Posted in Life

Dirty Girls

I hope I didn’t mislead you with the title…okay, okay, I intentionally misled you with the title, selfishly hoping you would think this blog was about something sexy, when really, it’s about actual dirt. Or mud, to be more precise. I mean, you could, conceivably, find something sexy about mud, I guess. It takes all types of people (freaks) to make the world go ’round, as they say.

So, yeah. Saturday, I ran (please understand that when I say “ran”, I really mean “jogged”, “walked” and towards the end “trudged” and “limped”) an  obstacle course called the Mud Run. It says it is 5 miles, on the website. In the information packet they emailed me, it says “approximately 5 miles”, which I optimistically took to mean less than five miles. Somewhere within the first quarter mile, I was informed by my teammate that it was actually 6 miles. I’m glad she told me AFTER  the race had started.

I realize that it is now Tuesday. I would have written about it sooner, only I have been basically crippled since about five minutes after completing the event. The simple act of sitting down on the toilet has become a very painful process. My pelvic area is not doing so well- the only other time it felt like this, I was minutes away from giving birth. I’m not sure if this is normal or not, but I feel reassured by a conversation I had this morning with my sister-in-law, Andrea ( the other senior citizen on our otherwise 20 something team ), who apparently only today was able to get out of bed. Yep, since the minute the adrenaline from actually completing the race wore off, I have been a little bit sore. I make a lot of noise when I stand up, sit down, move or breathe. Other than that, I am totally fine.

In my defense, I only found out three weeks prior to the race that I was going to be on the team. My other sister-in-law broke her foot and got pregnant (not necessarily in that order) so she dropped out. If you have been reading my blogs, you know that I smoke. You know that I am rather chubby, presently. You may or may not know how sucky my exercise routine is- hell, I didn’t realize it until this! I knew it wasn’t great, but I had no idea I was in this bad of shape. So you may be asking yourself WHY a person with all these issues would have said YES when asked to participate. Here is my answer- I have no idea.

I guess because someone I love asked me to. And because I had wanted to do it when I first heard about it months and months ago (time I could have spent preparing for this thing) but I had not one friend able to commit to doing something with me. Yes, it does irritate me, thanks for asking. It looked like fun! I mean, it was called a “Fun Run”, so it had to be fun, right? Hmm…and also because I wanted to see if I could. I think the biggest reason behind why I was able to do it was this- I absolutely did not think about it at all, nor did I google it, mention it or allow myself to contemplate what I was undertaking at any time prior to last Saturday.

Well, except for that tiny little moment Saturday morning, while I was sitting on my porch with my book and my coffee, (yes, smoking) when out of nowhere I was utterly consumed with panic.

“What the HELL was I THINKING?!!” screamed me, in my head. “I can’t do this. No way. No way, no way, no way!” And that was that. There was no turning back now.

So, it was freezing cold. The shirt I had to wear was too small, but I will say this, it really accentuated my fat roll. There were a lot of people there that seemed very excited to be doing this, and to know what, exactly, it was that they were doing. I suppose I could have educated myself a little better about what was ahead of me. I was really running with the whole “ignorance is bliss” thing.

The first thing they made us do was group exercise, which included push-ups on gravel. I thought that was a little mean. Also, we had to do lunges, which for some reason, I don’t seem to be coordinated enough to do. I know, I know, it’s bending your KNEES, for heaven’s sake! This should give you some idea of what I was up against. Then, we all stood around for a minute, the starting gun went off, and we took off…sorta. What actually happened is we slowly started moving forward, a lot like the line for a roller-coaster at a busy theme park in July (if July was freezing). Little by little, space opened up around us as we moved along.

The first sign that this may not go well was when I wanted to die at the quarter mile mark. I didn’t say anything, but I was a little frightened. Then, we finally got to the first mud pit. I gotta admit, this was one of the highlights for me- where else, as a thirty six year old woman, do you get to dive into a giant mud puddle? I kinda wish I hadn’t ripped my knuckle off bashing it into the ground under all that mud, but oh well. Small price to pay. So there were several of those mud pits. There were some incidents with walls to be climbed over- you’d think a five foot wall would be no big deal, but when you’re climbing over it, it’s different. There were sand dunes and steep hills and six miles is really, really far to run. But I did it. We all did. And we weren’t even the last ones to finish. I have taken a few baths a day since the race to ease the pain in my muscles, and also to count the insane amount of bruises covering my poor body. But I would do it again, in a heartbeat. Just not for another few months, that’s all.

In closing, I would like to say this to my teammates: Andrea- Other than the fact that you made me swear on my life I’d walk with you, only to then get some demonic burst of energy and abandon me, I still love you and I’m so glad you asked me to come along. Jenny, I’m really sorry our fat asses held you back when you’ve been training like a champ for MONTHS now. I would like to point out that I had little notice, but even if I had, I probably still would’ve been a whiny little bitch. Darcie- we didn’t talk much, but you seem like a nice kid. I hope you aren’t pissed that you got saddled with my old, chatty ass. And Haley- I hope your knee feels okay, and that you got tons of sympathy tips at work that night! You deserve it!

Posted in Life, Uncategorized

Little Wonder

I know my topics bounce around a lot. I get a lot of ideas in my head throughout the day about what I want to write about, and the one that yells the loudest is the one that wins when I sit down here at my keyboard. Tonight, I want to take a few minutes to write about my littlest girl, Camryn.

I’m going to be really honest here (as if I am ever anything else) and tell you that, when I found out I was pregnant, I was not exactly thrilled. A year, almost to the day, prior to my last pregnancy, I had sat in the same bathroom, peed on the same (type of ) stick, and seen the same results. I was numb. I was definitely having the baby, but I wasn’t okay with it at all. It was a major blow, a big mistake, just not good. So when I went to the doctor due to some minor spotting just a few weeks in, and he told me that this baby inside me had no heartbeat, I was not at all prepared for the total, horrible grief that took a hold of me. I was devastated.

Fast forward a year. I wish I could put into words that odd, detached, yet somehow terrified feeling I got looking down at that little, all powerful, EPT. That’s “early pregnancy test” in case you somehow did not know that. The worst part was, it had looked like it was going to be negative. (I know, I know, they tell you to wait a certain amount of minutes before trying to read it. Show me ONE woman who does this.) It had done all the stuff it seemed like it was going to do, then slowly, sloooowly, that second line appeared.

I was scared. I was OLD. I mean, I know 35 is not really old, but in terms of having another baby, it kind of is. I had actually sort of convinced myself that I had “old eggs” and was in no danger of getting pregnant. I highly discourage this as a method of birth control. It has a few glitches. Anyway, so there it was.

Now I’m going to share with you something that will probably make you think I am totally nuts- if you don’t already. At no time during my entire pregnancy did I believe anything other than that this was the same baby. What I mean is, that baby that I had miscarried had come back, a year later, when it was a better, more feasible time for it to be born. I don’t know that I have ever shared that with anyone other than Devon, who is the other co-creator of this child. I really believed that, and I still do. I got a do-over. It was the right time.

I had a lot of the normal worries of pregnancy- will my baby be healthy, is everything alright in there, etc. I had some of the added worries of a later-in-life pregnancy- will my baby have Down’s Syndrome? Will my body be able to do this? And then I had some worries about things that women who have other children undoubtedly have- will my daughter (who was already 12 at the time) be okay with all of this? And the biggest question of all- How will I ever be able to love another kid the way I love this one?

The answer arrived in the form of Camryn Faith, on November 16th, 2010. It was a scary delivery. She had some problems with her umbilical cord, and every time I had a contraction, it became compressed, cutting off her oxygen. I listened as her heartbeat disappeared. So did the whole room full of doctors and nurses. I don’t know that I have ever felt so helpless before in my life. Finally, they wheeled me off to surgery (my very first one, ever) and not ten minutes later, I heard my little girls first cry in the world.

I’m pretty sure I had postpartum, this time around. Everything was harder for me than it had been the first time- of course, the first time, I had been 22, clueless, and the baby had come out via the normal and standard orifice rather than through a man-made one in my abdomen. It was hard. I think it was a good two weeks before I really started bonding with this perfect little girl. But once it started, look out.

I have had her for a while now, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to keep her. Sure, she likes her dad a little more than she likes me, but whatever. If I was a baby, I probably would, too. He’s more on her level (BURN! Ha!), not that I’m jealous or anything. I am such a better parent this time around than I was the first time. I have so much more sense, and so much more understanding of what it really means to be a mother. I am forming a human being here, that will someday go out into the world and be a grown up woman. I want to do this right.

Camryn is a blessing. Not just to us, here in this house, but to the people she meets. She is one of those happy, smiling, laughing kids that cheer people up. There are rarely times when she is fussy or unhappy- she wakes up with a smile on her face and goes to sleep the same way. She is above average smart, and I’m not just saying this because I am her mom- her doctor has verified this for me time and time again. She’s a toddler and she has an amazing sense of humor!

But Camryn is a blessing for even more important reasons than just being a ray of sunshine in a sometimes rotten world. She did something to my heart. I don’t know how to describe it other than this- because of her, my heart burst wide open, allowing me to love in a whole different way. Maybe I was just too young with Aisley, too selfish, still, but now I am so aware of how precious children really are. And every single one of us was a child at one time. See the implications, here? Every face on the planet is a face that has been loved by a mother, a father….every one of us have had a moment we don’t recall, where someone has watched us as we slept and loved us until their heart ached. Camryn has softened every hard part of me, and opened my eyes. She is my little wonder.

Posted in Life, Uncategorized

Amphetamines OR So You Want To Ruin Your Life

*Disclaimer* I am in no way endorsing the use of drugs. This is intended to be a joke. If you have no sense of humor, please, don’t read this. It’ll only piss you off.

I’ve talked about this in a roundabout fashion, here, before. I told you all that I, not so very long ago, was in the grip of a monstrous addiction. What I did not tell you was to what, and if I were a reader who didn’t know me, that would drive me crazy. I would want to know exactly what drug this writer was strung out on. So I’m just going to tell you (in case you didn’t figure it out already via the title) that my drug of choice was amphetamines. When you say it like that, it sounds so professional. If I were to be specific, methamphetamines were the type I preferred. But you know, we didn’t call it that, either. We just called it “shit”. Which, looking back, seems highly appropriate.

Have you ever entertained the idea of, perhaps, trying this drug at one time or another? Is there anything I can say to you to dissuade you? What if I told you I had strong evidence that there is really NOTHING good that could come of it…unless, of course…well, lets just run through this little list real quick. If any of these things sound good to you, then hey, what the heck. Be my guest.

1.) You’ve decided that you hate your teeth, and want to destroy them in the quickest, most painful way possible.

2.) You’ve decided that “skinny” just isn’t cutting it anymore- you want to go more for the “starving” look. I used to joke (sickly) that I was trying to get back to my original weight-8 pounds.

3.) You think it would be a lot of fun to spend four or five hours a day picking your face in a mirror and/or plucking your eyebrows…or both, even.

4.) You’ve decided that you love where you are in your life so much, be it adolescence or young adulthood, that you want to prolong it indefinitely. Your life may certainly change, but not for the better- however, you will find yourself, at whatever age you finally knock it off, the mental age you were when you started. You have missed the boat, sunshine. Now it’s catch up time.

5.) You want to see if staying awake for four or five days in a row really makes you hallucinate. It does. You can skip this one.

6.) You want to see if Meth is really as addictive as they say it is. It is. You can skip this one, too.

7.) You are tired of all your boring old dreams and aspirations. You want to destroy them and throw them all away.

8.) You have a real problem with arriving places on time. You can’t seem to ever be late, and it’s high time you started making people wait.

9.) You find that you just aren’t enjoying sex and have heard that meth will increase your sex drive. Yes, this works for some people. Unfortunately, you may not be quite as picky about WHO you are having that sex with, which could be a bit of a problem down the road. Also,  sober sex may be a little more…well, sober, but the risk of stroke is drastically reduced.

10.) You kind of like the way acne looks on you. (of course, I seem to be enjoying this look anyway, but at least now I have insurance and can go to the doctor to have it dealt with.)

11.) You have no desire whatsoever to have any financial, emotional or mental stability either now or in the foreseeable future.

12.) You look way too young and would really like to age yourself at least five years, preferably in the next 6 months or so.

13.) You are lonely and you want your phone to ring. So what if it is nothing but collection agencies. Anyway, you won’t have a phone for long, so enjoy it while you can.

14.) You want to distrust everyone you know and know that those feelings are reciprocated.

15.) You hate looking people in the eye, anyway.

Oh, I could go on and on and on. But I guess I won’t, because my mom reads this, and God knows I’ve put her through enough already. I highly encourage you to NOT choose to live your life the way I did for so very long. I am one of the very lucky, extremely blessed women who made it out intact. But, as they teach you in this little program I attend, all I have is a daily reprieve.

I am making a joke about it now because I can, and because I have learned that for me, laughter is therapeutic. If I didn’t laugh at how very poor my choices were, at all the mistakes I made, and how royally I screwed up…well, then I would just be sad, wouldn’t I?

I know some of my friends are going to read this…can you think of anything I could have added to the list? I really am interested in what you have to say.

Posted in Uncategorized

Happiness Is…

This is going to be an incredibly short blog, but I think it is important that I write this down. If for no other reason than for myself to be able to look back at it sometime, as a reminder.

I get so incredibly overwhelmed by my life sometimes- with work, and my kids, my relationship, my writing, the puppy. Trying to fit in a minute to exercise, to read, a moment for myself. Trying to find a second to cook dinner, throw in some laundry, read to the baby. My life is so full of life that I don’t feel like I’m living at all (if that makes any sense to you at all, you have my sympathy.).

I get caught up in the “should” thing, a lot. I should be more organized. I should be doing this instead of that. I should be more like this, less like this, better at one thing, not so concerned with another. 

It seems like it requires an awful lot of things going a particular way for me to be okay. If I focus too hard on why I’m feeling good at any given moment, my brain automatically comes up with ten reasons I should really be worried. I don’t know why I am like this, but I doubt I’m the only one. 

But you know, sometimes, what is really needed is a little perspective, and maybe a gentle foot on the brakes of life-obviously, you can’t just stop altogether. Lets be reasonable. However, for me, (and I have known this about myself for a very long time, but I forget it over and over again.) taking a walk-a good, long, brisk walk- can calm me down, every time. Without fail. If I leave my phone at home, it works even better.

If that’s not possible, and sometimes it’s just not, then taking a short break- five minutes on the front porch with that book, or- and I had to do this last weekend, my mood was so atrocious- when things are super sucky, I will literally get down on my knees and pray. My family already thinks I am some kind of religious freak (which I am SO not ) so I just shut the door and make it quick. I ask for a little help in letting go of my disastrous thoughts, and maybe a little kindness. It helps.

I want to be better than I am. I never want to stop wanting that, because there is always more we can be. I think it’s okay to strive for more. But it isn’t okay to beat yourself up for being who you are. And it’s not okay to get so caught up in looking ahead that you can’t love what is right here. 

I had a tough night tonight, a lot going on and not enough time, and I was frustrated and upset with my kids and my boyfriend for whatever reason you can think of. I was mad that the house was a mess, and I was mad at myself because I didn’t want to deal with it. I was wishing I was different and better and more right NOW. So I sat out on the porch for a minute with my book.

When I came back in, the first thing that hit me was the amazing smell- meatloaf and mashed potatoes I had made for dinner. The lights were already out in the hall and the kitchen, so the warm light from the laundry room and the sound of the TV made it feel so cozy. There were baby toys laying around, and the puppy was asleep on the floor. 

It looks just like a family lives here, is what I thought. I know how dumb that sounds. But it felt so warm and safe and normal, and I realized I have come far enough away from the mess my life once was to actually take this stuff for granted. How amazing is that? On the one hand, awful, but on the other, proof of just how far I have come.

So you see, once upon a time I would have given ANYTHING to be here. I would not have thought it was possible, no way. There is no logical path from where I was to where I am now. Still, here I am, always wanting to be some other place. 

I think tonight I am going to spend some time loving it right here. Goodnight!

Posted in Life

F***ing Girl Scout Cookies

It’s that time of year again…you can’t go anywhere without being accosted by them. Brownies. Girl Scouts. So cute, with their dimples and their little curls, perched behind their fold-out cardboard tables, running up to greet you as you exit Walmart, Safeway, wherever the hell you are. There is NOTHING you can do to avoid them, with their little hopeful eyes beaming up at you.

“Would you like to buy some cookies?” They chirp innocently, full of excitement.

Well of freaking COURSE I do, you little demon! Of course I want to buy all forty seven remaining boxes of your crack-like cookies- I want to take them home and dig little holes beneath my house to hide them away in so that I don’t have to share them with my children. I want to sit in my car and eat as many as I can without throwing up before I go in to greet my family, because I know as soon as their beady little eyes fall on that box, it’s all over. Bye- bye Samoas. See ya later, Tagalongs. It’s been real, Thin Mints.

Not that it matters. Because every single time I step outside my house, there they are- little tiny, sweet and perky, Girl Scouts. The future of female America. I mean, it’s practically un-American NOT to buy a box or twelve. It’s like spitting on the American flag when you dis a Brownie, man. You are effectively crushing the hopes and dreams, maybe destroying the heart, soul and drive of a girl who  dreamed of being PRESIDENT someday. That is, until you came along and ruined EVERYTHING. So just suck it up and pull out your wallet, asshole. This kid wants to spend the night in the San Francisco Zoo, and win an Ipad. (Actual prizes in this area. What happened to the shitty bikes and cheap rewards of my childhood? An IPAD? I want a do-over!)

I promised myself that this year, I would be strong. I would not cave in to the nonsense. I told myself- “Courtney, since joining the gym, you have managed to GAIN six pounds. You watch “Cupcake Wars” on the treadmill. Your relationship with food is not healthy enough to deal with Girl Scout cookies. Just say NO.”

Hmm. This didn’t work for the war on drugs, and it never worked on me, either. My boss, who has a beautiful and awesome little girl who also happens to be a Brownie, approached my desk. I steeled myself for the sales pitch, throwing my shoulders back, setting my jaw resolutely. The conversation went something like this:

“So, we’re selling Girl Scout cook-”

“How much are they? I’ll buy five boxes!” I swear to you, she never got to finish her sentence before I was writing a check. What is WRONG with me?

Fast forward a few weeks. I had been doing really well. I was eating better, feeling better, back on top of my game. I show up for work, and there, piled on my desk in lurid reds, yellows, and greens, are the devil’s obesity bait. “Come on…” they giggled, “you KNOW you wanna.”

“Just ONE.” I told myself, ripping open the tagalongs, those delicious peanut-buttery, chocolate cookie dream fantasies. I’m not really clear on what, exactly, happened next. All I know for sure is that, a few hours later, I felt tremendously ill. Like, Oh my God, I need to lay my head down on this mouse pad, NOW, -kind of bad. I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why I felt so sick. So, as I lay there, I rolled my eyes over towards the box, and realized I had eaten EIGHT cookies. EIGHT. I don’t even know how it happened.

“Good.” I thought, “That’ll cure me for the rest of cookie season.” Oh, how naive. Before the day was even over, pretty much the second my nausea dissipated, I was back at it again. I had foolishly set the box on the empty passenger seat on the way home, and wasted no time at all polishing off another…ok, three other, cookies. Which, looking back, I don’t feel so bad about now, since the other four boxes were just inhaled by my so called loved ones the second I walked through the front door.

So far this year, I have managed only twice to walk away from armed Girl Scouts. Once, outside of Walmart, and only because I had no cash (not that that excuse will work- they take checks, those devils.) and I was too cold to be stopped on my way to the car. The other time was at farmer’s market in downtown Monterey, and that time, I think I was still driving around with a box or two stashed in my car.

“Sorry!” I called, rushing past, “I’ve already bought a bunch this year!”

“Well, thank you for supporting Girl Scouts!” They answered, diabolically.

“And thank you for contributing to my impending obesity!” I hollered back. They actually had the nerve to LAUGH.

Other than that, though, all victories have been theirs. Today, I munched my way through one entire sleeve of Thin Mints. I left the other sitting on my desk, assuring myself of further feelings of self loathing tomorrow. My boss said- “We’ll be out of cookies by this weekend!”

All I can say to that is, Thank You, Jesus. Even my fat pants are getting a little snug.

Posted in Uncategorized

Settle Down, Yoga Clown

Hahaha, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to write about the yoga class I took today or the crazy little light-bulb-over-the- head realization I had about the phrase “settling down” today. Lucky you! I decided to throw ’em both in the mix.

First, let’s get this yoga thing out of the way…so, yeah, I took my first yoga class ever today. It was, and I do not exaggerate here, one of the best exercise classes I have ever taken in my life. Also, it is the first exercise class I have ever taken in my life, so that may have a little something to do with it.

The things I really, really liked about it were a) it incorporates spirituality in exercise, which is so up my alley. I am not the kind of girl who can sit around meditating (although one can always hope the day will come), but give me a bendy chick in funky clothes telling me to “hug the universe” and I am SO on board. I’m hugging away over here, man. b) This is a great class for a white chick with no rhythm. All you have to do is follow simple directions like: “cross your left ankle over your right foot.”  These are instructions I can handle! Also, the teacher doesn’t even really care WHAT you do, as long as it “feels good”. She gives you a few options, you do the one that works best for you.  The fact that I get to stay on the floor, seated, most of the time, also makes me feel a little less insecure. I know how hot Zumba is right now, but there is NO WAY I would be able to keep up. NO WAY. Plus, no offense to the die-hards out there, but it doesn’t usually look so great. But whatever, I’m just jealous ’cause I’m left out. 

The last thing I’m going to say about yoga is that it may be a little more deadly than it feels at the time, because my abs are pretty much killing me right now. I’ll keep you all posted, but I will definitely be doing that again. I left there feeling amazing and awesome. Yay!

Ok, so on to the other silly thing I wanted to talk about: Settling Down. This really could be a whole blog on it’s own, but I’m going to keep this short and sweet as I am feeling lazy and sleepy all of the sudden. 

I don’t know about you, but when I think of “settling down”, it’s right up there with the term “ball and chain”, that whole feeling of  oppression, depression, confinement…you know? But for some odd reason, today it occurred to me that it can be taken in a very literal way. It takes time, sometimes a really long time, for people to settle in with one another. My relationship is a perfect example of this- the first couple of years were complete insanity. Fighting and misbehaving, breaking up and making up…lots and lots of making up. Then, I don’t know when or how it happened, we just sort of settled into a routine, things fell into place, and we settled down. Like two kids who had worn themselves out. There are times when I miss all the craziness, I’m not going to lie. But it sure is nice to be with someone you know so well, who knows you the same way. And that’s all I’m going to write about that…for now.


Posted in Uncategorized

The Trials of Motherhood

If you know me at all in real life, you may have heard me express out loud (one or two million times) my aggravation with people who compare their dogs with children. It is no coincidence that the people who do this generally do not have actual children-I understand, yes, there is a great bond between a dog with whom you have lived and loved for many years and yourself. However, I will say here what I have often said to these “dog-moms” when they say “I have no kids…but I have two chihuahuas that are JUST like my babies.” 

If I left my daughter out in the yard all day with a bowl of water while I went to work, I would go to jail. If my daughter crapped on the floor and I rubbed her nose in it, that would be child abuse. And if I put my kid on a leash for a walk down the block…Wait. People actually DO that, don’t they? My GOD, that is creepy.

That being said, I have to tell you that. maybe I should have looked into dog ownership before I became a mom. Because this shit is hard. Last night, I had to take my oldest girl to the hospital because she had the WORST bloody nose I have EVER seen in my entire life. Why? Hmm…I am not sure whether to laugh or cry about this. The reason she had a bloody nose is because, in the midst of a heated argument about why I had decided not to buy her a new $250.00 smartphone, she got so upset and frustrated with me that words utterly failed her and she tried to blow a snot rocket at me.

I am not kidding you. I am trying to figure out how to explain to you what would have happened to me had I ever tried such a thing with my mother. All I can come up with is this- I probably would not be sitting here writing this right now as I would have suffered a horrible young death. If my mom hadn’t killed me, she certainly would have beat my ass. God, however, works in mysterious ways, and he must have known that this child needed a little shaking up, so he intervened on my behalf.

I have this new tactic that seems not to work very well, but having so few tools in my parenting arsenal, I do the best I can with what little I have. The tactic I am referring to here is what you might call “Calm and Detached.”. I figure it is better than getting down on her level and flipping completely out- except that, when I do this, it seems to make her even more insane. I’m not going to lie, there’s a small, awful part of me that enjoys seeing her buttons get pushed the way she ALWAYS pushes mine. So I was busy being calm and detached when the above mentioned snot-rocket was launched and all hell broke loose. I didn’t even look up from the magazine I was (pretending) reading.

“Mom! MOM! My nose is bleeding!”

“That’s what you get.” I told her.

“MOM! What’s HAPPENING!!??” Okay, so the level of panic in my usually not panicky kid did strike a chord in me as I glanced over. And HOLY SHIT. 

I have never, ever in my life seen blood shoot out of someones nose like that. Trust me, should you ever see blood pumping out of your child’s face, leaving puddles on the floor, you pretty much forget about whatever stupid thing they did to cause it twelve seconds earlier. I tried to stay calm, I really did. It didn’t work, though. I sort of remember yelling at Devon to “CALL 911!”, being mad when he refused, throwing Aisley in the car and rushing off to the hospital. She had blood on her shoes, her pants and her sweatshirt. She had blood covering her hands, her neck and her face. On the way there, she said “Mom, maybe you should drive faster, because I am really scared.” So I did. She’s really not a kid who gets too worried about much-not like me, who will go into blind panic. She stays pretty level headed about these things. On the way there, she started crying. I drove a little faster, still.

It takes about ten minutes to get from my house to the hospital, and by the time we drove into the parking lot, the bleeding had slowed down a lot. We thought about going home, but she said “Maybe my brain is bleeding- we should probably just go in.” And though I doubted it very much, there was a teensey part of me that thought “Well, you never know.”, so we went in.

I’m glad we did. For one, I needed the peace of mind that she was really okay, and so did she. Secondly, it was pretty hilarious making my tearful and blood covered child admit to the doctor exactly how she came to be in this sorry state. (“can I put this in the dictation?” he asked. “Oh, absolutely”, I replied, delighted.) But most importantly of all, because, weird as it sounds, I think we BOTH needed a little fear to shake us out of this funk we have been in. We’ve been living together with this hostility between us for so long, I think we’ve just gotten used to it. Seeing her so frightened and upset reminded me that whatever else is going on, she is still my little girl. I would die, I mean, seriously, I could not go on, if anything were to happen to her.

We came home in much better spirits. She cleaned herself up and actually made her sister a bottle. I could count on no hands the number of time that has happened.Earlier that night, as we sat in the waiting room, I had put my arm around her and tried to pull her close. I tried to tell her that I wouldn’t let anything bad happen to her. I could feel her resistance, and see how afraid she was, and I understood that we have turned a corner somewhere along the way- one where I can’t fix everything, nor can I make her feel safer by pretending that it’s true.

But I can tell you this- I would certainly try. No matter what else is going on in this crazy busy life of mine, if one of my kids needed me, I would be there, period. If all I can do is sit beside them and hold their hands, you better believe I will be sitting there, holding on. I may have to look real hard to see that child I love so much in that fourteen year old, but she is there. And I love her beyond reason. No matter how many snot rockets she’s got up her, er,…sleeve.

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What’s new with “ME”

So, it’s not as easy as I thought it would be to stick to my guns and persevere with my original intent- to try to indulge myself a little bit, try some new stuff, feel better. What has happened is that I have really been paying attention to the way I feel, more, and what those things are that make me feel excellent.

So far, this is what I have learned: If I can’t relax or I am not feeling well, it doesn’t matter what treats I am giving to myself, I am not going to enjoy them.

When my house is a wreck, I am not going to feel good about anything.

When I am overweight, it doesn’t matter how great my eyebrows look, my face will still be chubby.

My feet stay remarkably slender no matter what is happening higher up, so it’s a good idea to take care of my toes.

I like my hair better long- it’s easier to deal with, more feminine (for me) and suits me. I’m not sorry I cut it all off, but I do want to grow it back.

Those are a few of the things I have figured out in the past month, the simpler ones…some others, that have surprised me a little are:

Having a puppy is a great way to keep yourself grounded in the present. When you walk a little baby dog around, they want to stop and sniff everything- so you become very aware of your surroundings, and you see things more clearly than you might if you were just rushing by, on your way to somewhere else. I like this very much.

Prayer is a good thing- I knew that already. Prayer in a big room full of other people praying is a great thing. Going to church is a relatively new thing for me, and I am just blown away by how important it is becoming to me. I love the idea of a room full of other people like me, wanting to be more, wanting to know God better, wanting to have faith. I’m not naive enough to think that all those people have the same motives for being there, or that they are all great people, even…but it is touching, all the same.

If you pay attention, your body will tell you exactly what you should, or more specifically, what you SHOULD NOT put in it. Yesterday afternoon, while waiting for my kid and her friend at the mall, I ate a magnificent piece of pizza with tomatoes and big globs of ricotta cheese all over it. It was so yummy. About an hour later, my mood took a dive and my stomach started growling and feeling all bloaty and gross. Apparently, this was not warning enough for me, so for dinner, I ate a little bit of steak and some garlic bread and a tiny, insignificant amount of salad. I was awake at two o’clock this morning with the WORST stomach ache ever, and no on but myself to blame. Guess how often this happens when I eat, say, chicken or salmon or a veggie burger, even? If you guessed never, you were right. I am not fifteen anymore, no matter what my brain tells me, and if I want to eat crap, I better be willing to pay the price.

The most interesting thing of all, though, is this- exercise seems to be the biggest, best, most wonderful thing I can do for myself. I have been walking a lot, every day, actually, and it never fails that when I get home, after the initial sweating and panting has ended, I feel fantastic. My mood is great, my energy level is great, and it lasts a good long time. Also, I am actually losing weight, as well, which doesn’t hurt my mood any.

So this is what is new and happening on my little journey now. I will keep you all updated as I add new things to my repertoire…I am going to take a new exercise class or two this week with a girl from work, which should be super interesting as I am incapable of crossing an empty room without injuring myself, so…stay tuned!

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Real love, Really

I don’t pretend to be an expert about anything- as a matter of fact, all those old sayings about knowing less the older you get ring disturbingly true for me. Disturbing because I remember being younger and thinking “Well, that’s a bunch of crap.” Because, of course, things were extremely clear to me, then. I had opinions about LOTS of things, and it was super easy to make up my mind about other people and the way they ran their lives- why not? There was a right way, there was a wrong way. It was black and white, good or bad, a should and a should not, and that was that.

Of course, that was before I had ever been forced to make any hard decisions of my own. Before life really got it’s hooks into me and swept me fast and far out into it’s turbulent sea…I thought lot’s of things, before that. Some of those things include, but are not limited to: Abortion is wrong, period, end of story. Anyone on welfare is a low life, no exceptions. All drug addicts are hopeless, worthless, lost causes who will rob you blind. Those are the biggys that come immediately to mind, but there are others, lots and lots of them. I believed that stuff with all of my heart until the day came, and it unfailingly has- with ALL the things I have been so sure about, that I had to stand in those shoes and face the reality of that situation. Every single one of them.

I thought I had an idea about what love was, back then, too. Looking back, I could not tell you why I did, since there are clearly no honest examples of it. I had lots and lots (and LOTS, shut up.) of boyfriends…we said we loved each other. So we must have, right? EH. I mean, I can’t speak for them, of course, which makes me feel bad about what I’m going to say next- I don’t think I had a clue how to love somebody, or what love really was. Sure, I was great at the unrequited love affair with the unattainable boys- sometimes these affairs went on for long, long periods of miserable time. I poured so much energy and devotion and imagination (and basically the entire decade of my twenties plus the bulk of my teen years) into these “relationships”, I never had a chance to try out a real one. Honestly, though, with the amount of drugs I was using, there was no chance of any love surviving under my care, anyway. I doubt I could have been around a normal, healthy person without breaking out in hives and cold sweats in fear of being found out. Not, you know, that they couldn’t have just looked at me and figured it out. I thought I was pretty sneaky, but looking back, not so much.

So, I got to be thirty, my life improved drastically, and I met somebody. He’s not the somebody I’m with now, but he was somebody important because he is the one who kind of gave me an idea of how to behave myself in a relationship. I didn’t really know you could be with someone, have a fight, and then stay together. I didn’t know you could get mad without exchanging phrases such as “You stupid bitch.” and “You dumb mother-f-” Well, you get the idea. He sort of initiated me into the world of decency and respect one can have if you both work really hard at it and blah, blah, blah…so when we broke up (on good terms and as friends) I REALLY thought I knew how to do this thing.

Then I met Devon. Oh my gosh, Devon. I figured he was just my rebound relationship. I’m pretty sure he just wanted to get laid (what, do I have like, a SIGN on my back that says “easy”?!). Fast forward four years, three houses, two cars and a baby later…but I’m jumping ahead. Every single thing I thought I knew about relationships has been erased. Every single thing I swore I never would put up with has been challenged. We have done things, said things, behaved in ways I would not have believed possible for me to tolerate had I not lived it. Without getting too specific, I think it’s safe to say we have really broken each other down, in every conceivable manner.

Why did we stay together? I have no idea. We certainly tried to leave each other, on many occasions. When one of us gave up, the other one held on for dear life, and we took turns. I’m not saying it was the best way to keep a relationship together, I’m not saying it was smart, I’m not saying anything other than- this is how it was for us. I do know this one thing- I tend not to question the relationships of others anymore. He did WHAT? And you’re STAYING? Yep, I get it. You’re willing to risk EVERYTHING for HIM? Yeah, I totally get it. She hurt you this much, and you are STILL gonna go back for more? I understand. Because sometimes, it’s worth it.

I saw a quote recently, I think it was credited to Mother Theresa, and it said something like “When you are busy judging people, you have no time left to love them.” I spent SO much time judging Devon for so long, so much time acting like I was better than him…I’m ashamed of that, now. Of course, I’m not making excuses for the stuff he is responsible for, I’m just saying it’s pretty hard to grow something loving between two people in an atmosphere of less-than, better than, you know? I can be so harsh and mean, sometimes, and I saw what I wanted to see. It’s been a rough, rough road. I was way too busy judging instead of loving.

Today, I understand that you can’t fit love into a comfortable definition. It doesn’t work like that. The one thing I am pretty sure of is that really loving someone means knowing them well, and accepting them in spite of it. Lets be real-we are all big, flawed messes. I am incredibly hard to live with- I’m moody and messy and unpredictable. I require more attention than the baby and the puppy put together sometimes…last night, for instance, I was in a really goofy mood. Devon was trying, after a long day of work followed by a long night at a birthday party for a one year old, to get a load of laundry done. Our laundry room is very small, but I had wedged myself in there with him and was pestering him about this, that, and the other thing. Finally, he sighed and looked at me. “Do you need some attention right now, Courtney?” He asked. “Yes.” I told him honestly. He gave me a big hug and I said “Thank you for understanding me and loving me anyway.”

If I had left him or he had left me over one of the many very good reasons we had for doing just that in the past, I would have missed out on so much. I would have missed out on that little moment last night, and millions of other little moments just like it- and that’s just the little stuff. I would have missed out on the big moments, too- how he held my hand when I was taken in for my emergency c-section, and how he was looking me right in the eye the first time we ever heard our baby’s voice in this world, the way we both cried. If I was still spending all of my time finding fault with him instead of forgiveness, I would not have been able to see how hard he works to make our lives better. If something needs to be done, he just does it, he never complains or even points it out. Unlike me, he doesn’t seem to need a letter of congratulations every time he mends a fence or washes a dish. I admire that.

Most importantly, though, I would have missed seeing him become one of the most fabulous fathers I have ever seen. He is absolutely my partner in this, and I don’t know what I would do without him. Had I thrown in the towel because what we had did not fit my idea of what love is supposed to be, my life would not be what it is today, and I would not be able to tell you that this, this thing I have in front of me, right here. This is everything I ever wanted in my life. Warts and all.

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Dear Glamour Magazine

Dear Glamour Magazine:

I have been a subscriber to you off and on for the last fourteen years. It has come to my attention recently that you and I have nothing in common anymore, much like a friendship you outgrow over time. The main difference being, of course, that you and I were never really friends- you were always more like that super put together chick with the great skin and ridiculous figure I would run into at seven eleven when I had last nights make up under my eyes and chocolate smears on my sweat pants.  Yeah, that’s pretty much how you made me feel, like you were smiling politely to my face but the minute I shut your cover, you were whispering to all your anorexic super model friends “Did you see what she was wearing? I mean, seriously, why even BOTHER?

I understand you are supposed to be chock full ‘o tips to really benefit a certain type of woman’s life. My question to you is- where the hell are these women? WHO are they? Because I have been around a while, met all kinds of girls, and I just don’t seem to know ANY women who could apply your information to their actual real lives. Maybe I’m way off here, maybe there are secret little pockets of women in L.A, New York, New Jersey, even, who are pickin’ up what you are layin’ down, but I don’t know…Anyway, I am not really here to dis on your mag. It’s not your problem that even as a svelte and perky twenty two year old, scanning your pages gave me an inferiority complex. It’s not your fault that you made me question the relevancy of my life to the “real” world at the peak of my cuteness…really, it’s not.

I get that, at 36, I am no longer really your target demographic any longer. That ship has long ago sailed, I know. So I was hoping that maybe, in addition to discontinuing my current subscription ( I am too old, and my fourteen year old does NOT need to know the “Ten Things Guys Really Want In Bed” quite yet ) you might be able to steer me towards a more age appropriate periodical. I’m not so far gone that I don’t feel a little cringe of lameness at the sight of “Women’s Day” in my bathroom rack, and “Self”, though good, makes me feel a bit too pressured. There’s got to be something in between hot young diva and family van driving middle aged asexual in mom jeans, right?

I noticed on the cover of this months issue, along with a picture of a girl I have never seen before in my life, there is a tip for “Sexy Hair Ideas”. I have nothing against sexy hair, for sure, but the kind of magazine I need would have an article along the lines of “How to make it look like you brushed your hair when you can’t find your hairbrush and you have twelve minutes to get to work on time or else you are going to get written up.” Do you have any ideas? I see you also have, in your table of contents, “Edgy new hair you CAN pull off now!” No offense, but any hairdo I have to be cheer-led into does not bode well for real life. I still haven’t really figured out how to correctly use a blow dryer, for God’s sake.

I don’t want a model-turned-actress with seven foot long legs explaining to me how to “go naughtily nautical!” this year. Not only do I not know how those two things go together outside of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, but I feel that you guys must really be running out of ideas. I don’t care how to take something from the runway to real life. I don’t feel the need to emulate a celebrity and I don’t feel a pressing need to know what’s hot this spring- if I did, I’d just take a stroll through Forever 21 with my daughter. It’s a lot of fun to see what passes for a large these days, anyway, and as an added bonus, the music is so loud in there that we can’t hear each other at all. Keeps the fighting to a minimum.

I’d like to address for a second the billions of ads in between articles, the cosmetics and perfume and clothes- items which I can actually probably afford now, but ironically, can’t buy. Why? Because they promptly disappear into the abyss of my teenagers room and although I certainly deserve to wear forty dollar lip gloss that stays on for three days and prevents lip cellulite, she does not. The truth is, I’d probably lose it anyway, then blame her for taking it- I’m the woman who can’t find her hairbrush, remember? I guess if I would have listened to your advice back in the nineties about why dating guys from metal bands is a no-no, or the top five reasons it’s okay to carry a condom in your purse, I wouldn’t be searching for my mascara and stiletto’s (I wasn’t going to wear them, I just didn’t want her to.) in the pit that passes for my kid’s room.

So, I hope you don’t take this the wrong way- just because your magazine seems to be filled with information suited only for a make-believe world, look at how well you are doing! What’s one less subscriber, really? There are droves of fifteen year old girls out there just dying to invest in all your gloss and fluff and calorie free goodness. The truth is, the most fun thing I can think of to do in bed these days is SLEEP- because I’ve already done the 57 coolest things you can do with a penis, I know where my g-spot is (or where it’s supposed to be, anyway) and quite frankly, there is more to freaking life, people.