Category Archives: File for my bestselling memoir

Three’s Company

**I am a regular contributor to the It Builds Character parenting site. (Yeah, I know – they let me write about parenting! Whaa?)  Anyway, this was one of mine originally published there in March 2011.  I thought it might be worthy of share on (Love) Notes because I feel too lazy to write something new today . **

When I had my first baby 6 years ago, everything, including the baby, was perfect. I got pregnant about six seconds after going off birth control, and the baby held off entering this world until I could graduate from business school the day earlier. He slept a lot and ate a lot. I sat around my house watching Oprah and Dr. Phil and everything else on daytime TV wondering, “What is everyone complaining about? Babies are easy!” When he was awake, my kid was always smiling and he was cute too. He didn’t have any health issues, allergy issues, sleep issues – nothing. My husband I brought him out to dinner with friends, baseball games, the grocery store, and he just sat there content the whole time. He was so good, there was an uneasy part of me that thought maybe he was the second coming of Christ, which would mean my husband wasn’t his biological father, and that could make things awkward if anyone ever found out. I eventually decided that since no wise men came to the hospital when he was born, I probably wasn’t the mother of God, but then again, maybe they just got lost – that place was really confusing.

The point is, having a baby didn’t really change our lives at all. We were well rested and had no reason to fight because our baby was perfect and so were our lives.

So when my son was 18 months old, I was all about having Number Two because kids were so easy and all those other parents were kind of whiners. Maybe they just weren’t doing everything right like I was – even though what I was doing I just made up everyday and my kid turned out totally perfect and above-average, which kind of proved that I just have a really natural penchant for child-rearing and really great genes. Man, was my son lucky I was so full of Awesome.

But when it was time for Number Two, things didn’t go exactly like Number One. Getting pregnant? Not so easy this time. And I don’t tolerate failure well, so I was naturally a joy to live with from the time I didn’t get pregnant immediately to the almost year later it took to conceive. I am kind of surprised my husband ever consented to sex after that again, because I regularly screeched things like, “We need to have sex precisely between 8:03pm and 8:11pm today or else I won’t get pregnant for yet another month!” and “I hope you have been following Section 3.1.2 of the Conception Rule Book I authored which states no alcohol, loose underwear and no masturbation. Be showered, shaved and ready to perform when I beckon. Failure is not an option.” So, needless to say, our sex life was truly awe-inspiring – not in a good way.

Eventually he finally did it right and I finally got pregnant with Number Two, who would surely turn out to be as perfect as Number One. Because after all, past performance is the best predictor of future performance, right? Number Two was born two days after Number One’s third birthday. I didn’t really prepare all that much because babies were easy and he could wear all his brother’s old clothes and he would like all the same stuff as Number One and this would be even simpler than Number One, so what was the point? My in-laws came into town a couple of weeks after the baby was born and we decided now would be a great time for my father-in-law and husband to renovate the family room by themselves. Because kids were easy, so I wouldn’t really need much help and who needs a family room in tact anyway?

Weeell, so Number Two wasn’t a clone of Number One. He cried a little more. He was gassy. After a few weeks, he began to projectile vomit. And then suddenly Perfect Number One was whiny and withdrawn and seemed to want constant attention as if that was what he was used to before this baby was born. Oh wait….right. And then on top of that, I was the lucky winner of a little bout of postpartum depression, so one of my favorite activities was sitting in my room crying for no reason. Nice. Within no time at all our perfect family of three became a sad, dysfunctional family of four. It turned out Number Two had a rare condition that required surgery to fix and without going into all the gory details, Year One of having two kids sucked. Really sucked hard.

And, I had to deal with the realization that I actually wasn’t the best parent ever, because Number One and Number Two were hard to deal with individually, and collectively. They drove my husband and I insane more than a few times and Wally and the Beav never did that to June and Ward. Perhaps we all weren’t as perfect as I had imagined. We had all we could handle with two kids and two full-time jobs and keeping our marriage out of the Alec Baldwin/Kim Basinger range, so we decided we were all finished with kids. After surviving that first year, it looked like there might be a light at the end of the tunnel. Our sons were healthy and happy and we were sleeping again. We were done. Thank God.

That was until about 15 months ago when I miraculously got pregnant again. Maybe I was to be the virgin mother of God after all. I mean, the odds of me getting pregnant were about equal to the odds of Oprah and Gayle breaking up – which has miracle written all over it. I’m still confused how you can try for a year and have no luck and then when you are doing your best not to, you get pregnant. I guess stuff happens. Well, to us at least.

I wasn’t thrilled. I was scared. We just barely made it through two – how on earth was I going to make it through another? This time my depression started immediately upon the discovery of pregnancy of Number Three. We had to move from the city to the suburbs. We had to get rid of the sedan and find a car that could fit three car seats. We had to become just like “real” parents and real adults that shuttle a bunch of kids around all weekend long. We had to change everything. And I wasn’t happy about it. I had gone from The Best Mother of All Time just six short years before to The Worst Mother of All Time Because I’m Really Super Not Excited About Another Baby.

And then we found out Number Three was a girl. Everyone delighted in exclaiming “You got your girl!” like I was going to keep having kids until I had a girl. I knew boys. I like boys. What on earth was I going to do with a girl? I spent most of the pregnancy disturbed and in denial as we sold our house, moved to the suburbs and turned into the nuclear family cliché. I thought I outsmarted the suburban gods by saying no to the minivan, but then I realized my gas guzzling, insanely huge SUV I had to buy to fit my entire litter was about as original as any Nickelback song you can think of. I would have saved some face buying the minivan.

But then a funny thing happened. Number Three was born and the world didn’t crumble. My life didn’t end. In fact, it got richer. I was in love with my daughter the second I held her. I can’t believe I spent so much time pissed off I was pregnant when I look at those three kids playing together. Having three kids is actually better than having two. Number One and Number Two keep each other busy and they are turning out to be insanely great big brothers and Number Three is not only the cutest kid in the universe, but she started sleeping through the night at three weeks. It makes me think – “Hey, this is easy!! What is everyone complaining about? Maybe we should have a couple more!?”

I think I just heard my husband smash his head into the counter and then chug his glass of wine.

Is that a no?

I (heart) pathological liars. Except when they are oncologists.

UPDATE, INTERNET. This girl is back on FB and is stalking me to be friends again. Please read this post I wrote for her a couple of years ago. What say you? Should I accept?

Pathological liars are the best. Except if you have one as an oncologist. Then that could suck. Balls.

But I happen to know this girl from high school that has to take the pathological lying cake, so obviously I really liked to hang with her. She is not an oncologist. Lets just call her “Jenny”, because that is her real name.  She would regale me with stories about how she had a friend who knew the New Kids on the Block and could totally get her into their hotel or a concert whenever they came through Chicago.  I was 14 and this was big time currency in 1991.  Donnie Wahlberg and I were totally soul mates from 1990 to 1993 – he just wasn’t aware of it yet – and then I think Oprah took his place in 1994 and remains my soul mate to this day. The only difference is that Oprah knows it and just won’t accept it. Oprah is clearly not living her best life.

I digress.  So anyway, my crazy ass friend Jenny would talk constantly about her friend “Lisa” who worked at Ulta3 and was like, totally BFF with little Joey McIntyre and one day as we were perusing Bop* and Tiger Beat she was telling me how she and Lisa were going to their upcoming show and then hanging out with them afterward, and naturally she invited me along too.

Isn’t it weird that pathological liars always give you a chance to totally catch them lying?  So they’ll be like, “I’m totally Rob Pattinson’s lover, do you want to have a threesome with us?” Now, there is only one good answer for this and that is “yes”.  Not because you want the threesome (even though you know you do) but because if you say “no”, then you don’t even get to find out what kind of additional, outrageous lies they will tell to get them out of having to prove that they are fucking Rob Pattinson.  So I always say “yes” whenever a pathological liar wants to prove to me they aren’t lying, because its so damn amusing.

Curse you, ADD! (Love is looking angrily to the sky) Can I get through one fucking story without going off on a tangent!?

Okay, so of course I’m like, “I would love to go! Can I invite my little cousin who has leukemia because she is totally into Jordan and wants to put her little radiated fingers through his stiff, sticky hair and touch one of his silky vests before she dies.” (pathological liars deserve to be lied to) and Jenny is like, “TOTALLY! Me and Lisa will set it up!” and I’m like, “Awesome. I’ll let her know she can die fulfilled because you are totally going to hook us up.” Luckily I was aware my friend was totally full of shit and this is how:

1) She is of Asian descent.  But not a smart Asian (does coming to America make you dumb?).  I think this is really bad if this happens to you.  I imagine its like if you’re black, but you dance like Elaine on Seinfeld. Its just mostly impossible and completely unacceptable.

2) She is 5’2″ (this will become important later)

3) In high school, she was not that attractive and she wasn’t rich.

4) She is the oldest of three kids and her mom was a working single mom. I don’t know what her dad’s story was, but he was out of the picture.

So the likelihood of her fucking a New Kid was equivalent to John Tesh’s chances of being named People’s Sexiest Man Alive.

Okay, so we’re back in 1991. The NKOTB show is coming to Chicago, and my friend Jenny is like BFF with Joe McIntyre’s BFF, which happens to be a 17 year old named Lisa that works at Ulta3 in a suburb of Chicago. I know, right? So, its the day before the show that we are going to where we supposedly have backstage passes, and front row seats, and all access to the New Kids on the Block, who are expecting us and cannot wait to fucking meet our 14 year old asses (and my cousin with cancer).

Of course, Jenny couldn’t give me and my cancer-ridden pretend cousin our tickets or passes because you have to get those at the show. So the night before she calls me to say that Lisa called her and there was some terrible mix-up and they only had Lisa down for two tickets, so she wasn’t sure if me and my cousin could still go. So I  was like “well, can’t Lisa just call Joey Joe and explain the problem? I’d be happy to meet him at the hotel to pick up the tickets. I’m sure my dad won’t have a problem driving me.” She’s like, “I didn’t even think of that! Of COURSE Lisa could do that.” So she hangs up the phone and sits idlely for 8 minutes calls Lisa to find out and calls me back and says, “Joey has a photo shoot to do right before the show, so they won’t be at the hotel, but he said maybe he could give them to Big Rob (the bodyguard) to give to you.” So naturally I exclaim, “Oh, Jenny! You’ve just made all my dreams come true. And my cancer ridden cousin too.  Where should me and Big Rob make the big exchange?” And she fucking gives me an address and time to meet Big Rob the bodyguard.  There are so very few limits.  So then she calls the day of the concert to say that Big Rob totally has strep throat and can’t make it and yada, yada, yada. She will go on to tell me she went to the show, hung out with all the New Kids and “Donnie is so cool!” and she has pictures. Do I want to see?

Yes. Definitely.

But aw, shucks! She explained a day later that when she brought the film in for processing that everything got erased.  All she can think of is that there were metal detectors backstage and the fucking things somehow erased all the 35 mm film in her camera.  And it totally sucked because she was on Joey’s lap and everything.  I won’t even go there…

“But surely Lisa has photos?” I say. No, Lisa’s photos got erased too.

Fucking metal detectors. (Love shakes fist at the sky)

Okay, so flash forward to a lovely day in March of this year.  I’m trolling Facebook for the 34th time that day and trying to think up a clever status, when suddenly I’m told that someone named Jenny Df wants to be my friend.  Df? Is that a last name? I don’t know who this person is…until I see the personal message accompanying the invite. Ah yes, its my good old friend Jenny. Her last name has changed. To a last name that surely exists nowhere in the world. How I had missed her!! I wanted to know EVERYTHING about what I missed the last 15 years, but mostly whether she was still the biggest-fucking-not-hot-dumb-ass-Asian-liar-of-all-time.

Since we had parted ways somewhere around 1994, she told me that she went to New York and was a Tom Ford model for many years.  Years in which she made best friends with Rhea Durham and Gisele Bundchen. Okay, so admittedly I know nothing about modeling…except that I think you have to be an inch or two over 5’2″ and you have to be good looking and you have to have big boobs, like my sister.  But she did have a profile picture which showed her in a Glamour Shots-like pose with fake boobs and nasty ass extensions. She reported that she made so much money as a runway model and she invested that money so wisely, that she is now retired and now she spends all of her time volunteering to work with animals.  Her husband is an incredibly sexy, extremely talented actor that I just haven’t heard of yet.  They live in Hollywood Hills.  She was currently trying to figure out whether or not she should take the job as one of the “Deal or No Deal” girls.  I didn’t mention it, but I thought that such an intellectual pursuit might actually blow her mind, since she had been retired for so long and all. She must have tacitly agreed, for she wrote:  “The doggies need me more than the pubic (sic) right now”. I am not fucking making this up.  There’s more…

So then as the weeks go by and I’m checking Facebook 234 times a day as usual and I see her statuses every few days that go a little something like this, “Jess, it was so good to see you and Tony the other night. I’m trying to get our schedules to sync so we can be out in Dallas for the next game!”  and “So happy for my dearest friends Tom and G! Congratulations! Give little Johnny a kiss for us” and “Audrina, I’m so sad I missed you last night at the awards. We totally have to catch up again.”  and finally, “Does anybody have a good cleanse? I have a Hawaiian Tropic shoot tomorrow and I don’t want to look too fat :(”  It doesn’t even end there. She started a chat with me one night on Facebook and I swear to God, she tells me that she and Rhea Durham are BFF from their NYC modeling days and she remembers I liked Donnie Wahlberg and her dearest Rhea is with Mark Wahlberg and now its so weird because they hang out ALL THE TIME and Mark is such a sweetheart!

Lest you think I’m a pathological liar, I am not. I would have copied and pasted directly from Facebook and told you guys to go ask her to be your friend so your life would be full of amusement like mine, but when I just went to do so, I realized she is no longer my friend. And no longer on Facebook. Unless I just can’t find her because I’m blocked or something. I would write her little comments like “Jenny, you are SOOOOOO lucky to be friends with Jessica Simpson. I am SOOOOOO jealous”. and “Jenny, you look so pretty and wonderful these days. I’m SOOOOO jealous. See you when I get to LA!”  She was lapping that shit up. But somehow much to my dismay I am either blocked or she left Facebook. I don’t know how I let this ridiculously amusing friend leave my life again because its hard to find dumb Asians who are pathological liars and don’t head up North Korea , but I’m sure she’ll turn up somewhere else. Perhaps as Dean of Harvard Law or as a United Nations Ambassador.

God, wherever you are Jenny Df, I heart you.  Next time you see Tom and Gisele, punch her in the face (not the stomach) and tell her to stop pretending that Bridget Moynihan’s kid is hers. Thanks.

*OMG, I just remember that I was listed (with my picture) in Bop as one of those kids you can be penpals with. How fucked up is that? Now I see that the Bop pen pal pages where were all the future MySpace pedophiles began their journeys.  I got seriously like 200,000 letters one month from that.  Where the fuck were my parents? I would give my right arm to have a copy of that issue of Bop now. I bet it is creepy as all hell.  Good Lord.

Shit My Psychic Says Too

(The prelude to this post is here).

There was probably not a person I came into contact with the week before my reading that I did not regale with the story about my weekend plans with my new psychic.   I was STOKED for this life experience. I mean, this woman claims to talk to dead people. Like that spooky white kid in the movie.  And John Edward on “Crossing Over”.  Best. Show. Ever.

Plus, in order to see The Rev (she is a reverend, apparently, though it is unclear for what sort of church), you have to be referred by somebody she has read before and you have to take an orientation class before you get there. So I feel like I’m kind of in this super special club.

But the ‘orientation’ was pretty ghetto: it’s a number you call and then you listen to this 30 minute voice mail which just sort of ends abruptly while she is mid-sentence.  Apparently she spared no expense for orientation.  But whatever – it went over what she does and how she does it so you don’t waste time asking her about it when you’re there. I’m all about efficiency, so sounded good to me. Here were the main points:

  • Dead people talk to her.  Dead people who know you. And watch you.
  • Dead people don’t give a fuck about time, so whatever they tell her could have happened already or maybe it’s happening now or maybe it will happen in the future (which comes in handy, doesn’t it?).
  • If the dead people tell her any details about your death or that you have cancer or something, she is going to keep that to herself.  She will not tell you anything that could be traumatizing.  In my case, she also will not tell me when/if Oprah is going to die – for obvious reasons.
  • The dead speak to her in a way she processes visually – so she doesn’t hear them, but they “show” her things.  When they are trying to say a name, they spell it, but they spell slowly, so she is going to take liberties and if they show her say, “M”, she is going to say “Michael”, “Matthew”, “Mark”….until either you say you know what she is talking about or the dead person spells the damn name.
  • They also show her pictures, so they could be metaphors for something or literally that thing. So sometimes she gets weird stuff and she’ll let you know because they may be an inside joke that you’d get but she wouldn’t. She says she often has to do some translating.
  • If she tells you about something and you don’t “acknowledge” it, by telling her you know what she is talking about, she can’t move on. The dead require your acknowledgment before they will continue playing Pictionary with her.
  • She says that whatever they are telling her are things that you can change, so if she warns you not to drunk dial your ex and you do, she totally called it and she wins. If you don’t because of her advice, she totally helped you avoid a bad situation and she wins.  You see how this works?
  • If you’re a minute late, fuck you – she starts the clock precisely when your appointment starts, whether your ass is there or not, and you’re paying for the whole thing.  She takes cash money. No pay pal. No plastic.

Okay, so those were the ground rules. Oh yeah, and something about not drinking within 24 hours of the reading because your energy will suck.  I conveniently forgot about that part because depriving my body of its nightly wine break is some crazy shit that I’m not going to dabble in, even if the psychic says.

The Rev lives in the middle of fucking nowhere, so it took what seemed like a million years to get there (so like, 90 minutes) and apparently the address she uses doesn’t show up on Google Maps right, so good luck finding the fucking place.  Needless to say, we were 4 minutes late and I was scheduled first. She wasn’t kidding. Clock was ticking when I walked in.

She does this is a shrink’s office who wasn’t working. It was a weird set up, where she just kind of tapes her name on the door when he isn’t around.  But I was a little relieved I wasn’t in her house because what are the odds she doesn’t own 54 cats? I’m allergic to those mean mother fuckers, and plus I was expecting the lady from Poltergeist to answer the door and tell me to go into the light in her bedroom closet and I probably would have and then I’d probably get molested by zombies and while I’m open to new experiences, zombie molestation does not top the list.

But whatever. So The Rev? She was probably in her late 40s, had hair from the 80s (feathered) and she was wearing a purple muu muu. She reminded me of my music teacher when I was in elementary school, in the 80s (go figure).  Also a cat person, no doubt.   And she was about to tell me everything I wanted to know about my future but was afraid to ask.  The dead people were going to help out too.  So the first thing that happens is that she gives me a flyer for a “healing” she was going to do next month and wanted to let me know about it.

The fuck? I’m not paying you to tell me about your upcoming jamboree and I’m four fucking minutes late, so I want to speak to my dead people NOW. Perhaps she picked up on my negative energy, or maybe she got the message when I crumpled the paper and my sweaty palms, but we moved on quickly from there.

She asked me to stand up and hold her hands.  I complied. She said the “Our Father” and invited me to join her.  I opted out  because I was pretty sure this is exactly how it all started with the priests for the poor bastards who had to be altar boys in the 1970s.  Nothankyouverymuch.

She finishes with some gobbledy gook about love and peace and energy and I took some deep breaths and my annoying Type A ass kind of chilled out for a minute.  She let go of my hands and we sat down and here is what she told me in a nutshell and in this order:

  • I’m going to do something to my left ankle or shin that hurts like a bitch. (Can’t wait!)
  • My beloved grandma was coming through (She is the only dead person I really give much thought to.  I named my daughter after her. I love that woman).
  • Apparently she was with my uncle, who is coming through as a “spirit baby”, meaning this uncle was miscarried or died as a child.  (Grams had four sons and miscarried her fifth child.  Goosebumps.)
  • She asked me who “B” was. I didn’t know.  She offered Bob and Bill.  Bill is my grandpa.  (While she was alive they were exactly like McAdams and Gosling in The Notebook.  I mean, they loved each other as much as Lady Gaga loves copying Madonna.) So Grams first wanted to acknowledge my Gramps, who still cries about her 7 years after we lost her.  Aww…
  • Apparently we went from that to talking about some sort of eye infection that a opthamologist will have to intervene in.  It was unclear whether this was about me or about him.
  • Then a bunch of other spirit babies showed up.  She insisted my mom lost a baby and my ‘sister’ was there.  I was like “Wha? No.” and then I remembered: Shit. My mom did lose a baby when she was preggers with my actual sister.  She tells me that my spirit sister plays with my children. Oh. Wait, what? Weird.
  • She says that there is another spirit baby who is my nephew.  He wants to be acknowledged. Who knew there were so many baby spirits that weren’t born? (At this point I’m like, do we really need to talk about every baby in my family that wasn’t born? This is depressing).
  • So then she says who is [my dog’s A name], [another A name], [my son’s A name]? She was doing the name thing where she just starts guessing names because she sees an “AN” (in this case). My son’s name was third. I acknowledged it. She told me he is a handful and a daredevil (he is) and that I need to keep him safe by ensuring he wears helmets and pads when he goes outside.  She says she sees Evel Kenevil – but then quickly tells me she isn’t call him “evil” – it’s the motorcycle guy.  Yes. I know. She advises me to try to wear him out because he’ll just get himself into danger.  WAIT. What? Is he in danger, I ask. No.  The dead people are just saying he is crazy is all. Um, okay?
  • Then she says who is [S Name], [S Name],[My other son’s name]? Whoa. She is pretty good. I acknowledged and she moved on.
  • She says I have another child. I acknowledge she is correct.  Okay, I’m getting [MA name], [MA name], [MA name that is the male version of my daughter’s name]. Are you shitting me? I acknowledge my daughter. She moves on.
  • She starts laughing and says “I don’t know why they’re showing me this…but you’ll be a grandmother to twins. I usually don’t get things that far out, but congratulations.” I said I hoped they were really far out.  She said oh yeah – 18 or 20 years. Okay…
  • Then she says, who is [initial of my husband & my mom]? I waited. She said [name], [BD’s name]…and it was like, holy shit. Seriously? I acknowleged my husband. She said his deceased grandfather was there and was showing her a fish which could mean they liked to fish, or it was Pisces or a cholesterol issue.  Really?
  • So I offer that BD sometimes has cholesterol readings that are high. She latches. Tells me that I have to intervene to save his heart and then she starts going through her purse and finally pulls out this massive pack of vitamins (I shit you not) and tells me all the vitamins (CoQ10, Garlic, Fish Oil, etc.) I should force my husband to take so he doesn’t make me a widow too early.  What? Then she starts talking about her own husband who eats too much fast food and how she threatened to leave him if he didn’t change his ways. Wait. Isn’t this reading about me? ME. Lets come back to ME and MY life.  But so then she tells me to write down a website where I can get really high quality vitamins for him.  WHAAAT? Does she own stock in a GNC on the side for Christ’s sake? And is BD okay? I mean, should I be worried? I’m feeling a little traumatized here.
  • She says “your heart is fine (and it is), but you need to get more fiber. Your issues are in your intestines and colon.  Eat 30/35g of fiber a day. I like to have yogurt with Fiber One on top each morning”. Again, TMI. I don’t give a fuck what you had for breakfast.
  • I’m usually not this bitchy, but I’m all wound up now.
  • She says time is up, but I can ask a question.  I ask about my career.  She correctly guesses I’m in sales and tells me my job is too stressful and doesn’t pay enough.  She tells me to update my resume and get out of dodge before I get a pink slip.  Problem is, I just got a new job. One I’m definitely enjoying. For once. I mean, hopefully with this whole “time doesn’t matter” thing, she meant my last job? Then she advises me not to take the first job that comes along because it will look really good to begin with, but they’ll make me a “work horse and slave”.  Fuck.  Did I really get the wrong damn job again?  She did say if I wait for the right thing, I’ll get a low stress, more money position.  But you know what? She was supposed to tell me to get the fuck out of corporate America because I have an awesome future doing stuff I love.  But she didn’t.  So it ended on a downer.

So there I am, left to figure out what the hell just happened for the last 26 minutes.  I felt a little lightheaded and creeped out.

I mean, she named my children! And she guessed the first name of my grandpa, and my husband. And it wasn’t like at other times she was naming names I didn’t know.  I mean, all of them she was right on with within three names.  How could she know their names? And all the miscarriages and baby spirits and stuff? That is fucked up.

So then all the stuff she said has me all worried about my son and his dare-devil behavior because I’ve always had the sense I had to worry about him since they laid him in my arms after birth, so that was kind of a sore spot for me.  And then whether my husband is going to have a heart attack or something.  The grandfather who allegedly came through died young of a massive heart attack. I mean, what did that all mean?

So the Rev got under my skin a little. All the fun and games of yesteryear suddenly weren’t so fun.  Even if she was guessing, she guessed right a lot about the things I can verify.  As for the things I cannot so far, time will tell.  I’m just waiting until I break my ankle and if/when that happens,  if you want to talk to dead people, I’ve got just the person for you…

Shit my psychic says

First of all, I would just like to say that psychics???   Are the shiznit.

I’m not that concerned with whether they actually have a sixth sense and can talk to dead people or tell my future, as long as they put on a good show.  For $100 I want to walk out of the psychic’s den convinced that she knows more about my life than I do. It saves me A TON of time from having to figure out my own shit and it is even more entertaining than a Kardashian wedding.

When I was a freshman in college they used have this ‘psychic fair’ once a month at the run down Holiday Inn in my hometown, which is likely ground zero for the modern-day bed bug infestations. I can’t tell you how many times I drove by the little yellow plastic sign that read simply “PSYCHIC FAIR” that they would plant in the front of the hotel and wonder how insane it was that I had never gone in, given my inexplicable, irrational and as yet untested love for psychics,  but one spring break when I was home instead of in Cancun with all the normal college sluts kids whose parents didn’t mind bankrolling the drunken unprotected 3-ways their daughters were initiating (but I’m SO not bitter), I went for it.  Armed with the $20 I earned for the day at my minimum wage job channeling Al Bundy and selling $250 pairs of hiking boots, I was determined to see what my future had in store since obviously it wasn’t Mexican tequila shots and drunken unprotected 3-way sex.  Maybe a psychic could confirm the spiritual connection  that my soul shares with Oprah’s.

So I go for it. I follow what seemed to be 600 little signs with arrows throughout the whole fucking building and wind up in a small, dingy room where there were like six self proclaimed psychics just sitting at these conference room tables just waiting for bitter coeds whose parents weren’t paying for them to be in Mexico for spring break like everybody else’s parents were.   I’m not going to lie – I was pretty disappointed that none of them had big swami hats, playing flutes to snakes coming out of baskets, but it was a fucking Holiday Inn in suburban Chicago – not 7-11. These psychics actually looked more like the people my parents played bridge with than the freaks I was expecting. A little anti-climactic to say the least.

So I sit down with this lady who reads tarot cards. And she had me shuffle the deck and blow on it and probably she took some blood or something, but it was a long time ago, so I’m a little foggy on that. Anyway, she puts all the cards out and tells me that I’m going to marry a man from Boston who is very tall, has black wire rim glasses and eyes bluer than mine.  In other words, not Brad Pitt.  And not my boyfriend that I was madly in love with who was not tall, not from Boston, wore contacts and had brown eyes.  I felt bad for him. Apparently neither he nor Brad was going to get to marry me.  It had never occurred to me that this may not have been all he ever dreamed of.

She said some other shit too and I’m sure I took notes afterward, but I somehow cannot find this info in my journal.  But I remember the part about my future husband, because it was very jarring for my 19-year-old self to fathom that I wasn’t going to marry my 19-year-old boyfriend.  It would be safe to say I was more naive than Dakota Fanning at that time, who was about 10 months old.  Yeah. I know. I’m not sure I’ve ever dated anybody for longer than 4 hours before I began to think about our future marriage. I had no concept of what ‘casual dating’ was and still can’t wrap my head around one night stands. This might have been avoided had I gone to Mexico that Spring Break and had a 3-way. But I didn’t, as we’ve gone over in agonizing detail.

But the point is that 7 years later I married BD, who is from Boston, is tall, wears black glasses and has blue eyes (but not bluer than mine, for the psychic record). Yep. She pretty much nailed it. And it was written in the stars because my angel knew him right when she saw him, so she was totally for realz.  Who knew there was a real gem at the Holiday Inn’s psychic fair every month?  It’s just a fucking shame it took 7 years for her prophecy to play out.  Oh, and by the way, in case you are still feeling bad for the guy that didn’t get to marry me, he was a full-on douche bag that cheated on me, but the psychic neglected to let me in on these pearls of wisdom, which would have saved me an awkward trip or two to my OB-GYN, so the lesson here is that psychics are good for some shit, but really fucking bad at other important shit, like helping you avoid AIDS.

Okay, so fast forward to a month ago.  I’m talking to a friend who casually mentions that she once went to a ‘medium-clairvoyant’ lady  years ago who can talk to dead people and apparently relayed some messages to her from her deceased grandma and she was completely creeped out, but convinced this woman was the real deal.  Suffice to say, I almost had to break up with my friend for not having shared this a million years before she did, because obviously I needed to meet this psychic as bad as Charlie Sheen needs to beat his wives.

So it took a fucking month to get on this lady’s schedule and you can only go if another client refers you and you have to do an orientation beforehand via phone because she wants to explain how she does what she does and the nuance of how dead people prefer to communicate.  If you don’t do orientation, you’re not allowed to have your reading. You’re fired. I know, right? I’m convinced it’s easier to steal plutonium from Russia than it is to get a half hour session with this baller.  And BTW,  the fee is no longer the $20 of yesteryear.  It’s $120.  But the good news is that I’m a lot richer now than I was then, and plus, it’s not about the. bla bling bla bling, it’s not about the. cha ching cha ching, What it’s really about is making the world dance and forgetting about the price tag.  I think Oprah said that? Or was it Ghandi?  I don’t know, whoever it was, it is really fucking genius.

So anyway, I started this story with the intention of revealing to the 12 of you who read this blog what the future holds for Love and what the dead people wanted me to know, but as you all know I have the unfortunate affliction of being unable to self edit, so my deep tangential thoughts have once again taken up an entire entry.

Do not fret. I shall return with the details of my psychic reading and together we can find out if they come true.

God, it feels good to write my stories again.

Dude. I’m back, but my life is in critical condition.

OMG. I know. I’m back. But only for a post. How the hell have you all been?

So here is the thing – I started the new job and got knocked up with kid #3 at the same time.  Then I sold my house in the city and now I’m moving to the suburbs, where everybody is white and Republican, I think. Which means that I might die. I mean, I have nothing against white people, since I am one and if I were a bigger person I would claim I have nothing against Fox-watching, Glenn Beck-loving Republicans, but then I would be lying.

My husband, 2.5 kids, dog and I are moving in with my parents in 4 days because we can’t find a house we like and then I have to buy a minivan and did I tell you I’m having a GIRL? I know. I don’t know shit about girls, except that when they are in junior high they suck.  My mom gave me a pink baby dress and it came with tights that had ruffles on the butt. Really? It just seems kind of superfluous. I would never wear tights with ruffles on the butt. Why would I make her wear them? Oh God. What if she loves them?

And during all of this change and hardship, I have not been able to drink a half bottle of wine whenever the mood strikes and its Oprah’s last season and it has totally sucked ass so far.  So I guess what I’m saying is that my life has been crazy and not in a good way. It continues to get weirder.

But  on the bright side,  my gays and I had a heart to heart today, they made me realize that these experiences will make my blog a million times better when I come back to it again, because I will be living in hell very shortly and I’ll be forced to blog everyday to keep myself from crying. They are taking me to SATC II with them tomorrow night because they feel so bad for me. It will be my last hurrah before the apocalypse of my life.  I love you D & J.

So I don’t know when I’ll be regular again, but thanks for keeping the faith and sending words of encouragement. I’m about to enter the realm of soccer moms and people who think our president is somehow like Hitler and drive minivans for fun and think the city is just a place to get their purses stolen.  I just hope I make it out alive.

I’ll check back in soon. I hope. Unless I’m busy dousing the burning crosses I might find in my parents lawn because of the Obama sticker I have on my car. Wish me luck. And be well. I have really missed you guys!

Tater tots nearly killed my family – don’t let them kill yours

Seriously – my husband, my children, my dog and I narrowly escaped death two days ago, and all because I was trying to cook up some nutrient-rich vegetables, namely tater tots,  for my children. But actually that is only the middle part of the story, so let me try to rehash what happened with my remaining brain cells which have not been altered forever by this unfortunate mishap.

Okay, so we’re planning to paint the kitchen this weekend, and by “we”, I mean BD.  BD is very methodical person, so he has been readying the kitchen walls by fixing any holes and spackling and sanding and cleaning and other stuff to get ready for the big painting day. But BD is incapable of doing anything without first removing all items from a room before he begins his work.  He and I could not be more different on this point. I say, leave everything as it is and throw a tarp over it and do whatever you have to do.  He says, take out EVERYTHING in the damn kitchen, including shelves, rugs, the 800 random papers magneted to the refrigerator, and anything necessary to cook anything.  He gets his way since he is doing all the work.  We’ve been married long enough that I no longer ridicule his methods, because at the end of the day everything gets done just so and he does a good job. Oh, and because it gets me nowhere.

While it’s a pain in the ass to have all the kitchen clutter now cluttering the dining room,  I was secretly overjoyed he didn’t remove the microwave. Seriously, it made my day. I’m not sure why that appliance was spared, but THANK GOD. But now he’ll probably read this and be like, “Why didn’t I remove the microwave?! Perhaps I should”. And then I’m S.O.L. But actually I’m pretty confident I’m safe because he has a reason for everything so I’m sure that he weighed the pros and cons carefully and there must be some reason it remains. Maybe because 50% of his diet consists of Hot Pockets and he might starve to death without the microwave.  I digress.

Okay, so my kitchen has been all fucked up for the week, which I’m actually pretty okay with because then I have so many more excuses to just order in.  I loathe cooking, so it’s working out really well for me.  But Wednesday I felt guilty because I hadn’t made anything in a while, so I wanted to do something really fancy.  So out came the frozen chicken nuggets and nutritious tater tots.  The nuggets are supposed to be cooked at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  The tater tots, on the other hand, require a temperature of 450 and must cook for 16-18 minutes.  I’m not trying to brag or anything, but it takes a very experienced cook to bake both of these foodstuffs on the same cookie sheet in a single oven at the same time and have them turn out awesome, like I can.  So it was a really fancy dinner, like I said.

Okay, so I decide to preheat the oven to 425, the average of the nuggets and tater tot recommended heating temperatures.  Oh SNAP! See, how that just happened? Now I’m giving you all of my closely guarded culinary secrets. And this isn’t even a foodie blog, but look at all the super tips you can learn!  But seriously, this isn’t for the novice. It may take you a few tries to get it just right. Just be careful.  Because you might wind up killing your whole family, as I almost did.

So when I turned on the oven it wasn’t but 20 seconds or so when I smelled something a little funny. I couldn’t really figure out what it was, but I know that BD put a new drywall patch in behind the stove, so I thought maybe it was kind of heating up for the first time and giving off an odor.  Instead of checking out my hypothesis, I just shrugged my shoulders and took my place on the couch to watch the Polar Express with my kids for the 573rd time since December 15.  Looking back on this, I don’t think just shrugging my shoulders was the appropriate response.  However, I cannot change the past, so…my bad.

Okay, so then about 10 minutes go by and my dog starts running around in circles and kind of being annoying and just as I begin to chastise her for this weird behavior, two alarms go off.  One is the oven alerting me that the oven is preheated.  The other is the carbon monoxide/fire detector.  My first thought is:  “We have a fire detector in the kitchen? That’s awesome. How safe are we? I must give BD a fist bang for his thoroughness”. Yes, though all objects used to cook or serve food with were missing from the kitchen, he did not remove the fire detector.

I quickly snapped out of the blissful mood caused by this discovery because the fire detector going off isn’t usually a sign of good things.  I run into the kitchen and there is a weird fog in there and it smells pretty gnarly.  I hadn’t even put the damn food in yet, so what could be causing this craziness?  I throw open the oven and – Holy. Shit.

You know those plastic tub things with a matching pitcher to put beverages in that they give you at the hospital? I don’t know if we’re the only ones who took ours home after each of the boys was born, but they make really good vomit bins (I’m pretty sure that is their sole purpose in the hospital?) or soaking tubs for other stuff. Well, one we use for the first purpose, the other one we use for pre-soaking our dishes.  Apparently it must have been in BD’s way, because he decided a good place to put it would be the oven.  Not the dining room with the rest of the shit. In the oven, on the top rack.

And now. Now it was melting all over the racks and dripping plastic into the bottom of the oven.  “HOLY SHIT!” I screamed, not only for the sight in the oven, but from the toxic cloud that came out of it when I opened the door.  BD ran in at that moment and he too exclaimed “HOLY SHIT” (though it would have been more original of him to drop an F-bomb. Just saying.) and it quickly became clear his mission was to save our oven from being ruined with melted yellow plastic all over the bottom.

Okay, so to recap, I try to make tater tots but in the process I cook a 13″ by 9″ by 5″ plastic bin at 425 degrees instead. And then my kitchen kind of resembled what I can only guess Chernobyl looked like minutes before it spewed radioactive waste all over Russia. The smell!! Oh my God. My eyes were watering and my throat became raspy.  Luckily, even a fire alarm and two swearing parents did not seem like a good enough reason for my sons to avert their eyes from The Polar Express and they didn’t come running in to inhale the nastiness that used to be the oxygen in my home.

BD immediately got down on his hands and knees and started scraping the oven while the plastic was still hot.  I stood there swearing and repeating several times that I didn’t think this was good. Nope. Not good at all.  I managed to open all the doors and windows to let the snow and 23 degree air in to ventilate the house.  Then I did the most important thing of all – I Googled “burned plastic fumes danger” to see if I might get a hit or two.  I read the first few things that came up and everyone was pretty much in agreement that either cyanide or deadly dioxins or carbon monoxide was being released into the air and that me and my family were about to die.  If not immediately from asphyxiation, then later from cancer.

Fuck. So then I told BD that we had to evacuate the kids and the dog and ourselves. “You go! I’ll stay! Save yourself. Get the kids!” He yelled, valiantly.  He’d be damned if he’s going to leave and let that plastic harden on the bottom of the oven.  “No seriously, YOU are getting cancer right now!  You may already have it. The Internet said.” That didn’t move him. “You are about to die of carbon monoxide poisoning! By the time you feel it, it will be too late. We’re all going to die if we don’t leave soon!” That is about the time when he decided to finally abandon the oven, but it was more because he had already pretty much cleaned the whole thing up — it just happened to coincide with my promise that we were all about to die.  After we pried the children away from the TV and quickly put on their boots, coats, mittens and hats (so like, 20 minutes later) and were sheparding them out of the house, I had a great idea for dinner.

Oooh! It’s free pie Wednesday at Baker’s Square! “Honey, can you go back in there and get our gift certificate? We should just bring the kids there for dinner and by the time we come home, maybe the carcinogens will have left our home and traveled into the atmosphere and then we won’t have to worry about them any more!”  He went back in the cancer fog and got it. And we went to Baker’s Square and got our free pie. And thankfully, nobody died. But we probably will all have cancer in a few weeks. I’ll let you know, but I am being responsible and taking out more life insurance on BD stat.

When we got home, it still smelled terrible, but the chemical smoke/fog was no longer there. I think most of the dangerous chemicals probably just adhered to most of the surfaces in the kitchen and were no longer in the air anymore, so I figured we were safe.  Except there on the counter were the lonely, forgotten tater tots. On the cookie sheet, looking forlorn, just waiting to be cooked.  And I thought to myself: “I could save these, right? Just put them back in the bag and freeze them up? I’d hate to waste nutritious vegetables…”, but then I remembered they almost just killed my whole family.  And there were more in the freezer. So I threw them away. But not without some regret.

Love’s PhD Trilogy: Exodus

***if you are new to the trilogy, it started here.

Despite my grand illusions of who professors actually are and what they actually do (like screw around with undergrads and smoke pipes), my PhD experience wasn’t really all that I had hoped for. I liked all of my classes and I was doing fine, but the stress of having an advisor like Professor Dragon and the feeling that I would be railroaded into a field of study I didn’t even like became overwhelming. Not to mention that I was pretty sure that BD was probably getting tired of being a single father and I heard once that if your husband isn’t sleeping with you, he is likely sleeping with someone else. And I didn’t want him taking up with the cleaning lady because she wore thongs and I didn’t.

So we decided to take a romantic getaway to Napa. Because it would be nice to see each other and talk about something other than how Professor Dragon hates me or how I have to work the weekend or asking him to tell me stories about our son that was in bed by the time I got home. There were many days when I thought I had probably made a huge miscalculation about my fitness for academia, but I kind of suck at admitting when I’m wrong. And I’d already sunk almost two years into the thing, and I knew I was smart enough, so I just felt like there was no going back.

But thank God we were going to a place that was relatively warm and had wine, in abundance. I was so stoked to just drink wine all day, get loaded, have lots of conjugal relations and sleep in. It would be a great escape for three days and then it would be back to the salt mine. But we weren’t going to talk about my work this trip. We were just going to keep it light and have fun.

So off we went. Normally, I wouldn’t comment on the plane ride, because they are generally pretty boring.  Whenever we fly together, we always buy the aisle and the window in particular row, hoping nobody will buy the middle seat. I’m shocked how often this works. But alas, on this trip, some old dude did buy the middle seat, and I offered him the window and I took the middle so I could sit next to BD. The only thing more annoying than the person who buys the fucking middle seat is the person who wants to chat throughout the flight. I do my best not to ever talk to anyone ever on any plane because chances are that you will either fall in love with them or be stuck talking to them for the WHOLE FLIGHT about their god awful boring ass job or family (at least these are the only two scenarios that have ever played out in my life). Since I was already married, the first scenario would have been super awkward with BD sitting on the other side of me, which only left the latter option. And this was going to be a four hour flight, so I sure as hell wasn’t going to open up the lines of communication.

To tell you the truth, I have no idea how Old Balls Who Bought The Middle Seat managed to get me to respond to him. Perhaps he offered me a Take 5 or maybe it was a million dollars? I feel like those are the only two reasons I would decide to start talking to a stranger at the beginning of a fucking transcontinental flight. It was probably a Take 5 bar, because if it were a million dollars, I would remember that more vividly. But anyway, he started talking to me. I’m guessing after he gave me the Take 5 he said something really compelling like, “So….what brings you to San Francisco?” to which I would have rolled my eyes but felt obliged to reply through my very full mouth with teeth covered in chocolate, peanut butter, pretzel, caramel: “Spring break”.  Opening him up to asking where I went to school. And I look like I’m about 22 and this makes me salty sometimes because I really want to be taken seriously so badly that I went to get a PhD and I feel like I have to prove I’m old, so I said “I’m studying for my P.H.D. At [prestigious univeristy].” I thought this clever retort would make me sound super smart and important and he would look at me in awe and figure out how god damn important I was and shut the hell up and let me finish the candy bar that I feel sure he must have given me to talk to him in the first place.

“Oh yeah? What are you getting your PhD in?”. Fuck. Here we go.

“Marketing.”

“Oh. That’s a really growing area in business schools.” Love’s right eyebrow shoots up. Whaaat? He knows something about this? “I’m a business professor at [not a university I’d ever heard of] in Michigan. Boy, I remember my PhD days. What are you doing your dissertation on?”

“Um. I don’t really know yet. I’m just finishing up the coursework.”

“Ha! So you don’t even know what work is yet.”

“What?” He looks at BD and then at me.

“You guys have kids yet?”

“Yes. One. A two year old boy.”

“You ever see him?”

Suddenly the stale, recirculated air leaves the cabin and I feel like I just got sucker punched.
“Um. Well, its hard, but I mean, we make it work.”

“Ha!” He leans over me, taps BD on the knee and says to him, “If you think you don’t see her now, just wait until she starts her dissertation!”

I think BD was probably mad that I wound up talking to this guy, but it was too late now and we were both listening. So I said, “Finishing your dissertation was hard on you?”

“Brutal! Oh it took me a long time. That’s about the time I got hooked on amphetamines and started really abusing alcohol. It took me until I got tenure to realize I had a problem. That’s a lot of years. Actually that’s why I’m going out to San Francisco — to visit my AA sponsor. I’ve been clean for 12 years.”

“Um. Oh. Congratulations?”

“Thanks. Yeah, oh God I remember those days!! How could I forget? I was married back then too. But we got divorced right after I got my first job. I can’t blame her. I was an alcoholic and a drug addict. Plus, I was never around. She left me for a guy at her gym. But I can’t blame her.”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. On the one hand, I could already picture BD and I re-enacting this whole conversation as we snorted wine out our noses from laughing at how inappropriate the conversation was. On the other hand, holy shit.

“Well, I’m sure it will be fine.” I said, totally NOT sure it would be.

“Yes. I’m sure it will. It takes a really strong person to be married to an academic. We’re a rare breed. A lot of stress – very cut throat. It’s hard to think about anything else when you’re trying to publish and get tenure. It doesn’t end with the dissertation. You’re fooling yourself if you think it does. The stress. It just doesn’t end. You know, I used to teach at [prestigious university] but I took the job where I’m at now just to get out of the rat race. It’s the only way I could stay sober. And then I met a nice lady and got remarried now and life is pretty sweet.”

That’s about the time when BD and I asked the stewardess for two little Jack Daniels bottles and a diet Coke. It probably wasn’t that respectful to our new friend, the talky-talky-jaded-alcoholic-recovering-drug addict-oversharing business professor Old Balls sitting next to us, but the stuff he was saying was scaring the shit out me, and the only coping mechanism that always works is drinking myself into a stupor. Oh wait….shit. Was I going to be an alcoholic soon too? I have never done amphetamines that I’m aware of, but was I just a dissertation away from that and a divorce too? I mean FUCK. I was already miserable. Was it only going to get worse?

So I told the guy I was really happy for his sobriety and I hope he had a good time in San Francisco, but I really needed to sleep because I hadn’t done that in a while. And as I was switching on my iPod to drown in my self-defeating thoughts, he says, “Ha!…Get your sleep! Do it now while you still can! They don’t just give PhDs away at [your university]!”

Eh. Heh heh? Shut up shut up shut up shut up, Old Balls! I never should have taken candy from a stranger. Here is this living, breathing person sitting next to me basically embodying my every fear in the world about what I was doing. Of all the fucking flights on all the fucking days, this mother fucker is the guy who sits next to me.

But wait…was this a sign? Was this my angel punching me in the face so that I would finally listen to what she’d been telling me for months? I can’t quit! Can I? Should I? I mean, what the fuck am I doing? I could get a great job with my MBA – I don’t need this to have a job. I don’t really need this for anything, except to stroke my obnoxious ego. If I keep going down this road, I’m going to be fucking miserable as a professor. I don’t like to do experiments! I like thinking of questions, but I’d rather have someone else tell me the answer. I don’t like doing lit reviews! I don’t like writing and re-writing the same damn paper 653 times just so some other PhD asshole can tear me a new one. I think I might like teaching, but I’ve never done it and maybe I would suck or I would hate that too. What the fuck am I DOING?

That is what was going through my head for the last two hours of the flight. But BD was going to kill me if I told him I wanted to quit. We had invested too much. So we got to our hotel and then went out to a Chevy’s or something like that for lunch and just as the nachos came, we looked at each other and BD said, “So that dude? On the plane? What did you think of that?”
“Um. Interesting, I guess.” I tried to be coy.
“I mean, what the fuck?” he said.
“Yeah.” I said. Silence.
We looked each other in the eyes for the first time in I don’t know how long.
Then I said it. “I can’t do this. I need to be done with this.”
To which, to my shock and relief and delight he replied, “I agree.”

And that was that. It was over. Thanks Old Balls!! We decided by the time the check came that I only had a quarter left to finish up classes and that I should do that and get the hell out of dodge. Just be ABD (all but dissertation). Forever.

We talked about the possibilities in our new life: we could have another kid! And financial security! And stay in Chicago! And have sex once in a while! And time at the park with our little boy that wasn’t full of guilt and tension! We could be free.  Free at last.  I didn’t realize how miserable I was until I could imagine what freedom from the anxiety and stress would feel like.

And that, my Internet friends, is the story of how I became a PhD school dropout.

**********If your eyes are tired or you’re bored, you should stop here, but for those of you hanging on every word, there is a shocking epilogue I just can’t leave out:

When I got back to school the following week, I announced my decision to my cohort. They thought I went crazy. They tried to tell me it was just miserable because Professor Dragon was mean, and maybe I should just get another advisor. But I knew it wasn’t her. Sure, she wasn’t an easy person to deal with, but it was me. I just wasn’t built to be an academic. Most of the other people in my cohort are. They’re the genuine article. Me? I’m something else. I’m a smart-ass, potty mouth blogger/US Weekly subscriber/Oprah Winfrey stalker. That’s my niche. That’s what I’m REALLY good at.

Word of my decision traveled fast and even Professor Bourbon – all the way from his new University – gave me a call to encourage me not to give up. He conceded that the academic world was full of assholes, but that it also had its bright spots. He told me if I could just hang in there and get the PhD, he’d give me a job and we could work together again, with normal people. Because he was only hiring people who were cool. But as tempting as that was, I know he is also the genuine article. Somebody born to be an academic. I was just faking it and he’d know it and then one day he would stop having me into his lair for chats because I was unproductive and I would lose the respect of a person who I loved to death. So I was resolved. I had to quit.

But I also had to tell Professor Dragon before she found out from someone else. I was at once completely ecstatic and scared to death of telling her I was quitting. I felt like when I told her, her head might spin 720 degrees and then she would shoot fire out of her eyes and nose and my hair would be totally singed off and that would suck for me in job interviews. I’m no Sinead.  At the same time, whatever she did, whatever she said, it just didn’t matter anymore. Because I was free.

So I go into her office with some flame retardant clothes and our conversation begins to take the normal course where she starts off kind of like she cares whats going on in my life, but then she’ll explain its only because she is trying to understand why I suck so bad. So I told her that I had a great vacation and I decided that academia wasn’t for me and that I was going to finish up my classes and finish being her research assistant and I was leaving the program in June. I was going to get a job. Probably back in sales. Thanks for everything, yada, yada, yada.

To which she replies, completely calmly, “Don’t be silly. You just came back from vacation and you’re thinking strange. Now go edit this paper, because I’m not satisfied with the lit review.  I don’t want to hear another word about this until you’ve had some time to think.”

Um. I just quit. It wasn’t a question. It was a fact. But I was quickly shoo’d out of her office and I got back to the PhD room where my cohort was waiting. I think they were as surprised as I was that I emerged from her office with hair and no visible third-degree burns.  “WHAT DID SHE SAY!?” I had to explain that though I had quit in no uncertain terms, in Professor Dragon’s world, I had simply said something crazy and that was probably the direct result of sunshine on vacation, or because I’m a moron, and if I just got used to the flourescent lighting of the business building again, I might come to my senses. Basically, she did this neat move where I tried to quit, but she didn’t really let me. There is very little drama, or satisfaction, in that.

So I worked for her for another three months. We did not discuss my pending departure. In the meantime, I filled out all the necessary paperwork to drop out and they were kind enough to give me another Masters degree as a parting gift. It’s no PhD, but two Masters degrees are cool. I could live with that.

A week before leaving, I finally reminded Professor Dragon that I was leaving. She told me that she wished I would reconsider, but she understood. And THEN — wait for it —- she planned. a fucking. party. for me. I shit you not. She pulled out all the stops and ordered in great Chinese and desserts and everything.  It was a feast the likes of which mine graduate student eyes had never seen, except for when they were recruiting the top PhD talent and we could come in later for the leftovers. Not only that, but it was a complete surprise to me. She kept asking me to come in to get some papers one day and I was like oh hellz no! and she kept insisting and I kept coming up with excuses until she was finally like “Fine. I am having a party in your honor today for all the hard work you’ve done. I hope you can come.” The fuck? And it gets even better – at the party she gets up and gives a short speech to all professors and students who came wherein, with tears streaming down her face, she said I was a wonderful person and student and that she would really miss me and that I could come back any time if I changed my mind.  I felt like somehow the time-space continuum bended and I found myself in an alternate universe called “opposite day”.

I had no idea until that point that she didn’t think I was the very worst student that she’d ever worked with in her entire life and that I hadn’t totally dishonored her by quitting. But she was more than cool on that last day, and I salute her, for throwing me a party after chasing me out of a profession I was never cut out for anyway. I have forgiven her for being from Hong Kong and showing me the kind of Chinese love that in an American context is generally experienced as torture. Now we’re tight. We still talk occasionally and I have nothing but love for her.

After that I got a job, my first son started understanding what a “mom” was, along came Baby #2 and BD and I are still married and I’m pretty sure I’m not technically an alcoholic. In other words:

THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

If you actually read this whole post and this whole quadlogy , you deserve a medal. Or a Masters degree of some sort.  You might even want to consider a PhD….

Cheers!