with Lynne and Leslie

No Easy Way To Say This

by SweetMidlife

Hi. This is Lynne. I have been trying to figure out how to tell you guys this, because you need to know, because we consider you friends, and also because you just should. Leslie’s husband Scott passed away on Wednesday. It was very sudden. We are shocked and sad.

I wish I could tell you that Scott and Leslie had just an okay marriage, and could take or leave each other, and only put up appearances. This would mean that she wasn’t going to hurt as much as she is in his absence. But I can’t. Because I have never seen a man look at his wife the way Scott Zervitz looked at my sister. It was like she was everything. And she felt that way about him, too. They laughed and loved and traveled and watched TV and ate crabs and loved some more. Their adoration for each other radiated to everyone around, and we were riding on the sweetest contact high ever. Being here at their house without him, but with all of his Ravens and Orioles memorabilia here, with pictures of them together, feels like being at Disney World without a guy in a mouse suit. Somethings missing. My brother-in-law had a huge presence which was apparent when he was here, so his absence is tangible.

I ask that you pray for Leslie, and for the little boy who lives with them, and all of the rest of their family and friends. We are hurting, but getting through with God’s grace. We will be continuing to blog. It might be me for awhile until Leslie feels like writing, and when she does, she might write about random things like kumquats and obscure British bands from the ’80s, and that is okay.

Thanks for loving us, and for reading our stuff, and being our family. We need you right now.

 


Book Review: “Stuck In The Passing Lane” by Jed Ringel

by SweetMidlife

by Lynne

Leslie and I have talked a lot about both finding our husbands in our late-30’s, and how Leslie andmarried those dudes the year that we turned 39. What I realize is that I haven’t talked much about HOW I found my husband on eHarmony, and that this was the probably the 4th time I had subscribed to that service, and the many-eth time that I had tried online dating. I wasn’t interested in having an entire relationship online, but I liked the idea of being introduced to people who I would not have met in my regular circles, and who were also looking for a relationship. Through my search, I opened my eyes to people that I may not have considered before, and also found that it was okay to ask for the things that I wanted, and if I didn’t find someone (although I REALLY wanted to), that I would use whatever I learned to make myself who what Pastor and relationship-author Andy Stanley calls “the person that who you are looking for is looking for”. Because you should be that person whether you are looking for someone or not.

Jed Ringel, the author of the new memoir “Stuck In the Passing Lane”, is on a similar search when the book opens. He is a financially successful man in his 50’s who is also the almost-divorced father of 3 teen-aged daughters whom he struggles to maintain a relationship with. The book chronicles his many attempts at finding the right person, through date after funny date after disastrous kinda-relationship, attempts that take him from the New York City-area where he lives to Russia (twice) and Singapore and back. This is a man who literally goes far in the quest for love/companionship/sex. What happens in his journeys, though, is that he finds more than that: he learns a lot about himself. I know that this sounds cliched, and like something out of a Hallmark movie, but it’s more meaningful than that. His story is more than can be scripted. I won’t give away the ending, but the things that Jed finds as he looks for a mate reveal to him things that he didn’t know about himself, things that he knew but didn’t want to admit, and ultimately things that help him realize what he is worth altogether.

I started reading this book a few weeks ago, read about 20 pages, then put it down, partly because other things came up, but also because I wasn’t sure that I liked Jed at first. I don’t think that I had read many memoirs from men that were this open and vulnerable and also kind of explicit- he writes in length about his sexual experiences, and that was a bit too much detail for me personally. But when I went back to the book, I finished it in 2 days, and I found that I really, really was pulling for Jed, not just to find a good woman, but to be okay, and to be happy in a way that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have someone else as a part of that happiness. I felt like I was taking this journey with a new friend. BECAUSE of that openness and honesty, and his willingness to show himself in ways that were sometimes not-so-flattering. You will find yourself saying “Yay!” when he meets someone promising, or gets an email from a daughter who there had been some strain with, and you find yourself yelling “No! Don’t date HER!” like you are yelling at the screen while watching a horror movie when he meets someone questionable, and your heart breaks with his when things don’t quite pan out with people that you and he hoped that they would.

But he keeps going. And that’s what I liked the most about this book, and what I think you might too. There is much to be said for people who hone in on a goal, work for it, and get that thing right away. But that’s not Jed’s story, and it’s not the story of most people I know, including me. Jed’s story is about feeling stuck in his travels, but also about being willing to travel in the first place. It’s about finding what you want, what you won’t put up with, and being open to what happens along the way. The search for the right one starts a journey that leads so many other places. It’s about hope, and we can all use that. I highly recommend “Stuck in the Passing Lane”.


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Today’s best thing: The “Love” channel on Sirius XM, and the sweet, sweet sap of it all

by SweetMidlife

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After 20 years of car ownership, mostly as a single woman, I had my first experience of having someone else pick my car out for me, which I liked. This is not a statement on feminism or anything. My husband and I share expenses, but it happened to be my turn for a car, and this one was in his name, so while I was inside talking to the people, Scott went outside and chose between the two cars we’d test-driven, for three reasons: One, because he wanted to do something nice for me as a gift of sorts; two, because it was a cute little Kia Soul like all the cool hamsters drive, and he liked the idea of me driving a car with my red ‘fro against a seat that had the word “Soul” repeatedly printed on it. I feel like a commercial for some hip product that would never have me on the commercial.

And three: Because of the already-installed Sirius XM satellite radio. I never had it before, except in select rental cars and whenever my dad wasn’t looking and I got to drive his Honda CR-V. But it’s amazing, because not only can you listen to the newer music of the day, if you so choose, you can also just pretend it’s still 1987, or 1977 or 1998 (Backstreet’s back, all right!) by sticking to the decade specific station of your choice. OR you can pretend that the world is a giant American Top 40 Long-Distance Dedication and just park on Channel 17, also called “Love.”

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“Love” reminds me of the light rock stations of my teens and 20s, where the rest of the world was into Duran Duran or Prince, but that one station was doubling down on England Dan and John Ford Coley and Bread. Lots of Bread. Enough to make you want to cry and go check on singer David Gates, because that dude was depressed. But it was glorious – I loved studying to those stations in college, because they were background enough not to be distracting but had lyrics stirring enough to keep me awake. Songs about finding your beloved’s diary and reading it thinking you were finding out how much she loved you and then realizing she wasn’t writing about you? That sticks with you.

“Love” is just like those stations, but without the commercials. It’s amazing the stuff they come up with – in 48 hours I heard both the Rita Coolidge and Boz Scaggs versions of “We’re All Alone,” which made me happier than it should. Yesterday they played 4PM’s version of “Sukiyaki,” and an Air Supply song I can’t even remember because I was too excited to be hearing Air Supply on the radio in 2015.

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I have never been cool, so I don’t care what anyone thinks of me gushing over possible 24/7 access to Barry Manilow and Anne Murray. Its what I like. And it’s not just me, because there’s a whole station appropriate for spontaneous hand-holding at lights, or crying, in the case of Josh Groban’s “To Where You Are.” Your car is your fortress, and my kid and my husband have learned not to touch the radio if I’m driving. I’ll listen to other stuff, but Love is my default.

LOVE SHOULD ALWAYS BE YOUR DEFAULT.

 


You Need That: Car Tweezers

by SweetMidlife

Hi!

Lynne here. And this thing right here ain’t pretty. But it’s real.

You ever been in your car driving to somewhere that you have to look presentable*, and you touch your face and you feel something? You try to wipe it off, but it’s still there because it’s attached to your face. You have? Me too.

It’s chin hair.

And it’s gross unless you are okay with that. It’s one of those things that have become a part of life in my 40’s and if I’m not checking for them regularly, those things sneak up on a sister. Sometimes I flip down my car mirror when I get to a light and there it is, in all of it’s nasty glory.

So what to do? I have actually gone to the store before a meeting to buy emergency tweezers, and have taken care of things in my car. But then those tweezers have gotten shoved in my purse, and lost among receipts and sunglasses, and then I can never find them. So after I bought another pair of on-the-way-to-somewhere-tweezers en route to a social thing that the company that my husband works for was having this past weekend, I decided that there had to be a way to not be in this situation anymore. Well, there is always taking the time to look at my chin before I leave. But whatever. This works too.

Napkins? Check. Car Maintenance records? Check? Tweezers for stray face hair? GOT IT.

Napkins? Check. Car Maintenance records? Yes. Tweezers for stray face hair? GOT IT.

Car tweezers. Yes. It’s a thing. Maybe it was already a thing for you. But it is for me now, too. And I have to say, I feel a little giddy about it. Isn’t it funny how what you are thrilled about evolves? Yesterday it was maybe something about shoes. Today it’s about chin hair. I’m prepared, and I feel good about it.

What about you guys? Have you ever found a hair on the way to something where people were going to be up in your face? Have you ever bought emergency tweezers? What other handy things do you keep around?

*Now really you should always look presentable when you go out, but sometimes you need to return that Redbox movie before 9 pm so you don’t get charged again so short-shorts it is. You now what I’m saying.


See my smile? It's because of that guy.

Today’s gym hero: A smart workout wiz in jorts saves the day

by SweetMidlife
See my smile? It's because of that guy.

See my smile? It’s because of that guy.

As a workout warrior, I am sometimes annoyed by random people who do not appear to be trainers coming by to give me advice. That’s a combination of my ego – I might look like a beginner because of my non-svelteness, but don’t like being reminded of that – and just wondering why the over-zealous are clocking my workout when they oughta be checking their own.

But my 20-second interaction with a man I will call Mr. Jorts, at the downtown outpost of my gym this morning, made me feel better about humanity and potentially saved me some knee pain. I was pedaling pretty fast on the exercise bike, which I usually don’t get on but I was reading something awesome on my phone and, you know, I got to sit and all. I looked up and there was a gentleman, probably my age, standing next to me with a sweetly authoritative but non-pushy look on his face. He was built like a wrestler from the 80s, meaning that he was obviously fit, but not steroid gym rat crazy cut, like the modern guys. (He even had a resemblance to a young Rowdy Roddy Piper, who happened to have been my favorite back in the day.)

Also, he was wearing jean shorts, also known as jorts, popularized by yet another wrestler,  John Cena, because apparently my life has a wrestling theme today. Anyway. Mr. Jorts smiled at me and said “Hey, you don’t want to over-extend your knee because if you keep doing that you’re gonna have some joint problems.” I didn’t mention that I’m an overweight runner and former Crossfit-er, so the Joint Pain ship done sailed, but I thanked him.

But he did one better, reaching down and lifting the lever that slid the seat one segment closer.

“See?” he said. “That’ll be easier.”

Nervy? Sure. But nice, because he was just trying to help. And my ego and knee thank him. Sometimes if we shut up long enough to accept help, good things happen and your knee feels better and maybe you can get some more of this cheese weight off.

 


Work Should At Least Be a Little Fun

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here! The following post was inspired by the quote below, which is part of “That’s What She Said”, a weekly blogging thing where you write based on a quote by a fabulous woman. This week’s is by Mary Poppins!! I love that movie because Julie Andrews, but also because Dick Van Dyke, who may have had a suspect accent but he was so cute. And if you are my Facebook friend then you would know that I am a little/okay very obsessed with him and episodes of “Diagnosis Murder”, one of which I am watching right now. I am not ashamed.

There are a lot of spins and approaches I can take to this, because Mary ain’t never lied. But I was reminded of one particular piece of my work history.

When Leslie and I graduated from college, we moved to Miami, where my parents had moved that semester, and neither of us had jobs. My parents let us catch up on sleep and spend our graduation money for 2 weeks, then on the day he said he would, Daddy walked out to the pool in our complex with the want ads and said, “Vacation’s over.” So Leslie and I both got jobs at the mall, because we couldn’t find jobs in our majors at that point. Leslie left her retail job before I left mine because she was hired by a weekly newspaper, which you know was her destiny, but I stayed at Payless a little longer (and shout out to Norm, my manager, who I still adore), until I decided that I needed to find something else.

Now, I am not one of those people who thinks that you should only accept the jobs that you want, when you have responsibilities and bills and you need to support yourself. It is good to look for THE job, but sometimes a job will do if it is good honest work. I did leave Payless before I found something else, but my parents (who I was living with) took me at my word that I would try very hard to find something soon. And I did. And it was the worst job experience I have ever had.

I was a customer service agent for a catalog company, and I took orders over the phone. The catch was that the company I worked for actually had 3 different companies under different names that all sold the same thing, and had different catalogs for each company. This was so they could corner the market on what they sold and be their own competition. I don’t think that it was illegal, but it definitely felt shady, because we were supposed to have different names for each company, so if someone called me on the number for Company A, I would say that my name was Jodie, and if they called me for Company B, I was Debbie. I actually had a person call me and say. “Hey, do you know Lynne from So and So company? You sound a lot like her.”, and I was like “Umm, no, of course not! This is really Debbie! (lowering voice).” It was really stressful because I felt so dishonest. There was also the part where I was bad at the job. I get better at details as I get older, but 20 years ago, I was not that oriented with them, and I screwed-up orders on several occasions. Plus,  I was slow. And the manager yelled at me and said I wasn’t worth what her favorite employee was. Eww. I still get hives when I hear “All That She Wants” by Ace of Base, because that was the star employee’s favorite song and I feel some kind of way (Also because I never liked that song anyway).

But Swedish pop groups aside, I was miserable, due to the job and my inability to be good at it. I was actually improving at it,  to give myself credit, but I remember one night going home and literally bursting into tears because I was so stressed out.  I couldn’t take it anymore. So right before we went back to Maryland for Christmas, I gave my 2 weeks notice, and they accepted. They were probably relieved, and actually said that it was fine, and I didn’t have to come back after the new year. Which I couldn’t even be sad about. And when I came to get my last check, they said that I looked happy, and I was. And the next week I auditioned for a regional theater’s acting apprentice program, and that job was the beginning of my life in educational theater and theater for kids, a life I have had in some capacity ever since. And I made one of the best friends I have ever had at that place too. So win.

So the point of this thing is, I guess, that not every job can be your dream job. It doesn’t have to be. I have held positions between acting jobs and such that weren’t where I thought I would be, but I was very, very grateful to have work, and very mindful of that blessing. But it your job is giving you stress headaches and crying fits, and maybe you are good at it or maybe you aren’t. But if it is killing your spirit and not any fun at all, because you can’t have fun with a dead spirit (unless you are a zombie, and if you are you can ignore this because, umm, as you were, zombie), then maybe it is time to move on. Because you need your spirit for all of the soaring it’s going to do at the next thing.


I Am the Tired Mom In the Grocery Store

by SweetMidlife

It’s Lynne. Hi.

Have you ever seen those really empathetic posts that show up in a lot of Facebook feeds that are titled things like “To the Tired Mom in the Grocery Store”? They are usually prompted by the author seeing some harried mother whose children are crying in the cereal aisle, while the mom looks overwhelmed and slightly embarrassed at the eyes on her, as her kid’s outburst seems to have lowered a disco ball over her head since everybody seems to be looking at her, and judging with their judgy-ness. And the article is always understanding, and offers the compassion that moms and dads sometimes need when the small person they are with is refusing to move from that spot in the toy aisle (and I NEVER realized how many grocery and drugstores had toy aisles until I regularly shop with someone who seems to have those things on GPS locators).

Well, on several recent occasions,  I was that mom. She is me. We are we.

I am tired.

Both times. I should have probably not even have gone to the store. The first time was in the later morning, and too close to naptime, while the second time was too close to bedtime. Both times, there were things that we needed from the store, and since I was already out, it made since to make a quick trip.

I always think that it’s going to be quick. It’s like the people on “Dr. Quinn:Medicine Woman”. Every week they would learn some lesson about not being so close-minded about Native Americans, or women and their book-learning, or whatever, and the next week, they would forget and be just as close-minded. That analogy works for so many things. But anyway, that was me, acting like I had never met my child before and temporarily forgetting what happens when he stays out for too long.

3 is also a weird age for a shopping companion because they are almost too big for the regular carts, and don’t want to sit in them even if they aren’t. And not all stores have the carts that look like cars, or the magical Target toddler carts. So sometimes said 3 year-old will push one of those “Customer-In-Training” mini-carts alongside of you, or they will insist on pushing your cart. And this is what happened on these trips. And they started so well.

Last week, he pushed his cute little cart next to me, and let me put the giant bag of frozen french fries in it. That lasted a step and a half, because it was too heavy. So now he had an empty mini cart to put all kinds of things in. Things on his level that he had to have. BECAUSE. And sometimes he would get so enthralled by the fly swatter display, that he would stop pushing his cart, and when I tried to push both, he yelled “NO!!! IT’S MINE!!” And then he would get moving. And then he would find something else he wanted. And it got later and later.

Guess which things i didn't put in our cart.

Guess which things i didn’t put in our cart.

And I felt bad because I knew he was sleepy, but I also needed him to not act like, well, a jerk. I am not saying that my kid is a jerk. He is a kid. But 3 year-old’s do FANTASTIC jerk impersonations. And people were very, very nice to him, even when he started selecting orchids from the florist section, with me telling him to put things back, because people realized that he was a kid, and that we were both trying. But by the time he walked past like the 4th cupcake display and declared that he NEEDED one,  I raised my voice and said “STOP IT. You don’t need it. LET’S GO”. And this dude looked at me like I was a terrible, terrible mother.

I’m not a terrible mother. And neither are you. We might have that capacity in us. But I doubt that most of us are like that.

Most of us are just tired. And so are your kids. And you have things you have to do that trump the tired right then, and you need to finish up and get the heck out of there. On our nighttime Target trip a few days ago, everything looked like a toy, and my son wanted all of it. All the toys. And I felt like I was walking through molasses. And, right before I literally scooped him up and took him to the checkout counters, he was actually crawling on the floor like he was in a remake of Rambo.

Alex Target Floor

And you get through it. And those moments that you feel like you are on the edge of asking the Giant Food lady to watch your cart and your child while you do stress-relieving laps around the store are really outnumbered by the times that everything is hunky-dory. The crazy moments usually actually go away quickly, and you are back to calm-like behavior. Because 3 year-old’s are usually never really calm.  But hey, mom in grocery store/me/you, I get it. I see you. I will wave at your kid, or give you a reassuring nod, or smile. Because I know. And you know. And it gets better. It does. Go home. Put your kid to bed. Tell them you love them. Close the door gently. Run to the couch. Have a seat. Relax. You are doing a good job. Me too. We got this.


Well-Behaved Women: Guest Post

by SweetMidlife

Good morning! Today, we are honored to have the hilarious Moni Barrette from the blog Rebel Mony as our guest today. She is honest and really funny and you will love her. Check out her stuff.

Moni

“No! I don’t like it! Go away!” With a swish of blond hair, she turns and slams the door in my face. Again. I’m at a breaking point and unsure how much more of the dramatics, moodiness, and disrespect I can take from my daughter.

Deciding to give us both time to calm down, I don’t go near her room. She’s probably flopped on her bed with a book, past arguments already forgotten.

I go back to the television and turn off the vintage Jem and the Holograms marathon she has been watching all afternoon. It’s funny how much my daughter resembles the original Jerrica Benton and that her generation still relates to this tough female character of from back in “my day.” I take a deep breath.

After only a few minutes, she opens the door. She wants chips before dinner. Here we go again. I say “I don’t negotiate with terrorists” and she fixes me with a stare that only a mother can love, because it is my own. What we lack in physical resemblance we make up for in identical charming smiles and fuck you stare downs. It’s a gift.

Sensing that I will stay firm on this, she sidetracks. “I want to go see Matthew!” Her boyfriend of the week. Oh joy. I have no idea what happened to Troy from last week, I really liked his family. It’s my first lesson in not getting too attached. Also, I would rather let her eat a whole bag of chips than send her over to the home of a boy I don’t know. When I tell her no, she whips out her phone and calls him.

As she pushes the plastic buttons and receives an answer from Disney’s Arial, I suppress a smirk. I know this behavior is normal for her age. They call them “terrible twos” for a reason.

Yes, she is only two.

And yes, there are sixteen long long years ahead of us before she can move out, if I don’t send her to a convent in the Irish countryside first. I fantasize about this daily, but it’s always spoiled by the knowledge that they would ship her right back.

Friends are horrified when I relay the stories of our battles. I don’t think my own husband would believe what goes on between his girls if he hadn’t seen it for himself. And yes, it has crossed my mind that I might be raising the world’s biggest brat. The next person who thinks they’re original in saying “Like mother, like daughter!” just might see just how ugly mother can really get.

Those are the bad moments. The times when I don’t know what the hell I am doing, or how I am going to get through to this particularly precocious child.

In the good moments, I could not be more proud of her. Sure, I am weak and wish she’d just drool and finger paint with her friends. And when she’s telling me we must have the 42nd wardrobe change of the day, I daydream of a child who will pick out cowboy boots and a tutu and leave it at that.

But, like the oft-misattributed quote by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” I am raising someone who certainly isn’t well-behaved, but there are worse things than a smart, capable, stubborn woman who speaks the truth as she sees it. Although I would like to create my own soon-to-be-famous quote: “Behind every history making woman, there’s an exhausted mama.”

 

 

 


I love this dress. I still wonder if I should have bought it.

by SweetMidlife
I dunno.

I dunno.

You know that Monkees’ song “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You?,” the non-committal argument anthem for the ages?I’ve been singing it to myself lately, about the above swanky-Sue leopard print dress. Leopard is a thing I am trying to explore in my 40s without looking ironic or like a cat-eye glasses-wearing granny Hon in a John Hughes movie. It’s funky, comfortable and doesn’t make me look like a jaunty iceberg. It was a great find in a local consignment shop, and even though it was, at $34, more than I usually spend on non-label items at consignment stores, the price is not the reason I have just the wee case of regret about the purchase.

It’s because the woman who sold it to me initially mistook me to be so large that she didn’t think I was going to fit into that, or any dress or article of clothing that lived beyond a tiny rack shoved depressingly in the back. And although I have reasons for believing that this makes her dismissive, exclusive and bad at her job, if her job is encouraging people to spend money in her store, I’m also concerned that I am so brain-washed by our fat-shaming circus of a society that the suggestion of an extra “X” to my XL sends me into some self-righteous tailspin, like “How dare you! I say good day. Nooo…I SAY GOOD DAY!”

And that part of my regret makes me want to punch myself in the face, repeatedly.

Here’s what happened – I came in,  waved at the lady in the back of the store and headed towards the rack with the giant “End of Season” sale sign on it. I am, as I have discussed, not currently a size I love, but at a point where I love myself and see no need not to be cute in the body I am currently in, because that body is fierce. I am anywhere from a very, very stretchy medium to an XL in dresses without zippers, and since it’s summer in Florida I tend not to love zippers in the first place. So I start going through what appeared to be the larger end of the sale stuff, but in the middle, pushing the mediums to one side and the XXLs to the other, concentrating on the L and XL situations. My plan was to grab the cheaper stuff first and then head to the regular rack. And then I heard this.

“I think the only things that will fit you in the store are over there. We go up to XXXL.”

I’m sorry what? I immediately tensed up, and I admit my first thought was “How could she think I was an XXXL?” And that thought, again, was both fed from an annoyance that a woman who is supposed to be a professional would just eyeball me and not only get my size wrong – because getting them right is her job – but be so dismissive about it. Like a lot of women – and probably men – I know what it’s like to walk by a store and know that you can either not fit into anything, or that the category is so small that you feel singled out, like “There’s the scraps for you, Fatty. And you’ll pay us for them.” I don’t usually get annoyed by that because it’s just what happens. When I went bridal shopping I called a lot of boutiques that advertised sample sales before I went, because not only are samples very small, some boutiques don’t carry more than one or two dresses in larger sizes, which meant there would be nothing for me to try on. Everyone deserves the opportunity, if they choose, to have their “Say Yes To The Dress” moment. So I only went to places that could give me that.

Fast forward to last month,, when the woman told me that her store was not for me. If that were true, it would be a burn, but a factual one, because she can’t make the dresses bigger or make some fabulous size 14 woman show up with a haul or gently used treasures at that moment. What got me, though, was that she saw a not-skinny woman walk in and just dismissed me, which should have been my cue to leave. But I didn’t. I felt the need to defend myself or something, which is weird. Why should I be defending myself against something that is not an insult? To some, being accused of being big is insulting, but it is what is. If you are comfortable with yourself that shouldn’t be an insult, unless you know that person specifically means that observation as a pejorative. Anyway, I needed to say something.

“Um, I’m a Large or Extra Large, at the most. I think this dress is a large I’m wearing right now!” I said and tried not to sound indignant. The lady came a little closer, looked me up and down, and shook her head.

“I’m sorry!” she said, because I think she saw my face and imagined a possible purchase walking out the door, although I am not sure if she wasn’t re-sizing me up to see if I were in denial At that point I can’t honestly say whether I really wanted to buy a dress because I wanted one, or because I wanted to prove I could, which is a dumb waste of $35. Meanwhile, I took some nice things off the regular rack and took them to try in, near the back area where the lady was watching the aftermath of the Charleston shootings on TV. We had a conversation about the shooter, and whether or not his uncle had turned him in, and whether he was going to be safe in jail (Neither of us felt so, although that didn’t bother us, either.) I stepped out into the sales area in the leopard dress, which instantly felt right to me.

“Well that looks great!” she said, earnestly. “I’m sorry again for so misjudging your size.”

That was nice of her to say, but what was she saying? Was she regretting her inability to size me up properly, or worried that she had been dismissive? Or was she, like me, afraid that assuming there were more Xs afoot than there were was an insult? I don’t know. But I headed across the street with my dress in a bag, and told the friend I was meeting for dinner what happened.

“And you bought it?” she said, incredulously. “Huh.”

So now I have this dress, and I love it. It’s sassy. It’s swingy. But its origin story, if you will, makes me doubt just how secure in myself I am.

Huh.

 


America

by SweetMidlife

Happy 4th of July, America! It’s Lynne here!

And I love you. I do. I have lived in a different nation, and I have visited others, and I am still happy to call this one home. And to mark your birthday today, though, I realized that I was feeling some kind of way. And I wondered if I should write this, today of all days. I didn’t want to seem unpatriotic. I love you. But here is the truth.

I’m a little sad today, America.

Again, I pondered if I should say anything today. It would be like going to the birthday party of your aunt, who everyone loves because she helped raise you, and has been generous, but it is also grumpy, and you know that she is going to say something rude to one of your cousins today, and it might be you, and she is going to hurt someone’s feelings, but you don’t want to embarrass her, so instead of pointing out to her that she’s really being mean, you and the rest of your family ignore the tension and attempt to have a good time and celebrate her good parts. But by not mentioning what she can do better, and how the rest of her family is suffering, you kind of make things worse.

So I’m going to say it. Because I want you to be better, America.

People are hurting. And there is a lot of pain. And a lot of hate. And not everyone here feels loved and appreciated and supported. Some of your family, America, feel the opposite. I feel it this 4th of July more than I ever have on any other 4th of July, but that doesn’t mean that this is the saddest that we have ever been. I think that we are just at a place that we can’t ignore it anymore. It’s like  you have a brother and sister-in-law who you know are having marital issues, but you don’t have to think about how hard it might be for them because they live out of town, and you because you see their happy pictures on Facebook and Instagram. But when they show up at your birthday party, America, they yell and scream and someone punches somebody and a cousin says “I didn’t know it was THAT bad.”, while your uncle says “You should have.” Because it was always going on. We just didn’t want to recognize it.

This sounds like a downer thing for me to be talking about on your birthday, America. I know it would be nicer to just eat some corn on the cob, and red, white and blue dessert and put my feelings of sadness on hold until tomorrow.

But I don’t think I should do that. Because every minute that I wait to deal with the sadness, the joy I have becomes clouded. Because it’s a waning joy, a fragile one. And I don’t want that. I want to have full joy.

So maybe this is like an intervention,  America. Because when people stage those for people, they do it not out of hate, but out of love, driven by the hope that their loved one can do better if they deal with their stuff. If the whole family deals with their own stuff.

And I KNOW that I have stuff.

Because I am part of you, America, and I benefit from your greatness, and suffer when you are not great, and I add to your greatness when I shine bright, and I dim your greatness when I hate, and I fear, and I judge unjustly.

Because your family, America, is made up of all kinds of people who have ups and downs and pluses and minuses and good traits and awful ones and sometimes it isn’t pretty. But when we all decide that we want the best for each other, and that we are willing to put in the work because the best is our goal, we are willing to face the junk that keeps us from being our best. And we deal with it.

And that’s what I want to do today, of all days, America. Greatness doesn’t come in the absence of suffering. It comes in the recognition of it, and the conquering of it. And I am going to help you by being my best and owning my own stuff, because it adds to your stuff. And maybe we can all do that.

And we will celebrate that shared hope, and the hope that we can all get to greater together.

Happy birthday.

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