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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Growing up

Me:  "I have been thinking. I want to be a writer when I grow up."

Him: "You can be anything you want to be. But never grow up."


Does it happen all of a sudden?  Did you wake up one day and absently look up at the crack on your ceiling and say, "Yes, yes. Now this it. I think I am an adult now"?

 Tell me now, because I haven't done this yet.

Or were you sitting at a bistro table at Starbucks, sipping your Pike's Place. Legs crossed, reading The New York Times when you knew it must be true?  Stepping on to a subway train?  Holding your first child?

I'd like to know, how you know.

Does adulthood find you all at once? Or does it creep up slowly, taking over a few more cells each day, deliberately. And then a little more and more.  Until childhood is a milk thistle in your field, floating away on an unhurried air. Gone.  Sturdy stems of flowers growing in it's place.  I want you to tell me, how you know.

How to know when adulthood finds you.
How to find adulthood.

Sometimes I don't even think I belong there. The times when I speed my mini-van around the cul-de-sac with the windows down, the kids laughing, hair whipping, as I pump up The Killers and sing.  I'm coming out of my cage and I've been doing just fine, gotta gotta be down, cause I want it all. The times when I eat ice cream for dinner and my husband finds my bowl of cereal in the bed.  The times when I climb into his lap like a little girl and bury my face in his starched collar.  Tell me everything will be okay. 

Sometimes I worry that I might already be there. The times when I snap at my teenager to turn the radio down so I can think.  The times when I serve meatloaf and green beans for dinner.  The times when my teenager climbs into my lap like a little girl and buries her face into my hair.  Tell me everything will be okay. 

Maybe I'm stuck between the growing up and the growing old.
Maybe I'm liminal. 

Maybe just knowing that word makes me a grown-up.

If I wake up tomorrow and I find adulthood clenching at me, I might look up at that familiar ceiling crack and scream a big fat fuck you.  Roll on my side. Go right back to sleep.

Or maybe it will sneak up in the parking lot of the Dairy Whip, while I sit eating my cream-sickle twist, alone in my mini-van.  The Killers on the radio.  

A shoulder tap. 

Hello, gotcha! Adulthood, here. Are you ready to go?
Do I have to give up eating ice cream for dinner?  I ask.
No, you don't have to give up anything.  
I listen to my music loud. I say, defiantly. 
Most grown-ups do.
I'm not sure what I'm doing most of them time, I confess.
Most grown ups don't.

Maybe that's how it happens.  

Mostly, I've been thinking that maybe growing up isn't about a feeling.  It is possible that it isn't about changing who you are or giving up anything or having the right answers.  
Maybe it's more simple.
I've been thinking that being a grown-up is just being wise enough to whisper "Everything will be okay" to the crying child in your lap.
Even when, deep down, the words sound impossibly brave. 
Everything will be okay.
Even when you aren't really sure if you believe it yourself.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Waiting for Better Days

I was sick.

Not the kind of sick that kills you or the kind of sick that can't be treated.  But rather the slow, insidious sort of sick that makes living each day just a little bit harder, a little more exhausting.

 An unimpressive and lonely sick, one I didn't feel like explaining the validity of to anyone that didn't specifically ask.  And even then I'd say, "I have anemia, it's pretty bad, but we have a plan to fix it, so it will be fine."

Except, I mostly didn't think I was fine.

When I walked up to my bedroom, I had to stop and breathe on the top stair, there were stars spinning and a black sky in my frontal lobe.  I was dizzy and my skin was pale.

I stood in front of the open freezer door, a butter knife in my hand, carving off ice chips from a frozen block and crunching them between my teeth.  It's pica, the doctor said.  Be glad you're not craving dirt.  But if it had been dirt I was craving, I would have scooped it by the handfuls into my mouth.
What the body thinks it needs, the body gets. It's powerful business.

More than anything, I was tired all the time.  A friend might say, "I'm exhausted!" and I might nod sympathetically, but inside I was thinking, what a careless thing to say, and she doesn't know how exhausted REALLY feels.
And this made me bitter, the space between her not understanding and my own hardening self-pity.
I shut people out, I closed the doors on friends. They couldn't know.

And so, the more I felt sorry for myself, the smaller my world became.

When the hematologist advised IV iron transfusions, my world had condensed to the size of an infusion room: four walls, two chairs (one of them empty) a television that never came on, an IV pole with a scary computer attached. I went alone to the first infusion, barely telling anyone but my husband and a few close friends.  I hated needles, I had passed out at the lab the week before. I was less than bitter but more than indifferent, I was consumed by myself and my own worry, hungry for some relief. Walking into the Infusion Center,it felt like an annoying dream, another bad day in a string of bad days.

So I hunched in the small, pink room, with a shot of iron doled out in a black tarry dose.  That liquid gold dispatched into my veins, to make me strong again, to help me crawl out of the tiny space that I had settled into, hoping it would work for me.  And while I hunched, I left the door to the little room open. I listened to the noises and conversations that drifted all around me, in the other infusion rooms and the sterile hall.

 Almost everyone was there for chemotherapy, I saw them as I walked down the hall coming in.  Bald heads and thin arms. The walls, covered with notices for Cancer Support Groups and Arranging Hospice seminars.

But it wasn't an altogether sad place. Unlike mine, the voices around me were still cheerful.  Or if they were not cheerful, they were the voices of people doing the business of living.  Briskly communicative, functional and pleasant.

I heard lots of people laughing.  Sick people, mind you. Sicker than me.  They were discussing dinner plans.  Doing work, writing thank you notes. I was surrounded by people, with hands empty but not outstretched, who were being spoon-fed medicine gratefully. Hopefully. People who were using all their strength, trying not to die, but were still doing heavy work---the work of trying to be whole and trying to be happy.

I was not going to die.  But I had lost myself in something pitiful, I was sorry for myself. I wanted better strings of better days.

Most of the other people there just wanted more days. Just...days.


Next to me, there was a woman in her 40's, wearing a scarf on her head. She was talking with the nurse about her job as a librarian, about the husband who has to sleep with books in the bed.  She was telling jokes. The scarfed woman's friend, who was with her, was laughing, the nurse was laughing.

When the nurse came to check on my iv, I nodded my head toward the room next door.
 "They sound funny." I said. I was being nosy.  I didn't even care.

"Yes.  Chemotherapy. She always has someone different with her! I mentioned once that she had so great friends to come to her infusions.  But the woman that was with her interrupted me. 'She is the great friend, we are just returning the favor'. That woman is hysterically funny. I love her. It makes you realize..."  The nurse's voice trailed off.

Yes, it makes you realize.

That your bad days are someone else's better days.
That your world is as small as you want to be.
That you never know when you are finished living, so you may as well live right up to the edge of it.

I was sitting in the pink room again, two days later. The door was open, the hall was quieter, but still pleasant.  The librarian was not in the next room this time.  She was home, hopefully, propped up on pillows in bed, reading her stack of books and killing cancer cells.  It was an elderly man, sleeping in the recliner.

But the nurse was the same and she started my IV, gave me the iron.  Told me I had an hour to wait.

"Can I get you magazine? Something to keep you company while you wait?"  She asked as she stood to leave the tiny little room, the small space of it resembling, dangerously, the depth of the world I had been living and isolating myself in.

"No, my husband is coming this time."  I told her.

And he peeked into the little room, just then, smiling with his eyes just for me.

We sat together in comfortable silence, listening to the IV monitor ticking off the time.
But my world, that pink room, started growing bigger the second I let him step inside.

All the while, up and down the hall there were other monitors ticking, iv's dripping.

Everywhere, I heard the sound of days being lived. Bad days.  Last days.

But the loudest sounds on that hall were the better days.
Those were the days, I realized, that reminded you that there was something still waiting for you.
If you just held on long enough and kept the door open wide enough to let them in.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Bummer Summer: Vacation is making me dummer

I could write a nice long introduction to you, detailing the history of how I got to this dark, depressing place (Let's just sum it up in a title that would go something like this: : Bad Math---Procreation: 2 minutes of bliss for a lifetime of misery. ) but frankly, I don't have the energy.

 It's been sucked out of me slowly and painfully.  And now I can't remember if I brushed my teeth today or what my ATM pin is or if I'm wearing pants.

Fraternizing with child terrorists will do that.

So, don't expect a catchy intro, funny banter or proper use of punctuation.  That shit went out the window the day I found myself looking for a shoe that was missing.  One shoe, just gone.  Do you know why?  BECAUSE IT WAS IN THE TREE IN THE BACKYARD.  Right.  Don't ask, people.

I'm going to bottom line this for you in the simplest terms I know how (and all I have left are simple terms---I've been talking to 5 year olds for months).

I am losing any brain cells or compellingly witty qualities I had managed to salvage after staying home with my children for the last 13 years.
I thought I was in the clear when they all started school full time last year.  I was wrong.

Here's the proof.

5 Indications that Summer is making me DUMMER

 As I prepared to go to a Marching Band function for my daughter and my children were eating dinner, I sweetly told them all: “No one touch my clothes with your dirty hands, please. Mommy wants to look nice tonight.” 
I was, after all, wearing my GOOD yoga pants.


This was my facebook status on Wednesday. 


This happened.    
In my closet.

 I don’t want to talk about it.
 Dialogue surrounding every activity I take the children to do :

Me, cheerfully: Isn't berry picking/geocaching/miniature golf great?
Them, whiningly: It’s so HOT!
Me, trying to remain calm: It’s only 75 out, let’s make the best of it!
Them, being Them: We don’t want to make the best of it.  We want to make the worst of it. Let’s go home.
Me, dejectedly, : I thought you would enjoy this.
Them, uncaring: Well, we don’t.
Me, angrily: I spent $27 on these blueberries so we are going to have fun if it kills us, dammit. 
Now start picking, minions. 

    Things I have actually said in the last week

To the boys: “Get that turtle off the ceiling!”

To my teenager: “Please, watch her. We can’t let the cat get knocked up again before she can get fixed.”

To the cat: If you move your kittens one more time SO HELP ME GOD…
The cat: Blank stare.

To my husband: “I can see why Japan’s children are so much more advanced than the kids in America.  Annabella is learning Japanese in 8th grade.  It seems like such a hard language. But kids in Japan learn to speak that shit as BABIES.”
Me: manic laughing. 
Him: Blank stare.


So obviously, I'm not doing great. 
 I have 6 cats, 6 kids and a plastic turtle stuck to the ceiling in my house. 

Don't judge.

 Sometimes I wander around the yard hoping that a neigbor over the age of 17 will talk to me about anything other than Pokemon and buying EMO clothes at Hot Topic. 

On those days, I am probably not going to be wearing my BEST yoga pants, but considering the situation I have brewing inside, 

the neighbors should be thankful that I remembered to put on pants at all. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

This is how you find me

You, my readers, have some dirty minds.
Which is, of course, why we get along so well.
We understand each other. 

I know this for many reasons, among them, the function on my blog analytics (look at me, all computer savvy and shit!) that allows me to see what brings you to my blog here. I see what brings you to me, what content you like (the stuff about sex) and what content you hate (all of my poetry, thanks guys).

Let's just say I know a lot about you.
And I want to tell YOU today, about...YOU.

NOTE: I am not a scientist people.  Clearly. My friend Theresa has explained GMO's to me 6 times and I still can't tell you what the O stands for-----I just know they are bad, and bad is good enough for me.

NOTE (AGAIN): I am not opposed to stereotypes.  I won't judge you by the color of your skin, your sexual preference or your choice of  career; I WILL, however, judge you on your choice of words (You can't say that) or your choice of Mom Jeans (Dear You, in the stone wash).

So. The way I see it, completely UNscientifically, if I immediately disregard those of you who truly enjoy my  illogical musings as those who have questionable taste, the rest of my would-be readers fall into one of four categories of people.

I'd like to introduce you to:

The Four Types of People Who Read Don’t hate the player hate the game

The Fetishist Who Can Not Spell
Keyword Search: 

  • HE has a penchant for freaky porn, but gets easily distracted by stories about shopping and mom jeans.
  • He probably uses the word moist in conversation.
  • HE knows what qualities he wants in a girl (exxtra small) but doesn't know that girls (no matter what their size) are not likely to go for men who use the word beeg, especially when referencing rooster. 
  • He likes to spell words phonetically (hopefully). 
  • HE has a weird affection for Indian mother/son love (which started, unexpectedly, when he saw Life of Pi on HBO)
  • SHE has a lot of questions, concerning questions, about sex acts that she hopes will be answered by a blog that specializes in discussion about disability, divorce and  Okay, I understand that she thinks I have the answers but her understanding of the actual logistics of preforming the act give me nothing to work with.  I'm going to help her out, however. The answer is YES, if you want him to like you. ;)

The Would be Gangsta Who Likes a Bargain

Keyword Search:

  • He wants to look like a big spender but secretly buys his Girbaud and BOSS clothes from the Salvation Army
  • He was voted Most Like to Use a Groupon on a First Date by his fellow gang members
  • He works at HooDonald's (Do not click here if you have a weak stomach)

The Impatient Generalist
Keyword Search:

  • He hates people, in general
  • He hates waiting, in general
  • In general, people hate him

The unsure funny girl 
Keyword Search:

  • She is hysterical, but she worries that her witty "banter" may be more enticing than her milkshake (which is equally as hysterical)
  • She has uncertainty, plaguing uncertainty that drives her to the internet for information and affirmation and support
  • She just wants to be loved.  And desired.  And have people laugh at the deleriously wonderful, sarcastic and edgy things she has to say. 
I might be projecting a bit on the last one.  But let's just say I know someone just like her. Like really really well. 
 Intimately. Physically. Carnally. 

And let's just say she's really funny and kind of needy and you should totally read her blog.  
And let's just leave it there.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

High School and the Hilarious Mom

My daughter starts high school in five weeks.  That's right. Shit just got real, people.

I want to be good at this, you know? I want to be a super terrific mom to a high school-er. I want to be totally hip (do they still use that word?)

But problems keep arising and I am finding it more and more difficult as the start of the school year approaches.

The first problem is that my claim of being 29 is getting harder and harder to substantiate. 

Example: My 8 year old, counting on his fingers: Let's see... if Anna is 14 and you're 29 that would have made you.... 15 when you had her.  Wow, mom. You were just about Anna's age when you had a baby. And you told me that babies only come when a man and woman get married. old were you when you married Daddy?

Me: Curse you, 3rd grade math.

The second problem is that my daughter utterly and truly dislikes every ounce of my being.  

This is incredibly unfair, although as I do say to her every day, life is not fair. 
I also say, pretty is as pretty does and never look a gift horse in the mouth (he might have gingivitis). And then sometimes I bang an imaginary drum and cymbal after that last one, because not only am I very likable, I am what is known, in my circle of friends, as extremely hilarious. 
But in spite of all the wisdom I share with her every day, my hilarity, AND the beauty tips I give her free of charge (For God's sake, get your bangs out of your eyes) she seems wholly indifferent.  
She just sighs in mild disgust or just rolls her eyes. 

Which brings me to my next point.

The third problem is that all of her friends ABSOLUTELY LOVE ME.

Friend 1: Mrs. Jankowski, tell that joke about the horse again?
Me, casually, with false humility: Which one? I have lots you know. 
Friend 1: I know you do. Tell the one about the horse in the bar!
Me: Horse walks into the bar.  Bartender says...(me, gasping for breath in between my own laughter) Why the long face?
Friend 1: You are SO FUNNY, Mrs. J.
Me, shrugging my shoulders and looking humbly at my daughter: Awww, shucks.

My daughter:     

The fourth problem is that I remember all of the bad shit that kids do when they go to high school.

Between trying to be so freaking funny, and writing this blog for my extensive fan base (consisting of my mother and the lady who lives in my cul-de-sac) and being so hip AND trying to make sure all of my daughter's friends like me, I don't have time to monitor all her choices. 

And high school is a time to test the limits, to find your voice. To take the wheel of your own future, for the very first time.
All within the comforting confines of your mom's minivan.
I want her to do all of this.  And she should be more grateful.

My van has satellite radio. 

The fifth problem is that I really have no clue what I am doing.

I used to say, only half joking, that the first child needs the most therapy because it takes a few kids to really figure out what you're doing. There is no time that this statement has felt more true to me. 
How the heck am I supposed to know what to do now?  I make up the rules as I go, changing them to adapt to the new situations, tweaking them when it seems like I need to pull back or let go. They forgot to give me an owner's manual when I had her (although I don't usually read those things anyway.  I consider them more Recommendations than Instructions, really. And I don't like being told what to do, which is another problem. But I digress.). 

So I've just been winging it every day since.
And everyone is (mostly) fine. 

Anyway, it is all still incredibly scary, for me.
But I'm guessing, as she heads off on her brand new unknown high school adventure, it is far scarier for her.

There will be tough choices to make, new adventures had, lessons to learn. There will be nervous first dates, boys to bring home to meet her parents.

She's ready though. I can tell.

And so am I. Really.

So. Look out high school, here we come.  
That's right.

Here. I. Come.

And I'm bringing a whole slew of horse jokes and my imaginary drum set with me. 

That's right, bitches.  We are hip.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sex tonight? Why not.

It took you 2 hours to get the kids to sleep.

There were glasses of water fetched, imaginary flies pretend swatted, three stories read and everyone was tucked in---begrudgingly.  But not for long.  Because then there was the crying and screaming (you) and the ultimatums (them).  The bribes. Empty threats were made and finally, they collapsed--all their ploys exhausted, to rest up for another day of killing you slowly.

It's kind of a suck job, this whole "Being a mom" business, but this it is your suck job and you may as well not complain. So you were just looking forward to an hour or two of wallowing in quiet self-pity and ice cream, perhaps curled up with a book or even an episode of The Bachelor.

You thud down the stairs in your too small pajama pants, your t-shirt has spatters of paint and reads 5K Fun Run 2006.  You can't recall how you acquired this shirt but you sure as hell know you have never ran a 5k and if you had, it would not ever be classified, in your opinion, as something a person should do for fun.

 As you traipse around the corner to the kitchen you think you hear the faint sound of the stereo playing in the family room.  You grab the Ben and Jerry's from the freezer, slam the door shut with your rear end and grab a spoon.  You are sitting cross legged, contemplatively at the kitchen table, fitness magazine (fuck you, irony) spread out in front of you when you realize that there is music playing.
 And that it is definitely coming from the family room, where, it seems, someone has turned off the overhead lights.
You can barely make out the flicker of candlelight from the shadows around the corner and you wondering if you should go and investigate (a seance?) when you hear the soft strains of melodic sex oozing from the record player.


Your spoon stops in mid air.
Oh no. Think. Think. Think.
You consider a retreat back upstairs, a fake sleep at the table.  You wish for narcolepsy, amnesia. Anything.
But it is too late.  He is already sauntering around the corner, wearing only his jeans and white undershirt.
 He is holding two wine glasses.
He has spotted you and he is smiling.

"Well helloooo beautiful."

You want to turn around and see if perhaps there is someone behind you to which he is actually speaking.  But then he winks. At you.

And he speaks again, reaching out for your hand and peering at you in what you imagine he imagines to be seductive allure.

He gestures with his hands up and down his middle aged dad sized frame.

"Are you up for...this ?"



It's a struggle that must go back to the dawn of time.

Perhaps even back to those prehistoric cave dwelling couples in the Stone Age.  She gathered the berries and hauled water and nursed Neanderthal Junior all day long.  Neanderthal Man was busy hunting bison with blunt sticks.
 He should have been exhausted.  She was exhausted.  But as soon as the baby was sleeping in his stone bassinet, here came her husband--hunching and smoldering, grunting the modern equivalent of "let's get it on".

All she wanted was to sit quietly, maybe bone up on some of the cave wall hieroglyphics.
 But her Neanderthal husband had a different plan.  He wanted to bone her.

What's a Neanderthal wife to do?
What's any wife to do?
What will YOU do?

I know this is novel, but brace yourself.

Why not go for it?

Before you even begin (put your hand down) I know you have a million reasons why not.
I'll list a few here:

You're tired. Perpetually tired.
You haven't showered since yesterday (or in the case of Neanderthal Woman, since never). 
You just put on your GOOD yoga pants.
He just WINKED at you.
You need to read this fitness magazine and eat ice cream.
The lights are on.

So many more.

But let's agree to let the Why Not's rest for awhile.
You can always say No.
Don't you say No a hell of a lot?
You are practiced in saying No.
No means No and should always be respected.
Yes, yes.  Always yes to all of the above.

But let's just take it down a notch there and explore what might happen

 if this time (brace yourself)

You said yes.

1) You would burn calories. 

 According to Mens Health, the average man burns 100 calories and the average woman 69 (hee hee) calories during the typical roll in the hay. ( Okay, so maybe you aren't burning as much as if, say, you were sprinting a (not at all fun) Fun Run, but still far more than you would burn shoveling in the Ben and Jerry's. 

2) You would be happier.

Making whoopee makes you giddy, psychologically.  WebMD cites a study that surveyed the sexual activity and happiness of 16,000 men and women and found thatsex "enters so strongly (and) positively in happiness equations" that they estimate increasing intercourse from once a month to once a week is equivalent to the
amount of happiness generated by getting an additional $50,000 in income for the average American."  (  You might not be trading in the minivan for the car of your dreams this year, but you can still take the Mustang out for a ride if you know what I mean. 

3) You would be healthier.

Listen. Girl.
You're a mess.  
You have no time for anything healthy---sure, you wolf down your daughter's Flintstones vitamins and you floss the week before you go to the dentist.  But a little 'gland to gland combat' is just about as good as any other move toward a healthier you.  
It has been proven to boost your libido, make you sleep more soundly, reduce your risk of heart attack and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. 

Unless your pelvic floor muscles are already super.  Which, in that case, disqualifies you from even reading this blog post. I almost called this post Need kegels, will travel.

Ahem.  Moving on.

4) You will feel more connected.

There's probably a lot of science to back this one up, but let's keep this more simple. Every woman I know says that while she might have a million reasons she didn't have the energy to start having sex, she's usually glad she did it anyway. Because afterward, you each other.  Of course you always love each other.  Even when you say no.  Even when he isn't interested (isn't he always interested?).
Even when you are too tired. And even when you haven't had sex since before the baby, unless you count that one time at his parents house when you told him you would do it if you didn't have to take off any articles of clothing and didn't have to move at all. 
And he was all like, sure, that's cool.

But when you do decide to ignore the Why Not's, when you do decide to just go for it, you realize that more than loving him---you actually like him. 

And you like having sex with him.

That guy, he's pretty okay, isn't he?  He doesn't care that your pelvic floor is as weak as a busted up hammock.  He thinks you're beautiful. (I wrote this one: You should read it if you don't believe you are beautiful: The Prettiest Wife in the World) even when you are irrational (which is never). And he wants to do the horizontal hokey pokey RIGHT NOW.

And he wants only you. 

Sometimes you just can't muster the energy and sometimes you will say no.  And that's okay.  Take the guilt and throw it out with the empty Ben and Jerry's pint. But take the long list of Why Not's and toss those out too.  The whole thing needs to be redetermined and reconsidered.  

If you wait for that small interval in which you have had enough sleep and feel enough energy and have enough time and you really really really want to...well, that time might never come.  

And then you might never come.

So I'm here to say this: sometimes it's okay to fake it until you make it.

(Except don't fake IT.  Make him work for that shit.)


You take the wine glasses from his hand and tell him that if he promises to never, ever wink again you will give it a go. And he wants to dance with you.
 And dancing leads to kissing and kissing leads to the stairs and the stairs lead to your bedroom.
 And the bedroom leads to bow-chick-bow-bow.

And once you are in your bed---your legs layered in post coital bliss, you are still tired but you are glad.
He touches his nose to your nose and smiles so closely you remind yourself to tell him tomorrow to trim his nostril hair. 
But boy, is he handsome. And he looks at you so happily.
You are glad you ignored the Why Not's this time.

You are just about to drift off into sleep when the bedroom door is flung open.  The tell tale sound of child sized footstep approach the bed and you brace yourself for what comes next.

"Mama.  I'm FIRSTY", says your son as he pokes you in the neck.

You don't even move or open your eyes as you speak.

"Honey?" You say sweetly to your husband. 

"Are you up for... this?"

And then you drift quietly into a long and restful slumber.

Monday, July 7, 2014

How to get divorced

I was twenty years old when I got married, for the first time. I walked down the aisle with self-assurance, ready to start my new life, ready for grown-up adventures.  I was young, which made me infallible. And because I was infallible, I was unwilling to heed anyone's advice--when you know, I said then with a wave of my hand, you know.  And I knew.

Welp.  Surprise!
It turns out I didn't know.  And after 13 years of marriage, I was divorced. 

Getting married for the second time, I wasn't so young anymore.  And I had a self-diagnosed case of Post Traumatic Marriage Disorder: the painful awareness that love can crumble and "forever" might only turn out to mean a decade or two.  And this makes it all very, very scary. And it makes me unlikely source for marriage advice.

And yet, why not me?  Why not someone who has failed?  In the same way the couple who has been married for 40 years can tell you how to be married for so long, I can tell you how to be divorced.  We both have DONE IT! 

I would say that qualifies us as experts in our respective fields. Wouldn't you?
That was a rhetorical question, I don't want to hear your answer. :)

 As such, and as a self-proclaimed expert, I provide you with the following tutorial.

1) First, you must and I mean MUST marry under the following circumstances*:

  • Try to be very young (under 25 is best, under 20 is better)
  • Try to be very pregnant (It may seem that your chances of divorce are equally high when you get married after the baby is born, but alas, you've had too much time to think and thinking equals success.  To fail, you must be much more impulsive.  So buy the maternity wedding gown and work it.)
  • Try to have just met (online would be ideal, if he/she was in prison and the ceremony occurs between plexiglass, this spells certain success)
  • Try to have a language barrier, major religious difference or be from warring hillbilly families (See Hatfields and McCoy's for more information: An example of how to do it well (badly))
  • Try to have a bad feeling from the start (which you must push deep down into your soul and promptly ignore, should it steer you in a right/wrong direction and prevent the marriage from occurring)
*The more criteria you meet, the higher your divorces chances, of course.  So if you really want to fuck this marriage up, aim high and go for all of the above.

2) Next, you must have nothing, or close to nothing, in common.  Okay, this is not always necessarily true.  Here are the things you CAN have in common in order to have a successful divorce.

  • A love of crime
  • A love of passive aggressive arguments
  • A penchant for self-destruction
  • A love of animal hoarding
3)  It's best if you hate each other's families.
4) It's best if one of you traps the other into the marriage. (Surprise! Everyone is waiting with the minister in the backyard!)
5) It's best if you know your mate has major personality flaws but you also just KNOW you can change him.
6) It's best if one or more of your friends or co-workers has seen her out and getting cozy with another man recently; it's better if this occurs as close to the wedding as possible and there was nudity involved.
7) It's best if you are getting hitched just to plan a large, well-attended, week long, alcohol and sex-fueled bachelor/bachelorette party.
8) It's best if the following thoughts run through your mind as you walk down the aisle:

  • Was his hair always in a mohawk?
  • 7th time's the charm!
  • I wonder what his middle name is...?
  • I wonder what his last name is? 
  • Screw all my friends and family for not coming.  One little knife threat and they write him off. 
9) It's best if you move far away from all support systems, have as little stability as possible, and through caution to the wind.  Better yet, just follow the mantra of that wise duo, Captain and Tennille and let love keep you together. (If one of you has her haircut or owns his hat, though, all bets are off. That kind of coolness should never be divorced.  Ever.  )

10) Once you are married, try very hard to let every little fight become a battle and to let every little problem become a crisis.  The accumulation of this stress will make you both extremely unhappy.  And while I can not say, for certain, you will end in divorce under this circumstance, at least you both will be incredibly unhappy. And unhappiness is a super great factor in helping to encourage divorce.

But then again, unhappiness is also a super great factor in staying married.  Ask that couple on the end of the street how they have managed to stay together for 40 years.  They argue all the time.  You once saw her cut all the flowers off his rose bushes with a pair of kitchen shears in a fit of rage.  And he calls her "The ball and chain" and he never smiles.  Never. Not even when he won the Publisher's Clearing House and Ed McMahon came to his house.  He just scowled at his wife and took the cardboard check and put it in the front closet.

All jokes aside, you can ask the old couple about marriage and you can ask me about divorce; truly we would both say the same thing.
There's no telling what will make it work or what will work for you.

Marriage is like jumping into the swimming pool without dipping your toe in first.
You prepare for the dive and you rely on what you know, mix it with blind faith that it will all turn out all right.
Sometimes you make that splash and the water is so biting, so cold that you just don't think you can stand to swim anymore.  And you have to get out.  Even if you don't want to. You hadn't jumped in with the plan to get right out.
Other times, the best times, the water is fine. And you are so glad to be floating or paddling or just drifting. And you stay in that pool, even if the air gets cold or the breezes blow.  It just feels right.

Who is to say what is wrong or what is right?  Who is to say that they knew, for sure, how it would end up?

I don't know that. I have no list for that.

But I know one thing for sure.

Hope for warm water, friends.  Be brave and hold your nose.
Think hard, plan well. But be brave.
Always be glad you jumped.