The Highly Improbable Was Hi-Larious

Coincidence or Random

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I’ve always been fascinated by signs, symbols, synchronicity, coincidences (or not), and seemingly random convergences that make you shriek, okay, that has to mean something.

I believe that we’re all energy and that we can will an idea, or an image in our mind, into existence (or get close) because of the power of suggestion. It’s also entertaining to think that the universe has a mind of its own and can be a total bitch, acting out just to fuck with us.

I was practically strangled by a few random coincidences (or not) the other evening. And if the highly improbable had not occurred, and was therefore highly hilarious, I might have drowned in a puddle of my own tears.

It’s been awhile since I went to the theater. I’ve been busy, culturally unmotivated, and not in a Broadway state of mind. Shit, I never thought those words would ever fall from my mouth. In any case, a friend invited me to see the play, The Father. I didn’t know what it was about other than there probably was a father figure figured into the show.

I googled and saw that Frank ‘Dracula’ Langella was starring and who doesn’t like Frank? Certainly not my mother. When Dracula was on Broadway, my mother went Lady Gaga over Mr. Langella, and she was quite vocal about it. I remember thinking, whoa, mom, you’re a mom. You can’t like another man, you’re married—to my dad. Innocence is lost on the innocent.

I met my friend outside of the theater and we caught each other up on our lives before showtime. The more we talked, the more I realized how little socializing I had done this past year while I wrote my book. I put blinders on, and stayed laser focused, which worked, but I hadn’t tried to make anyone, other than myself, laugh  in a long ass time, and it seemed that I had forgotten how to string words together to form a sentence without the aid of a keyboard and computer screen.

Once inside the theater, we padded down to the tenth row center. Geez friend, what’s with the lame seats. I was so close to the stage that if Dracula sneezed, coughed or threw up, I’d get it in the eye for sure.

The thing that I love about the theater is that no matter how many menacing announcements are blared through the speakers, or dirty looks from your fellow patrons, some entitled old bitty from Queens is going to confidently pluck a mint out of her handbag (fisted from the restaurant where she ate her prix fixe, pre-theater dinner) and unwrap it during the hushed denouement.

It is a mystery to me why audiences still have to be reminded not to be rude and douchey—in the same way that I don’t understand why there are still signs in women’s lavatories reminding them not to throw feminine products in the toilet. Are women throwing maxi pads, some the size of newborn sized diapers, into the bowl? Do men have the same reminders in their stalls? Please don’t flush your hankyDepends? Condom?

The curtain went up and a regal Mr. Langella was sitting in an arm chair in a Parisian flat stage right. I knew what the play was about two minutes into the opening scene. A man (F.L.) is struggling with dementia (Alzheimer’s) and the effect it has on his family—what an uplifting topic to tackle on a sunny Sunday. My ex’s father died from Alzheimer’s. Again, totally uplifting.

Mr. Langella stood up from his chair, wearing pajamas and slipper,  and shuffled towards centerstage where he addressed the actress playing his daughter. I hung on his every word and then something distracted me on the upstage wall.

Hanging on the wall was a poster—of what I couldn’t quite make out but my eyes were drawn to the bottom edge. I blinked, and then I blinked again. There, in big bold letters, was my ex’s first name. Clearly it was the artists’ first name as well. I blinked a third time because well, three’s the charm. Yup, still there.

There are over twenty Broadway shows currently running. My friend could have easily gotten tickets to an Off-Broadway show, which there are numerous. Nope, the first time that I get out to the theater after a long hiatus, I see a play about Alzheimer’s, seated close enough to the stage to make out the friggin’ details of the set dressing.

Why? Because sometimes the universe can be a real wench. “Give my regards to Broadway…”

What Do Couples Fight Over?

What Do Couples Fight Over?

PhotoCredit:Wisegeek

What do couples fight over?

Where finances or perhaps in-laws were common sources of conflict in romantic relationships, for my ex-boyfriend and me, it was recycling. In honor of Earth Day (April 22nd), I give you an excerpt from my forthcoming book, THE GIRLFRIEND MOM: Kids? No, Thank You, I’m Not Hungry.

***

I was on a mission to save the planet, one plastic container and cardboard toilet paper roll at a time. I was not digging water wells in Mali, Africa, or driving the van for Kosher Meals on Wheels, or rescuing abused circus elephants for that matter, but I knew that I could make a difference and I took pride in recycling my B-12 glass vitamin bottles and dolphin safe tuna cans—think globally, act locally I say.

As a good conscious- raising girlfriend, I gently urged my boyfriend and his kids to do the same. How could they argue? Who the hell didn’t want to save the planet?

Not long after I began my quest, the complaints started. “Dani, the kitchen looks like a bag lady’s hideaway.” It was true, although I might have used shopping cart as the visual example instead of hideaway.

The only convenient places to hang the various receptacles were on the backs of the kitchen stools and around the doorknobs and cabinets knobs—classy, I know. My boyfriend accused me of being obsessive, even though I stopped short of reusing soiled paper napkins like my grandfather “Big” Al used to.

When my brother and I visited my grandparents in Florida, and we sat at the kitchen table being wasteful with our food and paper goods—as most four- and five-year-olds are wont to do (because they don’t know the meaning of wasteful)—he would sneak up behind us, wearing a stained red T-shirt, and bark in his gravelly and menacing voice, “You think I grew up with an endless supply of napkins? We’d use one until it disintegrated.” This would also explain the stained shirt. He would continue his “whoa is me” Depression era story as he chomped down on the bagel half that he had saved from his breakfast days earlier, which had petrified and could now be used as a weapon.

When I added junk mail envelopes to the mix, my boyfriend just about opened a recycled can of whoop ass on me. As much as I hated to give him the pleasure of being right, he was. Perhaps I was obsessing just a smidge.

Every product that we bought, including the packaging that it came in, had the potential to make it into the Fresh Kills Landfill. I couldn’t stop. I found my manic recycling peculiarly therapeutic as I broke down cardboard boxes from Amazon deliveries or rinsed out empty butter tubs and shampoo bottles.

I was trying to keep my hands busy—idle hands and all, because it gave me the illusion that I had some authority in my life, when at times, as the Girlfriend Mom, it felt like the complete opposite.

I moved from New York to New Jersey. I went from single and child-free to coupledom and kids. I lived in a furnished town house and used a stranger’s wine glasses and placemats. (We had started construction on a new home and didn’t want to move our belongings twice.) I searched for work in a new profession in a new town, where I got lost every time I left the house and where I had no friends. I turned in my New York State driver’s license, shared my workspace with an eleven-year-old boy, and neither my voice, nor my name, was on the answering machine’s outgoing message. You bet I ran to the next-door neighbors to see if they had any egg cartons that I could flatten.

A few months into my waste management, which started to look a lot like an actual hobby, a rainbow seemed to have appeared over our kitchen, or shopping cart. My boyfriend agreed (silently, and without fanfare) to join my recycling party. I knew I was in love with him for real when, without any prompting, he brought used plastic bags to the grocery store. That man never looked sexier.

 

Forgiveness

Forgiveness

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Forgiveness is sometimes overrated. I was talking to a friend the other day because I wanted to know if it was possible to move forward in our lives without forgiving, even though most schools of thought and religions, preach that we only hurt ourselves when we don’t forgive.

Whatever. Sometimes holding a grudge and not being exceptionally magnanimous is way more satisfying; even if it’s temporary. Maybe there are cases when it’s just not possible to forgive. How can we in the face of profound hurt. I’m no friggin’ saint.

If being unforgiving doesn’t hold us back in our day to day life; careers, relationships, romantic world, then what’s the big whoop? My ping pong reasonings were put to the test recently when my ex-husband reached out to me.

To say that I was shocked to hear from him after 13 years is not saying enough. He asked me to meet him for coffee to talk. At first I wasn’t sure that I wanted to meet. Why? What was the point? What could he possibly have to say? Was I even interested in what he had to say? Did I want to invite that into my life?

Our divorce was amicable, devoid of drama. And from where I was standing, I hadn’t any lingering or unresolved feelings. I had packed our relationship in bubble wrap and put it gently in the pile.

I thought about his request and decided that if he had the cajones to reach out to me after so much water under the bridge; unsure of how I would react, the possibility of rejection, then the least I could do was show up. Clearly it was important to him. I’m a lot of things, but douche isn’t one of them.

It was a surreal and mildly weird rendezvous. We spent nine years together and even though it had been a lifetime ago, there was a comfort in talking to him, an ease. Our history gave our conversation a welcomed familiarity. We spoke in shorthand,  reminiscing about the early days, and I could feel myself smiling.

After a few struts down memory lane, he launched into an apology. He was sorry for not being a better partner in our marriage, and admitted to his selfish behavior. He was taking responsibility for his actions, citing examples, because he genuinely wanted to be a better person.

Wow.

I have to be honest, as he spoke I wasn’t entirely sure what he was referring to. It had been a long time since we were married and let’s just say that there have been several relationships since, and, well, frankly I can’t even remember what I did yesterday, let alone back in 1997.

And then I did remember. The more he spoke, the more I thought, Oh, yeah, now that you mentioned it, what about that? Shit had long been buried and now it was being unearthed.

Events and incidents came rushing back to me, without anger, disappointment or resentment. Our discussion was calm and objective. As he spoke I was able to see the battles that I had been waging within my myself at that time.

I told him that all was forgiven. He appreciated my meeting him and I felt good knowing that our conversation had brought him relief and some peace.

As we get older, we become more and more conscious of life’s  fragility and brevity. Living guilt-free, without bad juju or unspoken feelings and thoughts is an admirable goal for anyone.

It was a mature and brave thing that my ex-husband did. A mensch and a man.

 

Getting Your Lady Parts Stoned

Abe VagogaGetting my lady parts stoned was never on my ‘to do’ list.

Every time I think that I’ve put writing about the magical powers, and storing capabilities, of the vagina, behind me, I get sucked back in. Yes, I realize how that sounds.

I stumbled upon a product called Foria. It’s been around for a couple of years but it’s only now that I’ve gotten hep to it. Where have I been? Clearly hanging out where the word hep is used I’m guessing.

Foria is a lubricant that contains cannabis: a gentle mix of marijuana and coconut oil. FYI, coconut oil can prevent yeast infections. Yet another use for that ever popular drupe (not a nut).

I’m old school. Cocaine in the vagina, sure that I’ve heard of, but getting my vagina wasted? Uh…

Foria can be used as a de-stresser, to relax the pelvic floor and to enhance sexual pleasure. So can Pilates.

I’m not sure I want my cooter to be tripping. It’s already pretty trippy. If you get your vagina high, a side effect may be that it will feel loosey goosey. I can’t speak for other women, but I’d much prefer mighty tighty.

What if my cooter gets the munchies? Do I spoon feed it a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and a sleeve of Oreos? I suppose I could grab a handful of vegetables, which is good because my cooter is a healthy eater.

Foria Relief is a suppository that one can stick up either orifice. It’s supposed to help with symptoms associated with a women’s menses. But why stick it in your bum? Hemorrhoidal pain? These products are not FDA approved and Foria Relief is only available in CA. Just my luck.

As I surfed the internet, falling further down the rabbit hole, reading about vagina toking, I came upon a new yoga for the vagina called Vagoga. You call it Vagoga, I call it Pilates.

Stand by for my thoughts on reusable menstrual pads from Torjacek Farms. Not a joke, wish it were.

A Brief and Meaningful Visit

A Meaningful and Brief VisitHim: its going well how about u 

Me: Working. Finished writing a book. You know! I look forward to seeing you. Miss you. xo

Him: How was it and i look foward to seeing you too Miss you 

Me: how was writing a 230 page book? arduous, emotional and immensely gratifying. xo

Him: I cant even write a one page essay hahaha

Me: Yes you can. It takes practice just like everything else in life. Let me know if you ever need help. You’re funny, and I bet you could write funny if you wanted to. See you Saturday. xo

***

I finished writing my book, and a week later, I texted my ex’s son to make plans to see him. It had been a couple of months and the two events had beautifully converged.

It stills make my heart skip a beat when he inquires about me; what I’m doing, how I’m doing. Friends who have kids tell me that it’s rare that their teenagers don’t answers their texts, let alone engage them in a dialogue.

It would be too easy for me to doubt, mistrust or excuse his words away as something that he says just to be nice. Then again, what if it is? It wouldn’t change a thing for me or how I feel about him.

After I spent the day with his sister, we drove to the outdoor cafe where he works. She and I stood off to the side, waiting for him to look up and notice us. We didn’t want to flail our arms around in the hopes of getting his attention, causing a scene or getting him into trouble.

After several minutes, he looked up; his long, wavy brown hair, held back by a headband that boys his age are wearing these days. His face immedialtely lit up and he smiled. I smiled back.

Sure I noticed his reaction, but I took it in stride and kept my giddiness to myself. Over the years, I’ve learned not to attach too much meaning (or any meaning) to the acts, words and feelings that go on in our relationship because as it evolves and morphs, I’m constantly redefining it.

I was only too happy to see him and to give him an embarrassingly long hug, especially since he was on the clock and there were many people around. It always surprises me when he confidently, and without embarrassment, allows me to physically show him my love. Oh, how far I’ve come. (The book will explain).

The exchange was brief yet long enough for me to cup his stubbly teenage-acne face in my hands and tell him that I loved him. He responded, “I love you too,” before going back to work. My heart skipped its beat.

As his sister and I walked to the car, she apologized for the brief visit. She went on to explain that her brother only wants to spend time with his friends these days but that it would change once he got older. Who was the adult/mother-ish/parental-like figure here?

I told her that it was okay and that her brother should be spending his time with his friends. I certainly didn’t take it personally. “I didn’t want to hang out with my parents when I was his age. It’s how it goes.”

We got in the car, and she turned to me. “Yes, but did you see how his face lit up when he saw you. He got so happy.”

Yes, I did. And I’m going to trust it.

 

Do You Trust Who You Are?

Do you trust who you are?

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Do you trust who you are? I stared down this question several months ago when I led a panel discussion at the first ever Not Mom Summit.

The summit was the first of its kind, giving those who are without children by choice or by chance an opportunity to share with others in their tribe in a most supportive environment.

I welcomed the opportunity to speak at the summit when the gregarious and gracious Karen Malone approached me nearly a year ago. At the time, I thought it would benefit the Girlfriend Mom brand and it might be fun to meet others face to face, and not on the sterile and impersonal world wide web.

However, a funny thing happened after a few hours conversing, observing, and sharing meals with my tribeswomenI started to struggle with topics of conversation (that never happens). It also felt as if I were a high school freshman sitting in the senior section of the cafeteria, knowing full well that I didn’t belong there.

A lot had happened over the past year, and I was almost numb to the idea of talking about being childfree. Unlike most of my colleagues, I couldn’t summon up any strong opinions one way or another on the subject. Yes, I chose to be childfree, but as the Girlfriend Mom, or even the ex-Girlfriend Mom, I couldn’t relate.

The weekend brought up a bag of emotions that I thought I’d already unpacked. How did I identify myself and how did I define my relationship with my ex’s kids. How much importance do I attach to it; not the relationships themselves, but rather titles, and labels. Do I have a burning desire to commiserate? I’d rather talk about housing options if Trump becomes the next POTUS.

As I listened to speakers like Meghan Daum, editor of Selfish, Shallow & Self- Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Children; and Melanie Notkin, founder of Savvy Auntie® and author of Otherhood: Modern Women Finding A New Kind of Happiness, I drifted further and further away from the group.

After hearing about challenges that others had faced regarding their lifestyle choices, I realized how fortunate I was not to have ever been shamed, judged (at least not to my face) or bombarded with rude questions. Others had not been as fortunate.

I’d been shamed and criticized for other things; like wearing a fanny pack well into adulthood and moving to Nicaragua with no real plan. But not wanting to be responsible for another human being? No.

The women were lovely and smart; from all walks of life, from all around the world, but their enthusiasm for converging in one place to talk about their lives as the childfree or childless was lost on me.

On my flight home, I racked my brains trying to ascertain the reasons why I felt disconnected and disengaged. Hours later, just as the plane began its final descent, it came to me.

It wasn’t about being childfree, summits or inclusion. It was about sharing commonalities, other than whether we’d given birth or not. It was about being around funny, like minded people, that had nothing to do with motherhood, otherhood, parenthood or Robin Hood.

Being childfree is just a fact, a by-product, a non issue in my day to day life. In the same way that I don’t own a home and I prefer to rent; it’s simply a fraction of who I am. In the same way that I’m 5’3. I’m not going to attend a conference for those that are 5’3 tall renters am I? That may be a stretch, but you get my point.

The only time that my childfree status comes up is when a stranger, or acquaintance, asks me if I have kids. Perhaps it’s in the confident way that I say no, (or the look in my eyes or the satisfied smile on my face) but when I do, the conversation comes to a halt.

There are those rare occasions when someone will follow up with, “Oh, you don’t own a home? Don’t you care that you’re throwing money away? Don’t you care about having something to show for yourself? Do you have any regrets? Don’t you think it gets harder the older that you get? Oh, you’ll change your mind.”

No. No I won’t.