Monday, August 27, 2012

Just don't call me Late to Dinner

A friend recently asked if I was ever called Maggie or if I'd always been a Margaret.

That got me thinking about my name.

I hate my name. 

Hate it.

I have never liked my name.

It seems fine to call other people Margaret.

It sounds agreeable enough when I say hello to another Margaret.

"Hello, Margaret!" I might say. And the name doesn't offend me.

It doesn't make me recoil or wretch.

It's just a name.

And a fine name at that.

But it's not for me.

I don't feel like a Margaret.

It doesn't fit me well. 

Hangs off me all funny and weird.

Can't ever seem to wear it comfortably.

I don't like to be called by name.

Frankly, it makes me feel sort of sick. 



When I was a chubby 3rd grader I decided I wanted to go by a nickname.
 
Peggy.

I wrote it in my clumsy curly cursive on the front inside cover of my books.

 
I said it out loud to myself in the mirror.

Peggy.

Peggy!

I liked it.

First of all Peggy doesn't sound anything like Margaret.

Margaret made me think of old ladies with tissues tucked in their cardigan sleeves.

I had recently made the acquaintance of  my name sake, my Great Aunt Margaret.

My deceased Aunt Margaret lying stiff and cold in a coffin.

Sitting on the hard shiny  wooden pew in the little church full of flowers and quietly weeping elderly relatives, my mother leaned over and whispered in my ear while nodding sadly toward the cold grey person in the hard shiny wooden coffin, "You were named after that lady." 

Well, what do you say to that? Nice to meet you?  Wish I had had the pleasure to meet you when you only had one foot in the grave?


Being a Margaret gave me the willies.

Peggy sounded fun and full of verve to me.

I desperately wanted to be fun and full of verve. 

Peggy sounded alive.

Alive was good.

So, one day early in the school year, not long after attending the funeral of Dear Old Dead Dead Dead Aunt Margaret, I stood in front of my class and said,  "I would like to be called Peggy from now on. Thank-you."


Peggy might have sounded alive and all that but really, Peggy isn't a good choice for a fat kid.


I might as well have handed the bullies a big stick and asked them to beat me. 

A few days later I  was back in front of the class, "I no longer wish to be called Piggy...Peggy. Please please stop. Please."

My classmates had short attention spans and it wasn't long before they started brutalizing a poor girl named Regina. 

But at least the chorus of Piggy snorts that followed me around the playground eventually subsided.

So that was good.


I guess.

I still wonder what happened to poor Regina. Anyway. 

I could never really shake the feeling that my name was dusty and old and cold and dead and smelled like moth balls.

But at least Margaret doesn't rhyme with vagina. 

 
Later in college, I met a nice young man.

He called me Nut Meg.

Meg is a nickname for Margaret obviously and I was completely fucking mad, so it worked.

He kindly dropped the Nut part. Not because I was suddenly not crazy but because he was a nice guy.

He called me Meg for a long time.

It almost stuck.

But then we broke up and I became Margaret again.

Dry as the grave covered in cobwebs Margaret.


I had a friend who called me Maggie.

I like Maggie, but Maggie sounds like a fun happy person.

Unlike my 8 year old self who wanted a vibrant name full of life and laughs, my 18 year old self was morose and macabre.

Maggie seemed too chipper.

Maggie seemed too perky.

I wanted to slap myself whenever someone called me Maggie. 


Of all the nicknames I've had, Meg has suited me best I think.

Crazy Bitch is a close second, but it's sort of clunky. Doesn't roll off the tongue quite as well as Meg. 


At my age it seems silly to start going by a different name.

I'm getting closer and closer to the age when I'll be stuffing wads of Kleenex in my sweater sleeves. 

Eventually my name will fit me.

Soon.

Soon enough.
 


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bad case of the stupids going around

Someone please make the stupid stop.

I can't even believe the crap that's been in the news lately.

This Todd Akin dude and his comments about "legitimate rape" not leading to pregnancy because women physiologically have ways to "deal with that"---

On a good day I have to work hard at being coherent, but when I 'm pissed, like now, and I've been simmering at high heat in pissy with the lid on tight the top blows and I want to lash out and start calling names and throwing punches.


Todd Akin is a miserable ass.

He's a douche-bag.

No, wait, he's not good enough to be a douche bag.

I actually can't think of a word that adequately conveys the depth of my disgust for the enormity of his stupidity.


This is what we get when we let science go by the wayside, basic science at that.

Was Todd excused from health class the day they explained all about the lady parts and the feller parts and the ins and outs of reproduction?

Rape is bad.

Rape isn't about reproduction, it's not about sex even. 

All rape is violence.

There is no "legitimate" rape.

All rapists are vile scum sucking shit holes and all victims of rape are victims of a violent heinous crime. 

No one can make a distinction which rapes count as real rape and which rapes don't fit the definition.
 
Rape is rape.

What part of that is difficult to comprehend.
 
More stupid...

idiots who start yammering on about  their Bible and God and how marriage equality is morally wrong.

First, I know gay Christians and they are such good Christians they don't hate anyone. Not even the people who hate them.

I am not a Christian and this whole God says this God says that is bunk to me.

I don't CARE.

The foundation of our democracy is the Constitution not a book of fairy tales and bed time stories.

Time is not on the side of the narrow-minded and hateful.

Those who seek to deny equal rights to people today are going to look like the greasy haired baton weilding thugs who were certain God didn't want black children in school with their dear little white angels or that eating at the same lunch counter was against God's grand plan back during the fight for civil rights for African Americans in the 60s.

I look back at the photos of these hateful assholes and I'm shocked and appalled.  Shocked by their stupidity, appalled by their hatred.

Eventually  when footage of  the homophobics shrieking hysterically about the danger of gay marriage is featured in the inevitable Ken Burns documentary about LGBT civil rights, those bigots are going to look like backward neanderthal shits.

Also people are going to make fun of their hair and clothes, but that's beside the point.

Clothes and hairdos go out of fashion.

I wish stupidity and hatred would go out of style too.


There's a lot more stupid going around.

An epidemic of stupid is spreading across the land.

I can't delve further. It's overwhelming. 

I want nothing more than to cover my ears and close my eyes and have all the stupid go away.

That's not going to happen.



Stupid is as stupid does.

Seems like stupid has been very busy lately. 


 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Some thoughts about motherhood, housework and attempting to live a creative life

There is this popular self published writer who has a writing blog. He has written a couple of e-books about being a writer and recently finished a book of fiction which is available on Amazon.

I know because he has mentioned it several times in his blog. In case I somehow missed it the first 15 times he brought it up.

He's marketed himself and inspired a lot of people and he's inspired me, I'll admit it.

I have to say though the fact that he is a well read blogger and self published author shouldn't make him a guru. He does seem to fashion himself as an expert and that grates on me. But hey, he's doing something right.


Basically his good advice is as follows:

Find the thing you want to do, say, to be a writer.

Label yourself. I'm a writer!

Keep writing.

Write everyday, put yourself out there were people can see your work, be consistent be prolific be self disciplined.

So far so good.

Today however, in my inbox there is a  little "this is my process, this is my morning writing routine you should have a writing routine too" blog piece and it hit me wrong.

He lost me at the first.

He gets up when his infant son wakes up hungry, around 5 a.m. or so, he hands the babe off to mother to be fed and the Super Writer Man is off to shower, drink his coffee, make himself a nice high protein breakfast and write.

As a mother and someone who likes to write, as a mostly stay at home mom who makes some extra dough on the side doing manual labor, as a woman who's pretty much offered up the last 14 years of my life to the needs of my children, his list of 10 things he does every morning leaves me chapped.

If  his baby son is breast fed, well, of course, he can't feed the baby.

And maybe when he's making his high protein breakfast he makes a nice omelet for his wife and french presses her a cup of coffee too before he heads into his sacred writing lair to seek out his muse so he can write his very important blog posts and ebooks.

Quite frankly though, I'm jealous. 

As a mother, unpublished writer, wife, manual laborer, I will now embark on sharing the core of my morning writing ritual.


1. Wake up. Wearing yesterday's clothes. Too tired last night after writing all night to change into pjs.

2. Try to smile and sincerely welcome my children to their new day.

3. Prepare a healthy high protein breakfast for the children. Start making a cup of coffee.

4. Let the dog out, feed the dog. Feed the cats.

5. Pop the first load of laundry into the washing machine.

6. Realize I have not finished making my cup of coffee.

7. Spill coffee grounds on floor.

8. Sweep floor.

9. Empty the dishwasher in order to fill it with the breakfast dishes.

10. Realize I have not yet finished making that cup of coffee.

11. Help my son find underwear.

12. Insist he put them on.

13. and so on. 


Now since I write catch as catch can, perhaps I could relate my night time writing routine.


1. Get kids into bed no later than 10 p.m.

2. Sit down to write.

3. Ideas begin to materialize as I recall the adventures I've had during the day. The scintillating episode with    the coffee grounds on the floor, or the underwear thing.  That's good stuff. I dig in.

4. Moments later, consciously register that a child is yelling at me.

5. Holler, I'll be there in a minute!

6. Try to write one more sentence before the child yells louder.

7.  Process the sound of a child yelling louder.

8. Holler louder, I'll be there in a MINUTE!

9. Try to speed type that one fabulous sentence or articulate that one key idea before the child yells louder still.

10. Run upstairs to get kid water or tuck the covers in better or turn on the night light or turn off  the night light or turn the night light on again or off. Realize I'm being duped. Sigh. Kiss forehead of naughty child.

11. Remember they need lunches packed for tomorrow.

12. Run down and pack lunches.

13. Think, what the fuck am I doing with my life. Jesus Chriminy Christmas.

14. Throw the final load of laundry into the washer.

15. Pile clean dry laundry on the couch and start folding.

16. Think, I could do all this faster if I had a cup of coffee or two. Or three.

17. Register that it is nearly 11 p.m. and drinking a cup of coffee or three will keep me up through the night.

18. Decide it's ok because at least the kids will be asleep and I'll be able to think about something besides
my children and their needs.

19. Leave the laundry half folded.

20. Make a cup of coffee.

21. Sit at computer.

22. Write about my kids.

23. Stay up all night.

24. Ponder the worth of sleeping from 4:00 a.m. to 6 a.m.

25. Slump into bed wearing the same clothes. Realize I might want to get around to changing my clothes tomorrow, which is really today.

26. As I close my eyes, Curse the fuck who hands his hungry baby to his wife so he can go and write.


Muddled Thoughts at 3:46 Monday Morning.



I don't want to think about anything real.

I don't want to talk to anyone.

I don't want to hear anything,

I don't want to read anything,

I sure as hell don't want to write anything.

I don't want to be a wife or a parent or a daughter.

I long for my youth and my single chin and my neck.

I really miss  having a neck...

you walk around thinking,

Hey, I'm ok and then you see pictures of yourself and think, well FUHHHHCK.

How the hell did I pick up all these extra chins and where's my neck?



My friend Ruth passed away.

She recently turned 88.

She misplaced a couple of years and maintained she was 86 but no. 

I could kick myself for not ever getting around to making poor dear Ruth the popcorn I promised to bring her weeks ago.

Isn't that they way  though. Regret. You forgot the lessons you learned before.

I forgot I do not have all the time in the world.

My time is up.

I lied to the kids who also felt guilty for not bringing Ruth her popcorn.

Told them the doctors said she couldn't have it.

If lying to spare my children guilt on top of grief makes me a bad mother, so be it.


I want to run away and hide.

I feel that I must shore my self up, box myself in, close my self off, shut down.


I'm all past raging and arm waving.

All I can hear is the tick of that cheap clock Mom gave me, the one she won at bingo.

All I can hear is the clang and crash of the dishes in the kitchen,
the hum of the dryer.

Back to real life, back to it.

Back to daily visits with my aging mother.

Doing her laundry, taking out her trash, changing the cat litter, running to the store to buy more fucking cat food.

If I wasn't sort of nice I'd drop kick those furry little shit dispensers through the window.

It's back to being the good one, the nice one, the patient one.


Everything feels significant.


Maybe it's the late hour.

Maybe it's loss.

Maybe it's the cheap clock marking the seconds passing.

This is your life passing,

TICK. TICK. TICK.

Crooked face, awkward jerking arms.

HERE. YOU. ARE. 



Saturday, August 11, 2012

Random thoughts about vacation and stuff...

I don't think I've been on a real vacation since I was a kid.

And even that was rare. 

My husband and I spent a long weekend away for our honeymoon.

A friend got us a night in a bed and breakfast and then we spent 2 days in Portland, Maine. Went to a record shop, ate at a Greek restaurant and went to a book store.

Since we've been married we've taken a  few trips to Salt Lake City, Utah to visit my mother in law.

That my dears was not a vacation.

Unless a week in hell with Satan herself is a vacation.

We'd be miserable the moment we got there and about ready to have ourselves volentarily committed when we returned. I am not even exagerating.

We have spent a nice few days camping with the kids. That's a vacation. Except we're so friggin poor that we'd worry about having enough gas money to get home, we'd wonder how we were going to pay the entrance fee into the National Park. We'd worry if we'd have enough food for the kids and enough money for the camp fire wood...but other than that it was fun.

This year my husband and his closest dearest friends from high school turned 50.

My husband and his friends are all born in a two week period spanning the end of July and into the first week of August.

My husband's good friend who has done well working in the computer industry on the west coast invited Brad to a big birthday party at his home in Hood River, Oregon.

If we can't afford the entrance fee to Acadia National Park in Maine, there is no way we can afford to fly Brad out to the west coast for a birthday party.

And his friend said, don't worry about it Brad. I'll get you all out here.

And so, we went.

And it was the most wonderful 10 days ever.

EVER.


Harry's birthday party was a blast.

No cheese curls and macaroni salad but other than that, it was grand. And despite the fact that I am a pudgy gal with bad hair and cheap clothes and I work sporadically cleaning toilets, these successful folks were kind, didn't treat me like a dumb ass. There were wealthy people dressed in gorgeous clothes, there were wealthy folks wearing gym socks sandles and shorts. There were not rich folks hanging out and ultimately you couldn't tell who was who.

It dawned on me. These successful folks are mostly nerds who have made their money with their big brains. Nerds are not often known for their fashion choices.

People don't seem to make the same assumptions about one another out there.

I can't imagine showing up at a catered shindig here in Maine and not feeling completely out of place. Many people in Maine who have wealth are old money, trust fund kids, or they own a landfill and build big ugly houses and hang tight to the class structure with an I made it big and now I'm the top of the heap attitude.

An exception would of course be Stephen and Tabitha King, but that's not where I'm going with my little story.

Class issues here in Maine are difficult.

You either come from the right family or you don't.

There aren't many places a smart kid can go here in Maine and make a good living using their super nerd skills.



Going west was a nice chance to spend time with Brad's wonderful friends, but it was also an opportunity to see my oldest brother whom I haven't seen in almost 20 years.

My brother recently married and I would be meeting my sister-in-law for the first time and I was pretty excited.

My brother and sister in law took us on a drive to see the Pacific Ocean and it was wonderful in every way.

There were caves and trails to explore and anemones and star fish and what seemed like miles of soft white sand that squeaked like January snow underfoot.

We had a great time and my kids enjoyed their Uncle Jack and Aunt Onie and the feelings were mutual. 

No baggage, no judging, but a healthy kids will be kids approach to my quirky children.

And I was grateful.

With Uncle Jack and Aunt Onie we headed off into a trendy neighborhood in Portland known as the Alphabet District, cafes, up scale boutiques..

I was ready to be eyeballed by the staff of these little shops, the usual greeting one seems to get in sheeshee establishments in Maine, the look, "Can you afford to buy anything here? I think not."

But no.

Into Gooran Brother's hat shop.

These hats are gorgeous and fucking expensive.

In Maine we would have been followed around the store by an imperious vulture of a sales clerk, but there the staff were chatty and personable and didn't wince when the kids tried on hats.

The soap shop staff washed our arms and applied pricy lotions and didn't seem put out when we didn't buy anything. Being from New England where we don't touch loved ones in public much less strangers, this physical contact with the young staff at the soap place left me speechless.And it didn't seem weird. Hey, let's have your arm. You've got to try this stuff...


The thing I noticed on our vacation is that people just don't look at each other funny out west like they do here.

Gym socks loafers and shorts? Cool.

Greased handle bar mustache and fedora? Cool.

Transsexual coffee house waitress? Cool.

Chatty little boy making fart jokes in a fancy restaurant? Cool.


My daughter wore bright pink shorts, a bright blue t-shirt, green and grey knee high socks, sport sandles, and a beautiful white straw cloche hat, a gift from Uncle Jack and Aunt Onie.

Here in Maine, she'd have gotten stared at, she'd have gotten side long glances and smirky smirks.

Not in Portland, Oregon.

Not one judgematal look, not one snicker. NOT ONE.



And if you think Maine is a beautiful place you should go take a look at western Oregon.
 
Everywhere you look it's gorgeous.

The beaches in Hood River are free and open to the public.

The beaches on the coast are free and open to the public.
 
Start from Portland, head west drive an hour and 1/2 and you're running along the beautiful sandy beaches of the Pacific Ocean.

Starting in Portland, head East and you come to the breathtaking Multanoma falls, drive a little further and in less than an hour you are on the shores of the Hood River.
 
You can swim, you can kayak, wind surf, kite board, paddle board or just sit on a rock and take it all in.

While we were there the temps were often in the high 90s. But there was no humidity, so while the locals were talking about being uncomfortable in the heat I, some one who detests summer weather and hot sunny days, I was thinking, gosh, this is pretty nice.

You get hot you sweat, the breeze blows, you feel cooler.

Here in Maine, you get hot, you sweat, the humidity is 80% there is no breeze, you feel greasy and sticky and hate everybody.

Coming back to Maine is depressing.

It's stifling here.

Things feel stagnant and cramped and bleak.

There is a down side to a great vacation.

It's called going home.