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Category Archives: niceness

Things a mom thinks about at 2:25 a.m., five hours before she’s supposed to work out

by SweetMidlife
bed

Scene of the 2:30-something mind crime.

 

This is Leslie. It is 2:25 a.m. As the great Wanda Sykes once said, women’s brains are so full of tasks and thoughts and things we have to do that we can’t get to sleep because even the minute stuff like not being able to remember the name of a teacher we haven’t seen in 30 years just won’t leave us alone. This is happening to me right now. Here is the dumb, deep and sleep-depriving stuff in my head right now. I wish it was not in my brain, because I would like to go to bed now.

You certainly don’t want them in your head, too. But here you are – I have too much on the brain to be charitable at this point,. You understand, of course. You’re awake, too. Shouldn’t you be sleeping?

THINGS I AM THINKING ABOUT AT 2:25 a.m. INSTEAD OF SLEEPING

– “Why am I awake?

– “It has taken me four hours to get through this two-hour finale of ‘Secrets and Lies.’ I wonder if anyone watches this but me, Michael Ealy is fine. I’ve almost grown attached to Juliette Lewis’ character, and she’s kind of awful. i hope they don’t cancel this. They always cancel the shows I get attached to. Dang. Now I’m worried about ‘Blackish.’ Please don’t cancel ‘Blackish,’ Jesus.”

“Jesus doesn’t cancel TV shows, right? He’s busy, right?”

“I finally finished that assignment for work I should have done before I feel asleep. Win for me? Does procrastination count as a win? Whatever. Taking it. TAKING THIS WIN.”

“I am super hungry. I didn’t eat enough last night,. Didn’t I leave some veggie chili in the bowl? I wonder if it;’s in the fridge. Did I put it in the fridge? I wonder if it’s still good if I didn’t put it in the fridge? Or did I leave it on the counter? It’s got light sour cream on it. Is that real dairy? I wouldn’t get that sick, right?”

“Maybe I shouldn’t eat counter chili.”

“I love ‘The Affair’ even if I don’t like any of these horrible people. They’re awful. But they have great apartments. Great kitchens. I like my kitchen. It has chili on the counter.”

“I really ought to get off the stick and get a hotel for Disney this weekend. I canceled the one I had because I am convinced there is a cheaper one out there. Hotwire is an addiction and I need to get help. But…the…deals! There are deals out there and I shall find them. They are the Precious and I am Black Smeagol.”

“I am still so hungry. If I eat right now I can’t weigh myself this morning because it won’t be the real weight. Then again I had hash browns and bourbon for lunch so I probably tanked that thing already. I should eat.”

“I have to sleep, man. I have to work out at 7:15, and if I don’t leave on time the kid will wake up and I’ll have to take him, too, and that running stroller and him together weigh like 70 pounds and he’s a weight wearing an Afro, At least he holds the phone up so I can hear the Andy Grammar song he’s playing. He’s a little DJ.”

“I need to figure out how to make more money. Like, now. I should read that book my friend Kim had me buy about platforms, that I never read, thus I am sitting here at…what…2:47 a.m. now wondering how to get a platform to make money. She’s always right. And she’s got a platform. I bet she’s not asleep either.”

“Maybe I’ll write on that blog I never write on. That’s a platform.”

‘I wonder if that chili’s still down there.”


Five good things about having to take a sick day. Really. They do exist.

by SweetMidlife
The view from my sick day couch.

The view from my sick day couch.

Leslie here, on the second day of a gross sinus situation that will not go away. This is also the second day that I am working from home, because I don’t want to spread my germs around and because my office prefers that I don’t, either. Still, stuff gotta get done, so I’m sitting on the couch working in my messy living room (We’re moving soon so I’ve started packing and sorting to the point that my toddler actually pointed to a pile of DVDs on the floor and said “Clean up, Mommy.” I offended a toddler with my messiness. That’s bad.)

As slow as I’m moving, I’ve found some hidden blessings in this less-than-healthy period. Because I’m a Girl Scout like that.

1) Having to slow down: I don’t do slow well, which might be one of the reasons colds eventually get worse and kick me onto my butt because I don’t stop to take care of myself. But when you’re achy and tired and can barely move because your body just won’t do that, you’re forced to take that nap you needed. I tell my toddler all the time that when he’s 35 he’s going to wish he could get all that nap time back.

2) Cuddle time: When we took Toddler to his two-year check up, they gave us a list of traits and milestones for this age range, one of which said “Do not expect sharing.” That could sometimes be the name of Toddler’s autobiography, honestly, but yesterday he saw me on the couch looking sad, brought me a bottle of water from the kitchen, said “Lie down, Mommy” and then climbed into my arms, patting me on the arm like a puppy. It was sweet seeing how concerned and attentive he was, and that he took a break from his usual favorite hobby  Grabbing random things and yelling “MINE!!!” and running away.

3) Couch time: I have a lovely leather couch and I like lying on it with a big blanket and being kind of inert.

4) Having to eat and drink healthy: I don’t drink enough water, and I know that this would help keep me healthier on non-sick days. But when I am sick I feel so parched my throat is desert-like, so I’m guzzling the stuff and remember how good it feels. I then remind myself to do that when I’m well. Maybe I’ll remember this time.

5) Catching up on TV: I swear I’m working (HEY BOSSES I’M REALLY WORKING!) but from my couch in my running shorts. So it’s been a good time to catch up with TV I needed to catch up on like “Jane The Virgin” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “Major Crimes,” Since I can’t really move very much, I have no choice but to sit and watch. Sitting good.

So what are your good things about taking sick time?


Being a jerk to a ticket agent means ALWAYS having to say “You’re sorry.”

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here.

I bet that lady wished I'd have used the Web site.

I bet that lady wished I’d have used the Web site.

There are many reasons that I, Leslie, mistakenly accused Southwest Airlines, and therefore by extension the nice lady that had the bad luck to answer the phone when I called, of double charging me for the extra points I purchased when that was totally not what happened. They are, in particular order:

– I suck at math.

– It was 5 a.m.

– I suck at math even more at 5 a.m.

– I am not good at complicated transactions, and the two I obviously made were so close together I mistook them for the same one.

– I suck at math, mornings, complicated transactions and being a human being.

The most important reason NOT on this list is anything to do with the nice lady on the phone, or Southwest, or any of the nice flight attendants who make jokes on flights or give you free wine on holidays (or at least did that one time). IT WAS NOT SOUTHWEST’S FAULT. IT WAS MINE. ALL ALL MIIINE.

And so I apologized. Also, I noted that the nice lady I apologized to seemed to be surprised, not because she didn’t deserve an apology (Oh, she so did) but because maybe she doesn’t get them so much even when she does.

Here’s what happened. I bought tickets for one half of a future trip for the toddler and I last week, when I bought and paid for on one specific card. About a week later, also very early in the morning (I have to stop doing that, obviously) I bought a return ticket with points, and then realized ten minutes later that I’d bought it for the wrong date. (Youch). So when I went back in the tickets for the date I really needed cost more, so I purchased more points. There was temporarily something wonky the first time I tried, so I used a different card and it was fine.

This was over the previous holiday weekend, so all of the transactions I’d made over the last week posted at the same time. For some reason – and this is the reasoning of a sleepy mommy checking her balances at 5 a.m. after a long weekend of travel and whining (some mine, some the toddler’s) – I’d either thought that the first purchase had already posted before, or forgotten about it altogether. All I knew is that there were charges, about a dollar apart, of each of the two cards. OH NO. I had been charged twice! For the same transaction, including the one that didn’t go through the first time.

AND THAT WAS NOT GOING TO STAND. THAT AGGRESSION WOULD NOT STAND, MAN. (Yes, I’m quoting The Dude from “The Big Lebowski.” What of it?)

So there I was, mad and feeling hoodwinked, and also still sleepy, on the phone with this nice lady. I admit I was snippy from the get-go, because she corrected me when I told her I was calling about a credit card charge on points travel, that usually doesn’t require it, I snapped “Listen to me. I needed to buy new points. You should listen to me.”

(I was so awful.)

She said that she was, and then I explained what I’d thought happened. She was obviously taken aback, but put me on hold, noting that it was odd that the dollar amounts didn’t match. I was too self-umbraged and full of myself to hear that. While she took a break to do some research, and perhaps to tell everyone sitting around her what a jerk she was talking to, I took the time to go back over my email confirmations of each purchase, which go to an email I son’t usually check everyday anymore. And what do you know? The first transaction, which I took to be the first attempt at buying points that I’d been told didn’t go through but actually did, was really…wait for it…the completely separate purchase of Toddler’s and my tickets completed several days earlier. The second one was the points purchase. Two different purchases. Not the same purchase.

I WAS WRONG. Which I figured out about three seconds before I heard the lady from Southwest coming back on the phone. At this point. I knew that I was mistaken, and that there was no reason to bother this poor woman anymore. Some people would have just hung up hurriedly before she said “Hello,” out of embarrassment and not wanting to face this person I’d been so douchey to.

But that wasn’t right. I can do the right thing. Apparently not as much as I should, but still. So when she came back and started to explain that the one transaction hadn’t gone through yet and, if it was a duplicate, wouldn’t post – still so nice about it! – I cleared my throat and said “Ma’am…I was wrong. I had two different transactions and they posted on the same day because of the holiday, and I had no reason to yell at you. I am so, so sorry.”

“No problem!” she said, sweet but relieved that I was no longer acting like a pre-caffeinated idiot.

I apologized some more and then hung up, and thought about all the times I thought I was right, that I came on the phone with people doing their jobs with a self-righteous and pre-conceived idea of my own rightness. How many times was I mistaken? How many times had I charged in and let someone have it when it wasn’t their fault?

Not many, I hope. But I need to stop being proud of my own Julia Sugarbaker-ing (look it up, kiddies. The olds know what I mean) and always start a conversation with some grace, no matter who’s wrong.

And to say I’m sorry when I’m not right, because I was so, so not.


Fake it till you make it: Creative widowing, one day at a time

by SweetMidlife

 

IMG_0635

I think you guys know that I (I, being Leslie) lost my husband at the end of July, a phrase that, as I’m writing it, doesn’t make me seize into sobs and hurl the computer across the room, so progress, right? My sister has held down the blogging fort, for real, even though she’s been dealing with her own grief over Scott’s death, cuz her was awesome. So today, for the first time since that horrible stupid thing happened, I’m back blogging. And I promise not to make you cry..

…much.

I am new at this craft I’m having to master involuntarily, because it’s either figure it out or Brian Wilson-ing it in bed for the rest of the year. I’m still working it out, and I got through last week’s challenge of coming back to work. And guess what? It was kinda crappy, mostly because I had to come home and have my husband not be there, and realize that he never is going to be again, but that this is the deal, so I’ve got plug through. I like my job, and also my paycheck, so I’m going back again today, with a made-up face, a smile, and these bits of knowledge I Forrest Gumped my way into:

– Sometimes you have to fake it: The above picture was taken on Friday, which was pretty awful. I actually cried in front of people, which is not a thing I do, and the looming task of going home…again…to start this hamster wheel all over felt like a giant hamster was running the wheel over my head. But you know what? I pulled myself together, wiped my face off, touched up that lipstick and smiled. Always smile. It freaks the hamster out.

– Let people help you: I am bad at accepting help, sometimes taking it as some sort of affront to my strength. This is stupid. I need help, I’m lucky enough to have people who want to help, so I welcome it. Sometimes people are trying to lift you up because you really are sinking, and sometimes because you’re skimming along but they can see the rock ahead better than you can.

– It’s OK to cry. Rosey Grier said so.

I have no doubt that Week 2’s gonna have its own potholes, and I’m gonna run right into them. But I’ll have to dig out of those, too. I can’t get cable in a pothole and “Dancing With The Stars” is on tonight.


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.

 


The binky and the damage done: Flying with a toddler

by SweetMidlife
Sigh.

Sigh.

My sister is the expert in toddler observation and research, but as the kid who lives with us edges – makes that throws himself headlong- towards his second birthday, I identify more and more with her stories about Alex. I got to see him, and our little one, together in loud, nutty action two weekends ago when we traveled to Maryland for my husband’s college reunion weekend. The visit itself was amazing – if not a little messy, ear-shattering and yelly – but it was the getting there that made me want to buy a Winnebago or a Partridge Family bus and do all of our future travel that way until the kid’s, like, 12 and old enough to carry his own suitcase.

The above photo was taken on the first of our two flights back from Baltimore, to our stopover in Atlanta (that turned out to be more like a run-through.) We were already stressed from the logistics involved with traveling with someone who has more paraphernalia than the rest of us, but can’t carry it or logically understand what a stopover is, or why he can’t stand up in his seat when the seatbelt light is on. We found out that on our second leg, from Atlanta to West Palm Beach, we were seated in three different rows, which would have been disastrous, because in the overtired missed-nap moments, I don’t always love sitting next to my own toddler, let alone the toddler of someone who’s not in shouting distance to handle their business. Nobody wants that.

My husband had tried to handle it at the counter in Baltimore, but they couldn’t help, so he called the customer service number and was told they were looking into it. So we were nervous about that, and about the fact that we had a very, very short window to make our connection in Atlanta, where we often find that we land in Concourse A and our connection is in Concourse Z. (There is no Concourse Z. It just feels that way.) I sat with Toddler while my husband sat directly in front of me, next to a very nice lady who he accidentally knocked some water onto. She was lovely about it and said “Well, it’s water. Water doesn’t stain.”

But you know what does stain? Diet Coke! And it was that caramel-colored fluid that our kid, bored and trying to get my husband’s attention, hit dead-on with the above pink binky which we gave him to suck on to lessen the popping in his ears upon take-off and landing. He threw it backwards overhand and nailed the cup, which spilled all over the lady next to Scott. She was not happy. Scott and I were mortified and both offered to buy her a drink and pay for her drycleaning. She calmed down and smiled and said “No problem. I know what it’s like.”

I think part of our mortification is not wanting to be those parents, the ones that let their kids run up and down the aisle and knock into the flight attendants, who don’t comfort them when they freak out, who let them kick the seat in front of them (On or first leg to Baltimore, at 6:50 in the stupid morning, we turned Toddler’s car seat, which he was sitting in, around to face the back of his own chair, because he was kicking the back of the seat in front of him. The dude sitting in that seat was very appreciative.) Kids are humans, and cannot be expected to always sit quietly and be invisible. People don’t expect adults to do that, so the side eye I get when my kid sometimes even speaks on a plane is unfair. But I don’t want to raise a jerk. I will not raise a jerk. He knew he was being naughty, and when the binky was removed and only handed back upon landing so his little ears wouldn’t pop, he knew why.

I’m not sure when we’re going to fly again, but whenever that is, maybe he’ll be a little older and a little more…chill. And not knock over people’s drinks. I must add that the gate agent at our Atlanta gate, which was actually in the same concourse, not only didn’t make our kid sit alone, but put us all in the same row. Of course, we sat in the wrong row and didn’t realize it until someone came looking for their seats, but they were all cool about it and just sat in front of us. They might have been through this before too.

 


So then there was that time I ruined “The Little Mermaid” for my friend

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here!

Mickey and his friends have told some good stories. And some are about compromising your dreams for a dude.

Mickey and his friends have told some good stories. And some are about compromising your dreams for a dude.

I swear I am not that person.

I am not that awful pop culture ruiner who lives to horn their buzz-kill way into conversations they aren’t sometimes even in, lying in wait to hear others discuss their entertainment loves, the things they hold dear, and then crap all over those dear things because they are evil. Nonetheless, yesterday I innocently but completely ruined “The Little Mermaid,” a favorite movie of my friend Carol, not because I was trying to, but because I couldn’t shut my trap.

I was right about what I said. But now I feel bad about saying it.

Here’s what went down: Somehow, Carol and I, who sit near each other at work, started talking about Idina Menzel, of whom Carol is a huge fan and whom she saw in concert with her daughter. We laughed about how at her upcoming show, 80 percent of the audience won’t know her as the Tony-winning Broadway legend but as the voice of Queen Elsa from “Frozen,” because that movie’s so over-the-top popular with the young kiddies that they’re practically a cult now. And then we laughed about how “Let It Go,” the cult theme song, isn’t even all that good a song, and how we liked “Frozen” OK but didn’t love, love it. (Stand down, “Frozen” fans. I am not the enemy.) And for that second we were so connected and chill.

And then Carol said “Well, my favorite Disney movie is actually ‘The Little Mermaid,'” to which I should have responded “Really? That’s so great! What great music!” because those are things I believe, without mentioning the thing I most believe, which is that “The Little Mermaid” is a movie with great music and a heroine who actually gives up her voice – HER VOICE – for a chance at meeting a guy she’d never actually spoken to when he was conscious. She gave up her voice for love. She had no voice. I don’t know what to say here. But her voice though.

I should not have maybe said that last part, or at least as emphatically as I did. But I did, and I saw Carol’s eyes kinda widen and try to figure out whether she should laugh, cry or smack me.

“You overthought it, girl. You’re getting too deep and you ruined my thing,” she said. “You’re evil.”

I started apologizing because I was not trying to be that person, or blow her mind or change it or do anything to her mind. I was just frothing at the mouth about a thing that has been a thing for me for a while, and which, again, I am right about, because it is exactly the wrong message to send to girls that giving up the most treasured part of yourself like Ariel did. She was young and sheltered and felt sure that this burst of wonder and curiousity she felt for Prince Eric, who she saved from a shipwreck, combined with the fantasy importance she’d already built up about the people on land who understand and don’t reprimand their daughters, was worth not only her beautiful singing voice, but her ability to speak at all. She also got a painful mystical tail-ectomy to form legs she had to learn to walk on, meaning she could never go home to the sea and travel freely in her natural state. Of course, when kids see it they might just hear the wonderful songs, or the silly fish and crabs and stuff, or thrill to the adventure.

But then they’ll learn that the title character, admittedly misguidedly, traded her voice for a guy. No…not even a guy. The chance to get a guy. And then the evil witch her she traded it to stole it, tried to pass herself off as the lady who’d saved the prince, and then tried to kill them both. As you do. I have thought this for 25 years, but Carol had not, so I took her out of a place where she could just enjoy a thing and into a reality where she could never look at the movie she loved the same again.

I felt awful.

“Do you feel awful? I don’t think you feel awful enough.”

But I do. I really do.

By the time I left the office and she had literally walked me to the stairwell to tell me again that I was an evil thing stealer, Carol smiled and told me that when she spoke to her awesome college-aged daughter next, she was going to ask her if she ever thought about Ariel’s sacrifice and what that actually meant, because even though I had messed with her head – “Mind blown!” – I had given her something think about.

“You’re still evil, though.”

Yeah. I know.

Her voice, though.


RIP BB King: That time he helped put closure on my worst relationship ever

by SweetMidlife

bb king

 

Leslie here.

It’s kind of fitting that my husband, who is cool and nice and sweet and generally seems to like me most of the time, was the one to wake me up just now and tell me about the sad passing of B.B. King, blues pioneer, showman, diabetes awareness spokesman and namesake of a chain that sells the world’s best fried pickles. And that’s because although I’ll always remember him as all those things, he will also always be the guy who’s concert marked the bittersweet coda of the worst relationship I ever had.

I will not bore you with the details – let’s just say that I was younger, dumber and desperate to mean something to someone in a guy-girl situation, and this man was wrong, wrong, wrong for me, like big blinding billboard so bright you can’t sleep at night WRONG WRONG WRONG. But he liked me OK, and so that was close enough. Until it wasn’t.

There is a line from a Patti Griffin song that goes “Ain’t no talking to this man, he’s been trying to tell me so,” and indeed he did all the time. He used to break up with me all the time, sometimes to be cruel but mostly because he knew something I couldn’t see, that we were WRONG WRONG WRONG and toxic and incompatible and blech. This is the guy who was so wrong for me that one of my best friends used to make me take him to dinner every time I got back to together with that guy because “When you get sick of paying for my food you will stop going back to that guy.”

So after a lot of really gross breakups over maybe 8 months, dotted with too few oasis-like moments of happiness, or whatever fake carbon copy of happiness I’d settled for, it finally ended, to the and delight and relief of my friends, my daddy and my wallet, because I was getting sick of buying that one buddy dinner all the time. I think it started with him offering to help me move and not showing up, and then offering to come over for dinner that night and me sitting on the steps with the cordless (yes, a landline!) for an hour watching the car lights that weren’t his pass by until I knew I was just a cliche from an ’80s movie and went inside. Fortunately, I did not then sit in the freezing cold in my furniture-less living room in front of a giant and unexplained painting of Billy Idol’s head, because that would be weird.

And then I went to his apartment and begged him to talk to me and he wouldn’t even walk me to the door and I said “You’d walk a hooker to the door if only to make sure she didn’t steal anything, so I’m never coming back” and he was like “Don’t believe it,” and I was like “If I ever start to I will remember this moment you made me feel like less than a hooker and stop myself” and then Carly Simon started singing about running rivers and the new Jerusalem in my head and that was that.

That was, until I don’t know how long later…a couple months maybe…of judiciously avoiding each other at work, and he came over to my desk and said “Streeter, you wanna go see B.B. King with me?” And it was clear for both of us that this was not a date – I got the feeling I was his last resort, like he bought them for someone else and he couldn’t find anyone else to go. The show was in Philadelphia, about two hours away and I had a moment of panic – this was a person who made me feel as low as anyone ever has, with my permission, and I was a crazy psycho toxic person to him as well, and what would we talk about?

But then I thought about being an adult, and I remember looking at him across the newsroom and trying to conjure any attraction, any gasp of that craziness that used to make me throw all common sense and self-preservation to the winds, and…nothing. Maybe this is what being grown-up looked liked. I felt I had put it all behind me, but going to this show with him and getting through it without incident would be a nice coda. So I said yes, sure, and it was really casual, and we were both overly emphatic on the platonic nature of the event. It was so long ago I can’t remember a lot of it, but I know we had dinner, and there was a conversation in the car – I think sitting outside the restaurant? – in which somebody said “So we’re cool, right?” and the other one said “Yes” and there were apologies and nods and some brief wave of relief and the understanding that it would not be quite so weird for the rest of the evening, because we still had a whole concert and a ride home to get through.

The show was great, but long. I tend to fall asleep around 9, no matter what’s going on – friends call me Narcoleslie – and after Bobby “Blue” Bland’s set, and then BB, I remember nodding off, and the guy elbowing me during “The Thrill Is Gone” and saying “You are missing this and you better wake up.” So many years later, it seems to have been that he knew this was our final thing, and he had taken a gamble that we could do this as adults and not be insane and I was ruining the closure by falling asleep. I remember how impressed I was with King, because at that point he was already elderly, sitting down a lot. But he talked, and he laughed, and when he held Lucille and closed his eyes and wailed, I felt a jolt of genius and inspiration that kept me awake.

Until the ride home, where I nodded off probably immediately after the seat belt clicked. I remember the guy nudging me awake, parked across from my house, the one whose steps he’d left me sitting on like an idiot, and saying, jokingly but quite emphatically, “Alright, get out,” because he wanted to make sure that this was not our old dance, that we were not gonna kiss or hug or have some sort of anything that was anything other than a goodbye. The girly inth of me that watches too many movies was, even then, a little taken aback because that girly part likes being kissed goodnight, but the other parts of me wrestled the girly part to the ground and slapped her around and bound her in the corner until we could all get out of the car.

That was the last time we did anything just the two of us – months later we were part of a group that went to see a band in Baltimore, an hour away, and we talked about the girl he’d fallen in love with across the country, who he moved away to marry, and I talked about whatever loser I was losering with at the moment. And it was even more final, but more relaxed, and happy and goofy and something like friendship. It was a huge relief to me, a huge sigh, a thing to put behind me, which is weird because I didn’t usually deal with things that well.

That was it. But it wouldn’t have happened without B.B. King. Thanks for helping me act like a grown-up.


Fabulous ’15! Five resolutions you can keep!

by SweetMidlife
It's a blank slate. You might as well fill it well.

It’s a blank slate. You might as well fill it well.

 

Leslie here! I greet you on this fine New Year’s Day from the Sweet Midlife’s southern headquarters, over a green smoothie and an episode from Season 4 of “The Wire.” My husband is sitting on the couch next to me under an afghan knitted by my Great-Aunt Martha. Many of those details figure into my New Year’s Resolutions…stop rolling your eyes. Yes, yes, I like you have been super stoked about all the stuff I was gonna do on Jan. 1, involving diet, exercise, job, you name it.

And Jan. 27 I, like you, was like “Screw it. Ice cream and couches rule.”

My sister wrote recently about her resolution to be more loving, and that’s an amazing thing to promise. That’s certainly on my list, but here are five more things I think I can stick to. For real. Stop side-eyeing me. You haven’t read them yet!

1) Be specific about my health goals while being realistic and non-sadistic. That rhymes. Almost like a Johnnie Cochran situation. But there are no gloves to fit into this one, just a middle-aged woman trying to fit into the clothes she was trying to be too skinny to fit into last year (and ain’t that a pip?). Last year I had a very mapped-out goal, to dive into a clean eating program, to work out a specific amount of time, and lose a specific amount of weight. This worked out quite well until a kid came to live with us in March, and to paraphrase Sweet Brown, ain’t nobody have time for making tomato soup from scratch. I beat myself up for my failure to fit my previous resolve into our new life, and got fatter for it. This year, I have decided to be proactive about my eating and working out and not use my fatigue as an excuse, because either I’m gonna do it or I’m not. Won’t get done for me. But I also refuse to use a timeline, and to beat myself up if that arbitrary deadline doesn’t pan out. Instead it’s day by day – I’ve got this smoothie, already told the guys at the gym they’ll see me today, and am going to hit my ab work the minute I get finished typing this. If we get lunch I get a salad or something not fried. I keep that up. I feel good about it. I go to bed and don’t tie my self worth into the choices I made. And then start over tomorrow.

Let's do this! Sweaty and set on change!

Let’s do this! Sweaty and set on change!

2) Call my grandmother more: And my aunties and my uncles, and my goddaughter and cousins and all the people I wonder about but don’t always pick up a phone and talk to.

3) Write everything down – I am not the most organized person in the world (understatement understatement understatement) and making myself write stuff down – my grocery list, the errands I have to run, my blogging and work interview schedule my work out goals – keeps me honest and accountable and not slapping myself in the forehead and going “Acck! I was supposed to blah blah blah!”

4) Finish what I started – meaning the novel I’ve been hovering around for three years in various incarnations. This year. For real. Been too long.

5) Be better to my skin: My consistent skin care regimen for the last 43 years, between a Grand Canyon’s worth of products, has basically been “Black don’t crack.” (Ahem) But my family’s excellent genes don’t mean I shouldn’t wear sunscreen, or daily wash my face with….something, and drink lots of water. I need to not be the first woman in my family to look her age.

I think these are all do-able. Sometimes stuff is hard, the stuff we need to do to survive. But it doesn’t have to be awful, or unpleasant. Let’s do it! Who’s with me?


Cohabitate-gate Part Two!: The blogger speaks! And is eventually half-way humbled!

by SweetMidlife

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So yesterday I told you about this writer Hope Kumor, who wrote a not-cute column for XOJane about how she and her boyfriend were living with his folks to save money, and how this arrangement was harshing her sex life and ability to walk around someone else’s house half naked. Many readers on that site, on this one, and on our various Facebook pages, laughed at her.

As a person who gets paid to sometimes put my life out there for other people to judge, I do understand that it’s hard to see your personal choices judged, even though no one made you write about them. But if you’re in the mindframe to write something so…tone deaf, self-reflection might not be your superpower. So you won’t be surprised by her initial response on her blog. You can read the whole thing, but her take is that it was sarcasm and “a joke, but maybe you aren’t smart enough to decipher the difference.”

Wait, who what?

Hope goes on to write that her boyfriend not only pays rent but gives his folks so much money that “generally get mad at him because he spends so much money on them…It’s hilarious how you all think I’m an ungrateful bitch because if you actually met me in person, you’d see that I’m the sweetest and kindest gal.”

Well then.

Rather than just laugh at her utter lack of graciousness, I decided to post on her blog that her sarcasm wasn’t clear and that she shouldn’t blame the readers for her lack of clarity. And rather than delete me, she responded!

“Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. We do appreciate it.

Going back, yes I left some things out that I really should have added in, such as the rent, how much we help out around the house and underneath it all, how grateful we are for them.

Thanks for the advice! Truly. xo”

Wow! Graciousness! So far, Hope has yet to go on XOJane and respond and I hope she does. Do I believe that she was being sarcastic? Not completely. I think she misread how her story was going to play and then got defensive. I get it. But she needs to grow a thicker skin. I am pleased she responded, though.

And she should still save those pennies and move out. She and Brett’s parents will get along so much better if she does.

 


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