When you’re a blogger, most conversations with people outside of the computer go something like this:
Them: “So now that I’ve finished telling you about the luxury yacht I just bought with the interest from my accounts, what is it that you do again?
Me: “I’m a writer.”
Them: “Oh? That’s positively charming. Where do you write?”
Me: “Erms. It’s a blog.”
Them: “Pardon me?”
Me: “I write on the Internet.”
Them: “Are you like those dreadful people of Walmart?”
Me: “Heh-Heh. No. I write for a site of my own.”
Them: “I’m not certain I understand.”
Me: “It’s called Mommy Wants Vodka. I write drivel and dreck about my life.”
Them: “Oh, so (whispers) you have a drinking problem?”
Me: “Ha. No. It’s sarcastic. Mommy Wants Vodka: because Mommy Wants Vicodin Sounded Too Suburban.“
Them: (blank stare) “I’m not certain I follow. How can writing a diary online be a ‘job?'”
Me: “Well, it’s not. I also freelance for The Stir and Nickelodean. One time I got fifty likes from The Facebook!”
Them: (blank stare): “So you sit around all day writing?”
Me: “On a good day, yeah. See lookit! I even have business cards. Do you want one?”
Them: “Oh, no dear. I wouldn’t put you out like that.”
Me: “It’s truly no trouble.”
Them: “I was being polite – whatever would I do with your card?”
Me: “It makes a good coaster, I guess.”
Them (titters): “Oh you’ve always been SO FUNNY.”
Me: (quizzically): “Um. Thanks?”
Them: “I’m afraid I still don’t understand what it is, exactly, that you do.”
Me: “Well, once I got named one of the top ten controversial bloggers by Babble.”
Them: “You’re not particularly controversial.”
Me: “I know. I should have more opinions about things.”
Them (twitters a bit): “So when are you going to grow up?”
Me: “I’m 32. I have three kids.”
Them: “No, I mean, you can’t simply write about your life forever. You’ll need a real job – with benefits!”
Me: *shrugs* “I like what I do.”
Them: “No, it’s really true – you need to grow up. That way we can go do pretentious things together.”
Me (sarcastically): “Wow. That sounds fun.”
Them: “Oh, it is, darling. It is.”
Me: “It’s been *uh* swell seeing you.”
Them: “Do call me when you grow up, darling.”
Me: “But.. I am a grown-up…”
And then you walk away feeling like total garbage because YOU HAVE BUSINESS CARDS, DAMMIT, and sometimes people leave you comments and you have FRIENDS! All over the world! How cool is that?
(answer: pretty fucking rad)
But then one day, you wake up, look around at your apartment, which you’ve carefully decorated, and realize, “shit, they were right – I DO need to grow up.”
I start Monday.
Today at 4:3…uh, erms, *mumbles incoherently* you will be four years old.
The squishy maternal part of me wants to throw you back into a onesie and one of those wee diapers that nearly engulfs your tiny bum and turn back the clock four years to the time when my youngest baby was actually a baby. The other part of me wonders how it’s only been four years since you rocketed into this chaotic world.
I still have to pinch myself to make sure that I’m not dreaming – I have a daughter. Me! A daughter! I’d always expected my household to be full of boys, stinky socks, and fart jokes (I’d also planned to name house plants after my television husbands, which, frankly, is neither here nor there). I never expected to be lucky enough to become the mother of a daughter.
But here we are, four years into it, and I can’t imagine my life without you by my side.
I wanted to start this letter to you, my Sweet Girl, by telling you how sorry I am. I wish that things between your Dad and I had managed to work themselves out. I know it’s confusing right now and I know it well, but I have to believe that this is what’s best for everyone. My hope is that you’ll learn from this experience that you should never settle for anything less than what you deserve out of life, out of a partner, and that you won’t be afraid to say “no, this isn’t working,” and change your life.
Because you, me, everyone – we all deserve the very best. That’s why you’ve got to take life by the balls, make it your bitch and never let anything get in your way. Ever.
You’re more like me than simply the way we look. We both share the opinion that glitter is mandatory for something to be truly beautiful, you happily wear a pair of ridiculously adorable and incredibly uncomfortable shoes just because they’re pretty, and you don’t sway your opinion, once your mind has been made up. You’re a spitfire of a person, and you’re going to be one hell of a lady. Surviving the insurmountable odds that you did, well, I can’t help but wonder what you’ve been put on this planet to do.
I can hardly wait to find out.
My Girl, I hope that you learn to stand tall and stand proud, knowing that what you do is exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. Don’t let anyone else tell you different. Take criticism as a sign to do more, be better, and show people what you’re made of. Don’t stoop to spreading rumors, calling names, or lying to make a point – it’s unbecoming and it’s tacky. Knowing that you’re in the right, well, that is enough.
Never let anyone tell you how you’re “supposed” to look or feel – your feelings are your own, looks change, and if someone thinks that you’re “supposed” to be doing something different, well, it’s clear that they don’t know you. Truly their loss.
Loves in your life may come and go, sort of like busboys filling your water in a crowded restaurant, but the greatest love, and the one person you matter to most, well, she’s not going anywhere. That would be you, Lovie. You don’t need the love of anyone but yourself to make it through the day, and if someone makes you feel otherwise, he or she isn’t worth your time or energy.
Accept that your journey may never be easy, and if it’s not, don’t fight it. This is your life, your story, and you can be the victim or you can be the hero – your call. Use your experiences to help others; to be better, rather than wallowing in your story. Grieve your losses, nurse your wounds, and come back to the world better and stronger than ever.
Be kind to those you meet, even if they are unkind to you. You never will know how that spot of kindness will affect those around you. No act of kindness is too small.
Don’t take people at who they say they are; their actions will speak volumes while their words are just those: words. Accept one unalienable truth: most people are good, and no matter how angry you are at them, know that they were simply doing the best they could. Same as anyone else.
Speaking of choices, don’t put too much stock in the wrong ones you make. Mistakes are your way of learning what works and what does not, and what you learn from the wrong choices you make is often volumes larger than you do from the right ones.
Never be too proud to apologize when you’ve hurt someone. You don’t need to crawl to the Alter of Your Wrongness, but you should always own up to what you’ve done and how you’ve hurt someone. They can choose to accept your apology or ignore it, but either way, you’ve done your best to make things right.
And when you’re done, my sweet thing, changing the world, don’t forget to call your Mom. She loves you so.
Sorting through my stuff after I’d moved into the FBI Surveillance Van, I came across a picture taken many years ago. One of my Pranksters had suggested that I find a truly happy picture of myself and put it somewhere important to remind myself that there is happiness to be had again, so I slapped it onto my fridge. That way, when I go for my diet Coke, I’m stuck looking at a happier version of me.
The picture had been taken years ago, during a party at my parents house.
Being a server meant that, because everyone else on the planet was snuggled up in their wee beds, we were like an insta-party – just add booze. Every night, we’d go out to clubs, bars, or (rarely) party at someone’s house.
That night, my parents were out of town, which meant it was party at Becky’s. We managed to invite everyone – bar patrons, serving staff, friends of friends, restaurant managers, you name it, we were there. The picture from that night had been taken by one of those old disposable cameras, and clearly shows me with my arms around a dude, smiling brightly into the camera, his arms still in the air, caught before he’d had a chance to put them around me.
It’s a fitting picture, I think, for our relationship, which had begun years before.
I’d met Mikey at my first job: an upscale dining establishment that had been around since the beginning of time, where I, not yet 18, was a hostess. He, also not yet 18, was a busboy. We struck up a friendship of sorts, at least, the sort of friendship you have with someone you are also crushing on. And boy, was I crushing.
The guy had everything that made my young heart go pitter-patter in my chest: he was wryly funny, clever, could, upon occasion, be sweet, was kind, and showed me the little things in life.
Once, I remember, when we were both old enough to serve liquor, we spent the 4th of July working the outside part of the sprawling restaurant complex, serving beer in plastic cups and nachos with day-glow cheese so bright it nearly glowed in the dark. I’d just come out of the bathroom, where I’d been sneaking a smoke, when he grabbed my arm and led me across the pond, not speaking, refusing to answer my question, “Where the fuck are we going?”
Eventually, we stopped. He turned my shoulders so that I was facing North.
“Look,” he said. And I did.
From that vantage point, we could see the fireworks going off in three separate towns, peppering the sky with shimmery reds, whites, and blues. I breathed in, deeply, happily. It was beautiful.
Mikey was always doing shit like that. When I dyed my hair a terrible shade of red by accident, he insisted that I come over for an inspection right away. There, in the hot sunlight, he peered at my hair, studying it. “I like it,” he finally said. “It suits you.”
We stayed friends after my first son was born, he and I driving around late at night, the baby strapped in the backseat, soothed by the music I played and the gentle rocking of the car. We’d get out, now and again, to look at the stars, far away from the lights of the city, the silence filling the air deafening as the baby slumbered on.
I often pictured life together, he and I. Raising my son. Helping each other grow and learn. Relying on the other to remind us to do better; be better. I never spoke these words to him, of course, because, I suppose, I didn’t know if we could solve for zero. Knowing that some words, once spoken, can’t be unspoken.
With him, I was never sure where I stood. Did he like me? Did he like me as a friend? Did he respect me? Did he love me?
I couldn’t answer those questions. In small part, because I didn’t want to know the answer and in larger, more annoying part, because I don’t think he even knew the answer. Trying to decipher Mikey was like trying to solve for zero – impossible unless you know the other factors. And I never did.
Eventually, after seven years of friendship, it happened. One drunk night, we hooked up. It was nothing I’d dreamed of. No romance, no courtship, no flowers, no nothing. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am. Entirely unlike either of us.
After that night, nothing was the same. I wanted more. He did not. But, of course, these words remained unspoken, probably because we finally understood where the other was coming from.
Things finally came to a head seven years after I’d met him. I’d been invited to an unveiling of Sam Adams Light in the city and G Love, one of my favorite bands, was playing. Having some extra tickets, I, of course, invited Mikey. Ten of us crawled inside the limo that was already full of booze and we began the party before the party began. By the time we arrived at the club, we were all toast.
Mikey chose this opportunity to start hitting on my friend and coworker. I pretended not to see.
That is, until he began to tell me, in his drunken stupor how much he liked her, and began to grill me for her phone number. Disgusted, I took off and wobbled in my heels down to Rock ‘n’ Roll McDonald’s to “catch some air” and “eat a cheeseburger.” When I returned, he was still all over my friend, who was trying her best to dissuade him.
I rolled my eyes.
In the limo going home, we were all silent. That is, except for Mikey, who was still drunkenly hitting on my friend.
The next time I saw Mikey, we’d gone out to the golf course where we’d once watched the sunset on the 9th hole, a couple of friends along for the ride. Once again, he asked after my friend, specifically for her phone number. I stared at him.
Seven fucking years.
For seven fucking years I’d held this guy in the highest regard, never solving for zero, never asking after the formula, always assuming that we were “meant to be” or some happy-crappy bullshit.
At that moment, I knew that it was over; I’d never solve for zero, not with him.
He continued to look at me as I stared, not quite understanding my behavior. Finally, I spoke, “Mikey, you’re either an idiot or an asshole. Either way, I don’t need you in my life.”
Flipping the bird in his general direction, I turned heel and walked off across the perfectly maintained lawn, chastising myself, knowing he’d never follow. It simply wasn’t who he was.
Slamming my foot on the clutch and starting the car, it dawned on me.
I’d finally solved for zero.