Saturday, January 26, 2013

Just stuff.

So I've been thinking a lot this week and I've been "journaling" which is a stupid word but there it is, that's what I've been doing...writing in a book with paper pages with a pen. I purchased a new journal. It's got graphy cubes instead of lines to write on and it's helping me with that little issue of legibility.

As a poor speller, one of the tricks I learned early on was to write illegibly. Better to be thought a slob than stupid. But the sad thing, I'd go back later to reread my gorgeous prose and fabulously original ideas and, Huh? "Trehetnts ablinstenserlliting." Brilliant!

Anyway, I have recently read that writing about writing is not legit, especially if YOU ARE NOT A WRITER. So, I stand before you ashamed. I will now change gears.

I have been thinking a lot about what it is to be a mother. It was brought to my attention that "mommy bloggers" are exploiting their children by sharing intimate details of their children's lives. Again, I stand before you ashamed.

That revelation led me down a little path which I will attempt to describe to you.

In our country, Motherhood is weird. By Motherhood I mean the "institution" of Motherhood...and anyone who is a mother knows, it's a frickin' institution alright, and we should all have a safe room there and lots of nice meds. Motherhood makes us CRAZY.

No real maternity leave, daycare is hard to come by and expensive, it's hard to find work that is flexible, especially when our kids are small or if they have health issues.

We're fed a line that raising kids is the most important thing we will ever do and yet we get no support. Raising kids is the most significant life experience offered to women, but don't expect any respect or support.

We find ourselves in a bind: Motherhood is at once elevated and denigrated, and frankly it makes us nuts.

We moms sacrifice EVERYTHING for our families, that's what we are taught we are supposed to do, we get resentful, we feel guilty, and we're tired.

We think we have a right to our children's experience, like somehow we earned it, we are defined by our children we identify with our children and we think we are entitled to their stories. I'm not saying all moms do this, not all mom bloggers, but enough.

We've got to remember, our kids owe us nothing. We need to find ways to tell our own stories. We're all codependent and enmeshed, a codependent enmeshed mommychild tangle.

It can't be good for anybody.

I was thinking those thoughts and feeling all thinky when my husband, Library Man, brought home lots of books about motherhood and stuff, and low and behold my entire thesis was in book form, all written in lucid detail, recounted in succinct language, proper sentences, no run on hyperventilating red in the face sentences,  not an ellipsis....or a hanging participle. In sight.

It was nice to see, but the minute that happens, I see a scholarly work nicely written and coherent about a subject I have been emotionally involved in, I say, "Oh. Look. Huh. Yup." And then I have to move on.

My thesis was, if you want American women to stop exploiting their kids, find ways to encourage women to do other things. We need women who identify as women first, moms second. In order to do that we need quality day care centers, we need flexible work schedules, we need actively parenting partners, we need equal pay, affordable healthcare, etc.

None of us lives in a vacuum, unless you're that housefly I sucked up in the Hoover but really it didn't live long in there so I stand by my assertion, none of us live in a vacuum.You want healthy women relating to their children in a healthy way you have to create a healthy environment with realistic expectations.

Okay. Whatever.

In other news, I've been shirking work. I feel guilty.

Also, many friends and acquaintances of mine have parents who have passed away recently or who are very ill and this is sad.

I think of my mother. Her health is fading and wonder how long will she be with us. At Christmas I thought, This might be Mom's last Christmas. I worry when I call her and she doesn't answer the phone. She's confused in the grocery story, she's lost a lot of weight, doesn't feel like eating, and she's sleeping a lot. But then again, except for the eating and the losing weight thing, I'm doing those things too, so really...

I worry that I'm entering the second half of my glorious run as a sentient being, and I worry that I've wasted the first half.

I wonder how my kids will cope as I head off into old age, I wonder what it will be like to die, and realize that one of my worst fears is losing control of bodily functions and being seen all naked and stuff.

I can't handle that AT ALL. So, I'll do that voodoo that I dooo so well and Fergit About It! I'll deny I ever thought those thoughts and pretend I live in a world were nothing icky or sad ever happens.

I've been thinking about what it means to be married to the same fellah for 15 years or is it 16 now? Next week we'll be anniversary-ing. 

Most people have happy memories of their weddings. I have wedding PTSD.

I fucked so many things up, from the wedding photos to the wedding party, who was invited who was not, how I addressed the invitations, the time of year I chose, the time of evening I chose, ETC. I could not have made worse choices about so many of the details of my wedding.

I planned a shitty wedding. I am sorry.

My late stepmother told me that it was the nicest wedding she'd ever been to. She was the wedding reception coordinator for a fancy hotel. She was from New York City. She KNEW PEOPLE. She was NOT the kind of lady to say nice things she didn't mean, so I guess I have to believe her. We didn't serve alcohol at the reception so I know she wasn't drunk.

Why in my mind did it suck so bad and why do I have so much guilt? 
It is the way of my people. Self loathing and guilt, passed down, family heirloom style. I hope to leave my own children a nicer legacy. Something that will serve them better.

Things I did right: my dear pal Diana was my maid of honor, my stepdaughter was my flower girl, despite the butt bow, my dress was okay, our dear friend Kent performed the ceremony. My mom looked pretty. Our friend Welch Everman played trumpet in a little jazz band and they played for our reception. Our first dance was Satin Doll. I guess I can try to put away that guilt about all the shit I did wrong. Try to remember the parts that were good.

Another thought that has been bouncing around in my noggin has to do with social media and community.

But I haven't the energy to delve into that right now.

Maybe another evening when I find that the dishes are done, the kids are happily occupied, and there are no emergencies to attend to. "MOM! The cat has POOP on her PAWS!!"


I'll try to articulate my irritation about social media another time. Unless of course, Library Man comes home with an armful of scholarly texts regarding facebook snarking. Then the wind will inexorably be knocked from my sails, and I'll be all like, you know. Ptht.

Actually it's nice that Library Man listens to my whiny chitter chatting and takes me seriously enough to look for more information about stuff. It's nice to know he hears me.

I'm lucky that way. 

And also, if I sit here long enough, he might take on that cat shit cat paw problem...Yup. He's on it.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I do know what Laissez Faire means, Say NO to the Douche, and other Nasty Business

Okay people: Little intro here. I haven't felt the need to unburden my soul with foul language in a little while. I make up for it here. Do not continue if you're easily offended. And another thing. This is a rough draft but it's as done as it's going to get and I've got other shit to do. Thanks for reading.

I received a thoughtful gift recently, A book entitled, How to Make $250,000 a Year Writing, or something like that.

I assume it's full of smart ways to find freelance work, maybe copy editing, technical writing. Not stuff I excel at.

I was employed as a copy editor for a while. It didn't really work out. I can't spell. I understand the mechanics of language emotionally not intellectually. My approach to grammar is similar to my approach to money; a frothy mix of magical thinking, intuition, and a little "Laissez Faire" which I think means "What the Fuck" in French.

Sadly this approach is not Chicago Manual of Style compatible.
Let's not even talk about my bank account, okay?

But perhaps I could actively seek out a freelance technical writing gig. With luck and pluck and a few well told lies I might get a job somewhere.

Only problem, the idea of writing a technical piece about technical stuff sets me up for an ADHD relapse. There is not enough Ritalin in the world.

Linear thinking is not my cup of Postum. Well reasoned logical stuff is not easy for me to write. Tell me you hadn't noticed.

I'm a 'gets bogged down and twisted on the leash of my own illogical thinking' kind of thinker.

I'm like my dog who winds himself around a tree and can not figure out how to get untangled.

I'm like that. Only I'm human. Just to be clear.

I'm sure there is a real world application for my brand of cognitive dysfunction.

I'll figure it out as soon as I get some nice lady to free me from the clutches of this shrub that seems to have gotten very close to me suddenly. I was just wandering around in circles when WHAM! I find myself caught up short, standing here with a shrub up my, this collar is too tight. Bitch is choking. Help.


So, yes, the book,  How To Make Real Actual Money Writing Shit That Will Make You Hate Writing Shit. My 9 year old son handed it to me today and said, “Mom, have you even THOUGHT about reading this?”

Yes son. I have thought about reading it but I can't quite bring myself to do it. Avoidant Personality Disorder. Look it up. Definition and example: no words, just my picture. I swear to you this is true. Really. Google it. Or don't if it makes you uncomfortable.

Later I think about my son's question.

I imagine what it would be like. I imagine myself composing instructional pamphlets, the how to use a douche instructions that come in the box. You know, someone has to write that stuff. Why not me?

Happy Vagz Douche Bagz tm: Attach Happy Vag Douche Bagz tm nozzle to douche bottle, the bag thing, we don't often use those anymore it's really a douche bottle but that doesn't sound as good as bag...You know who's a real douche bag? Sorry, back to reality and your douching. First thing before you do anything is fill that sucker with Happy Vagz Douche Juice tm, wait...this stuff will eat the paint off your refrigerator imagine what it'll do to your, forgive the technical jargon, "girlie parts” ! Honey, Did you READ what's in this stuff? This stuff is poison. Drop the Douche, Suzie Q! Seriously!

I'm getting nowhere fast. My dream job as a technical writer is over before it even had a chance to fail.

Maybe I could score freelance work writing vague essays about whatever parenting trend is hot this week. Helicopter Teen Age Tiger Soccer Moms. Or maybe something about childhood nutrition and the war on childhood obesity. The pros and cons of the organic wheat grass breast milk diet for children. Surely you've heard of this. It's so natural and beautiful. Baby consumes nothing but wheat grass juice, breast milk, and soul of his mother until he's old enough to head off to college or the mother dies. Breast is best. Tough titty Momma.

Perhaps I could write 10 easy mistakes parents make while trying to potty train their children which will cause permanent emotional damage and damn you to hell.

Ten easy to spot signs that your newborn is a musical prodigy.

Ten  easy ways to make every single fucking thing an enrichment activity for your child.

101 ways to make sure your damn kid is better in every way than any child who has ever lived  since Jesus or maybe even better than Him.

10000000000 ways to insure you'll be forever remembered in song and dance as the best mother who ever expelled a tiny human from her vagina or who ever raised such a one.

Just thinking about all this my head starts to pound and my heart starts to pound too and I think, I would SO FUCK it up. I would fuck it up. I would have a bad attitude. I would say SHIT. I would panic, I wouldn't finish anything on time, I would quit.

I am such a fucking whiny shit. I don't LIKE to write about stuff that's not interesting to me. And I will find a way to fuck it up.

My super ego/ internalized mother says, “Tough shit dear darling. Your job is to make it interesting and not fuck it up.”

My perpetually petulant ungrateful internal adolescent says, “You never let me do what I want to do!”

My impatient resentful maternal self says, “Suck it up Daisy. You do plenty of nothing every day sitting on your ass thinking about what you don't want to be doing. Quit wasting time already and do something.”

“Nobody understands me.” I whimper. I know I'm pathetic.

The All Mother in me sighs, leans heavily on the kitchen counter next to the sink, support knee highs bagging around her cankles, the tops of her swollen feet over-filling the tops of her dingy white Keds.

She takes a drag on her cigarette, pats down the curlers in her hair, she squints through cats eye glasses and through the smoke as she exhales, “So you think nobody understands you, huh? Quit your bellyaching and join the human race, Princess.”

I'm a weepy scared little shit and a pissed off crazy mother trapped in the same body.

I am so fucked.

Maybe there's a story there.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

To Sleep, perchance to humiliate oneself in public...

I promise to post whatever it is I write here now at this moment. Damn it. I feel some serious weirdness coming on. This is an exercise, a fragment, work in progress or something that will be discarded. It's just this, and so, I offer my apologies. You've been warned. This is just silliness with grammatical errors, prattling, so much blahblahblah and etc.....

We sleep.

We do not sleep quietly.

We do sleep soundly.

Except when we don't, and then well, you know, we don't sleep quietly or soundly.

The sputter and snore of it, mumbled muttering, nonsense, “Monkeys on the roof, waffle umbrella-shark. Ahhhh...”

The inevitable passing of gas; sleep farting. God forbid.

My son laughs in his sleep.

This is a delightful thing. My son laughing in his sleep is a beautiful thing and it makes me feel hopeful.

My son is a dear darling boy so I imagine  that he dreams happy wholesome dreams, dreams about the things that delight children; puppies and butterflies, balloons, baby hippos, and farting.

When I was a child I didn't want people to see me with my eyes closed. I don't know what I thought would happen to me if I closed my eyes in public for longer than the time it takes to blink-- to blink, to prevent our eyes from drying out and dropping from our eye sockets, dessicated and shriveled, eye-raisins.

When I was a first year student at college, I was18, shy, depressed and far too serious for my own good. 

One warm October afternoon, I fell asleep in the university library. I awoke in a panic minutes or hours later, I had no idea which, and peeled my face off the sticky vinyl couch cushion with an audible 'rrrppppp'.

My cheek was hot and wet with sweat and drool and the shit brown Naugahyde upholstery wore a glossy sheen, a glinty spitty sheen which I'm sure I wiped away with the floppy cuff of my green and purple paisley blouse.

I straightened my Louise Brooks bob, readjusted my wire framed glasses, smoothed my vintage Girl Scout green pleated skirt, picked up my Sony Walkman and slung my black book bag over my shoulder with as much dignity as I could muster, which was probably a lot.

I avoided making eye contact with the assortment of grad students, undergrads, and pretty Tri Delts in their tight magenta sweatshirts and stiff big hair and I was gone.

Having drooled on myself and on the university's hideous plastic furniture was embarrassing, but the thing that made me sick to my stomach was the horrifying thought that I may have farted in my sleep.

I still don't like closing my eyes in public, it makes me feel vulnerable and from time to time I find myself worrying about falling to asleep in a room full of quiet strangers.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Thinking about my son, jail, near death experiences, and hoping for the future

It's disconcerting when your 9 year old son asks if there are any jails in town that he could tour.

My first thought, naturally enough, was that my son was planning a life of crime and wanted to see where he'd be spending 5-8 years of his life.

But then I took comfort in the realization that my son is a dear darling boy who absolutely can not think past this moment.

THIS moment.


He is the boy who tried to pick up fire, the boy who tried to put the knife in the toaster, the boy who ate his entire chocolate Advent calender in one sitting, never contemplating for a second what would happen next.

The look of surprise and hurt after the touching fire thing was heart breaking.

He was utterly disconsolate on December 2nd when he found he had no more candy and would have to watch his sister eat her stale misshapen chocolate stockings, stars, and bells, one each morning, for 24 days, in front of his very eyes.

He was completely dumbfounded not not just a little pissed off when his sister screamed and smacked the knife out of his hand that time with the toaster.

     Solomon bellowing loudly, "Mom! Lily HIT me!" 

    Lily, hysterically shrieking, "OH my GOD!!!! Solomon tried to put a KNIFE in the TOASTER!!!!!"

    Me hysterically shrieking louder, "What were you THINKING! Oh MY GOD!!"

He's a smart guy and he knows how electricity works, he just didn't put the action and the potential outcome together into one event. He just cognitively doesn't have the skills to do that sort of thing. Not now anyway. We're working on it. Natural consequences are helpful. Think Advent chocolate.
In the spirit of keeping honest, please note the first hand discovery that fire is indeed hot happened about 4 years ago, the Advent calender lesson in gluttony and regret happened when the boy was 6 or 7, and the toaster incident took place at least 6 months ago.  

Those are extreme examples of what still goes on daily here at home with my son.

Just yesterday I had to stop him from standing on a rickety bench, his arm outstretched, a pair of scissors in his hand, pointed down toward his head. His response to me, There is no problem here Mom. My constant reminder, Think. What could logically happen next. What IF...

Moment by moment, the family is on perpetual red alert, ready to pounce on him, knock him out of harms way, or shriek in terror, thereby getting his attention and distracting him from imminent doom.
It's clear that my son's interest in visiting a jail is just natural childhood curiosity which can be weird, but it's normal. My son appears to have this weird but normal childhood curiosity in abundance. This could either make him or break him. 

His boundless curiosity could one day lead to his greatest joys and successes. If it doesn't kill him first.

My son is not planning a life of petty thievery or plotting the next big bank heist.

He's a nice boy who wants to be good and frankly, he just doesn't have the executive functioning skills to contemplate a life of crime. He's not a long range plan sort of fellow.

He's too busy here in the now.

He's like a Zen master, beginners mind, full of awe and wonder, living in the eternal now, teetering on the edge of understanding.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are teetering on the edge of our seats, fearful, worried, anticipating his next moment, standing by with band aids, a fire extinguisher, clutching the phone, 911 on speed dial.