Tag Archives: family

Dog Gone It

So the big talk over here at Camp Mix & Bitch is if and/or when we’re going to adopt a shelter dog.  It’s either a dog or a third kid, believe it or not. 

One of the strange side effects of turning 40 has been this overwhelmingly strong urge to nurture something small.  It’s like my body realizes it just made a hard right turn down mid-life crisis highway and is desperate to propagate the species one…last…(cough)…time. 

Biology’s a bitch my fine furless  friends.

Good thing for me and Mr. Mix that I tied up the internal plumbing years ago, otherwise I may let that toxic drug known as estrogen overrule my common sense and get myself knocked up on purpose.  Mr. Mix is an infinitely patient and selfless man, but even I know I’d be pushing it too far with another one.

Between you and me (ahem), if I had my way, I’d be high tailing it over to China or Vietnam in a heartbeat and grab me one of those beyond adorable and precious little Asian babies.  Hey, if they’re stupid enough not to want their girls, I’ll take ’em.

AsianBaby2.jpg Asian Baby 2 image by arthur-o_O

C’mon, how cute is she?

Don’t you just want to bite those little cheeks?

Btw, I am not implying that a dog replaces a human child.  I’m just saying that I can handle an adult dog…a baby (even a beyond gorgeous Asian girl baby) is beyond my emotional and financial resources at this point in my life. And I’m pretty sure Mr. Mix would leave me if there was a third baby to contend with around here.

So as long as I don’t get a puppy, I think he’s cool with abating my aching womb syndrome.

Anyhoo, so I’ve been doing lots of research, on breeds, on shelters, on what to expect when you’re expecting something furry, etc. etc.  And while I’d like something of a scrappy variety like this little guy…

Drama Queen and Sweet Pea long for a dog more along the lines of this…

I know, I know…it’s not a dog, it’s a duster. But they want something small and cuddly that they can pick up and hold. I get it.

So I start finding dogs on Petfinder and submitting applications to different shelters. Holy Friggin’ Shitballs Batman! These applications were ridiculous.  I think I could’ve adopted me some Angelina orphans for less hassle than to get me a goddamn dog in this town.

Long story a bit shorter, I finally chucked the idea of the smaller rescue outfits in favor of the good ‘ol Humane Society of Fairfax County.  Within 24 hours, they called me after I filled out only a 2 page application (versus the 4-6 pages monsters with the other rescues, each asking for, like 5 references, my mother’s maiden name, how large is my husband’s left nut, and will I promise to wipe the dog’s ass after every poop for the rest of my life, so help me God?).  They told me they’ll line up the kinds of dogs we’re looking for, gave me the address, and made an appointment for next weekend.

Done. Capeesh. Finite.

So once we get the precious mutt, I promise to post some pictures. Wish me luck people!

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Money Changes Everything

Wouldn’t it be grand if we were all born with trust funds stuffed to the gills with cash?  Or that once you got married, the government issued you a big ol’ whopper of a check with a note saying, “Hey, we know marriage is hard enough and since us here in Congress are all so pro-family, here’s a few million to keep you breeding and happy.”

Hey, a girl can wish, right?

I bring out my ridiculously unrealistic fantasies because Mr. Mix and I are just getting over one heck-of-a-brawl over money.  I cannot express enough what a killjoy the subject of money is for me.  I think I can speak for ALL women that nothing squashes our love lava faster than hearing our man squawk, “you’re spending too much money!”

For the record, I really don’t spend too much money.  The issue was more about extra expenses occurring that weren’t expected (they never are), and frankly, me needing to feel like an equal partner in our financial decisions in spite of the fact that I’m far from the breadwinner.  Did I mention Mr. Mix can be a bit (what’s the word, what’s the word) CONTROLLING when it comes to money?

Always a turn on, let me tell ya.

I know my dilemma is nothing new.  While I work part-time, I’m basically a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom).  There was a time in our lives when I did work full-time, and by the time I was done paying for daycare, transportation, meals, and clothes, we ended up actually more in the red than the black.  So we decided I should go back to school and get my MSW, so that someday – when the kids are both in school full-time – I can actually earn enough to really help our family.  On nights and weekends, I tutor, but that pays for a few extras and nothing more. 

Frankly, I consider ourselves VERY lucky that we even have the luxury of being able to living on one salary, that we own a house, and are able to live in a fairly comfortable manner. Nothing extravagant, mind you, but comfy nonetheless.  And yeah, we still have some debt we’re paying off (I consider that lil’ chunk the piece of my soul living in expensive San Francisco stole from us).  But that’s where we’re wired differently.  While of course I don’t like having debt, I’m not going to let it ruin my happy family vibe buzz I’ve got going.  We’re paying it off….we live within our means…we’ll get there.

Not so for Mr. Mix & Bitch.  That debt haunts him like a Dickens’ ghost.  It’s a cancer which infiltrates seemingly innocuous moments, and it pisses me off that he lets it override all the good we have.  When he gets like that, he turns to me and says things like, “well, what else can you do to help?”  To which I respond, “Well, I’m going to start off by eating bon-bons all day, then take the gardener, Pepe, as a lover, and THEN I’m going on QVC and buy lots and lots of animal-shaped figurines.  What the hell do you think I do all day?”

Here’s a list of what I do, in – uh – case you were wondering:

Short Order Cook

Housekeeper

Laundry Attendant

Chauffeur

Personal Shopper

24-hour Babysitter

Gardener

If you were to total all these jobs up, I’d be earning around $80,000 – $110,000 roughly.  But because this is all unpaid work, somehow society – and occasionally my husband – will deem these contributions as less than.

Well, shame on him and the rest of you who buy into that.

Do you realize that approximately 70% of the work done in the world is unpaid labor, and the majority of that work is done by women?  I KNEW that Gender History degree would come in handy someday.  Although I must say that at the end of the day, I don’t think this should be a gender issue because I’ve known some stay-at-home-dads who have suffered through the same issues.  Regardless, I can’t tell you how heart-breaking it is to not feel fully valued by your partner.  And so, I told him that…and then I moved myself  into my office for about 24-40 hours.  Don’t worry, I have a cozy day-bed in there.

Because I think of men like dogs sometimes, and being pack animals, the best way to discipline is through isolation.  Needless to say, he eventually came over and I could tell by the look in his eyes and by what he said that he finally understood where I was coming from.  And in return, we spent the rest of the night trying to figure out ways to kick up our payment efforts.  As much as we all may hate to admit it, marriage is just as much of a business partnership as it is a meeting of Kismet souls.

Am I still a little ticked off that he had the attitude he had? Sure.  But do I also understand there’s a LOT of pressure being the breadwinner for your entire family? Yep, I get it.  So, he’ll cut me some slack, and I’ll cut him some too.  Trust me, we’re far from done with this issue – it’s one of our permanent ones – but as long as we can keep talking about it – and remember we’re in this TOGETHER, this too shall pass.

10.  “Nag,” (Joan Jett and the Blackhearts) I Love Rock-n-Roll.

09.  “I Got Shit,” (Pearl Jam) Rearview Mirror.

08. “The Good Life,” (Weezer) Pinkerton.

07. “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” (The Rolling Stones) It’s Only Rock-n-Roll.

06. “Skills to Pay the Bills,” (Beastie Boys) Beastie Boy Anthology.

05.  “Pay to Play,” (Nirvana) DGC Rarities, Volume One.

04.  “I Get Money,” (50 Cent) Curtis.

03.  “I’m So Paid,” (Akon, Lil’ Wayne, and Young Jeezy)  Freedom.

02.  “Money Ain’t a Thang,” (Jay-Z and JD) Def Jam 25.

01.  “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem),” (Jay-Z) Volume 2.

Twisted Sisters

 
Ms. Mix and Bitch,
 
I feel like I’m constantly being criticized and monitored. We have talked about her snapping at me, and she tells me that I have to tell her when she’s snapping at me in a calm manner because she doesn’t know she’s doing it. I have been doing that, in fact my control on my anger has become amazing.
 
I don’t know what kind of advice I’m seeking from you. I know that most of this letter represents my sister in a negative light. I can sincerely tell you that I love her. She cares fiercely for the ones she loves, she has a wicked sense of humor and she’s very smart. I just wish she saw these things in herself so she could find her own happiness. I think I tried to save her by letting her in my social life. I feel like our problem right now as a whole is my fault, but I don’t know what to do. I want her to be happy. I hate that she has to go through this after everything she has had to deal with. It’s not fair. I want to help her, but when I do I get hurt. Once gain, a Catch-22. I think what I’m asking you is if I’m doing the right thing, or am I really being selfish? I’m also very bothered by my father telling me you don’t have to be friends with you siblings, just try to be civil. I have wished for a friendship with her for so long, must it really be this way? I want to feel hope again.
 
 
Dear Sad and Frustrated Sister,
I received this letter months ago, and I am sincerely sorry I did not answer you sooner.  I have no excuse. 
I am hoping by now you and your sister have been attending therapy with a counselor specializing in PTSD because that’s exactly what your sister is suffering from, Ms. Sis.  I am also hoping that by now you have continued to enforce the boundaries between you two (such as NOT having her hang out with your friends, having separate social outings, etc).  If neither of these two strategies have been implemented, then I seriously urge you to do both. 
It should go without saying, but here it goes regardless: you deserve your own life.  A happy life.  Really.  That doesn’t mean you are not suppose to be there for your sister and your parents, but not at the expense of your own dignity or needs.  And another thing – about the whole ‘model daughter’ deal…while there’s no need to get all self-destructive on their asses, just because you’re sister’s a disaster doesn’t mean YOU have to be perfect.  I hope you have some people in your life you can count on.  If you don’t, and you feel you must handle everything on your own, then I would seriously urge you to start taking some risks and begin reaching out and relying on people.  Whether that’s your family or friends, hopefully both, that’s up to you. 
As far as your sister is concerned, if she’s going to make any sort of life worth living for herself, she’s going to have to learn the social skills needed to make her own friends, pick appropriate men, and -most importantly – work through her PTSD.  Expect this to take years.
Meanwhile, be good to yourself.  I’m rooting for you 🙂
10. “This Woman’s Work,” (Kate Bush) The Sensual World.
 
09. “Edge of the Ocean,” (Ivy) Long Distance.
 
08.  “Cracking,” (Suzanne Vega) Suzanne Vega.
 
07. “Sister Winter,” (Sufjan Stevens) Songs for Christmas.
 
06.”I Live on a Battlefield,” (Nick Lowe) Untouched Takeaway.
 
05. “Roads,” (Portishead) Dummy.
 
04. “Acid Tongue,” (Jenny Lewis) Acid Tongue.
 
03.  “Crooked Legs,” (The Acorn) Glory Hope Mountain.
 
02.  “Good Woman,” (Cat Power) You are Free.
 
01.   “So Sorry,” (Feist) The Reminder.

A Distorted Reality is Now a Necessity to Be Free

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a while now.  I have been trying to take a phrase here, a thought there, and compile it together in some sort of coherent piece.  Needless to say, I’ve got next to nothing.  So, I’m just going to rattle on here a bit, so stay with me, ok?

I don’t know why this is, but I think most relationships rest on the edge of a knife.  They are inherently fragile entities, based much more on conditional circumstances than we would care to admit.  I bring this up because I now know about five couples going through various stages of divorce.  Some of them weren’t a surprise, others were a shock. 

They all prove a central point: no one knows what really goes on with a couple not just behind closed doors, but in the hearts and minds of each involved.  You could live with someone everyday of your life, eat meals together, bump uglies, clean up after one another, and not know what’s really going on with your partner.  That’s a scary thought in and of itself.  Just as frightening is to think that during a low point of your life – diagnosed with cancer, losing your job, having your business go under, or your child is in some sort of trouble – that’s when your husband or wife completely bails on you. 

Although for some people I know, the reasons are not so dramatic.  It’s a slow, creeping cold which grows over too many years of not being heard, of not being seen…so even when your significant other finally gets a clue, oftentimes it’s too late to crawl back from the abyss.  The chasm has grown too great in distance.

I know something about this not just as an armchair spectator.  Mr. Mix and I went through our own crisis back in 2005.  It was a confluence of influences for us, both financial stress and the internal combustion of two people growing apart at vastly different rates.  Wow, that makes it sound simple, doesn’t it? It wasn’t, of course.  So, how did we survive through that hell, while others around us are falling to pieces? 

I’ve thought a lot about that over the last few months, and whatever I’ve got, it’s probably speculative at best.  While, yes, I run an advice site, I’ve never pretended to have all the answers.  Those who believe in their own hype fall the hardest.

I wish I could say I had this steely determination to save our marriage, but at that point, I was out.  And the only reason why I went to counseling in the first place was to be able to look my girls in the eyes and say yeah, mommy tried everything to make her marriage to their daddy work.  We didn’t find some therapist in the phone book or go for the first shmoe on our insurance plan either.  I asked my friend who I knew also went through a hard time – and was thriving now – and got the name of the therapist they went to.  Of course, he didn’t take insurance and he wasn’t cheap.  My mom and her husband offered to pay for the sessions, as long as we went in with an open mind.  I know how lucky we were to be able to accept such a gift.  It probably was one of the deciding factors which saved us.

It also didn’t hurt that all around us were devoted couples – not all of them happy, mind you, but all of them hell-bent on staying together.  Our children went to the same school, we had monthly pot luck dinners at each others’ homes…we were ensconced in one another’s lives.  And as much as I like to think of myself as a non-conformist, I was not immuned to the effects of social psychology in the form of latent peer pressure.

Lastly, but a point which probably should’ve been mentioned at the top of the list, Mr. Mix was willing to do anything and everything to get our marriage back on track.  Like being awoken from a long-suffering coma, he finally heard what I had to say.  Not every time, or for every session, but enough.  Likewise, I realized over time how hurtful my communication style could be…so much so that after a while he couldn’t hear so much of what I was saying, but rather how I was saying it.  Trust me, it takes training to take one’s raw anger and frustration, calm down enough to get to the root of the issue, and convey such info with love and respect. 

In the end, however, that’s the only way any of us are going to make it.  To give the ones you love the benefit of the doubt…to show the same kindness, decorum, and compassion you would to your best friend….to remember it’s more inportant to be loved than to always be right. 

I think back on how bad off we were…how even now – with all the work we’ve done and how far we’ve come – that all it takes is a few weeks of not connecting to feel the cold creep in some.  I guess the difference now is we try to nip that crap in the bud before it has a chance to kill all we’ve worked towards.  There are, and will always be, what psychologists call ‘permanent issues’ – specific conflicts which may wax and wane, but never fully go away.  Sometimes, they feel like a light nuisance, like a gnat buzzing in your ear…other times, it’s like a jack hammer in your gut.  But I suppose some maturity comes when you realize that someone else isn’t the ‘cure all’ answer…that they have a litany of baggage which may make your current issues look like nothing in comparison. 

That all said, I’d say that most of the friends and family in various stages of divorce right now are probably better off splitting up….not because their outside circumstances are so dire, but because one or both partners lack the character or conviction to do the work needed.  Some have been outright abusive with their actions.  I don’t believe you stay married at all costs.  That said, it’s a death for all of us when someone you know splits. 

It never stops being a big deal.  It may be necessary, but it doesn’t make it any less tragic.

Ms. Mix & Bitch’s Confession #24: I Got You, Babe.

I know it’s not my man’s birthday or Valentine’s Day. It’s just the Sunday after Thanksgiving, but I’m having a particularly un-Mix & Bitch moment…meaning, I’m feeling the love. The sentimental.  In other words, the stuff that makes most of you roll your eyes. Too fucking bad, because I think it’s, like, trés important to express the love you have for people.

So in that spirit, I’m going to, like, totally rip off something another blogger friend of mine did for the love of his life.  Enjoy the schmaltz…

The Reasons Why I Love You…

I love that you bring me coffee in bed every morning…even though I dig the cologne you wear (I picked it out) I actually prefer the smell of your skin – there’s nothing else in the world like it…the way you smile with your eyes more than your mouth…your strong hands…how the best traits in our kids are thanks to you…your blue eyes…the bunny fuzz on your ears…I dig the gray hair, even though you hate it…how you used to put on a new piece of Miami Dolphins clothing everytime they started playing badly because you thought it would give the team good mojo (I miss that you don’t believe in that magic anymore)…I am unduly amused by your slightly overprotective nature…your love for bad 80s movies…the fact you were born in the wrong century…your geeky sword collection…how you love Southern rock…the way you wrestle with the girls…your ever-growing verbal talents and social skills…your dislike of people in general, but your kindness with people you know…how you taught me the benefit of the doubt and the beauty of optimism…your need for symmetry…your mad mad math skills…your ability to fix anything…your ass in jeans…the look of love in your eyes when I’ve fed you…how you make me feel like the hottest woman in the room even when I’m not…your irrational affection for all things carbohydrate in nature…the way you shake your head when you sing…your Al Gore-style of dancing…that you try so hard…the way your mind works…that you’re more of a snuggler than I am…how you taught me the value of action over words…that you honestly don’t give a shit if people like you or not…the fact that you always put the seat down…your salmon recipe…how you always keep your promises…the pride you have in your metal sculpture “art”…your trusting nature and patience…showing me what unconditional love looks like in the everyday…I love you.  Always.

Ms. Mix & Bitch’s Pouting Session #1: Not Home for the Holidays

So the whole Mix & Bitch gang was supposed to go to my mom and stepdad’s house in North Carolina for the Thanksgiving holiday.  And while I know plenty of you dread the idea of having to see the people unfortunately related to you, I was really looking forward to going this year.  For one thing, they built themselves quite the rustic palace – and I only say rustic because of its location, not it’s amenities.  With 10,000 square feet and air and heating systems for every wing, it’s not exactly winning any green earth awards anytime soon either.  But my mom really goes all out with the decorations and my stepdad cooks a mean bird.  And thank God my mom loves her box of wine just as much as Kathy Griffin’s mom because she gets more charming by the glass (a trait I too share).  We spend the weekend doing North Carolina mountainy thingys like fishing and hiking the trails and roasting marshmallows at the open fire pit…sigh, it’s just good country fun.

Anyway, the reason why we’re not going is because Queen Mama Bitch (she’s not a music fan at all, hence why no ‘Mix” in her title) is having some unusually bad acid reflux and thinks she’s going to die.  Or that she has a tumor growing on her gall bladder. Or maybe she’s really been having a heart attack the whole time.  In other words, she’s a fucking hypochondriac.  And I wish I could tell you this happens with aging parents, but she’s been this way since I was eight years old.  So she wants to stay down in South Florida, where the “good” doctors are and get this resolved before trekking back to the boonies of Carolina. 

I know I sound selfish. I am, btw.  And I do get it that it’s scary to have pain that doesn’t go away.  I promise you all, I am much more understanding with her on the phone.  But between you and me, the whole jumping to the worse conclusion deal has gotten way old with me.  She’s had a particularly stressful couple of weeks down in Florida (for reasons I can’t get into) and hence, her upper GI tract is inflamed.  Doesn’t take an MD to see the stress is getting to her.  I’ve really been missing her and wanted to see her…so I’m pouting via blogging. I told you all I was a spoiled brat.

The good news is that some very cool Mix & Bitch friends are hosting Thanksgiving and have invited us – there’s also going to be an after-Thanksgiving shin dig on Friday I had wanted to attend.  So that works 🙂   I just hate feeling like the third wheel for someone else’s Norman Rockwellian Thanksgiving Day parade.  I have really stank memories of Thanksgiving with my parents – either it being just the three of us barely talking to each other, or getting the pity invite from someone and feeling like I was looking at happy family functioning through the looking-glass.  I would always end up feeling lonelier than ever.

A lot of that changed once my parents split for good and my stepdad came into my mother’s life.  King Stepdad Bitch (he is also not a fan of music, hence why he shares in my mother’s title) can be a real piece of work, but for all his craziness (and trust me, he’s packaging a full load of the crazies) he brought a genuine sense of joy and – dare I say – merriment back into the holidays for me and my mom.  He’s a trip and then some, and he kinda looks like a Jewishy Santa Claus so he just screams holiday friggin’ cheer.  It’s a good time, and I’m going to miss it. So there’s that.

Ms. Mix & Bitch’s Confession #42: I Wouldn’t Want to Join Any Club Who Would Have You as a Member

So, eldest spawn, Sweet Pea, is a member of the Girl Scouts.  Next year, Drama Queen wants to join, and I myself am a former Scout as well.  I used to also be a member of a (wink) Spiritually Vacuous, Dememted and EnTitled Greek organization best known for its perfection of the eye-roll and hair flip simultaneously. And after many other tried-and-failed attempts, I slowly came to the realization that I’m not a joiner.  I’m not comfy in big cliques, and I’m not a fan of the group-think.  That doesn’t make me any better or worse than the rest of you…it just means I know my limits, and if you ask me to join your club – no matter how much I like you – I’m not going. No way. No how.

Ironic because I’m not a loner by nature.  In small doses, I actually like people.  Need then, to be brutally honest.  But I think most of us lose some of our minds and natural common sense and decency when we’re part of a collective.  This is also ironic because when studying for my history masters degree, my sub-specialization was the roles of women in utopian communities.  And my recent favorite documentary is called “Commune.”  I love the idea of groups coming together to better the world, to shed the individual skin in order to experience the spiritual ecstasies often found in collectives. It just never works out that way.  And I am becoming, admittedly, more particular and fussy with age and don’t like people in my space for too long of a time anymore.  Besides, after studying the roles of women in communes, cults, collectives, kibbutzes – what have you – you know what I found out? Even in the most democratically organized of them, most of the women ended up caring for the kids, cooking and cleaning up after everyone else. Oh, and of course, being sexually available to every man on the compound, or otherwise being considered too bourgeoisie and uppity for their own good. 

Yeah…my thoughts exactly.

Anyway, don’t ask me how I got on this rant when thinking about my little ones in Girl Scouts.  I know it’s an innocuous organization…even if they do push those cookies harder than Frank Lewis did his Blue Magic heroin in the 70s…I just get a bit uneasy when they ask to join anything.  Color me suspicious. You wouldn’t be the first, and that’s just how I roll over here. 

Just be lucky you don’t have to live with me. I’d probably end up flushing your toothbrush down the toilet.