Chip Cards Are For Reals

novocain

 

I try not to tell people too many details about my life because the look of horror on their faces when I describe what E and I do on a daily basis is a little off-putting. I mean let’s be honest, E does 1000% more than me, but I wouldn’t label myself as lazy. I’d love to be lazy, lazy is what I aspire to. But not now, on account of all the adulting.

Fortunately it feels like most of the time we’ve really got our shit together in a “Wow, nothing destructive and explosive happened today, nailing it!” and then we high-five and fall asleep standing up.

I’m not saying other families don’t do a lot, too, it’s just that I’m super competitive and ambitious so in order to win we’ve really got to pack in as much as possible. Win what? Hell if I know, but I bet I’m better at it than you. Better at screwing it up I meant, duh.  Stop making me sound so smug and sanctimonious.

I deal with so much drama and ridiculousness on a regular basis for my job that I tend to be pretty laid back about what some people think are emergencies. By “some people”, I of course mean E. His demeanor is more along the lines of a walking teddy bear with a hair-trigger nuclear bomb inside it –  sweet and kind and giving on the front end, explosive and unpredictable on the back,  so when he’s angry and upset about something and going crazy and yelling, I’m usually calmly asking if anyone died and if the answer is no, I tune it out until he’s under control and cuddly again.

“WTF ALISSA, IT’S 9:30 P.M., DID YOU FEED OUR CHILDREN?”

“Our children? Uhm, which ones specifically?”

“BOTH OF THEM.”

“Let’s see, today is….Tuesday? YES! Yep, I fed them last Thursday. Whew! I thought for a minute I might be in trouble there, narrow miss!”

*red face, bulging eyes* “THEY HAVE TO EAT EVERY DAY, I CAN’T DO EVERYTHING!”

“Yeah, here’s the thing. Every day is a lot. And then if you get consistent about it they expect it and want it more so I think my plan is better.”

“WYATT PASSED OUT AT SOCCER PRACTICE TONIGHT BECAUSE HE WAS SO HUNGRY!”

“Okay, calm down, geesh. This happens all the time. He’s like a fainting goat, it’s probably some kind of medical condition, but like we have time to go to the doctor, amiright?! He’ll probably grow out of it.”

“THE SOLUTION IS EATING YOU DUMBASS.”

“Well did he die Mr. “Everyone Eats And It’s Important and Pay Attention To The Food Hexagon”?

*shaking his head, stomping around, pounding fists* “Good God, it’s a food pyramid. Are you insane? Do you even exist in reality?”

***

“HELLOOOOO?”

“Oh, sorry. I was waiting for the rage tsunami to be over. Are we good?”

 

Most of the time the kids and I do everything possible to avoid Mad Dad, but guys, we’re not perfect. Sometimes we mess it up. We mess it up real bad. And having so many responsibilities to keep track of does make things significantly more difficult.

The other day while I was driving to the dentist, trying not to hyperventilate and blackout from needle terror, I had a fleeting thought that E and I are like two circus clowns juggling plates. This description is actually pretty accurate seeing my predilection for bright lipstick, the glow in the dark neon shoes E prefers, and the fact that we can never find actual plates in our house. Mostly we are just both too scared to go upstairs in our own home because that’s where the kids live and it’s easier to minimize all the yelling with only half-yearly inspections. But I’m pretty sure that’s where the plates are.

Anyway,  I thought to myself that although things were going pretty freaking well at the moment, that surely even one juggled plate getting a tad out of sync was going to result in absolute anarchy.

As it turns out, I’m pretty much a fortune-teller, but only about awful things. Like that time I dropped Wyatt off at a friend’s house and wasn’t a block away before I had the strangest thought that something bad was going to happen and then laughed at myself because, dur, life doesn’t work that way and then an hour later I get a call that he set Five Mile Prairie ablaze playing with matches. Or when I liked the spicy Thai burrito at Taco Time so much and one night woke up in a cold sweat with the thought that they’d take it off their menu, AND THEN THEY DID. Or the other time when I randomly and out of the ordinary watched 20/20 on a Sunday night and it was an episode about brain cancer and I called E into the room and was talking about how cool it was that this new treatment was available and ugh, brain cancer, that would be the worst! And then a month later my mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 Glioblastoma brain cancer. Want to know something horrendous coming up in your future? I’m your girl. Apparently.

So when I had this fleeting thought on the way to get my mouth ripped out of my head and my teeth reassembled in random bloody order while some 12 year old dentist sang along to 80’s Muzak while wielding the most giant needle in the world, I did take pause for a second.  But then I brushed it off as my brain’s attempt to think of an alternate terrible thing so that the current terrible thing didn’t seem so bad. It’s science. Or astronomy. Or psychology. One of those.

I said I was premonitious, not smart.  Because at what point do I start accepting my amazing aptitude for predicting the macabre and take it seriously?

Yeah, I just made up that word premonitious, so what?

Going to the dentist was just another thing to check off on the errand list that day. The kids were in soccer camp in the morning and then they both had basketball practice and then my mom had a doctor appointment and all the cars needed their tabs renewed and one needed an oil change, a bank deposit needed to be made, and then both kids had regular soccer practice at different locations in opposite ends of the county. I’m not gonna lie, E was doing all that. And he was working on a gigantic kitchen job at the same time. I was working, going to the dentist and then having wine with a friend because the thought of all that other stuff was so exhausting that I felt like I should have a little girl time to myself to unwind. I guess now that I put that in print it does make me sound a tad selfish. Like maybe I could have washed their uniforms or made sure they brushed their teeth or something, I don’t know, these things are overwhelming.

In my own defense, the level of detail and efficiency under extreme deadlines required in my work life is hard to explain to people without their eyes glazing over and  a strong showing of incredulity that someone willingly does what I do all day long. So I think we can all agree I should get a little sympathy and credit when I accidentally forget to button up details in my personal life. Unfortunately when you’re married, the impact of your actions affect two people, one of whom may or may not be crazy from time to time. And anyway, E willingly encouraged me to have a wine night because it was with another mom and she isn’t weird or anything and I think he hopes these things will rub off on me eventually.

And so I was really looking forward to wine and hoping all the Novocaine would wear off in time to not have to ask for a straw to slurp with. At the dental office they got me set right up in my usual death-grip-on-the-chair position and started using their chainsaw to do whatever it is they do when I have my eyes squeezed shut the whole time. When my Fitbit buzzed that I had a text, I ignored it thinking it was probably just my friend firming up the time to meet. But then it buzzed again. And again. And again.

I pried one eye open and lifted up my arm to peek at my watch. Unfortunately my arm crashed into the 8,000 watt spotlight they were using on me and I was temporarily blinded, or I had slipped into a coma, or it was just sunny out, I don’t know. Over the sound of the jackhammer they were using on my second bicuspid, I did distantly hear the dentist say to hold still.

Most of the time I follow instruction well. Occasionally I go into “You can’t tell me what to do” mode. And since it was my face they were wrecking, I decided to do what I wanted and check my watch. Bless Fitbit’s little heart, only portions of text messages come through, so I could see that E was texting me but it was like “kids lunch”, “oil change” “Walmart” “Department of Licensing.” I thought it was kind of weird he was telling me details of the day because that’s boring but I picked up my phone and decided to take a real look at the messages just to spite the dentist.

The first message was something like “The Amex card won’t work.”

Well, this happens, not everyone takes Amex so maybe he was at one of those places.

The next message was “They changed my oil and I can’t pay.”

Then: “Debit card doesn’t work, in drive-thru at Zips.”

Then: “WTH?”

Then my phone actually rang so I answered it. The dentist seemed a little irritated but I’m a pretty important person, so I knew he was secretly jacked I was even in his presence and was just pretending for appearances sake.

It was E. He was yelling pretty loud so I hung up. I mean it’s not fair to subject my ears to Jaws of Life dental noise on top of him raising his voice, no one’s got time for that. Then I started sweating a little.

My watch buzzed again. It was Wyatt this time. Oh great, I thought, he’s probably checking to see how I’m doing at the dentist, what a sweetheart.

“Mom. Dad’s furious. Help.”

Well this wasn’t good. The phone rang again. The dentist sighed. My hands were shaking pretty bad but I picked it up. The dentist was drilling which made it seem like I was kind of busy, but E didn’t care, he just let out a string of expletives as if I could solve his crisis while getting my teeth whitened.

Apparently we had a liquidity problem. Which is technically not possible, buuuuuuut, I may have accidentally not done some things I should have which was now causing E to be in a bit of a predicament.

You see about a month and a half earlier, my bank sent me a shit ton of mail and I was all “Yikes, that looks bad, don’t open those!” So I took them to work and waited a few weeks and then took a peek at them. Turns out it was just all the new chip cards everyone has to switch to. But they all looked exactly the same and I couldn’t tell what was what and there were 10 of them. Between our personal accounts, business accounts, my mom’s play money account and her real accounts which I now have to manage, it was a lot of cards. Eventually I just drove to the bank and vomited them all over a personal bankers desk and asked for help activating them and sorting them out. When we were done, she did mention that E’s cards had not been sent out yet and to keep an eye out in the mail for them.

Approximately at the same time, some sort of letter thing arrived from Amex or something, it was all “Costco hates us, you’re getting some new stupid card, be on the lookout for it, sincerely Amex.” And I was all “Whatever, I don’t want a new card I’ll just keep using this old one, Citibank can suck it.” I guess the fine details of the letter said the Amex card would actually stop working at some point. Which magically happened to be the day that E’s debit cards for our personal and business accounts stopped working because they had sent the new cards to activate to me two weeks before.

In the grand scale of the cosmos, having your credit card and debit card not work on exactly the same day seems like some pretty seriously shitty juju. I mean, universe, I’M DEALING WITH A LOT IN MY LIFE RIGHT NOW, CUT ME SOME SLACK?

But no. And so there I was. Numb, half drilled, with a husband who was going to lose his shit in approximately 10 seconds. So I did what any good and loving wife would and I politely told the dentist to get his equipment the hell out of my mouth and we would finish our business at some other date. He said a lot of things like “dangerous” and “open cavity” and “dislocated bite” and “sudden death” but I couldn’t think about that when I was probably already dead for our current banking situation.

They tried to make me pay in full anyway and I was all “Dude, srsly?” and I rescheduled for another date and looked at my phone again.

“Out of gas. Can’t pay. Screw soccer.”

Everything else was horrific, but E saying the kids weren’t going to soccer meant that things had progressed to a level of hell Dante couldn’t even dream of.  I texted back that I had some cash and I’d meet him to fill the tank and try to figure out the banking situation in the meantime.

I met him at the gas station and both kids ran to my car and jumped in and looked at me like it was the last time they’d see me. I winked at them because false courage is better than nothing and got out to face the tiger head on.

By this time his rage had worn him down and he was kind of staggering around like a drunken sailor on shore leave. I offered to take the kids to soccer because it was very important that they not miss a practice and I obviously knew this because of how mature and sporty I am.

He agreed and I don’t know what he did the rest of the night but I’m sure as hell not going to ask because that would mean speaking and having a grown up conversation and a lot of other things that involve emotions and that’s gross. So we do what we always do, ignore it, move on to the next problem, and consider ourselves one of the most amazing couples to ever have existed because of our extraordinary ability to get things so wrong sometimes that it actually makes things right.

I say we, but I mean me.

I’m still kinda mad about missing wine though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

match

Blazing Inferno

I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff in my lifetime. I mean, I don’t think we need to get into the particulars since I’m pretty public about my escapades, but I was so certain I had disinfected the gene pool of my perplexing personality defects by marrying a guy that rarely does anything wrong, that I didn’t think there was any way I could pass on my foolishness to my children. His worldly smartness HAD to overpower my amazing ineptitude. Don’t get me wrong, he’s totally crazy, but not stupid; and I’m confident part of the attraction when we first hooked up solidly proved every Darwinian theory possible about survival of the fittest and women unconsciously coupling with candidates who ensure and increase the likelihood of future human existence.

Apparently there’s been some sort of glitch.

Maybe our combined super pool of genes was just too much and the universe couldn’t handle that much perfection.

Like chaos theory at it’s finest. My EXTREMELY small flaws have disturbed a highly complex system of awesomeness and unfortunately altered the impeccable harmonious order, resulting in disastrous consequences.

I started noticing small aberrations haphazardly, like Noelle tripping over everything AND being an amazing athlete. Or how she never misses a spelling word but still gets her B’s and D’s backwards when she writes. Little things like this.

Wyatt doesn’t have any incongruities.

Well, except for the arson situation.

I have to admit, I’m not sure how he’s going to find time to fit in his new criminal behavior, what with his demanding soccer and wrestling schedule, 4.0 GPA, avid reading, hunting, hiking, ATV riding and whatnot.

And being grounded for life.

The firemen assured the parents of the friend he was with when it happened that it was normal childhood behavior.  Which is partly why I’m so upset. He’s not normal, I hold him to a higher standard. I’ve got to believe at least one of us in our family can lead a respectable life.  It was all riding on him.

Now he’s gone and wrecked everything.

When I got the call, I was just stepping into a meeting with clients. I’m not sure how I made it through those 45 minutes with my anger quietly boiling inside. Plus, I had to figure out a way to tell E. It was a delicate situation, seeing as how his rage is overtly robust and passionate, like a toddler at bedtime. It was best he knew in advance before I brought the offender home so that he had some time to get used to the idea.

Obviously we both handled it like mature responsible adults.

After I securely fastened Wyatt into the car (safety first!), I began my conversation in a calm and matter of fact manner.

Me:  Wow. Where do I start?

W: I’m so sorry Mom, I’m in so much trouble, Dad is going to be so mad!

Me: Let’s worry about your dad later. Right now we need to talk about your legal troubles. Do you have a defense strategy in place?

W: What?

Me: Well obviously the firemen have a duty to let the landowner know what happened. You didn’t think that just because the firefighters let you off easy that it doesn’t mean the landowner couldn’t come after you? Surely you’ve thought this through?

W (*eyes welling with tears*): What will the owner do?

Me: Hmm. Well, let’s see. Arson is a malice crime. It’s treated like first degree murder which means you go to prison for life.

W (*panicking*): Mom it was an accident I swear!

Me: So you accidentally lit the match that burned a fort to the ground on a strangers property?

W: It wasn’t our matches! We found them there! We lit it together!

Me: (*skeptical eyebrows*) That does not make any sense whatsoever and the defense will not hold, Mister. You can’t go into court with unclean hands.

W (*looking at hands*): My hands aren’t dirty, why does that matter?

Me: Never mind. I guess if he doesn’t want to press charges for arson, he could go with trespassing or malicious mischief. Trespassing would be better since it’s a misdemeanor and the maximum sentence would only be 90 days. Malicious mischief is a problem though, if it’s first or second degree, you are looking at a felony conviction.

W: What’s a felony?

Me: A felony means you probably won’t get a college scholarship. Or go to college. In fact you’ll be lucky to even get your GED. Probably be standing on a street corner with a sign asking for iTunes money.

W (*incredulous*): MOM! HELP! I CAN’T GO TO JAIL, I’M JUST A KID!

Me: That doesn’t really matter now since the damage is done. Your intent was clear the second you lit the match. Pity really. We had high hopes for you. Oh well. There’s always your sister. I mean we had two kids just in case the first one didn’t work out but I didn’t realize we’d be relying on our backup plan so soon. I wonder if it’s too late to adopt…..

W (*sniffling*): I’ll do anything, just tell me what to do to make it better! But watch the road please, you almost just drove into the ditch.

Me: I’m a perfectly capable driver young man, you needn’t tell me what to do. Anyway, orange is really not your color, such a tragedy. If there was only SOME way to make this better, hmmm?

W: I could write an apology letter to the owner?

Me: Maybe….

W: I could offer to clean up the mess?

Me: Getting warmer.

W: I could also volunteer some time to a cause?

Me: Okay, uh huh.

W: And donate my allowance? Stop checking your phone, that’s dangerous and against the law Mom!

Me: I’m making sure your dad hasn’t been airlifted to the hospital because of explosive anger and anxiety, and stop telling me what is or isn’t against the law, you are the one in trouble here! Now back to your legal problems, your plan is sounding pretty good. But we’ll need to clear it with your father first.

And then the poor kid went dead white and remained silent the rest of the way home.

When we arrived at the house, we apprehensively tip-toed in, not knowing quite what to expect. Based on prior experience, things could be challenging. I looked around and didn’t see E anywhere. That made me extremely nervous. Finally, I heard some movement in the dining room.

E: Hey, Tough Guy, get your butt in here.

W: DAD I’M SO SORRY!

E: Sit down.

W: W-w-what are you doing?

E (*sliding a bottle of whiskey across the table*): You think you’re pretty cool!? How about some underage drinking, THAT’s really cool Wyatt. Take a drink!

W: No Dad.

E: C’mon, it’s SOOO cool Wyatt. You like to be cool, take a drink!

W: No.

E: But Wyatt, underage drinking is so IN. Maybe you could mix a couple drinks and then take a joy ride in the BMW? THAT would be pretty cool.

W: *silence*

E (*sliding a handgun across the table*): Okay, you know a lot about guns, right? Been through advanced training, know how to be safe. You’re at a friends house, he doesn’t know anything about guns but his dad has one and your friend wants to look at it. You’re a cool kid so you agree. But what you don’t know is that the dad keeps the gun loaded at all times. But you’re cool. You’ll take a look.

W: *more silence*

E: So your friend goes to hand you the gun but is stupid and has his finger on the trigger. BAAAMMM! You’re dead. But that’s okay, you’re cool.

W: No Dad, that wouldn’t happen.

E: It wouldn’t Wyatt? How about he hands you the gun and you don’t know it is loaded and you kill him? How about that Buddy? But you are so cool Wyatt. Want to be part of the cool kid group.

W: No.

E (*sliding a baggie of “weed” across the table*): Hey Wyatt, you know what’s cool? Smoking pot. Let’s smoke some pot Wyatt, that’s really cool.

W: Dad, no!

E: Oh come on Wyatt, all the kids are doing it, it’s just one little joint. Let’s smoke some weed man, it’s COOOOOL. You are so cool Wyatt.

W: Stop it Dad. I think that’s oregano.

E: Hey Wyatt, let’s smoke some pot and drink some whiskey and play with guns, THAT’s super cool Wyatt. You want to be cool, don’t you Wyatt?

W: NO.

E: You should do all that Wyatt. You know why? You’ve just stabbed a knife straight into your mom’s heart with your behavior. But that’s okay, it’s COOL.

W: Dad, you’re hurting my ears. And showering me in spit. And one of your eyes keeps going funny. Are you feeling okay? Here, let’s do some breathing exercises to reduce stress.

E: YOU KNOW WHAT’S SUPER COOL WYATT?!?!? LOSING YOUR HUNTING LICENSE FOREVER BECAUSE YOU HAVE A FELONY CONVICTION. ISN’T THAT SOOOOOO COOL!

W: Whoa, whoa WHOA. Wait a minute. What?

E: Yeah you little punk, how about you lose your right to hunt for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE?!

W: I would?

E: You would, kid. It would destroy me if that happened.

W: I’m so sorry Dad.

E: So am I. You are smarter than this. And more responsible. And in a family that knows a lot about fire so why would you even think to do something so dumb?

W: I don’t know.

E: Me either. And I love you too much to let you be a loser. Now get to your room, you’re grounded forever.

W: Like what kind of grounded? I have to clean my room good grounded?

E: Not even close.

W: I have to bring dirty clothes down instead of throwing them on my floor?

E: No, you’re a boy, dirty clothes don’t matter, duh.

W: I have to read more books?

A: Did you and your mom strategize in the car?

W: Yes. She said I need to come up with a “devious law stratagem.”

A (*eavesdropping from kitchen*): THAT’S NOT WHAT I SAID! I said a “legal defense strategy,” please use proper English!

W: That IS proper English, Mom, look it up. A stratagem is a plan or scheme, usually devised to outwit an opponent.

E: Son of a ….

W: Can I watch TV?

E: No.

W: Can I play video games?

E: No.

W: So, CAN I read?

E: I don’t know. I’m confused now.

A: HE MAY READ, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!

W: Can I play my trigonometry and physics game? How about Wordbrain or Scrabble with Mom?

E: You may read if there is enough time each day after you do backbreaking chores outside. We have a rock retaining wall to build and a fire pit to put in, which now seems like a really bad idea. You may do geometry because it’s the only math you’ll need, especially if you’re in jail.

A: Ahem. I think what your dad is trying to say is that you are grounded for life. Except for soccer and wrestling and sport camps and Camp Reed and hunting and fishing and reading and motorcycle riding and camping and learning games and anything to do with fire.

W: So basically I can’t watch TV or play video games.

A and E: WE SAID GO TO YOUR ROOM!

And then he shrugged, picked up his encyclopedia and went to his room. E and I nodded and fake high-fived because clearly we nailed it as parents in that moment, the poor kid didn’t even stand a chance against our amazing discipline. NOW it was clear who was in charge in our house damn it!

I poured a glass of wine, because duh, stress, and E went outside to work on the rock retaining wall alone since it seemed inconsistent to send Wyatt to his room and then bring him right back out, like we didn’t know what we were doing or something, when we so clearly had control of the situation.

Like every traumatic event in our household, we now either never speak of it, speak of it in code (“The Fort Incident”), or use it as a mechanism for torturous teasing – all strategies specifically detailed in-depth and approved in Dr. Spock’s hit book Idiot Parents: Why Gen X Shouldn’t Reproduce. The real victim here of course is Noelle. Her brother ruined her easy ride. She’s the one that should be irate with his behavior. Instead she gave him a hug and asked him if he wanted to go build a fort on our own property.

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xfiles

Artificial Unintelligence

When we first moved to the sticks, E travelled a lot. Like weeks at a time.  Back then in ancient history, things like cable and cell service weren’t part of our requirements for finding a suitable location to live. Hell, we didn’t even see what school district our property was in. KIDS, MAKE SURE YOU KNOW THESE THINGS BEFORE YOU BUY A HOUSE.

As a result of our stupidity, we now live in a dead zone. A deep dead zone. Like when I call the internet and phone people and demand that they get their asses in gear and provide service to my area, they laugh and quote me timeframes in the decades.

So since E was gone all the time and I was freaked out being alone, as I was still a child, for Christmas that year, E got me a Husky puppy for protection and satellite cable for boredom. When the guys came to install the dish, of course E was gone on a trip. The main guy knocked on our door and I answered it holding a butcher knife and the dog, because that’s what you do when you’re 22 and all alone in a house in Siberia. Kind of like how when E was gone I slept with the cordless phone under my pillow and the knife between the mattress until E called me really late one night when he was at Mardi Gras and I lunged for the phone in my sleeping stupor and grabbed the knife instead. That was unfortunate. And messy.

I’m pretty sure holding a knife didn’t start things off well because the guy asked if my mom or dad was home and I got confused and had to process the query for a while because why would my mom or dad be there? Did I invite them over and forget? Was this a visitor of theirs? If I answered yes, then what would he ask? If I answered no would he murder me? I mean I saw Scream, I wasn’t going to fall for stupid tricks without a fight.

So I flipped my permed giant bangs and rolled my eyes and was all “Uh, dur, I’m the homeowner, gahhhh. Also my 4 month old puppy is trained to kill and I give commands in German, so…..” And then the puppy licked the guy on the face. Ich liebe dich!

He and his cohort set up their gear and started working on the outside of the house and I hid behind the blinds and tried to watch from inside to make sure they weren’t burglars or something, while the puppy scratched at the door the whole time to go outside. I finally let her out and got distracted with the book I was reading when the guy knocked on the door again. Luckily my knife was still handy so I opened the door a crack and he told me his dumbass partner had fallen off our house and landed on the puppy. Listen, I get very frustrated by inconvenience and I was already pretty put out by the fact that I had to talk to a strange potential murderer already that day, but to fall off my house onto my dog? I didn’t even know what to do with that information. Like, was that some sort of ploy to lure me outside? Couldn’t they just get in their creepy van and offer me free candy instead? It just seemed so inefficient to add puppy battery to their purported crime spree.

Thankfully everything turned out okay and I was very excited to finally catch up on Melrose Place since I had pretty much missed the whole season and it was going to be very confusing now to figure out who was sleeping with who. That night I tuned in at the correct time to watch and instead of seeing Heather Locklear engaged in a bitchy battle of wits with Daphne Zuniga, I got some weird show with aliens.

That’s right you guessed it. The X-Files.

Mind. Blown.

Guys, the truth is out there.

I’m sure you’re thinking “Yeah, whatever, The X-Files was awesome sauce, we all know that. Don’t think you’re special just because you liked it.”

Uh. But did you like it so much that you actually switched your college major so that you could become the real life Dana Scully?

I didn’t think so, losers.

Did you tour the FBI building in Washington, D.C. so that you could mentally pick out your future office?

That’s what I thought.

Did you record all 202 episodes and then lay on your couch for 48 hours straight on multiple occasions for X-Files marathon weekends?

I highly doubt you have the stamina for such an endeavor.

Did you purchase and proudly wear a black X-Files baseball cap everywhere you went for more years than it was socially acceptable to do so?

Extremely unlikely you could be as cool as THAT.

Did every conversation you participated in during that time conclude with a chilling premonition about artificial impregnation?

*If anyone answers yes to this question, please private message me, we have lots to discuss.*

Did you bob your hair and wear black blazers with shoulder pads and crisp white button down shirts to work as your standard attire for a few years so that you would be accustomed to the proper FBI uniform?

Uh huh, nice try dummies. I win.

The hardest part wasn’t becoming a chemistry major, it was getting to chemistry classes in the middle of the day when I already had an established and demanding career in the real estate professional services industry. And to be honest, forensic pathology and real estate don’t have a common thread (weird!), so it was difficult to reconcile my day job with my educational goals.

Even though I was still in my 20’s, I was by far the oldest person in those classes. And to top it off I was always rushing in late in my high heels and make-up, dressed like I’d just walked out of the board room. I was an anomaly. I loved it.

And obviously I’m smart, duh, but chemistry was really something that I was quite naturally gifted at. And I say that with humility because while I could balance a chemical equation like no one’s business and rattle off the molecular weight of compounds in my sleep, I had no effing idea what that meant in reality. I was setting the curve on all the tests but I had absolutely zero concept of what my answers meant. It really pissed off the people who really understood chemistry and didn’t see it as a fun math game to ace.  A couple bratty boys in class nicknamed me “Lipstick Lissine” (a play on lysine, which as everyone knows is a naturally occurring amino acid with an amine group on its side chain.)  This clearly was meant to convey that I was a weirdo in retaliation for not letting them cheat off my homework or give them my notes when they skipped class. They’re probably both super fancy chemists now and feel bad that someone cool like me isn’t working alongside them which is revenge enough in my book, so suck it, nerd science guys.

Naturally I bombed in the lab. Actually a more appropriate description would be I bombed the lab. No one would be my partner because I was always running to the safety wash station and spilling dangerous mixtures everywhere and cutting myself on beakers that seemed to smash to bits just by my mere presence. And I could not for the life of me understand what all the lab work meant or how it pertained in any way to finding aliens or looking good running in heels with a gun.

Eventually it just got too hard to maintain the class load during the workday and I wasn’t willing to stop working so I had to switch to a business major so I could go to school at night. When I went to my advisor to sign-off on the transfer slip, I thought he might actually cry. I got the usual lecture on how dependable and conscientious a student I was and they would be so sorry to see me go, other than the lab costs for the next year would certainly be lower. And that I was wasting a gift. I tried to explain the gift was useless because I would never understand how to apply the fun challenge of numbers and letters on paper to the mysteries of unsolved crime and extraterrestrial life on earth. He frowned and acted confused, but I naturally assumed it was a cover and we were thinking the same thing: Deep Throat and The Cigarette Smoking Man have all the answers.

Between the failed chemistry and Russian language majors (I’ll leave that one for another story time), clearly I should be working at the Pentagon by now. And while they haven’t returned any of my calls or letters that I write them out of cut up pieces of magazine and newspaper scraps, I’m sure a job offer is imminent. Perhaps my grace, wit, intelligence and incredible sleuth skills are too intimidating. I understand. It’s why I have to dumb myself down so much into looking like a clumsy, ignorant, confused soccer mom. I think my elaborate ruse is working.  I want to believe.

 

Ransom

 

ufo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hammer

Guillain Barre is Not My French Lover

Originally I started blogging because it felt like a good outlet for the stories that don’t come out of my mouth right.  I’m not just talking about the thoughts imprisoned in my head.  I’m also a terrible verbal communicator because there is a disconnect between thinking and speaking for me and the inputs don’t always equal the outputs. My brain is actually dysfunctional, guys. I mean, I don’t have a doctor’s note confirming it, but I think the proof is pretty clear when I go to say something and frequently what comes out is a bunch of gibberish.

E:  Wanna go to dinner?

A: Lovamsh shmu hydiderdad.

E: Sweet, I love sushi.

This problem exacerbated itself when a local restaurant tried to kill me and my body became a traitor and was all “NICE TRY UPSCALE RESTAURANT THAT BUYS MEXICAN LETTUCE COVERED IN FECES, BUT WE’LL TAKE IT FROM HERE,” and then proceeded to declare biological warfare on my neurological system over the course of a couple weeks until I could no longer walk or feel anything and as a result started acting like Courtney Love at, well, any event.

This is my story about some of that.

If you don’t like poop humor, now is your chance to exit.

Hey, you’ve been warned.

Did you know that people who appreciate bodily function humor are on the low end of the chart in adult developmental theory?

That means, like, really immature.

I learned that in graduate school.

Which obviously means I am NOT immature.

But that doesn’t explain you, so grow up already, geez.

Here we go.

One day in May about 11 years ago I was at work, minding my own business, when out of nowhere a diarrhea tornado invaded my body. At first I was like, WHOA, body, get your shit together. LITERALLY.

Things progressed to a level such that it was necessary for me to leave for the day. By the time E got home, later that night, I was laying on the kitchen floor covered in blankets, soaked with sweat, and with no recollection how I had gotten there.

Eventually it was determined that I should probably go to an urgent care because I was dehydrated and delirious. The first trip, they sent me home with a disapproving look that conveyed I was wasting their valuable time when clearly there were more important illnesses waiting in the lobby to be treated than a flu bug.

The second time I went, they told me I needed to drink more fluids.

The third time I went, I explained that I was about twelve days into it and had lost fifteen pounds. And that when I got out of bed that morning I crashed flat on my face and it took me ten minutes to get my legs to sort of cooperate by half stumbling half lurching to get where I needed to go. They took me a little more seriously and gave me an IV to treat the dehydration and told me to come back if I wasn’t better. Two days later I went back and they began asking questions, ran a couple tests, and told me to follow up with my normal doctor the next week.

The Centers for Disease Control then entered the picture because as luck would have it, the tests pointed to a kind of food poisoning that only exists in third-world countries, so urgent care legally had to report it and then the government got all nosy about it and had to try to figure out how it got here and if anyone else was affected. We will not be discussing how they obtained their samples to test for the food poisoning. WE WILL NEVER SPEAK OF IT, UNDERSTAND? All I’ll say about that is that whenever I see small cups with lids or brown lunch sacks, I feel a little fainty.

During the investigation period before they determined the source of the outbreak, I had to have an interview with the head doctor at the CDC.

CDC: Hi Alissa, we are so sorry you aren’t feeling well and can’t walk and are basically going completely paralyzed and could end up on a ventilator because your lungs will stop functioning on their own before we can get this under control, but we need to ask you some questions.

A: Shoimokay!

CDC: Well, we need detail regarding every meal you ate the week prior to getting sick, including the contents of your refrigerator and where you purchase your groceries.

A: HAHAHAHA! Groceries. That’s funny. I have creamer and a couple carrots from 1998 in my fridge. But the carrots are mostly a science experiment for my children. SHOULD I CHOOSE TO HAVE CHILDREN SOMEDAY.

CDC: Uh, okay, could you tell me, starting with that Monday, what you ate?

And then I died a little more inside and started shaking and turned red and blotchy, because, oh Lord, this was going to be embarrassing.

Why you ask? This was during a particularly ridiculous time in real estate where it was not at all unusual to work from 6:00 in the morning to well after midnight, so grocery shopping or eating anything healthy was not optional. And now I was going to have to confess to what I’d been eating, and it was beyond shameful.

A: Uhhhm. Well, Monday it was Starbuck’s and Wendy’s. And, uh, gas station for dinner. Tuesday was Starbuck’s, gas station, Taco Time. Wednesday, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, gas station. Thursday, pretty sure I didn’t eat at all, wait, nope, not true, someone at work had a birthday so I ate cake, well really just frosting, but whatever. Friday the office ordered pizza and then I finished off that cake. I actually hate cake. Wait. Do you think cake did this to me? Because so help me, I will CUT that birthday bitc…

CDC: Unlikely it was cake. What else?

A: Listen. This is tiring. It was all Wendy’s, Taco Time, the gas station across the street from work and Starbuck’s. OOOH! Totally forgot I ate at (UPSCALE CRAP FACTORY) for a client lunch on Thursday. And hold on a minute! One of the other people I was with has been sick, but not the same, not as bad.

CDC: Thank you, we’ll get back to you shortly.

Eventually they confirmed another 10  cases of food poisoning from the same place, and the (PALACE OF POOP WE DRIVE BY AND FLIP OFF EVERY MORNING), was all “Uh, no, we didn’t do this, those ten random dirty strangers brought the sickness in here, how dare they, we’re really upset about it. Oh this bleach we’re spraying everywhere? Er, nothing, it’s just further proof of how seriously we take cleanliness around here!”

But by the time they tried to notify me of this my body had already taken things far beyond food poisoning and what the other victims were experiencing and I was at my doctor and her neurologist friend saw me right away and started telling me to get my affairs in order and asking things like if I had a living will while banging me all over my body with a hammer in a desperate attempt to find a reflex (nope) and saying it must have been awful not being able to drive for the last two weeks.

Me: Uh. Driving. About that? I can still drive right?

Dr.: YOU’VE BEEN DRIVING WITHOUT HAVING ANY FEELING IN YOUR ARMS AND LEGS AND NO MOTOR REFLEXES?

Me: Well don’t get all bent out of shape about it, it’s not like I’m gonna hurt myself, I mean DUUUHHH, I’m dying anyway.

Dr.: Under no circumstances are you to be driving. Please call your spouse to come pick you up and take you to the hospital where we are going to admit you to the stroke ward and start an aggressive treatment of IVIG after we get some spinal fluid from you.

Me: *stink eye* FINE.

And then slowly and only by leaning against the wall the whole time and with the assistance of the nurse, I went to the lobby and called E.

A: Hi, it’s me. So, fun story, probably gonna die. Could you come pick me up?

E: I’m in Omak calling on clients.

A: Shoot. No worries. Hey, meet me at the hospital in a couple hours?

And then I got in my car and drove back to work and finished up the day because, duh, people needed to buy some houses and didn’t I know the U-Haul was already in the driveway waiting and if I didn’t do my job the whole entire world would end and people would not get paid or be able to move and basically flip a lid? Which is hilarious because by that point I was just spastically throwing my body around while trying to pretend it was totally normal. For instance, my phone would ring in my office and my arm would shoot out to grab the receiver and instead it would collide with my adding machine, which would go flying off my desk.  Or, I’d try to take some copies to the copier and I’d crash into the partitions and walls and the stack of paper would end up all over the floor.

Basically I wasn’t tricking anyone and instead they had all come to the generous conclusion that I was day drinking and on a one-way train to rehab.

I don’t remember how I got to the hospital that night. Probably E came and saved the day, like usual. And once I was admitted they sent me for a spinal tap and they were acting really weird and telling me it wouldn’t hardly hurt at all and to just remain calm and I was all “DUDE. I CAN’T FEEL ANYTHING FROM THE WAIST DOWN, IT’S FINE.”

And then they got me on the table and there was some blinky imaging thing there and they told me I could watch and E was there holding my hand because he was ready to pass out from the stress, and they turned the thing on and I was all, “Hey, is that me? What’s that?” And the tech was all “That’s your spine.”

“OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT? I HAVE WORMS? WHY IS THAT WORM IN ME? GET IT OUT, GET IT OUT, OH SWEET BABY JESUS GET THAT OUT OF ME. RIGHT. NOW!”

And then I think I lost consciousness for a second because all I remember is everyone being assholes and laughing at me, the dying person.

E: Yeah. Not a worm.

Me: THE EFF IT ISN’T! GIVE ME YOUR POCKET KNIFE I’M GONNA CUT THAT SON OF A B*TCH OUT OF ME!”

E: Calm down.

Me: Don’t tell me to calm down, you don’t have a giant worm inside you! I knew it. I knew things were going to end this way. I can’t even DIE gracefully. It’s going to be ugly and painful and awkward and gross by some woman-eating-worm thing that is disgusting and horrid. I DON’T EVEN BUY TEQUILA WITH THE WORM IN IT. WTF, E!?

E: Remember that time we went to Penticton for one of my business trips and you were bored all day by yourself?

A: Great. Now we’re reminiscing. The end must be near. Please make sure I have cute underpants on. I can’t be buried in granny panties. Promise me!

E: And I came to the hotel after being in the vendor booth all day and asked what you did?

A: Are you listening? No. Ugly. Underpants.

E: And you were acting weird and said you went for a long walk and then mumbled something and left the room really quick?

A: What the hell, E, I’M DYING. Why are you trying to start a fight?

E: And then you came back in the room and sat down and then winced and shot right back up?

A: Sure, yeah, whatever, great memory, thanks. Glad this will be the last words we ever speak to each other.

E: And you lifted your shirt up and said “Look what I did today!”

A: Uh.

E: Yeah, that worm on the screen is your belly button piercing.

And then the techs turned around and tried not to show they were hyperventilating-laughing and I vowed to take that stupid annoying thing out when my hands worked again, but for now I had to suffer in embarrassment.

They wheeled me back to my private room and brought a student nurse in to insert the IV. I wasn’t paying much attention until the other nurse came in and said not nice words to the student nurse and grabbed the equipment out of her hand. She had stabbed me so many time trying to hit a vein my arm was a complete mess, but I hadn’t really felt any of it.

Then they told me a new doctor would be in shortly to do some mechanical tests on my legs. I freaked out and told E he had to go to the gift shop right away. He was so confused and disoriented by everything happening so fast, he just looked at me blankly. I whispered that he needed to go buy a razor. He looked frightened so I told him I hadn’t shaved my legs for a long time because I couldn’t get my hands and arms to cooperate and I would jump out the hospital window if he didn’t help me try to fix the situation. He shrugged and left to see what he could find.

In the meantime the good nurse came back in and said she’d be giving me Benadryl by IV because of the potential for allergic reaction from the IVIG treatment (pooled, polyvalent, IgG antibodies extracted from the plasma of over one thousand blood donors). I said okay just as E came back from his reconnaissance mission with (I kid you not) a Spanish language version of People magazine and a Coke. No razor. I barely had time to register my anger over no razor and the fact that I don’t speak Spanish when the Benadryl shot straight into my arm and I slurred half a sentence and fell asleep.

I don’t remember a lot about being in the hospital except it seemed really long and boring. I bought a bunch of stuff off the Home Shopping Network because reading was too taxing for my brain still, so all I could do was lay there and stare out the window or watch television. And being there was weird because the stroke ward had all old people on it and the nurses had trouble hiding how sad they were that such a young person was on their floor. One of them said I was the first case of Guillain Barre they’d seen in eleven years. And I had to have a physical therapist come every day to help me with walking again once the treatment started improving my condition. After I was released, I used a cane to walk (at the ripe old age of 30) for a while.

Not many people have even heard of Guillain Barre, although some guy that does the sport with the ball (soccer? hockey? synchronized swimming?) recently had it and was on the news.

My situation was far, far, FAR from bad comparative to other people who’ve had GBS. Some are in the hospital for a year or more and never lead a normal life again. I was incredibly lucky that my GP figured it out in one visit. I’m still the only case she’s ever diagnosed. That’s pretty amazing to me, I’m blessed.

Now it seems so long ago, except when I’m stressed, or it’s cold out. Then some of the lingering side-effects are quite noticeable, but still completely manageable. If you see me and I’m cold or stressed and really slurring my words and tripping over everything, know that I generally do that anyway, it’s just a smidge more pronounced in those conditions. Or I’m drunk. Probably drunk. Let’s go with drunk.

In the end, I think we can all agree that this is not a story about (TURDS R US) trying to kill me and never once apologizing or taking any responsibility for their actions. This is an inspirational story about a girl and her trusty car. A girl, who crashes every car, all the time, every time. Except this time. This time, even though it was statistically impossible NOT to crash my car, I didn’t. Because I don’t think so universe, you can’t boss me around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

uni

E Explains Wrestling

Round 1

Lis, our child has been wrestling every year since he turned 5, yet you still lack even a basic understanding of what is happening on the mat.

No, I get it. But when you say “wrestling,” you are talking about the really boring gymnastics we take him to every year to get him in shape for soccer, right? The one where there are no actual events, they just climb all over each other and occasionally do the splits, yes?

That’s wrestling.

*crinkled brow*

W-R-A-S-S-E-L, ah hell, I can’t spell it.

*thinking face*   But, uh, everyone is so bendy. That’s gymnastics.

When they are bendy, they are in pain but don’t want to give up points so they take it as long as they can while trying to escape.

That sounds incredibly inefficient. I don’t really feel comfortable supporting such an endeavor. Why would you take pain willingly? Wait. Is this some sort of government sponsored program to prepare young children for terrorist kidnapping and torture when they are forced to join the military after Piggy takes over Airstrip One and Old Major has to rally the citizens for the Rebellion? Except in the end the answer to the violence all along was 42 because, duh, Deep Thought.

Are you on drugs?

No, that was totally bait to see if you ever actually read any of the required classics in high school. I see you did not. Who wrote your book reports for you is what I’m wondering? I need some names. So I can stalk them on Facebook to make sure I’m doing better than them.

Books have nothing to do with wrestling. Pay attention.

I respectfully disagree. As you can see on this Amazon listing that I just pulled up, Winning Wrestling Moves is a book about learning how to wrestle. Most every problem in life can be resolved with a book.

Except the inability to blend in with society in a normal manner because your nose is always stuck in a book. It can’t solve that problem.

Can’t it?

No.

Are you sure?

Yes.

Reeaauuuuhhhllly? What about where the book specifically written for that problem talks about setting aside time daily to have social interactions? Or scheduling weekly outings to places teeming with society so that  you feel more and more comfortable being around people?

I’m walking away now. You are weird.

But when you say weird, you mean that in an intellectually complementary way, correct?

*empty room*

Hello?  Where’d you go?

 

Round 2:

Let’s try this again, mkay? Wrestling. How it works.

I know how it works. They study total quality management, get their certificate and then apply the new skills they’ve learned to some sort of mental mind game they play while circling each other on a mat dressed in leotards.

I just….

I don’t have a problem with the confusing and bewildering idea that people would want to watch boys engaged in a battle of wits who also happen to be dressed unflatteringly so much as I take fault with the question of why aren’t there more Japanese wrestlers?

What?

Well the whole Kaizen thing, you know?

The character building Kaizen that the coaches teach? Is that what you are talking about?

Kaizen is a Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement of working practices. You learn about it in business school. Like an entire semester, it was dreadful. A lot of industrial-type industries embrace it as a working model for total quality improvements.

Was it dreadful because you were learning about industrialization and you refuse to  understand how things get made so you usually tell our children everything is magic? Like when Noelle asked how I built our house and even though you witnessed the entire event, you told her elves came in the middle of the night and sprinkled glitter sawdust over everything and when you woke up the house was there?

No, that’s how it really happened. I remember.

Or when Wyatt asked you how gas makes cars go and you told him it was a wizard’s elixir that cars drink to wake up the dragon inside their belly that blows fire out the exhaust pipe?

In hindsight, I can see there are a few missing pieces in that theory. For one, the car would always have a raging case of heartburn. It needs a little research but I think I’m still on the right track with that one.

Yoohooooo? Back to reality, fairy princess. We need to talk about wrestling.

FINE.

Okay, so each “match” has a certain amount of time…..

What fairy princess would you say I am?

Pardon?

Well, when you say “fairy princess,” I was just wondering which one you were referring to?

Any of them. It doesn’t matter.

But it DOES matter. For instance I only know of one fairy and that is Tinkerbell. But I know a LOT of princesses, so I was just wondering if you had access to some information that I might want to check out about fairies who also HAPPEN to be princesses?

*incredulous stare*

You can’t think of any can you? I knew it! It’s really not nice to lead me on with the suggestion that I resemble a fairy princess when all I’ve got to choose from is Tinkerbell. Because I’ve seen some of her storylines and I’m not real impressed with her personality or behavior. She’s a borderline deviant. I think she has ODD.

I swear this is a mistake, but what is ODD?

You down with ODD? Yeah you know me!

Son of a mother…

Just kidding, I’m a total conformist pleaser. No disorder for that suckers! Anyway, Oppositional Defiant Disorder. See this book here lists the symptoms as negativity, defiance, disobedience, temper tantrums, argumentative with adults, annoys others deliberately. Hmmmmm. Oh my God. You have this! E you totally ARE down with ODD!

I’m gonna be down with something in about two seconds if you don’t focus and pay attention.

Oops, time for me to go to book club. Thanks for the lesson on, uh, I can’t remember, oh well. Byeeee.

Round Three:

Alissa, come here. I’ve created a safe, non-cluttered and quiet environment for us to talk gently about wrestling since you can’t seem to keep on topic whenever I try to teach you about it due to your wandering imagination and multiple distractions. Actually I think you might have adult onset Attention Deficit Disorder.

No. It’s mostly that I don’t like authority figures or taking orders from others. I do what I want. You can’t make me. I’m pretty badass actually.

Yeah, I’m sure that’s how most people would describe you. Exactly that way.

Well I’m not badass because you say I am. In that case I’m softass. Wait. I don’t like that either. Stop bossing me around!

WE ARE GOING TO TALK ABOUT WRESTLING RIGHT NOW. AM I CLEAR?

Okay but only because I say it’s okay.

Uh huh. So in wrestling there are many different moves the boys can make to win points. The most points wins.

Okay but when you say boys, you really mean it in a gender neutral way, correct?

No. It’s mostly boys. But yes, girls can wrestle too but it is not as accepted yet as boys.

So what wrestling needs is a strong feminist figure like me to set an example. I knew I was going to get some use out of that unitard from 8th grade color guard again some day!

I’d like to NOT remember that you were ever in color guard if we could maybe never discuss it again. Ever. Like not even once.

Lycra is soooo stretchy. And it’s gold. Because Trojan colors, coolest junior high mascot ever! But Wyatt’s team is blue. Gold is complementary though so I’m sure I’ll fit right in. When can I start practice?

…..And one of the moves is called a double leg takedown. Or you can pin your opponent…..

Pin.  Ha ha. That’s dirty. Hey, where can I get some of that pink blush they wear all the time?

Excuse me?

You know. The boys always seem to have circular little rosy make-up on. Sometimes it’s not on their cheeks though, it’s like on a leg or something. Is that an initiation thing or does it signify they’ve made it to a certain level or how does that work?

It’s ringworm.

Is that the brand? Because I’ve never heard of that kind of blush before.

It’s an itchy skin disease caused by fungi.

Uh.

It spreads in moist conditions.

Stop.

It’s characterized by the formation of ring-shaped eruptive patches.

YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH RIGHT NOW!

I don’t shut up, I grow up, and when I look at you I throw up.

Real mature. Nice.

And then your mom comes around the corner and…

That’s enough. Let’s talk again when both of us can act like mature adults, I don’t want to argue. It’s SO hard to have a conversation with you! Seriously. You should try to focus.

But..

Now if you’ll excuse me, my Amazon order of Four Days to Glory: Wrestling with the Soul of the American Heartland just arrived and I need to learn about wrestling since you can’t take a second out of your day to teach me and someone needs to be in charge of our son’s athletic finesse.

 

photo

How’s your classics trivia?

Books referenced: Lord of the Flies, 1984, Animal Farm, Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

 

 

ornament

An Introvert’s Guide To Holiday Social Functions

Isn’t it the most magical time of the year? Ooops, I was daydreaming about National Library Week again, my bad. It’s the most terrible time of the year, duh!  Obviously I’m talking about all of the necessary social functions. And by necessary, I mean necessary torture.  You know, like when you kiss your crush in 7th grade while playing Truth or Dare, and then follow it up by punching him in the stomach because ewww, feelings.

Somehow on top of being shy and introverted, I’m also blessed with having one of the most severe cases of FOMO you’ll ever witness. My friend Tara T. has it too, so I know it’s real. Except she’s extroverted and actually fun to be around. I have no idea how I came to be cursed with both sides of the spectrum. The only plausible explanation is that I’m schizophrenic – one personality likes to be a part of the action while the other likes to hide in closets.  This worked out well in the 90’s because I mostly just hung out in dark clubs dancing by myself in front of a mirror and impressing myself with my awkwardness, but is frankly little help in today’s fast-paced world of business and general adulthood. Anyway, my mental health advocate, psychologytoday.com, assures me I’m normal-ish. Okay, normal with a side of  neurosis. And a smidgeon of S.A.D. (Guys, as an overachiever I’ve really nailed this. I’m sad and SAD, clearly crushing lower AND upper case disorders!) Which explains why people are lined up to be my friend. Imaginary friends, but that totally counts.

Most of the year, it’s easy for an introvert to stay balanced because social functions are spread out with plenty of down time in-between to heal from the overstimulation. But then December comes along and it is impossible to stabilize, so you spend a month either drinking, crying, or running naked through the Quad. I still haven’t actually found the elusive Quad, but my running pace has increased exponentially, proving that Will Ferrell really has his shit together.

Extroverts seldom understand the massive amount of energy suckage that occurs  when introverts are repeatedly put in social situations without rest. Exhaustion doesn’t even come close to describing it. It’s more like a piece of your soul has disappeared.  And the rest of your being is desperately searching for it, but at the same time a clown with a chain saw is running straight at you. Also your feet are in quicksand and you are in front of a packed arena in your underwear – and they are tighty whities.  And your professor from Calculus II just showed up with a pop quiz that covers material he never went over. And the noise and all the sights are taking over your ability to think straight so you end up in conversations with distant acquaintances without a polite escape and then end up saying something monumentally ignorant and nonsensical.

Other than THAT, it’s not that we absolutely hate it, but we’re not at our best like we could be if we were one-on-one with someone or even in a small group, talking about things that inspire and intrigue us. A room full of people for an introvert is constant neural overload. Our brains are pinging back and forth all over the place because they are taking in so much data and trying to convert it into something meaningful, but we are always one step behind in our analysis. We end up like a computer with 100 internet tabs open all at once. There is no way to keep up, so we crash. Hard.

Unfortunately, the crashing usually occurs when we are with the ones we love, which makes being around family during the holidays such a train wreck. Your father-in-law will politely ask if you’ve been doing any holiday baking and all of a sudden you are shouting “SO WHAT YOU’RE SAYING IS I LOOK LIKE  A GOD DAMN HIPPOPOTAMUS!” Then your eye twitches, you gasp for breath, down a bottle of cheap Chardonnay and cry quietly in the corner for the rest of the visit. I’m not saying this has ever happened to me. I’m not saying it hasn’t either.

In the interest of keeping the extroverts of the world informed about how hard the holidays are, I’ve come up with a guide that I think you’ll find helpful. At least when you witness a similar scenario, you will recognize that there is an introvert on the scene, and maybe, if you are extra nice, you’ll do something to make them feel more comfortable. Support that is never, under any circumstance allowed includes anything that involves physical touch or personal questions. Awkward silence is okay though. I know, the rules are confusing. We find you terrifying as well.

A Guide To Holiday Introvert Behavior:

1. If someone you know and care about walks right past you at an event and doesn’t say hello or make eye contact, that doesn’t mean she is a snob.

    (I call this the “I’m so nervous I don’t even recognize my own friends” behavior. Or, “How I alienate everyone I know.”)

2. Daring your friends or taking bets on how best to make an introvert feel uncomfortable never ends well.

       (April Larson, your time is coming. My entire being is violated. Specifically my lap.)

3.  Sometimes we get in the wrong car, it happens.

     (Being out of our element makes us so nervous! It’s when you get in the wrong car and it is already occupied that things get out of hand. Otherwise you’re just a car prowler and not a carjacker. Nobody likes a carjacker. Or a tracker jacker. Or Cracker Jacks, seriously Frito Lay.)

4. Asking permission for a hug is the best gift you can ever give.

    (Don’t assume. We need to be prepared for further giving of ourselves. Which means telling our brain not to assume it is battery and maybe hold off on the “groin, sternum, eyeballs” self-defense maneuver. Or you can play it by ear because you like danger, whatever.)

5. Each personal question you ask results in shorter and shorter answers, unless you are a close friend. We don’t find ourselves interesting and it horrifies us to keep talking about how boring our lives are.

(This is simply the Law of Diminishing Returns in action. I went to business school, I have to incorporate it into my life somehow. Also, we are conscientious about not wasting your time with inane descriptions of the books we are reading and it’s all we really have to talk about that doesn’t give away any piece of ourselves.)

6. PLEASE start by talking about yourself and sharing what is happening in your life, it puts us at ease and gives us a minute to zone out and adjust to our surroundings.

   (Don’t be offended when I say “zone out.” Chances are we won’t remember what you said even if we were trying to pay attention. Being nervous and overwhelmed results in short-term memory loss. But since I live in Washington, it’s highly likely that everyone has short-term memory loss this year anyway.)

7. If we’re talking a lot, don’t let us have another drink.

   (You have been warned. This only usually happens when E is around anyway. On account of needing to be thrown over a shoulder and physically removed from the immediate surroundings for safety.)

8. If we touch you voluntarily, you are in the circle of trust and are not subject to the stranger-danger rules any longer. Feel free to hug us any time. But please don’t joke about how we hate to be touched, it makes us feel like there is something wrong with us.

   (Also don’t take it to the next level. See “April Larson” above. She’s been ejected from the circle. I’m currently taking applications for replacements.)

9. If we start talking about something we find fascinating, we hope you have a couple of hours to spare and want to dissect and analyze the entire spectrum of the topic.

     (I’m talking charts and graphs, a trip to the library, some off-location follow-up discussion, maybe a field trip and 37 texts and an email arguing the other side of the issue just to be fair.)

10. If we say this is our 6th party this week, you might want to grab some popcorn and settle in for the show because chances are, we are at the outer limits of behaving appropriately.

(You are about to see a side of us we don’t even know yet about ourselves. As a precaution, have 9-1-1 pre-dialed on your phone. Or a GoPro, depending on if you want some blackmail money.)

In summary, being a social misfit is not very glamorous. We stammer, trip, hide, cackle inappropriately and generally make everyone else feel really good about themselves. We are an asset to any peer group because we keep things pretty real, even when we try not to. We are petrified of starting a conversation and are probably holding a “safe object” in our hand for comfort. You’ll recognize us because we’re in the corner. Or in the kitchen doing your dishes so we don’t have to socialize. We’re different. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

books

Baby Blues Man Group

I’m not going to lie, I don’t like kids much, my own are an exception and sometimes that’s even iffy.  I babysat for one day when I was thirteen. It was the worst job I ever had and it only lasted for 9 hours. Worse even than the one day I worked at Motel 6 when I was fifteen as a maid and came home and described the kinds of things I saw in the trashed rooms and my mom wouldn’t let me go back. Worse even than the year I worked at Archie’s downtown and had to wear a really ugly uniform and always had the late shift which meant drunk people would spit on me and occasionally spray paint the word “high” on my car.  I’ll never forget those losers for trying to give me a greeting with incorrect grammar. Unforgivable.

So I went into parenthood absolutely clueless as to how the whole thing worked. Never a diaper blowout. Never a fit in the supermarket. Never a late night vomitfest or a tantrum over a lost binky. Unless you count  E, he does those things all the time.  But he’s easier to handle than a toddler because I just stop talking and the behavior corrects itself.  Apparently that doesn’t work with actual toddlers, they end up thinking you might be going deaf and just up the volume until you want to tear your ears off and beg for mercy.

But because we waited so long to have children, by the time we started trying, I was a little anxious to get the show on the road. I’d reached all the milestone I felt were necessary before committing to parenting, like going an entire year without a car accident, finally learning how to load silverware in the dishwasher correctly, consistently eating at least 2 meals a week with more than one food group, and no longer answering direct questions with X-Files dialog. But seriously guys, the truth is out there.

I was also a responsible homeowner, had no debt other than my mortgage, had 2 degrees under my belt and a nice lump of cash in my 401K account.  Ahh, the early 2000’s, everything looked so optimistic.  Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.

As an overachiever, conception happened immediately.  Nailed it, literally.  E was not super thrilled because he was still a little uncertain we (me) were ready for parenthood and now I had just taken the only fun part out of it after the first try.  I don’t know what he was so riled up about, like he didn’t know that was going to happen when sitting on my nightstand I had 5 books on pre-pre-conception, 8 on conception, and 17 (that’s right, no joke) on pregnancy.  I was an expert before we even started, which is how I like things to work. No surprises.  Surprises really piss me off.

We waited awhile and then slowly began giving the happy news to family members. It was a very special time. One of the very few times in my life where I understood what it meant to be completely filled with joy. Not that I wasn’t happy when I got married, but that kind of joy was different, it was balanced by the sheer terror of making sure E didn’t find out I was batshit crazy. I’m still working on that.

A little past the two month mark, I bought a gender neutral stuffed animal. When I clicked “Approve Purchase” on the website, I knew immediately that I had made a mistake. Call it weird pregnancy hormones or whatever you want, but I wanted to take that purchase back and I couldn’t.

Two days later I was at urgent care looking up at the ultrasound technician as the fetal heart monitor projected the devastating news that the  heartbeat wasn’t compatible with a viable pregnancy.

If you’re a guy, or a gal whose never had this kind of experience, I hope to God that you never have to go through it.

I was a failure. And not just a failure at something I had put my energy into achieving. I failed at something that is a basic component of human nature. I failed as a human. Making another human.

The worst part was the waiting.  Here’s some really terrible awful news that will make you feel emotions. Now go home and lay on the couch by yourself and think about it until something happens. Think about how you’ve failed the human race. How you’ve failed your spouse. How there’s a tiny human that is slowly dying inside you and you can’t do anything about it.  But go ahead and lay there and think about it until you want to die.  That will help you get better.  Oh, and here’s a pamphlet about grieving.  I DIDN’T HAVE AN EFFING PREGNANCY BOOK ABOUT GRIEVING.

I’m an extremely private person, which obviously doesn’t jive with having a blog about every last nauseating detail about my life but just trust me on this.  I hadn’t told anyone at work and I wasn’t about to.  I had to call in sick.  And I had to lie about why.  I spent exactly one half a day on the couch before I decided that was enough.  I got up the next morning and went to work. I cried all day long.  Privately. And then my boss told me to pack my bags because we were leaving for a trade show in Las Vegas in two days. Just he and I.

I can say this because I’m an awkward person socially.  My boss was worse. Separately we were tough to handle, together it was like being at a circus freak show. He was the best boss I’ve ever had. He was a fricking genius at business and projecting what would happen in the economy and taking enormous risks that most of the time paid off. I had a huge amount of respect and a little bit of healthy fear of him. But we didn’t have lengthy discussions about our personal lives. Ever. So I packed my bags and got on that plane. Miscarriage incomplete.

Once we were in Vegas, things didn’t get much better.  I didn’t feel good (duh) and had to act professional and meet a lot of new people from our other offices and be social and nice and friendly. And every time we stepped out of the hotel, some jerk was trying to thrust sex flyers into our hands and offering to give my boss and “his lovely lady” free tickets to shows.  I already wanted to die, and things were getting worse by the minute.

I tried to beg off at night so that I could go be miserable by myself in my room and get some rest. Whenever I looked in the mirror, I saw an ashen face and enormous dark circles under puffy eyes. My boss never mentioned it because that would be, uh, awkward. I assumed he assumed I was on drugs. It was easier than telling the truth.

The third night there, he insisted we see a show. He told me to pick and I said I didn’t care so we ended up with tickets to The Blue Man Group.  I had no idea what it was, I just prayed there weren’t naked people. That also happened to be the day that was the worst as far as the whole ordeal went. I spent the whole day trying to keep it together. The best I can explain about my mental breakdown was that I saw myself splitting into two.  But I was a spectator of the event and didn’t really care much if I did crack because a nervous breakdown would probably mean a large quantity of sleep inducing drugs that would stop the internal dialog in my head telling me I was worthless. Looking back, I think it’s pretty safe to say I was in the danger zone.

Anyway, the show was just another thing to get through. This was back when The Blue Men Group was a giant big deal.  Unless you’ve seen the show, it’s hard to describe so I won’t. But that night, the humor was so silly and the skits so clearly about finding delight in the trivial things in life, and the music so loud and overwhelmingly energetic that I forgot for a few hours what was happening to me personally and got tricked into feeling happy again for a brief moment.

When the show was over we went and had a drink and my boss very gently asked me if I wanted to share what was happening.  I didn’t cry. I calmly discussed my experience with a person who I didn’t really know very well at all. He listened. That’s all. He didn’t try to console me or tell me things would get better. He just asked me where I wanted to go from there and how I saw that happening, and it was so matter of fact and devoid of judgment or emotion that I felt sane again. It wasn’t that he didn’t care, (which it’s entirely possible that he absolutely didn’t), it was more that he was so neutral about it and I needed that. After that night, some internal rational switch flipped and I staggered back into the world wanting to be a part of it again.

Not that I didn’t talk to E. I did. A little. But it was hard. He’s an icon of strength. I felt unworthy of his sympathy – broken, weak and unfixable. I was upset that he had picked someone so defective when he so clearly deserved someone who could do this job well. The world NEEDED more people like him and now I was even going to screw that up.

Eventually I got better. Life went on. I got pregnant again and was given the most precious gift of a beautiful, brilliant, hilarious son. I won’t ever forget that another beautiful child was not born so that I could have him in my life and it makes me sad, but also grateful.

I took Wyatt to The Blue Man group recently when it came to town. Like when I went, he had no idea what it was all about. Some of the skits were similar. It was just as full of energy and silly fun as when I saw it the first time. I watched my gorgeous treasured child laugh with uninhibited glee more than I watched the actual show. And once again, I felt completely full of joy.

 

wyatt

 

 

 

 

 

 

glasses

Doggelganger

E and I were together for twelve years before we decided to have children.  You’re probably thinking “Awww, how sweet, they had all that time together, just the two to them.”  Yes, that was true.  But then you get really used to sleeping in and no schedules and going to R rated movies and lazy Sundays and wine and sour gummy worms or cereal for dinner. And sweet, sweet, independence.  Half of those years E and I were pursing our own interests individually and meeting up at night or on weekends to be together, almost like we were still in the dating phase.  E was heavily involved in healthy pursuits like the arms race.  You know, hunting and working on his biceps.  He also travelled quite a bit for his job, even to other countries.  I mostly pursued intellectual activities.  For instance, I read the entire Anne Rice AND Diana Gabaldon series.  For a while, I was really confused about whether vampires and Scottish time travel turned me on or was the specific reason my nightmares were filled with bloody tartan. Turns out, it was just a by-product of too much grunge plaid and bad mosh pit experiences in the 90’s.

Crashing all our cars also consumed a lot of my time, which was actually pretty fortuitous because it prompted E to scream at me “ARE YOU EFFING BLIND?!” As usual, I took the comment literally and decided to get my eyes checked and wouldn’t you know it, I AM pretty blind.  Due to my overachiever complex, it was of course the special kind of blind where the optometrist gets really excited and asks to take a picture of your “protruding retinal disorder” which I misheard as “protruding rectal disorder” until he asked me to stop talking about how Ranch dressing gives me diarrhea all the time.  Just to get back at me, he asked me if I was a fetal alcohol baby.  I wasn’t even offended because duh, what if I had special eyes PLUS a birth defect?  OVERACHIEVER JACKPOT!  Anyway, apparently the disorder especially shows up in babies of mothers who consume a lot of alcohol.  If you think I didn’t use this as blackmail to get all sorts of special treatment out of my mom, well, then you’ve severely underestimated my powers of manipulation.

In summary, I was used to being very lazy. And then out of nowhere a tiny little human shows up, THAT YOU HAVE TO KEEP ALIVE, and all of a sudden shit is a little more real than you anticipated. I got really good at acting like an adult pretty fast.  And by adult I mean I immediately found a place to hide my candy so my children couldn’t steal it from me.  Kids are assholes about candy, believe me.

The transition to parenting was especially shocking because I felt like I had so much practice with our pets.  We got two puppies right away as newlyweds.  The first we named Penny.  She was a Husky mix from the pound.  She pooped in E’s truck on his way home to surprise me.  She was meant to keep me company while E was gone on business trips because we lived in the middle of nowhere and to be honest, I wasn’t very good at being alone on purpose.  At all other times I push people away on the pretense of needing space. But I don’t like forced loneliness, it has to be on my own terms. I’m a psychiatrist’s dream client.  They probably have posters of me in their office offering a cash reward if someone can get me to come in for a consultation.

But this is a story about dogs so pay attention.

Penny was wicked smart.  She was also extremely stupid.  E taught her a bunch of tricks.  She would grudgingly do her tricks when she felt like there was something in it for her.  She also ran away a lot and most of the time got so lost she couldn’t find her way home.  Once she was gone for a couple weeks.  I had all but given up when we took a random drive and saw her sitting patiently in a fenced yard.  When we stopped to get her, I swear she shrugged, looked back at the house and reluctantly jumped into the back of the truck. Her behavior seemed to say “I guess I’ll go with you, but next time, try harder.”

But she was also fiercely protective and loyal.  When Wyatt was born, she would sit by his bassinet for hours, every once in a while poking her head over the top to make sure he was still there.  She was nervous when he cried, her face showing sadness and panic, like we wouldn’t be able to help him because we were too stupid to comprehend his needs like she could.  When he was old enough to toddle, Penny was patient with Wyatt’s rough behavior, never seeming to mind that he crawled all over her, poked her, and pulled her hair.  Every once in a while she’d give me a look that said “Can you believe this shit? Aww hell, I love him, it’s alright.”

Penny never learned a lesson, no matter how many times we tried.  She came home with porcupine quills stuck in her face and mouth more times than I can count.  She could have cared less about the pet fence we got to try to keep her home.  She’d just race through the boundary lines yipping until she was far enough away that the collar didn’t work anymore. I feel like she was pretty much always flipping us the bird.

Penny was NOT athletic.  If you got her near a body of water, she would dig her claws into the nearest surface and freak out.  If you threw a ball for her, she’d retrieve it a couple times and then make it clear that this nonsense was over.  The best and funniest thing was when she got treats.  Most dogs will go to great lengths to impress their owners enough to get a treat.  With Penny, you could throw a treat at her and she’d let it hit her square in the face and drop to the ground.  Then she would look at you with her eyebrows up, communicating that clearly this was humiliating for both of us, look at the treat and reluctantly pick it up and take it somewhere else to eat in privacy, glaring at you the whole time.

To the end, Penny had incredible empathy.  Even when it was clear her time had come and she was in great pain, she would give you the most amazing look of love and acceptance, concerned that you were so sad and forgiving you instantly for what she knew had to be done.

The second puppy was a black Lab with impeccable bloodlines. E got him to be his hunting buddy.  Moose was everything Penny was not.  He would stick by your side, do every trick in the book and fetch for hours.  Moose had a strong desire to please.  Where Penny was defiant, Moose would overcompensate with obedience to rules.  He wasn’t super protective.  If an intruder broke in, we would always joke that it was more likely he’d get licked to death than bitten by Moose.  He so loved to please his master that once E panicked when Moose raced into freezing cold water to retrieve a duck that was way too far out to get.  Moose would not stop. He managed to get the bird and bring it back, just in time to collapse with exhaustion at E’s feet after he had proudly and delicately delivered the bird.

Moose was muscular and athletic, a workhorse, always tuned in to catering to your needs. He was honest, if you can describe a dog that way. Deserving of respect for his hard work, skill, and never-ending devotion.

He also dry humped everything in sight.

When it was Moose’s time to go, the entire family gently laid him in the back of the car and bawled our eyes out all the way to town.  We were crying so hard when we got to the vet clinic that they immediately gave us a private room because we were scaring everyone in the waiting area.

Looking back, those two dogs were exactly like E and I.

I mean think about it. For one, I get lost constantly. Not lost as in driving, but lost as in life, never quite confident that I’ve finally found my way. I need someone who looks out for me and brings me home. An anchor to keep me from drifting hopelessly in my mind and ground me in reality once in a while. I’m wicked smart about things that do NOT matter, but stupid about the basic components of life.  I’ll perform and follow rules set by others when necessary if there’s something in it for me, like staying out of jail. I’m deceptive for no reason other than I don’t think it’s anybody’s business what I do all the time, so don’t ask me.  It seems like I don’t care about others much, but when provoked, I will defend someone I care about vigorously, especially an underdog.  I’m off the charts in empathy towards others, but sometimes my empathy is misdirected and then my feelings get hurt so I’m cautious about showing that I care.

And obviously, I’m not athletic in any way.  Except in how UN-athletic I am.  I’m really athletic at that.

E, on the other hand, he’s grounded, focused, hardworking, a gift giver.  He doesn’t know it but he is one of those people who puts others before himself, to a fault. It’s because he sees in others what they can’t see in themselves. He’ll go at it 24/7 until he’s so overwhelmed with helping others fulfill their potential that he loses sight of himself and what he needs to stay sane. There’s no secrecy or deception with E, he’s always honest, living his life in a way that few I’ve ever met have. His character and ethical standards make most everyone else look like dishonest politicians.  Even when I haven’t done anything wrong, I feel like I should apologize to him for my lack of meeting basic expectations.  He makes you a better person just by being near him.

And then there’s the dry hum….. er, never mind.

Both Penny and Moose passed away a couple of years ago.  We’ve got them buried under a tree on our property with a little cross E made.  Their memory has faded fast for the kids, replaced with two new pets, with their own unique personalities.

But for E and I, their memory lives on.  They were first. They were special.  They taught us both a lot about ourselves. They were best friends, even though they had completely different personalities.  They kept each other company. They played together. They also drove each other crazy and snapped at each other on occasion.  They couldn’t relax if the other wasn’t around. Kind of like two people I know.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Happy anniversary E.

Penny1

Moose2

 

 

 

forward

Forty Spice

In every assessment, review and report card for my entire life, I’ve always been described as consistent, dependable, and reliable.  I’m the one people can count on.  I’m even-tempered and unfazed by stress and drama.  I listen carefully and follow directions well.  If I tell someone I’m going to do something, I follow through, no matter what.  I guess you could say I’m a really boring people pleaser.  Unless E is telling me to do something and then I ignore him, stick my tongue out behind his back and generally do just the opposite of what he’s asking. He brings out my inner toddler. Maybe this is what true love is all about. Tantrums.

In any event, I take commitments pretty seriously.  Well, those things that I rate as important at least.  I’m not talking about stupid things like, you know, grocery shopping or making sure to shift out of 2nd gear before I hit 60 on the highway – because that stuff is just plain dumb. Who wants to waste their life worrying about little things like nutrition or vehicle life expectancy when major life responsibilities such as teaching your children how to extend the 5 second rule to a minute and a half or setting a personal record for how many years in a row you can go without answering the phone at home take up so much time and dedication?  It’s exhausting, sometimes I just don’t know how I do it all.

It should be easy to imagine, then, that hitting the big 4-0 would be a pretty low-key non-event for me.  Because besides that one time I freaked out when I won The Lead Foot Award at my old job (not because I drive fast, because I walk like a bull in a china shop), I tend to remain pretty nonplussed about most everything in life.  Another birthday?  Please.  Metaphorical piece of cake.

Well guess what dummies?  I HATE CAKE.  And I hate that I’m turning 40.  Not hate it in the sense that 40 is always treated as some sort of over the hill, welcome to obscurity, let’s all act like this is so funny and decorate everything black and make life humiliating for someone all day long because YES, that will be fun for them type of hate.

No, no, I hate it more in the sense of OH MY GOD THIS IS IT, NOW I AM FOR SURE A GROWN UP AND I WILL NEED TO ACT MATURELY AND INTELLIGENTLY IN ALL THAT I DO kind of way.  Can you understand how impossible this will be for me to accomplish? How bad of a disaster I will turn it into?  Just last week I hid behind a giant display of Fruit Loops and Frosted Flakes at Target so I didn’t have to talk to someone I knew and have them see what I had in my cart for cripes sake.  I can’t turn into a mature human being overnight!  Also? THEY WERE ON SALE!

Because no matter how weird it is to look in the mirror and see yourself getting older, it’s even weirder to be a neurotic idiot inside your head wondering why it feels like your thoughts have barely matured past the age of 17.  At what point will it feel like I’ve got my act together?  When will I feel comfortable in my own skin and confident in the choices I make?  Will I ever?

It’s like that Spice Girls song Wanna Be that irritated me so much whenever I heard it in the 90’s.  “So tell me what you want, what you really really want.  I’ll tell you what I want what I really really want. I wanna, I wanna, I wanna…..”  The nonstop running dialog in my head asking me what I really want from life was suddenly on the radio 24/7 pressuring me to do something, be somebody, go faster, get smarter, attain an unreasonable standard of beauty and set women back another 100 years.  The problem is that I’m worthless when there are too many options.  I get a pretty bad case of analysis paralysis and freeze in indecision. Is it better to be smart or rich?  Materialistic or environmentally conscious?  Socially aware or immune to human suffering?  A dumb blonde or a sexy redhead?  Relativistic or pragmatic?  Ford or Chevy?  Skittles or Sour Patch Kids?  AHHHHHRRRG!

I think that’s maybe why I’ve become so distrustful of society’s pressure to appear like we have it all.  Between doctored selfies and posts on Facebook that make it look like everyone’s life is perfect and consists of one fabulous event after another, to magazines that claim that new moms should now lose all their baby weight within three weeks of giving birth, it’s all just too much to live up to.  It’s unattainable in real life and yet we are projecting the image that this is what real life is all about.  But is it?

Show me one person you admire on a social media site that appears to have everything and I will show you a depressed, broke, lonely and miserable person who is scared to admit their problems to themselves, let alone everyone else. Admitting that they aren’t perfect or happy would mean having to deal with some real shit.  And it’s easier to dress up the outside facade than deal with the inside chaos because that might mean having real thoughts and dealing with real issues.  And as a society, we don’t have time for that.  It’s not your fault.  Collectively, it’s all our fault.

No, thank you.  If you know me, you know I like to make fun of myself.  I’m not perfect.  I’m a mess inside 99% of the time.  Sometimes I’m funny.  Sometimes I’m sad.  I have trouble balancing those two in particular.  I think being broken and imperfect is beautiful. It’s real.

So the next time you see someone who looks like they have it all, be wary.  But also have empathy.  Be unafraid to show them you aren’t even close to having it all yourself and that that is pretty damn okay with you. They might need your love and your acceptance of their imperfections more than you will ever know.

I don’t know why turning 40 is so hard for me.  I’ve always been the kind of person that needs forward growth, never happy with the status quo.  I can’t stand stagnation, I want always to reach, learn, improve. I try hard to look to the future and forget embarrassments from the past (except giant bangs, those will ALWAYS be cool). So why is it so hard for me to let go of my 30’s?

Maybe that is the mystery that will be solved the day I turn 40.  Maybe I’ll wake up with an amazing recognition of just how far I’ve come.  And a loving self-acceptance about the actions and behaviors I took to get here.  And maybe, just maybe, a tad bit of excited childlike wonder for what is still on the horizon.  I hope so.

photo (2)

 This is forty.  I’m almost okay with it.

 

 

 

 

 

kapow

Wreckliss

My name isn’t the easiest to figure out for a lot of people.  My entire childhood was spent correcting my teachers’ pronunciation when they did roll call.  If I got lucky, they would just call me by my last name because it was easy.  But that was mostly gym teachers and it usually went like this “Stewart! What in tarnation are you doing over there?  Basketballs should NOT hit you in the face every time you dribble!  And you can’t grab ahold of the ball and run screaming from the person behind you, that’s travelling!  What in the …, never mind, just sit out for a minute, will you?”

Then that brat Alyssa Milano showed up on Who’s the Boss and all of a sudden everyone was wondering why my name didn’t have the fancy “y” in the middle and when I got a training bra did it happen exactly like on the show?  Just to prove a point I made sure my chest never developed whatsoever because I’m a leader not a follower, duh.  I mean really, Alyssa, is all of that really necessary?  Seems a little selfish is all I’m saying.

Because of the complexity and challenge of pronouncing my first name, I’ve acquired a lot of nicknames through the years.  Some of them are quite endearing, others make me want to punch people in the face.  I like to be a little mysterious, so I’ll let you decide which ones I like and which ones I don’t, and then the next time I see you we can play a little game of Nickname Sucker Punch Roulette.  Isn’t life fun?

Alissa’s Super Fancy Highly Specific Nickname List

The Childhood Years (In no particular order)

1. Aliss

2. Liss

3.  Lissa

4.  Lissy

5.  Lissy Lou

6.  Lou

7.  Alice

8.  Melissa

9.  Alicia

10.  Sewer Face

11.  Stewy

12.  Al

13.  Blondie

14.  Lefty

15.  Retainer Head

16.  Lou Lou

17.  Frowny

18.  Wart

19.  Grace

20.  Trippy

21.  Yellow Eyes

22. Sunshine

23.  Louie Lou

And add to this the extra special names I’ve acquired in adulthood:

1.  A-Bomb

2. Razzle Dazzle

3. Allllissssssssssa

4.  Wazowski

5.  Rachowski

6. WTF IS WRONG WITH YOUR NAMESowski

7. Crash

8.  Allison

9. Razzy

10.  Racy

11. Fancy

12. Bruiser

13. Stompie

14.  A+

15. A Type

16.  Sporty Spice

People get my first name wrong so often that long ago I stopped trying to fix it, which has resulted in a couple of regular clients calling me by the wrong name for over 10 years.  The awesome part is my close friends get pretty riled up when my name is mispronounced and they always make sure to correct people and then look at me and roll their eyes while I shrug my shoulders because I’m just fine answering to pretty much whatever anyone wants to call me.  Except Dishwater Blonde or Airhead.  Don’t ever call me that.  I mean it.

And then there’s the last name.  Don’t even get me started.  If someone asks me my last name I just tell them not to worry about.  But that’s a pretty big problem in my job because of documentation issues so when they ask, I tell them to settle in for about 10 minutes and have a pen and paper handy.  Then the conversation goes like this “Okay, you’ve got your pen?  Right. Okay.  It’s R-A-C as in cat, Z as in zebra…” Then whoever I’m talking to does a mental WTH and asks me to spell it about a zillion more times, asks what nationality it is, asks how to pronounce it, asks what my maiden name was and declares I must REALLY love my husband to take on a name like that and then laughs like it must be the first time I’ve ever heard all of this.  Real cute.

And the telemarketers.  Wow.

“Hello!  May I please speak with Alisalkdie Raczlsbe8aldu91?” 

“Who? Speak slower please.”

“Sorry, ma’am!  I’m calling for Aaaaallleeeeiiiissshaaahhh Raaaccckkkzzzeeeecowwwwski?”

“Hmm.  Who was that again?”

“Yes, please and thank you, may I please speak with Alissson Racyzychawski?”

“Alison?”

“YES! Is she available?”

“Well, to be sure, could you give me that last name again?”

“Rachzeecawski?”

“Excuse me?”

“Racychewski?”

“Uh.”

“Rice-a-Roni?”

“Sorry, the first name one more time?”

“Alexa?”

“What?”

“Alessandra?”

“Try again.”

“Al.  Ally.  Alexson!”

“So let me get this straight. You’re looking for Alex Son Rice-a-Roni?”

“YES!  I have a very important offer for her.”

“Alex is a boy.  He wouldn’t like you calling him a girl.”

“Pardon me! So sorry.  Is Mr. Alex available?”

“No.”

“Do you know when he might be home?”

“I’m not sure because there’s no Alex here.” Click.

 

Now E thinks he’s REAL funny because he’s come up with a new one for me.  I’ve been trying to ignore him and not buy into his sophomoric attempts at comedic talent but I have to admit, it’s kind of genius.  I mean it really describes me well.  Not the part of me that is graceful and stylish and brilliant and well-mannered and methodic about keeping everything I own nice and brand-new looking.  Because OBVIOUSLY this is how I live my life.

I’m talking about the part of me that ON RARE OCCASIONS crashes every car I own, falls and trips over nothing, drops everything that has an Apple logo on it, runs into everything as if it’s a target, falls off bikes, breaks items trying to tear open packaging, says the wrong thing at the wrong time, laughs when laughing is inappropriate and generally causes unnecessary chaos.

You know, acting in a reckless manner.

Wrecking everything I come into contact with.

I’m Wreckliss.

Don’t tell him I said this but it’s pretty badass.  Kind of like a villain in a comic book.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go design my evil super power costume that destroys everything in sight.

But first I need to find a sturdy foundation garment to wear underneath. Now where might a villain find a training bra?