Saturday, December 31, 2011

Rockin' New Year's Eve

My mom used to tell me that the way you spent New Year’s Eve was supposed to be some indicator of how you were going to spend the rest of the year. Well, if that’s the truth, let’s forecast 2012 for a minute, okay?

It will be loud and a little chaotic. It will be jam-packed full of giggles and dancing and messes and  hitting and I’m sorry’s and kisses and I love you’s.

Jeremy and I thought about doing something. We even planned some stuff. All of it fell apart with a tired wife and an injured husband and two kids that hadn’t both been home with both of their parents in what had started to feel like forever. With Jeremy’s new schedule and the split shifts I work during the week, finding us all four hanging out in the living room floor is a pretty rare thing.

So, instead of going out, we’re home, in our jammies. On the menu: Pizza. On the television: Megamind.  On the agenda: Not a whole lot. The truth is all of the anti-excitement that’s happening tonight is kind of what we all four needed. If Mom’s superstition is true and I will get more of these kinds of nights in the next 12 months, I could get really right with that.

At midnight, I’ll kiss my husband, just like I’ve done every year since New Year’s Eve 2000, except this year (unlike the last few) I won’t have to wake him up first. His new found nightowl-ness is definitely something to thank 2011 for.  The fancy clothes and the fancy shoes and the fancy cocktails will have to wait until next year. Truth is I’m really not a huge fan of fancy shoes anyway. I’d rather wear my slippers.


Thanks for the cuddles, 2011. You’re alright in my book.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Yay December!

It would be ridiculous to try and start where I left off, so let’s do the quick version, k?

The last couple of months, since my computer crashed and I had no computer and my computer left me and I was alone and abandoned, have been good.

Seriously, good. Busy, but good.

My kids are healthy and my marriage is healthy and my life is a little hectic and a little messy and a lot loud and a lot happy.  It’s not like you missed much. Just a lot of mushy ramblings and notes of contentment. New jobs, new starts, new words and discoveries and awards and superheroes. Good stuff. Good, good stuff. I didn’t get a chance to write about all of it. I’m trying to learn to manage my time better. And, you know, the computer thing didn’t help. But, the good news is, here we are in December, my favorite month of the WHOLE year. My birthday, Jesus’ birthday and Santa brought me a brand spankin’ new laptop. Yay December!

With everyone already starting to talk about the New Year and their resolutions, I started thinking about whether or not I’d ever actually made one…and kept it. I can remember making the ones to lose weight and to keep my house organized. Those usually lasted a few days, at most. There was the one (or two or three) where I resolved to finally finish my degree. (Hint: I enrolled in my first college course in the fall of 1999) And, of course, the one where I quit smoking…

I went back and read the first two blogs I wrote at the beginning of the year. The first one, while I hated it later, makes sense to me now. It was about being happy. That was the goal for 2011. When I got to my second post, I had decided that the first post was stupid and tried to start over. The final draft of the goal was actually just to Be. And by doing so, to write. I’m really glad I didn’t follow my natural instinct and delete the first post. It’s like me to do that. To take something that I feel, think, want and disregard it later just because it got too tough. Too uncomfortable.  Too intense. I think, looking back at the last year, both goals still hold completely true for me. I want to be happy. duh. Don’t we all? I also want to Be.

To Write.

Why I couldn’t see the connection between writing and happiness, in being, then, I haven’t quite figured out yet. But I’m working on it. And that totally counts.

So, instead of starting to worry about what I have to change for the next year, I decided to just get a little excited about what I’ve already done.

This marks my 15th post. Do you know how many posts I had in 2010? None. I’m not super good at math, but I think 15 is more than none. Since my resolution, in part, was to write, I’m going to put that in the success box. I’m sure there will be something in 2012’s about consistency and content and blah, blah, blah…but we’re not there yet. We’re getting excited about 15 posts, remember?

I decided to write and I wrote. I didn’t get published. I didn’t write a novel. I didn’t write every day.  I didn’t even take a legitimate swing at having an actual blog. But, at the end of the year, I wrote, which is exactly what I set out to do.  

I have had a couple of people ask me when I was going to write another post. I guess the answer is…Now. The writing thing is still on the top of the list. We’re just going through a few learning curves. It happens. Don’t expect any new resolutions until I get a better handle on this one, though. I’m making a new rule for myself: I DO NOT have to feel obligated to make a New Year’s resolution if last year’s is making adequate progress.

It’s making adequate progress. I promise.

Oh and, silly enough, the original destination of happiness has managed to somehow find a cozy spot right next to writing and the two have found a way to exist, and thrive, together.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Everything I need to know...

I learned from television.

Don’t judge me. I was a latch key kid. There were way worse things I could have gotten into. I have an unnatural relationship with fictional characters. Always have, always will. I can take comfort in the fact that at least the shows I watched, as a kid, were approved for all audiences and the scripts were written with a (mostly) high moral fortitude.

One of my favorite bloggers, little miss momma, suggested a “Things you need to know about me if we’re going to be BFFs” blog. I thought “What do I want people to know?” Well, I want you to know that media has greatly influenced my life. For better or for worse. I want you to know that I take things that other people have written and re-write them to make them work for me. I take women from television and use their strengths to strengthen myself and their weaknesses to make myself feel normal. It happens. Ask my real life BFF Megan , she's obsessed like I am. She gets it. I’m sure some of you will too. If not, well, then thanks for reading but you’ll probably have NO IDEA what I’m talking about. That’s okay. I like you anyway. But, seriously, set your DVR once in a while and watch some TV. What are you doing instead? Cleaning your house? Working?

LAME.

The last few weeks have been especially awesome for TV. All of my favorite shows have come back for the fall season and I’ve even added a few new favorites to the list. (If you haven’t gotten a chance yet, check out New Girl with Zooey Dechanel on Fox. It’s Flippin hilarious!)

If I tried to list every woman on every show that I’ve borrowed life lessons from, it would take way more than one blog. So here’s a partial list:

Christina Yang and Meredith Grey from Grey’s Anatomy

These two have the most amazing heterosexual life partner situation happening for them. The most amazing fictional one anyway. The real life one I have with Megan kind of trumps it, but they are definitely our inspiration. They are dark and twisty, ridiculously loyal and their support for one another, whether legal or not, is unwavering. There is no judgment, they don’t talk about one another being the other’s back and if one of them is doing something stupid, the other will call her out on it, even if she eventually helps her pull it off. They are each other’s “Person” and you won’t find two thicker thieves around. It is their relationship that reminds me of the type of friend I truly want to be and the type I’m grateful I have. The kind that shows up, no questions asked, and does whatever is needed. I love Christina and Meredith.       

Ellie and Jules from Cougar Town

If Christina and Meredith ever get a sitcom spin-off, it’ll probably look a little like Cougar Town. These two, while not quite as dark and twisty, definitely have a heterosexual life partner thing happening for them as well. They are a little lighter, a little fluffier and they drink way more wine, but they have each other’s backs. They have stood by one another through marriage and divorce, babies and college kids and manage to be completely possessive of one another without it getting weird. They laugh at each other, laugh at themselves and accept one another fully even with all of the strange, annoying, and down right mean idiosyncrasies the other possesses. If Megan and I ever get our wish and live next door to each other…I imagine it’ll look a whole lot like Ellie and Jules.  

Frankie Heck from The Middle

Frankie might not be the best to teach me how to be a friend, but she sure has that realistic motherhood thing DOWN! I watched last night as she washed her armpits in the sink while trying to get out the door for work. One of her kids was in her shower and her husband was sitting idly by and reading the newspaper while she tried desperately to get all the kids out the door and ready for school. Frankie Heck is me. She’s me in 15 years. She’s me right now. At her core, all she really wants is her family to be healthy and happy and well put together and to be appreciated for all that she does. Her house is NEVER clean. Her laundry is NEVER done. Her dishwasher is ALWAYS full and her kids are ALWAYS crazy. Her relationship with her husband, Mike, reminds me of Jeremy and I so much that I swear sometimes ABC has camera’s in my house. I love that Frankie is real. I love that she’s constantly jealous of other moms. I love that she takes the simplest things that most families I know deal with and makes them endearing and funny. Example: Taking Back the House, from Season Two, where she highlights things like the kids sneaking into her and Mike’s bed in the middle of the night and the fact that they never get to watch their own TV. They decide to take back ownership of their own home and their crazy kids fight them every step of the way. Sure, in the end, things stay exactly the way they are and Frankie and Mike continue to put their children first, but I love that there is someone to watch who goes through the same stuff I go through and reminds me that it’s okay to laugh at this thing I call my life.

Roseanne

Let’s be honest, there would be no Frankie Heck without Roseanne. Roseanne was the first time where I could watch a TV show and think, “Yeah, that’s a real family. That’s my family” The ends never met. The endings were rarely happy. The trials and tribulations were so raw and so real that you couldn’t help but laugh. I can remember my mom actually telling me that I could watch Roseanne because it was the most real show on television. I still watch Roseanne all the time. Thank Jesus for Nick at Nite. If you haven’t watched it recently, stay up late, turn to Nick at Nite, take comfort in the fact that no matter how broke you are, how screwed up your situation might be, Roseanne and the rest of the Connor Clan understand.    

So, there it is. Things you should know about me. I love TV. I love characters. I’m trying to be better, but on the days when I’m not better, I find reasons for that to be okay, too.

DVR. Go. Do it. NOW.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dear 15 year old Krysten

Things are a little hectic for you right now. I get that. Your world has been kind of flipped upside down and somewhere along the way you seemed to have lost a part of yourself. I’m here…15 years later…still trying to find it. I figured it’d be best to let you in on some of the stuff I've learned so far so maybe we can meet in the middle somewhere. Sound good?

Yeah, I realize I’m old. And you don’t think 30 year olds have anything good to say but if you’ll just listen awhile you might be better off. Trust me. I know you. Better than you think I do.

That boy you love, you know, the one that breaks your heart on a regular basis, he isn’t the only boy in the world. The heart break will eventually diminish and you will never love another one the way you love him, I promise. It never hurts that bad again. You don’t have to be scared. Oh, it’ll hurt sometimes, but not like that one. But you’ve GOT to stop expecting someone to be your “everything”. It’s too much pressure. It causes disappointment all the way around. You expect too much out of people. There are people who love you at your best and people who love you at your worst but they can’t all be the same person. You need to start filling your life up now with all different kinds of people. You need to figure out that everyone in your life exists for a different purpose and sometimes it’s okay to be still. And don’t count girls out. They might not all be like Tanya, but you’re going to meet some really good ones soon that will change the way you think. Girlfriends really are amazing.

Roxy isn’t so bad. She will become your best friend. I know it’s hard to believe now, but it will happen. Just give it time. It wouldn’t hurt to let her in a little. She loves you. She’s always loved you. You would make things easier on her and make things easier on yourself if you just didn’t fight her every step of the way. She is on your side, believe it or not. She doesn’t actually want to ruin your life, even though it feels like it sometimes. Things get way better for you and way better for her and way better for you and her. Wait until you see what kind of mom she is to you when you just give her a chance. Somewhere between You and Me you end up really needing her and she’s doing a phenomenal job.  

Scott will grow up to be your pal. I know it is hard to feel responsible for him. You aren’t. It’s not your job. He grows up to be a fantastic man. A fantastic husband. A fantastic father. He turns out great. It doesn’t matter that his dad is a scumbag and he’s disappointed by his mom every other day. He takes it and makes the absolute best of it. Wait until you meet his daughters. They are perfect.

The world is never going to hand you anything. That isn’t going to change. The best advice I can give you on that one is to make things happen for yourself. Don’t stop now, you’ll thank me later. Yes, you’re cute. Yes, you can cry on cue. Yes, you can manipulate with the best of them. Those things only get you so far. The rest is going to require hard work. I know you hate hard work. I get that you’re lazy. Save lazy for Sundays. Work hard and play hard and read hard and write hard and love hard and go full force. I need you to understand that people are trying to make you different. You’ve already started to lose spark and fearlessness. DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN. Seriously. It’ll be worth it, especially for me. It’d be best if you didn’t have to wait 15 years to learn this one.

FINISH STUFF. Please. I’m begging you. If you start now I promise to wear a really good night cream and keep your skin as pretty as possible!

Stop holding your breath for your mom to get better. For her to come back. She isn’t going to. At least, I don’t think so. So far…it gets worse. I’ve been trying to get in touch with 40 year old Krysten to find out, but she’s not returning my calls. She’s probably busy with teenagers and doesn’t have time to talk. I’m thinking we should probably both just let that one go. It’ll save us both a whole lot of disappointment and heartache. Remember what I said about Roxy? Yeah? Read it again!

You’re doing a fantastic job. I know people don’t always tell you that. It’s the truth. You’ve made your way through some pretty rough stuff already and you are shaping me, for better or worse. I want you to remember that. It’s alright that you’re scared but don’t let fear take everything over. Please. I found something recently and I want to share it with you. Read it. Know it. Believe it.

Fear can hold us back from anything we want to do in our lives.

It keeps us from loving, caring, committing, deciding, listening, hearing, seeing, bargaining, thinking, acting, accepting and compromising.

It keeps us from asking questions, talking to, saying no, saying yes, standing up, staying silent ~ and letting go.

So tragically often Fear’s intended purpose is lost, and instead of seeing Fear as the lesson in wait that it is, we run from it ~ ever certain that it is not there to serve us, but to swallow us whole.
~~Stacey K. Wood

You really are a pretty cool kid. Don’t let them tell you any different. Call your Grandparents more. Give your dad a break. Don’t stop writing. Let people in. Lower your expectations of other people, but raise the ones of yourself. You’ll be surprised what you are capable of. Stop being so angry all the damn time.

Neither one of us has messed anything up beyond repair but maybe if you’ll just listen to me, we can make the path a little smoother.

I love you. Thanks for being you.

See ya in 15 years…

♥ 30 year old Krysten.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My Kids Went To Kindergarten!!

I sent my kids to kindergarten this week.

I know, I know, you’re thinking I only sent one kid to kindergarten. Technically I guess you’d be right, but it feels a little like I sent two.  

Logan and Talyn.



From the very beginning I referred to them as “My kids”. I started taking care of Talyn when she was just shy of six months old. Her mom, Adrianne, and I have been friends for years and while she was finishing school and starting her career at the hospital, I was the one who took care of her during the day. If you know me well, you know that I’m not a kid person. I like my own, sure, but other people’s kids…um, iffy.

But Talyn didn’t count as another person’s kid. She’s always felt a little like my own.

What does that mean? Well, it means that I cleaned the snot out of her nose and changed her butt and fed her baby food and watched her learn to walk. I listened as she learned to talk and talk…and talk. She crawled on my floor and slept in my arms and cuddled with me on the couch. I took her temperature and gave her antibiotics and read her books. She was right beside Logan, playing outside, singing five little monkeys, dancing to the ABC song. I knew her quirks and what made her happy. I put bows in her hair and got excited everyday to look in the diaper bag and see what kind of pink frill I was going to get to dress her in.   



When I asked her, “Talyn, how much do you love me?” I taught her how to stretch her arms out wide and tell me, “Thiiiissss much!”

Some days, she was exhausting. Some days, she kept me sane. Some days, she broke my heart. She’s part mine. She’s got a part of me that not many kids get. I love her. And she’s growing way. too. fast.



Kindergarten went off without a hitch. I was surprised. Surprised at Logan. Surprised at myself. Neither one of us cried and if you know me and my son you know that we’re criers.

He was so excited. He had his back pack on and his lunch pail in hand. He never seemed nervous or worried. In the morning, while he was getting ready, he told me, “If Talyn wasn’t there I might be scared but she’s there so I’ll be okay.”

Funny thing was…I felt the same way.

I sent Adrianne a text message the night before that said:

Tell Talyn to take care of Logan. She’s bigger. She has to.

I know it sounds like a lot of responsibility to put on a five year old, but if you know Talyn, you know she didn’t mind. She’s a lot like her mom that way. She loves to take care of other people. And just like her mom…she’s pretty good at it.



It’ll be interesting to watch them continue to grow up side by side. Taking different paths, making different friends. One day, they’ll figure out that boys and girls aren’t supposed to be friends and then hopefully, they’ll realize that sometimes those are the best kind of friendships. I don’t know if they’ll always be close, if they’ll always be friends, but I do know this:

Logan and I wouldn’t have made it on our first day of Kindergarten without her.



I can’t wait until the day when I get to see her dressed in a cheer uniform on the first day of school. I don’t care what her dad says, she’s cheering.

She’s part mine. I get a vote!   

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rachelle. My Sister. How do I love thee?

As we speak, she and I are sending crazy text messages and posting back and forth on Facebook at the same time. Saying mushy crap in such a way that, if you were listening in, you wouldn’t be able to tell if we were serious or not.

Sometimes, I need a young, vibrant, ornery young woman to BS with at at night on a Thursday. Who better than my sister? She understands a part of me that not many people do. And she doesn’t have kids.

BONUS!

Will she one day? Yes. Do I think she’ll make a fantastic mother? Yes. Do I think that’ll happen anytime in the close future? Uh, Negative. She’s got my babies in her life and she’s Gooood. I mean that. She’s the best Auntie in the world. She loves them so hard and so fierce.

On Sunday, after being in the car for 11 hours on a trip back from Las Vegas. A trip that she made after a weekend of doing God knows what with God knows whom. She was probably exhausted and a little hung over. She sent me a text from 10 minutes away asking if Logan was awake. She said she missed him and needed to see him. It was at night. (Yeah, he was awake. Sue me. It’s summer. I’m the boss of this house) She’s an amazing Auntie. Sometimes, I think she loves my boys almost as much as I do. Her bonus is that she only gets the fun stuff. The stuff I love and ADORE about my children. The kisses and the inside jokes and the booty shaking. The way they manipulate her in such a way that even with full knowledge of what they’re doing, she can’t be mad. She doesn’t know how. She can’t get irritated. She just laughs and gives it to them. They way that I feel most of the time, when I’m not maybe, you know, a little bit tired and a little bit annoyed.

I love the kind of Auntie she is. I love that I have her at this point in my life, in my children’s lives. She doesn’t get out of bed until . At least. She gets a Venti White Mocha and then eventually makes her way to my house. She gets in the floor and on the swings and in the pool. She makes them laugh and herself laugh so hard that it makes me laugh. It gives me a chance to breath. I sit, quietly, and watch them play. Listen to them laugh. Watch the joy they are able to bring to one another without fear or responsibility or irritation. She reminds me on a constant basis how lucky I am to have the children I do. I know it sounds a little jaded. I can’t apologize about that. It’s the truth. Sometimes my boys wear me out. By , I’m tired. I’m stretched thin. I’m a mess. Most days, I still haven’t showered. And then here comes my baby sister, saving the day.   

No matter what’s going on in my life, she listens and reacts. If I’m sad, she’s sad. If I’m excited, she’s excited. If I’m on a mission to cut someone’s tires because they’ve pissed me off, she grabs a pocket knife. She’s always on my side. She’s always in my corner. We’ve never fought. We’re nine years apart. We’ve never had anything to fight about. We’re just enough alike that we understand one another yet just different enough to stay balanced and keep our mother from hanging herself.

She’s all the stuff I miss about being 21. She’s all the stuff I manage to hold on to. She’s the reason Hallmark makes so much money off of “I love my sister” greeting cards. She’s the reason I think it’s socially acceptable to call another woman a hooker and mean it in the best way possible. She’s the one who lets me drive her around at night and listen to Lady Gaga. She’s the one who will go to Taco Bell with me at . She’s the one I call when I need someone with nothing else to do but talk about stupid crap in the middle of the night.

Is she perfect? Oh, God no. If she were I wouldn’t like her nearly as much.

She’s hot tempered and easily distracted. She’s got the mouth of a sailor and the patience of a two year old. She changes her mind about stuff 20 times a day. She throws tantrums and puts her foot in her mouth on a daily basis. She’s a little bit selfish and a little bit spoiled. She’s been telling me for weeks that she “Wants a freakin’ blog”.

She’s my baby sister.

And I love her like that.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

It's not poetry, it's too much Alanis Morissette

It’s probably nice in the light of day
It’s probably sweet to sleep with the sun on your skin
It’s probably not giving you cancer
Hope you don’t get too much color
I’ll be here in the shade

It’s too bad the visiting hours are changing
It’s too bad the doctor is out for the night
It’s too bad I’m still addicted to the medication
Hope you enjoy your recovery and chips
I’ll be here with the monkey

I’m grateful we did Dresden and Munich
I’m grateful for another summer abroad
I’m grateful you took lots of pictures to remember
Hope the jetlag isn’t too rough
I’ll be here polishing souvenirs  

It was nice to pick up trash in dresses
It was nice to hear the piano man
It was nice to dance on the edge of glory
Hope the music still fills the background
I’ll be here with headphones on

It’s strange not calling the shots
It’s strange picking up the pieces
It’s strange being the one who is silenced
Hope you’ve taught me well enough
I’ll be here whispering quietly

Thank you for playing on my weaknesses
Thank you for pointing out my flaws
Thank you for letting me fictionalize my world awhile
Hope you enjoy your ribbon
I’ll be here trying to learn the lesson

I’m glad I could put a bandage on your wound
I’m glad I could be adored for the pieces you choose to remember
I’m glad I could pretend to save you from drowning
Hope you didn’t get too much water in your nose
I’ll be here practicing CPR

It’s good I could keep you company in your misery
It’s good you’re healthy for real, this time
It’s good you won’t be lonely anymore
Hope you had a nice trip down memory lane
I’ll be here

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sometimes, I write short stories instead.

Why?
Because it's fun. My Blog. My Rules.
Here's one.

~~~
Curls 

Heather’s hair is naturally curly. The kind of curls she doesn’t have to fight for. They effortlessly frame the baby fat left on her face. No halo of frizz, all perfectly spiraled and light. I watch her get ready sometimes, sitting in the bathroom floor, picking at my toenail polish. I tell her about last night’s episode of Blossom or how I have a crush on Mr. Basil. I tell her how I hate Danielle Fleming for getting to date Colby Bright and how I know, for sure, he would like me better if he would just figure out I exist. How Colby and I both love Green Day and The Offspring and how Danielle Fleming probably only listens to stupid music like Ace of Base.

She stares at the mirror and shakes her head and flips it over and scrunches. She owns a pick. She is the only one I know who owns a pick. My mom and I use paddle brushes. She knows it’s better for her curls if she doesn’t use a blow-dryer, if she just lets them fall naturally. Towel dried and setting themselves without any help. She says the blow-dryer makes her feel like everyone else and she likes the sound it makes when it ticks itself cool. Her mother bought her a diffuser so at least she won’t ruin her curls all together.

Last summer, she talked her mother into letting her get a perm. She begged and cried and stomped until her mother was finally defeated by the ridiculous request. She smelled like chemicals for days and days and couldn’t go swimming with me. She sat on the side of the pool, her feet kicking the water, watching me do flips and handstands. Sweat beading up around her temples and the back of her neck. The perm made her curls look exactly the same.

She likes to stay the night at my apartment before dance competitions. My mom sets my hair in sponge rollers, tugging and spraying and winding each one individually until my head hurts and my eyes are tight. Heather clicks an empty pink sponge with her thumb, open and closed, open and closed, until my mom needs it. Before we put a bandana around the sponges, Heather reaches out and touches them and tells me how she’s jealous because my curls will wash out tomorrow afternoon.

We talk about boys. She likes to talk to my mom about boys. My mom doesn’t think boys are a big deal. Heather can’t talk to her own mother about boys, but my mom laughs and giggles and understands. She doesn’t use scary words like pregnant or dangerous. My mom only uses words that sound like kissing and twitterpated and knows to be excited when Heather tells her about Mike Rich reaching over and holding her hand.

Once, we heard the word orgasm and didn’t know what it meant. My mom told us it was like the part in her supermarket paperbacks where things get really, really good. She told us it would probably be best to learn about them on our own for awhile before we tried to learn about them with boys. She says boys are different and they don’t always understand. You have to figure out who you are, she tells us, before you can teach someone else.

Heather and I wear the same size but we don’t borrow each others clothes. Mine are made up of plain cotton and denim and hers flow and pop with patterns and textures and layers. She never wears the same outfit twice in a month. She has a clipboard hanging on her closet door and before she goes to bed at night, she assembles an outfit and writes it down in pink and purple ink. Shoes and headbands and bracelets and earrings. Her closet smells like name brand fabric softener and her hangers are all padded and scented like rose petals. Left to right, light to dark, all the same distance apart. My hangers are plastic, multi-colored, and the empty ones stick out and point themselves in different directions. My closet smells mostly like color safe bleach and the sandalwood that drifts down the hallway. I don’t have a clipboard. My closet doors are covered in song lyrics and snapshots and quotes I write in black Sharpie.

When we spend the night in Heather’s room, we paint our fingernails pink with sparkles. When we spend the night in my room, we listen to music and talk to boys on the phone and lie on our backs putting foot prints on my wall. If Heather’s room is messy, her mother yells. If my room is messy, my mom just closes the door.

In the mornings, while we walk to school, she tells me about the names she likes for her future children. Taylor or Morgan for girls. Tyler and Benjamin for boys. I tell her I’m not having kids but when I get a dog, I’m naming him Lloyd Christmas. He’s going to be a Saint Bernard and sleep on the other side of my big, big bed. She doesn’t live in an apartment so she already has a dog. A poodle. Her name is Claire and her mother takes her to get her toenails clipped.  

In math, I copy the answers from her. In English, she makes me re-write her essays. We’re both fine in science. We spend most of that class talking about Mr. Basil. She thinks Mr. Basil is old. I think he’s not. His wife is ugly, though, and the picture he has on his desk makes her look fatter than she is. I like the picture.

In P.E., we jog slowly behind everyone else so we can talk about Colby Bright and Mike Rich without being overheard. Sometimes, we talk about Danielle Fleming, too, but not as much. I hate her but Heather doesn’t want her to know that. I probably don’t either. She always smiles at me and once, she let me borrow her extra set of running shoes when I forgot mine at home.

Tonight, I’m sleeping at Heather’s. My mom is out of town with her new boyfriend. Her mother cooks us dinner on the stove and her father drinks milk from a frosted mug. They all close their eyes and say grace. I just close my eyes.

We’re supposed to go to a party tomorrow for Mike Rich’s birthday. She asks me what to wear. I tell her to wear the outfit she wore to that bowling thing last month. I tell her it makes her boobs look bigger. She looks at me like I’m stupid. I look at her like she is, too. We both laugh and she says she’ll just ask her mother to buy her something new.

When we lay down to go to sleep, I have to throw pillows on the ground. There are always too many pillows on Heather’s bed. We’re both wearing old dance competition t-shirts. I beg her to turn on her clock radio so I can sleep to music and she tells me if her mother gets mad, it’s my fault. I’m okay with that. Her mother won’t actually yell at me. Her hair is piled on top of her head but there are curls springing out everywhere. They smell like strawberries. I reach over and tug on one and I tell her how I’m jealous because hers won’t wash out tomorrow afternoon.   

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ah, Jeremy. My Husband.

When Jeremy and I had our first big fight, I ran to my friend Lauren’s house. I cried and smoked cigarettes and called my mom. She was heartbroken for me. She was heartbroken for herself. She told me how she hated the lesson I had learned from her about relationships was, When things get rough, run.

I hated it too.

It wasn’t the only lesson I had learned from her, but it was one of them. Up until that point, it was all I had ever done. And I had sabotaged every relationship I ever had by running. Granted, I was a baby, barely 21, but relationships before 21 and relationships after 21 aren’t really that different. In fact, the ones when I was young were important. Those were the ones I needed to show me what love could feel like before it got steady. Before I learned to navigate fear and made my way to committed. Before I learned how not to run.

I cried and smoked some more and talked Lauren to death. Then, like I always do, I called Jeremy. We discussed things, in regular English. We talked and cried and yelled and talked and cried some more. We got through, got to the other side. The committed side. The beautiful side. The really, really good side of what relationships past 21 look like.

I asked him, “Can I come home now?”

He said, “I never asked you to leave.”

Ah, Jeremy.

My Husband.

He’s never asked me to leave, not once in all these years. He’s never said it loud or quietly. He’s never sent subliminal messages. He’s never pushed me away. He’s loved me so steady from the very beginning and it’s never scared him. He’s never had more important things to do. Oats to sow. Questions to answer. He never put me on the back burner to find himself first. He’s never doubted it. One day, after only a few weeks of dating, he introduced me as his girlfriend and that was it. He never thought about it again. Not once. That means something.

It means a lot of something.

We instantly and seamlessly fell in love. It was not the stuff regular fairytales are made of, but it was one to us. Not the stuff Nicholas Sparks’ books or Eminem’s love songs are written about. No questions. No turmoil, no confusion, no over thinking. He entered my life at a time where I had been let down and disappointed and neglected. He immediately made me feel safe, secure, wanted, adored.

He still does.  

I never had no one
I could count on
I've been let down so many times
I was tired of hurtin'
So tired of searchin'
'Til you walked into my life
It was a feelin'
I'd never known
And for the first time
I didn't feel alone


 
It was the most natural thing in the world to us, even though once or twice I pretended like I was going to run.

Blame my mother. I do.

I was never really going anywhere, I just get dramatic sometimes. He loves me anyway.

It has always been the kind that I knew was going to last 50 plus years. The kind that when you asked my grandma “How have you and grandpa been married so long?” Her answer was, “We just don’t get a divorce.”

Smart woman, my grandma.

Did she get aggravated? SURE! My grandpa was a pain in the butt. He was grouchy and bossy and always pronounced her name “’Viirra” instead of Elvira. He used to come down the hall in his underwear and yell at us to turn the TV off and go to bed. Of course she got aggravated. My grandparents had 11 kids. 11 KIDS!! She probably walked around in a constant state of aggravation. My grandma was a wonderful, feisty, funny, smart woman, but a saint she was not. She used to make fun of him when she thought he couldn’t see. It always cracked me up. When she wasn’t looking, he would often aim these googly eyes at her across the room and you could literally feel how much he loved her. He always held her hand. Always.

Do I get aggravated? SURE! My husband can be down right infuriating. He leaves newspapers EVERYWHERE. He still hasn’t finished the fort in the backyard. He falls asleep watching TV. He falls asleep eating dinner. He falls asleep when I’m having conversations with him. (So what if its in the morning? That's when I feel like talking!) He always lets me have the first cup of coffee. He always kisses me goodnight. He tells me he loves me every. single. day.  He laughs at Cougar Town, pretends to be interested in Grey’s Anatomy and touches my butt every chance he gets. He talks about the game of football like he wants to see it naked. He talks about me like he wants to see me naked. He always looks stoned in pictures.

When I change my hair color, he notices. When I’ve spent all day cleaning the house, he notices and says thank you. When I’m still in my pajamas when he gets home from work and I haven’t done a single thing, he kisses me and asks me if I need a nap. When I need to write, he lets me. When I decide I want to take a cross-country road trip, he starts helping me dream about it. He looks at maps and figures out mileage. When I tell him I’m going back to school, he says “whatever you want, babe”. When I tell him I don’t want to go to school anymore, he says, “whatever you want, babe”.  He never calls in sick. He rarely complains about anything. He works on my car and sings the lyrics to most songs incorrectly. He is happiest when I am happiest. He always holds my hand. Always.    

Sometimes, I don’t understand steady. I. Am. Not. Steady. I don’t know how his brain works and how he never questions me. I’m nuts. I’m impossible. I’m selfish and self-centered and exhausting and I question everything. All the time. I’m never satisfied with an answer for very long.  I change my mind about which direction I’m taking my life every five minutes and he comes along for the ride. I’ve made his life a wooden, crackly roller-coaster and he puts his hands up in the air and pretends to be excited with every turn. I’m inconsistent and sometimes, kinda mean. He loves me anyway. He loves me so steady. He knows me better than I give him credit for. I like to pretend that I’m way complicated and mysterious. I’m really not. He knows that. He does joke, though, about not being able to get in my head because there are already too many people up there. He’s pretty funny, my husband.  

You stand by me
And you believe in me
Like nobody ever has
When my world goes crazy
You're right there to save me
You make me see how much I have

I wanted to get married in Vegas. I wanted to elope and ditch the whole wedding scene. I wanted to wear a trashy dress and fishnet stockings. I was anxious about all my family being in the same room. He knew that, but he told me no. He said, “Over the next few years, all your friends are going to get married and every time we go to a wedding, I don’t want to hear you say, ‘I wish we would have had a nice wedding, too’. So, no. We’re having a wedding. Like it or not.”


He was right, and our wedding was perfect.   

When I ask him why he loves me he says, “I just do.” He’s not much for a monologue. That’s okay. I talk enough for the both of us.

And I don't know where I'd be
Without you here with me
Life with you makes perfect sense
You're my best friend

I did, once, get him to give me a list of reasons why he loved me. He would kill me if I shared the whole thing but just know it contained phrases like: Groggy morning face, pajama pants & animal slippers, I LOVE YOU FOR YOU and Your smile, frown and Yahtzee cheer.

Followed by “…reasons I know without a shadow of a doubt that we WILL celebrate our 50th anniversary together.  I already started planning it.”  

Good to know, babe. I’ll be there. But let’s renew our vows in Vegas, huh? It’s my turn. I’ll be the one down front in the trashed up wedding dress and fishnet stockings…     

Saturday, July 30, 2011

On Writing.


When I came to writing to cry about my relationship with my dad, the relationship became peaceful. When I came to writing to talk about my screaming kid, his screaming became endearing. Someone even called my letter to Brodie upbeat. It ended that way, sure, but I was not upbeat when I started writing. I was super serious about sticking him in Pops’ studio. I could hear my husband telling my sons in the other room, “If you know what’s best for you, you’ll leave your mother alone and let her write.”

Smart man, that husband of mine.     

Writing is my friend. It doesn’t get busy. It doesn’t have kids or a fiancĂ©. I can’t wear out my welcome here or go straight to voicemail. It doesn’t pass judgment, lets me figure stuff out on my own and by God if it doesn’t have the answers, it helps me look for them.

Subtly as possible, it suggests what I’m worried (scared, irritated, nervous, whatever) about might just be a style issue. Maybe I should just rearrange the paragraphs.

I like friends like that.

I’m starting to think self-discovery might happen when I don’t know I’m looking for it. It might even be the stuff I find when looking for something else entirely. I’m sure someone else has said that already. It doesn’t matter. This is my brand of writing. There really are no new ideas.

~~

The first CD I ever owned was The Bodyguard Soundtrack. Does, I will always love you, ring a bell? Yeah, well, it was a cover. Dolly Parton recorded it in 1974. 18 years before Whitney Houston rocked my world with it. Now, I adore Dolly Parton, but I didn’t really fall in love with her until The White Stripes covered and released Jolene in 2004.

I love Lady Gaga. Like, love, love. That didn’t happen until I was introduced to her by a still unknown Haley Reinhart on American Idol singing You and I before it was even released. Until I heard a piano only duet of Poker Face on Glee.

Kurt Hummel introduced me to Barbra Streisand. The Dixie Chicks introduced me to Fleetwood Mac. Motherhood introduced me to Megan. My 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Brandon, introduced me to writing.

Writing is introducing me to, me.   

See how that works?       

I was accidentally encouraged by a book called Armageddon in Retrospect recently. It was written by Kurt Vonnegut. It was published after his death. The introduction was written by his son, Mark, also a writer.

Mark said of his dad,

“Writing was a spiritual exercise for my father, the only thing he really believed in. He wanted to get things right but never thought that his writing was going to have much effect on the course of things…Anyone who wrote or tried to write was special to Kurt. And he wanted to help…The most radical, audacious thing to think is that there might be some point to working hard and thinking hard and reading hard and writing hard and trying to be of service…He was a writer who believed in the magic of the process—both what it did for him and what it could do for the readers.”

Mr. Vonnegut is one of my friends and mentors now, but only because I first fell in love with the version his son wanted me to know. His son’s cover.

I was written about recently. Being written about by someone else was a gigantic boost for my ego, but not in the way you might imagine. Please don’t misunderstand me, the accolades are nice. Especially because Megan, part of my collective muse, and my brother, Austin, picked some of my rawer, non-generic characteristics to sing praises about. I’m glad they didn’t have to wait until I was dead. It makes me feel I might be doing something right. It’s nice to receive a compliment for doing something you didn’t think was a big deal, a “thanks for being you”. I’ll be honest, feeling that way is amazing! But I’m writing this because Megan makes me want to talk. Because Austin told me “You’ve inspired me to write.” That means something. It means a lot of something.

Especially because their writing is really, really good.

~~

I feel better when I’m not telling someone what to do. Oh, don’t mistake me, I tell people what to do all of the time. I’m a woman, wife, mom, big sister, friend. I might even be telling you what to do right now. But I feel better about myself when I think I’ve accidentally encouraged them, instead. Encouraged them to do something they wanted to do anyway.

Lady Gaga wore a meat suit. A lot of people think she’s too weird. A lot more don’t. She’s an amazing song writer and I swear she stole some of those lyrics from me. Kurt Vonnegut wrote a book about, in part, aliens from another planet who laugh at the idea of free-will. About a man who becomes “Un-stuck” in time. It’s about as kooky as they come. I like kooky. It teaches you something, but in a crazy, weird way. I don’t want to wear a meat suit and I don’t think I want to write about aliens. That’s not the point. The point is they accidentally encouraged me by being just brainy enough and just ballsy enough to become pretty great versions of the people they already were.

So, here’s the lesson I’m learning today.

Ready?

WRITE.

Crazy people don’t sit around and wonder if they’re crazy, but usually writers sit around and wonder if they’re writers. Some of the really, really good ones, in fact. There are lots of quotes about it. I looked them up. Writers love to hear the sound of their own voices. When I get unsure about loving the sound of my own voice or wonder if I’m really  a writer. When I get a little scared…fine, a lot scared, I’m learning to rearrange the paragraphs. Even though I met writing in the 5th grade and we’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship for years, there is still so much to learn. And somehow, it feels exactly the same.

I listened to Barbra Streisand and Kurt Hummel sing, As if we never said goodbye, today and I’m pretty sure it changed my life. Barbra Streisand is deathly afraid of being on stage. But, when she’s up there…

oh. my. god.

P.S. If you know my friend, writing, and wonder if it’s time to get back in contact. You’re probably right. Make sure you mention that Krysten says Hi. And Thank You.     


   
  

Friday, July 29, 2011

Boys, Boys. Big and Small

I live with boys.

Big and small.  

My world is full of disgusting smells and funny arm pit noises. There is a hot wheel or a lego or an action figure or a pair of dirty socks around every corner and under every other step. Boys love to watch stuff about blowing things up or ripping them apart or fighting in some epic battle. They point guns at everything. If they don’t have a gun handy, they find something else to turn into a gun. Or turn into a baseball bat or a golf club. Did I mention they think farts are hilarious?

Even the big one.

And they all love my attention. When I laugh at their jokes or scratch their backs. When I listen about video games or football. Books or movies. They want to feel smart and strong. They love to show me tricks and make me applaud.

There are many times I’d like to lock myself in a closed bookstore or get lost in a marathon of Glee or Grey’s Anatomy. I’d like to watch a show in the living room that wasn’t on Discovery Channel or Nickelodeon.  But most times I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than pay attention to them. They are pretty easy to please. They don’t ask for too much and I can usually figure out what they want. They are simple when they are small. They are simple when they are big. They might be a little forgetful, a little inconsiderate. Hey, aren’t we all.  

I’ve always liked boys the best. They all have a pretty universal language. Sure it evolves a little over time, but from birth to adulthood, at least in my world, they don’t really change much. They all tell me I’m beautiful, even Brodie in his own way. The grown up one likes hot food, cold tea and anything relating to combat. The little ones like hot food, cold Capri Suns and anything related to hitting each other with sticks. The grown up one likes being outside, a comfy place to watch TV and sex on a regular basis. The little ones like playing outside, a comfy place to watch TV and being fascinated with their own genitals.

Easy enough.

Sure kids are needy. Babies are needy. They only stay little for awhile. The rest of the time, they’re just boys.  

People always ask me if I’m going to try for one more child. The answer is no. But, they say, don’t you want to try for a girl?

Look…

I LOVE Toddlers and Tiaras. Yes, I said it. I’m not ashamed. That show is hilarious. I love the crazy parents and the glitz and the cute little head bobs and out of control mini-divas. I’m fascinated by Red Bulls for breakfast and flippers and Nini’s! Are you kidding me? What’s not to love? Could I actually BE a pageant mom? OH HECK NO! I would need 15 Xanax just to walk into one of those dress shops! My friend, Megan, knows. She walked me down the girl’s toy aisle at Target and I came pretty close to a full on anxiety attack.

True Story.

I can not manage to keep up with the toenail polish on my own toes. What in the world would I do with a girl? I can barely get from the closet to the car with heels on before I’ve switched to flip-flops. How could I ever teach a girl how to be chic?

I get that girls are great. They’re cute and sparkly and delicate. There clothes are cuter and their hair is prettier. Girls don’t tend to care much about farts or explosives. They do ballet. They Cheer. I’m a girl, I get it.

I believe that if I had a little girl, I’d love her more than life. I’d figure out pig tales and Bubble Guppies. I’m sure we’d enjoy watching Toddlers and Tiaras together. I’d watch her grow and mature and become a woman. I’d teach her everything I know about compassion and honesty and boys and manipulation and Lady Gaga. I’d be happy doing it.

Will I risk my sanity for it? No. A girl would have been fantastic. Duh. But I have boys and I don’t want the parents in my house to be out numbered by the children.

No girl.  

My life is full of boys. Big and small. I can teach them what I know about compassion and honesty and girls and manipulation and yes, even Lady Gaga. I can read books to them and listen to their jokes and teach them about trust and respect. How girls, big and small, are actually a lot simpler than boys make them out to be. They want to be validated. They need attention, too. They like to make you laugh. They want to show you tricks and make you applaud. I can make sure they understand that there is nothing wrong with taking care of themselves and taking care of others. I can encourage them to be strong and smart and polite. Stand by them while they head off into the world and make choices. There are plenty of lessons that both sets need to know.

Girls are awesome but I feel like I have a pretty good handle on my life full of boys. I don’t know how that dude from Sister Wives does it. A house full of women would be CRAZY!    

I’ll always be the only woman in my house. Queen of my castle. Princess of my own fairytale. My world full of boys is often loud and hectic. It can be a little demanding. Sometimes, it smells funny, but I don’t have to share the girl spotlight with anyone.

It’s not a bad place to be.

And hey, at least surrounded by boys, I’m the only one with PMS, right?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Brodie Kevin Nunn! Please stop screaming!

Boy, n.:  a noise with dirt on it.  ~Not Your Average Dictionary
Dear Brodie:

You are about as ornery as they come and have been from the very beginning. Things I never experienced when I was pregnant with your brother got me with you. Bad. I was sick. I had vertigo. I was exhausted all of the time. I had rhinitis so bad I couldn’t breathe for months.

I almost lost you. Twice. I knew then that you would always have the ability to BREAK MY HEART. But we made it. Together. I fought for you. You fought for me. Thank you for teaching me how to be a fighter. 

You were violently and forcefully brought into this world and I have the battle scar to prove it. I’ve never carried a scar so proudly. I was devastated when they told me you were coming that way. I cried for weeks. I felt robbed of my right as a woman to give birth to you naturally. I was so scared. Unfortunately, they told me if I tried to give birth to you naturally, I would die. I didn’t want to die. I wanted to see what we had fought so hard for.

Turns out, you were totally worth it. Thanks for teaching me that fear doesn’t last and on the other side is some really, really good stuff.

You’ve always been a screamer. “The Super Hawk Squawk” we called it when you were tiny. It was cute when you were tiny. Now, I’m afraid if you don’t learn to talk and stop screaming, I’m going to lock you in Pop’s studio until you do. Seriously, Kid, that noise is driving me NUTS! I know it has to be frustrating for you to not be able to communicate. I love to talk, text, write, sing.  If I couldn’t get stuff out, I would probably scream all of the time too. But for your sake, and the sake of Mamma’s sanity, you have to pick a new noise. Sing, hum, growl, make click-clacking noises with your tongue like they do in little third world villages…ANYTHING BUT THAT SCREAMING!!

Please.

I love that you dance to anything with a beat. Like, anything, not just music. The other day you were dancing to the beat of the washing machine spinning. You’re pretty cute. Two of the only things you say clearly and in context are “Outside” and “GO, GO, GO”. I absolutely love that about you.

You have quite the little temper. In fact, when you’re tired, you are downright mean. That’s my DNA. Sorry about that one. It’s going to cause you a lot of grief in life. It’d be best to get a handle on it now. Stop hitting. It hurts.  

You’re beyond funny. You crack yourself up and you crack me up on an hourly basis. I don’t always understand you, but I get your jokes. Grandma calls you “Brodie the Bruiser”. You very rarely cry. You very rarely get hurt. You are fearless. You climb on everything and tear up everything and get into everything. You keep me on my toes in a way your brother never did. You literally eat snails. We went to the park yesterday and you played faster and harder than kids way older than you. You think you are bigger than you are. You are already over being a baby. You don’t like to be rocked or cuddled. You have always gone to sleep on your own. I never knew a 16 month old could be so independent. You are. You don’t seem to need me quite as much as your brother did, as much as he does.

See? Power to break my heart…

Daddy says we only have ourselves to blame. He says it’s because we named you Brodie Kevin Nunn. See, your initials, BK, those are for your uncle Billy Keith. Your middle name is after your uncle Kevin. And your last name, well, there really was no hope for you. If I wasn’t so tired and sick while I was pregnant, I probably would have known to pick one or the other. Naming you after both uncles was really just asking for it. Those have got to be two of the orneriest men I’ve ever met. You get that heartbreaking ability from them. You get that fire and fearlessness from them. And, if you turn out half as good as either one of them, you’ll be perfectly fine.

Your brother is going to school in two weeks. It’s going to be just you and me, Kid. I’m excited about this and also a little anxious. Logan won’t be here to distract and entertain you anymore and I’m afraid that’ll leave you with no one to fight with but me. It’s good you’ve already been preparing me for the fight. I think I’m ready.

Even on the days you drive me crazy, I’m so glad you’re you. I’m glad you picked me. I look forward to watching how far you get with that fearlessness and orneriness. I promise to try and help you point it in the right direction. I love your Dai Bai Dang Face and your chubby, yummy knees.

PLEASE STOP SCREAMING!

Love,
Mamma