“DOLLY DOLLY DOLLY DOLLY”

That’s what the hammered middle-aged housewife who might have been a lesbian in a different life or at least a paunchy gentleman from the Bronx was screaming just before she fell face forward into the crowd.

Who would have imagined such shenanigans at a Dolly Parton concert?

Well, not I, that’s for sure.

But there were all sorts of new sights to be seen at a concert in the big city (Morrison, CO, pop: 432).

For one, gay men LOVE Dolly Parton. I learned that from my all male, all gay co-worker team at some temp job I had in the Castro years ago and was reminded of it as we trailed a handsome young couple carrying pink wine glasses into the amphitheater.

There was the adorable balding bartender from MCB’s cousin’s job whose mom had taken him to see Dolly when he was little, so he was returning the favor, the two of them sitting together in Row 37.

There were many couples that reminded me of my parents; they were there because…

…well because she’s Dolly and fabulous and doesn’t swear and they know at least the chorus of most of her songs.

There were the “we live in Colorado so we wear our $500 cowgirl boots with super short dresses and straw hats” gals that looked classic ski-town but were probably just from Boulder. They all looked exactly alike – cute, but they matched each other a little too well.

Quite a few people looked like they had no idea who Dolly Parton was. Well, maybe they knew she’s the gal with the hair and the boobs, but beyond that, no recognition.

Until Dolly launched into 9 to 5 and their relief at knowing something was palpable.

There were women in heels and black dresses.

There was the requisite large number of people in athletic wear because the is Front Range Colorado and we exercise obsessively.

Lots of cutoffs.

Cut offs really aren’t for everyone.

A couple of folks looked like they’d grown up with Dolly – maybe even began in a log cabin in rural Tennessee. They had that look of “I work hard and I’ve spent a whole lotta time in bars two-stepping to a band rocking Dolly covers.”

At one point, as “You’re not in Kansas any more” was running the circuit in my brain, I saw two hillbillies. I was psyched, felt like I had found my kin, until I looked more closely and realized they were Ironic Hillbillies and probably rode their ultra high tech mountain bikes to work, messenger bag, blue-tooth and all.

I won’t even try to describe the utter amazingness that was Dolly herself, Dolly on stage.

For now, I will just say that seeing the outside world once in a while is quite entertaining and worth the 8 hour drive.

 

DoDo (those are long O’s)

I drove half way across the state yesterday to say goodbye to a friend. She’s leaving Colorado, only for a year or two, and I hardly see her anyway because she lives 5 hours away, but somehow her departure from the state feels like she’s moving to other side of the earth.

And I am sad.

Even though I rarely see her and actually don’t often speak with her, knowing that she is a mere 5 hours away has been important to me; it’s like she’s always accessible in an emergency.

Our friendship spans years, but it spans those events that create a life.

And a life time.

When I first met her, I had a mad crush on her.  Everyone does. She’s incredibly special.

She has seen me at my very best and at my very worst.

I was friends with her husband before I knew her. Actually I was friends with him before he met her. So when he fell in love, she became instantly important to me.

And soon, she was one of my very best friends that I will ever have in my life.

I could go on and on telling tales of silliness, seriousness, love, and tears.

Our children grew up together and even though they rarely, rarely see each other, they will forever remain dear to each other’s hearts.

Our husbands worked together, which involved a lot of traveling together leaving us to shared “widowhood.”

We did what any pseudo single mothers would do and went camping. During those years I had more shared adventures with her than I did with my (now ex) husband.

She is wise and kind and smart and creative and so funny. I have never met anyone more present and more solid in who they are, than she.

When I blew out my back and couldn’t get out of bed to feed my children, she was at my house, daily, all the way from Durango, to feed, clothe, and love them.

When her house flooded, I took her daughter to Fuzzywigs to get yogurt-covered dog biscuits for the two of us to eat.

When my ex-husband got married, she called me to tell me that she loves me.

Today, for reasons that shall remain unspoken, I squeezed her boobs.

I love her. Beyond description.

So saying farewell to her was hard.

And then, I left her, left Crested Butte, and drove over the mountains to where I first met her, where we spent five summers of our lives together, where we walked our dogs, our children, and our own postpartum fat asses.

I wanted to stop for coffee, and she told me where to go that wasn’t the coffee shop that she opened during one of those 5 summers. I couldn’t get a parking spot so I did end up at her old establishment.

Which had also been her home.

The place has been completely made over – beyond recognition. I stood in what used to be her bedroom looking at rad snowboarding-themed stickers and ordered what turned out to be the absolute worst cup of coffee I’ve had in my adult life.

And I missed her.

And her coffee.

And I got a text from her right then telling me that I am a badass.

Right back at you Darlin’.

I also know that even though she is moving away, it won’t matter in my friendship with her, although I might not be able to randomly grab her breast.

He went to a Strip Club

My baby did.

And we wonder why I had reservations about the bachelor party.

In Arizona.

My child. In a strip club???????????

The boys came home last night around midnight. I got out of bed to say hello. I saw Bobby first.

“Hey! How was it?”

“AWESOME.”

Uh Oh.

Joking…”How was the strip club?”

“AWESOME.”

Oh my God, they really went to one.

“Welcome home, Greg. How was it?”

“So great. We went to a strip club, another club to go dancing, a water park.”

Bobby is older, he’s almost 21, and I never knew him as a baby, and he’s never seen a naked woman, so somehow it seems more palatable to know that he was there.

Barely.

I’ve never even been to a strip club.

What is it that makes men believe that they absolutely must go out with friends and get drunk and watch professional naked ladies dance in order to then get married?

Admittedly, I’ve never been to a bachelor party so I don’t know if everyone feels that they must do this.

As a matter of fact, my ex-husband didn’t have any sort of bachelor party before we married.

Not sure if he had one before his other two weddings.

I’ve only been to one bachelorette party – my sister-in-law’s. There was a fair amount of tequila with some Jagermeister added in for good measure, but no naked men. At one point, the bride-to-be got a little frisky with a stranger on the dance floor and we bridesmaids quickly intervened and got her safely home to bed.

And I decided then and there that bachelorette parties were not my thing.

She woke up feeling miserable, which only reinforced my opinion.

But teenage boys, especially hillbillies that have barely ever left their small town and have never gone to a city without their parents… think strip clubs before marriage are a must.

Even if the “bachelor” is already married.

But it seems like a person isn’t actually married until they have gotten drunk and danced with strange nude ladies.

The thing that shocked me the most is that they actually got in to one. But in Arizona (and maybe the rest of the country, I just don’t know) one only has to be 18 to enter.

It’s close to impossible to try to imagine my little boy in some sleazy red velour covered establishment, waving around $100 bills (more than likely they were actually $1 bills, but my imagination’s got it at one hundred.)

It’s actually horrifying.

And then I think, it’s a right of passage.

Is it?

Yes, I believe it is.  And if he didn’t go this weekend, he would certainly head off to Farmington, NM (the closest one to here) as soon as he get’s to college in less than a month.

At least this way he was checking in with me.  In a month, he won’t.

Of course I think it’s tacky and trashy and sleazy, but I was raised in a world where respectable young men would never set foot in a place like that.

Right?

Or, they did and were probably just a bit more discrete about it.

But my baby, my little man (who is twice my size), my innocent boy with the sparkly blue eyes?

And while I know that the boys will be reveling in the images of what they saw that night as often as they can, I will be making every possible effort to erase those images from my mind.

 

Phoenix?

There is a bachelor party in Phoenix (yes, the one in Arizona) tonight.

The first question is, “Why drive 8 hours?”

The next, “Why drive 8 hours to another state where you still can’t legally drink?”

And this, “Why Phoenix? It’s a city, in the desert, that’s expensive, and it’s supposed to be 108 degrees today.”

One hundred and eight.

The fourth, “Why is this so important when you haven’t hung out with this kid in years, and you’ve done a fair amount of shit talking about the entire group over those years?”

And the last, but biggest, “Do you get to have a bachelor party when you’re already married and have a child?”

I wonder why this is suddenly such a big deal and I suppose that it’s because it feels very grown up and adventurous. “Yeah, we’re heading to Phoenix to melt and celebrate our buddy’s last few days of freedom.”

Party On.

Except his days of freedom are long gone; gone the day that little pink line showed up saying, “Hey Papa!”

So I said no to Greg – 18 and the one that said, just last night, ‘Those guys are gay as AIDS.’

You can probably imagine how well that went over with me.

But today, in light of drinking in 108 degree heat, they are suddenly long lost best friends.

I told Bobby he could go – told him that days ago while Greg and Peter were on the river. Bobby hangs out with these guys – always has – not all of the time, but he is truly friends with them.

He is also about to turn 21 and has recently been making decisions and living his life here in ways that reflect that he is beginning to untangle his life with us in order to create a new one of his own.

As he should be.

And he’s almost 21 and has graduated from college. As scary as it is to let go, I need to loosen my grip on him.

And I also need to do that with Greg, but it doesn’t have to look the same because they are two different people, two different ages (and those 2 years make a difference to me right now) with very different relationships with the bachelor.

And Bobby didn’t ambush me while I was still in bed, pre-coffee, the day of.

Greg threatened to go to his father’s and leave from there.

First of all, since I have sole custody and sole decision making, Dad doesn’t really have the authority to give the okay. But getting into the legalities of it all doesn’t work. No one wants to hear it and his father doesn’t respect court orders so it gets me nowhere to bring that up.

After 6 years of divorce, I’ve finally, FINALLY, figured out that one.

But, I won’t be manipulated that way.

After 6 years of divorce, I am tired of being pitted against his father.

MCB suggested letting him go, letting him learn a lesson, “He’s going to drive all that way, spend all of that money, to sit in a fucking air conditioned hotel room and not go anywhere because it’s too miserably hot.”

From that perspective, I can maybe wrap my head around it and say yes.

So I am going out to my garden to weed, feed the chickens cheese and drink more coffee. Then maybe I can think clearly.

God I hate them growing up.

 

 

going down in history

This week held what will forever be one of the very best days in my life.

“Mr. W, that ship has sailed.”

“Mr. W, is there a court order stating that she has sole medical decision making? Is there a court order stating that you are responsible for a certain percentage of the children’s medical bills? Then Mr. W, it is litigated.”

“Mr. W, I don’t think that HDD is deliberately remaining underemployed so that she can collect more child support.”

“Mr. W, I have kids – they’re expensive.”

“I’m going to add the orthodontist bills to the Child Support calculations as an extraordinary expense.”

“Child support will be increased to $___, retroactive to May 1.”

Me (in my head): “Mr. W, you wore shorts? To Court?????”

No, being an introvert is not cool.

Google “being an introvert is cool” and you will get approximately 502,000 hits.

Huffington Post, Near Science, Thought Catalog Weekly, Introverts for Dummies.

Have you seen all of the memes out there? Girl wrapped in blanket on couch with cat and book. Girl not answering her phone. Girl sneaking out of a party without saying goodbye.

It’s almost always a girl.

And she’s usually quite endearing.

And happy.

There are new articles, studies, personal essays and cartoons every single day celebrating the life of an introvert, making good-natured jokes about a person hoping that a party gets cancelled or eating alone in a restaurant.

I even saw on an Introvert Bingo board “Adorably Awkward.”

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The message is definitely YAY for wanting to be alone!

Many of my loved ones find me quirky, silly, eccentric.

But let’s just clear something up right now…

IT’S NOT FUCKING COOL TO HAVE PANIC ATTACKS BEFORE FRIENDS SHOW UP AT YOUR HOUSE.

Sure, I can embrace the lighter side of introversion – I do entertain myself well, I enjoy my own company, I love to read and definitely do not need external attention to feel complete or even good about myself. And yes, because I have relatively high self-esteem, I prefer being a loner than not.

But it can be so very very dark and scary and lonely and it’s not about a goddamn bingo board or hanging out with my cat.

Last night, MCB was at the neighbor’s and when he came home he said that they were coming over for burgers (which he was preparing so it wasn’t about me having to cook.) 2 close friends, super duper casual and easy and fun. They’d been pulling thistle all day and needed to be fed.

All in all a lovely invitation from MCB and had I had notice, I would have probably gotten excited.

But, since it was spur of the moment, I lost my shit. Seriously fell apart. I ended up on the bathroom floor pathetically unable to deal, sobbing.

I couldn’t decide which was worse: telling the friends to not come over and suffer the humiliation of being rude; having them come over and trying to fake my way through the evening while my heart was pounding in my chest and I was fighting back tears and therefore couldn’t be nice, and suffer the humiliation of being a bitch to two really kind people; or letting them come over and hiding in my room pretending to be sick and suffering the humiliation of them knowing that I am a complete basket case.

I had to leave the house and go for a drive. I went to the park where I often go to cry, saw a friend and totally unloaded all of my social anxiety onto his shoulders (bless his heart.) I drove around looking at wildlife wishing I was a fox.

Then, mortified, I called MCB to let him know that I was (slowly) recovering and that yes, they should come over and hopefully I was going to pull it together and be hospitable.

I did. I actually had a good time. Since M and M were here when I finally returned and deserved and explanation I offered up, “I had a breakdown” and left it at that.

What was I going to say,”I completely freaked out because I found out that you two were coming over”?

The dark side of “cool introversion” is about exhaustion and terror and despondency. It’s about crying on the bathroom floor because you just found out that people are unexpectedly coming to your house.

It means not going to the store when you desperately need something because you don’t want to see anyone and have to talk, so doing without things like…dinner.

It’s about not getting your oil changed when it’s WAY overdue even when a mechanic shop is on your property because you get gripped at the thought of having to ask for something even though the mechanic is a good friend and it’s his job.

It’s about not returning movies on time for fear of another person standing in front of the red box.

It’s about losing friends because you are unable to keep in contact since to do so would mean talking on the phone or worse – actually making time for a face to face.

It mean people not liking you because they think you’re stuck up or intimidating.

It’s about arguing with the “more the merrier” friend because she really doesn’t get that for you, more isn’t merrier and you feel so misunderstood and flawed because you’re not able to be with great people all at one time and you’re sick and tired of having to explain that to her.

It’s about feeling deep shame when your best friend does actually get it and asks if it’s okay to invite one more person to go to the movie with the two of you.

It’s about having to offend people when you  lay down the law about drop-ins and not making exceptions even for the closest of friends.

It’s about having to have time to wrap your head around shifting gears, changing plans and being in public. It’s about sometimes being utterly unable to to that.

I live on a working ranch, there is always activity here, there are always people around.

I lie in my bed silently praying that no one decides to knock on the door.

I get resentful that I can’t go collect chicken eggs without risking a conversation. Sometimes I blow off the chickens.

I spent the entirety of today alone, doing laundry, weeding, drying mint, petting my dog. I haven’t been on the phone. I haven’t left the house except to feed the chickens. I thought about watching a movie tonight, but it feels too stimulating.

So sure, there are some really good things about not being a social beast and I am super okay with going to the desert by myself and writing for three days without fear or boredom or FOMO. I am incredibly well-read and getting sent to my room as a kids was a gift, not a punishment.

But folks, let’s not make light of this. Let’s not pretend that it’s all about the cat and the couch.

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Small Jobs Incorporated

I’m guessing I was maybe, 9? 11? Certainly no older than that.

Maybe even younger?

Matt Patterson and I started our own neighborhood business: Small Jobs Incorporated.

We bought pocketed aprons – for tools and the like – and went door to door offering to help with any small-ish tasks in exchange for money. We were open to washing windows, pulling weeds, and bathing cars.

No, we didn’t make a ton of money, but even an extra $1.50 to spend at Jerolloman’s (the local penny candy store, which later became my supplier of Virginia Slim Menthols) was better than nothing.

So off we went, knocking on every door in the neighborhood.

Another reason that our fortunes were not so easily made was that going door to door in our neighborhood was a bitch. We lived on top of a (New Jersey) “mountain,” littered with trees and undergrowth, where the county had instated 5-acre zoning laws, and mile-long driveways were the norm.

It took half the day to get from one door to the next.

Then there were the dogs. We knew certain homes were unapproachable – like Matt’s next door neighbors with the two Doberman Pincers. We could have made millions there on weeding and windows, but there was no getting within 100 yards of those fucking attack dogs.

“Actually they’re really quite sweet,” was one of the lies that we heard from the owners in their feeble attempts to lure us in to their overgrown yard.

Sure, we thought, but you’ve never been a stranger approaching those “sweet” beasts at their own home.

When we did actually get to a house, we were quite professional, “Hi Mrs. Fox, our names are High Desert Darlin and Matt Patterson. We are Small Jobs Incorporated and are here to offer our services for any small-ish tasks with which you might need some help.”

Bless our neighbors hearts – they fully went along with it.

We always hoped for sweeping or lawn mowing (with a non-motorized push mower.) Window washing was okay. Weeding was a drag.

We were really good at the window thing – meticulous as a matter of fact – as long as we were working on the outside bottom half of the downstairs panes. That’s all we could reach without ladders and since we couldn’t possibly carry a ladder up and down all of those winding, uphill-in-both-directions driveways and wouldn’t have been permitted to stand on one anyway, and we really weren’t allowed to go in to anyone’s home, our choices were limited. But we were really good on the few windows that met with our Windex and newspaper.

99% of the time, we were asked to weed since no person in their right mind wouldn’t have someone else do it for $1 an hour.

Weeding bored the shit out of me. It was hot, uncomfortable, buggy and dull. Honestly, it was the downfall of Small Jobs Inc. We just weren’t psyched.

Work wasn’t supposed to be hard or uncomfortable, just a quick way to make enough money to go buy 100 Zotz.

My family made (makes) fun of me, us, as I timidly pulled a couple of dandelions and then called it quits. Sometimes, I even swept a little dirt over a weed rather than trying to extract it, hoping that no one would notice.

And now I am totally obsessed with weeds – offended by the tiniest little sprout creeping out of the soil next to my tomato or potato.

I pull weeds for money. I pull weeds for fun. I have favorite weeds and an acrimonious relationship with others.

My mantra: “Fucking bindweed.”

Although, as insidious as bindweed is, it is also intensely gratifying to pull when one of those long stringy bits unwinds itself from its cucumber neighbor and all five feet of it ends up in your hot little hand.

Fuck dandelions.

Fuck cheatgrass.

Those little tiny things that sprout out of nowhere every five minutes or so – they have round, dark green leaves and reddish stems…I hate how they show up, but you can just swipe them away with a brush of your hand yelling “HA! Take that!”

I love the look of a freshly cleared patch of dirt.

I know that within 24 hours, that patch will no longer be weed-free.

I take that as a challenge.

I love to stand with my hands on my hips surveying the vegetation in front of me, keenly trying to catch any renegades hiding amongst the iris and day lilies.

As with any real calling in life, weeding requires a uniform; clothes that say, “I work with my hands in the dirt in the hot sun.”

Cut-offs. Ratty tank top upon which I don’t hesitate to wipe my filthy hands. Faded long-sleeved cotton shirt from the Free Box to keep the sun and bugs off my tender Italian skin. Ditch boots. Giant orange floppy hat that not only serves as a cedar gnat deterrent, but creates an insular bubble.

In that insular bubble, I can zen out, get lost in my thoughts, pretend to not know anyone is nearby, and most importantly I can bask in my OCD-ness.

Because yes, weed mitigation is the perfect, ideal, unsurpassed activity for an obsessive compulsive introvert.

I didn’t see that during the days of Small Jobs Inc. All that I saw was that it was hot and buggy and my back and hands hurt from bending over and I didn’t yet relish mud on my legs and dirt in my underwear.

So I am off to the garden to sit in the mud and yank almost imperceptible sprouts while wallowing in my head and ignoring the world around me.

Matt Patterson, I miss you!