I promise to write something funny tomorrow. I may even swear gratuitously just to make up for two days of Sad Stuff. I know.

You’re welcome.

But for right now, I need to share this. It’s my mom’s birthday and my father’s death anniversary. I think I’m forgetting his voice (No, I’m not), or maybe it’s still in my memory (but it’s more of an echo now). I don’t want to not remember.

So I’m sharing this post from November 26, 2010, about his last breaths. I’ve been told it’s sad and beautiful and it is perfectly acceptable to laugh because one of the funniest things that has ever happened is forever tied to the saddest thing, too.

Come to think of it, I’m off the hook for tomorrow. I think my dad would be proud.



I make sad things funny. It’s a coping mechanism, I am sure. But it’s also an engrained part of my culture.
Sometimes, though, sad things make themselves funny. Like when my aunt told my father to look into the light.
As he lay on his death bed.
She didn’t mean it that way. But English isn’t her first language. So while my sisters and I were fighting tears and laughter for two separate reasons, my father’s sisters were rallying my him to stay with us as they rubbed his hands and patted his feet and reminded my father of all the reasons he needed to focus on living.
He was 50 and had gone into the hospital to have heart valve replacement surgery (the original surgery a result of rheumatic fever he suffered as a child). Being the cocky stereotype he was, it hadn’t really entered his mind that he might not come home. And because we all believed him to be the strongest man in the world, we had only focused on making fun of him while he recovered.
But problems arose after the surgery. And after a few close calls, the doctors finally told me and my mother to call everyone to the hospital. He wouldn’t make it more than a few hours.
There were only a few people to call. If you break your toe in my family, we are required to turn the waiting room into an ethnic stereotype. Every tia, tio, prima, and primo within driving distance is called to appear at the hospital, waiting for the afflicted to emerge, triumphant and cured. I am sure the hospital staff groans when we all arrive; a Spanglish three ring circus. Even as the doctor quietly urged us to notify friends and family, he looked around at the standing room only crowd already present.
Five daughters.
Two son-in-laws.
One Godson.
One grandfather.
Two brother-in-laws.
Three of four sisters.
One Niece.
One (or was it two?) long time friends.
One uncle who had flown in from Texas.
One aunt who had delayed her trip back to Mexico.
One wife of thirty years…who just happened to be celebrating her 49th birthday that very day on November 27, 2007.

But we made calls. My in-laws were at my house taking care of 5 month old Buttercup, but everyone else we could get a hold of did their best to arrive before my father left us. And while we waited for the inevitable, my aunts continued to rally my father.
“Rene! Rene! Stay with us! You have your daughter’s Rene. Pauline, Veronica, Sonya, Maria, Patricia! Stay with us, Rene! You have the grandchildren! Nicholas, Caleb, Aiden, and Buttercup!”

“Rene! Dorothy is here, Rene. It’s her birthday, Rene. She needs you to take care of her, Rene!”

His signs were fading.
The beeping was slowing.
The tears were flowing.
I kept my eyes closed. Easier to block the tears that way. I needed to stay focused on catching my mother before she hit the ground when the last beep would eventually fade away. And that damned light over his bed was harsh enough to sting my already tired eyes.
I stood in between Pati and Sonya, with one arm around each of their shoulders. Being six inches taller than both of them, I was able to offer them a place to rest their heads while I used them for support to keep standing.
None of us spoke. We just let my dad’s sisters cry and wail and toggle between English and Spanish while they tried to break through to his spirit. His body may have been failing, but his spirit was strong. Maybe strong enough to make the impossible possible. If only they could reach him.
“Rene!” One of his sister’s cried out. “Rene! Look into the light, Rene! Look into the light!”

My eyes shot open as my face crumpled into a pained expression that had nothing to do with my father and everything to do with what had just been uttered.

“Really? Really?”

She, of course, meant the light over his bed. The one harnessing the power of the sun. The one we would have joked was bright enough to wake the dead had my father not been dying.
But a chuckle, which came out as a muffled sob, escaped one of my sisters. Sonya and Pati, tears streaming down their cheeks, both looked up at me. They wanted to laugh. My father would have laughed. He would have laughed his ass off.  But it wasn’t the right time. Later. We could laugh after we got home. After we had signed off on the autopsy. After we got my mother into bed. While  we sat huddled together waiting to leave for the funeral home. After we got home from the service. We could, and would laugh about it often. All it took was one of us to dramatically call out, “Look into the light!” But not now. Not yet.

I pursed my lips and silently shook my head slowly. It was as much an admonition for them as it was a reminder to me not to lose it. Because good fucking God, I needed to laugh.

“Rene! Look into the light!” She cried out, as the beeping slowed even more. “Look into light!”

My father had never listened to his sisters. He never listened to anyone. But as the beep, beep, beep finally drew itself out into a heart-wrenching “beeeeeeeeeeep” until one of the nurses (thankfully) turned off the machines, as I let go of my sisters to catch my mother before she fell to the floor…I had one thought.

“Damn it, Dad! Fifty years! And you listen to them now?”



He loves me THIS much!

My husband loves me.

Sometimes, I forget how much.

But then I’m reminded when he wraps a measuring tape around my bust, my waist, by hips. My eyes don’t see the numbers because I’m too focused on choosing a fun new dress that can be customized to fit my body and the curves I no longer hate. I don’t notice him waiting for me to walk away to get a drink of water/give our kid a hug just because/walk back to the kitchen because I forgot the drink of water I got up for to begin with. I don’t notice him sneakily plucking in my numbers from bust to butt and he knows I won’t see them when I sit down to order my dress. I’ll be too busy deciding on if the knee-length of just below the knee will work best and then second and third and fourth guessing my decision to be bothered with something as trivial as how many inches wide my ass actually is.

Until I make up my mind and try to place the order and the website hiccups, that is. Because just at that moment all of my stats disappear and I’m left with empty boxes and blinking cursors and The Husband is at work and I want to order this fucking dress to-NIGHT. So I put on my mental big girl panties, find the measuring tape, and attempt to figure out the circumference of an hour-glass.

The bust and the waist don’t surprise me. The number before the three D’s on my bra is a 38, mind you. And I made peace with the 36 on the waist around the time I realized I won’t have time to love what I see if I’m too busy hating myself for not having Barbie’s plastic surgeon. On to the hips… Okay…measure at the widest point (Check!)…make sure I hold it close to my skin but not so tight I’m hugging myself into denial (Check!)…Release the measuring tape after marking the spot with my fingers (Check!)… and …


Holy Mother of…Does that really say?…

No fucking way, y’all. It does. My measuring tape just told me I have 52 inch hips. And a husband who loves me enough to have tried to protect me from the sheer horror of the size of my own ass. I think it’s the sweetest single gesture in my entire memory of existence.

It was sweet of him, really. Back in the day, a half-pound fluctuation on weigh-in day at the local weight loss clinic would have been enough to send me running, crying, into the comforting grasp of something chocolate dipped in more chocolate and preferably frozen, slathered in whipped cream, and then dipped in more chocolate. And I won’t lie. For a moment…just a small one, mind you…Holy Circumference of the Sun, Batman was all I really had going through my mind.

And then I snapped out of it.

Because the sun is fucking fabulous.







Because no matter what the boxes say or what the doctors who take one look at my numbers without listening to the one person in the room who happens to be The Expert on My Body or the the label on the new jeans that shouldn’t fit me but do, no matter what any of them say and will continue to say, I’ve stopped listening. I don’t attend weight loss clinics, diet, or even own a scale anymore. I couldn’t tell you how many calories are in the seafood stew I made tonight with wild-caught scallops, kale, sea salt, and coconut oil and I really don’t want to because I’m healthier now than I was when I was living and dying on points and grams and calories in vs. calories out. The BMI scale and I are not friends. Jenny Craig thinks I’m a bitch. And I’m totally okay with that.

Health is not determined on the scale or by stuffy doctors who are convinced my astronomically-sized ass derriere are sure signs I am diabetic and going to die tomorrow because that’s what the charts say, DAMMIT! A good day may still rest on how good my hair looks and can’t officially start until I’ve put on my red lipstick, but I’ll be damned if a measuring tape and the number 52 is going to send me running for chocolate covered chocolate….even though it sounds good.

Nah…I’m just fine. I’m better than fine.

I text The Husband that I love him. He texts back that he loves me, too. I know he does.

Because this ass, my friends, is the center of his universe.


The Husband got this card from a friend of his. I think I'm framing it.

Never plan a surprise party without making sure you’ve taken your Adderall first. Or do it, and make sure you tweet, Facebook, and instagram the hell out of that bitch because it’s all blog post fodder and you know you won’t remember any of it otherwise.

The Husband turned 40 last week and I dropped the ball big time on party planning. He picked me up from the airport from my Blogher13 trip the day before his birthday and I didn’t realize I was probably going to have to make up for the lack of Big Birthday Gifty-ness with a blowjob or two until long after he fell asleep that night. The I Heart Chicago sweatshirt I got him wasn’t getting me off the hook — not for a milestone birthday. So I figured I’d redeem myself by using my Ninja with ADHD Skills to plan a surprise birthday party for him, instead.

I was going to Make This Happen and it was Going to be Epic. And by Epic, I mean a full menu that eventually got scaled back to pizza, two-liters of pop, bags of chips, and cupcakes from a box. A far cry from our normal paleo plan, but when shit starts to hit the fan, the Kale in Coconut Oil Sauteed with Asapragus is the easiest thing to cut from the list in the name of sanity and reason.

The Husband’s parents arrived a few days ago for a 10-day visit and I figured I’d be sneaky and not let them in on the Big Secret until the last minute. There was bound to be conversation bounced around about the party when he wasn’t around and Eliana was, I figured, and Eliana is six and her idea of not letting the cat out of the bag is by telling the cat that he’s Totally Just Imagining There’s a Bag to Begin With. Not very subtle, I’m afraid, which is why she is officially grounded from ever playing poker.

So I continued with my Super Secret Plans with a trusted friend who’s husband was going to serve as The Distractor on the party day. The plan was simple:

  •  Choose the party date and time
  •  Invite the guests
  •  Get The Husband out of the house
  •  Alert The Inlaws after the coast is clear
  •  Revel in the glory of success

That was the plan. Here’s what actually happened.

Choose Party Date and Time

I scheduled the party for Thursday night and got the word out. Then I learned that I was supposed to have had it Friday because my friend’s husband was working until 6 p.m. on Thursday. I figured this out on Wednesday.

Invite the Guests

That happened easy enough. Except now I had to find a new Distraction. Let’s ignore the fact that I forgot to invite one family altogether. It’s okay. They don’t know what the internet is.

Get The Husband Out of the House

My new Distraction became my Father in Law. But instead of getting The Husband out of the house, he got him into the garage to work on the riding mower with the blown engine. Things kinda went to hell in a hand basket pretty fast from here.

Alert the Inlaws When the Coast is Clear

Do I really have to spell this one out? I did manage to slip The Mother-in-law a handwritten note spilling the beans while she watched TV with my kid, but the coast was fucking foggy and clear was a forgotten dream. I thought All Was Saved when the grease-covered guys walked into the kitchen to grab something to eat before heading out to look for new motors, but that was a short-lived little ray of sunshine, my friends.

My phone told me I had a text message as The Husband was reaching for his keys. It was one of his friends telling me he was parking his car at the neighbor’s place and heading over. This was obviously a major hiccup. He was three hours early and lives over an hour away, so I said fuck it and told The Husband the text was from the neighbor telling us she had homemade jam for him to pick up, thinking The Husband could laugh at the surprise being blown but still look like a genius for my mad planning skills.

Except The Husband “forgot” and blew past the neighbors place, leaving his friend wondering what the hell was happening. That’s when I threw up the white flag of defeat, called The Husband, and told him to get his ass back to the neighbors because the jam was actually his friend and that he had better fucking pretend to be surprised when he got back here to see the party he wasn’t supposed to know about in full swing because THAT’S WHAT GOOD HUSBANDS DO.

Revel in the Glory of Success

Funny, right? Because after The Husband and The Father-in-Law picked up the early party guest and headed back out to go to Manly Things, The Mother-in-law went outside to get the party snacks and drinks we had bought and hidden in the back of my truck. Which The Husband had taken without telling me.

I did what anyone would do in that situation: I texted his friend to tell him The Husband needed to come home NOW because he had hijacked my shit.

But wait…it gets better.

They guys figured they’d give up on trying to leave the premises again. I called for pizza, which we never get for us because of our gluten free and paleo diet, and sent The Husband and crew off to pick it up about 30 minutes before the guests were to arrive. The Husband texted me just as cars started making their way up our driveway to ask me why the pizza place didn’t have my order.

Because I forgot to take my Adderall today and called the store 3 hours away from our house.

This is when I told the laughing Mother-in-law that there’s a reason I write non-fiction.

The Husband placed an order for four pizzas and two order of bread-sticks totaling $65 because apparently pizza is quite the commodity up here in northern Maine. He triumphantly returned with the World’s Most Expensive cardboard boxes Not Lined in Gold and a merry time was had by all.

That’s when I sat back, smug and relaxed, mentally transcribing the day’s events for the blog post that just wrote itself.

This would be the BEFORE picture

This would be the BEFORE picture

I got high just one time while in college and that was only after I called The Pre-Husband to make sure he wouldn’t hate me in the morning for satisfying my curiosity. He laughed at me and told me I was adorable for asking permission to smoke pot and I was all I’m not asking for permission you chauvinistic asshole. I make my own decisions. I just wanted to make sure you happened to be okay with this one. Totally not the same thing. That’s when The Pre-Husband laughed again because, he said, what I just said was pretty much the very definition of asking for permission and that he thought it was sweet I was so concerned about what he thought of me and my partaking of illegal substances.

You still didn’t answer my question, I said.

Go ahead, he told me. Just don’t drive anywhere.

After he hung up and before I took my first hit, I admit that the thought of calling my mother and running this whole me and this joint thing by her before I fully committed to that evening’s activities. And then maybe my best friend. That’s right about the time I realized that concern over What Other People Think accounts for entirely too much of the time I devote to contemplating life and Other Important Things (like what I was going to wear tomorrow), and I inhaled. Depending on what your definition of is actually is, anyway.

The moral of this story, kids, is that while Drugs Are Bad Bad Bad and I am Not Condoning or Promoting Illegal Behaviors Because That Would Just Be Irresponsible, I am condoning and promoting freeing ourselves from putting too much stock in Other People’s Opinions because that whole thought process just takes too much work.

Take, for instance, a recent instant message from BFF Mel.

Want to get our noses pierced when you come to visit?

HELL YES my instant response. We’ve been going back and forth on the idea of a teeny little stud for about five years now but have never even gone as far as pricing the procedure or looking up where to go to get it done. Excuses have always been easy to come by and with her work schedule and my constant over-thinking about the riot act my aunts would read me for putting another hole in my head, it only made sense to go for it during our trip back to Detroit. She had a day off and I had finally reached the point of not really giving a shit who might get pissy if I decided to have some fun. So the timing was right.

We landed in Detroit last Tuesday and met up with BFF Mel and her husband, Bob on Friday. After BFF Mel scared herself shitless by looking up YouTube videos on nasal piercings, Bob and The Husband took the initiative, started the car, and dropped us of at Eternal Tattoos. We had an appointment with a woman named Sam.


Sam is the piercing professional at Eternal Tattoos in EastPointe, Michigan. And when I say professional I mean it because not everyone can answer questions on the phone about piercing penises while immature assholes like me try not to laugh and get all superior because I'm subjecting myself to public scrutiny with a piercing I can't hide in my pants, which obviously makes my nose stud more badass than that extra hole in your nethers.

BFF Mel has to go first or she’s going to back out because she’s an idiot and YouTube is evil. That’s what I said first and then maybe I introduced myself.

Sam nodded. Bff Mel giggled because she does that a lot. And I took pictures while Sam talked BFF Mel out of the clear crystal stud she had come in for and into a light purple that Sam was sure would look fabulous on her. And then it was done and BFF Mel looked fabulous and Sam breathlessly awaited her client’s reaction and BFF Mel scrunched up her nose and looked into the mirror and said I dunno…what do you think? It looks bigger and more noticeable than I had imagined.


Seriously...does it look okay?

You look incredible I said. And that purple is perfect I said. And now it’s my turn so move so I can sit down I said.

Sam nodded. BFF Mel giggled because she does that a lot. And then she took pictures while Sam talked me out of the clear crystal stud I had come in for and into a pretty blue that Sam was sure would look fabulous on me. And then it was done and BFF Mel said I looked fabulous and Sam breathlessly awaited my response and I scrunched up my nose and looked into the mirror and said I dunno…what do you think?It looks bigger and more noticeable than I had imagined. But yours looks perfect I told BFF Mel.

Because this nose stud trumps your penis piercing any day of the week, y'all, because I can't hide my nose in my pants if I get shy after the new hardware has been inserted. Also? I did this the day before a Mexican wedding and that, my friends, takes some serious juevos.

I think yours looks perfect, she told me. I’m just not so sure about mine.

So I showed her the photos I had taken and pointed out that what she was looking at now was what other people would see.

That looks good, she said, a smile lighting up her whole face. Here, lo0k at these of you.

So I looked and I saw what other people would see when they saw me and that was enough because I only needed to see myself through Other People’s Eyes for just a moment to realize I look beautiful when I don’t give a shit what other people think.

Yeah, I said smiling. That does look good. And we left with our aftercare sheets, giggling and feeling very badass, indeed.



Just because the five-year-old is hooked on vanilla frappuccinos doesn't mean you can call me a yuppie. At least not to my face.

When the doctor starts off your appointment with phrases like “your results” and “very interesting”, it’s kind of a toss up as to whether or not the next they say has you running for the hills screaming or breathing a sigh of relief because things were way worse in your head. Because they are always worse in your head.

Except for when they say things like allergic to and beef and apples and carrots and shrimp and crab and then your mind goes blank so you don’t even hear the rest of the list because you’re all THERE’S NOTHING LEFT TO LIVE FOR! Times like that make you realize you don’t overreact nearly as much as The Husband likes to pretend you do, mainly because The Husband can sometimes be an asshole.

And last week, this was all me (the overreacting thing. The Husband is still the asshole.)  So when my doctor suggested a very intensive follow up to the first food allergy test just to be sure with things like cocoa beans and coffee and DEAR GOD DON’T TAKE AWAY MY COFFEE…I said yes right away and then made sure to arrive to the next appointment with a trenta (read: only the addicts order their shit this big) iced black Starbuck’s coffee in hand. Ya know, just in case. Turns out that this time though, things actually were way worse in my head because somehow I didn’t test positive to as many food allergens as I did previously. The doctor isn’t sure what the hell happened, and neither am I, but I really don’t care because the bottom line is that I can still self-medicate the crazy with a steady stream of coffee and that I’m no longer the freak with the beef and apple allergy.

Instead? I’m the freak with the cabbage and broccoli allergy.

Also on my list of Things that May Make Pauline Explode:







*all Dairy

*all Eggs

*Bakers Yeast

* Wheat






*Whole Wheat

So I’ve been given the green light to go crazy with the beef jerky again, but things like oats, soy, and corn are staying off of my list of allowable paleo-friendly foods. I’ve been telling doctors for years that I couldn’t explain why but I just felt better when I didn’t eat grains and now I know why seeing as the grains I was eating were all trying to kill me.

What I don’t know is where this leaves me regarding the possible crazy rare autoimmune Me Being Allergic to my Own Hormone thing because when I cut out the food allergens, the symptoms that could result in a hysterectomy seemed to resolve so quickly that now everyone is wondering how I made it this long without spontaneously combusting just on principal. Now the OB is sending me back to the allergist who is sending me back to the nurse practitioner who is sending me back to the naturopath who is telling me that I may be slightly less fucked up than we all assumed.

Also? This is my 600th blog post. Instead of doing that thing that popular bloggers do with the giving away of Really Awesome Shit, I decided to do something a bit differently in that I instead went with the Unpopular Writer Mama with the Blog and No Prizes theme because I am secure in my unpopularity-ness-ish and right about now would be a REALLY GOOD TIME for Starbuck’s to take this post for the free advertising that it is and offer up some gift cards before y’all get all judgy and STARBUCK’S IS SO UNGRATEFUL which we know they aren’t seeing as the girl who poured all three of my trenta coffees today was super nice and never once asked me if I had a problem. Because that, my friends, is the kind of customer service that I think we all can appreciate.

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