Hold Your Own Hand: A Bedtime Story

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I’ve felt alone for as long as I can remember. It doesn’t matter how many humans are around, whether I’ve excused myself from the crowd, have a close interpersonal relationship, or not; I am always alone. One hundred people or zero, it feels the same. Rather than a physical manifestation, it’s more a state of mind.

Different, odd, strange–call me what you like–I have existed as an outsider my entire life, sometimes looking in, sometimes feeling trapped and looking out, sometimes not looking at all, but always alone.

It is often said that we are born alone and we die alone, but for some strange reason, people who say that leave out the middle. Perhaps it’s too painful to face the truth. Because the truth is, we’re alone for the middle, as well.

Some fill their time with activities, and their lives with people; surrounding themselves with things they believe to be the opposite of alone to numb the sensation of solitude.

Some stay in relationships that don’t make them happy to avoid loneliness, never realizing that feeling lonely in a relationship is the most painful kind of lonely there is.

I felt alone as a child, during my teenage years, during my young adulthood, and the feeling remains as I enter middle age. I thought by now I might have shaken it, that I might have discovered the secret to finally shedding the cloak over my soul that seems to be keeping me at a distance, but it never happens.

I wonder if I’m the only one who feels alone. I also recognize the glorious absurdity of wondering if I’m alone in my feelings of feeling alone.

As a little kid, I would sometimes clasp together my hands while feeling scared in bed at night, pretending someone else was holding my hand, because it (falsely) made me feel safe.

But as pathetic as that sounds, there’s beauty and truth in holding one’s own hand.

Beauty, because even when truth may look ugly on the surface, it’s real and pure inside, and that’s beautiful.

Truth, because even when a different person is holding your hand, you can still feel lonely–you can still be alone.

I sleep alone every night now. I somewhat sheepishly admit to occasionally holding my own hand to self-soothe, but more often, I pretend someone is hugging me as I fall asleep. It helps me fall asleep faster because I pretend I’m safe. I pretend I’m not alone.

I pretend.

We all pretend.

Sleep well.

 

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This Is What Happens When I Take Facebook Quizzes

  1. Do you like blue cheese?

No, I loathe blue/bleu cheese, and not only because I never know which blue/bleu to write, which is irritating. My parents promised me I’d “love it when I grew up,” so I try it every few years, and I still have to scrub my tongue with a paper towel to remove the taste of Satan’s ball sweat afterward.

  1. Last concert?

My last concert was to see Old 97’s at Cain’s Ballroom. My next concert is going to be Joan Jett later this month, and I’m probably going to sit in stunned silence the whole time because she’s one of my idols. She paved the way for female musicians, and my first band was an all-girl rock band. We had to endure so many guys yelling dumb shit like “Take your shirts off!” while we played—but that was nothing compared to the crap through which Joan Jett had to slog. Sexism is a big load of bullshit, and the fact that music, or any creative outlet, has ever been a ‘boys club’ boggles my mind, because women are some of the most creative beings I’ve encountered on the planet. Stop trying to manage all the creative endeavors, boys. (I say boys, because real men value women as humans and equals.)

  1. Do you own a gun?

As someone diagnosed with anxiety disorders, I’m exactly the type of person who shouldn’t own a gun, so I don’t, but I love to go to the shooting range, and tend to be a naturally good shot.

  1. What is your favorite food?

My favorite food is artichokes. Yes, I enjoy dipping artichoke leaves in lemon-butter and scraping them with my teeth like a large rodent. It’s a living.

  1. Do you get nervous before Doctor visits?

If you randomly capitalize the word “doctor” like that, I’m going to wonder if I need to be nervous. But to answer the question, yes, I get nervous any time I have to talk face to face with a human I don’t know well.

Caveat: I never get nervous about seeing my gynecologist. I’ve been seeing him for a decade, he performed one of my abdominal surgeries, and he has a great bedside manner. I recently told him about my fibrous breast warning after a mammogram, for example, and we felt me up together for about ten minutes to make extra sure my breasts had no solid lumps. I’m so comfortable with him, I actually worry he thinks I’m weird, but he’s cut adhesed organs off of my intestines and abdominal wall, so I think we’re past the “getting to know you” phase of our relationship.

  1. What do you think of hot dogs?

No nitrates or nitrites, please.

  1. Favorite movie?

Sunset Boulevard.

  1. What do you prefer to drink in the morning?

Coffee or English breakfast tea. I vacillate back and forth, desperately trying to reap the health benefits of both until the next article I read tells me they’re back to being horrible poison. I think maybe if I drink a cup of coconut oil with turmeric and kale blended into it, I’ll probably be able to cure cancer, ride chemtrails, and taste colors, but I’m not sure where I read that. I also think I’m supposed to eat a stick of grass-fed butter for breakfast every morning, but I’m suspicious, because how are they feeding grass to butter? I mean, what kind of fucked-up mutant butter are we talking about eating here? No thank you, hippies.

  1. Do you do push-ups?

The post-pregnancy girls are a wearing a 34E bra, so no, but I do strength training with arm weights. I do air push-ups.

  1. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry?

A necklace my husband got me for Xmas. It was made in Ireland with green marble only found there that matches my eyes, and a silver pendant of a tree that’s considered bad luck to cut down because the fairies prefer them, and that makes me happy to think about.

  1. Favorite hobby?

Writing. Or creepy dancing and making up songs about banal things around the house. One or the other.

  1. Do you have A.D.D.?

“A.D.D./ADD” is an outdated term for the inattentive type of ADHD. The “H” stands for hyperactivity, which can mean mental hyperactivity (instead of physical), leading to trouble with focus/easy distractibility. And yes, I’m diagnosed with combined ADHD (inattentive AND hyperactive/impulsive), in case that’s not obvious at this point.

  1. What’s the one thing you dislike about yourself?

There’s more than “the one,” but a recurring issue is how I place too much value on integrity. I always trust that people are going to be honest, kind, and do the right thing, and I’m often disappointed. I’m a frustrating and perplexing blend of completely naïve and horrifically jaded.

  1. What is your middle name?

Leighanne. Like this T-a-w-n-i train wreck needed to be harder to spell, then came “L-e-i…”

  1. Name three thoughts at this moment.

Nobody cares about you. Why are you answering these questions? You must really think you’re something, eh, missy?

Shut up, Mean Inner Voice. You write because you like to write, and that’s enough. Who cares if anyone reads or not? Fuck it. Stop taking life so seriously.

I want another cup of tea. I think I’ll go get one.

  1. Name 4 drinks you drink regularly?

Water, hot tea, coffee, and the magic potion that allows me to remain in this human form.

  1. Current worry?

My son just started public middle school, and I’m desperately trying to remember that giving him independence will help him grow up, and also if anyone bullies him I will have to rip their faces off, and that’s going to suck for everybody.

  1. Current annoyance right now?

My son once again hacked through the parental controls on his reader-only Kindle, and was sneaking the internet at night. This may seem benign, except he was on the “omegle” and “e-chat” sites, both highly inappropriate for an 11-year-old, talking to strangers who now have our IP address, and kept asking for his “asl” (age, sex, location). So, probably perverts.** We have once again removed all forms of technology from his life, which sucks, because it makes things harder for me (no break for The Mommy), and he doesn’t get to participate in many fun forms of technology. My love/hate relationship with the internet rages onward.

19. Favorite place to be?

Alone. If you don’t understand this, have a child while testing as a 98% introverted INFJ who prefers cats because they’re “less needy than dogs” and you’ll get it.

  1. How do you ring in the new year?

I spent the last New Year properly capitalizing New Year, drinking champagne, wine, and I vaguely remember some singing and dancing to music, but I’m fuzzy. Sorry, liver!

  1. Where would you like to visit?

All of the UK, and anywhere Scandinavian.

  1. Name three people who will complete this?

I have a lot of writer friends, so anyone who feels like writing, I’m sure.

  1. Do you own slippers?

Yes, I love the UGG knock-off boots. I have a few pairs. They make my feet feel like they’re being hugged by warm clouds, and I apologize for nothing.

  1. What color shirt are you wearing right now?

A gross blue cotton house dress I’ve owned for over 5 years. When I come home from public, the first thing I do is take of the restrictive clothing and change into an ugly, loose house dress. My husband is a lucky man.

  1. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?

No. They feel strangely cold and wet and I hate them. If there is a hell, I will sleep for eternity next to Ann Coulter in a bed made of regrets and clammy satin sheets.

  1. Can you whistle?

Only well enough to frighten my son because he thinks it “sounds like scary movies.” He’s a special boy.

  1. What are your favorite colors?

My favorite color is a shade of lagoon blue with green in it that I like to call Mermaid Blue.

  1. Would you be a pirate?

No. I went on one (free) cruise, and realized the vast endlessness of the ocean terrifies me. I don’t even like to stand on a beach. I keep waiting for all that water to decide it doesn’t want to stay back, and come swallow me up. Also, sharks live there. I may have some issues.

  1. What song do you sing in the shower?

I’m more of a car singer. I don’t really enjoy bathing, plus one of my cats becomes either worried about me or enraged if I sing in the house. She once leapt up and bit me on the thigh for singing, so she’s trained me to stop. Now I live in fear. Stinky, rarely-bathing, never-singing fear.

  1. Favorite girls name?

My son was going to be Ruby Jane if he was a girl. If we’d had a girl after him, her name would have been Margaret May–Margaret in honor of my husband’s late mother, and two names that start with ‘M’ so she could have the same initials as our son, Miles Matthew. We would have called her May. I love the classic simplicity and strength of the name May. I have “OCD tendencies” according to my psychiatrist, however, so I would have had to plan my pregnancy/due date for mid-May because I couldn’t set up my poor future daughter to have to explain that yes, her name is May but no, she isn’t born in May for the rest of her life. Because I’m not a monster, and also, I like a challenge. Especially one that involves sex. A sexy challenge.

  1. Favorite boys name?

Kai. I wanted to name our son Kai, but my husband didn’t like it. We lived in Los Angeles at the time and I wanted something beachy-sounding to honor that, but my husband said it sounded redneck, and also it rhymed with the name of one of my ex-boyfriends. I think it was mostly the ex-boyfriend-name-issue that bothered him most, but he won’t admit it.

32. What’s in your pocket now?

Unless you’re referring to my vagina, I have no pockets. Or bra. Or underwear. Just me and my incredibly attractive stretched-out old house dress.* Try to control yourself.

  1. Last thing that made you laugh?

Watching my husband tell my son that as consequences for hacking onto the internet for the umpteenth time he would have to either write about how he can work on controlling his impulses in the future -or- pick up dog poop in his uncle’s backyard. The kid cried equally over both consequences, and I had to turn my head so he wouldn’t see me laughing. Because I love to write, and my son equates writing with touching feces, and that’s some funny shit right there, folks, pun intended. In his defense, there are three dogs currently living at his uncle’s house, and that’s a lot of poop.

  1. Best toy as a child?

Nature.

  1. Worst injury you have ever had?

I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I have been called “dramatic” for finding it unacceptable for a grown man to beat in the face of a fifteen-year-old girl with his closed fists, so I’ll shut up about it, and the violent asshole wins. But really, he doesn’t win, because he still has to live his life being a loser asshole who beats up teenage girls, and I don’t, which is actually pretty sweet.

  1. Where would you love to live?

In a house surrounded by at least 5 acres with many evergreens. If I never hear a large compensating-for-a-tiny-penis vehicle or Harley rev loudly in front of my house again for the rest of my life, it would be marvelous. Heavenly, even.

  1. How many TV’s do you have?

We have three TVs in our house, and one extra apostrophe on this page.

  1. Who is your loudest friend?

I recently learned my husband can drill sergeant scream-shout: “LEAVE IT! LET’S GO!” when there’s a tornado in our neighborhood, and I stupidly try to stop en route to the shelter for my thyroid meds. It was impressive. I think I stopped shaking after two or three hours. The tornado was nothing compared to a 6’5” man scream-shouting at me in a state of raw panic.

  1. How many dogs do you have?

Two cats. I feel about dogs the way child-free people sometimes feel about other people’s children; nice to visit, but not presently for me. I prefer cats because they give me space. I like my pets like I like my men: not following me around and needing things all of the time.

  1. Does someone trust you?

Yes. Oh, do you want to know who trusts me? Too bad. I don’t trust you enough to tell. My trust issues have trust issues.

  1. What book are you reading at the moment?

I’m finishing the last in the 5th Wave trilogy, and then I’m going to read the book Mayte Garcia wrote about Prince. I’m pretty excited to read it, but hesitant because it’s going to make me sad.

  1. What’s your favorite candy?

Vanilla meringues from Trader Joe’s. Occasionally. I stopped craving chocolate and excessive sugar when I got on anti-anxiety meds years ago.

  1. What’s your favorite sports team?

I can’t honestly say I have one, regardless of what I’m supposed to say. (Sorry, husband who loves all sports.)

  1. Favorite month?

October, because at the end of the month, both my birthday -and- Halloween candy happen, and that was a really magical thing growing up. I don’t really get excited about either as an adult, but the happy feeling about October from my childhood remains. Nice when that happens.

 

*My hideously comfortable housedresses are from Walmart, and the brand is called “Faded Glory” which is painfully on-the-nose for both the clothes and most of the people who wear them, as my husband once pointed out to me. This comment has haunted me ever since by making me acutely aware I’m wearing the garment equivalent of my lost youth around the house every day.

**Probably Perverts will be the name of my next improv troupe.

 

If you made it this far, you deserve a gift, so here’s a picture of either a hamster or a gerbil sitting next to some cheese underneath a paper drink parasol. You’re welcome.

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How Planned Parenthood Helped Me Plan Parenthood

 

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Note: The below words were partly written because I am told to “move to Canada” or sent images of aborted fetuses if I show support for PP on Twitter. This shows a lack of understanding (at best), and I often wonder if shared personal stories might bridge the black and white walls often placed by pro-choice and pro-birth reasoning.

My comment sections are always closed because I write for myself, and if I want trolls, I’ll post publicly on social media. So if you appreciate my words, please follow my blog. 

***

I was 11 and at a Kansas City Royals game when I got my first period. My first baseball game and the realization that I was physically able to become pregnant happened on the same day.

If you know any 11-year-old children, male or female, please pause for a moment and picture them taking care of a baby.

You can’t, right? I can’t either. My son is presently 11, and he can’t even remember to brush his teeth. At the same age, had there been a rapist/molester/older boy in my life, I might have been able to carry a baby… 10 years before I could legally drink alcohol.

My periods were heavy, difficult to manage at school, and the cramping was intense, so I got on birth control pills at age 16, thanks to Planned Parenthood. What previously stopped everything in my life for a few days a month was now mild and predictable. Manageable. Many women take birth control pills for this reason.

I also decided to get on birth control pills because I became sexually active as a teenager, and realized I could never get an abortion because of my psychological makeup. However, I refuse to infantilize humans, and believe whether or not to procreate is a decision every woman must make for herself.

Every person and situation is different, and I am in no position to judge anyone else. This is the main reason I have always been, and remain, strongly pro-choice.

I was one of the youngest in my class, plus I graduated early from high school, so I am 16 in my college ID picture. I started college, and moved into an apartment, working multiple food service jobs to pay for tuition, rent, and bills at 17. I couldn’t afford health insurance. I couldn’t even afford a car.

I remained among the working poor until my early 30s, when I got my first job with healthcare. I never needed government assistance, although I definitely qualified financially during many years, but I had no children to feed, so my pride kept me from seeking help.

There were times I couldn’t afford to buy food, and yes—to stay on topic—tampons. I remember rolling up toilet paper in my underwear to create a poor person pad during that time of the month, praying it would stay in place. You do what you have to do.

I also remained on birth control pills the entire time. The reasonably priced well-woman care offered by Planned Parenthood allowed me to not become pregnant with a child I wasn’t emotionally prepared to raise.

Planned Parenthood enabled me to not need government assistance (i.e. taxpayer money) to support a child I couldn’t afford.

Planned Parenthood gave me the pills that kept my naturally-heavy periods predictable and light enough that I was able to consistently stay in the workforce—what might be labeled a productive member of society—rather than needing to call in sick every month.

When I met my husband at age 33, we decided to get married and have a child, and for the first time in my sexually active life, I stopped taking birth control pills. I became pregnant with my son almost instantly.

While my husband likes to brag that this faster-than-anticipated pregnancy was the result of his supernaturally strong sperm, I believe birth control pills are what kept me from becoming a mother before I was ready.

This was confirmed when my son was older, and after my husband’s vasectomy, I was able to get off the pill once again. My ovaries became covered with cysts—the left completely engulfed by one—and I had the most brutal period of my entire life. I had been bleeding harder than ever before, nauseated and unable to eat, for 90 days when my doctor performed the abdominal surgery to remove my left ovary, uterus, and cervix.

I had lost 30 pounds in 6 months and was subsisting on bits of saltine crackers and ginger ale before the surgery. I could only perform my motherly duties in short bursts, stopping between tasks to sit on the couch in a cold sweat as I tried not to vomit. It felt like having a stomach flu for nearly a year, and all symptoms ceased immediately post-surgery. I was given my life back.

I once again started to feel the symptoms after a year, and a sonogram revealed my remaining ovary was covered with 6 cysts, which sometimes happen when a women ovulates, but the ovary doesn’t release the egg. I was put on birth control pills to shut it down, and the cysts disappeared, saving my remaining ovary.

Even though I didn’t realize it, birth control pills had been necessary to prevent cysts my entire life. For many women, they perform this same function.

Sometimes birth control pills allow women like me to shut down their ovaries so that rather than having them removed, they can one day use them to have a child. Or they can continue to function and work. Especially for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis, birth control pills are a medicine.

Birth control pills should be covered by health insurance.

Birth control pills are not “abortion pills,” and work by eliminating the need to ovulate. They prevent the female piece of the pregnancy puzzle from entering the picture. If you are male and consider not ovulating to be the same thing as killing a potential baby, I certainly hope you don’t masturbate. (All of those potential lives lost… you monster!)

For women like myself, Planned Parenthood has been the only affordable way to have a yearly screening for cancer, STDs, and receive birth control in whatever form to prevent pregnancy. I have never once been offered an abortion, or had it discussed in my presence at Planned Parenthood, and I visited them in 4 different cities over the span of 16 years.

I recently found out the Kansas City Royals are in a partnership with the anti-choice Vitae Foundation, and I couldn’t be more disappointed with the first baseball team I ever saw. The fact that I had my first glimpse of fertility at a Royals game struck me, considering that they are partnered with a group that would have expected me to have a baby, had I become pregnant at age 11.

If you would like to sign the petition asking the Kansas City Royals to cut ties with an organization that demeans Planned Parenthood, an invaluable resource for affordable women’s health and family planning—please sign the petition here.

In summation; Planned Parenthood gave me affordable well woman check-ups and birth control when I couldn’t afford healthcare. I will forever be grateful to and support their organization for this reason. Thank you for listening.

The Outcome Was Not Hilarious

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There‘s a Facebook “ask your child these questions and post the results” quiz going around, and on a whim, I decided to ask my son for his answers. I thought it would be funny. A lark.

He was crying by the second question.

I really feel like I’m cocking up this parenting thing 98% of the time. Am I the only one who feels this way? I always feel like I’m failing at parenting, no matter how hard I try.

 

My son is diagnosed with ADHD. I am also. I’m his genetic link. This feels great, by the way—passing on a brain type to one’s child that makes life harder. No guilt associated with this at all. Nope. Nada. (Also, I’m sarcastic. Did I mention that sarcasm is my favorite defense mechanism?) So basically, I failed my son from the second he was conceived. I failed him in utero. Off to a great start.

Today, I started the meant-to-be-funny test verbally to see what my son would say. Here’s how it went.

 

WITHOUT prompting, ask your child these questions and write EXACTLY what they say. The outcome will be hilarious. 😂

Interviewed: M, 10.

 

Me: What is something I say a lot?

Him: I love you.

 

(Okay, we seem to be off to a good start. I am such a loving mother. Yay, me!)

 

Me: What makes me happy?

Him: When I do the right thing.

 

I looked at him sadly. His answer broke my heart.

My son then started crying. Tears rolling down his face. Because this is what it feels like to be a kid with ADHD.

This is also what it feels like to be an adult with ADHD.

You feel like your inability to control impulsive behavior, your easy distractibility, and your problem finishing things (on which you aren’t hyperfocusing) all make you a bad person.

Because your behavior is corrected constantly, you also feel like you’re failing all of the time. At everything.

 

Eventually, if you’re like me, you may become chronically anxious, overthinking and hesitating before every decision, because you’re so used to making the wrong choices.

You may often freeze from indecision and fear, lest you fail the people counting on you to do the right thing, one more lousy time.

You may worry they will stop loving you, or leave you, because you can never seem to make people happy, no matter what you do.

You may grow up feeling alone in the world, and unable to trust anyone, because nobody ever stays. You will then blame, berate, and emotionally beat yourself up for not being able to maintain a healthy relationship with another human.

 

It really sucks.

 

We try so hard to choose our battles and be gentle with our son, but the reality is that when someone is constantly impulsive—to the point of being a danger to themselves, or an annoyance to others—you have to say something.

Present parents teach their children how to behave appropriately. If these teachable moments are happening all… day… long… the emotionally immature recipient of your “life lessons,” no matter how gently you present them, starts to feel like a failure. Quantity trumps quality eventually.

And being human, you’re sometimes not as kind or patient as you should have been—especially when you’re correcting the same poor choice for the 100th time, and that behavior is something your child should have mastered years earlier.

Sisyphus has nothing on the parents of an ADHD-brained kid. We wish we were only rolling a damned rock up a hill all day. At least then we’d have the luxury of not worrying about how we’re making the rock feel as we roll it over and over again, and what kind of a rock it’s going to grow up into because of our ineptitude.

Having a child with a developmental delay is like having a toddler for 3 times longer than you should, and you will want to punch yourself in the face. Often. Sometimes a pillow in a bedroom behind a locked door will have to do, because we need faces to see, eat, communicate, and other important crap like that.

 

When I’m handling it well, I feel like there is nobody as patient as me in the whole wide world. I am the Queen of Patience. I am an angel in the form of a middle-aged woman, sent down to guide this child to adulthood with love and light and also a lot of laundry.

When I’m not handling it well, and I lose my temper, I feel like the shittiest human who ever walked the planet. I am the Queen of Shit. I am Satan in the form of a middle-aged woman, sent down to ruin the life of an innocent boy with snappish remarks and nagging and also a lot of laundry.

I know he’s just a kid, without the life experience or perspective I have, and of course he’s not going to inherently understand everything. He deserves the same chance to make mistakes and learn from them the rest of us received. So unfortunately, when I am not at my best, “Queen of Shit” is written on the sash I wear to complement my gown made from the tattered fabric of parental shame. I don’t deserve a tiara.

 

It’s a frustrating cycle, and it kills me because I was the same kid; misunderstood and angry all of the time. I still lack self-esteem. I still have a chip on my shoulder that flares up if I feel I’m being treated like I’m stupid—a bitchy, defensive chip that my husband “enjoys” dealing with on the reg. I still feel like I’m failing all of the time. And I so desperately want life to be better for my son.

God, I don’t want him to feel like I do. I don’t want anybody to feel like I do.

 

I asked why he was crying, and he said, “I’m crying because I don’t know what makes you happy.”

 

Oh, my heart. Ouch. And then I started crying. I opened my arms and he came over to the couch and jumped into my lap like we do at the start of every day.

I hugged him for a long time. I told him that he makes me happy because he exists, and not only when he’s doing the right thing. That I am trying to teach him how to be a good person when I correct his behavior, and making mistakes is normal because that’s how we all learn to do the right thing.

I told him I will always love him, and that even when he’s doing something that doesn’t make me happy, I love him just as much then. I told him I’m only trying to help him learn to make good choices, and that I will never love him any less, no matter what he does.

I told him he makes me happy just by being here.

 

I’m trying. I’m trying to make sure my son doesn’t feel like a failure. I feel like I’m failing at parenting while I try to make sure my child doesn’t feel like he’s failing at being a human.

I recognize the duplicity of the above process, but I don’t have a better solution.

 

Failing. Failing, failing, failing.

 

*****

 

After I dried his tears and told him the test was supposed to be fun, we continued. I wanted to salvage this moment. I wanted to lighten it.

 

Me: How tall am I? 

Him: 5’9″

 

(Correct!)

 

Me: What’s my favorite color? 

Him: I don’t know? Blue or purple or something? 

 

(Close. Blue-green.)

 

Me: What is my favorite thing to do?

Him: Write on the computer?

 

(Correct!)

 

Me: What makes you proud of me? 

Him: That you do everything for me. You’ve kept me alive for the last 10 years!

 

(Jesus. It’s nice to be appreciated, but keeping you alive is my job, kid. I feel kind of bad about his answer. I am officially promising Future Me will never guilt trip my son. Do you hear that Future Me? He appreciates you. Like, biologically. No guilt trips.)

 

Me: What is my favorite food?

Him: Burritos?

 

(Correct! Well, actually, my favorite food is artichokes, but they’re expensive, so bean burritos with cheese and green sauce are my number one comfort food. They have been since I was a kid in Phoenix.)

 

Me: Do you think you could live without me?

Him: No! I couldn’t!

 

(I smiled and kept it light, but seriously. What kind of a needy, Disney-movie-moms-must-die kind of question is this? My son freaked out recently, when, at almost-11, he saw the REAL beginning to “Finding Nemo” on TV. It was his first favorite movie, and I skipped past the “mom dies” beginning every time. Because damn, Disney. That’s some heavy shit to drop on toddlers. Stop it.)

 

Me: If I could go anywhere, where would it be?

Him: I don’t know? An island?

 

(Wrong, unless the island was never sunny and not surrounded by water, which would make it not an island. The vast endlessness of the ocean freaks me out, and I am extremely photosensitive. He got the solitude part right, though, if that’s what he meant.  I’d love a cloudy, cool climate and a house alone in the forest.)

 

Me: What is my favorite show?

Him: Your medical shows.

 

(Correct! I love all medical shows. If I could go back in time and change my college major, I would choose nursing instead.)

 

*****

 

This was the end of the test.

My son is a volatile, high-strung, emotional and extremely empathetic human, just like me. We feel everything in the world. It’s exhausting. The ADHD brain type doesn’t help.

So I should probably mention that I’ve also made him cry over his pancakes by jokingly making the Mrs. Butterworth’s maple syrup bottle exclaim, “No! Don’t drink my lifeblood, little boy!”

He’s run crying over to me after a group of shitty kids stomped a cool bug he was watching.

He cries over sad shows on television. He’s a sensitive soul. But still. Today was a reminder to be as gentle as possible with my son, as often as I can muster it.

 

What a hilarious outcome. Thanks, stupid Facebook quiz.

 

 

 

 

Top Wine and Cheesecake Pairings for the Holiday Season

 

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Pairing desserts with wine isn’t easy, but when it’s done well, this combination can be a deliciously decadent treat that can make your holiday party or family gathering an instant success.

A general rule for finding the right wine to complement a cheesecake is to make sure the wine is a bit sweeter than the dessert in most cases, but not in all. Sometimes a crisp, dry wine can be just the thing to offset a particularly sugary flavor in the best way possible. As with pairing drinks and other foods, when pairing wine with desserts, it’s important to strike a balance between acidity and sweetness.

 

Below is a list of 8 flavored cheesecakes and complementary wines you might serve to bring out the best in both:

 

  1. Classic Cheesecake—

The rich, creamy texture of a plain cheesecake works great with sparkling wines, champagne or nice sauternes.

Depending on the flavors you choose to add to your cheesecake, such as different types of fruits, you may want to go in a different direction with your beverage, but with a plain cheesecake, a simple wine is a great complement to the classic flavor.

 

  1. Apricot-Glazed Cheesecake—

An orange muscat wine would be a lively pairing with any dessert featuring apricots, as the citrus can brighten the potentially heavy honey-like qualities of the glaze, as well as enhancing the fruitiness of the apricots.

 

  1. Chocolate Cheesecake—

A vintage port is the go-to wine for any chocolate and vino partnership, but don’t write off the lighter reds, as a late harvest zinfandel or cabernet sauvignon can also serve as a good match.

Generally, as the desserts get darker and richer, so do the wines, and with something as light as a chocolate-flavored cheesecake, you can get away with a lighter wine.

 

  1. Caramel/Turtle Cheesecake—

To properly balance the buttery decadence of caramel, a red wine is definitely your number one choice.

A pinot noir or nice shiraz would be light and sweet, allowing the rich caramel to shine while still keeping the balance between acid and sugar.

 

  1. Pumpkin Cheesecake—

Popular around the holidays, the spicy, cinnamon notes of a pumpkin cheesecake are beautifully brought out by a white wine, pink champagne, or a riesling, which can soften the spiciness, allowing the flavors to be appreciated without overpowering the taste buds.

White wine, pink champagne or a riesling will also go well with a slice of pumpkin pie.

 

  1. Strawberry/Blueberry/Raspberry Cheesecake—

A light sparkling white wine, such as a moscato d’asti will enhance the sweet and dynamic notes of the berries on your cheesecake, but if you’d prefer something less sweet, a light rosé will work as well.

 

  1. Almond, Pecan or Walnut Cheesecake—

If your cheesecake recipe involves nuts, or perhaps a glaze involving fruit and nuts, remember that nuts pair wonderfully with a light madeira or a sherry with nutty undertones.

If the cheesecake’s nutty glaze involves apples, a pinot gris, blueberry or even an anjou wine can also be a good match.

 

  1. Lemon/Key Lime Cheesecake—

As with the apricots, citrus fruits are also best served with a muscat, sparkling white wine, or champagne to keep the flavors light and refreshing.

Remember; bubbles bring out the fresh, bright flavors and zing of all things citrus.

 

Don’t forget that pairing desserts like cheesecakes with wine doesn’t have to be an occasional after-dinner activity; you can even have a “wine and cheesecake” theme party to try new wines and desserts with your friends. With the holidays coming up, you can use the helpful wine and cheesecake pairing tips above to plan a perfect party with pals or a family get-together full of sweetness, drinks and delicious desserts.

Vet Exam Etiquette: 5 Tips to Keep Pets Calm

 

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When taken out of their usual environment, driven to a new place, and then handled by a stranger, most creatures—even humans—may become a bit agitated or frightened. Because we don’t speak dog or cat well enough to explain to our fuzzy family members what’s happening, a trip to the veterinarian’s office for an exam can be quite a harrowing experience.

Fortunately, there are ways we can prepare our pets for vet visits that will take much of the stress out of the experience for them, making life easier for everyone involved. Below are 5 tips any pet owner can use to keep cats and dogs calmer during vet exams:

 

  1. Demystify the Pet Carrier—

For cats and smaller dogs that must ride in a carrier for car trips, much of the tension they’re feeling is because they’ve suddenly been placed into an unknown and highly restrictive new environment. For free-roaming animals, being shoved into a small cage can be a very scary experience.

To take the fear out of the crate, place the carrier inside the home for weeks before the vet exam with the door open. Place soft blankets, treats and favorite toys inside, and feed the pet in the crate once they realize nothing bad is going to happen.

Your goal is to make the pet crate a safe and friendly little room they will feel comforted by (rather than frightened of) when exam day arrives.

 

  1. Go to a Happy Place—

Once smaller animals are reassured enough by the carrier to be moved, take a trip to the vet with them on a day they don’t have an exam. (If you have a larger dog that doesn’t ride in a crate, but is comfortable in the car, take them to the vet on non-exam days as well.)

Go into the vet’s office and allow your cat or dog to become familiar with their surroundings. Reward them with treats and introduce them to staff members if they have a moment so they won’t be complete strangers the next time you visit.

By soothing your pets and giving them treats at these non-invasive visits, you will be creating positive associations for them that will make them less fearful during the actual exam.

 

  1. Don’t Book During Busy Times—

If you have the wiggle room in your life and work schedule to set up exams during slow periods at the vet’s office, this is highly recommended for those with anxious animals.

Booking during off-hours will ensure the office is as quiet as possible for your exam, and that your visit proceeds quickly and efficiently.

 

  1. Soft is Soothing—

Give your pet a soft blanket to lie on in the pet carrier to make them feel more relaxed and at-home. Pets have excellent senses of smell, and sometimes the scent of a familiar place can soothe.

Be sure to pull the blanket out during the exam and cover the hard surface of the table, as this will make dogs feel less like they are slipping, and give cats something to grab onto with their claws for security.

 

  1. Distractions are Delightful—

Your vet will really appreciate your assistance during the actual examination, so if you can bring things to distract your cat or dog while they’re being inspected and manipulated, this is highly recommended.

Dogs are often easily distracted by food, so consider bringing a treat or new toy to introduce that will really captivate them. Cats can be harder to distract, so treats will need to be novel enough to keep their interest. Favorite toys are also great choices for diverting attention, such as feathers and catnip mice.

If your cat likes to hide under blankets or feels safer inside the carrier, many vets will work around these minor obstructions if it keeps kitties calmer.

By helping your pet to remain relaxed at the vet, you are not only making sure they have a less anxious visit to the pet doctor; you are making the experience better for yourself, your veterinarian and staff, as well as for the other pet owners waiting in the reception area. Use the tips above to give your beloved cat or dog the most pleasant and fear-free trip possible during every vet visit.

8 Reasons Why You Should Be Using an Electric Toothbrush

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Proper brushing technique and flossing will always be important factors in the maintenance of healthy teeth and gums. But did you know that your choice of toothbrush can make a big difference as well?

Studies have shown that electric toothbrushes are superior to manual toothbrushes for many reasons, and can help anyone have great oral health with less effort.

 

Below are 8 ways electric toothbrushes can provide great dental hygiene:

 

  1. Electric Toothbrushes are Efficient—

With rapidly spinning bristles, electric toothbrushes offer the kind of speed and power during brushing it would take a manual toothbrush much longer to produce, and would require extreme physical exertion from the human holding it. This means a more detailed cleaning is done in less time, which is always a good thing.

 

  1. Electric Toothbrushes are Thorough—

Because they are able to get behind molars, between teeth and gums, and into tight, awkward spaces between teeth while spinning, electric toothbrushes can make hard-to-reach places cleaner than traditional toothbrushes, preventing plaque build-up and cavities.

 

  1. Electric Toothbrushes are Professional—

Because they are so efficient at cleaning teeth, many people equate the feeling after using an electric toothbrush to the smooth, extra-clean way their teeth feel after a professional cleaning. Many dentists recommend them to patients for this reason, as less plaque build-up makes their job easier during routine cleanings.

 

  1. Electric Toothbrushes are Therapeutic—

Because they are similar to the sensation of professional dental cleaning tools, using an electric toothbrush can help desensitize a nervous patient to the whirring and scrubbing feelings that cause anxiety during routine cleanings.

Getting used to a motorized cleaning device in their mouth with an electric toothbrush can also be helpful for getting children ready for the tooth-polishing process at the end of dental cleanings, as well as helping them clean their teeth faster.

 

  1. Electric Toothbrushes are Environmentally Sound—

While they tend to be larger than manual toothbrushes, they don’t need to be thrown away as often, making electric toothbrushes a green choice for any consumer. Many brands even come with replaceable heads to reduce waste, and electrical plug-in chargers to eliminate the need for batteries.

 

  1. Electric Toothbrushes Cause Less Pain—

For those with arthritis, pulled or strained muscles, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and other ailments that cause arm or shoulder pain, having a toothbrush that does all the twisting, turning and brushing for the user can be a wonderful thing.

 

  1. Electric Toothbrushes Remove Stains—

Because of the extremely in-depth way they clean teeth—with hundreds of rotations impossible to simulate with a manual brush—electric toothbrushes have been shown to be very effective at removing wine, coffee and cigarette stains when manual toothbrushes aren’t helping.

 

  1. Electric Toothbrushes are Gentle on Gums—

One of the biggest mistakes made by manual toothbrush users is brushing too hard, or with an improper technique, which can damage the gums and cause them to permanently recede over time. Electric toothbrushes, however, provide just the right amount of pressure to massage the gums in a healthy manner while still removing bacteria.

It is very common for dentists to notice an improvement in gum tissue when patients switch from manual to electric toothbrushes, as well as enamel improvement, as brushing too hard can also damage the surface of the teeth.

 

 

Clinical studies have proven that in only 2 minutes, electric toothbrushes clean away more plaque and bacteria than manual toothbrushes can remove in 6 minutes. When The American Dental Association asked 16,000 patients to use electric toothbrushes instead of manual in a trial, 80% of the patients reported improved oral hygiene and dental health simply because of the change in type of toothbrush.

Join the many people enjoying positive dental check-ups, less plaque build-up, whiter teeth and fresher breath, and try out an electric toothbrush today. Your gums and teeth will thank you.

Five Sexy Halloween Costumes No Woman Should Ever Wear Be Without

 

It is commonly known that October 31st, for many women, is officially a day to dress like the stripper their parents dreaded they’d become. We’ve all gone to bars and Halloween parties, ready to drink and have fun, only to find ourselves staring into the unleashed taints of normally conservative female acquaintances gone wild.

“What are you supposed to be?” I remember asking one barely-clad-in-lingerie girlfriend.

“I’m a Victoria’s Secret model!” she replied in a chipper drunken slur.

True story.

I’m not even a prude. What bothers me about women who use Halloween as an excuse to walk around in their undies is that it feels contrived. If you want to dress provocatively and show off your body, do that. Work it, girl. But do it more than one day of the year. Own it. Stop turning my happy candy-gettin’ holiday into a spontaneously skanky somebody-needs-attention parade.

In short: If I’ve never seen your cleavage before, yet I’m suddenly being eye-raped by the camel toe portion of your ‘sexy Pikachu’ costume, you might be trying too hard.

 

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Some things truly can’t be unseen.

 Photo Credit

 

In honor of this increasingly titillating trend, or perhaps just to make your shopping easier, I’ve conveniently compiled five classic sexy Halloween costumes for you here.    

 

The Sexy Nurse – 

Does the idea of a sponge bath administered by a medical professional send you into paroxysms of pleasure? Well never fear, because the Sexy Nurse will take good care of you – and all of your friends. She works hard for the money, spending her long shifts tending to the sexual needs of her patients. And forget the comfortable shoes, because the Sexy Nurse wears heels and only heels, as she is a mythical creature with magic feet that defy torturous pain.

 

have-mercy-nurse-costumeIs that a Foley catheter in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

Photo Credit

 

 

The Sexy Pirate –   

Watch as the Sexy Pirate heartily puts the “Arrrrrrrr!” into artificial. Because seriously, there is nothing realistic about this costume. Nobody could dress like this and work on a ship. Nobody could dress like this and work anywhere except a strip club. And have you ever heard of a female pirate? I haven’t. And that pretty Pirates of the Caribbean girl Johnny Depp doesn’t count, because she’s in a movie and movies aren’t real life. Plus, no real girl would ever choose to wear that much eyeliner.

 

sexy-plus-spanish-pirate-costumeUmm… keep that sword away from my poop deck, please. 

Photo Credit

 

 

The Sexy Schoolgirl – 

Bring me your daddy issues, your insecurities, your huddled assholes yearning to breathe free, because the Sexy Schoolgirl has it all. Got pedophiles? Then this costume is the one for you. If you’ve ever wanted to dress up as a hyper-sexualized child, then the Sexy Schoolgirl will put the barely legal trick in your trick-or-treat. You can even pull this costume out of the closet and wear it for viewings of recorded Toddlers & Tiaras or Here Comes Honey Boo Boo episodes. Play along! Bonus drinking game: Take a drink every time you see a child losing her innocence and self-esteem.

 

sexy-school-girl-costumeSurprise! The apple tastes like sadness and years of therapy. “All dead inside” stare not included.

Photo Credit

 

 

The Sexy Butterfly –

Hey, party pupas! It’s a slutterfly! For one night only, this costume wearer has shed the stifling cocoon of business casual, and we can’t stop staring at her metamorphosis into a really attractive flying bug with garters. Because what is sexier than an insect in black stockings? Amirite? Bugs are sooooooo hot. Wait. Where are you going? Aren’t these delicate wings a turn-on? Look! I’M A BEAUTIFUL FAIRY. You guys want to have sex with fairies, right? Guys? Come back!

 

sexy-butterfly-costumeJust like in nature documentaries, the corset means she’s’s ready to pollinate your flower.

Photo Credit

 

The Sexy Cop – 

You have the right to remain horny. Anything you do may be photographed, placed on the Internet, and held against you by future employers. You have the right to a condom. If you cannot afford a condom, one will be provided for you.* This uniformed girl wants you to know she’ll use those handcuffs on you in a really naughty way. Nope, don’t mess with the Sexy Cop, boys, or you’re gonna get the business end of the baton, and a ticket to appear in sexy court!**

 

plus-mrs-law-cop-costumeDoes that billy club require batteries?

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Happy Halloween, everybody, no matter how you choose to celebrate it.

 

*If I ever become a stripper, I will not be using my real name (Tawni… thanks, Mom) as originally planned, and will instead go by the moniker ‘Miranda Rights.’ I will only wear a police officer outfit onstage. My pepper spray and tits will be real.

**There is no such thing as sexy court, but if there was, it would be presided over by the honorable Judge Miranda Rights, and she would have clever catchphrases like: “Don’t jizz on my leg in the Champagne Room and tell me it’s rain!”

 

 

7 Ways Playing Video Games Can Help Your Kids

 

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Violent video games have been shown to increase aggression in children, and excessive screen time is definitely not recommended for anyone. But did you know that in when played in moderation, the right video games can actually help kids develop and strengthen certain skills?

Read below about 7 different ways modest amounts of video game time might offer positive learning benefits:

 

  1. Video Games Increase Brain Function—

By forcing kids to memorize different characters, game rules and other aspects they need to move to the next level of a game, video games prep young minds for the memorization of phonics, multiplication tables and other such educational information.

Kids who play video games often do well at math, for example, because they are already well-practiced at memorizing formulas and numbers in games.

 

  1. Video Games Help with Dexterity—

Have you ever tried to play against a youngster at a video game and been amazed by their speed and hand agility? Those of us who grew up without video games lack the hand-eye coordination it takes to excel at the rapid succession of buttons that must be pushed during game play, but not our kids.

These skills will also carry over into the world of sports, art, music, keyboarding, or anything they try that involves fast, precise hand movement.

 

  1. Video Games Improve Vision—

As long as they’re not staring at screens all day long, which can tire eyes and cause headaches, moderate video gaming can improve vision by exercising the eyes and training them to follow movement. This can strengthen peripheral vision and increase reflexive quickness.

 

  1. Video Games Encourage Logical Thinking—

With many games, kids have to figure out ways to accomplish a goal or achieve a desired outcome and test their proposed solutions, much like using the scientific method.

For example, in the popular game Scribblenauts, kids must solve spatially-oriented situations for the main character using anything they can type into the scene (which also builds typing, spelling and vocabulary skills). When kids are forced to think this way, it teaches them to use and test logic.

 

  1. Video Games Allow Kids to Solve Problems—

In addition to boosting their strategic thinking skills by forcing kids to anticipate future moves (much like playing chess), certain video games teach children the valuable skill of problem or puzzle solving.

By giving them a series of challenges to conquer, video games force children to learn how to think for themselves to find answers, boosting self-esteem and teaching them how to calmly react in high-pressure situations.

 

  1. Video Games Facilitate Social Skills—

In the same way that playing board games with other children can teach kids about good sportsmanship and being a part of a team, group or online video games can create the same social outlet for kids.

Having a favorite game in common can also help kids bond by giving them an easy conversational opening. In the same way that wearing something featuring a favorite sports team logo can open communication, a T-shirt bearing the image of a game character can have the same effect.

 

7. Video Games Can Be Educational—

Many games actually teach historical facts, architecture, spelling, typing, and math. Some video games allow kids to use their imaginations as they build cities and imaginary worlds. Even games not designed specifically to be educational are still encouraging children to think creatively, which will help them in many ways.

 

Of course it’s still important for kids to get outside to exercise and play in the fresh air, but we need to remember that our children are growing up in a much more computer-oriented world than the one in which we grew up.

Learning computer skills needs to be a priority for children today to thrive as adults. As long as video gaming is done with supervision, in moderation and with the appropriate games for learning, it can be a great way to acclimate kids with the technology of their future while teaching them useful and healthy life skills.

7 Super Supplements for Bodybuilding

 

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Athletes such as bodybuilders are always trying to find the most efficient ways to achieve their physical fitness goals, including supplementation. There are many helpful and completely natural supplements available today to help weightlifters more quickly build the lean muscle they desire.

Below is a list of 7 extremely beneficial bodybuilding supplements, and what they may be able to do for you:

1. Creatine—

Found naturally in beef and fish, creatine works by providing the muscles with extra energy during a workout, causing better results. It also helps replenish energy faster during a workout, and some reports have shown it may decrease the risk of heart disease in those who use it.

2. Caffeine—

Seems so simple to think that your morning coffee could increase the productivity of your workout, but it goes beyond merely giving you extra energy. One study found that ingesting caffeine before weight training increased strength by 10% (source: European Journal of Applied Physiology). Caffeine also increases tolerance to pain to help push through a rough set.

3. Deer Antler Spray—

Completely natural and loaded with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, anti-inflammatory agents and an insulin-like natural growth hormone, deer antler spray is becoming popular because of its ability to help strengthen muscles while helping muscles recover faster. Derived from the pre-calcified antlers of male deer, this supplement has also been reported to increase blood circulation, giving the user a better workout and quicker results.

4. Protein—

If you want to build muscles up, you have to give them the fuel they need to grow and heal, and one of the most basic supplements for this is protein. Many bodybuilders prefer why protein because it is absorbed quickly into the body, helping to increase lean muscle mass. Others prefer casein protein taken at night to achieve their protein needs. Soy protein is not generally recommended, as it can mimic estrogen in the body when consumed in large amounts.

5. ZMA—

ZMA is a patented mineral formula that has been getting attention lately because of its ability to speed muscle recovery. With zinc, magnesium and amino acids to strengthen the immune system and increase testosterone, ZMA also includes antioxidants to decrease toxicity in the liver.

6. L-Glutamine—

L-Glutamine is an amino acid that aids protein in building muscle, making it an important addition to any supplementation schedule. Increasing growth hormone production, L-Glutamine speeds up muscle recovery and is recommended before and after a workout. If you want to prevent muscle breakdown, this is the supplement to use. It is naturally found in many foods, such as meat, eggs, dairy and spinach, so if you eat a lot of animal products, you’re already consuming a decent amount of this substance.

7. CLA—

Naturally occurring in animal products such as meat and dairy, CLA (a.k.a. Conjugated Linoleic Acid) is a fatty acid that helps build lean muscle mass. CLA can also boost the immune system and fight free radicals with the antioxidants it offers, potentially lessening the risk of certain cancers.

If you have reached a bodybuilding plateau and would like to give your muscles a way to build the strength and mass you’ve been striving for, you might try adding some of the supplements listed above to your nutritional regime. You’ve got nothing to lose, and muscle to gain, right?