The Bottom of the Bottle

Suggested pairing: Rock Bottom

2 ounces vodka

2 ounces tequila

2 ounces gin

⅓ ounce lemon juice

⅓ ounce lime juice

⅓ ounce pineapple juice

 

Pour vodka, gin, lemon juice, lime juice and pineapple juice over ice.  Shake well until chilled and combined.  Strain into martini glass  Slowly pour in tequila.  Cheers, you’ve hit bottom.

 

Over the decade-plus that I’ve been, in one way or another, directly or inadvertently, coping with another’s alcoholism, I’ve heard the phrase “rock bottom” more times than I can count, and enough times to make me sick.  It’s come up in conversations with friends, disagreements with former family members, sessions with therapists, and sharings in Alanon meetings.  

Here’s what I’ve learned about rock bottom:

Rock bottom, as the Cambridge Dictionary defines it (and they seem to be a pretty credible source for words and shit) as an informal noun meaning the lowest possible level.  With regard specifically to alcoholism and addiction, the term rock bottom is often employed when an individual has devolved into a financial crisis, lost a job, destroyed a marriage, landed in jail, wrecked a vehicle, become violent, went cruisin’ for a bruisin’, rehabbed then relapsed, lost custody of a child or, in this case, all of the above.  Basically, it’s the type of place you’d never want to travel, the level of toxicity you wouldn’t wish on your enemy, and a sort of existence comparable to wearing a wool sweater over poison ivy while having to take a massive shit in an airplane bathroom surrounded by disgruntled flight attendants, wailing babies, passengers with significant body odor and, of course, snakes.

Rock bottom, as it is advertised in brochures and on television, is essentially a self-inflicted hell so deplorable that an individual vows never to return.  It’s brutal and pathetic and excruciating and shameful and lonely and bleak and endless. According to Google Maps, it lies at a proverbial fork at the end of a long road full of bumps and littered with denial and bullshit, where going left takes you to recovery and going right takes you to the mortuary.

Here’s what else I’ve learned about rock bottom:

Rock bottom is a myth.  

It’s a fantasy, a legend for alcoholics that is kept an arm’s length away, just close enough to intimidate and just far enough away to mediate.  It’s something that happens to dirtbags and losers and criminals, not high-functioning, upstanding, classy drunks who are “fine”.

Rock bottom is a unicorn, a false hope and a mirage for family members and loved ones.  It’s a broken promise that eventually things are going to get better, even after getting worse, and that someone they love will experience an imminent epiphany, miraculously turning their life around to be the walking ray of sober sunshine they were always destined to be.  It’s a futuristic event never present on the calendar, yet ever-present in the mind, that we wish for and pray for and cry for, but almost never arrives, because when it comes to a raging alcoholic, sometimes their bottle has a false bottom.

Rock bottom is bullshit.

Alcoholism, as I have come to understand it from my colorful experience in dealing with someone enveloped completely in its wrath, can become a perpetual cycle of destruction marked by big mistakes, bad behavior and bold-faced lies, all of which stem from a nearly impenetrable layer of denial, so thick that not friends nor family nor God himself are capable of breaking, because it is a one-sided mirror that people choose not to gaze into for fear of their own reflection, shatterproof from the outside-in but, from the inside-out, is able to cracked by choice and desperation and self-preservation, much like a fire extinguisher behind protective glass in the center of a massive blaze.  

Believe it or not, I have come to understand and somewhat sympathize with the plight of making a choice to surrender to this disorder, to accept responsibility and to begin the arduous process of recovery and rebuilding one’s life from the bottom up.  

When an existence has become so empty, so devoid of connection and meaning, it may seem too much and too late to change.  

But it isn’t.  Ever.

When bills have piled so high and expectations fallen so low, convictions become so frequent and meaningful relationships so rare, hope seems lost and only troubles can be found, it may seem like it isn’t even worth trying.

But it is.  Always.

I found myself frustrated and broken down again recently upon discovering that my son’s father had, yet again, been in jail.  Same story, different day.  He broke his own criminal record and spent a whopping two weeks behind bars on charges of criminal and defiant trespassing and was held without bail as a flight risk, since he is currently considered to be indigent, in addition to being an alcoholic and an asshole.

I only uncovered this little nugget of knowledge when I was forced to contact probation regarding nonpayment of child support.  Again.

Evidently, he’s been too busy getting intoxicated and incarcerated to provide for his son.  We all have priorities, I guess.

After cycling through the usual stages of grief and peaks and valleys of emotion I determined that, although I want to punch him in the face, I also want him to get better – not for me or even so much for him, but for our son.  My son deserves to have a dad, but he doesn’t deserve this.

I also began experiencing an impending feeling of doom that I may, in the near future, be in the terrifying and torturous position of telling my son that his father is dead.  

Sadly, this is a distinct and probable possibility at this stage in the drinking game.

My only motivation for the events and actions that followed were not wanting to tell my son his father was dead, and sincerely not wanting him to actually be dead, despite occasionally professing my desire to run him over with my car.

This was certainly a new type of bottom, at least for me.

I was notified on Friday evening, shortly after six, that he had been released, without bail, thanks to our stellar justice system and contrary to a plea otherwise by his family.  He was given his belongings and sent on his way, into a town full of bars with which he is all too familiar, with no one to call and nowhere to go.

I felt sad and sorry for him but, more than anything else, I felt that this was the beginning of the end.  I felt that the only window into the life that he once had was quickly closing and that, if there were ever a time he might be open to seeking help, this had to be it.

I called his mother.  We spoke about our anger and disgust, and we discussed our mutual desire for him to get better.  We spoke about his nonexistent relationship with his son, and she told me that for the last two weeks she believed her own was dead.  We spoke about how he had been cut off, by all of us in an effort to prevent any further enabling, and we discussed how, if at all possible, we could offer him support toward recovery right now.  

We decided that we would both reach out to him.

We would ask if he had somewhere safe to stay that night.

We would tell him that there are people who care about his well-being, and are extremely worried about him.

We would offer him support if he chose to end this cycle and begin the path to recovery.

We would not meet him at his rock bottom, but we would be watching over him from the top of the grave he has dug himself into, encouraging him as he climbed tooth and nail to get back out, to live.

But this was not his rock bottom, because he doesn’t have one.

See, the only thing that this particular knucklehead seems to be dedicated enough to do with any consistency or correctness is to dig more holes.  

I should have known better, but I have made peace with my decision because I believed it was worth making the effort even if there was only a slim and extraordinary chance he might want to change his life.

Sadly, he does not.

I did reach out to him.

On the fourth attempt, he answered his phone, probably assuming it was our son calling.

I asked him if he had somewhere safe to stay that night.

He chuckled and told me he did.

I told him that there were people who cared about his well-being and were extremely worried about him.

He laughed again and said there was nothing to be worried about.  He was fine.  He’d just been “out of the loop” for a couple of weeks.

I offered him support from his family.

He rejected it.

He deflected and denied and destroyed any sliver of hope remaining that he might get better.

I cried that night.  For him, for me and for our son.  

I realize now that I have reached my rock bottom in dealing with him and his alcoholism and, though he may never reach his, I can only go up from here.

I know for certain as I sit here today that he is going to die from this disease.

I know for certain as I sit here today that I will not allow it to kill me as well.

When he does eventually hit bottom, and we are watching over him from the top of that hole, it will not be to encourage him to climb out, it will be to say our final goodbyes.

It breaks my heart, but at least I know, and there is peace in the knowing.

Laugh Now, Cry Later

Suggested pairing: The Last Word

¾ ounce gin

¾ ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice

¾ ounce maraschino liqueur

¾ ounce green Chartreuse

 

Combine ingredients over ice. Shake until chilled and mixed thoroughly. Strain into a martini glass. Cheers.

 

Nobody likes to fail, or to fuck-up or to be forgotten. But it happens. It happens to the best of us, and it happens to the worst of us. It happens all the time and when we least expect it. Sometimes it happens by accident but often it happens because we fucking deserve it. Either way, when it happens, it sucks.

I find myself employing the wisdom of laugh now, cry later ever more frequently because I have the unique pleasure of simultaneously dealing with adolescents professionally, and alcoholics personally. Educating teenagers is equal parts heartwarming fulfillment and bad acid trip. Some days there are lightbulb moments and random acts of kindness abound, while others are spent essentially talking to myself, repeating the same instructions over and over and over to no avail, wherein each repetition, a small part of my inner educator dies a slow, painful death.

Luckily for teenagers, they know everything and are invincible. They choose to live in the now because the future seems like a distant, ridiculous notion where they are bound for perfection sans perseverance and triumph minus tenacity. When you are destined to be a famous You-tuber or professional athlete, little things like respect, responsibility and realism seem silly. One need not complete homework or report to detention when one is going to be a billionaire rapper. It is insignificant to appreciate the value of hard work, kindness and gratitude when iPhones and Air Jordans are doled out like candy, and your value as a human being is determined by the number of strangers who follow you on Instagram. Had my awkward years, and there were more than I’d like to admit, been laced with promises of prosperity and delusions of grandeur, I wouldn’t have looked ahead either. Why look to the future when the here and now is so ridiculously fucking awesome?

Which brings us to the laugh now, cry later principle.

It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye. Or a scholarship. Or a license. Or a loved one.

Usually, when somebody loses an eye it’s an accident. At least I’d like to think so. I can’t imagine anyone desires an eyepatch and a purposeful loss of peripheral vision, but I could be wrong.

In the case of those graduating seniors who had their acceptances to Harvard rescinded following the discovery of some unsavory social media posts, they are idiots and they deserve it, and ultimately proved they probably shouldn’t be going to Harvard in the first place.

Anyone who has lost their license knows they deserved it, and hopefully learned their lesson the first time.

The loss of a loved one, however, can stem from any number of devastating circumstances. Distance, desertion, divorce, disease and death can all result in unforeseen losses of individuals we love; some accidental, some outside of our control, and some because we’re assholes and we deserve it.

It’s been two months since my son has seen or spoken to his father. On April 30th, I took him to his uncle’s house, at my ex-in-laws’ request, so that he could spend time with the much less excellent half of his genetic contributors. He wore the roller blades that his better, maternal uncles had given him for his birthday, nearly the entire afternoon that he was there. They bought shit for a chicken coop, or something ridiculous like that. And, par for the course, they never fed him anything.

Sounds fun, right?

Oh, and his dad was there but he was “really sick”, so he didn’t spend much time with them at all.

Sick is an interesting descriptor for what was going on that particular day, but I’ll explain that later.

The week prior, I brought my son to that same uncle’s house to visit with his dad for the first time in quite a while, per his father’s request. He “really wanted to spend quality time with his son around his birthday”. Or, so he said. About an hour in, and a week past due on sending a birthday card or gift, I got a call from the uncle’s house phone.

It was a sad whisper.

“Hi Mom.”

“What’s the matter?” I asked, panicked.

“Nothing, mom. I just thought I’d call you because my dad fell asleep.”

He had been there just shy of an hour and a half. What a complete asshole.

“Do you want me to pick you up?” I already had my keys in hand.

“No, that’s ok. Well, yeah, maybe.”

And off I went.

So, this was the quality father-son time my ex had been seeking. For the two hours they would spend together that month, rather than playing catch or doing a puzzle or taking a walk, he flipped on the television and took a nap.

Needless to say, my son lost whatever little interest he had left in seeing his father, as well as whatever microscopic amount of respect for him he had clung to.

That was April. Two months have gone by with my boy refusing any type of communication from his father. He doesn’t want to see him. Ever. And, quite frankly, I don’t blame him because I don’t have any interest in seeing his pathetic ass either.

But, oh joy, I got to see him last week in court.

My first morning of summer vacation was spent in court for child support enforcement which, if you have any experience in this arena, and I hope you don’t, is an oxymoron, because nothing is actually ever enforced. It’s pretty much a big fucking joke. But I go anyways because you just never know what kind of fun is in store when my son’s father is involved.

Somewhere in the midst of his pity party and lies about filing motions for a reduction in payments, he was asked when the last time was that he’d been incarcerated for failure to pay. The answer, in case you’re wondering, was December 23rd. The judge, on that day and every other, was “not inclined” to hold him despite his historically consistent lack of compliance, and released him with the promise of a payment the following week, a Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

The next question the hearing officer asked him if he had been incarcerated for any other reasons recently and his answer was a hard no. What was harder than his no, however, was the way in which the probation supervisor’s head whipped around, simultaneously giving him a death-stare and me the high sign that something was fishy up in this bitch.

With an indignant chuckle, he promptly changed his answer to yes. This is a prime example of the laugh now, cry later scenario. Shit’s funny right up until it comes back around to bite you in the ass.

Remember when I said that he was “too sick” to hang out with his family that Sunday in April? Evidently, sick translates to hungover and recently released from the slammer.

Since I get by with a little help from my friends, we were able to sleuth around until we discovered the reason for his recent captivity. He had been arrested, tried and convicted of criminal trespassing on his most recent ex-girlfriend’s property. Now, this brings me back. Back to the days of my own final restraining order, and back to the day when he shit on another ex-girlfriend’s driveway while honing his harassment repertoire. I nearly shit. Figuratively, and not on anyone’s driveway, of course.

I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t have a bit of a laugh at this juncture. I mean, seriously, it’s just such a state of ridiculousness that I have to find humor in it. Conversely, I know it’s sad. His life is empty and pathetic and chaotic and, as a human being, I empathize with his plight. But it ends there.

I can’t care about a person’s life when they don’t care much about it themselves, and I certainly can’t be bothered feeling bad for someone who wreaked havoc and destruction on an innocent child’s emotional well-being.

As such, when he made yet another request to see our son yesterday, I informed him that his son does not wish to see him. I also informed him that, if and when he were to get his life back on track, I would strongly encourage my son to be open to a relationship with him. I reminded him that he done messed up, A-A-Ron, and the only person that can change it is him. Not that he will. And my son knows that all too well.

You see, my resilient rugrat has been handed so much disappointment by his father that he has given up on him. Years of forgotten birthdays, cancelled plans, lack of involvement and intermittent trauma have added up. They have added up to a pathetic, devastating, insurmountable nothing. And that’s what he’s giving back to his father now. The big, fat fucking nothing he deserves, in the form of silence and persona non grata. And he isn’t giving in.

Having the last word is a curious thing. It’s a boundary and sometimes an end, but it’s a show of power and authority. My son, at ten, has taken back that power. He has outlined the terms of his relationship, or lack thereof, with his dad, and that has afforded him some level of solace at the center of this shitstorm.

Having the Last Word, at least as far as the cocktail is concerned, is also a fascinating concept. This particular Prohibition-Era beverage was a popular and expensive bevvie in its hey-day, but fell into relative obscurity for many years thereafter. Its appeal never completely died, rather it became a sort of Zombie elixir, wandering in oblivion from the end of WWII until it was revived in 2004 by a funky bartender at the Zig Zag Club in Seattle. It was forgotten, but not gone, much like my ex is becoming to our son.

It’s awful and tragic and certainly no laughing matter but, as I told him when he asked to see our son, I’ve seen it coming for a long time, and he was just too blind or too self-absorbed to ever think it would happen. He’s fucked up and he’s eventually going to be forgotten, but it’s no accident. He deserves it.

There is a scene in The Blind Side where Leigh Ann Tuohy schools the football coach on how to effectively deal with Michael Oher during practice. When the coach approaches her, dumbfounded as to her wisdom, she reminds him that she’d said he could thank her later.

“It’s later.” She says.

It’s been said that he who laughs last, laughs best and, while that may be true, what’s truer is that he who laughs now, cries later. So here are my last words of wisdom. He should have planned accordingly, because, guess what?

It’s later.

Nothing But The Water

Suggested pairing: Scotch and Water

2 ounces Scotch Whiskey

5 ounces water

 

Pour Scotch and water into highball glass over ice and stir. Reverse ratios of ingredients depending upon shitty circumstances.

Cheers.

 

When all else fails, when all hope is gone, when all things being equal are also extraordinarily shitty and disappointing, the one constant, therapeutic outlet that forever remains is music. When people suck, from the father of your child to the president-elect, we must rejoice and praise all that is holy for the few saving graces and alcoholic beverages we have left.

Music, a colorful, lyrical tapestry, weaves us together in some strangely magical way, comprised of threads from all walks of life, every shade of emotion and the sum of individual and universal experience.   It has the ability to transport us to another place and time and to transform us into better, wiser versions of ourselves. Sometimes the melody of life is joyful and exuberant but, too often, the song is deep and dark and mournful. In the end, however, the beats and notes and words come together to form the soundtrack of our lives and the lives of those around us, despite those of us who are deaf to tone and blind to beauty.

Feel free to sing along.

For my birthday several years ago, my brother gifted me with a much-needed night on the town, fully equipped with equal parts food, drink and live music. The one surprise ingredient that altered the flavor of the night for the better, the worse and the life-changing, was an abundance of angels-crying, clothes-soaking, bone-chilling torrential rainfall.

I met him at his apartment that evening in Weehawkin; a typical single, male-centric, moderately cozy abode, occupied by near strangers-turned-roommates and accentuated with a thin layer of grime and a thinner veil of hospitality. One of the inhabitants appeared as pleased to meet me as he was to know that we were on our way out, and the other was behind closed doors, arguing with his then, sort-of girlfriend. Upon admiring the crown molding in the living area, promptly followed by admiring the food molding in the kitchen, we began our journey into what became a record track that would continue skipping as future days came and went.

The upside to living in “The Littlest of Hawkins”, as my brother fondly called it, was that a bus stop was never more than a few steps away, and a bus arrived as often as a potential new, but short-lived love interest. He reminded me that, although the rain had begun coming down in sheets, our ride to the city would be there quicker than I could light my cigarette in the wind.

This, in fact, was not the case.

As we stood at the corner shivering from the cold, my mascara dripping from my lashes and my smile running from my face, we eventually succumbed to the reality that we were going to be waiting longer than planned for transportation, so we employed the umbrella we had between us in a last-ditch effort to rescue my cigarette, and save whatever dryness and dignity we had left.

Our refuge was short-lived, however, as the umbrella rapidly turned against us, violently flipping itself inside-out and darting from my brother’s cold, wet hand. We watched it dance away from us, taunting and ridiculing our predicament, frolicking on its own in the rain, likely never to be seen again. It was a heartless jerk of an umbrella, but it was a broken one nonetheless, so we certainly could not fault it for running off like a thief in the night.

But, goddammit, we were fucking soaked.

Despite our misfortune, we ventured on into the big city in search of the Irish pub at which we had pre-show reservations. It only seemed fitting that since we’d lost our one tool to combat the elements, we would walk nearly a dozen blocks in the wrong direction, and have to backtrack, maddened and marinating in Mother Nature, but still laughing all the way.

My jeans had turned a shade of blue I hadn’t known possible from being steeped in nature’s tea, and my cheeks an ugly, bright shade of pink from the dampness and disgruntlement I felt. But we had bevvies and snackies and, thus, life was good.

We reached the show still soaked, but full of short ribs and whiskey and, as though the stars had aligned upon our arrival, as we took our places on the balcony and raised a toast, the lights went down and there stood Grace Potter.

With platinum hair and a sequin dress short enough to make Tina Turner blush, she delved into an a cappella rendition of a song I’d never heard but will surely never forget.

In that perfect moment in time, the world held its breath and stood still, the only slight movement remaining was the broken umbrella dancing far off in the distance. These words, a vocal masterpiece and an ironic testament to everything I was experiencing, sent a chill through me that still creeps up my spine each and every time I hear them.

“I have seen what man can do When the evil lives inside of you Many are the weak And the strong are few But with the water We’ll start anew

Well, won’t you take me down to the levee, take me down to the stream,

Take me down to the water, we’re gonna wash our souls clean.

Take me down to the river, take me down to the lake, Yes, we’ll all go together, we’re gonna do it for the good lord’s sake”

 

The rain that night took on an entirely different meaning.

We’ve all seen what evil men can do. We’ve seen it in schools and gay clubs. We’ve seen it on the news and on the campaign trail. We’ve seen it in the frightened faces of battered women and neglected children.

I’ve seen it too many times lately with my son’s self-centered, narcissistic, alcoholic father. I’ve seen it in my empty child support account. I’ve seen it in the pictures of expensive dinners on his Facebook page, when he should have been spending time with his son. I’ve seen it in meaningless court orders and cancelled plans. I’ve seen it on the face of my child when his miserable excuse for a father fails to even give him a card for Christmas.

And it makes me angry.

It fills me with rage.

It claws at me to seek vengeance.

I have toyed with many a revenge fantasy, in fact. I have dabbled in letters to the editor and “poke the bear” emails that, all in all, haven’t gotten me anywhere. I have, more frequently than I’d like to admit, searched for a certain drunken asshole on the sidewalks in town, hoping for the chance to run him over, then back over him and do it again. I have imagined throwing myself a boozy book-release party at the restaurant where he is employed, requesting him as a server, complaining about him to his boss, and not tipping him. I have considered purchasing a billboard on the highway and plastering that fuckface across it, labeling him “Father of the Year” for all to see. Around the holidays, I thought it festive to place an ad on Craigslist with his phone number, advertising hundreds of available “free Hatchimals”. Mostly, I just want to inflict upon him a miniscule fraction of the pain he has caused my son. While some of my fantasies border on the psychotic, and others just flirt with the boundaries of the law with regard to stalking and harassment, all of them make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. But it’s only a fleeting moment of ecstasy because, inevitably, morality and integrity go ahead and ruin it for me.

Then I remember the water, and the ability and necessity to wash our souls clean. And the grace of Grace.

I remember this:

I have fallen so many times For the devil’s sweet, cunning rhymes And this old world Has brought me pain But there’s hope For me again

 

I remember that there is hope for all of us.

Hope for the deadbeats.

Hope for the addicts.

Hope for the bigots and racists and ignorant masses.

Hope for even the big fucking assholes, I think.

There is hope for us all and, sometimes, it’s not a prayer or a friend or a big, ugly cry that reminds us of that.

Sometimes, it’s just a damn good song.

“Midnight Train to Georgia” reminds me that there is beauty in simplicity.

U2 often reaffirms for me that I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

Shamelessly, and on many an occasion, Miley Cyrus has prompted me to have an impromptu “Party in the USA”, and I won’t apologize for that.

On that night, and on many since, Grace Potter has reminded me that there will always be evil but there is always hope.

On that night, in spite of myself, I reveled in the rain and rejoiced in nothing but the water and, when the show was over, my soul was content.

When the bus dropped us off late that night in the littlest of Hawkins, the rain fell gently upon us, the music beat comfortably within us, and our broken umbrella tripped the light fantastic right across our path, as though it had been waiting for us to return, at the same freaking bus stop where we had lost it hours earlier. I’m not quite sure what that Totes motherfucker was doing while we were at the concert but, whatever it was, it seemed to oddly align with our evening, though in some bizarre, umbrellacentric parallel universe.

Maybe it was time to say goodbye to all that was broken and let go.

We did not retrieve the umbrella, though maybe we should have, as it seemed perfectly content wandering the world battered and alone. Maybe it was time to say goodbye to all that was broken and let go.

We cannot always get back the ones that got away.

We cannot always mend the troubled or repair the ruined.

We cannot fight hate with hate or darkness with darkness.

But there is always hope.

And there is always the water, and the chance to appreciate the rain.

 

 

And…that is where this was supposed to end, but honesty is the best policy.

I’m not perfect by any means and, truth be told, a great deal of my hope lately has been that a certain someone drops dead. I know that’s just terrible but it’s the truth. He is the broken umbrella – the one I can’t fix or save, yet still the one that haphazardly drifts in and out of my path, fucking up our ability to move forward. I have survived many a storm without his assistance and will continue to do so. I have learned to dance in the rain and to appreciate it. But it’s not always easy and it certainly isn’t always beautiful.

And that is why I will just continue to hope that he gets what he deserves.

I hope he is disgusted with himself.

I hope he wakes up one day and cries, mourning the relationship he could have had with his son.

I hope that he doesn’t get invited to my son’s games, parties, graduation or wedding because he doesn’t deserve to be there.

I hope his new idiot girlfriend breaks up with him when she realizes that he’s using her for her house, money and car.

I hope that he loses his current job for being drunk and belligerent at work and is forced to work his way from the bottom up like the rest of us.

I hope his parents cut him off.

I hope he gets help and gets off his high horse.

I hope he chokes on his big fucking shrimp from Uncle Vinnie’s and dies.

I hope he reads this and gets mad as hell.

And I hope, as noted above, that it happens for the good lord’s sake.

 

 

“But, now, nothing but the water is gonna bring my soul to bare.” And maybe a little wine, too.

A Sweeping Apology

Suggested pairing:  The Clean Sweep

 

 

8 ounces simple syrup

6 ounces gin

2 ounces dry vermouth

2 ounces lemon juice

8 ounces champagne

4 lemon twists

 

Combine gin, vermouth, syrup and lemon juice in a shaker with ice.  Shake until chilled and strain into 4 champagne flutes.  Top with champagne and garnish with lemon twist.

Toast to all the cheap, lazy, selfish fucks who take care of themselves rather than taking care of their children.

Cheers, deadbeats.

 

 

I would like to extend my sincerest apologies regarding my efforts to enforce child support payments for my son.  I have, over the past five years, made countless phone calls, filed court motions and sent emails to various government representatives ranging from the probation department to the office of the governor, himself, all of which were obviously a waste of my time and theirs, as the response has been consistently a lack of response and most certainly action.  Many of these attempts on my part to recoup a fraction of the $35,000.00 owed to me and my son by his father have been met with irritation and inaction, and I am very sorry that I have occupied anyone’s precious time with trivial issues like trying to feed and clothe my child.

I would also like to apologize to all of the deadbeat parents out there for not writing this letter sooner, for I may have been able to assist them in their continued efforts to circumvent and manipulate the child support system.  I am sorry that you may have been wholly unaware that words like mandatory and court order are just that – words, worth little more than the paper they are written on.  I’m sorry if no one had the decency to inform you that paying child support is merely a recommendation by the state and, if you choose not to pay regularly, or at all, there is a likelihood that you may continue to exist without consequence, barring the suspension of your all-important fishing license.  While the state may conduct occasional sweeps in an effort to force payment from deadbeats like you, even in the rare case you are arrested, the time spent in jail and the amount you will be required to pay are both arguably minimal.  I am sorry that there is no guide distributed as to the many simple ways in which you can simultaneously cheat your child and the system so, in order to right that wrong, I would like to provide you with a few pointers.

Quit your high-paying position and become employed at a restaurant where the majority of your income is cash and unaccounted for.  The state will be unable to garnish your paychecks and you will be able to keep that hard-earned money out of the greedy little hands of your children.

Be certain to rent an apartment, rather than buying, because if you don’t own anything at all, the state will be unable to place liens on your property or take something from you just to give it to your kids, who will surely waste it on back-to-school supplies and toiletries.

While most functional adults maintain bank accounts, you likely aren’t one, so it would behoove you to keep all of your cash stashed under your mattress so that the government can’t find it and take it away before you are able to go on that vacation you so desperately need, from those children you obviously don’t take care of.

Feel free to ignore your obligation to pay your taxes if, in fact, you are anticipating a refund, because the Federal Offset Program is just going to defer those funds to your child support account, and that money will likely be wasted on ridiculous luxuries like sneakers and antibiotics.

I’m sorry if you’ve ever felt threatened by bench warrants because the enforcement process is so extensively flawed that, even if you fail to make weekly payments you will be given the benefit of an additional ten days to make a deposit before any action is taken at all.  Take your time, because minor expenditures like braces and college can surely wait, and you have places to go and people to see.

My regrets extend beyond that of the dysfunctional parents and probation system.  I am also deeply sorry to all of the single, working parents who exist paycheck to paycheck, spending all of their time, money and energy making up for the aforementioned “parents” and their total lack of involvement.  I am sorry that, while you continue to do everything right for your children, your parenting counterpart is allowed to do everything wrong and get away with it.  I apologize if you have wasted time and money filing court motions that result in meaningless stacks of paper and marginal relief.  I am sorry on behalf of the individuals who have met your calls and emails and letters requesting enforcement with a condescending tone and dismissive attitude.  I am sorry for your tears, anger, frustration, late nights, long days, empty bank accounts and cheated children.  I am very sorry to tell you will have to work even more because your child’s other parent works less, and this system doesn’t work at all.

I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to the many, forgotten children who are forced to go without.  I am so sorry that you may be hungry or angry or lonely.  It saddens me that you may experience suffering at the hands of a lousy excuse for a parent, and that you have become the collateral damage of someone else’s selfishness and indolence.  I am sorry because you deserve more and you should have better.

Last but not least, I would like to offer both my appreciation and apologies to the great state of New Jersey.  Thank you for assisting all of us in providing for the physical, emotional and financial needs of our beautiful children by maintaining such a consistent and predictable enforcement system.  Thank you for repeatedly asserting that there is nothing more you can do, despite the fact that there most definitely should be.  I am very sorry for expecting more for my child, from his father and from the powers that be.  Thank you for conducting semi-annual child support sweeps in a concerted effort to force deadbeat parents to take responsibility and care for our children.  While I deeply appreciate these sweeps, I am very sorry to inform you that, with all due respect, you missed a spot.

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.