The Tornado Diaries: Where I Giggle About Something Terrifying

A Southern toddler could tell you exactly what the appropriate procedures are for a tornado warning. A Southern eight-year-old could tell you exactly how no adults ever actually follow said procedures. All non-Southerners think one late night viewing of Twister qualifies them to say “You know a tornado’s coming. Get underground!” Umm… no. We don’t. We know a tornado might come… sometime this spring or summer or maybe in the fall. There will be more tornado warnings this Tuesday and Wednesday, just as there were all last week… encompassing a third of the state. A tornado did not hit a third of the state. The sirens go off all the friggin’ time… and nothing happens. We can’t live our lives underground five months out of the year. This ain’t District 13, folks. We have to watch the news, wait, and determine whether or not it’s safe to get on the roads to seek shelter, because we don’t all have underground facilities, especially those of us in apartments. So this is what a real tornado experience looks like through the eyes of someone who jokes about everything, including those things that are scary as fuck.

Shetland: I gave my hometown a real name. This is the town I’ve lived in for the majority of my life.
Springfield: About 10 minutes north of Shetland, often merged with Shetland.
Fairview: About 20 minutes west of Springfield. I lived in a motel in this lower-income town for a few months when I was married. I hated it.

storm
A Southern spring night.

My best Facebook posts of Friday night and Saturday morning:

Scariest thought of the night: “That mattress is really wedged in there. Am I trapped in the bathtub?”

I can’t sleep without a fan blowing. There’s sauce all over my kitchen from using a hammer to open a can of Spaghetti O’s. My Kindle battery is draining. I am so over this Laura Ingles $#^+.

I would not even care about the zombies in The Walking Dead. Those people have no electricity. EVER.

Wait. What is all over the kitchen? Oh, yeah. Spaghetti O’s. Hammer.

Textersation With Gail Friday Night
Gail: Watch the weather.
Gail knows I don’t watch the weather unless someone calls or texts that I’m about to die.
Me: Rory Gilmore would be 30 next year.
Even then, I may or may not take it seriously. I just assume we’re under tornado watch March through October.
Gail: Turn on the weather if you haven’t yet and get to a house instead of your place.
Me: Why?
Gail: Very bad storm in Fairview.
Me: I’m not in Fairview.
Gail: Heading east, as tornadoes do.
Me: I’m not east of Fairview.
Gail: Well, I meant so that if one occurs here, as they’re warning is likely, you don’t die.
Ugh. Here goes Gail again. This is just like the time she claimed that guy I met online wanted to “show me his hatchet”. He just wanted to watch Arrow. So, he didn’t have a T.V. That doesn’t mean anything. So fucking paranoid. – I called my dad, who works for the electric company and is therefore in the know. Then I called my Gramma, who along with Gail, works for the fabricate-shit-to-fear company.
Me: Everyone else said it’s not coming here.
Gail: Yeah, the current tornado isn’t. The storm is still developing. Channel 4 just said “If you’re in Springfield, take shelter now.”
Me: Ah. Cherokees blessed the town. I’ll be fine.
Me: I’m not in Springfield.
We have a heavy concentration of Native Americans in this state and a heavier concentration of ignorant, rich, white kids in Shetland. Last spring, while substituting under another tornado watch, I had a fifteen-year-old boy assure the class that we were fine, because Cherokee Indians blessed the town a hundred years ago. I tried to explain that’s bordering racist and also isn’t how weather works, but the class seemed calmed by the idea, so I left it alone. 
Gail:*shrug* suit yourself. If you ever die of Belle-related causes, I’m letting your mother dress your corpse for the funeral.
tweety funeral

That is exactly what that would look like, because to my undiagnosed/secretly diagnosed mentally ill mother, I’m frozen at age 11.

Gail: “This is a major tornado. It’s making a hard right and turning toward Shetland.”
I had actually heard this on the news and was headed toward my Gramma’s house, but admitting that was acknowledging my own fear, which is an emotion, so ew.
Me: *Picture of Cherokee* – Couldn’t find one. Typed the words.
Me: My grandparents left to “outrun it.” I don’t know what to do, but I didn’t go with them.
A drunken Southern child (that’s probably a thing) could tell you this is a stupid idea. You cannot “outrun” a fucking tornado, particularly with 2,000 other people on the road doing the exact same thing, because an idiotic weatherman told everyone to “head south.”
Gail: It turned toward Springfield. He said if you’re in Springfield, go south. Right now it’s headed down the highway.
Me: You might want to pray for me. No. Pray for my Gramma and my stupid grandpa, who decided they could outrun a tornado.
I didn’t tell Gail that I was on the road at this point, and would likely die if the tornado hit Shetland, because I was stuck in traffic. It wouldn’t have helped and where do we keep our emotions, y’all? That’s right. With the last fucking horcrux.
Gail: You shouldn’t have gone. You did the right thing. Now it’s more likely to hit my empty duplex, but now it’s just a circulating cloud. It’s off the ground.
Me: Shetland is fucking anarchy. People are driving on the shoulder and all over the roads. Police and ambulance sirens are constant.
Gail: It’s back on the highway. It destroyed one of the storm chaser vehicles. That’s why they thought it ended – they lost contact. Springfield and north Shetland. You’re probably okay by now.
Me: Yeah, the power outage is the biggest deal. It’s freaky quiet.
Gail: NO! There’s another similar storm right behind it.
Me: Fuck this. Wanna move to Colorado with me?
colorado
Where there is no bad weather.
Gail: They think another tornado is forming in southern Fairview.
Me: Knew I hated that place. The sirens are steady now. It’s eerie.
Gail: Yes. Looks like a small tornado is by my place. Figures I’d lose everything.
Me: Least you KNOW Terry didn’t do it. I hope no one finds my vibrators in the rubble.
dog with vibrator
Me: I love you.
NOOOOOO!!!!! LAST FUCKING HORCRUX!!!!!!
Gail: I love you, too. Are you okay? Where are you?
Me: I’m good. I’m home. Is your place intact?
Gail: I have no clue. I’m at my parents.
Me: Bad things don’t happen, Gail.
cherokee
Just sayin’.
Gail: There are overturned cars and injuries in Shetland. The Cherokees could improve their aim.
Gail’s a little racist.
Me: Holy shit, there’s a telephone pole across the street in front of Wal-Mart!
Gail: Told you. Go inside!
Me: Ummm.. I did something stupid instead.
Gail: Do you have a flat tire? Dammit, Belle! You know there are nails everywhere!
You know, I grew up here. I should’ve known there were nails everywhere, but it totally didn’t occur to me. Neither did the fact that I practically drive a low-rider hatchback and it had been raining heavily for hours.
flash flood
Me: Okay. Home.
Gail: Thank you.
I immediately left to grab ice from the gas station, though it was still pouring, there were down power lines everywhere, and the gas station was clearly closed… until they saw me driving away with their ice and started shining a flashlight through the window.
Me: So, Shetland is SUPER flooded right now.
Gail: Yeah, gotta conserve phone battery though, so please no more texting unless it’s pretty important. Sorry. 😦
Me: One last one. How much trouble can I get into for stealing two bags of ice from the gas station when they didn’t see my plates and I’ll totally pay for them when they’re open?
For realz, I had to keep talking myself down from a panic every time I saw red and blues (which was often) outside my window, because I was certain they were coming for me for looting $3 worth of ice, for which I did eventually pay. You know, because they didn’t have bigger shit on their minds.

______________________________________

When I woke the next morning, I realized I still didn’t have power and wasn’t surprised at my three hours of sleep. Seriously, if the power flickers and the fan goes off briefly, I will wake up. I texted my dad since there were reports I might not have electricity for days. Keep in mind, my dad works for the electric company. It’s gonna be a busy week and that started Friday night.

Me: Can I store some food in your freezer and stay with you until I have electricity?
Dad: Sure. You can have the front room.
Me: Thanks! I’ll be totally unobtrusive.
……..
……..
Me: I’m at your place with a flat tire.

What was that about nails, Gail?

Thank God I lost the baby.

pacifier on floor

You’re not supposed to say that. It’s one of those unspoken rules.

One of the worst parts of miscarriage is that other people don’t always consider it a baby. I was starting my second trimester. I had just registered at Baby’s R’ Us. I’d have bet money it was a boy. I had a name all picked out that I have no intention of using now. I was supposed to hear his heartbeat on my 22nd birthday. I didn’t. I have a box full of baby clothes that were never worn. Every now and then, I take out some tiny overalls and have a good cry. It was a baby to me. My ex-husband lost his job days before the bleeding started. I was home alone through most of the pain. It broke my heart.

Another one of the worst things about a miscarriage is everyone high-fiving you over it. I’m not a fan of a particular married-in family member in general, but I’ll never forget when she called after her husband received my text message (not her) to point out all of the perks of my miscarriage.

“Well, maybe this is for the best. You can wait until you’re done with school and you both have jobs to start a family.”
Yeah. It’s for the best that I just passed my baby into the toilet with gut-wrenching pain all alone. FUCK. OFF.

Even the ones who truly meant well (and no, she wasn’t one of them) were relieved. They were kind enough to keep their mouths shut about that fact, but I could hear it in their voices… as sad as they were that I was hurting so much.

The absolute worst part about my miscarriage was that even I was relieved. Even then, a part of me knew the man had burned down our house with all our pets inside. He tied the dog to the wall and left him in his own urine without food or water. Said dog still can’t get through bathtime without my ridiculous and terrible singing to calm him, because my ex would scream and hit him when he bathed him. My ex-husband wouldn’t do the dishes because the dishwasher was pretend broken and wouldn’t take the trash out because it was too far. He once left glass in the floor after the cat broke a dish and didn’t clean it up until after I cut my foot on it. I still have the scar. While I was home losing our child, he insisted on going to a birthday party, because he never got to have fun. Then he cashed in my WIC checks for the free food. Not only did he steal and pawn my things, but he wasn’t allowed in his mother’s or aunt’s homes because he’d stolen from them as well. He’d already pretended to have several jobs and I didn’t see that coming to an end. I didn’t even know how I’d fund my own living expenses, let alone a little one’s. I prayed to God that he’d take it back, that he’d make it not so and I’d wake up not pregnant. I wasn’t ready and he was a terrible person. Then I bled… and bled. I screamed and cried all alone in physical and emotional agony, while laying on a towel to catch the blood. At 12 weeks, they should’ve done a D&C, from what I understand. They didn’t and it just all tore through me naturally… and painfully. With every ripping sensation, I knew it was me, it was my body, that was killing my baby and there was nothing I could do to stop it. There’s nothing like the guilt of asking God to take it all back and having your prayers answered.

Today… I wouldn’t change it. Even if I had been ready to have a baby, had been the person I am now with the morals and priorities I’d want to instill in a child (which I knew I wasn’t then)… I’d never wish him on anyone, especially not a helpless child. Gail regularly wishes she’d never told her ex he was the father of her daughter that died at eight months. She knew he had a sick mind for little girls and would still rather live without her little lady than ever have her experience that pain. I’d rather have lost my baby than come home to glassy eyes and no explanation for his unresponsiveness. I was due March 5, 2010. I’d have had a three-year-old right about now… and he’d have been cursed. I’d rather God have kept him.

You’re not supposed to say that. It’s one of those unspoken rules. Actually, scratch that. It’s one of those spoken rules. But God had a plan. I’m where I’m meant to be… and so is my baby.

“Such a pretty, pretty mermaid”: A Misguided New Year…

new-years-eve_2433453k

Last New Year’s Eve was important to me. It was my first divorced New Year and I wanted to do something fun. The boys were busy with family and my dear bestie (I use this term ironically, because it’s awful) is a killjoy who was, literally, asleep by 8:00. So that left me with two choices: crafting in my underwear… or Malik.

Malik is a friend from high school, who’s really always been closer to Gail. We initially all bonded over the fact that we wore targets on our backs through the halls of our small town high school. Gail wore the same gray sweatpants and oversized t-shirts every day of 10th grade. I wore ribbons in my combat boots with overalls, a turtleneck, and black-rimmed glasses. Malik was fabulously burnt-orange-scarf-gay. As we grew as people, Gail and I chose destructive marriages, while Malik chose felony larceny, cocaine, meth, that orgy that one time… and that other time. You get the idea. So… I knew he’d be up for New Year’s Eve fun.

The guys were over at my apartment as I dressed to go out with Malik. They disapproved of my company, frankly, for damned good reason after the last time had involved my getting punched in the chest by Malik’s angry ex-lover, on whom he had a restraining order.

Jay: “I thought you said you were never going out with him again?”
Chad: “Didn’t he steal from you?” Yes. Indeed, he did.
Jay: “Are you gonna blame us for not hanging out with you, when you get raped tonight?”

I rolled my eyes, assuring them it wasn’t a guilt trip. I was just going to have fun, with or without them. They called me an idiot. I knew even  then that they were right.

The night started off as expected. We made our way Downtown to some guy’s apartment as I explained my parameters to Malik.

Me: “I don’t care if there’s pot, but nothing harder. I’m not leaving my car anywhere or driving drunk.”

That is super fucking lenient for me. That’s as party animal as I get, so Malik agreed.

So we got to Stranger’s apartment (I think it was someone’s ex-roommate, who was out of town) and pre-drank while we waited for the cab. I’d bought a plastic bottle of vodka for $4, because I was on a budget and had refused to buy any drinks at the bar. Malik had told me he’d cover one. The night went on in one of those party montages with the song “We Are Young” playing. There were lots of cover charges and tons of pricey drinks on Malik. I drunkenly informed a bouncer of the following:

“You are a very handsome black man! I don’t even find black men attractive, but you’re really good looking! I’m from the suburbs. There are only 77 black people in my hometown according to the 2003 census!” Yes. I drunkenly quoted the census report.

There was dancing and peeing in a single bathroom with a girl I’ve known since we were literally infants, T. In a different bathroom, I drunkenly referred to a woman as Mexican, which infuriated her. I didn’t understand why and said so, explaining

“What?!?! I said Mexican. You are Mexican. It’s not like I said Mexicunt. What? I said it’s not like I said that. It’s not my fault you…”

I’m pretty sure T yanked me out of the bathroom at this point. Then, I fell asleep in the bar. You get kicked out for that… even if you explain that you weren’t passed out, you were just napping. Luckily, T ran out with me and we sat on the curb until Malik and company came out, which was only a few minutes later. By this time, I was drunk; I didn’t know these people; I was exhausted and cold; I’d called Jay and Chad at least twice to scream “HAPPY NEW YEAR! I LOVE YOU!” I’d explained multiple times that my normal idea of fun was XBOX with my boys. In short, I was done and it was closing time. Then I overheard the following:

Malik: “Get a hold of Keyshond. If he comes through, I’m in for a hundred.”
Me: “Wait. What? What are we talking about?!?!”
Malik: “We’re gonna get some coke.”
Me: “I’m guessing you don’t mean the kind with the cute polar bears?”
Malik: laughing “You’re adorable.”
Me: “I’m not doing coke, Malik.”
Malik: “You’ll just try it. Just a little bit.”

As Gail put it later, you don’t just “try a little bit” of coke. You just do coke. Malik and company continued to try to get hold of Keyshond and I texted Chad to ask if coke really wasn’t a big deal and was just like smoking pot, as Malik had insisted. Chad told me that was crap and he’d be terribly disappointed if I tried coke. At some point, I started drunkenly shouting “I CAN’T DO COKE! I’M A LIBRARIAN!” and “I AM NOT A POLAR BEAR!” which got the attention of some friendly officers, so Malik called a cab… quickly. Despite this, the night had gone well enough and we’d even gotten Malik’s brother’s girlfriend (Crazychick) to get up and into the cab. I’m paranoid and insane and had swiped some mail from Stranger and taken a picture, which is the only reason anyone had the address to get back. Points for being such a party animal. So we drove back to the apartment while Crazychick got progressively angrier. I don’t think anyone ever figured out why she was so upset, but she was loud and violent and we were all drunk, so we sort of just let her hit Malik’s brother.

Not my problem. I don’t even fucking know these people.

I was tired, but curious about pot and Malik started rolling a joint. It took awhile, so I decided to just go to sleep. As I drifted off, however, I was hoisted up and heard Malik say “No. You’re trying it. Breathe in. Don’t spit this out and cough everywhere.” The last order referred to my earlier cigarette mishap. Pathetic, I know. I don’t really remember much after that, so I assume I slept. The night had been good and just far enough out of my element that I felt I’d done something new while I was still young enough to do that stupid shit. Then, I woke up.

Why is everyone naked? Is everyone seriously naked? Shit. What did I take? Is there some kind of drug that makes you want to get naked. I’M not naked. Thank God. Why can’t I move?

I have no idea why everyone’s arguing for the legalization of marijuana, because it was fucking terrible. My whole body felt like lead. I signaled for T’s help and she quickly dressed and came to check on me. Really, she was quite sweet the whole night, even if I do know more about her pubic grooming than I should.

Me: “Did I take something?”
T: “No. You didn’t do any drugs. Don’t worry.”

Even drunk and high, I could tell that she meant I didn’t do anything besides pot, because she was one of those “If it grows in the ground, it’s not a drug” hippie types.

Me: “Can you help me take my boots off?”
T: “Of course.”
Crazychick: crawling on top of me naked “Ooooh. Are we undressing her?”

Crazychick then started talking about stripping me and leaving me in Stranger’s bed as a gift. It was a terrifying thought even when I couldn’t bring myself to care that a naked woman was crawling on me, likely dripping some kind of venereal disease over my sweater dress. As the night wore on, however, I stayed clothed, save for the stockings I’d worn and ripped when I got up to pee. T took her clothes off again and she and Crazychick danced naked.

“Let’s do more shots!”
“We can’t! We did all the shots!”
“We did all the shots?!?!”

“You’d make such a beautiful mermaid. Such a pretty, pretty mermaid.”

T’s fully clothed husband sat on the couch next to me and watched his wife, the girl who played the Virgin Mary in the Christmas play when we were 7, perform oral on her mermaid. I was too high to care and ate most of a box of Reese Puffs that I had found in the cabinet in an attempt to sober up. At one point, Crazychick crawled on top of me and asked:

Crazychick: “Have you ever kissed a woman?”
Me: “I don’t care.”
Crazychick: “Do you want to kiss a woman?”
Me: “I don’t care.”

Seriously, what is the appeal of pot? Or kissing women? Their mouths are way too soft. It’s like swallowing not-yet-set Jello.

So, in summary, I got kissed by a woman, got to see the Virgin Mary all grown up and performing some girl on girl action with a complete nutcase, and had a nice chat with T’s husband about how it doesn’t bother him to watch his wife go at it with a woman, because he can’t offer her that anyway. Then Malik’s brother came out and saw his girlfriend under someone else and it was just about time to go. All the while, Malik slept in the chair next to me until I felt I had enough Reese Puffs to absorb the liquor and drive him to work sober. I got home, vomited, went to sleep and once again vowed never to party with Malik.

Well, that was almost a milestone: a graduate student’s descent into madness…

I got my grades yesterday. I still “didn’t pass” my portfolio and have to present again in March (or April if I freak out in February), so I’m not really done. I’m just done with the required coursework. This totally would’ve been an awesome accomplishment if I hadn’t messed up the portfolio. I’d be celebrating. Instead, I’m still completely freaking out about the portfolio and reading every textbook cover to cover, because I’m insane.

studying

I’m aware of my insanity…

and my academic obsession, because I would never expect from others what I expect from myself. Ever.

Which is good, because getting my grades went like this:

Oh, thank God, I got an A! I got an A!

ecstatic

Wait. What’s this? I only got a 94? She wrote that she was generous with grades and the people who got a 95-100 put in more effort. I mean, that’s true, but still. I only got a 94? What does that mean? What should it have been? Did I basically get a B? I GOT A FUCKING B?!?!?!

confused

Why did I get a midrange A? Why didn’t I get a high A? No wonder I didn’t pass the portfolio. I’m too stupid to get a high A. 

What did I get in the other class? ANOTHER 94?!?! I guess it rounds to a 95 at 94.6, but it still says ninety fucking four! I actually did some of the readings in that class and it was only a 4000 level course that wasn’t even required and I got a 94?!?!?!

I’m officially the stupid child. My dad’s going to think I’m an idiot just like the portfolio committee did when I said I didn’t know what Reference was. Ugh. I can’t believe I said that. Then I told them I’d break up Reference and Non-Fiction again and didn’t even have a reason. I want to die of embarrassment all over again.

A 94?!?!?! What fucking moron gets a 94 in Children’s Literature?!?!?! I’m never going to be a librarian!

crying girl

Oh my gosh. I’m totally about to cry over a midrange A. TWO midrange A’s… because I’m midrange, which is the same as average. I cannot cry at work. I cannot cry at work.

I need therapy and to never, ever get a PhD.

insane girl

Well… if the crown fits?

crying princess

I think I’ve been crowned Queen Divorcee of the graduating class of 2006.

We tend to confuse the graduation ceremony with a mass wedding ceremony around these parts.

Seven years later, we’re all weeping on each other’s shoulders.

I’m not sure why so many have reached out to me for guidance or advice. I didn’t exactly handle my own divorce with poise. I was too busy ignoring the problem, drinking, crying, and waking up in my own vomit before quickly showering and running off to my two jobs and school. I didn’t sleep or eat well for weeks. I just stayed up tossing out most of his belongings. Thanksgiving night involved 8 LIT’s, Gail’s and another friend’s drinks, a $75 bar tab… and a lot of throwing up. On Christmas Eve, I got horribly drunk and threw out every dish I owned, because I felt like I wouldn’t have been drinking out of old pickle jars if he’d just gotten a fucking job. Seriously. Every single dish. I nearly broke my foot throwing away a couch at 4:00 a.m. from an upstairs apartment to the dumpster across the complex… alone. By the new year, my living room furniture consisted of a dining room table, an old office chair, and several empty bottles of Everclear.  My guys, the kings of “penises cancel out all emotion” actually sat me down to tell me I was worrying them. It was bad. So why come to me?

My life’s improved exponentially and that’s obvious on Facebook. That’s my best guess.

I’m not good at giving advice. I’m too honest, so it looks like this:

“The first time you put up the Christmas tree alone is going to break your heart. But then you’ll realize that you know how to put up the Christmas tree alone and that’s something.”

Cheery.

That’s sort of a load of crap, considering the fact that my dear friend Chad had to come over and help me put up my pretty pink Christmas tree with my pretty pink hammer. That wasn’t really my point, however.

I don’t mind it, though. I know how badly it tears someone apart. I know how awful it is to feel like no one gets it and know that you’re just so many people’s story of the day. The “So… what happened?” question comes from everyone, even people you don’t even fucking know. Sometimes they have the nerve to put it on your Facebook wall… twice. You mention the word divorce and immediately want to explain every detail so they’ll know it wasn’t you… but then you’re the crazy lady ranting about her divorce… to the mechanic. Telling your family… via Facebook, by accident… or a voicemail… or by knocking on your dad’s door and blurting “I’mgettingadivorceI’msorryIruinedChristmas” twice and then bursting into tears…

There’s nothing easy about it. I’m happy to support anyone hurting through it.

My only problem…

I won’t tell anyone to stay. I actually posted on Facebook yesterday:

“I am the person who will support you through your divorce. I am not the person who will tell you to stay. I’m closer to a cynic than a romantic. Know that before asking for my input.”

Four people liked it… one immediately messaged to tell me about her possible separation and ask about the cost of my apartment complex.

I used to say I didn’t believe in divorce. Now I know that anyone who says that has never hoped that he’d eventually follow-through with all of those suicide threats so you could finally be left alone to wash the blood off the dog. The dog can get through bathtime without my singing now. I still can’t sleep without my purse within reach.

“Nothing gets rid of that victim feeling quite like shooting a gun.”

That’s the advice I give. It may not be poetic, but it’s fucking true. I own four now… and a range membership. He’ll never hurt me again. That’s what I tell myself in the dark.

So when that girl from high school tells me it’s gotten to the point where she’s considering leaving, my advice is always to run… fast and far. I don’t even get the details. I suppose it’s because there was so much I kept to myself in my marriage, that I assume she’s doing the same. Yes. That’s definitely why. Is it so bad that you’re reaching out to that one girl from high school? It’s bad. Leave.

I wonder if I’ll ever let anyone close again. If I do and he tells me I made the fried chicken wrong, will I tell him I just can’t do it anymore? A part of me wonders, am I telling women to leave their husbands over a fried chicken insult? No. I don’t really think so. They wouldn’t be asking if it were nothing. It’s always something. There are always secret horrors once you’ve gotten to that point. Everyon’e marriage is their own and I’ve no idea what’s pushed them to consult me.

I guess I’ll take that crown.

Conversations with Mother f*$#%*% Teresa

two-old-ladies-giggling
This is us… giggling about vibrators.

I can tell Gail anything… at all.

Text Message
Me:Totally just sat down in the bathtub before testing the water. I think I burned my vag.
Me: – photo of bleeding knee –
Me: Most painful and unrelaxing bath ever. Next time I’ll just throw the hair dryer in.

We also know each other’s humor well enough that we never have to verify when we’re kidding, even through text messages.

Text Message
Me: My first dance at my next wedding will be to I Love the Way You Lie.
Gail: What next wedding?
Me: You’re right. Your first wedding should be your ONLY wedding.
Gail: Mhmm. That’s how good people wed.
Gail: “Second weddings are for lazy and uncommitted people.”
Me: “And sluts.”
Gail: “Yup.”
Me: “If anyone will have them.”

Me: referring to the idea of keeping girls out of boys’ sports “Girls can be anything they want to be, as long as it’s pink.”
Gail: raises hand for a high-five, as the last person who high-fives

Me: “Every time I see the words ‘egg product’, I want to kill myself and everyone in this IHOP… probably a bad week to joke about that, huh?”
Gail: “Yup. Probably.”

We never have to explain where our texts and thoughts come from, because of our constant running textersation.
Gail: “No clue why the beer with Jesus song is so popular.”
Me: “Ugh.I know. ‘If I could shoot the shit with Jesus… we’d probably talk about that lady’s tits.'”
Gail: “Purdy much.”

Where most people have a beating heart, Gail has the cuddliest little kitten instead. Not even a normal kitten, but like a sleeping one with a little bow. That would be fucking adorable. She’s the most nauseatingly genuine and giving person I’ve ever met, as the only 25-year-old who actually tithes 10% of her paycheck, not because Jesus told her to in the super religious Midwest, but because she thinks it’s the right thing to do. I always joke with her that she only hangs out with me so she can be the sweet one. It’s true. She loves being the sweet one.

Scene – IHOP a few weeks ago
Gail: points to a man in army gear “Can you bring me that gentleman’s check?”
Guy in army gear: “Thank you, ladies very much.”
Me: silent… totally pretending I helped

In actuality, I figured that clarifying that I did not, in fact, pay for this soldier’s meal would only make both him and Gail uncomfortable, seeing as how I bring the finesse and it would’ve gone something like this:
“It was her. I mean, I’m glad for what you did for our country, too, but I didn’t pay for your breakfast. I mean, I don’t really have the… thank you. Have a great day.”

Scene – IHOP, today, because Gail is the fucking Fairy Princess of IHOP
Gail: “Can you bring me the check of the table that was nicest to you?”
Me: feigned disgust “I’m Gail. I shit money. You see that woman over there? Can you tell her her cancer treatment’s been paid in full? I’m best friends with Mother fucking Teresa.”
Gail: laughing “What? I make the most money at a time of year when you should be nice to people, so I’m being nice to people.”
Me: “I’ve been plenty nice. Just buy my breakfast.”
Gail: laughs “No, thank you.”
Me: “Tis the season, Gail. Don’t be a cunt.”
Me: “It’s going to be awesome if it’s like $70. They ordered IHOP to go for the week.”
Gail: “‘Yeah, they were all equally nice, so I just put them all on one.'”

She actually just bought me lunch last week. The funny part is, Gail is the cheapest person alive. Last summer, she wore the same pair of broken $1 sunglasses for the entire season, explaining that you couldn’t tell they were broken, because her hair hid the missing temple (that’s what the ear piece is called and I taught you something). After breakfast, we went to The Dollar Tree.

Gail: “It just doesn’t seem warm enough.”
Me: “I don’t know what to tell you. You probably shouldn’t buy your winter wear from The Dollar Tree.”

Regardless of the fact that she makes me look bad, she’s my sister in every way that matters outside of a CSI episode.

Me: “See ya. Love you.”
Gail: “Love you, too.”
I have no idea when we started saying this to each other.
Me: “So, when did that happen?”
Gail: “I don’t know, but it probably has something to do with the reason people think we’re lovers.”
Me: “Nah. They probably just think we’re family.”

It’s fantastic to have this best friend thing going on as an adult. I’m blessed to have someone who knows all the stories, because she was there for them; someone in whom I can confide anything at all, with no judgement. Don’t worry. I return the favor. My jokes are all exactly that.

An Honest Online Dating Profile

So we all pick and choose… we all gloss over things. But wouldn’t it be funnier if we didn’t? Here’s what my online dating profile would look like were I more forthcoming.

“I’m a 25-year-old divorcee. I may or may not want to get married again, because he broke me. I may or may not want kids, because babies die sometimes. If you want either of these, you might have to badger me until I agree. I’m not even sure I want a relationship, but I know I’m supposed to, so this seemed a good approach.  Clearly, I have enough baggage for two, so you’ll need to keep yours to a minimum.

I’m not a laid back person. At all. I want you to be laid back to balance that out… but not too laid back. You should be good with money and really into your career so that I know you’ll keep a job. I will totally accept someone who works 80 hours per week. You should probably be pretty clean, too, because if you can’t respect that my media is alphabetized by series then title then format, I’ll feel like you don’t respect me, even though I know it’s irrational. Okay. So maybe you shouldn’t be laid back. Maybe you should just be more laid back than I am. The good news, though, is that that’s not hard to accomplish!

You must be taller than me, because it makes me feel dainty.

You must be equal parts country and intellectual. If I’m a better shot than you are and you don’t drive a pick up, you’re not man enough for me. If I rant about how great a book series is, though, you must think it’s cute and in return, be able to rant about science or history at a later date… over sushi. No jokes about my career choice. Ever.

I won’t have sex with you in the near future. My phone may autocorrect ‘can’t’ to ‘cunt’, but having a filthy mouth doesn’t change the fact that I can count on one hand the number of people who’ve seen my vag. You’re not getting any for awhile. I have no more information on the time frame.

Romance freaks me out. Valentine’s Day is lame. Change my oil and we’ll call it even.

I’m conservative in my beliefs and you should be, too. You’re the boy. You pay. You open doors. You call me after the first date if you’re interested in another. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll assume you’re uninterested or that you would’ve expected me to pee standing up. In return, I won’t do gross boy things that you’d rather pretend girls don’t do. I’ll wear lots of pink. I won’t bait my own hook and I’ll scream like a banshee when I see a bug. You must kill said bug. In general, I’ll do your boy activities and enjoy them if you tell me of them in advance. If I’m in a pretty dress and you get us stuck in the mud, go fuck yourself. I’m not helping. If I knew the day might lead there and wore jeans and ratty tennis shoes, I’ll giggle in the red dirt with you.

I have a degree in Home-Ec, but I don’t cook. I burn Easy Mac 1 in 5 times. I cook like Cher from Mermaids. If you want me to make you dinner, gear up for the most meh sweet potato fries, fruit loops, and peanut buttered bread ever.

You must accept and be accepted by: my best friend, my Gramma, my daddy, my guy friends, and my dog. I will continue to hang out with my boys all alone. I will not ask permission, but I will not have sex with them. You’ll just have to believe me on that one.

So if you message me and I message you back, let’s get together and have coffee sometime. I’ll order the smallest thing they have, because we might not like each other, in which case, I don’t want to owe you anything. You’ll possibly never hear from me again, because of some bullshit reason like the fact that you wore flip-flops and I could see your toe hair or your head was too big. If that is the case, do not expect a response later, when you text to try to sell me something, which has totally fucking happened.

On the off chance that this works out, we met where we met… i.e. we met at Starbuck’s or that one bar, not http://www.”

I have this stuffed bear…

Me: “Okay.. so you’re poised over your ex-husband’s sleeping form…”
Gail: Interrupts with choking laughter

We have this thing, where we can’t deal with adult emotions on the things that hurt too much, so we giggle instead. It’s really pretty awful if anyone overhears a good rape joke… in a Target… with their seven-year-old… at 9:45 on a weeknight? Sir, I really think you should be more concerned about your child’s sleep schedule than my quiet discussion with my best friend about her vaginal trauma (he hadn’t actually heard the joking portion).  Fortunately the above was just a phone conversation.

Gail’s answer was that she’d do nothing.

Mine was that I’d be so threatened by his presence that I could kill him.

I think hers was healthier.

Me: “Every time I see this kind of thing on the news, I worry I’m going to see my ex-husband’s picture. How fucked up is that and how broken am I?”
Gail: “Yeah, I could see him doing something like that.”

I have this stuffed bear. It’s in a box in my storage closet.  I kept it out of spite after all of the things he stole from me, literally and figuratively. It’s covered in soot from a fire I can’t bring myself to discuss. I’m not sure why I keep it. I’m too afraid to contact him to send it back. It feels hateful to throw it out. So it’s just there… in a Wal-Mart sack to keep the soot off of things.

I haven’t woken up with my wallet and keys in my pillowcase since I moved to this apartment. I don’t lock the bedroom door and can usually get through the night without getting up to check the patio and front door locks more than once. I rarely sleep with my gun anymore.

I still can’t sleep without my purse and wallet next to me.

I still have nightmares.

They’re not usually violent. Sometimes he’s texting… counting down the minutes until he breaks down the door. Usually, I’m just still with him. I never did it. I never left. My life never turned upside down to right itself in a completely different universe. I’m still fat and alone and hateful. I lie in bed and can’t breathe. Sometimes I wake up crying. I cuddle the dog and promise him I’ll never let anyone hurt him again. I kiss his paws, even though they’re dirty dog feet, because I’m so happy they aren’t caked with blood. I think the dog has nightmares, too. He’s yipping in his sleep right now.

jude in chair

Maybe I’ll set the bear on fire.

Why am I writing this instead of my final? I suppose I get a nice divorce rant every now and then.

How Nobody is Ruining My Christmas

‘Tis the season for mild stomach ulcers, yes? Christmas is, sadly, one of the most stressful times of the year for many people. This time for love, annoying music, and glitter has become the disaster of which the Mayans foretold. Pretty much every advertisement on television is designed to make me hate all children as I watch these greedy little parasites state that their parents have finally appeased them on Christmas morning. Then the parents sigh in relief, making me hate all parents. Everyone stresses themselves out trying to cook the perfect dish, putting up the perfect number of lights, and elbowing each other in the ribs to get the last IT toy of the season, because we’re all materialistic and insane. So, I’m taking a stand on the following issues to keep such madness from ruining my favorite time of year.

The Work Party
If I want to go (define: don’t have anything better to do), I’ll go. If I don’t, I won’t. Period.

The Decorations
I’m not going to lie. I pretty much had to rape that fucking Christmas tree to get it to do what I wanted. I knocked it over and broke the stand that was glued on. I hit myself in the knee with my pretty pink hammer getting the old stand off and gave up on the new one once there was glass all over the floor and the tree leaned so far to the left that it was practically horizontal. Then I tearfully texted C and told him I was the worst handyman ever and that I’d even put on a bra and pants if he’d come over and fix it. He had it up in under 10 minutes and I called him a bastard for it. But I love my tree. It was worth all of that trouble. However, aside from this, I have some glitter snowflakes on the wall, a couple of stockings, a wreath on each door, and some patio lights up. That’s it. I am not Tim The Toolman Taylor. I don’t need to prove that I have the most awesome decorations ever. I know my hot pink tree is the heroine of all Christmas trees and I don’t need a trophy for it. People fall off their houses rigging up their lights to connect to music on some random radio station and then bitch about how much trouble it was, because they didn’t even want it and only did it to make other people say “Huh, that’s neat.” Why would I stress out for a competition that doesn’t even actually exist when these minimal decorations make me happy?

beforetreeBefore and after a big strong man had to help me. Pathetic.

The Expense
I really don’t believe in credit. Maybe it’s Gail constantly talking about her dampened “I ❤ Dave Ramsey” panties (how much is too much to spend on a gag gift?), but I think it’s irresponsible to pay on time for anything that is not an actual necessity or a house. Taking out a line of credit to buy other people crap they probably don’t even want? No. I’m not doing that either. Regardless of whether or not they get a Wal-Mart credit card to do their shopping, though, the expense of Christmas is one of the biggest complaints I hear from pretty much everyone. I don’t get that. The people for whom I’m getting gifts are either people I know well enough to choose something they’ll like for $10 or… they’re not. The latter, I just feel obligated to buy something anyway, in which case, why the hell would I spend more than $10? I don’t have children, thank God, but I do have children in my life who I don’t think should be raised to be materialistic, greedy, and entitled little bastards. So… their gifts are also going to be $10. Maybe I’m not mommy, so I don’t get a say in whether or not Santa brought my niece a 32″ flat screen for her freaking third Christmas, but I can do my part by making it clear that while Aunt Belle cares, that won’t be reflected in material items and she doesn’t owe anybody anything. In general, if Christmas is getting too financially stressful, just forget it and give everyone hugs. Christmas is about family and love and stop action movies. I’d rather know that my Gramma had a fun holiday and get nothing but a kiss on the cheek than hear her tell me a week into December that she’s ready for Christmas to be over. But I can’t control what she does. I can only control what I do and that’s to spend $10 on your gift… unless you’re Gail or my Gramma, the only two people who would actually accept a hug as a gift with no hard feelings. Ironic, huh?

The Shopping
I finished most of my Christmas shopping in November… via Amazon. I spent Thanksgiving night watching a movie with my little sister, not telling the cashiers at Wal-Mart to screw themselves (read below) and have a Merry Christmas. We live in a digital age, people. Why the hell are you standing in line to buy that Furby? I even make a point to do my grocery shopping on a Monday morning, because I’m not dealing with that crap.

The Customers
Thank God I don’t work in retail anymore, because people are asshats to customer service representatives during the Christmas season. Lady, I’m sure Jesus Christ, himself, would fist bump you for trying to get that man fired for saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Yeah. That’s a thing. Welcome to the Midwest, y’all. I’m even happier I don’t work in a movie theater anymore. Sir, if the movie reel messing up “ruined” your holiday, you have shit priorities. You’re supposed to be loving on your family and treating people well, not screaming at a teenager about how you couldn’t see the bottom two inches of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, because seriously, that guy is in everything lately. Library customers are much more mild-mannered, thank goodness, but the number of times I’ve been yelled at over Christmas candy has stuck with me. Now, I make sure to give every cashier a smile and even the occasional apology for the jackass in front of me.

I Want
One of my family members has this super tacky habit of sending out text messages instructing people on exactly what to get for her and the children. I’m not exaggerating. “We want Garden Ridge gift cards this year. The kids want Lego’s.” I didn’t even ask. My Gramma really stresses out about these detailed instructions, because she wants to pick things out and buy what she wants with her money. So, I’m ignoring any such mandates and buying what I want with my money. I don’t care if you want a Garden Ridge card. I already did my shopping and you’re all getting homemade hats. Fucking deal with it or I’ll just donate them to someone more grateful.

The Family Drama
I love my family and I’m looking forward to the 93 and a half Christmas parties that will require me to supply Oreo balls, which are a huge pain in the ass to make. We’re a fun, loud, and offensive bunch. I’m genuinely excited. However, everyone has that one family member they don’t love, but someone loves, so they’re required to be polite… even when they cause drama. Being polite, however, does not mean humoring you if you’re going to be cruel to me. I am 25 years old. I pay my own bills and take care of my own life. If I don’t want to do something, I’m not going to do it. No one is going to bully me or manipulate me otherwise. Nasty text messaging, catty voicemail, creative rumors, none of these things are going to get a response, because I don’t have to respond. I won’t yell. I won’t trade barbs. I won’t hide an insult in a smile. I will sincerely wish you a Merry Christmas and skip that get-together, because I don’t have to sit through that awkward dinner with people I don’t like while they make snide remarks. You can thow that tantrum as loudly as you want while all of your friends agree that I’m a bitch. In the meantime, I’ll be at home, eating raw cookie dough in an oversized t-shirt and my granny panties, reading trashy fiction and blogging in front of my bitchin’ hot pink Christmas tree.

me jude and treeMy view of your fit.

Your ONLY marriage? Why didn’t I think of that?

marriage 2

Everyone I graduated high school with is doing one of two things according to Facebook: getting divorced or getting married.

The ones getting divorced aren’t talking about it. They’re changing their last names and you’re to draw your own conclusions. Either that or they’ve accidentally posted “… is no longer listed as married” long before telling their family that he’s moved out and the paperwork has been filed. Oops. Color me sheepish.

Then there’s my amalgum of a Facebook Friend who is getting married and more and more frequently posting the above photo and its ilk. Yeah. I said ilk. Fucking deal with it, Gail.

I’m not a wedding person, Facebook Friend. I never have been. I didn’t care about my wedding, so I really don’t give a crap about other people’s weddings. They’re extravagant and no one knows anyone else there and I have to shave my legs and buy a gift. If you’re old enough and financially stable enough to get married, why the hell am I buying you a toaster? My wedding advice for stressed out crying brides:

“Just remember. No matter what happens… it’s just a stupid wedding.”

However, Facebook friend, my qualm is not with weddings. You want to spend thousands of dollars on a party and months talking about it on social networking sites? Fine. It’s your thousands and I can hide you from my newsfeed. I may not like weddings…

… but I hate the above photo.

Show me one blushing bride who didn’t think it was going to last forever. I dare you.

We all want our first marriage to be our only marriage. None of us walk down that aisle to Pearl Jam’s Better Man. We all have a picture of the future with the person standing next to us and every single one of those visions is happy.

You know what, though? It takes two people to make a marriage… and sometimes one of those people is batshit fucking crazy.

Sometimes you come home to a suspicious house fire and all of your pets dead on the lawn.

Sometimes your husband tells you he’s sexually attracted to little girls.

Sometimes he shakes your baby.

Sometimes he hits you.

Sometimes you wake up with a pillow over your face.

Sometimes he rapes you.

Sometimes he steals from you and your family.

Sometimes he develops a drug problem.

Sometimes he abuses your pets.

Sometimes he won’t work.

Sometimes he cheats…

… and there’s nothing you can do about it, because you can’t control another person. Every one of those references is from me or someone I graduated with that’s confided in me. We didn’t get divorced because we didn’t want it badly enough. We didn’t get divorced because we didn’t try. I was willing to stay with a man I didn’t believe had a soul, because I made a committment until the boys who will forever own a piece of my heart helped me realize how bad it had gotten. When I filed for divorce, I fucking broke.

So, my dear Facebook Friend, it’s nice that you’ve never been hurt that much. I hope you never are… because it will tear you apart in ways that will never heal. I wouldn’t wish my marriage on anyone. I’m glad you’re looking forward to the future and I am truly thrilled you’re happy. Perhaps, you could manage such happiness without shitting on the rest of us, though? Because, to suggest that you’re a regular trailblazer for wanting your first marriage to be your only marriage (and that’s what this photo is doing or it wouldn’t be significant) implies that a lack of determination or respect for the union ended all of those other marriages. In which case, fuck you.

It takes two people to make a marriage… and until you’re one of them, you don’t know what heartaches haven’t been posted on Facebook.

Come to think of it… yeah. You’re right, Facebook friend. Maybe I do want my first marriage to be my only marriage.