What I wish I could tell my younger self.

When I was a kid I had no idea there was any music genre except rap. I was just a product of my environment like that. I memorized all the lyrics to various Tupac and Snoop Dog songs and sang along with the radio. My favorite being the one about a guy who gets around, in which he vividly describes his various sexual encounters–none of which my 11 year old ears understood a word of. I mean I thought I knew, but I so didn’t.Thank God.

I heard this song recently and shook my head at the idea of my pre-teen self singing these rather vulgar lyrics with my friends on the playground and of the dances we made up go along. If only I had known then what I know now! Eek.

Then again, there are so many things I wish I could tell that young girl. So much advice I have for the earlier versions of myself. Though I realize we can’t really know these things until we experience them, I often think about what I’d tell my younger self if I ever had the chance. And lucky you, because I’m sharing a list I compiled of just that!

Learn to depend on yourself because friends come and go, but you will always be stuck with you.

Learn to cook at least one full meal before you get married.

Stay away from people who suck the life out of you.

Try not to suck the life out of other people.

13 is too young to get involved with boys, even if all of your friends are.

If older guys give you attention it isn’t because you’re mature, it’s because you’re an easy target.

Pay attention in history class. It’s with more than all the others combined.

Never keep a shitty friend just because you’re lonely.

Learn to say “fuck you” sooner.

Learn to say “no” sooner.

Learn to speak louder.

Don’t believe you can’t have a good life, regardless of where you came from.

It’s not selfish to put yourself first some of the time.

Being needed is not the same thing as being loved.

There is no fucking way you can possibly understand love. Sorry.

There is no such thing as love at first sight. It’s lust. And that’s fun too. Enjoy it for what it is.

Don’t worry about getting good grades, worry about learning. But try to get good grades too, because for some reason they are really important to other people.

Graduate. Fuck everyone who tries to stand in your way, who eats up your time, who makes feel responsible for them,  and who puts themselves ahead of your right to an education. Make it work. You’re just a kid.

You matter, even if nobody ever tells you that.

You look bad with short bangs.

And with blonde hair.

Your thighs are not fat. Get over yourself.

There’s is plenty of time to be an adult, be a kid while you can.

No guy will ever replace your dad. Don’t waste your time looking.

You only can see how beautiful a person really is after you get know them.

When you get older, you will still have a thing for Italian guys. And tattoos. And Dic van Dyke.  Some things never change.

You will not still have a thing for Syd Vicious, cherry ices, or jeeps. Many things do change.

Jeep guys suck. Stay away from them.

Never compromise your core values. Not for religion. Not for love. Not for anything.

The big boobs you hate because they get you too much attention will feed four babies. They will also look a lot better after you after put on a few pounds. (In the mean time, minimizer bras are fucking awesome.)

You will never stop feeling like you’re 17.

Compromising isn’t the same as giving in.

I want to tell you not to be afraid to love, but I’m still working on that one. Try, though.

You will be surprised how having children will change you. And how passionately you will love them.

You will not be able to do everything you want in life, but you can do some it. Don’t give up on your dreams.

Keep writing. You’ll get better.

Don’t burn all your journals in some emotional break down. You’ll regret it.

Keep skating. You’ll wish you hadn’t stopped. You’re good at it, moron.

Don’t trust people just because you want to see the good in them. Trust is earned.

Everyone sucks. The ones who own it are the best kind of people. Don’t waste time on the other ones.

Be brave, not stupid. But, if you find yourself on a bad situation, never look scared.

Look everyone in the eye. Especially if they intimidate you.

People will judge you no matter what, so you might as well just be yourself.

Everyone is scared of something. Figure it out, but never use it against them. (Unless you absolutely have to.)

If you learn to understand people, you can figure everything else out pretty easily. Except math. That shit is hard!

Chocolate is what makes your face break out. You’re welcome.

It’s okay if not everyone likes you.

It’s okay if you don’t like everyone.

For the love of God, don’t waste so much time cleaning. Nobody but you cares if they can eat off of your floor.

Your babies will be really shitty sleepers, so enjoy your rest now.

Don’t be afraid of getting older. You’ll look better at 34 than 24.

Enjoy gluten while you still can.

Never count calories. It’s bullshit.

You will spend the first part of your life wishing you were fatter and the second wishing were skinnier. Just be happy with who you are.

Don’t try to pick out friends, just be on the look out for good people you click with and let things grow as they will.

Throwing away your bathroom scale will be one of the best decisions you will ever make.

Wear comfortable shoes. But, not Crocs. Jesus!

Antidepressants don’t make your life better.

Good times rarely last long, so make sure to enjoy them instead worrying about them ending.

Sex doesn’t have to be about love. Love doesn’t have to be about sex. But, it’s definitely better when it is.

Don’t over complicate everything. (You will anyhow.)

There is only one first kiss. It’s always bad. If someone says it wasn’t, they are lying.

You’ll be a better person than you thought you ever could be. And also a lot shittier.

You’ll be surprised how often you will make the same mistakes. Sorry about that.

Don’t try to be happy, just live.

Don’t eat Skittles and Mountain Dew for breakfast. Seriously. Wtf is wrong with you?!

You will always fucking suck at guitar. But you will keep trying for some asinine reason.

You’ll still write a lot of songs which nobody but you will ever hear. It’s not that big of a deal.

Sometimes you will care about everything and sometimes nothing at all. The moments between are the reality.

Occasionally giving up is okay, but not usually.

If something seems too good be true, you probably just haven’t given enough time yet.

Bad habits are hard to break. You’ll develop them anyhow. So, just deal with it.

Everyone will disappoint you sometimes.

You will disappoint everyone sometimes.

You’re not as fucked up as you fear that you might end up,  but definitely not who you wish you were. Just come to terms with it.

Escaping works. Use it cautiously.

Always keep bottled water in the car. You have terrible luck with radiators.

Remember that some kids are just little assholes. But, they might have older asshole siblings. So, watch your mouth.

You will always talk too much, speak too fast, and think far too quickly, no matter how hard you try to slow down for the sake others. And you will always feel impatient about how slow everyone else is.

Newborn babies smell like absolute heaven. Beware. Even looking at them seems to get you knocked up.

Cherish your alone time. You will never have it again without feeling guilty.

Never pretend to be something you’re not, even for a really good reason.

Sometimes your big mouth will get you into trouble. It will also be what keeps you out of it.

Some people will mistake your passion for anger and your straightforwardness for impetuousness. But the important people will understand the difference.

When someone asks you to dance, just say yes. Don’t always be standoffish to nice people.

Hardcore punk guys always like the soft preppy girls. It’s really fucked up, but you get used it.

Never pick a fight if you aren’t ready to kick ass or get your ass kicked. Literally or figuratively.

You’re not going to turn out just like your dad. But, you will always worry about it.

Never do something you don’t want to because you’re to afraid of what will happen if you say no. Saying yes to something you don’t want has worse consequences.

You can only really hate someone who you loved first.

Don’t sell your dirt bike for $40. I know it seems like a lot of money, but it isn’t.

Paint your nails even though they are short. Wear a bathing suit even though you aren’t skinny. Sing along to songs even though you sound like a duck. Have fun!

You will always be really scared of zombies. I don’t know why. But it doesn’t really affect your ability function the real world.

You will always be a night person and nobody will understand, unless they are a night person.

You will always have a bad sense of direction. But there will be something called GPS and it out will keep you from ending up in Dundalk every time you drive.

It’s okay that writing is a selfish pursuit. Do it anyhow.

Don’t assume everyone will hurt you. But don’t assume they won’t.

You can’t let people in without some risk. Some people are worth the risk.

Despite your childhood dreams, you will never actually own a matching set of sheets and pillowcases, no matter how much you want one. It’s not that big of a deal though.

And hey, listen, when you leave envelopes of things for your future self, like some sort time capsule, could you leave some kinda explanation with it? Because I can’t figure out Wtf that green and white striped material is from. So, it’s kinda pointless.

I’m sure I’ll think of many more, but I think that this about covers the big stuff.

soooo tiny.

When I was a kid, one of my best friends was also my cousin. One of few girl friends I’ve ever had (you know, I recall writing those very words before. Like a writing deja vu.) Anyhow, she was two years younger than I was, so when I got married she was 17. She was in her last year of high school and I was getting married. Yes, yes, I know I was young. But, that’s another topic.

Anyhow, as any experienced person can tell you, your friends change as you get older. People fall away. You grow and change. Yadda yadda. Whatever. Point is, you just don’t usually stay besties from childhood on. We aren’t all DJ and Kimmys. So, though she liked my husband-to-be a lot, we started to drift apart the closer I got to my wedding day. By the time I had my first son, we were like strangers.

I’m going off on a tangent here, because I really just felt like writing this funny conversation out. When we were kids we had been all into the punk scene–well, as much as two teenagers can be. Shows and Chelsea cuts and Docs and five inch pins–you know, all the things anarchy is made up of.  But, she started changing and got into the whole clubbing scene. And along with it came new friends and new clothes and new food. By new food, I mean lack of it. It was some fad of looking so skinny that you have to wear toddler clothing held up with diaper pins. So, they didn’t eat anything but thoughts of pizza and water. They were all obsessively talking about weight and sizes and jumping on the scale and cursing their “fat” thighs. All the things people who are size -4 say and do.

When I got there they were all getting ready to go out. I hold up the baby and show him off.

Cousin: awww he’s so sweet! Let me hold him. Look at his little feet!
Cousin’s stupid friend 1: awww how tiny
CSF2: omg he is tiny!
CSF3:  He is soooo tiny! How much does he weigh?
Me: when he was born he was 9lbs 3oz.
CSF1: Ohmigawd! That’s so tiny!
CSF2: That is tiny! Awww! I wish I were that tiny!
CSF1: I know right? I’m so fat! Hes so lucky!
CSF3: yeah! He’s so lucky.
Me: Um. K. [thinking: what the fucking fuck?]

Then CSF1 couldn’t find the pastie she was getting ready to put on so she could pretend she had boobs, and she was hopping all around the room trying to find it. I had to tell her that it was stuck to her butt the whole time because she had sat on it. Then my brother dated her for four years. And it turns out I liked really her for some reason, so I never brought up the pastie incident.

There is no point to this story. I was just in the mood to write and this is what I came up with.

Snake

We used to have this beautiful snake when I was a kid. Baby ball python. It was kind–as much as a snake can be. I mean snakes are pretty much either docile or they are fierce. They aren’t a snuggly, cuddly type of pet.

He was pretty awesome and we walked around with him around or necks. Watched TV while he slithered around at our feet. Scared the shit out of visitors with him. But, everyday his novelty wore off a little more,  and my brother found he had less and less spare change to buy him a rat every week to feed on–especially since I kept saving them, naming them after Speed Racer characters, and keeping them in my closet.

For longer and longer stretches the snake would go between meals and slowly he became more aggressive when the cage door was opened. He would lunge at your hand or face, blinded with hunger.  It got so bad that even my brother, the toughest kid I knew was too scared to open it.

As the days went on, the snake became less and less appealing. We were young and unsure how to handle a creature so wild and vicious. He went from being a pet to being nothing more than the rat snakes we had in the woods that would wrap their body around your leg and slap at you with their tails if you stepped on their head.

The pet store wouldn’t take him back and nobody wanted to buy an aggressive snake. They wouldn’t even take him for free. Apparently once a snake adapts to being hungry,  there is no going back. The aggression just becomes who he is.

He wasn’t a pet anymore. He was a nuisance. And we resented him for it, even though it was us who created him.

Eventually the snake died of hunger. We all felt like shit about it, but nobody took responsibility. We told each other it was the snake’s fault. If only he had let us love him. Had let us feed him. Hadn’t tried to bite us…

But we all knew it was really our fault. We were just cowards.

you are a

swirled in blue

sank in brown

swallowed up

taken down

washed ashore

tossed around

beaten clean

against the ground

skipped on water

thrown at foes

kicked along

country roads

dropped from high

softened by seas

fashioned of wind

engraved by debris

you

are

a

rock

A Fix

Come to me bruised and broken

Bring me all your woe

I’ll feed off the blackness

Deep within the soul.

Set the fractured bones

Lance the festering sore

Red droplets, the elixir

Stainless steel, the giving whore.

When healing warmth sets in

You’ll soon forget my worth

Your blood will send you back me

I’m as ancient as the earth.

So bring me all your memories

let me feed upon a pain

For safe and healthy habits

Are always done in vain.

Small Town Revelations

I’ve spent the last five days traveling to, hanging out in, and traveling home from Ohio where I went to visit my best friend.

It’s not often I go away. With four kids spanning the ages of 1-14 years, I don’t really have a lot of chance for skipping town and going on trips. But, it occurred to me that my last trip, which coincidentally was to Ohio to said friend as well, was over 11 years ago. That’s right, people. The last time I went away without my family was almost a dozen years ago. So, I felt I was due a little vacation.
Because my husband is one smart cookie, he agreed.
The goals for the trip were pretty simple: spend some time alone, reconnect with my friend, and do things I can’t do with kids. And I think I successfully pulled that off. We stayed up all night three nights in a row in front of a campfire, drinking, singing, laughing, and sawing down trees at 2am by the light of an iPhone flashlight app (Revisit the drinking part for a suitable explanation of the sawing part), and stayed out all night on the last night with some friends.
Of course I also did things during the day, like visiting a thrift store–because I am a thrift  store junkie–having a big cook out with her family where I ate assorted vegetables and chips–the sacrifice of keeping kosher, and tagging along to her place of work.
Ohio is a funny place. Or I should say that particular part of Ohio. It’s beautiful! Just really-fucking-OMG beautiful. But, also funny. It’s a small town right outside of Lancaster, or so I was told, and along with that small town charm inevitably comes some measure of small town thinking. I found that most people I met hadn’t ever left Ohio while others hadn’t been further than Indiana or West Virginia. Nobody I met had been to Maryland nor DC.
Though my friend and I do share the same name, which we erroneously thought would make it easier for new acquaintances to remember mine, this did not prove to be the case for everyone–especially a guy I met for the first time named Brad.
After being called “hey you” most of the night, and everyone once more pointed out that I did indeed have a name, whatever it might be, he decided that it would just be easier to call me “Maryland”. Apparently state names are easier to remember than people names for native Ohioans. I don’t know. I didn’t ask, but it didn’t take long until that became the accepted way of addressing me. Fair enough. I could handle being called Maryland for a night. So I answered to it.
Soon we are sitting around talking and the questions regarding Maryland (as in the state, not myself) arise. What do we do for fun there? How long have I lived there? Am I originally from Ohio? (Oh, honey. No, no, no.) And where is it, exactly?
Now I don’t pretend to be a geography genius here. I find it difficult to list the 50 states in rhyme the way I once did in grade school. And damn if those tiny New England states don’t trip me up–I mean you guys are just so mushed up together, ya know? It’s hard to tell where one begins and the other ends. I’m sorry, it just is. There, I said it.
But, I do think Maryland, though small itself. Should be easily placed because of it’s location near the nation’s capital.

As I was saying, they all want to know where Maryland is, so I begin to explain. It’s on the east (that much they knew–whew!), it’s nearby Virgnia and Pennsylvania (they had a general idea where those were) and right next to DC.

“So, do you live in Baltimore?”

Now let me stop one more time to briefly explain something to those who may not know this little fact about Maryland: Baltimore is indeed in Maryland. There is no contesting that fact. Any map will prove me right. But, see, the thing is, and I say this with all due respect, it’s an entirely different type of Maryland. Baltimore is nearly it’s own state. With it’s own ways and it’s own customs and it’s own sense of well, let’s say, pride. And definitely it’s own history.  Baltimore has Baltimore food, Baltimore dialect and Baltimore news. Baltimore has news papers which talk 95% about the latest happenings in Baltimore, and 5% about anything else.

Basically, Baltimore is Baltimore. And the rest of Maryland is in some weird way, more of less a  suburb of DC, for lack of a better explanation. I would get into how it was not always that way and explain to you the vast differences between eastern, western, northern and southern Maryland, but frankly it would take too long. So, let’s just leave it at that.

If you want to email me because you think my explanation of either Baltimore or Maryland is wrong, don’t bother. I’ve lived here for 31 years and in four different counties. I win. And it’s my blog. So, basically, na-na-na-na.

Whenever I’m out of Maryland and someone learns I am a Marylander the first question is always, “oh! You’re from Baltimore?!”
That’s all fine and good. Easy enough mistake to make. But, what I don’t understand is conversations which go something like this:

Native Ohioan: so you live in the capital of Maryland?
Me: no, I that’s a Annapolis–which is east. I live closer to DC.
Ohioan: well where in Maryland is DC? Is it close to Baltimore?

Me: no, DC isn’t in Maryland.
Ohioan: wait, DC isn’t the capital of Maryland?
Me: no, DC is not in Maryland.
Ohioan: then why is it the capital?
Me: it’s the capital of the United States, not Maryland.
Ohioan: Whoa. Really? I thought it was in Maryland.
Me: if it were in Maryland that would mean that the capital of the United States would be governed and represented by Maryland.
Ohioan: *blink blink blink*
Me: DC is a federal district, not a state.
Ohioan: so it’s a commonwealth like Pennsylvania?
Me: Not. It’s just DC. The capital of the nation.
Ohioan: But how did it get the land?
Me: if memory serves, part of Maryland and Virginia gave up some land for it. But it was in Philly for a while, though I don’t honestly remember a lot about that.
Ohioan: Whoa. It used to be in Philly? That’s in Pennsylvania, right?
Me: yes. A very long time ago.
Ohioans (as a crowd had by this point formed): so DC isn’t a state?
Me: correct.
Ohioans: well damn. We had no idea. I’ll be. Whoa. Mind, blown.
Later that evening:
“hey Maryland!”
Yes?
“I got it!”
Awesome! Tell me!
“Maryland isn’t a state! It’s a separate entity! Because the president lives there! See? I remembered!”
Good job, buddy. Good job.
This isn’t to shame Ohioans. As it stands I am situated on a bus next to a real life Ohioan. I don’t for a second think her to be anything but the intelligent human being I’ve come to think of her as over the course of our many little bus chats we’ve shared over the last few hours. It’s just that, like I said, along with the small town charm of well, small towns, often comes small town thinking. *shrug* That isn’t always a bad thing either. I mean DC is one of the most pretentious places in the world. It honestly drives me batty. Someone is always trying to show you up on how educated they are or how much money they make or where they went to school…  But my whole time in Ohio the only thing I was shown was a good time.  I have respect for that.

All in all, it as a fantastic visit. Good company. Good talks. Lots of laughter. Singing. Goofing off. Good wine and, well,  not so good food–because frankly it’s hard enough to eat kosher and gf in Nofreakingwheresville, Ohio. Taste wasn’t my highest priority.

So thanks, Ohio!  I will try not to be a stranger. And next time? I’ll bring a map along.