My mother is dead. My mother is dead. My mother is dead. Every day now, these words swirl around in my mind and in my mouth until they don’t make sense anymore. It’s like when you stare at a word on a page for so long that it starts to look like nonsense and it makes you laugh because you know you know this word and yet it suddenly means nothing to you – and then, because of its foreignness, it means everything. And then you have to look away because you know you might lose the word forever if you don’t. And when you look back at it with fresh eyes it all makes sense again and it’s just a word on a page. A word that you know. But these words – My mother is dead – will never make sense now that they are true. They will never be words that I understand. I say them, over and over again, to remind myself. But that is not the same as understanding.
The last time I heard my mother’s voice was in the parking lot of a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise. This small indignity of this is a stain on my heart and memory which will never come out, ever. My mom had called to say that she was having a “routine procedure” the next day. Outpatient. One that would make her feel better and have more energy to do things she was enjoying again.”If I get dead,” she began…this was something she said constantly – whether she was boarding a plane, going for a manicure, taking a nap – and was usually followed by some inane instruction: “Don’t forget to refill your washer fluid.” “Don’t forget about the smoked salmon in the refrigerator.” “Don’t forget that anything below the waist is vulgar in polite conversation.” This was our routine – and holding up my end of the ridiculous bargain, I mocked her as I always did. “OK, Mom. If you get dead I promise I’ll remember that most people from Nevada are degenerates.” And that was it. The last conversation I ever got to have with my mother. In a fucking parking lot.
She never woke up. There it is again, the nonsense noises in my brain: She never woke up. My mother is dead. Anything below the waist is vulgar. Again and again. Round and round. Nothing. It simply cannot be. These are not real words. Are they? Because if they are, it is the end of everything. If they are, I am rudderless, and I am alone. If they are, I am an orphan. I am an orphan. I am an orphan.
I have always marveled at how, despite the magnitude of any personal tragedy, the world keeps spinning. Life around the loss just goes on. Days keep coming, nights keep falling, stores open, TV shows air, subways run, dogs crap on the floor, mail gets delivered. Nothing, it seems, can kill the mundane being of things. Even my own body seems oblivious to my loss – it continues to wake up, to walk to the shower, to eat, to sleep, to cry, to WORK. How do they do this, the world and life and my body? Don’t they fucking know that I am an orphan? Nothing should work anymore. My mother is dead.
People don’t know what to say. They try. But what they don’t know is that loss like this changes you on a cellular level. That the world will forevermore be divided into categories of “people who understand” and “people who don’t.” What they don’t know is that no matter how much we get that it’s said with love, if we ever hear the words “thoughts and prayers” again, we will fucking break something. And it will probably be your face. Say something different. Something that will help. Like, “Wow, that sucks harder than a cow on a kitten teat.” Or, “Want to get drunk and cry?” I am grateful, believe me, for the incredible outpouring of love from friends, no matter what form it takes. But I guarantee you that those on the “people who understand” list are not saying things like “thoughts and prayers.” They are saying things like, “I have marijuana. I will bring it to you.”
Words were supposed to have been my gift, but now they fail me. Intake, output – my words don’t work anymore. I can’t find the ones I need and I can’t lose the ones I don’t want. She never woke up. I cannot describe the emptiness of my heart and the brokenness of my being in a way that makes sense to anyone else. I cannot describe the way that I wholly mistrust my decisions without my mother around to approve them. Or the secret fear that my brothers don’t like me much at all and that with our Mom gone, they don’t have to pretend anymore, ever. I can’t properly report the way I feel physically crushed beneath the weight of the alone-y-ness (Yes, I can make shit up if I want to. I’m a fucking orphan.). I simply haven’t the words.
I tell myself that I am brave. I tell myself that I can live without her. I tell myself, as I reach for the phone without thinking, that I don’t HAVE to call her anymore - that I can just think and she’ll hear me. I tell other people that I am “hanging in there” or “taking it easy on myself” or some other nonsense that I expect they want to hear because it’s easier than knowing the truth. But the truth is that the final, tiny piece of me that wasn’t broken before is broken now. The job is done.
She never woke up.
My mother is dead.
I am an orphan.
I could also have called this post “My Journey into International Adoption” and saved people who are not interested in this subject a whole lot of time and trouble clicking over and clicking back, all bored and eye-rolly and whatnot. But then I would have had to forego my (hopefully only) opportunity to include “The Clap” in the title of one of my posts, which I am obviously in no position to do. That would be like saying, “Oh, no thank you. I think I’ll pass on the lifetime supply of Original Twix Bars.” That would never happen either. Not on my watch.
So, yes. While I have not talked much about it publicly, this has become my full-time job. For the past 3 or 4 months I have been tits-deep in The Process. And by “process” I mean the rapey, ransacking inquest into my personal life, home, finances, emotions, and vagina. Yup. My vagina. I have had to provide three separate agencies with multiple ORIGINAL sets of tax returns (going back 3 years), bank statements, credit card bills, debts and assets, officially stamped valuations of my home/car/trust/IRA/real estate holdings, utility bills, passport/driver’s license/social security card copies, multiple background checks (with fingerprinting), character witnesses (5), photographs (8), certified divorce decrees (2), psychological evaluations (yes, I passed. Asshole.), letters from my bank, letters from my CPA, letters from my local police, letters from my friends, letters from my family, letters of intent, letters to Haitian government officials, autobiographical statements, medical examinations (2), and home inspection reports. All notarized and copied many times over. All seen by several sets of strangers, including the pimply boob-staring guy at the copy-shop. In all my life, I have never felt so violated. Fuck, I have never BEEN so violated. I guess that makes me lucky.
Which brings me to the vagina part. Included in my 2 separate, notarized medical reports are the results of my laboratory tests for cholesterol, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, Hepatitis A-C, and TB (Yeah, um – 1743 called. It wants its disease back.) Did you want to test me for Consumption, too? How about Plague? The Vapors? Test me, bitches. Bring it right the fuck on, because no matter what you throw at me next, I will hit that shit back at you so hard your head will spin. You can probe my vadge like a goddamned unmanned Titanic rover and show every nosy notary and copy-shop guy on earth what you found in there. Will that be enough? Will that give a starving orphan a chance for a loving home? Will THAT, finally, make me worthy of being someone’s mother? If not that, then what?
It’s not nearly over. I am only 3 months into what could turn out to be a 3 YEAR process. And all this while, the babies in Haiti waste away, cry for no one, die. They die. While 2 different governments examine my finances, my psyche, my closets, and the contents of my vagina with a fine-toothed comb, the babies wait. They go unheld. And they fucking die. How is this OK? Especially when you consider the non-existent screening process for biological birthers….oh, you’re 12? Super! What’s that? You’re a crack whore with 7 kids and 7 baby-daddies and you want to have another? Sure! How’s that abusive relationship? Why not bring an emotionally doomed child into it? For fuck’s sake, you have to jump through more hoops to acquire a DOG in this country than you do to have a natural child. No one asks any questions of birth mothers. No one looks at their bank statements. No one demands character witnesses. No one has to DEEM THEM WORTHY. Birth mothers don’t have to notarize shit. Am I nuts (No! Yay! I just found out!), or is something very, very wrong here?
Wrong, inhumane, sadistic, invasive – whatever. It doesn’t matter. I will wait. I will jump when they say jump. I will give my blood and open my legs for the doctors and expose my home and net worth to strangers and I will have it all fucking notarized. Because someday, I will get to hold her and smell her skin and kiss her tears away and make her dinner and buy her tiny dresses and sing her nonsense songs. Someday, the little girl named Babette who’s visited me in dreams ever since the earthquake will be my daughter, my joy, my hope, my family. She will be mine and I will be hers and we will be each other’s. And I will wait because it is everything.
Because I have to believe that when I get the call, and get on the plane, and fall to my knees and take her up into my arms, maybe – just maybe – this will all be worth it. It has to be.
It has to be.
Judge me all you want for my grown-up love of Justin Bieber. Seriously. I don’t care. Do it. But while you’re judging me, ask yourself this: Is it because you secretly love him too and you totally wish you were a pre-teen girl so you could justify your love, Madonna-style? Or is it because you are a self-righteous, self-professed Music Snob looking for places to leg-lift your disdain, and what better fire hydrant than the adorable teen sensation who won over the world with his awesome hair and mad pop chops? Thought so.
Admittedly, I only first knew about the Biebs because of my three dear nieces, and my single most heart-exploding-with-joy memory is of driving with them in my car and singing “Baby” together over and over at the top of our lungs. Truly. Nothing in this world can make me feel gladder or better or brighter that THAT memory, and hearing the song brings that joy back to me here in the present moment, where, let’s be honest – it doesn’t frequent much these days…and the ONLY REASON I HAVE THAT MEMORY IS BECAUSE OF JUSTIN BIEBER. I have driven around in the car scream-singing with my nieces for 20 + years and have never had any other artist or song or moment feature so prominently in a picture of pure, captured happiness. That’s right. Justin Bieber gave a me a Joy Tattoo.
Which is why I leapt at the chance to take my youngest niece to his concert in Miami last month. It was more selfish than noble, although I totally played the “Aren’t I a martyr?” card when chronicling my 4000 mile journey to the jumbotron and back for sympathetic friends. Niece #3 missed out on the NSYNC/Backstreet/X-tina outings that I got to share with the older girls a decade or so ago, and I wanted a moment like that with her. I wanted to bond with her over something she loved, as I had gotten to do with the others. Also I wanted her think I was awesome. Obviously.
I cannot lie – the night was dark and filled with more than a few terrors. Primarily, the enormous, flagrant signage everywhere in and around the arena, announcing Bacardi as the North American sponsor of JB’s tour. Nice. Pimping booze to kids not nearly old enough to even drink it illicitly at forbidden high-school parties….to kids who will endure years of anti-alcohol diatribes from parents who ignore the irony of railing against the very thing that delivered the single greatest thing in their world (aka the Biebs) to their very doorstep. Try un-confusing those
future drunks kids. I dare you.
When the Biebs himself finally emerged, my every last remnant of snark and judgment dissolved. I didn’t even mind so much about the eardrums. Totally worth it. Both for the joy on my niece’s face and for the simple fact that Justin Bieber is a STAR. Which was never more evident than seeing him do his Bieber thing after enduring not one, but TWO horrifically bland opening acts. Those boys could sing, too – maybe even better than JB. They could also dance and show us their teen muscles and mug for the cameras with the best of them. But they were not stars. They will never have a Fever named after them. Not ever.
I used to think it was just the hair. Which, by the way, is magnificent. I mean, the iconic Bieber coiff is obviously an architectural triumph – duh – but it is also a lovingly sculpted nonpareil erected by tiny frenzy-fairies using an unguent of Aphrodite tears and magical gumdrops made from the still-beating hearts of baby unicorns. It’s that good. You cannot take your eyes off it – not that you’d want to. Although, I do admit to recoiling with awkward embarrassment the moment that this tiny wonder removed his shirt to reveal the hairless boy-torso beneath. I actually did look away for that – I had to. I mean, I’m as pervy as the next guy (oh, who am I kidding, I’m exponentially more pervy than the next guy, and the guy after that) but seeing those ripped baby-abs – like a six-pack made of Go-Gurt - made me feel icky inside. Which is actually kind of a relief, if you want to know the truth.
So there. I said it. I love Justin Bieber (fully clothed) and I don’t care who knows it. I also don’t care that you and everyone you know hates him, or why you hate him, or that you now hate me. I love him for the mosaic of joyful memories he’s become a part of and the happiness those memories conjure. For the thrill he gave my niece and for the bliss of being there with her to see it. Say what you want - this child is a supernova. He possesses a radiance and a spark and a gift that mere mortals do not have and could not channel if they did. It’s not about the hair. It’s not about the Bacardi or girls or the dumb pants. It’s not about being the best singer, or the best dancer or the best musician. It’s about being The Biebs.
And that is all you need to know.
Greetings, my fine friends! I first must apologize for my longer-than-usual absence from the ether, although as I typed that I immediately thought to myself, “a *You’re Welcome* might be more in order.” So, you’re welcome. I hope you enjoyed my silence while it lasted. But, where have you been, Misanthropista? you ask…. (yes, I can hear your cries in the night, I’m kinda just ignoring you.) The fact is, I’ve spent the past month or so getting my ass kicked. Really fucking hard. Because that’s exactly what I signed up for. That’s exactly what I wanted, and EXACTLY what I needed. Roller Derby, y’all. That’s what I am telling you. Your mild-mannered, people-hating, underachieving eighth-favorite bloggess ever is now a goddamned, bona-fide Roller Girl.
But this post is not really about me, so much (again, you’re welcome). Actually, it totally is. But it’s also about the magnificent, indestructible, stunningly beautiful women that have come into my life, or come closer, since I began this awesome ridiculousness. Fierce women. Kind women. Women who teach me about things like ” ‘Giner Shiners” and “Stripper Stretches.” WHERE HAVE THESE PEOPLE BEEN ALL MY LIFE? In the most bizarre way, that blood-splattered track has become my home, my church, my shrink, my PLACE. And I share that track with a large handful of women who feel exactly the same way.**
**Disclaimer: I cannot speak for all Derby Girls, nor do I presume to know Everyone’s Story….but I know my own, and I know my friends’, and I know why WE are there. It ain’t for the ‘giner shiners, folks. Ouch, by the way. OUCH.
We are there because we’re broken. Beautifully, crushingly, perfectly broken. Busted right the fuck up. And the other ways we’ve tried to put ourselves back together have failed, or fallen short. We’ve tried “healing,” we’ve tried breathing, we’ve tried forgiveness….yoga, therapy, meditation, hiking, knitting, the “high road,” booze, food, opiates, teen vampires (did I say that, or did I think it?) – you name it. We’ve tried it. And sometimes all that’s left is just to Kick Some Goddamned Ass. And that’s what we’ve come to do. With deepest apologies to Helen Hunt and that creepy kid who sees dead people, we’ve come to Break it Forward. And in doing so, to put ourselves back together.
My fellow Dolls and I sport names like Bruiser Ego, Veronica Tastrophe, Cripple D, Decks-Her Morgan, Crystal Brawl, and Waste Management (that’s mine – hands off, betchesss). A brief scroll through the International registry of names reveals such gems as Buttermilf Paincakes, Armageddon Smashed, Kinky Tuscadero and Sadie Masochist. See more awesomeness here: http://www.twoevils.org/rollergirls You get the picture. These are our true selves. Every woman should have a Derby Name, whether or not she ever puts on a pair of skates. Every single goddamned woman. We’ve all got a roller girl inside of us, but most of us don’t know it yet – we won’t know until we need her. It’s how we should see ourselves and sometimes, how we MUST see ourselves. Because let’s face it, when the shit hits the fan, who are you gonna call – Sally Sunshine? Or Sally Jesse Rough-As-Hell? Thought so.
Again, I cannot know how each of us found Derby, or how IT found us. But my theory is that most of us ended up here because we had to (please keep in mind, I also once had a theory that if I gave enough “thought energy” to Jordan Catalano, he would magically become real, and also my boyfriend – but whatevs. This one’s better). Because, thanks to some past hurt, or hoax, or heartbreak, we had been stripped of our Power, and we wanted it the fuck back.
After an informal practice last week, my 2 friends and I sat – tired, sweating, and so, so happy – removing our gear and chatting about some move we were trying to perfect, when one of them said, “Wow. This is a bench full of Broken Bitches.” That shit was DEEP. Profound and perfect and true. There we sat together: Heartbreak, Betrayal, Mayhem – not our Derby names, but they certainly could be….the worst that life has to offer – helping each other to kick those things’ asses right back to where they came from (usually, that place has a penis, but I digress.). Making the best of the worst, and doing it together. Putting back the broken pieces and making something stronger and far more beautiful than the original. Digging deep and pushing through (and if you’re me, taking out anyone who gets in your way, mostly because you don’t know how to stop yet) and doing it for yourself. Or in spite of yourself. What-the-fuck-EVER. Doing it. Just….doing it.
As I write this, I am nestled into a makeshift, home-fashioned traction device, with ice packs on both knees, moist heat on my ass (nothing to do with Derby, that – just, who doesn’t love moist heat on their ass? Nobody, that’s who.), and vats of ibuprofen and bourbon at the ready. My 44-year-old body creaks and cracks, punishes and protests. And my brandy-new soul tells it to shut the fuck up. Because we’re going back tomorrow.
Well, friends, the holidays are upon us once again. This year everyone’s Yuletide giddiness is obviously fraught with a heaviness and sorrow that cannot be described or even fully fathomed. I won’t even try. I wouldn’t know where to start, or where to stop. It’s simply too much. However, I AM going to use my voice to address something here that no one else seems to want to talk about in polite company (not that I keep much of that, but still) – something that, year after year, is silently swept under the Christmas tree skirt and never, ever spoken of. Something that affects us all, whether we know it or not. Something that looks a whole lot like a big fat old dude taking our tiny children into his velvet-swathed lap for a very private conversation.
I mean, honestly. Isn’t this exactly the sort of thing that we spend years telling our children they Must Not Ever Do? Don’t we teach them to scream and run at the first sight of strangers wielding candy (and this motherfucker’s promising a whole lot more than candy, isn’t he? “You want a Playstation, sonny boy? How about a pony, little Susie? Ho ho ho!”) Isn’t this the sort of debaucherous foreplay that goes on in the wee, dirty hours between a be-robed Hugh Hefner and his house full of compliant sex bunnies? Adult sex bunnies, I might add. And it’s STILL revolting. Yet, parents the world over wait for hours in line at terrifying department store Toylands, enduring excruciating soul-drainage and near-certain mauling death by perfume spraybots to plop their minor children squarely down onto the genitals of strange men wearing fur suits. Why am I the only one who thinks that’s fucked up?
What do you suppose these Renta-Clauses do the rest of the year? Do you imagine that they are doctors or stock brokers or NASA engineers who are taking a month off from their “respectable” jobs every year to don the suit? Really? Do you really think that? Here’s what I think: I think that the vast majority of these Pere Noel impersonators are brazenly rubbing their beer-bloated bellies and collecting unemployment for the other 11 months of the year. I think their daily comings-and-goings are dubious at best, and that their internet porn collections would make Caligula feel icky. I think if you were to see that same guy in his street clothes sitting on a park bench in July that you would grab your kids by their sticky paws and find a different goddamned bench, stat. That’s what I think.
What makes us so sure that Macy’s and the other
soul-sucking meth labs of consumerism retail giants are paying $36.50 (the cost of a nationwide background check) to the Department of Human Services for every fat guy they hire to fondle our children part-time? What makes us so sure that there’s not a certain *element* that might be attracted to this sort of seasonal stint? What makes us so sure that just because there’s a red suit and a white beard that this guy is not some unholy deviant who is enjoying this lap time *just* a little too much? For that matter, what makes us so sure that Santa is wearing underpants?
*insert awesome “Yule Log” joke here*
Perhaps I have said too much, and perhaps I have taken liberties that should not be taken (I know, I know – you’re all, “Dude, it’s SANTA! What the fuck is wrong with you?). I acknowledge that I have a tendency to see the bleakest angle in even the sunniest scene, so if I have ruined your life or sullied your excuse to leave your kid on the Big Guy’s lap while you go shop for naughty elfinwear, do forgive me. My job, as the spokesperson for rational people-haters everywhere, is to tell the truth as I see it – up, down or ugly. And the truth, my unfortunate friends, is that Santa’s a goddamned perv.
See? I just saved you thousands and thousands of dollars in therapy that your child will no longer need. I’m like a benevolent fucking Christmas angel. And I think we all know that someone had to say it. You’re welcome.
So, my dear friend Shauna posted this superb meme on my Facebook wall yesterday and she’s all, “This totally reminded me of you” and I’m all, “Hell yeah it did!” Because I am seriously badass, right? Because I don’t take shit from anyone, right? Because whoever fucks with me will be unceremoniously fileted like O-Ren Ishii by my yellow-jumpsuited Kill Bill awesomeness, right? Right?
Wrong. I had myself briefly fired up with this formidable vision of me as the ultimate No Bullshit Zone – the Perfect, Perfect Bitch. I love that vision. I love that people evidently regard me as the very last person on earth with whom they’d want to tangle, because I so desperately want to be that person. But my enchantment was short-lived, and I deflated rapidly as I realized that in fact, I am EXACTLY the person with whom you’ll want to tangle. Because absolutely nothing will happen. Chances are I won’t even notice that you’re being a douchelord for the first 87 or so times you decide to be a douchelord. This is a fairly serious problem, only because when I finally do notice, it means that you have pushed so far beyond the limits of decency and humanity that I completely lose my shit and the relationship is rendered unsalvageable. I am talking about zero to blitzkrieg in the span of one well-timed dick move. Actually, I guess it would be 88. Eighty-eight dick moves. Then you’re done.
So yes. I have a very high tolerance for bad behavior. I could drink a case of bad behavior and still I’d be on my feet.** I have been witness to bad behavior all my life – irrational, unpredictable, infantile behavior. Frightening behavior. Strange, inconsiderate, and often cruel behavior. At some point in my childhood it just became the new normal, and I stopped noticing. But I also realized early on that the best course of action was to do nothing – to take shelter from the storm in whatever happy place I could conjure and ride that motherfucker out. In those days my self-preservation mostly involved Sean Cassidy music and making out with my wall poster of The Fonz. During the years I was married and “stepping,” I coped by going alone to my bedroom while the shit-pies of anarchy and defiance flew wildly about just beyond the threshold. I figured that if I just stayed behind the door, I’d never have to take one to the face. The problem, of course, was that I couldn’t stay in there forever. I’d eventually run out of bourbon.
So this is what I’ve been working on in my never-ending push to become less fucked-up than I was destined to be: Boundaries. Learning to stand up for myself, to speak out, to say no when I need to and to call bullshit when I smell it. To be less accepting of bad behavior during the window of time when my NOT accepting it might still actually change its course. To fix friendships while they can still be fixed. To stop waiting to speak up until my loathing is lit with the fire of a thousand suns and it’s far, far too late. Because while the benefits of having a long fuse are quite agreeable (I do not anger easily, and enjoy very low blood pressure), I’ve come to understand that anything that’s left to spark and sizzle and burn that long is going to make a very big boom. And that shit ain’t ever purty.
**With deepest apologies to Joni Mitchell
It’s been a couple weeks since my last entry, and as your resident ornery bloggess I feel compelled to clarify a few things, to report a few things, and to observe a few things about the fallout that ensued after the last post was published. Here goes.
To Clarify: Primarily, I am not angry anymore. Really. My eldest niece called me that morning with grave and darling concern in her voice. She was worried about me. “Um, Auntie? Are you OK? It’s just that your last post seemed really angry. I mean, angrier than usual even.” I assured her that while recalling the incident and recreating it in words certainly gave renewed vigor to those moments of abject rage and unthinkable betrayal, they were only moments, and they are gone now. Seriously, folks – it’s been almost a year since I found all this out. I am not still reeling. Nor am I driven by any sort of lust for vengeance. My feeling on THAT subject is simple: Go Bobbit or Go Home. I went home. To my laptop. And wrote. Well, actually I went home to my couch and stayed there in a PTSD, carbs, and Valium coma for many months before I was even able to talk about it. But then, I wrote. I did not create that post in order to hurt anyone or “expose” my ex-husband as an emotional abuser or raving lunatic – trust me, he does not need my help in doing so. I wrote it to get it out, and indeed, it was a GREAT purge. But as far as I knew, anyone reading my minor-league musings was either a friend or family member and likely already knew the story. Never did I imagine the breadth and scope of readers that would find their way to my blog that day and enter the swirling brown vortex of doom that was my marriage and its Lifetime-worthy demise.
Secondly, I am no one’s bitch, and no one’s victim. If there’s anything I AM still angry about is that I allowed this to happen. It was with my total permission that my ex-husband and his son treated me with unconscionable disrespect, lived off of me without contribution, drained my resources and turned my home into a festering pit of refuse and despair. I allowed it. Every single day that I bellowed or cried or begged or threatened but didn’t leave, I allowed it. And I asked for more. I knew what I was getting when I married them (make no mistake, potential steps – it’s a package deal); this was not a post-wedding Worst Surprise Ever. I was not tricked or duped into thinking I was getting some great deal – I knew exactly what I was in for, and for me to expect different behaviors from my former husband and his son would have been like adopting a mastodon and then being outraged because it broke my house. Of course it did. It’s a mastodon. The fault is mine. I invited the chaos into my life, drew it a hot bath, gave it the guestroom and handed over my credit card. My job, now, is to figure out why I thought it was OK for as long as I did. Why I stayed, why I thought I deserved it. Why it took an unfathomable show of treachery for me to finally leave. Why I brought home that goddamned mastodon.
To Report: What followed was an Epic Shitstorm. Lines were drawn, double-dealers exposed, martyrs and hypocrites drawn out, friendships lost and broken. I was accused of launching a vicious “attack” upon the former stepson (age 17), and in truth, I have questioned my judgement and motive for bringing him into the re-telling at all. But the fact is that he was a part of it, and not in an “innocent bystander” kind of way….this has never been a secret. My stepson was an integral part of the marriage, but more precisely, the END of the marriage. This sideshow was my life – not a day or a week or a moment. My LIFE. For years. Judging me for telling the horrible things doesn’t magically excuse or erase the horrible things. It doesn’t work that way, to the great dismay of blame-deflectors everywhere. This is my story, and I don’t feel compelled to apologize or defend myself for telling it. Everything I said was true. And plenty more that I didn’t say - that I wouldn’t.
Next: many, many more people than I realized have endured similar torment. I had no idea. I heard from several women who have been stalked, “taken”, frightened, used, bullied, deceived, some even beaten - stories much worse than mine. They are afraid or embarrassed or ashamed to talk about it, and thanked me for being impertinent enough to tell my story publicly, as if by doing so I was also telling theirs. I am OK with that, speaking the Secrets of the Douchey Exes Sisterhood. And I would please like Cameron Diaz to play me in the movie. I’ll need a breezy sidekick.
To Observe: Hits, likes, reposts and shares on that article were more than double that of my second “biggest” day in the blog-ethers. Why? What does this say? Surely, people love a train-wreck, but I think it’s more than that. I think it’s partly that those who sometimes worry their lives have entered the dreaded Realm of the Mundane can dip their toes, ever-so-briefly, into the cesspool of deception and espionage and drama and dysfunction of such a tale and quickly run back to the safety of their lives and families, grateful for their certainties and permanence. People who have beachfront property at said cesspool, like me, read because we like to know we’re not alone, and that maybe someone else really does understand, and that maybe we can laugh about it together someday. Or cry, or scream, or even better – move to the suburbs.
But mostly, I think it’s because people truly care about others’ struggles (I know, very un-Misanthropista-ish…). And because we can frolic together on Facebook and play Words With Friends and meet for drinks and go to Rotary meetings and work side by side with people we truly care about, and have no idea what lies beneath. What they’re going through, where they’ve been, what they’ve survived, what they don’t tell. As for me, I am mostly glad I told. It came at a cost, to be sure, but I have to believe the gift outweighs the cost. To have told the tale is to be free of it. And that’s way better than a pet mastodon.
PS - To those who’ve deemed me cruel and inhuman for exposing this labyrinthine saga and its wily players to my tiny circle of readers, I say this: Call me when YOUR husband fashions an elaborate ploy to stalk and spy on you with a fake identity. Call me when some kid comes along and shits on YOUR lawn and on YOUR life. Call me when the betrayal finally beats you, and when everything you think you know is a lie. Then we’ll talk. In the meantime, fuck off.
So, you know how, like, you’re in this terrible marriage and you pretty much hate every miserable, goddamned moment of your wretched existence and you feel like you’ve spent forever putting up with things that no self-respecting human being would ever put up with even for a minute but you’ve put up with it for years and the whole sorry thing has left you so devoid of life or joy that you can’t even fathom people who feel those things anymore and you wake up every single morning and tell yourself that Today is The Day that you’ll leave, that you’ll just pack the car and grab the dogs and GO but you never do because something always comes up or you worry how you’ll explain it to your judgy big brother or you think, maybe – just maybe – if I tell the husband I’m leaving, he’ll be scared enough to lose me that he will pick up his Mount Fuji of crap on the closet floor or pay a goddamned bill or tell his awful child that it is not OK to shit on the lawn but he never does and still you try to stick it out and find things to make yourself happy but you realize you can’t possibly be happy when you are allowing yourself to be used financially and abused emotionally and ass-raped spiritually every single day and so you finally, finally screw up the nerve to end it only to be lured back in months later by an alleged “emotional crisis” and guilted into returning to the Pit of Despair that was your life before only this time it’s even worse because the “emotional crisis” was not so much an “emotional crisis” as a “Masterclass in Manipulation” and that guilting and shaming and ransacking of emails and phones and drive-by spying become daily occurrences and you find yourself begging for mercy and forgiveness just to make the crazy stop but it doesn’t stop and soon you realize that the crazy has actually made you sick and now you have ulcers and you’ve had three teeth crumble in your mouth from all of the grinding and clenching that you don’t even know you’re doing and you want so badly to run away (again) but you promised to try and you really are trying but the only thing that is keeping you alive aside from the fact that your pets need you is your profound Facebook friendship with the one person who seems to truly understand and make sense of the madness and talk you out of doing anything rash and who reminds you how great you thought your husband once was and how great you were together before All This and who somehow always manages to convince you that love is worth fighting for and that surely the ulcers were caused by something else entirely and that your teeth were just exploding because, well, you’re no spring chicken and if you just hang in there another day everything will be OK and you believe your friend because you feel like friends can sometimes see things you can’t and you’re sure this is one of those times and one of those friends and you carry on despite the torture and the nightmares and the fact that you are drinking a LOT more bourbon than usual which doesn’t really help the ulcers but definitely helps with the getting-through until finally, finally, one day the indignity becomes too much and despite your repeated promises to “keep trying” you just can’t anymore and you call it off again but that is not deemed acceptable by the other party who decides to stalk and torment you for the next five days while you sit holed up in your house with a very big gun just waiting for a chance to use it on this motherfucker but he is so busy calling you a cunt and a whore that he doesn’t give you the chance to shoot him, only to field the hundreds of texts and calls and emails calling you a cunt and a whore and you are so grateful to your special Facebook friend who is helping you through this yet again and you feel like you can tell him anything and that your secrets and rage and heartbreak are safe with him because you trust him implicitly and since he is the one friend who has seen you through the whole miserable affair from start to finish you know you don’t really have to explain anything and that he will understand why you had to do what you did – why you had to go, again – why you are getting off the hamster wheel and getting the fuck out of dodge and getting the fuck out of the marriage and you know your friend won’t judge you even though he does not agree with your decision because, well, that’s the kind of friend he is and when you have finally extricated yourself from the poisonous sham of a union and cut the cord that tied you to all that pain and torment and you feel exhilarated because the cancer is gone once and for all and you think nothing could possibly hurt you ever again now that you are free and everything is swell right up until the part when your special friend reveals to you that he is actually your husband pretending to be someone else and that he has spent the past year weaving this elaborate web of deception and using this fake identity to stalk you and commit emotional espionage on you and the whole time you were trying to reconcile, he looked you in the eye and lied and deceived you again and again and led two lives and kept them immaculately separate from each other and you never had a fucking clue so now you feel like the biggest asshole the world has ever made and you wonder how you could be so stupid and you are embarrassed because you were so handily duped but you are also sad because now you’ve lost the friend you trusted and you realize that your entire life has been turned upside down by duplicity and betrayal and you don’t even trust yourself to order a sandwich anymore because maybe the sandwich is pretending to be some other kind of sandwich behind your back but then you realize you sound completely fucking ridiculous and that you’re not actually fit for human company right now and maybe you’d better just take your weird imposter-sandwich and go back to bed for awhile like, say, 6ish months and never ever speak of it, because you can’t, until you can – and then you can speak of nothing else because you are so completely fucking broken by it all?
No? Oh. Me neither.
It’s Vampire Season, folks. Finally. Well, it’s ALWAYS Vampire Season if you’re me, but at this time of year, the rest of the world seems to not only tolerate my bizarre fixation, but to share it. This is fantastic news, because honestly? It’s exhausting trying to nourish a non-seasonal craving – ever tried to find a candy cane in July, when its minty-freshness would make a most refreshing treat? Exactly. This shit just doesn’t make sense. It would obviously be much easier to
seduce terminate a sexy-as-hell psychotic immortal murderer using my luscious carotid cleavage as bait during the warmer months, but this is not the hand I’ve been dealt. I have a friend with the titanium nutsack to rock a full-on cape year-round, for virtually any reason at all, and without the slightest concern for societal or seasonal raised eyebrows. He’s all, “Yes, I am wearing a cape. And?” I envy his bravado. And his collection of fine opera-wear.
This is the time of year when I can voice some of my pressing concerns about the undead without people thinking I’m any weirder than they usually think I am. Which is pretty fucking weird, but that’s beside the point. The media have, frankly, confounded me to the point where I don’t even really KNOW the proper way to dispatch a vampire anymore. There are too many choices, too many discrepancies, too many liberties being taken in the modern lore. It’s irresponsible, honestly. I mean, isn’t this *kind of* a matter of life and death? I would simply like a straight answer on a few things. Used to be, a wooden stake through the heart – and ONLY a wooden stake through the heart – would do the trick. And while this method of termination is still considered a fail-safe classic, it seems it’s not our only choice anymore. And let’s face it, who really ever HAS a pointy wooden stake on hand unless you live in Sunnydale or Transylvania or Mystic Falls? Nobody, that’s who.
Speaking of Mystic Falls, let’s check in with the sexy Salvatore Brothers for a moment. Damon is snarky, hilarious, uber-hot and makes the hands-down best Crazy Eyes I have ever seen, ever. Brother Stephan is broody, dark, romantic and deep, which totally doesn’t matter because all you can do is stare at his
ass abs. Stephan’s insider-vamp-nickname is The Ripper, due to his savage feeding style and fondness for leaving brutal carnage behind after a kill. And you’re all “Yeah, I’m totally OK with that? As long as he takes his shirt off at some point.” These teen vamps drink a lot of alcohol (in addition to blood) – from very fancy crystal decanters. I like to think it’s bourbon, because that’s totally what I would drink if I were a sexy, misunderstood vampire just trying to fit in. They also eat. Like, food. This is in direct violation of every rule we’ve ever been taught about the undead. EVERYONE KNOWS VAMPIRES DO NOT EAT. GOD!
This is where I get pissy. Because you can also kill these fuckers with wooden bullets and some botanical concoction called vervain. Is vervain even a thing (My spellcheck suggests not.)? And if it is, may I please have some so that I can
tranquilize and have my way with kill some goddamn vampires? And the sunlight thing just enrages me. The ever-growing vampire population of Mystic Falls can freely walk in daylight as long as they are wearing a magic ring made for them by the town witch. (Yep. Mystic Falls has witches. Werewolves too. I know, it’s pretty much the fucking awesomest place ever.) Sans ring, things get ugly and the usual sizzling flesh and festering face-melt ensues. The Twilight crew, as we all know, sparkles when direct sunlight is applied. Sparkles. I…can’t…let’s just move on. John Mitchell, the second-hottest-vampire-ever and his nasty undead colleagues on Being Human don’t seem to even address the sunlight issue at all, which is really inconsiderate, honestly. Because there might be *someone* out there who is earnestly trying to understand, and who feels confused by this glaring omission and cannot really even concentrate on the awesome vampires because they should NOT BE WALKING AROUND OUTSIDE.
Anyway, I’m totally just pretending to want to know how to kill vampires because that’s what a normal person should do when faced with a ravenous immortal lunatic who is trying to exsanguinate her. But clearly, I am not the only sicko out there. Women go bananas for this shit. The Cullen Crew of Forks, WA has probably saved more marriages than Oprah just by virtue of their utter bang-ability (sorry, fellas – unless you ARE one of the Cullen Crew of Forks, WA, your wife is probably not thinking about you when you’re having sex. Just FYI.). Edward, is of course, everyone’s undead It Boy, but the moment in Part 2 when he removes his shirt and exposes what can only *politely* be called a “Nipular Incongruity,” I’ve devoted my life to trying to unsee that. It’s not going well. Angel? Total babe. Michael from Lost Boys is so sexy that his 80s ‘do actually still looks good on him. Vampire Brad Pitt is just Brad Pitt with like, exponentially cracked-out hotness. Vampire Tom Cruise is….a pale, frilly fancy-man who…yeah. Never mind. Still better than regular Tom Cruise, I suppose. Finally, with no offense to all of the undead eye-candy aforementioned, ALL other vampires are merely immortal buffoons next to the inimitable Gary Oldman, who will always be my top pick for escort to the Prom of Eternal Damnation. His portrayal of the Count is flawless, heartbreaking, super-sexy and terrifying all at once – and does not leave me wondering how I would kill him, at ALL, because I am totally trying to figure out a way to get him to kill ME so I can be his Dark Lady Succubus forever. And ever. And ever. Don’t lie. You do it too.
I could go on, but I shan’t. There is, I believe, only one fitting way to end this post – and that’s with the wise, immortal words of Sam Emerson: “You’re a vampire, Michael. My own brother, a goddamn shit suckin’ vampire. You wait ’till Mom finds out, buddy.” Because she’ll totally want to sleep with you.