Category Archives: I'm so confused

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…

The gods must be crazy…

Okay. So I’m back. Hopefully for good, but you know I’ve found out that god has a sense of humor recently, so you never know.

So where have I been? What have I been doing?

Remember all my posts that detail what a good mother I am? Like the one about how I didn’t breastfeed and the one about how I feed my kids McDonalds once a week and how my two year old feels me up in Target?

And then remember how I had that really mind bending post entitled, “Hellz Yaz” about whether its better to have huge puss-filled zits all over my chin or have a sex drive? And everyone voted that I remain a sex kitten with zits? And my big-boobed sister warned me that natural family planning was a very bad idea?

And then remember when I told you the story about when I had to tell Professor Bourbon I was pregnant after they let me into the PhD program?

Do you see where this is going? Yeah. Surprise!! I’m preggers. Not really what I was planning for 2010, or 2011 – 2050.  And my angel didn’t even have the balls to warn me this time. The news hit right after New Years Day (same day I got my new job offer, so my new boss got to be the second to know) and I don’t think I’ve been quite the same since. I can’t figure out whether the nausea is from the pregnancy hormones or the idea that the gods thought it would be a good idea to put another human on this earth who has me for its mother. When I found out, BD was so worried about my mental state (probably because he’d never seen anybody catatonic before) he promised to stay sober with me this whole pregnancy, which is awesome. The other two times I was the designated driver and it was not awesome. It actually does make me feel better to know that I’m not the only one who will be suffering the next nine months, which I think is what makes BD love me so much.

So I won’t lie – the change of plans has had me in a tail spin for the last two months, which I probably could have recovered from in a week if wine could have been involved, but without alcohol, and with nausea and a new job and exhaustion, I could sum up my life perfectly in one non-word: “meh”. Which is why you haven’t heard from me. The juice has been gone.

However…the good news is that I’m over it now. I’m going to be a mother yet again, and red wine no longer calls to me during my long, sleepless nights and now I have a third chance to make a first impression. Maybe I’ll try breastfeeding this time. Or maybe I’ll freak out and change my mind a month before like I did the last time. No promises there.

And maybe this kid will be the one who winds up changing my diapers when I’m 92 and I’ll be like “Oh, now I get it, God. You’re the best!” And lets not forget about the nightly “happiness” I have to look forward to in the coming months. This time I will make buying porn a part of the getting ready for baby checklist, just so we don’t have to go through the histrionics of yesteryear.

So I’m psyched. I didn’t think we’d have any more kids but now that it has been determined that we will indeed, I’m stoked. And I haven’t seen an episode of Oprah in two months, and its given me a strength I didn’t know I had. I think I might be okay when she stops the show now. I think I might survive. And that goes for everything – the pregnancy, the delivery, the new job, the new house we’ll have to buy and even the…GULP…minivan? (okay, that last one was really hard for me to say)

It’s a new world order.

Welcome back to my life. I’ve missed you guys.

Love conquers all – hopefully even in an office

Well, first I would like to congratulate myself on escaping the fires of hell my big huge corporate entity job so that I could take a job with a little, itty-bitty, tiny company that hopefully doesn’t go bankrupt. Today was my last day at the former and Monday is the first day at the latter. And much to my surprise and horror, I’m a little freaked out by the big change and I’ll tell you why:

MY NEW JOB REQUIRES ME TO WORK IN AN….AN…..OFFICE.  WITH PEOPLE.  There. I said it.  I have never done that before except when I used to work as a temp in college, but I always knew I would be free of those whack jobs in a few weeks and I didn’t want to starve so I did it.  Oh, the stories I shall tell you about some of my temp jobs!! Not to worry – definitely on my to do list.  But I digress.

I’ve never actually worked in an office before. I always had jobs where everything is really flexible and I can work from home, or from some temporary cube, or I’m on the road, or with clients and nobody bugs me or cares where I am.  And I like that. Total freedom to wear my pajamas to work most days, or watch Oprah when it originally airs. The little girl in me that used to always inform people that they aren’t the boss of me has grown up and she feels exactly the same way.

But this new job…I mean, they told me it was flexible when I told them that I’m afraid of offices, but I feel like the culture is that they expect you to actually go there. Like, everyday.  So in some ways I’m super-curious because I’m not one to shy away from situations that will give me priceless fodder for my best-selling memoir I haven’t written yet, and I’m totally gearing up for water cooler banter/debates by Tivo-ing American Idol and Project Runway, but on the other hand…I mean, will it be like “The Office”? Will I get a desk next to some clown like Creed, or Angela or Kevin? Please, please, please, dear mother of GOD, put me next to Dwight and Jim Halpert.  Or Oscar.  Or even Toby. Toby’s good.

So this makes me think about which Office character I’m most like. Because I guess my new office mates are also wondering what the new chick is going to be like and whether I’m a loud food chewer, or if I don’t wash my hands after I go to the bathroom, or if I’m on the phone all day trying to order a huge new projector thing for my mega-church,  or if my husband works for Vance Refrigeration. I actually am none of those things.  Well, BD might accuse me of chewing too loud, but I’ve convinced myself that that’s more about his hang ups and less about my chewing volume. I’m not really like anybody on “The Office”, because my Awesomeness is hard to capture in just one character, but if you twist my arm I think…and I’m not proud of this, but I’m probably maybe closest to that goofy new receptionist chick.  She kind of looks normal and nice, but she is definitely a little freaky, and weird and clueless a lot. Which I think pretty much sums me up perfectly.  Except that I would never fall for the Nard-dogg. Just saying.  So I guess I’ll be her if a board game comes out.

But so anyway…how does one conduct oneself in the office? I don’t know why I’m asking the Internet since if you read my blog you clearly aren’t at work — or are you? Do they let you do that?! I’m assuming I can’t really blog at work anymore. Or read your delicious blog.  Or check Facebook at 34 second intervals. Or burp loudly after an especially satisfying gulp of Diet Coke. I suppose pouring myself a tall glass of Shiraz at 4 or doing 3.5 loads of laundry is out of the question.  And random lunches with random people at random times — not so much.  How do people do it? I mean, how much of a waste of time is it to be in an office all day? What if I have nothing to do? I think the cubes are situated in such a way that everybody can pretty much see what you’re doing because there aren’t really high cube walls or much privacy, so I think I have to have Excel open all the time to look like I’m officially working.

Also, I have to start traveling again. They told me I didn’t have to go very often when I told them I don’t like traveling, but I might go so insane in the office that I become a road warrior and turn out like that lady in “Up In The Air” who is inexplicably still hot with the worst 70s hairdo ever AND breaks George Clooney’s heart, which, I mean, come on – I would never do. So I have issues. At least at my totally unsatisfying, frustrating, uninspiring current job I just quit didn’t make me do things like go to an office and have a desk all day. I got to go to Cubs games and out to lunches and lots of 3 o’clock happy hours. But my company was an asshole.  Like, if the company could be a person, it would be the biggest ass you’ve ever met.  Which is weird, because the individuals that work there aren’t assholes, but it’s one of those Gestalt things where the sum was more than the parts and somehow the sum of decent, smart people equaled Really Huge Global Douchebag Corporation.

So why did I take this new gig? Well, probably the same reason I voted for Barack. And, no,  not because Oprah said. I would have voted for any damn Democrat, because I was really voting for not George Bush.  And this new gig is like that – it is not old gig.  Once in a while (every three years to be exact), you have to do something completely different.  And I’ve been at this one 3 years, so I had to go.  Plus at this new place, the people seem cool and the company does appear to be laid back, and they seem to actually get the concept that their employees are human beings with feelings and families, but in a work all the time sort of way, since it is small and everybody needs to pull their weight to make it awesome. Which is fine because I work a lot. I do. I just do it when I feel like it. When the mood strikes. And I’m afraid that at 8:30 in the morning, the mood is not normally striking. No. That is about the time when I go to the gym the 7 times I did in 2009.

Anyway, now I’m rambling. I hope that New Job is 100x sweeter than Old Job. It may turn out to be A Job. But no doubt I’ll have a whole host of new and interesting stories to tell you…I just hope I get a chance to write them down. I may have to change my blog name to “Very Important Site for People Who Are Successful and Productive” so when I’m writing in it and someone comes by my desk they’ll see that in really big letters and be satisfied that I am indeed working very hard and I might just be the best new hire they’ve made since the Kelly Kapoor-ish chick from two months ago.

Wish me luck. And I apologize in advance if the posts are coming a little slower in the next couple of months. Demonstrating my Awesomeness will likely take a lot out of me.  It’s not easy to do The Worm on hardwood floors.

Love’s PhD Trilogy: Judges

Okay, so I decide to get a PhD from a top program and then I get accepted to said program, even though I was about to have a kid and getting a PhD with kids is like climbing Everest with kids. I’m not sure anybody has ever done it.  Everest with kids, that is.  But that isn’t a totally fair metaphor. Because people have earned PhDs with kids – it just that they are mostly the men that didn’t give birth to those kids and it didn’t come without cost.  This became kind of apparent, kind of early on.  But I’m not making excuses, because people do it. It gets done. And it was my plan to be one of them.

As I looked around on my orientation day at the 6 people who were to be my cohort I was kind of comforted. First, they looked normal.  Second, no douchebags. Finally, I could understand all but one of them when they spoke.  Plus, there were five women and two men. The feminist in me had my hands in the air just like Miley – noddin’ my head like yeah, movin’ my hips like yeah. (Please let the record reflect I had this move WAY before Miley’s song and I do not condone references to Miley Cyrus songs. Ever. Except when you were already doing that shit when she was nine and you I want credit because I deserve it, dammit.). But I think all that movement freaked some of them out because my very large, protruding pregnant belly wasn’t making it cool. It kind of looked like maybe I had gas or I might go into labor.  I eventually stopped so the men wouldn’t pass out.  But there was one thing that stood out — I was the only person married and the only one who was going to have a kid when we started.

Two of the women just graduated from undergrad, so they were like 22.  And then there were four of us who tried the whole working for a living thing and decided to go back to school and then there was another woman from China. She didn’t speak English all that well, so I don’t know what her story was.  All I know is that she moved here from China for the program and she had this Chinese boyfriend that followed her around everywhere. And when I say everywhere, I mean he actually would follow her into our seminars. You know, where the 7 of us were learning how to be smart and he would just come along and sit down like he was in the class. It got so weird because at some point he was volunteering to present papers to the class and it was like, “Dude!? You aren’t even in the program. And you don’t speak English. The fuck?” but Google translator doesn’t really do a good job putting that into Mandarin.  So he kind of just hung around and while his girlfriend slept through the seminars, and he took notes and we all looked at him like “WTF?”. I don’t think the look needed to be translated. I’m guessing it was the same in China as it is here.

The least he could have done was solved the Rubik’s cube for us, but he never did.  Probably our fault for not bringing one.  But he eventually was told to get a life by the faculty and she eventually wound up getting kicked out because unfortunately she wrote English worse than she spoke it, and then there was that little problem she had with narcolepsy. When you’re in a class with 7 people and one prof who holds your future in his hands, you don’t fucking sleep through it.

I digress –  I need to stop talking about my cohort, who I  love to death because they did humor me and talk about US Weekly with me and Oprah and they are way cooler and way smarter than me, which is the kind of company I like to keep. And now they are all PhDs and professors and prestigious universities across the country and abroad, so I don’t want give their students any fodder for ridicule. No – lets just talk about fodder you can use to ridicule me.

I wanted Professor Bourbon to be my advisor.  I took some of his courses as an MBA and most of my peers found his class super strange and abstract and not applicable to being an investment banker, so they didn’t like it. But I thought he and his work rocked. He was really an anthropologist by training and the stuff he did research on was fascinating.  He was kind of a hippie at heart, but still he dressed in tweed sports coats with little corduroy patches, so we had a shared sense of fashion.  And his office was like this really dark, cozy lair because all of the walls and windows were covered floor to ceiling with books.  He told us once he read 10 books a week – and that was just fun stuff. Not the stuff for work. Oh yeah, and he was so nice about me getting preggers and all.  So see? He was pure awesomeness.

So the program requires you to take two years of seminars on marketing research and stats and math and psychology and sociology and all kinds of fun stuff, but at the same time you’re also supposed to figure out what kind of research you are drawn to so you can have a dissertation topic at the end of the two years, that you will spend the next 3 to 4 writing.  In the meantime, you have to write papers for faculty review to start your big career as an academic researcher.  Unfortunately for me, I’m the type of person who likes to be a user of knowledge, not a creator of it.  And unfortunately, it turns out that in order for professors to keep their jobs, they have to create knowledge in the form of research that gets published in journals that only about 40 people read, and those are the 40 that publish in that journal and they don’t really want anybody else to publish in their little journal.  So when you submit a paper, they read it and tell you in very academic language that you suck and hope you fail miserably in life and reject your paper.  And then you cry and get over it and try to kiss their ass until one of them will let you write a paper and put their name on it and then they’ll let you in their journal.  Apparently teaching and facilitating panels of CEOs is just what they do on the side and counts for nothing as far as their career goes.  Yep. Didn’t really know that before I signed up.

But no matter – Professor Bourbon inspired me. Compared to other academics, he was like the man version of Mother Teresa.  He didn’t seem to get the same glee that his peers did in humiliating his students and working them to the brink of a mental breakdown. At the same time, he didn’t coddle. He just told you that you sucked in a really nice way, without using the terms “suck”, “ludicrous”, “trivial”, “excrement”, or “fuck you” and then encouraged you to do it all over with some helpful suggestions, but you left feeling like you still wanted to live instead of hanging yourself, which is about the best feeling you can hope for as a PhD student.  Other professors would be more likely to yell at you for wasting their time even reading the drivel you spent that last three months on.  Then they would set it on fire in front of you and spit in your face.  Okay, no. They didn’t do that, but you could tell they would if they had a lighter and if their desks weren’t so wide.

So after my first year I was going to declare Professor Bourbon as my advisor when, quite out of nowhere and suddenly, he resigned. He got an offer at his alma mater to be chair of the department and he probably was sick of the assholes he had to be around at my school and he left.  And the school he went to didn’t have a PhD program. And he couldn’t be my advisor. And my blissful PhD world came to a screeching halt.  He was leaving me? Noooooooooooo! It’s not FAIR!! I kind of had a mental breakdown about it, but it didn’t change anything. I was S.O.L. Nothing I could do.

So I had to find another advisor.  I surveyed that landscape and there was one other Professor I had as an MBA that seemed to like me alright and I liked her when she taught me back then.  Lets call her Professor Dragon.  She did completely different research than Professor Bourbon and she was very, very good and well-respected for her contributions, but none of it really interested me.  But beggars can’t be choosers.  And I knew if I could work with her, I’d be learning from the best in her field and I’d get stuff published. Plus, she said she’d work with me. So.

But after my first couple of months as her advisee, I began losing my grip on my will to live. I started working 70+ hours because no matter what I did, it was never good enough.  Professor Dragon was born and raised in Hong Kong.  She came from a culture where if you like someone, you tell them that you hate them, because that will make them stronger.  So on a daily basis I would walk into work and she would ask how my son was, and then she’d ask what I had done lately and then she said it wasn’t enough and my ideas were lame and maybe I wasn’t serious and that she was disappointed and maybe I needed to try harder or maybe this wasn’t for me and I was embarrassing her and she didn’t want my loser ass dragging her down. This is actually how she showed her love — the students she didn’t like, she just ignored completely. But her love kind of felt like hate to me most days.

It got to the point that for the Saturdays when I was physically at home, my thoughts were still at work and I would feel guilty for bringing my son to the park because I had so much work to do. BD was doing all of the cooking and cleaning and childcare when he wasn’t at work.  I never thought I’d win a Mom award, but I suddenly realized at some point that I was probably in contention for Worst Mom and Wife Award.  But I wasn’t going to quit. I wasn’t going to break because I could do this. Plus, my husband wasn’t going to let me because of all we’d sacrificed for this and plus, it was only going to be three or four more years of torture. I could probably endure it, right? I mean, I bet Dr. Phil had to pay his dues before Oprah gave him his own show.  I just had to be Dr. Phil and suck it up and get through it.  It’s not like everybody else in my cohort was on easy street. Then again, it wasn’t like anyone else in my cohort was married with a kid either.

One thing I noticed almost immediately when I started was that every single one of the tenured professors in my department were on their second or third marriages. They’d all lost their first spouses early in their career when they were working like dogs to get tenure.  It wasn’t long before I could feel myself getting on exactly the same track.  Somehow this fun “game” of mine – to get the PhD — had higher stakes than I’d ever imagined.  With this new lifestyle, more kids were out of the question for us.  We always wanted a bunch, but I had no time and no money and the situation wasn’t just temporary — there was no logical time that having other kids would make sense until after I got tenure, which would put me about about 40 – best case scenario.  So here I was in Year 2 of my bright, shiny dream to be a bonafide intellectual with papers to prove it and my advisor apparently thought I was a fucking moron and I was convinced she was right about that.

Wow! So my big, beautiful dream had turned into a nightmare and I wasn’t sure I could find a way to earn three new little letters at the end of my name without losing those three little cherished letters at the beginning of it, namely MRS.

For spring break of my second year in the PhD program, BD and I left the baby with my parents and we escaped to Napa Valley for a weekend.  Just to get away and to spend some meaningful time together  getting drunk having fun, which happened very seldomly at that point.

The life changing plane ride that happened next was kind of a small miracle and will be revealed in Love’s PhD Trilogy*: Exodus.

*Yeah, I know this is the third installment and I’m telling you there will be a fourth and it’s only supposed to be a trilogy, but they don’t have a word for a four part series, so what am I supposed to do? Blame the person responsible for making up words like “irregardless” and “moist” instead of a more valuable term like “quadlogy”.

High Infidelity

I know I shouldn’t care and it’s none of my business and it’s a little disgusting and disturbing, but I’m obsessed with this whole Tiger-Woods-cheating-on-his-wife-with-several-bleached-blonde-VIP-club-waitresses thing.  I’m not totally sure why. Well, I’ll admit to being quite intrigued by the whole story that Elin beat him with a golf club (the irony!), which of course is awesome.  But I just want his wife to slap his face and walk away. I feel like she must leave him or maybe I’ll die.  Why the outcome of this fiasco is meaningful in any way to me is disturbs me, but somehow it matters.  Like I want to yell, “Elin, don’t let this boy DO you like that! Walk out on his punk ass and don’t look back!” But I don’t know him or her. Or about their pre-nup, which I think matters a lot when you’re one of the most famous/talented people in the world.  I mean, as evidenced by my very scientific poll (question 3) way back when, I have always thought that women that marry rock stars or professional athletes are crazy if they think their man isn’t cheating, but golfers don’t count. At least, until now. But thanks to Cheetah Tiger, I’ll add them to the list.

But I’m completely naive about these matters.  Marital infidelity is something I have a hard time wrapping my mind around.  I just don’t understand why you don’t just leave someone if you want to cheat on them.  Just admit you suck at being married, get a divorce, and then sleep with whoever, whenever you want. But don’t do it while you’re married, behind your spouse’s back and kiss your kids goodnight like you’re not totally fucking up their whole world because you’re horny.

I’ve never been tempted to cheat on my husband. Perhaps it’s because neither Angelina Jolie nor Milo Ventimiglia has begged me to have sex with them, or maybe it’s because cheating on my husband would devastate him, and our children and our families and undo everything we’ve done together.  Or maybe it’s because I’ve never understood casual relationships/sex. I’ve never had a one night stand. Not for any sort of moral/ethical/religious reason – more because it would introduce too many unknowns for me. I’m a binary person that likes things settled. Things are black or they are white. You’re married or you aren’t. You’re in love or you’re not. You’re with somebody or you aren’t.  Oprah is your BFF or she isn’t.  It’s hard for me tolerate “it’s complicated” or “lets not put a label on it” or “let’s just see what happens”.  So I just don’t get how you can live a life being married to someone, but cheating on them and lying about it all the time.  I’m just a total Pollyanna on this subject — I can’t help myself.

I’m 33 years old, so I should have this figured out. Or understand it a little. And YET,  when married men hit on me I’m always completely surprised by it.  Especially when it’s a married man who knows I’m also married.  I’ve found myself in this situation way more than I think is logically probable, which causes it to dawn on me WAY later than it should.  Generally this occurs sometime during what I think is a routine lunch meeting, but which he thinks is his chance to get laid.  When they start getting shady (one guy told me nonchalantly, completely out of the blue:  “I really like small breasted women, like about your size,  because my wife’s breasts are so large. Clothes just don’t fit on her as well as they do on you.”  To which my mind replies : “Oh dear Jesus! We’re not talking about business anymore.  He totally wants to sleep with me! He’s married!! I’m married!! How could he even think for a second I’m interested in him like that? Ew…. EWWWWW… Must. Get. Out of here. FAST.”

I totally panic like a deer caught in headlights when a guy starts getting suggestive because in my world, if you’re married, you’re married, so you’re not making it a top priority to get in my pants.  But apparently I’ve run into several men that don’t share that world view.  And then I spend the next week wondering why, of all the chicks in the world he could be spending his time trying to sleep with, he chose me.  Me, who is married with two young kids. Me, who has absolutely zero interest in him outside of work, who does not flirt with him or dress provocatively.  Me, with tiny boobs and glasses and a muffin top. But also me, who is intelligent, charismatic, hilarious, pretty awesome and completely modest. And married. Do I look like some one who wants another woman’s husband? What makes him think he could even compete for a second with my husband?  Honestly, I’m baffled by this.  Why me?

But I think I finally may have got an answer today I can live with.  I brought up the whole Tiger Woods thing (because I’m obsessed with it, as I said) with a totally random British male coworker about 28 years my senior today. He was saying he was totally sick of the story and couldn’t get why Americans even care when people cheat, since cheating is so rampant here.  He travels a lot on business and says that he is never at a hotel where he doesn’t find married people having affairs all over the place. Really? I guess I’ve never noticed, but then again, I probably wouldn’t see it if it slapped me in the face, because I don’t look for it and I like to pretend it doesn’t happen.

I told him I’ve had several of my clients want to turn a totally normal business relationship into some type of sexual/romantic relationship, and all of them were married and all of them knew I was married as well.  “Well, I don’t know you very well, but I would say it’s easy to see why they would hit on you.  You’re a very open, transparent and funny.  I bet you talk to them about their families. Most people aren’t like that, so you probably make your customers feel so comfortable and they mistake your openness for romantic interest in them.” Reeeally?  I make my living selling.  Salespeople are supposed to show interest in their clients.  I just never thought that asking a client something like, “Did your son win his soccer game this weekend? ” would so easily be translated by that man into “do you want to have a torrid, illicit affair in the back of my Subaru?”.  Maybe I should stop asking my clients about their kids.

Per June’s comment, I put this back in:

Oprah had a dude on her show that said the reason that men cheat on their wives is that they don’t feel their wife thinks they are “special” or important or awesome.  So in order to prop up their fragile egos, they will go out and find someone to have an affair with who does make them feel special and manly and awesome.  The kicker is that almost always the women men cheat on their wives with are less attractive, less educated, and pretty much less everything than their wife.  So I guess I must make my male clients all feel special and loved.  But then that means that if they want to have an affair with me, they also think I’m less attractive than their wives. And I’m offended by that.  Assholes.  Next time one of my clients literally wants to screw me, I’ll remember that they think their wife is hotter and I’ll just kick them in their old balls.  Then maybe their wife won’t seem so bad after all.

Adventures in Babysitting, the Finale

If you are just joining me, start here.  For the other three of you following the story and want to know what happens when Love insists on choosing a daycare run by a woman who shares none of her interests or philosophies in life, here goes:

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and a 10 page signed contract, Miss Amalia decides that we are a good enough family to admit into her daycare and even agrees to take our son at 10 weeks, instead of 6 months, with a little extra charge.  I liked Miss Amalia and her sister, who ran the daycare, but Miss Amalia and I had very different M.O.s.  Miss Amalia loved rules. LOVED rules. I, on the other hand, love to ignore rules, especially when they appear to be arbitrary, which many of Miss Amalia’s were. So when I would visit before my son started I would kind of laugh to myself about how amusing it was the way she clung to her random rules. You know, no shoes in the house. No coming more than 15 minutes early or later than she expected you. No calling during nap time. No breaking any of her 600 breast milk handling rules (thank GOD I didn’t have to deal with that). The list went on and on.  And on.  And on.

So my son is born in June and he turns out to be the easiest, most even-tempered and laid back baby ever born.  God only gives you what you can handle, and that is when I realized that God thinks I’m a total loser, because honestly, the kid never cried, he drank his formula without complaint, he had no gas, he slept all the time, he nailed all his weight and height checks at the doctor. He didn’t even cry when he got his immunizations. I had no idea what motherhood was going to be like, but after the first few weeks with my little guy I was wondering what so many new moms were complaining about.  Everyone was always talking about how hard it was and how they never got to sleep or shower or catch their breath.  I had no idea what they were talking about.  Taking care of an infant was so easy.

When I was on maternity leave, I probably read 100 books and even started watching Dr. Phil (a moustached man who is not a police officer, leaving only one other possibility) just to fill the time.  Seriously.  I was tethered to the house because my baby was always sleeping.  There was nothing for me to do except make a few bottles and change a few diapers every few hours.  And Oprah was in re-runs, so I turned to Dr.Phil. I was totally intrigued desperate.  My son would wake up, eat, be cute for 30 minutes, sleep for a couple of hours and then do it all over again. At  7 weeks he slept through the night.

These facts clearly prove that I must have been the best damn mother in the universe. I had the perfect baby, so that must have meant that every decision I had made had been the right one. If I wasn’t doing everything exactly right then how could my baby be so awesome? You’re stumped. I can tell.  All those moms whose kids cried a lot or didn’t sleep or had acid reflux – it was probably because they weren’t doing it right. I started fancying myself as an authority.  I thought maybe I should write a book about being a perfect parent and I would prove to the world that formula fed babies and their working mothers weren’t all that bad. Scratch that. Formula fed babies and their working mothers were superior! I was a perfect parent*, as evidenced by my perfect child.

(*I think I actually may have believed in my post-partum stupor that my parenting had something to do with my son’s temperament, until I was graced with my second son. The one that feels me up in Target. I now have no such illusions.)

Okay, so now that you know that I am a perfect mother and I have a perfect baby who is about to go to a perfect daycare, you might understand my surprise when my baby went to daycare and Miss Amalia reported that he cried all day.  Ummm? My baby? Impossible. My child does not cry.  “No, he does. All day.” deadpanned Miss Amalia.  “Well, I don’t understand. Are you feeding him? Is he dry?  He never cries with us. Never!”  I was wondering whether she was trying to shake me down for more money. I honestly could not believe what I was hearing.  And yet everyday when I came to pick him up (and he seemed to be docile and happy as ever then), she would claim he spent most of the day crying and fussing.

Not to worry, though.  Miss Amalia knew why.  She suspected that perhaps we let him sleep whenever he wanted to. Yes, we did.  She suspected that sometimes he fell asleep in our arms or in a swing but not in a crib. Well, yes. Sometimes.  She suspected we didn’t have him on a strict schedule. No. At two months old we did not.  “Well”, she said, “you’re going to have to get him on my schedule or this isn’t going to work.”  Your schedule? Um? What the hell are we paying you $375 a week for? I’m not giving up all things fun in this world to pay you just so that you get to be the boss of me, thankyouverymuch.

But I didn’t say that. I asked for the schedule.  Here is a great example of BD and I saying “Sure, Miss Amalia. Give us a copy of your schedule and we’ll make sure we keep to it on the weekends.” (wink, wink, roll eyes, giggles).  She gave us the schedule and I’m pretty sure we used it to pick up the dog’s poop on the way home.  Our kid was younger than 3/4 of the food in my pantry. What did he know about schedules? If he needs to sleep, let him. When he wants to eat, we’ll feed him.  We’re his parents for God’s sake. What does this single woman in her thirties without children know about taking care of children? (Actually – not such a good question to ask yourself when you hired her to do just that). Her unyielding anal retentiveness was really cramping my style and pissing me off.

So a month goes by and he has about 4 bad days and 1 good day a week. After his first four weeks there, Miss Amalia tells us that we need to have an “evaluation” meeting at Starbucks.  We thought this was another one of her random administration rule-y things and we begrudgingly went to our meeting, but were eager to hear about our perfect son’s progress.

She got straight to the point. Our son won’t go to sleep unless she is holding his hand. He fusses and cries a lot and she has other kids to watch, so it’s very distracting.  Perhaps it wasn’t a good match.  Perhaps he’d be happy somewhere else. Perhaps we would all be happy somewhere else.  It just wasn’t working out.  Maybe we’d all made a mistake.  Somewhere in the background the sound of a needle scratches a record.  Oh no she did ent. I saw her lips moving, but I couldn’t really make out the words.  We were getting kicked out of day care.  Oh, helllls no!  After my brief blackout as she was kicking our infant out of the only daycare in Chicago I could find for him, the fighting spirit came back into my body and I begged her not to kick us out. We had nowhere to go, and plus, it made no sense that this baby that was so calm and perfect with us could be such a pain in the ass for her.  I mean, if our kid couldn’t meet her standards, then nobody’s could.  We just couldn’t comprehend the situation we were in, but we promised we would do anything, anything to stay in.

She wasn’t a monster. She only made us beg for 15 minutes until said she would give us another four weeks to either clean up our 3 month old’s behavior or find a new daycare.  Aw, fuck.  I mean, was I supposed to take away his car keys? How do you “fix” a 3 month old who is on probation at daycare and yet an easy, laid back angel at home?

Miss Amalia said she’d work with us. She told us she suspected we weren’t following her schedule. She suspected we were still letting him sleep whenever and wherever and often in our arms. We kind of demurred, but it was probably clear to her that we weren’t doing anything she told us to do.  We sheepishly asked for another copy of the schedule.  We thought it was completely absurd voodoo to have to a kid this small on her strict schedule, but we had no choice. We had to feed him, sleep him, play with him, change him and practice sign language with him, all on this schedule she had.  He had to take all naps in his crib, alone and he couldn’t already be asleep when we put him in there.  No more falling asleep on daddy’s chest, or in the swing or a free bottle here or there.  Obviously, there was no way this was going to work, but we had no other choice, so we decided to do it her way. I really wanted to be right that she was wrong – that the schedule was meaningless — because after all, in just three months I was already a perfect mother with all the answers. So we watched the clock and followed her schedule over the weekend, no exceptions.  Except the yoga part. We weren’t sure how a 3 month old gets the most out of his yoga session, so we substituted Baby Mozart.

On Monday she said he had a good day. “You followed the schedule, didn’t you?” Um. (eyes downward) Yes. On Tuesday another good day. And Wednesday. And Thursday. And Friday.  It had to be a coincidence.  Maybe he had a sense that he was on probation and was on his best behavior. But the next weekend we stuck to the schedule again. And suddenly Miss Amalia is reporting that our kid seems to be so happy and she has never seen him so calm.  Really?  Finally the son we’d always known was showing up at daycare. But only after we went against everything we wanted to do and put him on a schedule. On her schedule. I could tell Miss Amalia was gloating. Because she knew she was right and that we were just punk new parents.  She scared us straight, and she knew it.

Miss Amalia – 1, Love Family – 0. Well played, Miss Amalia, well played.

Eventually our son worked his way off the probation list and we stuck with Miss Amalia for a year. It wasn’t without days that I wanted to punch her in the face because she was so sure she knew everything (and unfortunately, most times she was right).  When she decided she was so awesome that daycare was going to cost $400/week even with 7 other kids there, we gave up.  We couldn’t afford it and she told us she was quite sure that other people could.  We had to move somewhere we could find affordable daycare.  We had to change everything.

So thanks to Miss Amalia, we sold our condo at the height of the real estate bubble and bought a single family in a great neighborhood.  I had to look for new daycare and discovered my Mom Crush in the process and another parent at Miss Amalia’s gave us the lead on the new daycare we found that was almost half of what Miss Amalia was demanding. And we’re still with that daycare. She didn’t make us sign a contract, or tell me how to mother, or make me feel guilty I’ve never seen the inside of Whole Foods. I’m pretty sure she has never done yoga and when the kids get dirty, she washes their clothes, instead of sending them home in a plastic bag. And she loves our kids and they love her. And none of it would have been possible without all Miss Amalia’s rules.  And Starbucks.

So thank you, Starbucks and Miss Amalia — for everything.

Adventures in Babysitting, Part II

If you haven’t already, it’s best to read Part I. But if you don’t like reading my super-long posts (I’m working on it), and just want the net – I’m 7 months pregnant with son #1 and found out from two snarky ladies on their lunch break that daycare is impossible to find and then after a miracle in Starbucks, I find a home daycare, Miss Amalia’s Place, that meets my criteria which is that its near my house and…that it is near my house, but it turns out that she is used to desperate parents. She is going to interview us to see whether we’re the right sort for her daycare.

The flyer from Miss Amalia’s Place didn’t have a ton of information, but it did mention that it was an all organic environment and the kids would be taught yoga and learn to sign when they were babies and no TV (obviously) and I think there was something about earth sounds music too.  From what I could tell, this is what all the good moms were doing, so it seemed like a pretty good plan to me, especially when you consider the alternative: me taking care of the baby in an environment that included a lot of Oprah, Dr. Phil, Sex and the City, McDonalds, The Killers, Eminem and some Baby Mozart once in a while.

But the issue was that Miss Amalia was going to interview us, to see if we were the right sort.  The first interview wasn’t even going to take place at her daycare, because she wasn’t going to bring just anyone there. That was only if you got to the second round. Failure was not an option. Because we had no other viable options. So I spent the two days we had to prepare for the interview Googling “how to be a good mother” and “acing the daycare interview” and drilling BD on his part in the whole thing.  I reminded him that this interview could decide whether our son would be a well-adjusted adult or a circus performer.

Love: “Okay. So whatever she says, nod and smile and agree wholeheartedly with her. Even if you have no idea what she is talking about.”

BD: “I’m not sure we should be pretending –”

Love: (gives husband ‘the hand’) “Listen – I’m not kidding around here. This is our ONLY option.  We will do whatever it takes to get in. Repeat after me…We will do whatever it takes to get in.”

BD: “Do we even know how much she costs?”

Love: “No. And we will nod and smile and agree wholeheartedly with whatever she says it costs. We will have time to panic later, and sell our kidneys when she isn’t around.”

BD: “I don’t know. This isn’t our only option.”

Love: “Oh yeah? What are the other options?”

BD: “Well, I’m sure we could find -”

Love: “By ‘we’ I assume you mean ‘me’ and guess what? There isn’t anything else. But if you want to spend hundreds of fruitless hours looking, be my guest.  In the meantime, you will nod, smile and agree wholeheartedly with everything that is said. Including by me.  I will likely say things you’ve never heard come out of my mouth before. Pretend like it’s totally normal for me to make butternut squash and say ‘namaste’ and stuff.”

BD: “What is ‘namaste’?”

Love: (through gritted teeth) “It’s what I say all. the. time. Get it?”

BD: “Oh my God. This is nuts…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Miss Amalia turned out to be a Korean woman in her mid-thirties. She was unmarried and her older sister helped her out taking care of the children.  She had very definite ideas about how to run her daycare, although she had only started up 6 months earlier and she’d never had a child of her own.  She announced that the youngest child she would take would be 6 months, since it would be “very bad” for a mother to leave her child before then. She explained also that it would give the baby some time to adjust from the breast to the bottle, but she had a whole page on how breast milk would be handled.  We nodded and smiled and agreed wholeheartedly. The thing was, we needed someone at 10 weeks and there was not going to be any breast milk. We were formula feeding. But neither of us said anything.

She told us about all of the enriching activities she would be providing the children and she told us what our duties as parents were. There was a long list of rules. Schedules were very important. We could drop our child off within a half hour window in the morning and pickup in a certain window.  Any exceptions would have to be logged in advance.  We nodded and smiled and agreed wholeheartedly.  She told us that it would be $350 a week.  It was more than I hoped it would be, but it was doable. Perhaps we could keep our kidneys. We asked her about what she liked and disliked about the other families.  We asked about what she thought about traits of great parents. We asked her about why she started her business and told her how wonderful and genius she was for doing so.  We told her we liked her hair. And her shoes. And could we get her anything else to drink?

I thought we aced the interview.  We did everything we planned to do to make sure we got to the second round.  At the end of the interview, we thanked Miss Amalia and she said she would call to let us know whether we made it to the second round. She also gave us a 10 page contract to look over to make sure we were “comfortable” with all of the terms.  We walked out hand in hand and didn’t speak until we were safely back in our condo.  The minute the door was closed, we looked at each other and simultaneously asked, “What. the. fuck?”

Neither of us could believe that we lived in such a world.  Sign language, and schedules and yoga and dietary restrictions and minimum age 6 months old?!  When we were little we watched TV all day and drank lots of Kool-Aid and got locked out of the house and told to play outside for four hours.  Our moms didn’t breastfeed us and we didn’t know what organic meant until 1998.  We felt totally unprepared to be parents.  Miss Amalia had us scared to death. We needed her to take care of our son because we were going to do it completely wrong if she wasn’t coaching us the whole way.

Now what to do about the fact that we weren’t any of the things she wanted us to be? We couldn’t wait six months. We needed her at 10 weeks. And I wasn’t planning on breastfeeding, because I’m just a bad mom.  This was going to get complicated, but I had to make this happen.

Part III