Meet the parents …

Lil’ Joe … he’s been dad since I was 6. (And mom started dating him when I was 2-ish so I’ve never known a time he wasn’t in my life.) In my family we never say step or half … we are just family. Mom, dad, sisters and brother. I was 8 when my sister Alicia was born, 12 when Anthony was born. Stephanie is 18 months older than me and we are the result of mom’s first marriage.

Lil’ Joe is all of 5’2″ … and I think that is being generous. (I’m 5’1″ and always in heels so he seems much shorter than I am.) He’s one of the most physically fit men I know, working out religiously everyday for pretty much his entire life. Despite his short but muscular stature the boyfriends from my younger years were intimidated by him.

My father had predictable behavior when a boy was over. The then boy of my dreams and I would be watching a movie … and by watching I mean not really watching … in the depths of the basement with the lights out. Lil’ Joe would swing open the door and flip on a light and Mr. Make-out of the moment and I would jump to opposite sides of the sofa. He would then proceed to barrel down the stairs and walk over to a book shelf where he would pretend to choose a National Geographic from his collection and then head back upstairs … enough of an interruption to kill the teenage moment.

All in all I think I have a pretty remarkable family. Sometimes I wish I was closer to my older sister but we were close enough in age to be frienemies during our developmental years and now we have kids and careers. M younger siblings and I certainly don’t have the crazy childhood memories Steph and I have together but we are working to create crazy adulthood ones. (Please recall Anthony was my manny for 6 weeks in Alaska and went on a cruise with the boys and I the year before … so many good times.)

Recently Anthony has been bringing a new young woman around. (Her name is Jackie … it makes for very confusing conversations. My mother suggested we say little Jackie and big Jacquie but all I got out of that was I am fat and need to go on a diet.) Alicia has a new friend spending time with us as well and I have Ian. (Yes, we will just go by his name from here on in … Ian, Ian, Ian.) Family gatherings are suddenly a little more lively and no we don’t hold back for fear of scaring anyone away.

Last night, a Wednesday night, Ian and I cooked dinner and Alicia and her friend stopped by. There was champagne, wine, carbs, conversation and lots and lots of laughs, so many laughs they turned into tears. My family is fun, modern, and usually uninhibited. It makes for fabulous holiday gatherings and could-be awkward first meetings.

Ian met the parents just shy of two weeks ago. We stopped by on a Friday night to grab the twins and had a drink and introductions. The next night we went over there for a slightly post-St. Patty’s Day feast and the whole crew was there. Anthony was burping, my mother pouring the wine, my sister’s husband and Ant have a tendency to speak in character, often those of friends or other family members, and my main goal is usually to make Lil’ Joe blush and see the vein on the side of his forehead pop out … a sure-fire sign I have succeeded in pushing the limits.

A few examples of how to make Lil’ Joe blush:

On Ian being British ….. “Dad … he’s British. It’s like I was a virgin again. I never shagged anybody before … ”

On life after retirement: “See Dad, I knocked before coming into the house … just in case you were getting some …”

On dad saying sweet nothings to mom: “You’re just saying that cause you wanna get lucky.”

His response: I’m almost 70, we don’t do that anymore.

My response to that: Dad, I get hit on by men your age all the time. You do that …

On religious holidays:

Dad: Hi JB! It’s Holy Saturday.

Me: It’s gonna be anything but holy if I get my way.

This could all be slightly intimidating to a newbie. But it’s not. We love, we laugh, sometimes we disagree. We play games, tell stories, and respect each other’s choices and do not judge the past. (Or if we do we just drink enough wine that it no longer matters.) We welcome new friends with open arms.

Back to meeting the parents … Ian saw them Friday and Saturday and again on Sunday at which point we invited my brother to join us for dinner out. I threw poor Ian into the fire so fast he didn’t have time to think twice and by late Sunday night he declared what a great weekend it was and how much fun he’d had. He has since survived the first holiday gathering and meetings with extended family as well. He fits in quite nicely and should have Lil’ Joe blushing and shaking his head in no time.

Last night, while sitting around my dining room table, Alicia’s new friend and Ian were recalling the meetings and allowing us to see what it’s like to become a part of our family as an outsider.

“You don’t get introduced to your family, it’s like an initiation.”

 

For years I lived somewhat far away from my childhood home. I was in Florida, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Killingworth … which is apparently the equivalent of Vermont … and then Alaska. Family time had to be scheduled and planned and often involved overnight bags. For the first time in a looooong time I am close to home and I am loving what that means. Bring on more impromptu Wednesday visits, Sunday dinners, Friday happy hours, and more laughs than we can handle … and we are happy to share them.

 

 

Checked bags …

I was married to a widower. They had been married for 14 years and then she got sick. Cancer is an ugly thing … kidney cancer is one of the worst. She was 38 when she died and her boys just 4 and 8.

For 7 years I tried to make it work but living in a shadow, or simply thinking you are, can be tough. I had chosen divorce. My previous relationships ended because I wanted them to. His ended because something beyond their control snuck up and snatched it all away. Big difference.

A few times comparisons came into play…some in my favor, some in hers. She made more money than I did and I was often reminded of that. She had expensive taste in suits, but paid for them herself. I was younger, perhaps a little more vibrant, and didn’t smoke. She said no motorcycles, ever, for the boys … and when he bought Chad a motor bike I tried to honor her argument but didn’t win. Somedays I felt guilty because my happiness was because she had lost hers…

Therein lies the problem. I think. Guilt is a tricky little bugger …. Sneaking up on you and robbing you of happiness. As adults beginning new relationships we inevitably have pasts, often referred to as baggage. Change the word baggage to memories and “because they died” to “because they lived” and I think there is a better base to build on.

In the end I swore I would never date a widower again. I thought that was bigger than anything I am equipped to handle.

Here I am, a few years later and one more big relationship down, and I hope I’ve learned enough to know I can’t put rules that large into place. If I do, I could be denying myself the thing I’ve been fighting for all along.

We collect moments throughout our lives. When we care about someone I think it is natural to be jealous of a day you weren’t there, or to feel a sense of loss in something you know you will never experience with someone simply because of where you are in your lives. What I’ve learned is you have to let the desire to experience new and be in the present overpower that.

When you care about someone you will wish you could have been there on their worst day ever. You can’t rewind the clocks … can’t say what if… if it’s already happened that can never be.

What you can say is from this point on I will be there for the best days of your life…and that’s okay. Maybe had I thought this before I wouldn’t be where I am today … but today, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else…and that’s okay, too.

Funny how that works.

B-I-N-G-O …

Dating and dogs.  It’s bad enough we have to compete with kids, careers, exes, and all the other people you are dating … but the dog, too?!?!?!

I am not a dog person. I really don’t like them. At work we often talk about online dating and tinder and when you should swipe right and when left … and I say if your first photo is with a dog, you’re out. (If there is a photo in which I can see a table cloth, you’re also out because I’ve come to the conclusion you live with mom…..or grandma.)  If your first photo isn’t with the pooch, but then you have 2 others with a smelly beast, you’re out.

Here’s the big problem: the dog means zero flexibility. Mr. Wonderful has to get home to let the dog out, can’t spend the night at your place because of the dog, needs you to come to his house because of the dog … it’s a vicious cycle of biscuits and bad breath.

Once upon a time I went out with a man who named his dog Giselle. Giselle?!?!? You name your dog after a supermodel and then expect me, all 5’1″ of me, not to have a complex?!?! Giselle was a rhodesian ridgeback and I’m pretty sure her legs were longer than mine. The first night I spent at his house Giselle stalked me all night, pacing my side of the bed, while he slept soundly to my right. Giselle was not happy I was there. Fast forward to another date and he said he’d be in the shower when I got there and just let myself in the back door. Ummmm….. what about Giselle the Supermodel Dog?!?!? What if she jumps on me? She won’t do that, he said. She did that…

The house smells, there is fur everywhere, and if I have to compete with Rover for shotgun I’m not going to like it.

When I was 5 we lived with my uncle. My mother was a single mom with two little girls and Uncle Gordy let us stay with him to help her out. He had three dogs ….. Mickey, Schultz, and Michael. (I think…..it’s been a while.) Schultz was a german shepherd and by far my favorite. One summer day, my sister and I were outside in the yard playing with the hose. The dogs were chasing after it, biting the water and having a grand ol’ time. My sister, being older than I, decided to see what would happen if she put the hose over by my foot. It wasn’t pretty … Schultz bit me, I cried, and the mean babysitter banished my sister Stephanie to her room. I have never liked dogs since.

I honestly try not to date guys with dogs. (I seem to be getting worse at that these days, though.) It’s like women and cats …. and the crazy cat thing…only worse. You can leave the cat unattended for a day or two with food. Bingo, not so much.

Back to Giselle … her dad and I didn’t work out. But, I consider him a very good friend and the night before my first day back at WTNH the three of us had a slumber party to celebrate my return and make me feel not so alone. We drank wine, then coffee, and I broke out the lint roller as part of my walk of shame. (Ha …. no …. we kept it PG-13-ish.) When it comes to K-9’s, Giselle is one of the few I have come to love and appreciate. I haven’t see her since that day and hope the dog years are treating her well. To this day I am jealous of her shapely legs and master’s devotion. (If he sends me a random how are you text it usually says something like this: “Giselle says hi.”)

Tonight I attempted spontaneity, a hard thing to come by when dating as a grown-up, and the dog got in the way. I’m not going to let it get me down … I said I saw it as a blog opportunity and so I seized it.

Dear boys … if you suddenly find yourself single and without a wife, do not immediately run out and get a dog. They don’t do dishes, don’t dust, and while they might be able to clean a toilet they generally don’t look good in an evening gown. (Or out of one, for that matter … Giselle being the exception.) They will inhibit your social life.

People often ask my kids if we have pets. Here is Cassie’s response …

“No, we don’t have animals cause mommy has kids instead. She’s just trying to remember to feed us …”

I guess the plus side to all of this is dogs eat sneakers …

 

 

 

Footwear … and dating

I wear heels…this we have established. Sometimes, in the warmer months, I wear flip flops …with at least a one inch platform. I like boots and sandals and classy classic pumps ….. I despise sneakers.

I also despise men who can’t seem to put a little thought into their footwear. It matters. (To me, anyway.) Dating after kids means we are more often than not looking for the reasons NOT to see you again instead of trying to appreciate the reasons why we should…..and footwear to me can be a deal breaker.

Two years ago while what’s his face was off participating in extra curricular activities, I went on several first, second, and third dates. One night I waited at the bar at Molto ….. feeling more excited than I had in quite some time about the potential that would soon walk through the door.

In he came and I think I had an instant smile. I locked his eyes ….. smiled, tried to do the once-over without seeming overly obvious……and then I saw them. Duck shoes. You know, the LL Bean kind???? Who wears Duck shoes to a first date?!?! Yes, it had snowed and there was crap on the roads, but duck shoes????? My father wears duck shoes.

The rest of the date went well. Years later I remember what we ate. (We shared a salad …… arugula …. cranberries ….. yum ….. and a flatbread.) We drank wine. I forgave the shoes and a second date was had. He wore duck shoes. We had tapas, great conversation, beverages, and duck shoes. He was well put together, drove two nice cars, had a great job, no drama ….. but was lacking in the footwear department.

I was probably looking for a reason for him not to be the right one. I wasn’t ready. He and I maintained contact for quite sometime …. attempting another go a couple of times only to fall flat for my fear of taking it to the next level. (That and the great New Year’s Eve episode of 2013 ….  it involves Chinese food and name calling….probably best told on the stage at a comedy club.) I tried to only see him in the summer months so I wouldn’t have to see the duck shoes.

Men and sneakers:

Please ….. do not wear them on a first date. I guess, maybe, if the first date is a mild hike up a small mountain …. but let’s be honest here and say that will never happen with me. Maybe, if you’re in your mid twenties and work for Google ….. I suppose that might be okay …. but even then I’m not sure.

When I think of my long term relationships, the first date footwear is as follows:

Brian: skate shoes…..we were in college ….. he was a skater …. all good.

Dave: black restaurant friendly shoes …. nothing sexy but functional and not a sneaker

Andy: black dress shoes ….. but he had on an adidas jacket with his work clothes so I almost wrote him off…… (He asked me out for dinner as we were walking to our cars …. I was a poor single mother of 2 babies…. free food was an offer I couldn’t refuse.)

George: his work boots ….. which clearly have been through more women than Hugh Hefner  …. but, not sneakers. Subsequent date nights he always wore  his cowboy boots.

Call me superficial, call me whatever ….. I don’t care. We all have our things and this is one of mine. I’ve done a little asking around and women seem to agree on this one. (And I have several guy friends who agree as well.)

Ironically, I’ve spent some QT with someone who has an extensive Nike collection ….. all lined up neatly under his bed. I know he wore sneakers on the second date but we did a lot of walking. I don’t remember the first because it was very late at night and he walked into the bar, kissed me without saying hello and then proposed. (I was flustered and forgot to look down.) His shirt was blue and white checked ….. as I write this I seem to recall he may have had sneakers on …. he must have. I questioned the sneakers …. they are perks from time spent with a certain rocker/former American Idol judge. He got a pass…..but a wedding date has not been set.

Even worse than sneakers ….. flip flops. Generally speaking, I hate feet. I happen to have cute feet, but I realize the bulk of the population does not. I’m pretty sure 99.9% of men have ugly feet and I don’t really wanna see them out in public. (Unless you’re Italian with a thick accent ….. for some reason I think then it’s okay to wear flip flops … not sure why…maybe because I’m imagining someone holding a journal in a white linen shirt and perfectly pressed khakis, saying all the right things while feeding me strawberries and biscotti…. in flip flops ….. with the Mediterranean off in the distance….I digress.)

Please guys, keep them covered on a first date ….. and most dates afterwards. You can whip those puppies out when we go to some exotic beach, but otherwise, do the world … or more importantly, me ….a favor and hide them.

 

Google this …

I am google-able. Search my name and there is stuff to be found. Old demos, the link to this blog, a slew of reporter stories, discussions about my comings and goings work wise, photos…. that terrible Nyberg interview where I look like death ……

Aidan and Zach and I have a very honest relationship. I think it’s healthiest to keep discussions open and let them know nothing is off the table. If they have questions, I will try to have answers. They think it’s amusing when I get recognized, which is happening now more than ever, and while they often give me the, “mooooooommmmmm” when I say something they perceive as embarrassing, at the end of the day they know we have a unique mother/son bond and they appreciate that.

Recently we were talking about me doing comedy and they wanted to know if I wanted to stop doing news and just be funny. It’s a delicate balance, my day job and a hobby that I wish I had more time to pursue. I tried to explain that I can’t be as honest in my comedy as I’d often like to be because I have to be careful not to upset the reputation I have as a journalist. They then told me they’d watched my comedy routine.

Wait, what???? We talk about penises and vaginas all day around here …… dating, love, the pursuit of happiness….. but for them to watch my comedy felt a little taboo. (Which is incredibly strange to say because last night Aidan was tinder-ing for me ……. I don’t tinder anymore …..but they were curious and we had some great laughs at the expense of men posing in front of mirrors, standing next to urinals, with tigers, with dogs, with women, and without their shirts on…..suddenly they understood my frustrations with the dating scene ala 2015.)

“When did you watch my routine?” I asked.

“We googled you. We watched the one where you were wearing the black shirt,” Aidan said.

“How much did you watch?????” I asked, slightly concerned but not really…..I keep it pretty clean.

“We stopped like the 4th time you said the f word,” he said. “You say it a lot.”

Phew ….. they stopped before I said I put out ……. my poor father is still trying to recover from that one.

Google is a powerful thing. In the on-line dating world it offers insight, good and bad, into the people we meet or are planning on meeting. When I first met what’s his face almost 3 years ago, I googled him and found some incriminating info. It stopped me from a second date until he pursued to the point I convinced myself it was ok and aren’t we all lucky we don’t have those on our records?!?! Lesson learned?! Probably not.

Lately it seems as if the people I connect with in the dating world are just as google-able as I am, albeit in different ways. I google to find out if there is a mug shot or arrest or if they’ve made the Drudge report ….. what I find is employment records, names of ex-wives, and articles about business happenings and their comings and goings. I suppose I could feel bad about sneaking a peak into their lives but I’ve found they do the same, and often come to the date knowing a hell of a lot more about me than I do them. We tell each other we’re googling …… it’s strange.

We are all google-able ….. some of us just more so than others. Our addresses, phone numbers, marriage records, divorce records, facebook, Linkedin …. all out there for everyone and anyone to find. I don’t have anything to hide, really …… I’m just not quite at the point where I lay it all out there for EVERYONE to know. I’m trying to get better at it ….. as I do think my sarcasm and stories could enlighten others and possibly save a heart or two. (I’ve been told they could …… and when I post an edited version those who heard the entire truth tell me to stop holding back.) When I feel a connection to someone I’ll send the link to my comedy routine and ask them not so nicely to please not watch Nyberg until the third date and second bottle of wine …….

Recently I started seeing someone who is perhaps MORE google-able than I am, in the sense that what I found lead me to question why he was investing his time in getting to know little ol’ me. (Self doubt is a terrible thing…..but inevitable after a couple of failed marriages.) His response, even after googling, was to say I seem real. I assume he’s had his fair share of the fakes and phonies. I am what I am and I won’t make apologies for that. He’s made me want to be more real …… and share some of the moments I often hold back.

So, here goes one of my favorites:

Aidan: Mom, there’s a condom wrapper in the trash.

Me: (oh, shit …… ) Yeah. So?

Aidan: Why is there a condom wrapper in the garbage?

Me: Cause safe sex is better than no sex ….. after you’re 18.

Aidan: (laughs) Is he a Bruins fan?

Me: He is now.

Google has been kind to me so far, mostly. Dig deep and there is one hurtful comment I could live without but know it’s BS. Someday, given the profession I’ve chosen and the path I’m on, maybe it won’t be so kind. I don’t care what anyone else sees or thinks ….. but for my kids, I hope I’ve set the right foundations so that they’ll know what’s true and what’s not, what matters and what doesn’t, and that mom was a well balanced mixture of  all the things that make up life as only we know it.

 

Single parent Santa-ing

Merry Christmas …… 2015.

This was the first Christmas that I’ve been alone, just me and the kids, on Christmas morning. I thought I’d be a little depressed, possibly cry, meltdown, or everything would go to shit if I realized I had labeled a present wrong, forgotten a gift, or even worse …. dropped a bunch of boxes down the stairs while setting everything up and suddenly shatter the innocence of my two believers……

I, of course, did fine. Why? Because I’ve always been Santa. Even during the married years ….. I was Santa. I made the lists, checked them twice, made more lists, decorated trees, picked out coordinated paper, shopped, cooked, baked, wrapped, made sure we had Xmas jammies, stuffed the stockings and took all the pictures.

I remember crying on the living room floor that first Christmas I was divorced and Aidan and Zach left in the early afternoon to be with their dad…..2006. It started the divorced parent tradition of me having them Xmas Eve and them going to dad’s around 11:30 Christmas Day. We’ve done it every year ….. for 10 years. I think I’ve cried every year for ten years ….. for various reasons ….. broken toys, not enough stuffing, break-ups, misunderstandings with in-laws or relatives, a car crash or two, not enough wine …..

This was the first year I didn’t. I have been so incredibly busy I don’t think I had time to even realize it was Christmas. I’ve been working weekends, juggling parties,  old friends and new friends and kids ….. shopping happened mostly on-line and only two days in stores. December has been a whirlwind of rush, rush, rush ….. and some amazingly wonderful moments of surprise.

Wrapping happened in two sessions …. both before my usual Christmas Eve wrapping fest because I had to work it. Silly me, I pulled an all-nighter on the 23rd …. and went into XMAS Eve on just two hours of sleep. By 3 o’clock I had to throw my hands up in the air and hope for the best. The presents and stockings were on stand-by in my closet.

I solo-anchored 3 hours of news, the kids went to my mom’s, and I snuck in a quick visit during my dinner break. My parents brought them back to my house around 10 and I got home at midnight. I waited about an hour to play Santa ….. and then it took about an hour to lug everything down and set it up round the tree. I poured a glass of wine ….. sat quietly on the couch for 20 minutes …… and didn’t cry.

At 4:30 a.m. the lights went on and the kids were all awake making noise in their room. In a groggy haze I looked at the time and proceeded to yell at them to shut the lights off and not bother me until at least 6:30. Aidan informed me Cameron had wet the bed …. which he does from time to time …. especially when mommy isn’t there to make sure he watches the fluid intake. (I had told multiple people to make sure he had a pull-up on but alas, it didn’t happen.) Aidan was awesome and was trying to take care of the situation without waking me up. We got everyone resettled until 6:15 at which point they woke me up again. 3 hours of sleep ….. I didn’t cry.

Next it was presents, Dunkin Donuts, Nerf gun wars, and a series of “can you help me open this” requests. A shower for Cameron, a shower for me, TV hair and make-up, and off to drop the kids. When I left the house it looked like Toys r us had exploded in my living room. ( I don’t do messy well….. this would normally be a breaking point.)

I didn’t cry.

A quick visit with family, work from 3-11:30, and Chinese food for dinner. (Call me crazy but I’ve never had Chinese on Xmas.) After work I cleaned up the Christmas chaos and shared a glass of wine with one of December’s surprises. (I think it was more like half a glass ….. I was too tired to keep lifting it.)

Today, December 26th …… at around 12:30 p.m. ….. after abut 7 hours of sleep …..I sat down in the dining room. I traded the bubbly sound of Britney Spears asking Santa to bring her Mr. Wonderful for the more sultry sound of Adele. I cried. Freaking Adele. Thanks for that.

So …… what did I learn this Christmas???? Christmas isn’t Christmas if you can’t sit down and enjoy a meal and the season with your family. I feel as if the holidays didn’t happen and I was just in survival/get through it mode. I’m off the next 3 days so I’m hoping I can enjoy the post holiday slow down.

I’m grateful for the little moments, the smiles on their faces and the hugs and the kisses. Cameron and Cassandra made gifts for everyone ….. they were precious and they were so excited to hand them out. Aidan helping out in the middle of the night so I could sleep …..priceless. The look on Zach’s face when he opened his drone ….. amazing. Clinking glasses and cheers-ing after the madness subsided ….. perfect ending.

I am Santa …. always have been and always will be …..and this year Santa had to do things a little differently. Christmas was Christmas for my 4 favorite people…… and that is all that matters.

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The $99 post ……

Well, it is late. It’s been a night of nights. A couple of coworkers invited me out for a drink after work ….. I went. Good times and while I’m sure they had no idea how much I needed the camaraderie, I am grateful for the distraction.

Afterwards, I met up with an old friend….. perhaps, someone I have written about in the past. (Shameless plug to encourage y’all to go back and read the old blogs.) On my way to visit, I heard a song on the radio for the first time. Music is a powerful thing, capable of striking us down or raising us up with a note or two. Sara Bareillis, “She Used to be Mine” ….. instant tears. It is not about a lost love, it is about losing the person you were or thought you would become. Listen. It’s me.

The song speaks for itself …. to the point that I don’t feel I need to write about it. But, as I sat chatting this evening, we talked about my writing and apparently the word is on the street I am pretty good at it and people do actually read it. I thought I’d write about music and some of the songs that have hit me over the past year or two, find a way to be clever about it, and hopefully find comfort in knowing I made someone laugh. Somewhere between the glass of wine and home I had shifted gears from music and was going to write a post titled “What’s in a name” ….. and I have every intention of doing so ….. tomorrow. (Or maybe the next day …. or maybe later this week but definitely before November……)Then I logged on.

“Your page has expired.” What?!?!?! I’ve been at this for a year?!?! Holy crap, I don’t have a lot to show for it. I probably should have been more diligent, written more, shared more, whatever ……. I didn’t. So, after entering my payment info, this post has cost me $99 and made me think about refocusing.

The name post cannot be overshadowed by the $99. It’s going to be more like a $150 post. Maybe even $200. Perhaps priceless.

Back to music, because I am tired and want to sleep and it seems a lot easier to continue that line of thought…..

If you are one of the few who will actually take the time to google the song, listen, and learn, thank you. That’s why I write. If you’re not, I leave you with this …..

This is the song that doesn’t end…

Yes it goes on and on my friend.

Some people started singing it not knowing what it was ….. and they’ll continue singing it forever just because ……

This is the song that doesn’t end …….

See?!?! I hope you learned your lesson and will just do as I say. So much easier for everyone in the end…..

Music is a powerful thing. Sing. Dance. Cry. Do what it leads you to do.