lump, that she ignored the lump, but finally had a mammogram and found out it looked very much like cancer. That she already had an appointment to have a biopsy and see a surgeon and talk to an oncologist. That I was supposed to just carry on and go in to work and do what I needed to do because the people who needed to be handling things were handling things. So not to worry. (Telling me not to worry always works. Like magic. No really.)

He had no answers to my questions beyond, “We will know more after the biopsy.”

My mom’s universe was turned upside down. As a result, the universes of my dad, my brothers, and myself were all completely upturned as well. That’s how these things work. She’s the matriarch. She has to be okay. That’s the rule.

So this is the news I was given roughly 72 hours before I sent the “Chicken” text.

Yes, I was deliberately inflammatory. I figured he had done exactly what he ended up telling me he had done (the whole new job, local-girl-with-lower-standards route). This news was not a huge surprise.

It was the confirmation I wanted. That’s all.

I got it.

Life goes on.

Yes, my mom is going to be okay. In the weeks following that particularly difficult day, she has since had a successful lumpectomy and will be having further treatments (radiation, chemo, all that fun stuff) in the coming months. It’s going to suck for a while. But there is an end in sight. Which is the best of all possible things.

Familial chaos aside, my personal life is going disturbingly well at this particular moment in time. I’m not quite sure what to do with that feeling. So I’ll just let it percolate.

And if I leave you people with anything here, I leave you with this: Please for the love of all that is good and holy and beautiful in this world, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES. Get the weird lumps and bumps checked out. Pay attention to the moles and the weirdness. Know that you are vital pieces of a brilliant and amazing whole and as such I need you ALL to be okay.

(Oh, except for the gaslighting rat-fucker I was talking about earlier, he can neglect the hell out of his health. Maybe I’m not that nice a person after all. Those are the other things I leave you with. I’m not that nice, and don’t be that guy.)

Got it?

Good.

Week Thirty-Three

A terrible poem in place of a blog this week. (Because of all the things.)

I Am Not A Poet

Writing.
Distracted. Look, over there!
Chores, paperwork, chores, more chores.
(Squirrel!)
(Or, in this case, kittens!)
Writing.
(Gotta get the kids ready to start school next week, gotta pack for the wedding this weekend, gotta run some errands, gotta do ALL THE THINGS.)
Coherence is not in the cards.
(Squirrel!)
Writing.
Deleting.
Crap.
I’m gonna bake sugar cookies instead.
(Not squirrel cookies. No squirrels will be harmed in the making of the cookies, I swear.)
It is inevitable.
I will think of all the things to write while making cookies.
And will write them in the dough before baking.
People can eat my words.
Sweet.

Week Thirty-Two (I never liked Thirty-One anyway)

I’ve had a hard time writing these last couple of weeks.

It’s difficult to tell what the cause is, precisely. At first I was just chalking it up to general malaise. It’s been a trying year. But then, when is it not?

Okay, granted, the challenges this year include a country that appears to be self-destructing and a far too realistic cartoon villain in the White House… But the other, more typical, struggles remain. (You know, stuff like keeping food on the table, bills paid, household running with some semblance of order, and clothing on children’s backs. Oh yeah, and that whole clinging to sanity thing. And if I can toss a little time into dismantling the patriarchy and challenging people’s preconceived notions about society and humanity, then all the better. Lots to do, you might say.)

Where was I?

Right, malaise and self-destruction.

And then the news today included the dethroning of one of my favorite creators: Joss Whedon.

Because it wasn’t enough that my plumbing required several hundred dollars’ worth of urgent help this week, that I lost a day of work because of a (totally awesome) solar/lunar event on Monday, that my stove (much like my brain) is experiencing issues which require professional help, that I had to have an appliance repair guy out to fix my washer last week (another big check to write), a garage that needs cleaning out, a back yard that’s beyond overgrown, or that I have two children starting at two different schools in a couple of weeks (and a brother getting married in another state just a few days before THAT happens).

(I’m out of breath typing that. Funny. And seriously, what is up with all of the appliances crapping out at the same time?!? Is there a curse I don’t know about? Did I piss off some cosmic Appliance God?)

But no, in addition to ALL OF THAT, Mr. Whedon, someone whose writing I have greatly appreciated in the past, got outed as a cheating rat bastard sonofabitch and then proceeded to toss some not-so-subtle gaslighting in the direction of his now ex-wife. Because if you’re going to be outed as an asshole, you may as well go all the way and cement the impression.

Goddammit all to hell.

(Yeah, I know. Don’t have heroes. We are all flawed. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever.)

But see, now my problem becomes one of focus. Because this stupid news story has me flashing back to my own marriage, and the emotionally draining, awful bullshit that ensues when one is married to a liar.

(This is why I hate lying. To the depths of my soul. Despise. Abhor. Vehemently dislike. No, really. If you want to piss me right off, lie to my face. It’s one of my favorite things. And by “favorite” I mean it makes me feel all warm and stabby.)

And now I can’t focus on either of the blog post topics I was working on. Which irritates me.

No, really. What is it, people? What is so damn difficult about ending one relationship before starting another? Is there a thrill in the secrecy that makes it addictive? Is it abject stupidity? Do people get off on deceiving the people who love them the most? All of the above?

Yeah. All of the above. And then some.

Weirdly enough, this news comes at a psychologically opportune moment for me. Because I am working through a mental disaster area of my own creation, after ignoring the emotional ramifications of my own divorce for a few years. (Because ignoring pain always makes it SO MUCH better. No really, I’ve tried it. Lots. It’s totally effective. If you want to tank your brain chemistry. Which is something I excel at.)

So, seeing as the news is triggering all these nasty memories and has started some fabulous tape-loops in my brain, I may as well throw myself into it and ruminate on my past. It’s not like I have a choice, anyway.

Together with my therapist I am going through and unearthing the awfulness that is my emotional state when I think at all about the end of my marriage. Because it sucked. The whole thing. (Not the whole marriage. There were good days mixed in with the godawful. And the kids are well worth the whole shebang.) But the end of the marriage sucked. Beyond the beyonds. (And it took two years to disintegrate after I found out about his extracurricular activities. Longest two years of my life.)

My former spouse put a lot of energy into lying to me.

It was only later, when I put together the timeline of actual reality (two years of his affair-having when lined up with two years of incredibly stressful marriage yielded some illuminating moments), that I realized how much lying had occurred. How much of my reality was fiction.

Because that’s what happens when someone is cheating on you. They lie. To preserve their life. To preserve the status quo. To be able to come home and have the unwavering goddamn support of their oblivious, trusting spouse. The same spouse who held them when they were brokenhearted after the deaths of their parents. The same spouse who carried and birthed their two children, thinking we were somehow together in our goal of raising an intact family. The same spouse who moved states so he could follow his career. That spouse.

(The same spouse who apparently still has some repressed anger she’s working through…)

I became the spouse who called and pretended to be someone else so I could get the Other Woman on the phone and judge her character for myself. (Enlightening conversation. I was not what she expected. His lies were equal opportunity. She thought he was leaving me for her. She was rudely awakened.)

I became the spouse who had to do the math to figure out if his (married) girlfriend’s toddler might be his. (Not his. Thankfully. But I will forever have the memory of doing that fucking math.)

I became the spouse who didn’t throw him and all of his things out of the house that very first night because I didn’t want our children to know what had happened.

I became the spouse who tried desperately to make things last with therapy and raw conversations that felt achingly one-sided.

I became the ex-spouse. Because I couldn’t raise my children to think that it was okay to treat the people you loved like they were possessions, to be controlled. Because it’s more important to me that my kids grow up knowing that they don’t have to take crap from anyone. No matter who that person may be.

And then I became someone who faced her fear of handling things alone (though I have family and friends who continue to keep me from drowning, and I am never truly alone – thankfully), and started rebuilding my life. With my kids. Trying to raise them to know their worth. Trying to raise them to know their strength.

And I did all of this because I still believe in love. The stuff of legends. The kind that swallows you whole and cracks your world open.

I was not wrong to love my ex-husband with my entire heart. I was not wrong to trust him. He was wrong to betray that trust and love. His choice, not mine. I’m not settling for some half-assed love that takes me for granted, ever again. I’m worth a hell of a lot more than that.

That bears repeating.

I am worth a HELL of a lot more than that.

It has taken me a long time to regain my power.

And I still have off-days.

But I AM WORTH A HELL OF A LOT MORE THAN THAT.

And I hope the former Mrs. Whedon remembers that she is, too.

Week Thirty

I have absolutely no idea what to write about this week. (But I bet simply by writing that sentence I’ll come up with SOMETHING to prove myself wrong… and behold! There appear to be more words below this. Almost like magic.)

I dislike reliving my worst childhood nightmares. The news this week has me reliving them. Vividly. Which is making it difficult to sleep. And difficult to write. And most certainly difficult to focus in any kind of productive manner on the more mundane daily stressors.

The threat of nuclear war is one of my old nightmares. As it is, I’m sure, a nightmare for most humans with any kind of a decent grasp on reality.

When I was an elementary school student, we would have bomb drills. (Because “duck and cover” would TOTALLY save your life in a nuclear attack.) Later they were played off as earthquake drills. Now kids have “active shooter drills.”

As a parent I have a hard time with this. My children were in elementary school when that started to be a thing. A thing that they would spend time practicing. In school. Where they were supposed to be learning basic skills. Like math, reading, and now, apparently, how to avoid bullets.

Nope. I don’t have anything good to say about that.

The fact that this is something real and the fact that we, as a society, have seemingly decided this is an acceptable way to live…

Nope. Nothing good to say. That way madness lies.

I’ve spent a lot of time living with fear.

When I was a tiny little kid, in addition to worrying about nuclear holocaust, I would worry about the house burning down. I had dreams where I would have a set amount of time before the fire would consume the house, and I could only save the few things most important to me. (That dream carried on until I went away to college, actually. I’m sure there’s a deep, psychological reason for that. Whatever. I’m just grateful I don’t dream about all-consuming fires any more. I also used to dream I could fly. Those dreams I miss.)

I also worried (and had epic nightmares in accompaniment) that Godzilla (or a Tyrannosaurus Rex, or King Kong) would come crashing through the woods behind our house and reach in my window and skewer me with enormous claws. (I even moved my bed into a corner against the outside wall so it would be easier for me to hide. Logically, the monster wouldn’t be able to see me if I was against the wall by the window. It was a terribly sensible strategy. And, you’ll notice, I never did get eaten by Godzilla. Solid survival skill.)

(And then there was that panther living under my bed that would eat me if I didn’t jump from the door to the bed. But thankfully that was just a particularly memorable one-off nightmare.)

I also accidentally watched two horror movies at a party when I was young and impressionable. It was a slumber party. There was peer pressure. I was nine.

(I never would have gone out of my way to watch them on my own. I hate horror movies. Severely dislike with extreme prejudice. Loathe. I could go on… I once allowed my then-fiancé-later-husband-now-ex to make me watch the first Scream movie in a theater. Telling me it was supposed to be funny. Which it was NOT. And if that’s your idea of funny you can just go watch it by your own damn self. While I go watch something a little less stabby and more Pixar-esque.)

One of the more popular fourth grade girls had a slumber party and I got invited. (This was before they realized how very uncool I was, which wouldn’t be until the next year when I started crocheting in class.) Her best friend’s parents owned a local video store, which gave them access to ANY movie they wanted. So they chose Nosferatu and Poltergeist. Poltergeist was a little bit gross and freaky, but for some reason Nosferatu was the one that scared me beyond all reason. I ended up sleeping with my head in the bottom of my sleeping bag that night, utterly upside down and very warm. But at least no vampire could get me there. (Unless the terminally undead have a thing for toes. This was not a thought that occurred to my fourth-grade self, thankfully.)

After this evil movie extravaganza, I became extremely worried that vampires would get me while I was sleeping, so I spent numerous years sleeping with the covers wrapped up and over my head with just a small space for my face to peek out. (I’m not kidding. YEARS spent sleeping like that. I still get a little wigged out if things get near my neck in any kind of an abrupt fashion. Yet I refuse to wear turtlenecks. Because they’re secretly trying to strangle me. Honest.)

Wait… where was I?

Oh yeah. Fear.

None of these fears are really based in logic or reality. There are no vampires. Godzilla doesn’t live in the woods of Maple Hills. And, while there may be a million cats living in my house who will happily consume my remains should I drop dead unexpectedly, none of them are living under my bed and actively trying to kill me. (That I know of. Thank goodness they lack opposable thumbs.)

However, right now humanity seems to think annihilating itself is a good thing. And I’m one of the humans on this rock. So I find this disconcerting. And I am full of fear. And I am not sleeping.

Maybe I should watch a horror movie.

I would much rather be afraid of vampires.

Week Twenty-Nine

Road trips with my kids are one of my favorite things. All sorts of interesting conversations take place when you’re trapped in a car with people for hours on end…

We drove up to Whidbey Island recently for my dad’s birthday. The long drive gave my teenaged daughter a much-needed opportunity to catch up on some of the sleep she had missed by staying up all night to paint designs on the bookshelves in her room. (It looks fabulous. She didn’t ask first. But it’s her room, and like I said, it looks fabulous. More power to her. Express away, my youngling.)

After a short nap, my adolescent son decided this was the perfect opportunity for him to have an Important Discussion with me. Usually these discussions involve random questions thrown out right as he’s going to bed. Last week’s gems were, “Who invented the calendar?” and “Who is smartest, you or dad?” (I did my level best to be as diplomatic as humanly possible on the latter. The former, I said I would Google later since it was almost midnight and I hadn’t the brain power to discuss the history of the various calendars all over the planet.)

Unfortunately, this discussion wasn’t nearly as simple to field as the other ones had been. It was far more entertaining, though.

My twelve year old son informed me, quite seriously, during this car ride north, that it was time for me to get off my ass and go on a date. (I caught the bouquet at my brother’s wedding a couple of years ago and my son has been holding that over my head ever since. I had no idea a bundle of flowers could be considered a binding contract.)

His words were (and I quote to the absolute best of my memory), “Mom, it’s time to ‘man up.’ You need to ask someone out! Don’t you know any single guys in our town?”

After I finished laughing my ass off (while still somehow managing to stay on the road), I answered, “No, all the people I know in our town are either married or your father. And I’ve already dated him.”

Thus followed several minutes of my son brainstorming the different males of eligible age he could think of in a ten mile radius. Which, seeing as he is only just going into the seventh grade, is an exceedingly limited pool.

When he gave up on that line of thinking, he started to formulate a more concrete set of parameters. (Suddenly there were dating rules. Coming from my adolescent. Who still needs to be reminded to brush his teeth on a regular basis.)

He suggested I try online dating, which led to a whole different discussion as I recounted the three dates I had been on as a result of online dating in the last five years. (If nothing else, I figured those stories might be helpful for educating my son in how NOT to behave on a date. I live in hope that he will be a good partner to someone someday. And that he will always brush his teeth before a first date.)

These stories, however, did not dissuade him.

He informed me that I would have until Halloween to get a date on my own. If I have not gone out on a date by then, he told me he would take it upon himself to create an online dating profile for me.

My response to this was, of course, “Oh HELL no.” But I have a sneaking suspicion he is just internet savvy enough to follow through on his threat. This makes me decidedly uneasy.

Now, setting aside the potential comedy in allowing my adolescent son to write a dating profile for me (because you KNOW that is going to be an enormous source of entertainment, and possibly a little bit horrifying), I am absolutely not in favor of dipping my toes back into the online dating pool. I’m just…not in the mood. I’ve done it. It’s tiring. And I’m not feeling energetic enough to deal with that level of human interaction.

Being a female on most dating sites is like throwing yourself into a pool of piranhas and hoping there’ll be a goldfish swimming in amongst them. (Yeah, yeah, yeah… I’m getting cynical in my old age. I met my ex-husband online. He met his extramarital girlfriend online. I’m biased. Sue me.)

But I suppose I’d best get my ass in gear and find some poor, hapless soul to go out with me. Which means leaving my house. And socializing in a date-like fashion. At least once, before Halloween. (Anyone have any single friends who preferably aren’t homicidal maniacs wanting to have coffee or see a movie sometime?)

Seriously. Otherwise my kid will take charge of my dating life. And I’m pretty sure that’s not going to end well.

It might make for some good stories, though…

Week Twenty-Eight (Twenty-seven skipped town)

I have a lot on my mind.

I had a friend message me the other day about something I had posted on Facebook a while ago, wanting a discussion about some heavy stuff that I was not capable of discussing at the present moment. Not because I don’t like discussing heavy stuff, but because I am just flat-out OVERWHELMED right now. (I hadn’t realized exactly HOW overwhelmed I was until this friend messaged me. But that was, apparently, my breaking point. Sorry lady. You had no idea what you were getting yourself into. The perils of being my friend, I guess…)

In an effort to convey exactly why I was incapable of discussing the intricacies of the differences between “tone-policing” and “gaslighting” (Yes, there are differences. No, I am not going to write an essay about them tonight. Go spend some quality time on Google, people. Or take a class or something. I don’t know. Just don’t ask me right now. Later. Maybe.) I sent her a list of some of the things that are percolating and stirring in my brain right now. And it was incomplete. I stopped around seven. Simply because to go any further would be too exhausting.

This is why I am having a hard time blogging lately. This is why my sanity is hanging on by a very thin thread. (And sure, I seem reasonably functional to the general public. Because that is WHAT I DO. I work my ass off to seem functional. Some days require a much larger effort than others. If I break in front of you then I have failed. And I hate to fail.)

Things I am worried about that are causing my shoulders to be tense, my neck to hurt, my stomach to twist, my blood pressure to rise, my head to ache, and gravity to drag me to the ground:

1. The state of our country

(Huge despair there. Enormously disappointed. And so very, very tired of watching us step on our own air hose. We suck. It makes me sad and angry. And ashamed. And angry again.)

2. Student loans

(I have to reapply for that whole financial hardship deferment or whatever it’s called. And it’s depressing. For many reasons. And I’ve been putting it off. Along with a million other life-management things that I really shouldn’t be putting off. But I’m in the middle of a nasty depressive episode here and self-care items such as that gets pushed way down on the list. All the better to give me something to beat myself up about. You know, because I like to have REASONS why I can think I’m a failure at everything. Because my stupid brain wants me to fuck it all up so it can justify the self-loathing. It’s very clever in self-sabotage. Years of me trying to work around it has made it get creative.)

3. Yard that is rapidly becoming jungle

(I’m too tired to even think about that right now. Because it requires goats, at this point. Or a small meteor.)

4. Garage that hasn’t been cleaned out since I moved into this house around seven years ago

(It is full of stuff in boxes from when we moved in. And since my marriage imploded a few months after we moved in, a lot of stuff just never got unpacked. So, when I go through the garage it will be an enormous undertaking that also involves dealing with a lot of emotional crap that will need to be unpacked as well. There are reasons it’s been festering for this long. I have been a tiny bit too busy raising my kids and surviving to take the time I’ll need to go through all of that stuff and deal with the emotional ramifications therein. This is why I have therapy. Because I can’t clean out my garage. Functional people can clean out their garages. If I were functional, this shit would have been done a long time ago. But I close the door and pretend that room doesn’t exist. Because I like to avoid emotional black holes wherever possible. Nevermind that the avoidance of said black hole only serves to create another one, into which I currently find myself dipping my toes. This is why it’s important to DEAL WITH YOUR EMOTIONS WHEN THEY ARE HAPPENING. I know this intellectually. I do not practice it very well in reality. Which is why I have Depression. It’s self-feeding. How convenient.)

5. Dysfunctional uterus that apparently is not quite dysfunctional enough for my health insurance to cover any kind of solution, but just enough to make my life extremely painful in new and interesting ways

(You do not want to know. Believe me. I don’t want to know either, but I have to live in this body so I have no choice. This feeds a whole different level of anger on the state of our healthcare system. Because if I had money this would not be an issue. But I don’t. So my pain is insignificant according to the insurance company. Fuck them so very much. And fuck the government for even DEBATING taking away my healthcare. I am very angry right now. I don’t like anger. It leads to the Dark Side.)

6. Teenager who is starting high school in the fall and also getting to an age where interpersonal relationships get a hell of a lot more complicated

(This is a big deal. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. High school is fraught with drama, and my child is a Queen of the Dramatic. It’s going to be a fun ride. Thank goodness she’s an awesome kid. I swear I hit the jackpot there. Even with the drama. She’s fantastic. I am ridiculously lucky. But she’s still a teenager. So… yeah.)

7. An adolescent son who is needing a ton of guidance to navigate and cope with middle school

(I have never been a teenaged boy. Despite having a haircut called a “boy’s regular” when I was his age and occasionally being mistaken for one…  I watched my brothers evolve through those years, but as a sister and from a distance. So I still have no clue. And now I have this fabulous kid and no idea what the hell I’m doing. I hope I don’t screw this up. And I worry about the role model he has. Because I used to live with that role model. I divorced that role model on purpose. But that’s his dad. And you follow the examples set before you. I worry. All the time. I’m a mom. I can’t help it.)

8. Family stuff

(My baby brother is getting married in a few weeks. The wedding is taking place at my parents’ house. My mother is relinquishing control of her kitchen to caterers. She is a dear, sweet human being. But if you fuck with her kitchen she will cut you. So this has been interesting to watch unfold, from afar. I think weddings are crazy-making no matter who you are or how you go about it. And this is going to be a fabulous one because the people involved are completely awesome. But the crazy-level has been holding pretty steady here in the run up to the wedding, and I’m fairly certain it’s not going to dissipate until it’s all done and dusted. But hey, there will be cake. And cake is always good.)

9. Ex-husbanderial unit stuff

(So that whole “gaslighting” vs. “tone-policing” message stemmed from a post I made on Facebook about gaslighting. It involves a long story about my ex-husband and the events of the last few weeks that culminated in me standing in my driveway last week confronting him for various reasons. [And seriously, dude, if I have to take you out of the house and into the driveway to tell you off, you know you’ve gone too far.] I did not tell the story on Facebook, and I’m not telling it here. Suffice to say I had to explain the concept of gaslighting to my teenaged daughter. I am still angry. All I have to say about that right now is NEVER let anyone else tell you what you hear with your own ears and what you see with your own eyes is WRONG. Fuck that. Do not let other people dictate your perception of reality. Period. No matter who they are. I lived with that shit for YEARS. No more, goddammit.)

10. So many other things… that I have to stop now. Because I’m tired. And I’ve had a migraine for two days now. Which has made it even more difficult to get this written. Computer screens are not friendly for migraines. Migraines are my body’s way of telling me I need to shut the world off for a while. And because I am me, I have been ignoring this message. Which is why the migraine will not go away. It’s going to make me listen to my body whether I like it or not. Dammit.

But I needed to vent. Not venting leads to bigger migraines.

And yes, this list is significantly different from the list I sent my friend. Because she’s my friend and she gets me unedited, to a certain extent. There are things I do not blog about. If you want to know what they are, you’ll have to get to know me better. And that way madness lies.

May the Force be with you.

Week Twenty-Six

It’s the Fourth of July. I am supposed to feel extra patriotic today. And I do. But it’s a painful patriotism at this particular moment in history. I am worried about this country I reside in. We are in trouble. Lots and lots of trouble. (Don’t pretend we’re not. There is no point in faking it. Too much window-dressing in our reality these days, anyway. May as well call it what it is.)

I am watching my country fall apart in new and interesting ways. (As opposed to the old, worn-out ways… Look at us being all innovative in our destruction. I always knew we had it in us. We are nothing if not creative.) My country, that I love so very much, is in dire straits.

Yet still, I do love it. Our America. I think we can be more than we are. I think we have potential.

Despite our faults. Despite our blindness. Despite our resistance to positive change. Despite our inability to look critically at ourselves, at our actions in the world around us, at the way we represent our United States of America everywhere and in everything we do. (Self-reflection can be a very good thing. We really ought to consider practicing it a bit more.)

Through the veneer of flags and fireworks, of parades (heavily policed, even in my small town), barbecue, and beer, we are not as shiny as we want to believe we are. We have a lot of work to do. We need to grow up.

Right now our America represents fear, regression, and the last flailing throes of some dinosaurs who are about to realize their God of Money is ultimately worthless. A pretend God. A God that will not buy them clean air, drinkable water, or respect. Big change is coming, and those dinosaurs are scared to death. Fear infuses everything they do. And they try so hard, and effectively, to infect everyone else with that fear.

I wonder, quite sincerely, if we – as a country – will be able to survive this coming struggle. We have a choice, here. I’d like to think we are capable of greater things. That we can rise above this cesspit we’ve fallen into and become the America we could be. That we should be. But I have been infected by fear, too. And I suffer from grave doubts.

That still doesn’t stop me from dreaming.

In my ideal America, we acknowledge and learn from our faults. We are not infallible. But we also try not to actively cause harm. In my ideal America we take care of our fellow humans to the best of our abilities. (And yes, that means accepting refugees, ensuring a living wage, and giving everyone health insurance.) Because we are not assholes and we should know that lifting up the people around us lifts us all up as a whole.

(Notice, I did specify very clearly that this was MY ideal America. I’m sure there are a lot of other people out there in this country who have very different ideas as to what America means to them. And they are welcome to go write a blog about it. Because it’s America, and currently it is still okay to do that. But this is my ideal. And in my ideal country, people behave like compassionate human beings. And they don’t bloody well live in fear all the damn time.)

Humans have a lot of potential.  Americans have a lot of potential. Unrealized potential. I would very much like to see us become better than what we are. Because we can.

(Lately, the scene from A Bug’s Life, where the ants realize they outnumber the grasshoppers in vast numbers, keeps playing in my head. Do with that what you will.)

In the meantime, my neighborhood smells of sulfur. Booms continue to echo at random intervals, sometimes with an accompanying crackle.

We are celebrating America, as it is, in all its flawed glory.

(None of my cats are happy right now. This noisy nonsense does not amuse them in the slightest.)

My family has lived in this town for ten years now. The celebration has grown a bit since we first started attending. But it’s still a small-town American parade. With the Shriners zipping and honking in their little cars, sporting fezzes. Local businesses tossing candy and coupons into the crowds (which get bigger every year). And the local high school band, doing their high school band thing, in among the random clubs, horses, and ancient (but shiny) cars.

When we first started attending the festivities, ten years ago, the kids were toddlers and the ex was still husband. (It’s weird living three blocks away from my former husband in a tiny town. I can’t think of any other way to describe it. I mean… Nope. It’s just weird.)

We would spend time getting the kids all dressed up in patriotic garb and put them in the little red wagon, replete with bags of tossable candy for the kiddie parade (the precursor to the main parade). A few blocks through the hot sun with toddlers and we were usually paraded out. Thus followed a low key afternoon, ending with the fireworks extravaganza in the riverfront park in the next town over during the evening. It’s become a tradition.

Even post-divorce, we all go to the parade and fireworks together. Some years it’s more strained and awkward than others. But this year, five years post-divorce, we seem to have a pretty decent routine down. (Two major holidays a year – Christmas and Independence Day – that we share for the sake of convenience. Christmas is harder. Independence Day is a cake walk.)

This year the strain and awkwardness stemmed from the fact that my teenaged daughter has started bringing companions to the fireworks. And by “companion” I mean teenaged boy who seems to be attempting to cultivate a mustache and is just as excited about YouTube personalities as my daughter currently is. Entertaining to watch. Horrifying to contemplate.

This follows a recent trip to California where there were older teenaged boys in the hotel pool who were openly flirting with my child. (Risking their lives, too, with me sitting right there watching. Because I know for damn sure I’m a better swimmer. And she is only fourteen. I don’t want to have to use my swimming skills for evil, but if properly motivated…) She was, of course, oblivious. (Sometimes she is SO my child.) Her friend and I pointed out the flirty behavior when we were walking back up to the room. My daughter was aghast at the thought.

My kid is right on the edge of high school. It is not going to get less awkward.

This everyday stuff is what is happening even as I despair at the state of our republic. My kids are growing up. They’re just now starting to see that there is a world out there around them. And that maybe the things happening in that world can affect them on a more personal level.

They look around and see a different world than I do. They look at our country with greater cynicism and a more critical eye than I ever remember having when I was a teenager. [I’m really proud, actually, of how clearly they see the world around them, even at this ridiculously young age. (Shut up. They were toddlers yesterday.)]

These kids, their world will be very different. Maybe even better. If we can just stop feeding the dinosaurs and let clearer heads prevail.

I have hope.

Remember, humans, we are all travelers on the same rock hurtling through space and it would behoove us to work toward the betterment and survival of our species. Otherwise this fantastically livable rock will kick our pestilent little asses off like the vermin we are, and some other species will fill the void we leave behind.

Let’s not be vermin. Let’s be something better.

Week Twenty-Five

First I was going to write about the rest of my Minnesota trip. Because that’s where I left off.

But then I was interrupted by a trip to California. And there are multiple layers to that one which could be explored. (Have I ever mentioned I’m a champ when it comes to emotional compartmentalization? I am a fucking Olympian. Medals, that’s what I earn.)

And then my inability to cope in the face of multiple Depression triggers overcame all other topics. Grief, flashbacks to betrayal, anger… (The universe has it in for me lately. I’m starting to take it personally. But that’s because I’m Depressed.)

Which is where I am at now.

So you get rambling this time. I have too many things in my brain and too many directions I’m veering all at the same time. And when my mind goes down this particular rabbit hole/maze there’s really no telling where I’ll end up.

Rather than giving up this week and just saying, “Fuck it. I’m not writing. I can’t even think in coherent sentences let alone put a whole theme together and follow it,” you get stream-of-Depressive-consciousness. Lucky you.

My ex-husband gave me, my teenaged daughter, and the friend of her choice a trip to VidCon (which was last weekend) and a day in Disneyland as a Christmas gift last year. That’s how I ended up going to California. (There is no possible way I could afford a trip like that in my current financial situation.)

“How nice!”

“What a kind gesture!”

“You’re so lucky to get to go on a trip like that with your teenager and her friend!”

“Look at the nice ex-husband you have!”

Yes. I get it. A trip to California is a very nice thing. And I really appreciate the opportunity to go on a vacation with my kid and her friend. I can barely afford to take my kids to the ocean for a weekend day-trip. I have a mortgage, and bills, and car maintenance, and food, and medical bills, and cats to feed, and a teenager who thinks money is magical, and an adolescent who is growing at a horrifying rate… and… and… too many other practical things to spend what little money I have on.

I was not asked ahead of time if I could afford to take the time off work. (I can’t.) I was not asked if I had any other plans that particular week. (My 20th college reunion was in the same month, and I had started planning and budgeting for that a year ago. It was sheer luck that it didn’t fall on the same weekend.)

The first I heard of this plan was when I opened the tickets on Christmas morning with my daughter. (We share Christmas, I’ve mentioned this before. In the interest of peace on Earth and goodwill toward familial harmony and all that happy stuff.)

My daughter was overjoyed.

My emotions regarding this trip were (and continue to be) extremely complicated. And they involve control issues and a heap of baggage from my marriage that I really don’t want to dwell on right now.

Or rather, I AM dwelling. A lot. In my own damn head. And my particular emotional duffle bags (because I can’t even fathom having matching luggage, even of the ephemeral kind) are complicated and angry and emotional and full of THINGS. I don’t want to write about them right now. For those reasons.

(Those things are why I have a therapist. And why my therapist earns every damn penny.)

My compartmentalization skills are no joke.

Emotional minefield aside (and there was absolutely a minefield, and I stepped on a few, and was rewarded with some really awful flashbacks), I had a fantastic time in California with my daughter and her friend. It absolutely was the trip of a lifetime. I have never gone to VidCon before, and I probably never will again. But it was an incredibly entertaining experience. I have an all new appreciation for what goes into those YouTube videos my children love so much, and a newfound affection for some of the personalities behind them.

(Kids these days, and their newfangled media. Why, back in my day we had to get up off the couch to change the channel! And it was uphill both ways!)

To have a day in Disneyland at the end of it was most decidedly the icing on the cake.

I love Disneyland. This was my fourth trip. My first was with my family when I was around my daughter’s age. And it was a magical, fabulous, happy place. The attention to detail in the rides, and the environment as a whole, was a beautiful thing to me. It still is.

Second trip was with my high school orchestra. We performed in Disneyland (which was incredibly fun) and got to go into one of their studios where they recorded the music to go with the animated films. We had an opportunity to perform part of “Little April Shower” from Bambi and try to match it to the animation. That trip was a blast. We all got to roam Disneyland together. My orchestra was a friendly, close-knit group. Getting to play in Disneyland with a bunch of my friends was phenomenal.

I love everything about that place. The fantasy of it all. It’s a full-on, non-stop performance in a controlled environment. My theater-geek heart loves the choreography of every moment. The staged scenes, the costumes, the constant state of revelry.

Even as a semi-responsible adult of almost-grown children I have no problem whatsoever in suspending my disbelief for one day, letting go of the world’s grimness, and just being happy in that place.

My third trip was after I got married but before we had children. We had gotten an unexpected windfall in the form of a settlement from the local garbage/recycling dump which had been required to pay off everyone within a certain radius of their aroma. (When the wind was just right your eyes would water.) There had been a suit. It wasn’t a ton of money, but it was enough to fund a Disney vacation. My parents, myself, and then-husband all went to Disneyland and had a wonderful time. (My ex and I had some good memories. Those ones hurt the most. The crappy ones are way easier to bear.)

It had been at least seventeen years since that trip.

Disneyland is just as magical as I remember it being. I dragged my mostly-willing (except for the hottest part of the day, they were almost as enthusiastic as I was) teenaged companions all over that park from opening until closing.

The rides! The costumed characters! All the Star Wars stuff! Sleeping Beauty’s castle!

We started with the Jungle Cruise and had a second turn on the Indiana Jones ride as our last hurrah, and with a scant half an hour left before closing, called it a night and headed for the bus. I’m guessing we put in at least twelve miles that day. I could spend days in that place and still find new things to see. Between the fanciful environment and the people-watching opportunities, there is no end to the sights.

So yes, a fabulous trip. Emotionally and physically exhausting. But fabulous.

I am exhausted.

I have had non-stop PEOPLE (with an exception of 12 hours all alone last Tuesday night, when I was packing for California) for two weeks now.

I am an introvert.

I do not do well if I have to go this long between nights of NO PEOPLE.

I love my children dearly. And I would go to the ends of the Earth for them. But dear goddesses and little fishes do I need a night off. (A week would be better, but I’m making do with what I’ve got.)

If I do not get time to be alone, to recharge, to not talk to human beings or deal with other people’s emotional needs… Well, then I am more susceptible to that spiral leading into the current Depression I am experiencing.

And I was already skating on the edge. (Oh hell, who am I kidding? I’ve been spinning in the Vortex of Doom here for a while now…)

Oh yeah, and I had to undergo a frigging Mental Health Intake Evaluation (I’m jumping through some hoops in hopes my insurance will cover my therapy) this week. This is the mental equivalent of a Range of Motion test. You know, where the doctor has you twist your arm (or whatever appendage is having issues) into uncomfortable and sometimes painful positions in order to best assess the damage. Invariably you end up hurting MORE after one of those things.

It’s the same thing when your mental health is getting examined.

Because that’s essentially what happens.

You spend an hour or so rehashing every Depressive episode in your lifetime (and in my case that starts in childhood, so it’s a long hour). Covering family history to map the prevalence of genetics in the equation. (My gene pool… Let’s just say my Depression is not a big shocker.) Listing all of the triggers you can think of. Skimming over the surface of some particularly nasty cesspools. Dipping just enough of a toe in to send ripples out and bring barbed tentacles of bad memories to the surface.

Answering the same questions I’ve been answering for a million years.

No, I am not a danger to myself or others. Yes, my mood is affecting my ability to enjoy life. No, I do not hear voices. No, I do not self-harm. Yes, my mood is affecting my appetite. Yes, my mood is affecting my ability to sleep. Yes, I am experiencing anxiety. Yes, this anxiety is affecting my ability to complete everyday tasks. Yes, I have feelings of worthlessness and despair. (Logic has no place here, so don’t even bother telling me I’m wrong to feel that way. It’s Depression. Your reason does not belong in this place.)

Yes, my depressed mood is affecting my ability to complete daily tasks. Yes, I am experiencing physical pain in addition to mental anguish. No, I don’t want the doctor to call me about it. (It’s arthritis and old back pain that is all-too familiar and there’s no point in dwelling on that shit.) Yes, I really do need my insurance to cover my therapy because I know my brain chemistry and I know when I need to get help. I would like my insurance to cover that help.

Because my mental health affects my physical health, which affects my ability to live a productive life and parent my children in the manner in which they deserve. And I will handle this shit before it gets to be scary. Because my kids need me. And I like being on this side of the lawn.

Therefore, I sat in front of that intake nurse and ripped all of the band-aids off one by one. Systematically.

That was yesterday.

And between the last two weeks of non-stop travel and social-interactions, and the mental repercussions of opening up every old wound I’ve ever experienced, I am all done.

(Oh, and I won’t even begin to get started on what’s happening to my country right now. Because that is NOT helping my anxiety issues in the slightest. Like battling my own brain chemistry isn’t enough, the world has to be burning down around my ears in reality, too? Humanity has a LOT of growing up to do. I hope we live long enough to do it.)

So, as much as I would love to trip down memory lane and write about my adventures in minor crime and tap-dancing in Minnesota, that will have to wait until I have recharged.

I have to go turn off the ringer on the phone and binge-watch Disney movies.

Now.

I need my happy place.

Week Twenty-Four-ish (Not Completely Part Two, But Something)

I really should be packing. My summer vacation has started with a bang, with back to back trips all over the damn place. I’m not used to all this traveling.

I have to leave for the airport tomorrow morning, at 3:30 a.m. And if I were a sensible adult I would be asleep right now, trying to get any rest I can before escorting two teenaged girls to California for the next five days.

But I’m not packed yet.

And I have a kitchen full of dishes that need doing, because no one wants to come home to a dirty kitchen after being on vacation. Sadly, I lack dish fairies, therefore I must get my ass in gear and get it done. (My minions are at their dad’s. He is driving us to the airport. This trip and the circumstances surrounding it are a whole OTHER blog post. We are just gonna gloss over the fact that I’m taking a vacation with no vacation time… But I do get a day in Disneyland. Life’s full of little trade-offs.)

And I haven’t had any time to work on my blog post this week. At all. It’s been a whirlwind of one thing after another, after another, and another. And maybe one more, just because.

So, I can’t write about everything that happened over my reunion weekend tonight. (Because I have to pack.)

But I will give you this:

I now worship at the Church of the Reuben, which congregates at Cecil’s Deli in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It is my church. Fellow worshipers are welcome to make their own pilgrimages, whereupon they will see the wisdom of my ways and properly revere the food that graces their once bereft palates.

I believe the Reuben at Cecil’s has been touched by the most divine of sauerkraut recipes, and the sliced corned beef (or hot pastrami, should one be compelled by thine own most intelligent taste to partake of the Russian Reuben) is such a thing of beauty that I saw the Gods and Goddesses of Food look down upon it all, and express their everlasting delight at their creation.

(As well they should, because that stuff is fucking delicious.)

May I also recommend you take a moment and worship at the Altar of the Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie on your way out of church. Because it’s not often one can hold a morsel of Heaven in one’s mouth… but those cookies made me cry. And I know cookies.

On that note, now I am hungry for a sandwich that is roughly 1,800 miles away from my mouth. This seems unfair and wrong.

I’ll just have to vet the sandwiches in California and see how they compare.

To pack, I go…