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.



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!

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