DON'T QUOTE THE RAVEN

a blog

9.21.2016

A Letter To My Son About Greatness


I showed my oldest son Gunner a youtube video titled "People Are Awesome: 2015 (Maniac Edition)." It's an amazing compilation of ordinary people doing incredible things: standing on the top of skyscrapers with no lifeline, unimaginable dirt bike stunts, sailing off a cliff without a parachute, standing at the opening of an active volcano, surfing some of the biggest waves ever recorded, somersaulting off the top of a building, freestyling and doing phenomenal things with only their body, going as high as they can and then going a little higher, pushing themselves to the very limit and then pushing even further.

Standing on the edge of the world.

And jumping.

My eight year old was astonished. The craziest thing he's ever done was sliding seamlessly head first into the gravel rocks underneath our tree swing, and I'm pretty sure that was an accident. He cried, he hurt, and then he had some pretty gnarly scars to show off to all his friends. 

But as he watched the youtube video, his eyes got wide and I could see the frenzy in his breathing. He watched as people did things that in his little innocent mind, was impossible. Things that looked fun and thrilling but also scared him half to death.

"How do they even do that?!" He asked me. "Those people don't even care if they die!"

And I stopped him right there, made him look me in the eyes and said, "Gunner, quite the opposite. Those people? Those people in that video who were conquering things most people only dream about? Those people are the ones who actually do care. They absolutely care if they die. But they care a million times more about living."

"I think I'd want to do those things when I grow up but I can't because I'm afraid of heights."

Stop. 

Stop right there my beautiful, precious, starry-eyed and creative son. Let me tell you something about fears. Fears are real, they are natural, they are warranted and they will do nothing but hold you back from doing something extraordinary. From experiencing the world and the universe. From moving away from where you are standing right now and propelling you into unheard of, uncharted, inconceivable, out-of-this world adventures. A lot of people live their lives with fear in control. And it's ok, it's accepted, and if you choose to live that way, you can still go on and live a decent even happy life. Maybe get a puppy, have a few kids, a job you kinda sorta like and live until you die.

But, and listen to this: if you do so, you forfeit the right to ever utter the words, "I think I'd want to do those things when I grow up BUT..." Because there is no "but." There is NOTHING acceptable that can ever follow that sentence when you interject the word "but."

Nothing.  

Any excuse you will throw in there is baseless and invalid. 

And it's so, so, SO untrue. It's a lie. It's a lie you will tell yourself to keep from achieving greatness. It's all a lie, Gunner. It's fiction, it's deception, it's an intentional untruth. It's a prevarication that has stopped and silenced so many of the world's greatest that we will never, ever get the pleasure to know about.

And when it comes to heights? Everyone in this world is on some level afraid of heights. It's a natural human emotion built into all of us to be afraid of standing at the top of the world and looking down below. The higher we go, the more scary it gets. I bet there is not one person who has ever stood at the door of a plane, about to jump, and who didn't get a little lump at the back of their throat. But I also bet that every single person who has ever made that jump pushed fear away and instead replaced "I can't" with "My GOD, this is amazing. I'm doing this."

And then they do it, Gunner. Being afraid of something is part of us all. But letting those fears stop us is absolutely and unequivocally not acceptable.

"Ok then, when I'm older I want to be one of those people who jump out of planes. I won't be scared, mom."

"You will be scared, Gunner. I never said you won't be scared. You will be petrified. You will freeze, you will want to change your mind a million times, you will throw up, you will feel like your heart is going to beat straight out of your chest and fall to the floor beneath you. 

And then you'll jump."

 "How do I do it then? How do I get there?"

Oh, I'm so glad you asked, darling.

There is no right or wrong way. There's just a way. And it's going to be your way, no one else's. You'll know it when you get there. You'll feel it. Your soul will rumble and you will feel courage with such fervor it will be like nothing you've ever experienced before. You want to dive off cliffs? You can. You want to jump out of planes? You can. You want to swim with sharks in the open ocean? You can. You want to create a pair of rocket boots that will help you sail away to the moon?

You can. 

But only if you treat fear like the four letter word that it is.

You can do absolutely anything in this whole entire world. You can make the rules, you can break the rules, you can soar to the edge of this whole entire world kid and you can break free from every chain that was ever placed upon you and you can be without limits and you can LIVE. 

But.
(and here's a situation where that word fully applies)

You have to put in your dues first.

You have to work hard, sometimes doing things you don't want to do. Actually scratch that. You have to work hard, always doing things you don't want to do. You have to tow the line. You have to go to school and keep your nose to the grindstone and your feet on the ground. You have to focus and stay centered. You have to live with disappointment and be able to withstand setbacks. You will have to experience blow after blow after blow and then when you think you can't possibly take it anymore, you will have to suffer one more terrifying blow. You will fail, that's a given, and you will want to throw in the towel. 

And you can, that's your choice. But a lot of discarded dreams are wrapped up in dirty laundry.

You want to rise. I know you do, I can see it in your eyes.

So go do it. Start right now.

You have be determined and dedicated and you have to obey the rules.

Yes, son, you have to obey the rules before you can break the rules.

There is no shortcut, and if you spend your time trying to find one, that is precious time wasted from getting to where you want to be.

No one just wakes up one day and decides to conquer the world.

You have to want it, to feel it, to yearn for it, to live for it, to never, ever, EVER give up and to never stop working for it.

Then, and only then, my little lamb, can you grab your dreams and fly around the world on rocket boots.

But for now, go clean your room.



See also: On Being Happy (another letter to my boys)

8.31.2016

An Anti-Blogger Anniversary Post


My husband and I celebrated our twelve year anniversary this past weekend. That's twelve years, to one person, no deaths. Pat on my back if I do say so myself. 

Look. I love my husband. He's great! He works hard for my money, lets me know when I'm gaining too much weight (accountability) and responds well to my threats. He only questions my spending habits once a month (when the credit card bill comes) and he loves our kids almost as much as he loves me. He's really fun to party with in Las Vegas and this one time, in the Dominican Republic, we almost died together as a result of a really poor choice. (You know the ones, the ones that seem like so much fun in the moment...until they're not.) We've had some really exciting times.

He's there for me, he provides for me, he protects me. Really, he's great. And twelve years is something to celebrate but let me tell you what. I am so sick and tired of seeing all those sappy anniversary posts proclaiming ridiculous nonsense.  They all sound the same, they are all contrite as hell and it's just one glaring shade of vanilla pudding.

They all go a little like this:

On this day, nine years ago, I married my very best friend. I can't believe how much we've grown together and you make my life better every second of every day. The day I married you was the best day ever and I look forward to many, many more years of happily married bliss.

Gag
me
with
a
spoon.

Or really, any other kitchen utensil you have sitting around because, no. Just...no.

Girl, you know he ain't your best friend. He may be your best husband (at least I hope he is) but best friend? Come on. Let's get real. A real best friend is someone you can go to when you want to complain and bitch about your husband. A real best friend will cry with you and actually listen to you and then after she's done wiping your tears, will help you think of a way to seamlessly dispose of said husband without any trace being led back to you. Husbands can't help you with that, but best friends can. 

I'm kinda sorta pretty much kidding, but my point still remains the same. 

I mean, I got my husband and I matching Toms and he wouldn't even wear them with me. A real best friend would wear those and matching beanies. 

And I don't remember my husband being there for me when I watched my littlest one go off into the big bad world they call school. His little legs walked onto the bus and his little hand waved at me goodbye...I felt like my world was ending. I cried big fat tears and needed someone, anyone to talk to. Who came through in my time of need? That's right, my best friend. Not my husband. Sure, I wouldn't have the amazing kids I do if it weren't for him, and sure, maybe the reason he couldn't be there to hold my hand was because he was working to provide a living for us, but once again, my point still remains the same. 

And best day ever? Ever? Come on. I admit, the day I got married was pretty groovy. We had fun with our friends and family and got a little too tipsy on tequila shots and yeah, I look back on it fondly. But best day ever? Shoot, I do that Monday through Sunday. Now if we're talkin' about a real best day ever, that would probably be the day I realized it was socially acceptable to only text everything. Or when you get a free Kylie lip kit in the mail. Or when Taylor Swift got taken down. 

I think if we're being honest here, we can all admit that your razzle-dazzle wedding doesn't even begin to compare to that time Taylor got owned. (And Tay girl, if you're reading this, do something about that hair, k? Every time I see a picture of you I get into a bad mood.)

Again, I think weddings are great (actually I lied) and anniversaries are cool too. But let's not get carried away. You don't have to copy and paste whatever Bethany wrote on her Facebook wall the day before and what Marcy will write on her Facebook wall tomorrow when it's her anniversary. Be original, a little more honest.

Try something like:

Dearest Rob, today we celebrate twelve long...long long long long years of marriage. We've been through a lot, you and I...me more so than you...but hey, I'm still here, ain't I! I can't say we make each other's lives better exactly, but we're really good drinking partners and that has to count for something, yes? The day I married you was the best day ever I got really drunk. I look forward to many more happy years of wedded bliss getting drunk with you this Friday. Love you! Mean it!

Butterflies and rainbows, people, butterflies and rainbows.

(ps, I'm working on getting the green hyperlinks and 
all the ads off my posts/photos. They are driving me nuts.)
11.23.2015

Moms In The Back Of The Elementary School Pickup Line: I Feel Your Pain


The elementary school pickup line.

I've never experienced this conundrum before this year. I've heard about it from word of mouth, and I've seen instagram pictures of desperate moms waiting in this so-called pickup line to pick up their urchin brats, but I've never been a part of this enigma until now.

I thought it'd be easy. Drive to school, drop off your kid, drive to school, pick up your kid. Like a grocery store run or post office drive-thru. In, out, hi, bye, love you more no love you more and then we all get on with our day.

My kid gets out of school at 3:17. The bell rings at 3:17. My kid, and every other kid in the entire premises, cannot leave the school grounds until 3:17. So imagine my surprise when I arrive at school to pick up my child at 3:12 (an entire five minutes early) and the school pickup line is 100 cars deep. 

Ok ok, fine...I get it. Lots of kids attend the school, which means lots of moms pick them up (sidenote: maybe some days, like every third or fourth, make your spoiled offspring ride the bus, possibly then your precious little pearl will learn a few life lessons) but criminy! The line! The traffic jam! The chaos! I don't know about you, but if I were an elderly living in the neighborhood and couldn't get home to my chicken noodle soup and Judge Judy by a specified time because of these psycho pseudo "mothers," I would be calling Animal Control or something similar. Isn't this like a health risk or something?

Aright, long breath in, long breath out. Must conform to generalized society, yadda yadda blow me. So the next day, I arrive at 3:07 pm. An entire ten minutes early! Again, let me reiterate - no child is allowed out of the building until 3:17. No child left behind! Doesn't matter if your mom drives a Ford Probe or your dad is the second shift captain at the local Applebee's. Doesn't even matter if you're fabulous and gorgeous and unstoppable like myself (I KNOW)...because nope! No kids are allowed to step foot outside that amazing structure built by the lowest bidder until 3:17 pm.

And yet still.

Still.

The pickup line was halfway down the road. See, if you aren't familiar with a school pickup line, you wait your turn. There are a few coveted spots at the very front of the line which means you get in and you get out, but if don't get there in time (just wait for it) then basically your entire afternoon is sucked up waiting in the line because a few probably stepmoms with something to prove have being sitting there since the ink on the prenup has dried.

Regardless, I was bound and determined to beat the system, to show those wannabe's that I can play their game. I imagined the horrified looks on their faces when they saw me parked there first, a good twenty minutes early. Yeah bitch, take that.

Except...they were still there. The same ones, parked in the same spot. The hell?!? And then the next day, I arrived thirty minutes early and then the next, forty five minutes early! AND! STILL! THERE!

I give up. I really do. If this is the hill you want to die on ladies, then be my guest.

But before I throw in my flag, I have something to say...

Crazy lunatic psycho moms in front of me in the pickup line...I have some questions for you. Such as, are you ok? Do you need help? Are you dehydrated? Please let me help you. Where are your morals? Are you bored? Is your life so unfulfilling that you have nothing better to do than sit in your useless economic liberalmobile for hours on end waiting for your less-than-average nipper to descend the building? You don't get life points for that, you know. Are you cold? Does the heat not work in your home? Is that why you arrive here at this pickup line so goddamn early? Because you can blast the warm air while you sit on your lazy ass? Did you forget to pay your electric bill? Do you need to borrow twenty bucks?

I'm not done.

Do you have any friends? I mean any friends besides the pickup line hoebag in front of and directly behind you. Because we all know you conspire together, you filthy wenches. Did you never have a mother that taught you courtesy? Thoughtfulness? Does your husband hate you? Are you using this pickup line as an escape from your life? I would give you the benefit of the doubt and think you're only here three days early so you can sit in peace and silence reading your self help book...yet your snide little I-win-cause-I-was-here-first glare and stupid pathetic stick family stickers on the back on your car give you away: you're nothing more than a selfish egotistical self-seeking nobody who wants to feel important by being the first! one! in the pickup line.

Congrachewf**kinglations.

You win. I'll give it to you. You win, ok? You're the winner! The best! Granted, your only the best at the elementary school pickup line...you might want to get yourself a little plaque made with that title and then set it on the dashboard of your car so everyone knows your plight. Regardless, you win.

You've done it.

And it's ok, really. I'll be fine, I promise. Because see, unlike you, I would prefer for my butt not to conform to the shape of my heated leather seats from sitting on it for hours on end. I also, unlike you, like to feel productive during the short hours we each get every day. Which is why I spend the hour before school gets out doing productive-like things, unlike you. And I'm also teaching my kid patience and that the whole world doesn't revolve around him, and even if I'm not the first mom in the pickup line, it's ok...he knows his life will still be ok. What about your little punk? What are you teaching him? That he should expect instant gratification? That he walks out of the building every single day and there you are? First in line? That his mommy will always be there for him holding his clammy hand at every turn?

Teach your kid to wipe his own butt, geezus.

So take this as my official resignation. I'm bowing out. I quit the game. You did it girls!

Of course, don't get mad if your man stares extra hard at my pert derriere from all the walking I'll be doing down the hill to the school to pick up my child.

You did this to yourself.  
10.21.2015

Shit My Kid Says


+ as I am discussing our dog, Dude, with my 5 year old, and talking to him about how much Dude loves him and always wants to go where he goes:
me: how come you're the only one who can make Dude follow you around and do what you say?
Colt: well, he will follow anybody around if they have a treat for him.
me: le sigh. 'Tis true, Colt, and not only for male dogs, but for male humans as well.
Colt: what does that mean?
me: it means boobs.

me: I'm a homebody.
Gunner: what does that mean?
me: it means I would rather be at home most of the time rather than any place else.
Gunner: I'm a homebody too. I'm definitely not a schoolbody.

me: put your socks on.
Gunner: I don't want to wear socks.
me: put them on now, or your feet will stink when you wear shoes.
Gunner: I don't care if my feet stink.
me: well I do, because I have to smell them.
Gunner: well I have to smell your gross cooking all day --
me: you little shit, it's called vegetables! If you would just TRY them and not only eat carbs and sugar and oreos all day maybe you would grow up and work at NASA instead of McDonalds, which I'm sure you would love since then you would get free chicken nuggets every day.
Gunner: free chicken nuggets??

me: Colt, put your coat on.
Colt: I don't want to put my coat on.
me: I don't care what you want, put your coat on.
Colt: I don't want to put my coat on!
me: well I don't want to wake up every morning at the crack of the damn sun rising just to make sure I have enough time to argue and pick a fight with you over whether or not you wear ninja turtle underwear or where the one pair of socks are in the entire drawer that doesn't hurt your wittle feet or why your OMG favorite shirt you have worn non-stop for the last three weeks suddenly makes you super itchy the very second we walk out the door to school or why my entire life is now ruined because I decided to have children so PUT YOUR GODDAMN COAT ON NOW!!!

both my kids: you're mean.
me: Don't care.
kids: well you should, cause mean people suck.
me: what, did you read that on some lame tshirt or something?
kids: no you're just mean.
me: kids, make no mistake...I wear it like a badge of honor.

+two days later:
both my kids: you're mean.
me: ok I'll bite. Why am I mean?
kids: 'cause you won't let us have an Xbox or a tv in our room.
me: in that case kiddos, your dad is mean cause he won't buy me an island in the caribbean or replace this chinsy diamond with a GOLF BALL sizer.
one of my kids: but dad bought you a new car and let's you sleep all day and --
me: Go to your room! You're in timeout.

+pointing to my vodka bottle:
Gunner: mom what's that?
me: it's so I can survive the day.
Gunner: but what is it?
me: survival juice.
Gunner: but what does that mean?
me: it means stop asking so many damn questions.

Gunner: I love you mom.
me: I love you too. More than anything in this entire world.
Gunner: Colt!! Mom loves me more than you!

I give up.


Read more Shit My Kid Says HERE.




10.15.2015

Just A Basic Girl Living In A Basic World


Alright, so the trendy thing now is to either proudly parade the fact that you are  - or unscrupulously label someone else - "basic." I mean, you would think by reading Facebook articles or Tuesday's Popsugar that PSL's are the devil incarnate.

*For my 45+ readers (you know you're out there...ahem Rob...) "PSL" stands for Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Also known as the worst thing any white person can ever order at Starbucks. Because ... ??? No reason really, other than some non-basic (but most likely the most basic-ist of basic people around) working at Buzzfeed labeled it as something "basic" people drink. 

Is this sounding ridiculous and impossibly goofy to you?

Anyway. I was getting sick and tired of reading article after article, blog post after blog post, instagram after instagram - you get the point - of women proclaiming how basic they were. It's like if you tell the social world how basic you are, no one will rail you or make fun of you for being so basic, since you said it first. Except, that's like the most basic thing you can do. Or nobodies declaring how basic someone else is because of some benevolent stupid basic reason.

Side note: If a basic person is super basic in the most basic of ways, are they more or less basic than the basicness of the basic crime they are committing? End basic side note.

There is a pretty popular article out there (at least it was one of the first ones that popped up when I googled "signs you are basic") titled "21 Signs You're A Basic B*tch" on Thought Catalog. It's a whore and has gotten around quite rapidly in the social scene so I'm going to use this article as my baseline for deciding once and for all how basic I really am.

'Cause I'm literally dying to know.

Literally.

Like, so literally it's literally impossible for it to get any more literal than it is at this point.

(I will be bulletpointing Thought Catalogs basic b*tch points first, in bold, and then directly underneath explaining if said basic bitch quote applies to me.)

You know you're a basic b*tch if...

1. You own any Adam Sandler movie. Specifically 50 First Dates.
Not sure I've ever seen it. But Billy Madison? "Stop looking at me swan! Where's my snack pack? You ain't cool unless you pee your pants." A 27 year old who goes back to Kindergarten and sleeps with the teacher? Now there is a movie that is definitely for the most non-basic of us all.

2. You drink pumpkins spice lattes.
Look. Let's just nail it down right here, k? Drinking a pumpkin spice latte doesn't automatically make one "basic." I know it's the popular and catchy go-to phrase, but it's a drink with some pumpkin flavoring thrown in. I get just as much as you that the whole "omg it's fall omg" thing is annoying as hell. But pick something else than just a stupid liberal Starbucks drink to brand someone "basic." And no, to answer the question, pumpkin spice lattes make me want to vomit.

3. You post inspirational quotes on your facebook/twitter.
Would you rather I post gory stories of puppies dying a miserable death or like, Hillary Clinton photos? Criminy, what are your standards?

4. You tweet: "It's 11:11! Make a wish!"
As if. Most mornings I'm not even up and out of bed by then and if we're talking night time, then chances are I'm probably pretty toasted and don't give a shit about world peace at that point.

5. You instagram photos of pretty sunsets with the caption, "i believe in rainbows, do you?"
Eh, you kinda got me on this one. Although, I think believing in rainbows makes you more of a sane person rather than a basic one (since rainbows actually exist).

6. You have a dog and gave it a regular person name like "Britney" or "Tom."
Dude, my dogs name is Dude. And I actually think that's so incredibly basic that it almost ventures into non-basic territory. See how I roll? Always thinking one step ahead...totally not-basic of me.

7. You watch King of Queens.
Pssshh never seen it. No, rather I watch the more edgy shows like Dr. Phil and Judge Judy and all The Real Housewives on Bravo. So edgy, so cool, so totally not basic.

8. You're a Republican, even though you love gay guys!!!
Oh oh oh, I'm taking this one loud and proud! I am, in fact, very republican and if I do say so myself, I've been told a time or two that I'm a gay guys dream girl. It's true, see?

9. You honestly wonder whether or not you're a Carrie or a Charlotte.
Never in my life have I ever watched a single episode of SITC, so I have no idea what that even means. I do, however, spend a large portion of my life wondering whether I am Britney Spears circa head-shaving-days-with-umbrella-and-pink-wigs or Lindsay Lohan when she was banging that one chick. Seriously, the conundrum keeps me up at night.

10. You order prosecco at bars. Anything you drink is basically a giant vagina. 
So I seriously had to ask Rob just now, "isn't prosecco that fancy cheese I sometimes like to order at our totally basic country club?" I totally thought prosecco was a cheese. I still kinda do. And look, I'm so hardcore and so totally not basic when it comes to my alcoholic beverages, mkay? I don't have time for flirty pink little sparkly champs wines or whatnot, no instead I down the stuff that will get me as buzzed as possible as quick as possible. Your little frilly pussy drinks just ain't gonna cut it. Moving on...

11. You only sleep with bankers and financial analysts.
Well considering my man is a plumber who fixes toilets...check! So not basic! I win!

12. You think the characters on Girls are "weird" and "depressing."
BECAUSE THEY ARE.

13. You occasionally believe in Jesus Christ, but only when your love life is in shambles and you need a higher power to make it through.
Step. Back. First of all, I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart when I was just a wee one, so go to hell. And I've given up hope long ago that my love life with ever be anything but shambles so God, you're off the hook on that one.

14. You're the reason Nickelback has a career. 
I've come to the conclusion that everyone who hates Nickelback is just jealous. I mean, what else could it possible be? They are extraordinary! Their music speaks to the soul! That one guy flips his hair all around! So yes, if loving an amazing band who plays amazing music makes me basic, then I'll take it. More like basically amazing...

15. You have a tattoo that means something poetic in a foreign language. 
I have my husbands name tattooed on my ass. And ok fine, I may also have a very poetic saying etched on my forearm in Italian. What are you gonna do about it?

16. You LOVE Las Vegas AKA "Basic Bitch Capitol Of The World."
I freaking love the big LV. It's my motherland. The place where I can go and be wild and free - and apparently so incredibly basic - and nothing and no one will ever change my mind about that. And I'd like to invite any one of you basic finger pointers along with me and I'll show you a totally basic time...if basic means to you getting thrown out of Margaritaville by a big 'ol bouncer named CoCo and almost getting tasered by a police officer in the backseat of a cab driven by a guy who didn't have his license and came straight from the Congo (not being racist, he literally just stepped off the plane from the Congo, he told me so). If that's all basic, let's go to Vegas and basic it so hard right now!

17. OMG, goat cheese!
OMG, did someone say goat cheese?!

18. You are STILL quoting Mean Girls. 
I've actually NEVER quoted that nasty ginger or any of her cohorts so calm it down sugarteets.

19. Eat, Pray, Love AKA The Basic Bitch Bible changed your life. One day, when you find yourself trapped in a loveless marriage to a rich man in Connecticut, you're going to leave him to go find yourself through extensive prayer and pizza. 
I'm starting to feel very un-basic with every question I answer in the negative. Nope, never even seen the movie. However, leaving anything, at any time, ever, to go and eat pizza sounds like a pretty damn good idea to me.

20. You RT pleas for help from children with cancer.
Whoaaa. I would think you're a bitch either way, basic or not, if you somehow think this gesture is something to mock. See #13 above...maybe you need Jesus you basic bitch.

21. You tell people that you don't "do" drama.
I've always preached that those who say they hate drama are the ones that create it the most. Me? I love it and welcome it so bring it you basic bitches!

I guess there we have it.

I'm basic.

Which, let's be honest, I've been called worse.

Yet just like I do with everything that comes my way, I'll take it and thrive. Life, Netflix binging and Vodka. Basic Basic Basic...

God it feels good to be basic.