Saturday, December 30, 2017

You Got This

Several of my friends' marriages broke up this year.

Insert charming and sensitive stock photo here.

Which made me realize...I'm a trendsetter.

I mean, when my own marriage ended a few years back, one thought kept nagging at me, daring me to keep it quiet: You are just about the only person you know who isn't in a long-term, happy, stable marriage. What's up with that?

Indeed. It's true that in my circle of friends, acquaintances, and co-workers, I know married people, and I know single people. I don't know a lot of folks who have gone through a divorce. There's my sister, there's my dear friend SuzyQ, a couple of colleagues from past places of employment, a few other friends and relatives. That's about it. Certainly not 50% of the people I know, which the prevailing statistics would have us believe is the actual divorce rate.

If this trend continues...aaayyyyyyyy.

At the time, even though I knew I was doing what was best for me and Precocious Daughter, I felt pretty alone. And pretty much like a failure.

But then something happened.

When I announced that my marriage was ending, I received an incredible outpouring of support from family, friends, even relative strangers. I was expecting, quite honestly, expressions of sadness, disappointment, even pity. And there were those, sure. But more than anything, I heard that the people who knew me and loved me really cared, and understood, and encouraged me in my new life. 

Not to get too sappy, but it was very much like the moment when the Grinch put his hand to his ear, expecting to hear "boo-hoo-hoo" but instead heard that weird "daboo-dory" song. 

Google tells me it's actually "Fa-who For-aze." Which makes
no sense whatsoever. But still happier than "boo-hoo-hoo."

Anyway, what really blew me away was that the love and encouragement came from people who were happily married, who were religious, who were single, who were dyed-in-the-wool cynics. That's when I realized that marriage is an institution, but so is prison, and in either case putting it behind you should be, more than anything else, a cause for celebration and a chance for a fresh start.

So here I am, a few years down the road, and I'm seeing and hearing that friends are moving out, setting up custody arrangements, taking back their maiden names (or not). Marriages that I assumed were well-oiled machines are shutting down.

Never assume, people. You have no idea what goes on behind the curtain. Ever.

My new favorite image ever.

So in the spirit of giving back a little of what I got when I was going through the same mess, here's my message to people who are "consciously uncoupling":

First, don't ever use the phrase "consciously uncoupling." Gwyneth Paltrow can afford to sprinkle a layer of fairy dust over reality, but normal folks like us can't. Also, don't steam your vagina - you're not a head of broccoli. But I digress.

Second, I'm sorry. Whatever the circumstances of your marriage, you didn't go into it thinking it would end like this. Before you turn your back on the past, take a moment to mourn what you had, or what you hoped to have. It's OK.

Third, you got this. I'm pretty sure you're a kick-ass human. But chances are you feel strange and scared, or you will at times. That's normal at any point in life, not just when you're getting divorced. So don't let anybody tell you that this particular circumstance will make you weaker or less capable. You got this.

Fourth, have faith. Whether you're a traditionally devout person, or a dedicated pagan, believe that you're not alone in the universe. None of us can map out exactly what will happen in our lives. Steer your ship the best you can, but remember that you don't control the wind or the waves. Save a little room in your heart for the unexpected.

Finally, breathe. I love breathing. It's a miraculous thing, and a tremendous privilege. Breathing calms us down, psychs us up, puts us to sleep, wakes us up. You've taken millions of breaths that will never be again, and - I hope - you will take millions more. Each one is unique. Just like you. So breathe.

Whether you're single, married, divorced, widowed, or standing at some waypost in between, unsure where to go and best wishes to all of you.

You got this.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

I Hope It's the Right Size

Merry Christmas Eve, Drunkards! I didn't get you anything.

LOL, jk. Actually, I got you a sackful of gifts. Because you deserve only the very best. But this is what I got you, anyway.

For meme makers:

Fucking use this.

For women in the workplace:

Credit: Wendy Sue Huff/Pantsuit Nation

For Christian couch potatoes:

The Bible says it's OK to watch a "Chopped" marathon instead.

For hard-to-buy-for foodies:

A passssssta holder.

For science geeks/Trekkers:

The shirt. Chris Pine and Karl Urban may be on back order.

For moms who feel like failures:

Your gift is the schadenfreude, not the dick pops.
Unless you're into that.

For anyone who hasn't yet discovered BuzzFeed Unsolved:

Set aside a couple of hours and watch.

And for everyone else:

Thank you.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, or just have a nice day.

I hope we all get everything we want.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Year in (Some) Movies

Precocious Daughter and I saw a lot of movies this year. Not as many as we would have liked (and we're not done yet), but a lot.

PDaughter also saw a lot of movies with her dad. That's part and parcel of this whole divorce thing. She sees some movies with me, she sees some movies with him - and we saw one film as a family (more on that in a minute). It generally works out well because she tends to see the superhero/action movies she loves with him, which is fine with me. And then we go see movies that are often less mainstream, which is fine with him.

Coco kind of got lost in between,
although I still hope to see it.
Anyway, here are some random thoughts on a few of the movies we saw in 2017. If you've seen them, please chime in with your opinions. If you haven't...maybe you'll seek them out.

These are in no particular order of quality, chronology, etc.

Get Out - This had the biggest buzz of any movie in the early part of the year, and we saw it on that basis (and the fact we love Jordan Peele), rather than any expectation of what we were going to see. This movie is amazing. The writing, the direction, the performances, and the message all are top-notch. What I loved about it is that at its heart it's structured like an old Movie of the Week: Introduce the characters, introduce the situation, ramp up the tension, reveal how everything happened, rescue the imperiled hero, fin. But it's done with so much sophistication and cleverness. Also, it stars Daniel Kaluuya, who was in one of my favorite episodes of "Black Mirror."

No, not this one.
(Also, "Black Mirror" returns December 29 - squee!)

Okja - Not a theatrical release, this was a Netflix original from Korean director Bong Joon-ho. The story is difficult to describe. Suffice to say the two protagonists are a South Korean girl and a animated giant piglike creature, and the two antagonists are Tilda Swinton. The movie pits a Monsanto-like corporation against a group of not-overly-competent eco-terrorists. It's beautiful, funny, and sad. Totally worth a watch.

 A Fistful of Dollars - Obviously not a new movie. But PDaughter and I hadn't seen it in a while, so we queued it up a few months ago. So much fun to watch, and so radically filmed. Amazing score from Ennio Morcone (duh). I'd love to see a modern feminist take on the spaghetti western (No, Kill Bill doesn't quite achieve the sensibility.) If you want to see peak Clint Eastwood, when he was young and hot and didn't talk to empty chairs, it's a great Saturday-afternoon flick.

Baby Driver - We almost didn't see this because the trailer made it look like one long car chase plus Kevin Spacey acting menacing. But we trusted that an Edgar Wright movie would be much more, and we were glad we took the chance. It's not that this is a great movie, but it's a really fresh take on the heist movie. Possibly the best integration of music and plot I've ever seen - especially in the opening scene, which I could watch on a loop all day. I'm sorry that Kevin Spacey has turned out to be a reprehensible person, because he's so much fun to watch onscreen. :(

Lady Bird - Honestly, I don't quite understand the critical acclaim of this movie. PDaughter enjoyed it much more than I did, probably because she shares so much with the titular character. It's getting all kinds of award nominations. If you were ever a mom, a daughter, a loner, or a loser, you'll identify with the story. Worth a look, but not my favorite of the year.

The Disaster Artist - All I can say is, two Francos on the screen at the same time approaches sensory overload, especially when one is channeling Tommy Wiseau. By the time the post-credit scene came on, we were the only ones left in the theatre, which means everyone else missed perhaps the very best part of the movie. My advice: If you see it (and oh yes, please see it), stay until the very end.

I mean, why is that not a law?
The Killing of a Sacred Deer - My biggest WTF of the year. This is the only movie we saw this year where I knew literally nothing about the plot, or the director, or anything. And in that spirit, I'm not going to say much about it, except that it only made sense (kind of) after PDaughter and I spent about an hour dissecting it afterwards. But I do highly recommend it if you're looking for something... different.

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi - This is the only movie that we saw as a family, simply because both my ex and I are huge Star Wars fans, and there's no way PDaughter can choose one of us to see it with. So when a new Star Wars movie comes out, we all go together (and we have a lovely time, tbh). I may get pushback on this, but this was hands down my favorite movie of 2017. I find it humorous that critics by and large love it, while many fans hat it so much that they want it removed from Star Wars canon. As PDaughter very astutely said, "That's because the fandom doesn't want to see a good movie - they only want to see a good Star Wars." Well, beans. I love Rian Johnson's take on the saga and thought he handled the many set pieces beautifully. Flawed in places, definitely. But definitely one of the best displays of filmmaking in all eight movies.

Coming up later day, PDaughter and I are seeing Call Me By Your Name. I'm hoping to squeeze in The Post and Phantom Thread by the end of the year, as well.

Let me know your favorites of the year.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Just Nod If You Can Hear Me

Here's a poem. Sometimes poetry is all we have.

White Noise
by Chuck Baudelaire

I poured it out.

On the floor.
Down the drain.
Into your ear.

I spilled
The contents of my heart,
The volume of a bottle,
And they simply swirled and drained
As if they were the same.

Perhaps my senses will matter once more
If anyone remains
To receive my signals
When I resume transmissions.

Or maybe it doesn't matter if anyone receives.
To speak to the void
Is better than gaping dumbly to the multitudes.

I plan to shout
As soon as I am able.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Last Jedi...Sure.

I'm seeing The Last Jedi tomorrow.

Love you, Carrie.
Oh....Seeing it with my daughter...

and my ex.

That's good...right?

I mean, sure, that's normal. 

We're still a family, I guess, despite the whole divorce thing. Right?

I mean... It's not like it matters, you know?

Tell me if that's just too weird.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Birthdays. Happy Yours, and Mine, and Ours.

If you spend any time at all here in my cozy little corner of the Internet, you know three things:

1. This blog is named after a phrase in a poem by Charles Baudelaire.

2. My nom de blog is an affectionate corruption of Mr. Baudelaire's name.

3. I am not, in fact, Charles Baudelaire, the 19th century French poet.

I do love a smock with a large bow.
But the similarities end there.
But today I discovered an EXTREMELY FREAKY connection between me and the esteemed poet.

I picked up a 2018 calendar at my local Half Price Books.

Do you have Half Price Books where you live?

I have wonderful memories of visiting the HPB location on Dallas' Mockingbird Lane in the 80s, a subterranean space that was actually physically dangerous to navigate. Nowadays, HPB locations are located mainly in suburban strip malls in 17 states, but back in the day, they could be found mostly in cramped, funky retail spaces that no other self-respecting retail outlet would occupy.

I love Half Price Books, you guys.

Anyway, Precocious Daughter and I ventured to the HPB in Richardson, Texas. Here's the thing: She and her dad had been there over the weekend, and she found something we've both been looking for: An original US vinyl pressing of Jesus Christ Superstar. In near-mint condition, at a spectacular price.

She didn't buy it.

Totally my reaction.

Tonight she and I ventured to said HPB. I've been cooped up at home for a couple of days, and she was massively regretting not buying the album, so off we went.

Lawdy lawdy, the record was still there.

Of course, we snagged it - at $14.99, a tremendous bargain. It includes a booklet containing the entire libretto, which is worth the price all by itself. Right?


PDaughter also bought an antique book about Nazi war strategy for her dad's Christmas present. (If you were never married to an historian...good for you. Really.)

As a result, our purchases totaled more than $30, which qualified us to receive a FREE 2018 calendar.

And of course HPB's calendar is filled with interesting trivia, store coupons, and every day is marked with the birthday(s) of notable literary figures.

I'm sure I'm not the only person who reacts to a new calendar by flipping to his/her birthday to see what happened on that VERY important day.

You guys.

My IRL birthday is April 9.

Guess who was also born on April 9.


Charles MF Baudelaire.

I swear, I had no idea until now.

I'm a little bit thrilled. And a little bit freaked out.

But mostly I love that we share this tiny bit of history. Wouldn't you?

So my question is: With whom do you share a birthday?

Google it.

Share it.

And let me know if you had any idea of the connection prior to today.

I love being freaked out this way. <3

Monday, December 11, 2017

I Knew It Was Coming

Here is a story from my married life.

Back in the day - before we had Precocious Daughter - my ex-spouse and I had one car between us.

And that was OK, because our house and both our jobs were in the same small town. We could drive from home to my job  o his in about 15 minutes.

So he would drop me off at 8:30 and pick me up at 4:30, which were my working hours at the time. No sweat.

One day, shortly after the beginning of Daylight Saving Time, I waited patiently for him to pick me up as usual. Four-thirty came and went. My co-workers all left for the day, and I assured them my ride was coming.

Five o'clock came and went. I assured myself my ride was coming.

Five-fifteen came and went. I swallowed my panic.

This was pre-cellphones, you know?

Finally, at 5:30, my spouse pulled up and wandered into my office, just as calm as can be.

I stared at him.

He stared back.

I managed to choke out the question, Where the hell have you been?

Turns out he was hanging out with a friend. A friend who hadn't bothered to spring forward. So to their minds, my spouse left his house in plenty of time to pick me up at 4:30.

Except that it was 5:30.

This was a thing that actually happened before cellphones, I promise.

I was upset. I was livid. I was literally speechless.

We went home and had dinner. I was completely silent. I could not articulate how I was feeling.

Eventually - finally - he begged me to break the silence and tell him what was going on inside me.

I opened my mouth. I honestly had no idea what I was going to say.

Here's what I said.


And that was my introduction to realizing that I had not - and never would - get over my old, deep-seated abandonment issues.

I don't mind being alone, you guys.

But being left alone? Honestly, I can't take it.

So when someone I love (you can guess who that is if you're a regular reader) tells me "I'm headed your way," and then shows up three hours later, possibly you understand my reaction.

Yes, it's mostly my problem that I believe people who lie and say they'll be with me.

I get that.

So maybe I need to find someone who will keep his word when he says "I'm here."

I'll try.

I'll let you know how it goes.

And if I can't find what I'm looking for, at least I'll know I'm purposely by myself, rather than accidentally failing for some random person.

Good luck to all of us.

Friday, December 8, 2017

If I Said What I Meant

A male co-worker and I were talking about the resignation of Senator Al Franken today.

Hate Stuart Smalley, love Al Franken.
My co-worker said something along the lines of:

"So is this where we are now? That anyone who is accused of anything has his career ruined?"

I pushed back on this statement. But I also didn't push as hard as I wanted to. Because of the whole "women who advocate for women are radical feminists who probably should be permanently banned to the menstrual hut" mentality that I struggle against every damn day of my life. Male readers: When men self-censor their opinions, it's strategic. When women self-censor our opinions, it's tactical.

Let that sink in. OK?

Anyway, with your indulgence, here's what I would have said if I'd felt comfortable doing so.

"Dude. This is not about 'anyone who is accused of anything.' This is about men who have sexually harassed women being accused of sexually harassing women. If your default mindset is 'Bitches be making shit up' or 'Ladies need to understand how men are' or 'He's a good guy so he gets a pass on treating women as slag heaps,' then this concept probably is foreign to you.

"Millions of men interact with women every day. Those interactions may be friendly, productive, professional, cool, difficult, or hostile. Because that's how human relationships work, regardless of sex.

"But many women - like many members of minority ethnic, racial, and religious minority groups - are routinely, systematically assumed to be somehow less intelligent, less capable, less qualified than the default white male, based entirely on a biological trait over which they have no control. Even if you don't personally participate in this evaluation, you're not allowed to pretend it doesn't exist.

"Imagine if your capability for any particular task - and not just that, but your very opportunity to be considered capable - first had to pass the hurdle of whether someone of your gender could 'handle' it. Imagine if you were automatically excluded from consideration because someone was afraid they couldn't refrain from being 'offensive' toward you.

"Imagine if the people most responsible for your personal and professional success believed it was their right to charge you the price of silently suffering sexual bias/harassment/abuse in exchange for achieving what others get to achieve through hard work and merit.

"Now imagine that society is finally supporting you instead of the abusers. Believing you. Advocating justice for you.

"Can you understand that this historical moment is not the time for mercy? That there is no 'let and let live' mentality that applies here? That it's absolutely not enough to name and shame the perpetrators of systematic abuse of women instead of meting out real consequences?

"I understand that this new wave of holding men accountable for their actions is making you, as a male, uncomfortable. But let me assure you: This isn't about you being a man. This is about the segment of men who are abusive assholes.

"There are also women who are abusive assholes. Let me make it clear: I'm not anti-man. I'm anti-discrimination. Nobody gets a pass.

"But the last time I checked, Kevin Spacey, Bryan Singer, Al Franken, Roy Moore, and Donald Trump were all men.

"As a woman, I simply want justice. Blind justice, as our laws demand. Meaning that wealth, power, influence, or having a penis does not constitute an exemption from being a decent human being.

"No mercy for assholes. To use the popular parlance, I'm sorry if that triggers you.

"This woman is not apologizing for your discomfort."

Yeah, that's what I would have said.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Need some feedback on this one, you guys.

Last night, I randomly asked Precocious Daughter the following question:

"So, now that you're 18, can I not impose a curfew on you, or do 'under my roof, my rules' still apply?"

Good question, right?

Her response was even better:

"Mother, I don't go anywhere. When would you ever have to give me a curfew?"

Because she is my daughter. *proud*

I am #TeamNerdGirl 100%.

I subsequently pointed out, "Grammy and Gramps (aka my parents) never imposed a curfew until I started dating your father. And I was 19 years old at the time."

To which she responded (and by the way she was driving in heavy traffic on I-35 E at the time, because she's badass like that), "Well, since I'm probably going to be going to college a VERY LONG WAY AWAY, it's not like you'll be able to do anything like that."

And I was just...



This is a roundabout way of saying, if you know someone who is a senior in high school, you should definitely take them to see the move Lady Bird. Neither of you will regret it.

Also, what are your feelings regarding curfews for grown-ass adults who are still your child?

Ring in, please.


Saturday, December 2, 2017

Just Your Average Friday Night Conversation.

Need some feedback on this one, you guys.

Last night, I randomly asked Precocious Daughter the following question:

"So, now that you're 18, can I not impose a curfew on you, or do 'under my roof, my rules' still apply?"

Good question, right?

Her response was even better:

"Mother, I don't go anywhere. When would you ever have to give me a curfew?"

Because she is my daughter. *proud*

I am #TeamNerdGirl 100%.

I subsequently pointed out, "Grammy and Gramps (aka my parents) never imposed a curfew until I started dating your father. And I was 19 years old at the time."

To which she responded (and by the way she was driving in heavy traffic on I-35 E at the time, because she's badass like that), "Well, since I'm probably going to be going to college a VERY LONG WAY AWAY, it's not like you'll be able to do anything like that."

And I was just...



This is a roundabout way of saying, if you know someone who is a senior in high school, you should definitely take them to see the move Lady Bird. Neither of you will regret it.

Also, what are your feelings regarding curfews for grown-ass adults who are still your child?

Ring in, please.