Category: random thoughts

The Best Year

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I was playing guitar and singing backing vocals in an all-girl grungy pop-rock band in Warrensburg, Missouri, where we all attended college.

I never fit into the band.

The other three girls were smokers who liked junk food, staying up late drinking beer, and sleeping in.

I was a non-smoking natural early-riser who liked to run to the gym in the mornings, lift weights for an hour or so, and ate healthfully. I was so very not rock and roll.

One night, I let the girls talk me into coming with them to a local bar. This was before indoor cigarettes were banned, so the air was gross and my eyes were burning. I halfheartedly had a beer and left amid protests and playful mockery.

I felt like a loser for not wanting to hang with my band-mates, but smoky bars just weren’t my scene. And no matter how late I stay up, I wake at the crack of sparrow fart, so late nights mean painful mornings. I still do this. Naps are my friends. (Yes, naps, plural. I love every single one of those beautiful little bastards.)

I lived within a mile or so of the downtown area, so I walked home in the dark, alone. This was probably not the best idea, as despite being a 5’8″/5’9″/tallish girl I weighed about 110-115 at the time. I would have been easier to abduct then than I would be now. (Did I just find a bright side to gaining weight with age? Fuck YEAH, I did. Less abduct-able! You’re welcome, everybody.)

I was looking at the stars, like I do, and the moon was shining brightly enough to light the sidewalks. I wasn’t afraid for my personal safety, but I felt trepidation about the future. The band and I didn’t make it, and I think this was an early moment of clarity for me, realizing that our group wasn’t a personality or lifestyle match.

Bands are like having a relationship with all of the people in them, in case you’ve never experienced the phenomenon. It’s like asexually dating a group of people, and if there are personality conflicts, the whole group suffers. Very odd and potentially uncomfortable situation.

I liked the music we were making and was enjoying the creative outlet immensely, but all of the girls came from money and were being supported by their parents, and I’d been on my own since barely 17. We had very different worldviews and coping mechanisms. I didn’t understand their easy existences, and they didn’t understand my neuroses.

You grow into a very different person when you have no parachute to pull on should you suddenly fall down out of the sky.

I didn’t fit in. And you know, honestly–I never do–so this wasn’t surprising. But as I walked home, I looked up at the big, glowing moon and the galaxy of stars, and silently asked the universe (or my guardian angels or whatever I liked to pretend was watching over me at the time to feel less alone) what I was supposed to be doing. What should my next move be?

I wrote the song below in my head as I walked. Upon arriving home, I immediately scribbled down the words, and found the guitar chords via vocal melody line.

Later, my boyfriend, who was a talented recording engineer, was kind enough to immortalize it for me. I’m so grateful for this, still. Having your song recorded is like possessing an auditory snapshot from your life that will never disappear or fade away.

I like to share this song on New Year’s Day because it reminds me that I was once a hopeful 20-something with possibilities, and a seemingly endless future ahead. We don’t get to feel that way our entire lives–opportunities stolen or lost fill in the cracks, escape hatches close, and paths are taken that can’t be undone–so it’s a bittersweet remembrance.

But we have smaller versions of these large choices throughout our lives, regardless of age. It’s important to remember every year we still have futures, possibilities, and opportunities, and paths to walk, even if they don’t loom quite so long and uncertainly ahead of us anymore.

I hope your New Year is the best year you’ve ever had in your whole life.

***

Look at my confused-yet-optimistic 20s represented lyrically below, you guys. Awwww.

I asked the moon tonight for the answers that the stars won’t give me. She said there’s nothing left that I don’t know that she could teach me. This one will be the best year I’ve ever had in my whole life. This one will be the best year, and if it’s not, at least I’ll know I tried. I tried. I know that I can answer my own questions if I only look inside. Sometimes I see the angels protecting me in the corner of my eye. This one will be the best year I’ve ever had in my whole life. This one will be the best year, and if it’s not, at least I’ll know I tried. I tried. So now I look up to the sky and everything is clear. It’s like the light from all the stars has burned away the fear. This one will be the best year I’ve ever had in my whole life. This one will be the best year, and if it’s not, at least I’ll know I tried. I tried. I tried.

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The Old Grey Matter, She Ain’t What She Used to Be

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Hello, Imaginary Reader.

You may have noticed I forgot to write yesterday. That’s right. Forgot.

Not only did I forget, but I even got on the laptop, which I don’t really do as often as I used to now that I can watch the world implode in real time on my small rectangle of doom.

Not only did I forget, and get on my laptop, but while I was on the laptop, my son said, “Don’t forget to write, Mom. You promised yourself every day.” Yet I still forgot.

Jesus. My brain fog has brain fog.

I got sucked into Facebook, dicked around there for too long (LIKE I DO), and decided a nap sounded good. Then a shower. Then dinner at closest, dearest friend’s who conveniently also happens to be our next door neighbor. Then a backyard fire pit and some red wine happened.

I had no idea ten years ago I’d become a fire and red wine girl, but here I am. That’s pretty much a perfect night for me at this point. Absolutely loving the fire pit nights. There’s something so primal and soothing about sitting around a fire in the dark instead of staring at a screen. I mean, we have music playing on a little speaker, and occasionally we each take a moment to look at a phone message, but for the most part, it’s as close to “old school” hang-out time as a person can get nowadays without going completely off the grid.

I like it.

I like off the grid. I like alone. But I do I get lonely because I’m isolated and know very few adult people. I have never talked to myself as much as I do now, and I’m pretty sure this is a sign I’m reaching new and not exciting levels of loneliness. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy my conversations. I get a little tired of the lack of spontaneity, however. My answers are so predictable.

So the fire pit nights are giving me life, as the kids say. Even as a total introvert, I recognize I currently desperately need more adult conversation in my life.

I am a non-church-going liberal-minded person, if liberal-minded is interpreted as believing all people deserve the same human rights, that kindness and empathy for others is good, but also, that if you can work for a living and be a productive member of society, you should do so, rather than sponging off everybody else.

But I am unfortunately located in a state where people are very conservative, if conservative is interpreted as only caring about your piece of the pie, lacking compassion for others, and negatively, hypocritically judging people you assume don’t follow the same moral tenets you claim to believe in–yet don’t emulate or demonstrate within many realms of your existence–simply because they don’t go stand in the same crowded influenza room with you once a week to eat Jesus crackers.

Short version: The first question I’m always asked by another mom since moving here has been, “Which church do you go to?” to which I reply, “I haven’t found one I like yet.” This isn’t technically a lie. It’s mostly a really polite way to say: “I don’t go to church, but hey, if it makes you happy, I want you to have it. To each his or her own.”

And then they try to get me to join their church, or write me off as a human. Or both. The end.

Yay, people!

My son suffers because of this, and it pisses me off. Religion and spirituality are very personal, and the way people here use it as a conversational opener is nothing short of bizarre and rude. You might as well ask me how much my family makes per year. Want to talk about how and when I lost my virginity, too?*

People in my neighborhood with kids have also pulled the “drop-by unannounced” maneuver more times than I can count, which has made me pull away from all attempts at friendship. It fucking freaks me out. My house is my safe space. Do not invade my safe space with your children on a whim because little Connor or Raegan got bored and you’ve decided my child is the solution, thanks.

Am I the only one who understands how rude this is? I may curse like a Quentin Tarantino film character, and prefer to relax at home on Sundays–but I won’t ever pop by your house without calling and setting up a mutually agreed-upon time.

***

I’m feeling a bit grumpy. Sorry. I’d normally call it hormones or allergies because those are the easiest go-to ailments to blame for shitty behavior we don’t want to own, but this time I’m griping and feeling a bit dark inside because a close family member has cancer.

Fuck cancer fuck cancer fuck cancer fuck cancer fuck cancer. Seriously. Cancer, if you’re reading this, go fuck yourself with every metal rod in the world and all the shovels and rakes and every other painfully hard and too-large thing I can think of off the top of my foggy brain. Fuck yourself hard and long, and then walk of shame your sorry ass right back to the depths of hell from whence you came because I’m sick and fucking tired of you coming for so many good people I love.

It’s affecting the person with the cancer, obviously. He’s hurting and I hate it. I want to make it go away and I can’t and this is some bullshit. It’s affecting all of the other people who love him because they also want to fix it, but cancer runs the show. You can’t control a damned thing when it comes to cancer, nor can you predict a damned thing–it can literally go in any direction very fast, very slow, or anything in the middle. Everything is a question mark that starts with the Big C right now, and it’s the shittiest purgatory ever. Dante forgot a level.

So there’s that.

***

A commercial on television in the next room just used the exclamation “Voila!” except the actress pronounced it as “Wa-la!” and I’m pretty sure the person who story-boarded the dialogue probably wrote it as “Walla!” which is a huge pet peeve of mine. So that’s bugging me now.

See? Grumpy.

I should probably go to bed.

Before I go, here’s an animal nerd fact pulled from my childhood spent reading animal encyclopedias for fun:

The horse in the picture at the top of this rambling mess is technically grey/gray (I prefer the “grey” spelling; both are accepted as correct), even though it looks white. The only horses officially considered white are albinos. See the dark eyes and dark muzzle coloration on the otherwise white horse in the picture? That classifies it as a grey horse.

Stop being so fascinated, damn it. At least I kept my promise and wrote something today.

Goodnight, Imaginary Reader.

 

 

*Actually I love talking about sex stuff. I lost it on a bunch of pillows on the floor of the bedroom of the guy I had a mad crush on all through high school who was voted “Most Attractive” by his classmates, age 14. I started kindergarten at 4, so I was a really young freshman and he was a senior–don’t be freaked out. I got my period and boobs at 11 and looked like a woman at 14. Full consent. Also, it hurt really badly and I bled everywhere. Sleep well!

 

 

 

Nobody Here But Us Chickens

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Hi, person I imagine reading this. Imaginary Reader. Stephen King calls his fans Constant Reader (a tribute to Dorothy Parker, perhaps?), so I’m going with Imaginary Reader, because he’s Stephen King, and I’m some weird lady living in the Great Plains of America nobody has ever heard of, currently babbling on the internet. Seems appropriate.

I feel the need to apologize, Imaginary Reader, for I have been remiss. I maintain and pay a small fee for this site, yet I stopped updating it at some point. I have not felt like writing here, or occasionally have felt like it, but haven’t been able to move from the “I kind of feel like like doing this” to the “actually doing this” part for a long time. This disconnect has become a constant source of frustration for me, and I’m trying to do something about it.

I went from writing multiple articles a day for an online company for very decent money, to going down a deep, dark rabbit hole when my mom was fighting Stage 4 cancer. I got out of the writing habit, and never managed to come back from it.

In addition to anxiety, depression, and hypothyroidism (which renders one’s metabolism null and void, making one feel like one has a low-grade flu that never ends, with the “one” in this scenario being ME), I have also developed a frustrating case of the “Why should anybody give a shit what I think?”s that has been keeping me from writing.

My last entry was so emo I cringed re-reading it. Ugh. No, actually, scratch that. I mocked myself in my head for a little while, made poor widdle baby pouty faces at myself, and then I cringed. Poor you and your First World problems, Tawni. Poor you. Your life is so hard. Would you like some French cries with your wahhhmburger?

See how mean I am to me? I don’t feel that way when other people write. I like reading other people’s thoughts. I enjoy their writings, emo or otherwise, so I don’t understand why I’m harder on myself than I am on anyone in the whole wide world. I wish I could figure out how to knock that shit off, because it’s really harshing my mellow, Imaginary Reader.

But are middle-aged people even allowed to be emo? (Bonus: You can tell I’m middle-aged because I’m using the word “emo.”) I once knew a woman 5+ years older than me on Facebook who used to constantly post vague-bookish statuses that read like the pubescent poetry section from Seventeen Magazine, and I always thought upon reading them, Please don’t let me ever be the middle-aged lady posting emo statuses.

So I’ll do it here instead! Hahahahahahahahahahaha! *sobs*

As a person I enjoy recently said on Twitter:

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(Follow @MollySneed. She’s funny. You like funny.)

Because seriously. This site/blog feels so Dear Diary-ish and lame to me sometimes, and I get embarrassed and insecure. I used to just fucking write. I’d just shit the words out of my brain via keyboard and not worry about it. But now I do. I worry. I feel uncomfortable right now. And scared. I hate this.

I don’t know when or why I became self-conscious, but here it is, and it’s really starting to piss me off, so I’m writing, damn it. And I’m not going to take it down. I’M NOT.

I have never in my life cared what anyone thought of my creative output, and it’s stupid for me to start now. I’m getting back up on that old inner horse named FuckThem that I used to ride onto a stage when I played guitar and sang in bands. When I was the misfit kid in high school voted “Most Revolutionary” at the end of senior year. When I used to write a dumb piece like this, and post it, and move on. I am creative for me, and nobody else. That’s how creativity works, damn it. So away we go, FuckThem. Off into the motherfucking sunset with us, old girl.

Oh, I’m not worrying about cursing anymore either. Did I mention that? I kind of tried to clean things up around here for a while, and it felt weird. False. I am not for polite company. Deal with it. Or don’t… no hard feelings. But I’m sassy. And I like my sass.

I recently got a bit too drunk after a wine tasting, because I have the alcohol/medication/drug tolerance of an 11-year-old girl (natural redhead), and I didn’t remember what I said the next day. I was horrified by this. I hate feeling out of control. Hate hate hate it.

When asked how I behaved whilst off my tits, which is always a not-humiliating-at-all question for a middle-aged woman to ask of the person who tucked her drunken ass into bed the night before, my husband said, “You seemed happy, funny, and every other word out of your mouth was ‘fuck’ or ‘fucking.'”

I was mortified at first. But then I thought about it, and I don’t know if my true self is happy or funny, but it sure as fuck has a potty mouth. So back to the docks with me.

Anyhow.

I used to write songs for years in a city where my guy musician friends would tell me about how other guy musicians made fun of me and my simple little pop rock songs.

But I didn’t know how to write any other way, and most importantly, I wasn’t writing music for anyone else–I was getting things off my soul, and writing for me–so I didn’t care. I honestly didn’t. The songwriting was cathartic and came from my heart, and as long as I was being true to myself, I was proud of what I did. The end. No shame in the earnest game, man.

So I need to find that version of me again. To attempt this, I’m forcing myself to write every day.

No, wait. Not forcing. That makes me psychologically balk. I have a bad habit of doing the opposite when told what I’m going to do, so let me put it differently; I’m challenging myself to write daily. Yes, that’s better. Challenging. A competition with me. (It’s me versus me! Only one can win! Go… me!)

I may write fiction. I may write old-timey Seventeen Magazine puberty poetry. I may write interesting facts about a topic of interest. (Nerd alert: I absolutely love researching and writing about things that fascinate me.) I might review a book I’ve read recently. Open letters are a favorite. Lists are fun. I might share a song I wrote in my younger days and tell you the story behind it like a boring old aunt reliving her glory days. I could even use a random writing prompt of some sort and go all stream-of-consciousness on your ass. But I’m going to write something here every day. Because I need to get back into the daily writing habit and find the self-discipline I’ve lost.

Please bear with me while I bare with me, Imaginary Reader.

(See what I did there?)

(Sorry. I’ll try harder.)

(That’s what she said.)

(Help. I’m addicted to parentheses.)

(I don’t know how to end this.)

(I know! Here’s a picture of a chicken who’s tired of my shit. Perfect.)

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World weary, wrinkly, and full of eggs. I know how you feel, side-eye chicken. I know.

 

Hold Your Own Hand: A Bedtime Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I pretend.

We all pretend.

Sleep well.

 

This Is What Happens When I Take Facebook Quizzes

  1. Do you like blue cheese?

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

  1. Last concert?

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

  1. Do you own a gun?

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

  1. What is your favorite food?

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

  1. Do you get nervous before Doctor visits?

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

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

  1. What do you think of hot dogs?

No nitrates or nitrites, please.

  1. Favorite movie?

Sunset Boulevard.

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

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

  1. Do you do push-ups?

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

  1. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry?

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

  1. Favorite hobby?

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

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

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

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

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

  1. What is your middle name?

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

  1. Name three thoughts at this moment.

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

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

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

  1. Name 4 drinks you drink regularly?

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

  1. Current worry?

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

  1. Current annoyance right now?

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

19. Favorite place to be?

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

  1. How do you ring in the new year?

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

  1. Where would you like to visit?

All of the UK, and anywhere Scandinavian.

  1. Name three people who will complete this?

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

  1. Do you own slippers?

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

  1. What color shirt are you wearing right now?

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

  1. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?

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

  1. Can you whistle?

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

  1. What are your favorite colors?

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

  1. Would you be a pirate?

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

  1. What song do you sing in the shower?

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

  1. Favorite girls name?

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

  1. Favorite boys name?

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

32. What’s in your pocket now?

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

  1. Last thing that made you laugh?

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

  1. Best toy as a child?

Nature.

  1. Worst injury you have ever had?

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

  1. Where would you love to live?

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

  1. How many TV’s do you have?

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

  1. Who is your loudest friend?

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

  1. How many dogs do you have?

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

  1. Does someone trust you?

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

  1. What book are you reading at the moment?

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

  1. What’s your favorite candy?

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

  1. What’s your favorite sports team?

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

  1. Favorite month?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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How Planned Parenthood Helped Me Plan Parenthood

 

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birth control pills should be covered by health insurance.

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

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

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

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

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

The Outcome Was Not Hilarious

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

He was crying by the second question.

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

 

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

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

 

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

Interviewed: M, 10.

 

Me: What is something I say a lot?

Him: I love you.

 

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

 

Me: What makes me happy?

Him: When I do the right thing.

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

It really sucks.

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Failing. Failing, failing, failing.

 

*****

 

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

 

Me: How tall am I? 

Him: 5’9″

 

(Correct!)

 

Me: What’s my favorite color? 

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

 

(Close. Blue-green.)

 

Me: What is my favorite thing to do?

Him: Write on the computer?

 

(Correct!)

 

Me: What makes you proud of me? 

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

 

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

 

Me: What is my favorite food?

Him: Burritos?

 

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

 

Me: Do you think you could live without me?

Him: No! I couldn’t!

 

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

 

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

Him: I don’t know? An island?

 

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

 

Me: What is my favorite show?

Him: Your medical shows.

 

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

 

*****

 

This was the end of the test.

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

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

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

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

 

What a hilarious outcome. Thanks, stupid Facebook quiz.

 

 

 

 

Cat Salutations, Pee Bottles, Birkini Shame and Car Salespeople

(Writing from July 23, 2010.)

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

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

It stopped and stared at me as I drove past.

So I waved at it.

Smiling. Waving. At a tabby.

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

Was I expecting it to wave back?

Maybe.

***

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

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

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

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

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

These questions mostly involve the mechanics of capturing the urine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so on.

I hate that fucking bottle of pee.

***

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

Here’s a picture of a “birkini”:

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

The guy smiled and said, “Good one.”

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

The salesman laughed uncomfortably.

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

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

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

I wish I could do that to people.

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

I could learn a lot from my husband the actor.

Happy day to you.

xoxo.

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

The Universe Is Making Me Feel Not So Fresh

(Writing from November 19, 2010.)

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

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

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

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

We went with the boring solid gray.

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look:

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

But I really, really wanted to.

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

“You shouldn’t be so jumpy,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

It worked.

Hope you’re having a calm week, friends.

Shingle Bells

(Writing from December 30, 2010.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tawni’s Happy Fun Time Couch Spot:

My ridiculous: let me show it to you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope your holidays were awesome, pals.

 

 

 

Miles and me, Christmas 2010.