Day: April 3, 2016

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Bones

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Hi. I’m your cat. I’m going to sit on your lap and hold you hostage with my love or desire for warmth, and glare at you if you try to move. Enjoy!

***

I’m writing this with the kitty above awkwardly lying between my legs as I balance the laptop on my left thigh and she sleeps. Her name is California. I had just realized I haven’t eaten since 9 this morning and it’s now 2:30-ish, which might explain my headache, and then California got on my legs, simultaneously paralyzing and starving me. Oh, cats. How do you always know when the most inconvenient time to snuggle might be? It’s their superpower.

Since I’m trapped, I decided to write about how my last bunch of months since I last wrote about how things are going has been. Because you care. No, you DO. I know you care, and I believe in you, and also you look extremely pretty/handsome today. Did you do something different with your hair?

Let’s see… what was happening the last time I blogged? Ugh, I hate the word blog… can we please come up with a word that doesn’t sound like a bodily excretion, or take itself too seriously, like piece? I feel like I’m 12 when I talk about writing a blog, and like a pretentious twat when I talk about my latest piece. It’s just writing, not an art installation.

Anyhow.

Last time I wrote a writing thing, I was trying to lose some depression weight I’d gained. And then I got all hardcore about it and stopped eating enough food, and my metabolism stopped. And then I decided to eat little snacks between meals and stop starving myself, so the metabolism was like, “Okay, we can work with this, you self-loathing freak… finally!” and I lost 20 pounds in 2 months.

And then I broke my big right toe.

Because that’s just how I roll. What? What’s that, you say, Tawni? Achieving some success? Well, we can’t have that. I think you know what you need to do.

I was writing on my laptop, which must be done on a couch because I broke the end of my tailbone off in college when I was hung-over and running down a really steep flight of stairs to get to the bathroom because I had to pee. I was groggy and out of it, so that whole walking thing wasn’t working out so well for me that morning, and I missed the last 5 stairs. I landed square on my ass and my legs felt numb, which freaked me out, but only my tailbone hurt. Yes, I literally broke my ass, and had to sit on one cheek or the other for months or the loose piece would wiggle and rub against my spine, causing a disgusting zinging feeling to shoot up my back. I don’t recommend it.

This means no desk chairs or delivering babies without C-sections for me. Desk chairs make me hurt so badly I can’t walk and have lower back pain because of my stupid coccyx. Also, My Stupid Coccyx would make a great band name and I’m calling it right now. Dibs.

SO… to self-sabotage this time, I decided one morning in August that I needed another cup of coffee, like I do, stood up from the couch, put down the laptop, and twirled around to grab my coffee mug. While doing this, I unknowingly wound the laptop cord around my upper right foot, much like a snare wire trap might entangle an animal in a field. Because I’m a tall, clumsy girl with nearly zero self-awareness. It’s a living.

When I turned and briskly began to walk in the direction of the coffee pot, I was snapped short mid-air, and fell to the ground like the majestic she-beast I’ve always known I was inside. I hit so hard I don’t remember the fall, and only remember my son, who was watching television next to me exclaiming, “Oh my GOD, Mom! Are you alright?”

I pretended I was okay like all parents do when we don’t want to scare our kids, and sat assessing the damage. I couldn’t move my right big toe at all, and the pain wasn’t going away or even starting to fade like pain usually does after an accident. I walked on the left foot and outer edge of the right foot to the freezer for two bags of peas, and sat on the couch icing the top and bottom of the upper foot area.

It never stopped hurting. I kept waiting for the ice to numb it and the pain to subside, but nope. Still hurt like I’d just done it a minute ago an hour later. Uh-oh.

This is what it looked like:

hurtyfoots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I added the dogs because I was badly in need of a pedicure, and also so I could make a really lame “Man, my dogs are really barking today!” joke on Facebook. Don’t hate.

***

The husband got home from work and asked me if I was going to drive myself to the Urgent Care and I was like, “Um, sweetie? It’s my driving foot,” and I watched his face fall as you would imagine the face of a man who just realized he no longer has a wife, and has instead acquired a new larger, more awkward child might fall. The realization that this could be a really shitty thing dawned on him all in that moment. Poor soul.

So we spent a nightmarish amount of time getting x-rays and being told by the doctor that I’d broken my right big toe in “a really weird way” and would need to see a specialist as soon as possible, for sure. The lower big toe bone had pulled away from itself to form two weird empty zigzags inside of the bone, as if it imploded and was all like, “Ouch! That hurt! Let’s get out of here, inner bone!” And then the outer part of the bone was like, “No, you guys! I’m going to try to hold you in and not let you go, because walking is something I know the clumsy she-beast will want to do again someday! I know her better than you do!”

The specialist confirmed that I’d broken my toe “in a really weird way” because I can’t even do something as simple as breaking a toe in a normal way, apparently, but that because the outer bone had held it somewhat in alignment, we could probably get away with the annoying support shoe and medical wrap, rather than surgical screws being placed. (Way to go, outer bone! You know me so well!)

So I just barely didn’t need surgery, and had to have x-rays every 2 weeks to make sure the bone was filling into the empty places where it tried to escape the other bone. My right toe is now thicker than the other one, and the doctor said it will be 3-4 months before the swelling will go away because it was a weird break, but I can drive again, so that’s cool.

The toe will always be a bit bigger than the other because we didn’t go in and screw it back together with surgery, and I will have arthritis in it, but I don’t care. Feet are inherently disgusting no matter what, so it’s not like I’ve really lost anything.

The crutches made a gland under my right arm get all freaky-swollen and weird so I stopped using them and went crazy sitting on the couch for endlessly boring weeks instead. Good times. I had some Hearts of Darkness moments. My husband is a very patient man. That’s all I have to say about that.

I had to quit my gym because it will be months before I can put weight on the toe, so I’ve been trying to gently walk it for physical therapy. I’m working up to twice around the block, which is totally depressing, but whenever I get pissed off that I can’t even walk distances for exercise anymore, I remind myself that there are plenty of people who would love my stupid broken toe problem and I get over it. I’ll work back slowly to walking more, and that’s fine.

I’ve been wanting to practice yoga regularly, so I’m trying to look at the loss of my beloved weight lifting regimen as a positive, because I used to wear myself out too much at the gym to feel up to yoga. We’ll see how that goes. (Look at me bright-siding that. I’m impressing myself. High-five, me!)

***

What else? I’ve only gotten one call about my son’s behavior so far this school year, and another kid started it, according to the very nice teacher, so I didn’t have my usual panic attack because I’m the worst mother in the world who ever existed like I normally do after being reprimanded for the behavior of the small human they cut out of my stomach when he’s completely out of my sight and therefore control. So that was progress. For me, I mean.

My husband won a work incentive trip to Mexico for being great at his job, so that was fun. I only barfed one time, and that was because I forgot that my body should only be allowed to have wine or beer, ever, and had way too many cucumber martinis. And bonus: I don’t remember puking at all, or even walking back to our hotel room, so yay!

I asked my husband if I made an ass of myself and he said I actually got quieter. Oddly, I am usually a quietly-blacked-out-but-still-moving drunk on anything strong, which is dangerous for all. At some point in my twenties realized I had to quit vodka and gin and anything hard. But in my defense, there was a martini bar at the resort, and those things were damned good.

I’m growing shaky from hunger and will now try to carefully slide my legs out from under the blanket and cat lying upon them so I might find sustenance before I have to go pick up my kid from school. Wish me luck.

Retaining Your Power: The Legend of Bitch Tit

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***

Recently, my artistic 9-year-old son wore a Knuckles the Echidna costume to school. Knuckles the Echidna is a giant red cartoon character that looks nothing like an actual echidna. He’s a character from the Sonic the Hedgehog book, videogame, and animation enterprise with which my son is obsessed.

On the way to school, I tried to prepare him for teasing and frustration, because as a woman in my 40s, I wouldn’t know what in the hell he was if I saw him, were he not my son. I told him, “You understand that I only know who you are because you’ve taught me, and echidnas aren’t actually red, nor are hedgehogs actually royal blue, so people may not know who you are today, right?”

“Well actually a lot of my friends like Sonic the Hedgehog, and…”

I cut him off, “Son… not everybody is going to know who you are today. Are you okay with that? You need to be. Your teachers, for example, don’t all know about Sonic the Hedgehog and the characters.”

“Yes, Mom,” he replied, but I could tell he thought everyone would immediately know his character and be as excited as he was about it. And yes, his obscure favorite superheroes are annoyingly hard to find every Halloween. This is the costume I found on Amazon:

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When I picked him up after school, he wasn’t wearing the Knuckles the Echidna head, a piece held on by Velcro, with long, red spikes hanging down.

I asked him why he took off the head. Did he get hot?

“I took it off for self-esteem reasons,” he replied.

After deciding “for self-esteem reasons” will now be entering my personal vernacular because I kind of love it, I asked him what he meant.

“Some of the kids thought I was a court jester or a SQUID,” he answered, in a mortified voice. “They kept calling me squid even after I told them I was Knuckles the Echidna! ‘Squid, squid, squid,’ they laughed at me. It made me mad, and they kept calling me squid all day, so I finally took the costume head off!”

I wish he hadn’t done that.

He gave up his power to a few silly little mocking boys.

I thought I’d coached him better.

I constantly tell my child, “The person who cares the most has the least power in any interpersonal interaction or relationship,” because this is a very basic yet powerful fact of human psychology.

But he’s only 9, so when I explain to him that if you walk away from toxic people and bullies, you hold onto your power, he doesn’t fully understand.

On the ride home, I told him that when kids are unkind, if you let them get a rise out of you, you’re giving them exactly what they want: stimulation and power. The best way to ruin all the fun for a bully is by giving them no reaction. Or if possible, laugh along with them. A bully can’t laugh at someone who’s already laughing at themselves. What’s the fun in that?

I shared the idiom “never let them see you sweat” with him, and asked him if he understood what that means.

“It means never let them see they’re getting to you.”

“Right, son. When you got visibly angry today over the word ‘squid,’ you gave those boys exactly what they wanted from you: a reaction. Next time, just laugh. If you’d said, ‘You’re right! I can see how this costume looks like a squid, too!’ they probably would have moved on. But you got mad. You gave them the power. If you don’t let people know they bother you, you hold onto your power.”

And then to further illustrate my point, I shared with my son The Legend of Bitch Tit.

Telling a child this tale may call my parenting choices into question, but it felt right at the time, so judge freely. I’m not here to win any parenting awards.

(Do you see what I did there? I don’t care if you call me a squid. Call me a squid-parent again. Whatever. Power retained.)

***

The Legend of Bitch Tit was a story told to me by an ex-boyfriend. This ex-boyfriend was the shortest male I’ve ever dated at barely 5’10” (I’m 5’9”) and slightly built, yet he was completely confident about his size. He encouraged me to wear high-heeled boots or shoes, even though they made me taller than him because he told me, “Tall girls have presence. Be proud of your height… it doesn’t make me insecure if you’re taller, it makes me feel like, yeah, she’s with me!”

I was amazed by his confidence. He was extremely intelligent (I actually saw him on “Jeopardy!” recently), and he’d learned early in life as a smaller guy that he’d need to find other reasons to be confident. Because nothing is more attractive than confidence. Nothing. So he focused on his strengths, and gave no power to what others perceived as weaknesses.

For the first time in my life, rather than feeling insecure about being a tall, awkward chick in a world of adorably petite waifs, I felt good. It was extremely empowering, and I haven’t lost that feeling. It was a wonderful gift, and I still feel proud of my height rather than embarrassed by it.

During our years together, he told me The Legend of Bitch Tit, because this person taught him about confidence, and the power of owning it.

Bitch Tit was a guy who went to my ex-boyfriend’s high school with the surprisingly common condition of a male breast (gynecomastia). Not male breasts, plural, but one male breast. And not the kind to be hidden by clothing, but a full, round, obvious breast.

Being the guy in high school with one large breast is an extremely unfortunate card to be dealt in a world full of insecure people who try to feel bigger by tearing down others. We all know that humans can be cruel, but especially the not-yet-fully-formed ones with immature brains and little life experience to teach them empathy.

So, yeah. This guy was very quickly renamed “Bitch Tit” by his sensitive and kind-hearted fellow students.

Did he get angry or fight the people who mocked his physical appearance? He had every right to be mad, after all. Being an adolescent boy with a single huge boob isn’t exactly ideal.

Nope, my ex-boyfriend told me. Bitch Tit didn’t let anyone see him sweat. He didn’t get mad. Instead, he laughed along with the other teenagers, like, “I know, right? I’ve got a tit. Isn’t it weird?”

Bitch Tit owned it.

And by owning it, he took away the power from every single person who tried to tease him for his difference. Because there’s no fun or psychological stimulation to be gleaned from someone who’s laughing along with you.

Even if you’re hurt by what someone is saying, if you act like it doesn’t bother you – or better yet, you self-confidently laugh along with them – you retain your power.

poweroveryou

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bitch Tit ended up casually called his offensive nickname—not ever making a big deal over it. Soon, the other kids accepted him and wanted to be his friend. His confidence and ability to hold his head high despite something that would make most people want to hide impressed his peers.

Bitch Tit was one of the most popular guys in his high school.

I told my son that Bitch Tit may have felt insecure about what the kids were calling him, and probably grew out of the breast as his hormones adjusted, or perhaps later had the breast surgically removed. Who knows?

But he never let mean people see his insecurity and take his power. He never let them win.

I told my son that the next time someone is making fun of him, laugh along with them, or at the very least, walk away. Never let them have power over you.

“Don’t let the jerks of the world win. Be like Bitch Tit,” I said.

And then I told him, “But don’t use the words ‘bitch’ or ‘tit’ at school, or you’ll get in trouble!”

***