The Time I Bought a Doll That Looked Like My Husband

Once upon a time, before my husband was my husband, he was just some dude I was friends with (and was obsessed with, but whatever). In the summer of 2005, my friend Mellissa and I hung out all the time and we’d try to get him to go out with us, but he always had an excuse that generally revolved around his son, his girlfriend, or his job. Boring.

After we asked a million times and got rejected a million times, we were feeling like real losers. However, one day while we were out shopping at a thrift store, we spotted something that would change our lives forever (okay, not really, but bear with me): a doll that looked like Andy. We figured if boring Andy would not hang out with us, we would buy a doll that looked like him, name it Cool Andy Mack, and bring it out with us to bars. Because that is a normal thing to do.

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(BTW the shirt I’m wearing in this picture was the worst. It was the type that you wore a tank top under and then tied the shirt in a knot under your boobs. Good one, Old Navy circa 2005.)

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Real Andy Mack did not smoke cigarettes, but Cool Andy Mack did. Because cigarettes are SO COOL. (Turns out cigarettes were Real Andy Mack’s deal breaker, so I cut that gross shit out really fast when he showed interest in me. “You don’t want me to waste almost $10 a day on a pack of crap that will make my breath stink, my clothes smell, and kill me? Okay, cool, deal!”) Seriously, though, I loved smoking. Okay, let’s move on.

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Cool Andy Mack even hung out in the Women’s bathroom before Caitlyn Jenner made it a thing.

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Cool Andy Mack didn’t just drink — he drank beers two times the size of his body.

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Cool Andy Mack made new friends wherever he went.

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And best of all, Cool Andy Mack loved hanging out with me. We had lots of long talks and made each other laugh…even though he wore weird ugly shoes that looked like Herman Munster’s shoes dipped in peanut butter.

Eventually, Real Andy Mack came to his senses and started hanging out with us more, but I will never forget Cool Andy Mack and the fun times we had. I think he lives in a plastic storage bin in my closet now, but I have no doubt he’s happy and having a great time.

 

When did someone’s cause of death become such a secret?

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Once upon a time, obituaries used to tell you how people died. And no, I’m not talking about any of the following options:

  • Passed peacefully surrounded by family
  • Died unexpectedly
  • Went home to Jesus after a brief illness

Old newspapers didn’t leave you guessing  — if someone had a heart attack in their home after walking in on their spouse cheating on them, it was spelled out for you. They told you what kind of cancer, who found the body, and the important little details that just connect all the dots for the reader.

I know these things because I spend far too much free time on Ancestry.com reading about how my family members died (and Andy’s family members, because you can never skim too many obituaries or death certificates). My favorite find thus far has been my great uncle that got hit by a train in 1939 the day before his 33rd birthday. I mean, I’m not thrilled he died, but I am jazzed that people used to willingly share that type of information.

I don’t know when things changed, but today, obituaries don’t throw you any kind of bone. If you want ANY kind of clue, you have to check the very bottom to see where they want donations made in their name. And then, when people post the obituaries on Facebook, they make cryptic statements and don’t answer when one lone, ballsy person dares to ask “How did they die?” (I refuse to be that person, but I always troll threads praying that someone else will forget the rules and ask anyway.)

I have one good friend (that shall remain nameless) and I swear we only message each other on Facebook after someone dies. Every conversation on Facebook Messenger begins with “Do you know how so-and-so died?” Of course, neither of us ever knows. We try to do some stealth detective work, check in with each other periodically to see if the other found out anything — but we generally never find what we are looking for.

I also have another friend that shares my affinity for Googling social media pages of murder victims, but I think I’ll spare you the rest of the details before you think I’m exhibiting behavior that reeks of a future serial killer. FYI I have also asked this friend to make sure that when I die, EVERYONE knows how I died. I want her to tell people what I was wearing, what my last meal was, my last words, if I was in immense pain — I refuse to leave this world with my death shrouded in mystery (though that does sound kind of cool).

Dying is something we are ALL going to do — it’s legit guaranteed, I swear. And we ALL wonder how we are ultimately going to meet our maker…so why are people so sketchy about it when it happens? TWEET THE DEEETS, amiright?

 

**This blog post was triggered by a card I found today that I received from my 6th grade Social Studies teacher, Mr. Gianiotis, when I graduated college. He died about 2 1/2 years ago and I never found out how (his obituary pulled the “passed away unexpectedly at home” card). I even went to his wake with my mom, who assured me she would ask my teacher’s sister how he died. She either forgot or chickened out, because here I am still wondering WTF happened. I mean, using my insanely amazing powers of deduction I can narrow down the obvious choices, but damnit, I want a definitive answer so I can move on and stalk some other poor dead person.

 

4 Things That Surprised Me About Being a Stepmom

My parents are high school sweethearts. They stayed together all through college, got married when they were 23, bought a house, had 2 kids (1 girl, 1 boy), got wall-to-wall burnt orange carpeting, and lived happily ever after. My childhood was so stable and predictable and I grew up assuming every “normal” kid had a life like me. I’m not gonna lie — 18 years of being totally oblivious was pretty sweet.

During my senior year of high school, I found out that my pal (and crush) Andy was going to be a father at the ripe old age of 19.

When I got the news, I did what any good friend would do: I made fun of Andy mercilessly. Because that is obviously what someone needs when they find out they are going to be a teenage dad.

But guess what? Karma is REAL. Little did I know, that baby was my future stepson.

Because my parents had been together forever, I never thought about what it meant to be a stepmom or considered that I would ever be one. After all, no little girl talks excitedly about how she can’t wait to be a stepmom when she grows up. Honestly, I had never really thought about having kids at all — biological or not — so even just becoming a mother-type figure was beyond my comprehension.

I’ve known my stepson since he was born, started dating Andy when the little dude was 4, and became an official stepmom when he was 10. He’s 14 now (WTF) and although becoming a legitimate stepmom has certainly been a process, I think I’m finally finding my place in our complicated, wonderful family.

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Every “bonus parent” has to deal with a different situation, but here are 4 things that have surprised me about becoming a stepmom:

1. I think I might have maternal instincts. Mothers and their children have this crazy hormonal bonding thing that happens because — shocker — the kid actually grew INSIDE the mother’s body. I’ve never had a thing grow inside me (unless I have an undiagnosed tumor I’m not aware of yet), so I doubt this is anything like a real mother, but every once in a while, I feel oddly maternal. Like when my stepson doesn’t feel well, I automatically kick into caretaker mode and want to nurse him back to health. And I make his breakfast for him every morning (OK, I pour cereal into a bowl and slice up a banana) just to make sure he eats decently before going off to school. And when he talks about certain girls, I stalk them online to make sure they aren’t tiny hookers. Ya know, the regular mom-ish stuff.

2. Stepmoms and biological moms can work together in peace and harmony. Andy and his son’s mother didn’t always see eye-to-eye in the beginning years. They were really young and life is weird. But over time, they’ve become admirable co-parents and bio mom has graciously welcomed me as the parental third-wheel with open arms. We’re able to talk easily, go to events/appointments together, and work as a team. She’s never made me feel like I’m overstepping my bounds as a bonus mom, and when teachers/doctors/anyone give me that “Oh, you’re just a stepmom” look, she tells them that I am awesome and legit. THIS IS FOR REAL GUYS. NOT ALL MOMS AND STEPMOMS WANT TO CHOKE EACH OTHER.

3. Sometimes I relate to Teen Mom so hardTeen Mom gets a lot of crap for being a shitty reality show, but knowing more than one person who had a kid a little too young, I can say that the rollercoaster is real. But now when I watch, I want to jump in the screen and yell “Things are going to get better! I swear!” I also get really excited when the dads start dating and/or get married because then there are more stepmoms on the show. If I started a club do you think they would join? (None of Adam’s girls are allowed though because they are straight up gross.)

4. I’m better at group projects than I previously thought. I’ve never been great with group projects because I’m an all or nothing kind of girl — I’m either the boss, or someone with absolutely no authority. If I’m not totally in charge, then I don’t want to pretend to listen to the ideas of others and “make it work.” I’m still bitter that the only reason I didn’t get a 4.0 in my Masters program is because of a miscommunication in a group project that resulted in an A-. THANKS, RYAN M.! YOU RUINED EVERYTHING. (I’m a Scorpio, grudges happen).

Anyway
, back to the stepmom thing — so when you become a stepmom, you’re basically involved in the biggest group project of your life that you are 100% not in charge of no matter what. But at the same time, you also have to contribute to the project and can’t really just sit back and smile and nod (because you will stab yourself). I have my moments where I try to do too much (and I also have moments where I yell and cry and say “I’m not doing ANYTHING ANYMORE! EVERYONE LEAVE ME ALONE!”), but overall, I’ve surprised myself with how well I am playing with others.

Being a stepmom is not easy, but let’s be honest — being any kind of parent is not easy. Thankfully, I have a cool stepson who loves ice cream almost as much as me, and has a strong appreciation for toilet humor and horrible puns. I think he’s gonna turn out just fine — awesome, even — and I’m happy I’ve been invited along for the ride.

 

 

I nodded off during Star Wars and I don’t even feel bad about it

Star Wars Force Awakens SucksAndy is obsessed with movies. I mean, don’t get me wrong — I love movies. But Andy is obsessed with them. Our middle ground genre is comedy because we laugh at all the same ridiculous crap, but then we kind of break off into our own things.

I like really depressing, wrist-slitting dramas, super weird dark comedies, and truly horrible movies that are amazing because they are so bad — you know what I’m talking about. Like, Crossroads and From Justin to Kellythose movies.

Andy loves every dude movie with an insane budget. If a film includes any of the following things, he will mark the opening night on his calendar and talk about it incessantly until he finally sees it:

  • Superheroes
  • Robots
  • Dinosaurs
  • Aliens
  • Big explosions
  • Hand-to-hand combat
  • Guns
  • Magic
  • Outer space
  • Fantasy lands

My stepson is exactly the same as Andy when it comes to movies, which means I am grossly outnumbered always. There are plenty of movies I want to see, but I’m never as passionate about them as Andy is about his films, so I usually only end up at the movies if he convinces me to go.

Sometimes, I am pleasantly surprised (Hunger Games). Sometimes, I absolutely refuse to go (Pacific Rim…are you fucking (excuse my French) kidding me?) And sometimes, I fall asleep for brief periods of time…like yesterday, at Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

I tried. I really did. Andy has been laid up for 2 weeks after surgery on his Achilles tendon and he was soooo excited to get out of the house and see this dumb Star Wars movie (the movie came out 1 day after his surgery). I agreed to see it for the following reasons:

  1. He invited our friends and I like them
  2. He can’t drive right now
  3. I like sitting in the new fancy plush reclining seats at the movie theater
  4. The possibility of purchasing and eating candy
  5. The promise of going out to lunch afterwards
  6. I was bored

I saw the original Star Wars movies when I was younger, but I remember next to nothing about them. I have never had any strong feelings about the entire Star Wars franchise. I don’t hate Star Wars, but I also don’t really give any shits about it either. It’s placed in the “Meh” category for me. Star Wars: The Force Awakens just reinforced all those feelings and I can’t even pretend to feel bad about it. I just don’t care.

I tried to stay awake through the whole movie, but those new reclining movie seats are really comfortable — that, coupled with using my coat as a blanket…I couldn’t help but nod off a couple times. Sleeping was the best part of the movie.

Oh! I liked one part of the film. When that girl who looks like Kendall Jenner and Keira Knightly had a baby slides down a GIANT hill of sand. It looked really fun and I was jealous that I don’t live near giant hills of sand like she does.

Chewbacca is also still cool. He lives my dream life. He’s covered head-to-toe in body hair, makes weird sounds, and shoots people. That is boss.

I (stupidly) also thought that Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the very last Star Wars movie. This was the end. I thought I would humor Andy, be nice, and see the last film. He told me later, however, that oh, no, no, no…there will be several more still. SEVERAL more.

This is the part of the story where I jump off the “good wife” train and head into the station. I can guarantee that whenever these new Star Wars movies are released, I will opt to sleep in the comfort of my own bed rather than paying $10 to sleep in a theater. I’ll even take myself out to lunch afterwards.

 

The Evolution of the Brows

Aside from needles and scalpels, there aren’t many ways that you can radically alter the face that God gave you. You can contour the crap out of your mug with makeup, but who has time for that? I mean, if you’re not a Kardashian or a YouTuber.

But shaping and grooming your eyebrows? That can work serious magic. Good eyebrows can take you from an iffy 4 to a solid 7.

I’m obsessed with eyebrows. Well, mostly with my own eyebrows. I have this annoying obsessive compulsive thing where I smooth my eyebrows out ALL THE TIME. My hairs will never stay in place, even with mass amounts of brow gel, and I’m always paranoid that they are all messed up looking. When my husband wants to piss me off, he holds me down and gives me eyebrow noogies. I am tweaking out right now just thinking about it.

I wasn’t always this way. I used to have some BROWS. Like…BROWZZZZZZ. 

1461609_10100106792429041_365884653_nThis is my 8th grade school picture — the last school picture ever taken of my brows in their natural state. It looks like a slug dragged its body over my face and pooped right above my eyes.

Later in 8th grade, I started experimenting with brow plucking. I followed the instructions in my Seventeen magazine that told me to pluck when I got out of the shower (so it was easier to pull the hairs out and wouldn’t hurt as bad) and not take off TOO much hair.

1466072_10100106806291261_1736294292_nOkay, there was a bit of a learning curve. This picture is from early in 9th grade and I obviously had not quite figured it out yet. What? One brow isn’t supposed to be thicker than the other? Luckily I had a sweet faux fur from the smelly theater costume room to detract from my brow tragedy. And my general existence because dear God, we all know potential suitors were not knocking down my door at that time.

1462975_10100106802049761_1414658104_nThis is one year later at the beginning of 10th grade. In addition to discovering Weight Watchers, I also started to get the hang of the eyebrow thing. I mean, they’re still kind of too thin and archy, but it was 1998 and that was the cool thing to do.

Also, this is the whitest picture ever taken. Just some white kids chillin’ next to a tree while wearing khakis from the Gap…totally normal.

10429495_10100365864296941_7534982319463307964_nThis is a picture of the dumbest thing I ever did to my poor eyebrows. It was my freshman year of college in 2001, I was living in New York City, and apparently, I wanted a really sweet white trash eyebrow ring. I got this in lower Manhattan a week before 9/11. I’m not saying this eyebrow ring caused 9/11, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if it did.

My body knew the brow ring was lame because it decided to reject it and push it out of my face only 3 months later. The skin thinned out so much that the ball at the end of the bar was resting on my eye lid. The ball was stuck and I couldn’t unscrew it, so my dad got some tool out to chop it off when I was home on Christmas break. As he pressed down, the bar broke through my tiny thin layer of skin. Now I have a stupid scar on my pristine brows.

11227894_10100454811935161_1954358036014172591_oI’m pretty cool with my brows nowadays. There are some things I would change, but I don’t have much of a choice because they truly do not grow beyond the confines of that exact brow shape anymore. I rarely have to pluck anything because if hair DOES grow in where it doesn’t belong, it’s just really fine and blonde. I have trained my brows to stop growing. I WIN.

I hate the new trend in eyebrows — you know, the one where girls are legit drawing them and filling them in. 488854002266603520

You’re not fooling me. Those are not real eyebrows. I’m sorry you cannot grow sweet brows like me, but you need to accept your fate and stop doing color-by-numbers on your face. A little bit of brow pencil or brow powder to add a TOUCH of color — OK, I feel that. But what if your husband wants to give you eyebrow noogies and gets brown all over his fingers? What if it starts to rain and your eyebrows start to bleed poop? I just can’t accept this method of eyebrowing. It’s like everyone got annoyed with trying to shape them properly and just went “Fuck it! I’m getting a Sharpie and coloring them in!”

That’s OK, I can wait this one out. Maybe I’ll go get my other eyebrow pierced in the meantime. I think they’re making a comeback.

32

Today at 4:58PM I will officially be 32 years old.

The idea of my 32nd birthday has always given me the heebie jeebies because my mom was 32 when she had me. When I learned that fact, 32 became the age — the age you become an adult and make babies and do yard work on the weekends for fun. I have avoided turning 32…until now.

It turns out there is something to my theory about 32. I read a story titled, “32 — the age at which we turn in to our parents.” Granted, it is based on very un-scientific research via a poll on some super British website called Netmums…but still. It’s on the Internet and that makes it true.

I also read about this 32-year-old woman who went to sleep and woke up thinking she was 15 again. It sounds like a bad romantic comedy, but this is for real. She had stress-triggered dissociative amnesia and didn’t recognize her kid, her lower voice, and the crazy ass technology in her house. At first I thought I’d want to this to happen to me, but then I realized being 15 again would be awful. The crap I worried about when I was 15 was so stupid, I didn’t know how to drive yet, and no one had told me about how great hair straighteners could be.

did discover Britney Spears when I was 15 though…so there’s that.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’ll give 32 a fair shot. I’m not doing any yard work, though. And if I have to push a baby out, I’m going to be really mad.

Don’t Wake Mary

I’ve always been a morning person, but I am horrible at waking up — if that makes any sense.

It’s those 1-2 minutes following my alarm that are the worst. I lay there and I am immediately so angry that I am awake. Irrationally angry. When I was in high school, I remember crying for a solid 30 seconds upon waking up…but then less than a minute later, I was up and walking around like everything was fine and I hadn’t just been sobbing like an idiot.

In Kindergarten, my poor teacher had it really bad when she would try to wake me up at the end of nap time. One day, I actually punched her in the face. I PUNCHED MY TEACHER IN THE FACE. That resulted in a traumatic meeting with my mom who tried to make me apologize to my teacher. I don’t know if the apology ever happened — I just remember crying uncontrollably, confused as to how the monster inside me woke up and beat the shit out of my Kindergarten teacher.

Fast forward to last night, when I fell asleep on the couch. Andy was ignoring me, the dog was ignoring me, and there was football on the TV. It was a perfect storm for instant slumber.

I was suddenly woken up by the sound of Andy laughing. I was instantly furious. I saw him looking down at Facebook on his phone, and then he turned to look at me. He laughed more, and then turned back to his phone. In that moment, I KNEW what he had done. I just felt it radiating from his stupid face.

“I HATE YOU!” I yelled.

“What? How do you even know what I did?” he asked.

“YOU TOOK A PICTURE OF ME SLEEPING AND PUT IT ON FACEBOOK. I KNOW IT. I HATE YOU.

Then, I put my head inside my fully-zipped fleece vest and started sobbing. Because I’m awesome.

“Are you seriously crying?” Andy asked as he laughed and tried to get me to look at him.

“YES YOU ARE SO MEAN AND THAT WAS NOT NICE AND I PROBABLY LOOK SO GROSS.”

I jumped off the couch, ran upstairs, and got into bed. A few minutes had passed by this point and I was starting to snap out of the hateful post-wakeup fog. I realized I might have acted crazy.

I picked up my phone and clicked on Facebook to assess the damage. This is what I saw:

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Okay. I had to laugh. Crap.

I went to sleep after that, knowing I had been a douche lord. I didn’t even apologize to Andy this morning because I am stubborn and awful and frankly, was embarrassed that I freaked out so hard.

So, I will say this now: Sorry, Andy. That picture was sort of funny. But we’ve been together almost 10 years now and if you haven’t figured out how much I hate getting woken up, then you are really really slow and special. If you wake me up again, I cannot guarantee that I won’t punch you in the face like you’re my Kindergarten teacher.

You’ve been warned.