No - I am not talking about your favorite cheap beer - you big lush. I am talking about the blue ribbon that was sewn into the spine of the book that I just read. I had seen reviews of The Help by Kathryn Stockett and they were all extremely favorable so I ordered it from my book club That's what geeky readers like me do - we join book clubs - it's the nerdy equivalent of a crack house. I do get some sort of sick enjoyment out of a new shipment of books. I love taking them out of the box, reading the back covers, reading the front flap, reading the author's biography and then I sniff them. You read that right - I sniff them. I hold them up to my face and I take a big deep breath. There is nothing in the world that smells like a new book. (you heard me my Kindle loving friends - you can't sniff a Kindle - well you can, but they just smell like plastic - they don't smell like paper and ink and knowledge)
I started reading The Help about a month ago. It's a pretty long little book so it took me longer than usual to get through it. It is an amazing story that was very easy to read. I found myself pruning up in the bathtub more than once because I wanted to read just one more chapter. It was one of those reads where I couldn't wait to keep reading, but was sad when I reached the end. When I first opened the book, a blue ribbon fell out. Not of the Pabst variety or not like my hog had one first place in the county fair. One that was purposely sewn into the book so that I (the nerdy avid reader) wouldnt have to damage the pages by folding them down or hunt all over the side of the bathtub for something that would serve as a suitable bookmark. Shampoo bottles do not good bookmarks make. That was my Yoda speak for the day. Try it sometime - it's fun and it annoys all your friends ! Annoys your friends it does.
Finding that baby blue ribbon sewn into the pages made my day. It's the simple things in life that make me happy. So I have decided that when I become a bestselling author that all of my books will have ribbons sewn into them for bookmarks. Some might have black ribbons, some might have yellow polka dot ribbons, some might have ribbons with glitter (wait maybe not - glitter falling on you while you are reading in the tub would not be a good thing - unless you are a stripper - then it would just save you a step when you are getting ready to go on stage - ok - the glitter ribbon will only go in the novel about the stripper since they would be my target audience).
Sometimes people just amaze me. I watched a woman today flitter around about buying presents and getting Christmas dinner planned and getting Christmas cards mailed and not having time to get all of her errands done and I just wanted to tell her to slow down. Actually I wanted to grab a hold of her and shake her and then slap her a few times and then tell her to calm the hell down. I have known this woman for a few years, so I have come to expect that every year about this time she will go into a full fledged tizzy over Christmas and every year I wonder why. Why does she buy gifts that are overpriced and underappreciated? Why does she feel the need to mail out a hundred cards to people that she hasn't talked to in years? Why does she plan this gigantic family meal for people who can't stand to be around each other? Why?
All of it makes me glad that we have chosen to raise our kids a little different. Yes we buy them gifts, but we don't try to buy their love. Sure they would love to have more expensive stuff, but I would rather we all spend time together playing games and laughing instead. We used to do the posed Christmas card every year. Every single year. The kids hated taking dozens of pictures so that I would have an assortment to choose from in search of the perfect shot and I griped about having to address the envelopes - and then Derek griped about the kids griping about having to take the picture and me griping about having to address the envelopes. Ah - good times ! Good times ! So we stopped sending out Christmas cards. In all honesty - my withdrawal and other situation was the real reason that we stopped bothering with cards, but now I am glad that we don't do it. If the people that I was sending them to hadn't bothered to talk to me all year long, then they weren't important enough in my life to send a card to in the first place.
So this Christmas season, I invite you to not kill yourself by stressing out over finding the perfect gift, cooking the perfect meal, or sending the perfect card. I invite you to just sit back and look at the ways that you are blessed and pass along those blessings to the people who are really important in your life. Send them a hand-written letter, call them on the phone, or (even better) cook them a meal and then go for a visit. Actually sit down and talk - face to face - no text messages - no emails - a real conversation. That will be the perfect gift !
When this life is over - we don't take the Iphones, the fancy cards or the pretty table settings with us. We take the love and the friendships and the feelings that we have for each other. In that sense - I am blessed - I am so very blessed !
For years I have joked about it and it has finally come to pass. My anniversary is in the next for days and at that point I will officially have been married for half of my life. That is right. Do the math. 36 years old. Got married at 18 (no shotgun in sight). 18 year anniversary. Oh yeah - that calculates up to half of my life. Wow !!!
As much as I would like to say that the past 18 years were the happiest of Derek's life - I cannot. I spent 9 years being doped out of my mind on a mixture of prescription meds and alcohol that made me worse than bat shit crazy. I treated him like hell and was even worse to our children. I had a huge ego and his opinion didn't matter to me at all. I had no filter between my brain and my mouth and if I wanted to say something hurtful then I just blurted it out. I actually got some sick thrill out of hurting people's feelings (especially his). I openly flirted with men right in front of him and didn't care that I was making myself and him look like complete fools. I would tear up shit around the house while he was at work and expect him to fix it when he got home. I had manic episodes where I came up with off the wall schemes that wasted money and time. I was a royal bitch - no other way to say it. The really sad thing about the meds that I was on (especially the SSRI and the Ambien) was that I really thought that I was normal and I couldn't see how they were making me act.
I have huge amounts of guilt and regret over the way that I treated people, but mostly about the way that I treated Derek and the kids. So to you - my love - my rock - my everything. I promise that the next 18 years will be happier, with more respect, more love, more caring, and more laughs. I will never be able to thank you for not giving up on me and for believing in me when I hit my rock bottom. I could not have made it through the hell of withdrawal and the other issues without you. I don't think that you will ever truly know how much it means to me that you stayed. I am so sorry and I love you !
For the past two years we haven't "done" Santa at our house (and I know that some of you and your perverted minds "went there", but by saying "done" I did NOT mean that we had intimate relations with Santa - I meant that we hadn't bothered to play Santa) because of my med and alcohol withdrawal and the stress of everything else in our house. We just didn't see the point in spending money on gifts that we didn't even get the credit for, for kids who didn't really appreciate how much work it was anyway. Besides - my kids have known for years that Santa is actually the Easter Bunny in disguise and we just didn't feel the need to keep lying to them about him living with a bunch of shorties in arctic temperatures.
Well - a few days after Thanksgiving I mentioned that we needed to get the tree up. Derek hates the Christmas tree that we have. It's one of those were you have to figure out what color the microscopic piece of tape wrapped around each branch is so that you can push the square end of the branch into the corresponding round hole on the base. We have yet to get through the erection (yes - I said erection - stop giggling like a 12 year old) of the tree without him cussing, throwing limbs, and swearing that we are going to buy another tree. Putting up the tree is an all day affair (I said affair too - man I am quite the potty mouth today) and there really isn't much of it that is pleasant for anybody. Especially Derek ... and anybody standing within throwing distance of those branches.
As I am talking to Derek about when he is going to get the tree up (we had decided a few years ago that it is best for him to do this when nobody else is at home), Bryce chimes in and says "I don't know why we put the tree up anyway. We never even have any presents under it.". I instantly teared up. It was like he had slapped me in the face. It really did hurt my feelings and all the sudden I felt like a horrible mother because we were no long wrapping presents for our kids. We let them pick out some clothes and give them some money, but nothing is a surprise to them anymore. So me in my limited intelligence decides that we are going to reinstate Santa this year. Why ? Well because I want to see their wittle glowing faces when they unwrap the presents that "Santa" brought them on Christmas morning. Or maybe it's because part of my brain is fried from all of the years of prescription med abuse and drinking vodka by the gallon. I am going to go with the brain damage theory because so far this has not been much fun.
So do you think that the kids would hate me forever if Santa just gave them practical gifts? Socks for everybody. Boxes of hot chocolate. Some tubes of toothpaste. Shampoo always makes a great gift ! Somebody can get a ham. Somebody else can open individually wrapped potatoes. What about some green beans? I could just wrap up the entire Christmas meal and we could take it straight from under the Christmas tree to the oven. What a great plan ! No ? Fine then - I will keep spending my lunch breaks looking for crap that I can't find anywhere because the electronics that they want were already bought up by better mothers than me. Ah - Christmas time !
I got lured into buying new magazine subscriptions again. I didnt mean for it to happen. It just did. I bought several when my darling daughter was selling them for Girl Scouts and then bought a few more when they sent me "special offers". Some of them I just flip through because they don't hold much interest to me. I do not need to know how to make a casserole out of artichokes and octopus, nor do I need to know how to wax my own bikini line. Um ... I have been married eighteen years. He will just have to get over the Playboy fantasy.
Anyway - while reading one of my many magazines in the tub the other night, I came across an advice column. The reader wrote the columnist to ask for advice about how to get her husband to help out with chores around the house. Basically it sounded like they both worked full time, but when he got home from work he flopped his fat ass in front of the tv for hours on end while she cooked, cleaned, did laundry, and parented the children. Well the happy little advice columnist suggested to her that she should praise him and reward him when he did do things around the house. I literally yelled "WHAT THE HELL?" when I read that. Was this chick serious ? I read on. She was ! She was actually telling this woman that she needed to praise the jackass for doing things like putting the toilet seat down, taking out a freaking bag of trash or making a sandwich for the kids. I searched that magazine high and low for the section where bitchy women like me can write in and tell the editor or happy little advice columnist what they think about articles. It was nowhere to be found. DAMMIT ! However, if I had written in a letter this is what it would say:
Dear you complete idiot,
Either you have never been married, have had a partial lobotomy, or enjoy living with a man who is a complete slob who doesn't respect you and treats you like a servant. Did it ever occur to you that the reader who sent you the letter was tired and worn down and probably needed an entire box of wine when she got home at the end of the day? Why is she expected to continue doing all of the house work, cooking, and child rearing PLUS praise the little husband for doing shit that he should have been doing anyway. My advice to her would have been to stop doing it. Stop cooking. Stop cleaning. Stop washing his nasty socks and stained underwear. Just stop.
Maybe when he got crusty enough to wash his own damn clothes - he would. Maybe when he got hungry enough to get off of his fat ass and go find himself a meal - he would. Maybe when the house started to smell like the dumpster behind the Stripes and need cleaning - he would. Or if all else fails - she could find her own joint and let him live by himself in his own filth eating peanut butter straight from the jar, wearing clothes that hadn't been washed in weeks, with piles of trash all around him. Maybe then he would start praising her for all of the things that she has done for him, because he sure wouldn't be getting any praise from me for doing nothing ! Telling a woman to praise her husband for helping her with the housework puts us back into the dark ages and we have clawed, scratched, and chewed our way to get out of those mindsets. If that same advice had come from a man then it would have been considered sexist - coming from you (a woman), I consider it an insult. It is an insult to every woman out there who has fought for equality and respect. Shame on you !
A Big Fan
Just because I felt like it - I had to whack Derek with the magazine when I came downstairs. After all he was a man and I am sure that he deserved it for something.