I’m Not Impressed By Your Giant Snowstorm

You got 34 inches of snow, you say? You can’t get out of your slider door? You spent two days holed up with family watching movies and drinking hot cocoa and sliding down the hills in your backyard? That’s pretty magical.

not impressed

Not impressed.

You know what’s not magical? Getting up and shoveling three feet of snow out of your driveway so you can inch your way down treacherous, mushy roads to arrive at work with mud-soaked pants and a beaten-down spirit. Having your car stolen out of your driveway while you leave it warming up because it’s so cold outside that your fingers might freeze to the steering wheel. Watching snow swiftly morph from pure white powder to dirty, muck-caked ice.

Sitting through, like, 15 more storms before you can even begin to think about spring.

winter in new england

nope nope nope

I know this is pretty dickish, because I can just imagine all my friends and family in Massachusetts and New York giving me a collective middle finger right now. (A couple of them might even smack me upside the head…and do you blame them?) I suppose I shouldn’t try and suck what little joy you might find in a historic snow storm that’s dumped a toddler-sized load in your backyard. But dude…winter sucks. Fun to visit. Fun to play in. Not fun to live in.

So I give you your school days off and your toboggans and your tunnels out of your back door. I commend you for shoveling and continuing to shovel and then when you thought you couldn’t shovel anymore, shoveling once again. I tip my hat to your ice scrapers stored in your cars and your thermal layers. I smile at your kids bundled up like Stay Puffed Marshmallows, their cheeks pink and their eyes glassy.

But I’m just not impressed by your “weather” or your “Blizzard-gate” or whatever the hell your meteorologists were shouting about while Juno’s snowflakes became imbedded in their microphones. I’ll be over here chuckling when my fellow Californians warn each other about getting home safe when it sprinkles rain. And I’ll be very, very grateful I missed out on that magical mess.

I’m 34 Years Old and Went Shopping at Hot Topic

Go ahead, judge me. I certainly did. I walked by the store in our local lame-ass mall this Saturday evening, and I saw me a Dr. Who Tardis dress hanging in the store window. The very same Tardis dress I saw on my 15-year-old cousin this summer and coveted, asking all my relatives, “Would it be weird if I bought that same dress? It’d be weird, right?” The smell of patchuli and the sounds of pseudo metal wafted out of Hot Topic. I walked on by because, well, I’m 34, and I shouldn’t be shopping at Hot Topic.

I was in the mall with my nearly 4-year-old son who was holding a Mickey Mouse balloon, and I was wearing a sensible mom sweater and three-season-old boots. I walked through JCPenney and Macy’s and I glanced over my shoulder at Forever 21 (because that’s MUCH more age-appropriate than Hot Topic), but I didn’t feel like buying anything…except that Tardis dress. Finally, when the family was getting ready to leave, I broke down and ran all the way back through the mall to Hot Topic. Then, timidly, I stepped a toe inside, dragging Lucas and his balloon with me.

Euphoria ensued. There was an entire wall full of Dr. Who paraphernalia, and I wanted it all. I picked out a few items, stared wistfully at glass cases full of body piercings and patches, and stood in line for the dressing room next to some dude with huge holes in his droopy, stretched-out ear lobes. I was grinning ear-to-ear.

At checkout, two salespeople had lanyards around their necks, which were covered in small attitude-infused buttons. Because I couldn’t help myself, I smirked and remarked to the kids, “Did you get to pick out all your own buttons? Or did you have put on a required amount of flair?” The boy laughed, but I wasn’t sure he was old enough to get my Office Space reference. My debit card was declined because karma.

Tardis dressAfter an annoyingly and unnecessarily long conversation with Bank of America, I walked out of the store with three items of Dr. Who swag, including that glorious Tardis dress. And you know what? I felt great. I wore my Tardis dress today and my Dr. Who knee socks, and I got thumbs up from all the undercover Whovians at Lucas’ school and at work.

Am I dressed like a 15-year-old? Yup. Do I feel inappropriate? A little. Do I, regardless of the inappropriateness, love love love what I’m wearing? You better believe it! Do I have any more fucks to give about being 34 and shopping at Hot Topic? Nope!

How to Rebel Against New Year’s Resolutions: Eat Like a Champion

I entered into this New Year just like everyone else: fresh with optimism, full of heady ideas about eating healthy and making some smart choices in my life.

That lasted all of one day.

Remember last year when I was all “I resolve to make things different!” and then I had the worst year of my life? This year, I’m taking the opposite approach. I’m just going to keep doing whatever it is I’ve been doing—and that includes stuffing my face as though I’ll never see another morsel of food again.

I devoured this in two sittings.

I devoured this in two sittings.

I’m not quite sure where this is coming from. Part of it may be in rebellion, since three-quarters of my office are on this detox/whole foods kick and they’ve lost a collective umpteen-thousand pounds. I’m happy for them, and they seem happy too, but I have no energy/desire to join them. I’d rather be enjoying my meatballs and hot dogs and pizza and cheese (even though I recently discovered I’m lactose intolerant. Seriously.)

Maybe it’s just that I’ve come upon a rather difficult time of the year, emotionally. Today marks the one-year anniversary of my cousin’s death. (Boy this post just took a sudden emo turn.) I’m not going to dwell on that here. But I don’t think the late-night trips to the fridge are happening in a vacuum. And that’s all I have to say about that.

I’ve been making half-hearted attempts to reel in the eating. I’ll pack myself a really healthy salad for lunch, and it will be delicious, and I will enjoy it. But 30 minutes later, I’m snacking on chicken puffs in the kitchen and contemplating whether to run out and grab something for second lunch.

Late nights are the worst, though. Once again, I’ll eat a decently healthy dinner with fair portions that leave me satisfied but not stuffed. But once 10pm rolls around, all bets are off. I’ve cracked into the leftovers like a burglar cracking a safe, waiting until Alex goes upstairs so I can shamelessly stuff my face with meats and cheeses and sauces and crackers and chocolate. Each time I think, “Okay, that’s enough. This is getting gross.” Then a minute later, I hop up off the couch and go grab “just one more thing” until I’m full to the point of discomfort and regret.

And yet…

There’s something freeing about not really giving a crap. I see everyone around me scrambling to be healthy and I’m all “see you on the other side!” Because I know come February, they’ll start sneaking their snacks, just one cheat here, another cheat there. And by March they’ll be in full-blown munchie mode and I’ll be all “Welcome to the club! Was it worth it?”

So for lunch today, I’m foregoing all pretenses and going to get myself a delicious tri-tip sandwich from Mundos. You really only live once. And I’m going to live my life enjoying all the delicious food this world has to offer.

…that is, until my pants stop fitting. Which may be sometime next week.

The Single Stupidest Argument I’ve Ever Had With My Mother

My mom and I have butt heads many times over the last thirty-grumble-grumble years. Many, many times. A good many of them were emo-teenage arguments, like “You don’t understand me!” or “My life is so hard!” or “Why won’t you let me close the door to my bedroom?” Many more were about my wedding. (“I really don’t want to invite your sister’s cousin’s daughter who knows your hairdresser, who you also invited.”) But the thing we’ve argued about the most is how to parent my son.

I’m just going to rewind that back. How to parent MY son.

Yes, my mom has the wisdom of many more years of motherhood than I do, which is why I often listen to her advice. I know she’s a fantastic mother and a wonderful grandmother—that cannot be argued. What can be argued is how I choose to feed, bath, dress, educate, and entertain my child. And mom has something to say about all of them. She wouldn’t be an Italian Mother if she didn’t.

This particular argument started when I (mistakenly) called my mom to vent about what a pain in the ass Lucas had been that day. It was then that my mom offered her patented “he needs more stimulation” formula, which usually involves me spending lots of money of crap he never uses.

child at christmas

Looks pretty stimulating to me.

Let’s take a moment to unpack that word: STIMULATION. The word stimulate means to make more active, to cause something to develop, or to make a person excited about something. Here are things that should be stimulated: hair growth, a passion for learning, the economy, nipples. Here’s what my son, the most energetic, non-stop-party person in the universe doesn’t need: stimulation. Love, affection, attention, fun, support, guidance, yes. Stimulation, no. If I stimulated that child any more than he is already naturally stimulated, then he’d make a double espresso with a sprinkle of crack look like warm milk.

So when I called my mom to say “Lucas was driving us bonkers today,” and she said, “He needs more stimulation,” you can bet that it pinched a mommy nerve. Here’s how it went down.

Mom: He’s just bored. He needs more stimulation.

Me: We took him for a walk around the neighborhood, then to the park, the he rode his bike up and down the street, then he played basketball, and we ended the night by watching two movies!

Mom: Well, he’s probably sick of doing those things. He needs more stimulation.

Me: Wha? Like what?

Mom: Like some new toys. I’m sure he’s sick of his old ones.

Me: We just had Christmas!

Mom: But he needs a train set. Every little boy needs a train set. I’m going to buy it for him for his birthday.

Me: I…no he doesn’t NEED a train set! We have no place to put it!

Mom: Well, I’m just saying. He’s bored.

Christmas LEGOS. Very stimulating.

Christmas LEGOS. Very stimulating.

I’m not lying when I say we discussed this “needs more toys” and “train set” issue for 30 minutes, starting off at regular Italian volume (loud) and ending with the two of us yelling at the top of our lungs at each other while my dad tried to mediate and my husband was in the background shouting, “And tell her we already bought him a train and he doesn’t play with it!” It was a total melee. Over a fucking train set.

Basketball hoop: ultimate stimulation.

Basketball hoop: ultimate stimulation.

I’m sure a good part of it was me being frazzled at my son’s behavior and being couped up in the house for the last week and a half while my office was closed. I was exhausted and cranky and craving my old routine. On top of which, I had made every effort to make my child’s Christmas magical, but somehow, Italian Mother Guilt penetrated all of that. My mom saying “Lucas needs a train set” became “You’re not a good mother.”

Would my mom ever say those words to me? No. In fact, she has even told me I’m doing a good job. (GASP!) But the curse of Italian Mother Guilt is that it doesn’t matter what you did or what your mom said before. Every argument is seasoned with “You’re not a good mother” in the same way we season our salad dressing with oregano. I bet her mother did it to her, and her mother did it to her mother before her. Every Italian mother of the past was doing it right, and every Italian mother of the present is totally fucking it up.

I’m sure I’ll guilt my son about other things, like “When are ya gonna get a job and move out of here?” But the guilt passed from Italian mother to daughter is as thick as lasagna.

In a way I’m sad to miss out on this important tradition of proving my superiority in all things motherly. But mostly I just want it to be known that Lucas doesn’t really need a train set. He’s already getting the best gift my parents could give him: they’ll be here to celebrate his birthday.

Toddler Bedtime is the Absolute Worst

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Of course you have, but I don’t care because this is my blog and I do what I want.

nosleepyDoes that sound like the voice of someone who had a nice, peaceful evening last night? No. No, it does not. Instead, it is the voice of a mom who has been routinely tortured by her adorably geared up three-year-old whose excitement over Christmas has reached such a fever pitch that he can’t calm himself down to go the F*** to sleep.

I know that parental whining about toddler bedtime is about as tired as I am at this very moment, but mostly it’s because we are trying to wrap our heads around why, why, why for the love of God, why is this happening and why does it keep happening, and why don’t we have that kid from Monsters, Inc. who giggles a little and then passes out so quickly you think she might have narcolepsy?

My son’s skills at evading bedtime are about as calculated and manipulative as an evil genius. We have tried to adapt, initiating different bedtime routines to throw him off the scent, but little by little, minute by minute, he stretches and negotiates until finally you realize you’re back in the same pattern of laying next to him trying to play dead while he whispers to himself in the language of Mordor and then crawls over your back to ask: “What you doin’, Mama?”

Me: Nothing, go to sleep.

Lucas: I want some water.

Me: You just had water. You had two glasses of water. All done water.

Lucas: No because I need it.

Me: Go to sleep.

Lucas: shbash shash bash sasha bah hardlach

Me: …. (pretending to play dead again)

Lucas: I need to go pee-pees.

Me: ……

Lucas: Mama. Mama. Maaaaaamaaaaaaa.

Me: ………..

Lucas tosses and turns for about five minutes and is relatively quiet. I hear him chewing on the edge of his pillowcase, but he hasn’t peeped up. I become hopeful that maybe he’ll doze off soon. I open one eye like Popeye to see if he’s finally knocked out.

He’s a millionth of a millimeter away from my face, just staring at me.

Lucas: Hi, Mama!

Me: LUCAS! Go. To. Sleep!

This pattern continues, by the way, for two hours and 20 minutes. Now do you wonder why I, and the parents of millions of toddlers, are losing our minds?

I want to know how our parents did it. Because they make it sound like they just left us in our rooms and, maybe we didn’t fall asleep right away, but we played to ourselves or babbled and eventually passed out on our own. Maybe a few nights we had nightmares and crawled into our parents’ bed. But did mom lay next to me for hours every night? I don’t think so. How can I be that mom?

Did our parents go through this and just keep their mouths shut? Or have toddlers somehow morphed into the dominant minds of our time, bending our weak Gen X/Millennial brains to do their bidding so that one day they can rule us all and in the darkness, bind us? Toddlers are to parents what North Korean hackers are to Sony. They get us by invoking the words “I’m scared” or “Don’t go, Mama” or “I need Mama,” and we give in, even though we swore we wouldn’t let the terrorists win.

Maybe we WERE like this when we were little, but our parents just forgot. They wiped it from their brains so as not to experience symptoms of PTSD. Either way, I know that— unlike the Balrog in the Mines of Moria—this too shall pass.

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

girl runningIt’s been one year since I started this here blog, and a lot has gone down since December of 2013. There have been some tragedies, including a second miscarriage and the death of my cousin, but there have also been some triumphs like…you know…admitting to making pasta with hot dogs and…wow, I really can’t think of anything else.

I swore 2014 was going to be a better year than 2013, and on paper, it certainly wasn’t. But I had something this year that I didn’t have last year—all of you. Sharing the madness inside my head and finding out that most of you are just as fucked up as I am has made weathering some of these devastating events much more tolerable.

I’m no longer holed up in the storm shelter talking to myself about my morbid fantasies or why the ant problem in my house has given me a permanent tic. Now I’ve got you guys huddled together with me, patting me on the head and, at the very least, feeling a smug superiority that you’ve got your shit together more than me.

But mostly you’ve all been amazing.

Thank you to people who’ve commented and shared their stories. Thank you to those who’ve emailed me with messages of sympathy and empathy. Thank you to friends and family who’ve told me that this blog made them laugh out loud. That’s all I wanted, really. What I ended up getting was much, much more.

Whether things looked bleak or promising, I knew I could always come here and spill, and none of you have judged me for it. Thank you for making this a safe place to bark at the moon, laugh at the devil, and continue making off-color commentary about my crazy Italian and Mexican families. Here’s to another year—and I won’t jinx it by claiming it’s going to be amazing. I’m just going to ask, can it please not suck? And if it does, well…

…you guys know where you can find me.

All I Want for Christmas is to Poop in Peace

Is that too much to ask? When I sat down with my in-laws to discuss Secret Santa presents, and we all went around the table saying what we wanted, I secretly yearned to whisper this phrase: Just let me take a dump, please, for the Love of God, without a single interruption.

Having a toddler means never having privacy in the bathroom, yes, we know this. But my toddler not only has a particular affinity for coming in to observe the ongoings, but also peppering me with questions about what I’m doing (taking a shit), why it’s taking so long (because it’s shy), can I turn off the light (no, I need it), I want to see your poopy (no, just…leave it alone, Lucas), GOOD JOB, MAMA! (resigned sigh…thanks, buddy).

If that weren’t enough, lately he’s decided that when Mommy goes pee or poop, he’s going to come in the bathroom and go, too! So I find myself scurrying to cut things off mid-stream, scrambling to de-pants my son while my own pants are around my ankles, and tossing him onto the toilet, only for him to giggle as he passes gas.

Here's JohnnySometimes I do race to the bathroom to try and lock myself in, but he catches on and follows me with the speed of a cheetah. If I make it in before him, I struggle against his sudden Hulk-like strength to force the door closed and locked. He’ll then proceed to bang on the door like a vicious axe murderer until I finish my business. I’m just waiting for the day for him to chop through all “Heeeeeere’s Johnny!”

Lucas, like all toddlers, has always wandered into the bathroom to keep me company, but lately it seems he’s hell-bent on not just hanging out but actually terrorizing me—so much so that the bathroom has turned from a sanctuary into a traumatic war zone. Last weekend I told Alex that I really needed some peace and quiet, so I was going to lock the master bedroom door AND the bathroom door so that I could take a bath alone. What do you think happened?

My husband PICKED THE LOCKS to come in and tell me that he needed to get Lucas ready.

He picked the locks.

He…PICKED….the locks.

Could he have waited an extra 10 minutes before getting Lucas ready? Yes, yes I believe he could have. I don’t think he realized how very precious that alone time was for me, otherwise he wouldn’t have done it. But in walked my son, who of course pointed out my private parts, rightfully shaming me for being naked in the tub.

Someday very soon Lucas will have zero desire to walk in on his mom doing her business. And that’s one of those baby things that, trust me, I will NEVER miss.

This Thanksgiving, I’m Thankful for a 40-Dollar Mouth Guard

And family and friends and blah blah blah. But if it weren’t for this silly little plastic piece I picked up a few days ago, those same family and friends that I’m so thankful for would likely not feel the same about me come Thanksgiving. (Translation: I’ve been a bitch lately.)

headacheFor those who’ve been following this blog/know me in real life (which is basically the same group of people), you’re well aware of my struggles with my chronic back pain. However, one thing I haven’t talked much about are my near-constant headaches.

Why not, you ask? Because whining about my back pain is riveting enough. If I add in the headaches and the jaw pain and the teeth clenching, you’ll start wondering if I have a case of the WebMDs. (Which, trust me, anytime you have lots of headaches, do yourself a favor: DO NOT GOOGLE. I repeat: DO NOT GOOGLE. You’ll convince yourself you have brain cancer.)

For many years, I’ve had pretty consistent headaches. Like…more days with headaches than without headaches. Initially, I thought they were tied to hormones and that my birth control pills were making it worse. But when Alex and I decided to start a family and we pulled the goalie, the headaches continued.

Then I rationalized that it must be allergies, of course. No amount of Advil or Tylenol could touch them, and my sinuses felt sore and tender to the touch. I loaded up on Claritin and Sudafed and Mucinex, and sometimes it helped (because sometimes the headaches were, in fact, caused by allergies). But the overall tension remained.

Three years ago, I saw my Monterey dentist for the first time, and he noticed some wear and tear on my teeth.

Friendly Dick-Van-Dyke-looking dentist: Do you clench or grind your teeth in your sleep?

Me: For sure. I think it’s just a by-product of an overall anxious personality/self-induced stress.

Dick-Van-Dyke-alike: Yeah, that’s usually what it is. I highly recommend you get a guard to wear in your sleep. It’ll protect your teeth from further damage and help with any jaw pain or headaches you experience as a result.

Me: How much?

Him: $400

Me: I’ll definitely look into it. (Code for: nope)

Even after being told straight-out what the problem was, I continued to justify the headaches and pin them on something else. But finally, after a particularly stressful week that was also coupled with particularly debilitating headaches, I walked into my nearest Target and dropped $40 on a stupid mouth guard and popped it in my mouth two nights ago. Guess what?

No more flipping headaches.

This is a lesson to us all (but mostly to me). 1. Don’t Google your symptoms. 2. Listen to a professional when they tell you what’s going on, especially if he looks like Dick Van Dyke. 3. Never trust your instincts.

November is Mental Hibernation Month

hiberatingNovember may be best known as Movember, the month in which the menfolk decide to piss off their ladies by growing spiny patches of facial hair “for a cause” (that cause being laziness and the ability to squirrel away crumbs of food to be discovered and eaten at a later date). However, I’m declaring November Mental Hibernation Month. Why? Because December is too crazy to be reflective, October is too far away from the end of the year, but November is a time when you have a minute to go…so wait, what did I do all year? And when you realize you’ve accomplished nothing, you just want to hibernate for a while.

For the last few Novembers, I’ve found myself entering a deeply reflective period when I think and explore and ruminate on who I am and where I want to go. Plus I begin fattening up for the winter. Usually this introspective phase is followed by a pseudo epiphany, which is then followed by a burst of I-can-do-ism. Unfortunately, it all goes to shit when I realize my can-do spunk has morphed into a can-do-later funk.

This time, my November hibernation may just be to rest easy knowing something big is around the corner. Something clicked during my deliberation this month, and I’ve finally stopped waffling and making empty promises to myself. Action is being taken, important decisions have been made (that cannot be divulged at the moment I’m afraid…I know, big tease), and I can nestle into my November sleep with far less angst knowing that this will be a period of meditation on how to get where I want to go instead of questioning what I want in the first place.

This time, my mental hibernation will be less navel gazing and more list-making—what positive steps can I take to reach my goals? How can I mentally prepare for disappointment if first and second and third tries fail? How can I encourage myself to keep going? I think the reason why I’ve been so gloomy these last few Novembers is because I’ve become a bit of a coward. I’m so afraid of No that I won’t put myself out there for a possible Yes.

I should let my 20 years of dancing remind me of who I am when I set my mind to something. I went on hundreds of auditions, and only some of them resulted in jobs. I didn’t let flat-out Nos or close-but-no-cigars get me down. (I mean, it sucked, but it was on to the next audition the next day.) I’ve been going back and forth for some time now on many personal goals—family, career, where to live, how to treat my chronic back pain—but after nearly a year of blogging therapy with you all, it’s becoming very clear what I need to do.

This time, when I wake up from my hibernation…I’ll be very hungry.

My Cousin’s Big Fat Italian Wedding

This past weekend, my entire Italian family (including a few cousins from the motherland) gathered together to watch my beautiful cousin Christina say “I do.” Nothing makes Italians more Italian than a wedding.

I mean, really. So gorgeous.

I mean, really. So gorgeous.

We stood for the bride’s entrance and the minute she walked through the door, the waterworks started. I thought I was the only one being ultra-sensitive, but then I noticed that more than half the room was sniffling. Guess which half of the room had to retouch their makeup after the ceremony? The Italian side.

As we filed into the reception area, a clot of black suits and little black dresses in the corner told me there must be a bar. There was—an open bar at that—though it was for a short period of time. So naturally, being the classy people that we are, we stepped up to the bar and ordered double drinks.

Back at our table, it was all the Garofoli cousins sitting together. Me, Alex, Alyssa, Corey, Corey’s boyfriend Jon, Jonelle, Matt, and Danny. Jonelle’s finance Joe was supposed to join us, but at the last minute had to cancel because of work. So as we sat down, we stared at the empty seat. Without a word, the tears started again, this time because all we could think about was Sam, and how he should have been there making us all laugh until we peed.

“Shutup, don’t you start!” said Matt to Corey, who hadn’t said a single word, but was already holding her eyes open so her mascara wouldn’t run.

“That’s Joe’s seat!” said Jonelle, who was trying to diffuse the situation, but it was too late. There we all were, mourning our funny cousin who was lost too soon. It’s going to happen at every happy or sad or momentous occasion moving forward. So we may as well let the tears flow.

Because we can’t go anywhere without causing trouble, Matt broke out a few nips and we all did a shot to Sam, but not before the waitstaff came over and yelled at us for having nips, which were not allowed at the reception.

“Sure, we’ll get rid of them!” we said, and proceeded to get rid of them by pouring them down our throats. Again, pure class.

Speaking of class, there was a photo booth at the reception, which needs to happen at all weddings I attend from now on. Note to any of my friends or family who plan to wed in the future: photo booth or I’m not coming.

Just in case you weren’t aware, Italians are attention whores. So a photo booth with accessories was like crack to us. As soon as we found out about it, we mad dashed to the corner and threw on the most ridiculous hats we could find and joined one another in pictures that got progressively crazier by the minute. We started off kinda nice, a few couples being slightly goofy, smiling and smooching. By the end, it was 80 Italians crammed into one photo throwing up middle fingers and giving crazy goat face.

lesscrazy

mediumcrazyfullcrazy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You think the madness ends there? I didn’t call this my cousin’s big fat Italian wedding for nothing. Certainly the cousins know how to party, but guess where we got it from? The parents.

As the DJ transitioned from Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin into Lil’ Jon, the parents were befuddled. “Turn Down for What” blasted from the speakers and the cousins formed a circle to shake it down, but the aunts and uncles were like…uhhhhh…what is this music? So my mom and aunt, sufficiently plastered, decided to roll with it. They ended up busting better moves than all of us combined. And I have video evidence. Let’s just say, this is the tame, edited version of the events:

Ladies and gentlemen, my family, thank you very much. A room full of Italians celebrating the union of a loving couple by yelling out “skeet skeet” with all their might. If that doesn’t sum us up, I’m not sure what else will.