Category: random thoughts

How Planned Parenthood Helped Me Plan Parenthood

 

woman-650383_960_720

 

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

lonely-604086_960_720

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Cat Salutations, Pee Bottles, Birkini Shame and Car Salespeople

(Writing from July 23, 2010.)

I waved at a cat this morning, as I drove home from dropping my son off for the last day of his summer swim camp.

I did it impulsively. It crossed the road and I waited for it to reach the sidewalk.

It stopped and stared at me as I drove past.

So I waved at it.

Smiling. Waving. At a tabby.

I then realized that if anyone was watching me, I would look a bit slow, or crazy, and became self-conscious. I laughed out loud at myself. I felt stupid.

Was I expecting it to wave back?

Maybe.

***

Every morning for the last few weeks, I have noticed the same plastic soda/pop bottle of what appears to be urine. It has been discarded on the road and continues to languish in the gutter, in wait of the next urgently full bladder, I suppose.

More than finding it disgusting, the bottle of pee perplexes me.

I realized today that the bottle of pee is upsetting because it triggers a disturbing chain of thoughts in my brain.

Whenever I see a bottle of pee, I run through all of my unanswered questions about bottles of pee.

And I really don’t want to have my very own mental series of questions about bottles of pee.

These questions mostly involve the mechanics of capturing the urine.

(Capturing the urine kind of sounds like a euphemism for something else, like chasing the dragon, doesn’t it? No? Just me? Okay.)

When capturing the urine, does a man place the head of his penis into, or merely against the plastic bottle?

Does he press hard and form a seal, leaving a red ring on the tip of his member, or does he just try to aim well from a few inches away?

If he can fit the penis into the bottle, does he do that in the name of quality control and reduced splash potential?

If he can fit the penis into the bottle, does it feel good, or does it scrape his penis in a painful manner when he withdraws?

If it did feel good to place his penis into the bottle, and that caused him to become erect while inside of the bottle, would it grow painfully tight, forcing him to think repulsive, erection-reducing thoughts in order to remove the penis from the bottle?

Would one of those repulsive, erection-reducing thoughts involve bottles of pee on the side of the road?

Isn’t he worried he will fill the bottle, be unable to stop mid-stream, and soak the surroundings with urine?

Why can’t these guys just stop and take a quick whiz next to their car like a normal person?

Or better yet, why can’t they just find a restroom like a normal person?

Who is in such a hurry to get anywhere that they can’t even stop their vehicle for the thirty seconds it would take to piss between two open car doors on the side of the road?

And are people in cars doing it too, or is this only a truck driver thing?

Are these pee bottlers taking pleasure in knowing they are grossing people out with the Number One bomb they will soon be tossing out the car window?

Is this purely a male phenomenon, or do women like to pee in bottles too?

Would a woman have to buy one of those “big mouth” soda pop bottles with a wider opening in order to perform this feat?

Do only Pepsi products offer the “big mouth” option?

Or would a glass pickle jar work better for a woman seeking a container in which to pee?*

And so on.

I hate that fucking bottle of pee.

***

I read a story this morning about Muslim women being thrown out of a pool in France for wearing “birkinis” while they swam. Here’s a link to the article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/7904645/Two-Muslim-women-thrown-out-of-pool-for-wearing-burkinis.html

Here’s a picture of a “birkini”:

All I could think while I looked at this picture is, “I would look so fat in that birkini.”

Isn’t that the saddest thing you’ve ever heard? It’s a garment designed for modesty, and I still wouldn’t be caught dead in it.

But seriously, head-to-toe electric blue spandex? NUH-uh. No way.

***

My husband and I are going car shopping this afternoon. He gets off work around noon on Fridays, so we have a little window in which to look for a car until the kiddo is out of camp.

He went to a few dealerships to look for cars last night after we put our son to bed.

He works in sales for a living and has a degree in acting (surprisingly useful), so he loves to mess with pushy salespeople. Actually, he loves to mess with anybody he can.

He was test driving a car with a salesman, and the guy was listing the features of the car while my husband drove.

He mentioned that it had a latch inside the trunk to allow a person to open it from the inside, should they become trapped.

My husband said to him, completely monotone, no smile, “Well, I’ll have to remove that immediately.”

The guy smiled and said, “Good one.”

My husband held the unhappy face and said, “I’m not kidding.”

The salesman laughed uncomfortably.

My husband said, “I’m wearing sunglasses. You can’t see my eyes. I’m serious.” And kept frowning. Tension. Nervous mumbling from the guy.

My husband is 6’5″ and 200+ pounds. I should mention that.

He finally broke and smiled, told the poor fellow he was kidding.

I wish I could do that to people.

My first instinct is to alleviate the psychological strife, try to smooth over any uncomfortable situation to make everyone feel better. The Grand Enabler.

I could learn a lot from my husband the actor.

Happy day to you.

xoxo.

*I think I could make one of those larger Aquafina water bottles with the wide mouth work if I had to.

The Universe Is Making Me Feel Not So Fresh

(Writing from November 19, 2010.)

My husband just called from the store where he is picking out seat covers for our new used car. In the name of protecting our investment and all that happy horseshit.

He listed the options over the phone. My seat cover print choices were: Hello Kitty, Ed Hardy, cherries, or skulls.

I told him they should just make seat covers with pictures of actual douchebags all over them, and be done with it. Just ‘Summer’s Eve’ bottles with nozzles, floating happily around. I would totally buy those seat covers.

I tried to talk him into skulls, if only to freak out the other mothers at my son’s preschool, but then we decided my skull-fancy probably means I am a douchbag. Darn.

We went with the boring solid gray.

***

So I found a guy I’ve been looking for on Facebook. I’ve been looking for him for a long time. He was my biggest grade school crush. I loooooooooooved him with all of the love and lust and passion my innocent little girl heart could muster. We talked on the phone a lot as kids. We were both Scorpios, so like proper astrology nerds, we bonded over our shared water sign compatibility. I sat next to him in class. He probably couldn’t have cared less. I was a friend, like any other guy buddy.

This theme would carry on into my adult dating world, by the way. When you are the first one to make a “That’s what she said!” joke, they don’t usually consider you marriage material. You’re one of the guys… forever. My tomboy leanings served me well when playing in bands with boys, but oh, how they sucked in the dating world, where they made me the eternal Mary Stuart Masterson to every some kind of wonderful Eric Stoltz I fancied.

I eventually moved away to another state, but kept in touch with my very best girlfriend who still lived there there, via pen pal letters and occasional visits. She later told me (in high school) that she slept with him. I was ridiculously jealous. I say ridiculously, because I hadn’t seen him since we were, like, ten, so how could I be jealous. She told me he that he was good in bed, that he “did amazing things with his mouth,” and I was like, “I knew it!” My instincts had been right on.

So I found him on Facebook recently via other grade school pals; my grade school boy crush. He’s a man now, of course. And I decided to peruse his photos, just to see how he grew up. Because I’m curious like a cat. (That’s why my friends call me “Whiskers”.)

I started to look at his pictures, and became very uncomfortable inside. There didn’t seem to be many pictures of him, just pictures of clowns. Creepy clowns. Like not children’s party clowns, but performance art clowns. Pennywise clowns. I suddenly realized that all of those clowns were… him. I was horrified as it very slowly dawned on me… my childhood crush had grown up to be a clown. He teaches a clown school. He runs a clown camp every summer. A fucking clown camp. I’m not making this shit up.

You have to know me to understand how hilariously, awfully perfect this is.

So of course, I immediately told my husband. He had a huge laugh with me at my expense. Of course my childhood crush became a clown. Of course. The girl who freezes in panic at anything in a mascot costume finds out her childhood crush became a clown. Awesome.

My mom even used a clown theme for one of my birthdays because I’ve always been so afraid of them.

Look:

The candles are burning clown heads. Burn, clowns, burn!

I once received a package from her in the mail that had a little piece of cardboard folded in half inside. When I opened it up like a small book, inside I discovered she had taped a tiny plastic clown with the words, “I’m watching you!”

My mom is hilarious. Seriously. I hope I remember to do things like that with my own child.

So, yeah. My childhood crush grew up to be a clown. Literally. My life is like a bad sitcom.

***

There was a Facebook meme going around for a while, apparently in honor of breast cancer awareness, during which the supporter was expected to post as their status a suggestive-sounding description of where they like to keep their purse.

For example: “I like it on the kitchen table.”

Then we all snicker and fan our faces in genteel lady laughter because tee-hee-hee, oh my goodness, isn’t that hilarious, how it sounds raunchy but is actually quite innocent.

Blah. I hate this kind of shit. And because I hate it, I had so much trouble resisting the urge to be a brat. I very badly wanted to make my Facebook status: “I like it in my vagina with my husband’s penis going in and out.” But I didn’t do it. I was a good girl.

But I really, really wanted to.

Conversation stopping moments have always worked for me. I love random weirdness, odd things done for no reason, and I love inappropriate. I could never sit through church properly for this reason. I spent every service stifling laughter and making fart jokes, trying to get my little sister to join me. (She’s the good girl in the family. And I love a challenge.)

Last year, the Facebook breast cancer awareness and support meme asked us to post the color of our underwear as our Facebook status. I have no idea how this helps breast cancer research, but went ahead and posted “invisible” as I was freeballing that day. Or whatever I’m supposed to call a chick not wearing underwear. (I am a closet hippie. First thing I do when I get home is get comfortable, which means underwear and bra OFF. I don’t like restrictive clothes. Also: I am a lifelong Naked Sleeper. Don’t tell.)

A friend of mine pointed out how very little the stupid “funny” statuses help find a cure for breast cancer, and I realized she was absolutely right. I’m not joining in again.

Unless I get to shock people by talking about my husband’s penis, I mean.

***

Today in the car, my son made a sudden, loud noise. Like he yelled, “Watch out!” for no reason. I snapped at him not to do that when I’m driving because I’m really jumpy, and that makes it dangerous.

“Don’t shout like that. I’m jumpy. I’ll crash this car,” I whined.

“You shouldn’t be so jumpy,” he said.

I said, “I know, son. I don’t like being jumpy; I just am. I’d rather not be jumpy.”

He said, “Do you want me to give you some calm power?”

Except he said it like there was a capital letter in front of those words… Calm Power.

I laughed. He is such the perfect kid for me. When I was pregnant, my mom told me, “God gives you what you’re supposed to have,” and those words have rung true from the second I met my son. I was made to be the momma of a little boy. And this outgoing, funny little light I’ve birthed is so perfect for his introverted mom. He often pulls me out of a dark funk before I even realize I’m sinking.

Now smiling, I replied, “Yes, please. Give me some of your Calm Power,” and he waved his hands in my direction, magically applying the Calm Power to my soul.

It worked.

Hope you’re having a calm week, friends.

Shingle Bells

(Writing from December 30, 2010.)

Christmas is over. I find myself very relieved this year, rather than feeling the disappointment of childhood days. This is because it’s the first year in many that nobody in my immediate family of husband, boy child and self was sick. It’s a damned Christmas miracle.

My son was ill two weeks ago, and I was pessimistically certain that Santa would be gifting the same illness to my husband or me this year, but so far, so good.

Last year, in December, I developed shingles on the left side of my face and head. These disgusting lesions and goose egg-sized bumps on my scalp were possibly from the stress of college finals week, but most likely from the unbearable lightness of being me. I’m a pretty neurotic lass. And becoming a mother has only cranked that particular knob to eleven.

Shingles are caused by the chickenpox virus. If you’ve ever had chickenpox, you also have the potential to develop shingles. What happens is that during times of severe stress or immune system suppression (such as chemotherapy, or being over 65), the virus that has been waiting in your nerve endings since your childhood chickenpox acquisition decides to flare up, causing unbelievably painful, itchy sores throughout the affected nerve group. Because what does a really stressed out person need more than painful, itchy sores, right? Thanks, body.

My dermatologist made the catch. I thought I was breaking out, because they were in the early stage, but she took one look at them and told me I had shingles. It was the placement of the lesions that convinced her. She explained to me that there is a branch of nerves that runs from the scalp down on each side of the face, across the forehead, and wraps around the upper side of the head. This entire bundle of nerves was flared up on my left side. You could draw a line down the middle of my forehead, and the sores were all to the left, like the branch of nerves.

This is how they looked at first. Like a rash or something.

She also explained to me that shingles on the head and face are extremely, exquisitely painful, and prescribed a gigantic bottle of hydrocodone. I remember thinking that was an odd word to use for pain. Exquisitely painful. We usually use the word exquisite to describe beautiful things, so the word nerd in me found her choice interesting. And scary. What the fuck does that mean anyhow? I’ve experienced childbirth, after all, and there was nothing exquisite about it. Nothing at all.

(Side rant: Friends who say things to me like “remember that pain makes you feel alive” when I’m in pain make me want to hurt them. And after I’ve hurt them, I would yell, “Hey, isn’t this great? Do you feel alive now, too? Invigorating, isn’t it?!” Because you know what, you carpe diem-spewing, wannabe hardcore dumb-asses? Pain sucks. Period. And when I hurt, I don’t want to seize the day, I want to go back to bed and try to be unconscious for as much of it as possible.)

The reason shingles hurt so much is because it is your nerves – those little reasons we all feel physical pain – that are inflamed. The nerves themselves are what are being affected, so you’re absolutely fucked pain-wise. (Yes, “absolutely fucked” is a technical term. Exquisitely absolutely fucked, even.)

After my shingles fully developed a few days later, I couldn’t even touch my head. To do so sent hundreds of flaming knives up into my brain.

To make it even worse, the sores start to itch like chickenpox after a few days too, causing you to scratch your head in your sleep, only to be awakened by the searing pain. I wore calamine lotion over the entire left side of my face, which helped with the itching, and entertained my husband by giving him ample opportunity to make Phantom of the Opera jokes at my expense. So you know. Win-win.

The Phantom of the Opera thinks you’re hilarious. No, really.

The shingles were on my eyelid, so I was sent immediately to an eye doctor for the first eye exam of my 20/10 hawk vision-having life, to make sure I didn’t have shingles in my left eye, because that could cause blindness. It was there that I experienced one of the few uplifting moments of my shingles experience, when the incredibly hot doctor read the age on my chart and exclaimed, “Wow! You do not look your age! You don’t have any wrinkles at all!” YES.

They apparently do Botox injections at this eye office, because there were ads in the waiting room about them, so maybe that was what made him study my face for wrinkles? I don’t know or care, really. At my age, when an attractive guy says I look young, it makes me really happy. Even if I am all gross and shingle-y and wearing no make-up because I thought I was only going to the dermatologist for a weird break out. Yes, even then. I’m not made of stone, people.

It got worse very quickly. I was soon having post C-section flashbacks as I constantly watched the clock for the four-hour mark to take my next hydrocodone pain pill:

This is my official “Fuck My Life” face. In case you were wondering.

I didn’t get pictures, but this was right before my left eyelid swelled halfway shut. I looked so hideous.

As my family doctor later explained it to me, there are different levels of shingles on the spectrum. For some people, it only involves the skin. But at the other end, some people get what feels like the adult chickenpox virus, so of course that’s the version I got. I was nauseated, weak, and felt like I had the flu for a few weeks.

Every day, I sat on the couch with a puke bucket between my legs, letting my toddler watch too much television, praying my husband would get home from work as soon as possible. It was a month before I felt human again.

They were finally starting to stop itching so much and heal when I took this picture. My head and face hurt to the touch for weeks after the sores went away. So weird.

My son also got H1N1 for Christmas that year. Joy to the world, the flu has come.

The Christmas before last, I had pneumonia for two months, and in the middle of the x-rays of my lungs for that, they discovered that my lungs are covered in calcifications from previous untreated pneumonias (I haven’t had health insurance for much of my adult/broke musician life). I had to get an MRI to determine whether or not the calcifications were lung cancer. So that was marvelous. Not stressful at all.

Are you starting to understand why I fear December every year?

So while I am nervous about tempting the Fates, or being smited by a god with a dark sense of humor, I have to very quietly say that it is really nice to see Christmas come and go without a major illness. (I will be barfing in a few hours because I dared to type that, I’m pretty sure of it.)

Wow. I was going to write about Christmas, and instead I channeled my grandmother who guilt trips me by nagging, “You never call! You never write!” every time I see her, without realizing that I never call or write because she guilt trips me, and then lists her health ailments for hours every time we communicate.

Sorry. You don’t have to call or write. I won’t guilt trip you.

I thought the shingles were really fascinating, though. What a weird thing to happen. It seemed so alien and trippy that something could live inside my body from childhood, biding its time, waiting for my lowered defenses to strike. And it was creepy how wounds formed all over my face and head, like some sort of pimpled teenager-emulating stigmata, coming from the inside out.

Kids nowadays receive a chickenpox vaccine, so they never have to experience it. I recently read some studies stating that if you receive the chickenpox vaccine as a kid, and never have full-fledged chickenpox, you aren’t susceptible to shingles as an adult. I was relieved to learn my son won’t have to worry about shingles. It makes me want to beg my anti-vaccine mommy friends to please, at least get your kids the chickenpox vaccine, because if they can avoid shingles later in life, trust me; they will want to go ahead and do that.

We had a mellow Christmas this year. I got a leopard skin laptop bag and a matching laptop skin to make my new laptop all leopard-spotted and awesome. I have an animal print fetish. I have since high school. It was cute and funky when I was young and playing in bands, but now it’s just kind of weird and sad. I tell myself it’s sexy in a Mrs. Robinson sort of way, but I’m not fooling anyone. I know I just look like a poorly aging rocker chick, but whatever. The heart wants what it wants, and mine wants leopard, zebra, and giraffe prints.

Tawni’s Happy Fun Time Couch Spot:

My ridiculous: let me show it to you.

I got a laptop table and a thumb drive that will store everything I can ever possibly write. And Dexter: The Fourth Season. And the warmest, most awesome-est gloves without fingers, so I can type and be warm all at the same time.

So as you’ve probably surmised, yes, I recently got a laptop. I feel ridiculously lucky and blessed. I have wanted a laptop for years, and finally got one for my birthday (around Halloween). I am sitting in bed writing this on it, actually. I love it. I’ve been on my own since I was just barely 17, and pretty poor my whole life, so I haven’t been the girl with a lot of technological toys. I still can’t believe it’s mine.

I only got my first personal computer in 2004. My husband forced me to get my first cell phone in 2006. I hate talking on the phone. I am afraid of it, even. (When acquaintances want to talk to me on the phone, I get weird. It stirs up a big, steaming batch of social ineptitude and shy for me.) He often has to nag me to keep the ringer on. I like to be out of touch. There is a lot of peace to be found in out of touch. Not a lot of not-annoyed-spouse, though, it turns out.

We always had really relaxed Christmas eve and Christmas day celebrations in my family. I was born in Phoenix, where we lived until I was seven, when my mom remarried, and we moved to Lawrence, Kansas with my new stepdad. We were completely isolated from my mom’s large Arizona family, so we had our own holidays. No getting in the car and driving from relative to relative’s house. It was awesome.

As we got older, we would all spend Christmas eve and day at my parents’ house, which was eventually in Holden, Missouri, and then Blue Springs, Missouri. Once we were old enough to drink, Kahlua went into coffee, and mimosas happened with the fruity crepes my mom makes on Christmas morning. She had a deli tray with cheese, meat and little rolls for sandwiches. She also kept a fondue pot full of melted chocolate for us to dip the chunks of angel food cake, banana slices, and strawberries into. There was always a port wine cheese ball with crackers. I still feel nostalgic when I look at one of those swirly red and orange, almond-coated little guys. So appropriate that a cheese ball would make me wistful. (I’m such a cheese ball.)

Now my parents have retired to Phoenix, and I ended up in Oklahoma after getting knocked up by an Okie boy in Los Angeles, so I have had to keep these little foodie traditions alive by myself. (Especially the Christmas morning mimosas.) I had the cheese ball, fondue, and little sandwiches this year, but I didn’t make the crepes. I don’t think I could ever make those as well as my mom.

I baked my usual pumpkin pies, and got wacky with my banana bread this year, making banana bread muffins with chocolate chips instead. I even made pecan pies this year for the first time ever. I decided that it is ridiculous that I’ve never made a pecan pie. It’s a classic holiday dessert.

They came out fine, but inadvertently put me off pecan pie for the rest of my life. I used to really like it, but now that I know it is a big pile of corn syrup, eggs and sugar, I’m totally grossed out. Seriously. Hot, baked corn syrup and eggs. Eeeew. How did I not know that?

But despite the pecan pie repulsion, I had the first pleasant holiday season I’ve had in years. No illness. No oozing flesh wounds. No flu-ridden baby. No lung cancer scare. So big props to tha universe for that. One love. Word to your mother. Peace out.

Hope your holidays were awesome, pals.

 

 

 

Miles and me, Christmas 2010.

Pollyanna Loves Swim-Up Bars

I did something right today.

This may not seem like a big deal to you, but I’m really bad at all things social interaction, and I actually helped a stranger feel better today, rather than just making them feel uncomfortable.

Go me.

Seriously. I have noticeably alienated every one of the other kids’ mothers at my son’s school who have tried to talk to me. It’s a real problem. I get nervous, blank out, stutter, and freeze up. And then the weird things come out of my mouth, like some sort of poorly done German film noir I have to watch in mortification, while I have the usual brain self-dialogue.

Oh my GOD, what is wrong with me? Why did I just say that? Why can’t I say normal things like normal people? Why would she want to know that? You’re so fucking weird, Tawni. Stop! Just stop now, while you’re ahead. Shit. No. Why didn’t you just stop? See? You’re just making it worse. They’ve got the freezy eyes of discomfort. You made another one have the freezy eyes of discomfort. She’s trying to politely escape. The eyes are flicking around wildly, searching for an escape. Congratulations. You’ve turned yet another human into a frightened horse trapped in the stable of your social ineptitude and insanity. Let her go. Save yourself! Run from me! I’m a fucking monster! Be free, horsie! Balls. Why do I talk… ever?

Anyhow. A guy was dropping off his daughter at my son’s kindergarten this morning. It’s a small private school. The kindergarten classroom is upstairs, and consists of fifteen kids. The teacher is amazing. Very smart, hands-on and loving. I adore her. More importantly, I trust her.

I hugged my son goodbye, and he started immediately working on some artwork. I have always been blessed with the most nonchalant-about-my-departure child in the whole world. He never went through the separation anxiety phase he was supposed to, and has always given me a cheerful wave, hug, and see you later when I leave him with others. Not a single cling. I got so lucky, and am immeasurably grateful for this little mercy, as I am a huge pussy a total empath. I honestly don’t think I could walk away from my crying child, even though I logically know it’s okay.

As I was walking out the door, I noticed one of my son’s classmates, a little girl, because she was sobbing big, weepy sobs while the teacher hugged her and helped her put her coat and backpack away. I looked up in time to see her worried daddy going down the stairs, obviously feeling awful about leaving her there crying.

I was on the flight of stairs above him, and we met eyes. I gave him the Ugh Face, and said, “It’s so hard to walk away when they’re upset like that, isn’t it?”

He looked so sad. He looked like he was about to cry. And as I mentioned above, I don’t really know what it’s like to walk away from a crying child fraught with separation anxiety, because my son has never had any, but it seemed like the thing he needed to hear.

He nodded, and I said, “The important thing to remember is that she will have completely forgotten about it and be playing with the other kids in about thirty seconds,” and I smiled gently. He smiled back.

Well I’ll be damned. You seem to have said the right thing for once, dipshit. No freezy eyes of discomfort! You even got a smile on his face!

We were both headed to the front doors leading out to the parking lot, but someone cut me off because the women who bring their kids to this school are rude, oblivious bitches busy people with places to be, but he made a point of holding the door for the women who cut in front of me, and held the door for me too. When I made it to the door, he looked me in the eye and said, “You have a really nice day,” with a grateful smile.

I told him to have one too, and walked to my car with tears in my eyes because I was so fucking happy to have helped make somebody feel better. I helped! I helped! My inner Pollyanna was hugging herself and leaping around clumsily as I drove away.

And then, when I picked my son up from school in the afternoon, someone had brought their new puppy upstairs to the kindergarten, and she let me hold it for, like, five minutes. I made someone sad feel better AND I got to hold a puppy today! It was a good day.

I like to think I’m complicated, but sometimes I’m pretty simple inside.

***

My husband won Sales Rep of the Year again at his work. He also won last year. He’s really good at his job. You’d be surprised at how useful a drama degree is in sales.

With the award comes an incentive vacation that the company chooses every year. Last year it was an Alaskan cruise. I was not spoiled enough to not be excited about a free vacation, but really, honestly, if you asked me what my dream vacation might be, somewhere cold and still in the United States while trapped on a big boat with the elderly masses and the rotovirus would not have been my first choice.

We had a good time. Of course. Alaska was gorgeous. I saw whales. We got the honeymoon we never had with 24-hour room service included for free. And it was especially nice after four years straight of parenthood without a break to not be a small person’s bitch-servantmommy for an entire week. But my husband and I both got deathly ill as expected. It took three weeks, two sets of lung x-rays, and a few rounds of antibiotics to get me back in ship-shape afterward. (Ahhaha. Ship-shape. Get it?)

So you know. I’ve been poor my entire adult life. I’ve never been able to afford vacations. I was genuinely happy to get Alaska.

But wait. It gets better.

This year, the incentive destination will be… drum roll… COSTA RICA!

Or Costa Fucking Rica, as my husband called it when he sent me the confirmation text that he had won the trip.

Costa Fucking Rica.

I can’t believe it. This is a vacation spot I would have chosen. I am a warm weather girl all the way, and grumpily wait for spring every winter under an electric blanket, with a stack of books next to my bed. I am so ridiculously excited about this vacation. I scream inside with excitement every time I think about it.

Costa Rica! Eeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

Here are some pictures of the beautiful resort at which we’ll be staying:



My husband is excited about the golfing opportunities. I might actually be a very brave girl and go to the spa for the first massage of my entire life.

I’m really weird about strangers touching me intimately. The whole idea of a massage sounds so sexual and intense to me that I’ve been afraid to get one my entire life. How do you turn that part off? How do guys not get boners during massages? If someone is rubbing me like that, it’s kind of on, you know?

And heaven help me if my masseuse is attractive. I got a really hot gynecologist at Planned Parenthood once, and it nearly ruined me. I turned red and splotchy and could barely talk to him as he stared into the depths of my nethers. If he hadn’t already seen my vagina, I would have given him my number. Humiliating.

But I want to move past this. What kind of a freak has never gotten a massage? I can’t die without ever having gotten a massage.

The website also mentioned a swim-up bar, and I decided that there really isn’t a more perfect creation in the whole wide world than a swim-up bar. I would have a swim-up bar in my living room if I could afford it.

So if you’re going to be in Costa Rica this summer, come join me for a drink. You know where to find me.

The Dominant Vagina

(Writing from April 8, 2011.)

 

SelfPotraitApril2011

 

I watched a show the other night on TLC (The Little Channel) that has haunted me ever since. It was called Strange Sex.

I’ve watched the show before. I try to catch it when I can. Normal, average sex is pretty fascinating to me already, so I am all aboard the strange sex train.

Wait. That didn’t come out right.

And that’s what he said.

Anyhow.

The show that I watched as I drifted off into a Percoset-laced slumber featured a woman with two vaginas. She has two vaginas and two uteri. She got pregnant twice in one of the vaginas, and has two healthy kids. And two healthy vaginas. This blew my mind.

I am presently recovering from the removal of my measly one uterus, so the idea of having two of these uterus jerks to torment a woman filled me with sympathy for her. I wondered if she has to deal with two periods every month. I wondered if she could get pregnant in both vaginas at the same time, or with the children of different men. I wondered about the porn movie making possibilities available to a woman with an extra opening to offer. She could probably make a fortune.

Apparently she has a dominant vagina that she uses for sex, and a smaller vagina that is the width of a pencil. (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/woman-two-vaginas-strange-sex-174009) I discussed the show, and the dominant vagina versus the lesser vagina with my husband a few minutes ago, where he sat watching golf as I typed this. I theorized that it would be very convenient to have a tiny vagina that you could use after making the discovery that your date had a very small penis. You could choose the appropriate vagina based on the size of the penis. Or you could save it up as a special treat for your well-endowed significant other, like, “Guess what, birthday boy? You get the teeny vagina tonight!”

From the depths of this odd conversation, my husband pulled out the name of his next album. It will be called Choosing the Appropriate Vagina Based on the Size of the Penis. It will be a concept album, and when you play it at the same time as the movie The Wizard of Oz, it will sync up in ways that mystify and amaze you. Brace yourself.

***

I heard a Styx song today that somehow filled me with nostalgia and rage at the same time. It was on the radio in my car after I dropped my son off at school this morning. My iPod ran out of batteries, and when I turned on the radio, the song was just beginning. It was that “Babe” song by Styx. Babe, I’m leaving… came pouring out of my car’s speakers, drowning me in sickeningly syrupy vocals and inane, insipid lyrics. Oh my god. It was so bad that I actually got angry listening to it. I had to turn it off. What a ridiculous piece of horse crap. I remember listening to it as a kid. “Mr. Roboto” is a travesty as well. Are you kidding me with these songs, Styx? What’s the deal with airplane food and Styx?

***

I used my laptop to take today’s Self Portrait of the Day. I will probably do this a lot. It’s so much easier than using a camera, and then having load the pictures onto a computer. I can’t believe how easy my laptop makes everything. I already sound so lame and ancient, telling my son tales of how I never had computers or the internet as a child. He just looks at me like I’m boring him when I say such things. That might have something to do with the fact that he’s five, but you know. Whatever. I destroyed my body to bring you into the world; you will act like I’m fascinating, damn it.

I put on lipstick for today’s picture because I never wear make-up anymore, and lipstick is pretty intense. Lotta bang for your twenty seconds spent primping. I usually only take photos of myself when I’m made up to go out somewhere, and these unplanned shots are making me painfully aware of my pasty, washed-out redhead complexion and invisible blonde eyelashes. I’m like an auburn ghost. So yay, lipstick. Today I have lips. No promises for tomorrow.

Also: I’m wearing a convalescence nightgown in today’s picture. I have a healing five-inch-long (I measured it because I’m weird) incision on my lower abdomen right now, so I have to wear nightgowns or dresses; only clothes that don’t rub on the wound.

I took the photo at the top of this blog first. My son came into the office to see what I was doing, and a mother/son photo shoot ensued. I will leave you with some of our goofy shenanigans, wacky hijinks, and madcap tomfoolery below.

Happy Friday, pals. Make it count. I don’t really know what I mean by that, but make it count anyway. You can do it. I believe in you.






Saturday Night Self-Whoretraits


(Writing from April 9, 2011.)

Lazy. And bored. And a little bit slutty. When you have big boobs, it’s hard not to look slutty in tank tops. It’s not my fault. Stupid boobs.

I had a lazy, lazy, lazy Saturday. I can safely say that I accomplished absolutely nothing productive today, unless you count the big pitcher of orange, grapefruit, spinach, apple and carrot juice I made for my son, my husband and myself. But the juicer did most of the work, so really, all I did was cut up some fruit.

I am under strict doctor’s orders to be lazy, so I don’t know if I can technically call a 6-8 week post-surgical recovery period lazy, but it sure feels lazy to me. Firmly 4 weeks into it, I am going to try to take my first walk for exercise tomorrow morning, because the pain is always at its lowest after a night of rest. I’m excited to move again. I feel like such a slug.

My husband tells me I am the worst patient in the world because I don’t do relaxation very well. It has taken everything in me to not set back my recovery with too much activity. Only the thought of having to feel taken care of like a helpless child for even longer than planned keeps me from pushing it. I have been on my own in the world since I was just-turned-17, and having to depend on other people is really hard for me. I don’t like it. I don’t like feeling weak. It pisses me off. And I have trust issues; I can admit it.

I spent the first part of the day trying to read a book called The Passage, which bored me so much I stopped halfway in. I gave up. It kept jumping from character to character without taking the time to really make me care about them first. I was having a hard time following the story, and it was making me work really hard with no “Oh, that’s where this was going” sort of eventual pay-off.

When we’d finally jump back into the seemingly abandoned character’s life, I found I still didn’t understand what was happening or care about them anymore than before. I got really mad at the book and started skimming ahead, just to see if it got any better. I noticed it didn’t, and gave up.

This is the second time in a day I’ve given up on a book. Yesterday’s abandoned (reader)ship involved a memoir that was supposed to be about losing virginity and teenage years, but felt more like a writer trying way too hard to impress me. She tried so hard, in fact, that the story was completely lost. It was clumsy and obvious and distracting, the way she was trying to write.

(It reminded me of a musician trying too hard to impress people with difficult guitar solos and forgetting about the song. It’s all about the song, stupid. And writer, it’s not about your ability to write in a complex style, to reference as many poets as possible, or to change narrative modes every other chapter, it’s all about the story. Remember the story? Yeah, me neither.)

The final nail in the coffin was the spelling of “boo-boo” (as in a child’s painful boo-boo) as “bo-bo.” Ugh. Bo-bo? Really? That is something you might name your pet monkey, but it is not how you spell “boo-boo.”

I gave up a little past halfway through, and I’m a really fast reader. I can usually plow through anything to the bitter end. But this book felt insulting. Do your literary masturbation in privacy next time, please, writer. And I’m not referring to the sexual subject matter at all.

Maybe the pain medication I’m taking (only Motrin today, no Percoset) is making me scattered or something? But neither of these books seemed to get any better as read them. I felt like I gave them more than a fair shot. So I put them both into the “back to the library” pile, and moved on to the new Tina Fey book my husband bought yesterday. I’m already halfway through that one because it’s awesome. I adore Tina Fey so hard. She is so funny and smart.

Over the last few weeks, my husband has fallen into the routine of setting up Ma’s Daily Convalescin’ Spot in the corner of our giant home sectional couch (say that really fast). This involves a series of pillows for back and neck support and my giraffe comforter beneath it all because animal prints make me happy. We have managed to replicate the angle of the hospital bed that put minimum pressure on my abdominal incision while allowing me to sit up and hang out with the rest of the humans.

I have a stack of books nearby and the remote control, my computer, and an extra blanket with which to cover my cold old lady legs. This set-up is not unpleasant. I am still eager to be able to exercise again, but if I must be a couch potato, I am okay with my current arrangement. So tonight’s Self-Whoretraits were taken using my laptop camera as I languished in my nest of rest.

(I’m calling them Self-Whoretraits from this point forward, because it feels a bit attention whorish to be posting pictures of myself all of the time. Not that there’s anything wrong with being an attention whore. But let’s be honest.)

I’m wearing one of my two slutty hippie dresses. Made of filmy, thin cotton in a crazy patchwork design, my two slutty hippie dresses are an around the house staple in warm weather. They are not fit for public, but as house dresses go, they are wonderfully comfortable. The lighting is also terrible because it is dark outside, but we can pretend it looks artsy this way, just like we pretend JLo is a triple threat who can dance, act and sing.

I hope you made it count yesterday, like I asked. Happy rest of the weekend. Seacrest out.

Fishing and Snoring and Self-Portrait Whoring

I can’t stop watching River Monsters. I’m watching it right now. It’s a show about creepy fish that I end up watching every night as I fall asleep. (Learning about the giant snakehead tonight.) You’d think this habit would be giving me fish-themed anxiety dreams, but nope, still tornadoes, wasps and spiders surrounding me in enclosed spaces, and post-apocalyptic nightmares, as usual. No fish.

I was a huge animal nerd as a kid, and still spend more time watching animal and nature shows than most of the people I know. When my mom would take us to the library, I’d check out stacks of animal books every time, until I exhausted the library’s supply of them. I never stopped finding them fascinating, I guess. I absolutely would have majored in biology in college if I was better at math.

I’m typing this as I sit on the couch where I will sleep tonight. My husband and I can’t sleep together. I kind of hate it. He snores, and it is surprisingly my first time dealing with snoring. It turns out that not only can I not sleep through snoring, but I also managed to marry the one boyfriend I’ve ever had who snores. Yay, me.

I really don’t like sleeping alone. I don’t feel safe. She whined. Sorry. I’ll stop that. I actually have no real problems in my life, thanks to my recent surgery. All better.

The man who hunts fish on this show just said, “It’s too late to pull out now,” and I mentally added, “That’s what HE said,” and giggled to myself, here, alone on the couch. I’m such a dork. Eyes growing heavy. Time to go to sleep now. Sweet dreams.

Winning

(Random babblings from April 20, 2011.)

I really hate that I actually won something the other day, yet the title of this post looks like a Charlie Sheen reference. Give us back that word, damn it.

I won a call-in trivia contest the news has here every morning. It’s called “Watch 2 Win” and I watched and won. I was the 9th caller. Isn’t that funny? The fact that the answer was Robert Pattinson, the guy from the movie Twilight is only mildly humiliating because I won a $40 gift certificate to Charleston’s restaurant, suckas! Yeah, that’s right! Money makes humiliation less humiliating! And bonus: there is a Charleston’s near our house and we already like the place because I can get a good salad there.

It’s hard to find a good non-iceburg or non-Caesar salad in the Midwest. About a year ago, I decided to commit to eating a green leafy salad every single day, either for lunch or dinner. I am one of those weird people who loves vegetables and salad, so it didn’t take a huge effort, and I can honestly say that I eat a salad every single day. But it is even hard to find good lettuce in the grocery stores here. There is no Trader Joe’s with the wall of amazing bags of lettuce varities here. I’m lucky to find a spring mix in Oklahoma. Oddly enough, Wal-Mart sells a big clear box of organic spring mix at the cheapest price I’ve found.

Yay. Lettuce talk. This is an exciting blog, I know. Try to control yourself.

It doesn’t help that I’m writing this at 2 a.m. I can’t sleep, so I’m lying on the couch in the living room, pillow and laptop on my legs, typing this. It’s a living.

I say that a lot. It’s one of my favorite inside jokes between me and me. It’s a living. It’s funny because it’s not.

I don’t like to post blogs from this computer because unlike the desktop, where a red line will form under a word I’ve misspelled, I can’t figure out how to turn that function on in my laptop. It’s new and I’m not tech-talented. I’m naturally very good at spelling, but if I accidentally leave out a letter, that red line is convenient. Like above, I spelled “commit” as “comit” even though I know how it’s spelled. I know how to spell “commit.” (I am not afraid of commitment! STOP PRESSURING ME.)

I didn’t know how much I counted on those little red lines until I got the new laptop. Can’t beat lying on my back, propped up on pillows, typing in the dark living room, however. The clock says 2:22. And I just typed “The cock says 2:22.” No shit. Which would be a very different (yet much more interesting) type of blog. See? I need the red lines.

***

So I guess you’ve probably figured out that the tornado didn’t get me the other night. We had a fun time hanging out in the bathtub, my son and I, while the husband hovered in front of the television, watching for tornado news. He’s 6’5″ so he doesn’t climb into closets and bathtubs unless we see the tornado. Poor tall guy.

The sirens went off, but they always go off here if conditions are right for rotation. So eerie, the sirens. In Kansas they never turned on the sirens unless a tornado had been spotted on the ground, so that’s what I got used to growing up. It freaked me out for my first year in Oklahoma, the way they ran the sirens every time a tornado was possible, because in my head, there was one on the way to suck me up.

I moved from Phoenix to Kansas as a kid when my mom re-married, and the tornado watches on the television scared the crap out of me. I would pace from window to window, watching the clouds in terror. I have had tornado nightmares ever since, and still do every few months. I mean, what a horrifying thing. A giant swirling vortex drops from the sky and pulverizes everything in its path? That is just really not cool.

When we moved to Kansas, it was also discovered that I was deathly afraid of fire. Not like, healthy respect for something hot, but “my parents yelling at me for being ridiculous, trying to get me to come within 25 feet of the camp fire to toast marshmallows with the family” afraid of fire. I think I probably died in a fire in a past life. Or, I’m a huge chickenshit in this life. You know. One or the other.

I recently realized I’d passed on my fear of wasps to my son. I tried not to do this, and I’m not even one of those girls who is afraid of bugs, mice, or snakes. As I discussed above, I grew up on a farm. I can pee outside. And I’m not even super afraid of fire anymore. But wasps creep me out. I think it’s the fact that they can sting, fly and hover. The way they hover in the air around us seems so aggressive. Plus I’ve been stung a lot. It hurts. It makes me feel nauseated and weird. My sister threw up once after being stung a few times by a wasp that flew up her shorts, so I wonder if we’re not a bit allergic.

My son screams and runs when a wasp is within 100 feet. Just freaks out. Cries, even, just from the fear. Or maybe he’s just picking up on my fear. He’s one of those kids that is really sensitive and empathetic beyond his years, just like I always was. It’s a gift/curse. I could already tell he got it from me at the age of two, when he would give toys to other kids to make them happy and extend a hand to help kids up at the playground.

Other moms, moms I don’t know, will say things to me on the playground like, “My child would never do something like that at this age. He’s so sweet.” If he accidentally hurts me being clumsy, I have to play down the pain and pretend I’m okay or he’ll burst into tears because he feels so bad.

It’s odd, because most of the things I read tell me I’m supposed to have trouble teaching him empathy at this age, but I’m already having to teach him how to distance himself from the suffering of others. There is so much pain in the world that it will take over your soul and wear you out if you’re an empath. You have to learn how to not let pain have its way with you, or you’ll be crying all the time. It’s taken me 30+ years to figure that out. I hope I can help my son figure it out sooner.

Anyhow. Rather than buying poison to spray on his playset where the wasps were trying to build nests, we decided to tackle the problem organically. We bought a bird feeder, a bluebird house, and a purple martin house, and I’ll be damned if it didn’t work. The backyard is full of birds all day, and we haven’t seen a wasp since. I can’t believe it worked so well. Go nature!

***

Jesus. I am really babbling. Whew. If you’ve stuck with me for this long, you deserve some sort of prize. How about some goofy pictures I took of myself yesterday in a grody clay face mask? I took them while I was sitting in this exact same spot, so they kind of count as a daily portrait, right? I promised to take a daily portrait, but I just haven’t felt like being on the Internet much lately. I’m barely even on Facebook. Just not feeling it. Ever go through a phase like that?

It’s 3 a.m. now. Time to pass out. xoxo.