Aging gracefully, my big fat ass

I had been trying to brainstorm a good blog post idea for today when I came across this article on my Facebook feed. It’s an open letter from a 33-year-old mother of five to a group of younger assholes who felt it necessary to laugh about her stretch marks while she was sunbathing at the beach. 

While I’ve never had that kind of experience, I think it’s fair to say that once you reach a certain point in life, you start becoming more and more aware not only of the generation gap between yourself and those younger than you, but also of that younger generation’s complete obliviousness to the fact that THEY’RE NEXT.

That’s right, kids. That woman you laughed at for having stretchmarks? What the fuck do you think you or your wife is going to look like after bearing children?

In my case, I’ll never forget buying Pepto Bismol at a Kmart once. I was in my thirties at the time, probably around 33, like the mother in the aforementioned article. And the teeny-bopped cashier turned to grin at the teeny-bopper bagger as she scanned my Pepto Bismol — or rather, the generic version. “Pink bismuth,” she said, having a hard time wrapping her 11th-grade vocabulary around the multi-syllabic second word. She and the bagger started laughing. I bristled inwardly, but didn’t say anything. What I wanted to say — what I wish to this day I’d said, even though the words would’ve been wasted on two so obviously oblivious to their own forthcoming aging processes — was “Yeah, ha ha. Har-dee-fucking har har. GET A MORTGAGE, bitch, then come and laugh about gastrointestinal woes.”

Because I’d once laughed about shit like that, too. About bran flakes and Pepto Bismol and life insurance. I laughed about 401k’s, about college savings plans for kids, about watching my cholesterol, my sugar intake, my salt intake, my trans fat intake. I laughed about it all, but that was when I was in my twenties, and then when I was in my thirties, reality hit. Like a big old brick. My boobs started to sag, and my ass started what I have since come to affectionately call its Great Westward Expansion.  Hanes Her Way panties — the full brief shit, not these “boy briefs” or bikini cuts — were my underpants of choice instead of Victoria’s Secret butt-floss varieties. I started drinking coffee. And eating bran. Watching my fiber. Worrying about my blood pressure. Was that a grey hair? Why the fuck is a hair growing out of THERE all of a sudden? 

Now that I’m in my forties, it’s pretty much the same. I don’t find Harry Stiles hot because he looks like a kid to me. Jeremy Renner, however, I’d throw down and molest in a hot minute. I don’t want to watch the “Twilight” kids and their messed up excuse for romance on the big screen, and I remember when they made “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the movie, the first time around — and got the BDSM right — in “Secretary” with James Spader and Maggie Gylenhall.

I go to the grocery without make up on; my legs are pale; I have crow’s feet and an extra chin; plus cellulite, stretch marks, wrinkles, spider veins and and if it’s more comfortable to wear socks with my sandals, then by Christ, that’s what I’m doing, because you know what? I don’t give a fuck what you think about me. Chances are, if you’re under age 25, I think you look pretty fucking ridiculous, too. 

I may not be turning into Walter Matthau, a “grumpy old man” as I age, but you kids sure as hell better stay off my lawn anyway. 

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Singing fool

I never used to sing before I had kids. Oh, sure, I was in the chorus for our high school production of “Bye-Bye Birdie” and I belted out a horrendous rendition of Tiffany’s “Could’ve Been” on an audition for the “Rocky Horror Show” once (I didn’t get the part). But otherwise, with the exceptions of my shower and my car — and only then with the radio blasting and my tape of Stevie Nicks wailing “Edge of Seventeen” on full volume — I did not sing.

But once my son was born, and then a few years later, my daughter, I became a singing fool. You see, you give up a lot by way of personal dignity when you have kids. But when you have kids, it doesn’t matter, because for awhile at least, in their impressionable, adulating eyes, you can do no wrong. You are perfect to them. And their smiles, their laughter, are golden to you. You’ll do anything to earn them. I know I sure will. And so I started singing.

And while I started off with the usual nursery rhyme fare, in the last decade or do since my son’s birth, I’ve also become quite the impromptu songwriter, making up lyrics and accompanying tunes about just about everything from tickling armpits to picking noses; from the mundane, like bath time or supper time, to the more odd, like songs about farting. Today I made up a sort of Gregorian-sequence chant about how my son could roll down his car window, hang his wiener out and pee. (Not really of course – it was a song. Creative licensure and all.)

My kids laugh at my goofy little songs. Sometimes, like today with the wiener-out-the-window song, they’ll sing along. Other times they’ll ask for repeat performances of specific tunes, such as my daughter’s favorite, “Anytime’s A Good Time for Girl Time.” Sometimes they roll their eyes when I sing, but those occasions are still pretty few and far between, at least for now. And I still get their laughter and smiles for my rewards.

I owe more to my kids than I ever would’ve imagined possible before having them. The gift of song is just one of many.

First Hiccup, now my kid: The horror of puberty

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Yesterday, I bought my son deodorant for the first time. He’s getting to an age now when I know puberty (and all of the associated hormonal melodrama) is right around the corner, but I guess I was hoping to squeeze a few more years in before having to have any of those mutually embarrassing “your body is going through some changes” talks. And God, I’m as lousy at them as I always suspected I’d be.

In researching online, I discovered I’m not alone, though, at least in the deodorant department. Technically, my son is past the lower age limit at which puberty can begin, and there are literally dozens of websites and online forums with parents posting that they’ve had to buy their kids deodorant, and asking if this was normal. (Apparently so.)

So now in our bathroom, next to the Crest fruit-flavored, sparkly toothpaste and Iron Man toothbrush, we now have a little thing of Arm & Hammer Essentials deodorant. I read lots of good things about it online from other parents; it’s aluminum free and gentle on a kid’s underarms. Also, apparently buying a product that includes an antiperspirant as well as deodorant isn’t a good idea for kids, because of the harsher chemicals. Who knew? Now I do. In the span of 24 hours, I feel like I’ve become a guru on the subject of kids’ armpits.

Yesterday, my son also announced that he was “too old” for Disney’s new movie, “Planes: Fire & Rescue,” when I suggested we go and see it. Where my daughter’s eyes lit up at the prospect, his nose wrinkled and he rolled his eyes in a way I suspect will soon become all-too familiar. And this morning, he made breakfast for us: scrambled eggs and bacon. “I don’t need any help,” he told me when I tried to get the butter out. “I can do this all by myself.”

At least he still lets me hug him.

The first small waves in the tsunami of adolescence are making landfall in my house. I’m bracing myself for what’s yet to come. 

(And dear God, did I just find a whole internet topic on “precocious puberty?” Precocious? If memory serves, psychotic is more like it…)

Back in the saddle, outside the box

10451726_10152264443228558_3796504134047502670_nI’ve been thinking about restarting a blog for a long time, if only to have a place where I could vent my brain occasionally about life, love, work, writing, family life, etc. Yeah, I have Facebook for that, but sometimes it’s nice just to jot something down that absolutely no one else in the world may ever see. I blogged for years when I first began my pursuit of publication, and have kept copies of all of those old blog posts, even though my original blog is long gone.

So what made me finally bite the bullet and blog again? This picture. I needed to see this. I’ve read some pretty scathing remarks from readers on plot choices I made in Dark Vengeange 2. I knew when writing  Dark Vengeange 2 that the choices I made wouldn’t appeal to everyone, but I made them anyway because I felt creatively they were in the best interest of the series as a whole, that they would keep the stories moving forward. I could have given those readers the sugar-sweet HEA they wanted, but then there would be no place left really for the Brethren to go in my opinion. I’ve opened up a lot of doors creatively to keep this series interesting and engaging for me as a writer, and I hope, for you as a reader. In other words, I plan ahead, and my stories NEVER stop with the words “The End.” I’m always thinking of what will happen next, and planning for the next book, and I want to give readers an overall series story arc that’s engaging, exciting and unexpected.

I will never stop thinking and writing outside of the proverbial box. I’m never going to compromise what I feel makes a stronger, more powerful, poignant, or passionate story just because I’m worried someone out there might not like it. If that pisses someone off, I’m sorry. If that means I lose you as a reader, I’m sorry.   That wasn’t my intention. Just the opposite, in fact. And to those readers who have contacted me to let me know they enjoyed the book and couldn’t wait to see what happens next, thank you. That was my intention.