Freak!

That’s what Josh Hein called me as he slapped me on the back in the church parking lot on a cold night in 5th grade.

Freak.

What did that mean? How was I a freak? What were my freakish features? I don’t want to be a freak.

Those thoughts swirled through my head as I cried and twirled my hair around my fingers. My hair. That I’d labored long and hard to make “perfect” for that evening’s mass. My hair. That was incredibly difficult to manage. My hair. On top of my head. My freakish head.

Why?

That slap on the back changed the course of my night, and at least for the next few weeks (ok months). And, for whatever reason, maybe insecurity, maybe mildly traumatic, I’ve remembered that night from time to time. Why did Josh do that? I thought we were cool? I mean. Weren’t we cool? I’m certain it wasn’t because he “liked me.” (I hate that and I wouldn’t do that to anyone I liked).

I thought about that night most recently when I was picking up groceries at Walmart with my family. As I was loading, some guy hung out the passenger’s side of best friend’s ride (like a SCRUB, thanks TLC), and yelled “Nice **** for a little boy!”

I froze. I didn’t turn around. I was thrust back to 10-year-old Danielle– shy, insecure, proud of her ‘do that took hours to perfect. I’m 35 years old. I’m being called a freak. I shuttered. I got back into the car.

What did that mean? How do I look like a boy? What were my boyish features? I don’t want to look like a boy.

Those thoughts competed with my very adult thoughts of: Don’t let some dumb kid bother you. You’re a woman. You’re not a kid anymore. Let it roll.

And those thoughts competed with my friends’ thoughts of: He’s a bully. He’ll say anything to make himself feel better. He’s probably jealous. He probably likes you.

I choked back tears as I twirled my hair. My unmanageable, messy hair on top of my head. My boyish head.

I tried not to give this event a second thought but the thoughts kept creeping back up, third thoughts and fourth thoughts. I sought reassurance by telling this story to my close friends and I got what I wanted, unsolicited compliments and offers to “kick his ass.” It helped. They’re great.

I didn’t realize why it really bothered me until I matched this story up with something that happened 25 years ago. It was Josh. He was calling me a freak again. He was slapping me on the back and invalidating me. Years of growth, success, unabashed vulnerability and just plain life-living and here he was again, to bring me back down.

And it worked! Why? Why did it work?

Why do strangers with an opinion have so much effect on us?

Why do THEY make US feel like freaks?

Abuse punctuation for the right reasons

“It is my destiny to know people who abuse punctuation.”

I nearly spit out my coffee when I heard this line from “Hidden Bodies.” Caroline Kepnes sure has a way of developing a psychopathic murderer whose sense of humor aligns nearly perfectly with mine.

Joe Goldberg (said murderer from Hidden Bodies and YOU) was talking about his coworker and later landlord, who were so overly enthusiastic you could see the exclamation points flying out their mouths.

omg-exclamation-pointsNaturally, he’s extremely annoyed. I, too, am annoyed. Joe and I, we have a lot in common, less the whole vengeful stalker, killer bit. Joe and I also agree that it’s pretty difficult to hate someone who is that enthusiastic about nothing, about life.

I’m not the cheerleader type (shocking reveal, I know), and cheerleaders annoy me (equally shocking). But… sometimes you need that extra positivity on an otherwise mostly negative day.

I used to have a neighbor, I nicknamed him “Gipper” because he was always eagerly waving and shouting his obscenely friendly “Hi-diddly-hos!” It was almost surreal. I suspected he was some sort of serial killer (we still don’t know for certain). However, when he bounced around his yard with his 4-year-old daughter, I couldn’t help but smile at his ridiculous, annoyingly good parenting.

Over the years, I learned a thing or two from Gipper. Friendliness goes a long way and positivity doesn’t have to be forced… and it’s possible to use exclamation points for emotions other than anger.

Today, I welcome those who abuse punctuation. Five exclamation points in an email used to annoy me (no one is that excited about cookies). But now, it’s a little infectious.

Have a good week!!!!!

 

 

Is “busy” the only good excuse?

I didn’t work on this speech this weekend. 

That’s ok! You have 3 kids, you must’ve been really busy.

I didn’t go grocery shopping this weekend.

That’s ok! You were busy.

I forgot about that deadline.

You just have so many things going on.

I haven’t blogged in a week or so and I have no excuse. Have I been busy? Not really. Do my 3 kids require attention from me 24/7? Not really. In fact, I had several free hours over the weekend that I filled with light reading, heavy reading, working out and roaming around Target.
I wouldn’t say I’m too busy to do anything. I just dont’ want to.

I don’t want work on that speech, I’d rather indulge in a movie on Koty, or play board games with my kids, or do a mix of light and heavy reading. I slacked off and “busy” is not my excuse.

Lazy? Yes.

Different priorities? Yes.

I spend the weekend taking in everything I possibly could, from the beautiful weather to eye rolls from my daughter’s beautiful big browns; from a tutorial on comedy writing to George Orwell’s 1984; from Mighty Ducks to Sister Act; from the home section to the freezer section, I took it all!

It was relaxing… and I was consumed with guilt. 

I didn’t get milk (or EGGS!). I didn’t practice my speech. I didn’t write on my blog. I didn’t finish anything I started.

So today when I replied, “No, I didn’t really get anything done this weekend,” and my coworker offers up a classic “you were probably so busy” excuse, I took it. Shamefully. 

“Yes. That was it. I was just so busy.”

Busy enjoying my life.

March on! 

Today was a momentous day in history.

Nearly 3 million people (estimated)  participated in The Women’s March worldwide!

Many people (with countering political beliefs) may think this march was a hissy fit or some sort useless outcry. At first, I thought, what’s the point? Trump will still be president in the morning. Nothing will change.

I think I understand a little more now why millions of women and men – feminists – across the globe gathered to march today. And it’s the same reason I think many people voted for Donald Trump in the first place: fear.

Fear that our civil rights will be lost. (Among other things, of course)

As all election years are, 2016 was brutal between the right and the left. However, it seemed that more than ever, they were soooo extreme. Too extreme. I don’t think you could get more opposite than a bull-headed, feminist woman and a misogynistic man. I mean, I guess it’s possible but this was a lot to handle.

When my kids came home and told me things their friends (2nd grade!) told them at school, I was mortified. These were gory, specific things kids don’t make up, but things they overhear from adults. It’s scary to hear what untruths were being shared.

When Donald Trump won the election, many people felt betrayed. Betrayed that people we respected (respect) would vote for someone so crass. To them (us), it felt like, our peers/friends agreed with the things (all the things) he said/did. It hurt. It hurt because many of us thought we all agreed that we abhorred those disgusting, offensive things. Then, it was like we were Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed. Standing on that front porch all dressed up, and then pelted with eggs. We felt alone. We felt like failures.

But we were wrong to think that. Just because people voted for him, it doesn’t mean they share each and every one of his beliefs. I admit, I agree with a few things he stands for and even more now that the ridiculous carnival is (mostly) over. I think, we all value certain political ideals over others. And we have to weigh the importance of those values when we cast our ballots. Not everyone is as extreme as the candidate they vote for. 

So yeah. I’ve “gotten over it” and I’ve “accepted it.” He’s my president. He’s all of our president. 

Not all women who marched in the Women’s March are expecting something to happen. Yes, there are extremists. But many of us just want the reassurance that we are not alone. That we haven’t failed. And, that we won’t lose these rights because there are millions of us who will still fight to keep them, if they ever are threatened. 

We want to be fearless.

I’m going to quit my job and draw

Donnie and I were watching a Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates the other night. I saw it on our list but avoided it because sounded like one of those college-age, binge drinking, sleeping with everyone in sight style movies. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen American Pie. I thought it was hilarious. At the time. 

Maybe it’s my age. Maybe I have higher standards for movies now. I can’t even look at those American Pie actors without mentally rolling my eyes.

However… we were tired of browsing and settled on this one. Have I sufficiently convinced you that I don’t typically watch this type of movie? Ok then, we watched it reluctantly. And I’m shocked to say that it was hilarious. I actually put my phone down and got into the movie. Then we got to the end. Zak Efron’s character decides he’s going to quit his job and draw full time.

I lol’d. Ok. A lot of this movie was somewhat belieavable, but seriously? You’re going to quit your steady job and live with your parents and survive somehow on… drawing?  “Become a graphic novelist” to be precise. I love drawing. I’d love to make money from drawing. It’s just not realistic. In real life, we have to pay bills. Then, in our free time (if there is any), work on our graphic novels. It was kind of a quick way to wrap it up. For a man who is irresponsible and sketches in his spare time to now have a dream and a future (promising, of course).

Now that I’ve worked through this entire post, I’ve realized that maybe it’s not as unrealistic as I thought. I’m such a cynic. If you’re good enough, you can excel if you take that chance. Maybe I’m just envious. Envious that I haven’t taken a leap, or hardly even a step toward a creative dream like that. Envious that I wouldn’t have the guts to believe in myself enough. Envious that I don’t have Zak Efron’s abs. 

Maybe my initial reaction was only surface deep. I guess not all of us have the guts, the means, the talent, the drive to quit our jobs and draw.

But they’re doing it, why can’t I?

I was watching Logan play 7 year old flag football and loving every minute of it! But… sadly, they were losing.

Logan came over to me at half time to express his frustration (i.e. Started crying because he didn’t want to lose to his best friend’s team). He said, “It’s just not fair, the flags are hard to pull so they keep tackling us. I’m going to start tackling. If they can do it, so can we.”

This is strictly a no-tackling league.

Big parenting moment here. I live for parenting moments (well the easy ones).

I told Logan, “Just because the other team is breaking the rules, it doesn’t mean that you should.”

Logan said, “But it’s not fair. They are getting away with it and winning the game.”

So I said, “It’s not about being fair. It’s about doing what’s right, even when others aren’t. It’s not your job to make sure things are fair and even. It’s your job to do your best and do what’s right.”

This was an easy for Logan. He’s got a good moral compass. He knows what’s right and not right.

Now if only adults could learn this lesson just as easy.