Remembering When: A New Day

This post was originally published on Janyary 17, 2013. Two years later and I'm still working on my new beginning. And I'm okay with this because it means I haven't stopped trying.  

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A strange thing happened today. I didn’t notice it right away, of course. There was no dramatic realization. No being struck by a figurative lightning bolt. It was more like the rising of the sun…

Slow. Steady. And something that, when you stop to think about it, shouldn’t really come as a surprise.

Sleep has been fitful and restless and mostly non-existent. I was lucky to wake up in time to get Buttercup to her morning pre-ballet/tap class. I didn’t bother bringing a book to read. She upgraded me, you see. A few weeks ago, when she first started, I was timidly asked to remain downstairs in the waiting room while she danced. I’m embarrassed, Mama. Instead of allowing herself to fully relax and enjoy herself with her fellow dancers, I think she had been too focused on my opinion of her performance.

So I waited. And eventually, she asked me to leave my book at home.

I sat in the dance studio with the other mothers while the dancers sues-sused and tapped their happy little hearts out. We smiled and laughed as our daughters delighted in the movement their bodies allow and reveled in their own conspiratorial giggles. We clapped, as a proper audience should at the end of a worthy performance, when the teacher announced the end of the class. Then we helped our happy girls change out of their dance attire and into their street clothes and made our way across the studio to go on with the rest of our days.

That’s when I saw my reflection in the studio mirror. I barely registered what I was looking at….there were too many things to do and think about to concentrate on the size of my ass or what my hips looked like. Hear that? Taking the time to criticize myself would have been a luxury. Buttercup was asking questions and we needed to go to Target and The Husband needed me to pick up a few things at the grocery store before we headed back home and I was trying to remember what they were and…hell. If I don’t have time to read a book or watch trashy T.V. or sleep, do I really have the time to stand in front of a mirror and pick myself apart?

And more importantly, is that how I want to spend the few precious moments I do find for myself? Self-criticism and self-directed body hatred as LUXURY like fine velvets and expensive champagnes and rare jewels and days like tomorrow when I can stay home all day in my pajamas and don’t have to bother with a bra?

I met my own eyes in the mirror once more before leaving the studio and that’s when I saw myself through the light of the new day and realized I had sat in front of a mirror for an hour and only concentrated on my daughter, her happiness, and how I hope she grows up stronger than me.

The woman looking back at me in the mirror was smiling now. Maybe because she realized feelings weigh so much less when shared with others who understand.

Am I fixed yet? No. But it’s a new day.

And that’s a start.

 

Buttercup's Dream; Revisited

April 2010 I'm trying to keep my head above water as my life gets busier and crazier, so it's time to pull out the blog-equivalent of the re-run. This one is from way back when Eliana was Buttercup and still fell asleep while sucking on her fingers.

I miss this.

But then I remember that when tomorrow comes, I'll miss today.

Because Every Writer Needs an Entourage

I'm at that weird place where I'm finding myself at a loss for what to post here. This space used to be my only outlet after leaving the newsroom to stay home with Eliana six years ago. Now, the soapboxes I once stood on and the She Said WHAT stuff that once were automatic blog fodder are now the columns and commentaries that I save for Latina. It's not a bad problem to have, I know. And I'm grateful for it.

Last week, The Husband, Eliana, and I packed up the truck at drove over seven hours from northern Maine to Stamford, Connecticut, where we caught a train to the Grand Central Harlem station. the purpose of the trip was two-fold and one of those folds I can't tell you about...yet. The other was to finally go the the Latina Magazine offices and meet the amazing staff and my favorite editor in person. We Did Lunch while The Husband took Eliana to FAO Schwartz to dance on the giant piano, and the next day we packed up to hop on the train for home.

 

It was exhausting. And except for the projectile vomit thing that happened in Massachussettes on the way home that forced a hotel stop for Eliana to rest (and us to clean out the truck), it was amazing.

Eliana and The Husband were invited to visit the Latina office with me. I loved that. So did they.

 

And then we drove hours and hours to our little sanctuary so far north I'm no longer impressed by the fact that Stephen King lives in Bangor. i'll be back in New york soon enough. But it's good to be home.

A Text Message to My Mother

Hey Mom. Sorry I missed you today on Skype. We were going to call this morning but Eliana had an important hula hooping lesson. It went well. And we really like the instructor.

I figured we'd call later but then we had a surprise day out when a friend called to invite me and Eli to the Potato Festival. Eli got to walk in the doll parade with her Pip, her Bitty Baby, and got to climb inside a tractor, turn on the lights in a state trooper's patrol car, and flip the siren on in a policeman's car.

She ran barefoot in the rain with her friends for hours and stood in line for the homemade piñata a new friend brought with her.

She asked to listen to the country band and ran up to interrupt the singer to request a Toby Keith song and they made her smile when they started the next song.

I got to leave with 2 lobsters for $18 because the rain made for a smaller crowd. I'm not complaining.

Thank you, God and Small Town America.

When we got home, Eliana got in the tub to wash off the mud and then invited me to a sleepover at my "house" in the basement room. Tomorrow morning I get to go to her place for breakfast and grown up talk about our writing and going to New York because that's what writers do. We might even use the rainbow we saw as inspiration for a story. She says it depends on her mood.

It was a long day. I'm exhausted. The laundry didn't get touched and the sink is full of dishes. But it was amazing. I need more days like this.

Love you and sweet dreams.

 

 

 

In Which We Travel the Solar System

We're finishing up a lesson in social studies and geography for Eliana's Oakmeadow homeschool lesson this week. The idea was to pick a destination on a map and take a roadtrip following the planned route. We've already learned how to use a compass, find our way to and from the neighbor's with it, located our town and county, and made a drawing of the state of Maine, so I wanted to make this one fun. My neighbor, Joan, happens to be a teacher (and the grandmother of Eliana's new BFF, Lucy), so my original idea to drive to the children's museum as scrapped when Joan suggested we make the drive through northern Maine's solar system model. One road. Multiple points on a map. And the girls get to speed through the entire solar system scaled down to a 40-mile long route in one afternoon?

Bring it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joan told me the earth rotates at 6,040 miles per hour and orbits at 67,06 miles per hour. At its core, the solar system rotates at 514,000 miles per hour and the Milky Way at 1,340,000 miles per hour. That means that if we could travel as fast as the universe, we could circle Earth on foot in about two minutes.

A half tank of gas. 80 miles round trip just for the solar system route plus the drive home. Two best friends laughing-shrieking-sometimes fighting-sometimes perforating our ear drums with excitement when the next planet came into view. It was incredible. It was exhausting. It was unforgettable.

And also exhausting.

Lack of wine and the inability to drive faster than the car in front of me makes me wish I was the Milky Way.

Choose Your Word

I recently had the chance to hang out with Holly Fulger and friends (and fellow Speaking of Beauty contributing writers) in Holly's home in L.A. Don't freak out if you happen to be aware of The Cali Curse and the Me Being Banned from Ever Stepping Foot NEAR Cthe State of California thing. At least, not yet. I may eventually need to have a shaman clear me for seeing Holly in person, but right now it's all Google Hangout, but you're safe for now.

The purpose of our chat was to discuss the focus of our writing for Speaking of Beauty as Holly moves forward in her vision and her mission to grow the conversation of beauty, perception, and self-acceptance. That sounds a lot like Girl Body Pride, with my own personal flavor, of course, and I think it's why Holly and I were naturally drawn to each other. This, people, is one of the reasons I love social media. Pretty sure there's no way in hell there's any other way Regular Me would end up anywhere on Hollywood Actress Holly's radar without my iPhone in my bra, twitter, and 140 characters. And here I was helping Holly lead a group discussion focused on writing, inspiration, and sharing ourselves and our stories with the women looking to see themselves in our words.

Our conversation was incredible, the group is amazing, and even Eliana had a chance to sit on my lap and say hello to Holly, as she will soon be joining the ranks as an official contributor to the site. I just need to remember to drink an espresso before the next time we get together, and perhaps write up a few bullet points to stay on track, because I'm pretty sure I gave the impression that I like sniffing glue.

Other than that, I learned I'm inspiring.

It's my word.

Speaking of Beauty features a Style Profile Test designed by Holly and business partner Melissa McNamara. The idea is pretty simple: Choose your word and find your essence. Holly and Melissa plan to launch a makeup line in the near future and the style profile is meant to help women realize that beauty truly is an inside job by first defining themselves before defining their style.

Choose your word and find yourself. Are you an Inpsirer? A Seeker? A Dreamer? a Leader? or a Thinker?

 

GROUP 1                                                                                                                               Visionary, Inventive, Original, Authentic, Spontaneous, Unconventional, Sexy, Outgoing, Idealistic, Inspiring, Stylish, Motivating, Exciting, Influential    YOUR WORD___________

GROUP 2                                                                                                                                 Curious, Funny, Natural, Musical, Entertaining, Joyous, Playful,Whimsical, Eccentric, Vibrant, Artistic, Blithe, Vivacious, Creative                                                                    YOUR WORD ____________

GROUP 3                                                                                                                      Caring, Gentle, Peaceful, Graceful, Spiritual, Deep, Source, Ageless, Classic, Serene, Balanced, Soulful, Ethereal, Still                                                                                                         YOUR WORD ____________

GROUP 4                                                                                                                          Passionate, Powerful, Independent, Commanding, Adventurous, Fearless, Bold, Athletic, Brave, Risk-Taking, Heroic, Confident, Indomitable, Forceful                                           YOUR WORD____________

GROUP 5                                                                                                                        Strong, Rational, Wise, Centered, Honest, Elegant, Prosperous, Logical, Focused, Loyal, Determined, Organized, Striking, Driven                                                                            YOUR WORD____________

WHAT ARE YOUR 5 WORDS?   __________,  _________,  ________, _________,   ___________

NOW CHOOSE 3 __________,   ___________,    ___________

NOW CHOOSE 1 __________

 

My 5: Inspiring, Creative, Deep, Bold, Driven

My 3: Inspiring, Creative, Driven

 

My Word: Inspiring

 

 

According to the Style Test on Speaking of Beauty, Inspirers are visionaries, idealistic, and spontaneous.

 

Inspirers stand out from the rest. Others follow you and the influence that you embody is very compelling. Your look has been designed to accentuate the aspects of your visionary nature. Since you are unafraid to take chances, a bold palette has been created. The Inspirer’s strength and sense of purpose can be conveyed by strong colors, a distinctive eye, and a defined lip. -- Speaking of Beauty

 

That sounds about right.

Me? I like my red lipstick.

You? What's your word?

Find it. Then go out and live it.

 

 

 

Introducing Eliana Mercedes, Blogger Child

 

A conversation with Eliana, my almost-six-year-old.

Me: Baby? What do you think of when I say the word "beauty?"

Eliana: Beast.

Me: I like it. But let's think of things you think are beautiful. What are the first five things you can think of?

Eliana (thinking): Flowers. And butterflies. And Princesses.

Me: Anything else?

Eliana: Yep. Love. And people's spirits. That makes them beautiful.

This will be my daughter's first transcribed post as a contributor to Holly Fulger's Speaking of Beauty blogging team. She talks. I type what she says. Or maybe vlog it. It all depends on if she's feeling like a rock star or a writer when it's time to work like Mama.
And this is the bio I wrote up for her.

 Eliana Mercedes is the daughter of The Husband and writer Pauline M. Campos. Up until now, she has been known online simply as Buttercup. But this homeschooling first-grader is now a blogger, which means Eliana Mercedes looks better in a byline. She has no idea what that means yet and only hopes it includes the chance to adopt a baby beluga and visit Disney World one day.

I'm kind of proud. Kind of scared. And maybe a little crazy. But keep in mind that this child does not watch TV with commercials and has no concept of the media trying to brainwash us all into a singular concept of beauty. That's exactly why I cannot wait to see what she has to say next.

 

Housekeeping! (A List in Accented English)

* Yes, I did in fact say that in my head with an exaggerated Spanish-accented English voice. * Because I can.

* If you don't laugh, you're actually hurting my feelings.

* Things are insane.

* Hence, the list.

* Turns out you guys are all Made of Awesome.

* Why, you ask?

* Because 418 of you signed my Change.org petition to get Disney to drop the sex kitten crap with Merida.

* It's too late.

* Maybe.

* She's been crowned & the new image is available on a variety of Crap We'll Buy Our Kids Because We're Giant Suckers.

* And because even if she's been sexed up, the movie is still amazing.

* Oh right.

* Because if we tell our children it's the message that matters and not the size of her waistline, we done good.

* We have no choice, really, since Disney contradicted the very message behind Brave with this whole debacle.

* You know, the one about family, independence, and finding the strength to find out own fates within us?

* Yeah, that one.

* The happy asides?

* A Mighty Girl has a petition with over 18,000 signatures.

* Brave's director is a bit pissed off about the animated plastic surgery job, too.

* So high five on that, y'all.

* New subject.

* Keep up with me, will you?

* I've got an updated version of my Mind Over Medicine review on Girl Body Pride.

* You'll want to stop by.

* Gigi Ross from Kludgey Mom needs some love.

* And Lissa Rankin has written a book I promise you'll want to read.

* Trust me on this one.

* Also? I've got a winner for the Aspiring Mama giveaway of Mind Over Medicine.

* Tanessa Knoll? Buttercup just said Comment Number Two is my winner.

* So ... you're welcome.

* Email me your address, will ya?

* Twitter works, too.

* New subject.

* Yes.

* AGAIN.

* Buttercup is about to follow in Mama's footsteps.

* Little girl has been granted permission by The Mama (me) & The Daddy (The Husband) for a pretty cool gig.

* Girlfriend is going to be a regular contributor to Holly Fulger's Speaking of Beauty blogging team.

* Which also happens to include me.

* I know, right?

* The girl can read at a fourth grade level but has the typing skills of a 5-year-old.

* Probably because she is five.

* So I can't knock her for that.

* Instead, I'll be transcribing my baby's words and views on what beauty means to her.

* I promise not to edit what she says.

* I hope like hell I've done right by her and taught her that beauty is everywhere.

* That the only size that matters when it comes to beauty is the size of our hearts.

* And that society is full of assholes who will try & knock her down a peg or two but that they don't matter.

* I'll know I've succeeded in about 10 years.

* If the child is self-assured enough to wear this when she's 15 because it makes her happy without giving a damn what you think?

 

* I win at motherhood.

* Whiplash warning.

* New subject.

* I really need to take my Xanax.

* That wasn't the subject change.

* Just proof that I need the fucking Xanax.

* This is the subject change...

* Dammit.

* I forgot.

* No, wait.

* GOT IT!

* Girl Body Pride has new team members!

* Congrats to Heidi Zalamar and Margaret Elysia Garcia.

* You guys kick major ass.

* I promise to add your bios to the writer page sometime before 2014 hits.

* Was that all?

* No, seriously.

* I was asking you if I needed to cover anything else before I chase that Xanax with an instant espresso.

* Shut up.

* It works for me.

* Last subject.

* I'm still sitting in a secret.

* And it's a Big One.

* Oh...

* And The Husband just warned me to be on the lookout for the family of moose in the area when I let the dogs out.

* Drops Mic & Saunters Offstage.

 

I Do's, BFF's, Silver Linings, & When NOT to Say Vagina

 My best friend got married yesterday and I was there, proudly holding my bouquet in one hand and my iPhone in the other as she and her man said their I Do's, kissed, and sealed the deal.

It was beautiful. Weddings and beginnings are supposed to be, right? Somehow, though, the words "Till Death Do Us Part" take on new meaning when the groom was rushed to the emergency room by ambulance and released a few days earlier after almost dying from a severe asthma attack. "For Richer or Poorer" means more when pennies have been counted and bills juggled. "In sickness and in health" takes your breath away knowing that just days earlier, the bride was praying for a miracle and the emergency responders were making sure that miracle happened.

The fact that the bride is a powerhouse of confidence who deserves every happiness after an abusive first marriage that she walked away from speaks volumes as she and the man who loves her now and forever tries to keep it together and not cry like a baby while he repeats the pastor and promises his today and all of his tomorrows. He does (and will continue to) treat her like the goddess she is and deserves to be and this is when I find myself blinking away a few tears of my own.

Flower girls sit at my feet, one my daughter, the other the bride's niece. I'm waiting for the bride to call and let me know she got the wedding proofs back because I'm positive there'll be at least one photo of me glaring at Buttercup and Mom-looking her into something that resembles proper behavior because she may as well have been the drunk aunt on the dance floor with all the flashing that would have taken place had she not been wearing leggings under her dress because we totally saw it coming. At one point, there were a few snickers as I did the Mom Finger-Snap & Point thing indicating that it was now time to get out of Downward Dog and sit the hell down.

"Stop that or no ice cream." I whisper-yelled it as I pointed to the spot where she was supposed to plant her little ass until the time came to follow the bride and groom down the aisle after they were pronounced Mr. and Mrs. I got plenty of pictures of the three-year-old sitting perfectly and adorably still as she waited for her cue while I kept praying that Buttercup would remember to Not Say Inappropriate Things in Public. She did remember, thank you very much. Which makes this post way less entertaining, but I'm pretty sure it's a major factor in me and the BFF still being BFFs.

There's also the fact that the bride chose dresses that accentuated curves AND HAD HIDDEN POCKETS! And that she told me I could play with my iPhone during the ceremony. Probably because she left the Chinese finger trap at home. Those are also reasons I love her and appreciate her friendship in ways that cannot be described. One does not make it to her 30's without a BFF without cherishing the one that appears when she is meant to.

There was a Tardis and the bridesmaids received pocket watches with teddy bears and the ice cream bar made everyone happy because rainbow sprinkles and chocolate chips hold that kind of power. There was silliness and friendship and family and new beginnings to be celebrated and enjoyed. There were Spanx to peel off and cellulite to embrace and fuller curves than were present when the dress was ordered to thank for not needing alterations because I didn't have time to get any done.

There were explanations to the child to give her much loved honorary aunt the space needed to share herself with everyone present and stilettos thankfully replaced with flats or bare feet. And then at the end there were hugs and good-bye's and I Love You's as the room was cleaned up and the bride and her groom prepared for their honeymoon and everyone else parted ways and started Facebook-searching for the connections made.

And then on Facebook there was an update from a mother of a flower girl and a bridesmaid to the best friend that took 30 years to find.

 

 

 

 

So...A Writer Walks into a Story...

 

I'm in Tucson. There is now snow. Everything is brown and green. And I miss Maine.

My best friend gets married on Sunday. Her Husband-to-be will most likely be released from the hospital tomorrow after a nearly fatal asthma attack. We flew 3,000 miles to be a part of the beginning of their Happily Ever After. But before we missed the first plane on Tuesday, we walked into a story at the Bangor Quality Inn on Monday evening being closer to the airport gave us some breathing room in the morning.

We just didn't realize that meant 24 hours before the next flight and texts messages from the BFF about the future Mr. BFF, the epi pen that saved his life long enough for the ambulance crew to do it again on the way to the hospital, and the very obvious irony in the hospital staff trying to feed a man deathly allergic to eggs and poultry a chicken dinner followed up by a pancake breakfast.

Before that, though, I walked into a story while holding my daughter's hand at the Bangor Quality Inn hotel. Front desk clerk Chris Snow and regular guest Anne Saunders chatting it up. I had my phone out of my bra and asked them if I could take a photo before anyone moved and the story wrote itself inside of my head before the words "I'm a writer. Do you mind if I share this?" came tumbling out of my mouth.

The two consented and then I explained what a blog is, which s funny but also true. Chris is exactly who I want to walk in and see at every hotel I ever check in to. Anne, obviously, agrees with me. She and Chris go way back from before and the Quality Inn was something else and something else before that. And the scene grew warmer and simpler and sweeter simply because it was real.

I'm often asked how I go about the nasty business of gathering ideas for my writing. So far, my best answer is that I don't. The moments that become essays and columns and blog posts and chapters? They find me.

 

Hearts and Flowers

 

I'm supposed to be writing this in Tucson, my feet tucked up nicely beneath me, while Eliana plays with her little besties she has known for most of her life. My friend Jill said Hotel What? No, you stay here! And we nodded happily and made sure to pack the flower girl dress and the bridesmaid dress and our shoes and asked the BFF where the hell my headband and pretty shrug were because I had torn my closet apart and Oh Thank God...she made me leave them at her house when I moved to Maine because I lose everything. I'm in control again, of only for a short while.

I was supposed to have written three other blog posts by now that may be obsolete by the time I have time to write them. And I wasn't supposed to be worried about a family emergency I can't do anything about from 28,000 feet.

Instead, I'm on a plane heading from Georgia to Tucson  for what is turning out to be the most expensive hand basket ever made. If you didn't get the reference, ask the other kids in class, cuz I've got a lot of material to cover here. So...moving on.

We missed yesterday's plane because the child had the kind of meltdown that led to her therapy. Delta rebooked us and was kind enough to waive enough of the change fee so we could afford to make the trip, but because of Life and Shit Hitting the Fan, that meant we had to wait until today for a flight.

The Four Points Sheraton across the street from the airport took pity on the sobbing mess that was me when I went to see if we could get a room once we realized we were stuck. Miss the morning flight out of Bangor and you missed your chance, period.

I was also supposed to have launched my writing and social media coaching services by now, annoyed all of my friends with requests for NEDA Awareness Week retweets, and possibly slept for more than 24 hours in the last week. But that was before the two ER trips and the day at the pediatrician and the resulting questioning looks from strangers when the five year old is wandering around with her legs so wide apart you'd think she has chaps on. The plastic doughnut she's got hooked on her arm like a security blanket confuses the hell out of the people really paying attention, but I don't have time to explain things like "cellulitis" and "drama queen" and "future broadway star" and "distress tolerance" and "anxiety."

Eliana is finally asleep after a morning only Xanax and a few deep breaths could cure (for ME, people. She's the one who took the deep breaths) and I am relieved. I need the quiet. There is so much to process.

I'm exhausted, but I'm not stupid. Falling asleep would be letting my guard down and if she wakes up and has another screaming fit because I DON'T WANT TO and LET'S GO BACK HOME, NOW!!! (she means Maine), and MAMA, PLEASE!!!!! aren't going to make the woman sitting in front of us on the plane a very happy neighbor. She's already turned around once to tell me she's trying to sleep because Buttercup and I were laughing at knock knock jokes. I was like SHE'S FIVE. She rolled her eyes and turned back around, mumbling about how she has an 8 year old. Which is nice, but I'm not sure how the apples and oranges belong in the same basket. I've got DDDs. The woman with the stick up her ass about the laughing child who was inconsolable only a few moments before because change scares the absolute shit out of her? Well, I didn't get a good look, but I'd ballpark them somewhere in the B-range.

My point? Just because we both have a set of  chi-chis doesn't mean we can trade bras. And my inner child almost wishes the my own child would freak out again and make me feel like the worst mom in the world because I can't fix it. Because then I could ask the woman how her nap was going.

Admit it. You'd feel better, too.

But karma is, it turns out, not always a bitch. We have the happy gay flight attendants chatting in the galley right behind us. This is being mentioned because 1) I miss having a gay boyfriend. I had one in college. And then there one who liked to hit on The Husband  whenever he picked me up for lunch when I was working as a reporter just because The Husband is hot and my GBF was adorable.

2) The Three Amigas are conversing, y'all. It's girl talk and it's loud and obnoxiously cute and I secretly hope the woman in front of me can't sleep.

Petty thoughts? Yes. I freely admit that.

But it's easier to be petty inside of my head while going back and forth with the therapist by email while trying to talk the child off of another ledge because something just set her off and we have no idea what it is or how to fix it or keep it from happening again. I'd rather focus on how she just woke up smiling and asked if she has ever told me that I am the flower of her heart while she plays with her ballerina sticker stage than the feeling of complete and utter helplessness that comes when nothing I say or do can make it better and The Husband has no choice but to leave us in the busy airport terminal so he can order lunch during a layover and I'm sitting on the floor with a child who went from logical, loving, and so adorable it's insane to completely and utterly inconsolable in a matter of seconds.

It's the In Between that does it. The Before, too. And sometimes, The After comes into play in the form of night terrors because we went to a Mexican wedding and my little girl isn't used to hands reaching out constantly to touch while she hides behind my dress because she wasn't exposed to any of the cultural craziness I was growing up. The Before is a bitch because no matter how much time we have to prepare her for any change, it's never enough. The In Between just comes into play on days like today when we have two layovers and three planes for a 3,ooo mile trip.

Because once we got on each plane? I'm in familiar territory. I'm in the place where I am a flower and inside her heart.

Cinnamon Scented Lies

Mom! I'm ready to leave now. Of course I'm dressed. Wonder Woman? Underwear? Hello?

 Buttercup asked me if fairies were real the other day. I have to admit, the question knocked me on my ass and I didn't know how to respond at first. My Little, my One and Only, sat patiently as Mama tripped over words to try and reassure her that the very foundation for her world built of imagination, fairy tales, and Tinker Bell, is cracking. She's five. She's brilliant. She has known how to outwit me and The Husband with actual and applied logic when trying to get her way since she was two.

But magic and fairies that smell of cinnamon and the Easter Bunny that can take a bow for being the only reason I take her to church once a year? Santa and his elves making toys for all the children in the world and Christmas magic and Santa's magic key to get into our house with no chimney...all of these little white lies we've built up and encouraged and reinforced as parents simply because she has always looked at the world through the eyes of the child I wish I had been. At her age, I knew too much, had seen too much, and Santa was something to say I believed in so I could open a few extra presents every year.

I was eight when I finally fessed up and said I was no longer a believer of the fat guy in the red suit who somehow made it legal to break into houses all over the world just to leave presents. I grew up in Detroit. I've been to Mexican weddings where the final dance is the cue for every woman with a free arm and three kids running along to help to grab as many centerpieces as they can just because they are there. I wasn't buying this Santa business. And then I kicked myself after because suddenly my Christmas present pile looked pretty sad as it got smaller. Pretending to believe the half-assed Spanglish Christmas my Green Carded father and his family put on for us kids every year was something I suddenly missed.

Buttercup didn't grow up in that craziness. It's been me and The Husband and a few very close friends most of her life. Presents appear under the tree while we sleep and as they should so that Christmas morning is magical and Mama and Daddy try to stay awake with coffee after wrapping all night. Mexican weddings scare the shit out of her because she was never trained to address anyone as old or older than her parents as Tia and Tio or to kiss and hug every single person in the room on demand upon arrival and departure. And she sure as hell wants nothing to do with People She's Never Met grabbing at her and cooing at her and expecting her to come willingly into their arms just because that's Tia So and So and No You Are Not Supposed to Tell Her that Her Perfume Stinks.

My baby speaks Dora Spanish and believes in personal space, magic, and that if you smell cinnamon it must mean that a fairy was just in the room. So I make sure to keep the Fairy Magic spray bottle I made with water and cinnamon essential oils hidden away for the days when magic and a simple Do You Smell Cinnamon are all it takes to make her entire spirit radiate with happiness because fairies exist.

I could have told you I would become a non-fiction writer when I was eight. If my kid ever decides she wants to become a writer, she's a novelist in the making. She's too little and innocent to have Mama bursting her Happy Place wide open but too smart to have me lie to her face and not blow my cover.

Do fairies exist? She asked me again and I cried inside because it wasn't that long ago that she sucked her fingers as she slept and that eleventeen was a number. Now she wanted me to reassure her that something I wished to be true actually was.

Fairies and their magic exist for those that believe in them, I told her. It's the lucky ones like you who know a fairy just flew by when you smell cinnamon.

She smiled and sat back on the couch, satisfied. And I waited for just the right moment to spritz some Fairy Magic in the air when she wasn't looking.

Why I Write NonFiction

My child is driving me batty. The Husband doesn't understand this, of course, but he also didn't understand why I started crying when the ultrasound tech told me I was having a girl, either. The bottom line was, quite frankly, that raising me almost broke my mother and I was feeling preemptively sorry for myself.

I love my girl. With a fierceness that explains all that Mama Bear protecting her cub stuff. Think Merida and Queen Elinor in Brave. Think of your own girl and how you love her and are drove to banging your head into a wall in what probably equates to an even 50/50 split.

Think of all of the parenting milestones that no one ever tells you about. Like how one day your sweet little girl, bedecked in bows and too much pink, will suddenly (and without warning) outgrow crabby into bratty then boom--bratty morphs into bitchy and you're left wondering how in hell you're going to survive when the child who is five realizes she has hormones and starts trying to negotiate for a later curfew and the keys to the car.

The Husband is clueless. The child is pouting and pissy and arguing everything you say for the sake of arguing before she realizes she's totally against no TV for a week, no iPad for two, and has no interest in that pony you were going to buy her tomorrow just because and then you have to try not to laugh because it was funny even if she's now pissed off even more that you are the meanest mom ever because you won't buy her a fucking pony.

So you open up your browser, log into Facebook, and tell perfect strangers who sometimes get it more than those that know you ever will how your day is going. And this is what it looks like.

The End.

Mexican Musings from Maine

 

A text to a friend:

 

"Snow shoed. Finger knitted. Watched the plow truck get plowed out of our driveway by a construction plow, the fed ex guy park behind the plow truck while still stuck and jog through 50 yards of foot deep snow carrying packages under one arm like it was a Sunday jog, and grilled salmon on the deck while my kid played in the snow for an hour after snow shoeing. Just your regular winter night in Maine."

 

Her response:

Let me know when your column launches.

 

Okay.

Challenge accepted.

In Which We Say to Hell with Resolutions

 

 

I don't do resolutions. Not usually, anyway. In my mind, resolution has always been a fancy way of saying "This Explains Aqua Net and The Bangs Wave in Middle School." Yes, a New Year is upon us, but most of us won't notice since check writing went by the wayside when smartphones and banks started going steady and writing the wrong year in the date line isn't a thing anymore.

What we will notice is the sudden influx of newspaper articles and magazine covers telling us How to Lose Those Holiday Pounds and New Year? New You! articles and blog posts that are meant to inspire us into losing the weight we put on between Thanksgiving and Today because we humans like to celebrate with food made up of easily applied labels for convenient headline writing like the Rich Fudge Brownie that morphs into Bad Brownie, BAD and Other Mantras To Repeat While Sweating Our Asses off in Spin Class.

Or Mom's Lasagna becomes Motivation for Sticking to Your Resolutions.

And you look in the mirror and hate what you see and promise to love what you will become and all of it feels right and okay and you don't even think twice about talking about your fat ass and muffin top in front of your children because of the Aqua Net and Bangs Wave in Middle School. Thing is, many of us won't stick to whatever promise we paid lip service to. I'm not judging. I'm not pointing fingers. Remember, I don't do resolutions because I'm the one relating with you, right? Exactly. I'm merely pointing out that you will have long given up on trying to look like everyone else at the exact same time so you can cross that finish line together and high five and then start all over when the Halloween candy hits the shelves in August because that's the cycle so many of us fall into.

Well, screw that.

No. No.

Fuck that.

This year, I'm trowing away the hairspray. I'm kicking my foot through the mirror. I'm dropping my scale in the trash. And I'm giving the middle finger to every media reference to Why I Am Not Good Enough Until because I.Am.Good.Enough.NOW, dammit.

I'm not making resolutions. Instead, I'm making Declarations that do not include an expiration date. I am stating Intentions for Inner Peace and standing on my soap box and speaking my Truth because resolutions are made to be broken and I'm broken enough already. I'd rather work on putting myself back together on my own terms and in my own way.

So here's my List Declarations of Intention and Truth for 2013 and the rest of my life. Let's sit down, read up, and then and sing Kumbaya in rounds while we tell each other how beautiful our spirits are because it's all about being there for each other, y'all.

 

List of Declarations of Intention and Truth for 2013

* Before I start making resolutions to "better" myself, I will change my focus and make one to accept, love, & cherish myself as I am.

* I shall forgo any and all post holiday diets and shirk any health goals directly related to how "bad" I was over the holidays because food only carries the connotations, which we seem to willingly give.

* I shall refocus my health intentions, should I have any in mind, to be centered directly on how I feel physically and emotionally because I treat my body right when I feel good about myself. End.of.Story.

* I will ignore the media and its incessant people watching, paparazzi obsessed culture, which only serves to spread the false and unattainable ideals of perfection, thereby putting undo pressure on women of all ages to conform to a singular idea of how we should look and for which our musculature may not even fit. Unless I'm blogging, on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google +, or in line at the grocery store to buy milk and I see a headline that pisses me off. Then? It' s on, bitches.

* I shall refrain from using phrases like "I hate my ass" and "Wow, that's a lot of fucking cellulite" when I happen to catch naked glimpses of myself in the mirror, especially when the five-year-old is anywhere withing hearing distance. What I say about myself is just as important as what she think about herself because what she hears shapes what she will think and she's listening whether I know it or not.

* I will and shall reread the previous Declaration again. Because it's that important. From my nose to my toes, I will lie through my teeth if necessary and convince the Littles in my life that Mommy thinks she's gorgeous just the way she is now. Pretty cool, right? Cuz Molly's mom down the street has serious self-esteem issues and hates her ankles. I think Molly is starting to develop a complex because if Mommy hates her ankles then something must be wrong with Molly's. See? Now I'll read it again. My words + her interpretation = Mama Thinks She's Beautiful Just The Way She Is.

* I shall Do (and Believe) as I Say and Do as I Intend to Do. Translation? If I say to you, my readers, that you are beautiful and wonderful and perfect as you are, I will believe the same of myself because one day mind will win over matter. If I say to you, readers, that no matter how today panned out, tomorrow is the Universe's way of giving you a chance to try again when the sun rises? I'm on that train, too.

* I will address The Mess inside of my head and face it head on, feet planted firmly in the ground and hands on my hips. I'll probably even raise an eyebrow for good measure. The Mess might suck. Dealing with it may not be pretty. But the only way around is through. And through it I will go. I'll see you on the other side. That being said, let's move on to the next item because they're totally related.

* Fuck the gym membership. I'm signing up for therapy instead. Why? Because when training a puppy, positive reinforcement is key to success. The dog has to want to learn and believe in itself and it's master's love or ain't nobody learning to roll over and play dead no matter how many Scoobie snacks being tossed its way. Translate that analogy to taking care of me and that means that unless I become my own master and love myself and believe I am worth it now, I'm most likely going to give up before I start because I won't believe myself worthy of the work involved to get to My Version of Healthy later.

* I shall try to do more yoga, start meditating for ten minutes a day, and eat the right foods for my body not because everyone headline says it's time to do so, but because these things are good for me always and make me feel better always.

* I will not beat myself up for missing a yoga session or a yoga week or even if I roll the mat back up and leave it in the closet for a few months. I will celebrate all of the good in my life instead and celebrate more when I find myself in Warrior Pose one day because I missed the feeling.

* I will stop doubting my worth, start believing in the value of my words and the message I share, and make things happen because fairy tales only have happy endings because the princess opened her eyes and walked into her happily ever after fully believing that she deserved it.

* I shall embrace the positive, accept the crazy, and deal with the bullshit as it comes because I believe I am strong enough, smart enough, and perfectly capable of doing so. Just The Way We Are. Right? Right. Rinse. Lather. And Repeat.

 

And there you have it, my friends. Words I can commit to. Intentions I will see myself through in the year to come and the one after that, too.

Who's riding shotgun? We're going for a ride.

***

I have also recorded a reading of this post as a vlog, which you can see here on Girl Body Pride. Happy New Year, my friends. I think 13 is going to be lucky.

A Reading of It's a Book (Or Why I Rock at Motherhood)

It's pretty difficult to schedule a public breakdown and not inconvenience someone in the process. That and my timing has always sucked anyway. So to hell with it. It's time to deal with Shit I Would Rather Not since the Mayans lied and the world did not end. Obviously. Instead of focusing on the crazy in my head, though, I thought listening to a reading of It's a Book by Lane Smith might cheer us all up. All I now is, hearing a five-year-old call a donkey a jackass is enough to make me crack a smile. Go ahead and put my name in for Mom of the Year. I'm writing my acceptance speech now.

   

Between the Lines and My Cups Overfloweth

The problem with my brain not automatically transmitting my thoughts and images into blog posts that publish themselves is that I end up so far behind myself that it's usually not worth catching up. But that's only when I haven't lost my mind just a few days shy of my 35th birthday and learned that the local health clinic for general care no longer prescribes ADHD meds to anyone over the age of 18 citing "problems" when they were. In other words, all you assholes too lazy to search out your own community meth lab in Someone's Basement because you didn't need a prescription have now left me scrambling to find anyone who can get me legal speed in a bottle with my name on it before I run out of what I've got. Also, I'm wondering exactly how ADHD is supposed to magically fix itself once the patient turns 19 or if that's the reason Somebody's Basements keep popping up all over the place.

Other highlights from the past week or so include a depressive fog so thick I could make soup out of it and driving two hours to see Santa and showing up three times at the post office for holiday crap after my meds have worn off. I'm pretty sure the staff looks forward to the next time I stop in. Or maybe everyone in Maine is just that nice and I haven't picked up on the "Dammit, the crazy lady's here again" vibe. Either way, you get the rest of the inside of my head in between the lines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then I run out of steam. It's 2 a.m. and I have words to write for the other site that doesn't pay the bills but means the world to me and my sanity. I have more to share here. Until then, Happy Christmas Eve.

First Snow

I'm going backwards. Before I show you the ride between Tucson and Northern Maine, I'm showing you the first snow fall and how Buttercup was so excited that she insisted in skipping breakfast and suiting up to go play first. She doesn't understand yet that snow is not the rarity here that it was in Tucson. But I doubt it will make a difference when she does. I have never seen her more excited to get out of bed and race out the door.  

 

 

 

 

And I Shall Drive Three Thousand Miles...

Finally in Maine as of midnight on Thanksgiving eve, already know we will stay in Maine but not in this house so we will move again in 6 months. In-laws have already returned to Detroit and the dogs finally learned its okay to take a shit in the frost-covered grass.

Also? It’s entirely acceptable to eat a roast turkey dinner and give thanks at the local truck stop in a town where the world’s cleanest rest stop and welcome center are just part of the scenery.

The outside is no longer trying to kill us. No more mesquite trees. No more nebulizer 3 times per day for the little one. No more being locked inside. No more allergy cocktail of meds to keep her functioning. And I can stop popping the dye-free Benadryl  that never really did anything for me because I can breathe out of both nostrils for the first time in four years just because I can.

Our driveway is a quarter mile long. There’s a movie theater in town with free popcorn on Wednesday nights and neighbors leave food and welcome notes for you under the grille just to welcome you to the neighborhood. And The Husband has warned me to not  punch the guy who taps on my window at the gas station. He’s not trying to car jack me. Just ask if I want regular or premium.

Basically, we are getting settled. And reveling in the freezing winds that make sense in November because 90 in the desert always messed with my head.

I miss people. So does Buttercup. But we don’t miss where we were. Obviously, I’m behind on everything and life in general, but I’ll be back in a day or so to post a few of the trip highlights. Welcome to the Maine Highlands, y’all. You can keep your flip flops.

 

Moving to Maine in November: Insominia & Other Stories

 

It's midnight. The grandfather clock tells me so, loudly, and interrupts my five-year-old's current explanation for why she is still awake and will she grounded from that birthday party this weekend because she is?

Yes.

No.

Maybe.

No, I have to. I haven't gotten any work done (or even started ) and I have to keep her from a birthday party on Saturday even if we are moving or become the mom who never follows through on consequences. I know the move is on her brain and its causing anxiety and many mixed emotions so I'm trying to be lenient. But it's midnight and she's just now allowing herself to relax enough to drift off.  Sometimes t all boils down to wishing Benadryl made her tired because I can't keep clocking in at midnight and stay sane.

We drive to Maine in 16 days.
I can't sleep when I'm anxious.
She may never see this little boy again so I have to let her go to the party and I can get firm another time, right???
We drive to Maine in 16 days and I am going to miss my first best friend so much it hurts because being connected via tweets and texts and status updates become different things when time zones hamper communication and plane tickets are required before scheduling joint pedicures.
Buttercup can't wait for snow and white Christmases and spring and running barefoot in the grass. I can't wait for seasons and new adventures and the next chapter. We both understand that we have to go because severe mesquite allergies and Southern border living are not a good combination. It sucks, actually.
We have so much to look forward to.We know we can't stay and we have known for a while and instead of just looking for rentals, we are actually looking into purchasing a home. There's email and post cards and promises to video chat with the friends we love.
There's so much. To look forward to. That we are leaving behind. That we are trying to bring with us.
Doesn't make leaving easier.
I climb out of bed when I know she is asleep, tuck her in, and kiss her cheek and give in to her innocence like she knew I would but promise to be firm when...well...not today. We are going to the party on Saturday. And I'm pretty sure she's going to be up until midnight tomorrow, anyway.
That's okay. I understand because the BFF sent me a text message that simply read ...
Please don't move
...and I won't sleep at all.