I should have done this when I was 16

I used to watch 16 and Pregnant and be all judge-y like, “Oh my god! Those girls are so dumb. I’m so much smarter than them.” Then I was 39 and pregnant and suddenly I was like, “Oh my god! I really should have done this shit when I was 16.”

Sure I’ve seen Juno, Mom at Sixteen and the Maury Show. And I’ve heard all of Dr. Phil’s ramblings about how teenage pregnancy ruins lives and babies shouldn’t have babies and blah, blah, blah…

But I bet Dr. Phil never schlepped his pregnant 30-something ass to work in New York City every day with crippling sciatica pain only to get pummeled on the way home by a bunch of perky twenty-somethings raving about their awesome new jobs. Shit! If I did this when I was 16, my kids might actually be those twenty-somethings and I could slap them for calling me “Ma’am” and for being so nauseatingly full of hope.

After two pregnancies, my 16-year-old body would have definitely bounced back and the dream of one day posing for the cover of Vanity Fair would still be alive. At 39, I’m more likely to land a topless centerfold in National Geographic’s Nursing Mothers of the Amazon edition.

When I was 16 I actually enjoyed staying up all night. The bags under my eyes were a badge of honor that screamed, “I defy authority by driving around all night and sharing a pack of Capri cigarettes with my friends.” Now they just scream, “Bitch, call a doctor!”

They say teen moms put the burden on their own moms to help raise the baby. Awesome! So do I. Except if I were 16 she wouldn’t have to travel an hour each way to do it because I’d already be living in her basement. It would also be totally acceptable for me to dump them on her and go out partying every weekend because, duh, I’m 16. I’m expected to be irresponsible. Now when I do it, I’m just that lady at the bar that makes the 21 year olds look at each other and say, “Ew, if I’m still hanging out here when I’m her age with two kids shoot me.”

When I was 16 I didn’t have a mortgage, car payments, grocery bills, property taxes or a six-cup a day coffee habit to support. Dinner was made for me every night, my laundry was folded, I always had two shaved legs and I was home by 3 every day. I could have easily raised a baby under those conditions. And so what if my Algebra grades suffered. They were at death’s door anyway.

Sure teenage pregnancy is an epidemic that is ruining our youth but when you’re almost 40 with a human squatting in your uterus and you can’t drink wine or use high-powered wrinkle cream for nine months, the benefits really begin to shine. Besides, babies should have babies. Let’s see how they like it.

Of course, this is great advice for everyone except my two daughters, Charley and Alex.

Girls,
Teenage pregnancy is a really terrible idea, just ask Dr. Phil. Plus, by the time you are 16, I’ll be way too old to raise anymore babies and I plan on using my golden years to shave my other leg, finally get past the first six minutes of Stranger Things, and maybe even get a chance to sleep like a baby. (Or more like an old drunk guy or a dog because babies don’t sleep.)

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Brownies make terrible nursing pads

I sent my husband, Tom, to the store for nursing pads and he came home with brownies instead.

If you don’t know what nursing pads are because you’ve never milked yourself after birthing a baby, or you’re my husband, they’re absorbent pads that women stuff into their bra to keep their lactating breasts from squirting passersby in the eye—kinda like maxi pads for boobs. That’s why, when I ran out, I chopped a panty liner in half and stuffed it in my bra. It was brilliant. Until I realized, Ew…there’s a maxi pad stuck to my boob.

So I sent Tom to the store for nursing pads. It was the least he could do given that I had just spent nine months creating life—like god. Yes, god! Tom isn’t god. Not unless god created man, three tons of dirty drawers and a pile of beard trimmings in my sink.

The whole thing made me wonder how “nursing pads” could have possibly translated to “brownies.” Maybe…

  1. The label on the brownie box said “Goes great with milk.”
  2. In his mind, “Get nursing pads,” was code for, “You know what really gets me hot? Stuffing my nursing bra with a dozen store made brownies.”
  3. It was a simple miscommunication because “Get nursing pads” clearly sounds like “I could really go for some double chocolate fudge brownies.”
  4. “Nursing pad,” reminded him of his bachelor pad where I imagine he spent countless hours eating brownies and watching Wings reruns while he waited for me to walk into his life.
  5. He’s fat.

A few days later I sent him to the store for diapers and he came home with hot fudge sundaes instead. And suddenly, I had my answer. He was indirectly calling me fat! Holy shit! (I can say that now because, you know, I’m god.) So I told him it wasn’t cool to call god fat and that’s when he called me irrational.

Can you believe it? All I did was ask for nursing pads and he called me a crazy, fat bitch. What a dick!

He’s lucky those brownies were so delicious. And the sundaes weren’t bad either. (Though they could have used some peanut butter sauce.)

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Chapter 2: And That Was The First Time My Mother Stuffed My Bra With Socks

If you have no idea what this is, read these chapters first: 

Introduction: I’m Writing A Blook. (But You Probably Think I’m Off To A Bad Start Since I Don’t Even Know How To Spell Book.) 

Chapter 1: My Childhood Summed Up Through a Bunch of Weird and Somewhat Offensive Shit I Was Told Before I was 12

***

Everyone handles divorce differently. Some kids blame themselves, some kids blame the world, but I’m almost positive that no kids fantasize about working in corporate America and blackmailing their chauvinistic boss to keep him from calling the police after accidentally trying to kill him. And if they do, most kids probably aren’t six when they do it.

In case you don’t know (because you were born in the 90s or you’re a straight man), I just described the plot to the 1980 women-empowerment movie, 9 to 5, starring Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. By the time I was 8, I had watched this movie over 100,000 times. I knew every single word and was fairly certain that one day I would have boobs as big as Dolly Parton’s.

My mother liked to tell herself that the only reason I liked it was because Bambi and Thumper were in it. But they only appear for five minutes to help Lily Tomlin poison her boss, then catapult him out of a 100-story skyscraper window, so even if that was true, I can’t imagine how that made my mom feel any better.

I think I related to it because, just like Lily, Dolly and Jane, my mother was also struggling to make it in a man’s world. And I watched that struggle every day. Only instead of losing promotions to men and being sexually harassed in the workplace, my mother was trying to raise me alone on a teacher’s salary which to this day is still pretty pathetic considering how important teachers are to society. And if you disagree, just remember that you wouldn’t even be able to read that statement to know that you disagree if a teacher never taught you how to read.

I think my dad was supposed to pay like $40 per week in child support, which by today’s standards would equal like $90 per week. That barely covers my peanut butter and chocolate habit. So I don’t know how any judge thought that was acceptable. Plus, I think he may have missed a lot of payments because I remember my mom writing a lot of letters to the judge. Then again, this was before social media and status updates so maybe she was just writing to see what his dog ate for lunch or how his colonoscopy went.

Whatever the case, my mother needed help so we moved in with my grandparents and stayed there for the next few years. To me, it was the most awesome thing in the world. My grandmother taught me how to play five-card draw poker and to not trust anyone because “people are out for themselves!” My grandfather was a little more open-minded. He taught me to respect other people’s opinions, to always pay my debts and that eating grapes in a grocery store while you’re shopping is definitely stealing—no matter what my grandmother said.

But for my mom, as a recently divorced 30-year-old, being forced to raise her daughter alone and move back in with her slightly overprotective parents who probably expected her to be home before the street lights came on, it was probably exhausting and even a bit degrading. And somehow, watching this struggle made it really easy for me to relate to three overworked, underappreciated women determined to exact revenge on the their sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical boss.

As a second-grader, I could recite the script to 9 to 5 with my eyes closed and I had written at least a dozen letters to Dolly Parton. I’m not exactly sure what I wrote, but I imagine there were a lot of questions about how to naturally increase breast size through proper nutrition. Of course, as a kid, it probably sounded more like “Dear Ms. Parton, How do I make my boobs grow real big like yours?” She never wrote back, which was probably a good thing because I imagine that an 80-pound seven-year- old with Dolly Parton boobs might have scared the other kids, or worse, would have given me some serious sciatica pain.

My mother handled my obsession with the movie and my boobs the best way she knew how. She mailed all of my letters, listened to me quote every scene and on Halloween of 1984, she gave me one of her fullest bras, stuffed each cup with three or four pairs of the thickest gym socks she could find, gave me a blonde wig, a skirt and a pair of cowboy boots and sent me off to parade around the playground as my hero, Dolly Parton. Spiderman and Strawberry Shortcake didn’t know what hit them! Actually, they might have. Those boobs were all over the place.

These days, the Twitterverse would be passing all sorts of grammatically incorrect judgment on my mother. But back then it was just something quirky the parents and other teachers laughed about at PTA meetings. And, ironically, the whole experience gave me my first real insight into a woman’s struggle. I spent the entire day fighting off pre-pubescent second grade boys who wanted to cop a feel of my new rack. So I did what any empowered woman would do. I used my boobs as ammunition. No, seriously. I reached into my bra, pulled out a balled up pair of sweat socks and whipped it at them as hard as I could. Dolly, Jane and Lily would have been so proud.

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In case you think I made up this story, here’s me and my boobs in my second grade Halloween parade.

(Check back for Chapter 3, coming sometime this year)

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Seriously, who let us get married?

Every relationship needs a yin and a yang, a salt and a pepper, an apple and an orange, a chocolate bar and a giant jar of peanut butter. It’s imperative that when one person screams, “There’s a murderous, meat-eating troll under our bed!” the other one has the sense to say, “Go the fuck to sleep!”

Sadly, Tom and I are both yangs. Not only does he not tell me to go the fuck to sleep but he also keeps a lead pipe on his side of the bed in case the troll attacks him first. Our family emergency plan includes running shoes and a promise from Tom that if a zombie bites me he’ll immediately shoot me in the head. I’m also pretty sure that the first time one of my daughters has an encounter with a monster in her closet we’ll be sleeping in a motel until I can convince an unsuspecting neighbor to risk his life to see if the coast is clear.

The other night was no different. We both jumped out of bed when we heard some crazy ass killer walking around our house, whistling. Yes whistling! I’ve heard bumps in the night, creaks, knocks and even the occasional groan or two when Tom overstuffs himself on beer and BBQ before he goes to bed. But whistling!? Clearly it was an axe murderer. Of course we had no visual proof of this because it’s impossible to see anything from under the covers, but a simple process of elimination was all we needed.

It wasn’t a ghost. Ghosts knock shit over, speak inaudibly through electronic devices and sometimes lay a nasty ghost fart when you least expect it. And it couldn’t have been a butcher-knife killer. They wait to sneak up on you mid-shampoo in the shower. No way was it a chainsaw killer. We would have heard him coming before he even got up the driveway (they really need a re-brand). It wasn’t a demon either. They’re like teenagers and slam doors and shout obnoxious things like “Get Out!” 

Nope. 

It had to be some happy-go-lucky, I-just-escaped-from-the-mental-institution-and-used-the-guard’s-face-to-break-the-glass-on-the-emergency-fire-system-to-get-this-axe, homicidal lunatic with some seriously badass whistling skills. (Plus, axe murderers always have songs. Just ask Lizzy Borden.) Then, suddenly, something occurred to me.

“The TV is on,” I said.

“Yeah, so? It’s always on,” Tom said. “Otherwise I’d be up all night listening to killers creeping around the house.”

“Right. But I don’t hear the whistling anymore. Maybe we should rewind the DVR a bit.”

He pulled it back about ten minutes, hit play and there it was—our axe-wielding whistling murderer was just some middle-aged dad running through a field, arms open, celebrating the fact that he finally found a yogurt brand that made him shit every day. In case it’s still not clear–it was a yogurt commercial.

Yup. Two yangs.

So if you’re dating someone and thinking of spending the rest of your life together, the next time you wake up in the middle of the night, try screaming, “Holy shit! There’s a murderous face-eating troll in the closet.” If the response isn’t, “Go the fuck to sleep,” or “Shut up,” or anything that makes any sense at all, run. Because the only thing scarier than being stalked by a homicidal maniac is spending eternity with big, ugly, puffy bags under your eyes because you and your life partner are too chicken shit to get a good night’s sleep. (And you’ll be cranky too.)

But if you insist on getting married anyway, be sure to trade the bread-maker and the salad bowl on your registry for a lead pipe and some eye cream. You’ll thank me later.

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Chapter 1: My Childhood Summed Up Through a Bunch of Weird and Somewhat Offensive Shit I Was Told Before I was 12

(If you have no idea what this is, read the previous chapter first: I’m Writing A Blook. (But You Probably Think I’m Off To A Bad Start Since I Don’t Even Know How To Spell Book.))

This list consists mostly of things that my grandmother or my mother told me. But if you ask my mother she will vehemently deny it and if you ask my grandmother, you’re probably a medium and that’s really awesome, but I bet she’ll still deny it. And if she doesn’t, she’s probably not really my grandmother and you should consult a priest as soon as possible because I’m pretty sure an evil entity is about to possess you.

Bleaching your mustache will make it invisible to the human eye.
I’m Italian but I’m like third or fourth generation Italian, which means that really I’m just an American with the ability to grow a freakishly awesome mustache, which wouldn’t be so bad if I owned a turkey farm or, you know, I was a guy.

By the time I was 10 I looked like Tom Selleck. And despite my grandmother’s best efforts, bleaching it did not make it invisible to the human eye. In fact, it made it glisten in the sun.

I’m not sure if she was trying to protect me from the pain of pouring hot wax on my face, or if we simply didn’t spend enough time outside together. Either way, I’d like to believe that she didn’t intentionally let me walk around looking like Magnum P.I. after he dipped his face in Sun-In.

Every time I mentioned waxing it, she’d wave her hand in the air, shoot cigarette smoke out of her nose and say, “It’ll grow in thicker!” Then coincidentally the Quaker Oats commercial would come on and I’d assume it was Wilfred Brimley’s mustache telling me to listen to my grandmother.

It wasn’t until a boy I liked asked me why my hair wasn’t as blonde as my mustache when I decided to risk it all. I started buying those at-home waxing kits that require a microwave, a popsicle-stick and an old sock. Though I’m pretty sure I didn’t read the directions because I can’t imagine any beauty product that would expect you to hot wax an old sock to your face. But that’s how I did it, every two weeks, until that one time when my mother found my sock and tossed it (probably because it was old and looked like a dead, balding rat). I ended up using a piece of gauze that I found at the bottom of the bathroom drawer. This was a terrible idea because it’s impossible to get gauze out of wax. For hours, hundreds of little three-inch threads clung to my lip and swung back and forth over my mouth. I looked like Confucius. By the time I chipped it all away, an allergic reaction formed under the wax and created a hivestache.

I probably should have listened to Wilfred Brimley’s mustache.

If your boobs itch it means they’re growing.
I swear my mom had me for entertainment purposes only. I can’t really blame her though because watching a tween-ager walk around in July wearing a wool sweater covered in itching powder and swearing that by tomorrow she’ll “definitely be a Double D” must be hours of fun.

Once, when I was eight, I became super obsessed with The Cosby Show and desperately wanted to be part of the family. So rather than disappointing me she assured me that I was really black and my freckles were just spots where the white paint wore off. I was oddly satisfied with that theory.

If pigeons poop on your roof, shoot them.
I think shooting at anything through an open apartment window in a crowded urban area as your five-year old begs you to “save the chickens,” would be considered a federal offense by today’s standards. But it was the 80s and my dad was a homicide detective with a totally legal gun so nobody had a problem with it—except my grandmother and probably the National Pigeon Association (it’s a real thing. Google it.)

I should probably mention that my parents got divorced when I was two so I spent a lot of weekends with my dad in his North Jersey bachelor pad. My grandmother hated it. In his defense, if you’re going to divorce a woman with an Italian mother and then expose her granddaughter to women, guns and dead pigeons you’re bound to spend eternity warding off the evil eye and trying to shake your reputation as the devil.

This must be how Luke Skywalker felt. I wonder if he had an Italian grandmother from Jersey.

People only drink iced tea in the summer.
My grandmother had a lot of crazy theories but this one made even less sense than the one about people with unibrows having some super ability to give people migraines because I imagine that if someone’s eyebrows are so thick that it’s hard to tell where their hairline begins you might stare until your head hurts.

In my house, it didn’t matter when summer actually began or when it ended or if we had a hot day in March. Iced tea was designated for June, July and August and I never questioned it. In fact, the first time I took a sip of iced tea in February I was almost 13! I remember how wrong and awkward it felt—like I was sneaking shots of Jack Daniels before Homeroom. Only it wasn’t Jack Daniels. It was iced tea and not even Long Island Iced Tea, which ironically may have been OK in my grandmother’s eyes and I wouldn’t have felt so guilty about it. Instead I probably would have just felt sick because Long Island Iced Tea is pretty disgusting. Especially when you down four of them before happy hour ends, then puke over a balcony onto some poor guy’s head and ruin your favorite shirt.

If you get your ears pierced on the Seaside Heights boardwalk you’ll get an STD.
Maybe my grandmother thought STD stood for something else like Sleazy Turd Danny because hooking up with a Sleazy Turd named Danny that I met while he pierced my ears on the boardwalk seemed way more likely than contracting a Sexually Transmitted Disease in my ear hole. Or maybe STD was exactly what she meant and they just did things very differently in her day.

Either way, she really did have a way with words. Once she couldn’t wait to see that movie starring Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy, Taking Miss Daisy for a Ride, which the rest of us know as Driving Miss Daisy.

When I was sick she’d take me to a walk-in clinic she called, “Doctors In Duty” which was really ironic because it seemed like there was a much greater risk of contracting an STD from a bunch of doctors with a penchant for sitting in doodie all day than by getting my ears pierced on the Seaside Heights Boardwalk.

 

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Here’s my grandmother, Jean, warding off the evil and drinking a mimosa.

(* Watch out for Chapter 2 coming in the next day… or month… or year or so.)

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Introduction: I’m Writing A Blook. (But You Probably Think I’m Off To A Bad Start Since I Don’t Even Know How To Spell Book.)

I woke up with an idea. I’ll write a “blook”—a blog that reads like book and I’ll release each chapter on my blog as I write it. (Somehow I don’t think I’m the first to think of this.)

Then I looked up “blook” and realized that it means the exact opposite of what I want to do. A “blook” is actually a printed book based on a blog. How confusing. But since I still like the idea and the word “blook” I’m going with it anyway. I considered spelling it backwards but “koolb” sounds like a brand of cigarettes that pedophiles smoked in the 70s.

The overzealous writer in me promises to post something every single day until the blook is complete. This means that you can expect to read something new on a very sporadic basis with giant gaps between chapters that are sometimes as long as two or more months. Putting the completion date for this blook somewhere around 2085. I will be 107 and since this blook is mostly about me I should probably just tell you how it ends now. I die before I finish it.

Until then, you can read the Introduction to my first blook, “I Can’t Stop Talking” right now.

(Of course, if you’re a publisher who wants to give me lots of money, I can have the whole thing done in a week and half. But I’ll need 500 Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups and a nanny with a mild peanut allergy. I don’t need her dipping into my stash.)

***
Introduction:
The Case of the Disappearing Upper Lip

I always thought I had a full upper lip. My whole life I paraded around thinking that if everything went awry with my day or my outfit my upper lip would be there to pull it all together. Like, people would say: “Oh, it’s fine! Just look at those beautiful lips!”

I’d always look down at thin-lipped girls and think: Poor thing. It must be so hard to have such an inadequate facial feature.

Then a few years ago I saw myself on video and was like: What the fuck!? Where’s my upper lip?! It seemed that the sexy pout I prided myself on had just disappeared. Or maybe it was never there! I was all teeth—like Fire Marshall Bill! (Some of you probably don’t get that reference because you were born when I was in high school or college or while I was brushing my teeth this morning. And I hate you for that. You probably have beautiful full lips too.) You might be wondering how I feel about my lower lip. It has moderate pout and I’m comfortable with that. Because, let’s be honest, when it comes to the pouty look it’s the upper lip that really carries the team.

To this day I’m not sure why I thought my upper lip was so full. I was never known as “the girl with the full upper lip.” And no one ever said to me, “Wow! Those are some really sexy lips you have there.” Maybe it was my grandmother’s fault. She always stressed the importance of holding my head high, and at that angle in a mirror your lips look fabulous. In fact, since the video incident, whenever I’m in public and suddenly find myself getting self-conscience about my deflated lip, I hold my head high and puff my upper lip out like it’s swollen from a recent bee attack. Unfortunately, this creates a new problem when everyone starts offering me tissues to stop an impending nosebleed or an EpiPen for my obvious bee allergy.

But I guess that’s what this blook is about—all the disappearing-lip moments in my life. You know, those times when life cocks the what-the-fuck!? gun and shoots holes in everything you thought was true. Like did you know that people actually drink iced tea in the winter? Another one I blame on my grandma. It wasn’t until a very embarrassing moment in my tweens when I discovered that I was raised in a family of beverage bigots.

I talk about my grandmother a lot in this blook since I spent most of my childhood secondhand smoking her Vantage cigarettes and getting life lessons from her as we played five-card draw poker and watched The Golden Girls.

So if small upper lips and chain smoking, gambling grandmas don’t scare you and you’re still reading this blook, I’m assuming that you’re probably my mother…or one of my mother’s friends… or someone from my past who’s dying to know if I’ve finally realized that I have a scrawny upper lip. Whoever you are, I’m glad you’re still with me. You can read, Chapter 1: My Childhood Summed Up Through a Bunch of Weird and Somewhat Offensive Shit I Was Told Before I was 12 now!

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I’M PART OF A NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING BOOK SERIES

This is fun. I was asked to participate in a project called, A Letter To My Baby. It’s part of the fourth installment of the New York Times best-selling book series, A Letter To My…. Of course I jumped at the opportunity to immortalize my very best, most heart-felt motherly advice in a letter to my two beautiful baby girls. I spent days about an hour, feverishly penning my words of wisdom. I was so proud. So I passionately read my masterpiece Alex.

For 2 and half minutes she listened intently. I could tell she was captivated by my brilliant insight. When I finished reading, she blinked a few times then lifted her finger, pointed to her diaper and said, “Poop.”

I imagine my 21-week fetus had a similar reaction.

Not sure if my letter will end up in the book but here it is on their blog with a few internet-approved photos of us. Check it out now and don’t forget to write nice things about it in the comments section. And while you’re there, you can also learn about writing a letter to your own baby and get updates on the upcoming book by following them on all the social media you pretend to hate.

But if you love my blog so much that you can’t bare to click out of it yet, stick around and read the letter that my daughter thinks is poop right here:

To My Two Baby Girls,

First of all, I hope you like your names. I spent hours compromising with your father until he felt like his opinion mattered. But if you don’t like them, it’s his fault. He chose them. Just ask him.

There’s so much I need to tell you, like eat as much peanut butter chocolate ice cream as you can before your 25th birthday. After that, it all goes downhill (and rolls onto your ass).

As grown women, you’ll be tempted to lie about your age. Never go younger. Instead, add at least ten years. You’ll always look amazing. And, by the way, if anyone asks, your mother is 75. Mathematically, this won’t make sense but chances are you won’t even notice. The genetic odds that you’ll be good at math are stacked heavily against you. Sorry.

Also, don’t spend thousands of dollars on special diets in preparation for your wedding day. Instead, just go as your beautiful self. Plus, ten years later, the last thing you want to hear is how amazing “you used to look.”

As your great grandmother used to tell me, “Never let ’em see you sweat.” I’m pretty sure she got this from a deodorant commercial. Or maybe they got it from her. Either way, it’s amazing advice. It means be confident. Or maybe it means always wear deodorant. It took me my entire life (all 75 years of it) to understand just how important it really is—confidence, not deodorant. Actually deodorant is really important too. With these two things, you can accomplish anything (even in oppressive heat). They’ll be plenty of people who will try to steal your confidence away from you. Don’t let them. It just means they don’t have any themselves.

Judge people. And judge them hard. But not based on their clothes, weight, religion, race, birthplace, profession, paycheck or any other superficial bullshit people will tell you is important. Instead, judge them based on how they treat people. Are they kind? Do they respect you and those around them? If so, hold them tight. These are the kinds of people you want in your life. (And, if you’re going to go out to dinner, it helps if they’re good at math).

Never lose sight of your sense of humor. It will get you through awkward first dates, tough job interviews, that first huge pimple on the tip of your nose (we all get at least one), your worst day, your best day, your saddest moment and your craziest hour. You’ll learn that laughter really is the best medicine. And wine. Lots of wine. But don’t drink until you’re at least my age, 75, because…smart phones! SMART PHONES! They remember everything. Even after you drop them in the toilet. Twice.

But most importantly, understand that life isn’t always easy and there are no guarantees. Actually, that’s a lie. There is one: I’ll always be with you. Whether you can see me or not, I’ll always be there to soften your fall, cheer you on, laugh with you, cry with you and eat peanut butter chocolate ice cream with you—even if it rolls onto my ass. I got fat for you once and I’d do it a million more times. That’s a promise.

Love Always,
Mom

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I OWE MY BACHELOR’S DEGREE TO A TUXEDO CAT

They’re probably going to revoke my bachelor’s degree for this. But what the hell! Who needs a bachelor’s degree anyway? (That’s not a rhetorical question. After fifteen years in the work force, I’d really like to know.)

I’m going tell it anyway because I need something to write about and honestly, it will feel good to get it off my chest.

I owe my bachelor’s degree to a tuxedo cat. And he wasn’t even a smart tuxedo cat. He slept in the sink and ate his own whiskers.

His name was Mickey. Yes, like Mickey Mouse except, not a mouse, a cat. We named him that because we weren’t allowed to have cats in the dorm and my roommate’s name was Nicki. We thought for sure a name like Frisky or Garfield would be a dead giveaway if anyone heard us call his name. But Mickey sounded just like Nicki. It was the perfect cover-up. Except when we yelled things like:

Mickey! Stop eating your whiskers.
Mickey!! Stop drinking the toilet water.
Mickey!!! You pooped in my shoe again.

Poor Nicki got a lot of strange looks that year.

Most of my college years are a blur. Probably because my brain was pickled in Milwaukee’s Best beer and Jell-O shots made with so much Popov vodka they couldn’t solidify. In fact, a Jell-O shot is where my story begins.

Actually it was more like ten or twelve Jell-O shots followed by a few a games of beer pong and a whole lot of swearing to god that, “this is definitely my last drink. I have an 8 am test tomorrow that I absolutely cannot miss.

I woke up at 10 am with a sock stuck to my face and a partially chewed Ritz cracker in my mouth. I was just about to fall back to sleep when—Holy Shit! My test!

I ran through a litany of my best excuses:

My hair caught fire.
My car caught fire.
My hair caught fire in my car.
I slept on the roof so I couldn’t hear my alarm go off.
I had an emergency appendectomy.
My dog had an emergency appendectomy. Fuck! There’s no dog.
Then suddenly: Yes! That’s it! The cat!

He was sleeping soundly under the bed so I did what any hung over, panicked stricken college kid with a moderate to severe allergy to pet dander would do—I picked him up and rubbed his furry little body all over my face. He squirmed. I rubbed. He scratched. I rubbed harder. He nearly strangled me with my own hair. I put him down. He won. But I knew it was just enough for my brilliant, evil, potentially life-threatening plan to work.

I started to count.

1…2…3…

By the time I reached 10 my face had exploded into a puffy mess of itchy, red hives. My eyes swelled. My bronchial tubes tightened. My roommates were horrified.

Perfect.

I booked across campus and busted into my professor’s office.

“Oh my god!” I panted. “I’m so sorry that I missed class this morning! I was up all night with a terrible allergic reaction to something.”

“Jesus,” he said and took a few steps back. “Are you ok? Can I call a doctor?”

“No. I’ll be fine. But the test! What should I do about the test?”

“Don’t worry about it,”  he assured me. “You can make it up. Just go home and get some rest.”

The following week, I took the test and got a solid low B. I was so proud.

So what’s the moral of the story? Find what you’re allergic to and use it to your advantage.

Oh and PETA, cat lovers and anyone out there without a sense of humor: Rest assured that no animal was harmed during this production. In fact, Mickey greeted me with a big lovey, cuddly purr when I walked in. But I quickly slammed the door in his face. I was allergic to that stupid cat! Remember?

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SORRY I RUINED YOUR LIFE (AGAIN), TOM…

Remember a few months ago when I wrote that blog post about Tom being just like the guy in the State Farm commercial that never wanted to get married, never wanted to move to the suburbs and never wanted have kids?

If not, here’s the post titled, “Happy Anniversary Tom! (Sorry I ruined your life)” and below is the commercial. Pay careful attention to the :22 mark and you’ll understand how I’ve successfully finished turning him into the guy in this commercial and why I haven’t had the energy to post anything in months.

In case you’re wondering: No, this blog post is not how I officially told him. I did that in a brightly lit, public place surrounded by lots of witnesses. I thought it was nicer than waking him up at 5 AM with a bunch of expletives waving a newly peed on pregnancy test in his face …again.

Personally, I think he’s really starting to embrace this life. He even grew a beard—just like the guy in the commercial.

Tom

Or maybe that’s just a first step in a master plan to change his identity and flee the suburbs. I kinda hope it’s the latter. Otherwise I have to accept the idea that a minivan might really be in my future.

Oh! And it’s a girl. Yup… just like the guy in the commercial! Crazy. Right?!

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The $25,000 Pyramid Method

I’m going to get hate mail for this—from my mother.

I haven’t written anything in like two months. That’s because Tom and I moved… into a house. A house! (But that’s a post for another day).

My mother helped us pack. Few things in life bring her as much joy as sorting, labeling and neatly stashing things away in an aesthetically pleasing way.

She’s a hoarder’s worst nightmare. While a therapist will spend weeks convincing some poor old woman to throw out a block of cheddar cheese from 1962, my mother will throw a match through her window and convince her to chalk it up to “the great fire of 2015.” I’m not kidding. She actually dropped this in someone’s living room once.

IMG_1168

I’m not a hoarder. I hate clutter and cats make my face swell. But according to my mother, I pack like I’m “fleeing from an abusive husband in the middle of the night.”

She’s wrong. I just employ a different method of packing. Think: $25,000 Pyramid. Remember that show?

In case you don’t spend your days off forcing your 16 month-old to watch 80’s reruns on the Game Show Network, here’s a clip and some stills:

With this method you’ll end up with a pile of boxes labeled and sorted something like this:

Things That Remind Me Of The Beach: Towels, souvenir sand from Playa Del Carmen, my “I got crabs at Bum Rogers” T-Shirt, sunblock, large red Solo cups and vodka.

Things That Scare Me: My Michael Meyers mask, calculators with pie symbols, the baby’s National Geographic Insect Edition, cook books, Tom’s hockey socks, the neti pot.

Things Associated With Exploding: My hair dryer, Miralax, bug spray, Easy Cheese, Pampers.

Things That Make My Ass Fat: Chocolate chips, potato chips, pancake batter, bite-sized Kit Kats, those jeans that are too new and too expensive to throw out yet.

Things That Make Watching Netflix All Day OK: Orville Redenbacher Movie Theatre Extra Butter Popcorn, fuzzy blankets and everything in the “Things That Make My Ass Fat” box. (So you really have a box-in-a-box situation here.)

Things That Never Belong In a Car (Like Never): Plants, plant food, planters, leaves, branches, bushes, camping equipment, anything with any kind of foliage. (I had a very traumatic experience that involved a fern, a wolf spider, and the Garden State Parkway. Someday I’ll tell you about it. For now, don’t put these things in your car.)

Things that end with the letter “T”: The clarinet I tried to play in 6th grade but my mother wouldn’t let me practice in the house. Grapefruits. Jackets. Salt. Frozen chicken nuggets.

Anyway, you get the gist. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re just like my mother and have no appreciation for a solid packing strategy. In fact, I bet she’s home right now thinking about my strategy and planning “the great fire of 2016.” Actually, she’s probably home thinking of words that start with the letter F. Crap. (And that’s definitely not one of them).

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