Sunday, December 27, 2015

My grown-up movie weekend...

Okay, so finally, something different is willing to come pouring from my fingertips and into cyberspace. Movies.

I see a lot of movies, if that isn't obvious from my Facebook and Twitter feed. I see pretty much every kid movie that comes to the theater, and I've now entered into a tween genre as well, which mostly seems to include lots of apocalyptic stuff. But I go to the movies nearly every weekend, and so on the weekends that I am kidless, that means I get to see anything that the girls might not be interested in seeing.

This weekend that included two movies, one which I got to see with my sister, and the other which I saw alone. I am getting much more at ease about seeing a movie by myself-I'm pretty sure that the people that work at the movie theater know me, so I'm likely that sad lady who sometimes has kids with her and sometimes is all alone, dateless on a Saturday night. My, that is a depressing thought. But I do believe that everything that I'm doing at the moment is leading me to wherever the heck it is that I'm supposed to end up, and so learning to entertain myself seems a big part of that.

Anyway, I digress. The movie that I saw with my sister was, naturally, Sisters. It's funny and raunchy and the kind of movie that a few years ago we would have all been like, oh my goodness, women can be vulgar just like guys. But in the years since Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy has made a career of those movies. So it's not shocking. But it is gross and hilarious and just enough of a literal mess to make my OCD sister squirm in her seat for the majority of the movie. Tina Fey is the oversexed, messed up sister, Amy Poehler is the uptight, do good, divorced sister in need of both a man and a drink. One of the biggest differences between raunchy girl comedy and raunchy boy is the heart, and this one delivers on that front-it's point is that who you are at 13 is not who you have to be a 40. Which is true, to a degree. I'm still so much like my nerdy 13 year old self, it's hard to completely buy that.

The second movie that I watched was Joy. Of course. It's a movie about a woman who pulls herself from the depths of despair to be a millionaire. A woman who gets divorced but ultimately is such good friends with her ex that he helps her on her journey. A woman who is at a loss for exactly how to take care of everyone in her life, but who is ultimately the savior of her family. And her name is Joy, for goodness sake. So yes, I had to see it. Jennifer Lawrence does an excellent job, as she seemingly does in every role she has ever had. The movie is a bit all over the place, but it means well.

I did not walk away from the movie with a magical map to the answer to how exactly to fix my life. But that is likely the point. This Joy could not have imagined that one day a mop would be the answer to all of her prayers. Heaven knows what my answer is. Surely not a cleaning product. But this rabbit hole is leading to somewhere.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Not Quite Perfect Christmas 2015...

Christmas 2015 is over. Part of me wants to scream, "Thank God!" Part of me realizes that this Christmas-different and unperfect as it was-will live in my memory forever.

Christmas this year was far from normal. The girls and I only read a handful of our Christmas books. We didn't watch all of the Christmas movies. Not all of the decorations were dragged out of the closet.

Our literary tree-the real tree-was smaller than in years past. But Betsy and I carried it in the front door and placed it in the tree holder ourselves. Yes, it leaned a touch to the right. But oh, how proud the two of us were.

The lights on the artificial tree-the big one in the family room-they only go up as high as I could reach. Which is nowhere near the top. But I did it, myself. And that imperfect tree is a reminder of that.

The girls have left now for a week at their dad's. The weight of how lonely I am is almost too much to bear. But they need this time with him. So badly. They need to see Star Wars this week and have that memory be forever connected to their dad. Much as I wanted to take them. It's something special that they connect with him, and I have to just push myself aside and let that be.

I have plans for this week. I'm going to the movies with my sister tonight. I am planning to have dinner with a friend sometime this week. I'm getting my hair done. I'm working. I'm cleaning. I have a stack of books to start.

And I'm writing. Some of it here. Some of it in my journal. Some of it completely navel gazing, self consumed drivel, surely. Some of it hopefully having nothing whatever to do with my personal life. But all of it as my outlet, as my connection to Joy Elizabeth and who she is, and who she was, and who she will be moving forward.

Lucky me. I always get to start the new year with a new age. Let's hope that 37 is going to be an amazing year of growth.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

A letter to myself of 6 months ago...

Dear Joy,

I'm sorry, first of all. I am so sorry for all that you are enduring right this minute. You feel all alone, and surrounded by sadness, consumed by a grief that you can't quite name, unmoored from everything you have ever known or believed to be true in your life. You are questioning every single moment of the past 15 years of your life, trying to pinpoint exactly when you should have realized that your life was a great big lie.

Well, I have some news for you. First of all, your life is not now, nor was it ever, a lie. Did your life take a turn you weren't expecting? Yes. And it is sad and hard and it hurts. But it doesn't undo all that came before. You are still you, inside of all of this overwhelming sadness. I know that it's hard to feel that, but it's true. You are still the girl who fell in love, you are still the girl who had the faith to move a mountain. I know that it's hard to believe right now, but your faith was not in vain. No, the story doesn't end the way you wanted, and no, God did not answer that prayer that you have been praying so faithfully with the answer that you were expecting-but the fact is, he did answer it. And not even with a no, like you think he did right now. He answered your prayer for an answer to so much confusion, and questioning, and that constant feeling in the back of your mind that something isn't right-he brought everything to the forefront and said, you are free. You have loved faithfully and steadfastly for 15 years. And the fact is, you deserve to be loved faithfully back.

That leads me to the second thing that I need to tell you-this is not your fault. I need you to repeat that over and over in your head. It is not your fault. Are you a completely blameless person? No. Did you never make a mistake in your marriage? Is there nothing that you wouldn't go back and change if you could? Of course not. You are human. You have been careless and headstrong and selfish. Own them. But this is not your fault. You were lied to, you were made to feel a fool, and there is no excuse for that.

I don't know the end of this story. I wish I did. But I do know that it has, in fact, gotten better, just as so many people have told you it would. I know that right now you feel like you have fallen down a long, dark tunnel, and that there is not even hope of a tiny speck of light. But there is at least a glimmer of light to be found. It is still hard to be without the girls on the weekends that aren't yours, but you are getting better at filling your time. You go to yoga. You get your hair done. You have seen many, many movies. You shop. (I know-you think I'm making that up. I'm not.)

And when you are with the girls, which is genuinely most of the time, the three of you are so much closer. They need you in a way that they can't quite put a name to. And I know that right now you feel useless, you scarily feel like they would be better off without you. But that is not true at all. You are their link to the world. They are watching you to see how you handle this. Today someone very kindly told you that you are leading them through this very hard time with grace, and it was like a prayer to your heart. And while you mess up sometimes, and you feel overwhelmed a lot more than you want to admit, the three of you (the three musketeers, you call yourselves)-you have a bond that nothing can break. Not your sadness, not your fear, nothing.

I wish that I could tell you that this has a happy ending. I hope it does. I pray it does. I know that you are scared that this was it-this was the one great love of your life and you won't get another chance. I know that you are in a panic that no one is ever going to ask you out, or be even remotely attracted to you. I'm going to be honest with you, the panic is still there around the edges. But mostly you know that you need to heal, and work on becoming the person that you want to be. Mostly.

I know that right now you feel a lot of shame. You feel like everyone can see right through you, like they are thinking that you are a fraud. But that is all in your head. People are praying for you and you don't even realize it. People are coming into your life who are guiding you though this. It's amazing when you look back after six months and see all of the people that God has brought into your life who are helping you through this. People who have known you forever, and people who you are just about to meet.

It is okay to acknowledge that you mostly had a good marriage. Clearly it wasn't perfect but nothing is. But it's like Miranda Lambert said-yes, brace yourself, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert got divorced-but anyway, she said that her marriage left her a high standard for her future relationships. And you nodded and said, yes, that is true. In a lot of ways, you were blessed. And this will turn into a blessing. Because that is how God works, how life works. And you know that. You have traveled through scary valleys before, through things that you were sure would break you, and they led you to places that you now realize you needed to be.

This path that you are on isn't what you would have chosen, but it's where you need to be. I hope that in six more months this is all even clearer. But for now I really do know that you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

We were us (and now we are you and me)...

Once upon a time, I met a boy and I fell head over heels in love. It was a grand thing. The best thing that had ever happened to me at 21 years of age. I fell in love and got married and had two precious girls and my life was pretty much exactly what I had always wanted. None of that was a lie.

Nick and I had our share of troubles. Our marriage was tested repeatedly and we always managed to come out stronger for it.

This time our marriage fell apart.

I am not proud of that. At all. I meant my vows with every beat of my heart and I still take them very seriously. Coming to terms with the fact that there is literally no way for me to keep my vows and remain married has taken me a long time to wrap my mind around. I have come to believe that I am keeping my vows by getting divorced. I promised one day in October 13 years ago to love Nick no matter the bend in the road. I never imagined this bend. But it has come. And Nick feels that in order for him to feel fulfilled and happy, he has to move on to another life, another wife, another family. It's a hard thing to accept-quite frankly, it hurts like hell, in a way that I don't think can be imagined unless you are living through it-but I think that I'm finally to a place where I not only can accept that this is happening, I can embrace it as a part of my own journey.

This is not an overnight revelation. This has taken months and months of grief and sadness and journaling to get to. Writing and writing and writing for myself. Acknowledging millions of feelings and emotions and barely keeping my head above water. This has been the hardest thing I've ever lived through. It has been like grieving a death in which there is no body.

Nick and I have always promised that if, for any reason, we ever split up, we would remain friends. I have every intention of keeping that promise, but my goodness, is it hard. Putting aside my own feelings is so difficult and sometimes it is just more than I can manage. I'm doing much better, and Nick and I are for the most part able to be friendly, but we are a long way from the ideal in my head of how this eventually should work. And I just don't know how long that will take. My ideal includes each of us having a partner who makes us a better person.

I finally am beginning to feel that this has happened so that someone can come into my and the girls lives that-once we meet him-we just can't imagine how we ever got along without him. And if we are lucky enough that he comes with a child or children, we will wonder how our family seemed complete before. That is my prayer.

This journey has been hard. It has dwarfed any difficult circumstance that I've come up against in the past. It has been hard to watch my children go through this and not be able to magically fix it. Betsy has had to learn that she can be very angry and disappointed in someone and still love them. It is a lesson that I think that some adults have yet to learn.

But the three of us are stronger. We know that we are blessed beyond belief to have each other. Embracing this as an opportunity for our family to grow is not easy, but we are getting there. Step by step. Breath by breath. Prayer by prayer. We have rounded the bend in the road and we don't quite know what lies ahead. But I believe that it is something glorious. Something amazing. And something that we won't want to live without, once we finally get there.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Yes, we are done...

So, I have two beautiful girls. If you read my blog, then you likely follow me on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, and you know this. Because most of my life is my girls.

I also have a stepson who is 14. Who is the most amazing boy, a great big brother who has always been mature for his age.

So the point is...we are blessed. We are lucky. We are done.

And I feel more and more certain of that every day, and I feel guilty.

When my friends see babies, they just fall in love. When I see babies, it's like, that's nice.

I loved my babies. Seriously. Head over heels in love. I can remember of feeling like it was Christmas every morning to be able to see Betsy every morning, awake and ready to start the day-the all day, every day with mommy. I loved all of it. I was blessed to be a stay at home mom for the entire time that my children were little. I'm still a mostly stay at home mom, as I only work one day a week.

And the thing is, I still adore my kids. I love the ages that they are now. They are 10 and 7 and they enjoy doing so many things that are fun. They watch movies that I enjoy, they like to ride bigger rides at amusement parks, they like to read longer books at bedtime. (We still read picture books at bedtime too-I'm going to do that for as long as they will allow me to.)

The other day Betsy and her dad were having a conversation about tomatoes being fruits or vegetables, which ultimately ended as all conversations do, with Google. And they discovered that Congress declared tomatoes a vegetable somewhere along the line, to which my daughter replied, "They have important stuff like ISIS to be dealing with, and they are worried about that?" (We did explain that it was a while ago, but I'm still so proud that she understands so much about our government.)

Anyway, the point of all of this is that I like having older children. That doesn't mean I didn't love having younger children.

I love having two girls. I love the bond that they have with each other, which mirrors my relationship with my sister.

I love the bond that they have with their big brother. I love that they basically think he hung the moon in the sky.

And I love that we are done having kids. Yes, when Nick sometimes talks about what it would be like to have another baby, I get all dreamy, because I truly love that he wants me to have his babies. But beyond that-it's finished. And that's okay.

I feel awkward saying that I am done with the babies. Most blogs that I read are about wanting more kids, about infertility, about wanting a whole houseful of kids. I know that I am blessed that I got pregnant quickly and easily both times. But I wanted to put my truth out there, just to give it a voice, because somehow writing something down makes it mine. And if you see me near a baby, know that I think that it is darling, and that the parents are so lucky to be going on their journey. But I'm not going to hold it and have "baby fever." And that's okay.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The one with this actual line, his mobster mother-in-law pregnant by his father... know how people are always saying write what you know? Well, I know soap operas. Which I'm always a little leery of saying, because of all the associations that go along with that. I mean, good grief...I am highly educated, I read tons of what would be considered great literature, I am well informed on all matters of politics, foreign affairs, and...I love pop culture and soap operas. The pop culture isn't so terrible, most people don't judge too harshly that I'm obsessed with the royal baby. But soap operas are a different beast. Whenever clips of soaps are shown, it is always the stupidest, cattiest bit they could find. People still make fun of "Dolly the Clone," despite the fact that Kim Zimmer did an excellent job with a storyline that she got no say in.

Anyway, I am openly admitting, in black and white, that I love my soaps. When I say my I specifically mean Days of Our Lives and General Hospital. My grandma watched them faithfully every day, and thus I watched them every day that I was able to. I love the Hortons and the Bradys, the Webers and the Spencers, like they are living, breathing members of my own family.

So...the pre-nominations of the Daytime Emmys came out today. (That is a list of 10 nominees who will eventually be winnowed to 5ish for the nomination.) And, while I totally wish that I lived near a cool art house movie theater, and could screen all of the Oscar nominees, the sad truth is that is not the case. Zanesville's movie theater rarely shows any movie that is not a popcorn, big budget action thriller. And so, I cannot pretend to know who will win the Oscars other than the tried and true method of if they already won the SAG and DAG awards.

But there are only 4 soaps on the air today. So I can with a bit of confidence feel that I have a good grip on the best performances.

That said, there are a few caveats. First of all, the way that the Daytime Emmys are awarded is that these pre-nominated people submit tapes of their best work. No one seemingly takes into account whether someone is actually on the air all that often, if someone had a really rocking storyline where they get to scream and cry and then disappear back into the background. Also, I personally feel that Bold and the Beautiful exploits this to the nth degree. People who are barely ever on screen on B and B win Emmys nearly every year. So my list will likely not perfectly mirror the eventual nominees-but it is a list from someone who truly watches these shows, day in, day out, and understands the breadth of the work done by these actors. Also, I am choosing 5 actors per category out of fairness.

So, here goes:

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Tracey E. Bregman, Lauren, Y&R
Jessica Collins, Avery, Y&R
Melissa Claire Egan, Chelsea, Y&R
Katherine Kelly Lang, Brooke, B&B
Peggy McCay, Caroline, DAYS
Alison Sweeney, Sami, DAYS
Gina Togoni, Phylis, Y&R
Heather Tom, Katie, B&B
Maura West, Ava, GH
Laura Wright, Carly, GH

My picks: Maura West, Laura Wright, Ali Sweeney, Heather Tom, Jessica Collins. Maura West should win for her no holds barred portrayal of the mob princess, Ava Jerome.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Peter Bergman, Jack, Y&R
Eric Braeden, Victor, Y&R
Tyler Christopher, Nikolas, GH
Daniel Cosgrave, Aiden, DAYS
Doug Davidson, Paul, Y&R
Anthony Geary, Luke, GH
Justin Hartley, Adam, Y&R
John McCook, Eric, B&B
Billy Miller, Billy, Y&R
Jason Thompson, Patrick, GH

My picks: Anthony Geary, Billy Miller, Peter Bergman, Tyler Christopher, Eric Braeden. This is a close category with noticeable holes (where is Maurice Bernard?), and I can't quite make up my mind between Tony Geary in his brilliant Fluke storyline and Billy Miller, who had the Delia death scenes to submit this year. And I'll admit, I like Justin Hartley a lot and feel that he's underrated, but I don't see him getting nominated with his work thus far on Y&R.

Outstanding Supporting Actress

Linsey Godfrey, Caroline, B&B
Nancy Lee Grahn, Alexis, GH
Amelia Heinle, Victoria, Y&R
Elizabeth Hendrickson, Chloe, B&B
Finola Hughes, Anna, GH
Lisa LoCicero, Olivia, GH
Kim Mantula, Hope, B&B
Micelle Stafford, Nina, GH
Cady McClain, Kelly, Y&R
Chrishell Stause, Jordan, DAYS
Kelly Sullivan, Sage, Y&R

My picks: Michelle Stafford, Elizabeth Hendrickson, Nancy Lee Grahn, Amelia Heinle, Finola Hughes. Michelle's pitch perfect portrayal of whack-a-doodle Nina deserves this win.

Outstanding Supporting Actor

Blake Berris, Nick, DAYS
Darrin Brooks, Wyatt, B&B
Steve Burton, Dylan, Y&R
Sean Carrigan, Stitch, Y&R
Chad Duell, Michael, GH
Bryton James, Devon, Y&R
Eric Martsoff, Brady, DAYS
Kristoff St. John, Neil, Y&R
Jacob Young, Rick, B&B
Scott Clifton, Liam, B&B

My picks: Steve Burton, Scott Clifton, Blake Berris, Jacob Young, Chad Duell. I am punishing Kristoff, who will likely get a nomination, over a stupid storyline. My pick in this category is most likely Jacob, who is having fun chewing scenery over at B&B.

Outstanding Younger Actress

Kristen Alderson, Kiki, GH
Camila Banus, Gabi, DAYS
Lauren Boles, Ciara, DAYS
Ashleigh Brewer, Ivy, B&B
Camryn Grimes, Mariah, Y&R
Hunter King, Summer, Y&R
True O'Brien, Paige, DAYS
Ashlyn Pearce, Aly, B&B
Haley Pullos, Molly, GH

This is a dumb category. Roger Howarth is missing a nomination, but Aly and Ivy from B&B are nominated. It makes me want to scream. Anyway, Kristen Alderson should win for recognition of her years as Starr Manning if nothing else.

Outstanding Younger Actor

Bryan Craig, Morgan, GH
Max Elrich, Fenmore, Y&R
Connor Kalopsis, Chase, DAYS
Casey Moss, JJ, DAYS
Max Page, Reed, Y&R
Terrell Ransom, Jr., Theo, DAYS
Tequan Richmond, TJ, GH
Freddie Smith, Sonny, DAYS

I'm going to go with Bryan Craig in this one, because he had the better storyline of being involved with his mobster ex-mother-in-law who ended up pregnant with his father's baby (indeed), but Freddie will likely win to support the new LGBT storylines.

So, there you go. Skewed to GH, yes, but it is the best show on the air right now. They deserve to be recognized for it.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Horror of Horrors

Okay, I'm always struggling with my fascination/obsession/repulsion of horror movies. Specifically of slasher films of the late 70s and 80s. Halloween. Nightmare on Elm Street. Friday the 13th. And, of course, Sleepaway Camp.

The 26 anniversary of all of this starting is happening, and that combined with the fact that Betsy is now the age that I was when all of this got thrust upon me has me obsessing wondering about all of this, all over again.

That and the fact that I decided to watch a Nightmare on Elm Street marathon today.

I tell this story all the time, to the point that my kids are embarrassed by it. When I was 10 years old, I was invited to my best friend, Michelle's, birthday party. It was a sleepover, as 10 year olds tend to have. There were 3 of us who went, and we did all the things that 10 year old girls do at a sleepover. We had pizza, we tormented Michelle's little brother, we giggled and laughed and had a grand time. And we watched movies.

So, Michelle's mom asks what we want her to rent at the local video store. At this point in my life, I basically said every thought that came into my head, so I proceed to go on and on about Little Red Riding Hood. You see, I had recently had a babysitter who I thought was super cool, and she had rented this version of Riding Hood that I found suspenseful. Basically, it was the same old story, but to me, who grew up with 5 television channels, it seemed like a scary story. And at 10, I did know that at sleepovers you were supposed to watch scary stories. So they all humor me. Michelle's mom rents Red Riding Hood, along with the classic Adventures in Baby-sitting, and...Nightmare on Elm Street 4 and the original Friday the 13th.

They watched Red Riding Hood first. I came to understand quickly that they didn't like it. But oh, I had no idea what they were about to do. They put in Nightmare on Elm Street. I can still to this day tell you the entire plot from beginning to end. Granted, it was the 4th movie in the franchise, so they had to fill me in on stuff. But there I sat, as one of the truly most horrifying creatures ever put on film entered my 10 year old brain. I had no idea what to do with him. So naturally, I became fixated. (That is a pattern in my life.)

Freddy is fascinating. The original Nightmare on Elm Street is a work of art. It is a dissection of dreams, of adolescence, of the boogyman hiding inside our heads. It is the parents in the movie that did something wrong-for reasons they considered right. It is the sins of the father visited upon the son, but through a dark, demonic character that can literally destroy your dreams. The original ending made a circle, completed the story, but Wes Craven was forced to add a twist ending to set up a sequel. Which is a shame-and true of all slasher movies, from my perspective. Sequels never, ever live up to the original because the story that propelled the first story has to then be manipulated.

Take Halloween, for example. The original Halloween is the most perfect slasher movie ever made, in my opinion. Michael Myers is the classic boogyman, he has no motivation whatsoever except for that he seems to target the non-virgins of the group. He's just this mute guy going after kids one by one on Halloween night. And perfect, pure as snow Jamie Lee Curtis isn't killed because she's a good girl. That's perfection. But then, they needed to make more. And in doing so, they decided that Michael Myers needed a motive and made him Jamie Lee's brother. And that takes it all away...because now he's not just a scary guy who could, in turn, show up at anyone's door.

I don't watch slasher movies of nowadays. I'm quite sure they would scare me to death. I did watch Mama last year, which was scary until it was so sad that I cried and cried and hold my kids close. And that, of course, is the wonder of movies-the ability for them to take us out of our world and explore the depths of bits of our brains that we didn't know were there. Sleepaway Camp is without a doubt the start of a lifelong obsession that I have with transgendered individuals, which may sound very colloquial, but I grew up in the most sheltered way possible. For this slasher movie to be my introduction to the idea that there could be boys who were girls and vice versa was downright shocking.

I'm trying to decide about all of these things in relation to Betsy. I tell her constantly that she may be at a sleepover and watch something scary. I mean, she's scared of Hocus Pocus. I don't want her to be embarrassed like I was. At the same time, I can't imagine letting her watch any of this stuff...possibly ever. Maybe my parents were glad to have had me watch such things away from them, so that they didn't have to deal with watching it themselves. They certainly never have watched any of this. Ever. And I don't have the stomach to watch anything that isn't dated to my childhood, where I can enjoy the 80s hair and clothes as much as the movie.

I'm still that little girl, scared of the big bad wolf. Only obsessed with him too...