class reunion1

I am going to let you in on a little secret.  Brace yourselves because it’s probably going to come as quite the shock.

I haven’t always been this cool. 

It’s hard to believe as I’m commandeering a mini van filled with screaming children around town, but there was a point in my teenage years when I could have passed for a middle aged man.

For the most part, my life has been uphill from there.  I mean, I hate to brag but I own a Sonicare and once had a date describe my propensity for eating buffet food as “impressive”.  Mailing in my RSVP I was pretty sure a lot of people were going to see me and kick themselves for missing out on this hot action twenty years ago.

“Which sounds more enviable – recording artist or gymnast?”  I asked my friend Heidi as we wound down our three-hour road trip and neared the town limits. I had strong armed the one person from high school I keep in touch with into going with me because while I was feeling brave about facing my past, walking in by myself was another whole story.

I inhaled and adjusted my Spanx.

The first item on our weekend agenda was the Homecoming parade.  Our class had a float and we were going to be on public display atop hay bales on a flatbed truck.  A few minutes before arrival time we received instructions via Facebook to meet at the Smoking Tree.

The Smoking Tree is a large elm which unfortunately sprouted roots about ten feet away from the high school.  It is technically off school property which meant kids were free to gather around the ashen black trunk and chain smoke there during breaks.  The administration was fine with this, as it meant students were no longer taking up valuable seats in the on-premise smoking lounge.

I was shocked that thing was still standing; I am sure if its branches could have reached the local gun store it would have happily grabbed a rifle and put itself out of its misery.

The float was parked near the tree, which was not only standing but had regenerated and miraculously healed itself.  Approaching it I pushed my self-esteem boosting therapy sessions to the front of my mind and prayed my Oil Of Olay was doing its job.

“Hi!  Hop on up!”  A handful of people had arrived and were waving us onto the flatbed truck.

“Okay!  Where’s the ladder?”

“Well… there’s sort of a step back there…”

The “sort of a step” was a tiny rung about three inches below the flatbed, which itself was chin level.  I don’t know who they had in mind when they engineered such a way to hoist yourself onto a 5-foot tall flatbed, but clearly it wasn’t a 38-year old mommy blogger trying to convince a group of people she was physically superior.

“There is no way this is happening,”  I thought to myself as I glanced over and noticed Heidi gracefully leaping onto the truck, sticking her landing on a hay bale.

I looked over at the car; there was no turning back now.  My fantasies of sashaying into a ball room and setting off a standing ovation/collective slow clap quickly vanished as I running leaped belly flopped elephant sealed my way onto the truck with two men grunting as they heaved me up by the wrists.  Like nothing happened, I stood up and brushed god knows what off my shirt, wondering how I could pick my Spanx out of my bowel without anyone noticing.

A few minutes later someone else arrived and I saw the same look of terror as they sized up their entrance possibilities and mentally shuffled through a few scenarios, all ending poorly.  One by one, middle aged balls of nerves were hoisted onto the float like catfish being pulled from a river.  And that’s how we started the weekend, with everyone in the same place – face down, ass up.

The trailer bed lurched forward and we slowly rolled past the high school cafeteria where our prom was held.  The woman next to me squinted ahead and laughed nervously.  “You know, every time I come back here I realize how much I love this town.  For everything it is… and everything it’s not.”  I threw a box of candy Nerds into the crowd, to a little girl with outstretched arms.  I was suddenly very grateful I was there.

Uuuggggarf.  The sound of air being unexpectedly being from lungs as another alumnus hit the flatbed.  “Sorry I’m late!”  Everyone cheered.        

I had a friend tell me she didn’t attend her high school reunion because she had no desire to see “those people” again.  I hated to break it to her, but sister – we are all “those people”.  Everyone struggled their way through high school, and most emerged into the world better for it.  You.  Your mail man.  Your best friend.  The woman in front of you at the grocery store.  Your spouse.  Jennifer Aniston.  Steve Jobs.  Mother Theresa probably got her clock cleaned in gym class dodge ball.

That night I discovered that proving anything about the person I had become wasn’t the reason I’d made the journey.  As the night wore on I learned that there is something simply ethereal about having an adult conversation with someone who knew me in the raw, before I shed my baby skin and grew a protective layer.

For some, high school was the highlight of their lives.  For others a low point.  For everyone, it was a major part in forming who we are as people.  For better or worse, for four years we were tethered together, growing as one before each branching off in separate directions.  Spending the rest of our lives trying to recover.  Sort of like the Smoking Tree.

The next morning I drove back into the present.  My mind wrapped itself around the conversations I’d had the night before, slowly digesting every word.  Just a few hours prior, my memories of high school included desperately screaming for acceptance and marching band.  Throughout the night I learned others had different memories of me, memories that my mind had selectively erased, possibly in an effort to fit the story I wanted to remember.  Impossible classes, dramatic relationships, gut wrenching away games.  All told from the perspective of those who had evolved to appreciate the absurdity of the social dynamic that is high school.

As I drove into the city, the residue of whatever ghosts still haunted me from long ago had been dusted off.

But that’s the funny thing about life.  Sometimes in order to move forward you have to take a step back.


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Thoughts Before I Run My First Marathon. Or, My Last Will And Testament.


Friends, Romans, countrymen.  Something really bad is about to happen.  This Sunday I am running my first marathon.  Okay, half marathon.  Okay okay… the split half relay.  But it is still 6.5547 miles… an activity that definitely falls well into the category Things I Have No Business Doing. My Friend Mandy guilted me into signing up about eight months ago when I went over to her house to give her and her newborn baby a visit.  I had barely sat down before she launched into a sales pitch of how she needed support to get her baby weight off and wouldn’t it be fun if we all ran a race together and oh by the way they serve beer at the end of the Rock and Roll one in October and YOU try saying no to some sleep deprived blubbering mess with big puffy eyes and a baby sucking all remaining life energy through her nipple trying to bribe you with beer while you’re holding a pan of lasagna on your lap. “Sure I’ll sign up,”  I said, slipping two Benadryl in her coffee and patting her head. Apparently my memory-erasing plan didn’t work because the following week she forwarded me a Groupon.  The jig was up.  She signed up on a team with her husband; I signed up on a team with my sister. […]

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The Pilates Girl on TV is a Sadomasochist (and a give-a-way)


This fall style inspiration is brought to you by Ross Dress For Less You guys.  So far I’m down about 7 1/2 pounds – the weight of an entire person.  When they are born.  You can follow along with me every Wednesday on my Facebook page when I share the results of that morning’s Weight Watchers weigh-in.  I may also ask for encouragement, prayers, mojo, donations and/or voodoo.  Because I’m not gonna lie this sucks ROYALLY and I need all the help and encouragement I can get. As awful as my mealtimes are, I will say that shopping is a lot more fun now that hangie downie thing on my stomach is beginning to retreat to the hell fires from whence it came.  I am starting to see the fruits of my labor, and those fruits are prominently displayed in this hot hot hottie dress. I’ve partnered up with Ross Dress For Less to show you some of their new fall styles, and lemme just tell you… this little number was $16.99. ALL THE YESSES. Right now they are running a promotion on their Facebook page to help give you inspiration for some fall looks, as well as a $150 gift card give-a-way. Here’s what you do: Visit their Facebook page to vote for your favorite fall blogger look Each week they’ll be sharing a […]

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Last year I was honored to be one of fourteen women to speak at St. Louis’ inaugural Listen To Your Mother show.  I was nervous because, like most people who choose to become a writer vs. a runway model, I’m more comfortable revealing my soul without people focusing on the fact that I carry 90% of my body weight under my chin. My friend Carrie came over to do my hair and make-up; you all helped me pick my outfit. The day the videos were published on YouTube I settled onto the couch, opened a fresh can of Diet Pepsi and hit play.  Though it was painful to watch myself on camera, I was relieved that everything on my body appeared to be in its intended place and I didn’t have any visible boogers. But then I started talking.  It looked like I was missing my bottom tooth. “WTF?”  I thought, my hand flying to my mouth to see if I had somehow missed my bottom incisor removing itself from my gum.  Nope, still there.  Was it just camera shy?  I ran to the mirror and noticed that it was there, but evidently over the past twenty years had shifted back into its preferred position – horizontal.  Sort of like my sisters.  Opah! I’ve been slightly preoccupied the past several years, and keeping three little […]

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To Lillian On Her Fourth Birthday


Dear Lila, A few weeks ago we were eating breakfast at a restaurant when a middle aged woman timidly approached our table. “You have beautiful girls,” She said. “Thank you!”  I postured, anticipating the motherly compliments that usually come with taking you and your sisters out in public. “I have two sisters,”  She continued.  “And that one…” she paused, pointing at you. “THAT one was born with a gift.” “Go on…”  I said, stuffing a sausage link in my mouth. “She’s your middle girl.  That’s special.  She’s going to grow up instinctively knowing how to be a leader and a follower.  How to protect and how to be vulnerable, asking for help when she needs it.  How to admire and appreciate someone who can do what she can’t, and how to teach someone how to do what she can.  She’s really lucky.  Not everyone gets that gift.” And just like that, she totally shattered the stigma I had always associated with being the middle child.  The guilt I carry around that it’s you who gets overlooked, lost in the shuffle, doesn’t know what role she’s supposed to play. But you’ve always known, even if I haven’t.  Your role is to make us all laugh.  To hop around instead of walk while you squeeze my hand and give random strangers high fives as you prance by […]

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Vacation… Showtunes, Head Lice and Food Guilt


Sometimes I wonder if I ever truly appreciated vacation before I had children. Sure, I enjoyed the fact that I was laying on a beach chair or skiing down a mountain somewhere and not sweating bullets in a conference room full of assholes, but I also went to happy hour six days a week and was able to finish a meal any time I wanted. I’m not saying that people without kids don’t need a vacation – I’m saying that this morning I was awakened at 3am by someone fish hooking my nostrils with their little fingers. You know what I’m talking about. Last weekend we spent four days at the lake with six other couples which, let’s call it what it really is – group therapy. You wait all year to have an itty bitty little break from your kids, and within the first hour you’ve talked about nothing but ear infections and head lice and sports practices and the best foods to make kids poop. And for the first time in a long time you feel okay about yourself. Not totally sane, necessarily, but like you aren’t the only parent who spends their mornings counting how many more baths you’re going to have to give your kids before they can do it themselves. “Wait… you punish your kids by forcing them to develop, […]

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Honey, You’ve Got A Little Something On Your Chin


I first met my friend Rita in the Navy.  We were the original all-female team assigned to the F-18 Super Hornet, operating under code name Blisters.  It was sort of like a real-life Top Gun and, just like Maverick and Goose, we pulled some real shenanigans.  It was late one night in the mess hall, and over a bowl of stale gruel we realized that we shared the same childhood dream of one day becoming mommy bloggers.  Right then and there we made a promise to each other that if we ever made it out of that god forsaken war alive we would guest post for one another regularly.  Or at least once.  I started my blog here, she started a slightly funnier blog called Fighting Off Frumpy.  So without further adieu… here’s Rita, the war hero.     My name is Rita. I have four kids, two dogs, a cat, a mortgage, and one hell of a sweet tooth. Oh yeah, and a beard. Look, I didn’t ask for facial hair. And I didn’t always have it. (And I don’t have a mustache, thank goodness, though I keep my upper lip waxed just in case it decides to turn manly on me like my chin did.) I just have a beard. It’s not Duck Dynasty or ZZ Top-caliber, but it’s there – and since […]

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