Friday, December 30, 2016

To Loosen a Button or To Not Loosen a Button….Top Posts of 2016

To loosen the button or to rip off the whole damn shirt, this is the dilemma when I write. Many blogs I follow are informational. How to save and make money in super random ways (Thank you, Penny Hoarder. You rock!). What is the latest news on the vegan scene (love you, VegNews)? Where can I find great recipes when I’m stuck for something new? Oh, She Glows. The answer is Oh, She Glows. These blogs are bullet-pointed, tip-filled gems. Even the blogs I follow for entertainment only, though, are somewhat removed from the writer’s personal life. The articles wax philosophical or crack a joke here and there but they draw the line at airing any sort of personal stuff. Keep it funny, keep it entertaining, but don’t talk about that afternoon I walked around with my dress stuck inside my underpants, ass cheeks hanging out for all to see.

And, yet, this is what you read. I’ve learned from the years I’ve maintained this site that if I give you a glimpse of a bit of cleavage or let you into my head when I’m falling down drunk, you cheer, applaud, and share with your friends. I try writing that philosophical crap. I try removing the words from my life. I try, and you ignore me. But when I parade myself in front of you shooting a seductive look, mussing my hair til it’s bedroom sexy, you offer me a drink and invite me in for a sit.

Cue The Bloggess. She is my superhero in blogging. She tells it like it is, never apologizes for being real, and flings around swear words like a freaking, curler-haired sailor. And she’s crazy hilarious. When I grow up I want to be Jenny, the Bloggess. Only I would be Tammie, the Bloggess. Only I can’t be the Bloggess because that’s Jenny. I would be Tammie, the super-funny blogger that writes about real life and flits around the stage flinging eff words and glitter.

Until then, proof that if I let you in, you will read. These are the top Pixie Dust blog posts of 2016. You seemed to enjoy them the first time around. I hope you enjoy them again.

Tammie Does Divorce

A Come to Jesus with My Soul

Do You Come Here Often?

Lost and Found

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

If Wherever I Go There I Am, Then Where the Hell Am I?

At this point I would welcome a fork in the road. That idyllic picture Robert Frost so eloquently painted of this choice or that. Oh, I don’t know, I’ll go down this and maybe save the other for some later time. Or not. But I know it’s there for me if I choose. Cue Doris Day singing Que Sera, Sera. Instead, I find myself standing in the middle of the Jersey turnpike. I feel lost with so many cars, so many lanes. Where do I go? Which path do I take? I’m too slow. I can’t do this. I'm getting run over. It’s all so fast. Everybody seems to know where they are going, how to keep up. Everybody except for me.

I’m talking about career here. I’m in transition. Transition is a pretty word for not there and not quite here. Like when Wile E. Coyote jumped from cliff to cliff, running with all his might, little legs spinning, trying to catch that crafty Roadrunner. He suddenly finds himself, between the two cliffs, standing in midair. Freeze. Face to the camera. Gulp. Fall into the endless abyss. I am Wile E. Coyote.

I am not alone in this. I know, because you have shared your stories. Some of us are a little late coming to the midlife crisis table. Whether we are feeling burned out on our current careers or are trying to find ourselves after a lifetime of giving to our children, we have reached a point where we look around and ask, okay, what next? Who am I? Is this all there is? Why have I not accomplished more with my life? How do I move forward? Where can I find help or advice? Will there be cupcakes?

You know that feeling when you get in line at the grocery store? You’re standing there with your bag of organic veggie chips behind the mom with a cart packed full, babies hanging off the sides of the cart, another in the sling. No other lines are open. You stay where you are and wait.
That’s just the thing to do. Then another cashier turns his light on and says he can help who’s next. Some suit and heels chick in a hurry with her prepared salad and mocha latté sprints to the register. Chastising yourself for your slow reflexes, flashbacks to those C’s you got in seventh grade gym and how you hated running in front of people because of flappy leg skin, you get behind her. The mom in front of you, after all, is debating a price on the Goldfish crackers. They were on sale. That’s what the sign said. You jump in line behind the business exec on her lunch break. As she moves through and you step up for your turn, there seems to be a problem with the register. No worries. You just get back behind Goldfish Mom who, at this point, has a growing line behind her. More lanes open. Rinse and repeat. You know how this goes.

I just want to put my bag of chips on the counter. I want to play the game.

I feel like I'm blindfolded during my turn at Pin the Tail on the Donkey. I keep spinning and spinning, but I never quite get to the point where, in my dizziness, I make my way to the wall and make everybody laugh by giving the donkey a tail-shaped penis. I never get there.

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” This is what I was told. I’d like to find comfort in that but I’m not sure I do. Instead, I pull up a memory of my undergrad days, standing in a darkened frat house, half smashed and drinking somebody else’s beer.
This is my home, these Phi Tau brothers, these sisters of the Laurel. This is my place. Arms around shoulders, we sway and savor the love as the music blares. "The road is long with many a winding turn." We don't know where it leads, but it's okay because we're strong and whatever the next lyrics are. We can carry each other, be there for each other. We know this. And, in our drunkenness, we assure each other that "he ain't heavy, he's my brother." And, get this, "If I'm laden at all, I'm laden with sadness that everyone's heart isn't filled with the gladness of love for one another.” Oh, my God. That's some deep shit.

And then I remember. It’s not about me. It’s about us. And it’s not about the journey. Or the destination. It’s about the love. There is no fork. There is no turnpike. There is only now, this spot, exactly where we're standing, arms around shoulders, swaying to the song, reveling in the joy of this very moment, knowing that I am here for you and you are here for me. Que Sera, Sera. You knew it all along, Doris Day. You rock, girl. You rock.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Ain't Over 'Til the Fat Lady Sings

Now what? For many of us, Christmas is over. That ungodly Godly season has come to an end. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday. People smiling, being jolly and merry, giving to those they don't even know. Over. Done. December 26.

Now most of us go back to our own self-absorbed, overly busy, penny-pinching, too often curmudgeonly selves, that’s what. Do we forget? Do we forget what it feels like to smile at a stranger? Do we forget the joy in singing out loud and swinging our hips to Jingle Bell Rock in the middle of the produce aisle?
Do we forget what it feels like to bond with community members, even for a brief second, while dropping dollars in a red bucket (shoutout, Salvation Army, for all the good you do!). We spend hours searching for that perfect gift or, for that matter, any gift at all. We spend afternoons baking gingerbread men, snickerdoodles, and frosted sugar cookies with our children. We. Take. Off. Work. And now, it’s back to our regularly scheduled programs.

Hold on a minute.

Do me a favor. Pretend it's still Christmas. How would you act if today were Dec. 1? Sing out loud, smile, give to people you don't know, offer a kind word and warm gesture. So what if people think you're weird. You don't work for those people. You work for those who need the joy you have to share. There are still individuals who are struggling, still people in need, still family members that could benefit from your time. There are still those who could use a little extra love.

The world needs more hugs, y’all! Go be a hug spreader. It might be December 26, but it’s still Christmas in your head. Fa la la the freaking la. Christmas ain't over 'til the fat lady sings. And it's politically incorrect to call people fat anymore, so it's Christmas 'til you die.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

It'll be Okay, Mama

When the kids were little, people thought my husband and I were crazy. Why would we want to have so many kids? Some days I thought they were right. Some days I thought I was crazy. Then when all my friends were stopping at two and moving on to the next stage of their lives, I stayed in the baby stage many more years. Many more. I went to kindergarten orientation and high school orientation on the same night. It was wild at the Ortlieb house as they grew. There were always friends at the house. A lot of friends. All the time. I dealt with crazy shit like naked booty five-year-olds dancing on the basement jukebox as the boys all cheered her on,
a moment where I walked out the front door to find every baseball glove in the neighborhood on my roof, high schoolers who thought it would be a good idea to wheel a giant broken metal step ladder from the mall all the way to my house to use for climbing onto rooftops, boys throwing tomatoes at cars, Works bombs, a summer of teenage dumpster diving behind Krispy Kreme and the consequent kitchen counters packed with boxes and boxes of crullers, donut holes, and original glazed. There was fun stuff like marshmallow gun fights, dancing on the furniture, and winter picnics on the living room floor. It was crazy. When I look back I sometimes wonder how I did it. But after a night like tonight, a night of board games and laughing and dinner out, a night where all four of my children are in one place at the same time, a night where I look over and see the products of all those years, my heart fills so full it seems it might explode.

To all you young mothers out there..It's work. It's so goddamned much work. But it is worth every trip to the doctor to remove the rock from the nose, every maxi pad stuck to the bathroom wall, every giant fart in the middle of the cereal aisle, every minute of panic because you can't get the sliding cabinet door open in which your daughter is stuck behind the wastebasket, every night spent smelling your son's back to see if it smells like soap and telling him to get back in there and really take a bath, every time you find yourself asking what is that and where did you get it. It is worth every bedtime story, every sticky hug. It is so worth it. So, so worth it.