Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My cover letter needs some work

You'd like to know about my background as a writer?

Well, let's start with my deep love for language and stories. I am also literate. I also know the difference between 'you're' and  'your' and also 'there', 'their', and 'they're'.

Look, I'll be straight with you.

I could make shit up, but that would be wrong.

What I do have to offer is my perspective:

I am Every Woman and can appeal to the universal experiences of Women.

HA! No.

Okay, so I'm not really an Every Woman.

I am however a Fairly Common Woman. I am funny, smart, and quirky.

I have conceived, carried, and expelled two human beginnings from my very own body, and this makes me an expert on all things pertaining to snot, shit, and stretchmarks.

The two humans who once inhabited my uterus are 15 and 10. I live with them and keep them alive. This makes me an expert on all things pertaining to patience, maternal love and devotion, self doubt, worry, despair, and laundry.

I have been married to the same guy for 17 years, as far as I can tell. I mean, he appears to be the same fellow. Blond, tall, two eyes, two ears, male. I think it's the same guy. Seventeen years. This experience allows me to know all things regarding the human heart: high blood pressure, angina, cholesterol. I also know a little something about vasectomy aftercare.

I help take care of my elderly mother. In the capacity of caregiver, I have the unique opportunity to practice my parenting skills: patience, devotions, love, self doubt, worry, despair, and laundry. Helping my elderly mother is like taking a master class in parenting. The only reward is knowing that if there is a Hell, taking care of my elderly mother may be the only thing that will exempt me from taking my place there.

I am able to blather wittily or poignantly or an amazing combination of both --mixing it up lightning speed, funnysad funnysadfunny POW!-- on many subjects not limited to parenting, marriage, elder care, shit, snot, and laundry.

I am sure that given a chance, I could think of something else to write about. Give me a chance. Oh for the love of GOD. Please.

I forgot to mention the fact that I have ADHD which adds a bit of mad-cap excitement and zaniness to the mix. I am also occasionally depressed, for added pathos. I have an anxiety disorder too, which gives some of my writing a sense of peril and doom.

I can write at least as well as the woman who wrote a personal essay about her open marriage or the woman who wrote about her emotionally unfaithful fiance or the piece I just now saw about tantric sex, OMFG who has time for tantric sex?!  or the dude who wrote something about whatever it was that I got sort of bored with. You know?

I mean, Jesus Freaking Christ.

Come on.


Sincerely,







Monday, December 16, 2013

I Would Like to Request a Different Story

I am obsessively writing and rewriting an email to my son's teacher.

I think my son's teacher is super awesome and I adore him and am grateful to him for all the kindness and compassion he's shown to us.

But I do have a problem and the problem is this: each student in his class is to choose a book to read with their parent over winter vacation. The book my son chose, The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo, is sad. Spoiler alert: the tiger dies...OF COURSE THE TIGER DIES. This is meritorious serious quality children's literature we're talking about; something  beloved and beautiful MUST DIE. We must grind our children's souls to dust and then blow the powdery soul particles into the wind and away, before they reach middle school.

My son still hasn't completely recovered from Where the Red Fern Grows. His class read Where the Red Fern Grows in October and if you so much as allude to anything red and fern-like or say the word 'dog'  or 'dogs' my son will weep and rend his clothes. FYI, the dogs, plural DOGS die in WTRFG. They die gruesomely and horribly. Also I've been informed that a kid accidentally disembowels himself with an ax. That's a story anyone would find uplifting and hopeful, if they were sick and evil.

I'm not even going to mention that my son is still grieving the death of our very old cat Pooka. She died this summer. My son cried himself sick and still mourns for her.

My son is also upset about the death of one of my mom's cats. My husband, my frail elderly mother, and I brought Gus in to the vet the day after Thanksgiving. The diagnosis was cancer, and the only humane choice was to have the old fellow put to sleep then and there. I was supposed to go home and tell my boy that his pal Gus the cat was dead, but I just couldn't.

So the spouse and I tried to pick the right time to tell our deeply empathetic son about Gus's passing. But it never was the right time. Either he'd be crushed right before school and have a terrible day or he'd be crushed after school and be unable to function in the evening and then next morning he'd still be a wreck.

After a few days, I sort of forgot to mention it.

Saturday evening, our 15 year old daughter whipped out the sad ugly truth perhaps unintentionally or perhaps with cruel intent, I can't say for sure which. It cast a pall over the weekend that still lingers. I should have told him right away and yet his response has been overwhelming and profoundly painful and illustrates the very reason we didn't tell him in the first place.

Let me add that my son is missing his friend Ruth who died last summer at the age of 86, but whom he misses more keenly  right now because of the holidays and memories of Ruth at Christmas time.

My husband's mom died a year ago this month. That was difficult and complex, because my husband's mother was difficult and complex. Also, it's sad, of course.

Last night my son asked if I wanted to hear the only items on his Christmas list. I did.

These are the only things my ten year old son wants for Christmas

1)  that Pooka the Cat be alive and with us again
2)  that Gus the Cat be alive and with us again
3)  that Ruthie, our good kind friend, be alive and with us again

Then he looked at me sheepishly and said, as for his dad's mom, well, you know, he was sorry that she died, sad because his dad was sad, but, you know. My son assured me that he wasn't trying to be mean, but, it was sort of, maybe, okay that she just not be alive and with us, ever.
No offense.

No offense taken, my sweet boy.

Then he added quietly, that perhaps there might be a certain video game he wouldn't mind having, you know, since bringing loved ones back from the beyond wasn't possible for Christmas.

Okay so, I mean, you can see why  I need to ask for a less emotionally fraught book for my son and I to read over Christmas break. We need a good book where nothing dies. Not a person, not a pet, not a wild animal, not even a houseplant. No dying allowed. None.

We have dealt with enough of death, I don't want death to be lurking in the form of a book, overshadowing our Christmas, damn it.

I could tell all of this crazy stuff to his very nice teacher or I could just be direct and request a different book and not explain why, but neither option seems quite right.

I never know how to handle stuff like this.

I guess I'll abandon the email and just make a phone call tomorrow morning.

I'll let the school folks think what they want about me.

I'll be happy to just have a week of vacation with my kids and lots cozy reading time together on the couch. We don't have to read gorgeously written wretchedly sad stories though. Maybe we could just make up our own stories. Stories where the dogs and tigers and cats and old ladies, the loving ones, never have to die.

Little boys can be happy and not worry about death lurking, little boys can play fetch with the good dogs who are happy and who don't have to die. Little boys and old ladies can travel on the backs of tigers, who do not have to be a threat to anyone and need not have to die, with warm purring cats perched on their shoulders like parrots or curled atop their heads, living breathing cat turbans, bowlers, sombreros, or sleek kitty-cat cloche, depending on the disposition of the cat and the boy and the lady, also perhaps the day of the week and the season.

Those who are dear and deserving will be with us always. We can make things the way we need them to be. It's okay to want our stories to be fun and happy. Sad stories aren't better they're just sad.








Friday, December 13, 2013

The anniversary of Sandy Hook approaches while the news of the school shooting today in Colorado unfolds.



The anniversary of Sandy Hook approaches while the news of the school shooting today in Colorado unfolds.

Last night my son asked me why there were bad people in the world. My son isn't aware of the depth of the issue, but he knows there are bad people in the world who do bad things, and his question is why.

I haven't got an answer for him.

I have not one fucking idea.

I didn't tell him that.

I told him I didn't know why some people did bad things, but most people are good, and that he is safe.

Later, I asked my husband what he thought.

He suggested that people do bad things because they think they are doing right things.

I see his point, to a point, but that wouldn't account for most of the bad stuff that happens.

Let's think about the types of bad guys I've been hearing about in the news lately:

You've got your Kim Jong-un's and your Taliban gunmen who shoot little girls on their way to school.

You've got school shooters.

You've got your sadistic jealous boy-friend rapist-stranglers and then there are the baby molesters.

There are men who kidnap and brutalize young women for a decade or more and men in war ravaged countries who use rape as a weapon just like shooting a gun.


The young man who raped and tortured his girlfriend for hours until he got her to "confess" to having an affair and then strangled her with an electrical cord, did he think he was justified? This happened just a few blocks from my house a couple of weeks ago.

Did this piece of shit really think he was doing the right thing? If that poor young woman did sleep with some other dude, and it's none of anyone's business if she did or didn't, the correct response is not rape, torture, and murder. Do we really need to write this shit down in such specific detail? Should this guy's mom and dad have told him, Son, if you're dating a young woman and you think she's got another dude on the side, don't hurt her, just break up with her. Remember, Jr., no killing. It's not the right thing to do.

Did the Taliban gunman who shot Malala really think he was doing the right thing?

If you're a religious zealot, Let me give you some advice:

If Allah or God or Whoever tells you, "Go kill people", question His motives. If Allah or God or Whoever tells you, "Go kill children" you don't even need to question His motives. It's clear you've been duped into working for Team Satan and you NEED TO STOP DOING HIS BIDDING and redeem your fucking ass immediately.

If you're an American teenager who's mad at a teacher or a classmate, it is never ever ever okay to bring a gun to school and start shooting people. Okay? I don't care if the teacher kept you after school, gave you a bad grade, or insulted your favorite baseball team. Shooting teachers is bad. So is raping them and cutting them up with box cutters. If you have a crush on a beautiful teacher, you are not allowed to rape and/or murder her. It's wrong. If what you are contemplating involves blood shed and/or inflicting pain on another person, it's wrong and you must not do it.

If your classmates ignore your attempts to be friends, call you fat or dumb, take your lunch money or even punch you or hurt you physically, YOU MAY NOT SHOOT THEM. EVER. You just can't. You can hate them, you can report them, but you can not kill them.

If a girl or boy says No to sex, you're not allowed to rape them. Ever. Rape is bad and wrong. And while we're on that subject, molesting anybody is wrong, that included toddlers and little children. There is no way that raping babies is okay. Just no.

If you are a sexually repressed middle aged man, you are not allowed to kidnap, imprison, enslave, beat, and rape women in your home for a decade. You can't even do it for one day. Or a fraction of a day. You can't do it at all because it's wrong and bad. If you have a serious kink in your sexual proclivities and you want to do those things, I would recommend therapy. It may be hard to find a good therapist but I bet it's easier than abducting multiple women and keeping them hidden in your home for 10 years.

Kim Jong-un is a seriously warped and emotionally twisted horror story of a man. So, if you ever find yourself in his shoes, figuratively speaking of course, please note that allowing the citizens of your country to starve, emotionally manipulating them on a mass scale, and curbing all their personal freedoms is wrong. Using your authority to get back at old girl friends by having them executed would also be a wrong thing to do. Killing your uncle is probably wrong too. If you have forced labor camps full of men, women, and children, you're doing it wrong. You're doing everything wrong.

War is bad, but it happens. If you are a soldier and you are fighting your enemy on the battlefield, that's one thing, but if you systematically hunt down and gang rape women and little girls, that's really really wrong. It's just so wrong.

If you meet someone who is different than you and you feel uncomfortable, you are not allowed to brutalize them or kill them.

I don't care if you're living in a small town in Maine and  you're as straight as a heterosexual arrow and a troupe of drag queens from NYC comes sashaying into your town and they each wink their long fake lashes at you and blow you kisses. I don't care if they line up and take turns asking nicely if they can suck your straight rural country boy cock, you may not punch, kick, immolate, or murder any one of them. You may decline or you may accept their invitation, your choice, but you may not harm them in any way.

Murder is wrong, rape is wrong.

Shooting people is wrong.

Once more for emphasis, killing, maiming, raping, brutalizing, and torturing people is never okay. Ever. Never. Never EVER. NEVER.

Just to clear up any ambiguity.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Deck the Halls with Boughs of Self Doubt and Worry ... but maybe you don't have to

It's the holiday season and I'm not depressed and anxious.

At least I don't think I'm depressed and anxious.

We have our Christmas tree up, which is nice.
We started our shopping earlier than usual.

That was good.

We've decided that gifts for the kids will be thoughtful but not extravagant.
Books, lots of books, and cool t-shirts and cool socks.
We are officially not getting a new game system. We can't afford it and we don't need it.

I have noticed over the course of the past few years that the Christmases when we buy less stuff, the kids seem happier.

It was easier to buy less when the kids got hip to the truth about Santa.

They were both pretty young when they started asking the hard questions. It was such a relief not to have to lie to them anymore.

When they believed in Santa they were under the impression that the number of gifts they got was a reflection of how good they were. My husband and I would break the bank trying to reassure our kids that they were indeed imbued with more than enough goodness.

Inevitably at the end of the day they'd realize that cousins and friends had received way more stuff from Santa than they had. They began to draw logical but wrong conclusions about who's good and who's bad and how you can tell.

Right before we killed the Santa myth, my very rational very serious very bright daughter who was 7 at the time, pointed out the glaring inequity. She said something like, "I am very good. Why doesn't Santa bring me as much as he brings other kids? Does Santa think the kids who live in big houses are better than me? Does Santa think I am Bad? Because if he does, he's stupid and he's a big jerk and I will find him and I will kick him."

I was so glad to say goodbye to Santa. Life got simpler.

Anyway, I'm trying to take inventory of my holiday anxieties.

I'm a bit worried about Christmas dinner because I think I volunteered to cook Christmas dinner again this year. I may have invited people to my house for Christmas dinner...okay, so did invite people over for dinner and that means I'm supposed to make good  food. That's sort of stressful.

I must have been high on Thanksgiving Turkey fumes when I agreed to host Christmas dinner.

I don't expect we'll be making a lovely roast like last year, but it's nothing I'm going to lose sleep over.

We'll eat something, there will be food, Christmas dinner will happen, it just might look different than usual.

That's okay.

I think this is the first year ever that I haven't been crazed with holiday anxiety.

It's weird. I almost feel like I'm forgetting to do something.

Christmas tree? Yup.

Holiday gifts? Yup.

Christmas cards? Yup.

Inordinate feelings of doom and impending disaster?

Inordinate feelings of doom and impending disaster? Huh. Not this year.

One of the few things I remember clearly from last year is the sound of my heart pounding ominously in my ears. Looking at last year's Christmas photos I look like I'm going to have a heart attack. My face is flushed beet red and not from wine either, and I have that clenched jaw toothy grin that either signifies rigor mortis has set in or I'm teetering on the brink of hysteria. My eyes are glazed.

Everything about my aspect is screaming, HELP ME MERRY GODDAMNEDMOTHERFUCKING CHRISTMAS CAN I GET YOU ANYTHING TO EAT OR DRINK OH MY GOD SOMEBODY HELP ME!

This year, so far, I am mostly calm and strangely not sad.

What's wrong with me?

I must be depressed and anxious, I just don't know it yet.

Or am I?

I don't really know.

Maybe I'm normal.

Maybe I'm really just fine and there is nothing to worry about.

What if  I'm fine and there is nothing to worry about?

Let me try that out and see that that feels like:

I am fine and there is nothing to worry about.

Wow. That's okay.

Everybody is good enough and there will be enough of everything to go around.

I've got my good kids, my good husband, my good family, and beloved good friends to hold on to.

Everything is going to be fine.

You've got lots of good people in your life, too.

You've got everything you need to be okay.

This year I propose we all spend more time with the people we love than we spend with our worries and our fears.

Who knows, we might stumble out of anxiety and sadness into some kind of  happiness.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Just a few minutes

I've got a little less than an hour to write today's blog post.

I'm sitting at Bagel Central at my favorite table -- by the window second table on the left as you enter, with my favorite bagel -- sesame water bagel with butter, and my favorite coffee -- large.

A toddler, a little boy with big eyes and a tiny dollop of a nose weaves around the room on stiff legs. He wears a navy blue coat with the hood up. Long loose light brown curls poke out from under the hood. His young father follows but doesn't hover.

The little boy sees the old fashioned cast iron steam radiator. His interest is peaked, he puts on a burst of speed and reaches out. The curious look on the boy's face changes to confusion and from confusion to a pained grimace as he touches the hot radiator.

The dad deftly scoops his son up in one arm and says quietly and calmly, "No, don't touch. Hot." They move out of my line of sight. I expect the child to cry. He doesn't.

A few moments later I hear the little boy meowing softly like a cat. His father pushes him, now safely buckled into his stroller, out of the warm restaurant and into the cold  blue December afternoon.

The boy wears a pair of much too large dun colored fleece mittens. He waves his hands in the air and laughs to see the mittens flap like little wings as they walk past my window and away.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Homework Help Desk: It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that AB AB AB Scheme, Do ah do ah do ah do ah...

My son is still working on poetry for school. He's trying his hand at many different rhyme schemes. It seems like it would be easy until you try.


Tonight's post is for my poetry writing son.


Writing poetry in verse
is like trying to refold a map
after unfolding it

Take this small
perfect
contained
rectangle

open it

shake it

it unfurls
it rattles
it blows in the wind

lay it down on the ground

flatten it
with your sweat damp hands

You are here.
Where are you going?

Once you have your bearings,
try to find the one right way
to make this unwieldy flapping expanse
fit again
into the small space
it once was small enough to fit
perfectly

refold
along
the creases
running sharply through
rivers
mountains,
towns
and
cities
unnamed townships
interstate highways
and railroad tracks
ponds and oceans
and oceans
and lakes

folding a map is
strange origami
writing a poem
in verse
is folding feelings
like a map
into a bird


Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Christmas Tree, the Cat Door, the Nice Lady Who Seems to Be Losing Her Grip, and Also...an ADORABLE Cat Picture!

We put up our Christmas tree today. We also installed a cat door. We did a lot of other crazy stuff too, not the least of which was me getting pissed off at a clerk in a drug store.

My latent asshole gene was activated and manifesting itself.

I was foiled in my attempt to run an emergency last minute errand for my elderly mom.

After I was mean to the drug store clerk I apologized profusely. She, after all, had nothing to do with making stupid store policies.

See? Even when I am the asshole customer I come to my nice lady senses, own my bad behavior and apologize.

However, I digress. One day I'll write a story called The Nice Lady Who Acted Like an Asshole in the Drug Store Because the Cashier Could Not Would Not Go Into the Storeroom for the Correct Size and Brand of Adult Hygiene Product (not for the nice lady, but for the nice lady's elderly mother, remember that!) Even Though The Drug Store Has Them in Stock Because it is  Sunday and the Adult Hygiene and Other Medical Supplies Department is Closed on Sundays.

But not today.

Back to my original story, today my daughter and I decorated the Christmas tree while my husband and ten year old son installed a cat door.

I could write a book, A Boy and His Dad: Power Tools and Power Struggles, but that's for another day, too.
 
Our old house was built in 1880. Typical of houses built at this time in this part of New England, our house is a series of many small rooms separated by many doors.

Despite the fact that that house looks biggish on the outside, the arrangement of rooms and doors makes it feel cramped and claustrophobic on the inside. It's also cold and drafty.

We keep the door from the living room to the downstairs hallway closed to keep in the heat. Because we have two cats who like to go into and out of the living room several times every hour, someone has to stop what they're doing repeatedly throughout the day to open the door, allowing a whimsical cat entrance or egress.

I don't want to be doorman to the cats but it's no use trying to ignore them, they can sit and rattle a door for a long time. This is annoying.

So, a cat door was the answer to our problem. Cats come and go at will, the heat stays in the living room, I am not bothered, what could be simpler?

My husband spent the better part of an hour supervising a ten year old boy with an electric drill equipped with a bit called a hole saw bit. If you do not know what a hole saw bit looks like it looks like a biscuit cutter with shark teeth.

My son is a lovely beautiful boy, but that three quarters of an hour took years off my husband's life and maybe a couple of weeks off mine. I was, after all, not the hands on drill supervising parent. I was taking on the much less harrowing task of tree decoration. I just had to turn my back on the guys with the hole saw bit, sing Deck the Halls at full volume and pretend that everything was fine.

In the end, my husband and son both survived, they both still have all their fingers, and no stitches or skin grafts were required.

Cat door success!

Ah, but wait.

The cats are afraid to go through the cat door.

They approach the door, bat it tentatively with a little paw and when the flap moves they jump a foot in the air and run away.

My son even demonstrated the finer points of cat door operation using as much of his body as would fit through the door, but surprisingly, the cats did not find this reassuring.

So in an effort to get kitties through the cat door the kids and I had a brilliant idea; we put cat nip on the other side of  the door to lure them through.

After some coaxing the cats braved a hop through the door to the nip on the other side.

But after their nip fest they were all stoned and big eyed and weirded out and they just sat there in the cold hallway, staring at us through the hole in the door.
one of the kitties, big eyed, weirded out, looking at us through the cat door...


It then occurred to me that giving the cats drugs and then expecting them to perform a new and, to them, frightening task was a flawed plan.

My son took pity on their poor addled souls and opened the door to let them in.

Looks like my husband and son risked their lives to install a cat window not a cat door.

Looks like my days catering to the whims of cats are not over.



Saturday, December 7, 2013

Don't Judge Me Until You've Walked a Mile In My FUCKING SUPER SHOES

Last night we were finally able to get my son new shoes and a pair of boots.

He's needed new shoes for a while, and winter in the North East requires appropriate foot gear, so we've known that new boots would be an inevitable purchase too.

Until last night, things never really worked out for us to go shopping.

Either we had the time but not the money or the money but not the time.

At the end of September my son sprained his foot and it's ill advised  to shop for new shoes when you've got a swollen foot. Our car was dying and we needed to get a newer one. Our daughter's birthday was in October so most of our extra cash went to buy gifts for her. Last month my son had strep so some potential shopping days were nixed due to illness, and there was Thanksgiving which also sort of got in the way of shoe shopping, too for a multitude of reasons. Also my mom was ill, and there was work and just everything.

Meanwhile we made do with what we had and my son appropriated my winter boots after the first snow fall. My feet got wet and cold walking home from work but this is the first time I've articulated that reality and I'm not complaining. I'm just stating the fact that the kids do come first around here.

Last night after dinner we finally had  money, time, and good health concurrently so we were off to Super Shoes to buy some shoes. Super! I've bought shoes and boots from cheaper places but I've found after 15 years of parenthood, in the long run it's less expensive and easier to buy one good pair of boots and one good pair of shoes. Otherwise it's January and the Wal-Mart boots which were never very warm anyway, have completely ripped apart and there isn't a pair of boots to be had because all the stores are selling sandals and flip flops, even though we're going to have another 3 months of snowy weather.

Anyhow....

We thought we'd make it a fun family outing. We're simple folk. Yay! Shoe shopping fun times!

We started our fun shoe shopping adventure with the obligatory measuring of the boys' feet with the Brannock Device.

His right foot measured a 6, a kid size.

His left foot measured a  size 7 which is a grown-up man size, which means my son has one kid foot and one man foot.

What to do?

We wandered around. I noted the lack of any size 7 shoes. I thought, hey! I'll go ask a person who works here! Maybe there is a cool solution to this problem. Shoe inserts perhaps? Or something?

I approached a young woman wearing a name tag. I assumed she was an employee of the store and would know things like where shoes were and the basics of human communication. I explained our funny situation one size 6 boy foot and one size 7  man foot, and also noted that there weren't any size 7's around and asked her what she might recommend.

She looked at me and said, "Uh....I....

"Yes?"

She averted her eyes and said, "Don't know."

"Oh-kay then." I said.

And then this dude walked over. He was a tall kid mid 20's with a goatee and a condescending manner.

He exuded arrogant gamer boy pheromones.

I nicely explained my predicament, boy with mismatched feet, asked for any insider advice goateed gamer shoe salesman might offer. I was sincerely polite.

Sales dude then said something that went like this: "This happens every year. Parents somehow forget that it's winter in Maine. Right after the first snow storm everyone comes in here looking for winter boots. If we have anything  left in a size 7 it would be (muffle muffle) brand or (unintelligible to the listener) brand."

"OH. Really? Huh. Is that what happens? HUM. Okay. So, where might the seasonally shortsighted parents like myself find these boots? Because really, despite my obvious shortcomings, my son still needs boots."

Condescending shoe dude motioned vaguely with a wave of his hand toward the back of the store.

I'm a nice lady. I am the nice customer. I worked in retail, my mom worked in retail, I know that customers are sometimes assholes. I am not that customer. Having worked in retail, I know that part of the job involves helping all the customers, the nice ones, the stupid ones, and the assholes, find the shit they want to buy.

Shopping is stressful for my son. Huffing out of the store with my family in tow and driving to another shoe store would only increase my son's anxiety, so I gritted my teeth and tried to find something that would fit the boy.

He picked up on my changed mood right away so I had to tell him truthfully that the clerk was a bit rude to me and it made me mad but that was okay, I was going to work through my anger, my son hadn't done anything wrong, and in the grand scheme, it really didn't matter what the sales clerk said to me, it was up to me to be a grown up.

The boy found a pair of boots he loved in a size 8. He tried them on and they fit his bigger foot just fine. We found a pair of sneakers in a size 8 and they were okay, too.

I wondered if, not being foot measuring professionals, we measured his feet wrong. I  wondered had a nice sales clerk type person helped us we might have discovered our error, gotten an accurate measurement and picked the right shoes without worry. Or maybe we were just lucky and found the brand of shoes that runs a bit small and though our measurement was accurate the Kamik boots run small, so a Kamik size 8 fits like a 7....anyway, had we been helped in a meaningful way, we'd be laughing happy customers who felt good about buying shoes.

We could have dropped a shit load of money on new foot wear for a kid right before Christmas, knowing that our Christmas budget would be significantly reduced, and not felt quite so sick about it.

Had shoe store dude helped us, we would be happy to shop there again, because, let's face it, I have a growing boy with weird and giant feet. We're going to be buying shoes every 6 months for him until he's 18, 6' 10", with one size 15 foot and one size 16 foot.

If people continue to buy stuff from their store, they get to have a place to work. Being helpful is job insurance.

I know shoe store guy makes shit money. I know he does. I know deer in the headlights clerk gal makes shit money too.

My college graduated, state university employee, library supervisor husband probably doesn't make much more than these guys do. I can actually guarantee that fact.

I clean dirty toilets for a living. I'm not bringing in the big bucks either, and my job isn't even as glamorous as working at Super Shoes. Clerks and us, we're on the same side.

The reasons we didn't buy the kid winter boots earlier have nothing to do with being negligent, stupid, or lazy.

Anyhow, as we were paying for the shoes, I fought the urge to give the Super Shoes employees a lecture. My husband suggested very gently that I take my fuming self to the car to cool down a bit, because he knows me well and knows sometimes I get very very mad and say things that children don't need to hear, especially children who need expensive things right before Christmas.

And since I'm still trying to stay on track with the blog everyday and it is now nearly tomorrow, I will bid you all a goodnight.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Morning Snapshot: 5:45 a.m. - 7:15 a.m.

Today is one of those Fridays that is misbehaving like a Monday.

My alarm rang for a solid 30 minutes before I even became vaguely aware that it was ringing.

My daughter's alarm didn't go off at all.

There was unfinished homework and panic.

We're out of cereal so even though we were all running late I had to cook breakfast.

I spilled a full bottle of prescription medication on the very dirty kitchen floor and then had to rationalize while I plucked them from the filth and plinked them back in their little amber container that the bacteria would be less harmful if ingested every day for a month with medicine.

Immediately after the medication spill my son spilled a full glass of orange juice across the table and onto my daughter's computer charger which, thankfully, was not attached to my daughter's computer but was, horribly, still plugged into the outlet.

On the upside even thought I did holler "Oh Shit!" when I spilled the meds, I showed off my mid-cuss abandonment reflexes by hollering, "FFFFFFffffff-ooooo-poo!" when the juice spill almost killed us .

This silly non-swear swear made my son laugh so hard and loud that all bad stuff was fixed forever and nothing bad ever happened again, because his laughter is that awesome.

Also on the upside, my daughter finished her paper on why we should raise the minimum wage to $20 an hour and it sort of KICKS ASS. I love it that she's audacious enough to speak the truth as she sees it without apology.

Then end.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

in the deep dark: thinking about the shit that scares me

Yeah, I'm feeling pretty pissed off today.

I've been thinking about the upcoming anniversary of the Newtown shootings. I'm pissed off about the 911 calls being released to the public. I'm scared too, thinking about crazy folks having access to the 911 calls from that day. 

I imagine that some fucked up fucker might find inspiration in listening to those calls, that by making those calls public we're sowing the seeds for future horrors. 

I feel some relief that December 14th is a Sunday this year. 

In other bleak news today:

North Korea has been enlarging their prison camps, says Amnesty International. 

Low end estimate for prison camp population is 150,000 people. 

These are forced labor camps. People are starved, worked to death, raped, beaten, tortured and executed. Inmates of these camps include children. 

I thought we'd vowed never let this kind of evil happen again and yet we've let it happen again and again and again. Come to think of it, we all agreed that there would never be another Newtown and yet we've done precocious  little to prevent it. 

Thinking of the horrors in the world doesn't lead to deep and abiding faith or feelings of deep gratitude.

The fact that bad shit happens all the time all over the world points to the lack of an omnipotent moral authority. It reminds me that evil is real and those who deal in brutality are arbitrary in meting it out. 


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Homework Help Desk: In the Trenches


My daughter has to choose a poem, memorize it, and recite it in front of her class on Friday.
This evening my daughter has been complaining vociferously, cursing poetry, having to read it is a bore, having to memorize it is a waste, having to recite it is an indignity, having to listen to other people recite it is an injustice of great magnitude.

My daughter hasn't shared her chosen poem with me, she's too nervous. But she asked me for some advice anyway, and I stupidly offered her some.

I cautioned her against reciting poetry in that horrid monotone that people often adopt when reading poetry. I suggested she kick that approach to the curb and that she adopt a more natural tone.

She stared at me with her withering stare of pure disdain. But poetry isn't NATURAL, MOTHER.

I mentioned I would have loved having an opportunity to recite poetry when I was in school. My son said he loved to read, memorize, and recite poetry. My daughter glared at me, then turned the glare on her brother and said, "I didn't ask to be born into this family."

Ouch. 

My go to method for alleviating stress and sorrow is to act like a fool and incite riotous laughter from the children, so in that spirit, I performed an interpretive recitation of my son's spelling lesson. I was brilliant, my performance was a hit. Both kids laughed, everybody felt better.

My job was done.

As I stood up from the table my girl wrapped her arms around me and gave me a hug.

My girl went back to her work, happily abandoning poetry for the surety of science.

My son set to work on his homework too, part of which was to write an acrostic poem.

This is what he came up with:

High winds
Unpredictable
Run
Run for your life
It
Can cause mass destruction
An ambulance is
Needed --
Emergency!


I think this is a super acrostic poem. I wonder if perhaps he'll be docked points for the repetition of the word run ... but I think using run twice works here, it gives the the poem a sense of urgency, and perhaps the "It  Can cause mass destruction" isn't what the teacher is looking for, but again, I think his approach is bold and innovative. Go poetry boy! Go go!!

The best part of  tonight's homework help desk came later.

My son's spelling assignment was to write a letter to a cowboy or cowgirl (I have no freaking idea why a cowperson, but there it is) using four words from his spelling list.

This is what he came up with:


Dear Cowboy Bob,

I heard your fifteen year old mustang impaled you with a fragment of goggles. Hope you live.

Sincerely,
S.

That right there, people, that's what's known as a "Pièce de  freaking résistance".

Genius.













Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Waiting

Today is about waiting rooms.

I am in a waiting room, waiting.

The doctor whose waiting room I'm sitting in has gone to some effort to make me comfortable. I appreciate the effort.

The Road to Shambala is playing on the oldies station.

I like this song but wouldn't ever seek it out. I'm almost glad to sit here and wait. 

Earlier today, I waited for my daughter at the orthodontist. The orthodontist tries to appeal to his clientele who are between the ages of 12-18. The music that plays in his waiting room makes waiting less fun. 

Later today I'll sit and wait for my elderly mother while she sees her doctor. Mom's doctor should play music in her waiting room, maybe some Elvis or Sinatra for the old waiting people. I don't recall there being any music piped in to keep the old folks calm and happy. All I recollect hearing at Mom's doctor's office is shuffling, sniffling, the occasional dry cough and the flipping of magazine pages.

But for now, I am here, waiting for my own doctor, listening to the oldies station.

I am sitting  an over-stuffed black leather wing back chair. The chair is slick and I slide around. If I slide my self  all the way to the back of the chair in order to sit up straight, my stubby legs do not quite touch the ground, so I lean back and slide myself forward. My feet touch the ground but the rest of me reclines awkwardly. This pose does nothing for my double chin. I'm glad I'm alone in the waiting room. Next to my slick black chair is a huge equally slick looking black leather couch.

In front of the shiny black couch sits an ugly glass topped coffee table.

On the ugly glass topped coffee table sits an equally ugly ceramic boot full of artificial pink and yellow flowers, which are also ugly.

The Road to Shambala is over.

Jingles telling me to do business with some local schmoes start to play. The sound of these local ads grates on my nerves. I have no idea what they're trying to get me to buy or where they want me to shop. I'd give my left nut to hear the crap music that was playing in the orthodontist waiting room. I do not have a left nut, or even a right nut, but I'd be  willing to part with an ovary to make these shitty jingles stop.

A faux Colonial primitive picture with all the traditional primitive Colonial motifs so it won't be lost on the casual observer that this is a primitive Colonial piece, hangs opposite where I am awkwardly reclining.

The picture includes a blue star, two weeping willows, a red brick house, two crows in silhouette, a pineapple, and a sheep. The word Simplify is stenciled over the crows. The person who made this thing might have taken their own advice, but no.

The creator of this picture forgot to include the classic stylized Colonial brick-red heart. To remember the sheep and the pineapple but forget the heart, that's crazy.  

Perhaps the key to simplicity is forgetting the heart. This makes me sad.

On another wall hangs a clock. Next to the clock hangs a seascape in oranges and pinks. It would be pretty if it didn't evoke Thomas Kinkade. The only thing missing is a quaint thatched cottage floating in the glistening surf.

I look at the ugly ceramic boot with the ugly flowers again.

It's so ugly it makes me mad.

Just then a door opens, the doctor can see me now.

As I slip and slide my way out of the chair, a John Cougar Mellencamp "ditty" begins to play. The word "ditty" is a travesty, the song gives me hives and makes me wretch.

I hate this song more than I hate the ugly boot vase and ugly flowers.

I am grateful to walk into the doctor's exam room, grateful when she closes the door behind me.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Day 30

My husband is sewing a giant pillow like thing to tuck next to the bottom of the front door to keep the draft out.
He is using some of the left over red felt from Halloween costumes and some of the kids out-grown t-shirts as stuffing.

He and my son sit together on the couch, my son is sewing up the end of the pillow while my husband gives him gentle pointers and encouragement. My husband is much better at sewing than I am. My husband knows actual stitches, their official names as well as their proper execution. Glad he's around to teach the kids this stuff.

I've been scuffing around today in my pj's and my husband's old grey plaid robe all day. I've got grey baggy circles under my eyes that coordinate nicely with the robe.

I'm feeling a bit run down and am so grateful that I can spend the day inside, puttering around, chatting with the family, making soup with the Thanksgiving leftovers, taking it easy.

I'm grateful that my husband ran errands for my mom today, that he went over to her house and took out her garbage, vacuumed her rugs, and made sure she was doing okay.

I had hoped to write a nice blog post today to commemorate 30 days of blogging, but it's just not going to happen. It's 7:30 in the evening and despite the fact that I haven't done much today and I slept in pretty late, I'm tired and all I want to do is snuggle back on the couch with everyone.

I think I might keep on with the daily blog writing for the month of December. Maybe I'll have more to say tomorrow, or the next day, or the next.

You don't really know what will happen until you sit down to write.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Punt! Keeping it Short

Earlier today, my husband and I helped out my mom, We gave the kids a lot of space to do the stuff they like to do without nagging them. Later in the day the four of us played a board game, we ate a big dinner, and my husband made the kids awesome red felt squid hats. I'd explain but I have other stuff to do. Suffice it to say, we're content, the kids are adorable, and my husband is cool for sewing hats.

Right now I'm wedged on the couch with my daughter, a cat, the dog, and my husband. My son sits close by. We're watching Man vs Wild. 

Man is doing crazy shit. He's eating a spider and drinking his own urine.

Oh dear.

But the beyond the content of the program we're watching, the thing is, we're watching the show together. And we're not the kind of family to just watch quietly; we add commentary and say silly things, and it's a fun way to be funny and smart together.

Today's blog post is going to be short so I can go back to being with the family.

Black Friday for us has been about resting and taking care of family. I've got to get back to that, it's too precious to miss.

Man just grabbed a poisonous snake and I don't want to miss out on the fun. 





Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving

It's been a great Thanksgiving.

We managed with the help of a good friend to get my mom into the house. She can't walk well so it was tricky getting her up the stairs, but it worked out.

The house was clean enough, the kids were good enough, the food was plentiful. I made good gravy, the turkey wasn't dry. No arguments or vomiting happened. Some of my favorite people in the world were able to sit at the same table and it was a successful day.

So, I write this tonight from the cozy recliner in the corner, feet up. The dog is sprawled across the couch sleeping, my son is quietly playing a game, my husband sits at the table gluing pictures in his collage book, my daughter is sitting at the table next to him, playing with beads, they're talking about books. A Pogues cd is playing in the background.

The dishes are mostly done, and I'm not thinking about Christmas. I'm just going to sit in this warm moment, be in this safe place, enjoy the quiet.

Very thankful indeed.



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving

Yesterday my mom set off her Life Alert alarm by accident.

The Life Alert dude was alerted and called my mom to see if she was okay or if it was a false alarm. My mom didn't answer the phone. Life Alert dude called my sister to see if she thought he should call an ambulance. She wasn't sure. My sister called me to see if I thought she should tell Life Alert dude to call an ambulance. I had tried to call Mom a few minutes before all this and thought it was weird she didn't answer the phone so when my sis asked if she should give Life Alert dude a green light on the ambulance calling, I said, Yes, tell the dude to call an ambulance.

I was worried and scared. I was so worried and scared I appeared to be completely calm. I'm never calm. When I appear calm, you know bad shit is happening.

I couldn't leave my house to go to my mom's to see what the hell was happening, I felt completely useless. So I waited and finished cooking dinner and exuded an air of calm which freaked the kids out.

I kept imagining my mom lying on the floor, hurt, unable to reach the phone. I called her number in the hope that she might answer and be just fine But she did not answer, just the automated robot man voice, please leave a message. So I did. I said, "It's going to be okay Mom. Help is on the way. Don't worry. Hang in there. I love you." I imagined that if my mother was lying on the floor expiring, perhaps my words would be the last she heard. If I couldn't be there to hold her hand, at least my disembodied voice floating from the answering machine might be a comfort. And then I thought maybe it would scare her, so I hung up.

A few minutes later I got a call. It was Mom. I can't tell you what a relief it was to hear her voice. She reminded me that the folks in her building were having a community Thanksgiving supper. She'd been happily chowing down on her mashed potatoes with gravy and stuffing and cranberry sauce when a couple of paramedics bustled into the building. Mom wondered who might have taken ill or gotten hurt.

The paramedics headed down the hall to my mom's apartment. One of the other residents saw them at my mom's door. She told the paramedics that my mom was at the dinner in the community room. The paramedics hustled into the community room. My mother asked them, "What the hell do you want with me? I'm perfectly fine, obviously." And then they left. Also, the turkey was dry. She was not going to eat that dry turkey. Roast pork was also on the menu but she can't stand roast pork I mean...REALLY. Roast pork? Bleh! Dry turkey! Bleh! But the stuffing was very nice.

I was never so happy to hear her complain  in my life. How bad was the turkey, Mom? Tell me again!

So, now it's today. Well, it's today for about 45 minutes more, then it'll be tomorrow. But while it's still today, it's the day before Thanksgiving.

I finally had a job to go to today, a good thing. When you work for yourself, it can suck like that.

I was thankful for the work today even though the timing sort of sucked.

The kids were home today. I could have been home with them making happy holiday memories arguing about cleaning and cooking and stuff. But no.

I worked like a normal person, came home did my dishes so I could start cooking and make more dirty dishes, I made some food for kids to eat, and then kids and I made a couple of pies.

We ate dinner. My husband was due to come home around 6:30.

He and the kids were going to make their super special traditional holiday pies and I was going to clean the house, mop the floors, clean the bathrooms, that sort of thing. You really can't mop floors and clean bathrooms for company too far ahead. People walk on floors and they .. you know ... go to the bathroom. Floors and bathrooms get dirty quickly.

You must wait to mop and clean the bathrooms for the exact right time.
So I waited.

Before my husband arrived home, I got a call from my elderly mom.

She hadn't felt well today.

She told me about her sink full of dirty dishes.

She told me about the cat vomit and cat litter on the rug.

She mentioned that the nice lady who cleans for her did not mop her kitchen or bathroom today.

She mentioned that she had mountains of dirty laundry.

I asked if she needed a hand.

She said, "Oh, no no...unless you want to come over."

Of course I do.

I got nothing else going on, Mom.

Happy to do it.

"Great! Since you're going by the grocery store on your way here, could you pick me up a few things?"

No problem, Mom.

So, after my husband came home, I braved the grocery store for an odd assortment of items and I headed to Mom's.

I did her dishes, fixed her mop so I could mop the floors, and then mopped the floors. I swept cat litter up, I helped her open her medication bottles, took out her garbage. I fixed her vacuum and then vacuumed her rugs, made her bed, got her mail, gave her walker a good clean up because really, yikes, and I loaded up a mountain of dirty laundry to bring home with me to do tonight.

I got home around 10:30 or so.

It's cool. Before I left she told me she had been feeling a little lonely today and was glad to see a familiar face. She thanked me again for coming over and doing stuff. I told her I didn't mind at all.

And I didn't mind. Honest. I was happy, truly happy to help my mom.

I am not going to get around to cleaning my house tonight though. Maybe tomorrow, but maybe not. When my company comes over, nobody is going to be checking out my dirty floors. If they do, they're all such good kind people, it won't be in a mean way. They might look at the magnificently dirty kitchen floor and say, "Whoa! Nobody does dirty kitchen floor quite as well as you!"

Plus, with all those folks walking around the house, it makes sense to wait until Friday to mop. Really. It's just going to get dirty again. The bathrooms, I'll get to them, but the floors and the tidying up? Not looking likely. But that's okay.

So as I hastily tap this little story blog post thing out, in the last remaining minutes of Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my beautiful good kids, my loyal and steadfast husband, and my mom, who is still here.
























Tuesday, November 26, 2013

In Which I Clean a Thing, Ruin a Thing, But Every Thing is Okay Anyway

I used the self cleaning feature on the oven the other day. Self cleaning is sort of a funny term for what amounts to cremating the earthly remains of the lasagne and the pies that cooked over and ran all over the bottom of the oven at temps rivaling the fiery pits of Hell.  

You lock the oven door, you set it to "clean" and it gets very fucking hot. A couple of hours later your kitchen is a tropical vacation destination, the house is full of toxic smoke, making it a polluted tropical vacation destination, and you have a very messy looking ashy mess in your oven.

While way better than spray on oven cleaners, the self cleaning method has problems. For instance, the smoke and ash. I also worry about my oven bursting into flame. I worry that a flaming self cleaning oven would turn my entire house into a flaming self cleaning house. Which would be bad.

Anyway.

Thanksgiving is a high impact cooking holiday and it heralds the start of the holiday baking season as well, so I figured I needed to clean the freaking oven. Or rather, I needed the freaking oven to clean its own freaking self.

Because I tend to put non oven-safe crap in the oven when it's off, I made sure to haul everything out of the oven before I set the dial to incinerate. I was careful.

I set the dial to clean. I did other stuff.

I paid no heed to the acrid smoke, though it was thicker than usual. I figured the bad smell was due to the fact I hadn't cleaned the oven since last November.

Later, when the the oven was done cleaning itself and cooling itself down, I opened the door in order to gaze upon its glorious if somewhat apocalyptic ashy-ness. 

In the far back left corner I spied a grey white mass, and what the what? Was that my good serrated knife? The one with the plastic handle?

The one that used to have a plastic handle?

Shit. Fuck. Damn.

I did what any other depressed avoidant person would do; I closed the oven door and pretended I didn't see what had just happened there.

I didn't even tell my husband.

My kids were there when I made my terrible discovery.

They watched me close the door, they heard me say, "Well. I guess I'll take care of that...later."

For a day and a half, I thought about chipping the chunk of melted plastic out of the oven. I dreaded it. I imagined chipping the hunk of plastic out of the oven would take a long time. I thought, if I can't chip the glob out I'll have to try to melt it again. I imagined the evil chemicals that would spew forth again and the smell, and what if I couldn't get it all out and Thanksgiving would be ruined and maybe we'd need to buy a new stove and Christmas is coming and OMG. 

Walk away but worry. That's my motto!   

Tonight, my intrepid little son presented me with my oven re-forged serrated knife. "Good as new!" he said. Where the handle had recently been was now wrapped in several layers of plastic wrap. Good as new, indeed. Or really, even better than new, because, what a sweet good kid to try to fix this for me.

My son's optimism and kindness encouraged me to assess the damage in the oven.

Together, he and I slowly opened the over door. We peered into the dark corner at the cooled and hardened melted plastic puddle. I took my better than new knife and I poked at the mass. It fell at the touch of the blade, in a powdery ashy puff.

It was just a pile of ash.
 
Well, good heavens.
 
How the fuck hot does the freaking oven get when you set it to clean?!

Jesus, it's a wonder the whole freaking house didn't burn down!

Turned the plastic to ash.

I'll be damned. Most likely.

And so, it's all cleaned up.

It was easy.

Kids can sometimes make us braver better people.

Most things really are not as bad as you think they're going to be.

I'm thankful. 




Monday, November 25, 2013

Don't even waste your time reading this shit. Thank you.

I'll be thankful when November is over and I won't need to blog every day. Although I might sign on for December, because despite the fact that blogging is starting to feel masturbatory and not in a good way, at least I'm doing something. But if  blog-sturbating in public is the measure of my productivity, perhaps it's time for me to reassess.


Hey. Look. I made up a new word.

Blog-sturbation, blog-sturbating.

I'm fucking Shakespeare. 

Now I'm laughing at my own jokes. I immediately feel that deep shame that comes with any sinful activity.

Tsk tsk. 






Sunday, November 24, 2013

Short List: Good Things About Being in a Relationship For a Wicked Long Time



1)    You and your partner have a shared history so you can have conversations that make no sense to anyone else: "You remember that time when..." (perform odd hand gesture and make whistling noises) "Of course I do!" You know they know exactly what you're talking about. 

2)    Your partner remembers who you really are. You may not look like your younger self to anyone else, but to each other, you're the same. 

3)    Chances are you are not going to grow old alone.

4)    Your partner knows what your weaknesses are and can jump in and give you a hand when you need it.

5)    They know what your strengths are and they aren't threatened, they think it's cool that you are awesome.

6)    Farting, belching, scratching, morning breath, it's okay.

7)    You will never have to recount all the horror stories of your youth to another romantic partner. I mean, damn, that's tedious. 

8)   You know that arguments and angry feelings don't signal the end of anything.

9)   Your partner has seen you at your worst and they're not afraid. 

10)  


There's more. But I have to stop now. Kids and stuff.  



  





Saturday, November 23, 2013

Pre-Thanksgiving Holiday to-do List (s)

Well, I'm not going to wait until 11:30 tonight to write today's blog post.

Waiting until 11:30 last evening didn't really work out well for me, but yesterday was sort of a bad day, maybe the worst day in a short series of successive suck days in a row, so I'm letting it be okay.

I'm thinking about all the stuff that needs to be done before Thanksgiving.

1) clean oven

Hey wait, do I really need to clean the oven? Perhaps the smoldering black residue in the oven will impart a nice smoky flavor to the turkey. It sounds fucking gourmet. 

Screw oven cleaning then. I'm going to cross that off the list and add smoked fucking gourmet turkey to the menu. 

New #1)  clean out fridge

I really have to do that because the inside of my fridge is a horror show of errant dog hairs, pinkish congealed tacky spills, and other scary shit. People not part of my immediate family may be opening my fridge this Thanksgiving, people I admire, so I must clean the fridge and then act all casual, Hey, my fridge always looks so damn good. Love me. 


2) Organize pots and pans cupboard. See New #1, change the word fridge to cupboard. 


3) Do lots of other stuff

Number three is vague. It's the most difficult item on the list. I will spend my time running around in circles and accomplishing nothing in order to address item #3. I will probably spend the rest of my life on it. 

But before I get going on this list, I think I'll start another list: 

1) Advil. Many. I must take them

2) Coffee. Another please. 

3) Anything else I can think of to keep me from the first list, which ironically is also #3 on the first list. 

4) Conclude it's all a tangle but everything is connected and it just doesn't matter because it all matters...

5) so I might as well just go take a nap and feel okay about it






Friday, November 22, 2013

shame rage spiral of doom

I'm consciously trying to keep depression at arms length.

This is not easy.

I've been trying to put myself back together. This is not easy either, but it's necessary if I want to keep the depression away.

Being raised in a home with a sadistic narcissistic parent has damaged me. As a child, I had to fracture my self to adapt to the crazy crap at home and while this kept me from feeling the bad stuff while it was happening, long term effects, not good.

My spouse endured much of the same crap I did when he was growing up. The fact that we both are still alive, that we are not bitter mean stunted people, and that we've managed to be good parents to awesome kids despite everything, is evidence that we're fucking awesome.

While I've just about knitted my fractured self together for the first time since I was 3 years old, everything isn't all better. I'm not better. I mean, I'm better than I was, but there is still work I need to do, and every day I run the risk that some little thing will send me into a shame spiral.

And that's what happened today.

I got an email from a family member with a link to a study that suggests obesity is a cause of migraine headaches. I've had many migraines. I currently am a bit on the round side.

It might be easy to say I'm overreacting and that I shouldn't feel hurt. I am a chubby gal, though not medically obese. How would he know I'm not "really" obese? I am fat. Perhaps this person was really just approaching me in the spirit of loving kindness.

Only, I know that's not the case, given past experiences, given the physical and emotional torture this person inflicted on me as a child. Given the fact that I have dealt with anorexia and bulimia. This person
knows to insinuate I'm obese will hurt me a lot. A lot a lot a lot.

When dealing with a narcissist, it's almost impossible to defend yourself. The victim is often scapegoated, undermined, and shamed. Eventually you just admit you're wrong, even if you're right, because it's less painful to simply be wrong than it is to defend yourself against the relentless emotional bashing.

I was tempted to email this person some information about the possible correlation between obesity in women and childhood physical and/or sexual abuse, but I think the safest thing for me to do is just disengage from further contact.

In the meantime, the episode left me sick, sad, physically numb, and full of rage. Before I could see what was happening, I'd transferred the anger I was feeling toward my fat shaming relative to my husband, who was sitting there saying words he thought would be reassuring. I think he said, "That's laughable!  You're not obese. That's a crock of shit." But my fractured mind heard my husband say, "You're ridiculous, of course you're obese. You're a piece of shit. Everyone thinks you are obese and a piece of shit." I could not hear his real words, just the words I'd been taught I deserved to hear.

Some part of my brain was grounded enough in reality to reel me back in. I asked my husband to tell me again what he had said. I reminded myself that my husband is my ally and friend, a person who loves me no matter how fat or thin I get and he's proved this to be true in his actions toward me. I was able to see that the fury and anger and rage and sadness I was feeling was intended for someone else, and the depth of my emotion belies the depth of the manipulation and cruelty that had been inflicted on me in the past.

When I named the true target for my anger and when I gave myself permission to believe that I had a right to be angry, I felt the rage leave my body.

I've recovered enough and reintegrated my self enough to recognize that I really was a victim of abuse as a kid, that I do not now nor have I ever deserved to be abused, and I'm not the morally flawed inferior party in all of this.

I'm the okay one. He's the one with the problem.

In the past I would have gotten stuck in the misdirected rage. This whole incident would have triggered a severe depressive episode. It could have sent me into a deep enough depression that I might have seriously contemplated hurting myself. As it is, I felt like crap for the better part of the afternoon and evening.

I'm still experiencing physical numbness in my arms and legs, my thinking is slower than usual, I'm tired and a little sad, but I'm functional, and that's a success.

I'm not all better, but I'm getting better.










Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hey, Look! I'm being an ungrateful bitching person!

It's getting late. 

I'm fighting the urge to bang my head against hard things. 

I've written and abandoned several little essays. 

Nobody cares. 

Plus, I have messes to clean. 

I would like to write about the amber necklace.

I would like to write about the new shoes.

I would settle for writing about today's visit with my mother.

I would settle for an essay about my daughter's Spanish homework.

I would even be okay with writing about cleaning houses.

But nope. It's not going to happen.

It's all about the scurrying around and never getting anything completely done. 

Piles of dirty laundry to be washed, piles of clean laundry to be folded, piles of dishes, but Jesus Christ, I haven't I been doing laundry and washing dishes all fucking day?! How can there still be laundry and dishes?!

HOW?!

The relentless drudgery is eroding my soul. Okay, that's a bit over the top. 

No. No it's not over the top. It's the complete true story. 

Drudgery is my life and it sucks. 

So, good readers, I'm off to oversee the completion of homework, I'm off to do the goddamned dishes, again, I'm off to wash and fold every fucking towel, t-shirt, and sock. 

Because it's very important. 

Very.

Important. 


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

On Being Needed Always Until You're Not Needed Only to Be Needed Again Very Soon After

Other people need me.

Right now.

I can sit here quietly and stare at the wall all evening and be completely ignored but the moment I make for the laptop to try to write a blog entry, I'm 100% in demand.

The pulse in my ears is almost as loud as the conversation that the kids are having. The dog is licking the floor, don't know why, and the noise is driving me toward insanity. I have had a headache for two days now.

But hey. That's okay.

The scene: The dining room table, again, always. The time: 7 in the evening. It's completely dark outside, the light inside has a yellowish glare, it must be my headache.

My son is to my left, working on his 5th grade math, stem and leaf graphs, and I have no idea what that means.

My daughter is sitting to my right making a paper celestial sphere model which resembles a paper lantern and has become her obsession as she tapes and re-tapes and trims and offers a running commentary on it all.

The boy asks math questions that I can not answer, the daughter attempts to give him helpful information. He misunderstands, she raises her voice. Then he suddenly understands what she's saying though not because she spoke louder but because his brain caught up with the ideas.

The dog has stopped his licking and is sleeping on the floor at my feet. One of the cats begins licking his face.

Daughter continues to attempt to achieve perfection on the paper sphere, she chews a piece of tape like gum. If her brother did that she'd be the first to reprimand him. She points out constellations and makes comments about how stupid they are. The shapes don't look anything like they should. This is silly, she says. This is stupid, she says. Look at Hydra, it's just along chain of unrelated stars, look at Draco, it's just a bunch of unrelated stars. I ask if deconstructing the constellations is part of the assignment because, despite her brilliant mind and charm, I'm finding this one-sided conversation about the dumbness of all things a bit tiresome. And she says, NO. FINE. And she's done with science and is ready to turn her full attention to the very necessary task of sharpening all pencils.

Son motors through the rest of his math. He heads to spelling. He must write a paragraph describing a beautiful park using 4 of his spelling words. Suddenly he is seized with soul deep despair. This task is just too much to ask of a boy. He says, "My mind is too too dark to imagine a beautiful park. It just can't be done." he insists, wretchedly. And then he's off to laugh and talk baby talk to the kitties.

I call the boy back to the table. I ask him to randomly pick four of his words. My son chooses, brawl, turmoil, forbidding, and mouthful. I know this is going to be all kinds of fun. For real. I like this guy. I like my daughter too. I love them and I like them and I need them and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Real Life: The Quicker F***er-Upper

Real life, you are a fucker-upper.

That's okay.

Relinquishing my grip on the fantasy of being able to plan ahead, finding immediate relief of self imposed angst and worry.

From last night my today plans went like this:

1)  rise and shine at 5 a.m. because I go to bed at a decent hour
2)  raise children from their slumber with a warm smile and kind words
3)  prepare healthy foods
4)  bid both my children happiness and success and send them off to school
5)  shower
6)  visit Mom at nursing home at 9 am
7)  go to Mom's apartment and clean up in preparation for her going being discharged from nursing home tomorrow
8)  go to grocery store for Mom
9)  return to Mom's apartment with her food
10) go to my therapist at 11
11) go back to nursing home with stuff Mom needs for tomorrow
12) go home and clean up my own crap
13) Welcome my eldest child home at 2:15
14) do the all the other stuff and usual homework dinner routine...etc

Reality:

1)  foolishly stayed up til 1:30 am when spouse returned home from work
2)  attempted conversation with spouse
3)  fell asleep around 2-ish after making incomprehensible garbled noises toward spouse
4)  Awakened by daughter's incomprehensible word like noises, only able to comprehend, "Mom, MOM. MOM. sick, eye, infection, call doctor, back to bed"  at 6:00 a.m.
5)  fell back to sleep while overtired spouse checked on sick kid.
6)  tipped out of bed at 6:30 thinking, Oh SHIT.
7)  drank coffee, ate cookies, achieved what appeared to be "awake"
8)  woke son with words like, "You. Son. Get up. I love you. My GOD, son. It's a good day for a shower."
9)  poured cereal in bowl for son
10)  stared at son
11)  brushed son's hair
12)  waited for 8 a.m. to call doctor's office
13)  wondered how to get all things done now that getting a sick kid to a doctor's appointment was part of the game plan
14)  called sick kid's school
15)  called doctor, left message, waited
16)  sent well kid to school
17)  waited for the call back from doctor, afraid to shower for fear I'd miss the call
18)  contemplated calling my sister to ask for back up but worried I'd miss doctor's call back
19)  got call back
20)  got sick visit scheduled...for 10:20.

It's 9. According to my original plan I'd be awake, showered, dressed, and starting in on the important stuff that needs doing. In reality I'm still in my pajamas contemplating preparing coffee #3.

But what ever.

It's okay.

I'm here, my house is still standing, my kids love me, I love my kids, we have insurance, my sick kid will see the doctor, we'll probably get medicine...but we can afford it and I'm grateful, she will recover, we have enough food, my mom is alive, my son is happy, despite everything and almost 18 years of marriage my spouse is still one of my best friends and he still thinks I'm cool. I'm really lucky.

There is no emergency in my life.

Everything that needs to get done will get done.

There's enough time.

Monday, November 18, 2013

On Regret, Fear, Scarcity, and the Okayness of Being Okay



 Telling regret to fuck off is the hardest thing I've ever done.

Coming in a close second was the time I put a dust ruffle on a king size bed by myself.  No easy task, let me tell you.

But still king size bed solo dust ruffle installation, slightly easier than telling regret to fuck off.

My life was all about the regret.

I felt every choice I made was the wrong choice.

Making choices was painful no matter how inconsequential the subject. Just choosing the "right" word during a conversation was enough to make me want to weep.

So much pressure. Every exchange became painful. Talking to the cashier at the grocery store? Painful. I might say the wrong thing. Chit chat at a public gathering? Oh please, you obviously want me dead.

Everyday decisions were agonizing. What's for dinner? OH MY GOD!? How could you ask such a question?!

We could have spaghetti but so many carbs! We're all going to die!

What kind of soap to buy for the kids? The cheap stuff has bad chemicals! The good stuff is too expensive! OMG! The soap will ruin us financially or kill the children or BOTH!

This sort of thinking plagued every single aspect of my life.

It sucked.

So now I'm in a different place.

Yes, sometimes there are right and wrong answers: should you kick the dog? No. Never. Why? Because it would be mean to hurt a furry critter and only assholes do that kind of shit and being an asshole is morally wrong.

Should you smack a human idiot in the face? No. It may be tempting but hitting is wrong and also hitting a human idiot is illegal and not worth the fines or jail time.

Most of the time in our day to day lives, there are infinite choices and no choice is inherently better than another.

Spaghetti for dinner? Sure, just don't eat too much. Cheap soap or expensive? Get a grip. There are other options. Chill.

And if I say the wrong thing or stutter while chitchatting with folks, so? Laugh it off. It's okay.  

When you let go of right/wrong, black/white, yes/no succeed/fail thinking, you can let go of  a lot of guilt and regret.

Those absolute scenarios are at their root all about scarcity and fear; there isn't enough right to go around and someone is going to have to be wrong.

That's crap.

When you tell regret to fuck off, you free yourself and allow yourself to feel okay and at ease.

Despite what you may have been told, it's okay to feel okay.




Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday evening homework help desk

I am pressed for time this evening. Weekends are pretty full and there isn't much time for me to do the bloggy thing.

When I am finally able to sit still and think about stuff, I find myself sitting in the same old place -- dining room table facing the kitchen, thinking about the same old stuff -- kids, housework, elderly parent. 

Tonight I'm multitasking. My son is working on homework while I sit here trying to keep my promise to blog everyday. Every other word I write is interrupted by a question or a comment from my boy.

Sometimes these interruptions are ordinary and expected. How do you spell ____? How do you spell _____? Or, how do you spell ____? Okay, we're not awesome spellers. Most of the questions are spelling related and that's cool because I can spell most 5th grade words. Also I have access to online dictionaries which makes me seem like a smarter lady than I am in real life. That's cool. 

If the questions are math related, my son is out of luck with me and he knows well enough to seek out his older sister for help.

Some of my son's interruptions are delightfully weird. Like just now he's sticking his pencil eraser in his ear. He's wearing his winter hat which is a fake fur and canvas ear flap affair. The pencil sticks out of his ear and holds the ear flap out like small tent. I suggest that  pencils aren't supposed to go in ears, he could get hurt. He suggests I'm sort of dumb because the eraser isn't sharp and he doesn't push it far into his ear. Duh, Mom. I mention that ear wax on pencil erasers makes the eraser smudgy, and he shows me his cool wiping the eraser on his shirt eraser cleaning technique.  I suggest he rub the eraser on his pants leg, denim is a superior earwax remover, much better than flimsy cotton t-shirt material. He gets hip to the subtext of my comment. He says, Hey. He says, How do you know? 

Ah, kids. They think they invented everything. Right now it's earwax on pencils erasers, one day, well, one day it'll be other stuff. 



Saturday, November 16, 2013

Just a little thinking and freewriting on a Saturday afternoon

What follows is a rather choppy account of my personal philosophy. It informs how I parent and how I do other stuff, too.

Kids need unconditional love. They need  to be cherished. If children are cherished and respected at home when they are small, they won't exploit others trying to create a world that will fulfill their unmet childhood needs when they are grown.

It's okay to teach kids that they are special as long as you also let them know that everyone is special. We each possess unique qualities that make us indispensable to the greater world. You have gifts, talents, and strengths. Everyone does. You are special. Everyone is. No one has to be perfect to be deserving. This is good because perfect is impossible. No one is more special. The specialness of others doesn't diminish what is special about you. It's all good. 

We can admire our own abilities without becoming arrogant snots because we acknowledge that others have admirable traits too. We feel comfortable in the world admitting our shortcomings because our lack is not a disability but an opportunity to make connections with others who can help us fulfill our potential just as our strengths can help others compensate for their difficulties and fulfill their potential. It's a beautiful thing.

Entitlement isn't a bad word. We're all entitled to an education, health care, food, a home, respect and love. The problem lies not in entitlement but in exclusion. I'm entitled but you are excluded. I deserve. You do not.

Another problem arises when we attempt to attribute greater or less value to certain abilities. My abilities are more valuable than yours, that makes me more valuable than you, therefore I deserve more than you.

It's this kind of thinking that leads to bullying and cruelty and inequality.

We worry that there won't be enough to go around.We worry about the scarcity of both tangible resources like food and shelter, and intangible resources like love and respect. We worry if we don't grab as much for ourselves as we can that we will suffer.

We forget that if we allow everyone to come to the table, nobody comes empty handed. When we share our talents and skills, there is an abundance, there is enough to go around. Everyone can have enough.

It's okay to acknowledge your abilities. It's okay to recognize the talents and abilities of others. Everyone is valuable and deserving. We are all equally entitled. There is enough for everyone.

Okay.

Tomorrow I'll try to write something funny.




Friday, November 15, 2013

Motherhood is Powerful



As a mother I have dealt with so many fearful disgusting messes, I've developed an immunity to gross. In my younger years touching nasty stuff would send me yipping and hopping and shaking my hands around like some sort of weird yipping hopping hand shaking weird person.

But since I got the Motherhood, overreacting to gross shit is a thing of the past!

When my son was a baby he was a wild little guy. In order to make dinner and keep him alive I had to strap him to my back in a baby backpack. He'd quickly get bored sitting up there with nothing death defying to do, and so in an effort to amuse himself, he'd grab handfuls of my hair in his adorable sticky baby fists and pull back with all his might causing my head to jerk back suddenly; whiplash! Fun!

This was not a fun game for me.

One evening while attempting to make food for dinner with my energetic son on my back, out of desperation and in a misguided attempt at self preservation, I gave him a wooden spoon play with. Whatever he did to me with the spoon would be better than the hair pulling neck breaking game.

After several minutes my son grew tired of  the Channeling Keith Moon and Beating Mom's head Like a Drum game, and he came up with a new game called "how much spoon can I ram down my throat before I puke". He discovered the limits of his overdeveloped gag reflex on the first uvula tickling try and KerSploooshhh...vomit in my hair, vomit on my neck, warm wet vomity vomit running down the inside of my shirt.

I didn't have time for the vomit. The vomit was just going to have to wait for me. I had dinner to make.

I'd tell you some scary poop stories but I don't think you can handle it. Unless you're a parent, and then you already know what kind of stories I'm not telling you.

I'm so tough now, nothing can repulse me.

Other people's boogers? Oh yeah, I can do that, with my bare hands. I can pick moldy viscous rotten produce from the depths of the vegetable crisper, with my bare hands. I can reach into the toilet bowl to retrieve toilet spelunking hairbrushes, with my bare hands. I can pull mysterious foul smelling crud off the dog's tail, with my bare hands. I can remove the dog's giant gummy eye slugs with my bare hands. Vomit spewing forth from a sick child's mouth? I can catch it before it hits the rug, with my bare hands. I can even pluck up rogue cat shit balls, with. my. bare. hands.

I'm WonderMotherFuckingWoman, and I can touch icky crap.







Thursday, November 14, 2013

Just a quick post today

Well, it's day 14 of the blog every day daily blogging challenge.

Whew!

I've been feeling anxious for a few days. That's okay because I have an all natural anxiety treatment: I call it the "eat everything in the house with special emphasis on foods high in fat, sugar, and salt, while writing snarky things on the internet" anxiety treatment plan.

You can't get this kind of relief from a pill. Surcease of symptoms is short lived so one must administer the treatment hourly to achieve optimal results.

Side effects may include headache, bloating, and loss of friends but it's totally worth it.

It used to be I'd sit down at my typewriter with a pack of smokes and a pot of coffee and write like a crazed crazy person for hours. I was smoking like a toxic fume spewing chimney while plumbing the depths of my anguish and it was cathartic.

But that was years ago. I'm much more careful with my health now.

These days I'm hunkering down with my lap top, my GMO corn chips and greasy cheese, a 2 liter bottle of diet Pepsi and the comment section of the local daily paper on-line.

I've made great strides.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Full disclosure: I sometimes shop at ***-Mart, but never on Black Friday



So, I've been thinking about that unabashed orgy of American Corporate Greed and the Pavlovian Consumerist Response. You know, Black Friday.

Let's just skip ahead in time, shall we? (Cue magic wand waving sounds now)

Happy Thanksgiving! We're all high on tryptophan, feeling content and gassy, picking our teeth with the wishbone. We're thinking about the generous Pilgrims and their BFFs the helpful happy Indians. We push ourselves away from the table and the remains of our obscenely huge meal. We finish lecturing our kids about how they should count their blessings, that it's better to give than to receive, and that we should all remember the reason for the upcoming Christmas season. What was that reason again? No time for that silly shit now, it's almost 6 pm and FU-Mart will be opening soon! Grab your hat and bolt for the door.

Stand back, Black Friday, make way for Black Thursday!

Actually, if you want to get a good spot in line before the doors open you probably want to get there earlier. Maybe you should camp out in front of the store very early Thursday morning. Nobody really likes Thanksgiving anyway. Fuck that "family time" crap. Bring some turkey sandwiches and potato chips and thank your lucky stars you have a good reason not to hang around with Grandma or your kids today. You can watch the Parade on your iMeMeMePhone while you wait. Take some selfies. Bring your guns. Guns get sad and lonely locked up in the closet all empty and unloaded. Guns love to get loaded and mingle. There's nothing more American than waiting in a crowd of bargain hunters for hours in the cold on a national holiday with a loaded weapon at your side. If some grubby grabby asshole tries to wrestle the last LegoPonyNerfDollGunBot out of your hands, you'll be ready. Stand your ground buddy.

Remember, it's REALLY GODDAMNED IMPORTANT that you get that FUCKING PIECE of PLASTIC for your kid. Because kids these days DON'T ALREADY HAVE ENOUGH SHIT and the Future of 'Merica depends on how much money you spend today.

Use your Visa and the MasterCard. Cash is for pussies. Credit card companies need your money more than you do, and with an interest rate of 29%, you're happy to do your part and lend a hand. Did you know that in America, over 16 million credit card companies go to bed hungry every night? Oh wait, no. That's not quite right. Uh...who cares. What's essential to remember is that your children won't love you anymore if you don't buy them shit tons of shit. Do you hear me? The economy will tank and your kids will hate you.

Do your duty. You love to shop. You do. You love it. You're happy. Buying makes you happy for a minute. So keep buying! Don't stop. Buy shit! Prove you're not a worthless child-hating unpatriotic piece of waste. Wait in long lines, push and grab and swear and kick and scratch. Buy your kids those happy Christmas memories you didn't have when you were a kid. Such a deal! Low low prices! You'll be glad you did. 

You'll suck as an American and as a human being if you don't.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Blogher prompt: 5 things in my fridge at this VERY moment...because you want to know.


Just for fun I checked out the Blogher daily blog writing prompt for today and I thought, hey. Okay. But why would anyone want to read about 5 things in my fridge and what I think of them? I don't really know. 

Here we go then:

Five things in my fridge and what I think of them:

1. Hot sauce. Sriracha, to be more precise. Two bottles, because I'd cry real tears if I ran out. I've loved Sriracha for a long time because it's delicious, not because I'm trendy. The very thought that I would obsess and adore a condiment and slather it liberally on everything I eat so people will think I'm hip and cool is STOO-PID. How the fuck many people watch me eat my meals? Not counting the dog, most days it's a grand total of two people, both under the age of 16, who will always think I'm uncool by default because they're my kids. If you count the dog among those who see me eat on a daily basis, it's still only two people, because he's a dog. 

2. Sitting in a small green bowl congealing in it's own juices is, leftover beef stew. The beef stew is all about betrayal and regret. Both kids say, we love beef stew! They come to the table, gaze upon the all the stewy goodness and they change their minds. I personally like the gravy, potatoes, and carrots, not the chunks of beef though. I like to smash the potatoes and carrots into a paste in my bowl with the salty brown gravy. I like to eat this mash with a huge squirt of Sriracha, of course, it goes without saying. 

3. There is one leftover pancake from Saturday breakfast. Every Saturday morning my husband makes the best pancakes. One side of the pancake is always full of little air holes like the inside of an English muffin. The butter melts and seeps into the pancake and then the syrup drips into the holes and it is good. As an aside, I have tried Sriracha on pancakes. While I will sing the praises of burritos with Sriracha, pizza with Sriracha, omelets with Sriracha, egg salad sandwiches and tuna salad sandwiches and even just regular old salad plain with no sandwiches with Sriracha, and also rice, soup, and stew, I do not recommend Sriracha on pancakes.  

4. Margarine I mean, not butter. I referred to butter a moment ago but I lied. We use margarine. The kind with no trans fat, the kind that is supposed to raise your good cholesterol. I don't know if it works but it alleviates my lipid guilt. I'm secretly ashamed that we don't eat real butter but real butter scares me. I think real butter wants me dead. I have many friends who say real butter won't kill me but the margarine is the bad guy, but science tells me that butter is lard made from milk and it's gunning for my arteries. Milk lard. Mmmm. I actually love butter on crackers with Sriracha. You should try it, if you're okay with real butter. Probably good with margarine too.

5. Since I'm feeling all guilty anyway I'm going to bring up the fact that my vegetable crisper is full of wizened carrots. I have a juicer. I thought, carrot juice! What a way to start my day! I'm too motivationally challenged to French press a cup of coffee in the morning, do I really think I'd be able to assemble the juicer, wash and trim the icky ends off  20 carrots, cut them up into small enough bits to fit in the stupidly small opening of the juicer, and patiently feed the carrot bits into the juicer, while the machine sputters and growls like an outboard motor at 5:30 in the morning? I won't even go into the horror of taking it apart and cleaning it.



And while I'm on the topic of cleaning things, why is it so difficult to keep the fridge clean? Food is clean. The fridge holds the clean food, so why does it get so disgusting in there? I blame the Sriracha. No. Not really. But I bet my rating on the hip and cool scale has gone way way up today. 

Thanks Sriracha. I'd be a pathetic non-person without you.