Lately, I have been doing homework. It feels a lot like studying for a Chemistry test or cramming for an Algebra final. It entails reading a lot of blogs, some that I normally wouldn't read in order to become more aware of what's out there in the world of the internet. Lately I will read just about every article that is linked into my FB page, so instead of scoffing at them like an ass, I click on each one and hold my breath. Truthfully, I have read some pretty interesting stuff and I'm always pleasantly surprised to find authors whom I look forward to reading over and over again. Then there are the rest of them. The ones that make me cringe inside, not because of any grammatical issues, but because the author's ideals are so far off from my own (and they don't soften the blow with humor) that it feels like toothpicks to the eyeball .
Recently, I read a well written article by a Christian woman who had six or seven or eight kids. I lost count. Apparently, her piece has been surfing the web for a couple of years, but is so controversial that is keeps showing up in random places for another five minutes of fame. She was professing the joys of motherhood, which I agree with, but then suddenly veered into the dark territory of owing your fertility to God. Had I believed that God was expecting this sort of reimbursement, my husband and I could very well have nine kids in our house and one on the way. (Loses consciousness and falls off bar stool). My paternal grandmother bore eight children, my maternal grandmother bore seven and if you knew how many children my great grandmothers' carried it would blow your diaphragm across the room. My genetic code has blessed me with fertility and my brain has blessed me with the knowledge to know when to say when. Procreation was fairly easy for us and the sperm to egg connection took only a few months, I had easy pregnancies and wonderful deliveries. You heard it, WONDERFUL. But I knew that I could only care for two children the way that I wanted to care for children, so we stopped. Before I knew what it was like to have bleeding nipples, I wanted to have three kids and my hubs was vying for four. I guarantee that without medical intervention we would have had a basketball team and my nipples would have fallen off completely.
Ecstatic high five to those families who desire and are able to have a herd of children, care for them, afford them and raise them into loving human adults. That was not my lot in life and just because I am a fertile myrtle does not mean that I sign my womb over to God. In my opinion, this article reinforces the idea that because you are a fertile woman that you should take a hearty shit on any other life pursuits and do the one thing God intended for you, popping out puppies until you die. No thanks, bucko. We wanted to have a family that we could support on one income (because I choose careers that create no income, it's a talent) and the opportunity to become successful at something beyond parenthood. Because we are selfish like that. Have I wondered what life would have be like with three kids? Yes. I have also wondered what it would be like to be single, what it would be like to have sex with Christian Bale, and what it would be like to be a lesbian. But they are thoughts. Thanks to modern medicine and family planning, we have two wonderful children and the ability to pursue other ventures in our lives. Fertile or no, there's no more room in this womb.
This week, I'm obsessed with documentaries. In all honesty, I don't watch a lot of TV because.....Toddlers and Tiaras. There is more shit than valuable entertainment on television, so I find other ways to entertain myself. A couple of days ago, my computer wasn't picking up an internet signal so I resigned myself to not working or cleaning or running errands or doing anything else productive. Secretly, I needed a break so I clicked on Netflix and looked up a documentary that someone had raved about on Instagram. Notice how I just used two modern day media forms in one sentence, who would ever guess I'm so old? The movie was called Miss Representation and it was a 90 minute class about women's rights, women in the media and how we are creating an unrealistic female ideal . It set me on fire. There were numerous books I put on my to-read list and when my husband called to see if the internet was back up, I angrily spewed a fifteen minute dissertation on how fucked up our society is, how dysfunctional our idea of beauty is and the fact that I may not make dinner for him ever again. If you haven't guessed, I have a tendency to take things to the most dramatic level possible. For a moment, I even contemplated shaving my head just to prove how serious I was about feminism. I really can't be trusted to consume too much information in such a short period of time.
Today after some Christmas shopping, I came home planning to work on my book, but wanting instead to watch another documentary. In order to justify sitting on my ass and accomplishing zilch, I pretended that my computer was frozen, surfed my options on Netflix and stumbled upon one called Happy. It talks about the genetics of happy, the happiest people on the planet, the most unhappy country and people who are happy despite what many would view as an impoverished lifestyle. Now instead of shaving my head, I wanted to volunteer, learn to surf, move to Hawaii, stop buying crap and start talking to my neighbors. See? I'm telling you, be careful what you show me, I'm a chameleon.
So are you happy? Am I happy? Most of the time, I am. There have been times in my life where I have dealt with depression and almost weekly I need a good cry in order to keep waking up in the morning, but I would say that I am a happy person. Here is where I think some people get backed up with the whole happy thing. "Well, you are happy because nothing bad ever happens to you." Wrong. A lot of shitty things have happened to me, some that I am still working through. "Well, you are just oblivious to all the horrible crap in the world." Nope, not that either. While I don't choose to follow breaking news or tragic events, I'm smart enough to know that they happen and compassionate enough to know that it's not okay when they do. I can't control these things, but what I can control is how I feel about my life. "Well you have the perfect life, so of course you are happy." Perfect for whom? It works for me, but it may not work for you. Perfect isn't real anyway, it's a perception that we allow ourselves to believe as fact. Being happy doesn't come from "perfection" or big houses or fancy cars. Happy is a combination of many factors, most of which revolve around community, relationships and doing for others. It inspired me to do more to create happiness in my life and reaffirmed the fact that I really want to live on a beach. Hint, hint, husband. :)
The moral of the story is that this week I am a Happy Feminist. Next week, who knows, I could be a Happy Feminist Vegan or a Happy Feminist Vegan Republican (is that a thing?). It all depends on my documentary options and my computer being broken.
Being a good parent is hard these days. There are standards of Facebook and Pinterest type living that we all get to feel guilty about instead of just enjoying our kids, like back in the good old days. My mom didn't know what five hundred of her closest friends were doing with their kids for the three weeks leading up to Christmas and she didn't have time to care. She packed lunches, washed clothes and made crafts, all without the gut wrenching "benefit" of photographing every tedious step and posting it online. There are days I have to revert back to the 1980's, leg warmers and all, in order to actually enjoy my life and stop wondering if someone has Liked my pot roast pic. It's a a bit of a time waster and I will admit that there are days that it consumes more of my life than it really should.
Christmas has to be one of the worst times of year to be an insecure, unprepared, impatient parent. Social media has its stocking filled to bursting seams with craft ideas, cookie recipes, photo opportunities and that motherfucking Elf. You know, the ugly one with frighteningly long limbs who scampers around your house looking for trouble, and apparently keeps a close eye on your little shithead children as they flush your earrings down the toilet. Better stop sweetheart, Elf on the Shelf is watching. If that kid knew what was good for him, he would drowned Mr. Elf and bury him in the backyard. The concept is that Mr. Elf is checking in with Santa, all the while making rounds at your house and popping up in the most unusual spots. Courtesy of Mom and Dad. Most days I don't even get myself dressed, eat a full meal or take a crap. Time restraints, you know. That being said, I don't have an extra ten minutes at night to stage some sort of holiday photo op with a stuffed toy and a bag of cookies. My son asked about Elf the other evening, so thank you parents who are allowing your kids to brag at school about your stupid traveling Elf.
"Mom, why don't we have one of those little toys that watches you and moves to a different spot in the house every night?"
I should have said something holiday-ish or at least something sweet, but after prepping my house for twenty people, cleaning out the litter box and making dinner, I had nothing nice to say. Instead, I screamed like a toddler.
"Well, because it's a ridiculous idea and I'm a bad parent." Yep. I admitted to being a bad parent in front of my kid. He wasn't phased at all and continued his inquisition with his father, who in turn promised to rustle up an elf somewhere in the house and place it in secret spots. "No, Dad, it has to be a real Elf on the Shelf. You have to buy it from the store and use the real one."
During that exchange, we learned that Mr. Elf is just another way to create consumers at the tender age of seven. Any old elf won't do, we needed the one in the box with instructions and a creepy little face. The thought of my husband hiding an elf every night was almost enough incentive for me to buy one. With all the love I have in my heart for my husband, he wouldn't make it three days with that elf before he ripped it limb from limb and blamed the dog. If we did buy one, for my husband of course, it would end up staying in the box and being used as a White Elephant gift next year when some asshole kid at school ruins Christmas for my son by informing him that there is no Santa and therefore no need for an Elf checking in with him nightly.
After a few glasses of wine, I made my own 'elf on a partial wall' holiday scene with a half naked Barbie wearing a football jersey. I'm snagging that Bad Parent award for sure.
If I'm really honest with myself, my Christmas wish is to have a home that resembles a magazine cover or a holiday Pinterest photo. My snarky remarks about Martha and any other broad who has homemade ornaments and coordinated place settings hides a deeper issue....I'm jealous that I don't have a house that looks like Better Homes and Gardens at Christmastime. You would be more likely to see my humble abode featured on Hoarders or some slap stick website poking fun at crooked trees and BBQ's covered in Christmas lights. My husband wasn't born with style either, so I can't depend on his keen eye to spruce up the yard or take any interest in matching bows on the tree. His idea of hanging Christmas lights includes a fifteen minute session on the front porch where he clumsily ties white lights to the handrail and then forces us all to stand in the street for fifteen minutes complimenting his handiwork. It's pretty fucking impressive. Almost as impressive as my attempts at hosting a Christmas party, which I am scheduled to do in two days. My house looks like a tornado swept through and smells like a vet's office on a hot afternoon. "What's that dead fish smell, Mom?" I explain that the dog chewed up a baby bird while they were at school and that he could really use a Tic Tac. I have mismatched plates, broken ornaments and a punch bowl that I found at the thrift store for two bucks, which takes on an even classier feel when I place the plastic ladle inside of it.
I want the secrets of these hostesses who greet you at the door holding a crystal mug filled with homemade eggnog, dressed to the nines in a shimmery shift dress, smells of pine trees wafting from inside. They smile, there is an air of ease as they show you to the kitchen where they have matching Santa bowls filled to brim with homemade every-fucking-thing you could ever want to snack on. There is Christmas music playing in the background, people laughing and her husband floats into the room wearing a suit coat and asks if he can whip me up something to drink. Yes, I'd like to sip on a cup full of your life.
On Saturday, my house will still look like people live in it, people who leave smashed Doritos between the couch cushions and snot rags on the counter. The smell will have improved, but only slightly and only because one of the guests wore too much cologne. We will drink out of plastic cups and they will be filled with shots of liquor that I found an hour before the party started, stuck behind the Play Doh in my kitchen cupboard. If I am wearing anything, it will be yoga pants, a hoodie and my slippers, which still smell like corn chips. My husband will make you a drink, but he will also make an inappropriate joke and I promise he won't be in a suit. We can only hope he's in clean pants, but I'm not making any promises. Forget about the decorations all together, we have a puppy who eats dead birds and dirty underwear, so pine cone wreaths are out of the fucking question. Tis' the season where my inability to host a party really shines through. Jealous yet?
Did you enjoy all the food porn from Thanksgiving? The beautifully browned turkeys, plump and shiny sitting on a tasteful serving platter filled to brim with stuffing. Props to all of you amazing chefs and photographers out there, I hope it tasted as good as it looked. The photo you see above is what my turkey looked like. What is that shit bag that looks like a bowel movement coming out of the turkey? Those are the giblets. Apparently they are not meant to be baked inside the turkey.
Before the baking process began, I stuck my hand as far as possible up that turkey's ass without being arrested and all I found were a turkey neck (looked like a penis) and something that resembled a heart with straw valves coming out of it. No giblet bag. There was no way I was going in for a third round of ass searching, so I massaged some oil on that bird and shoved him in the oven, fairly confident I was baking a plastic bag of giblets in the process. My house smelled weird all day. At no time did I walk in my house and think "MMM, I am one talented cook and my house smells amazing." Nope. It smelled like a Little Tykes slide sitting in the sun and all I could do was hope that the turkey didn't taste like Saran Wrap. I prayed to Baby Jesus that my kitchen wouldn't explode while I was enjoying lunch at my mother's house, where it actually smelled like Thanksgiving.
For an entire week prior to D-Day, I had asked my mom approximately 6,000 questions regarding cooking my turkey and I also Googled "roasting turkey" and "finding giblets" apparently to no avail. Every website I came upon gave me some simplified version of cooking a turkey that in no way described just how disturbing preparing a turkey really is. They were all super swell instructions on seasoning, browning at 400 degrees and making stuffing from only 324 ingredients. No one covered molesting a half thawed turkey, slimy neck penises or heart straws. My food porn could have been actual porn and I am not proud of that. I didn't post pretty pictures of my turkey because there were none. There were these two pictures, which are nothing to write home about. Where was the giblet bag? To my surprise, there was an orifice that I didn't corrupt on the other side of this poor turkey, so my giblet bag stayed inside the turkey and inside my oven for six hours. If you care, the turkey was edible. I threw away the neck penis and I now have a carcass in my fridge causing me a massive amount of guilt. According to my mother and every food blog, I am supposed to make soup stock out of it, but as of today it's just busy scaring people from eating anything in our fridge. My daughter proclaimed it "the nastiest thing I have ever seen". Once she has to pull a turkey neck out of a turkey's ass, I am fairly confident she will change her mind.
After attending that writing conference that I clearly can't shut up about, I came to a very scary conclusion....I want my own website. This little deal you are reading now has worked out for the most part, but I have been getting a lot of feedback from other writers and bloggers that if I am to be taken seriously (people will take me seriously?) I should contemplate a dot com. There were huge obstacles in actually pursuing that option including cost, learning Wordpress, figuring out what dot com I should buy, and cost. Did I mention cost? Yeah, it's a bit of an obstacle to convince my husband to shell out thousands of dollars on a website when there isn't even ten dollars coming in. He's a business guy, he wants to know when he will see a return on investment. Even I know that throwing money at something that may or may not make money in two years is a shitty business model. What I needed to know was how to get from where I am now to where I want to be and whether or not I would need to sell my car to get there. I surveyed a lot of people about where I should go with this project because I am a writer, not a website designer or professional blogger. There were free options; learn Wordpress and build it yourself or stay with what you have and keep adding material. There were really fucking expensive options; I received a proposal from one company with a projected cost of $4,795. I nearly fainted, fell down a flight of stairs and broke my collar bone.
After my heart began beating again, I made some decisions that I am really excited about sharing. I have hired someone I know to build my site, I chose a dot com that I thought would fit my needs for the long haul, and I am meeting with a very talented photographer this weekend to whip up some ideas for website pics. For a long time, I didn't have a vision for my writing, honestly I didn't believe I was a writer. Now I feel inspired to create a place for my writing that represents who I am, where I am headed and something that I hope people are excited to check out. Obviously, there is a cost associated with it, but it feels manageable and I didn't want anything for Christmas or my birthday or Mother's Day or any other holiday for the next two years anyway.
What does this all mean? I don't have a fucking clue. It will be a new place to read my writing, a place where people can find out about other writers, and hopefully one day, a place to buy or download or check out a published book by me. That is weird to think about. I'll keep you posted on how the building of my website is progressing. I am interested in what you like to see on websites? What keeps you coming back for more? Free bacon? Mind blowing photography? Book reviews? Let me know in the comments. I can't promise anything, but you know how I like a good survey.