Monthly Archives: February 2017

Transcending the Slumps

Nearly two years ago, my life took a painfully dramatic turn. My primary focus for nine years had been creating and maintaining a stable marriage and family and I’d poured everything I had into it. But suddenly I was faced with the reality that this life I’d been building was based on an illusion and not sustainable anymore. My world pretty much shattered at that point. But I needed to pick myself up and go back to full time work so I could support myself. Then I could start patching myself back together, while still being a stable and loving presence for my boys. It seemed impossible at the time, but somehow I got lucky and found a steady job in my field with benefits for me and my kids. It was a huge break and I am very thankful for it.

It’s definitely not ideal to be learning a new job and meeting new people when your life is falling apart. It makes small talk excruciating. You don’t want to be the freak who unloads all kinds of weird personal information onto your new coworkers during month one. Or ever, really. So I mostly kept to myself. Now I’ve been at my job over a year and have a pleasant relationships with my coworkers, but I don’t know any of them very well. It was too much of a minefield to talk about anything personal, especially at first. I never knew when I’d just burst into tears. But it turns out you can actually cry discreetly at work or pretty much anywhere in Austin, because there are always allergens in the air to explain away your red watery eyes and the way you go through a box of tissues a day. I learned to carry big sunglasses, eye drops, mascara and tissues with me at all times and I would head out for a walk if I felt like I was going to burst into tears. I think it’s pretty hard to tell if someone is crying when they are walking at a steady pace and wearing big sunglasses. You can run and cry as well, because sweat obscures the teariness, but eventually it is hard to breathe, so I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it. Crying in the car is a bad idea, but who can help it? Use caution. Luckily this phase does not last forever.

Sometimes I feel like I feel like I am doing really well and have my life back together. But so far it hasn’t seemed to last for very long. I fall into tailspins where I’m filled with self-doubt and I don’t feel strong anymore. Last week was a rough one: my ex acted weirdly and put me in an uncomfortable situation, my children were angry and sad and I didn’t know how to help them, some guy I don’t know very well said something rude and careless to me. All of a sudden I felt every crack in my broken teacup of a life. And everything felt wrong again. So that’s where I am right now. In a slump, I guess. I’ve been here before, so it’s not like it’s unfamiliar territory. All I know to do is keep moving. I’ll take walks at lunch. I’ll run when I can. I’ll try not to dwell on the feeling of things being wrong. I’ll move my thoughts to something else when I get too focused on sadness. I’ll throw myself into work. I’ll try to write, though as you see, nothing funny comes out. But I’ll do it anyway. I’m writing this now, on my lunch break because it feels like I’m doing something productive to get it out.  And I know a lot of you have been here, too. Maybe you’re in a slump right now. If so, I’m with you. We’ll just keep moving forward.

I’ll see and talk to the people I trust. The ones who know that this is where I am sometimes and they still accept and love me. The ones who help me see that I’m not doing everything wrong. That I am moving forward. It’s just taking the time it is taking. I am incredibly lucky to have a group of these people who help pull me up when I am falling down.

My kids’ hard time is the roughest thing for me. I want to make it better, but I want to give them the space to move through what they are moving through. My middle son is the one who is most obviously struggling these days. Last week he said he wasn’t sure if he’d ever be happy again. He’s eight. He reminds me that I can’t sink into any of this, because I have to show him how to pull himself up. I remembered an article I read that suggested that you can find “thin slices of joy” every day if you look for them. You can notice how nice the breeze feels on a walk or savor the first bite of something delicious or hear the beginning of a song you love or really notice how cute that goofy pug in a sweater is in the Facebook video your friend posted. Maybe you aren’t going to be happy all the time, but there are always little joys you can notice and that may help you get to a better place. I talked about this with my son and we’ve started trying to notice the little happy things in our lives. He’s been mentioning to me when he notices something good and I’m trying to do the same. We all got excited about the big full moon the other night. Maybe it will just become second nature to us. We’ll start automatically noticing all the little joys we are so lucky to encounter and things won’t seem as wrong anymore. We’ll learn how to be happy again. Maybe this is the beginning of the next phase.

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Potential Names For My Fictional Male Strip Club

As previously reported, Shakira and I once did some, er….investigative reporting at a male strip club in Dallas called La Bare. Right from the start we thought La Bare was a dumb name. Does it mean ‘the nude’? In French? And why the Frenchiness, anyway? Is it supposed to class the joint up? We never found out. But that experience made me consider the possibility of having my very own male strip club. I pictured a scenario where “the talent” and I would become a quirky family, like in the movies The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas or Boogie Nights. With less prostitution and porn, but much more sexy Burt Reynolds. Now that I’m the mother of three, that dream can (most likely) only live in my brain. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking up excellent names for my fictional strip club. Here are my current top 5:

1. The Man Shack on Manchaca – This only makes sense if you live in Austin and are aware that we have a street called ‘Manchaca’ that is pronounced ‘Man-shack’ and then it’s perfect! I’d have to find a space on Manchaca Rd., but it’s a pretty long thoroughfare, so it’s not impossible. I think the word ‘shack’ implies a casual and unpretentious atmosphere.

2. HQ 450 – If you are a librarian, you might recognize this as the the Library of Congress call number for the erotica section. My fictional male strip club is full of naughty librarians! I also love that it begins with HQ, as it’s like the headquarters for erotica. Sexy!

3. Penis Las Vegas – My friend’s daughters misheard things when the Elvis impersonator we saw sang Viva Las Vegas, which is hilarious in itself, but also fortuitous for me because how awesome a strip club name is it?!? How could you not have fun at Penis Las Vegas? It would be impossible. I’m picturing lots of neon lights and a stage area that is referred to as ‘The Strip’.

4. Coq au Vin – I picture this as a fancy wine bar where the wait staff wears banana hammocks and bow-ties and does dance numbers every hour. Upscale, because as La Bare has taught us, French = Classy.

5. EASY D – Who would have thought that anything Donald Trump tweeted would inspire me in any way? Not I. Nobody really knows what he meant by EASY D in his tweet, but if he was thinking it’s a great name for a male strip club, he is totally right! This place would be laid back and serve frozen beverages and pigs in a blanket, with a side of sexy menz!

That’s all I’ve got for now, but I have a feeling I will think of more. I’ll keep you posted!

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8 Tips to Make Football Bearable for Any Gorgeous and Sassy Girl

The Super Bowl is right around the corner, and perhaps some of you haven’t exactly caught up with football fever. Maybe, like Gigi, you’d rather read a book when a big game (or any game, for that matter) is on TV. But if you’re willing follow these tips, you can make football watching not only bearable, but really fun. In fact, if you get really into football, if can make or break your weekend. Because let’s face it, winning is awesome and feels good. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

8 – Drink heavily.
Invited to someone’s house for the game? Never fear. Most football-watching parties will include beer, wine and assorted spirits, and if you’re lucky—delicious snacks like queso or 7 layer dip. (If the football watching party is at a bar, you’re definitely golden; the only downside is of course the harm to your wallet.) Start drinking when you get there, and you won’t get bored if you don’t get what’s going on during the game.

7 – Learn a couple of rules.
This will take you far. I promise. A quick guide:
touchdown is worth 6 points.
field goal is worth 3 points. If the team can’t make a touchdown and it’s close enough, the team might kick instead. The ball has to go through the uprights. That’s a field goal.
An extra point is kicked after a touchdown and is worth—you got it—one extra point.
If the team tries for a pass after the touchdown and makes it, it’s worth TWO extra points. (This is a great one. Say “Think they’ll go for two here?” You sound like you know what you’re talking about, and any boy will jump at the chance to share his opinion.)
Each team has four downs. Think of a down like a “chance.” You’ve got four chances to either move the ball 10 yards or score. The object is always to get to first down, which is 10 yards away. 1st and 10 = 1st down and 10 yards to go. 2nd and 2 = it’s 2nd down and 2 yards to go. If you haven’t moved the ball 10 yards by 4th down, you’re out of chances and you usually kick to the other team.
(Remember, NO ONE fully understands the kicking rules. Don’t bother with it. The other stuff is more important.)

6 – Choose a team.
There are a host of choices here, as you can go with college or NFL. If you’re really dedicated, you can choose a college team and an NFL team. This means you’ll have an activity on both Saturday AND Sunday. Say goodbye to productivity all autumn long! Once you’ve chosen your team, buy a really cute shirt—a baby tee or a tank top—and wear it on game day. That way you can get ready to go to a football party just like you were going to a real party. Try and get into rooting for your team when it’s playing, or rooting against your team’s biggest rivals. You have to be emotionally invested in a game to enjoy it.

5 – Don’t ask too many questions—and DON’T ask them at the wrong time.
If some sort of crazy play happens and the refs are in a huddle and they’re airing a replay, DON’T ask, “What happened?” Wait until the refs give the call. Boys will just roll their eyes at you.

4 – Pay attention to stupid player names.
Everyone gets a good chuckle out of some guy named Tebucky.

3 – Listen to the commentators say things that don’t make sense.
No matter whether you’re watching college or NFL, the commentators will probably suck. They will say things like, “Look at the way he runs with his legs!” and you’ll be thinking, “As opposed to his arms?”

2 – Watch the coaches to see if you can make out all the curse words.
After a really bad play, the cameras will definitely zoom in on the head coach. You might institute a shot game—take a shot each time he rips the headphones from his head or yells at the refs.

1 – When in doubt, nap. 
If you’re not at a football party or a bar, just go to sleep. Then you can say you were watching football, which earns you cool points, and you also get beauty sleep. WIN.

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