A Book, A Contest, And a Hell of a Sandwich

You know that saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none”? That’s me right now.

Actually, that’s a bit of a stretch.

Overwhelmed Mother of four who is dropping balls right and left, who has abandoned Weight Watchers, who hasn’t cooked a vegetable this calendar month, but is surprisingly well versed in this season’s talent on both American Idol and The Voice. Who may also have a teeny tiny simultaneous crush on Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, and Harry Connick Jr.

Well, yes, that sounds about right.

I was talking to someone recently, describing how I feel a little overextended. And by talking, I mean crying. I don’t know if it was the twitching of my eye or the dusting of confectioner’s sugar across my chin, but she hit me with some hardcore Oprah.

“You know what Oprah says. ‘You can only do three things well at one time.’”

Fucking Oprah.

I hate it when she’s right.

And she’s always fucking right.

Except for the time she laid into James Frey about A Million Little Pieces. She went too far that time.

So I thought about what three things I’m doing well in my life right now.

Eating? Yes. I’m eating semi-well, but I’m chasing two of three meals a day with chocolate. And I now need a late afternoon coffee to get me through the dark hours otherwise known as homework, baths, dinner, and bedtime. You know, the quality family hours. Also, I’ve made this ironclad contract with myself that pizza should be consumed with beer. And beer goes best with two slices of pizza + the cheese from Waldorf’s pizza.

So eating? Maybe not so well.

Sleeping? Yes, I’m sleeping. But every single morning at 4 AM, the cat pushes the bedroom door open, jumps onto the bed, climbs across my husband and begins grooming my hair and face with her long claws and her sandpaper tongue. And it fucking hurts. And her cat breath stinks. I have to envelop myself in a cocoon of covers, but I’m mildly claustrophobic, so as soon as I start panicking that I can’t breathe, I peel the covers back and BOOM! That bitch is on me again.

So sleeping? Not doing it well.

Wifely duties? I’ve been wearing flannel pajama bottoms like it’s my job. I pair them with a hideous bright blue sweatshirt with a penguin emerging from a Superman emblem on the front. It came with the entry fee to a local five mile race. It’s as comfortable as it is unflattering.

So wifely duties? Negative.

Mom stuff? I’m on top of the sorting, the washing, and the drying of the laundry. The folding? Not so much.

Would you like to have a seat?

Would you like to have a seat?

I’ve announced, “It’s breakfast for dinner!” at least four out of seven nights a week since…oh, I don’t know…Thanksgiving. We are down to one presentable pair of pants for each of my kids. And by presentable I mean I fully expect you to ignore the gaping hole in the left knee and the fact that said pants are short enough that my kid’s ankles are showing.

All things Mom? Not setting the world on fire.

Exercise schedule? I was fully prepared to run on the treadmill the other day. I noticed that the snow-blower is parked directly in the treadmill’s path on my back patio. It looks like it weighs five gazillion pounds. It’s on wheels, and I probably could have tried to move it. But that seemed like a lot of fuss, so I ditched my run and headed straight to the fridge to bust out four rectangles of chocolate. Oh, come on, it was dark chocolate.

Working out? Meh.

Breathing? Involuntary breathing is a no-brainer. Yoga-matching-my-movements-to-my-breath-breathing? I suck. I keep holding my breath in yoga class when something hurts. And don’t roll your eyes, that shit is hard. And every time my instructor tells me to be present and bring my breath to where I feel uncomfortable, I find myself wondering if that means I should blow on my left hip and then I wish I were somewhere else. Eating chocolate. Yes, dark chocolate. Jeez.

So, breathing? Don’t hold your breath.

Writing? I have so many stories. So very many stories. If you’re Facebook friends with me, you’ve probably noticed that my status updates are breaking records for number of characters used to communicate one stinking thought. And, yes, I did see M. Night Shymalan, and yes, I did lean across an unsuspecting Waldorf and scream, “You are the BEST! The BEST!” And I didn’t feel at all embarrassed except when I added, “Woohoo, go Philly!” I’ll admit, that was possibly the geekiest thing I’ve ever yelled across my oldest child at a famous movie director. But I like to think he appreciated it. Is this a blog post begging to be written? Absolutely. Add it to the list. The list right below the Costco list that is growing faster than my kids, who don’t own a pair of pants that actually fit them. Oh, but do me a solid and add “Superfruits” to that Costco list because we’re all out. Thanks.

So, writing? On Facebook, yes. Stringing sentences together to create paragraphs containing a beginning, middle, and end? Nope.

If I think hard–really hard–about something I’m doing well right now, I can come up with one thing. And it’s three words, so it may have to count as three things.

1. Buffalo

2. Chicken

3. Sandwiches

Boom!

We’re eating them once, sometimes twice, a week. And the older boys only complain that they’re too spicy to consume every other time I make them. So, I’m killing it—half the time—with the buffalo chicken sandwiches.

Take that, Oprah.

You know who is doing three things well right now?

My husband. Yes, B&B is handling his juggling act with ease, and he has JUST as big a crush as I do on Adam, Blake, and Harry. Except he looks way hotter than I do right now. Because of the Weight Watchers fail/no vegetables consumed/eating my feelings in chocolate situation.

This summer, it will be twenty years since he, a very tall, deeply tan, alarmingly handsome boy whose name I didn’t yet know, leaned over to me and said, “I’d like to buy you a drink, but the bar just closed. Where will you be on Saturday night? I’ll make sure I’m there too.”

I haven’t been able to shake him since and, believe me, I’ve tried. If I had to list three things he is doing well as an individual, they are three things that also make us work as a unit.

1. He is the bomb diggity of all Dads. He plays with the kids. And has actual fun doing it. And he likes to help them with their homework if they have questions. The dreaded math questions are his favorites to answer. He reads to them, he bathes them, and he disciplines them. Not as well as I do, but still, he is an active participant in the raising of our children.

2. He has interests outside of mine. For instance, I find Ultimate Fighting barbaric. He cannot get enough of it. He is an adrenaline junky. I prefer predictable (read boring) routine. He needs to understand how things work. I just like to know that things are indeed working. He hates doing the dishes. Oh, wait, that’s not a good example.

3. He lets me do my thing. (My thang?) Whatever my thing is, he supports me. These days, that thing is writing. He is even supportive when I write about him.

I wrote a story about B&B and his hobbies, and I got lucky enough that it landed in a book. And I did not throw him under the bus. Not this time at least. It is surrounded by hilarious stories written by some of the funniest broads on the internet. It’s all about the men in our lives. It’s called I Just Want to Be Alone, and it’s the sequel to I Just Want to Pee Alone.

Real books. That is my thing. I’m lucky to have a husband who supports my writing, and I am so enormously grateful to Jen of People I Want to Punch in the Throat for carving out a spot for me in both of these anthologies.

I really want you to do a girl a favor and buy the new book.

I said this to my husband. I said it because it's true.

I said this to my husband. I said it because it’s true.

It’s funny. And laughter is good. It heals. It gives you laugh lines. Laugh lines are the sign of a happy person. Buy this book. Laugh. It makes me happy to make you happy. Help me help you.

I’ve teamed up with my co-authors from Pennsylvania to give away five copies of I Just Want to Be Alone for free. Meredith of The Mom of the Year, Stephanie of When Crazy Meets Exhaustion, Christine of Keeper of The Fruit Loops, and I are bound by the polar vortex nightmare that has been this PA winter. We are bound by a love of story-telling that inspires us to look at the chaos of our lives–polar vortex included–through the lens of humor. Most importantly, our stories are bound together–polar vortex not included–in the pages of this kick ass book.

Four winners will receive a copy of I Just Want to Be Alone. One especially lucky winner will receive a copy of the book and a $25 Amazon gift card. I know. Totally awesome. If contests are your thing, you can enter this contest to win the book by clicking on the Rafflecopter below. The contest ends at midnight on March 26th, 2014, and winners will be contacted via email. To enter, you must be 18 or older and live in the continental U.S.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make dinner. Guess what we’re having?

I Just Want to Pee Alone

Holy crazy year, Batman. And it’s only March.

It feels like only a week ago that B&B hacked every branch off our Christmas tree in the middle of the family room after vowing not to water it for the full month we gave it a home.

Ironically, that’s where this story begins…

So, Christmas came and went. And B&B committed to an outside-the-box approach to removing our Christmas tree. I wrote about it, and my piece appeared on The Huffington Post in early January. A few days later, I received an email from Jen, who writes the blog People I Want to Punch in the Throat. She had read my Christmas tree horror story, liked it, and was offering me the opportunity to submit an original essay to her for an anthology she was compiling.

Jen skyrocketed to blog fame after her Elf on the Shelf post went viral in December, 2011. It resonated with me because I refuse to participate in those elf shenanigans. I view moving that elf around the house as the equivalent of playing the tooth fairy. Every night. For a solid month. And I  am a sorry-ass excuse for a tooth fairy.

Jen’s first book, Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat, became an Amazon best seller and sold over 10,000 copies in its first 3 months of availability.

She is a giant in the blogosphere.

And an overall hilarious human being.

Let me see….let me see….did I want to be affiliated with Jen?

Oh, hell, yeah.

As a matter of fact, I petted the computer monitor when I read her email. Literally reached out and stroked it.

Was I at all nervous about my submission? Of course I was.

But not abundantly so. Between B&B and the boys, there is never a shortage of absurd material around which I can craft a story.

Meanwhile, I’d already been invited by Allison Tate and Lindsey Mead to participate in This is Childhood. They are two of my absolute favorites…as writers and women, and I was indeed verklempt that Lindsey had reached out to me.

Beating on my breast, Tarzan-style, I declared, in my best Oprah-shout,

“2013 will henceforth be referred to as The Year of the Collaborative Effort!”

Then, I floated about my business, patiently awaiting inspiration, both funny…for Jen…and poignant…for Lindsey.

While I was dancing on clouds, I received a text from my cousin. Her Dad, one of my favorite Uncles, had just suffered a massive heart attack, and we were instructed to prepare for the worst.

My entire family and countless friends collectively held our breath and said our prayers for a very long four days.

It was during that time that Little Sister’s husband called me. He and I are super close, but he calls me only in times of crisis. From the mall. When he needs help with Christmas, birthday, and Mother’s Day gift advice for Little Sister.

“I’m sending you a picture of two robes. Which one should I buy her?”

“I’m texting you a picture of two watches. Which one looks more like her? Please reply in the next 45 seconds because I’m holding up the line waiting for your answer. No pressure. Just hurry up.”

Little Sister’s birthday is in May, right before Mother’s Day. And Christmas had just passed. I was still sweeping up the pine needles to prove it. So, I was alarmed by his call.

He told me, “She couldn’t call you. She is a mess. We got a call from the dermatologist today. She was just diagnosed with malignant melanoma.”

“Wait…..What?”

Silence.

“What did you just say?”

He said: “Cancer. I said your sister has cancer.”

I didn’t hear too much after that. I know he kept talking. And I kept saying, “Mmm hmm. Mm hmm. OK. Mmm hmm. Sure.”

I hung up with him and eased myself down onto the sofa. There aren’t many places to hide in my house, so B&B found me there a few minutes later.

“What was that about?”

I whispered, “She has cancer. He called to tell me my sister has skin cancer.”

Two days later, we lost Uncle Bob. We had felt it coming, but the news still levelled us.

Little Sister flew herself and her stupid cancer across the country to be here for the funeral. I don’t really do church. For a litany of reasons, not the least of which is that my mind wanders, and all I think about is how-many-things-I-could-be-doing-right-now. But I listened a little bit that day. One of Little Sister’s oldest and dearest friends, whose voice is reee-diculous, sang at the church service. And my cousin gave a beautiful eulogy.

After the church stuff was over, we had a good old party in Uncle Bob’s honor. A “sure, I’ll have a cocktail in the middle of the day” kinda party. Everyone took turns telling stories about him. We celebrated his life, laughing until tears ran down our cheeks. I don’t pretend to know what happens to the human spirit after we die. But, it certainly felt like part of him was there with us that afternoon. In the anecdotes we told. In the love we shared for him. In the legacy he’s left in his children and grandchildren…and so many more whose lives he touched.

I sat next to Little Sister, whose stupid cancer was an uninvited intruder in her young body. And I found myself hoping that she would be open to receive all of the positive energy and love from the people in that room. And just maybe it could knock that stupid-ass cancer right the hell out of her.

Here is what i thought…

Dear Universe,

It’s Bethany. With all due respect, this melanoma nonsense is downright horse shit. Little sister has 3 kids. And those kids need their mother. So work your magic on this piece-of-shit cancer.

Also, dear universe, if you could help me locate my funny, I’d be super duper grateful. I have that essay due. You know. To Jen.

So, F the cancer. And send the funny. Cool? Cool.

I realize it doesn’t work that way, but the yoga is really affecting my judgement recently.

I managed to pen something and send it to Jen before my carriage turned back into a pumpkin.

Little Sister flew back home, where she had a follow-up procedure and some blood work done. She called to say they’d gotten all of the cancer during her procedure.

Thank fucking God. And/or the Universe.  

Then Jen e-mailed me to say my essay had made the cut for her book.

Holy shit, right?

So, I immediately reverted back to my Oprah impression, announcing

“2013 is the Year of the Collaborative Effort!”

My sweet Interrogator proved the perfect muse for my February This is Childhood piece.

And our anthology, appropriately titled I Just Want to Pee Alone, was just published.

IJWTPA

Several of the contributors to the anthology announced its availability on Friday. When I woke up Saturday morning, I was greeted with this…

#1 Amazon Best Seller. Oh Hell Yeah

#1 Amazon Best Seller. Oh Hell Yeah

You know how it’s great to have the smallest house on the block?

You’re reading the smallest house right now. The tiniest blog in the bunch.

I am supremely lucky to have been a voice in the writing series that allowed me to express myself in a cerebral style. This is Childhood introduced me to a group of women who’ve been an invaluable support system and sounding board these past few months.

And I’m eternally grateful to Jen for the opportunity she’s given me to be a contributor to this hilarious anthology. I will always pet the computer monitor in gratitude when her name appears in my email inbox.

Buy the book. You will laugh.

Don’t believe me? Read this review.

Here’s to 2013, the year of the collaborative effort.

And, as always, F U, CANCER.