Things I Needed to Know at Sixteen

I recently stumbled across a post by another blogger that was basically a letter of advice to her own teenage self.  I loved this idea so much that I’m stealing it for my own blog.  I don’t know if this is a major no-no in the blogging community, as I’m fairly new here, but they do say imitation is the highest form of flattery.  So you’re welcome!

Here is a list of things I wish I could go back in time and say to the sixteen year old version of me, even though I was so brainless and immature back then that I probably wouldn’t have heeded advice from myself.

Little Ms. Clueless

Little Ms. Clueless

  1. Boys suck.  You have better things to do than chase around some idiot boy who DEFINITELY thinks of only one thing when he’s with you.  Stop dedicating every sappy Celine Dion song you hear to this seventeen-year-old asswipe– because he’s probably working out the muscles in his right hand over a stack of old Playboys he found in his basement while you’re home crying into your Discman that you are his lady, and he is your man, and whenever he reaches for you, you’ll do all that you can.  Um, GAG.
  2. Stop complaining about having big boobs.  It makes other girls want to smack you.  Not every girl is blessed with a perky set of 34D’s, you know.  Someday they’ll be nothing more than a saggy nuisance that gives you bad posture and backaches, so enjoy them now while you can.
  3. Drinking is kind of fun; hangovers are kind of not.  One is almost always followed by the other.  Remember this the first time you force down a gross-tasting swig of cheap, corner-store beer because that asswipe from #1 told you it was a good idea.
  4. Every time you feel embarrassed by something, just be grateful that there is no such thing as a camera phone in 1998.  Otherwise, pictures from the time you sat in a puddle of chocolate milk (think about it…) might have found their way to the internet by now. Oh, the internet?  It’s like America Online times a thousand—and it will eventually replace reality.
  5. Soak up every single note and lyric of 90’s music; music will never be this awesome again.  Someday you’ll publicly karaoke the shit out of some Juicy by the Notorious B.I.G. and you will thank me.
  6. You are beautiful.  No, seriously, you are.  You don’t seem to think so, which is so absurd I could barf, but you really are.  Your insecurity is the ugliest thing about you.
  7. Try to find some friends who make you feel amazing, ones who are real and honest and who truly understand you, and then hold onto those friendships as long as you can.  You probably won’t ever hear from the rest of your friends again after high school.  Well, not until this thing called Facebook comes along and makes you realize most of those other people are either crazy or really, really dumb.  Or both.
  8. Sweaters and bell-bottom jeans ARE sexy; so keep right on wearing them every day.  Luckily, you belong to a generation that neither applauds nor respects women who walk around with their private parts hanging out of their itsy bitsy clothing.
  9. Figure out what you want to be when you grow up.  You think you still have so much time to decide, but you’re on the cusp of adulthood and you need to have dreams RIGHT NOW.
  10. Don’t be discouraged by jaded adults who never got to be what they wanted when they grew up.  They’ll say bullshit things like “you won’t make money doing this,” or “there is so much competition in that.”  They failed because either something got in the way or they just didn’t try hard enough.  They’re a bunch of ignorant assholes, and their failure shouldn’t obstruct your success.
  11. There is no such thing as “good sex” for a teenage girl.  It’s risky, it usually hurts, it won’t make your boyfriend like you more, and you won’t even really be sure why you agreed to do it in the first place.  Sounds old-fashioned, but you need to wait until you are ready.  Here’s a hint, you’ll be neither ready nor dating a person who actually deserves you for a VERY long time.
  12. Study more.  Good grades will help you get into a good college, which will help you get a good job, which will help you buy all the Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica, and Polo Sport bags you could ever want.  Not that those will be the craze for too much longer—soon you will meet your very first Coach bag and it will be love at first sight.  Speaking of which, you might also want to work on toning down that pricey obsession with bags and purses now, or it won’t be long before you start dropping several paychecks at a time on something that merely hangs off your shoulder and holds keys and tampons.
  13. But seriously, study a lot.  Being smart is A LOT cooler than you think. Hell, it’s even sexy.  Like really, really, extremely sexy.  If you have to quit your afterschool job selling cookies at the mall (which is currently funding your bag obsession) to study more, then do it.   One day, you might even become the type of person who watches Jeopardy every night and gets a lot of right answers.  Oh, and you might have a great job too.
  14. Get closer with your family.  You share both a home and a bloodline with these people.  Sure, it’s important that you voice your concern over who spends the most time in the bathroom every morning or who ate the last toaster waffle, but that shouldn’t be the ONLY thing you ever talk about with them.   After all, no one ever says “I wish I had never been so close with my parents when I was growing up.”
  15. Be yourself.  In the words of the great Dr. Seuss: “Today you are you, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is youer than you.”  You need to be who you are and stop giving a shit what other people think.  Those people don’t care about you, and they never will.

Sorry for going all afterschool special for a while there (do they still make those???), but the teenage me REALLY needed to get a clue.

Spoiler alert: She did, eventually.  But it took a long damn time.

I guess maybe I’ll save this list for when Little D is 16.  Although I’m not sure that bell bottom jeans will be back in style by then.

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The Top Five Reasons I Have No Social Life (And Maybe Why You Don’t Either)

We all know how hard it can be to maintain some semblance of a social life once you have children.  Before kids, I used to go out all weekend, do happy hours and dinner with friends during the week, phone conversations on lunch breaks, the works.  But  I don’t do any of that stuff anymore.  And chances are, if you have kids or maybe a big career (or both), then you don’t do too much of it either.

When I say it’s tough to “maintain” a social life, I really mean it’s virtually impossible to have one at all.  For me it is, anyway.  And that can be occasionally depressing.  I mean, it’s a fact I’ve come to acknowledge, accept, and just learn to live with.  But sometimes I find myself wondering “why not?”  I’m a mom–so what?  Am I no longer a normal human being?  Am I incapable of moving past acquaintance-hood with people merely because I live in a house filled with miniature lunatics who sometimes drive me to drink?

So I thought about why I’m socially lifeless, for the main purpose of obtaining peace of mind in the matter (as well as a topic for this blog) and here is what I came up with.

  1. I moved.  I grew up in Brooklyn, and my whole life was there.  Friends, family, home, my favorite Chinese food takeout restaurants– everything.  Then my husband came home from Iraq, met our son, and said “hey, let’s go live in sunny Staten Island.”  So we did, and here I am.  It’s not like I moved to Guam, but I suspect that people think I did.  A plane ticket to Guam is probably comparable in price to crossing the Verrazano Bridge, so I suppose I might as well have moved there.  I hear it’s beautiful in the spring.
  2. I hate talking on the phone.  I never get to see my friends over here in Guam, but we can always just catch up on the phone, right? Uh, no. Thanks to Texty McTexterson, the famous inventor of the technology that has enabled introverts everywhere to skip socially awkward phone calls in favor of pushing invisible buttons on a piece of glass as a means of interaction, I no longer need to call people on the phone “just to say hi.”  Just saying hi has become virtually unheard of in today’s technology-driven world.  And because of that nifty texting invention, I have grown accustomed to NEVER talking on the phone– consequentially despising it altogether.  “Hey what’s up?  What are you doing?”  “Nothing much, just trying to enjoy the only five minutes of downtime I’ve had so far today to quietly relax before I pass out from exhaustion for the night.  But yea, making small talk with you sounds fun too.”
  3. I have kids.  They come first and stuff.  Also, they need this thing called a babysitter when I’m not around.  Unfortunately, my nanny has weekdays and weekends off.  My husband?  You mean that guy sound asleep on the couch who wakes up for work every day at 4 a.m.?  Not gonna happen.  People need to be at least partially conscious to watch my children.
  4. I’m a stay-at-home-mom.  This means I’m not currently in a situation wherein I’m forced to spend forty hours per week in the same place with the same people whom I simultaneously love and hate.  Some of the best friends I’ve ever had were coworkers.  Being a stay-at-home mom also means I don’t get to have normal conversations with other adults on a regular basis.  This has left me painfully, socially awkward.  I no longer have the ability to naturally talk to people I don’t know and get to know them. Whenever I do, I’m so starved for adult conversation that I tend to panic and start chewing people’s ears off, rambling about my daughter pooping in the tub and my son peeing the bed every night. It’s a lose-lose situation for me and pretty much everyone involved.
  5. I don’t really care.  Well, not that much.  Not enough to make an effort to change it.  Not enough to start calling people to just say hi or to maybe try making some new friends in my own zip code.  Not enough to go join the PTA, although that is on my list of things I swear I might really do someday.   I just care enough to bitch about it to you and hope I’m not totally alone on this one.  Honestly, as much fun as it was to maintain an awesome social life before I had kids, the energy I used to put into that life is now mostly spent chasing my little lunatics around and keeping my family together.  And I think I’m okay with that.

Laundry Confessional

I have a confession to make.  I hate folding socks.  So I just don’t do it.

This is my “sock basket.”

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It’s where I stash all of my family’s socks after I’ve spent lord knows how many miserable minutes/hours/days folding a zillion loads of laundry and decide I no longer have the will nor the energy to match, fold, separate and put them all away.

Socks are such assholes.

They’re kind of like dating, come to think of it.  A new pair of socks, like a new relationship, is so nice and fresh and just…fits.  But after a while it fades, changes shape, and one eventually wanders off, never to be heard from again.  There are a few pairs that stay together forever, and those are very special.  They are also very rare.

But this blog is not an ad for eHarmony.com, so back to folding socks.

I know other people probably hate folding socks too, but I wonder if they, like me, have taken a stand against it altogether.  I suppose it’s stubborn, maybe even irresponsible of me.  I’m sure Big M silently curses me every morning when he’s rifling through that basket at 4 a.m. trying to match a Nike with a Hanes, and settling for a pair of Champions before he heads off to work.

But he’ll live.  And he’ll probably continue to spend as much of his precious time folding socks as I do (none).

It isn’t just socks.  I suck at folding clothes, in general.  Shorts, tee shirts, underwear, sweatshirts– you name it, I’ve got it crumpled up in a ball somewhere in the back of a dresser or a closet.

I do try to keep the kids’ drawers neat, but those tiny onesies and footie pajamas kill me.  One load of kids laundry contains a thousand little tiny articles of clothing.  For every one adult-size tee shirt, you can fit like five kid-sized shirts into a regular load of laundry. That’s five times more folding, and five times more putting-away, and five times more unhappiness I feel while performing this dreaded task.

I’m not entirely ashamed of my laundry inadequacies.  I have plenty of other desirable domestic attributes.  I’m proficient at dishwasher-loading, scrubbing crayon off walls, wiping and disinfecting dog urine from the floor, whipping up a mean box of mac n cheese, and I can baby-wipe the hell out of ANY surface.

The thing I hate about the laundry is that it’s just so….never-ending.  Before I’ve even finished separating whites from colors and putting delicates aside, I have another half load in the basket waiting to be washed.  It seemingly forms out of thin air, even when no one else is around.  It’s like my laundry room (hall closet) is haunted by some kind of prankster laundry poltergeist who feeds off my frustration for washing dirty clothes.

And you know who really pisses me off?  Those people who claim to have a “laundry day,” as though any family accumulates just enough dirty clothes throughout the week to warrant one, single day devoted solely to the monotonous task of doing laundry.  These people are either lying through their teeth or wearing the same outfit several days in a row to save on detergent or something.  In my house, EVERY day is laundry day.  Even if I haven’t actually placed anything in the washer or dryer on a particular day, I can guarantee that there is a load in the dryer waiting to be folded, a basket of clean, unfolded and likely wrinkled clothes waiting to be tripped over by some unsuspecting victim, and maybe even a damp, musty load hiding in the washing machine that needs another go-around to mask the icky stench of forgotten, wet laundry.

I’m also terrible at ironing.  TERRIBLE.  This is my version of ironing.  I call it the “spritz and go” technique:

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If that doesn’t do the trick I will just wash the wrinkled item and make a mental note to pull it out of the dryer immediately and then hang it up or put it on right away.  But then I usually forget to do that and a backup outfit gets called in.

I can’t even blame my family, since I was a delinquent laundry-doer even prior to having kids.  My laundry day used to occur when, and only when, I was completely out of clean underwear.  Pause to recall your own single days before judging me, people.  Laundry and hangovers do not mix, so it was a rare occasion when you would me find me slaving over baskets of unmentionables on my days off.

I know I need help.  If only there were some sort of laundry rehabilitation center where I could learn to manage and cope with my lifelong laundry issues.  Maybe some kind of support group where I could learn to appreciate the value of stain removal and quality fabric softener use; a place where people who never fail to bleach their whites or remove clothes from the dryer while they are still warm can show me how to properly care for my family’s precious garments.

Until then, however, I plan to continue allowing the dirty laundry basket to pile up to lengths taller than me, to stuff clothes into drawers well beyond their intended capacity, and to stockpile unfolded socks until the joyful day that my husband finally decides to step in and fold them himself.

But I definitely won’t feel good about it.

A Letter to Women Who Look Amazing ALL THE TIME

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Dear Lucky Bitches,

I am writing to ask that you unveil the location of the magic button you press each day which enables you to instantaneously become impeccably-dressed and fabulous-looking on the spot.  You know what I’m talking about.  That button keeping you from ever leaving the house with a hair out of place or a visible smear of toddler snot on your collar?  Don’t shake your freshly blown-out, perfectly highlighted head in denial.  I know you are hiding that button somewhere.  Maybe on the night table next to your skin cream?  Or in the closet above your Jimmy Choo shelf?  Hidden under a pile of Gucci purses? In the makeup drawer behind your infinite lipstick collection?

I know it’s there, and I WILL find it.

It has to be there.  There’s just no other way you can leave your house every day sparkling and glowing like a freaking vampire from Twilight.

Is that what it is?  Are you a vampire?

I just don’t know how you do it.  I mean, I’m lucky if I make it through the whole day without getting peanut butter on my pants, a coffee stain on my shirt, partially covered in dog hair and smelling like cooked onions and olive oil.  And it’s a miracle if I’m not already in my pajamas by 6 pm.

Hell, if I’m still wearing my bra at that time then it’s been one humdinger of a day.

Even on those occasions special enough to warrant makeup application and, dare I say, high heels, it usually isn’t very long before mascara is blotching, hair is frizzing, feet are swelling, and lipstick is merely a smudge of what it used to be.

So if there really is no magic button, then what the hell is it?  Do you employ a live-in staff of stylists, hairdressers, and makeup artists?  Or are you secretly a princess from a foreign land?  A distant relative of Kate Upton, maybe?  A fem-bot, perhaps? A human freaking Barbie doll???

Please stop denying it.  You know who you are.  You walk around as though your children don’t occasionally wipe ketchup or mucus on your sleeve, or spill juice boxes and sippy cups down your shirt.  Your permanently manicured hands have never washed a single dish, and I know your closet must be the size of my entire apartment because, I swear, you’ve NEVER worn the same outfit twice.

Do you even OWN a pair of sweatpants?

All I’m asking for is your secret.  I have neither the time nor the patience for tiresome daily beauty rituals.  I can’t be bothered fishing through my closet in search of the perfect outfit for picking my son up from school, and I don’t know which shade of blush will accurately match my flushed cheeks after multiple trips carrying heavy groceries in from the car.  As much as I relish the thought of turning heads at the bank’s ATM or Dunkin Donuts or maybe even Kmart, I just cannot muster the effort it will take to achieve such a thing.

Look, I apologize for calling you a bitch (I actually said lucky bitch) at the beginning of this letter.  But, the thing is, you’re making me look bad.  Like, really bad.  If we were Kardashians, I’d surely be Khloe.  And if you’re Penny, then I’m Amy Farrah Fowler (hello, Big Bang Theory reference—if you have time to primp, then you have time for one of the best shows on TV, dammit).

So listen, maybe there is no button.  Maybe you aren’t really a fem-bot or a vampire, or a goddamn Disney princess in the flesh.  Maybe you are a regular chick who just happens to ALWAYS look like her shit is totally perfect and together– 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.  And if so, good for you!  That’s quite a feat.

But I’m going to need you to take it down a few notches, okay?  Take one for the team.  Please?  Because the rest of us NORMAL PEOPLE don’t have the ability to look like we stepped off the set of a movie at all times.  And that shit just isn’t fair.

If not for me, then do it for your family.  Cut the routine down by an hour or two and go read a book to your kid or bake some muffins instead.  Maybe even try washing a dish.  Your family will thank you.

And, more importantly, so will I.

Sincerely,

A Not-So-Lucky Bitch