You Are The Everything.

Mike was popular. Girls giggled whenever he was around. And the boys did everything they could to try and impress him. He was that guy in the fourth grade. I am absolutely certain everyone knows a that guy.

I was 10. I was so not that guy. I was awkward looking—gangly. Pale as hell. I had impossibly frizzy hair. (I’m the one on the far right, dressed in blue. This shot was taken a year or so after fourth grade, but you get the picture.)

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My family and I had just moved to North Carolina from Pennsylvania. Not only did I feel awkward and uncomfortable in my own preteen skin, but I was also an outsider. I had a strange accent (i.e. not a southern one). I knew not one person at my new school—not one.

In fact, since we’d moved to North Carolina that summer, only one kid had spoken a word to me. His name was Aaron. He lived on my block. He eventually became one of my closest friends. He made me feel OK. He had a way of making most people feel OK.

Other than Aaron, who did not ride my bus, I had no one to talk to. I did have a Walkman and a pair of headphones and they kept me company. Every day, to and from school, I would put on my headphones and disappear. I was really good at it. Escaping everything and everyone around me came easy, easier than actually talking to people. I would turn myself into a ghost by entering a fantasy world that ran adjacent to the one I was supposed to exist in. In my imaginary world, sometimes I was popular. Boys liked me and girls invited me to their slumber parties. Sometimes I was cool. I usually had straight hair. I wasn’t pale. My freckles were gone. Sometimes I could do flips off a diving board or tap dance. My fantasies changed daily, but my worlds always had a soundtrack. Sometimes soundtracks would change along with my internal discourse. It was George Michael sometimes. Then it would be Michael Jackson for a bit. Cyndi Lauper made several appearances. There was a ton of Prince. Sometimes Blondie. When I was really young, like 5 and 6, it was George Burns, Olivia Newton John, Sylvia, and Kenny Rogers.

I loved music.

I still love music. Music has been my confidant, my most trustworthy friend since as early as I have memory. It sticks by me no matter how awkward I am. It stood by me no matter how many times I thought I’d never survive a broken heart. It was there to see me through the deaths of several friends. Music has walked alongside me throughout my entire life. When I’m hurting, I listen to music. When I’m happy, I turn to music. Without music, I don’t think I would have survived, quite frankly. I know that sounds dramatic; and there’s no way to know if it’s indeed true. But I feel pretty comfortable saying that music has been the brightness during my darkest hours, the darkness when I needed more. Music allowed me to escape one minute and arrive the next. Music made me realize that pain was usually temporary, but also very real. When I felt lonely, which was all of the time back then, I knew that as long as music existed, I would never ever truly be alone.

So, back to the bus, Mike and George Michael.

At that time—the beginning of fourth grade—many of my fantasies were born from the song “Careless Whisper”. I loved that damn song. I listened to that song over and over and over again. I would finish it, rewind it, play it again. I did this so many times, I knew exactly how long to hold down the rewind button on my Walkman before hitting the end of the previous song. I was good.

In truth, I really wanted a boy to notice me. I thought that if a boy took notice of me, maybe girls would like me too. I wanted a boy to fall in love with me and write songs about me, maybe even play the guitar. And “Careless Whisper” helped me come up with some pretty remarkable, totally unbelievable fantasies. Sometimes, depending on my mood, my fantasy would become a comically dark one. One that would end with my dying in an enormous, very dramatic, fiery car crash and my imaginary boyfriend would be devastated upon hearing the news. “Careless Whisper” became the song that would remind him of me. And he would cry. And, somehow (I think because I liked the idea of ghosts) I was able to watch him mourn from another mysterious plane of existence. It felt good watching someone miss me that much.

In my fantasy world, nothing was off limits. Even unicorns.

Sometimes, my imaginary boyfriend would leave me for another girl only to realize that the new girl wasn’t nearly as cool and beautiful as me and so he’d leave her, try and come back to me, but I was long gone and in love another amazing boy. I made up fantasy after fantasy to the song “Careless Whisper”. I was really, really good at shapeshifting reality.

I feel so unsure
As I take your hand and lead you to the dance floor

One afternoon, returning home from school on the bus with my headphones on, I was listening to “Careless Whisper” fantasizing about my imaginary life with my super cute boyfriend, when Mike the popular guy walked up to me.

As the music dies, something in your eyes
Calls to mind the silver screen

He hands me a folded, red heart made out of construction paper. He blushes and returns to his seat.

And all its sad good-byes

I open the paper heart.

“You’re cute.”

You know how when you’re in a moving car with the window down and something like a receipt, or a dollar bill gets swept up into a swirling stream of air, and the pressure from the air outside the window sucks that thing right out into the universe before you can even figure out what the hell it it? That was my fantasy that day. Full swirl, then sucked right up and out the window, out to mingle with the humid North Carolina air.

Mike thinks I’m cute?

“Careless Whisper” became even more meaningful after that. I didn’t need to fantasize anymore about the popular boy because a popular boy in my REAL life thought I was cute. I could just listen to that song and relive that entire moment, over and over and over again. I did embellish it a bunch though. He would sometimes sit next to me. Sometimes, he’d hold my hand. My creativity went to shit whenever something remotely real made an appearance.

Anyway, I carried that construction paper heart everywhere I went. It was like a hot secret, burning holes through my paperbacks, my pockets, the bottom of my pillow at night. And for a week I waited for him to write more, say something—anything. I would have settled for a glance. Nothing.

So one day, a popular girl started talking to me. I have no idea why. This wasn’t normal. I’m guessing it was all part of the plan. But she started talking to me about boys and school and I figured maybe I could confide in her about the heart-shaped note. So I told her. I told her Mike had given me a note on the bus saying he thought I was cute.

She laughed. “Yeah. I know. We dared him to do that. I can’t believe he actually did!”

I’m never gonna dance again
Guilty feet have got no rhythm
Though it’s easy to pretend
I know you’re not a fool

While the song still held meaning and I continued to listen to it, I no longer fantasized about Mike and his careless paper heart. I no longer fantasized about anyone to that song. That song was put on a shelf and whenever I did listen to it, I did so simply to enjoy it. Which was perfectly acceptable if not normal for most people.

There are days where I’m amazed that I survived my youth. There are days where I worry about what my kids are going to experience. There are days where I wish I could tell everyone it’s gonna be OK and mean it. I want to say that you should find your friend, even if it’s music, and let that hold you. Because it will mostly be OK.

Mostly.

Time can never mend
The careless whispers of a good friend
To the heart and mind
Ignorance is kind
There’s no comfort in the truth
Pain is all you’ll find

Over the last 24 hours, I have watched messages scroll across my computer screen. Tweets, Facebook posts, articles—thousands of people mourning the loss of George Michael. Some people might call us silly because we didn’t know him. He didn’t know us. But I think many of us needed him. He, like countless other musicians, made us feel OK; they made us feel safe. They were our friends.

Please don’t judge a person for how they mourn or who they mourn for. Compassion grows out of real emotion, and if 2016 has taught me anything, it’s that we need more compassion.

I owe a great deal of thanks to so many musicians. George Michael. Olivia Newton John. Ted Leo. John Darnielle (of the Mountain Goats). Michael Stipe. Jason Molina (Songs: Ohia). Greenday. Quicksand. The Rolling Stones. Lou Reed. Kenny Rogers. Frightened Rabbit. Old 97s. George Burns. Sonic Youth. Built to Spill. Blondie. This list goes on and on, but these few stand out.

Thank you, musicians of the world. You are the everything. You save us all one beautiful note, one relatable lyric at a time.

You are the everything.

First My Cat Disappeared…

First my cat disappeared. Then I started praying. I pray sometimes but only when it’s convenient for me, like when I’m on an airplane and I think I might fall from the sky. I pray for that not to happen. I prayed when my aunt got breast cancer. She’s still with us. I prayed when Emory was in the NICU and we weren’t sure what was wrong. He turned nine last week. And I prayed when my niece’s best friend, Erin, got sick even though I’d never met Erin. I prayed for her a lot. And even though I’m no longer a practicing Catholic, nor do I answer to any other religion, at the time I felt like my track record for being a foul-weather prayer was pretty good. So I prayed for Erin.

She passed away two years ago last week. And I was so angry at the time. I was so angry that all my praying, my silly routine, didn’t work. This little girl died and I became angry at a God I stopped believing in a long time ago.

On Sunday a mother of one of Elliot’s classmates killed herself. At the time of her death, I was baking a cake. She had three little boys, one of whom was just 5 months old. She must have been in so much pain. And I went back and reread all of our emails and I hated that I wasn’t a better friend to her. We continually did the “Let’s get together this week!” Missed that. “OK, next week!” Nope. Maybe if people had been there for her more, she’d still be with her family.

Then Murray disappeared. I was away for two days at my mom’s house so the boys could see the beach for a day since we had to cancel our beach vacation due to Toby and work circumstances. I left Monday with the kids. Toby stayed home. Murray was last seen Tuesday afternoon. And it damn near stops my heart that it happened on a Tuesday—his day.

Let’s see: I put up fliers. I put fliers in every neighbor’s mailbox. I knocked on some doors. I posted on every local message board. I posted on every local Facebook page. I called the vet. I called our animal control center. I even called the police. And then I called a plumber. You see, we moved into a new house (yes, I went back to the old house, many times) and there are a lot of little crevices in the eaves. So I paid a plumber to come with a fibrotic camera and comb through all those spaces making absolutely sure he wasn’t in the house. My words to the dispatcher, who is also a lover of cats (thank goodness) were, “Listen, if I don’t rule this out and then one day the flies come or he starts to smell, I’ll never ever get over that.”

They showed up later that day. Bless their plumber hearts. And gained a customer for life.

We set up cameras. Brought out his favorite blanket. Combed the streets again calling his name. Checked the gutters. We put out food. We put out a litter box. We exhausted every option. We still don’t have Murray.

So, the other night I prayed again. I told God, or whomever might be listening, I said, “God, I will stop drinking forever. I won’t touch another drink if you bring back my Murray.” I made this prayer well into my nightly bottle of wine.

I gave God an ultimatum. I would quit self-medicating with alcohol, something I’ve been doing for months, if God brought my cat back.

Some people hit a rock bottom. They do something devastating like drive drunk and kill someone. They get a DUI. They fight with the wrong person and get the shit kicked out of them. Some folks end up in prison. Some folks simply grow tired of saying so many stupid things every single night and then forgetting about it the next morning but still having to reach out and apologize for all the stupid things they don’t remember saying.

Me? I gave God an ultimatum. I tried to make a deal, negotiate.

Murray isn’t back. And I am starting to feel a darkness around me, a void that he is no longer with me on this planet and my heart hurts. I may never know where he is. He may never return. He may be dead somewhere. He may have been taken in. But this morning when I woke up at 4 AM to the faint taste of last night’s wine in the back of my throat, I knew he was gone.

And I cried.

I miss him. And I am not a very happy person these days. I don’t particularly like myself these days. And I’m not going to wait for my cat to come back to stop self-medicating with alcohol. And I’m putting this out there, perhaps irresponsibly, maybe this will backfire and people won’t hire me; or neighbors will judge me; they might look at me differently. But I need to look at myself better. I need to like myself again. So I’m holding myself accountable this time. Out loud.

God doesn’t have to bring my cat back for me to take care of myself. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I would give anything to have him home again. I miss him so much. But not drinking and my cat? These two things aren’t mutually exclusive. They’re absurdly unrelated.

I mean, I do want my cat back. God, please bring him back to me.

But I’m going to stop drinking without him.

I need to like myself again.

Living In The Suburbs Feels Like Waiting.

There are days I wake up and I wonder how it is I got here.

How do I live in the suburbs? How is it I have three kids? Where has the time gone?

I turned forty last year but because I was pregnant and fairly miserable with sickness, I didn’t realize it. I didn’t have a big party, or invite anyone over. I think I spent it on the couch, horizontal and probably whining about heartburn. But I turned 40. Had you asked me when I was 35 what I would be doing for my 40th birthday, I’d have said I would be at my favorite restaurant surrounded by close friends, celebrating a pretty momentous milestone. But no. Instead it was just another day, one I barely even realized. A day that came and went.

You’re supposed to realize you turn 40, right?

I turned 41 last week. And if it hadn’t been for Facebook, I’m not sure I would have remembered.

Sometimes living in the suburbs feels like waiting to die. I know that comes off as horribly depressing. And overall, I’ll contend: it’s a depressing thought. But it’s also darkly comical. Living in the suburbs feels like waiting, waiting for what? I’m not sure.

I think we plan vacations and then look forward to vacations so we don’t remember that the bigger picture—or some ultimate goal—doesn’t actually exist. There are lessons for the kids, countless practices that include balls and expensive equipment coached by parents with unfulfilling day jobs. We schedule date nights at mediocre restaurants and drink overpriced wine. We discuss the kids’ practices or that upcoming vacation. We go home, pay the sitter, and then continue to wait some more. We make schedules that repeatedly fail because of course they do when you’re dealing with snow days, sick days, train schedules, kids and other people. And when those schedules fail we come up with ways to make sure they don’t fail in the future because failing makes us feel bad. And it sucks to feel bad.

Our walkway needs to be shoveled. And the trash needs to be put out. Recycling comes every other week and if you miss the alert that they moved it due to a possible snowstorm, your garage starts to look like something out of an episode of Hoarders.

Small rodents break into your garage and lick clean the cans you didn’t properly rinse but since they likely got a big dose of dopamine and left with a full stomach it’s hard to hate them. Good for the small critters who don’t have vacations to look forward to or date nights at mediocre restaurants. They don’t have plans that fail or Common Core math tests to bitch about.

Living in the suburbs feels like waiting—waiting to return to something that matters, something bigger than yourself, something you pictured when you were 21 and graduating from a college you paid a ton of money to so they would repeatedly tell you that after you were done you could do anything; that you could change the world.

Today I grabbed a single trash bag from below our kitchen sink and went around the house tossing random pieces of crap into it. I filled that bag up within 10 minutes while the baby babbled gleefully into an empty box of tissues. That felt great so I made a plan to do it every day for two weeks. I’ll fill up a trash bag full of our shit. And items from that bag of trash will eventually end up in the middle of the Pacific Ocean floating on a sea of garbage the size of Texas because that’s what we do in the suburbs as we sit and wait for upcoming vacations: we give up gluten, wear yoga pants from lululemon, fight about parenthood, drive big cars and destroy shit.

Then one day you find yourself in the quiet car on a train headed north on the way home from a job that brings you nothing but stress and someone makes a thoughtless mistake and you think to yourself right before the car explodes into a burning inferno, “What was I waiting for?”

I want to dig through the empty cans in a drafty garage and discover happiness. I want to run these thoughts out of my head. I want to find meaning in an empty box of tissues and not spend another dime at a mediocre restaurant. I want to walk among a sea of strangers in a city where you don’t realize you’re waiting because the backdrop is forever changing and its inhabitants are fooled by distraction.

New Year’s Resolutions

For the first time in my life I’m making a couple of New Year’s resolutions. I need to make some changes around here for the health of my brain.

1). I will no longer read news stories filled with tragedy and heartache.

I’m done. I will not be clicking this type of link from my Facebook or twitter contacts any longer. I will avoid all the bullshit CNN throws my way as well. I am done reading about horrific crimes at 4AM whenever I can’t sleep. I simply can’t take it anymore. There is way too much horribleness out there. This may mean unfollowing some of the worst offenders. And it’s nothing personal. I just can’t keep doing it. I know horrible stuff happens. But I’m still trying to work through new stories I read decades ago. I just can’t know anymore of the gruesome details right now. I don’t need help feeling sorrowful; I bought it in bulk years ago. (Please note: this doesn’t include personal stories. I am, and always will be there for my friends/contacts/online buds.)

2). I will pet every single animal in my house every single day for at least five minutes.

I don’t care if I have to sit in the middle of the hallway with my coffee first thing in the morning, or postpone wiping human pee off a toilet seat: my pets will get more attention. I have a great deal of regret for not paying more physical attention to Pookum over the last couple of years. I got busy with the kids, cleaning the house, whatever. And the pets are often the last to get my attention. That’s going to change. I want the remaining three to know that they will not only be cared for, but they will receive affection every single day of their lives.

3). I will travel (at least) twice in 2015 to see old friends.

Pookum’s passing shot me right back through time. Suddenly I was thinking about who I was with when I adopted her, the places I lived with her. That got me remembering all the friends I made over the years. I have let social media make me lazy. I don’t hate social media. I quite like it. But I need to figure out how to bring back the person I was before all this instant gratification and Internetting came to be. I need late nights on S’s porch with a bottle of wine. I need a movie with N. I need to trot around Detroit with G. This will happen. The health of my brain depends on it.

That’s all. I figured if I wrote it down, I’d hold myself accountable and follow through. At the very least, should I fail, next year Michele can kick this one’s ass for it.

26.2 Miles.

Well, I did it. It wasn’t easy. But I did it. And I have a whole, long writeup in the works but I can’t seem to find the time to truly bring it all together, so here I sit letting you know I am alive and well.

(Please forgive me for any grammar mistakes and/or spelling errors. The baby is taking one of his “flash naps”. If I get 30 minutes, I’ll be surprised.)

Let’s see. I survived the race injury free, which is pretty awesome. I was a good sore, but that only lasted for a few days. And every hour the aches lessened, I began to feel a touch more blue. There is a certain sorrow one feels after training for (and completing) a marathon that is difficult to describe. The only other time I felt anything similar was when I had postpartum depression. It’s kind of like you do all this work, spend all these months working toward something, anticipating one big event, then BAM! that something happens and you’re left thinking, “Cool. Ok, so now what?”

Yes, with one scenario you have a baby. With the other, you’re a marathoner. But something just feels… empty? That could possibly come off wrong to those who haven’t experienced postpartum depression. We love our babies. It’s just this inexplicably sad feeling. Anyway, a slice of that sorrow resurfaced after this race.

But enough about all that.

So back to marathon morning.

I woke up at 4:00 AM to get to the Meadowlands by five. Having gone to bed at 8:30 the night before, I was pretty well rested. It was a blustery cold morning. The wind gusts were insane.

How was I going to do this?

back of my NYC Marathon shirt

I arrived at the base of the bridge at around 5:45 AM. The sun had barely risen and the clouds were active and plump and deep shades of gray. The sky was unwelcoming, like summer and winter were refusing to give in and just let fall take over.

I made some oatmeal and sat down and tried my best to keep warm. Oh my goodness it was cold! I fantasized about a hot bath, the one I would take hours later after all this running nonsense was out of the way.

“If I survive.” I joked.

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My village (Green) was stationed near the Army building. And a few of us joked about going to war. Couple that with the sound of the helicopters hovering above, our nerves, and the canon blasts, and that comparison became darkly comical at times.

The more seasoned marathon runners wore trash bags, or those metallic wraps handed out after many long races. They had deli bags covering their shoes. Plus, they were able to sleep somehow. Then there were the crazy people wearing nothing more than a tshirt and shorts. Just looking at them made me feel colder. So I tried not to.

Hours went by. Canons roared. Waves of men and women hit the bridge. The excitement grew. I was so nervous. I was so cold. I took an extra long time in a porta-john. If you’ve ever seen a porta-john at a race, you know how desperate I was for warmth.

At 10:50 AM, it was finally time to start. While I was more nervous than I’d ever been in my life, and I worried my cold bones might shatter upon initial impact, I was ready to get moving.

They blared Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York”. Goosebumps covered my skin.

Wow. I am here. Finally. After years of spectating, clapping and screaming for runners until my hands hurt and my voice cracked. Dreaming of the day I would get to do it myself. Hoping it happens at all. Anticipating the reality of it. I am really here.

A canon blast! And we were off.

The wind was so strong on that bridge, my right foot kept blowing into my left foot, almost knocking me to the ground. An NYPD van drove by blasting the theme from Rocky over their loudspeaker, an event that would stand out as a favorite memory from that day. Wind slapped us from what seemed like every angle, but we kept moving.

Entering Brooklyn.

Hats came off, jackets, pants, shirts.

Things warmed up on the other side.

The crowds in Brooklyn were amazing. I wanted to stop and hug everyone. People handed out orange slices, water, tissues, leftover Halloween candy, smiles. Oh my goodness! The smiles! The laughs. All the words of strength and support and love. My faith in humanity grew immensely that day. I have been a spectator of the NYC Marathon for over a decade. But nothing compares to being on the inside. Now, I understand why it’s so important to get out there and cheer. The people made it easier. It’s true what they say: the specators carry you.

The last time I felt so close to so many New Yorkers–complete strangers, unknown faces in a crowd–was right after 9/11. And the juxtaposition of these two very different events, the fact that I was experiencing some of the same emotions, gave me great pause. So I let myself run with it. Sometimes carrying emotional baggage helps.

I was going steady for the first 10 miles. Things were looking good for me. I was on pace. I felt great. I had energy. Things were awesome. And then, just like that, things started to feel a little off. I started to feel uneasy. I stopped for a second, which was probably a big mistake. Because when I started up again, my guts started sending me messages, terrible messages.

Oh no.

I saw my family in Williamsburg, right around mile 11. I hugged them and chewed up an Imodium. Toby warned me that it would likely not do a damned thing until much, much later—probably after I was done with the race. But I had to try something. Because things were going south fast.

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I stopped at four different bathrooms between miles 11 and 16, waiting in line at each one. There went my steady time. There went the faith I had in my ability.

I became more and more disheartened as I continued on and I was ready to quit. But I couldn’t quit, and not because there was some internal voice imploring me to keep moving. No. I couldn’t quit because I had accidentally given my armband to my dad back at mile 11, the same armband that held my “ditch cash”, my lip balm and my Gu Gels. I had to laugh. Even if I decided to quit, I would have to walk. So that’s what I did. I walked. But I walked along the route in search of anything, something—a new set of guts.

Every time I tried to run again, I got sick. Every single time. The bouncing and jostling of my insides sent sharp pains throughout my entire abdomen.

I contemplated turning left off First Avenue and just walking myself back to the park to find my family. I considered trying to find a cab to where they were and letting them pay once I arrived. I tried calling Toby and my father via Siri (which I’d never used) and instead I ended up calling an old friend from Brooklyn who I haven’t spoken to in years. Oops.

Something didn’t want me to quit, even Siri.

Move.

Right as my guts were about to give out completely, I ran into my running guardian angel. Thank GOODNESS for my wonderful friend, Corie, who was right there waiting for me at mile 18, right where I needed her the most. She took the train in all the way from New Jersey and positioned herself where she knew from experience how difficult it would be.

I’ll be straight with you: there is no way I would have continued had it not been for Corie. She made me keep going. I told her I wanted to borrow subway money, she talked me into waiting until we hit the Bronx. She kept reminding why I was there, what I had been saying all along, which is that I just wanted to finish. She told me not to worry about my time. “In fact,” she said. “Don’t even look it up. Just finish. Do this for you. Screw your time.”

We made it through the Bronx and then back into Manhattan and at that point I simply couldn’t quit. It just didn’t seem right. I owed it to myself, to Corie and to my family to finish. Plus, Corie left without giving me any subway money. ;]

I still cry when I think about Corie. Joyful tears. What a remarkable thing to do for someone. (Thank you, Corie. Toby made a serious joke about cutting my medal in half and having your name engraved on it. Without you, it wouldn’t be mine.)

Corie left me at mile 22 and I knew then I’d finish and somehow I was actually able to jog again. My guts were ok. Finally.

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I jogged slowly down 5th Avenue and into the park. At mile 24, I started to cry for no reason. Nothing happened that sparked it. I wasn’t particularly emotional before the tears showed up. I guess my emotions took over. I was able to compose myself for a bit only to fall apart all over again at mile 26 when I saw a young woman holding a sign that read:

Someday you may not be able to do this. Today is not that day.

Thank you, sweet gal, for totally making me fall apart.

I was almost there. I could hear the crowd, the voice over the loudspeaker yelling out finisher names. I was almost done.

Wait, had I even started? I couldn’t remember starting anymore. What had I been doing all this time? I’d forgot to remember what I was even doing out there. Just like that, it was over. The longest, most physically difficult endeavor of my life (so far) was over so fast.

Why hadn’t I remembered not to forget?

Wait, what?

There are tears in my eyes, but you can’t tell.

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Training for and running this marathon was the second most difficult thing I have ever done. It was trying and emotionally insane. It was also truly remarkable. I am forever changed in ways I can’t even begin to write about. I am humbled, gracious, and thankful. And it’s true, what she said, that someday I won’t be able to do this. And that day could come at any time.

I am just so grateful I was given the chance and that I took it. I am grateful for Corie, for my family, and for the city I love best. I am just so grateful.

Thank you.

38-Week Wakeup Call

I’m supposed to have a baby in two weeks. And I had forgotten about this up until today. You see, I don’t hold my breath when it comes to these “due dates” everyone talks about when they talk about having babies. Both of my boys had to be evicted. Emory was kicked out 4 days past-due because I suddenly started having high blood pressure. That didn’t end up being the best birth story of all time. But I really don’t want to get myself too worked up about childbirth right now, so I’ll stop right there. If you wish to read that long-ass, boring birth story, you may do so here. (Chapters are linked from that post. That post was written last.)

With Elliot, things were a touch different. I went into that pregnancy with the intention of avoiding an induction and letting labor come “naturally”. (I have always loathed that word when it comes to describing childbirth, hence the quotes. There’s no such given definition, ladies. So stop suggesting otherwise. And stop acting smug about your choices and making others feel bad. Just stop.)

Anyway, Elliot’s due date came and went. And I mean I knew his due date. I knew his due date because I knew down to the minute when he was conceived. I have calendars and notebooks FULL of calculations, treatments and insane scribbles that went into trying to pregnant. And while he was a miracle baby—a complete surprise conceived naturally after a year and a half of fertility treatments from one of the best doctors in the United States—he was still scrutinized down to the very last ovulation predictor stick.

Oh, yes. I knew his due date.

Well, he too ended up being late. But since they started monitoring me at 40-weeks, I also knew he was safe the entire time. I became a regular in the ultrasound department at New York Presbyterian where they measured my amnionic fluid, his heartbeat and his size. Since everything was A-OK, I was told I could wait a bit longer.

And wait, I did. I went 15 days past my due date. That’s when my doctor did what OBGYN doctors should do in my opinion: she scheduled an induction. That induction went smoothly. And I had that booger out in 5 pushes.

All this to say, I am wildly cynical when it comes to due dates. And I know damn well not to assume this guy will actually come early. My boys just don’t do that sort of thing. And that belief was backed up last week when I visited my doctor and she informed me that my cervix was completely shut. Not even half a centimeter to work with. Nada.

On the other hand, people keep telling me that since this is is my third child he may just fall out of me. You may have heard about the woman who gave birth on a New York City sidewalk. That was her third baby. My younger brother (my mom’s third) came out quickly. And while the idea of getting a baby out quickly appeals to me, my plan is to have this baby at the same NYC hospital I had the other two. So, “falling out of me” isn’t really something I’m interested in especially since there’s a river, a shitload of potholes, traffic and a tunnel between myself and that hospital.

Still, the thought has never crossed my mind that he may actually come out on his own. Well, not until this morning.

I woke up at 6:30 in order to shower before the house explodes with the stressfulness that comes with getting everyone out the door on time. I don’t sleep for more than 3 hours at a time anymore thanks to having a bladder the size of a lima bean. Couple that with the battering of a watermelon-sized baby into said tiny bladder, and I’m always on the toilet. I’d been up an hour earlier to pee, so I was confused when I noticed something dripping down my inner thigh.

That’s when I had the following conversation:

“Are you peeing yourself?”

“Yes, I am peeing myself.”

“But you just peed an hour earlier!”

“Well, I don’t know what to tell you. I peed myself.”

“You’re so gross.”

“I know.”

So I sat down to pee and nothing came out.

“Well, that’s weird.”

It wasn’t until after I’d showered and gotten dressed did I begin to ponder the idea that my water had broke. You see, I’ve never actually experienced that before. That was always done for me. So I have no idea what it looks like, what it smells like, how much of it comes out, if it’s colored. I know nothing about such things.

Did my water break?

I googled and decided no. I’m just a disgusting pregnant woman with incontinence, another glorious side-effect of being 9 months pregnant. But peeing myself did give me the wakeup call I needed.

“You’re going to have a baby soon.”

And that’s not something I’d given much thought up until today. And I wish I were kidding. But it hasn’t occurred to me that we’re going to have another family member living with us in a few weeks. It hasn’t occurred to me that I need to buy pads, diapers, Mylicon, wipes, diaper rash cream. It hasn’t occurred to me that I need to find a local pediatrician for that immediate, post-birth checkup.  It hasn’t occurred to me that I need to make sure I can fit THREE children in the back of our RAV4. None of this occurred to me until this morning when I pissed myself while getting into the shower. And while that was slightly humiliating, I guess it’s the wakeup call I needed.

I am going to have a baby soon.

What Good Can Come From This?

When I was 22 I worked at a record store in a small town in Central Pennsylvania. It was mom and pop shop run by a husband-wife team. There were six employees total. I loved that job.

My boyfriend at the time was a chef. He worked at the best five-star restaurant in town. This place was outstanding. He worked directly alongside the head chef and owner. He was second in command, aka the sous-chef. He was important.

One night after work, he came home and told me about a large table that had come in and spent close to a thousand dollars. They had the meal of their lives. One of the members of that party happened to be a guy I worked with at the record shop. Knowing I was dating the sous-chef, he had asked the waiter if he might say hello. My boyfriend, as well as the owner, came out to thank them for their business and chat for a bit. Everyone was happy.

After the table left for the night, and it came time to clean up, a teenage bus girl expressed worry about cleaning up after this particular table because she “might get AIDS”. My boyfriend and I found this hysterically stupid as did everybody else working at the time. They made fun of her, told her to shut up and clean up. It was absurd, plain and simple.

The following day, my coworker told me all about the amazing meal they had had the night before. We discussed the food, the ambiance, the staff, the owner and my boyfriend. It was a casual conversation just like every other conversation I’d had with him. We were friends so I figured I could share with him the story about the idiotic bus girl. At the time, I figured he’d find it as stupid as I had. I assumed we’d discuss the bigotry people still held toward gay men and how much needed to change. I figured he’d laugh, call her ignorant and we’d be done with it. But the moment the words came out of my mouth, I knew I’d made a horrible mistake. He was visibly upset. I could tell immediately my actions had just set into motion a massive snowball of terrible reactions. I was sick to my stomach.

Well, calls were made and many people got into a lot of trouble including my boyfriend. My boyfriend was reprimanded for not coming to the owner and letting him know that night. He was scolded for telling me—or anyone. This was really, really bad for business. My boyfriend was crushed, and totally freaking out. I had created such a huge mess.

The guy I worked with wanted the girl fired. He was livid that he’d spent so much of his money at an establishment that willingly employs such a homophobic, ignorant person. He went on to suggest that there were probably others working there who held the same ignorant beliefs. He vowed never to eat there again. He would be sharing the story with all of his friends.

I felt terrible. I had been the catalyst for such negativity. Even now, almost 20 years later, the situation makes me cringe. If only I had known better. What had I been thinking?

At the time, and I mean this, I thought things would never be the same again. Being young, and living within the moment as much as we’re capable of throughout our lives, has a way of making one feel that the worst scenarios will last forever. Being young has a way of making you think nothing will ever be the same again, that you might never recover from any given awful event.  And these horrible situations happen repeatedly until you (hopefully) learn your lesson, once and for all, and realize what consequences are. You start to figure out what is right and wrong and what should be avoided. Before opening your mouth, or sending that email, you ask yourself, “What good can come from this?” And after mentally exhausting all possible outcomes only then do you proceed.

Of course things did eventually settle down. The girl was forced to apologize in writing and later let go. The guy I worked with was offered a free meal and a heartfelt apology. My boyfriend kept his job but it was hard for a while and it took a while for the owner to trust him again. And I was seen as a shit-starter, a gossip queen. I was no longer treated as I once was, respected by those who ran the place. And that felt pretty awful.

I had made a terrible decision and suffered the consequences. That was my punishment. And the next time, hopefully, I would choose a different direction.

I think this is what it means to grow up. This is all part of the humility that comes with age and experience. You make mistakes in your teens and twenties and suffer through those consequences (sometimes repeatedly) in order to avoid adult consequences in the future. Because adult consequences? They are often a whole lot bigger and take a great deal more work and heartache to recover from. And adult consequences often include other people, individuals who rely on us for survival. Adult consequences actually do sometimes last forever.

Adult consequences, due to my own piss-poor actions, are consequences I try very, very hard to avoid.

Because I try so hard to avoid adult consequences, I am continually amazed at those my age and older who continue to make such thoughtless decisions, particularly those in the public eye or those in positions of power. Dennis Rodman is chumming it up with one of the most horrific people on planet Earth, which is fine. He’s a grown man; he can hang out with whomever he chooses. But then he gets in front of a camera and spews some drunken nonsense for the whole world to watch, potentially endangering a man currently imprisoned in North Korea.

Grownup consequences, in this case, could cost someone their life.

On Twitter, not a week goes by where we don’t witness someone backpedalling after tweeting something completely ignorant. The whole world watched a PR Executive tweet a racist joke and then lose her job all in under 24 hours.

Grownup consequences took her job and basically wrote her off as a potential hire elsewhere. Who’s going to hire a PR Executive who made such a terrible PR move?

There was the MSNBC anchor who went on and on about Romney’s mixed-race grandchild; the guy from Duck Dynasty who was given a platform to spew his nonsense and I still don’t quite understand why or how he has a TV show of his own. There was the tech editor who tweeted some bigoted nonsense about women in tech, he was promptly fired for his audacity, rightly so. There are just so many of them, so many WTF moments, they all start to blur together.

And now there’s the whole Governor Christie, GW Bridge fiasco. I don’t want to go on and on about what happened. At this point, you’re probably well aware of every angle and all the absurdity involved. But I will say this: I listened to his speech yesterday and I believe him. I don’t think he knew his staffers were up to such stupid acts. You may call me gullible, but I do believe him. I’m floored, however, that these grown ass adults made such stupid mistakes. What were they thinking? Why put that shit in writing? Do they not understand how email works? That nothing is private?

How is it they didn’t scrutinize their every move, ESPECIALLY since they are public officials? And what type of environment did Governor Christie cultivate letting them feel this would be OK?

What a mess.

I’m truly baffled by the whole ordeal. And now we’re learning there might be legal ramifications. We are discovering that at least one woman may have died due to the lane closures because emergency personal weren’t able to get to her in time.

Grownup consequences, Mr. Wildstein and Ms. Kelly. They are a bitch.

We all make mistakes. I will continue to make them and I have a ton of regrets and they pile on each and every day of my life. I carry mine like a pack mule. And we all deserve second chances–even thirds, fourths and fifths. But holy HELL, people, all it takes sometimes to avoid a massive FAIL is to ask yourself that one simple question: “What good can come from this?”

Because chances are the answer is gonna be “Not a whole hell of a lot.” So choose wisely because adult consequences suck.

The Everyday Horrors of Parenting.

Elliot started school last week. He’s having a tough time adjusting, so we are taking it slow. The kid has been attached to me since the moment he was born. So I knew it would be a difficult transition for him. But since the new baby will take up a lot of my time come March, I figured it’s best to introduce Elliot to some independence ahead of time.

The new school is pretty great. They are very accommodating when it comes to potty training, which is important to both Toby and me. Without turning this into a debate, we are pretty adamant about not pressing the whole potty training situation. We let the kids figure it out on their own (with guidance, of course). When they are ready, they will use the potty. Before that, we don’t push them to do so. It’s just the way we do things.

So, yeah. Elliot is not yet potty trained. And I am pleased that this school is very flexible on this issue. They work with the kids, talk to them. But never do they introduce shame or force it upon the child. Instead, if the child goes to the bathroom or even tries to go to the bathroom, the child gets a high five, a hug; basically, the child gets praised. And that sits very well with us.

And wouldn’t you know, after 3 short days, Elliot is already making progress. (Being around other kids helps!) He is now letting me know when he has to go. And that’s a huge step. Before now, he would poop and then run away from me, hide in the corner, whatever he could to avoid EVER having that diaper changed. I’m all for not pressuring the kids to use the toilet, but sitting around in their own feces? Well, I have to draw the line somewhere. It’s been a bit of a struggle.

But that’s now changing, thankfully. Elliot is more vocal about it and no longer runs away when it’s time. He’s even letting us know beforehand, which is awesome.

But all of that backfired today.

(Warning! Those who are annoyed by parents sharing too much, or those who are squeamish about feces should stop reading.)

I picked Elliot up from school at 12:30. Once home, he played with his trains. I love listening to Elliot play. I listened from the other room.

At about 1:45 he came up to me and said, “Mama! I pooped! Den I change mah dipah!”

“You did!” I said, proud of him even though he didn’t currently have a diaper on. Realizing that this meant there was a used diaper somewhere, I had to find out where the crime took place. “Elliot, where did this happen?”

“Ovah hee-ah!” He said, turning away from me, exposing his pooped-streaked legs.

Oh shit. I thought.

I followed him into the living room to discover the dog gleefully licking the carpet. A tiny pair of pants had been tossed aside, leaving a skid mark in their wake. And there was a clean diaper that had been used as toilet paper.

I was horrified, but I kept my cool. Poop doesn’t really bother me, but dogs eating poop? That bothers me. And poop all over my kid, the floor and the carpet when we have to leave in 15 minutes to fetch the other kid? Well, bad timing all around. This particular scenario sucked.

But Elliot was so proud! He felt he had taken a HUGE step and I could not let on otherwise.

“Wow!” I said, giving him my biggest fake smile. “You DID change your diaper!” I shooed away the shitty dog. “We have to clean you up now, OK? How about a quick bath?”

“But I don’t want a bath.”

“But you have poop all over you and I don’t think wipes are gonna work.”

“NO BATH.”

Ah! The impenetrable independence again. He refused to take a bath, kicking and screaming. Refused. And the clock was ticking. I had two choices: put him in the tub, kicking and screaming; or, bring him to Em’s school covered in feces.

Trying to negotiate with two and three-year-olds when you have all the time in the world is nearly impossible. Trying to negotiate with two and three-year-olds when you’ve been given a time limit? Forget it. They know. They know you have to leave the house in a few minutes so they become even more stubborn. So, I picked him up and put him in the tub. I let him stand, reassuring him that I wasn’t going to give him a bath, because, God forbid. I told him that instead I was just gonna hose him off.

“HOSE OFF? NO HOSE OFF!”

He moved to the back of the tub in protest as I delicately began hosing him off. Poop made its way down his legs and into the bottom of the tub. I looked at the clock. Five minutes. Crap.

To make matters even worse, the plumbing in our master bathroom is simply awful. The tub doesn’t drain well at all. (This is what you get when you buy an old house with a master bath that’s not been updated in 100 years. Yes. It’s true. We have a 100-year-old bathroom.) So the tub began to fill up.

Every now and again, there’s really only one thing left for a parent to do and that’s weep. So as the tub began to fill with brown liquid, I did just that. I wept. And weeping made me feel better.

Elliot screamed like the water was acid. And since it seemed like I was torturing him, I stopped with the hose and began to wipe him down instead. And as poop and tears made their way slowly out of our ancient tub, Elliot continued to scream.

I’m not sure how we made it out of the house in time, but we did. And I made sure to roll up the carpet before we left in hopes of keeping the dog from repulsing me even further, to the point of no return. (Civilized animals DO NOT willingly eat poop. This is why I was born a cat person and will die a cat person. Sorry dog.)

As we drove up the hill to fetch his brother, Elliot says to me in his sweet, soft voice, “Mama? Sorry I got poop on cahpet. But I change mah diapah!”

“Yes you did, baby. And I’m proud of you. But next time? Let me do the wiping, OK?”

“Otay!”

Digging For Clay

The first time I saw him he was being wheeled out on a stretcher and lifted into a van by two medical examiners. Eric was there as well—tall, well-dressed Eric. Eric is my favorite doorman. The sky was a dull gray, absent of any real emotion, leaving that to us. It was raining. But not enough to make you care, not enough to mean anything. Eric had just opened the back door of the apartment building as I rounded the corner. He made a hand gesture, pursed his lips and shook his head.

No. Not yet. Wait there. You don’t want to see this.

I froze. I couldn’t breath. A wave of dread and nausea washed over me as I fought back vomiting. I knew what I was about to see.

Earlier that day, while chaperoning a field-trip with my older son, the sitter watching my 2-year-old sent me flurry of texts. The texts included words like “FBI”, and “murder”. There were the words “medical examiner” and “crime scene investigators”. She wrote about a distraught man sitting outside, weeping. She wrote that something terrible had happened.

I read all these things while standing on the banks of the Long Island Sound, digging for clay.

He’d been dead for days.

They shut the doors to the van, thanked Eric for his help and drove away. Eric and I stood alone in the rain, watching the van become smaller and smaller. And then he was gone. Just like that. The dead man was gone.

“I spoke to him almost every morning. He was a nice guy…” Eric looked down at the ground, kicked a pebble and shook his head again.

I gave him a hug.

That whole tiny moment—the bleak sky, its hesitant rain; the look on Eric’s face; the hand gesture he’d given me; the van and the man’s corpse—would continue to haunt me for the remainder of the day and well into the next. When I shut my eyes, it was there. When I went to bed, it was there. When I took a shower, it was there. It was a picture—an image—filled with everything and nothing. I simply couldn’t shake it. I couldn’t unsee it. And I wanted to.

Is this what painters do? They have an image that they can’t unsee, so they create it in hopes that it will stop haunting them? The day had dropped this moment into my life and my memory kept repainting it, looking for something new, something different, something less final and horribly sad.

But I am no painter.

I kept looking for color.

I have no memory of there being any color.

If only the sun had been shining.

What I’m about to admit isn’t something I am proud of. And it’s probably not something most people would choose to admit in writing. Perhaps, if you were reading this in a book, you might forgive a character for doing what I did. Because we forgive fictional characters. Fictional characters can do irresponsible things. They can make poor, cringeworthy decisions and we forgive them for it. Even when fictional characters are based on real people, and actual events, we forgive them. It’s comforting to be able to say, “Yeah, but it’s not real. She didn’t really do that because that would just be crazy.”

But I am not fictional. I am me. And so.

I’m going to try something different. I’m going to write this next part in the third person. I’m going to refer to myself in the third person in hopes that maybe you won’t judge me as harshly for everything I’m about to tell you.

Also: every time I try and finish this post in the first person, I cringe and give up.

Ready?

After seeing his body, she became obsessed. She decided she needed to know as much as possible about the dead man. She couldn’t let her last and only bit of knowledge about the dead stranger be that of a receding medical examiner’s van on the grayest of all days beneath a rainfall that didn’t matter.

Who was he? How had he died? How old was he? Was he lonely? Did he love someone? Did they love him? Where was his family? Did he have one? Do they know? Did he kill himself? Was he murdered?

Was he lonely?

She needed to know more. She dug around on Twitter, searched the “nearby” option. She keyed in and searched their shared address. Twitter made her amateur sleuthing way too easy. Before long, she’d found an article written by The New York Post about a “mysterious death” in a “high rise” (not true) “luxury apartment building” (debatable). They stated that he had been found bloodied, with cuts to his face. They reported that his apartment had been trashed, but there had been no sign of forced entry.

“Was this all true?” She wondered. “Had a murderer been in their apartment building?” (Spoiler alert: No.)

But the most useful (and incidentally the only factual) bit of information The Post gave her was the dead man’s age and name.

She had his name.

She came up with scenarios: He was a jock and got too aggressive while drinking with a girlfriend. She had scratched his face and hit him and he later died from an accidental drug overdose; He was a gay man who died at the hands of an angry lover; He committed suicide because, at 46, he was still single and alone; He had gotten into a fight earlier that night, stumbled home drunk, and not knowing the extent of his head injuries, never woke up; He died of a heart attack due to excessive drug use.

(This is what happens when a person relies on The New York Post for information.)

Truth be told, she wasn’t sure why she’d become so invested in knowing more about the dead man. Perhaps it’s because she had seen a very intimate detail of this man’s life—his death. This was something most people wouldn’t and probably shouldn’t see. But she couldn’t let him go, not yet and not in that manner.

The first encounter with the man simply couldn’t be one of his very last.

She had been to many funerals over the years. She had lost friends and family. She knew what it was like to lose someone unexpectedly and tragically. But funerals were staged events. She had time to prepare for them. The funerals she’d been to were designed as a way to say goodbye to people she had known. She shared memories with them, memories of them being alive. She’d seen them smile.

But she hadn’t prepared for this. She didn’t have any memories of this man. The only memory she had of this man was that of his death. She felt a certain amount of intimacy for the man.

The strange thing about being alive today, during the age of social media, Facebook and an exhaustive amount of connectivity, is the ease of which we can dig around and find out way too much information about a person. Because before long, she knew the name of his mother, his stepmother, father, brother, sister, and many of his aunts and uncles. She even knew the name of his pastor. She knew where he’d gone to college. She knew what his favorite sports teams were. She flipped through the snapshots he’d taken while vacationing in Italy back in 2009. She got glimpses of his life through the eyes of countless friends and family who loved him deeply. Their mourning poured out onto Facebook for anyone to bear witness to. Even her. Their tributes and memories of the man left her weeping.

He was loved, so very loved. And he wasn’t alone.

What she came to know about the dead man was that he came from a huge, loving family. He came from a family who believes wholeheartedly that he is in the hands of God now. She learned that he loved living in New York City even though his family and friends lived far away. She now knows about his amazing smile and how it lit up a room. She learned that he looked sharp in a suit and was very successful at his job. She learned that he was unbelievably kind, a quality apparent in the wrinkles that framed his eyes.

She learned that he would be missed by so many people, so very many people.

Even her. Even though she’d never seen him alive. Even though she never would.

She is no longer haunted by the image of the dead man and the van and the lack of color on the grayest of all days. She has set the image free.

Machetes.

I’m a worrier by nature. The female members of my family are Olympic gold medalists when it comes to worrying. There has always been a part of my brain hardwired for worry. I have always been a worrier. All my life, a worrier.

But during my luteal phase, I hit the rock bottom of worry. I binge on worry until I’m stumbling around, trying to figure out what is a legit concern, and what is amped up on hormones (or lack thereof). Although, I’m not sure I’d call it rock bottom, because “rock” suggests there’s nowhere else to sink. It’s more like Quicksand Bottom. (I’m just coming up with that now—forgive my sloppy brainstorm.) I hit Quicksand Bottom. I may feel pretty awful, and it may seem as though I can’t sink any lower, but I find ways in which to do so. And the more I fight against it, the more it sucks me in. Worry turns into paranoia, paranoia spawns delusions. Before I know it, I’m immersed.

(Man, this metaphor is lame.)

It doesn’t help that I know it’s coming every month. I can see it speeding toward me. But no matter what I do, I can’t stop myself. No amount of reasoning or preparation helps.

Quicksand.

I’m guessing, based on years worth of detailed note taking, that my body just doesn’t bode well and is highly sensitive to the extreme shift in hormones.

Here’s the skinny: many women fight a difficult battle every month when it comes to coping with the seemingly schizophrenic nature of our menstrual cycle. Our body gives us a healthy dose of “the happy hormone” (estrogen) and then, right as we ovulate, drops that shit right down to nothing letting progesterone take over. And if progesterone levels are high, you are more likely to be depressed and anxious. My progesterone levels are usually off the charts. So when I hit, I hit it at the speed of light and from great heights because, on the flip side, I have high estrogen levels as well.

Thud.

At the beginning of the month, when the estrogen is flowing, I’m a goddamn treat to be around. I will sing to you, make you cookies. I’ll give you back rubs, make awesome jokes. I will hug you and kiss you and tell you how awesome you are. I will remark about how amazing it feels to be alive. I will plan on living forever because, hell, who wouldn’t want to? Being alive is just the best thing ever! I feel awesome. No, I am awesome. I am Tom Cruise on Oprah happy. To put it simply: when my estrogen is high I am the fucking shit. I am untouchable. Nothing can bring me down, and if you’re a part of my life, I will make it my job to try and make sure nothing brings you down either.

Sweet, sweet estrogen.

But then my body just takes it away. Just like that. It doesn’t simply poke a tiny hole in the balloon so I come down slowly from my estrogen high. It doesn’t pull the plug from the drain and let it all just naturally fall away from the basin. No. It blows the balloon to smithereens and drops the bottom out of the bathtub.

Progesterone takes over. And I’m a mess.

Many women have it hard. On top of dealing with the “nurture” part of who we are and who we’re becoming—our histories, the things we’ve been through, those we share our lives with, whatever hardships we’ve endured just by existing—we’re also dealing with chemistry, chemistry that is comically unfair if you ask me.

Anyway, the last few days, I have been in the trenches. The rise of progesterone, along with my natural ability at inventing scenarios based on very little actual evidence thanks to the art of worrying, has had me in a terrible state. I’m not myself. I’m reacting poorly online. I’m skittish around those I talk to every day (although, I’ve come a long way with the people I share my days with simply by being more honest about my situation). The past week, I have been a big ol’ ugly mess.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you may have witnessed bits and pieces of this over time. But instead of getting the unedited, desultory version I’m about to share with you, you’re getting the 140 characters or less version. And frankly, I’m not sure which is worse. You be the judge.

Here are a few sample conversations I’ve had with myself. (I’ve simplified the end-of-world scenarios to some degree. But it almost always boils down to death, darkness, torture and outlaws with machetes. Man, reading that back sounds ridiculous. Haha!):

Your husband eats too much greek yogurt and that yogurt is an environmental nightmare so you need to tell Toby that he can’t eat greek yogurt anymore. He has to eat less damaging yogurt or, OR! you can make him greek yogurt from scratch! You don’t have much in the way of time, but you can do this. You have to do this. Until they figure out what to do with all that byproduct, you will make him greek yogurt so you don’t help destroy the world and end up living in darkness surrounded by people with machetes. It might be beneficial to know how to make yogurt when everything begins to end anyway.

……………………………………..

You know it’s bad when you’re obsessing over losing followers on twitter. But I do this when I’m in that bad place.

Someone unfollowed you on twitter, someone you’ve been friends with for a while. They used to like you. They hate you now, Michele. They hate you because you’re a selfish asshole who can’t stop tweeting and you should have shut up more often. No one cares about what you have to say. And how could you have gotten that tweet about rape jokes so wrong? What’s wrong with you, Michele? Pay attention! You’re a dick. You would unfollow yourself if you could. You should just quit twitter because one day it will be overrun by people with machetes and we’re all going to die anyway because of the measles outbreak in Williamsburg and because of that new virus you forgot the name of. Oh, don’t forget to send that virus information to Toby.

……………………………………..

This next scenario continued for days. And I brought several people into it with me both in real life and online.

The neighbors smoke weed. But this? This is a new smell. It’s chemical. You need to google this. HOLY SHIT. They’re cooking meth! You have babies and animals! Your neighbors are cooking meth! This is not good. You should call the cops. No, call Toby. You need to tell Toby. He knows all about drugs. But he’s in California. You need to ask twitter. Twitter will tell you what you should do about your meth-cooking neighbors. Yes. Twitter and Toby. Is this what it’s going to be like at the end of everything? Drug dealers with summer teeth cooking meth, buying machetes and eating their young? God I hope my kids don’t see that. I’ll have to tell them not to have children.

……………………………………..

Your son uses too much paper and goes through too much clothing and we’re completely destroying the world because of it. You need to be more diligent and teach him why he can’t do that. He needs to be aware of all the landfills and trash and garbage. You need to tell him all of this so his kids won’t be completely fucked and live in a world surrounded by darkness and fire and people with machetes.

……………………………………..

We can’t buy anymore plastic toys from China because it’s killing everyone and everything slowly. And soon we’ll be surrounded by mountains made up entirely of horrible plastic toys. And maybe those mountains will help shade us from the hot sun and all the life-altering weather we have heading our way thanks to global warming and the fact that so many people don’t think it’s happening. That This American Life really scared you, didn’t it, Michele? It should! YOU MUST ACT NOW before you’re forced to take your family and hide inside caves bored out of mountains of plastic toys that will protect us from the people with machetes. But you can make yogurt from scratch if you can find the cows which will likely all be dead, killed at the hands of people with machetes and summer teeth.

And I’m only embellishing a little bit for the sake of brevity. I have tangential thoughts like this. And they continue for hours, sometimes even days.

So, if you’re (still!) reading this, and you’ve witnessed some of my trite and irrational, internal battles trickle out onto the Internet: I am sorry. I am sorry you had to see it. I am sorry that I am like this sometimes. I am trying so hard to get a hold of my own head when the bottom falls out.

P.S. I am OK. I promise. This was meant to be a bit funny, making light of something I’ve come to know and live with every month. My life, it’s overall very good.