Tag Archives: life

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…

Bitch, Pleeze!

Here is the link an interview that my sister sent today with that bitch person who “lived Oprah” for the year and then wrote a book about it. You need to watch it. It’s like 5 minutes of the worst TV I think I’ve ever seen.

Have you watched it yet? Yeah, now you know why I am understandably incensed about this on multiple levels.

A) That should have been my idea because I live Oprah anyway.

B) How dare she question Oprah’s taste in footwear?

C) If that bitch bought everything Oprah told her to, it would add up to a lot more than $4700.  So she cheated.

D) Oprah made her do good for others, like provide books to female felons and save a cat’s life – what’s not to love? What sort of ingrate bites the hand that feeds the world?

E) Finally, when has Oprah ever ruined any normal person’s marriage or sex life? Well….I take that back. Forget point E.

F) She said people view Oprah like their BFF in a way which suggested that somehow that was crazy.  I didn’t dedicate my life to making Oprah realize I’m her soul mate so this dumb broad could come along and ridicule me.  I swear if I ever see her on the street, I’m going to give her a really mean look. Like, seriously mean. And then I’ll report her whereabouts to Gayle, and you can bet Gayle will give her the beat down she deserves.

That is all I’m going to say about this topic, which has wounded my soul very deeply.  If she can’t see Oprah for the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent spiritual healer and teacher who wears really good shoes most days, then she clearly doesn’t understand her subject matter and should be revealed to the world as the charlatan she is. You know who she reminds me of? Debbie Mathers. Eminem’s mom. When she made up that song about him to get rich just because she was mad that he has spent most of his professional life telling stories about how she was the worst mother of all time. I just don’t like when other people try to get famous off the back of someone with the Awesome in them.

I just hope when Eminem isn’t on the phone getting drug counseling from Elton John, he’ll reach out to Oprah to provide some support.

And I would ask that my loyal readers, though none of you like Oprah, light up your cell phones, wave them slowly in the air and watch Eminem’s “Cleaning out my Closet” video I’ve provided access to here:

Now you have just a little taste of the rage I have and the angry poetry that I’m about to write about this woman and her dumb book and send to Oprah and her producers in a beautiful laminated album. If you have any worthy submissions, I will consider them, but they have to be really good. I mean, really Oprah-worthy.

“That’s it. I’m done!” (Ben Affleck, Boiler Room)

Love’s PhD trilogy: Genesis (also, Why it’s just “Mrs.” instead of “Dr.”)

This is the story of how I was almost a doctor. Not the kind that actually helps people, but the kind that everybody listens to, because if you have PhD at the end of your name, people think you are an authority on any and all subjects.  Which is kind of my dream.  To have everybody listen to me and feel like I have some credibility, even if I have no idea what I’m talking about.

Do you know they give out PhD’s in marketing? They do.  I suppose a PhD in physics is probably higher on the totem pole than marketing, but I’m pretty sure you can’t have ADD and get a PhD in physics. I think you need to have Asperger’s for that.  So I’m S.O.L (does everybody learn that acronym from their dad at age 6?).  So marketing seemed like a reasonable alternative. Plus, after you get a PhD in anything, you’re a PhD. Nobody knows or cares after you get a PhD  what it is in, so I figured I could kind of be like Dr. Phil.  He has a PhD, albeit probably from an online university, but nobody questions his credentials any more. So what if it’s in marketing? I’d be Dr. Love and suddenly, the editors at O would be busting down my door begging me to write a monthly column. But instead, Oprah found Dr. Berman, PhD, a hot blond who loves to talk about sex and suddenly my dreams are shattered.

But I digress. Here is the story:

So I’m in this job that is kind of boring. And the people I work with are really nice, good people, but I had the suspicion that they weren’t as intellectually superior as I was.  So to stave off my boredom, I decided to go back to school part-time because my company would pay for it.  But it had to be something relevant to my job, which only gave me a single choice, which was MBA school.  So luckily I live in a city that has about 6 trillion universities/colleges that offer part-time MBAs.  But going to just any MBA school would have been too easy and wouldn’t have inflated my ego to the levels I crave.  I had to pick one that was prestigious and where I would meet a lot of intellectuals so I could have an intelligent conversation about the current events I read about in US Weekly.  And I am very lucky, because the top two MBA schools in the U.S. are right here in Chicago.

One has a reputation for being really fun and one has a reputation for being really not fun. So it was a really hard decision, but I eventually settled on fun.  I took the GMAT to prove to myself and the admissions group that I was as brilliant as I fancied myself.  I didn’t get a perfect score, but there is math on that test instead of celebrity trivia, so it doesn’t really test true genius. But I did alright. So I applied to the part-time program and they let me in and it lived up to its reputation. I was having a good time.  The people I was going to school with were very smart – maybe some were smarter than me — which then made me feel kind of average and inadequate, but that was probably good, because sometimes I need to be taken down a notch.

So while I’m in MBA school I decide that I need to get into health care sales, so I could do something that helps people and still make lots of money. (Please stop laughing — I was just very naive at that point. Who knew the health care industry is even shadier than the financial sector?).  So in order to network my way into the health care industry, I go to this health care conference being held by my business school.  And they have CEOs from some of the top pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers on this panel discussing sales strategy and management,  and the conversation is being led by this professor at my business school.  He keeps throwing out pretty good questions and the executives answer but they always finish up their answers by looking at the professor expectantly, like they needed his approval for what they just said.

And then it hits me.

OMG. I should be a professor. I want to get paid for thinking about whatever I want to think about!!  I want to facilitate discussions between people who work for a living and I’ll be the big PhD at the table who everybody listens to and respects even though all I do is teach a class here and there and maybe write some books and get quoted in the New York Times every other day. Yes! It is my calling. I’ve found my life’s work!! Elation!

I was a newlywed at the time. My husband asked me to marry him a couple of weeks before I started my MBA adventure. I have to assume he thought that I would pull my own weight in our marriage at least financially because I was going to a great school and that should guarantee me a solid place in the career world, right?  Maybe he could be a house husband if he felt like it because I would be making wads of cash as I scurried quickly up the corporate ladder. Because I was the very definition of a future baller and we’d be big pimpin’ (spending Gs).  So I run home from this conference and I announce to BD that I am going to be a business professor. Fuck sales. Fuck working for a living. It was so simple! Why hadn’t I thought of it before!! I’m going to be a professor. And now I could finally earn the right to wear cardigan sweaters with little patches on the elbows and start smoking a pipe. I already had the scholarly specs. All I had to do was get a PhD and how hard could that be, especially with me being such a genius and everything?

So that night I shattered BD’s illusion of having a responsible, rich, hard-working, baller wife.  I told him I was going to finish my MBA and apply to the PhD program.  I wasn’t really sure what PhD school was about, but it couldn’t be that different from MBA school, right? I mean, I knew what the 4 Ps of marketing were, so I was practically halfway there.  And in the PhD program, you don’t have to pay tuition and they even give you a stipend to live on while you think all your deep thoughts.  See?! They were already paying me to do what I loved doing anyway, which was being a geek and tricking people into thinking I wasn’t as clueless as I was and collecting degrees that I could hang in my future big office with leather chairs and floor to ceiling bookcases.

Since the PhD program wouldn’t cost anything and I would actually be bringing home some money, BD got on board and supported the decision.  So I quit my job and started going to school full-time so I could finish the MBA faster.  Of course, that blew up the whole plan where my employer pays for my education. I actually had to pay them back for everything so far and then shell out the money for the rest of the MBA, but no matter! I was on a mission. An intellectual journey. And what is money anyway? Bah! It is clearly only important to the bourgeois as a method to keep the peasants in their place (or something like that. All you need to remember is that I used the term “bourgeois” in a very dismissive and authoritative way, which is very academic of me, don’t you think?) As you can see, I was already starting to ask the deep questions required of a professor.

When you have a dream, you have to go for it, right? So now I just had to get into the PhD program. The odds were kind of bad. They accepted 8 people a year and there were probably close to a thousand applicants. And some of them were from China, where I think you need to know how to solve Rubik’s cubes in 14 moves, in 10 seconds or less just to pass 6th grade.  And they can do some fucking mad math, even without being Aspergers.  And all I have is ADD and a dream.

But when Love wants something, Love gets it.

That fall,  about six months after my epiphany at the healthcare conference,  I started MBA full-time and I started getting busy applying to the PhD program for the following fall.  Apparently that wasn’t the only thing I was getting busy at, because that’s also when I got preggers.  Awesome.

Another very well thought out plan by Love is put into motion…

Part II, Numbers is up next…

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I don’t know if I’ll get back before Christmas….so if I don’t, Merry Whatever-you-might-celebrate-at-the-end-of-December!

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…”

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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

Adventures in Babysitting, Part I

I was due with my first baby in mid-June, just about the time I graduated from MBA school and about 10 weeks before I started my PhD program, a time frame which turned out to be perfectly suited for maternity leave.  I planned to find childcare during that time and I figured it would be like finding a doctor – you go on a website somewhere that lists all the doctors within a certain radius, you check their qualifications and then you pick one based on who has the best decorated waiting room and hope like hell they are in-network.

We lived just a mile outside of downtown Chicago, just down the street from Oprah, and I was pretty sure there had to be like 66 million daycares and each of them were pining for the chance to take care of my infant.  So then one day when I’m about 7 months along, I was in a deli minding my own business, eating my farm raised, low mercury salmon and asparagus sandwich and reading a Harvard Business Review case for class and two ladies on their lunch break sat down next to me.  They were talking about office gossip, which was way more interesting than my reading, so I was listening in. And they probably noticed I was pregnant and listening to them so suddenly they began talking about how annoying another woman was at work because all she did was freak out everyday about how there were no slots for infants in any daycare centers anywhere in Chicago and she was only 3 months pregnant and what a dumb ass for not realizing this before she got preggers. Hmmm.  I looked down at my belly and winced as two things happened concurrently: my fetus/son gave me a swift kick to my kidney, and I had an epiphany. I’m fucked.

The search for a daycare commenced immediately.  I went to Google to find the website that listed all of the daycare centers/ family daycares / nannys / nanny-shares within a 1 mile radius of my house.  We only had one car and I would have it most of the time at school.  BD would have to be able to walk from work, to daycare, to home with the baby.  I thought maybe 1 mile might be too large a radius, but we could start there and then figure out how to narrow down our choices.

I opened up Google. Now to find the website…..this nice, informational website….I’m sure it’s here somewhere….Hmm…wait, where is the website?….Nope, not it….Not this…..(My kid kicks my bladder at the same moment as if to say “you’re doing a helluva job so far, Mom) um, no. nonononononononono. NO…..

There. is. no. magical-daycare-finding website.

I am alone in the vast urban and Internet wilderness. Google has forsaken me. I had to sift through a tangle of daycare websites and dead ends and phone numbers. The whole finding-childcare-for-your-perfect-beautiful-newborn-that-you-can-afford-without-selling-your-kidney-and-is-located-somewhere-in-the-state-of-Illinois journey was kind of like the Trail of Tears for new parents.  At least finding the big daycare center chains was easy. They were nowhere near my condo, but I called anyway.  They had nine month waiting lists for infants.  Okay…I’m not great at math, but I think that means that on the day of conception you sure as hell better reserve your spot at Kindercare. Now I finally realized why God sent an angel to tell me of my children’s conceptions – so they could get a spot in daycare on time.  It would have been nice if he had mentioned that as well.

Well, this is bad news. I need infant care starting five and half months from now, and apparently this is really late notice for the whole childcare world.  I mean, I haven’t even met this kid I’m going to have. I know nothing about being a parent or about babies or about my specific baby or what I’m going to feel like in five months and I have to find a perfect childcare situation now, or I can’t go back to school. I’m not going to get my PhD. I’ll have to be a stay at home mother. One thing I knew for sure was that being at stay at home mother was out of the question, because I already loved my unborn child. I would not subject him to the psycho mother he would come to know if he were in my care 24-7.  So I re-doubled my efforts and kept coming up short.

I grew up in a home daycare. And I loved it. It was like having a second family, and we didn’t have any family nearby, so it was awesome. I guess I wanted something similar for my son, so I was partial to the idea of having my baby go to a home daycare nearby. But searching for home daycares on Google is futile and I was really starting to lose hope that the baby I was about to have wouldn’t be some kind of juvenile delinquent due to my poor parenting (non)decisions made while he was still in the womb.  So I went to the Starbucks in the building next door. It was an odd choice because I don’t drink coffee, but I felt like I needed something warm in my belly for the next few hours I planned to spend curled up in bed crying and worrying about what a bad mother I already was. And Starbucks kind of seemed like a church to so many yuppies, I thought maybe they sprinkled you with calming fairy dust when you went in and I might find some peace there.

No visible fairy dust, but as I waited patiently for my Caramel Apple Cider, I wandered over to the little bulletin board they have by where you pick up your drinks.  There was a lime green flyer right in the middle of it. My stomach did a flip and my knees kind of buckled and my brain said, “You are fucking kidding me, GOD!” (Yes, I have ongoing conversations with God in my head like “Oh God! You’re so unpredictable sometimes!”  or “God, why did encourage me to have the third glass of wine? I feel like ass this morning. You should have stopped me!”).

There on the board was a flyer for a new home daycare starting up in the condo building next to mine. I know, right?  Seriously.  I grabbed the flyer and ran home. I forgot my Caramel Apple Cider.  I was panting when I called BD.

Love: “I found a daycare for our baby!”

BD: “Cool.”

Love: “It’s in the building next door! And they do yoga! And its all organic food! Oh my GOD!”

BD: “You don’t even do yoga or know anything about organic food.”

Love: “What? Um. It doesn’t really matter. The point is that my prayers have been answered. I must call her immediately. She is The One.”

BD: “Go for it.”

I got off the phone with my heart beating fast and I immediately dialed Miss Amalia’s Place.  No answer, but the long-winded, rambling, breathless message I left went a little like this:

Hello! My name is Love and I have a baby. No, I mean I’m pregnant with a baby that I will have in a few months and I need a daycare in August and I just love home daycares and I saw your flyer at Starbucks and I took it but I will definitely bring it back but I was wondering whether you had a spot for a newborn and I’m sure he is going to be a really good kid because I didn’t cry a lot when I was a kid, but I guess we won’t know till he gets here  — heh, heh — but anyway I really think we should talk and I just love that I’m in the building next door so we’re neighbors and what great timing that I found your flyer and I will bring it back because I forgot to pick up my caramel apple cider anyway, so I’ll put it back but I really think we should talk and my baby should go to your daycare and please call me back.

I hung up and thought, “Seriously? What was that? You idiot. You sound crazy. Maybe you should call back again and explain that you aren’t crazy. Or would that be crazier? ” I hung my head.  But then I brightened knowing that stalking people who need to be in my life is one of my most valuable talents and Miss Amalia’s Place just moved up to the top spot on that list.

I waited five minutes with my hand clutching the phone receiver. No call back. Ten minutes. No call. Maybe I should call again? Just to say I’m not crazy? Fifteen minutes — the phone rings. It’s her!! The woman sent by God to take care of my unborn child, as soon as he gets born.

Love: “Hello?!”

M.A.: “Hi. This is Miss Amalia. You called about needing daycare in August for an infant?” (slight Korean accent)

Love: “Yes! Yes! Where do I sign up?”

M.A: “Ha ha. You are funny. It’s not that easy.  I will  interview you to see whether you’re the family I want to take.”

Love: “You’re going to interview us?”

M.A: “Yes. There is no other way. Can you and your husband come interview with me in a couple of days at 6pm @ Starbucks? You’ll both need to be present.  I have a long waiting list, but I will choose who gets the spot based on my interviews.”

Love: “Oh. I didn’t know this is how it worked. Here I thought I should interview you.”

M.A: “You should. Part of my decision will be based on the questions you ask me.”

Love: “Um. My son isn’t even born yet, and we’re new parents, so I’m not really sure what we’ll have to say.”

M.A: “I find my relationship with the parents is as important as with the child. This is the way I do things. If you’re uncomfortable with the process —”

Love: “No! No! Heh, heh. No! We’ll definitely be there. With good questions.”

M.A: “Great. Don’t be late.”

Love: “Right.”

Okay, so the world had changed from the time I went to daycare. Up to that point, I had spent my whole life competing to get in the best schools, in the best programs, hired by the best companies for the most exclusive jobs and I always won the things I set out to get. Because I loved those games and I was really good at them. No matter that I usually ended up not really wanting all the things I’d won, but who doesn’t like winning games? I wasn’t going to let a home daycare lady be the first to reject me or my unborn child. I wasn’t losing this game. She was our only hope and clearly God led me to Starbucks and this whole thing was meant to be.

We were going to be the family she chose. Period. Now I just had to figure out how to morph us into the “right” family for our interview.  I quickly opened my browser and searched for “yoga” and “organic food”.

Part II

The search for my tribe

This January I found myself back in the place I have perpetually been throughout my life, which is wandering around aimlessly, wondering what the hell I’m doing with my life and how I got to the place where I am and how that place where I am always feels like a place I’d like to leave – immediately.

You know why I love Oprah? Its not because of her fabulous hair or because everybody is afraid of her or because she gets to hang out with Obama all the time.  It’s because she doesn’t go two weeks on her show without doing a story about somebody who was nobody until they got inspired one day and then changed the world.  I live for those stories. Without believing in those stories I would have no hope that one day my life will abruptly and powerfully change and my angel will come to me and say “Love, lets do this.  3-6-34-51-52 and the Powerball is 22. I’ll let you know what God wants you to do with it, but in the meantime, why don’t you just go ahead and buy a beach house in Zihuatanejo, kay? You can run your new philanthropic foundation from there”. I mean, Oprah has me convinced that one day I’ll be minding my own business and ordering my Value Meal #2 at McDonalds and suddenly the heavens will open up and I’ll just “know” that the cook in the back is a genius orphan who is homeless and just needs a chance and I’ll adopt her and she’ll grow up to be the President and I’ll get to live in the White House and she’ll make me ambassador to Tahiti and life will be totally sweet because of my awesome inspiration to take her home with me on that fateful day I was quenching my insatiable hunger for a Quarter Pounder with cheese.  I could tell you about a million other scenarios I’ve feasted my mind on, but you get the point.  Nobody loves stories more than I do about ordinary people doing extraordinary things that make this world a cooler place to be because if I’m being honest, I really believe that one day I’ll get to be one of them.  When I hear those stories I don’t think, “Oh, thats really neat.” I think, “When is it going to be my turn?”

Which makes me really a different sort of person than the people I find myself surrounded by most of the time. I know this because I’ve taken every damn personality and motivation and self-discovery test this world has to offer in an attempt to find out why it seems like I can’t find anybody like me out there in the world.  And usually my results break the computer or they come back but it says something like, “ERROR- value unknown” or “Only 1% of the population is this type…” and when you read the description of a person that would get this score, it is usually brief because it commands a total loss for words to describe. I think the issue is two-fold: only three people have ever scored this combination and those three people are too strange to really describe. When you look at professions that are good for my personality type, you wind up with stuff like unicycle rider, psychic, manic-depressive and homeless.  What you don’t get is ‘efficient little cog in big corporate machine’, which is what I am, except for the efficient part.

On the other hand, the fact that there are a few people out there – that it is humanly possible to meet someone like me – gives me a lot of comfort.  There are so many days when I look around at the people I work with, or the parents at my kids’ school, or my neighbors, or whatever group and just think, “am I the only one thinking…(x,y,z)?” and I’m pretty sure I am.  And after awhile you start to feel weird and lonely because people look at you really funny when you tell them what you’re thinking. So I’ve learned to self-edit, especially when at work.  It is very unbecoming for a professional salesperson to say she could care less about the money and sometimes she tells her clients not to buy stuff from her, because she knows her competitor has a better widget.  These things are completely foreign concepts in the circles I travel in and they would likely get me fired or at least demoted. Some days I fantasize about getting fired. But then I cry inside knowing that if that happened, the bond between me and my favorite fabulous gay salesman Leonardo at Banana Republic might be broken forever.

So back in January I decided that I either had to go into therapy or get a life coach or I might go insane because I was born to change the world and so far all I’ve done is changed careers four times. And a lot of dirty diapers.

I thought if I went into therapy there was a good chance I might never get out, so I thought it was safest to try a life coach first. So I began the search for a life coach to tell me what I am supposed to do with my life and why I always feel like a fish out of water wherever I go.  You want to have a fun couple of weeks? Interview some life coaches.  Ones you find on the Internet and not through a referral because of course, you don’t associate with anybody who doesn’t double over laughing in amusement by the whole concept.

But it was awesome. Wow. Some life coaches have PhDs, or some sort of relevant training and some life coaches have an extra phone line and illusions of grandeur.  And honestly, a lot of the times you can’t tell which is which by talking to them.  Some are really great and some are train wrecks. But, to their credit, they are amusing train wrecks. Like the guy who I was interviewing that talked to me for a half hour about why he thinks his second wife left him. I had to interrupt him, “Hey, could I offer you some coaching? She just not that into you.”  After that moment of genius, it got me thinking that maybe I should be a life coach. I mean, if all you have to do to be a life coach is give people advice and help them solve their problems, then sign me up.  I clearly don’t have a great grasp of the world, but I know about people. I can read people. And like I said, my personality books tell me I’m well-suited to be a psychic as well. So who wouldn’t want a psychic life coach?  But, I’m an intellectual snob and as such, I can’t get behind waking up one day and calling myself a life coach.   So that is a whole other fun story, but the point is, I actually found a coaching situation in February and signed up for a year and it has, much to my delight and surprise, actually changed my life.

That said, the meaning of life hasn’t presented itself. And I’m still working for The Man. And a few months into it I was still feeling pretty alientated from the world.  My coach recommended that I do stuff that comes naturally to me, take inspired actions and go find my tribe.  She suggested that perhaps people in my tribe don’t hang out at my corporate entity.  Perhaps if I were really living the life I was born to live, it wouldn’t be as a corporate drone at a Fortune 100 company. It would be me, doing something else, surrounded by other people that teach and inspire and make me laugh everyday.

A concept I hadn’t thought of. One I wasn’t sure existed.

So what did I do after my third glass of wine one night? I started this blog.  People in real life laugh at my stories. And it turns out that when I’m at my best, I’m entertaining people with my stories, but they aren’t always of the ilk that are appreciated around the water cooler at work, or at dinner parties with parents from my kid’s school. So I decided to hell with it – what if I just wrote all my stories down and didn’t worry about what my coworkers or family or the world in general thought about it, and then maybe my tribe would find me. Maybe people who “get” me will enjoy what I write, and start reading it and I will have a community of people who I can entertain and who I “get” and who will teach and inspire and motivate me to be great.

And here you are.

Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for commenting on it. Thank you for following me. Thank you for writing your own blogs that are real. That teach and inspire and make me snort Diet Coke out my nose laughing and unable to read the screen through eyes full of tears. I think the vast majority of you know exactly what it’s like to need to blog as an outlet and tell your stories and write down your thoughts and be validated by other people. So we’ve found one another. Our tribe.  Lets keep blogging, keep reading about each other, keep commenting and validating one another and maybe we can keep each other from going postal or owning too many cats. Maybe we can be great together.

The time in Australia when I almost got murdered by drunk wild boar hunters, Part Deux

If you’re just joining me, I highly suggest reading Part I, because its important to grasp how fucking clueless I am before you go any further AND how I got myself into this awful mess in the first place.

Okay, so I left off where we were just leaving on our “Rainforest Outback Adventure” for three days, with a guide who was a 30 year old Crocodile Dundee/Steve Irwin type.  A true caricature of every Australian stereotype one could imagine, which is why we insisted on calling him Dundee the whole time.

After driving an hour or so, Dundee pulls off the road and we wind up in a field of sugar cane. Just a random field. And he takes out his machete and gives us some sugar cane to suck on. Don’t get me wrong. I fucking LOVE sugar and all sugar substitutes, and even high fructose corn syrup please don’t mention this to Dr. Oz or Oprah.  But eating sugar cane straight off the stalk was not the same as a blow pop.  Blow pops are way better.  It was kind of disappointing to eat sugar in its raw form, which is why I guess I’m such a big fan of highly processed food.

Anyway, we didn’t stay long, I assume because Dundee was stealing sugar cane for us and he wasn’t sure if the owner of the plantation was going to shoot us or not, so he told us to finish chewing our sugar cane and get back in the vehicle and mentally prepare for our upcoming hike into the rainforest. Fuck. Seriously? So soon into the trip? Shouldn’t we have lunch or something first? I have a way of telegraphing exactly what I’m feeling by my facial expression and Dundee saw the “how the hell did I get here and how do I get out of it” expression and laughed heartily. “I kin tail thays ah gyohweeng tuh bay thray lohng dayees fah yeh, Lowv.” (translation: I can tell these are going to be three long days for you, Love).  Okay, if I keep trying to write it phonetically it will take me 7 days, so I’ll leave it that.  But suffice to say, Dundee had my number from the beginning, and he didn’t like weak Americans with bad attitudes. Which is a shame since I can’t think of a sentence that describes me any better than that.

Anyway, so this guy goes off-roading with us into the rainforest and seems to pick an arbitrary place to park. And we get out in the midst of all these vines and plants and….nature….and I’m beside myself because all this stuff is touching me and there are bugs and it is kind of steamy and I just brought a pair of running shoes because I’m a just an exchange student who never planned to hike the rainforest. I was mostly planning on hanging out at bars since I could drink legally there. But Dundee didn’t want to hear excuses. He told us to take all our stuff and follow him in a single file line and not to go off the path because there was a lot of poisonous plants and animals that he was going to avoid for us. I raised my hand. “Um….where are we going and how long is this hike going to be and what are we having for lunch?” These seemed like solid questions.  He smiled and said “No worries, mates!” and just started hiking. Which didn’t answer any of my questions. I readied my inhaler and prepared for the worst.

After about 15 or 20 minutes of brisk hiking and being completely unable to see more than 10 or 15 feet ahead, I began to think that Dundee might be insane. And he was leading us all to our deaths. And nobody would even know we were kidnapped and dead until we didn’t come back to school in 10 days.  I wondered if he would just let us die by letting dingoes eat us or if he would hack us to pieces with his machete and feed us to his pet wallabies. As I pondered these deep thoughts about my own demise, suddenly there is a clearing and a huge waterfall flowing into this magical pond came into view. In the middle of the fucking rain forest. Like in a Jurassic Park movie, which is the only frame of reference I have for this sort of thing.  It was really stunning. Just absolutely beautiful.  I checked my bag for my camera and when I finally found it and got it out to take a picture, I noticed something moving in the lower right hand corner of the viewfinder.  It was Dundee.  In a Speedo. With an Australian flag design. Oh Christ.  Yes. Our tour guide. In nothing but a patriotic Speedo, diving into a waterfall. Ummm?!  The man was able to strip down and dive in within 3 minutes of getting there. I’m feeling rather awkward. First, because men in Speedos are ALWAYS WRONG. But secondly and most disturbing, he rocked it. I mean, he looked pretty fine in it.  I had a flutter. Or a few. God, that is so wrong……. But I digress.  Does he expect us to just watch him swim there? Because I totally will. Did we bring water? I’m suddenly thirsty…

He suggests we join him.  I look around for the dressing room, but we are in the middle of a rainforest with weird animals and deadly vegetation and no other humans or vehicles anywhere nearby.  Surely, he doesn’t mean that we are to strip down on these rocks in front of everybody and just jump in, naked? YEEEESSSS. Yes, he does.  Perhaps a group orgy would be a great ice breaker.  Okay, so I’m pretty sure getting naked with the tour guide was not included in the brochure. If it had been, I would have paid more attention to the pictures and I sure as hell wouldn’t have gone with the guys I went with.

But anyway,  I’m pretty sure the guys and girls I did go with are not the types who are just going to rip their clothes off in front of everybody and just jum—–the guys we came with cannon-balled into the pond.  The old British couple were totally on board as well.  Um…what the fuck?  They’re like 65ish and just going in naked. Bullocks!! Who knew those Brits were so crazy? Okay, so part of me is saying, “Well, if those old people are doing it When in Cairns….” and the other part of me is saying, “The water is probably freezing cold and there are probably big fucking poisonous snakes or crocs in there and anyway all those pints haven’t done much for your thighs, and if you aren’t wearing a Wonderbra, then they may think you’re  guy trying to pretend you’re a girl like the opposite of that “Boys Don’t Cry” movie and they might get all weirded out and try to kill you and things are going to get totally “Lord of the Flies” in a big fucking hurry.”

I really, really didn’t want to get in, but I think my friends were talking me into it and I decided I’d change into my bikini, just to be social. No way I was going in there without a bottle of wine and my Wonderbra bikini by my side. So I did it.  I was proud of myself. Because as a general rule, I don’t swim. I don’t put my head underwater, EVER. I mean, I know how to do that stuff, but I prefer not to ever since Ricky G. held me underwater at the community pool until I almost drowned. Yep. And swimming is a form of moderate exercise, which as I said before, I’m not that into.  Me exerting myself, especially me exerting myself ensconced in water, is unheard of.  But peer pressure can be a good thing and I wound up taking a dip in the most glorious little place on earth. It was actually really pretty cool….But I’d be lying if I told you that blissful feeling lasted longer than 6.1 minutes.  Thats all it took for me to realize I might be in paradise, but paradise was cold. And I couldn’t feel nor touch the bottom, so for all I knew, there were 8 foot piranhas lurking or something even worse. And even though Dundee was hotness, I wasn’t going to let some fucking Loch Ness eat me or some huge mutant leech affix itself to my tasty ass. That’s also when Dundee mentioned something about some sort of insect we should try to avoid. Yup. Thanks. I’m gone.  So I got out, put on my clothes over my soaking we bikini and prepared to keep trudging along for the day.

It was really awesome. To be all steamy and wet with waterfall scum and my shorts chafing the skin on my thighs as I traipsed through dangerous trails and avoided poisonous things everywhere and stopping every five minutes or so Dundee could make sure there were no wild animals tracking us. Really awesome.  So awesome that I don’t remember what happened until we finally made it back to the vehicle and Dundee announced we were going to a hostel to spend the night. Well, thank God we weren’t pitching a tent and sleeping outside.  I felt so grateful at least there was a bed and a shower and even alcoholic beverages in the near future.  That night we sat in the big living room and told stories and drank. Dundee fondled his machete throughout.  When we were ready to turn in, Dundee told us to make sure to shower, because that was the last time we’d have the chance before he brought us back to Cairns TWO DAYS FROM NOW. He took special care right then to look at me right in my terrified, deer-in-the-headlight eyes and smile with pure glee.  Ah, FUCK. Really???! How on earth did I get here?

…I need another glass of wine now.  Next post, I swear I’ll get to the hunters trying to kill us part. Promise.

Click here for the finale

High School Reunion

Facebook has enabled a lot of different things, like keeping in touch with friends, stalking old flames, trash talking family, annoying people with your status and passively aggressively handling random friend requests, but I think the thing that is most fascinating and horrifying at the same time is the way it makes the whole high school reunion thing so much more accessible and easy to plan.

Seriously, what is the point of having a reunion now that we have Facebook? I’ve already seen whether so-and-so is married or has kids and have rated both spouse and kids on my adorability scale.  I kind of know what they do for a living, but more importantly, I know what they do every single day – in excruciating detail — and I’m over it.  And YET – people are still planning the old-fashioned high school reunion – the ones where you have to go to some gym somewhere and try to look at least as good or better than you did 10 or 20 years before, while regaling people with all of the awesomeness your life has been since high school.  (Which, by the way, is easy for me since my high school experience and awesomeness were mutually exclusive.*)

Before Facebook, I always felt that nobody could pay me to go back for a high school reunion, because of these very solid reasons:

a) My class had about 800 people in it. I only knew the names of about 200 of them and I only remain in close contact with 2 of them, so the odds of me running into someone I’d be truly happy to see are approximately  2 in 800. No, I take that back. The 2 people I know would not be there, so its 0/800.  Not good odds.

b) There is nothing I abhor more than having forced, awkward conversations with strangers, which is exactly how I imagine a reunion going down.

c) In order to cope with a. and b., I would require a blood alcohol level of at least 0.10 upon walking in, but by then I would be in the state where I tell everybody exactly what I think of them. Which, sometimes works out great, but mostly doesn’t.

d) Upon leaving, I would probably blow a 0.12 or 0.14, meaning I would have blacked out around the first conversation I started and not have remembered a damn thing for the rest of the night, and would only wonder the next day how much of an ass I made of myself and to whom.  There would probably be pictures. And they would be on Facebook, and I would feel as awkward and lame as I did every damn day I was actually in high school.

e) I have no vendettas against anyone, so I can’t go hoping to tell them off and flash some bling and tell them how great my life is and hope theirs sucks. I honestly don’t really care about what happened to people — not in a mean way — I hope they have good lives, but it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference to me either way. And I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual.

f) Okay, fine. If I were Oprah, I would totally go. But only if I got to fly in on my helicopter. And my dogs were invited. Then I would go. But see, I’m not Oprah. So…

So I hope I’ve made a pretty good case for why I just blew off my 15 year reunion last month.  Some kid in our class decided to plan one, via Facebook,  at a park that was supposed to be kind of informal.  Show up at a park anywhere from noon to seven. Bring your own food and beer.  No guidance on whether to bring kids/spouses, etc.  Just show up.  The little Facebook invitation let me reply that “maybe” I would go. I live nearby, so going wouldn’t have required traveling or reservations or even directions.  But I have principles. And for the reasons stated above, I would never go to a reunion, the same way I will never get bangs again.

BUT, Facebook has mellowed me a little bit. People were a lot scarier and meaner at 15 than they seem to be today. And if I’m being honest, I did briefly think about breaking my rule and I did suggest to one of my two high school friends that we might want to go.  She was very non-committal. Then I think she said she had to go the Farmer’s Market or some lame excuse that day – which I can understand. So I took that as a “no” for me going with someone to the reunion, which meant if I went,  it would be just me, by myself. It wasn’t looking good for the reunion.

But there was a part of me that tried to psyche myself up for the thing:  “if you do this, then you’re showing you have matured since high school.  We’re all supposed to be adults now. I’m sure there are plenty of fake nice people you forgot about for a good reason who will be very pleasant to have an awkward, unnecessarily long conversation with. You could talk about your family nobody cares about except you, or your job you hate, or your blog you haven’t told anyone about, or how much you hated the good old days of high school.” That wasn’t very effective, so I tried a different tack with myself: “Look, just finish off a half bottle of wine beforehand. That’ll take you what? Six minutes? How bad would it be?” To which my mind replied to itself, “HOW BAD COULD IT BE?! It could be a fucking nightmare! Are you kidding me? What if I show up and I know absolutely nobody? And nobody knows me?” To that, my optimistic side said, “If that happens, you could just pretend you’re just a random person holding a half-drunk bottle of wine in a paper bag that happened to be in the park and then call BD to turn the car around and come pick you up. No damage done.”  The retort: “Hmm. No. Fuck no.”

So I didn’t go. Because I have PRINCIPLES and I made an important promise to myself at my high school graduation that I would never forget what a bad idea it would be to come to a reunion one day.  And I kept that promise to myself , which I guess just shows the depth of my character and strength of my willpower.  I proved that I learned my lesson the time I broke the 1990 rule about never getting bangs again. I was able to remember back to the pain and suffering of Bad Decision 2003:  “Agreeing with Hairdresser that Bangs Might Look Cool.” I paid dearly for that one. Dearly.  So at the end of the day, I had integrity. I was totally not a pussy for not going. I’M NOT. I mean, I wasn’t!! Really.

And anyway, I think it must have turned out incredibly lame because not a single high school Facebook friend posted a status or pictures from this great reunion, so I’m assuming they are all pussies exactly like me and didn’t go, or they did go and then had their spouse or their mom that they still live with pick them up 5 minutes later, or they went and they didn’t really feel like posting a status about going to a high school reunion that sucked balls. That is what I tell myself. I guess I can put this all behind me, until some asshole on Facebook decides to plan a 16 year reunion. Which will be awesome.

* I have decided to unearth my highschool journals so that I may retell some of my story in future posts. I have no doubt they will cause many to pee their pants and/or snort at the sort of shit that I got myself into.  Sometimes even I forget why I hated high school, but I’m sure I will find very compelling arguments in those pages. Just have to tear apart the house first…