Monday, August 30, 2010

Rolling!

My dad took the red-eye back from LA last night and got home this morning. He's been gone for a week filming a movie.

Believe me, I was shocked too. I never thought I'd write a sentence that involved my dad filming a movie, although he was an extra in the distant background of Entourage once. This time, he has a speaking role. I think my dad has gone all union and everything! He plays a bus driver and a limo driver, but he isn't allowed to actually drive the vehicles. He just gets to sit in them and act like he's about to drive them. I love it.

All last week I watched my dad's facebook page like a reality show because he kept posting pictures from the set and it was really neat to see how a movie is made. I'd kill to be there too, but well, this whole pregnancy thing is preventing it and even if I weren't pregnant now, I'd have to teach anyway. Maybe one day. Hey, maybe in a few months they'll have a big, glitzy premiere and I'll get to go to that. I'll dress the baby all up and take her along.

Unfortunately, I don't have any good celebrity gossip. I was really hoping for some. I've always wanted to be in on some cool, insider Hollywood dirt.  Once I met a famous director and I made him tell me some Hollywood gossip and he told me that his gardener is John Travolta's gardener and that the gardener told him he caught John Travolta on several occasions with his secret boyfriend. That wasn't really mind blowing for me though. I think it's been rumored for years that John Travolta was gay and that Kelly Preston is his Scientology beard.

I don't have anything good like that at all, so I guess I won't be getting my dream job working at the National Enquirer any time soon. You know they're located in South Florida, right? I'd love to be a tabloid reporter. My trailer park relatives in Millpond would be so proud. 

Anyway, Kelly Osbourne is in the movie with my dad. I don't think they have scenes together but my dad was on set when she was there filming her scenes and he said she was adorable and sweet and did a great job. Then, her mom came. Can I just tell you how much I love Sharon Osbourne? I think she's great. I used to watch her talk show and I loved when she'd bring her Pomeranian out and it would try to attack her guests, so you can imagine how jealous I was that she brought the dog with her and that my dad got to hold it and it didn't attack him. I would love to hold Sharon Osbourne's Pomeranian. My life is so unfair.

I was particularly interested in my dad's getting to meet two members of the Osbourne family. I've always said that they are the family closest to my own. They're the only family who has ever even come close to the level of quirkiness, chaos and general insanity that I experience with my own relatives. I remember having a moment the first time I ever saw their reality show years ago on MTV. It was like I was watching my own family right there on TV, complete with dogs pooping all over the floor. The Osbournes were us! I wasn't alone! There were other people just like us with weird people coming and going all day and some moving in randomly. The whole deal. So when I heard my dad got to meet Kelly and Sharon, my mind started spinning and I began to imagine my family becoming best friends with the Osbournes and just how very perfect and right that would be.

Also in the movie are Ed Asner and Carol Kane. I loved Up! so I was excited about Ed Asner. He gave my dad a hat from Up! and then they made plans to go to shul together on Yom Kippur since my dad will be back in LA during the high holidays. Cool. My dad is going to fast with Lou Grant.

I loved Carol Kane in Annie Hall and The Princess Bride. I remember her as Andy Kauffman's girlfriend on Taxi when I was little and we can't forget her in The Addams Family or my personal favorite The Muppet Movie (in my top 15 of all time).  I think she's one of the greatest comedy actresses of our time and I really admire successful funny women. Of all the people my dad is getting to meet on this set, I think I'd most like to meet her. I mean, besides Sharon Osbourne's Pomeranian.

My parents should be heading back to Hollywood some time this week on their bus. I know it was killing my mom to miss out on all the fun and she has been promised an extra role in the background of my dad's bus scene. Then there's a big party scene that she can be in too. I felt really guilty that she missed out last week, like it was my fault because the reason she stayed home was because of all the crap I'm going through. Hopefully she'll get out there soon and start having fun and forget about all of my turmoil.

I don't have much else to report from the set, but when they're back in LA I'm sure there'll be plenty more adventures and I'll be sure to keep you updated as I get information.
Sunday, August 29, 2010

Life Would Be Perfect if I Subscribed to That Magazine

The best book I read this summer was Meghan Daum's Life Would Be Perfect if I Lived in That House. As I mentioned before, I was hooked by the quality and tone of her writing. You'd think a book that's a long documentation of the author's various moves and dwellings wouldn't be interesting at all, but the author's later insight into her own behavior plus the way she tells the story make it fascinating. More than that though, it's that in reading her own personal revelations about how she sought an ideal identity for herself through where she lived and how she decorated, we can see ourselves. As I read this book, I kept having to stop and take a breath after realizing that, wow, oh my God, I have thought that way too and for the exact same reasons.

For a lot of people it is houses. Others have a thing for clothes. It can be anything though or any combination of things. So many people seek to create and become their version of "perfect" based on their stuff. We think "If I have this or do that or go there then my life will be perfect." Or at least, we think other people will think we're perfect. Then we'll have friends and be admired instead of made fun of. We'll be included, elevated even. We can even escape our pasts or transcend our origins if only we have good taste and get good stuff.

On a couple of occasions my former friend A and her husband called me and my family white trash, igniting my competitiveness with her I'm sure. They also constantly talked about things I didn't understand and corrected my pronunciation. Once, I dated a guy who said my family may as well have been black (can you imagine?) and I was dumped by a doctor who said I was not on his level because I did not have an education like he did, although ha ha I do now. My already low self esteem was confirmed by all of these comments and I felt I had to escape it. I didn't want to be trash.

For me, it wasn't houses that were my thing, although I confess they certainly could have been if I could have afforded one. When I owned my house in Atlanta I certainly felt proud of it and I did delight in the fact that it was all mine, but that unfortunately was fleeting. I loved my apartment, but not with quite the zeal of Meghan Daum.

My thing has always been magazines. I admit it, I'm obsessed with magazines and their appeal for me is double layered. I escape in the content of the magazines, but I also relish the prestige of being able to say that I read certain magazines.  Because of this, magazines are like joy squared for me.

Like all weird behaviors, my magazine fixation began in childhood. Growing up with my grandparents, they had a permanent subscription to Readers Digest. This didn't interest me. When I went to go live with my parents in New York, I was eleven and while my parents weren't readers and would never subscribe to anything, they always picked up copies of a magazine called the Robb Report at the convenience store where they bought cartons of Vantage Ultra-Lights.


Together my parents would sit on their bed smoking and stubbing out their butts in half empty soda cans as they flipped slowly through the Robb Report, a magazine which highlights in high-gloss, the playthings and amusements of the extraordinarily wealthy. They sighed over opulent cars and homes, vacation spots and exclusive clubs all over the world. They planned together how they would get these things, even choosing the upholstery in their future Rolls and they never spoke in the subjunctive tense of might, could, or would love to have. They spoke only in absolute terms. We're getting a Lamborghini. We're buying an estate.

In the back of the magazine were listings of luxury items for sale - everything from yachts to mansions to racehorses. My parents combed through these listings as if they truly believed these things were within their realm of possibility. They went so far as to set up appointments with real estate agents on the weekends so that they could visit some of the houses for sale and they always brought me along to showings in Alpine and Saddle River, New Jersey or Tuxedo Park, New York. I remember one estate that had an aviary of exotic birds and there was a real live toucan. Another time we toured the home of Audrey and Judy Landers who lived with their mother. I had never heard of them but apparently one sister was on Dallas and both had been on The Love Boat. All I remember is a mildewy indoor pool and the way the chlorine hung in the heat and humidity of that room while snow clung to the windows.

All that from a magazine.


At some point that year, I asked my mother for a Seventeen and my obsession was born. The people in the magazine had perfect lives, but so did the people who read the magazine.  My grandparents bought me a subscription for my birthday when I told them that was all I wanted.

A couple years later I broke up with Seventeen for good. I remember the exact moment that it happened - the moment I found my true love in print.


It was the summer between ninth and tenth grades. I was at Aunt Kiki's house for the summer. I've written about that summer before. I sold blackberries on the side of the road and loved a boy who played tennis at the Country Club and who, many years later, made fun of my Mary Janes when he was dating a San Francisco heiress and cheating on her with me, but that's another story. I was almost fifteen that summer and I rode my bike all over Millpond. One of my favorite destinations was The Chicken Shack, Millpond's answer to the Quickie Mart and which, in addition to the usual cold drinks, condoms, aspirin and candy, also sold fried chicken. 


The Chicken Shack had an impressive magazine selection. By that time I had added Vogue, Elle and of course Cosmopolitan to my reading list, though in all honesty I only flipped through Elle and Vogue to look at the super models in the ads, which I then ripped out and taped to my bedroom walls. I only actually read Cosmopolitan, because, though I had barely just kissed a boy, I really believed I needed to know how to drive a man wild in bed. I spent a large portion of my money, mostly gotten through blackberry sales and as gifts from Aunt Kiki's drug dealers, on magazines at the Chicken Shack. Just the usual ones and by now I had developed a disdain for Young Miss. I think this was before it abbreviated itself into YM, KFC style.


But then I saw it. There was a new magazine and on its cover was a girl in red lipstick who looked confident and gorgeous and slightly pissed. This girl would never be a cheerleader. She listened to music you've never heard of and ate Indian food. She had already backpacked through Europe before she even graduated high school. She read books they'd never make movies out of and enjoyed french cinema. Boys threatened to throw themselves off of bridges for this girl.  This girl was Sassy.


I've always felt that Sassy was the cheesiest name for the greatest magazine ever published for teenage girls, but the name wouldn't deter me from never missing a single edition until it folded and broke my heart. I felt like I knew the staff of this magazine. I felt like the girls in Sassy, though they were no more real or authentic than the girls in Seventeen, were who I wanted to be. Sassy girls wore vintage prom gowns, had short hair, listened to The Smiths and went to Sarah Lawrence when they graduated. They could write beat poems, protest social injustices and travel to Africa to single handedly install a clean water system and save an entire village from Cholera. The Sassy girl could tell a boy how to touch her without blushing and stuttering and then have the confidence to break up with him.  I was nothing like this girl, except for The Smiths, but she was who I wanted and needed to be. In many ways, I still aspire to this goal.


Sassy had a contest every year to find "The Sassiest Girl in America." It was my greatest wish to be this girl. Every year when they'd profile the winner I'd read about these girls who all had weird names and could skateboard and I would just die inside that I could never be that cool. I remember one girl who was named after a thrift store and I hated my mother for not being more creative when I was born. I wanted to be named after a thrift store too, but with my luck I'd have been stuck with a name like Salvation and it wouldn't have had the same flair.


I wanted to be the Sassiest Girl in America so badly that to this day I still remember the full name of one of the winners - Rinnan Henderson. How is that name still floating in my head? I even googled her.  


Another time I made out with a guy who had apparently dated one of the Sassiest Girls in America and I remember, at the time, thinking HOLY CRAP he dated her and is kissing me!!! That must mean that there's some Sassiness in me too. There is hope! I am a little embarrassed to admit this, so please let's just keep my enthusiasm between all 550 of us.


By the time Sassy ended, I was in my twenties and needed to move on anyway. I grew up. I remember my initial excitement at finding Jane in an airport bookstore and hoping it might restore some much needed Sassy-tude to my life. I never missed an issue of that either, though I never loved it as much. I was a huge fan of the "make-under" section though.


Martha Stewart wrecked me. Every month I'd buy Living in the grocery store line and wonder why I couldn't drill Moravian stars into pumpkins. Why couldn't I have a picket fence to whitewash and edge in heirloom hollyhocks? Why the hell couldn't my family have special brown turkey pattern Thanksgiving china and individual, amber Depression glass turkey soup tureens on our holiday table?? Clearly my mother was a failure and so was I now because neither of us could weave our own cornucopias out of dried grape vines from the vineyard in our backyard and where was my private beach in the Hamptons where I could bake lobsters in the sand? No magazine has ever made me feel as inadequate and deprived as Martha Stewart Living, but damned if I don't still buy it, hoping that if I at least look at the pictures that I can one day be a better person - one with a special room in her house dedicated to nothing but gift wrapping and of course I'd only use vintage ribbon.


For the past ten years I've been hooked on the Real Simple aesthetic. I love that matte paper. I am sold on the idea of spare, sensible and extremely expensive. I want to live in an airy farmhouse with a mudroom too. I want that zen-like sense of perfect organization and balance. If I buy the magazine, maybe I can have it.

Last year I was featured in two (TWOOOOO) editions of Real Simple. One time a total stranger recognized my name off of a form and said "Are you the same XX that was in this month's Real Simple??" No kidding. That really happened and I almost peed my pants. It was truly the highlight of my writing life. Me. In a magazine. Me. In Real Simple. It was like I was suddenly a legitimate human being after 35 years. 


But these are the magazines whose content promises me a perfect life. There are the others whose prestige I covet. These are the magazines I want guests to see on my coffee table. I want these magazines peeking out of my laptop bag in the first class section of the airplane. These make me look smart, accomplished and elegant.  The New Yorker. The Paris Review. The Economist. Vanity Fair. The Atlantic.  


If I were the kind of person who read The New Yorker (and not just puzzled over the comics) my life would be perfect. I know it. If I could get through an edition of The Economist I swear I'd finally believe I was intelligent. The Atlantic, arriving monthly in my mailbox, would magically turn me clever, informed and hip. I'd be like the Sassiest Girl in America all grown-up. And of course a subscription to The Paris Review would mean I was a real writer. I haven't even dared to daydream about being in The Paris Review so we won't even talk about that. I just want to read it knowingly.


I subscribe to two magazines right now: O and Real Simple. I felt I owed Real Simple for publishing me twice. O I love for the book suggestions and stories of women overcoming hardships. I like the pictures too. I've long since given up the fashion magazines and Cosmo. My husband would have a heart attack if I tried that trick with the Altoid and the ice cubes, so I don't think it's quite safe to try to drive him wild.


I limit my magazine buying, but I confess that I love going to the doctor just so I can read all the magazines in the waiting room. I seek the longest line in the grocery store so I can flip through Coastal Living and Saveur if I'm at Whole Foods. Lately I've started wondering if I should start reading some of those New Agey parenting magazines about feeding your baby edamame and how young can you do yoga with your infant. You know, these are the ones printed on recycled paper. 

The mothers and children inside all look perfect.
Saturday, August 28, 2010

Books and Music

I find that I really enjoy hearing about what other people are reading, so I'm going to make fairly regular book posts about what I'm reading and ask you all what you've liked lately too. The last one we did was very successful, I think.

But first, some music.


After I finished "The Chiropractor" a bunch of people were dying to know what the cd was that I had been accused of stealing and fired over. For the record, I did not steal or take or even touch that cd and while there were various conspiracies theorized in the comments, all of which were way more exciting than the truth of the situation, all I think happened is that Harlan himself misplaced the damned thing. I did not include the name of the cd in the story because I could not for the life of me remember what it was, but for you all, I did everything short of regressive hypnosis to jog my memory. I have narrowed it down to the cd I think it was. At first I thought it was a Buddha Bar or a Cirque de Soleil soundtrack (shut up), but then I realized it wasn't. I wouldn't have asked to borrow those because my dad had them at home. I am pretty sure the cd in question was Hed Kandi Winter Chill Volume 3 . It's a pretty good collection if you're into that sort of thing. This was the winter of 2002 after all and that kind of music was really popular then, especially in very spare modern art galleries that also sold soap and tea.


Now on to books.


Being jobless and homeless and massively pregnant in the hottest part of the summer in the hottest part of the country, I have opted not to leave the house much during the day unless I absolutely have to. It is akin to being under house arrest and there's only so much bad TV I can watch. As an aside, I have this terrible habit of watching reality shows on Discovery Health and TLC about things that go terribly, violently, appallingly wrong during pregnancy and childbirth and I've really had to force myself to stop watching this crap, even though I'm slightly addicted to that show about people who didn't know they were pregnant. I still can't understand how someone could not know she was pregnant. It would be 100% impossible for me to not know I was pregnant. Believe me, I would love to not know I was pregnant for just a little while each day, but nope, I've got alien baby rolling around in me, heartburn and a bump I keep knocking into things because I can't accurately judge my own size.  The other thing I have forced myself (at times unsuccessfully) to stop watching is Sixteen and Pregnant, though I still occasionally watch Wife Swap with my sister on the phone. I can't give up the Wife Swap and it's a good thing The Bachelorette has ended. Luckily, I couldn't get involved in Bachelor Pad or I'd be trying to tear myself away from that mess too.

Because nothing about this pregnancy has gone the way I wanted it to, I try to balance things out by reading a lot. The Kindle has helped me achieve this goal because I don't have to leave the house to acquire new books. They just magically appear when I want them.

If you haven't noticed now, my tragic flaw is idealism. I have had a lifelong bad habit of imagining the way I wanted things to be only to be disappointed by the un-idealistic reality of them. Pregnancy is one of these things. I imagined that I would glow and do yoga and eat all organic fruits. I would play classical music to my baby so she would be a genius, which seems to be the goal of every parent. Why is that? I realized that I actually don't care if Baby Lawns is a genius or not. I don't think there is any evidence linking geniuses to happiness and I just want her to be happy. In fact, I think there is probably more evidence linking stupidity to happiness, so maybe we should all focus on dumbing down our babies instead of trying to make them into Einsteins. But I digress, again. I haven't played Baby Lawns much classical music, although she's gotten a good dose of Burning Spear the past couple days. Eating all organic is too expensive and inconvenient and so is freaking yoga. I can't afford yoga classes. I do some stretches I found on the Internet when I can remember them. Hell, I don't even remember to take my vitamin every single day and it's been two weeks since I slathered myself in cocoa butter.  As for glowing, well, that's not happening at all. I look bloated and haggard and have a big broken blood vessel smack in the center of the right side of my face which looks like a sore. My wardrobe consists of eight year old hand me downs of maternity work clothes from a dear friend (she worked at a bank), my husband's tee shirts and some stuff I borrowed from my mom which fits but not well enough. So I look like a 55 year old woman from 2002 who works at a bank and spends all her money on Chicos. The sum of these parts does not equal glow. I don't even want to get into what my hair looks like right now.  As soon as the baby is born and I get moved into my house I am demanding a spa day and I'm going to have a cocktail. I know I don't drink, but I intend to start. Then I'm going to eat sugar straight out of the bag like the little sister from the movie "Pecker" just because I won't have diabetes to worry about anymore.

But this was supposed to be about books. Yes, books.  Because the rest of my life is a mess, because I am poorly dressed, eating chemicals, dry skinned and reality TV addicted, I have to balance things out by reading. I feel proud of reading and it gives me an escape. The Kindle has saved my life and my intellect.


It took me most of the summer to read Zadie Smith's White Teeth and I didn't love it. It had good parts. I liked certain characters and I tended to enjoy the humorous parts the most. I was interested in how she satirized the radicalization of Muslim youth post-colonialism (how's that for a grad school sentence?). But other parts were annoying. There was a similar tone I thought to Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections, but White Teeth didn't come together for me quite as brilliantly as The Corrections. Maybe it's my crush on Jonathan Franzen that makes me biased.  Honestly, I was glad when I finished the book so I could move on to something else.


Namely, Franzen's new book Freedom, which comes out in a couple days and which will magically appear in my Kindle. I hope it's good. I read the reviews and it sounded like I would like it a lot.


While waiting for Freedom to be available, I read some other very good books. I decided to go on a little creative non-fiction streak. Being a memoir writer, aka a narcissist, I like to read true stories about other people's lives more than anything else, just as I like to write stories about my own life more than anything else. 


I loved Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman. I needed this book. This book helped me and is still helping me. Every single woman with children or who is pregnant needs to get this book and read it immediately. Ayelet Waldman is my hero and we'll just all have to get over our jealousy that she is married to Michael Chabon who sounds like pretty damned close to the perfect man. I mean, he's not as hot as Jonathan Franzen by any means, but the way she describes him makes him sound truly ideal.


After that I read Life Would Be Perfect if I Lived in That House by Meghan Daum. I think it's pretty obvious why I chose that book and it was extraordinarily well written. Remember how last time I wrote about books I explained how I read books for the quality of the writing now because school ruined me? This is a perfect example of that and it proves that if something is well written, the topic barely matters because basically this is a book about a girl who moves a lot and is a chronicle of those moves. Of course she explains the psychological and emotional reasons for her excessive moving and she ties this in to the mindset that caused the housing boom and collapse, so it's very timely and very interesting. Frankly, I loved this book. I loved it so much that I'm going to get into it a lot further in its own post in a couple days because it gave me some insight into some of my own bizarre behaviors. Let's just say that my version is going to be called "Life Would Be Perfect if I Subscribed to That Magazine."


Currently I'm finishing up The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and I'm enjoying it so far. I plan to have it done by the time Freedom appears in my Kindle. Since I'm not done with it, I can't write much about it, other than that I like it so far. I think I chose this one for obvious reasons as well. In fact, it had come down to my reading this or The Hunger Games and I realized that with my current mental state that reading a book about a post-apocalyptic society where an oppressive government forces teenagers to murder one another, was probably not the best choice and that reading a book about a regular woman trying to be happier in her everyday life (without getting a million dollars to go to Italy, India and Bali for a year) would benefit me more at this time. We'll see and then I'll probably still go back and read about murdering teenagers anyway. In the meantime, while I'm finishing the book, there is an accompanying Happiness Project Blog, which I've really been enjoying too. My husband has been reading it with me each night. Even if you don't read the book, the blog is a good one to bookmark. We could all stand to be more mindful of our happiness.


So what were your favorite summer reads and why?
Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday

There is a lot going on in my life right now. Many of you know what's going on with me already. I'm not going to go into further detail about it on here, though I normally would. The reason is that I have some nosy friends and relatives who track me through my blog and Facebook and it creeps me out. I really, really don't like people doing that and I feel like a lot of them do it not because they care about me and what I'm going through, but because they want to gossip. It's ridiculous really because if these people would just call me and ask how I am I'd tell them everything. I wish I wasn't a story to the people who actually know me. I wish they weren't always trying to dig up dirt on me to discuss with other peopleIt isn't even necessary because I don't hide anything from the people who really know me.  So the reason I'm not going to be more forthcoming is purely out of not wanting to give these people the satisfaction of their nosiness. How about this nosy people? How about calling me or emailing me and asking how I'm doing? How about asking me if I need to talk or need some help or just need to vent? How about that? You don't always have to stalk me to get info. I'll just tell you.

Here's what I will tell you. Unless there is some kind of miracle, I will not be able to live in my house until after (maybe well after) the baby is born. I am living at my parents' house and this is beyond a less than ideal situation for anyone involved. It's not that I hate my parents' house or being with them. It's that when you're 36 and married and have a cat, you need your own space. You just do. You have your own habits, ideas and ways of doing things. You have your own routine. There is also just something so humiliating to me about having to live with my parents. 

It's so unsettling to me too because I guess pregnant women have this nesting instinct and well, I have no nest. I can't prepare my baby's room for her. I can't organize and get everything ready and make it all perfect and I just don't know how an entire house can get unpacked and assembled with an infant to care for. It seems impossible to me. It seems like too much chaos for a child - too much over-stimulation for a little one's senses. I had wanted to prepare a house that was like a quiet, cocoon of calm for her to enter into the world. My parents' house just isn't that and never will be. I'm afraid that if the first month or two of her life aren't perfect then she will be damaged in some way.  I feel like a failure for being unable to provide properly for a child. And worst of all, I feel like all my anxieties and fears about having children weren't irrational at all. I feel like I was right all along.

This morning I had to go to the doctor. I just found out that on top of everything else, that I have gestational diabetes. I kind of figured I did because I have a history of blood sugar problems anyway. I have an autoimmune disorder that seems to have really wreaked havoc on the glands in my body over the course of many years. The endocrinologist who treated my tumor a few years back speculated that it was all caused by a virus, but who knows.  I got really scared about the diabetes because I know it can hurt the baby. All of my doctors assure me that she is ok. Last week she had some kind of a test and she scored a perfect 8 out of 8.  She is four pounds and very active now, so this is all good. The ultrasound tech gave us a quick 3D shot of her and she looks a lot like my husband. Beautiful, wide set, huge green eyes seem to run in my husband's family. He has them too and I hope the baby gets those eyes. Not that you can tell too much from even the most detailed ultrasound, but the baby looked nothing like me. Not that I care. I don't really care what she looks like honestly as long as she is in good health and has a good sense of humor and a big imagination.


I feel so anxious and depressed all the time lately. I'm not a happy person at all. I should be, but I'm not. I cry every day. I don't want to get out of bed. I feel like I've made terrible mistakes.


I know that one of the biggest mistakes people can make when they feel this way is to not seek help for it. Some people, especially pregnant women and new mothers feel really guilty for not being happy. I've read lots and lots of stories about women who will lie to their doctors when they are really suffering and I decided today not to do this. I had a talk with my doctor and I told him everything and he said that too many people make pregnant women and mothers feel guilty about everything and like everything is their fault if something happens to the babies, but that this is wrong. He said that women have been having babies through terrible traumas for thousands of years and that study after study shows that the babies can grow up just fine if their parents love them, no matter what awful circumstances the babies are born into. The babies who don't end up ok are the babies who aren't loved or given adequate emotional support. Besides food, that's pretty much all they need. And this has to be true. I can't tell you how many kids I knew growing up who were born into opulent homes with I'm sure, ideal nurseries and every possible thing one thinks a baby needs. Their parents though, didn't pay attention to them or were mean to them or were too caught up in their own turmoil to teach their children how to cope with stress, be kind to others and how to be decent human beings. These kids were and probably still are massive disasters. But I bet they had great crib bedding.  


I also realized after talking to my doctor that I had been associating messy chaotic lives and poverty with damaging children, but it isn't necessarily those things in and of themselves that were hurting the kids. Again, it was the same exact factors that messed up the poor kids I knew as the rich kids I knew. It's all about parenting. If you love your children and care for them (and feed them obviously) they will pretty much grow up to be just fine. And when I say love your children, I mean that as an active verb. Love is an action, not a feeling.


Talking with my doctor about how kids are born into wars and out of rapes and violence and upheavals of all kinds and still end up ok, made me realize that maybe I can get through this a little better. I am, after all, not in Khmer Rouge Cambodia or Nazi Germany. All over the world, babies have been born in prison camps or during air raids and they have been ok.  


I'm going back to the doctor in two weeks. If I'm not feeling better then we'll do some blood work and talk about me getting some other help, but a lot can happen in two weeks, right? I could get good news. Miracles could happen. Maybe. I feel better about my parenting abilities because at least I was able to tell my doctor that I was concerned about my mental health. That's something, right? I'm not a total failure.



Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Chiropractor - THE FINAL CHAPTER

Not a single soul said I should watch The Chiropractor and his "Lady Friend." This was not a surprise of course. That had been my initial reaction anyway. No. No. No. Who needs to think about that? Of course I wasn't going to go hide in a hotel closet. Eww. And really, who WOULD do that? I didn't need the money that badly. Yeah it would have been nice, but truly, it wasn't worth it.

I stopped thinking about the pros and cons and trying to make a decision and instead my mind went wild imagining all sorts of terrible scenarios which could result from my saying yes to the proposition. Most, if not all, of them ended up with me dead somewhere. 

I also thought long and hard about the situation I'd gotten myself into - working minimum wage not really doing anything, being so lonely and bored that I'd allowed myself to become vulnerable to someone who was creepy and pervy. It's just not who I wanted to be. It was messed up. I had created a messed up life for myself. People thought I was a sex worker and I have met plenty of nice sex workers, but still. As much as I've loved these people, I've never met one person in the sex industry who didn't have a tragic story. It's just a fact. Even the ones who say they're just paying their way through school have tragic stories too if you dig deep enough. Was that me? Was I just another screwed up girl for people to take advantage of and objectify? I had made a gigantic leap in improving my life by quitting the Bubblegum Kittikat, but here I was BSing myself into thinking I had this great job in a real art gallery, while the truth was that it wasn't much of a gallery at all. I had never sold anything more than a bar of soap and a box of tea. I knew nothing about art dealing or art period, except what it looked like, and I was still giving off a vibe to men that I was cheap, stupid and willing to sell myself out for money.

This needed to end. I was going to tell off The Chiropractor. I was going to decide what other kind of job I wanted. I was going to have a career. I was going to go places dammit.

I saw neither Harlan nor The Chiropractor for an entire week. In that week's time two things happened. I did not find the missing cd though I looked everywhere. I became paranoid that I had actually taken the cd home and lost it, so I even looked at home, even though logically I knew I hadn't taken it. I have a guilty conscience you see. If there is a mere suggestion of misdoing I will automatically begin to worry that I may be guilty and just not know it. I wonder if this is an OCD symptom. I've heard of people with an OCD tic where they believe they might accidentally harm others. This is kind of like that. It's like I know I obviously have done nothing, but then my mind still thinks well, what if I did? What if I did it and forgot? What if I did it and don't know I did it? Crazy, I know. I will become so guilt ridden over the thing that I didn't do that I will begin to appear as if I am actually guilty and I will worry that I'm lying when I profess innocence. This even happens with farts.  The other day the dog had gas in a room full of people. It smelled like a skunk went off beside a hot sulfur spring. It would have made your eyes water. Well everyone started coughing and complaining about the odor and asking who did it. Now I was clearly not responsible for this but I started imagining that I was and feeling guilty and then I got myself all red and embarrassed so that I made it appear as if that rancid smell could have actually come from me when it hadn't. I tried to deny it, but it was too late. People were asking me what I had eaten and if I felt ok.  This is exactly what happened with the missing cd.

The other thing that happened that week was that a real live ship's captain came into the Hot Sun Gallery to buy some soap and I got into a conversation with him about what his life was like and how fun that must be to be a ship's captain and get to sail all over the world having adventures. After that I decided that I wanted to be a ship's captain too. That was it. I was going to learn to sail. I was going to be a female ship's captain. How badass was that? I mean, come on now. I would be empowered. I would navigate the high seas and battle pirates. I would see the world. Men would fall at my feet because men loved badass women like that. No one would ever offer me money to watch them have sex ever again. I might even get some kind of a sword.


For a week I daydreamed about my new life as a ship's captain and tried to figure out how this was going to work. How did one become a ship's captain anyway? Was there a school?


Luckily, the ship's captain came back and I asked.


"Here's my friend's card," he said, "He runs a sailing school in Miami. Why don't you take some lessons and learn to sail a small boat first and work up from there. See how you take to it first. Start small. Trust me."


This sounded extremely reasonable and levelheaded so I called the number on the card and signed myself up for two months of weekend sailing lessons. I felt empowered already. I was definitely going to cuss out The Chiropractor now. I could almost sail boats.


He still didn't come in.


After the week was over I got a surprise visit from Maxine, who never came in.


"Did you find that cd?" she asked.


I told her I hadn't and she looked crushed. What was with these people and this cd? I wanted to yell "PEOPLE IT IS A CD!!!" This was back before Napster was shut down too. They probably could have downloaded every song on the damn thing for free and recreated it and it's not like it was irreplaceable. It was $20.00 at most. Amazon and all.


"Harlan said you really liked the cd."


"Yes I did. I asked to copy it and he said no, so I didn't. I was happy just listening to it here."


"I also heard that you've been spending a lot of time with Ira."


"Well no, err, I mean, no. He was coming in and talking to me sometimes..."


"Are you dating? Or romantically involved? The lady next door says you and Ira are a couple or something now."


"No way!! No, I'm not dating Ira."


"I just want you to know, I can't stop you. You can date whomever you want, but you should know about him. There've been stories. Rumors. I don't know. I shouldn't spread gossip without proof, but look, just be careful ok?"


"What??"


"I really don't want to get into it. I'm sorry. I don't spread rumors," Maxine demured.


I hate people like this. I hate people who bring up intriguing possible stories and then refuse to tell them. These people are idiots. The rule is if you bring something up you are obligated to provide every last solitary detail that you know. If you aren't prepared to spill the beans then keep your dang mouth shut period and don't hint around. There is nothing more annoying than people who do this. Nothing. I felt like physically attacking Maxine and forcing her to tell me what she knew, but I didn't of course and she left without telling me a thing.


By 6 that night Harlan came in and brought it up with me.


"I'm not dating Ira. I swear to God," I said.


"We need to have a serious talk. Maxine and I discussed the situation and we want you to know that we aren't firing you. It's just that we talked about things and well, we just don't think we need your help anymore. Business hasn't been great. We're in the red here and it's not cost effective to hire someone else when Maxine or myself could run the gallery for free. We're losing money and frankly, I'm losing cds."


"It was 1 cd and I didn't take it nor am I dating or otherwise involved with Ira."


"Well you understand. We just think it's better to have one of us here instead. Of course you understand. We really appreciate you helping us out so far and we'll send your last paycheck. You won't even have to drive to pick it up."


Harlan was firing me and acting like he was doing me a favor. I took my Harry Potter book and my unfinished crossword, folded the newspaper under my arm, gathered my purse and keys and left completely humiliated. I had been fired for two things I hadn't even done and I never got a chance to cuss out The Chiropractor. I never saw him again. I never got to find out what the rumors were. I never found out what might have happened to me if I had said yes to his proposition.

I didn't find out much of anything except more of what I didn't want to be and I got a little closer to figuring out who I was in the process. I inched nearer to empowerment and began to envision myself not as the passenger, but as the captain, the woman at the wheel in charge of where my ship was headed. It was progress.


A week later my last paycheck came. I used it to pay for sailing lessons and I ordered myself a copy of that stupid cd. Never mind that I was again unemployed. I'd figure it all out and with a pretty hip soundtrack playing in the background.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Chiropractor - Part 5

"You want me to what?" I asked.

The Chiropractor explained it again. This man, whom I had never seen outside of the confines of the teeny Hot Sun Gallery, had just offered me one thousand and five hundred dollars in cash to follow him on a date with a woman he called his "Lady Friend" because said Lady Friend had a fantasy about not just being followed, but also being watched. And when I say watched, I don't just mean that she wanted to be observed in her ordinary, every day life. She wanted someone to watch her engaging in, umm, activities with her Gentleman Friend. Or at least he said she did. So yes, this man had just offered me a crazy sum to both stalk and be a Peeping Tom to one of his erotic encounters and there is nothing about this which I didn't find disturbing.

"No," I said.

"I didn't ask for an answer," Ira replied, "I merely proposed this idea and asked you to think about it and give your answer to me within a week. You should never make a decision without thinking about it first."

But why did I need to think about this? No. No. No. I had no desire to watch anyone in an intimate moment. I had seen plenty of that inadvertently during the part of a semester I spent at a fancy Northeastern college and I hadn't liked it when it was attractive, trust-funded eighteen year olds, so I certainly wouldn't like it when it was nebbishy 50 year olds.

Did I say that though? No. This is what I found coming out of my mouth instead:

"So how would it all work? I mean, would she know I was there?"

"Yes, but you'd have to pretend like you weren't and she'd pretend like she didn't know you were there either."

"So could I just not be there and you could pretend like I was and then pretend like you didn't know I was there anyway? This IS a fantasy right?"

"No that wouldn't work at all. You'd have to really be there."

"Ok and so you want me to follow you on a date right?"

"Yes."

"Then you're going to go somewhere from there to umm, do the deed?"

"That is precise."

"Ok, so how would I get there to watch this? Do I just go in with you guys? Because wouldn't that ruin it if she's supposed to be pretending that I wasn't really there? I don't get the logistics."

 What the hell was wrong with me? Why was I asking this? I wanted to smack myself in the head for even entertaining this idea, but my curiosity and fascination with the absurdity of the situation got the best of me.


"I would get a hotel room earlier in the day," Ira explained, "Then I would give you a key ahead of time. You would follow us on the date. I would give you a secret cue when it was time for you to leave. You'd leave ahead of us, go to the hotel room, let yourself in and hide in the closet until we got there. Then you'd watch us, we'd leave when we were ready and you could keep the room til morning or leave then. That part is your choice."


"You want me to HIDE IN THE CLOSET?? Like a serial killer or something?"


"Yes, I think that would work best."


"What if I have to go to the bathroom? What am I supposed to wear Depends or something? I mean, is this going to be a wham bam thank you ma'am or are you like Sting over here and this would go on for six hours straight? Because I can't go six hours stuck in a closet without going to the bathroom."


Of course these are the things I think of. The Chiropractor clearly hadn't taken this into consideration at all, or maybe he had and that's why he was offering me so much money.


"This wouldn't be a lengthy endeavor. The furtiveness and passionate heightened eroticism of the event would surely make for a shorter encounter."


"Furtiveness? Do you mean ferventness?"


"Both. It would be both furtive and fervent."


"I suppose it would. Hmm."


"For someone with a tenth grade education and a GED I'm shocked you know those words," he said.


"Well it was a good tenth grade, but that's besides the point. What about the money?"


"What about it? I said I would pay you one thousand five hundred dollars to do this. Do you want more?"


"In cash or what?"


"Yes."


"So...you'd pay me before? I could rip you off. I could take the money and never show up."


Again, why did I say these things? What was wrong with me? Why didn't I throw him out of the gallery and get back to Harry Potter and crosswords?


"I could pay you half before and half after."


"That makes sense I guess."


"You could use the money to go to Paris."


And with that, The Chiropractor abruptly turned and walked out of the store leaving me absolutely stunned. Had this really just happened?


Often very odd things happen to me. Usually they are not my fault and mostly beyond my control. Commonly, the strange occurrences are in some way related to my parents, but this one clearly was not. This one, I had a feeling, was all my fault. I had invited this one right on in the front door and hadn't asked it to leave. The Chiropractor had asked me to do this because I had unloaded all of my emotional baggage on him in several moments of extreme boredom and lonely desperation and my doing so had caused him to think that I was maybe open to this sort of thing. I had, after all, confessed openly to having worked in a strip club for a year. I had also admitted my irresponsibility with and therefore current desperation for money. I'd told him all about my bad luck with men as well as some other poor decisions I'd made, so naturally he was going to think I was someone who could be taken advantage of in a sense. I came off as a person who might behave impulsively and not consider normal moral and social implications of her actions.


Well, that wasn't the person I wanted to be anymore.


Except, the person I now wanted to be also wanted to go to Paris. And I had worked in a strip club for a year. I was already making a big change, so what was one more episode of accepting money for something sex related? It's not like I was actually doing anything with anyone. I'd just be in a closet. It was clearly far from prostitution and lord knows, I knew plenty of girls who accepted cash and gifts for doing a lot worse. It was one last time. It was kind of like how in movies the thief who wants to reform gets sucked back in for one last heist before retirement.  I could do one last bad thing before I finally settled down and became the responsible, upstanding young woman I imagined myself one day being.


I set about making a list of pros and cons.  Here is a close recreation of that list.


Pros:


1. Money
2. Something to write about one day.
3. Don't really have to do anything.


Cons:
1. Ewww
2. Could be a plot. What if he's a serial killer or a rapist and this is a trick to kidnap me and turn me into a sex slave? What if he's going to sell me overseas?
3. I don't really want to watch people have sex. But I mean, I'd just be in the closet. They'd be busy. I could sleep or read. Note: ask him if he's going to do it lights on or lights off. If lights are on I can bring a book.
4. Having to pee while in the closet.
5. I am claustrophobic. I don't like being in closets. I have never been in a closet.
6. This seems morally wrong though I can't think of the commandment that says Thou Shalt Not Watch People Do It.
7. Could I rip him off? Could I pull off just letting him see me on the date part and not go to the hotel room? How would he know if I was in the closet or not anyway? Would he check? Note: ask how he will know if I'm there.  Note: On second thought, don't give him ideas. Remember not to ask.
8. Why am I even considering this? See #1 under Pros. Money. Does the pro of money trump all cons?


Then I made another list.


Things I Could Do with $1500


1. Go to Paris. I have no one to go with or anyone to see there.
2. Clothes.
3. Personal trainer and lose this weight.
4. Security deposit on apartment.
5. Trip someplace else. Almost anywhere else really. Where can I go? I have no one to go anywhere with.
6. Makeover so someone will find me attractive.
7. Save it. Yeah right. For what?
8. School tuition.  Nevermind. Can't pass math.
9. So why do I even need 1500$ if I can't think of something to do with it???
10. Wait. I've got it.  THERAPY.


And then I was interrupted in my compulsive list making by Harlan who had come in to exchange some cds. He took a stack home and added a new stack and as he did so, it occurred to me how truly trivial this man's life must be if he actually created an errand out of exchanging stacks of cds. I'll bet he actually sat around and worried about what music was playing in the gallery even though I was the only person who ever listened to it.


"Did you take home that cd that I asked you to leave in the store?" he asked me.


"No, you told me not to, so I left it here."


"It's not back there," he said.


"Oh my gosh. I didn't do anything with it. Let's go look again."


We looked all over the place for the missing cd. I thought it might be stuck in the player, but it wasn't.


"You're certain you didn't take the cd home?"


"Of course. You said not to so I didn't."


"And it isn't in your car."


"No. I never touched the cd. I left the cd here. You said I couldn't borrow it so I didn't."


"Ok, well if you find it, let me know."


Harlan stood looking out the glass front window for an uncomfortably long time. He pulled on his earlobes and shifted his weight and rubbed his forehead.


"You have no idea where the cd is?" he repeated.


"No!"


"Can you just look around for it and if it shows up call me immediately?"


"Sure."


"You know, like maybe it can just reappear tomorrow and I can stop by for it?"


"Harlan, I do not have the cd."


"No no. I'm not saying you do. I'm just saying if it turns up..."


"Yeah, ok."


"In fact, maybe just close up early tonight? Like right now. Go ahead and close up right now. It's almost 6 anyway."


Harlan left and I closed the store, perplexed by the odd behavior of everyone around me, including myself.


I decided to go home and call everyone I knew to ask their opinion on what decision I should make regarding The Chiropractor's proposition. And what was up with Harlan and that cd? Weird day.


To Be Continued...
Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Chiropractor - Part 4

I am bound and determined to finish this story. Of course when I began the story, ages ago, I had no idea that I would be first renting a house, then finding the house to be infested with mold and termites, then getting served with foreclosure papers, then being told that my landlord couldn't afford to fix the mold, then buying the house from the landlord who didn't want to get rid of it but would rather let me have it than the bank, then hiring people to fix the mold myself, then finding out that the mold was worse than originally thought and then moving into my parents' house with them in it, while I am 7 months pregnant. No, I had not anticipated any of that happening. My imagination isn't that good.

Lord knows that back in the fall and winter of 2001/2002 I certainly hadn't imagined anything like this ever happening to me. Let's go back in time again.

So there I am working at the Hot Sun Gallery which sold five pieces of abstract art and some brick sized Portuguese soaps and red bush tea. I am working for trust fund hipsters, listening to cool music and pretty much making minimum wage to sit and read Harry Potter all day. I am incredibly bored, but at least I don't work at a strip club. I spend my days wishing I had someone to talk to and wondering about the Chiropractor who keeps an office upstairs and who I imagine to be old, hobbling and Chinese - Yoda, in other words.

So one day I'm sitting there behind the counter, on my very uncomfortable stool trying to scratch my way through the local paper's crossword when a man wearing pleated slacks walks in and starts looking around with his hands in his pockets. I thought he looked familiar. He looks like some comedian, I thought, and then I spent a long time trying to put my finger on exactly who I thought he looked like.  Jerry Seinfeld and Richard Lewis combined. The guy had a definite New York Jewish, bagel and lox sort of vibe going on and his hair, like Seinfeld's, was bordering dangerously close to mullet territory, but it was salt and pepper like Richard Lewis's.

"I am the Chiropractor," he announced as if he were the only chiropractor in the entire world. THE Chiropractor.


"From upstairs?" I asked.


"Yes, my name is Ira."


I was so deflated. Lately I had been experiencing an unpleasant phenomenon wherein I kept imagining people as looking very different than they actually looked and then seeing them in real life and being incredibly disappointed that my mental image didn't line up with reality. This has happened with several men I was trying to marry on Jdate and with my favorite radio personalities and now it had happened with the Chiropractor upstairs. I vowed to try to make an earnest effort to stop imagining what people looked like because obviously doing so was just going to cause me suffering because no live human being could ever live up to the standards set in my head. It was like reading a great book and then seeing the movie version and having all of the characters played by ugly actors.


Needless to say, I was quite disappointed that I was not meeting Yoda and that I would not have the opportunity to buy a Mogwai from him or perhaps receive a free cupping session. I had recently seen pictures of Gwyneth Paltrow with hickeys all over her back, which she explained were from cupping, thus making me want to try cupping desperately. One must always do as Gwyneth does after all.


"You look familiar. I know I've seen you somewhere," Ira said.


I had no idea where it could have been other than where I was.


"I've got it!" he exclaimed, "Are you on Jdate?"


I reluctantly admitted that I was.


"Yes! Great profile, but you're too young for me."


Well thank God I thought, and just to be safe I added: "Yeah, I don't date older men."


This was a mistake because then he thought I was calling him older, which I was, but people don't like being called older, so then I had to go through a whole awkward explanation of how I meant he wasn't old (although I did) but that I just meant he was older than me (by like 20 years).


Then he began to ask me all the questions I most dreaded. These were the questions that made me hate dating and made me want to avoid ever meeting new people, because I was so ashamed of my life, my choices, my fate and where I had ended up that I was often tempted to concoct elaborate lies to the people sitting next to me on planes, just so that for the duration of a flight, I would at least not have to live with the shame of who I was.


Where did you go to college?  I didn't, although I could lie about this and mention a college that I had in fact attended for most of one semester, but leave out that I had only attended for most of one semester. I had GONE there. It sounded fairly impressive if I left out most of the story. The version I told depended on both the person asking and my mood.


What about your family? Impossible to explain without flowchart.

Where do you live? In my parents' guest room.  Tragically, nearly nine years later I find myself here once again, but at least this is more temporary.


Why do you live in your parents' guest room? Because my fiance got some girl pregnant, sued me for my house, left me in a depression and caused me to have to work in a strip club where I then spent all my money so that I couldn't afford a place of my own had I wanted one. And truthfully, I didn't want one because I lacked the confidence and the desire to be independent at that time.


Why are you on Jdate? Because no one will date me for all of the above reasons.


The conversation was just awful, but I found myself telling Ira the ugly truth to everything he asked, including how I had barely a tenth grade education and had worked in a strip club. It was almost like talking to a therapist and I don't know what possessed me. I think it was that I was so bored and so lonely and so very restless that I just wanted to unload and really, who cared about some chiropractor in pleated pants who looked like a Jewish stand-up comic hybrid? Who really gave a crap?


"Well, for someone with that background, you're awfully pretty and articulate. You seem genuinely classier and smarter than one would suspect of someone with such a past," Ira observed, "You seem like a girl who would like Radiohead."


In fact, I did.


For my entire life I have defied labels. In school I could never settle into a clique or a classification because I just wasn't anything. I had many friends and varieties of things I liked and many times throughout my life I struggled with the need to classify myself as something. It seemed easier, to be able to call yourself something, to fit yourself into a niche. You don't have to think as much when you make yourself a stereotype. You can just fit in and be exactly like all the other people in the niche with you, following a prescribed set of ideals, aesthetics and experiences. I see why people do it. There is a certain comfort in being this way. It's like having a set of directions from IKEA on how to assemble a life, complete with simple drawings of smiling stick people. My problem was that I had no idea what kind of life I wanted to assemble anymore, and because I couldn't classify myself, I always saw myself as nothing, instead of an original thinker who followed her own path.


This is why it kind of appealed to me when Ira called me Girl Who Likes Radiohead. It was, I thought, a start in the right direction. Maybe I could find an instruction manual on how to put together that kind of girl. I pictured her as someone who ate thai food, but ordered the hard to pronounce stuff on the menu and skipped the cliche satay and pad thai. That afternoon I ordered Nam Sod and threw it away because the fish sauce smelled like a dirty cat box, though if someone had asked me I would have pronounced it delicious and pretended that I ate it all the time.


Ira came to see me every day and every day it was like getting free therapy. In no time, this man knew every detail of my life. He brought me cds of music he knew I would like and I did. He had long, philosophical discussions with me about all kinds of flaky metaphysics. I love talking about that kind of thing. He told me what a theremin was and then told me thought the instrument could unlock hidden parts of your subconscious just like tripping on LSD, which we also talked about. The man was a regular Timothy Leary and it had been years since I had someone talk to me about so many strange and fascinating topics. And he never once asked me out or hit on me.


Around this time Harlan, the owner of the Hot Sun, scored some pretty cool new cds himself, which he brought into the gallery for me to play on the cd player. One mix was so good that I politely asked if I could take it home for one night to copy it. Harlan said no and I said, well ok, I'll just listen to it here and go buy it myself at a later date. No big deal.  This would prove to be very important later in the story and is not an unnecessary detail.


I had been talking to Ira every work day for a good two months when he came in and told me he had a very serious proposition for me.


"I want to ask a favor of you and you will be paid handsomely if you agree. This is very important to me and I wouldn't ask anyone. I am asking because I feel I can trust you and because I feel you are the right person for this task," he explained, "and I don't want you to give me your answer right away. You will need to sleep on this and give it serious consideration, ok?"


"Ok, well what is it?" I asked.


To Be Continued...


Friday, August 06, 2010

An Update to My Post to A

I have lost two best friends in my life - Rachel and A.  I wrote about Rachel last month or so. You can scroll down and find it. I never really understood fully what happened with her, but there's a lot I left out of that post and after I wrote it, I really thought about it and realized that I didn't care where Rachel was. I was the only person who liked her. Rachel had a lot of serious problems. She had come from an abusive background of religious fanatics and hypocrites. Her family was strewn with mental illness and she had it too. At best Rachel was a narcissistic drama queen. At worst she was self-righteous, ignorant, stubborn and a mooch. It's just that I have an extremely high tolerance for most of these behaviors, so I could handle her and find her good points when others couldn't stand to spend five minutes around her.  I wish Rachel best. I have decided not to worry about what happened to her and where she is. There is much about Rachel that was toxic to me.

But then there is A.

Two summers ago when I was in Iowa, I wrote This Post about A, who was the best friend I had ever had, and how I had completely destroyed our friendship when we were younger because I had behaved inappropriately and had been jealous of her. I absolutely deserve what I got. I wouldn't be friends with me either. At least not the me of back then, over a decade ago now.

I hate that I cannot undo what I did. I hate that I did what I did. Some people who know the whole story tell me it's not as bad as I think it is and that I was not the one who deserved A's full wrath in the situation. At times I can see that point of view, but I hold firm. I did the wrong thing. I deserve what I got, but it just kills me still. I wish I had a time machine and that I could go back in time and force the younger me to stop and reconsider her actions and to do the right thing instead. Back then, I was not well acquainted with the right thing.

You may ask, why are you obsessing over this girl again. Didn't you get it out of your system 2 summers ago? I thought I did.  I took that post and I reworked it into another piece and sent it away. I swore it would get published. My plan was to send A the anthology it was in, but the Universe intervened and the piece was rejected. Maybe this is for the better. Later I realized that if I were A, I would think receiving a published piece about myself in a book was stalkerish and creepy and a violation of privacy. A was always an extremely private person, whereas I may as well be a complete exhibitionist. Believe me, the only reason I'm not detailing exactly what horrible thing I did to A is because I am protecting her privacy and not my own. I'm glad the piece didn't get published and I figured it was a sign. Give it up. I have new friends now. I'm not the same person. Forgive yourself, I said. You learned your lesson.

Then this happened.

At the beginning of the summer (which has flown so quickly) a mutual friend of mine and A's contacted me to tell me he heard the craziest news ever and that I just had to hear it too. A and her husband were expecting and not only were they expecting, their baby was due within a couple weeks of mine! What kind of a coincidence is that? It was outrageous, especially because we had all separately sworn that we would never have children. Now we are having them at the same exact time.

A had put this information on Facebook with some bump pictures and the usual congratulations had ensued.

Facebook had been an issue in the A saga. This is how I know she still harbors extreme hostility towards me. Stupid Facebook. It turns us all into middle schoolers sometimes.

I joined Facebook as my real self a couple months after returning from Iowa, well after I'd written the post about her and it had been rejected and I'd taken that as a sign. The reason I went on Facebook was to keep in touch with relatives scattered all over the country and to share pictures with them. It's been great for that. I feel so much closer to my cousins and I've rekindled old friendships with dear people with whom I had accidentally lost touch. I had absolutely no desire whatsoever to try to contact A or add her as a friend. I have an extreme amount of pride and dignity and I would never, ever humiliate myself like that.

Still, A and I grew up together and have some mutual friends. The very day I joined Facebook, a guy we knew in high school added me as a friend. I didn't add him. He added me. In fact, I hadn't even thought about him at all. He still lives in A's town and is friends with her. He knows all about what happened between us and I guess doesn't care since it didn't involve him. I'm not sure. I had all of about three friends when this happened so I could see on his wall that all of a sudden A's husband started cussing and throwing a fit about something to this mutual friend. The next day the friend deleted me as a friend and I hadn't even said hi to him! The friend sent me a terse email apologizing that adding me had been a mistake and that he had a lot of problems in his life. A and her husband had been very upset when they saw that I had joined Facebook and asked that he not be friends with me so as not to cause them emotional distress or some such nonsense. Then he said that they were making their profiles super private and unsearchable so that I couldn't find them and that they would block me and so would he.

I was deeply insulted. I have never tried to contact these people. I would never try. There is no reason for them to have gotten themselves in such a fit over me being on Facebook. I mean honestly. Basically my response was this: "How old are you people?"  And what I don't understand is that after more than 12 years now, what on  earth could they possibly think I was going to do to them? I don't understand what threat they perceived in me to get so wigged out over me being on Facebook.

But A and I have another mutual friend and this friend is far closer with me than he is with her, so she knew better than to make this request of him. He would have told her where to go. This is the friend who told me A was pregnant. 

It really freaked me out. I don't know why. Maybe it's my insistence on magical thinking and believing that there are no coincidences. I can't quite articulate what it is.

It's just that...we weren't going to have children.  A's husband had been adamant for years that he would never, ever, ever procreate. Do not ask me how I know this. I just do. He had valid reasons I thought.

I believed that I would never have children and I didn't care. I thought my health problems would prevent it and I was scared of pregnancy and all its trappings and I just didn't have that need that some of my girlfriends had to have babies. But see, my husband did and I love this man with all that I am and I knew that he deserved to have a child and that a child should have him as her father. Then there was this incident with my ex-boyfriend and let's just say that because of my ex-boyfriend, I ended up pregnant.  That sounds WAY worse than it really is. Trust me. Oh jeez, I had better digress and tell you because my mother in law will read this and become convinced that the child I'm carrying isn't really her grand-daughter. I'm friends with my ex-boyfriend from many years ago. My husband is too. The Ex-BF hated children and never wanted any and his wife was despondent and wanted a family and basically he got an ultimatum and went ahead and did it for her and now they have a beautiful little boy who changed his life entirely. My Ex-BF is not even the same person as he was before and now he wants more kids. So he and I got to talking about the whole baby having thing and he laid it out for me and said "When you love someone you sacrifice yourself for them and you become a better person for doing it." And he was right and I realized that maybe the whole reason I met him 20 years ago and dated him and stayed friends with him was just so we could get to that moment and he could get me over that impasse of terror I had and help the soul of my daughter incarnate. So anyway, right after that talk we had, somehow a condom ended up tossed under my coffee table and a month later I was puking.

Apparently, at the exact same time, A was doing the exact same thing. I don't know what made her husband reconsider his stance at the exact same time that I reconsidered mine, but it's just awfully strange.

A's husband has a half-assed blog that he updates not nearly often enough. I try not to blog stalk because of the site meter. He has to know it's me. Who else would read from Florida? This is not a popular blog, so it would be pretty easy to figure out when I read. He never really posts anything of great importance on it - just the occasional photo or commentary about something innocuous. He takes a lot of pictures though and has a link to his Flickr in his sidebar and there's where I stalk. I'm so ashamed. I can't help it.

There was A pregnant. There she was sitting on a rock in some yoga position looking very earth mother with her hands on her bump. Then they had taken pictures during an ultrasound and she was smiling. There were tummy and transducer pictures. Last week they posted a picture of her, again standing in a very earthy pose, head down, back-lit and hands cradling her bump. She was in the middle of the under-construction nursery. There were patches of blue paint on the walls as if they were trying to decide on a shade. Does this mean they are having a boy?

Immediately my mind jumped 20 years in the future. Her boy and my girl would end up at the same artsy, liberal college in the Northeast. It would be one of those schools without grades and of course they'd meet up and fall madly in love and eventually they'd have this conversation:

Her: Where are you from?
Him: Riverbank, New York
Her: Oh, my mom lived there when she was a teenager!
Him: My mom has lived there her whole life.
Her: Where did she go to school?
Him: Riverbank Day
Her: How old is your mom?
Him: 56
Her: My mom too! My mom went to that school! They would have been in the same grade!

Then they would add it all up and he would say:

"My mom HATES your mom! My mother thinks your mother is a crazy, white trash whore!!"

Then they would either break up or get married and I'd have to be at the wedding with A and it would be like Romeo and Juliet or something. This would be just my luck.

I never anticipated that A and I would ever have children at the same time. When we were little we used to fantasize about weddings and families and I always said I was going to have a daughter and she always said she'd have a son. I guess we were right. 

Had I even had the capacity to know, back then, back when I did the terrible thing, that we would be pregnant at the exact same time, I like to think it would have made me reconsider my actions.

I am missing out. It makes me sad.

If IT had never happened we could have shared this experience. We could have compared notes and strange symptoms - what freakish things our bodies were doing now. We could have been happy together and scared together and excited together. Now, I can't even congratulate her.

But this is what happens when you don't treat others kindly. There are consequences to your behavior that you can't even imagine. There are hurts you don't anticipate in the throes of your own selfish stupidity.

And now I look at the pictures of her and all I can think is how she's doing it better than I am. She glows and I just feel fat. She paints her nursery while I choke on acid reflux. 

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