August 2013 archive

3

Dear Abraham,

Today, you are three-years-old.

In many ways, this has been the longest three years of my entire life. In more ways, this time has spun by so quickly that I’m not even sure I’ve finished the initial exhale of finding out I was pregnant with you. In truth, I don’t even remember who I was before you. I cannot be defined by you, my child, but I can honestly say that the boundaries of my being expanded so far beyond anything I could have thought with thoughts that by simply adding “Abe’s mom” to my definition doesn’t really do anything justice. I continue to feel honored you chose me.

You used to live in there.

You used to live in there.

I heard someone say today, “Choose love in every moment with every person.” While adults wander around trying to do just that (or maybe, more accurately for some, trying not to) you, my darling, don’t even notice your own ego. You just choose love all the time and with all people. No one has ever “rubbed you the wrong way” and you’ve never questioned anyone’s kindness towards you. For me, you are a constant reminder that the universe does want us to feel love all the time, both giving and receiving with a big, huge open heart. You’re a complete inspiration in that way.

You’ve taught me in three years that all messes can be cleaned up (and done so with laughter), crying is an essential part of human nature we should all try once in a while, and to relax because no one cares what I look like when I’m in the picture with you anyways. You’ve taught me bright, shining eyes are the fastest way to show someone you’re listening. And, most ultimately, you’ve taught me none of us is meant to do this life alone.

You, my little one, are a ham. Your little ideas are just starting to spring forth from your words, new ones everyday. You are empathic and you are playful with everyone. You say what you need, and you say please and thank you. You check on me everyday to make sure I’m doing ok. You still love cars and trucks and trains. You also love building towers and castles with blocks, giving the dogs treats, and flipping through the pages of books we’ve read a hundred times, only now you “read” them to yourself. You tell me when you need to “take a break”, which is more than most grown-ups do. And lord if you aren’t better on an iPad than I am.

There are few things in the world you won’t eat. Please never stop eating that way.

You love animals. Whether it’s our big dogs or a trip to the zoo, you could watch and play with animals for hours. And you’re gentle with animals! Loving, as if you know that they need you to be careful with them and safe. I just love that about you.

And of course, Abe, you are 3, so you shout and yell and sometimes hit when you’re tired. You tug on my clothes and cry to the heavens when it’s time to go to bed. You say things like, “Mommy, I need my privacies,” and you get quiet and whisper, “Do you hear a dump trunk?” everytime any truck drives by the house. Everyday you ask me, “What are-doin’, Mom?” and, “Can we go to the park?”

In three more years you will be six. If those years pass as quickly as these three have, I won’t know what to do with myself. I told everyone you would never be old enough to sleep through the night, to smile, to walk, to talk, to answer questions…It felt like you would be dependent on me for everything forever. And here you are, barely asking me for anything anymore.

I love you forever more than the moon and the sky. You are my light.

Love,
Mom

 

Grasshoppers and Teddy Bears

My perfect, angelic angel.

My perfect, angelic angel.

Abe started school in a new class this week. He is no longer a Grasshopper. He is a Teddy Bear.
A big, grown up, Teddy Bear.
Which now immediately makes me think of Miley Cyrus, so we’re homeschooling him as of tomorrow.
But seriously, folks, he’s in a new classroom with more kids and new teachers. I sat down with his teachers last week since I was out of town for orientation and the first day of school (mother of the year). I talked about Abe being so empathic, so funny, such a little love. We covered all his little quirks and the fact that he is, in fact, potty-trained (praise the lord). His teachers, both with grown children of their own, were so kind and excited to meet Abe. “He sounds like such a sweetheart!” one said.
“I can’t wait to meet him!”
You see, I can have great confidence in Abe’s ability to behave at school. He saves all of his worst qualities to share with me at home. I’m the safe place, which I suppose should make me grateful. I will admit, though, it’s wonderful getting notes home about what an awesome little boy he is at school. Thoughtful. Funny. Outgoing.
So imagine my surprise when I arrived to pick him up from school when I was back in town and his teacher was walking him out to my car. I could see on his face that this was not about to be a good exchange. The car door opened….
“…and we don’t scream at our friends, Abe.”
“No, we don’t,” he responded, climbing into his seat.
“We don’t take toys and we don’t yell at our friends.”
“No,” he agreed.
“Where do we yell? Inside or outside?” I could see Abe’s head spinning.
“Inside,” he said, still thinking as he said it. I didn’t correct him. Because I yell inside, too.
“No. Outside. We can yell outside. Not inside and never at our friends.”
“Yes, she’s right,” I said. I had no idea what she was right about. Did the other kid deserve to get yelled at?!
“Mommy, we don’t yell,” Abe told me.
“I know that, Abe.”
“I think Abe probably needs to have a reminder at home, at least a few conversations about how to treat friends. We don’t take toys from friends. We ask first,” she told me. Like I didn’t know. Like it was something we didn’t teach him at home. Like at home, we surround all the kids as if it’s a 24/7 dog fight, shouting, “TAKE THE DUMP TRUCK FROM HIM! TAKE IT!! COME ON, SCREAM! SCREAM AND STEAL IT!! HIT HIM!!!” And then we cheer when our kid wins.
“Thanks,” I told her. “We will chat about it later today.”
Then she said this: “Great day today, Abe. See you tomorrow.”
Lady, if I’m confused, I can’t even imagine what Abe is feeling.
I drove home, feeling like I’d completely misrepresented my son to his new teachers and also like I couldn’t be sure if Abe had a good day or a not so good day. So I asked him, “Abe, did you have a good day today at school?”
“Yeah, mom.”
“What did you do?”
“I played. And dinosaurs go outside. And blocks.”
So, that cleared it up.
Today he made it to the car without being escorted out by security, so I’m guessing there was less yelling and stealing. Improvements. Tomorrow is his birthday and he turns 3, so I’m expecting that everything is going to turn around and he’ll become the little angel I described. Right?
(Don’t correct me.)

Dear Pregnant Woman Standing in Front of me in Target Making Subtle Little Faces in Response to my Screaming 3-year-old

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Dear Pregnant Woman Standing in Front of me in Target Making Subtle Little Faces in Response to my Screaming 3-year-old,
Hello.
I was you once. In your little maternity shorts.
The superiority feels good, right? Well, don’t worry.
Your kid will never scream like that. You have plans. You have BIG plans. You have plans for discipline because, lord knows, you’re not going to let your child “get away” with that. And you’re going to love your child more, pay him more attention and really focus on his issues everyday so he or she doesn’t feel the need to scream and throw tantrums.
You’ll never let your kid out in public in stained t-shirts and shorts that are probably a size too big. You’ll never let your kid play with your iPhone, iPad, or watch TV. It’s just wooden toys and imagination for your family.
You won’t bribe your child with snacks. You won’t bribe your child with anything. You won’t need to.
You won’t use formula. Or let your kid sleep in bed with you or, worse, on his belly. You won’t give him gluten or dairy or processed foods or sugar. You don’t eat that stuff. Why would you feed it to him?!
You recognize now that being a mom will be hard, but it’s your calling. If you stay true to yourself and follow your child’s lead, you’ll breeze through motherhood. Love will get you through. And you will feel so accomplished.
Yeah. I was you. I said all of that. And someday, you’ll be me. You’ll suddenly see a pregnant woman judging you and you will remember. You will remember and you will chuckle when you see Goldfish and Spaghettios in your shopping cart because please just eat something. You will remember as you are negotiating a Lara Bar for a proper bath. You will remember when the TV provides you 15 minutes to talk on the phone with your friend to ask her if motherhood was this hard in the beginning for her. You will remember when you’re convinced you’re the worst mother in the world in the moments before your child spontaneously tells you he loves you and then then whole world just fades away.
In three short years, your child will pee under your dining room table. And you will cry.
I forgive you, pregnant woman. And I bless you. No, in fact, I love you. Because you’re going to need it. This shit is hard. I know you’re never going to regret your decision to get pregnant and wear cute maternity clothes and then have a baby. But you are going to realize that every single mom is just doing the best that she can. You’ll be doing the best you can, too.
Sincerely,
Doing the Best She Can

Losing It

I’m a good mom. I’m a good mom. I’m a good mom.
imagesI sat at a table of girlfriends like I was in a 12-step program or a group home. I confessed how badly I’d lost it on Abe for a few minutes that day. “We’ve all done it,” one said.
“I do it almost everyday. Three-year-olds suck.” They shared stories with me and tried to make me feel normal, but I couldn’t get over the idea that I was completely scarring my son for life.
An excruciatingly long morning of whining and complaining and tugging on my (new) shirt led to me decide I needed to get him out of the house, so I did what any mom does: I went to Target. This was entertaining for about 5 minutes. When I wouldn’t buy him a car or a can of beans or the pretty yellow maternity top, he yelled so loudly that I’m pretty sure security was about to escort me from the store, so we left.
Still calm.
I decided to run by the alterations place to drop a shirt on our way home, a place Abe and I have visited about 200 times before. Lin, the seamstress, knows us well considering Abe locked himself in one of the fitting rooms not long ago. I allowed him to bring the iPad inside because, well, sanity, and he sat down on the familiar chair in the fitting room. Then he dropped his iPad. He dropped it and it landed nearly 6 inches from his body. In tact.
“Mrs. Cohen? I can pin you if you’re ready,” Lin told me, but I couldn’t hear her because Abe was screaming at the top of his lungs, pointing at the iPad.
“Really? Pick it up, Abe,” I said to him.
“The iiiiiiiPaaaaaaaaaaaaaad,” he moaned through his tears.
“I mean, get down off your chair and get it. It’s right there,” I said to him in a snarky tone because seriously, it’s right there. Luckily Lin pinned me quickly and we left.
Still calm.
“Do you need to go peepee?” I asked on the way into the grocery store. He loves the grocery store. This was bound to be a hit.
“Nope,” he responded. We got into a fun car-shaped shopping cart and hit the produce section.
The grocery store experience was actually a really good one until we got to the check-out lane. Abe was not interested in checking out that day. He wanted to take all the groceries for free, or perhaps abandon ship and pick out new groceries another day. He cried, “I don’t want to check-out the grooooceeeriiiies…”
“Oooo, he’s mad,” the checkout lady said.
“Yeah. He’s mad,” I responded dryly. He whined and moaned and cried until we made it all the way to the car in oppressive Florida-in-summer heat when I picked him up out of the cart. Wet.
“Why are you wet, Abe?”
“Because I peepeed.”
“But. But. But why would you do that? You don’t do that! Why did you do that?!”
“Because I peepeed.”
“I…why would you? Just. Ok, we are going home. We’ll clean up. We’ll eat macaroni. Where do you peepee, Abe?”
“In the potty.”
“Right. So if you know that, why in the world…” I continued rambling on in vain, buckling him in to the car. A dull whine turned into a roaring screaming, cry, uncontrollable whole-body tantrum. It took all my strength to load the groceries into the trunk and not start sweaty-crying as I slid into my seat. Head down on the steering wheel, my eyes started filling up. I am so tired of the screaming.
Still kind of calm.
Home is only 2 minutes away from the grocery store, and once we safely pulled into the garage, I offered to help Loud Abe out of his car seat. His little face bright red from screaming, he grabbed the buckle of his seat and screamed, “I STAY IN THE CAAAAAAAAAR.”
“Fine,” I said. “You stay. I’ll unload.” He sat in the car for 15 minutes, screaming. I kept checking on him because maybe he realized his choice was a horrible one, but he didn’t. He just screamed. I started making macaroni and convinced him to get out a short while later, bribing him with Mickey Mouse, trains, and a small Smurf toy. He got out, I changed his wet shorts, but never stopped the screaming.
“Abe, you’re hungry. I know you’re hungry. How about a banana?” You can guess what his response was. And then he threw the banana. And then cried harder because the banana broke and now he would never again in his life have the opportunity to eat a whole, in-tact banana. “Hop in your chair, Abe. I can give you strawberries.” He got in his chair and no sooner had I cut up some strawberries, wet. Again. “Dude?! What is happening right now? Why…Ok. New shorts. You need new shorts.”
Nope. Abe did not want new shorts. He wanted no shorts. He wanted no pants for lunch and I agreed it was a good idea. I walked into the other room to toss the second pair of wet shorts into the laundry room and heard the incredibly familiar sound of water hitting the floor.
You guessed it. He was diligently and with purpose peeing under the dining room table onto the floor. Even the dogs were appalled.
And that’s when I lost it.
I shouted. I screamed. I grabbed him by his arms and flung him over my shoulder, carrying him uncomfortably all the way to the bathroom. I sat him on the toilet, where he proceeded to wail, his pain bellowing through the neighborhood I was sure. I wailed back. We were both miserable, and there was no way out of it.
Not calm anymore.
I can’t explain to you how devastating it is to lose it on your kid. If you’ve ever done it, you know how sad you feel afterwards. And how sad they feel. The days when you can’t take one more cry, one more punch, one more mess. When my girlfriends assured me they’d all done it, I didn’t believe them. I felt like the worst mother on the planet, and like Abe would probably never forgive me or look at me with bright, shiny eyes again. It was awful.
He finally ate, took a nap, and woke up. He woke up as if nothing happened. I approached him carefully, like grown-ups do after a fight waiting to see if the other is still mad. “Mommy?” he asked.
“Yeah, baby?”
“Is the sun awake?”
“Yeah. The sun is awake.”
And so the rest of the day moved along.
In hindsight, it was a weird morning for both of us. We don’t usually treat each other that way. And although he did dump an entire bottle of ground thyme on the floor a short while later, proclaiming it was “sand,” we did survive Tuesday.
“We’ve all been there. You’re not a bad mom,” my friend said.
I hope she’s right. I mean, at least I didn’t bring my kid to vulgar bingo at the drag show. So, I’ve got that going for me…

When My Blog Writes Itself or Honey Boo-Boo is at the Next Table

I spend Tuesdays in a bar that includes a lot of men dressed as women.
A theatre rat as a kid, not to mention a subsequent theatre major in undergrad, I feel right at home amidst drag queens. And going to a drag bar is a nice, safe place for my girls and I to hang out and not get hit on by meat-heads. Tons of loud music, tons of laughter and over-the-top joy, and entirely too many curse words to count. You see, Tuesdays are bingo night at the drag bar, and it’s not by any means “clean”. I’m about as liberal as they get, and my ears rescind up into my head at some of their jokes.
Which is why when I sat down at my table with 4 of my favorite girls and saw a little child at the table in front of us, I immediately got anxiety. “Oh God,” I whispered to my friend. “There is a little girl at the table in front of us. What are her parents thinking?”
“Oh no,” my friend responded. “I can’t enjoy any of this if there’s a little kid here.”
“She even kind of looks like Honey Boo-Boo,” I muttered.
And then my blog wrote itself.
Because it was Honey Boo-Boo.
What? I was checking my email when I accidentally snapped this...
What? I was checking my email when I accidentally snapped this…
Girlfriend to my left immediately started experiencing high blood pressure, girlfriend to my right begins texting. Honey Boo-Boo, her mom, some other incredibly classy family member nicknamed “Poodle” (I can’t make this shit up), and Boo-Boo’s John Coffey look-a-like bodyguard sat 5 feet in front of us eating a plate of onion rings and some hamburgers. “This is not happening,” I said with stone face. “Obviously they’re just here for dinner and they’ll leave before Vulgar Bingo starts?” I asked the air.
About then, the MC for the night came out and announced bingo would begin in 15 minutes and that it was not meant for children. This is when Boo-Boo and her family pulled out their bingo cards and daubers to BEGIN PLAYING BINGO. VULGAR BINGO.
I can’t. I just can’t.
The jokes started rolling about 20 minutes later and it appeared as though the entire family was loving it. Jokes that I can’t even type let alone repeat began flying over Honey Boo-Boo’s head while she sucked on a bingo dauber and sang Miley Cyrus songs loudly to herself. It was the single most appalling thing I’d ever witnessed in my entire life. Shortly thereafter, she began making the rounds at the tables nearby. She turned it on, pointing her finger out in front of her body and wagging her neck. A hand on her hip, I’m pretty sure she started doing one of her routines until the next number was called and it was time to suck on her dauber again.
And then someone tweeted, “Honey Boo-Boo is at Mary’s.” When I stood up to get some cash from my car in the parking lot, I couldn’t even get to the front door of the bar because of the LINE of people waiting outside to get a picture with a 7-year-old child. John Coffey had to clear a path around this little girl so that grown human beings didn’t suffocate her while sardine-ing into a corner with her and her mother (who was wearing some sort of track pants, not that I’m judgey) to get pictures for what? For posterity? To print and put on their work desks?!
Track pants. (Not judging.)
Track pants. (Not judging.)
“Go get a picture with her!” one of my friends joked.
“Absolutely not,” I snapped. “She’s already exploited beyond repair, I’m not joining in.”
“You’re snappy,” my friend said.
“Yeah. I am.”
It was a circus. Worse than a circus. A freak show. A vulgar bingo drag show wasn’t a freak show until this little girl and her family showed up, and that’s saying something.
At about 10:15pm the drag show was about to begin and this, it seems, might have been offensive to the Boo-Boo Clan’s sensibilities. Or perhaps it was just her bedtime seeing as how she’s a SEVEN YEAR OLD CHILD. Either way, they left and we all sighed a collective sigh of relief as if we’d unbuttoned the top buttons of our skinny jeans in synchronization.
If you ever watch that show (I never have) and you think it’s sensationalized or like maybe the television producers are putting the family into ratings-worthy situations, let me assure you there were no camera crews in the bar. No agents or other promoters accompanied the family to their table. No deals were being made. They actually just decided, as a family, to go to a drag show in a gay bar on vulgar bingo night because what the hell? It’s Tuesday and that’s what they do. 
Dear lord. There was not and is not enough vodka in the world to erase the image in my brain. I cannot unsee it.

Tantrum Camp

While out of town a few weeks ago, my mom watched Abe. During the middle of a tantrum, my mom stood next to Abe’s flailing, boneless little body trying to figure out what to do. It’s been a while since she’s had a 3-year-old. She decided there was nothing she could do, so she gave him a pillow and walked away.

And this was the advent of Tantrum Camp.

"No pictures, please. I'm having a tantrum."

“No pictures, please. I’m having a tantrum.”

Last week when David left to go to the gym first thing in the morning, Abe began to mourn the loss of his father as if the gym and Afghanistan were the same place. I tried explaining to Abe that Afghanistan was way worse and that he should be grateful to our serivemen for keeping us free but he totally didn’t get it. In fact, he couldn’t even hear me over his own screaming. Instead, he began losing his will to go on living. He laid face-down on the tile of the foyer, screaming things like, “I wanna gym!” and “Daddy, come back!” I watched him for a few minutes, wondering how amazing the world would be if we all did this when someone left to run an errand or, God forbid, go to work. Then I laughed.
This upset Abe more.
I remembered my mom’s little trick of giving Abe a pillow and walking away, but being the perfectionist that I am, I had to improve upon her methods. As he writhed in the pain of losing his father to calisthenics for what could be up to two hours, I went to the bedroom and retrieved a big, brown pillow and his scraggly blue blanket.
I returned to the foyer and sat down next to Abe with the pillow. “Look, Abe. I brought you a pillow and your blanket so you could scream comfortably.”
“Thanks, mom,” he said in a pathetic little voice. “Can you get me some water, too?”
“Sure,” I said. I fetched the little prince his water and upon my return, found Abe whining and rolling around on this pillow clutching his blanket. “Do you feel like a snack?” I asked.
“Um…” He paused to moan a little bit before, “…um, yeah.” I brought him some kind of organic, gluten-free, dairy-free, all natural, $10-a-box cereal and set it next to him. He took a few bites, still very depressed. I decided to fetch him a few cars, a truck or two, a train, and the iPad in case he wanted some music or a show. Essentially over the next 10 minutes, I created an entire camping ground for Abe in the foyer in front of the door to our house. By the time I’d set him all up, he would never have to leave.

And he didn’t.

He stayed in Tantrum Camp for almost 2 hours. He read stories, ate, played music, and played cars and trucks. I occasionally refilled his water bottle and his cereal bowl, but other than that, he sat shiva until his father came home. It worked so well that I left Tantrum Camp set up in the foyer for the next tantrum. And some times at the end of a very bad day, I consider moving in.

 

This is the Story of a Girl who Hates Shopping (pt 3, I promise I’m finished)

Bloomingdales.

This is real shopping.

Clothes are beautifully hung in rigid rows, colors all lined up and hangers that are worth more than my shoes. Sales associates take their jobs incredibly seriously here, wearing all black and treating you like the only person in the store when you show interest in a particular piece. I immediately felt both overdressed and underdressed: over because I tried too hard, under because my shirt was from an outlet mall.

Melanie began making her rounds, greeting all the sales associates by name and saying things like, “Did Maurice ever come out with a straight-leg dark?” She didn’t actually say those words, but that’s what I heard.

One particular area of the store seemed to fall within my price range and when I accidentally drifted in to other sections, I began finding pullovers for $289 and beanies for $1,000. As I searched the corners of the store for a brown paper bag and a beverage to erase those price tags from my mind, Melanie waved me in to another fitting room. She was amped.

“Ok. Ready? Put these on.” She handed me a pair of coral, high-waisted shorts and clapped. She clapped.
Coral.
The color was coral.
And I laughed.
But I put on the damn coral shorts with some other shirt she picked out and I looked stupid and I wanted to leave. “Wait,” she said. “Put on the shirt you bought at Forever 21. The striped one. And then put on this jean jacket.”
“Excuse me? A jean jacket? This is not 1991.” I mean, this chick was mad at me for going back 7 years on the style clock with my Uggs and here she was, pulling a freaking jean jacket off the hanger and putting it on over my striped shirt and holy shit it looked good.
It looked good.
I looked good.

I stared at myself in the mirror while Melanie beamed from the corner of the fitting room, her hands clasped together underneath her chin.
“Put on the long necklace,” she whispered.
“Amazing,” Mo muttered.
I had to admit…it looked amazing. I looked amazing. And I looked like myself.
“How much are these shorts?” I asked.
Melanie picked up the price tag and gasped. “THESE ARE $39! I’LL BE RIGHT BACK WE NEED THEM IN BLA…” she screamed as she ran back into the store.
I stood, staring at Mo, then at myself. It was all coming together. I could see it. I could see the full picture of what I look like when I wear things that look good on me and make me feel like myself. “I got it,” I said out loud. “I get it.”

And now I do. A switch was flipped in my mind. I suddenly understood how investing a little bit of time in myself and the way I look actually expresses the way I feel internally, only on the outside. It doesn’t mean I take myself too seriously. It doesn’t mean I have to head straight for Glamour Shots to prove how much work I’ve done on myself. Also, I think Glamour Shots went out of business or at least downsized significantly but that’s not the point. The point is that I can be me, and care about the way I look, and try. I’m worth the trying.

The sales associate spent 20 minutes checking me out, getting me the best prices and helping me pre-sell and order some of the sizes that weren’t available in the store. I stood, chatting with Melanie as if we were friends. Together we did deep knee bends, stretching out our aching legs, giggling about how exhausting shopping really is. “This has been the best day, Melanie. Thank you so much. I feel so lucky!”
“You deserve it. You’re awesome. We’re friends, now,” she said. I kinda felt like the prom queen had just invited me to her sleepover.

 

See? We're friends.

See? We’re friends.

As Mo and I walked out of the mall, we were all stupid-smiles and laughs. What a day. What an experience. Who knew that shopping could actually result in a spiritual awakening? That I could grow from something as stupid as coral shorts. I’m plenty sure a gabillion women in the world use shopping to subdue some kind of voice in their heads telling them they’re only good enough if they buy the $1000 beanie and wear it during the summer. But for me, this was an awakening. A retail awakening. And I feel really lucky I had the chance to have it.

My clothes aren’t here yet, so I can’t show you all the awesome stuff I got. But when they are here and I have the time, I’ll give you some before and afters!
Also, if you’re ever in the Orlando area and you’re interested in working with Melanie, please tell her Erin sent you. It’s an investment in yourself that is so worth making.

 

 

This is the Story of a Girl who Hates Shopping (pt 2)

We approached the check-out counter at Macy’s.
“So can we pre-pay this?” Melanie asked.
“Yeah, August 24,” the cashier answered.
“Any other coupons?”
“I don’t think so with these.”
My eyes darted back and forth between the women. There’s an entire underground world of shopping that the general public does not know about, and it includes code words.
“Ok ring them up individually and let me know what’s regular price and what’s not,” Melanie continued, and the cashier did it. All. Without getting mad. She just stood there ringing up item after item, announcing its price. When she was finished, Melanie turned to me. She held up the first item of clothing. “Ok, like it or love it?” I then went through every piece, awarding each with either the final rose or a gentle, “It’s not you, it’s me.”
“This is the stack I want to keep,” I told Melanie, more asking than telling in case she had other opinions.
“I loved this one,” she held up a white top.
“Keep,” I said.
“Ok. So, pre-pay this stack, August 24,” she told the cashier, who began ringing things up again. Without getting mad.
“Erin, they’re going to send all of these items to you on the day they go on sale, which is August 24. If we do it that way, we save 25% off the entire lot.”
“Wait, what?” I asked. I felt like I was in Oceans 11, only with more shopping and less Clooney.
“Yeah! I know, right? So, if a store lets you pre-pay, they send you your loot or you can pick it up on the sale date.”
“You’re kidding me…”
“Shoes? Let’s head downstairs,” she smiled and waved me on to the escalator. Mo and I were both in complete shock that I just saved 25% for no reason at all.

This man is dead to me.

This man is dead to me.

Downstairs in shoes, we did not look for Uggs. We found a cute pair of sandals that did not appear to be on sale or available in my size, but that didn’t deter Melanie from figuring out how to get me the best price.
“Can you order a size 7 from Palm Beach in white and pre-pay?” she asked.
“Um, no I can’t do that,” the tall, younger shoe salesman answered.
“Why not?” she asked, calm and collected while I began silently panicking that they were going to fight.
“You can’t pre-sell a pre-sale,” he responded. I immediately thought of the scene from Dumb and Dumber when Harry shouted, “You can’t triple-stamp a double-stamp, Lloyd!” and then Mockingbird started playing in my head.
Right, but they did it upstairs,” she answered. “Can you coupon?”
“I can do 15% but I can’t pre-pay.”
“Is it a different rule for shoes?” she asked.
“No, it’s just we can’t pre-sell a pre-sale item with a coupon,” he answered, starting to get frustrated. I was sitting in the middle of the grown-ups arguing, praying for dinner to be over so I could go to my room and eat the Twinkies I hid there the day before. Just give him the shoes back and let’s go! I wanted to yell. I hate shoes! I hate shopping! It’s not worth it!
“Ok. Um, can you explain to me again why you can’t pre-sell them? I still don’t understand…”

It didn’t end well.

I left the store with nothing because everything was being sent to me (pre-pay) except for shoes because fuck those shoes with the guy who wouldn’t let us pre-pay or coupon, and we moved on to the next store. “Let’s hit Forever 21. We can get some simple staples there on the cheap. We won’t find anything long-lasting, but this way you can buy some less expensive stuff, get a sense for what you like, and replace it later with good quality.” Melanie flipped through rack after rack of absolutely ridiculous “fashions”, some of which looked like they’d been fed to a shark before being added to the racks. She, of course, pulled out little gems with price tags of $9.50 and $3.25. “Would you ever try a jumper?” she asked me.
“A what-er?”
“A jumper. Like this.” She held up a one-piece outfit.
“Um. Not if we have to call it a jumper,” I responded.
“Call it what you want. Try it on,” she said with snarky eyes.
Once Melanie had another stack of clothes, we headed towards the fitting room. Now, all my girls reading know that the fitting rooms at Forever 21 are like the lines for the girls’ bathroom at an NFL game. But worse, because they actually go to Forever 21 to hang out in the fitting rooms.
“Oh, geez. Look at the line,” she said. “Let’s just try it on here.” Yep. I tried on clothes in the middle of Forever 21.

Also, I got stuck in the jumper.

Don't laugh, it was scary.

Don’t laugh, it was scary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We left with a few more staples and moved on. “I feel like you need a simple blush and a lip gloss, don’t you?” Melanie asked me.

“I don’t feel anything. You tell me what to feel and I’ll feel it,” I responded.
“Let’s go by MAC. I get a discount and you can pay me back.” Isn’t Melanie the greatest?!
If department stores intimidate me, a MAC make-up store puts me in to full-on shock. Every man, woman, and child in that store had on eyeshadow. I don’t remember the last time I wore eyeshadow. Maybe for my wedding, but I can’t confirm that. Melanie began speaking with a beautiful man who had on a shade of lipstick on that I could never pull off.
“So, a lip gloss you think?” he turned to me. I couldn’t take my eyes off his make-up. It was…really pretty.
“Yes. I think so.”
imageHe began flipping through glosses, pulling some out for me to try on and, embarrassingly, explaining to me how I should apply them. “Really smoosh your lips together like this,” he showed me. “You are going to be shocked how long this stays on. Wait. Let me grab a blush.” He flitted through the store, arms over his head, rushing back with a blush brush. “Close your eyes.” I began to feel like I was about to go on TV, or like I was secretly on one of those makeover shows. A few swipes of blush and an application and he stood back. “Look at yourself,” he said proudly.
And you know what? He was right. I looked better. I looked good, in fact, with just a few little pops of color on my face.
“YES,” Melanie said to me, smiling. “I think Bloomingdales, next…”

(Don’t worry, there’s a part 3…)

 

This is the Story of a Girl who Hates Shopping (pt 1)

It felt like a blind date. I fiddled with my Starbucks breakfast box and my iced coffee, eyes darting back and forth in case she came from behind me. My friend Mo sat equally nervous across from me. I don’t remember the last time I was so scared to meet someone. 

Her name is Melanie. She’s a personal shopper. She is 5’1″ with long brown hair mixed with light brown chunks of goldeny goodness. I’ve wanted to work with her for 2 years. And she was on her way to meet me right now. And all I wanted to do was leave.

I have no sense of style. I do not understand how to make an outfit. I would rather waterski upside down in a polluted lake than go shopping. But here I was, sitting across from my closest friend, together waiting for Melanie to walk up and tell me all the things I’ve done wrong in trying to dress myself that morning.

And there she was. She tiptoed up to us, divinely dressed, perfectly perfect everything. I wiped my hand on my jeans before I shook hers. “Wanna go sit at a table and talk?” she asked.
Nope.
“Sure,” I responded.
We sat at a table in the middle of the Mall at Millennia in Orlando and Melanie asked me about myself, my personal style, what it was I wanted to accomplish. My answers made no sense. “I like pants. And shirts. But not all shirts. And some tank tops. And sometimes dresses. But not skirts.” All I could do was stare at how brilliantly she paired a t-shirt with a blazer and a few necklaces.
“Well, what’s your staple outfit? What’s your uniform?” she asked me.
“Um, a t-shirt, jean shorts, and Uggs.”
She paused. A long pause. Her huge smokey blue/gray eyes locked onto mine.
“Wait. Outside of the house?” she asked.
I didn’t answer.
“Like, in public?” she asked again.
Then I died.
“Yes,” I said quietly with my head down.
She took a deep breath. “Ok. Erin?”
I looked up at her.
“You cannot do that anymore. Do you understand?”
“Yes.”
“You can not do that. You will not do that anymore. That cannot happen. This is not 2005.”

So, everything had started out really well.

There was no keeping up with her.

There was no keeping up with her.

Melanie walked me into our first store, Macy’s, and started flipping through racks and racks of clothes, yanking and fiddling, her eyes focused and hunting. I mimicked her, looking at clothes the way most girls look under the hood of a car pretending as though they can “see the problem.”
“This?” I asked.
“No,” she would answer. I admired her honesty.
After about 15 minutes, she got a fitting room and stocked it with approximately 500 pieces of clothing and told me to go start trying things on. I threw up in my mouth a little bit and marched towards the dressing room.

I stood in the oversized room with Mo, staring at the stacks of clothes while Melanie was out in Macy’s choosing more. Mo handed me something, and then another thing. Mo was in charge of the hangers. I started putting things on, one piece at a time, analyzing everything. My arms, my belly, my neck, my nose. “That’s so cute,” Mo would say about everything.
“How we doing?” Melanie finally asked, waltzing in to the dressing room with a few more pieces.
“Oh, fine,” I said.
And then she went to work. Tugging. Arranging. Matching. Showing me what my body would

I don't even...

I don’t even…

look like if I had the guts to try. And while I stood there watching her dress me, looking at my self and my body, I realized that I have never tried to dress well because what if I still looked stupid even after I tried?! If I don’t try and I look stupid, I can just blame it on the fact that I don’t try. And here I was, starting to like what I saw in the mirror, and almost being okay with it.

It took about half the day for my eyes to uncross and my breathing to take on a natural pace. And when it did, it was time to pay for my first purchase. THIS is when the magic really started to happen…

Surprise

9e586c8ec47a8e02e22ff62b08e5609cI got home from a work trip to Chicago last night to find a heathy little boy and two happy dogs, one of whom had a giant, golf-ball sized welt on his ear.
Charlie.
If you know Charlie, it’s always Charlie.
“What is this?” I asked my mom, who stayed with Abe and the dogs.
“I don’t know! I haven’t seen that until now!” she reacted, hurriedly googling the symptoms and what it might be.
About the same time, my mom and I googled the same thing. “Ear Hematoma” A popped blood vessel that filled up his ear flap. So first thing this morning I took Charlie to the vet’s office, a place he knows so well at this point that he immediately wiggled his way up to his favorite staff members first.

“Yep, that’s an ear hematoma. We have a few options…” my vet started within seconds of seeing Charlie. He’s a middle-aged big guy with a full head of dark brown hair and kind eyes, eyes he just rolls and then he chuckles when he sees me walk in because, he knows, it’s always something with these dogs.
I love my vet so much. He is so honest, forthright, and caring. So I immediately interrupted him, “Cut the bullshit. Give it to me straight, doc. What would you do?”
“I’d just do the surgery,” he shot back.
“Today?”
“Yep.”
“What time?”
“Lunch.”
“Fine. Take him.”

Before the doctor took him, he noted a little sore on Charlie’s foot. “I’m going to biopsy this while he’s under anesthesia,” he said pointing at it. “I’m guessing it’s nothing, but boxers are so prone to cancer and tumors. I want to look in to it.”
“Really? Best case scenario, what is this?”
“Best case? It’s a histocytoma. A little growth that will go away on its own. I’ll check it out and let you know after surgery, OK?”

I called David to let him know Charlie was going straight to surgery, and he asked, “How much?”
“I have no idea,” I said. And in that moment, I realize that it was probably the first time I’d ever walked away from the vet’s office without asking how much it was going to cost. When I analyzed my reaction, or lack of reaction, I realized I didn’t ask because on some level I now know that uncontrollable things don’t really matter and don’t need to take up brain space. “If it costs $2,000, I’d rather have a nice morning and find out later when I write the check. Because if it’s $2,000 now, it’ll be $2,000 later.”
“Could it be cancer on his foot?” David asked.
“It could be, but we won’t know until surgery is over.”

When I got home, I started packing. I started packing because David informed me earlier that my birthday present was coming early, it was a surprise trip, and that “my ride” would be to the house at 2pm. I immediately imagined Garfield sending Nermal to Abu Dhabi in a brown paper package. I mean, it’s been that kind of a day so far.
“You don’t know where you’re going?” my mom asked.
“Nope.”
“Well, for how long?!”
“I don’t know.”
“So all you know is you’re leaving at 2pm with ‘someone’ to do ‘something’??”
“Yep.”

Then, there was a moment. A moment when my brain started doing it’s evil little hula dance. I worried that maybe Charlie’s surgery would be far more than I could ever guess, or worse, that he wouldn’t wake-up from surgery. I worried that it was cancer on his foot and we were staring down a long, hard road of treatments and pain. I started thinking about what the birthday surprise might be, and what if I didn’t like the surprise and then I might wish I could have spent that money on Charlie’s surgery, or cancer treatment? A special little spiral of fear started spinning around my head. It only lasted a few minutes before I shouted (inside), “SNAP OUT OF IT!”

My adorable little business associate, Mr. Control, has been out of a job for a few weeks and it’s obvious that he is bored. I excused him from the meeting and let me tell you, he was shocked. He totally thought he was back “in”, selling me on fear left and right. As soon as I got him out of the room and shut the door, I shifted.

Ok. I can’t control the cost of Charlie’s surgery. If I knew how much it was, it wouldn’t change the outcome. I’d get him the surgery he needed no matter what and figure out a way to pay for it.
I can’t control cancer. If he has cancer, I can’t do a damn thing about it but get him the best medical care I can afford and love him.
There are very, very few things I don’t like doing. I like adventure and I like sitting in a room doing nothing. There are zero birthday surprises that would disappoint me, so I can just get over that.

And after all of this, I heard Mastin Kipp say this:

“The quality of my life is the quality of my relationship with uncertainty.”

Ha. Good job, universe.

So, I acknowledged all of Mr. Control’s baggage and tossed it out of the room. I spent the rest of the day with Abe and Bella, sitting on the floor watching Curious George and eating olives. Because Abe is addicted to olives.
Charlie came through surgery beautifully, and the staff at the vet’s office don’t want him to go home because they love him so much.
The welt on his foot is a histocytoma, and we don’t need to treat it.
My surprise?
Going to Orlando for a surprise night with my great friend AND a personal shopper. Worth it.

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