Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Spoiled Girl Shit

My husband is forever frustrated by my complaints about my wedding rings. 
These are rings he designed himself - taking care to make sure I didn't have 
a setting that sat up too high because he knew I didn't like that. Taking care 
that these rings didn't look like my other wedding rings because I needed to 
get away from that whole experience. I can get pretty shallow when I get going. 
Stuff like, "It was fine for my 27 year old hand, but my 42 year old hand needs 
better bling." "I wish I had got diamonds in the band...we spent a mortgage on 
our photos but why didn't anyone tell me to get diamonds in the band?!?" Spoiled 
girl shit like that. Yet, every time I lose my rings (and I have to admit it's been 
more than once but less than ten times) I get a feeling of horrible dread that 
starts right at the top of my head and travels all the way to my toes. And 
so far I've been incredibly lucky that they have been returned to me before 
I really have to squirm. I like to think that with each temporary loss I'm 
learning the lesson that these symbols of marriage represent much more 
than carat, setting and bling factor. That the reason I get them back is 
because I deserve them and this marriage and that maybe one day I will 
deserve the man who had them made them for me. It's much more likely 
that I am just a spoiled rotten little shit who just gets lucky all the time. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Being Paleo Made Me Shit My Pants

A hardworking friend of mine made the perennial comment to me that is part of being any LeaveMeAloneI'veGotThis woman and every fantastically excellent mom.  She said, "I don't know how you do it."  She was speaking to myself and another friend with a hectic life.  Without hesitation I gave her my most truthful answer.  I do it by letting something or a lot of somethings go.  Right now it's my house that is the dropped ball.  It's filthy and cheaply decorated sans any particular style and sometimes (a lot of the time) it looks like we've been robbed by a band of pirates.  (Just today, I almost wiped some salad dressing off my chin with a dirty sock because it was there on the table and I couldn't find any paper towels.  We don't even bother with napkins).  If we had more time, which we didn't because we were all busy w.o.r.k.i.n.g,  I would have gone on some excellent laughter infused riff swearing that I mostly speak to my kids in a way that causes self-esteem issues and everybody thinks our new puppy is so cute but so far her only big trick is dropping turds while walking up the stairs.  When the time comes, I expect no less of a truthful and non-hesitant answer from my friend when it's my turn to gauge my life choices against her or someone else.  This will probably happen tomorrow as she makes her own super cute clothes and they all look like something out of Boden catalog.  Girl power.

It did get me thinking though.  How DO I do it?  And let's get something out of the way - I am in no way coming from the perspective that I think I am really great at this thing called life.  I've made lots of bad choices, wasted tons of time and spent many night screaming at people who loved me.  And those were just the college years.  I also think I'm only possibly, possibly doing a passable job at this thing called "life with kids".  For example, in real time, I just interrupted typing to run downstairs to tell my oldest son he was a bully and to go to his room until morning for telling his sister her piano playing sucked as a way to get her to stop playing so he could continue watching some really inappropriate show that is masquerading as a kids cartoon.   The secondary effect was he needed to go up anyway to get his homework done.  Actually, that example makes me look pretty good except that in my head I was thinking "Douche Bag.  Asshole.  I was just on a roll, dammit!".  I don't know.  Maybe that makes me look pretty good too.

So how do I do it?  How do I keep piling it on year after year?  One more kid.  One more dog.  One more job.  One more dream.  Sometimes I temper it all with some nice OCD distraction like eating Paleo for three months.  Something to make me feel in control because I can't seem to keep the laundry load under twelve baskets or the grocery bill under $300....ok, $400.  Sometimes I think I keep piling it on because there was a time where I did not have the energy or drive to really do anything but cry about how hard and yet, super boring my life was.  Those were baby-toddler-husband-travels-a-LOT years.  My life WAS, in fact,  super boring.  Maybe I'm making up for lost time.   Maybe if I give anything up I'm afraid I'll go back spending hours not knowing what to do with myself, because having a perfectly trained puppy is just not going to do it for me anymore.  In fact, it never really did it for me in the first place.  And maybe I didn't really let the house go in order to make room for the husband, the kids, the dog, the puppy, the certifiable cat, the job, the coaching, and the yoga.  Back when I had nothing to do the house pretty much looked like crap then too.

Paleo, by the way, was wonderful.  I felt raw and buzzy and powerful and my taste buds were so awakened I could taste the sugar off tree bark.   But it had to stop because Paleo made me shit my pants.  A lot.  And here I am...picking on the puppy.

Monday, September 7, 2015


Sometimes I feel a certain energy in my neck.  Maybe it's a bad day hanging out in there, maybe it's PMS, maybe it's rage.  Whatever it is it's like a collar of energy creeping up from my chest and cuffing my whole neck finishing off in a hard knot just under my skull.   I am coming to recognize it as my sense of survival.

I feel this sense for varied reasons, like when I make a clever joke and someone repeats it and then explains it back to me.   Me.  The originator of all that cleverness.  I feel it after a three-day weekend of the house being messy and smelling like dog pee and it was all good until suddenly it wasn't.   I feel it right before I'm about to start acting like my mother.

How I used to judge my mother.   She would come home from work and by 5:37pm was banging and throwing every pot we owned around the kitchen.  By 5:48pm she was smoking a cigarette on the back porch.  We all knew to just stay away.  But I judged her.  And I was afraid of her.  I didn't always feel comfortable talking to her.   My mother, the immigrant who fled her country as the Russians rolled tanks into her city square, has an outsized sense of survival.

I am my most productive when I feel my sense of survival.  I write.  I fold.  I stay up all night and watch movies.  It's all good until I have to explain myself or am interrupted.  Dinner.  Homework. Bed times.  Laundry for business trips.    That's when I feel like that hard knot at the base of my skull is nothing but a spot for a fetter.  And that's when the pots start banging.  But this time it's me banging the pots, not my mother.  And actually,  I am not a pot banger.  I am a fight picker.  A fight picker who blames to be more precise.  I have realized nothing really prevents this.  Wine postpones it.  Yoga suspends it.  Picking a fight gives it satisfaction and life.

Sometimes, if I am lucky, I can catch myself in the middle of all my surviving and apologize.  It's easier to apologize to the kids.  Their frowns turn right upside down.   I hope they remember the apology and not that I just continued making dinner and stopped demanding that they put the couch cushions back together.   My husband doesn't always let me apologize.  He says he doesn't need it.  I find this infuriating.

I love my strength.  I love my sometimes manic and, for the most part, impractical energy.  I love that I think writing this is more useful and productive than ever learning how to fold a fitted sheet.  But, by some definitions, surviving means you end up alone.  You win.  You are untouchable.  You don't get interrupted anymore.  I have a husband who doesn't always know how to listen to me.  Three children who may not always know how to talk to me.  Maybe they won't always know how to love me either.  I might disappoint them or maybe someday they might disappoint me, but one thing I do know is that without them I would be a survivor of nothing.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Hero

Today my thoughts won't leak.  My crystal clear vision of what I want to say and how exactly and irreverently I want to say it is plugged up.  I have a hallway full of dirty laundry.  It's a wide and long hallway and there is no room to walk for all the mounds of dirty clothes, sheet & towels.   Also, two little girls eating Italian ices on the couch after being told not to eat Italian ices on the couch.  The two boys are off and out in the world.  That helps because at least that Xbox is shut off.  Maybe one of the little girls will break it.  Maybe I should suggest they blow bubbles into it.

This week alone my father unfriended me on Facebook because he is worried I use too much profanity in my posts (I don't) and he's worried it will haunt me because I am employee of my local school district (he might have a point).  We've made up.  We are FB friends again, although I did NOT wish him Happy Father's Day.  I'm still mad because instead of writing "the Xbox is shut the fuck off", I conceded and wrote "the Xbox is shut off".  I really resent the fact that my 77 year old father can influence me this way.  I consider myself a far better communicator than him and more in touch with modern living.  Can this man be right?  I don't know.

My issues with my father are not the worst of it.  This week, my brother-in-law almost died because he had blood clots in his lungs.  He got himself to the hospital and he is actually fine now.   But even that is not the worst of it.   The real worst of it is that my niece is having a thyroid nodule biopsied today.  My niece is a cancer survivor.  She isn't just a survivor.  She's a miracle because ten years ago my sister more or less willed her back to life after three years of chemo, radiation and a full bone marrow transplant.  My sister's name is "The Hero".  My sister has done some things for her kids and despite her kids that I don't know if I could do to help her daughter survive.  I don't know when I would give up.  I don't know what my name would be if one of my kids were to get sick.  One of my kids had Lyme disease years ago and I was so worried I almost hated him.  Is that love?  Helping your kid survive despite being mad, literally angry, with worry?

I'm going to tackle some more laundry, get the girls off my couch, loosely meal plan and then I'm going to go to yoga.  And the whole time I'm at yoga I'm going to be thinking of my niece and The Hero and try to transfer whatever energy I can to help them.  Because what if my sister, after all these years, doesn't have the strength of will anymore?  What is her name going to be this time?  I'm going to stop using the word "fuck" and I'm going to start to pray the only way I know how.  And maybe this time I won't be angry and afraid and hide and maybe I can help The Hero keep her name.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My Important Side

I wish I could show people my most important side.  The one that rages and reacts and sweats.  Slaps herself.  The one who knows what adrenaline tastes like.  The one that no one can help.  The one that kind of doesn't want help.

I've been having panic attacks since puberty.  I don't know if I was born with a predisposition for them or if they were slapped into me by the time I was six.  Probably a combination of both because I think the slapper also had some sort of panic issue as well.  So, probably I was born this way AND got it slapped into me.  I'm that kind of lucky.

I'm not writing this to "out" anyone.  I'm writing this because I don't know who I would be without my most important side.  Some of my most lucid and true thoughts have echoed through my brain while I'm busy stuffing myself into a closet (presumably to find a womb like setting) or hiding under the covers while dry heaving.  Sometimes this is the only way I know how to find out what I'm really thinking.  Answers to questions I never learned to properly answer when I was young.  "What do you want?" and "What would make you happy?"  Questions you shouldn't feel guilty or wrong for answering.

My husband probably suffers the most from my panic attacks.  My kids - hardly at all.  I am definitely NOT slapping anything into them.   Never my babies.

My husband, though, he's not my kid.  I need him to bear witness.   This sweaty, crying mess that I become doesn't want to hide.  There is something in there and every time I withdraw when I can't be fabulous,engaging or even just calmly boring then I feel very dishonest.   I have left many a friend based on that judgement of myself until I learned that not every friendship need go that deep.   However, my marriage does or I feel that I might as well go it alone.

I just realized that this whole entry is kind of a love letter to my husband.  I don't need to show my most important side to everyone.  But I need to share it with him.  I trust him to listen to the answers only crying under a kitchen table - or, lately (and more gently), sweating into a terry cloth yoga mat - will get me.  It's my kind of normal.  This life that we have built is what makes me happy even if sometimes I don't know it.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Magical Fortress

I had a really great hour with our kids the other day.  A single hour in all the hours that I spend with them.  It happens a lot less frequently then one would think.  It happened in College Woods when Charlie and his friend split off from a walk we were taking (I had it under control.  I TOTALLY knew where they were the whole time!) and found a magical fortress off the beaten path.  It was so magical that it had benches made from tree trunks, a rudimentary wall made from dead little trees, a fire pit, Bud Light cans and some basic trash.  Magic is for all age groups, you know.

The fun began when after we found the boys.  "We" being older brother Andrew, younger sister Elly and the dog.  I didn't lose my shit.  That was the first magical thing.  I let them show me their super secret, super cool find and when it became clear that all of them wanted to play there, I found a spot to plant my butt and let them.  And they did.  They played together, they played apart, they checked in with me every now and then.  It was very chill.  And I just sat there.  On my butt.  With my phone.  Scrolling through 500 pictures from a family wedding that just got posted.  Texting here and there.  Talking to the kids when they visited me.  I even showed Elly how to "Ohm" (she didn't get it).  It was awesome.  After about an hour they decided they had enough and we left.

It's going to be that hour that gets me through a lot of things I think.   I am 42 years old (ok, years young).  I just started working again after 12 years at home.  Going back to work has been nothing but healthy for me and I think for the whole family, but it also means for sure that time is moving and it's moving fast.  Prior to that fort being found my oldest son was walking 50 paces behind us, earbuds in, hating family walks hard enough that we were all physically influenced by it.  He is a good kid, my oldest son, but he is 13 and already starting to separate from us.  The other two aren't far behind.  It was just by dumb luck that the other boys found that fort and we were all able to forget what was distracting us for a while and just be.

I have no idea when the next hour like that will happen again.  I sometimes get them, on my own, when I practice yoga.  But this was all of us.  We weren't trying too hard.  We weren't trying at all.  And we were together.  It's going to be that hour that is going to get me through the next string of evenings we can't agree on dinner.  The next 50 times I yell at the kids to go to bed and refuse to absorb their discontent or drama.   It will even get me through the times when I miss my best friends because we are all so busy doing the same things we can't even do them together anymore.

It's not so much who was or wasn't there at the Bud Light fortress that time.  It's the fact that it can happen.  It's the fact that for that hour everyone was getting exactly what they needed without trying too hard.   I think that really will get me through so much.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

I Can Take a Compliment

A woman gave me a compliment today.  What I can tell you about this woman is that she is striking, tall, carries herself with intelligence and seems to take herself seriously.  We've spoken once or twice before and both times I felt compelled to keep it calm and sound thoughtful.  I don't know her name but she is that kind of a woman.

The compliment was given after a particularly good yoga class.  Hot yoga.  Bikram yoga.  She told me this was the second day in a row that she practiced behind me and she thought my practice was really beautiful and graceful.  She emphasized that she thought all my poses were consistently solid and again, beautiful.  I know that she knows yoga well enough to give the compliment and also knows that my practice is not perfect.  She knows that is not the point.  So do I.

I responded with a "Thank You".  Several of them.  I made no self-deprecating jokes whatsoever and allowed only one quip about making sure to practice in front of her always.  Just the day before, in the first class this woman was behind me, our teacher had told an anecdote about a famous female comedian making the point that as soon as women start to do well at something they tend to self-deprecate.  Good point.

I am not a person who has ever been comfortable with my physical presence and since I was about 13 it was clear to me that I missed out on true happiness because my hair is too thin, my thighs too fat, I can only be less than a size 12 when I practice anorexia, and I have a weak chin.   I squirm when being checked out by men or women, my husband even,  and I absolutely did not enjoy look at myself.  Not in photos.  Not in mirrors and definitely not in big giant, wall sized mirrors while standing next to people in tiny clothing that often covers even tinier bendy butts.  Or so you would think.

I started practicing Bikram yoga about three years ago after being inspired by my husband to give it a try.  From the very first class - in my awful aqua colored tankini top and getting dizzy and nauseous through every standing pose - I was transfixed by myself in the mirror.   I was shaky, uncoordinated, and out of shape.  But in that mirror, I was goddamn BEYONCE wearing that awful aqua colored tankini top.

Over time I have built up my strength, flexibility and skill through yoga.  I think I can hold my own.  One thing I have never had to do, though, is improve upon liking what I see in the big mirror.  That started on the very first day.   I have no idea if the striking, intelligent woman was being genuine or she just might be the "pay it forward" type making a point to compliment someone every day.  What I took away from that interaction with this woman is that I have been keeping a secret for quite a while.  My secret is that I am beautiful - and I believe her.