Tag: random thoughts

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.

 

 

 

 

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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 Dominant Vagina

(Writing from April 8, 2011.)

 

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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.




Like I Do

(Writing from September 12, 2011.)
***
***

I think it might be prudent to rename this blog: Tawni Channels Your Crazy Grandmother. Sometimes I feel like all I ever do here is whine about my latest health malady. Recipes, pictures of questionable quality, and bitching about my new and exciting versions of physical weakness. Yep. That pretty much covers it. I’m a kvetching old lady trapped in a middle-aged woman’s body.

So… pink eye. Pink eye is sooooo last week. I went to the doctor, I got the costly eye drops, I can once again open my left eye first thing in the morning. Such a luxury.

Today, however, to quote my son in the middle of the night when he woke himself up hacking like a baby seal and I was putting a blanket under his pillows to raise him up and he coughed a wet, sputum-filled cough directly into my mouth… today, “My thwoat feels like it has wocks in it.”

Ahhhh, public school infections. The gift that keeps on giving.

But I got a major perspective check yesterday. Like I do. A few of them, actually.

First, I spent the day (9-11) avoiding Facebook and the millions of trite feeling, “I was eating a sandwich and scratching my ass when it happened,” types of posts.

(The winner: “Today is a sad day for many reasons, but one being….It’s the last episode of True Blood for the season. *sad emoticon*”)

(Copied and pasted directly from Facebook. I’m not even making that up.)

I mentioned to my husband that I was avoiding Facebook for this reason, and sensitive, psychologically healthy human that he is, he gently explained that people need to share their feelings with each other to move past grief. (He didn’t even call me a cold, unfeeling bitch! Special man.) And I agree. But still. I guess I am just not grief-friendly. I’ll work on it.

***

Our son goes to church with his grandparents, my husband’s parents, on Sundays. My husband and I are not religious, but our social butterfly kiddo loves Sunday school, the grandparents love the time with him, and we love being able to do the week’s grocery shopping together in peace. It’s a win-win-win.

So we finished the grocery shopping early, because if you go before the non-heathens get out of church, the store is a ghost town, which is awesome. Then we turned on the television and watched the horrifically scary and heartbreaking-ly sad 9-11 ten year anniversary coverage. I sobbed on the couch watching children who lost parents and parents who lost children. Like I do. And I read the Sunday paper on the couch, which was full of more of the same, and cried over that. Like I do.

Then, right in the middle of my media-induced, nervously worked-up, heightened state of emotional vigilance, the stupid city I live in decided to sound the tornado sirens for a few minutes. Yes, the creepy fucking tornado sirens that scare me the first Wednesday of every month at noon when they test them. And even though I know it’s a test, there is a part of me that thinks, But wouldn’t it be brilliant to launch your attack at the exact time of the monthly siren test so nobody would take it seriously? Because my brain is actually neurotic enough to go there.

But the test never happens on Sunday. Wednesday, not Sunday. And it was the anniversary of major terrorist shit going down, which makes it more likely that shit will go down, according to America. And with everyone already thinking about shit going down, and scared of more shit going down, why would you ever set off a fucking warning siren across a city?

So even though it was high noon when they started up, I absolutely freaked out. Like crying and shaking. Full panic mode. Obviously it was intended as a tribute or a show of respect, but really, my city? Really? How about we just fly the flags at half-mast and call it good? On a day when the media has been scaring us about another potential attack, on a day when there is possibly a higher chance for a terrorist act, on the anniversary of something so unimaginably horrible… do you really think it’s a good idea to sound the fucking emergency sirens?

It felt like a bad joke. Like a mean prank. It felt apocalyptic, like the tornado sirens always sound to me during tornado season, and I hated it, like I always do.

(I have had a monthly post-apocalyptic nightmare since childhood. I blame The Day After. They showed this terrifying end-of-the-world movie to us at school. We lived in Lawrence, Kansas, one of the nuclear-destroyed cities. I’m certain I wasn’t the only one traumatized by it.)

There has to be a better sound they could use to announce the arrival of our impending doom. Like if it’s a tornado, maybe they play “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” (Actually, nix that. That would be way creepier.) Or maybe if it’s a terrorist alert, they could play, “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” by The Gap Band over the speakers. You know. Have a sense of humor about it. Why not go out laughing, right?

But no. We just have those awful, haunting, ghoulish sirens, howling mournfully like the dogs of hell coming to take me away.

Or something less dramatic.

In the middle of my psychological meltdown, sirens still wailing, me still shaking and crying and pacing, my sweet husband tried to hug me, saying, “It’s a tough day.” He was just trying to make me feel better, or possibly trying to make me feel less stupid for reacting like a four-year-old to scary noises. But I snapped, “It’s not the fucking day! It’s those eerie motherfucking sirens! Why the fuck would they set them off today? Who decided this was a good idea?”

I was really pissed off at whoever decided to set them off. But it wasn’t my husband’s fault. I shouldn’t have snapped at him. I should have called the non-emergency police number and asked them what the hell they thought they were doing. (At least print something in the local paper, warning people that you’re going to use the same sirens that tell us we might die soon to do some sort of 9-11 tribute. Please.)

***

The sirens finally turned off, and I stopped pacing around the house while weeping and looking out all of the windows. I collected myself and felt stupid. Like I do after an emotional outburst. I was about to apologize to my poor, long-suffering husband when his phone rang.

It was his aunt telling us that his dad had collapsed at church. The paramedics were there. And we needed to come get our son.

We got in the car and drove quickly. The ambulance was leaving for the hospital when we arrived. A paramedic told us what had happened. I guess his dad’s blood pressure was rapidly dropping while they checked him out, and it took them awhile to stabilize him for transport.

My husband handed me the keys to our car and left immediately for the hospital with his mother and aunt because they were shaken up and needed a driver for their car. I had the job of collecting my son from the Sunday school nursery and getting him home.

Luckily, my little guy had seen none of this, as the church ladies were kind enough to entertain him in the back of the church, which I appreciated so much. I found him surrounded by adoring women, which is his favorite place to be in the world: amongst his fans (I birthed a major ham… shocking, I know). He was blowing some bubbles someone had given him, and of course, when he saw me, his first question was, “Where’s Granddad?” Sigh.

I fake-brightly told him that Granddad wasn’t feeling good, so he had to go to the doctor for a check-up. He was disappointed, but came with me when I promised him a stupid Happy Meal. His grandparents always take him out to lunch after church and he was upset, so yes, I pulled the classic Happy Meal Maneuver shared by parents across the land. It worked. I have no shame.

We got home and waited for updates from my husband. They are hoping the incident was caused by a too-high dosage of blood pressure medicine, but they are keeping him in the hospital for a few days to run heart tests and other such scans. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the blood pressure medicine thing, because obviously, that would be an easy fix. I hope he’s going to be okay.

***

One important thing I’ve learned at this point in my life is that whining has absolutely no place in it. Ever. The minute I complain about anything, the universe has a way of making me feel ridiculous, almost immediately.

And I should feel ridiculous. Because somebody always has it worse. It’s funny how life finds ways to remind you that it can always be worse, isn’t it?

Oh, you have pink eye and a burning throat? Poor you. Would you rather be jumping from a burning building, or taken by ambulance to the hospital today?

No, thanks. Turns out, I’m doing great. We cool.

Hope you’re having a beautiful week, friends.

xoxo.

Better Late

(Writing from September 22, 2011.)

So I do this thing where I discover new (to me) music in a weird way.

I played guitar and sang in rock bands for 12 years, and spent the last couple of years before I got knocked up playing in a band in Los Angeles with an amazingly talented filmmaker/guitarist/singer/songwriter who also happened to be a really cool, funny, smart human.

He always wanted us to learn new cover songs, and would give me a new CD he’d burned every week, loaded with potential cover songs, plus songs he’d written, songs we needed to learn for band practice, etc. When everybody in a band works 40+ hours a week, it’s hard to get together for practices as often as you need to in order to not suck at your live shows.

So he’d drop them by the grocery store at which I worked, and my managers would tell me, “Hey. Your band-mate brought this CD by for you.” And I would take the latest CD home and ignore it. Or give the songs we were going to play at practice a fast pre-practice skim. I’m a quick study with music, so I managed to get through practices and shows this way.

But of course now I wish I’d really listened to them and applied myself in the way that we all do later in life when we realize we were only doing ourselves a disservice by half-assing through the important things. I feel like a complete dipshit now for not giving the CDs and the band the attention I should have.

Cut to years later: I have a child, I’ve moved to the Midwest, and the only music time I get, aside from occasionally grabbing my guitar and locking myself in the bathroom to bash and sing, is during my exercise walks. So I have an iPod. And headphones, because I can barely say the word “earbuds,” let alone wear them. And I put every CD I have on my iPod, including the ones my band-mate once made for me.

Now, during my walks, I have the curious phenomenon of having these utterly fabulous songs constantly pop up as unknown artists, the songs my band-mate wanted us to potentially cover that I never really listened to, and I fucking love them. And I have no idea who they are because they were loaded onto my iPod from CDs burned by my band-mate. It’s really weird. It keeps happening.

When it happens, I come home and immediately Google some of the lyrics, trying to find the artist. Some of them are a bit obscure. Tonight I got only one hit on my search, and it was just the name of one of the band members. And the only reason it popped up was because the blogger had quoted the one line of the song I put in, even though it isn’t the title. I had to figure out the band (now defunct) and then the song name to find them.

I obsessively listened to this song over and over again for nearly 3 miles tonight, because when I discover a new song, I do that. I play it over and over again and pick it apart and try to hear all the different melody lines and instruments and parts and words and harmonies and try to figure out exactly what is making me love it.

I found the song on YouTube, so I’m sharing it below. Check it out if you feel like hearing a cool song.

“Calling on Columbia Pike” by Speedwell:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84fL8FnP_nE

Phone Calls, Missing Places, Cold Kitty Noses, and Odd Dream Statements

(Writing from September 26, 2011.)

I got a call from my son’s teacher this morning.

I had just sent him off to school in the big yellow bus. Walked back home. The phone was ringing when I opened the front door.

It’s always a little scary, getting a call about your child.

One time, it was because he’d hit his head and I had to come decide if he needed to go to the hospital. (He didn’t.)

One time, it was because he was crying inconsolably and telling the teachers that his stomach was hurting really badly, prompting me to make the 10 minute drive to his school in about 5, followed by a race to the Urgent Care clinic. The x-ray showed that he was in pain because he was full of shit. I gave him a laxative and vowed to not be so neurotic next time. (And then I opened a window. Seriously. It was impressive.)

The last time I got a call about my son, it was a few weeks ago, from a neighborhood mother. She was letting me know that her daughter told her my son was pulling down his pants on the bus, and flashing his ass at the kids in the back.

I was mortified.

She was extremely cool about it. She did it the nicest way anyone could ever tell another parent that their child is acting like an absolute hooligan, but still. She told me she thought it was funny, but that the bus driver is kind of a tough cookie, and my kid would get suspended if caught. I really appreciated the call, as I do not want to have to drive my son to school and sit in the Drop Off Line of Doom every morning for an hour. We are also a one-car family, so that would be a pretty major inconvenience.

I let my husband talk to my son about the incident. We take turns with discipline so the boy doesn’t feel like he’s being ganged up on every time we have an issue. My husband definitely scares him more than I do, so I figured he should handle this one.

But today, the phone call from authority carried good news. His teacher said that they were able to do aptitude testing on all of the kids last week, and my son tested well into second grade levels. (He’s in kindergarten.)

Rather than pull him out of class to go read with the second graders, they are going to instead pull him out of class every day until lunch to go learn English with the smartest group of first graders — the ones who tested at second grade levels like him. She said she had to consult with the principal on this decision, and explained it to her by saying: “The other kids are learning the letter sounds, and he’s signing his name in cursive.”

I’ve been worried that he might start acting out and misbehaving because he isn’t being challenged or stimulated enough, so I was thrilled to hear about the plan from his teacher today. His teacher is awesome, too. She’s young, fresh, and childless, and in it for the right reasons. I have adored her since the first parent-teacher orientation.

Unlike his math-challenged mommy, he also tested at second grade levels in math, so rather than taking him away from his kindergarten friends for the second half of the day for math, they are going to supplement him with extra work during the math his classmates are doing. I am pleased that his teacher is looking out for his interests this way. Really pleased.

So that’s cool.

***

I spent last weekend with my parents in Lawrence, Kansas. If you’re one of my Lawrence pals reading this, don’t get mad at me for not calling to let you know. It was just two days of total family time… no going out to bars drinking and carousing and such for me.

My parents got a big hotel suite on Friday, and we hung out together there all weekend. One of my sisters lives in Lawrence with her husband and two kids, so they came over to the hotel (and we also descended upon their house one evening). I had a great time. I cried like a baby as we drove out of the city on Sunday afternoon. I miss my family. I miss Lawrence. If I have to be back in the Midwest, I want it to be Lawrence, damn it. It’s an amazing city.

I miss California too. Basically, I just don’t really like it here in Tulsa very much.

But maybe I haven’t given it a fair chance. I moved here when my son was two months old, and I was exhausted from a C-section recovery period and new parenthood. It’s not like I ever got to really explore the city and see what it has to offer. I’m not really being objective.

So, okay. That’s enough. Enough whining.

***

On an adorable note, my newly adopted cat is sleeping on a blanket I put on the file cabinet in front of the office window. Her name is Cali, short for California. Whenever I write at the desk, she comes in here and sleeps next to me, or watches birds eating at the feeder I’ve placed outside the window. It’s an idyllic scene, and it makes me feel really happy and peaceful, writing while my cat hangs out nearby. I can feel my blood pressure dropping whenever I look at her. Visual Valium.

Behold The Cute:

When she puts the kitten mittens over her face, I die a little inside.

***

Before I go, I want to share a weird statement that floated through my thoughts right before I woke up today. It was announced, like it was being broadcast over a loudspeaker in my brain. It was the last thing that went through my head before the cat woke me up, purring and rubbing her cold nose on my face like she does, so maybe that’s why I remembered it.

The loud voice announced: If you spend your life intellectually beating people down, you will eventually join them.

I don’t recall seeing that sentence anywhere, so it was really weird. I scribbled it down on a piece of scrap paper while stumbling on my way to the coffee this morning. I don’t really know what to make of it, but I’m trying to listen, in case the universe is talking to me.

I hope I’m not intellectually beating anyone down.

I also hope you’re having a good week, my friends.

xoxo.

Lady Oldebellum

 (Writing from October 22, 2011.)
***
I strained a tendon in my foot last night making fun of a song by the band Lady Antebellum.

This is what I’ve come to, people. Watch me as I epitomize the indignity of aging with an interpretive dance.

I couldn’t help it. I’ve heard about them on Facebook, this band, but I’ve never heard them. The kids, they like the Lady Antebellum. I was expecting to at least appreciate their musical talent even if they weren’t my style. Like Lady Gaga, the other popular Lady.

(I don’t really groove on Lady Gaga’s music, but the woman can rock on the piano and has a great voice. I can’t deny it. In a culture full of prefab starlets pimped by Disney and Nickelodeon to be harmless malleable anorexic ditzes who dress like baby whores, a.k.a. an average young woman on Halloween, I can always appreciate a strong chick who writes her own songs and actually plays an instrument.)

My husband and I were on the couch, beers in hands, watching a recorded episode of Saturday Night Live. When you have a kid, you don’t ever get to watch your favorite shows when they are actually on, and I bow down to the gods and goddesses of digital recording capabilities with a sacrifice of remote control-sized batteries every week in appreciation. So the episode we were watching was from early October, and Lady Antebellum was the musical guest.

When the mandolin and sprightly beat started, I began to laugh hysterically. Like, tears rolling down my face, clutching a pillow to my stomach while my husband looked at me with equal parts amusement and unease. I only had one beer in me, I swear. That’s all I ever drink anymore. If I’m being “crazy” and “reckless,” I have two.

(And if you are laughing at me right now, YOU try to get up at the crack of sparrow fart every day with a hangover to deal with my son whose personality most closely resembles that of a coke addict drinking coffee while eating spoonsful of sugar straight from the bag.)

(But seriously… could you do that? Please? I’m so tired.)

I couldn’t stop laughing. He finally asked, “Why are you laughing like this?”

“It’s just so, so… jaunty. And ridiculous. I thought they were going to be a hipster band, and they’re making me want to dance merrily in a field of flowers! At Ren-fest! And the guy with the braids! He looks like he’s been possessed by a Catholic school girl! Oh my God, it’s so awful it’s actually AWESOME.”

He rolled his eyes at me, which kind of pissed me off, but I was still giggling.

I said, “This song is making me picture women with flowers braided into their hair dancing a jig in a meadow! Like this!”

And then I stood up and danced an insane jig around the living room for my poor, long-suffering husband, who was now laughing at how dumb I looked while I laughed at how dumb the band sounded. I made him even more uncomfortable with the dancing than the laughing had made him: I could tell by the frightened look in his eyes while he laughed at me. I’m known in friend circles for my creepy interpretive dances. They’re haunting.

(The secret to a creepy interpretive dance is to make an insane, blank-eyed face while you do smarmy, mildly off-putting hippie things with your body to the beat of the song. Now you know. I have friends who still hate my creepy interpretive dances to this day, people I no longer even hang out with on a regular basis.)

The lead singer even played air guitar. YES. It was so gloriously terrible. I loved it while I was loathing it.

After I calmed down, he tried to tell to me why they are popular, comparing them to the cheesy eighties music of our youth and explaining that this band is today’s version of that stuff. Which I understand. But still.

So I sat down and finished my beer. And then I realized that my tendon was aching. And then I berated myself in my head, Was it worth it to be snarky and mean and mock a band by dancing to their music in an embarrassing manner? Was it worth it?

Because I do that. I often berate myself for the things I say and do. I replay conversations I’ve had with people over the week and feel stupid as I think about how maybe I could have said that better, and maybe they took that the wrong way and are mad at me, and that maybe I should just not talk ever. I share odd details of my life with my people and think, Why the hell would they care? Why do I ever share things like that?

Great. I’m doing it now.

I’m going to go ice my foot and work on being a nicer person.

Hope you’re having a happy weekend, pals.