Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sher-shit-out-of-Luck

The kids have been sick with a cold for a few days now and should be feeling somewhat better today, once they trip trap down the stairs I'll see if I'm right about that.

In the meantime, I am coming down with this delightful virus.

I understand how viruses work, but there is that part of my underdeveloped villager brain that thinks this cold is God's divine plan and he want to make me suffer twice. Once while catering to sick children, picking up countless dirty tissues off the floor, the table, and the arm of the couch, and watching the same 3 episodes of Myth Busters over and over and over again. 
 
The second round of punishment, when my kids are well and need me to continue to wash their clothes, clean the house, cook meals and play referee and coach,with my head full of snot and lungs full of phlegm and body aches and a fever. 
 
What I'd really like to do is sit  on the couch, blow my nose, leave my dirty tissues everywhere and watch episodes of the BBC series Sherlock, over and over and over again.
 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Stirred not Shaken

"We become sad in the first place because we have nothing stirring to do."  Herman Melville

 

"Find things that stir you. Open yourself. Get stirred."  Margaret Miller-Finch

Take that anyway you want. Sounds like it could be sort of fun.   

 

When the children were new and small and wondrous, before their brilliance burned me blind, I was happy.


Well, perhaps I'm waxing nostalgic. That's the only sort of waxing I do, neither legs nor floors, only nostalgia.

Thinking back on the blur of early motherhood,  an image of myself  flickers before my eyes. Linda Blaire and Mother Theresa in one body, looming there in the shadows. Lurking, menacing, yet humble and loving. 

 

One moment lovingly bathing the child with lavender scented bubbles and warm water, patiently dressing and diapering the child, gently rocking him to sleep, tucking the sleeping babe in his cozy crib.

 

The next, smashing and stomping and kicking apart the wooden rocking chair in the living room, until all I had left was a pile of kindling wood, a badly bruised heel, and several splinters.  

 

I guess the months of sleepless nights, inadequate nutrition, and the constant cling and suck of a 15 lb 3 month old on my boob sort of got to me. 

I murdered a chair in cold wood. I admit it but I am not a complete monster. The chair had it coming.

 

My husband worked nights and when he finally came home from work in the wee hours of the morning, he asked, "Hey, uh...where's the rocking chair?" 

I recall saying something like, "Rocking chair? What rocking chair. We don't own a rocking chair. I don't know what you're talking about. Oh, by the way, watch out for that pile of sticks in the living room."

The memory of my crazed outburst does take the sheen off of my newly waxed nostalgia. 

I was going to say that motherhood stirs me. I was going to say that  being a mother was enough.

Sometimes parenthood is profound.  Spiritual, perfect. Moments of pure love. Pure joy, so beautiful you want to press it and keep it holy.

Then there is the routine, the mind numbing monotony, the mundane reality as you hoist the wet sheets from the washer to the dryer and approach the sink and prepare to wash the 3rd round of dishes for the day, sweep the floor, take out the trash. 

We should not lose sight of the possibility of grace every day and yet we should not hang our every joy and happiness on our children.  

That's too much pressure for a kid and you're cheating yourself.

You deserve to be an autonomous person. Not defined by any other person, no matter how cute he is after a bath. 

As parents we need to make reasonable sacrifices for our children.

By the same token we can't sacrifice everything.

We need to teach our kids that it is important for them to explore the world and find the things they feel they were meant to do, find the things that enliven them and make them happy.


The only way to teach this is by example.


It's not selfish to want to be happy.


Pursue your dreams.

Get stirred.  

 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Musings on love, intelligence and other big things...


I'm smart enough to realize I am not brilliant but not dumb enough to be happy.

It's sort of like being tall enough to see up in the cupboard but too short to reach the can of beans on the top shelf.

I can get a step stool, or even clamber onto the counter like a middle aged monkey, stand to my staggering 5' 5" with my dirty feet planted firmly on the counter top and grab the beans, but I'm not motivated enough to do that.

Not for beans.

Chocolate yes.

My son has somehow come to the conclusion that he is stupid.

He says it dozens of times every day.

"I'm stupid."

My son has been asking questions about intelligence. He's heard about the IQ test.

He wants to put himself in a place.

He wants a score, a grade. 

He wants to prove he's either as smart as he thinks he is or as dumb as he feels.

My son took an IQ test in 1st grade as part of the assessment to determine the nature of his learning difficulties.

What we found was a kid with a big vocabulary and great spacial reasoning skills who has a couple of areas that are challenging to him.

In short we found a human being.

Despite the gap in his abilities, he still managed to do well on the test, better than average.

He would love to know what his IQ is. But I will not tell him his score.

Actually I haven't told him he's taken the test.

He doesn't need to worry about it.

It's a distraction. 

The number doesn't do his brilliance justice. If he knew he'd start putting himself in a place and defining himself as better or not as good as everyone else depending on where he fell on the line.

I can look at my bright son and know he's something special.

Funny thing is though,  like my son, I crave tangible proof of my intellectual worth to show the world, "See?! Me so smart like!"
When I was a kid it seemed that intelligence was a finite resource.

I come from a long line of Intellectual Calvinists.  

It became clear early on that I was doomed to snort and root in the mud of ignorance forever. I was damned to be dumb and frankly it was no better than I deserved.

At some point in my public school career I was given an IQ test and at some other point I got a hold of the score. I was surprised.

I was not, according to this measuring stick anyway, stupid. 

There are people behind me and people ahead of me.

I have some skills and some not very skills, and that makes me pretty human. 

Sometimes I feel greater than and sometimes I feel less than but I never feel equal to. 

The other night I was bored and I was wondering what my IQ is now that I'm in my forties. I am at the cusp of something, I can feel my memory fading and lots of stuff I should remember how to do I have forgotten. It's not likely my IQ will get any higher, I figured I ought to take an inventory of my intellect, hold fast to that and never try to take another IQ test again.

So I sidled up to the computer and did a little Google search.

I typed: Free IQ Test

Up popped scads of tests and I chose one at random.

The information leading me up to the test promised that by learning my IQ score, I would be gaining valuable insight into the workings of my mind which would lead me to greater understanding. Okay. I can't sleep, I've got nothing better to do than the dishes. Let's get started.

Section One: Spacial Reasoning

Not my strong suit. My lack of spacial reasoning skills is one of the reasons I don't drive. But I figured that since I was sitting in front of the computer and not behind the wheel of a car, and no one was going to be killed by my incompetent driving, if I just took my time and remained calm, I'd be able to do well enough.


Section Two: Mathematical Reasoning 

Fuuuuccckkkkkkkkk....I began to panic.

I could hear my synapses shriek, that high pitched screaming sound a car makes when the breaks are hit hard, the sound right before the sickening smash of metal on metal and breaking glass.  All those numbers, all that logic shit and mathematical notation smacking into my skull, making impact, mangling and smashing.


I couldn't  breath. I couldn't  see. I could no longer count to 5.

Fuck if I knew the answer to any of the math questions.

I drooled stupidly on the keyboard trying to figure out what Y represented:  It's a fucking LETTER.

Y is a LETTER...Yam, yak, yarmulke, yaw, yew, yarrow.

Damn you crazy math people! And what is  4 x 4? Four groups of 4, and if 4 + 4 is uh...8. Add 4 + 4 and oh fuck it, the answer is uhh...I should know this, why can't I EVER remember this? It's shit! Who cares!

I guessed wildly, picking answers as quickly as I could.

Anything to get me out of the intellectual house of horrors.  

Section Three: Word Stuff

The sweat on my brow began to dry, my breathing normalized.

Analogies, Words, Fun!

I laughed! I was giddy! Easy easy easy!

I stopped.

I thought for a moment.

If the verbal part of this test was simple it is likely that the rest of the test was at the same level of difficulty.

Grade school stuff.

Plenty of people out there snapping through the spacial stuff and the math stuff and as easy as fucking pie, which I don't recommend, for the record.

Back to humiliation and humility.

Using logic and reasoning skills, I tried to assess my performance on the test. I reasoned that, the logic spacial reasoning/math scores would show my IQ somewhere in the belly button lint to toe jam range.

I continued on, rationally using logic logically: when my sub-par spacial reasoning/math scores were added to my above average verbal awesomeness score, the combined score could be okay. 

While these moronic thoughts swirled around like so much shit in a toilet, a message appeared on the screen informing me that if I wanted to see the results of the test I would have to pay a fee.

But wait, the test was supposed to be free! I said to myself, indignant. 

Then it dawned on me, pretty quickly really, give me some credit, well, shit.

The test was free, no one ever said that the results would be.

If I paid a stupid amount of money to get the results of my test what would I learn about myself?

That I'm a fool?

That I suck at math?

Would having a new IQ score make me feel smart enough?

Not likely.

At some point our opinions of ourselves become marred and distorted.

When did our view of ourselves begin to contort and bend?

When did we stop feeling good about being in our heads and start feeling stupid.

I look at my son. 

I wish he could see himself as I see him. 

He didn't always think he was stupid.

When he was a little guy he had no awareness of smart of dumb, worthy or worthless.

He was happy to just be and he learned easily and joyfully.

My son is brilliant, quirky, complex, compassionate, gentle.

He is kind, he is delightful, he is good.

Not something to be rendered, reduced or distilled into a tidy sum.

Nobody can be compacted to fit into such a small space.

Nobody.

Not me.

Not you.

Nobody.

Some numbers are useless.

The numbers on the scale, the number inside the waistband of your jeans, the balance in your bank account, or the score on an IQ test. 

We're always trying to reduce something incomprehensibly vast and unquantifiable into a simple equation with a concrete value, right, wrong.

It must be real and it must be either right or wrong. 

Attempt to quantify the infinite- "how loved, how smart, how much potential"

Attempt to deny the vastness of the infinite- "I've got that answer for you right here"

Like trying to record the weight of a soul

or the depth of a mother's love.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Writing Stuff: just thinking

I've been working on some stuff, writing stuff.

Not necessarily blog stuff, just stuff stuff.

The danger is that if I don't just write in a flurry and put it out there I don't finish anything.

I write something.

I put it away.

I come back to it.

I re-read.

I fix things that really need fixing.

Stupid grammatical errors, stupid spelling mistakes. 

I move things around that need to be moved.

I tweak and shuffle and rethink and rework

and I cut things.

I cut things I like and that stings a little but not as much as it used to.

This process continues and more and more things fall away.

Is this bit necessary?

Too wordy? repetitive?

Yes?

cut cut cut cut cut

Eventually I've got one word on the page,

fuck.

Fuck.

No surprise there but it is one of my favorite words. 

It's effective, it's sharp, it's simple.

But perhaps it's still too much.

Perhaps the fffff is unnecessary, or the uh, or the ck.

It's been said, the sounds have all been made before.

Maybe the desire for clarity and perfection is really an effort to keep my self quiet.

My internalized glare and admonition, be quiet.

Or maybe it's a lesson.

Maybe in response to the mindless jabber of our times, my deeper self realizes I'm just one more voice adding to the din and confusion.

No one is really listening.

No one is listening. 



the best writing is

a blank white page

Maybe the most profound thing we can say is nothing at all.



 
 





Thursday, September 6, 2012

Do not go gentle into that fucking fucked up shitty night, rage and piss and moan, kick people, damn it.

I haven't written anything in a week. 

I've been cranky.

I've been a cranky bitch and when I'm not being a cranky bitch, I'm sucking down huge quantities of carbs. I'm sucking carbs like a ... like a fucking carb sucking machine.

I'm telling you now, do not piss off the pissed off perimenopausal woman with PMS. 

Do not. 

I've had to deal with a larger number of ass holes than usual recently. 

They have only themselves to blame, being all ass holey near me when I'm in all my carb sucking cranky bitch glory.

If only they knew how much restraint I was showing. 

So my eyes glowed red and the tendons in my neck were taut, I raised my voice and may or may not have punched a wall or thrown a thing....

I didn't actually bite anyone, hard. 

Anyway, 

I'm feeling some better but, Jesus, this middle age thing is shit. 

Arthritis is acting up in my knee, in my foot, in my hands.

I'm all stiff and achy. 

I want to kick cute things. 


My sister took my elderly mom to the grocery store today and the tale she tells isn't pretty.

Mom giving nice people the hairy eyeball. 
Mom purposely crashing into other people's carts.
Mom saying mean things to the nice old man in the bread aisle. 
Mom saying mean things to the cashier. 
Mom saying mean things to everyone.
Mom, angry at the world, equal opportunity misanthrope.
 
As much as I want to run from the truth, I am my mother's daughter and it's not a stretch imagining myself in her place. 

I think there is a bitter old lady inside me clawing her gnarled stiff talon-hands, trying to get out. 

Like in Aliens. Only scarier. 

I think the bitter old lady just ate the skinny lady who has, until recently, inhabited my inner-self. 

The skinny lady had been patiently waiting to pop out all svelte and sexy at some point when that 60 pounds of baby weight I've been hauling around with me since my son was born nine years ago, shut up,  miraculously melted away.  

My cannibalistic internal cranky old woman is complaining that her recent meal of latent skinny lady was inadequate, was lacking in quantity and flavor and she's passing gas and belching loudly, like they do.

There is an angry old lady inside me just itching to get out.

She's complaining about the accommodations; cramped and and somehow drafty. 

She's complaining about the food; makes her sick and gassy.

She's waiting. 

Waiting. 

Getting ready to creak and groan and slip out of me and into my mother's orthopedic shoes. 

I don't like it.

It's sort of pissing me off.