Monday, February 29, 2016

Socially Unacceptable

We as parents have so much responsibility for raising the next generation.  Teaching them how to be open-minded, empathic, problem solvers who make a difference in the world.  Or who just don't make things worse.  And a huge part of not making things worse in the world is cultivating the art of what is socially inappropriate.  

Which is easy when your kids are toddlers.  The rules are pretty universal and universally enforced by almost every adult they come into contact with.  Things like:  Waiting your turn to talk, not line jumping someone else and coughing into your elbow pit as to not contaminate others.  Pretty cut and dried right?  But, when kids enter the tween/teen years a really weird thing happens.

It becomes socially unacceptable to tell others what they're doing is socially unacceptable.

Which is a huge Catch-22.  So, if you haven't learned the basics of what is socially acceptable by this tender age, no one (who acts within the strict social guidelines of appropriateness) will remind you.   And result in you being socially shunned.  SHUNNED, I said.  Think about it and all the people you avoid.  The blowhard who talks over you.    The woman with horrific halitosis, who inevitably is also a close talker.  The guy who snorts up his boogers instead of blowing his nose with a tissue.  Or worse yet, he hacks them up and spits them out in your presence.  As you stand there speechless.  Did that just happen?

All of my kids are now at this crucial age of potential social shunning.  And they still do gross things even though I've told them a million times.  A MILLION, I said.  Like forgetting to flush the toilet.  I mean they could do this consistently at age 4.  How did they forget.  Is there teenage Alzheimer's?  WTF?  And the cereal slurping?  I can't even be in the same room with my kids for breakfast or I'll lose my own breakfast with revulsion.  The other day one of my kids picked lint out of his belly button at the dinner table.  SERIOUSLY.  

I  lecture my kids all the time.  "Trust me, everyone at school and everywhere else notices these things, they just won't tell you.  But I am your mother, and it is my civic duty to tell you how disgusting you are."  Plus, I want everyone to know I taught them better.  REALLY, I DID.  Of course my final goal as a mother is to get these vile kids out of my house.  And since it will probably be a long time before they are financially able to afford their own place,  securing a roommate will be a necessity.  But, who wants to be the roommate of the loud serial cereal slurper who doesn't flush the toilet?  NO ONE!  

Where the hell is the village helping to raise these kids now, huh?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

I'm a Fraud

 Photo credit:

This week I got an invitation to participate in an upcoming author event and while I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity, I'm also immensely anxious that I'll be exposed for what I truly am.

A fraud.  

Even though I work hard at writing, every time I get a compliment or good review I feel it's undeserved.   After all,  I don't have credentials and I don't know what I'm doing.  It's not like I wrote Infinite Jest or anything.  I didn't even write a novel, just a memoir, which is basically a personal diary you make public.    Unfortunately, my deception goes beyond writing to every facet of my life.  There is no end to my deceit.

I'm a scam artist.

Merely pretending I'm confident.   Desperately trying to cover up the unsavory truth. That I'm not as smart or talented as you might think I am.   I am, however, exquisitely flawed.  And underneath it all, I'm unworthy.   Most of the time it seems to work too, because I'm good at what I do.  I'll charm you, making you laugh to divert your attention.  I might even push you away if you get too close to uncovering the truth.  It's a cunning self preservation sham.  

Because I'm an ignoble fake.  
With a fear of both failure and success.  

Monday, February 22, 2016

Why I'd Like to be a Teenager Again

Photo from

I'm really sick of midlife with all of its responsibility and realities.   Sandwiched between raising my  kids and worrying about my aging dad.  Being an adult with kids, a mortgage, medical insurance, an IRA, student loans and the right to vote isn't all it's cracked up to be.   That's why I'd like to be a teenager again.

I want to be spontaneous and stupid again.  But the great thing is, I wouldn't realize I was stupid, because I'd think I knew all the answers.  Everything would be black and white again.  None of this murky grey area.

The first thing I'd do is eat.  Everything.  And I wouldn't stop.  Because I'd have a metabolism that wouldn't quit.  And because my parents buy my food.  Plus,  I'd have all this disposable income delegated to junk food and other such frivolities from working my part-time job at the movie theater with absolutely no financial obligations.  Not to mention, I get to see free movies at work.

I'd stay up late.  Way past 10pm.  Even past midnight when all the bad decisions start to seem really, really good.  But it's okay because I could sleep in the next morning.  And then it would totally be like it was all a dream.  Besides, even if I did something stupid, I could blame it on being a teenager and everyone would understand.

I'd be all excited to go to college in Hawaii where I'd party with my friends, hang out at the beach while following my passion getting that philosophy degree with a minor in art history.  And I wouldn't flunk out even though I'd be partying on the beach because I'd be completely betrayed by my optimism.

I'd be hopelessly deluded about my future and how much of a difference I'd make in the world while living in Paris philosophizing about art at my job at the Louvre one day.   But with none of the responsibility to change anything because I wouldn't be able to vote.  And I'd be naive enough that I wouldn't realize that voting isn't how real change occurs anyway.

Oh, to be a teenager again...

Thursday, February 18, 2016


I've always been consistent.   I consistently work hard.  I'm also dependable, friendly,  easy-going, level-headed, substantive, witty, insightful, humble and authentic.  And it's my Achilles' heel.  Because there is nothing more thankless in our society than being inaudibly consistent.

Consistency breeds obscurity.

In this day and age, it's not enough to do something well.  That'll only get more work dumped in your lap.  And don't expect it to come with more recognition or more compensation.   Because that won't happen.   Want to get noticed?  Have you ever considered becoming an erratic, irrational, inconsistent, antagonistic, vociferous, pompous asshole?  It just seems to work for so many people.  Donald Trump and Kanye West for example.   

The squeaky wheel does get the grease after all. 

People love assholes.  It's totally true.  Maybe they love to hate them.   Maybe they just love to watch the shit-show that follows these assholes.  Does it even matter why?   The thing is, the more wayward you are, the more people appreciate you (publicly) when you (finally) do something well.  I mean especially after all those screw ups.

It's so inequitable!

Until I think about how I treat my kids.  And realize that my kid who's consistent, consistently gets the least of my attention because I'm consistently giving it to her squeaky wheel siblings.   

Cause I'm a hypocrite.  
But,  I'm a consistent hypocrite.  

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Chills

My old bedroom was where the murder happened in the movie.
Who would go to Buffalo in February?  And why?  Also, why the hell was the flight so expensive?  It was all a bit mysterious and creepy.  Then I drove to my dad's house, which looks exactly like the house in the movie Amityville Horror. Creepy windows and all.  It was enough to give you the chills. And that was just the beginning.

It was the weekend before my dad's 80th birthday.  My visit was planned and I told my dad I'd love to help him do anything he needed to be done while I was there.  Then my sister called, she'd just gotten off the phone with my dad.    "I just want to give you a head's up about what dad wants you to do...."  And of all the things I was prepared to do, this wasn't one of them.

Is the pillow comfortable though?
Plan and prepay his funeral.  Which is really a loving gesture to ease the burden on all his kids.  I get that, but it's also really morbid and macabre.  Especially because February is also the month my mom died, making it extra absinthal.  But we did it and afterward we went to Canada to visit my mom's grave and the plot next to it where my dad will eventually be buried.  Although, hopefully, not anytime soon.

A drive-by sighting of Niagara Falls while crossing the border.
The temperature was unusually frigid, even for Buffalo, hovering around zero.  That's when the snow started falling fast and furious while we were still in Canada.  We drove through whiteout  conditions to get back home.  Silently, the way you do when you're panicked thinking about all the things that could go wrong and pondering your own mortality.  When we finally made it home, where we stayed for the next couple of days like shut-ins.

Featured baby is my oldest brother,  not me.
 Leaving us plenty of time to go through photo albums where I found this photo of my dad.  An aberration, because I look exactly like him.  Same long face, receding hairline, naturally bushy eyebrows and straightforward lips.  But, what was really eerie was the evasive, wallflower, expressionless look.  The one I thought I originated.   Which turns out is only a cheap imitation of the original.  

A vat of soup.
So, I made my Hungarian dad some cabbage soup to take the chill off and warm us up.  Because I grew up in America, I'm way too lazy to make his beloved cabbage rolls.  Maybe it's my American apathy that sets me apart from my Canadian dad.  Or maybe I'm a clone.  

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Trip Planning

I'm super excited to get away for a short trip without my family.   Packing and traveling solo is going to be so liberating.   Then I realized how much organization was needed to prepare my family for my absence.  Because you don't realize how much you do, until you need to write out a detailed, step-by-step instruction manual for someone else to follow.  Someone who might not even read and follow the manual.  This is a total pain in the ass.

Why am I going away again?

"Does dad even know how to cook?", one of my kids asked.  "I'm sure he'll be fine", I said.  Although  I can't remember the last time he cooked anything other than eggs.  But, there's always take out.  And those organic fruit snacks made out of real fruit that I bought to teach the kids about disappointment early.  Because I feel like it's my duty to adequately prepare them for life in that way.  So,  I made a kid friendly easy to make meal plan (which is the complete opposite of what I normally make for dinner) and bought all the ingredients and left all the recipes in plain sight.  

That's when I knew I screwed up big time.

Between buying the Valentine's day cards and treats for the kids, making sure I'd stocked up on my dog's special diet dog food from the vet, clearly marking the kids events on the calendar and stocking up on all life's essentials like toilet paper, I'd just made my job look too easy.  Way too easy, because I'd done all the unseen, thankless things that I already do every day.  Now, they get the fun part.  And my husband is already the "fun" one.

I totally sabotaged myself!

They're not going to appreciate me more when I get home.  They're going to think my job is easy. Fun even.  And my kids are going to continue to take me for granted.  I should probably hide all the toilet paper.  And mix some cayenne pepper in with the cinnamon or something.  Something must be done before this all goes horribly right.  Which would be so wrong!

Monday, February 8, 2016


Underneath my seemingly calm exterior I live with a raging envy.  I try to control it.  Telling myself I shouldn't feel this way.  That this is an unhealthy way to live my life.  But that only fuels my envy even more.

It's just not fair!

Let me spell it out for you, I don't have the metabolism of a teenager anymore.  But every day I have to watch my teenagers burn through a million calories.  Half of them empty even.  There are wrappers everywhere.  On their bedroom floor.  Stuffed between couch cushions. In the dryer.   In the bathroom next to the toilet.  There are fingerprints all over my fridge from them propping their arm to lean their bodies in through the open door while leisurely considering their food choices before they determine that there's $300 worth of nothing to eat.   And let's not even start on the forgotten nearly empty plates covered in a thin layer of dried cheese that has turned into super glue.  

It's disgusting! 

Mostly because, I can't do any of it anymore.  Because I have the metabolism of the slug.  And I have to be the responsible nag.  That's my job now.  Reminding them how expensive all the food is.  How we're going to get roaches from their unhygienic ways.  But most of all, reminding them that one day they'll turn into me.  A bitter forty-something with a slug-like metabolism eating salads salivating over their king size snickers bar and reminiscing about how I used to be able to eat like that.  And a bag of Doritos.  Washed down with a Pepsi.  In one sitting. Before I was back in the fridge an hour later for a post snack snack.   

Envy: it's not just a destructive emotion, 
it's a vengeful legacy we pass down to our kids.  

And, I can't wait to give it to them...'ll be like Christmas!  

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Snow Day

It was announced on Sunday night.   The good* news that the school district was closed for a snow day on Monday.  As if the weekend with a houseful of kids wasn't long enough, now it was suddenly a 3 day weekend.  It'll be fun*, I said to myself, trying to convince myself it was true.

Snow days suck.

I got up on Monday morning and made pancakes and bacon, to celebrate* the occasion.  Then the house filled with smoke* the way it does when I cook breakfast.  That's when the first kid awake announced he doesn't like pancakes and promptly poured himself a bowl of cereal with milk*.  And so marked the beginning of the end of my sanity*.

When everyone was up, it was time to ship them outside to play in the snow*.  And that's precisely when you find out your kids don't have boots or snow pants that fit them anymore.  It's also when you remember that the kids trashed* their sleds last year.  And then within an hour of my kids getting up way the hell too early to enjoy their snow day, they say it...

...I'm bored.

After giving a million* suggestions of things they could do, they respond with a coordinated wince and head tilt, "Nooooooooo."  Cause all they want to do is get on the computer*, which is clearly underutilizing their time, energy and creativity.  Clearly their talents are best used to degrade each other.  At this point it seems inevitable that one of my kids is going to kill another one of my kids.  And really, who am I to interfere with fate*?  

Snow days suck!

That's when it got worse.   We had 2 more consecutive snow days exactly like that day*, making it a ridiculously long 5 day weekend.  The kids go back to school today for a stunted 2 day week.  

Good* This is a matter of perspective not shared by parents who would conversely consider this 'bad'.

fun*  Nothing is quite as fun as sarcasm, especially when you're deluding yourself.

celebrate*   Carb loading the kids so they'd be sedated in a food coma for an hour or hopefully more.

smoke* Good thing the batteries in the smoke detector were dead or my kids would've woken up 5 minutes earlier than they did.  WTF do they get up early on days they DON'T have school?

milk* This is my lactose intolerant child I will be confined in a house with all day.

my sanity*  It was gone a long, long time ago.

snow* Kids don't play in the snow anymore unless it's virtual snow on Minecraft.

trashed* Which I'm positive was part of a malicious and calculated plan they started last winter so I wouldn't make them go outside.

million*  Million is an understatement.

computer* If they're on the computer then I can't get on the computer and waste my time, energy and creativity complaining about them on social media

fate* It's not like I have a god complex thinking I have any control over who lives and dies anyhow.  Plus, then I'll have one less kid (at least) to complain about dinner which occurs every day, not just on snow days.

day*  Oddly enough, these three snow days that were exactly the same fell over Groundhog Day.  Coincidence?  I think not!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Antisocial Pessimist

My name is Marie and I have social anxiety.

I've always been quiet.  But, it's far more than that.  Not only do I fear conversations, I'm terrified of people.  Not individual people, but groups of people.  The excruciating part is that it's not that I don't like people, in fact way down deep under my snobby, aloof, awkward exterior, I really love people.   I do.  Which creates a constant and unwavering internal conflict for me.     

I think my condition is terminal.  

Because it's not getting any easier with age. In fact, I think it's getting worse.  I still get nervous before any event with people that requires small talk.  Which when you think about it is basically everything in adult life.  Because when you have kids, your social world is expanded even more.  And then you have to pick kids up from their friends' houses which requires dialogue with their parents.  I'm so atrocious at dialogue, writing fictional dialogue for my book even leaves me tongue tied.  And I'm completely alone when I do that.

I can't even talk to myself without judging myself. 

My default setting when I run into acquaintances is to assume you don't remember me.  Like I'm invisible, which both comforts me and plagues me at different times.  Often these two opposing thoughts are doing battle in my head at the same time.  Then I don't know what to do, so I don't do anything.  Because overcoming these overwhelming thoughts constantly swirling around in my mind is so debilitating and exhausting.  And this is just the prelude to talking to someone.  What if they don't acknowledge me?

What if I say the wrong thing?

Which I probably won't, but that's because I probably won't talk.  And if I do, I'll say the absolute minimum.  To try to disguise my absolute inferiority.  Which I know will more likely come off as a superiority complex to the person I'm talking to.  I always feel like I should explain my behavior, which I would never do because it requires both talking and receiving attention which is exactly what I don't want.  

I know this makes me sound like a child.  

I feel like a child.   So small and helpless.  God,  what the fuck is wrong with me?   This is so stupid.  Stop replaying your mistakes over in your head and over thinking everything.  You don't have to be perfect.  No one is perfect.  Just try harder.  Put yourself out there more.  And if you can't do that, then do more social media.  But even that leaves me depleted and feeling like I come off as even more of a pretentious bitch.    

I'm positive my condition is terminal.  


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