Family Bonding Time

We have “free tables” at the office. Every floor has one. It’s where people dump stuff they think their co-workers will really love. Kind of like Goodwill if Goodwill had to flee in the middle of the night and could only take 99% of their best stuff. It’s a crapshoot. Usually erring more on the side of crap. Occasionally you might find some Magic cards or a stack of Entertainment Weekly’s from 2013 and sometimes you get a half eaten bag of microwave popcorn and a litter box. 

Time to lay hands on daddy!
Sweetie, I’m going to lay my cold, mannequin hands on Daddy’s lower back while you dig that bony, little elbow into his rectum. Okay, count of three. Ahhhhh….

Today Bart found this little gem on the free table and brought it straight to me. I’m sure he thought I’d be all, “Gross! Get rid of this nonsense!” but HA HA! Joke’s on him. I KEPT IT! Why? Because it’s gold! Also, I think it’s my bizarro family. 

Just take a look at the photo, will you? The similarities are uncanny!

*There’s (presumably) a mom, a dad, and a frightened looking child who is wondering what he did in a past life to end up the spawn of these two yahoos. (And that kid looks eerily like my own child.)

*The dad is wearing super flowy, high waisted beach pants. Just like Bart! 

*The child is sticking an elbow right up his dad’s very bulbous butthole. Also an occurrence that happens a lot in our house.

*The mom is working! She is not relaxed!

Other things to note, the back cover copy suggests the following:

*The principals highlighted in this video are on “the crest of a healing wave of the future!” You heard it here first! Massage is going to be really popular one day! Book your sessions now! 

*By massaging your friends and family in your own home, you can heal them “through the gift of touch!” Add massage to your next dinner party or poker night. NOT CREEPY AT ALL. You’re doing them a favor!

*Bring a new level of family closeness by sticking your bony bits into the deepest crevices of your most familial. 

*This DVD costs $39.95. And Bart got it for FREE! That alone deserves a massage!

Friends, don’t wait! Get in on this healing magic today! We were going to watch Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse tomorrow night, but no way. Bust out the flowy beach pants. It’s family bonding time.

Love After Lockup

A woman learns a lot from her mother. Definitely true in my case. My mom has enriched my life by exposing me to the beliefs, values, and norms of others so I may become a citizen of the world.

You might remember maternal wisdom nuggets like this and this. I owe it all to my mother’s guiding light (which happens to be invisible like that of the infrared beam cast from a remote control onto a television.)

The holidays bring us together and provide the perfect foundation (her bed) for us to reconnect (watch tv) and expose me to new and enriching opportunities (reality tv.)

And because this citizen of the world is a selfless governess of cultural evangelism, I am here to educate you on one of the most amazing reality phenomena you are surely not witnessing.

Ladies and gentlemen, have you heard the good news about Love After Lockup? Here, take a pamphlet.

Love After Lockup introduces several couples in various stages of their journey from confinement to consummation. In some cases they knew each other prior to the big lockup, but most cases a sexy mugshot was all it took to put pen to paper (and usually credit card to commissary) and find love after lock up.

First up was Brittany and Marcelino. It was Brittany’s release day after 2 years in the slammer for some dumb, old robbery charges. P’shaw. That was nothing compared to the 5 years she spent in la slammarita for drugs and shit. Marcelino was an earnest gentleman who’s main goal was to, “erase her past tumountants” and give the woman he’s only ever seen through plexiglass a better life. It’s a sweet goal and one maybe better served on a shelter dog, but whatever. Parolees before puppies, bitches. Marcelino and Brittany are ready to take their relationship to the “in-person” stage and we are here for it.

Marcelino waited outside the jail for 7 seconds, muttering about her whereabouts. WHERE IS SHE, MAN??? She should have been here by now. Clearly THE MAN is trying to f*ck over his girl. He’s been waiting a year for this moment. To enhance the drama, the producers encouraged Marcelino to turn his back on the prison so he totally misses Brittany’s exit and her first breath of sweet, sweet freedom.

“BABY!” She yelled, because she was unsure which of her correspondents had come to pick her up.

She threw her arms and a tall kitchen garbage bag full of commissary purchases around his neck. They awkwardly embraced like two people who have not ever spoken without the use of a telephone. Upon disentanglement, she handed him several pieces of paper that included the rules and regulations for her release.

Don’t do drugs.

Don’t kill anyone.

Don’t steal shit that’s not yours.

Do check in with your patrol officer.

“Don’t have any FUN!” Marcelino yelled, clearly unaware of why people go to prison in the first place. To him Brittany is Rudolph and the American Prison System was all of the other reindeer.

As they drove away, he stuck his middle finger out the driver’s side window and encouraged her to do the same.

“Uhh, ha, okay,” she said, pointing a timid middle digit toward the dashboard.

“NO!” Marcelino yelled. “OUT THE WINDOW! To them! To the people who won’t let you have any fun!”

Brittany agreed, reluctantly, because “do not flip off the jail as you drive away” was #14 on her rules and regulations.

Brittany asked Marcelino to take her to the desert because she need a “moment of alone time.” Rightfully so, she wanted to take in the silence and clear her head. He pulled over on the side of a busy road where she proceed to walk 8 feet from the car. Ahhhhh, namaste! Serenity now!

Where can a girl get a little peace, quiet, and huff some exhaust?

Marcelino takes “a moment” literally because within seconds he’s on her, talking loudly about how great silence is and how much she must have missed this. I feel ya, Brittany. Good luck.

Next we met Lizzie and Scott.

Definitely here for the right reasons.
Sorry, ladies, this one is taken. For now.

Approximately 1 hour after Scott picked Lizzie up from prison, she was filling a plastic garbage can at a gas station mini mart because, “she hasn’t been to a store in so long” and Scott promised her “anything she wanted.” What she wanted was junk food, Yoohoo’s, and scratch off lottery tickets. Fill it up, my pretty prison princess! Since they began their correspondence THREE YEARS AGO, Scott had given Lizzie $92,000. Yes. That much. He is now broke and afraid to tell her. Terrible timing!

Lizzie’s fantastic first freedom day continued at the local Comfort Inn. There Lizzie, her embarrassed, awkward daughter, Scott’s embarrassed awkward son, and Scott checked into to two rooms (on Scott of course!) so they can chill out, relax, and reconnect. Boys in one room, girls in the other, because Lizzie didn’t believe in premarital sex. I mean, she did. Definitely before prison and even sometimes in prison, but not now that she’s out of prison. She was born again! Saved! Found Jesus in a pile of chicken gravy. Not sure Scott got the memo, but I’m sure he’s totally cool with it.

First thing Lizzie did in her comped mini-suite was spontaneously stage a mother-daughter jumpfest on the king sized bed. Her daughter was like, “Eh…there’s cameras here and so is that sad, squirrely dude you swindled out of $92,000, and being a teenager is hard enough without my friends seeing me jump on a Comfort Inn mattress with my ex-con mom.” But clearly Lizzie puts the CON in convincing because in seconds they’re squealing and holding hands and realizing jumping on mattresses isn’t really that much fun. Pooped, the girls fall into the bed, which Scott takes as a sign that he should join them.

“Ahhh, what the actual f*ck?! You ain’t Jesus!”

Lizzie didn’t really have much in the wardrobe department, so she tasked her daughter with going to the Forever 21 outlet and buying a bunch of clothes 3 sizes too small. Her first ensemble was a painful bikini that pumped her internal organs through various folds and tucks of flesh like royal icing through a pastry bag.

And this is why you should never sleep on hotel bedspreads.

Lizzie trotted down the hallway in her swimsuit and platform flip-flops to wash the stench of incarceration off her body and be baptized in the glory of chlorine and Giardia.

Meanwhile, we saw a sad Scotty pace around the parking lot, afraid things have changed now that Lizzie was a free woman. So this is what $92,000 and a ride home from prison got you? It was like she was ignoring him or something. Like she only wanted him to buy her gas station food and pay for a hotel room so she could hang out with the daughter whose formative years were spent with a mother behind bars. Lizzie didn’t even know he was broke yet! She had no business treating him like this!

And this is why you shouldn’t swim in hotel pools.

After 9 hours in the pool, Lizzie noticed Scott wasn’t there. She found him sulking in the parking lot and berated him for being alone.

“Are you mad at me,” he asked her.

“No.”

“Your body language says you are.”

“Well, you’re a goddamn fragile egg! Why are you trying to mess up my prison release day? You know this shit only happens once a year!”

“Welp,” a forlorn looking Scott said, “It’s not going to work out.”

Y’all are gonna need a shot of penicillin before I tell you about Matt and Caitlyn. We met our heroine on Matt’s release day. This should have been a happy occasion, but instead she’s in an empty parking lot, sobbing in her car because for SOME INEXPLICABLE REASON Matt wasn’t at the designated meeting spot. I’m still not sure why and honestly it doesn’t matter because some seriously crazy, gross shit went down (that’s a hint) when these 2 ass clowns finally do meet.

A cop told Caitlyn to follow his windowless, white van to an even emptier parking lot where Matt will allegedly be deposited. Because she’s never seen a Lifetime movie she unquestionably agreed and peeled away, still shaking and sobbing.

Someday my prisoner prince will come.

Caitlyn and Matt are the real deal. She saw his photo online and decided he was hot and that was that. They started a correspondence and he proposed over the phone. She felt confident in their relationship, but sometimes worried about how comfortable Matt felt in prison. It’s his happy place, okay?

But wait. What’s that? A van? With someone in the back? OMG, can it be????

SHIT! I forgot my plastic garbage can. How my gonna shop at the Hess Mart?

Matt jumped out of the van and it was all cupped ass cheeks and open mouth kisses from then on.

Yeah, I made my mom pause the TV so I could take a picture of it. I did it for YOU!

Matt said it had been 3 years since he had sex and as reliable and attached as he was to his hand, he’s kind of tired of it.

“I’m ready for Caitlyn.” Gosh that’s romantic!

As they were walking to her car, Caitlyn came to the realization that she’s never seen Matt’s penis. Also romantic!

“You’re gonna have to show that to me,” she said. “I need to inspect you.”

Used to taking orders and pulling down his pants, Matt obliged. He smiled out the passenger side window and Caitlyn shrieked.

This is why you shouldn't swim in hotel pools.
Inspector ding-a-ling is pleased, no?

They drive away to a nice, cozy clearing on the side of the road where they hump on a pile garbage and roadkill.

Our last couple isn’t actually a couple. No, not because they have common sense, values, or self-esteem. Because they’re actually a trio, silly!

Michael had a baby with Sarah. According to Michael they are no longer together. Megan fell in love with Michael while he was in jail. These long-distance jaillovebirds have been “together” for a year and a half. Megan knows about Michael’s baby mama, but she’s not worried. She knows he will always be honest and try really hard not to cheat on her. Megan was planning on flying out to be there for Michael’s release day. Oh, and loose her virginity because “It’s about time.” Megan was so excited!

Meanwhile…

Megan wasn’t the only one excited! Or more specifically excited to pick Michael up from prison. Sarah didn’t know about Megan. Oh, and she’s married to Michael. Oopsie! Michael is not detail oriented.

While Megan was printing her boarding pass, Michael called to say she shouldn’t come.

“Nah, it’s cool. I got a ride. Plus I gotta deal with some baby mama shit and see my kid and stuff.”

Megan was all “WTF! I bought a new pair of leggings for the plane! Why you telling me this shit now???”

Michael promised he had something “real special” planned for them instead. Megan wished Michael told her this before her shelled out three paychecks on a nonrefundable plane ticket. Now she’s questioning their whole relationship. Was he being shady? And she’s still a virgin. She found a restroom and cried in a bathroom stall.

The verdict: Is it possible to find love after lockup? I have no idea because that’s where this episode ended. Is it possible to love Love After Lockup? Yes, I’m afraid it is. It’s been days and I can’t stop thinking about these Godforsaken people. Did Scott ever tell Lizzie he’s broke? Did Brittany ever get any time alone? Did Matt and Caitlyn get eaten by a bear while humping in a rest area garbage can? Is the bear okay???

This show had remarkable similarities to The Bachelor, which is probably why I liked it. Deep down I’m a sucker for hopeful romantics. All they really want is love. And $92,000 worth of nacho cheese and beef sticks. And isn’t that something we can all relate to?

All’s Fair in Love and Parenthood

Bart and I are way too fair.

Those first few months with a newborn when we were both terrified of being left alone with him really scarred us. Sometimes one of us had to out. Like me to get my six-week postpartum check up or Bart to go to work. We felt awful leaving the other to have to care for this…baby. What if he cried? What if he needed something. We all saw Child’s Play. You. Never. Know.

Two years later, Bart and I are constantly policing our “away” time and figuring out ways to repay each other when we vacate the premises. This is not intentional. In fact, we didn’t even notice we were doing it until a friend pointed it out.

“You guys are so good at supporting each other,” she said. “You’re just so fair.”

Support? No. Scarred? Yes.

The thing is, we both really love spending time with Quinn now. He’s a little real, live person. He talks. He has a wicked sense of humor. He likes hanging out at cool places like bounce houses and Starbucks. I assure you he is not a burden. Which is probably why we feel guilty not being with him.

But yet, we still police our time away. And it’s not in a  passive aggressive-I-spend-more-time-with-our-child tug of war deal. We honestly don’t want the other parent to feel like their taking on more.

ME: Okay, so I went grocery shopping alone for what? 39 minutes? Do you want to maybe go for a run after work or something?

BART: Maybe. But then again, you walked him home from daycare on Tuesday and that took you 25 minutes. Technically I only have fourteen minutes.

Saturday mornings are my time to sleep in (which I never do because Quinn always ends up in our bed yelling MASHA BEAR at me while I pretend to sleep) and Sundays are Bart’s mornings to sleep in (which he never does because Quinn always ends up in our bed beating him with the remote control and yelling, PERCY FALL DOWN!) But for at least two hours every weekend morning, one parent removes the child from the household so the other parent can experience that very rare phenomenon: Being alone in your own home. It’s amazing. Even emptying the dishwasher alone is amazing. Despite our best intentions to encourage one another to the contrary, our family unit doesn’t separate that often.

So when we do it’s a big deal. A parent’s night out is a good thing. It’s healthy. It’s normal. It’s needed. But alas, we feel guilty. Case in point: Bart met up with some friends at a bar to watch the Seahawks game. Quinn and I had dinner a friend’s house which was lovely. When we returned, we saw this:

All hail the Mighty Elmo, patron saint of lost fathers.
All hail the Mighty Elmo, patron saint of lost fathers.

That’s Elmo, on a Cars throne, holding a croissant from Bakery Nouveau, sitting high above a gaggle of Thomas and Friends trains.

“Oh cool!” Quinn said, bellying up to the shrine.

Almighty, Elmo, please grant ME some freakin' alone time. I can't shake these two nut jobs!
Almighty, Elmo, please grant ME some freakin’ alone time. I can’t shake these two nut jobs!

So yeah, it’s a slippery slope from “co-parenting” to “co-dependancy.” Whatever.

Uh oh! Got to go. The eight minutes I earned today taking care of Quinn while Bart was in the shower are up.

New Couple Alert

Okay, I admit. I’m a sucker for a quiz. Not like a algebra quiz– I’m talking the ones that help you decide which city you should live in or which 80’s movie best represents you. Today I took a quiz I saw on Facebook that promised to tell me who my true soulmate was. By analyzing my posts, photos, comments, and friends, this virtual yenta would reveal my twin flame. How could I resist that?

People, I am pleased to share with you my results.:

Love yourself.
Love yourself.

WTF?

By definition, a soulmate is a person with whom one has a strong affinity, shared values and tastes, and often a romantic bond.” I mean, I guess some of that is true. I definitely share values and tastes with myself, but really? Out of all the people I interact with on Facebook– including the man I married– Captain Quizz thinks I’m my own best mate? Sigh… maybe that’s why I was single for so long. 

On Becoming a 40-Year Old

It is the eve of my birthday. A big, fat milestone birthday and one I’m not afraid to brag about. I’m about to turn 40! Yep. The big 4-0. Sporty 40. The new 20.

I’m soooooo excited for my birthday it makes me excited for your birthday! That’s how much I love birthdays. I get this from my mom. She’s less of a birthday and more of a birthmonth celebrator. I couldn’t agree more.

When I was little my birthday was a great source of joy and sorrow because I loved it so much. So much to look forward to! Mom bringing cupcakes to my classroom, my lunchtime party with classmates, a big dinner with family. Presents! Cake! Wearing my favorite outfit! But then at some point during the festivities I began to realize the day was going on, hour by hour, until eventually all the minutes of my birthday would be used up. I’d wake up just another girl with a sugar hangover and chocolate frosting caked in the pleats of her skirt. Just like every other year. That realization made me sad. So sad that I would sometimes get a little pouty and sullen. And then my mom would become “mortified” and yell at me for being rude. And then I’d tell her she was ruining the few hours I had left of my birthday by yelling at me. And then someone would slide a piece of cake and mint chocolate chip ice cream under my nose and lead me away like Garfield with a lasagna. Works every time.

Celebrating your birth month helps with the whole “OMG there’s only 2 hours and 13 minutes left of my birthday” thing. Try it. You’ll see.

So this 40 thing…

Before I left work tonight I told a co-worker, I very likely sent out the last “work” email of my 30’s. (But then I promptly sent 4 more.)

She actually shushed me.

“What?” I asked.

“You want people to know you’re 40?”

“Umm…yeah. It’s kind of a milestone,” I said.

“But it’s…40.”

Yeah, it is 40. And it’s fabulous. I’m not hiding my age. And here’s why:

  1. I often think of the Shelly from 20 years ago. She was nice enough if not grossly out-of-shape, flabby, lazy, and a smoker who scheduled her college classes around All My Children. (It was really good back then!) The last thing the 20-year old Shelly ran for was Vice President in 7th grade. She was not a fan of “optional movement” and only did things like walk or stand up when absolutely necessary (like getting to those annoying parts of campus where cars were not permitted or helping herself to dining hall seconds when it was mashed potato day. She also had a perm judging by the photos I unearthed (and had the good sense NOT to put on Facebook) and a penchant for pegging her jeans. And she never wore heels. Wow,little Shelly. You have so much to learn. 20-year old Shelly had no idea what was in store for her. She loved writing and hoped to make a profession out of it. She drank beer like a champ and could even do a keg stand! She was spending a semester in London—the best thing she ever did and the impetus for that ridiculous plan she devised in Theater History class to move across the country world to Seattle from New York to work in the music business. Yes, the 20-year old Shelly was okay at some things, but could she do a push up? Or a pull up? Or run a 5K for fun? Did she have a bicep? Or triceps? Or the ability to open a stuck jar without banging the bejesus out of the lid with the back of a knife? Did she even own a sports bra? Nope. There is no doubt in my mind that if the Shelly of today ran into the punky, pugnacious Shelly from 20 years ago in a dark alley, today’s Shelly would kick her ass. At 40 I can officially say I’m in the best shape of my life. So bring it, 20-year old Shelly. I said put down the cigarettes and bring it!
  2. 20-year old Shelly published a really weird, mediocre story in a local literary magazine that had the distribution of about 23. But still, it was a dream come true. Sure there are lots of things I’d still like to accomplish, but you know what? Even on my worst day, I will always be able to say I have written and published two books. Books that can be found in bookstores. Books cataloged in the Library of Congress! Books with (amazing) editors and art directors and marketing plans behind them. I can’t help it—I geek out on that sometimes. Real honest to goodness strangers have read these books. And sometimes they hate them so much they have to blog about it! Yes, I even geek out on that.
  3. I never understood why people lie about their age. I mean, if you’re going to lie why not lie “up?” Wouldn’t you rather look great for 45 than weathered and crackled for 35? I would. In fact, let’s say I’m not turning 40. I’m 43. Thank you! I use Avon.
  4. Alright all you weirdos who don’t like your birthdays! I’m talking to you. Don’t you get what a birthday means? It means you’re still here! You made it another decade, another year, another day even! We should have cake and ice cream every, single morning when we wake up considering what a feat that seems like sometimes. Sadly I know of plenty of people who will never get to celebrate their 40th birthdays and you getting all uppity about turning a year older is like giving those poor people a big F.U. Not cool, birthday haters. Now go find something you can stick a candle in and make a wish for a clearer perspective the next time your big day rolls around.
  5. I have a cat and a dog, a job I love, a paid off car, my own condo, a super amazing husband who is my bestest friend, a wonderful family, a well-stamped passport, a staggering array of kitchen gadgets, and a tremendous group of friends. You think you can cultivate all that in a decade? Or 2? (Okay, the kitchen gadgets are due to the wedding but still. Staggering!) No way. You’re lucky to do that in 4. Just think what you can do in the next 4 decades. Can’t wait to find out.

So repeat after me. Embarrassed by your age? Hooey. That’s ridiculous! And hello! We all know you have a birthday and we all know what happens on that annual event. You get older. Big whoop. I loved my 30’s. All that stuff they say about coming into your own and knowing yourself and being comfortable with the person your 20’s practically vomited out, are all true. But I’m ready to embrace my new decade. In fact, I might even wait up for it. I already love you, 40.  All I have to say to you is thank you. Thank you for having me. Now where’s the cake?

Word.