One small step for me, one giant cocktail for me, too.

Suggested pairing: The Adios Motherfucker

 

½ ounce Vodka

½ ounce Rum

½ ounce Tequila

½ ounce Gin

½ ounce Blue Curacao

2 ounces sour mix

2 ounces lemon – lime soda

 

Pour all ingredients, except soda, over ice. Shake until combined and top with soda. Cheers motherfucker.

 

My son loves to swim. Like most activities, he takes his time immersing himself but, once comfortable, he dives in, headfirst and doesn’t turn back. His aquatic evolution has slowly moved him from swimmies, goggles, a life-vest and an irrational, and equally overwhelming fear of water in his eyes, to full-blown cannonballs and literal jumping of the shark. Not a real shark, fools, a giant, blue pool toy with a mischievous grin that our family has lovingly named Al Sharkton.

My love of swimming does not quite rival that of my boy’s. Beside the fact that I don’t actually know how to swim, I am also exceedingly particular when it comes to the temperature of the water. Anything under 85 degrees just isn’t happening. Sorry.

I prefer laying on a raft, if in the pool, or laying on the sand, if at the beach and choose to interact with all that is nautical as little as humanly possible. I don’t want to be splashed, or do handstands or play Marco Polo, I just want to relax, which proves easier said than done when summer vacationing with a wild child.

Thank God for uncles.

As my mother would say, “Hooray, the boys are home!”

As much as my son loves the pool, there is nothing he loves quite as much as his uncles, and for obvious reasons. Not only are they super fun companions to slingshot water balloons over the house and shoot Nerf guns with, they are pretty much the extent of positive male role models in his life.

Now, I’m not saying that he doesn’t adore me and his grandparents but, let’s be honest. No one is as sought after as an out-of-state uncle who swoops in bearing smiles, gifts and a penchant for play.

On occasion, when the boys are “uncling” in the pool with my son, the force will be strong enough and the outside temperature high enough, to draw my mother and I off the deck and into the water.

Once I have sweated sufficiently through my clothes whilst baking in the sun like a sizzling bacon strip, I gather my gusto and inch up the ladder to join the pool party. I like to sit with my feet on the first step for a while, adjusting to the coolness and formulating an exit strategy, until I finally cave in and climb down.

Feet in is fine.

Step one is tolerable.

Step two is the “ooh ooh” step, as my mom calls it.

This is the step where you’re just far enough in to realize it’s uncomfortable and want to turn back, but too invested to actually do so, because half of you has already acclimated to what lies beneath. This is the step that forces you to reason with your inner psyche and to negotiate the terms of a self-induced cost-benefit analysis for your well-being.

I hit the ooh ooh step yesterday with regard to my memoir.

Let me just preface this seemingly irrational, internal, emotional turmoil with the fact that I am completely over the fucking moon that I have managed to, not only accomplish the task of writing a book, but to have experienced the much needed catharsis pertaining to my feelings about my ex-husband, his relationship with my son and the constant onslaught of damage and destruction he has inflicted over the years, in doing so.

I am seriously fucking proud of myself, and the half of me already submerged in the writer’s pool, the half with the full manuscript, positive review and overwhelming support from friends and family, firmly believes I should be.

But I’m still standing on the ladder, rationalizing between fight or flight, paralyzed with fear and hovering above a proverbial baptism.

I slipped on the ooh ooh step while at the movies, of all places, with my son this weekend. One of the characters in the film, on the verge of a remarkably selfless feat that would potentially redeem him from his scumbag past, said that he wanted his daughter to know that her father is not a piece of shit.

Ooh, ooh.

I echoed the same sentiment in my mind, reflecting upon all of the piece of shitty things my ex has done to my poor child, and that’s when the half of me, not yet in the pool, began to panic and want to wrap myself in a warm towel and cower on the deck with my bevvie.

I truly do not want my son to think his dad is a piece of shit. In fact, I don’t want anyone to think he’s a piece of shit, believe it or not. Most days, I don’t believe he is a piece of shit either, but that is a battle I fight within myself constantly because there are some days, more often than I’d like to admit, that I think he’s just a piece of fucking shit. And maybe I’m right.

Or maybe I’m wrong.

I don’t think, in my heart of hearts that he’s a bad guy. I don’t believe that he intentionally neglects my son’s physical, emotional and psychological needs. I don’t think he’s an asshole for being an alcoholic, but I do think he’s an asshole for being an asshole.

I do firmly believe, however, that in order to be a functional parent and to raise subsequently functional children, one needs to be devoted and selfless and honest, none of which can be said about my ex-husband.

Devoted, he is not. He spends what equates to a fraction of a day per year with our child, and that fraction of a day is reminiscent of Groundhog Day, comprised of the same redundant cycle of pizza, arcade games and talks about the weather. Phone calls go largely unanswered and, in the entirety of my son’s nine years on this planet, only one birthday card has graced our mailbox.

Selfless, don’t get me started. He has consistently chosen booze and girlfriends over his son, ever convinced that I will take care of everything he cannot, which I do, by the way. He cannot be bothered putting him on or taking him off the bus, but once a year, and shirks any responsibility when it comes to parent/teacher conferences and report cards. He buys cigarettes before sneakers and pays for all of his own shit before his son’s health insurance. He, in my professionally pissed opinion, is a selfish bastard.

Honesty is certainly not his policy. His deceptions run so deep I don’t even bother to attempt deciphering them anymore, despite my occasional desire to do some late night PI work to fill some bizarrely masochistic need to catch him in the act of being him.

All that being said, I still do not think he is a piece of shit, and I sincerely hope that anyone who reads my stories doesn’t either. Because they are just that – my stories.

I do not air a shit ton of dirty laundry in order to expose all of his shortcomings. I am not publishing a book in an effort to stick it to him in any way, although sometimes my ego gets “hangry” and wants to ice that cake.

All of this I do for me, and for my son.

My actions and my words, however salty, may paint me a vengeful bitch in the eyes of some but, at the end of the day, both halves of me are certain that I am devoted, selfless and honest when it comes to my son. At the end of the day, I am not merely his only parent, but a damn good one at that.

I may not be as fun as an uncle or the dad he desperately yearns for, but I am his mother and I will do whatever necessary to keep us both above water.

This next step may be scary as hell but I’m diving in, sink or swim. It’s time to say “adios motherfucker” to everything holding me back, hold my breath and cannonball!

 

 

Rude Awakening

Suggested pairing: Irish Pancake Shot

 

1 ounce Jameson Whiskey

1 ounce Butterscotch Schnapps

Orange Juice

Bacon

 

In a rocks glass, combine schnapps and whiskey. Fill second rocks glass with orange juice. Drink shot and chase with orange juice. Eat piece of bacon. Supposedly, this should taste similar to dragging your bacon through pancake syrup. I think it probably tastes more like losing your dignity, and pretty much everything that’s wrong with America.

Cheers.

 

I like to people watch when I go out. This is likely because my life is not that interesting and my aura of redundancy and farmers hours does not elicit much in the way of stimulating conversation.

For the most part, my dance card is sprinkled lightly with a bottle of wine at home, the occasional familial drop-in and a rousing game of Connect Four. I’m totally fine with that. It may seem like the pathetic mid-life existence that teenagers would choose a violent death over, but I find it to be just what the doctor ordered.

I like routine. I like falling asleep in bed watching Hawaii Five-0. I look forward to the impending excitement of choosing this week’s toppings for pizza night and contemplating a spontaneous addition of wings or poppers.

The craziest I get anymore is wandering through clearance racks at Kohl’s sans child or adding pickled jalapenos to my Bloody Mary. Mundane activities like crossing things off my list make my heart sing. Sometimes, if I’m feeling super excited about my productivity, I even add things to my list that I’ve already completed just so that I can cross them off and delight in my adulty accomplishments.

On the rare occasion that my eyes do see the dark of night and that I break from my self-imposed and satisfying house arrest, I make certain to fuel up with an afternoon coffee, throw some makeup on my face and change into my Sunday best flip flops.

Which brings us to last night’s festivities.

I, in all my antisocial glory, went out for drinks with a friend to catch up on old times and shoot the shit regarding relationships, past and present. I stayed out until midnight last night. Hold the applause, please.

Fortunately for me and my lack of enthusiasm pertaining to all things “night on the town”, my friend has a comparable disposition and affinity for people watching. Our first collective observation of the evening was that there was no way in hell some of the patrons were old enough to drink. They were children that likely had been dropped off by their mommies and were paying their bar tabs with allowance money they had earned picking up dog shit in the backyard. These kids were drinking shitty beer, listening to shitty music, taking fucking selfies and I’m pretty sure were simultaneously engaged in catching elusive Pokémon creatures hiding beneath the bar stools.

But, alas, these fuckers were 21. I’m just not anymore, and I’m beginning to see that more and more with every move I make. But, with every selfie stick and men’s sleeveless shirt I’m gradually appreciating my maturity.

I am aware that every generation that has come before me has posed this question regarding every generation to follow, but I’m going to go ahead and ask one more time. What the fuck is wrong with these kids today?

While gazing at the younger generation at the bar last night and silently pondering their somewhat pathetic existence, I witnessed a party of five imbibing in the aforementioned Irish Pancake shots. Truth be told, I had no idea what the bartender was concocting while I watched in horror as orange juice was served minutes shy of midnight, so I promptly did what any dignified ignoramus would do, and googled that shit on my phone, which is admittedly significantly smarter than I. The search of ingredients yielded this godforsaken recipe and I was forever changed for the worse.

I’ve done a lot of stupid shit in my life. Furthermore, I’ve done a lot of disgusting shots as well, ranging from Mind Erasers to Jäger Bombs, but this one takes things a little too far. You would have to be some kind of drunk and stupid to drink this, in my humble, crotchety opinion. This is the menthol cigarette of shots. If I want to have a minty fresh mouth, I’ll have a fucking mint but I don’t want my cigarette to taste like one, likewise with my morning meal. Pancakes and syrup are for the hours between daybreak and noon, and plates and forks, not for shot glasses and shitfaced millennials. While I am a firm believer in the gospel of bacon and praise its versatility and all-around fucking deliciousness, this is just breakfast blasphemy and it makes me feel ashamed of all of us and frightened for our futures.

While witnessing this sacrilegious ceremony of bevvies, my friend and I discussed the completely unrelated, yet seemingly appropriate subject of open relationships which, to me, seems more like an oxymoron than a life goal. We entertained the notion that some individuals seek a partnership that is non-exclusive and employs the “have my cake and eat it too” wisdom of those who live their lives in pursuit of the greenest grass. But if you’re always wanting a more luxurious lawn, there’s a damn good chance that you’re neglecting your own beautiful backyard.

This “open” logic is born of the same idiocy that permits fame from sex tapes and glory from video game kills. It isn’t real. It’s a show of circus proportions and an utter insult to our intelligence. If you want to go out until all hours of the night, get drunk and sleep with other people then I do not want to have a relationship with you and frankly no one should, if one could even deem that scenario a partnership of any sort, because you are a jerk. If you want to chase Jameson with OJ, I also do not want to have a relationship with you because you are an idiot and I have better things to do like order Hawaiian pizza and watch Netflix.

That being said, the outlook for the future is bleak.

We live in a world where people are more fearful of others taking gender-neutral shits in gender-neutral bathrooms than the fact that there’s a mass shooting on nearly every morning news program and our best hope for this great nation is left in the small, over-compensating hands of an oompa loompa demagogue or those of a fully functional, Monsanto-funded political machine. I’d much rather feel the Bern, but I’ll take the email mishandling over the hate mongering, little hands down.

Shit is fucked up to the nth degree.

Our blood sweat and tears, our hard work and aspirations are being inherited by a cohort of self-indulgent, entitled, ignorant YouTubers who drink breakfast and chase digital creatures around town rather than pursuing a dream or a goal, or a fucking life for that matter.

They want mansions and sports cars and open relationships. They seek the unattainable, the unproductive, and the unreal.

I am not making a blanket statement here about everyone in their early twenties because I have had the great fortune to meet many a hardworking, go-getting millennial but I will say that there is something majorly fucked up about the direction we are headed as a whole, as a community, as a human race.

Our parents should not have to house us in their basements. Our teachers should not be expected to raise our children. Our government should not be representative of only the top one or two percent. Our suppliers should not be bought and sold by asshole lobbyists, force-feeding us cancer-inducing, genetically-modified food, and overpriced, addictive drugs. Our significant others should not be subjected to the bullshit of an open relationship which, by all accounts is just legalized cheating. And our bartenders, in good conscience, should never, under any circumstance be forced to serve us liquid breakfast.

Sadly, this is the world in which we live and it is looking like it will only devolve and become progressively worse for our children. Fuck.

Amidst all of the hate and violence, Trumps and Kardashians, selfie sticks and shitty, third-grade reading level song lyrics, I choose to appreciate my mostly green grass, my bottle of wine at home and my early bedtime.

We are all in for a disturbingly rude awakening when we realize that the world we have so determinately abused and destroyed does not owe us a fucking thing. That day is coming at us like a line drive and it’s going to hurt like hell when it hits. The day will come when everyone’s front lawn is burnt and brown, and it is on that morning of reckoning that I just may belly up to the breakfast bar for an Irish Pancake shot, a strip of bacon and a prayer.

Bottoms Up

Suggested pairing for this reading: Hail Mary Jell-O Shot

 

2 packets Knox Gelatin

1 ½ cups Spicy V8 Juice

½ cup pepper vodka

Sea salt

Green olives

 

Combine gelatin and V8 and let stand for several minutes. Boil ¾ cup of water and add boiling water to mixture. Stir until dissolved. Stir in vodka. Pour into Jell-O shot cups. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. Rim cups with sea salt and garnish with olives.

Cheers!

 

Hail Mary, full of grace, I found a drink recipe that combines breakfast and dessert! Just when you thought life couldn’t get any better, someone creates a cocktail perfect for pretty much any circumstance – shitty or celebratory. Surely, there is a God.

I’m not completely sure there is a God because, for me, the proof is in the pudding, or Jell-O in this particular case. My faith, generic and nominal as it may be, has been repeatedly tested as of late, but I have decided to employ a spiritual “Hail Mary” play, and pray that my son and I come out on top.

My little guy is the quintessential underdog in this game of life that his father has relentlessly and religiously been cheating at. My poor son is matched against an opponent who disobeys the rules, disrespects the players and disregards the object of the game. The odds are perilously stacked against my boy and, recently, he has become disinclined to play. I don’t fucking blame him.

Occasionally, player number two reaches out and asks to speak with his son. Let’s define occasionally, shall we?

I occasionally get to sleep past six in the morning. I occasionally eat Kentucky Fried Chicken. I occasionally see a movie that isn’t a Disney Pixar film. Occasionally, as I see it, is reserved for shit that, although we would love to do more, just doesn’t fit into our everyday schedules. I don’t believe that parent/child interaction falls into this category. In any event, the sporadic incidences in which my ex reaches out are more and more frequently being met with the elementary school version of the middle finger.

“Your dad is home tonight and asked if you would give him a call.”

“Never. He’s the worst.”

Amen to that.

Although I encourage him to remain in contact with his father, circumstances have evolved to the point where he has lost the desire to maintain a relationship with him, largely due to the fact that the relationship they have is total crap to begin with.

“Why don’t you give your dad a call?”

“I don’t want to.”

“I don’t want to” seems to be a fairly appropriate response to our current state of affairs. “I don’t want to” seems to accurately reflect the status of my son’s relationship with his father. “I don’t want to” has a time and a place, and this is it.

Unfortunately, I’ve been inundated with what feels like a resounding, universal echo of “I don’t want to” from all corners of my world and, for some irritating reason, this somewhat arbitrary and rather juvenile sense of reasoning is reserved for other people. Not me and, sorry to disappoint, but probably not you either.

When I’m not busy being a single mother I have the distinct honor and pleasure of spending my time with teenagers. There is no demographic that quite compares to adolescents. Many of us have one, we all were one and none of them, not even us, were fun. They are like miniature television commercial lawyers, making up for what they lack in expertise with a profound ability to argue anything at all, presenting a case devoid of any logic or reason. The teen Trump card, like my son’s anti-dad stance, is “I don’t wanna” followed closely by “I can’t” and, despite explaining the difference between can’t and won’t until I’m blue in the face, I’ll be damned if those aren’t their go-to forms of non-compliance.

Writing assignment? “I don’t wanna.”

Read a chapter in a book? “I can’t.”

Homework? “I can’t, because I don’t wanna.”

While this line of reasoning can sometimes push me very near to the edge, it is a fairly typical teenaged mentality. I totally get that they don’t want to but, eventually, they come around to the fact that they have to. So, I let it slide. For them.

Adults, on the other hand, at least those who act like adults, do not have the option to “not want to.”

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that my electric company really doesn’t give a shit if I don’t want to pay my bill. When my son is hungry for dinner, it doesn’t really matter if I don’t want to cook anything. I don’t want to do dishes or laundry or taxes for that matter, but I can say with absolute certainty that the IRS gives zero fucks about what I want, or don’t want to do.

I read recently in the news that Kanye West is employing the “I can’t” rationale to his fifty some-odd million dollar debt. Evidently, he “can’t” continue to grace us with his lyrical genius and fashion forward style without some assistance from the general public. In fact, there is a GoFundMe account in existence to help get poor Mr. West back on his feet and onto his high horse. Now, I’ve been making a serious and concerted effort lately to keep my rage from boiling above a low simmer, but this is the kind of shit that incenses me. I sincerely doubt that the words can’t or won’t came rapping out of Kanye’s mouth when he was purchasing mansions and thousand dollar toddler tutu’s and, had there been some restraint and reserve shown at those moments, a GoFundMe account would not be necessary. Newsflash, asshole: I have a GoFundMe account, too – it’s called a motherfucking job, and the sole contributor to said fund, no thanks to our governor’s asinine and illegal pension contribution vetoes, is yours truly.

Yet another shining example of the rampant, reigning entitlement issues in our society was highlighted in a cry-baby style, woe is me essay written by some moronic millennial who penned an open letter to her employer at Yelp. She “didn’t want to” have to work in an entry level position at entry level pay because, well, she just didn’t want to. She was shattered over the fact that she’d spent the past year “answering calls and talking to customers just for the hope that someday I’d be able to make memes and twitter jokes about food.” Are you fucking kidding me? I’m a little disappointed myself that, rather than chasing my dreams of being a professional writer who works from home, drinking Bloody Mary’s on my lanai in Hawaii, I teach English. Guess what sweet-pea, making memes and Twitter jokes about food is a hobby, one for someone with intellect and humor, traits you obviously do not possess. Making money, on the other hand, is what happens when you work. At a job. While you’re waiting for your dreams to come true. That’s why adulthood is referred to as “the real world” as opposed to “the dream world”.

I hate to rain on anyone’s parade but, statistically speaking, most of us are not going to be rich, famous or powerful. We will not be rap stars, professional athletes, models, moguls and especially not famous Youtubers for God’s sake. We will not live in mansions by the ocean, drive Bentley’s down Hollywood Boulevard or have a spread in Forbes Magazine. We are not entitled to fortune and fame and all of that bullshit but, I truly believe, we are entitled to live and love and be happy.

Kanye and Yelp girl, and deadbeat dads alike, are likely not happy because they have failed to grow out of this ill-informed teenaged frame of mind, and who is to blame? An education system that socially promotes failing students. A probation system that does not enforce child support obligations. A societal construct wherein those who do are held to a higher standard of doing more, and those who don’t are allowed to do so. Diplomas become meaningless. Court orders become meaningless. Hard work becomes obsolete. The notion that “cheaters never win and winners never cheat” becomes discredited.

If you haven’t noticed, this has been pissing me off. A lot. But I’m working on that. I’m trying to be a better me, as the self-help books promote. I do feel strongly, though, that if I’m going to be a better me, you better be damned sure to be a better you. At least make an attempt to rise above your current level of slightly-better-than-complete-shit.

A dear friend of mine encouraged me recently to rise above as well, when I had vented my frustrations regarding my ex’s purposeful circumvention of a court order enforcing child support. I informed her that I did, in fact, intend to rise above him. In my car. As he crossed the street.

Then she asked me if I pray.

Uh oh. Now I know that I’m in trouble. 1. Because I don’t pray and 2. Because someone thinks I need to. Shit.

She went on to ask me if I have ever prayed for my ex’s happiness. She’s funny, right? She was serious, though. In case anyone requires further clarification pertaining to my feelings about my son’s father, the answer was an emphatic, enthusiastic NO.

Well, that’s not completely true. Sometimes I pray that he will drop dead, but that’s probably not going to get me into the EZ Pass lane to heaven, so I’ll just keep it simple. No, I don’t pray.

While I’m not necessarily a proponent of prayer, I am an avid fan of literary devices and she kindly followed up her spiritual request with an analogy. She said that being angry is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die. I think I’ve been drinking the poison for far too long now, so here comes the Hail Mary play.

I really don’t want to be angry and resentful but, quite frankly, like Kanye to his money, I kind of feel entitled to my anger at this point, and that’s difficult to let go of. It kind of reminds me of having a yard sale. You put all the shit you’ve spent years collecting out on your front lawn and then some asshole comes by and offers you fifty cents for it. The price you paid and the price they propose are incongruent and inequitable. But sometimes you have to clean house.

What pushed me to the brink of a homicidal rage, if you care to know, was ten dollars. Seriously, it was ten fucking dollars. After receiving a court order a few weeks back enforcing my ex to pay off some of the many thousands of dollars he owes in child support, he decided to see my court order and raise me one big fuck you. Rather than abiding by, you know, the law, he shorted me ten bucks that week. Just to be a dick, I presume.

In any event, I decided to heed my friend’s advice and take a shot at the whole “being full of grace” and praying thing. Of course, I decided it would be best to start tomorrow. Well, that particular tomorrow I found myself in a foxhole prayer situation. While I was preoccupied and supremely pissed about my ten dollars, I was bitch-slapped across the face with a legitimate reason for prayer.

That day, my other half – the better one, by the way, was involved in a four car crash on the highway. Everyone was alright, thank God, but cars were totaled, traffic delayed and nerves shot. Fire in the hole.

That night, I prayed.

I prayed for everything and everyone I am so fortunate to have in my life.

I prayed for family and friends.

I prayed for forgiveness.

I prayed because I was thankful.

A very long time ago, someone told me that if everyone in the world placed their troubles in a bag, when it’s your turn to choose, you better hope you pick out your own. I would choose my own. Not just because I am equipped and accustomed to coping with them, but because things can always be worse.

I am thankful to have been reminded of what is important, what is relevant and what it’s really all about. Life is about playing your hand, however shitty it may be, and beating the odds. It’s about starting at the bottom and moving up because, after all, the only way to get out of a hole is to climb. We can’t resign ourselves to remain in our foxholes paralyzed by fear and bitterness, eventually we must climb out, hit the ground running, and engage in the battle for our own happiness, with faith and hope by our side. Never say never. Never say I don’t want to. Never say I can’t.

So, here goes nothing.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

courage to change the things I can,

and wisdom to know the difference.

(And, if it’s not too much trouble, could you grant me a couple of those Hail Mary shots too? I’d really appreciate it)

Cheers and Bottoms up!

Enough is enough.

 

Suggested pairing for this reading: The Hemingway Special

2 ounces white rum

1 ounce Blue Curacao

2 ounces pineapple juice

1 ounce grapefruit juice

Splash of lime juice

Splash of Grenadine

 

Pour all ingredients into shaker over ice. Shake until chilled and combined. Serve in a chilled glass over crushed ice. Be like Hemingway: “drink to make people more interesting.”

 

I am putting the world on notice that I have officially had enough. I have had enough of my ex and his unrivaled ability to do absolutely nothing. I have had enough of seeing my son grow up without a functional father. I have had enough of always following the rules and doing what is right and having my efforts met with the exact opposite. I have had enough of refused visitation, ignored emails and withheld child support. I have had enough of hearing sob stories, seeing my son cry and smelling bullshit.

Enough is enough.

But when is enough really enough?

I know for sure when enough is enough with regard to a few things. Three glasses of wine is enough. Conversely, three cups of coffee is also enough. Four Advil is enough. (Unless, of course, three glasses of wine didn’t seem like enough the night before.) One Polar Bear Plunge is enough. Four dogs is enough. A job that fulfills me, a house to call home and a family to love is more than enough.

I am also well aware that there are certain circumstances that arise when enough is never truly enough.

The first and most obvious is cheese. As far as I am concerned, there is never enough cheese. Ever.

The remainder of the never enough category has become increasingly more obvious and equally impossible to ignore as we get older and wiser and acutely aware that the time we have on this Earth will never, ever be quite enough.

Ernest Hemingway once said, “Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

I am earnestly practicing Ernest’s proposal of breathing deeply but, lately, my deep breathing has been more like huffing and puffing and wanting to blow a certain someone’s fucking house down. I breathed in, filed a one hundred and fifty page court motion, and breathed out. I breathed in, anxiously awaited his response and didn’t get one, and breathed out. I breathed in, anxiously awaited our court date, only to learn that the judge would rule without oral argument, and breathed out. I breathed in, and now am holding my breath for the order to arrive in the mail, and I’ll keep you posted as to when I have the opportunity to breathe out.

Ok, so the deep breathing exercise, like all forms of exercise, seems to be something I have yet to master.

With regard to the second and third aspects of Hemingway’s revelation, however, I am a fucking rock star. Tasting food I have locked down. Whether it be a bag of Cape Cod chips and a bowl of onion dip, a cheese plate, a sushi boat, a medium sized bag of movie theater popcorn or a gallon of Turkey Hill Cookies and Cream ice cream, trust and believe, I got this. I live for food. I love it, I cook it, I dream about it and I will eat pretty much anything and taste the shit out of it. Hemingway would be so proud of me. I sure am.

The one and only thing that trumps food is sleep, and sleep trumps everything. I like to think that I am experiencing motherhood sleep karma at this stage in my life. For the vast majority of the first four years of my son’s life, he didn’t fucking sleep. Like ever. When he did, it was for approximately two to three hours and/or while I was holding him. Have you ever tried sweeping floors with a broom in one hand and a slumbering infant in the other? It looks idiotic and proves unproductive, but it does strengthen bicep muscles and single-parenting skills. My one-armed baby bandit days are over though, and I am absolutely making up for lost sleep. My sleep schedule begins no later than nine pm each evening and lasts until six o’clock in the morning. That’s right bitches, I sleep for nine hours a night, sometimes more. Nine glorious hours of uninterrupted, restful bliss, and I have earned every single second of them. I don’t care if “Making a Murderer” is on television, or if my best friends are having drinks at my favorite restaurant or even if there is a personal chef and a professional masseuse knocking at my front door; if it’s happening after nine o’clock, it’s not happening with me.

Trying to be wholly alive, however, is easier said than done. We are all so busy and bogged down and burdened with bullshit, sometimes being wholly alive is enough to kill you.

Existing is not at all the same as living. We exist day to day, waking up, going to work, running errands and repeating until the days we are alive become a blended string of successive repetitions with little to no meaning whatsoever. That is, until the universe throws a wrench in the machine we call life, and forces us to take inventory and take notice. These worldly wrenches typically come in the form of death, and rattle our sense of security and viewpoint on values. Nothing reminds you of what’s important quite like losing someone who is just that.

A year ago this past October, we took in a twelve year old rescue dog named Bear. He was a gorgeous Chow-Rottweiler mix from Pittsburgh who was in a pinch because his life-long owner was sickly and elderly. If no one took him in, there was a looming likelihood that he would be put to sleep, and I couldn’t stand to see that happen. Fast forward a year and here we were with a sickly and elderly dog, and a looming likelihood that he would have to be put to sleep. He had begun to have difficulty breathing and walking, and I was left with no choice but to bring him to see the veterinarian. The prognosis was poor and he was in pain, and I left that day with a heavy heart and an empty passenger seat. I also left that day with an overwhelming sense of guilt and a gut-wrenching emptiness. I left asking myself over and over if I had done enough.

And the truth of the matter is that I hadn’t.

Yes, I took him in when he needed a home. I cared for him when he was ill. I gave him kisses and hugs and treats galore. I spent time with him when I could, and loved him like I love our other four dogs. I loved him enough to let him go.

But it wasn’t enough.

Because, when it comes to love, it is never enough.

Too often, we take for granted how fleeting our stay is in this world. We disregard the rapidly ever-shortening calendar on the wall and maintain our position in a futile race to the finish, where we all realize the same fate. We forget to slow down and take breaks and appreciate the simple and the beautiful. We love each other, but naively expect that we will be granted an infinite timeframe to express that love, and when the door closes, we are sad and angry and empty. We are slapped across the face with the harsh reality that, not only was our time with our loved ones not even close to enough, no matter the amount, but also that we hadn’t done nearly enough to appreciate them while they were here.

Being wholly alive, as Hemingway proposes, requires that we be present and positive, grateful and available. We should be our best at all costs, for ourselves and for the ones we love so much.

Sometimes it proves damn near impossible to be our best, especially in the face of adversity or in the wake of loss. These are the times when it is essential to remember the “laugh like hell” component of Ernest’s eloquence. Laughter has become the best medicine for me. Maybe this is because I’m Irish or maybe it’s because I can’t afford therapy but, whatever the reason, humor is my go-to outlet for coping with crap. We should laugh at struggle, and stress and shitty ex-husbands. We should laugh at family conflict, and funerals and fucked up situations. We need to be able to laugh at our failures, our losses and, most of all, ourselves.

The anger part I have down, but I am becoming increasingly frustrated with myself for being angry lately. I am making half-hearted attempts at forgiveness and good ole Christian love thy neighbor shit, but I have yet to be successful in this department of self-destruction. I am angry. “Good and angry”, as a matter of fact, and it doesn’t seem to be getting me anywhere at all except, of course, more angry. I feel spiteful and vindictive, and a need to prove a point to my ex about where he has gone wrong and what he needs to do to fix it, and even though I dress these desires up as a warrior in my son’s army, in reality, it’s just a little girl crying over spilt milk. And again, this makes me angry. But I think I’ve been angry enough for a lifetime, and it’s time to move on.

And so this brings us back again to being alive, which is what I intend to be for quite a while, but despite having the best of intentions, I might not be. Whether we are here, living, for a minute, a year, a decade or a century, we need to be alive and aware of the fact that our time will never be enough. We need to do enough and love enough and live enough to make the most of the moments we have.

We should hug our children and hold onto our parents. We should build lasting relationships with friends and Legos in our basements. We should read books and write them, and leave legacies of love and progress. We should say what we feel, say what is true, and say the f-word for fuck’s sake. We should be honest and kind. We should be brave and bold, and a force to be reckoned with. We should be here now, be ourselves and be thankful for every second we are given to do so.

We need to be the best parents, the best children, the best siblings, the best friends, and the best all-around versions of ourselves as possible because, eventually, we won’t be anything but a memory.

Do everything you can as thoroughly, thoughtfully and thankfully enough as possible because, truth be told, enough is never going to be enough.

So, my advice, based upon Hemingway’s advice, is to live. Eat the cheesecake. Pick up the phone. Kiss goodnight. Dance on tabletops. Forgive the assholes. Stay up late. Love everyone. And forget sleep trumping everything. We can sleep when we’re dead. And according to the aforementioned author, “we’ll all be dead soon enough”.

Word from his mother.

Suggested pairing for this reading: The Sweet Taste of Victory

 

2 ounces Bourbon

¾ ounces Chambord liqueur

¾ ounces Simple Syrup

2 dashes Bitters

Fresh Blackberries

 

Combine all ingredients over ice and shake until chilled. Strain into glass and garnish with blackberries. Cheers.

 

For all that I lack in technological ability, organization skills, brain to mouth filter, whiskey consumption and the capacity to feign liking anything including, but not limited to lamb, chocolate, certain bureaucratic aspects of my job, social situations with any more than three attendees, and people in general, I’d like to think I make up for in vocabulary.

I like words. Like, in a super nerdy kind of way. The enjoyment that certain individuals experience reading gossip magazines, horoscopes, trashy novels and asinine tweets is gained, for me, via a thesaurus. #wordswithnofriends

You never know when or where the next new-to-you dictionary definition may slap you across the face. Prime example: My current favorite word, albeit an urban dictionary entry, is thickums, about which one of my students graciously educated me. By definition, thickums are girls who are a little bigger, but in a good way. Thickums are also serious producers of “Thicotine” which, according to my unofficial informational source, “keep the boys coming back for more”. You’re welcome for that little gem.

I also recently learned from a colleague that a quagmire is not only a complex situation AND a character on Family Guy, but also a soft area of grass that gives way underfoot. Well, giggity, giggity.

There is a certain level of gratification in finding the perfect word. I have perseverated for hours, unable to complete a chapter in my book, perusing the inner nooks and crannies of my brain for an exceptionally effective expression to replace some mundane, cliché term in an effort to illustrate my point in a specific and superb fashion. I have written and rewritten, edited and revised, wondered, pondered and obsessed in order to comprehensively communicate my innermost thoughts and feelings to the outermost edges of the blogosphere. Albeit frustrating, there is unfathomable and unexplainable fulfillment in composing an unsung symphony of vernacular, that which results in a lingual masterpiece. I am fully aware that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and, while I may produce something I believe to be the written equivalent to Beethoven’s 5th or the “non-existent” script to Vanderpump Rules, you may think it is complete shit, just as you may assert that my favorite Bravo show is such, and you are entitled to your opinion, as wrong as it may be.

Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, bitches. And just like I may not be able to appreciate your weird pregnancy photo shoot or your Instagram filtered photo of a meal from last night, we all have our artistic preferences.

In any event, as I stated prior to a sincere and heartfelt shout out to Jax and Stassi, I really love language. I read the word of the day online and try to incorporate new vocabulary into everyday conversation. I’m a dork, whatever. I like layered speech and plays on words. I live for games such as listing various “isms”.  As a matter of fact, I managed to momentarily wake from a beer, travel and toddler induced coma just to contribute the term pulmonary embolism, to one particular Atlanta-based, family edition of the ism game. Go me.  I thoroughly enjoy absorbing new information, engaging in thoughtful conversation and pushing the boundaries of opinion and so-called knowledge. Every lesson learned is a small victory, so far as I’m concerned.

I like to know things. I want to know things, therefore, I do not buy into the notion that ignorance is bliss. My son’s father and his parents, however, wow. They bought stock in that shit. They sell that theory as far as they can despite the fact that no one around here is buying anymore. They are truly the Billy Mays of Bullshit. They have their heads so far up their assess I’m honestly surprised that they do not function in a perpetually circular shape.

Contrary to their modus operandi, I think ignorance is stupid, or…well, ignorant as it were. I refuse to dilute myself into believing anything other than what I know to be true, and here’s what I know, in a nutshell regarding myself, my son and my ex-husband. If I knew how to create a table in a Word document I would, but words are my friends, diagrams not so much.

Me: I’m tough. I’m truthful. And I’m tired of fielding bullshit.

My son: He’s perfect. He’s perseverant. And he’s pretty much done with his father.

My ex:   He’s selfish. He’s sanctimonious. But he’s fucking stupid, at least when it comes to being a dad.

I don’t typically call people stupid but if it looks like an idiot, and quacks like an idiot then, duh.

The stupidity of this situation is significant but self-propelled. The specific district of Crazytown that my ex resides in is built upon a unique foundation of arrogance and ignorance, one that has created such a fortress of solitude that even an adorable eight year old cannot penetrate it. Stubborn as I am, I decided recently to attempt, one last time, to initiate an impeccably planned invasion on my son’s behalf, in order to coerce my son’s father out of Crazytown and back into the Parent-Hood.

Fortunately for me, my mission and my word bank, this battle cry came in conjunction with a handy-dandy addition to my linguistic repertoire. While I maintain a few go-to’s when discussing my ex, there is nothing better than learning a term that sums up a situation to perfection. Now, if Roget had a better term for douchebag than douchebag, then I would surely invest but, to be fair, it’s fitting and fantastic, and I love it. However, when initiating what has proven to be the most tactically challenging forward movement in our fight thus far, I had the pleasure of being introduced to what I deem to be the utmost fitting of terms for my present mission and potential outcome:  A Pyrrhic Victory.

Allow me to explain just how I came to know about the PV.

At the beginning of November, around the time that my child support arrears had reached a maximum, my patience a minimum and my son asserted that his desired interaction with his father is shooting him in the balls with a Nerf gun, I decided to file a motion in Family Court. I’m no dummy, but I’m no attorney either so I sought the advice of a dear friend and damn good divorce lawyer: she was my divorce lawyer to be precise, and when I say damn good, I mean that her unofficial slogan should be “don’t fuck with me”.

And you shouldn’t.

In a series of text messages, I outlined the mission of my motion and she suggested that I be clear with my intent and also give my son a Wet Willy from her. I heeded her advice on both counts and went to work.

But shortly before doing so, she simultaneously expanded my vocabulary and narrowed my focus by informing me of the likelihood of the specific type of victory I may encounter. Essentially, a Pyrrhic Victory is one that is won at such a great cost that it is tantamount to defeat. Basically, there’s a good chance that I’m going to go to court and win on paper, but I’ll be giving up so much shit it won’t even matter.

But it will to me, and here’s why.

What I am asking for in my court motion is only what is already owed, ordered or outright deserved.

What I am giving up in my court motion is pretty much anything I can in order to accomplish that.

Long story short, I am requesting that the court uphold orders already in place for overdue child support in an amount that would surely make you shit, counsel fees for the aforementioned awesome attorney and, last but not least, enforcement of an existing order for supervised visitation. Yes, you read that right. I am asking the court to force my son’s father to spend time with him. Oh my God, I am such a bitch.

In order to sweeten the deal for the defendant, I have volunteered several suggestions as to how to make this a win-win situation, however pyrrhic it may turn out to be. I have agreed to relinquish my right to the hefty sum of alimony on the account, in addition to taking on medical coverage for our son in order to keep it consistent and up-to-date. Essentially, I am giving up half of what we are owed in order to get half of what we are owed, and I’m beginning to see the basis of the “tantamount to defeat” argument.

Why am I doing this? The simplest answer to this question is that I have no choice. At this juncture, the relationship between my son and his father is so fractured, I’m uncertain if there is any hope at all of repairing the damage. But if I don’t try, I’ll never know and I owe my son more than that. I am willing to put in the effort that his father refuses to in order to give my boy the best chance at a functional relationship with a dysfunctional parent. He may not have the best dad in the world but I’m hoping that’s better than not having one at all.

So, I learned how to type a family court motion, pro se. And a certification. And a notice of motion. And a case information statement.

I learned how to cite case law. And support guidelines. And statutes.

I made photocopies. And tabbed exhibits. And mailed envelopes. Regular and certified.

And here we are today.

572 copies, 17 exhibits, 2 trips to the post office, 2 visits to the courthouse, 1 check and a self-addressed stamped envelope and countless hours later.

The victory, however pyrrhic, is in doing this on my own. It is confronting the situation head on, hoping for the best, and accepting whatever the outcome. It is in being honest and having hope, and I’d say that’s a victory in and of itself. I may lose on every count but at least I’ll go down swinging in my son’s corner.

It has been said that “victory belongs to the most persevering”, and I think that this circumstance is a prime example of that notion. The victor is not the one who yells the loudest or hits the hardest. The victor is neither the one with the strongest words or even the best intentions. He is certainly not the one with the biggest ego or smallest contribution.

Victory belongs to those who are faced with unimaginable obstacles and somehow manage to overcome. It belongs to those who fight uphill battles and find success against all odds. It belongs to those who discover strength despite struggle and develop integrity amongst adversity.

Victory belongs to my son because he puts one foot in front of the other and presses on. Because he refuses to fold his cards, even though he’s been dealt a shitty hand. Because he continues to grow and move forward, even when having to do so uphill, and his success is the sweetest victory imaginable.

Word.

Have Mercy

Suggested pairing for this reading: The Uncle Jesse

 

2ounces Old Grand-Dad Whiskey

½ ounce Cherry Liqueur

½ ounce Cynar Liqueur

Maraschino Cherries

 

Fill shaker with ice. Add whiskey, Cynar and cherry liquor. Shake until chilled. Fill rocks glass with ice and strain mixture into glass. Garnish with cherries. Cheers.

 

Every so often, as I march a path of vengeance and vindication, I am abruptly halted in my tracks by some unforeseen event or words of wisdom that force me to question my thought process, moral compass and modus operandi. Well, fuck me, if it didn’t happen again quite recently, and just in time for the holidays. A Christmas Miracle, one might say, especially for a special someone rightfully on the receiving end of my revenge fantasy rage, and Santa’s naughty list coal supply. This particular, let’s call it a “teachable moment”, for lack of a better word and for the sake of my inner educator, came right in the midst of a tour de force “bitter, hateful bitch” moment, as one of my readers so kindly indicated months ago.

A shout out to one of my favorite coffee mugs: “I’m not always a bitch. Just kidding, go fuck yourself.” Full disclosure. I don’t think I’m a bitch and certainly not the bitter, hateful variety, but I occasionally succumb to the indignant, internal volcano erupting within, and I will not apologize for that. Bearing witness to the persistent inner turmoil of a child really puts a bee in my bonnet, so to speak. Eventually and inevitably, that bitch of a bee is going to sting someone.

Sometimes I want to see this circus in my mind play out until the end. I want the Carrie bloodbath, the Hannibal Lechter face gnawing, the Saw – choose between your arm and your life kind of internal conflict. I’ve been all too often finding myself in a “make that fucker pay” state of mind, entertaining many a sublime daydream of hand to hand combat, and I certainly don’t appreciate being snapped out of it by some wise, thoughtful poet.

And then I was.

While on Facebook, oscillating between maniacal political posts, rescue dogs in need of homes and various annoyances including, but not limited to cringe-worthy ignorance pertaining to the current state of affairs in the Middle East and nauseating engagement photos (Really? These seem highly unnecessary and self-indulgent), my scrolling came to a screeching halt on a quotation that hit just a tad too close to home.

“Justice is the grammar of things. Mercy is the poetry of things.”

  -Frederick Buechner

I wish I were diluted enough to believe that this particular assertion hit a nerve within my inner English teacher but, alas, I have come to know myself too well to bury my head in that particular pit of quicksand. It seems of late that I have become accustomed to bookending my daily language arts lessons and writing workshops with commutes to and from work, wherein my focus and attention strays from traffic signals, pop music and cigarettes to perusing pedestrians for my ex, envisioning him crossing the road and fantasizing about running him over with my car.

I am wholly aware of the kind of person this makes me and, while I may be embittered and embattled with certain moral dilemmas, I am by no means stupid and would never act on such an ignorant impulse.

But there is pleasure in the plotting, truth be told.

Anyone who knows me well has undoubtedly heard me assert my desire to either stab him in the eye or run him over with my car, both by accident of course, those two methodologies being my “go-to” forms of imaginary assault and battery, just as “shit” and “sonofabitch” are my first lines of combative communication.

Amidst all of this verbal motherfucking and physical shadowboxing, on a quiet evening several weeks ago, after teaching lessons in grammar at work, I was taught, however unwillingly, a lesson in poetry. I was forced to reexamine my perspective and to question my motives. I ended up, through thoughtful introspection and unexpected conversation, reexamining my circumstances and reaffirming my beliefs. To a certain degree, I had been schooled by a simple statement.

I don’t particularly enjoy admitting that something so simple as a quotation could baffle me and leave my entire belief system staggering, and the fact that the blow was delivered by such a diminutive opponent only added insult to injury. In any case, twas time for some serious self-examination and reflection.

Maybe I am a bitch.

I may be functioning on a primitive, instinctual level, unable to grasp the figurative meaning of prose, but I want justice. Justice for my son.

I find myself frequently prefacing my moral assertions with “If I were in his position”, or “if it were me”, but those lines of thinking are frustrating and futile, and accomplish little more than a review of rules followed and rules broken. But I like rules. Rules are necessary, effective and, like literature’s societal counterpart, help shit get done and shit make sense. Grammar may be basic and boring but, without it poetry cannot exist. Everything ever written is merely a different combination of twenty six letters and, without the grammatical foundation to build upon, literature would be a nonsensical mess, much like Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Justin Bieber’s song lyrics.

Similar to grammar in its structure and stipulation, is physics. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. If you drink to excess, you will likely be hungover. If you get a DUI, you will likely have your license suspended. If you run your ex-husband over with a car, well, you catch my drift. The reactions to those actions are essentially justice and, while you may be begging for mercy while you’re vomiting martinis, who says you deserve it?

As they say in preschool, you get what you get and you don’t get upset.

This brings us to the poetry, and the variable in the equation that really had me scratching my head. Does he deserve mercy? From ME? On one hand, we have the deadbeat, douchebag dad that merits the tire tracks across his back yet, on the other, we have the afflicted, addicted alcoholic. Maybe justice isn’t the solution and mercy is the true means to the end.

There are fleeting moments when I do truly sympathize with him and his plight. His life is likely full of demons and destruction and void of any feeling of attachment or sense of accomplishment. He has no bank account, no credit card, no money to speak of, and a dead-end job as a waiter that seems to only propel these circumstances into an abyss of mediocrity and self-pity. He has as many DUI’s as I have dogs, an indefinitely suspended license according to the DMV, and insurance premiums that would make the health care industry jealous. He has a revolving door of significant others, no close friends and zero custody of his child.

Have mercy!

But, should I?

My mother and I employ the logic of the “kicking the puppy” predicament when pondering questions of this nature. Puppies are cute and sweet and adorable. Puppies give love and affection and companionship. Puppies sometimes chew shoes and remote controls and shit in the house as well, but does it help to kick the puppy? Does the puppy learn anything from that type of redirection, as it were, or do they just feel remorseful and ashamed and hurt? I believe puppies are worthy of our mercy, even when they’ve ingested nearly every quality pair of sneakers you have ever purchased.

After much careful consideration and with a clear conscience, I vow to be merciful, to be empathetic, and to be kind from this day forward. I promise to be understanding that sometimes certain negative behaviors will be exhibited, mistakes will be made and tears will be shed by a certain someone in my life. I give my word that I will be tolerant, compassionate, forgiving and patient because, after all, it isn’t right to kick a puppy.

And that’s just what my ex-husband does to my son, over and over and over.

My son deserves the mercy. He is the frightened, untrusting and dejected proverbial puppy, whose spirit has been so badly beaten by his father, his soul left cowering in the corner, awaiting the next stroke of disappointment by his father, the puppy kicker.

What kind of justice is that?

This lesson in grammar and poetry, justice and mercy, has taught me something poetic, something prolific, something priceless. I will walk my path through life with a renewed confidence in myself and my beliefs. I will drive my path to work with a constant reminder of the grammar and poetry of things, and instead of running him over, I will remember to have mercy. I will have mercy on myself and on my son.

And my car.

The Glass is Half Full

Suggested pairing for this reading: Half and Half

 

8 fluid ounces pale ale (Harp Lager)

8 fluid ounces stout (Guinness Stout)

 

This delicious beverage is the alcoholic “half-brother” of the Black and Tan, which is created using Guinness Stout and Bass Ale.

Fill half of a pint glass with Harp Lager. Fill the remainder of the glass by slowly pouring the Guinness over the back side of a spoon. Cheers!

 

After what seemed like a never ending week comprised of shortened morning class periods with wild children and lengthened afternoon meetings with their respective parents, I ventured out in the early hours of my Friday morning, for what I feared could be the most draining and disheartening parent-teacher conference of the week.

As I dropped my son off with his grandfather in the wee hours, the chill in the air caught me blindside with its forewarning of the dreaded winter to come, and the foreboding implication that this was to be a difficult morning.

The commute was short and silent, lacking sufficient time for a cigarette or adequate brain functioning for a morning news program. I arrived at the school just prior to my scheduled time, put the car in park, took a deep breath and ventured in, apprehensive as to what stood waiting on the other side of the classroom door.

The conference began promptly at 7:45am. The woman was kind and soft-spoken, light-hearted and light-eyed. A wolf in sheep’s clothing, maybe. We exchanged courtesies and sat in chairs too small, amid a mountain of report cards, data sheets and work samples. At this particular conference, I was not the teacher. I was the parent, and yet I felt more like the child awaiting their chastisement by the school principal.

And so it began, with my glass most certainly appearing half empty.

This saintly woman, who somehow has the patience and perseverance to effectively instruct and inspire, compliment and care for, redirect and reinforce, support and shape sixteen simultaneously angelic and devilish eight your old creatures, initiated our conversation by thanking ME for taking the time to meet with her, and expressing her gratitude for having my son in her class.

Well, my glass just got a little fuller.

She inquired as to my concerns, if any, regarding his progress at school and his progress report which, at that juncture, shame on me and my state of perpetual motion, I had not yet taken the time to view. All things being equal and in the spirit of full disclosure, I don’t typically give a shit about his performance on benchmark assessments, participation in invalid, ineffective standardized tests or his movement from a U to an S in application of units of measure. I know, I know, bad parent, bad teacher.

What I do care about is my son’s happiness. Is he making strides in his social development and interaction? Does he have friends in class? I pray to God he swings from the monkey bars, giggles with his groupmates and doesn’t eat lunch alone.

I am hoping beyond hope that he isn’t breaking his pencils anymore when his work becomes frustrating. I am desperately wishing that he is not shutting down at his desk when thoughts of his father’s abandonment enter into his mind. I am praying, with every ounce of my being, that he is no longer biting his own arms in rage because his life has dealt him a hand of cards that he is ill-equipped to play.

In that moment, that split second following a million silent pleases and prayers and just prior to a torrent of tears, a tiny miracle presents itself in a little classroom, in a too-small chair, where baby-steps are taken and milestones are reached every minute of every day.

“He’s doing just great” she tells me in a tone that was sincere and almost matter of fact, as if neither of us should be surprised. And yet I was.

Surprised at how much can change in year, how far he had come, and how full my glass was quickly becoming.

His teacher went on to expound on his vast and ever-growing vocabulary. She spoke of his love of graphic novels and goofy dances. She told of his above grade level skills in math and science and social studies, his love of art and affinity for all things creative. My son, despite what seems like a paternal crusade to prove otherwise, is a typical, happy third grader. And a star student, might I add.

She thanked me for providing my son with so many positive experiences to draw upon in conversation and in writing, qualifying her statement by adding that too many children have two parents in the home and little more to discuss than cartoons and video games. She told me that I was doing all the right things and, like a child given a pat on the back, I felt warm inside and nodded, both in acknowledgement and appreciation.

I left that parent teacher conference, the most unexpectedly fulfilling one of the week, with my glass filled to nearly three quarters. I left with tears in my eyes and a sense of peace that I had not felt in what seems like an eternity. I left feeling like a good parent. I left before my son arrived to have one more, in a growing series of good days.

When I arrived home last night, haggard but happy, I did finally sit down with a glass of wine and view my son’s report card. To my surprise, when I thought I could not be any more fulfilled, and my glass could fill no more, my heart nearly exploded. I scanned each of the subjects and their corresponding measures of progress, searching for a “not meeting grade level expectations”, and there were none to be found. Not one. Not one “one”. Twos and threes, and meeting grade level expectations across the board…..even, and most importantly, in the social emotional areas.

He follows directions.

He listens attentively.

He works independently.

He demonstrates self-control.

He exhibits a POSITIVE ATTITUDE toward learning.

It was enough to fill all the empty glasses and all the empty hearts and all the empty promises. My glass was full of blood and sweat and tears. And joy.

My glass was full of joy. And so was I.

At one point during the conference, I had asked if my son’s father had ever scheduled to meet with the teacher and her answer was no. While I was not surprised, I was disappointed. It saddened me to be reminded of how little he participates, how little he cares, how little he does at all to be a parent. Truth be told, however, he doesn’t deserve to take any pride in a conversation about our son’s success because he is arguably anything more than a failure. He has reached such a sad stage of narcissism and neglect, that the only thing his glass is filled with is booze and bullshit.

It may be full enough for him, but he will forever be empty.

As we sit here this morning, with what could have been a massive morning hangover, had it not been such a mind-blowingly magnificent conference, I write and he reads, newfound loves for both of us; the two of us nestled cozily together in front of the fireplace. I look at him with overwhelming pride and joy at the little person he has dared to become in light of his fine attributes and in spite of his father. I look at him with an admitted sense of accomplishment, albeit somewhat selfish, that I have in fact, done something right. I look at him with wonder, with gratitude, with love.

I look at my glass, and it is overflowing.

 

Solo Cup

Suggested pairing: Milwaukee’s Best

 

Pour beer in solo cup. Serve warm. Consume while playing beer pong. Regret later.

 

While in the waiting room at my son’s weekly therapy appointment, I found myself drawn to a New York Times article neatly placed on the rustic bureau in the office, amidst various periodicals ranging from Psychology Today Magazine to the local newspaper. Nearing the thirty minute marker of the visit, I had already exhausted my turns in several Trivia Crack games in addition to completing a phone conversation with the one friend I knew would be available to commiserate with, when I turned to the remaining solitary option of entertainment available to prohibit my mind from wandering to the endless options of unsavory, anxiety-inducing topics awaiting one-sided discussion in my mind.

The editorial outlined the many disturbing ways in which we circumvent the ever-uncomfortable task of acknowledging ourselves as independent entities, as well as our tendency to avoid our fears and insecurities regarding solitude and independent reflection. This puzzled me for many reasons. Why are we so resistant to being alone?

Not for nothing, but I’m pretty damn good company if I do say so myself. And I will say so myself because, quite frankly, if you don’t think I’m good company, I probably don’t think you are either so it’s a win-win all around. There are many notable quotables regarding the notion of no company versus bad company. “I’d rather be alone than be miserable.” “I don’t need anyone to make me unhappy, I can do that all by myself.” And as George Thoroughgood eloquently stated, “You know, when I drink alone – I prefer to be by myself”. Amen.

I find it ironic that I was so intrigued by this article, especially considering I had used it as a last resort to pass my time between consulting with my son’s therapist and writing a check that I may not be capable of cashing. Forty five minutes. Three quarters of an hour of elusive and glorious alone time, and I was struggling to find an acceptable means to pass it. I was treating this short respite as a kidney stone – I wanted it to be as quick and painless as possible. There must be something the matter with me.

There is obviously something the matter with all of us. Research indicates, according to several professional studies, that Americans today are willing to forgo the safety of themselves and others while driving, potentially risking lives, to send a text message just so that they do not feel alone. Not for one second. These same individuals, you and me included if you weren’t paying attention, are also more than twice as likely to administer a self-induced shock during periods of solitary confinement in an effort to avoid any prolonged period of self-reflection that may result in negative feelings. Well, what the fuck.

I know I started out by saying that I’m good company but, shit, I don’t want to hang out with someone like that, even if it’s me.

During my brief and somewhat disheartening period of self-assessment this evening, I have come to realize two things.

  1. I don’t get enough alone time.
  2. I should probably enjoy it more when I do.

It’s hard to fully embrace moments of solitude when you so rarely have the opportunity to enjoy them but, truth be told, they are fleetingly beautiful. Over the past several years, I have had the rare occasion to jet away for an evening of adult beverages and conversation and I, unwittingly and unconsciously, almost always, ruin them because I am ill-equipped to simultaneously handle and appreciate them. My inability to negotiate these moments in no way, however, detracts from their importance.

Solitude is an incredible thing. Being alone with ourselves, our thoughts, is an essential and spiritual experience, one worthy of recognition and appreciation. It is during these quiet, thoughtful, retrospective minutes that we are able to wander about our current happenstance and wonder about our future circumstance. This is a time to question what we know and love and to ponder what we may come to learn and adore. It is our time. OUR time. And we squander it on who we can tell, what we can post, where we can go. What a waste.

Reading this particular article made me wonder about so much. How are we willing to waste such valuable time on other people, on external forces, on the “maybe’s” and “good enough’s”? Have we reached such an inherent low that we are inclined to jeopardize our own well-being, and the well-being of others to satiate a desire for instant gratification?

We wonder why we are so sad and unfulfilled, and so prone to divorce and depression. How can we be surprised if we are so quick to settle for the immediate gratification over the long-term payoff? If we are willing to sacrifice our dreams, lower our standards and negotiate our bottom lines, then why should we be disappointed when the people we invite into our lives meet none of these requirements?

I would rather be alone. I will not, not ever, accept less than what I would give someone else. I will not, not ever, allow someone to treat me with less respect than I do them. I will not, not ever, give up a piece of myself in an effort to make someone else whole. I will not, not ever, not ever again.

I would rather be alone than be miserable. I would rather be alone than be anything else but who I am. I would rather be alone, because at least I know I would be in good company.

That is, of course, unless I were playing Beer Pong. Then, I’d rather be sinking Solo Cups than drinking solo.  And I’d prefer to be on the winning team.

But I’ll take the time to reflect on that at a later date.

Captain’s Log

Suggested pairing: Captain and Coke

Captain Morgan

Coke

Mix and enjoy.

 

Here’s one – quick and easy like the drink. Maybe I’ll start documenting the disgraceful, depressing email exchanges between me and my son’s father just for shits and giggles. The following email was sent to him this evening after yet another spectacularly shitty showing of fatherhood this week. What an asshole. Feel free to indulge in an adult beverage and enjoy the read. I’m indulging but not enjoying so much. Cheers.

“You said you were off tonight. Our son has tried to call you seven times. In the future don’t say you’re going to be around if you won’t pick up.
Also, you told him that you would let us know what day this week you would be able to see him at the bus in the morning. Tomorrow is Thursday. You have yet to indicate any day you would be coming in the morning. I’m assuming at this point that if you were in fact planning on showing up, it would be Friday since there are no other days left. Let me know so I can prepare him for the impending disappointment.”

Seriously?  Having to type these emails is the equivalent of having to ask a student to please remove his head from the sleeve of his sweatshirt.  Both of which requests were apparently necessary today.

Ugh.

 

 

 

What do you recommend?

Artwork by Marco Serido

Suggested pairing: The House Special

 

2 ounces Tequila

1/2 ounce Chambord

Orange Juice

Lemon Juice

Grenadine

Simple Syrup

Fresh Mint

 

Fill hurricane glass with ice.  Pour in tequila and Chambord.  Add orange juice, leaving a half inch at top of glass.  Add dashes of lemon juice, grenadine and simple syrup.  Shake until chilled and combined.  Garnish with fresh mint. 

 

Often a bartender is presented with an alarmingly ignorant and exceedingly irritating customer who invariably poses the dreaded question, “what do you recommend?”  If I may be so bold as to speak for all hard-working, patient, effectively, albeit begrudgingly, entertaining bartenders out there, I would like to provide the world with a clear and honest answer to this query in the hopes that it may never be uttered again.

I recommend you grow up, stop being an indecisive asshole, and choose a drink.

In an oddly fitting yet unrelated matter, I was gifted with yet another idiotic correspondence from my ex this week pertaining to his refusal to commit to any supervised visitation with our son. As I have many, many, many times before, I encouraged him to reach out to our son’s therapist in order to reestablish weekly supervised visitations.

His response was par for his douchebag course.

“I am not paying for someone to sit on his phone and read the newspaper to see my son. I need to see him and he needs to see me. Tell me other options.”

As I have so graciously done above for the bar patrons, I would like to provide him with a clear and honest answer to this query in the hopes that it may never be uttered again.

I recommend you grow up, stop being an asshole, and choose not to drink.

If for whatever reason this recommendation does not suffice, I shall gladly provide some additional options.

Option 1: Sober up.

Maybe if you weren’t so busy being a drunken asshole you would have more time to spend with your son.

Option 2: Get up.

You own a bicycle, yes? Hop on it, motherfucker, and come put your kid on the school bus in the morning.

Option 3: Pick up.

Ironically, you don’t pay your child support but you have an Iphone. Use it.

Option 4: Wake up.

If mail can be delivered on all the days that end in Y, surely it can be mailed those days as well. Write him a fucking letter.

Option 5: Listen up.

Your son’s heart breaks for a relationship with his father. Try being one.

Option 6: Man up.

For once in your pathetic, egocentric and empty existence, do for him instead of for you.

 

If all else fails, I recommend you go fuck yourself.

 

Cheers.