This was written back when people used pay phones. And calls cost .10 cents.

November rots. Rots like the jack-o-lantern decomposing on my porch. Or as my 7-year-old daughter would say, it sucks eggs. I know I’m *supposed* to be all grateful and thankful for each and every particle of air I inhale like everyone else seems to be in November. But November brings out the spoiled brat in me, the me that wants to have a tantrum fitting a 2-year-old when they aren’t getting their way or want something, complete with throwing myself on the floor, pounding my fists and kicking my feet. My family has experienced great loss and trauma in November, and as rational and positive as I can be about the cycle of life, sometimes I care as much about being rational and in control of my emotions as I do about why oh WHY Jennifer Aniston isn’t married yet.

That being said, sometimes I come across an item or get a “sign” that reminds me the people we have lost, whose bodies are no longer here, are still with us in our memories and our hearts and in my case, in a house full of 40 years worth of their stuff. I was sorting through some of it over the weekend and I came across a piece of writing I completed in college. I went to college in 1990. No one had computers in their rooms. No one had phones in their rooms. We had a pay phone on each wing of our residence hall and we took turns calling our families on Sundays like convicts. There was BIG excitement when my roommate’s family gave her a word processor for her birthday. A *word processor*. So that is the context in which the following was written. If I had to guess, this was my Senior year in college, when I was a sociology major and all up in the grill of feminism because it was submitted for an assignment labeled “Girl Project.” I called it “My Mother’s Daughter”, and I share it here today because it’s some darned good advice, and because sharing my Mom with others makes the fact that I can’t pick up the phone to talk to her right now to hear her voice rot a tiny bit less.

My Mother’s Daughter

Always keep a dime in your pocket in case you need to call me. There’s safety in numbers and remember to leave me a note when you leave so I know where you are. Go at your own pace, don’t let anyone push you around. Throw plates against the trees in the back yard when you are mad; never discuss anything when you are angry. Don’t take trips down memory lane by yourself. If you really love it you should have it, if that’s what you really want to do then you need to do it. Do whatever you need to do in order to survive, make the best of a bad situation, don’t make promises you can’t keep, be ready to sacrifice yourself for someone else, protect your children. Take in strays, be prepared to be able to live independently, learn from experience, teach by example, use your best judgment. Let music give you goose bumps, grow flowers around your house. Celebrate difference, don’t grow up to be just like anyone else unless you want to. Appreciate the spiritual side of life, don’t hide your scars, never say good-bye, only see you later and always do wonderful things for people just because it’s wonderful and if you do there will be stars in your crown in Heaven.

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I really said “The fact that I was doing the dishes was a freak accident.”

In my last blog post, I told a story of doing the dishes and getting so caught up in the act that I spaced time and place and my daughter missed her dance class. It appears that in the same post, I inadvertently gave my boyfriend Chris a bad rap. I did not mean to make it sound like he does nothing but sit around being adorable all day while I walk around with myself nailed up on the Cross. Although quite frankly, he *could* sit around all day doing nothing but being adorable because he really is. And he is a delightful human in many ways, not just that he is a Domestic God. I wrote this about him yesterday in response to an inquiry regarding if he helps with chores and children and whatnot:

“Of course he does. He does them all (chores), actually. Cooks, cleans, does the laundry, runs errands, does the shopping, takes care of Eva like she is his own. The fact that I was doing dishes was really a freak accident. Somehow, on my watch, we managed to dirty 100000 dishes in a matter of a couple of hours.”

Before Chris moved earth and sky in his life to come live with us, Eva and I had been independent women for a long time. We were unruly, messy and lawless. We were having a blast and while we weren’t living in squalor per se…let’s just say organization and neatness were not top on my priority list as a single mom working outside of the house who was on total damage control from a life that had been turned upside down, twirled, shaken, rolled around and dropped mercilessly at my feet.

So when Chris moved in he had expectations that we conduct ourselves with some sort of decorum. Do things like pick up after ourselves, flush the toilet on a regular basis and eat meals at a table and the like. There was shock. There was awe. There was backlash on multiple levels.

On one occasion early in the transition period, after being told to put whatever she had gotten out to play with away Eva said to me, under her breath and on the down low something like “I don’t get it. I mean, I’m just gonna have to get this out again anyway. Why can’t I just leave it here where it’s an eyesore and where people would step on it and slide to their broken hips? What’s with the rules?” I recall responding with a shrug of my shoulders and something like “Yeah I dunno.”

Eva was not used to having to systematically clean up after herself. She was used to “cleaning up” meaning Mama running around cleaning (and by cleaning I mean shoving things in closets and drawers, sometimes under beds) like a cat that got it’s tail stuck in a socket because someone was coming over for a holiday or something. Full scale cleaning was an emergency, not a regular occurrence.

I remember one other time I did the dishes. She was in Kindergarten and I was driving her to school and from the back seat I hear her sweet, angelic voice singing “Wake up in the morning feeling like P Diddy. Grab my glasses I’m out the door I’m gonna hit this city. Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack….” I remember thinking “Oh fantastic. My five year old kid is going to skip into school singing Ke$ha and the teacher is going to wonder what the hell is going on and hotline me, and Child Protective is going to come to the house and I better do the dishes!!!!” That is how we rolled then.

We live a more civilized existence now. I suspect we are still far and away from fulfilling Chris’s neat and tidy expectations, and we are as perfect as any other family out there, but we have all learned to meet each other in the middle. Eva has learned very useful life lessons and skills and rarely has to be reminded to pick up after herself – no more or less than any other kid. I have managed to train her in The Things You’re Allowed To Say At School and The Things You Can Only Say At Home. Chris has come to laugh at us, mostly. I’m still a work in progress. Most importantly, since he has come to live with us, our walls that seemed so sad and empty have become a home again, filled with laughter instead of tears. And that is worth doing all of the dirty dishes in the world to me.

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It is just as likely that a Unicorn will walk up and slap me in the face as it is that I will find this thing you call Balance.

Balance just doesn’t exist for me.  Laine Griffin and I just did a podcast about this very topic at www.kateandlaine.com.   I’m a single mom in the truest form, I am literally the only parent my daughter Eva has in her life.  While some single parents have a weeknight when their child goes to the other parent, or maybe even every other weekend, I actually GAIN two children every other weekend when my boyfriend’s two kids come to stay with us.   I work out of my home, so right there is roughly 50 hours a week that I am not addressing anything in my personal life.  The numbers just aren’t there.  Something is always out of whack.  If I volunteer at the school, I have to deal with not being at work.  If I don’t volunteer at the school, I feel the Cornerstone of Parenthood (Guilt) and disappoint my daughter.  If I don’t work out, I turn into someone Atilla the Hun would fear.  If I do, again with the guilt because usually while I’m there my daughter is at the afterschool program.  I overcompensate by being her Girl Scout leader, soccer coach, backstage dance and gymnastics Mom on the “off” hours and weekends.  Does my boyfriend get pissy every time I get out the laptop in the evening to write this blog? Oh yeah.  He’s giving me the stink eye over my shoulder right now as I type. 

On Saturday, I was trying to get the house cleaned up a little bit before I took Eva to dance which starts at 11am.  I was washing dishes, and when I was done I went to talk about the rest of the day with my boyfriend’s daughter.  Here’s that conversation:

Me: “Ok so after I drop Eva off at dance at 11, I’ll come home and we can figure out what we’re going to do for the rest of the day.  What time is it now?”

Her: “11:04am.”

Crap.  Multi-task Fail.  Today, after I picked Eva up from school and went to the gym for my boxing class, we went to Wegman’s for dinner before gymnastics.  While I was in the burrito line, (What? I work out for mental health purposes!  And I totally read Playboy for the articles), I ran into my Girl Scout co-leader who happened to be next to me in the salad line and we were able to get some real business done!  Multi-task Win!

We absolutely careen serendipitously through each and every day.  It’s nuts.  There’s no balance here, I doubt I would even recognize it.  But our life is awesome, and we are *living* it. We get out the door every morning fed and dressed, and we end up clean and in bed each night.   I feel like this quest for balance is just another way we moms can get down on ourselves and each other, just another standard we will stress about meeting, or failing to meet.  Each parent needs to define balance for themselves and for their family, and measure their success based on their own happiness.

Sometimes I get so tired I really do hallucinate that Unicorn though.

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Celebrity Death Match – K-Dash vs. Ann Coulter

Remember Celebrity Death Match?  I wanna say it was on MTV.  A “clay-animated series featuring no-holds barred fantasy fights between famous and infamous from the worlds of film, tv, music and politics when they tear each other limb from limb.” 

Sometimes? I like to make my own matches in my head from people in my life or people in current events.  Yesterday I was home sick, and spent some time ruminating on a Death Match between Kim Kardashian and Ann Coulter.  Wouldn’t that be SPECTACULAR?! I pick K-Dash for the ridiculousness that was her farce of a ten million dollar wedding that lasted *almost* as long as my most recent sinus infection.  And Ann Coulter for recently going all my-toys-are-better-than-your-toys when she stated, “Our blacks are so much better than your blacks” in regard to her beloved conservative republicans versus liberal democrats. 

Oh, Ann.  It’s not really nice to use possessive terms to indicate ownership in relation to a group of people who….oh I dunno…..have been OWNED before.  I wish you gave a rats ass but know you don’t, and I know you think there is nothing wrong with what you said, because you’ve since defended your statements.  I shudder.

The only other observation I have from my sick day home, watching quite a bit of daytime tv, is this:

I really hope I was hallucinating when I heard “Feather Hair Extensions – The Latest Hair Craze Sweeping the Nation!”  Someone please send some to Ann.  She deserves them.

In sexy, sweaty solidarity,

Kate

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Say My Name!

I fall on the end of the spectrum of perfectionism that is called “utter paralysis.”  In the quest to do something (anything/everything) perfectly, I usually end up not doing it all.  So choosing a name for my blog felt like something akin to feeling a need to organize a closet and going to Bed, Bath and Beyond, or visiting thecontainerstore.com.  Then, when faced with all of the gazillions of choices, systems and gadgets just sort of spacing out and getting stuck on stupid. (You know how they say “figure out what you need for organizing and THEN buy it, don’t buy it and then try to organize….I have a room in my house which is literally filled to the brim with bins and bags in an amazing assortment of sizes, colors and functions.  Not organized, just thrown in there.  The rest of the rooms that the assorted organizational foofara was supposed to organize, sit un-organized.  But let me tell you, when I get the itch to actually organize, I have all the tools I’ll need! If I can get to them!  (Incidentally, the show Hoarders scares the crap out of me).

So after the brain-cramping uselessness that was me trying to find a name that encompassed everything I wanted to say about my blog but at the same time would be catchy, fun, funky, different, stand out, blah blah blah, I went to where every right-minded individual goes and hit up Google.  I’ll be damned if there aren’t blog name generator programs out there! Hurray! I was just gonna click a button and a cool name would manifest itself.  Here’s a few of what I was given, and my commentary:

Grooveway : Sounds too much like a disco supermarket.

X-Job: Blog is not about my ex, my career as a stripper or escort, or as a CIA agent, all of which come to mind here.

Kayplus: No, I won’t be talking about my dress size.

E-Strip: Again with the xxx rated-ness.

Good lax: Raise your hand if your brain immediately went to Ex-Lax. 

Bugger Journal: Too much information.

Frisky Mission: Also too much information.

Chubby Images: OMG WAY TOO MUCH INFORMATION.

Empty Blathering: Not really the essence of what I’m trying to convey.

 I gave up at Chubby Images, but compulsively clicked again and when I got Empty Blathering, knew it was time to quit. I felt like The Perfect Name would just “come to me.”  And it did of course, while I was at the OBGYN with my feet up in the stirrups, my butt hanging off the end of the table and the nurse practitioner feeling up my boobs, rounding second base.  She asked “Do you see any difference in your breasts?”  I replied “Well, they’re saggier.  I gotta either BUY a push up or DO a push up!”  She laughed, and a name was born. 

Here’s why the Push Up name is perfect.  I can use that sultry, a lot-left-to-the-imagination-and-interpretation picture at the top of the blog which I love.  It’s not me, but let’s pretend I look like that and typically hang out with jewelry draped provocatively around my fingers.  The real reason it’s perfect is that I find that many times in my life, I am facing down the barrel of issues/situations/conundrums that can either be fixed on the surface by simply putting something pretty on it and calling it perky (a la the Push Up Bra), or by going deeper to get to the heart of the issue and fixing it (DOING a push up).  

Sometimes I’m drooling over the Victoria’s Secret Angels and their Push-Ups, sometimes I’m drooling on the floor of my gym from *doing* pushups.  Much can be learned and laughed about from both perspectives. 

In sexy, sweaty solidarity,

Kate

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