Tag Archive | love

A Letter to My Father: Two Years After His Death

*** Warning***

Most of the time, this is a humor blog. Or at least, it tries to be. Which is why I feel like I need to give you fair warning about the emotional shit storm you’re about to stumble into. If you’ve come here looking for a laugh, you’d better go HERE instead or check back with me in a couple of weeks when I’m (hopefully) done venting my anger at my dead father, and have once again found my sense of humor….

 

Dear Dad –

Today marks the 2nd anniversary of your death. In the weeks leading up to this day, I’ve been bracing myself for the suffocating wave of grief that crashed down on my head at this time last year, but it never came. Much to my surprise, rage was there to take its place. It started one night, about a month ago, when I sat down to watch a film called Broken (insert bitter irony here) starring Tim Roth.

 

 

 

 

If there really is an afterlife, maybe you watched me that night from whatever dimension you’re in, sobbing alone on my couch as I watched the beautiful relationship between a father and daughter blossom behind the screen of my TV. Could you feel the unbearable longing deep in the center of my chest as I watched those two characters take part in something we never had? Did you feel guilty as I played and rewound the touching father/daughter parts of the movie dozens of times? God, I hope so. I know that sounds pretty harsh, cruel even. But right now, I really don’t care if I hurt your feelings.

 

Missing you was the only constant in my life that didn’t change when you died. For the first eighteen years of my life, you were never there for me. Ever. You were always quick to explain those years away – citing the divorce, the physical distance (between our homes in Illinois and New York), and Mom’s anger towards you as the reasons behind your absence. But now that I’m a parent, I know something I didn’t know when I was a child – there’s nothing that can stand in the way of a parent who truly wants to be with their child. NOTHING.

 

A quote I read by Jim Rohn pretty much sums up my feelings about your side of the story: “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” And Dad, you were all about excuses when it came to your children. You know what I think was the real truth behind your absence? I think you felt little kids were tedious and boring. So you bided your time until your children were old enough to have those grownup conversations you loved so much. Then we could talk for hours like old friends, while bonding over cigarettes and beer.

 

Never quite worked out though, did it? Sure, we had plenty of chats over cigarettes and beer, but the bonding always felt forced and uneasy. Part of me was afraid to drop my guard around you because I never knew if the next thing out of my mouth would make you disappear back into the void. So I became the consummate daughter for you – quick to laugh at your jokes and put you up on a pedestal…. never realizing that it’s almost impossible to bond with someone when they’re towering high above you.

 

But underneath my meticulously made smokescreen, lurked a girl who was anything but perfect. You never met her. She’s the messed up result of a lifetime of paternal neglect that your once-a-year visits did little to assuage. Your absence made me who I am today every bit as much as Mom’s presence – maybe even more so.

 

Here are the parts of me I was too scared to show you….

 

– The child who desperately sought out the attention of other fathers to fill the void you left behind. Even if those fathers were total assholes, I still clung to every scrap of affection they showed me. All my earliest memories of rough housing, playing, and cuddling were done with those men – I don’t have a single one that includes you.

 

– The teenager who always dated older guys because I was looking for a father figure, rather than a whirlwind romance. And when I didn’t have a boyfriend, I used the male friends that I surrounded myself with to fill the empty space. Sadly, teenage boys make pretty crappy fathers – they’re much more interested in getting into your pants than healing your inner child.

 

– The grown woman who has to combat pangs of jealousy every time I see a father carrying a small child up on his shoulders or being affectionate towards them, because you never laid a finger on me unless it accompanied a hello or goodbye. That woman cries too easily over stupid, cheesy songs like Butterfly Kisses and melodramatic Hallmark commercials designed to sell greeting cards. She also resents the hell out of you for all of the above.

 

I wonder what would’ve happened if I had the guts to show you all of that, or worse, the anger and frustration behind it all – kind of like when America Ferrera (playing Carmen) tells off her dad in the movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants….

 

 

That phone call was the exact one I wanted to have with you a million times, but I could never manage to gather up enough courage for that kind of confrontation.  I imagine there must be an awesome feeling of freedom that comes along with getting really pissed off at someone, and at the same time knowing that they’re still going to be there to love you afterwards. I never trusted you enough to test that freedom. If I had, do you think we’d have enjoyed the same storybook ending as the father and daughter in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants?  Yeah, I didn’t think so either.  Because unlike the sappy chick flicks I perpetually fall hook, line, and sinker for, life doesn’t have happy Hollywood endings. Apparently, when it comes to emotional pain it doesn’t have any ending at all.  Kind of sucks.

 

I have to say though, I prefer this newfound anger to the overwhelming grief I had been feeling these past two years since you died – it’s easier to manage. There’s a lot less crying involved. Probably because I’m no longer pouring over old photos, or listening to the songs on the radio that remind me of you. When I took my favorite picture of us off of my bedroom dresser the night I watched Broken and threw it in a drawer, it almost felt good…. or at least justified.  I have the feeling I won’t be taking it back out anytime soon.

 

I don’t know what the next year of grieving will bring, but for now you can keep your shiny pennies and “signs” from the other side, if there is one. There’s no comfort in knowing that you’re there for me in death when you never were in life. But feel free to sit back and watch the real me for a while, because if reincarnation exists, I might prevent you from fucking up the daughter you have in your next life.  Just promise me that before you choose to dive back into the mortal melee again, you’ll do yourself and her a big favor – learn how to hug.

 

Still yours,

Linda

The Evolution of Valentine’s Day

On Valentine’s Day you make a special effort to love and cherish all the people in your life who mean the most.  The longer you’re with someone, the more those displays of affection tend to evolve over time – especially with regards to this holiday.  I’ve been married to the same man for almost twenty years, and have noticed several Valentine’s Day changes that have happened for us during that time….

When presented with a heart-shaped box of chocolates:

At 20:  “Aw, that’s so sweet!!”  And then you spend the rest of the night feeding each other chocolate and making out like Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche in the movie Chocolat.

At 40:  “Aw, just what I always wanted – a larger size pair of pants.”  And then you spend the rest of the night trying to force feed your kids chocolate so you minimize the inevitable caloric damage from your chocolate-fueled binge at 2am.

Mmmmm.... nothing tastes yummier than an extra hour at the gym.

Mmmmm…. nothing tastes yummier than an extra six hours at the gym.

When presented with flowers:

At 20: The sight of the large bouquet of roses makes you feel loved…. and a little horny.

At 40:  The sight of the large bouquet of roses makes you wish he had spent the $75 on a babysitter and booze instead.

bouquet-of-roses

Nothing says “I love you” like helping to fund your florist’s trip to Jamaica.

When looking for a Valentine’s Day card:

At 20:  There are too many to choose from – you spend several minutes trying to decide between the five cards you think best represents your unwavering love and devotion.

At 40:  You stare dumbfounded at the cards for 20 minutes because you can’t seem to find one that says, “There are some guys who fart in bed, and scratch their balls in public – I love you because you’re not one of them.”

There was nothing in the Hallmark store like this - I looked.

There was nothing in the Hallmark store like this – I looked.

In preparation for your Valentine’s Day date:

At 20:  You make a special trip to Victoria’s Secret to pick out some sexy lingerie.  Then you create a romantic iPod playlist that will provide the soundtrack to your night of passionate love making – Marvin Gaye? Check!

At 40:  You decide to go all out – you shave your legs AND wax your mustache.  Nothing’s too good for your man!

Trust me - after two kids, this lingerie works out better for everybody.

Trust me – after two kids, this works out better for everybody.

Things he does that gets you in the mood:

At 20:  He spends the day teasing you with soft caresses and fleeting kisses, and then recreates the secret fantasy you once felt brave enough to share with him – tonight is going to be Fifty Shades of RED HOT!!

At 40:  You wake up in the morning and discover that he has cleaned the kitchen, including the sink full of dirty dishes you were dreading having to wash.  You haven’t felt this turned-on since the night he put the kids to bed and took out the garbage without being asked.

Is it wrong that this is the guy I fantasize about?

Is it wrong that this is the guy I fantasize about?

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Some Lessons Death Taught Me About Life

My father passed away two weeks ago.  Since then, I feel like I’ve been thrown off my axis – like my world has stopped spinning, but everyone else’s has just kept right on going as if nothing’s happened. It makes me feel slow and lost – like I’m always racing to catch-up to everyone else, but can’t. My brain has totally shut down and can’t seem to process anything concrete – all I can do is grapple with my emotions.

I know exactly how you feel, Kid.

But life is a stubborn bitch, and refuses to be ignored for long.  When you least expect it, life barges in and demands that you pay attention because it has a lesson or two it wants to teach you.  Even though I felt like my brain would explode from the effort, I tried to pay close attention.  I figured that if I looked attentive enough, maybe life would leave me alone long enough to catch an afternoon nap.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far….

Go Acquire Some Funeral AttireI’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl, so when it comes to dressy attire, I usually have to scrounge around in the back of my closet to find anything appropriate (and then pray that it still fits).  You can plan a shopping trip for something to wear to a wedding, but it’s difficult to do for a funeral.  You should have at least one black suit or dress on hand at all times.  Otherwise you may find yourself tearfully begging a sales lady for help in finding a piece of black clothing that’s as comfortable as the pajamas you wish you were wearing.

God, please let there be a pair of black pants in here somewhere….

Starve a Cold, Feed a GrieverI’ve sent flowers and fruit baskets to people for all sorts of reasons – birthdays, anniversaries, and various holidays.  But I’ve never sent them to someone who was grieving; I usually pick up the phone instead.  But what I recently learned is that sometimes, the person in mourning doesn’t have the energy or desire to talk to anyone, but they still want to know people are thinking about them – that’s where heart shaped pineapples and chocolate dipped strawberries come in handy!  Although, cookies, muffins, or assorted goodies would work too because they all say the same thing, “This basket of stuff is ridiculously expensive, but I love you and don’t mind having to eat Ramen noodles for the rest of the week in order to pay for it.”

It’s hard to be depressed when you’re stuffing your face with chocolate covered yumminess.

It’s hard to be depressed when you’re stuffing your face with chocolate covered yumminess.

Hugging 101When we are kids, we hug with our whole body, clinging to the target of our affection like little, balding monkeys.  Then as we get older, propriety steps in and our hugs lose a little bit of their fervor, sometimes feeling no warmer than a handshake.  But being wrapped up in a heartfelt hug can be more effective than a handful of Xanax at easing depression – because when you feel like your world is shattering into a million pieces, sometimes all it takes to keep it together is someone else’s arms.

I tried doing this with my cats,but they don't seem to share my appreciation for hugging.

I tried doing this with my cats,
but they don’t seem to share my appreciation for hugging.

United We Stand, Divided We Bawl:  Get yourself an arsenal of good friends because they are like the biological weapons in the war against grief.  I found comfort and support among family because we were all mourning the same loss.  But I turned to my friends for an escape from the insanity.  My friends sympathized with me, but more importantly, they gave me a reason to laugh again.  After crying hard enough to make my eyes burn and my head pound, laughter was the best gift they could’ve given me.  Well, that and the awesome fruit basket.

Our love for each other remains as big as our hair was back in the 90's.

Our love for each other remains as big as our hair was back in the 90’s.

Regret Sucks More Than the First Twilight Movie:  How often do you get the urge to call, text, or visit someone just to say hello or I love you?  Now how often do you ACT on those urges?  Too often we shelve those impulses because we allow other things to get in the way.  Work, kids, food shopping, or cutting our toenails become the priority because we assume we can make that call or visit tomorrow.  It isn’t until tomorrow is abruptly taken away that we begin to mentally tally up all those missed opportunities, and then the crappy feeling of regret sets in.  We can’t do much about the regrets of the past – whether you blew off calling Mom, or made the mistake of sitting through another one of Kristen Stewart’s movies, try to learn from those regrets and work towards avoiding them in the future.

twilight-meme-twlight-interesting-man

Eat Your Goddamn Vegetables:  I’ll admit that if all the vegetables on Earth were destroyed in some sort of veggie apocalypse, it would probably take me a year to notice.  And don’t even get me started on exercising or my loathe/hate relationship with my treadmill.  Clearly, I wasn’t born with whatever healthy-living-genes Jillian Michaels seems to have in abundance (don’t get me started on her either).

But when I hit my thirties I got a serious wake-up call that implored me to take better care of myself – a front row seat to my father’s triple bypass surgery, and my best friend’s battle with lung disease.  When you see a prolonged illness suck the will to live right out of someone you love, you find out that there is a lot of truth behind the phrase, “If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.”  If you’re like me, you hate to hear preachy clichés like that– especially when you’ve got a donut in your hand.  But I’m saying it anyway.  So do yourself a favor and eat a freakin’ string bean once in a while.  Okay?

Except during girl's night out.

Except during girl’s night out.

Don’t Sweat the Small StuffGood grief Linda, how many clichés are you going to throw at us in one blog entry?!  Sorry, I know this slogan has been stamped on a million different coffee mugs, t-shirts and bumper stickers – but again, it’s true.  Let your grudges and petty annoyances go – the guy who cut you off in traffic or the co-worker who drank the last of the coffee isn’t going to spend a single second thinking about you.  So, why should you waste hours of precious time imagining all the different ways you could kill them and avoid trace evidence?  Especially when Google can do it for you in seconds….

dont-sweat-the-small-stuff


I Double Dog Dare You:  Accomplishing something we didn’t think we were capable of is exhilarating.  Which is why I’m urging you to push aside all the imaginary roadblocks you’ve created for yourself (lack of time, money, ability, etc.), and take on a task that you find challenging.

I will be facing two challenges this summer.  Initially, both of them scared the crap out of me because there’s movement involved – a lot of movement; and I’m pretty sure I can’t bring my couch and TV remote along with me.  But after a little bit of thought (and a lot of alcohol), I decided to push past my fears and see if I’m still capable of surprising myself.

Here are the two upcoming events:

The 5K Foam Fest – I’m going to need a chiropractor and a few drinks when this race is over.  And I’m sure I’ll be spending the better part of a week cleaning mud out of places that should NEVER get muddy. But it looks like a hell of a lot of fun…..

The Long Island walk to help fight breast cancer – 2 days, 35 miles, and probably a boatload of blisters.  If you would like to help me raise money for this great cause (without the nasty blisters), all you have to do is click the link below and pull out your credit card. Personally, I think you’ve got the better end of this deal…..

https://www.li2daywalk.org/donor_info.asp?MEMBERID=13166

If everyone who reads this donates just FIVE dollars, I can reach my fund raising goal of $1,000!!

BRING.  IT.  ON!!!!

BRING. IT. ON!!!!

Dear Dad…..

I got the call from Lesley this morning at 6:00am.  I can’t even imagine the strength it took for her to make that call – having to somehow find the words to tell me that my Dad had passed away last night.  She did the best she could…. tried so hard to be gentle.  I lost my shit anyway.  I didn’t hear anything she said beyond, “He’s gone.”  I couldn’t hear anything over the sound of my own screaming and wailing.

There were no questions at that moment – Why?  When?  How?  It didn’t matter.  All that mattered was that yesterday you were here, and now you’re gone.  And with you, all the memories we had yet to create.

You just retired a week ago.  You were counting down the days until retirement for the last few years – couldn’t wait to practice your golf swing, and start racking up the miles on your bicycle.  You spent the last fifty years busting your ass, and you were finally going to enjoy some well-deserved rest and relaxation.  I could practically hear the smile in your voice over the phone as you told me about how you were going to sleep in as late as you wanted on your first day of freedom.

I should have called you to find out how it felt to not have to wake up to an alarm clock that morning.  I thought of calling you a dozen times this past week, but when I finally dialed your number, it was too late.

I got your answering machine….

“Hey Dad, it’s Linda.  I’m calling you in the middle of the day just because I can now – we’re finally on the same schedule.  How cool is that?!  I hope you’re out playing golf or doing something fun.  Give me a call back when you can.  Love you.”

But that’s not all I wanted to say…..

Had you been there to pick up the phone, I would have told you that I had thought a lot about our birthdays coming up – you were turning 70 and I was turning 40 this summer.  I wanted to say that I didn’t want anything from you that came in a box.  That suggestion I made about the diamond earrings was just a joke.  We both know I’m not the diamonds-are-a-girl’s-best-friend type.  They would go horribly with my converse sneakers.

What I wanted more than anything was a memory.  Growing up with hundreds of miles between us, we didn’t have much opportunity to create memories together.  Jobs, kids, crazy schedules, and the physical distance always seemed to get in the way.  I think we were both counting on your retirement clearing away some of those obstacles, and finally allowing us some time to get to know one another better.  I know I was counting on it.  I didn’t realize just how much until that time was taken away from me with one phone call.

I feel grief-stricken.  Robbed.  Angry.  Regretful.

I’m mad at myself for taking so much for granted.  Even though your health wasn’t the best these past few years, I still stupidly thought you would be there to create all the memories I had only dreamt about.  I was going to share one of those dreams with you over the phone that day….

I imagined us going on one of your 30-mile bike rides together this summer; both to commemorate our milestone birthdays and to stubbornly prove that age is just a meaningless number.  I thought one or two days of pedaling together, bitching about the hot Florida heat, and laughing at all the old-timers in spandex bike shorts, sounded like the perfect birthday present.  Then at the end of the day we’d compare sore muscles to see whose ass hurt more, and you’d attempt to teach me how to cook one of your signature dishes – all the while I’d be nodding my head, but hopelessly lost.  After dinner you’d insist on topping off the meal with dessert – who am I to argue with homemade strawberry shortcake?  But it would taste extra sweet that night because we’d know that we earned every one of those delicious calories.

That’s just one of a thousand would-be memories I have swimming around in my head right now.  I’m trying desperately to hang on to the happy memories we did manage to create and let go of the rest, but I have to admit that right now I’m not having much luck.

I can’t promise that the sting of regret won’t taint those happy memories, but here’s what I can promise:

I promise to take that 30-mile bike ride this year, even though I won’t have you pedaling by my side.

I promise to honor both of our weight loss efforts, and pass up on more donuts than I eat…. I can’t promise the same about coffee cake – but I know you’ll understand.

I promise to make the most out of the gifts you gave me:  your sarcastic sense of humor, your love and talent for the written word, and your immense capacity to love anything on four furry-feet.

I promise not to complain too much about some of the physical traits I inherited from you:  the odd long torso/short legs combo, the ability to gain weight when even pondering a trip to Dunkin’ Donuts, and that deep crease I get in between my eyes when I’m looking at someone like they’re nuts.

I’d like to ask you to promise me something in return.  Promise me that there is something beyond this crazy, fucked up world where nobody seems to ever get what they deserve.  Promise me that you’ll do your best to protect and comfort those of us who are still stuck down here, missing you.  And promise me that when it’s my time to go, you’ll be waiting there for me.

I hope there are bicycles in heaven….

SONY DSC

Young at Heart…. Slightly Older in Other Places

When I was 7-years old, I lost my grandmother to lung cancer (she was only 63).  I was too young to grasp the lesson inherent in that tragedy – appreciate your grandparents now because they won’t be around forever.  My mother took great pains to completely shield me from the grizzly details of my grandmother’s illness and death, so I was still able to see my other three grandparents through the invincible eyes of a child.

I spent years having obligatory conversations with my grandparents over obligatory holiday dinners, and never took the time to really talk to any of them.  I’d tell them about my friends and how I was doing in school, and they’d tell me about the plants growing in their garden and how they saved fifty cents on a loaf of bread at the grocery store; conversations that were superficial and quickly forgotten.

In my eyes they were grandparents, not people.  I never bothered to learn about their childhoods, likes/dislikes, fears, or hopes for the future.  I saw them as the sweet old people who did their best to spoil me with gifts that never quite hit the mark, and hard candy that tasted like it had spent the last decade on the bottom of their purse/pocket.

It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I realized I had NO idea who my grandparents really were, but by then two more of them had passed away.  When I gave birth to my first child, I suddenly had the pressing need to get to know my last remaining grandfather, Pops.  I wanted to find out all I could about the life he led, and I wanted to share more of my life with him.

I’d like to tell you that Pops and I shared many warm Hallmark moments after my epiphany, but that kind of sentimental crap only happens in chick flicks.  My revelation came too late, and by the time my first-born was 6-months old, Pops passed away.

At least Pops got to share a couple of
Hallmark moments with my daughter, Meghan

Here’s where you say, “For chrissakes Linda, if I wanted to get depressed I would have curled up on my couch with a box of Kleenex and watched Steel Magnolias!  Can we PLEASE get to the silver lining part of this story before I put my head in the oven?”

Yes we can.  Because there IS a silver lining to this story, and her name is Auntie Helen.

My silver-haired, silver lining.

Auntie Helen is technically my great aunt, but after the early loss of my grandmother, she filled that void in my life and has felt more like a grandparent to me.  She lives in Massachusetts, and during my childhood I saw her (at most) a couple of times a year.  When I became an adult, I was determined to learn from the mistake I had made with all of my grandparents and make an effort to span not only the physical distance between Auntie Helen and I, but also the generational one.

I wanted to see past the differences in our ages, and stop pigeonholing her as just another old person on my family tree that I couldn’t relate to.  She made it very easy because even though Auntie Helen just celebrated her 95th birthday this past July (2013), she has NEVER been old.  If you call her old, you’d better be outside striking distance or prepare to get your ass kicked.

Childhood trauma in 3…. 2…. 1

While her physical being continues to age, mentally she never got past her thirties.  She still dresses to impress, drinks people half her age under the table, and flirts with good-looking men that catch her eye. She continuously busts out of the stereotypes that society tries to impress on her, and refuses to be treated like a frail, old woman. As far as she’s concerned, you can take your knitting needles, bingo balls, and Bengay, and shove them straight up your ass.

She wants to surround herself with young people because she identifies more with them than with people her own age – as is evident by her best friend who is 30-years her junior. Her youthful spirit and hysterical sense of humor draw people of all ages to her, and prove that your age doesn’t have to define you.  A few years back, she was forced into a nursing home to recuperate from a medical illness.  When I spoke to her over the phone and asked her how she was she said, “I’m doing fine, but I’ve got to get the hell out of here!  All these old people want to do is sit around complaining about their aches and pains, and nap all day.”  After her brief recovery, she busted out of that place and went back to living independently, just as she has done for most of her life.

Auntie Helen induced perma-grin.

When I was little, most of the adults in my life treated me like a kid, but Auntie Helen didn’t see any reason to pacify me or sugarcoat the truth just because I happened to be under 4-feet tall. She saw me as a person, so it made seeing her as one easier than it was with all of the other adults in my family.

In one of my earliest memories of her, a group of us went out to dinner at a restaurant by her house.  The waitress brought out a round of cocktails for the table, but she brought my Shirley Temple in a plastic kiddie cup.  Before the waitress could leave, Auntie Helen stopped her, handed my drink back and said, “This young lady’s cocktail needs to be in a glass.”  It was a small gesture, but it had a very large impact on me – it said, you matter.   It also said, you don’t screw around with a woman’s cocktail.

The early bond I formed with her set the stage for what would become one of the most cherished relationships of my adult life.  Despite the nearly 60-year age gap, I feel like I have found a kindred spirit in her – not just because we share a fondness for the f-word and perfectly made margaritas, but also because we both think the other person poops sunshine and rainbows.

Here’s an example of her blind adoration:  I had eye surgery two years ago to help correct my lazy eye.  I sent out an email showing her what I looked like a couple of weeks post-op.  It wasn’t pretty….

It looks like my right eye went out and got stoned,
and my left eye stayed home and went to bed early.

This is an excerpt from the email (yes, the woman EMAILS!!) she sent me in response to that picture….

“Looking pretty good to me, baby.  You are beautiful.  That’s how I see it – never saw any difference.  In my eyes you glow with beauty.  There should be more like you, full with the love and compassion that just pours out of you.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and you are just that in my eyes.  Love you, Honey.”

Shamefully and unabashedly biased as hell, but sweeter than a basket of kittens dipped in cotton candy.  I need an audio recording of her reading this excerpt for when I’m in desperate need of an ego boost.  Then I could just hit “play” and it won’t matter if I’ve got a zit the size of Texas on the end of my nose, or if I gain ten pounds and can no longer fit into my jeans – I GLOW WITH BEAUTY, DAMMIT!!

The feeling of obligation I felt towards my grandparents doesn’t apply with Auntie Helen, because with her it isn’t about have to, it’s about want to.  I want to be around her because when we are together, I feel like the best part of myself comes alive.  It’s like having this Uncle Kracker song playing in my head the whole time we’re together….

You just skimmed right passed the song and didn’t even hit the play button, didn’t you?  I’m TRYING to set up a little sentimental ambiance here.  Help a girl out, would ya?  Now go back and listen to it…. I’ll wait.

Okay, now back to our regularly scheduled program….

I feel the same kind of ease with her that I do when I’m hanging out with my closest girlfriends.  When I talk to her, she stays present in the conversation and doesn’t judge me.  She also doesn’t automatically launch into a “back in my day…” story the second I take a breath or try to compare my 39-year old life in 2012 with hers from 1957.  She’s much more interested in staying current rather than dwelling on the past.

Speaking of staying current, not only does she email, she also joined up with Facebook a couple of years ago.  Every time she posts something on my wall or comments on one of my status updates or photos I’m amazed!  I brag about her to all my friends like she has discovered the cure for cancer.

That’s HER laptop folks, not mine.

She impresses me because I think most 90+ year olds would be too scared to learn how to navigate the intimidating world of social networking, but she doesn’t seem to think anything of it.  And just when I think she can’t do anything else to surprise me, she finds a way – she recently discovered “Words With Friends” and we’ve had a running game going for months.  How freakin’ AWESOME is she?!

If you don’t have an Auntie Helen in your life, you need to get one.  Seriously.  Maybe you could scour the nursing homes to find one of your own to adopt…. wait, what am I saying?  You’d NEVER find an Auntie Helen in a nursing home.  Maybe you could check the dance floors of your local VFW hall on a Friday night – she’ll be the one with the scotch in one hand and a gorgeous soldier half her age in the other.

I’d share this one with you, but she’s ALL MINE….

Don’t be jealous…. actually, you should be jealous.
I was just trying to be nice.

Daily Post Writing Prompt:  My Number One

When Did Prince Charming Get So Twisted?

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there lived a prince.  Even in his infancy the King and Queen recognized their son’s appeal, so they decided to take a bit of a gamble and name him Prince Charming.  After their son had managed to sidestep the gawky teenage stage and grow more handsome and charismatic with each passing year, his royal parents breathed a sigh of relief – it seemed they were going to be spared the embarrassment of having an ugly, socially awkward son named Prince Charming.

When the prince wasn’t making royal appearances at balls or waving to peasants from atop his white horse, he enjoyed acting in local plays.   He managed to get some bit parts with the Brothers Grimm, but didn’t rise to true stardom until Walt Disney discovered him in 1937 and cast him in their classic movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  Even though he was only referred to as “the prince” in the credits, he was still pretty psyched to star in his first feature film.  He had girls of all ages, and even a few of their mothers, swooning over him and singing, “Someday my prince will come…”

“I’m here to save you from the little men who treat you like a slave.”
“My hero!! Wait….are you wearing lipstick?”

Thirteen years later (though amazingly enough, he looked like hadn’t aged at all), Walt Disney finally gave Prince Charming the credit he deserved in the movie Cinderella.  He friends could no longer tease him about being cast as the generic prince because his name was right there in black and white.  After that, he was a household name and the source of many women’s fantasies.  Female peasants mobbed him every time he left the castle, and he was getting more princess ass than he knew what to do with.

I wonder if she’ll let me take off more than her glass slipper after the ball….

But all good things, no matter how charming, must come to an end.  Right around the time women were (symbolically) burning their bras and Aretha Franklin was demanding respect, Prince Charming died of a venereal disease.  But his legacy lived on.  His genetic lineage is a bit hard to trace – probably because he spent several decades sowing his wild oats in a lot of royal (and occasionally, not so royal) beds.  But in 2005, after years of exhaustive research, a genealogist managed to track down one of his modern day heirs.  You might have heard of him – his name is Edward Cullen.

If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it…

Though far more sulky and sparkly than his royal ancestor, he still manages to score big with the ladies.  It seems women love him despite his overly protective, often controlling behavior, and his prudish, old-fashioned ideals in the bedroom.  They don’t even seem to mind the fact that he’s about as cuddly as Michelangelo’s David.  I’m guessing his appeal has something to do with his brute strength, and his enormous bankroll (no, that’s not a euphemism for his penis… the guy really is stinkin’ rich.)

Edward not only sweeps girls off their feet, he also carries them high into treetops and races with them through dense forests.  Holy crap, you should see him run – Usain Bolt has got nothin’ on this guy!  And much like his charming predecessor, he’s got the saving damsels in distress gig down pat.  He’s definitely the guy you want to have around if you ever find yourself surrounded by a pack of drunken townies in a dark alley.  Although girls should be warned that he has a bit of a temper (especially around gorgeous werewolves), and occasionally gets the maddening urge to drink your blood.  But other than that, he’s usually the picture of chivalry and self-restraint.

Then in 2011, the same genealogist that discovered Edward’s lineage also found another member of Prince Charming’s family.  This heir was far harder to track down because he was given up for adoption as a small child – and you know how hard it can be to cut through all that legal red tape and unseal court documents.  But somehow, (probably through the magic of ancestry.com), Christian Grey was discovered.

Though Christian was proud to find out about his heritage and carry on the family tradition of making horny women swoon, he knew there was also a high price to pay.  Christian heard about how difficult it was for his cousin Edward to leave the house without screaming women throwing themselves at his feet, so he decided to maintain his anonymity for as long as possible.

His throng of bodyguards and ability to fly off in his private jet on a moment’s notice helped him stay out of the paparazzi’s spotlight for the last four years.  But all of that changed with the release of his new movie entitled Fifty Shades of Grey.  When asked why Christian picked Valentine’s Day as his film’s release date, his lips quirked up into smile as if he was enjoying an inside joke, but he offered no verbal explanation.  Personally, I think it’s his way of showing men all over the world who’s REALLY in control of their girlfriend/wife’s lady bits on the most romantic day of the year.  Dominant. As. Hell.

For those that want a sneek peek of what you might see on the silver screen, here’s Christian in various states of brooding hotness…..

 

christian grey 1 christian grey 3 christian grey 2

 

Even though Christian was initially reluctant to show his face back in 2011, it seems he was more than willing to pour his heart out to writer and author, E.L. James, who subsequently wrote the biography that the film is based on.  Given Christian’s laundry list of complexities, E.L. wasn’t able to capture his whole life story in just one book, so she wrote a trilogy – all of which landed on the New York Time’s bestseller list.  Apparently, when it comes to brooding, broken-down, billionaires the world just can’t seem to get enough.

While Christian seems to have inherited his family’s stunningly good looks, massive fortune, and (of course) winning charm, this contemporary Prince Charming is not without his faults.  Before you jump on the Grey bandwagon ladies, there are a few things you should know about him.  Here are just five of his fifty shades….

1.  You can run, but you can’t hide.  No really, you can’t.  If he wants to find you, he will.  Privacy and stalker laws be damned, he will hunt you down.  He knows people.

2.  You’re not allowed to touch him.  EVER.  You can tousle his hair a bit, but if you lay one wandering finger on him, he will have you physically restrained before you can say the words control freak.

3.  You don’t want him to buy you ridiculously expensive gifts?  Tough shit, he’s gonna do it anyway.  He’ll send you so many packages, you’ll think he’s got the UPS guy on his payroll.

4.  He has major food issues.  He’s like a Jewish mother and Italian grandmother all rolled into one.  When you sit down for a meal with him, he doesn’t care that you might not feel hungry – YOU.  WILL.  EAT.  If you don’t eat of your own accord, he will nag you incessantly until you do.

5.  He’s got a “red room of pain” in his house.  And among his many implements of torture, is an entire drawer dedicated solely to butt plugs.  Yep, you heard me – butt plugs.  I’ll just let that one sink in for a while….

The Prince Charming clan certainly has come a long way, haven’t they?  The men of that family have gone from sweeping girls off their feet to strapping them down in their bondage playroom.   But Christian’s semi-sadistic tendencies haven’t deterred his faithful followers at all.  If anything, his threats of corporal punishment have caused orgasmic explosions to go off like fireworks on the Fourth of July!

From the twenty-somethings right on up to the senior set, there are panties catching fire all over the world.  So what is it about these men that make even the most independent, liberated women go weak at the knees?  Inquiring minds want to know….

Caution: Reading Fifty Shades of Grey may cause swooning….
do not read while in a standing position.

5 Side Effects of Living With a Belieber

Even if you’re not a girl under the age of sixteen (or the parent of one), chances are you’ve at least heard of the pop singer, Justin Bieber.  In the last three years, he has gone from an anonymous Canadian teenager to a globally recognized superstar.  At the mall, it’s hard to walk ten feet without seeing his face on a piece of merchandise – even on coffee mugs, which makes no sense to me.  Since when do twelve-year olds drink coffee?  I suppose they could be for adults… but that’s a thought too horrifying to contemplate.

When caffeine isn't enough to get your heart racing.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of websites dedicated to the adoration and idolization of this eighteen-year old boy.  Over zealous Bieber fans, dubbed “Beliebers”, can’t seem to get enough of him.  I know, because my thirteen-year old daughter, Meghan, is one of them.

If DaVinci had Justin Bieber to look at, the Mona Lisa never would have been painted.

Those that have a Belieber residing under their roof know what a test of patience it can be.  For those of you that don’t (lucky bastards), I’ll give you a glimpse into my hormonally charged world.  Here are the side effects of living with a Belieber:

1.  Barnes & Noble induced bankruptcy:  

Meghan knows no limits when it comes to books on the subject of Justin Bieber.  Even though the kid is barely old enough to vote, he has already written an autobiography entitled First Step 2 Forever.  There have also been dozens of books written about Justin by other authors.  That’s right, I said dozens – and Meghan wants them all.  That doesn’t mean she gets them all…. at least not until she gets a job to help support her Bieber habit.

Can you say adorably redundant?

And if the books aren’t enough to satisfy your Belieber’s obsession, there are also magazines.  Do you know how many teen magazines are out there?  Thankfully, not as many as there are Bieber biography books, but certainly more than there were when I was a teenager.   And most of the magazines have Justin somewhere between the pages, which means more pictures and posters for Meghan to add to her bedroom walls.  Her room is a veritable Bieber shrine…. all Beliebers that come to worship must leave their purple sneakers at the door.

Move along.... nothing obsessive to see here.

2.  The shrieking….oh God, the SHRIEEEEKING!!:  

I am constantly assaulted by ear-piercing shrieks at the mere mention of Justin’s name.  Every commercial, TV appearance, or music video with that kid in it causes Meghan to emit a sound that just misses the frequency of a dog whistle…. which is unfortunate for me because that means I can hear it.  If I need hearing aids before I’m fifty, I’m suing Justin Bieber for damages.

That clip was just thirty seconds…. try listening to that for THREE YEARS.

Meghan and I were driving in the car recently, and all of the sudden she let out a shriek that made me think I was about to run my car into a parade of babies and kittens.  I frantically looked around to find the cause of her apparent panic attack, nearly running my car off the road in the process, but saw nothing.

“WHAT?  What is it?!”  I asked, with my heart galloping in my chest.

“Justin Bieber’s new song is on the radio!!!”  she exclaimed while bouncing up and down in the seat beside me.

Have you ever seen that show 1,000 Ways to Die?  I bet the makers of that show never considered death by Top 40 hit song.

3.  Your nose can run, but it can’t hide:  

Given Meghan’s voracious appetite for Bieber merchandise, when he came out with his perfume, Someday, I knew she would want it.  I also knew that it would offend my Chanel No. 5 sensibilities – I was right.  The sweet concoction wafts through the house, and seems to find my nose no matter how far away I am from where it was sprayed.  And when it does inevitably find me, a migraine usually isn’t far behind.

Someday.... sounds like a threat.

 4.  Play it again, Sam.  And again…. and again…. and again…. 

Meghan doesn’t seem to ever tire of listening to Justin’s music.  EVER.  His lyrics and music have been pounded into my brain with repetition so relentless, it borders on torture.  You need to get a confession out of me?  Play Justin Bieber’s song, Baby, a couple dozen times, and I’ll tell you anything you want to know.  I get down on my hands and knees and thank the inventor of the iPod everyday because without it (and the accompanying headphones), I would surely have found my way into a straight jacket and a padded cell by now.

Dancing to the beat of her own Bieber.

5.  The countdown – it’s like Dick Clark on amphetamines:

The countdown begins when Meghan finds out that Justin Bieber is coming out with a new single, album, or video.  I thought it was unbearable when she had to wait two weeks for his single, Boyfriend, to come out, but now she has to wait almost two months for the release of his next album, Believe.  Thanks a HEAP for announcing that one so early, Justin.  Every day that ticks slowly passed, I know I will hear her excitedly announce, “only __ more days until the new Justin Bieber album comes out!!!!”  And more than likely, that announcement will be punctuated by a shriek that makes my ears bleed.

A visual aid to remind me when the next round of auditory torture will begin.


I guess there are worse fates for a parent to suffer, and certainly worse boys for my daughter to idolize.  Despite Justin’s amazingly rapid rise to fame, he seems to be well grounded and good-natured.  He visits sick kids in the hospital, puts on concerts at impoverished schools, and lends his voice and support to a lot of charities – namely the “Children’s Miracle Network”, the “It Gets Better Project”, and the upcoming movie “Bully”.  He’s like the teenage boy version of Mother Theresa.

Maybe his extraordinary empathy for the poor, sick, and tormented children of the world is a byproduct of his own humble beginnings…. or maybe when you have more money than god, you just enjoy throwing it around a little.  Whatever the reason, I hope Justin Bieber stays as sweet as his headache producing perfume.

If she blushes this much over a cardboard cut-out,
meeting him in person would surely lead to spontaneous combustion.