Now Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

When the phone rang on Wednesday morning, the black screen lighting up with my mother’s name and number, I had convinced myself that the biopsy had confirmed breast cancer. I was so sure that I had already mentally imagined an emotionally tortuous future where I nursed her through her last days, weakened from chemo and failed surgery, confessing how much she loved me as she slipped from life.

I know, it was a morbid fantasy, the kind that the mind spins when faced with such a shock. And my fantasy revealed that deep down I still hungered for some sort of meaningful, compassionate, and emotionally authentic relationship with my mother even though I had long since resigned myself to the status quo.

But when I answered the phone with a sharp intake of breath only to hear her say, “It’s not cancer!”, I was surprised and confused by my mixed emotions.

Yes, I was relieved. I congratulated her on the good news. I said something like, “You have a new lease on life.” I mean, isn’t that what a cancer scare is supposed to do? Make you reflect on your mortality and vow to celebrate life?

There was a clear pause. “Oh, I wasn’t going anywhere,” she dismissively replied. “You fight this sort of thing.”

It’s hard to convey this disconnect I heard in her voice and the sense of anger I immediately felt that at this moment in time, this event wasn’t more meaningful. I almost wanted the results to be positive so that she would start taking better care of herself, as fucked up as that sounds.

Life. It’s complicated. Complicated emotions. Never black and white. I feel like I was just in a hit and run where no one was hurt and there wasn’t even a scratch on the cars. And I was a little bit mad at her — mad at her for not having cancer! Daughter of the year award! But then, of course, I was relieved and it was as though someone flipped the channel back and said, “Now back to our regularly scheduled programming!”

So what’s the takeaway? What’s my epiphany if my mom isn’t having one herself? I think the big lesson that it shouldn’t take a cancer scare to try and have the meaningful, compassionate, and emotionally authentic relationship I’ve secretly been wanting all along.

Stir Crazy

I’m wearing my three inch, open toe, Kate Spade patent leather stilettos around the apartment because I can. I’m listening to Queen’s greatest hits because I can. I don’t give a fuck that the Giants just won the Super Bowl. Maybe this is what it feels like to bottom out, as Ann Perkins similarly experienced in Season 3 of Parks and Recreation after Chris Traeger dumped her. While I’m not spending $700 on candles, I have been buying lots of clothes from Ann Taylor Loft and jonesing after very impractical purchases. Case in point, I really want an occasion to buy this skirt. It matches my Kate Spade shoes! Or how about this dress! I’ve also been buying lots of lingerie in the event that dating leads to more.

Someone needs to save me.

This is what happens when I spend two days by myself.

Whee! Shopping!

Oh. OH! I just remembered. I’m going to St. John and Tortola in two weeks! Whee!

Maybe shopping and Caribbean travel is my antidote to my burgeoning existential crisis?

Edit: This post may have been influenced by Prosecco, Queen, and too much alone time.

"I love you so much."

The whole addendum or coda or whatever you want to call it to the Deborah incident is that she texted Ms. K on New Year’s Eve to say that she loves her so much. This text came while Ms. K and I were sharing a New Year’s Eve dinner at Applewood, leaving both of us rather perplexed.

“She can’t possibly love me!” Ms. K said as she showed me her cellphone in the middle of our five course dinner. “Maybe she meant this for someone else?”

Maybe.

On advice from me and a friend of hers, Ms. K ignored the text. It had to have been meant for someone else.

Except that Deborah was acting weird at work when they finally did see each other. Ms. K pulled her aside and asked what was wrong. After some evasion, Deborah confessed that she was jealous.

Jealous? Seriously? Jealous of me, jealous of Ms. K’s close friendship with another person (that’s another long story). Why do I feel like I’m in high school again? And I don’t even work with Deborah.

“I’m not sure what gave you the impression otherwise,” Ms. K clarified, “but I don’t cheat on Rouge.”

I hope this is the final words I write on this because it’s all very immature.

"Blab blab blab blab blab."

I wrote a couple of blog entries to explain some of the stuff that has been going on over the last month, but then the phrase “burying the lede” kept coming to mind. So I’m just going to come out and say it.

On Wednesday, Ms. K and I eloped to Connecticut. We are, in the eyes of the State of Connecticut and thus New York, “joined legal spouses.”

Questions? Comments?

"Get a room!"

I’m not sure if its writer’s block, but every time I try to write a blog entry my fingers go still and my mind goes blank. It’s not like there aren’t things to write about. Take for instance my picnic in Central Park with Ms. K. Add some sandwiches, a couple bottles of prosecco, a frisbee, and sunshine = some instant fun. While we were enjoying our time in the Sheep Meadow, we noticed a young couple lying on top of each other about 20 yards or so away from us. They were obviously making out, but in a stackable, keep your clothes on sort of way. They were at it quite some time, long enough for the group of girls near us to make beer fueled cat calls in their direction.

“Get a room!”

I should note for the uninitiated that the Sheep Meadow in Central Park is an extremely public place. On a nice day, such as the day we visited, it is full of people on blankets soaking up the sun, playing frisbee, or tossing a ball. So it’s rather noticeable when two people are practically dry humping in full view of many many people.

Maybe it was the bottle of prosecco I had drunk, but I found this to be rather hilarious and I was consumed with the giggles as Ms. K and I lay on our blanket, watching the show from afar.

Then the young woman, straddling the man, took off her jacket and tied it around her waist.

“Wait. Is she going to . . . . ?”

Sure enough, if you paid attention, you would have noticed that the woman had surreptitiously pulled down her jeans. Why yes, you would be right in assuming that the couple was having sex. In the Sheep Meadow? IN THE SHEEP MEADOW?! If you’re going to have public sex, why not by a tree or furtively in the bushes? That’s why God invented the Ramble! And to top off the sleaziness, men with cell phone cameras swarmed around the couple, like sharks to blood. It’s very possible that this all made it onto YouTube.

I’ve lived in New York almost five years and I have to say that this marks my most quintessential New York experience.

". . . it’s impossible to get an outright approval no matter what you do so you should just do what you want to do and they’ll go with it."

The whole prospect of having to enter a guilt laden battle of wills with my mother was making me nuts. I emailed her on Monday morning laying out the various scenarios and variables for Christmas. When I didn’t hear back from her right away, I began to grow antsy with anticipation, sensing that perhaps I had started a shit storm with my suggestion that I might not be home for Christmas. I even emailed my cousin, looking for a rational family opinion and she assured me that I should do what I want to do.

“One thing I’ve learned,” she said, “is that in this family sometimes it’s impossible to get an outright approval (my mother for one is almost incapable of giving a compliment unless it’s to herself) no matter what you do so you should just do what you want to do and they’ll go with it.”

Good advice.

Then last night I got my response from my mother, which really was a forwarded email from my father. Strange.


_____________________________

From: Dad
Sent: Tue 12/9/2008 3:54 PM
To: Mom
Subject: Re: FW: Xmas

Rouge,

Let’s see if we can come up with some kind of solution. To “bound the problem”, let me offer the following:

1. Mom and I would very much like to have you at home for Christmas. Mom would be very disappointed if you did not come for Christmas

2. Picking you up on Christmas day would be a real logistical problem.

3. You and Ms. K are welcome any time.

4. The dog is going to be a problem with (a) Nanny’s allergies, (b) the cats, and (c) all of the wild little kids running around Christmas day.

Give me a call this evening so we can figure this out.

Love,

Dad

Oh boy. I summoned the courage to face the issue and call my parents. It was a halting conversation as I reassured them that I had decided to come for Christmas, but would be staying from the 25th to the 26th. Ms. K and I will celebrate Christmas Eve together — a imperfect compromise, but a compromise nonetheless.

“You’re only going to stay one day?” my mother asked.

There was an awkward silence. “Uh, yeah.”

“Don’t you have the whole weekend off?”

More awkward silence. “Yes, but I want to get back to Brooklyn.”

I don’t think my mom was very pleased.

What I didn’t say, but was thinking, was that any longer of a stay would drive me nuts. Why do I feel guilty about this? Must be the latent Catholic guilt in me.

"So what are we going to do about the holidays?"

Christmas. The time of year couples fight about whose family they are visiting for the holiday. I mean how do people tactfully avoid a fight? Unless they have the luxury of having both families living nearby, someone is going to have their feelings hurt.

I remember Ms. K and I had a big fight about this last year. At the time my parents didn’t know I was dating anyone and I just assumed that it would be no big deal if we spent the holiday apart — we had been dating for barely five months at that point. Oh how wrong was I? She accused me for being not serious about the relationship because I hadn’t told my family about her. I said that it was complicated! She was hurt that I didn’t want to spend the holidays with her. But you’re Jewish?? I countered. I can still celebrate Christmas and presents without the baby Jesus part, she said. And my family is Catholic!

Oy.

We emerged from the fight. Barely. We spent the holiday apart and I went on to come out again to my mother and tell her I was dating Ms. K. I also hoped that by the time we got to the next Christmas we would have a plan. I even brought up the subject sometime last summer. So what are we going to do about the holidays? Some plans were floated and after Ms. K discovered just how nuts my mother is, it seemed safer if I went down to Maryland for a couple of days by myself. I thought this was the plan, but then Ms. K started pouting about spending the holiday apart.

Crap, what am I going to do?

Part of me looks forward to having Christmas with my family, but I keep forgetting that the rosy sheen has long faded. Christmas now means hanging with the gray haired set, listing to my blatantly racist uncle make inappropriate comments, and having my Republican family members bemoan the tide of immigration as I clench my jaw and will myself not to shout at them for being idiots.

This should be a no brainer. Her family is only a short drive away in Pennsylvania and we have the dog to factor into plans. I’ll just tell my mom that I’ll being staying up north for Christmas . . . . Except that I’m a teensy bit (okay, a lot) afraid of her.

I don’t know how this is going to play out and it’s making me nuts. I emailed my mother to discuss the various scenarios and am awaiting a response. What do other people do? Next year I’m going to forgo the issue by being on a beach with a big fat drink.

"And how dare you leave your readers hanging on the status of the bookshelves?"


Thank you everyone who gave be birthday wishes, your comments did not go unnoticed. In the shuffle of my birthday, it also did not go unnoticed that I have been in New York for four years officially — my anniversary was November 13th. That said, my blog anniversary was yesterday, which means that I have been talking nonsense for nearly the same amount of time I’ve been a resident of the Empire State.

So. My birthday. It was good, obviously. The party I had a couple days before was small and intimate and made for a good reason to get The Apartment somewhat ready for company. And by ready I mean shoving things under the bed and into closets like Ms. K chose to do. Apparently I wasn’t bothered or embarrassed enough that 3 to 8 people may be imminently arriving when the place still looked like a construction zone. There was blue painter’s tape on the walls and tools strewn about. I was still finishing up the laundry and a certain someone was stressed out by the arrival of our first guests in the new place.

“People are going to be here in an hour and you’re sitting on the bed
FOLDING LAUNDRY??!” Ms. K bellowed. “You haven’t even made any food for people!!”

I glared at her as she stormed off to finish vacuuming.

She came back five minutes later. “Honey, I’m sorry I got so angry. It’s just that this place is such a mess and people are coming over. Aren’t you embarrassed?”

Meh, I thought. My friends are forgiving. At least we have BOOKSHELVES!

Indeed we did. The day before he had gone to IKEA, returned the farkakte old shelves, and purchased two Billy bookcases plus height extensions. I think that’s all I really wanted for my birthday, some semblance of order in The Apartment. (That and a double ended vibrating dildo.) And after Ms. K had managed to shove all the odds and ends into the closets and under the bed and into drawers, I managed to take a long look at the place and appreciate that finally it looked like two adults live here.

“Honey, I like our place,” I said repeatedly throughout the evening. The few people who did come to my birthday party said the same, appreciating all our hard work — the painting, the sanding, the light demolition.

“Look,” I explained to my guests as I passed around my digital camera. “The place used to look like this.”

[ Photo ] [ Photo ] [ Photo ] [ Photo ]

We’ve come a long way.

"You might have to hand hold me a little on my birthday."

I’ve been feeling weird today. Maybe it’s the crazy election vibe in the air or maybe it’s PMS or maybe it’s the heavyweight Saturn/Uranus opposition. Or maybe all three. When I went out at lunch to grab a sandwich I felt so sad — achingly sad — and panicked. But why? Today is election day and a day that possibly will bring long sought after good news. Then it struck me.

I’m going to be 30 in 13 days.

I started to silently freak out then and there on 34th Street.

I fought back tears and the irrational fear that was going to end up old and alone but it pounded at my fragile emotional state as I struggled to remind myself of the obvious — I’m very much not alone.

C’mon, Rouge. Shake it off! Get a hold of yourself!

In all seriousness I don’t normally care about the big 3-0, but for some reason I did today, some reason I felt the specter of mortality like a punch to the gut. I still don’t have birthday plans ironed out other than a vague idea that I want a party and an even vaguer idea of who would actually show up.

I’ll pull myself together soon enough.