Letters to a Higher Power

this is a blog paying homage to letters, fake or real (see inaugural post to learn more)

I Anonymously Apologize to All Sex Addicts

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Dear Sex Addicts Anonymous:

Until now, I’d always said I’d rather hump a goat than attend one of your meetings. I’m sorry if that sounds crude or unsympathetic, but the thought of sitting in a circle spilling my guts about my endless need to circle-jerk isn’t exactly my idea of absolution.  

I admit, my obsession with the sexual and the pornographic has haunted me. I’m on my third-and-a-half marriage. I say third and a half because I’m still married to my third wife, but on the verge of separation for sleeping with her sister, who has assured me she’s willing to help save me from my chronic problem of philandering, she’s one-hundred-fifty percent sure she can convert me to a decent man, if we make it official, of course. Somewhere inside myself I do desire saving. I just don’t seem to desire it as much as fornicating. 

Don’t wring your hands over the betrayal. The Mrs. in waiting insists the dust will settle between she and her sister, whom she never liked much anyway. Her sister had been the blue ribbon winner, the honor roller, the popular first runner-up at the prom, so her want for comeuppance was, let’s say, heightened. Surely you can at least begin to understand why a sisterhood rivalry such as this might be a turn on for somebody like me, or perhaps every last member of your afflicted fellowship? Did I mention both sisters are an identical 36-D? 

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that sleeping with your wife’s sister is perhaps the least of the transgressions committed by your group. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging. I have plenty of additional experience when it comes to the first of God’s seven deadly sins: e.g., I only watch the adult channels and reruns of Hannah Montana; I have lost three jobs for “Desperately Seeking Susan-Sarah-Savannah-Samantha” on Match, eHarmony, Zoosk, Christian Mingle, OkCupid, and yes, even Farmers Only; I consider masturbating a vocation; and I have had more than one run-in with the boys in blue re: my purported visits to Ladies of The Night. 

Am I ashamed? Does the Pope believe in Hell? Do Hot Pockets contain meat product? 

Maybe. 

And maybe you’re thinking I’m nothing but a big fat stereotype. A dirty little cliche. You’d probably be correct in that assumption. But who among us isn’t just another version of somebody else? Another version of the truth. I’ve learned that when it comes to life, well, it really is a sprint. If you don’t figure out how to satisfy yourself fast and often, you’ll be bored or dead. 

I’ve no idea why I’m suddenly philosophying about life or writing my ruminations in a letter to you. The only thing I appear to be an authority on is perversion. 

I guess, without even attending one of your meetings (yet …), your band of love junkies has managed to give me some pause for reflection. Or perhaps I can trace this change of heart back to that Cheeto I plucked off the floor of my minivan three days ago. (See enclosed photograph. Yes, I will swear on one of your bibles that Photoshop had nothing to do with this cheesy deviance.) Is it not a deadringer for a man arguing with his Henry Longfellow? If that isn’t some kind of omen, then I suppose I’ll never be ready to enter the pearly gates of serial monogamy. 

 —See You Next Tuesday  

 

Dan Fogelberg Would Be Proud (Maybe Not)

Dear Readers: 

I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, although I’ve made them in the past. I’m human. I have plenty of flaws that need a-fixin’. 

I don’t know if it’s my lack of resolve or my excess of gluttony, but I just can’t get behind the idea of New Year’s resolutions. Shouldn’t we just eat a lot more fiber and watch far less reality TV all year long? Is that too much to ask? 

Maybe. I will say this, the dawn of another year always gives me hope that I can somehow do better, somehow live better and somehow be better. So with that in mind, I hope you, too, will embark on some kind of journey to Betterdom. Even if that means you discover that resolutions are, in fact, for phonies. 

Yours in champagne glasses clink-clink-clinking, 

Amie

PS. What the heck does Dan Fogelberg have to do with this post? He wrote that one song “Same Old Lang Syne,” and I’m pretty sure that has something to do with New Year’s resolutions. Or old lovers. Or frozen foods. Or all/none of the above. Anyway, happy 2014! 

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Dear New Year’s Resolutions: 

In case you hadn’t heard, Wikipedia has devoted a page in your honor. It opens: “A New Year’s resolution is a secular tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere, but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person makes a promise to do an act of self-improvement or something slightly nice, such as opening doors for people beginning from New Year’s Day.” 

Year after year, I have succumbed to your charms, only to fail on anything I resolved to amend. Although I did, about five years ago, forgo the temptation of blue cheese for sixteen entire hours. For me, aged cheeses equal hives, so yes, I do consider this a minor victory. 

While I realize you can’t trust the Internet, I read somewhere online that a 1997 study found 47 percent of the 100 million American adults who make resolutions surrender their goals after only two months. That number, my friend, has climbed to around 80 percent today. Despite my lacking a reliable source, I think we can both agree, the statistics appear pretty fucking grim. 

To achieve a satisfactory level of success, the so-called experts advise jotting down your aspirations, putting pen to paper or fat thumbs to smart phones, tweeting (whatever that means), making a list and checking it twice, etc., etc. This “writing on the wall,” reportedly builds in some good, clean arm-twisting. Therefore and so on and ergo, I give you and the world Thy Blessed List. On the precipice of yet another year, I hereby solemnly urge all fellow resolution-ites to: 

1. Eat and repeat. Deep-dish pizza, and medium-rare cheeseburgers, and even, on occasion, the latest “meat-stuffed-inside-a-shell” craze at Taco Bell, the one that tastes exactly the same as every single other item on their ridiculous menu. No juicing. No cleansing. No protein or wheat-grass shakes. Some broccoli. Some cold-water fish. Some questionable chili dogs bought at gas stations. 

2. Attempt something scary, or at the very least, a touch uncomfortable. Those of us who are lucky to count ourselves among the living should go ahead and elevate that pulse from time to time. If you’re afraid of flying, jump on the next plane to Istanbul. If germs give you the heebie-jeebies, shake the hands of as many homeless people as possible. If public speaking puts you on the path toward panic attack(s), stroll into the middle of a crowded shopping center and shout that love poem you didn’t want anybody to read, let alone hear.

3. Make a genuine acquaintance. Facebook isn’t genuine. 

4. Forgive yourself for one giant blunder. I’m not talking about sleeping through your alarm clock and then skipping out on some offsite meeting with your supervisor. I’m talking about lying to your supervisor about some offsite meeting when you’re really meeting his/her spouse for a nooner. If you can’t exonerate yourself for at least one bonafide sin, you can’t learn to become somebody who isn’t just another asshole. 

5. Grow your hair long. By hair, I mean those locks on your head or that stubble on your leg(s) or, hell, the tuft in your armpit(s). Feel the breeze blow through your mane while you still can. 

6. Visit a doctor. Admit something real about your well-being. E.g., you drink half a box of wine per day, you have never, ever, ever flossed, your treadmill is nothing more than the perfect hanging spot for your jaunty fitness apparel, you sometimes eat questionable chili dogs bought at gas stations.  

7. Slightly nice (see Wikipedia entry) is tepid. You don’t have to play nice 24/7/365, but do one thing this year that transcends the definition of nice.

8. Send a letter to the one who’s still there or the one who got away. The actual handwritten, snail-mail kind. Disclose some mundane or profound truths. E.g., that you hate/hated the way he or she always sprinkles/sprinkled curry in your scrambled eggs, but love/loved the way he or she has/had faith in your intentions, no matter how fleeting or lofty.

9. Believe me when I say there is Zen in bowling. Try it. Shut your phone off for an afternoon. Listen to the sound of the pins crashing and falling. 

10. Evolution, global warming, touching baby birds won’t lead to their abandonment, the efficacy of vaccines, π, it was a lone sniper who assassinated John F. Kennedy, mixing pop rocks with soda won’t cause your stomach to explode—these are all facts. Just the same, remember, sometimes it’s healthy to surrender yourself to the hype. Stop and embrace the humanity of unchecked emotion. 

 Yours in resolving to stay resolute, 

 Resolutions Aren’t Just For Phonies Anymore?   

 

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Dear Family and Friends (Near and Far): 

I’d like to say this is an age-old tradition in The Nicholas Home, but alas, this is our inaugural Christmas letter. (With a name like Nicholas, can you believe it?!!) 

Let me begin by saying I’m not hurt I haven’t received a letter from any of you, save for Pumpkin, Aunt Claire’s Golden Retriever. I guess the art of letter writing is dead, like our Dear Uncle Vern. In case you hadn’t heard, Uncle Vern went out with a bang this past year when first, he decided to bathe his pet rodent and the propane tank from his outdoor grill in the bathtub, and second, he elected to light up one of his menthols. (To all you smokers out there: Hang Tough! Don’t Puff! I myself haven’t indulged in over a decade, not that I’m boasting about my willpower or wellness.) 

While we’re on the subject of Uncle Vern, I also promise I’m not upset none of you showed up to the funeral, or offered to chip in for the cold cuts and punch afterwards, or made a single contribution in his name to Joe the Plumber’s “Secure Our Dream” Foundation. Not to worry. Giving is simply The Nicholas Way. It was our pleasure to foot the bill for giving Uncle Vern and his beloved rat, Earl, the send off they truly didn’t deserve. 

Speaking of send offs, our youngest daughter, Lenora, left home three weeks ago to chase her dreams of becoming Chief Happiness Officer at Teazers. Before you go laughing (no pun intended), there is ample evidence that happiness motivates people in the workplace. Yes, even at strip clubs. Low self-esteem minus clothing plus hourly injections of unadulterated glee equals greater productivity. Just ask Miley Cyrus. No, that last statement does not mean I’m some kind of prude. This mom of two twenty-something girls still knows how to let her hair down. Trust me when I say I’ve wrecked my fair share of balls in my life. Just ask my ex-husband, Gerald. 

Or my current husband, Frank. 

Regarding Frank, if you happen to run into him, do me a favor and tell him all wives bust their husband’s balls from time to time. Is that what the kids say nowadays? Bust balls? The last thing I want to do is turn into one of those embarrassing mothers who tortures the lingo of today’s troubled youth. (Just between us, what the heck is a selfie anyway?) I guess what I’m trying to say is that despite my nagging and criticizing, I love and am proud of my sweet Frankie. Who wouldn’t admire a man who quit his former job-is-a-job-is-a-job to follow his one true passion? 

Every day since Frank left his sales manager position at Sears, no matter the interruptions (e.g., me calling home to check if he’s unloaded the dishwasher yet) or distractions (e.g., The Bold & The Beautiful during or not during ratings week), Frank spends twenty minutes penning the next bestselling crime novel. Who knows, with a little dedication and a lot of luck, my Frankie could wind up being the next Stieg Larsson. Sans the heart attack and untimely death, of course. (If you’re wondering, we do, in fact, have a will in place, and for my added peace of mind, I stand to inherit the lion’s share of Frank’s tireless work. Another reminder that blessings can and do spring from tragedies.) 

Now that I’ve dispensed with The Nicholas Annual Highlights, it’s as good a time as any to dole out the holiday niceties. Crafty Christmas-Roaring Ramadan-Happy Hanukkah-Keen Kwanzaa-Insert Other Politically Correct Expression Here!! I hope you and yours plan to embrace the unbridled joy of the season. We in The Nicholas Home look forward to this to-do list: 

  1. Trim the tree (this year’s theme is “The Ghost of Past Resentments”).
  2. Decorate the Oreos. They are, after all, milk’s favorite cookies. 
  3. Cheerfully debate politics and religion after two or six spiked eggnogs.
  4. Recycle my third cousin’s fruitcakes.
  5. Exchange soft food and obscenities with the in-laws at Sunrise Senior Living.
  6. Snuggle up to our faux fireplace alongside the mildly aggressive, hairless cat our self-sacrificing second born insisted we rescue from the local shelter. 
  7. Find God. 
  8. Have a go at random acts of kindness. 
  9. Put this letter in the mailbox. Mark the envelope, “Handle With Care” and “Do Not Bend.” 
  10. Darn everything festive. 

Yours in whatever makes you bright,

The Nicholas Family  

PS. I forgot to mention our neighbors are living with us. Not to beat a dead horse, but their predicament again reminds me of the late Uncle Vern’s, except The Crookstons are very much alive and sort of well. Perhaps the strangest thing I’ve ever witnessed was their house spontaneously bursting into flames. Mind you, our residence sharing is a temporary situation, only until The Crookstons get back on their five feet (the poor wife lost a foot in the explosion), but if you could please find it in your heart to send Sudafed, they would sincerely appreciate it. (Mr. Crookston informed me he suffers from debilitating allergies, but for some unjust reason, every last pharmacy in town has flagged their entire family in the computer system.) 

 

Props to The Holiday Letter

Let me apologize if my next post offends anyone guilty of writing an annual “Holiday Letter.” While I’ve never written one in earnest, I am guilty of mailing out holiday cards, the kind with a cute photo of the kid and/or the dog. (Are you supposed to keep those on your refrigerator throughout the entire year?) 

Offending aside, I’ve just always hankered to write a fake holiday letter, because, well, sorry, I think they’re kind of funny. Even (and perhaps especially) the real ones. If you can’t laugh at yourself during this season (or any season for that matter), life just isn’t as funny. Laughter is the best medicine, so they say. 

And I’m confident The Nicholas Family would agree. 

Merry Christmas (I said it) to you and yours!

Amie

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Clashing

DEAR ABBY:

The change between my husband and I started with socks. I asked Stanley to put on the ones with the wreaths and the snowflakes, the holidays were approaching after all, and he answered, blandly, “Helen, dear, I’m going to wear the cobalt ones with the daffodils today.”  

For thirty-five years, Stanley and I had worn the same outfit, down to the, well, socks. We were a matching set. When we first met, Stanley wore nothing but grey suits and ties, no matter the heat and humidity. I sewed him a breathable short-sleeve shirt in plaid, blues and greens to bring out his eyes, and he must have felt some obligation to wear his new gift. Either that or he wanted to please his new girl. Anyway, I’d bought too much fabric for that shirt, so I made myself a nice blouse to match. Stanley didn’t flinch. 

An inventor and artist, Stanley didn’t want to waste much creative energy on his attire. (My husband patented the “State Birds on a Stick” garden decor series.) As time went on, I made more twin outfits, the bottoms matching the tops. Mind you, I would sew dresses and things with ruffles and bows for me, I preferred the femininity, but the fabric chosen for our wardrobe was always the same. 

I liked prints the best and I guess I just assumed Stanley did, too. The outfits still hang two by two in our closet—everything from giraffes and zebras to moons and stars to stripes and polka dots to flowers and paisleys to candy canes and Christmas trees to Cat in the Hat and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Before the big change, the first to reach the closet had the responsibility of deciding what we’d wear that day. We’d never stampede or argue about the other’s choice. If we were going out for a special occasion, we’d talk about what to wear like any other married couple, only we’d want to look indistinguishable rather than distinguishable. If Stanley had a business trip, I’d pack his suitcase and tell him which outfit to wear on which day, so we’d be coordinated even when miles apart. Our commitment went as far as eating identical meals. We wore our matching stains on our matching outfits like badges of honor. Then one cold day, BAM!, Stanley just drops this bombshell about the cobalt socks with the daffodils. 

I caved, and ever since, he’s gone rogue. First he merely picked out different socks, but next thing you know he’s buying hospital scrubs and leather chaps and alpaca sweaters, and now he says he’s considering leaving me to join a nudist colony (with or without his dental hygienist). Stanley says a man’s life isn’t worth living if he can’t wear his own goddamn underroos. He insists he’s suffering from PTDD (Post-traumatic Dress Disorder). 

Abby, am I the one with latent dependency issues? If you want to dress yourself all by yourself, why get married? 

—CLASHING IN CANTERBURY, CT.  

 

Letters To A Higher Power

Dear Faithful Readers (or Unreliable Reader):

This is a blog where I’m going to put myself out there and share some writing more along the lines of fiction. I keep a lot of my fiction close to my chest (breast, bosom, whatever), as like many writers, I am in a constant, painful, mind-numbing, hopeful, insane, passionate quest to get published (and I don’t want to muck that process up). That being said, I’m tired of all the waiting and I don’t write or send out nearly as much as I should (insert sweating and nail biting), so I’ve decided I’m going to have a little fun with words and pay homage to the letter, because it’s like, totally, um, a withering art form. (Think: Stamp collecting or checking out actual books in a library or wearing anti-perspirent.) My letters are probably going to be fiction, but if you’d like to send me some of yours (fiction, nonfiction or hybrid), I’d love to post them here, too. If you’re interested in submitting to this project, send me a note on “The Facebook.” Shit, don’t be shy, send me that love letter. I need to keep this blog up to date for God’s sake (and by up to date I mean post more than once a decade). If you’re not interested, well, your loss, because believe it or not, the world might very well be dying to read your 2013 Family Christmas Letter (as long as you include at least three glamor shots of your poodle). 

Yours in Writing Genuine or Fake Letters,

Amie