Delta Chi Latte: Accepting late pledges

I have never had a huge group of friends.  I have many good friends.  Cherished friends. But generally, even as a little girl, my friends were not all friends with each other.  The biggest group I was ever part of was maybe three or four girls.  Groups of friends in elementary school formed pretty naturally driven by activities or geography or moms.  But by middle school I had narrowed the field quite a bit.  I think I almost preferred it that way.  I’m a secret introvert and even now if I go to a party where I know I have to make small talk with 30 people, I feel a little ill.  I want to grab one person and hold their face in my hands and discuss their relationship with their mother at length.  I know.  Now you won’t invite me for coffee.  It’s ok. I just generally suck at making ‘light conversation.’

In late high school when we were actual women making friends with other women, I had one ‘best friend’ and we floated between groups of other friends and hung out with a group of boys as a duo. This totally worked for me.  The guys were a blissful counterweight to any drama she and I might attempt to stir up.

1989 and 2014 below…


College was similar.  Again, I had lots of women I spent time with but not a sorority atmosphere certainly. I have several friends from those four years-but they aren’t friends with one another.  I found my future maid of honor in college.  We disliked each other a great deal the first few weeks of freshman year.  She found me bold and over confident.  I found her shy and irritatingly not wanting to be the center of attention.  Plus, she wore mysteriously preppy rugby shirts and I was trying out my REI meets goth look with all black clothing, dark red lipstick and hiking boots.

We must have pushed past all that since now she is the executor of my will.  Below you will find a montage of our early relationship and no, no alcohol was involved in striking any of these poses. Sadly, no mood altering chemicals were involved when I chose any of those haircuts either.  I can own it.

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Then I made “couple friends” and anyone who is over 14 knows how difficult that is to navigate.  The odds of both people in one pair really enjoying both people in the other pair are well…let’s just say even match.com or tinder wouldn’t dare try to code that algorithm.  And then large groups of couples who all enjoy hanging out together?  Even more tricky.                                                                 (note: 3 of my favorite couples to hang out with in our 20’s…all divorced now-maybe it was me?)

Graduate school.  In two years of seeing the same people every.single.freaking. day, I made a few friends.  Three.  And I made one lifelong close friend.  We were like hecklers at a comedy club except we were in Psych classes.  I’m not sure everyone appreciated our bond.  We thought all of the same people were exactly the same kind and same amount of crazy.

Work.  Various settings.  Various people.  Please.  I have yet to find an adult human who relishes attending their own company party let alone hang out with their co-workers every weekend. Worlds colliding.  It rarely works out ideally.

Church.  Surely church is filled with a lot of nice women.  I never did find 6 that all wanted to hang out together though. Never.  Acquaintances yes. Cohesive friend group?  Nope.

Neighborhood.  No.  We live on a street that ranges from newly married to retired couples. There are no block parties.  No progressive dinners.  No pool parties.  Last year we had 0 trick or treaters.  One banner year we had five.  They must have gotten lost. My closest neighborhood friend lives next door and I surely couldn’t have survived the last 18 years without her but we have our differences.  She is 69.

So-over the years when I see on social media photos of 8, 10, 12, 15! women together on trips or dinners or book clubs or scrapbooking weekends or reunions or 5k’s or wine tastings or etc…I always think…really?  How?  How did I never end up having a group of friends?

And then I realized I have one now…my first friend group.  At 44 years old.

I have finally found my sorority.  Accidentally.  It’s my ‘mom friends’.  The extensive group of women who surround me who are raising their children alongside me are my tribe.  Phenomenal, intelligent, strong women.  They know me.  They know each other.  We have a lot in common and the kids bond us together even though some of our kids are different ages and don’t even hang out with one another.  Doesn’t matter anymore.  They are women who work outside the home and women who work inside the home.  They have one child, they have four children.  They are single, married, widowed, divorced.  They are estranged from their parents, have ailing parents, have dead parents, have under involved parents, have over involved parents, all while parenting their own kids.  A few are over the top optimistic and a couple are intensely sarcastic and a couple are so wicked smart and a couple are wild procrastinators. They are volunteers and coaches and organizers and entrepreneurs and piano teachers and writers and religious and not religious and some are great cooks and some are ultra crafty and some exercise and some talk about exercising but never actually do and some are loud and outgoing and some aren’t and I value and cherish them all for their gifts and their challenges and their grit.

These women, they make my life so much better.  My circle of trust.  They make the grind of life tolerable.  They are my go to when I have a question about what the heck is wrong with my kid(s) or to tell when something goes well with my kid(s).  They celebrate my successes and lament with me when it all goes to shit.  Some of them I see in person 3 times a year, others I see weekly.  We go on mom field trips and do important ‘doughnut research.’  It is my first experience of having a large number of women who make me feel “we are in this together”. I have 20+ women who would drop everything and pick up my son if I needed it.  I would do the same for them.  They are my emergency contacts.  I have cried with them in Target.  In Target.  Right there next to the light bulbs and laundry detergent and bananas.  That is friendship.  It is an intricate but strong and supportive web of friendship that holds me together some days during these intense parenting years.

These women…they teach me.  They educate me on camps to look into, where to buy something for less, why a particular teacher is so valuable, what to open my eyes to and when to shut my ears.  NO KID REALLY NEEDS TO BE 6 YEARS AHEAD IN MATH.  They know stuff.  They recommend books and doctors and websites and restaurants.  They gently explain the reality of why I could never actually survive being a hockey mom and how many things are likely going to turn out just fine and probably don’t need my micro-management.  They point me in the right direction when I need to get whipped about something and present convincing arguments for when I really need to calm the hell down.    (It’s almost always the second one)

This photo was taken on my birthday last year.  Not even nearly everybody who is important to me is in the photo (obviously)…and I didn’t even have a chance to talk to everyone this day and hold their face and delve into their inner soul.  But it’s ok.  They know I care what happens to them.  I’ve got their backs.  I’ll catch up with them at school or on the soccer field or in the church parking lot or over lunch or maybe at Target.

We will cry at Target.  Together. Sisterhood.

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Low Resolution for 2016


Brand New Year. Same Old Me.

I have always thought New Years Resolutions were stupid. Completely worthless and downright sad. All the December magazine covers are filled with stuff to buy and all the January magazine covers are filled with tips to pare down and simplify.  As if we should and can flip a switch on January 1st. I am also opposed to ‘words of the year’, ‘lists of things I’m giving up”, “25 things I’ll do this year”, “Insane weight loss/fitness goals”, “getting completely organized once and for all”, and any other complete attempts at overhauling one life in one year. The resolutions are so intense, so lofty, so unrealistic. After all, January 1 is just a day. Just a Friday.

Often, New Years Eve itself, the build up of anticipation of the MOST FUN NIGHT EVER headed into THE BEST YEAR AHEAD EVER ends in colossal disappointment, failed goals and a longer list of things left undone than accomplished. My word, the pressure!!??? Boo hiss.

*note I might be a tiny irritable writing this. Last night ended with my son throwing up at his friend’s house. The friend took it amazingly well. We are starting this year with a haze of Lysol through the house.  P.S. That actually is an excellent time to start a diet change. Post stomach flu. That is the original ‘cleanse’ to kick start fitting into the skinny jeans. I’ll let my son know that as soon as he can crawl off the bathroom floor. I digress.

Our resolutions are set so high.  This is why the nice people at the fitness clubs can’t find parking spots for the first few weeks in January. Wait until March 1st. Plenty of spots.  I’m guess I’m not much for ‘saving up’ for a change. I’m not doing anything new and exciting on January 1 per se. I’m not going to make a huge list and then kick myself for 12 months when things don’t get checked off of it. I won’t post an inspirational theme word or poetic quote in my house this year to remind me where I’m headed in 2016.

Honestly, what I should post is “PICK UP YOUR OWN SH&T and PUT IT WHERE IT BELONGS” but that would be more instructional for the whole family than personally inspiring for the soul. Plus, it wouldn’t work.  I  just don’t like the idea of waiting until a special day to make a change, work on an improvement, or just simply be better at whatever I am currently failing at. I must be less goal oriented and more working-on-it oriented. Any forward progress is still good progress.

The day to do any and all of those things is the minute it occurs to me.

Right this second.

I think I might think like this for three reasons. (getting meta here) First, I have been burdened/blessed with the gift of very little patience. This does not come in handy for marriage or parenting (ever) but can be pretty useful in executing a plan. Second, most times when I set a goal, it turns out differently than I expected and sometimes I’m so bent on forcing it to happen I nearly miss the better thing waiting in front of me.  Lastly, while I would give my left arm to have my dad back, having him die at age 57 is a good motivator to not wait until the mystical concept of a new year or when the kids are older or retirement to do things or be things or see things or go places or try something or make a plan that I could very well put into motion right now. It’s a good motivation to not wait until next week. Not only do you wish away the time you are in, you also have no guarantee you will be here to “do all the great things”. The sense of urgency is palpable.  What on earth are we waiting for?

Perhaps the best part of being middle aged is not giving a flying fig anymore.   When you are 25, you SAY you don’t care about what others think or what your station in life is or your expectations of 25 compared to the reality of being 25. You think you have plenty of time.

At 35, you start losing your conceited mighty grip on your grand plans realizing you are not in control of much and by now you’ve made some choices and picked some lanes and they cannot be undone which is both a minor relief and a minor horror.

At 45, hopefully you are over yourself enough to see that you just won’t be here forever. Are some things just a soul crushing disappointment? Yes. Did you mess up a lot and say and do things that you are embarrassed about? Yes. Are there things that simply can’t be fixed? Yes. Are other aspects of this life more heartbreakingly joyful than you could have ever anticipated? YES.  Did you make some good choices and tell some people how you felt and had some genuine moments of pure thrill and witnessed some near miracles and are filled with gratitude for those? Yes. Do you see where you sidestepped metaphorical land mines and paths that would have been and could have been so much worse? Lord, yes.

In retrospect, I’d say I made some progress in 2015. Some things got done. Others didn’t. I can live with it that way. I think my designs on giving an Oscar speech can probably be filed away now.  It would have been a kick ass speech. FYI.

Cheers to all of you in 2016. May this year hold everything you hope for. I hope your year is filled with goodness.  And if not, just start over on any day, at any time, at any minute. Get back up and just try again.  Have a new idea in April and try it out.  Forgive someone in October.  An average Tuesday can be an astonishing start to something fantastic.

No ‘theme of the year’ necessary.

 

Hindsight is usually 20/20 but mine is 20/10

I had an eye exam today.  Same prescription. No change. I was pretty thrilled about no change until the Dr. said, “Yep. You are still hanging on.”

I’m still hanging on?

In other words, enjoy these last few months before bifocals ma’am.  Yeah.  Then I got a little lesson about my declining eyes.  Between the ages of 40 and 45 most humans lose 50% of the flexibility in their lens and need bifocals.  By age 70, 100% of it is gone.  (That’s not exactly what he said because I stopped listening after realizing my eyes are living on borrowed time) The lens doesn’t bounce back.  Rigid.  I’m rounding the bend to 44.  My free from bifocals minutes are ticking down.  It bothers me to think about it. And here is why.

I was wondering when the wheels were going to start to fall of the bus.  I didn’t think it was really happening already.  As it turns out-it’s happening next year. I’m scheduled for just a lovely series of tests and scans and checks and exams in the year following my 44th birthday.  On top of the normal things.  Next year I’m having extra things plus I’ll be the owner of a nifty pair of bifocals.   Next year is the year to get a baseline as a reference for all future deterioration.

The aging doesn’t bother me nearly as much as all the necessary maintenance.  Now begins the (hard) work to just stay as good as possible.  I’m just not new anymore. Like an older car, I’m still reliable but stuff needs to be fixed and attended to.  I can get from point A to point B but things need to be assessed. Maintained. A lot.  That bites.  I hate to think of wasting all that time not trying to improve anything but just trying to preserve what is left. I still have all my original parts.  For now.  But I now need to place time and effort into the preservation of things…

Like:

My hair.  I color my hair.  Actually a lovely lady named Patty colors it for me. I have been dealing with unsightly roots for a few years now. Since 2005 I think.   I know I wouldn’t ‘have to’ but I come from a long line of stubborn and proud women (on both sides) who dye their hair until their last hour.  My grandma’s Great Aunt Messina dyed here hair secretly.  She had a tiny dark glass vial of hair dye she hid behind a wood panel behind the barn and only the women in the family knew her secret.  She lived on a farm.  If a farm woman at the turn of the century fought the aging hair, who am I to mess up that legacy.

Also in the hair category.  My poor eyebrows and eyelashes.  They are getting so lonely.  Thinning.  Really thinning.  I thought it was all in my head at first but it’s real.  I now need assistance with growing adequate eyelashes.  Medical intervention.  What what what what what??? I still have to shave my legs but I don’t get to have eyelashes?

Exercise.  I’m not a fan.  It’s boring and just reminds you of every twinge of pain you may have had and every time you chose the cheesecake over the cup of soup on the menu.  I never had to exercise for the first 30 years so now I apparently resent it extra.  I have found yoga fortunately because it doesn’t feel like exercise thereby tricking myself into doing it regularly. Now I need to exercise for the sake of my heart, my mental health, my sleep, and to wrangle my frustrating diastasis recti.  (that’s when your stomach wall separates during pregnancy from having a giant MOOSE of a child) Do you know what really calls attention to diastasis recti?  Lack of exercise and clothing.

Eating. My metabolism is slowing.  In the last year, I have really noticed a difference and it has moved into the slow lane.  I can’t eat nearly the volume I used to or my waistband will be angry and show me by squeezing the life out of me later.  I’m not willing to live on rice cakes AND I’m not willing to run 20 miles a day so now I just have less.  I figure when I’m truly elderly I’ll be down to one spoonful of food a day, which will free up some time for me to go to the…

Dentist. My teeth aren’t bad. Yet. I haven’t even enjoyed a root canal. My mom has assured me that someday I will ‘clear my schedule’ to have multi-step dental work done.  So I have that to look forward to. It cracks me up when teenagers (when they have braces) whiten their teeth in pictures because they think braces make their teeth look discolored.  Stick around ladies.  Years, red wine and 653,345,678 cups of coffee will someday wreak havoc on those beautifully straight teeth that your parents paid $8000 for.

My skin.  I never went to a dermatologist until 2 years ago. Two years ago I had to go in because I had an unsettling darkening on my face that has faintly taken the shape of South America.  Hyper-pigmentation. After 40 years of diligent sunscreen use, I feel it’s unfair that this shows up on my face. I couldn’t get a skin thing on my ankle??? I could have passed it off as a tattoo.  So 5 trips and a few Dixie cups of liquid nitrogen + bleaching cream + a medical grade sunscreen 46 that I apply DAILY…it looks fine.  Skin is the largest organ.  Plenty of potential for other things to go wrong requiring maintenance.

10 years ago I thought I would have a lot of things ‘done’ by now.  I was a big talker.  I wanted things refurbished, rearranged, up-cycled, exfoliated away and put back to their original locations, restored to their original grandeur.  I took for granted how little I needed to do at the time to look and feel decent but set my sights on having a plan in place for over 40.  But now, I can’t do it.  Now I’m only willing to do the bare minimum (i.e. hair color, yoga, copious amounts of sunscreen).  Now it isn’t worth it to me.  I fear having any procedure done where my husband would have to explain to our children, “Mom died on the table from an unnecessary procedure but her glutes….her glutes looked a-ma-zing.”

All that said. I’m lucky to be here.  Damn lucky.  Only the truly privileged get to age.

But it isn’t for wimps. None of us are going to bounce back from getting older.

When I left my appointment today, I had to sit at the ‘eyeglass’ station and fill out some papers.  There was a mirror.  It wasn’t a great hair day.  It was a tired eye day.  And then I noticed something else. I had a deep crease just below my hairline from having my chin stationary for 15 minutes and my head pressed firmly against the Phoroptor.

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It’s called a Phoroptor. Trust me.  I learned that after writing “pressing my head against his equipment” which for obvious reasons sounds like a different kind of story.

Anyway, even my forehead doesn’t bounce back fast these days.  An hour later it was fine.

So, I guess I’m satisfied with what is.  I’m hanging on.

Do you think he used the word hanging on purpose?