Don’t matter how you feel, it only matters how you look

Don’t matter how you feel, it only matters how you look

Every time I hear Miranda Lambert sing Mama’s Broken Heart, every time Patricia Clarkson opens her mouth on Sharp Objects – I immediately think of my maternal grandmother. For most of her life, she defined the perfectly coiffed, passive aggressive Southern woman. I hear her lecturing me every time I go out in public in yoga pants with a messy bun and just a swipe of lip gloss. She would not stand for that.

Granny had her flaws. But I didn’t see them as a kid. To me, as a child, she was perfect. She had the makeup, the perfume, the jewelry and oh my god, she had all the shoes. My most favorite, vivid and honestly, consistent, childhood memories were at her and Papa’s house with my cousin, Jacob. I remember the feel and sound of the window AC unit while sleeping on the foldout couch, the smell of their backyard that can be found nowhere else, snacking on honeysuckle, chasing the countless feral cats and kittens (a few somehow ended up in my house), eating pot roast for Sunday supper, Papa tricking people into trying the hottest peppers ever, Granny making me put lotion on my elbows and knees, and always wanting to punch Jake in the face.

As of yesterday, all three of them are now gone.

After what seemed like a very slow, very painful battle with dementia, Granny is finally at peace again. I am happy for her, because she suffered so long. And there was solace in having the entire family together at the end. She might have been in a coma, but I know good and damn well she was laying there with a roll call sheet, checking off all our names before she would leave. No matter how long we/I knew this was coming, it still wasn’t easy. And watching someone take her last breaths was a first for me. It’s equal parts relief and devastation.

This was my last grandparent; I lost all four in almost exactly 10 years. That’s the biggest part with which I’m having an awkward time coping. It’s more or less the last piece of your childhood laid to rest. I can’t fully explain the emotions yet so I am writing this, as the sooner I write about something, the sooner I can process it. For now it’s just discomfort, strangeness, and the usual feelings that come with death. Like utter regret, self-judgment, and the need to go do something bold and totally crazy because you’ve been reminded that life clearly doesn’t last forever.

This is an end of a chapter in my book. And it’s the end of our family as we know it. I am uncertain these days if there is a heaven. But if it does exist, the first thing she did before letting literally anyone else already living their best afterlife see her, was get her hair set and fix her face.

I’m gonna show him what little girls are made of

I’m gonna show him what little girls are made of

I’m not sure I know too many people who get to Almost Forty and think “holy shit, this is exactly how I wanted my life to be! all my dreams have come true!” If you’re that person and aren’t an Academy Award winning actor, a self-made millionaire, a politician no one wants to punch in the face, or anything else ridiculously successful and are just bursting with happiness, by all means, explain to me how you got there. Inquiring minds want to know.

The rest of us will be sitting here wondering exactly how many wrong turns we made, whilst also trying to be grateful for where we actually are and all that we do have. And maybe drinking a lot of wine.

I certainly didn’t think I would be 38, single, childless and still not have VP in my title. I was voted most likely to succeed in high school, after all. My parents and all my siblings would probably argue that I am successful. And I am sure many people with whom I’m friends on Facebook would tell me I have a great life. Don’t get me wrong, I do. I love where I live (though I miss LA every single day), I love my pets, I love that I get paid to see movies and work with Real Life Pals each week, I love that I finally got off my figurative ass and started writing again and most of all, I am filthy rich when it comes to friendship, and I love all my people so much it sometimes makes me cry.

But I am not where I thought I would be. Or should be. And I am not alone. I have a lot of single, childless girlfriends. And most of us agree, we are relatively okay with not having kids for a multitude of reasons. But the shitty part is getting to the age range at which that choice is taken away from us all together. Biology can be a real dick.

I have two girlfriends I’ve known since middle school with whom I still talk to quite often. One of them is my sweet friend Cathalee. We were super tight in high school, as we had a lot in common, most notably uncanny abilities to crush on guys we could never date and obsess over professional athletes.

Cathalee is in the top five of Genuinely Good Humans I’ve ever known. I love her dearly, which is why a phone call we had a few months ago broke my heart into a million pieces for her. After battling lady problems that came with excruciating pain and severe anemia for quite some time, not to mention a doctor that failed miserably to diagnose her properly (with whom I would like to have a not so lovely chat), she found out she had a fibroid that had grown to half the size of her uterus and the best option would be a hysterectomy. At 38.

I don’t want to totally speak for her, as it’s her story and feelings to share. She’s written some very personal, very candid blog posts about it herself here, here and here. If you have time to read them, I encourage you to do so. For a very good reason.

There is still spoken and unspoken discrimination against women who do not have children. You can argue with me all you want about it, but it’s there. It exists. We are still considered to be less than. We are still accused of being selfish. We are still told we will regret this and we are failing as women. We are treated as if there is something wrong with us.

First of all, fuck that.

Second of all, not having kids is not always an actual choice we made. And by the way, if it is a choice we have made or decide to make, that is no one else’s goddamn business and it’s perfectly acceptable. It’s 2018. We don’t have to worry about re-populating the species or taking care of farms. I won’t go into the advantages or disadvantages of having kids or not, but can we at long last stop hating on each other for it? This country and this world have lost their collective minds and we, as women, have much bigger issues right now.

Tracee Ellis Ross, who plays Bow Johnson on Black-ish, one of my absolute favorite characters on TV, is 45 and not married and doesn’t have kids. She gave an AMAZING speech about her “situation” at Glamour’s Women of the Year event, which can be found here. This past week, an entertainment trade publication interviewed her and asked about this speech and if if she feels judged for neither being married nor having kids. I leave you with her answer. Because although I can write many poignant, colorful and not always ladylike remarks about this subject, none of them will be better than this:

You know, I don’t know if I feel judged, but that certainly is a paradigm that we’re all still breaking through. Both in how we language it…I mean, even someone today really, truly meant to be supportive in what she was asking, but unconsciously still framed it in a way that was, “I know that you’ve chosen your career over having a family.” And I was like, “No, I haven’t!” I was like, “There was no point in my life where I chose career over a relationship, or over having a child. This just happens to be where I’ve landed.” So I think it’s not the fault of every individual. I think it really is a systemic response to culture’s way of having an expectation of women within patriarchy and all of that. I think we are one of the first generations of women that have a lot more choices and that can actually make some of those choices [carefully]. You know? Which I find both daunting and exciting.

 

 

 

I said I wouldn’t do it, but I did it again

I said I wouldn’t do it, but I did it again

Today I hit reply all on email at work with a less than appropriate response that was meant for the sender only. I realized it immediately and wanted to die. Thank god I was not in the office. And mind you, I am the one who LOATHES when someone hits reply all. This is punishment for every time I overly judge someone for using that bloody button. I do the same when I get behind someone who forgets to turn of his/her blinker.

I promise judgement is a terrible habit on which I am trying to work. BUT IT IS SO HARD. But know this, friends – I judge no one in this world worse than I do myself. It’s a chronic disability and has become debilitating at times. And has continuously become worse the older I get.

I tend to make really stupid mistakes when I am drinking (that’s not exactly rocket science, I know). I swear I am not an alcoholic, but the problem is I can’t metabolize adult beverages as well as the average person/I used to. I’ve had to learn this the hard way in recent months. When I found out I had a defunct metabolism last fall, all I could focus on is how that related to my inability to lose weight for the past three years, not how it affected anything else of importance or consequence.

I talk about drinking a lot, especially bubbles, cause that is my signature beverage. But I actually don’t drink nearly as much as I did from my late 20s to mid 30s. Those hangovers do not play around the older one gets, am I right? Anyhow, when I do decide to throw down like it’s 2008, I pay for it, in one way or another. And it never fails my questionable overindulgence is in direct response to a situation that or person who brings out my insecurities.

I went to a Christmas party last year with a guy I had been “dating” for most of 2017. A guy, honestly, I had no business dating in the first place (hi, my name is Nikki, and I am a terrible choice in dudes aholic). We hadn’t seen each other for four months and I was quite shocked to hear from him. I let this person, like most guys I’ve dated, make me feel like pure shit about myself. Like, I weigh 400 pounds, am entirely too old to try to date, never going to be good enough for anyone pure shit. It’s not okay. I’m working on that. But the day of that party, I barely ate – not out of nerves, more out of scheduling – and hadn’t really been drinking a lot for several weeks. Not to mention, there were a lot of leftover issues from when we had split in the summer that should have been dealt with before we ever tried to hang out whilst partying. Recipe for disaster, much?

I am sure you can see where this is going. Stupid things were said and thanks to Tito, it got way out of hand. I will be honest and say I don’t remember much. Just the aftermath. I spent three straight days destroying myself over it. My friends were worried, my therapist was worried. It was an ugly situation and I wallowed in unnecessary shame and despair for hours of my life I will never get back. I cried to the point of dehydration (not the first time that has happened over a boy, but I swear it will be the LAST). A part of me will always miss this guy; I’ve never met anyone with whom I have so much in common. But now I know that might not be such a good thing.

I didn’t think I could ever feel that much self-loathing again until I went to Mexico earlier this year.  I was around individuals from all across the world and none of them speak English as a first language. Outside of the other two individuals from the U.S. and my roommate, no one spoke to me much. Instead of logically thinking about why, I automatically assumed it was because they thought I was silly, stupid, weird, a moron, fat, ugly etc. I let myself get a ridiculous complex. Again.

On the last night, one of the girls came up to me and told me most everyone had wanted to talk to me all week, but were hesitant to because they were nervous about their English. I had to bite my tongue before I screamed out “YOU LIKE ME, YOU REALLY DO LIKE ME!”

I’m an idiot. I know.

So what did I do when they actually started hanging out with me? Try to consume tequila like I was one of them, all of whom are born and raised Latin Americans. Needless to say, that did not turn out well. And the fact I had only a collective 17 hours of sleep that week did not help. I was not myself and borderline sick for days. And I was mortified. I beat myself up, again, for an absurd amount of time. I didn’t actually do anything stupid, but it was just a major “I am entirely too old for this” moment

Being chronically hard on myself has been a lifelong struggle. My parents were always called into school because my teachers thought I was under too much pressure at home. My mom had to tell every one of them it wasn’t her or my dad, it was all me. I have made an art form out of self-criticism. I have no doubt it’s why I am single, have anxiety and had a consistent eye twitch for the past two months. I am well aware I gotta get a grip. I refuse to take this habit and behavior into my 40s.

Having said all this, now you can imagine how I reacted when I accidentally replied all this morning. I wanted to die. So I literally googled “how to get over doing something stupid” and I came across a blog post from a therapist. I can’t seem to find it now, but this I remember:

You are human.

You are not perfect.

You make mistakes.

And that is okay.

 

 

It was one of those times, what a real good time

It was one of those times, what a real good time

I know there are many huge St. Patrick’s Day celebrations across this country. All boasting to be “the largest next to Boston!” I’m not certain how one could actually measure that, and more important, why in the world does it matter?! It’s not even OUR DAY. Have the largest Fourth of July party, you jerks.

Anyhow, Dallas tends to lose its mind on St. Paddy’s. Ask Ezekiel Elliott how it turned out for him in 2017. There’s a gigantic parade that Mark Cuban has saved (read: paid for) I don’t know how many times now. And then part of Greenville Ave. (a street of mostly bars and restaurants) is blocked off and becomes quite possibly the trashiest 1/2 mile in the United States of America. There must be people here from at least five area codes not even located in Dallas County. Here’s the fun part – this all takes place in the neighborhood I LIVE.

I did the parade and block party the first year I moved back from LA. I swore to never do that shit again. A month after that I moved in the neighborhood and from then on, my friends and I just do brunch and then a nice yard party. We sit in the sun, drink our weight in beer and watch all the crazy go by whist hoping none of it asks to use our bathrooms.

I now must confess, traditionally speaking, I have not made it past 5 p.m. on this day. And that’s being generous. Plus the chances of me crying at some point have been a solid 2:1. I’m pretty certain I am allergic to day drinking. At minimum, I end up with the world’s worst headache, take a three hour nap, then order Chinese food at 9 p.m. At most…well, thank god I’m not dead.

This year though. I was the fucking St. Paddy’s Day BOSS. I literally set the intention to make it to dinner (cause I am a grown ass woman). AND I DID IT. We were walking down Greenville late in the afternoon admiring the scenic piles of trash and puking people, as one does, and while holding my tongue not to shout Wakanda Forever at the lovely Kenyan people we met, I thought to myself, oh my god. So this is what it all looks like. And then – AND THEN – we went to dinner at a new Mexican food place. Which was LOVELY.

And it gets better. I came home, my neighbors were still throwing down, so I played one round of flip cup then ghosted (can you ghost at your own duplex?). I went to bed, slept like a champ, then woke up at 7 a.m. like a NORMAL GD PERSON.

Am I a grown up now?