Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Facing The Darkness

An oldie, but still relevant. . .

I've always had a fairly strong sense of denial about my mortality.  Growing up I was a ridiculously healthy kid and despite myriad self-destructive and addictive tendencies, I made it through the first 39 years of my life relatively unscathed.  But then my 40's tore through me like El Nino, eroding everything in its path.  Suddenly I found myself trapped in a body filled with willfully disobedient organs and noticed that my knees, once capable of completing marathons, started clicking like a Ubangi tribesman after only twenty minutes on the treadmill.  Almost overnight the food became too spicy, the music too loud, and I found myself craving dinner at 4:00pm and watching Hoda and Kathie Lee.*

*Nah, I'm just messing with you on that last one. . .but not about dinner. . .dagnabbit.

The fact that I'm a mother combined with some pretty big health scares over the last few years have made me feel like I'm on some cosmic "60 Minutes" set, listening to the clock "tick-tick-ticking" away the minutes of my life. I've even started reading the obituaries religiously.  Not as a somber reminder of my mortality but more of a "Better you than me" kind of schadenfreude. In an attempt to dodge the Big D I've tried to be fairly proactive about my health.  I don't smoke and I don't drink; but when it comes to exercise I am a lazy bastard and on any given day I will be filled with so much candy that Mexican kids will be whacking me with sticks.  I would give anything for a magic pill or elixir or surgical technique to extend my life as I am of the belief that any problem can be fixed by throwing a shit-ton of money at it.  Sadly, all the money in the world can't buy you youth and immortality*

*Just ask Kris Jenner.

I know death is an inevitability and part of the grand Lion King circle of life and as such I should embrace it as just another mystical journey but I just can't jump on that hippy-dippy bandwagon.  Even talking about death makes me more jittery than Ty Pennington on Red Bull. Death terrifies me, and it should fucking terrify you, too.  Why?  Because it.  Will.  Kill.  You.  

But in the long run, burying your head in the sand and ignoring your imminent demise makes about as much sense as Ozzy Osbourne on NyQuil.  Eventually you have to face reality.  Eventually, you have to face the Darkness.

I am under no false illusions that I am a responsible adult, but in the interest of protecting my children, I am forced to impersonate one from time to time.  So, I cowboyed up and made an appointment with my Farmer's agent to discuss  ((gulp!))  life insurance.

Now, let me preface by saying that my agent, Kellie Jo, is rad as shit.  She is a competitive racquetball player, has a wicked sense of humor, and her office is always stocked with a plethora of fine chocolates.  All things being relative, visiting Kellie Jo should be a pleasant experience, but somehow whenever I meet with her I walk in with a smile on my face and a spring in my step and storm out of there more pissed off than Kanye West at a Taylor Swift concert.  It isn't Kellie Jo's fault.  It's the way the word "death" is casually tossed around like a drunken whore at a biker bar and the how numbers on her little calculator drive home the sobering fact that I am worth more dead than alive.

I'd already met with an attorney after my divorce to rewrite my will and estate planning so Gil didn't decide to go all O.J. on my ass and take my stuff, but I'd kind of been putting off the whole life insurance thing because I'm a little skeeved out by the fact that not only do I have an expiration date like a carton of Yoplait Lite, I have a price tag too.   Life insurance is like an abusive boyfriend gently stroking your hair and telling you everything will be okay while he throws you up against a wall, takes your money, and leaves you with a sense of impending doom.  And if you have a medical history like mine, the son of a bitch will take a lot of your money.  A lot.*

*I'm not saying that you should lie to your insurance agent about your medical history, but if you've had any past issues with eating disorders or substance abuse then, well...OK, fuck it.  Lie like a hooker being paid by the moan.

Walking out of Kellie Jo's office, my wallet was considerably lighter, but my sense of security felt stronger and more solidified.  But still there was that overwhelming sense of "holy shit I'm going to die".  No matter what I do, or how I try, or what miracles of modern science or cosmetics arise in the not-so-distant future, someday I will simply cease to exist.  And then what?  An afterlife?  Darkness?  Nothingness?  And what will I leave behind for the world to remember other than some unpaid parking tickets and a fabulously well-dressed corpse.*

*Because there is NO damned way I'm going to meet Joe Black without a killer pair of shoes.

Over the years my views on death have been altered more times than Oprah Winfrey's wardrobe, but now I've reached an odd and begrudging sort of...acceptance. Death is just the grand finale; the ribbon on the gift of life that ties the whole thing together like Jerry Springer's "Final Thought".  And life is indeed a precious gift, but like all gifts there comes a time when it gets worn out and you need to drop it off at the celestial Goodwill to make room in the closet of humanity.

But in the meantime I'm going to have so much plastic surgery that you could bounce a quarter off my forehead.  I may be maturing, but I'm still me.

Monday, October 6, 2014

"God Blessed The Broken Road That Led Me Straight To You"

I've been missing at large lately.         I get that.         Dudes; I'm sorry.

I have not been blogging. . .

I have not been posting on Facebook. . .

I have not been 'Insta-Tweeting'. . .

And for that. . .I'm sorry. . .I suck.  I suck like Monica Lewinsky on Inaugural Sunday.  I suck like a Kardashian during the Essence Awards.  I suck like Tom Cruise watching 'Magic Mike'. 

Basically. . .I am lamesauce and I have no excuse whatsoever except for a major monstroutive life overhaul called HAPPINESS.*

*But I'm hoping that those three "suck" analogies will hold y'all over until next week when I intend to come back with a vengeance.  ;-)  Also: 'monstroutive'?  Totally a word.  Autocorrect may beg to differ, but you all know how I feel about autocorrect and its collective douchebaggery.

Anyway, I was texting with a friend lately and she asked why I wasn't blogging and I spouted some inanity about "lack of inspiration" like I'm J.D. Freaking Salinger. . .*

*Except:  without the whole Salinger-esque "excessive handwashing / antisocial / fake my own death" thing.  
But don't get  me wrong; antisocial works for me, because. . .people, but I can't fully embrace Salinger's whole germophobic thing, 'cuz I totally still love eating at food trucks and going to petting zoos, and. . .wait. . .what was I talking about?  Oh, yeah. Focus, Jen . . . 

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is:  I'm happy.  Not, "TRYING" to be happy.  Not "PRETENDING" to be happy.  Just. . .happy.  Without any effort.  Without any drama. I met a man who doesn't ask me to be anything other than who I am; and I don't want him to be anything other than who HE is.      



Without precedence, without apology, without. . .well, crap. . .without anything.  He is a tattoo-covered, Harley Davidson riding, God-fearing blessing in my life and I had no idea I'd ever meet someone who not only was so true to himself but also made me love and be 100% true to  my clumsy, socially inept, addictive, neurotic self.

I've been to a shit-ton of weddings over the years where people said 'Today I marry my best friend' and I thought, 'Oh, PLEASE!  You don't MARRY your best friend; your best friend is the person you complain to about your husband!'*

*Although, in my first marriage the best friend was the one your husband slept with...but I digress...

Tonight; however, my love and I will put on out "fanciest" jeans and boots and hold hands with our children to swear/cry/laugh/pray/scream our friendship and companionship  to the Universe and make our union "official".  And tomorrow?  I'll may or may not blog about it, like I've blogged, or not blogged,  my whole life to you all thus far.  But today?  Today I ask that you smile.  

Today I ask that you hug your loved ones:  be they partners, children, parents, friends, siblings, etc.  

Today I ask that you be thrilled at my lack of communication over the last few months, because it should tell you one thing:  I had free time. . .I could have blogged. . .but I chose to spend that time with my short people, and my friends, and my family, and the man who reminds me that life is filled with color and music and laughter and food and wonder and everlasting joy.

The man who reminds me that even if he disappears tomorrow -- I am enough on my own. . .that I will ALWAYS be enough; that I should never be someone's 'fall-back option' or 'second choice' and that the right people will always love me for who I am and not try to make me be something I'm not just to please them.

The man who teaches me that the most important thing is that I love and be true to myself; and that no matter what, we'll be best friends forever.

The man who dances with me under the stars with our legs cramping from a 1000 mile motorcycle ride and our faces aching from laughing with friends.

The man who nudges me at midnight and grins: 'Wanna go get biscuits and gravy?"

The man who spends hours going over math equations with the short people and then teaches them how to to make pancakes over much giggling and batter consumption.  

The man who drops everything to drive three hours to be with a friend who is celebrating a major life milestone; regardless of his own personal agenda.

The man who embraces our mutual passion for health, organic living, and raising our children in love and light.

The man who knows my deepest, darkest, most shameful secrets, and tells me his in return.

The man who taught my son J. to ride a bike and be confident enough to go out for sports.  And the man who taught my son M. to advocate for himself, and to find his own voice.  My son M.  has autism. . .he does not like to hug.  Norm taught M. to "imitate a bear" and give "bear hugs" and now. . .for the first time in 12 years. . .I get daily hugs from my baby.  For that alone, I will love Norm until the end of time.

The man who checks my oil, kicks my tires, and tests my smoke alarms.

The man who argues with me about health care reform and gun control and religion and education, and politics, and insists that we both find documentation to back up our beliefs because he believes that the best decision is an INFORMED decision.

The man who cradles me in his arms when I break down, shaking and sobbing from a panic attack,  and reminds me:  "It isn't real. . .THIS is real.. You are safe."

The man who watches cheesy movies with me at 2am.

The man who taught me to fly a kite.

The man who showed me my "real" smile. 

This man who reminds me that I can't imagine another day without him in it.

The man who makes me laugh. . .makes me think. . .and makes me feel like no one ever has.

This man who makes me love harder, laugh louder, cry more passionately, and live with arms wide open in a way I never thought possible.

This man who who makes me believe in miracles.

Tonight, we hold hands.

Tonight, we make it "legal" for tax/insurance/"blah-blah-blah" purposes.

But I married him in my heart months ago because he is that last face I want to see at night and the first face I want to see in the morning.

You really CAN marry your best friend.

I'm doing it tonight.   ;-)