Category Archives: Family

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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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

 

 

 

chaingang

Hello, Newman

I may have mentioned, or you may have found it painfully obvious, I never played sports.  Which is a shame because I’m extremely competitive, but not much of a team player; and I’m the type of personality that could have greatly benefitted from learning how to play well with others.  Instead I learned how to survive on the cold hard streets in the ghettos of Cheney.  Just kidding, I learned how to compete with myself and set impossibly high standards and shame and guilt myself into succeeding while trying not to attract any attention or notice whatsoever.  Which if you think about it, kind of makes me qualified to be a deadly ninja warrior. Or Catholic.

Anyway, with the kids in multiple sports, I’m usually pretty confused about rules and moves and what sport they are actually playing, and this contrasts well with E’s obsessive compulsive research and coaching activities, making us the subject of many an amused conversation with the other sport parents, I’m sure. “Did you see Ed showing Wyatt a wrestling move that is usually only introduced in college?” “No, but did you see Alissa clapping  and trying to high-five him when he got pinned, what was that about?”

Wyatt’s soccer team is pretty amazing and I’m not just saying that.  I hear parents from other teams talking about it all the time.  Or bitching and whining about it.  Or directly approaching our coach and accusing him of putting his team in the wrong bracket.  Or trying to start fights with our parents when their kids aren’t able to foul their way to victory because our kids play clean and don’t know that swearing at their opponent and doing dirty moves to hurt them is actually a strategy bad coaches teach kids to accommodate for their poor leadership skills.  That’s right, I said it.  In my passive-aggressive way.  Please don’t confront me, I’ll run away or hide behind E. And then he’ll go to prison because he’s really strong and prone to “fight” versus my “flight” instinct and oh my God I’m gonna need to borrower some bail money from someone and how am I ever going to survive as a single mom and the kids are going to end up living on the streets and I’m going to be in and out of rehab for 10 years and wind up getting a couple online degrees in counseling as a result and E’s going to join a chain gang and sell cigarettes for extra Outdoor Channel privileges and get pressured to design some new state-of-the-art correctional facility in order to get early probation and … Squirrel!

This spring they are playing up a year, which could be really tough on the boys.  But they haven’t lost a game in a long time, and it’s not doing them any good to think they are the best.  I’m all about smacking them down to build them up because it’s why I’m this amazing.  Or psychotic and delusion. Either way I’m crushing it.

Which in a rambling incoherent way brings me to the current problem: Flanigan.

Flanigan is the coach of a U11 team in our bracket.  At a recent soccer tournament, all I heard all weekend both from our kids’ parents as well as other parents, was the name Flanigan.  Over and over and over again.  I mean really, is Flanigan even such a fun name to say?  Does it have wicked awesome letters in it like z’s and y’s and w’s?  Does it rhyme when you try to spell it?  Does it shorten to a really fancy nickname like, oh, say, Razzle Dazzle?  DOES IT!?

Ahem.  Anyway, apparently his team is the team to beat.

The problem is that I also work with him.

Not at the same company but we’re pretty key players in frequent mutual transactions.

And he’s really smart and has a lot of degrees and letters after his name.

And he’s good friends with a couple of my other friends who are also super amazing and successful and brilliant.

As you can see, with my delusional overachiever low self-esteem complex (DOLSEC for short, thank you), which I invented in a previous post and still have not been properly credited or recognized for, this is all a giant recipe for disaster.

Plus I’m all confused in the head about the collision of my soccer parent self and my business self and I kind of want to throw up whenever I think about our boys playing each other.

Whenever we discuss Flanigan, which is every day and you would only understand why if you could experience the level of crazy E achieves in researching Wyatt’s competition, then you would also notice that I’ve started to say his name in a new way.

E: Okay, here’s the deal, that Ryan kid on WE, he’s really good.  So Wyatt, here’s what you need to do, he has this move, here I’ll show you. See this?  Okay now when he does it, I want you to do the Double Fake Step Over Cross Up Bicycle On A Rainbow Flying Header Alien Triple Sow Cow move I showed you.  You can totally do it.

Me: Ffffflanigan……

E: Why do you keep saying it that way?

Me: He’s the Newman to my Seinfeld, duh.  Unless we have a dance-off and then I’m Elaine and he’s J. Peterman.

E: Which makes me….?

Me: Seriously.  Kramer, obviously.  Tall, crazy, not grounded in reality, hello!?   Also you have some Costanza tendencies, you might want to get some help with that.

E:  Yeah, I’m for sure the one not grounded in reality in this relationship.

Me: Actually, you’re David Puddy.  And you need to watch yourself because you are close to becoming non-sponge-worthy.

E: God, you are so weird.

Me: Thank you.

E:  Anyway, I’m kind of busy here. Teaching your child how to play against Washington East.  And you need to go away because, well, frankly you are scaring me a little.

Me: Uh, question.  I can’t go to those games.  I’m busy.  You’re good with that right?

E: ?

Me: I’ll make myself sick, I’m telling you right now. I am not going to be able to handle it.

E: Why?

Me: Uh, dur, because what if we don’t win?

E: Uh, dur, we might not.

Me: That’s not acceptable.

E:  For whom?

Me: I just can’t do it okay?

E: Don’t be stupid, you’re going.

Me: Fine. But I’m not having fun so there.

E: Suit yourself.  This is how the real world works, win some, lose some, learn a lesson and move on.  It doesn’t mean Wyatt is a bad person if his team doesn’t win.

Me: I know.  But I don’t like to lose, especially when people I know are around.  I have a very elegant and classy image that I work hard on maintaining. It’s kind of what I’m known for.  Well that AND how graceful I am.  I really don’t want to let anyone think that I’m anything but a total winner in life.  If it looks like we’re going to lose can we just leave?

E: Wow. I don’t even know where to start with how wrong everything you just said is.  But forgetting the “class, grace, and elegance” piece, along with how this is about the kids and has nothing to do with you, what lesson would leaving teach our child?

Me: The Achiever lesson.  Do you even read my blog?  If you can’t win, don’t play.  It’s how I look at life.

E: How motivating. And you succeeded with this philosophy by playing what sports in school?

Me: Competitive algebra against Jodi Triplett.  But she didn’t know we were playing.  Because then when I lost it wasn’t so humiliating.

Then I got a lecture on something about sportsmanship and life and yada yada yada but I wasn’t listening because all I could think about was how I couldn’t solve for X that ONE time and how I’m still just so ashamed of myself over it.

Then I thought about teaching Wyatt some of those dirty soccer moves just in case.  I mean not to use all the time, just against Flanigan.  Which in E’s mind, would be sinful and unethical.

Instead, I guess I’ll just go do some research on St. Sebastian, the Patron Saint of Athletes.

 

 

 

 

 

images

Intergalactic Planetary

Setting:  Riverpark Square food court.  Family of 4 grabbing a bite after watching movie Different Drummers.  Mom is crabby because the movie made her cry, bringing to the surface her one feeling.  Dad is rushing everyone so that schedules for soccer practices can be maintained.  Husband and wife eating from Miso, two children eating from Subway.

Dad:  Our two meals cost less than the kids’ sandwiches and all Noelle has is plain bread with four slices of pepperoni on it.

Mom: But she got the cool reusable solar system bag with the cardboard poster of the planets.

Dad:  Plus three brown apple slices and a small chocolate milk.  For $8.00.

Son:  Noelle, can I see the planets?

Daughter: No.

Son:  I’ll build you a secret room in your Minecraft house and I promise not to set it on fire this time.

Daughter:  No, Wyatt.  You said that last time and then zombies started coming in and killing everything.

Son grabs planet sheet anyway.

Son:  Mom, the Sun is going to die in 5.4 billion years.

Mom: Exactly.  Why even bother trying to achieve anything.  We’re all going to die.

Dad: Not an appropriate way to steer the conversation, Mother.

Mom: It’s not fair.  Why couldn’t Lyle save David so we could have a happy ending? (sniffle)

Dad:  Because it was a true story and happy endings don’t always happen.

Mom:  I don’t care.  I’m mad.

Dad:  Great job, you found your feeling words!  (singing) You’re a big kid now!

Mom: Congratulations on remembering the Huggie’s jingle.  It probably beat out nuclear physics in your brain, I hope you’re happy.

Dad (singing again): My Buddy, My Buddy, MY BUDDY AND MEEEEE!!!!!

Mom (glaring): Stop trying to make me laugh, I’m not falling for it.  And if you had a My Buddy doll, it’s no wonder you had to learn how to fight at such a young age.

Dad:  Right.  Like I had a My Buddy doll.  If I did, it was because I needed something to torch and burn.

Mom: That’s great.  Nice parenting example.

Dad: Pot. Kettle.

Son:  Anyway, we’ll all be dead before that because the Earth won’t be able to survive the Sun’s transition to a red giant.

Daughter:  Mommy?

Mom:  Don’t worry, we’re playing pretend, it’s not real. Remember?  Like when you accidentally watched an episode of Duck Dynasty and wanted to know why the mommy’s always cooked dinner every night and I had to explain to you that THAT’S NOT REAL?  It’s like that with the Sun, pretend play called science.

Dad: You have been warned, Woman.  Zip it.

Mom (whispered): But she’s scared about all the d-y-i-n-g talk.

Dad (whispered): But you’re now causing future educational damage.

Mom (whispered):  Oh whatever, like I’d let her not be a genius.

Dad (whispered): Stop.  It.

Daughter:  Is it like that nature show we watched where the one zebra was climbing on the back of the other one and Daddy said that they like to play leapfrog?  And that’s how they came up with the movie Madagascar, because real animals like to play pretend a lot?

Mom: I thought I told you no more nature shows, Father.

Dad:  What? Nature shows are great! Plus, it’s not the right time to explain those kind of facts, we’ve got a couple of years.

Mom:  Ahem.  SO Wyatt, what else is on that planet sheet?

Son:  Uranus.

Mom:  Excellent, and Uranus is which planet from the Sun?

Son:  Uranus is dark and cold. (snort)

Dad:  Wyatt, is there anything circling Uranus? (snort, snort)

Son:  Noelle, Uranus is icy. (snicker)

Dad: Wyatt, Uranus has wind speeds of up to 560 miles per hour. (snicker, cough)

Son:  Mom, Uranus is visible to the naked eye. (doubled over, laughing)

Dad:  Yeah, and Mom, Uranus has a dark spot. (high five to son)

Mom:  That is enough.

Daughter:  Mommy?

Mom:  Don’t worry sweetie.  Your father and brother just really enjoy our solar system.

Daughter:  Are they laughing at me?

Mom: Heavens, no!

Daughter (arms crossed): You’re not funny, Wyatt.  Stop it.

Son:  What? Uranus is a scientific wonder! (guffaw, snigger)

Mom: I SAID THAT IS ENOUGH.

Dad:  Hey, we’ve got to get going.

Mom: You are right.  Noelle, Uranus isn’t moving very fast.

Son (wide-eyed): Mom, you’re like a ninja, that was awesome!

Daughter: What’s a ninja?

Son:  Mom rarely let’s the dark side of the force come out, this is a historical moment!

Mom:  Patience you must have, my young padawan.

Son (look of admiration): So cool, Mom!

Mom:  Thanks, Mini-Me. Just keepin it real, yo.

Dad: And here’s where the happy ending gets derailed.  You’re like a giant walking pop culture abomination.

Mom: If you ever call me giant again I’m going to punch you in the face.

Dad:  Whatever, Biggie Smalls.

Mom: I know you are, but what am I?

Daughter: S-T-O-P   F-I-G-H-T-I-N-G, let’s go!

Mom: I told you she’s a genius.

End Scene.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

clock

aTypical

Saturday, November 30, 2013

8:04am:  Ask Noelle to find her soccer uniform (kindly).

9:18am: Ask Noelle if she has located uniform (insistently).

10:12am: Tell Noelle if uniform is not found in next 20 minutes, she may not be able to attend birthday party on Sunday (intensely).

11:27am: Ransack Noelle’s room while yelling at Wyatt that he had better have learned lesson from last weekend and am assuming HIS uniform and warm-ups are already clean and packed (hysterically).

11:45am: Sit in middle of torn apart room and ponder the meaning of life.  Noelle has disappeared to watch Dog with a Blog and is no longer actively participating in search (dejectedly).

12:01pm: Tell spouse that when he is in charge of locating uniforms he becomes a ridiculous mess, however, seeing as how uniform has not been located, I now feel out of control as well.  Spouse responds with “Yeah, I’m for sure the ridiculous one in this family” (sarcastically).

12:02pm: Fight with spouse over who is more ridiculous (energetically).

12:03pm: Conversation now becomes more about past ridiculousnesses rather than current situation.  Scores are being tallied (competitively).

12:15pm: Remind children that we must leave the house in 30 minutes, with or without uniforms. Emphasize the shame and guilt aspect of being the only kid benched during a game because they aren’t responsible (authoritatively).

12:18pm: Noelle locates jersey in washing machine, dripping wet (gleefully).

12:20pm: One child in shower after lengthy fight over who goes first, hair pulling involved (noisily).

12:30pm: Inquire as to why child is still in shower. Other child running through the house trying to find matching green sock (maniacally).

12:33pm: Child #2 in shower, singing a song about farts (zestfully).

12:34pm: Realize Noelle’s game is at 1:20 and Wyatt’s practice is at 2:00 at separate locations.  Agree that two cars must be taken (affirmatively).

12:40pm:  Noelle’s jersey slightly damp, but both children dressed, hair not an option (resignedly).

12:45pm: Spouse screaming about something. Doors slamming.  Children’s noses against window watching father, bets are being made (spiritedly).

12:45pm: “The Cadillac has a flat tire.  Did you not notice when you went shopping FOR 14 HOURS? “(unbelievingly)

12:45pm: “Nope” (flatly).

12:48pm: Everyone is piled into Bug. E hits 3rd gear in the driveway. Bite tongue about safety (prudently).

12:49pm: Discuss strategy. Noelle and E will have to be dropped off while Wyatt and I race to practice, then race back to pick up Noelle and E again. Plan seems realistic (thankfully).

1:10pm: Driving through GU district, WTH, is there a basketball game?  We’re going to be late! (exasperatedly)

1:15pm: Drop off E and Noelle, with 5 minutes to spare before the game starts (winningly).

1:16pm: Notice spouse chasing car in rearview mirror. Agree with self that rearview mirrors really DO work sometimes (knowingly).

1:17pm: “The door is locked, are you sure there was a game today?” (calmly)

1:18pm: Looking up schedule on TeamSnap app.  “Aww crap.  That’s next weekend, no games today for Noelle.” (reluctantly)

1:19pm: Sample questions asked repeatedly for next 10 minutes: “I thought you looked at the schedule?” “Why can’t I count on you?” “What is wrong with you?” “Did you not look at the date?” “Do I need to triple check everything?” “What exactly is the purpose of having you around?” “So half of our entire day was spent looking for a uniform for a game that doesn’t exist?” (questioningly)

1:20pm: Trying not to find situation funny and take spousal rage seriously (smirkingly).

1:22pm: Did you feed the kids lunch? No, did you? No. (failingly)

1:23pm: Lunch. Place order. Repeat 4 times. Order still wrong. Soda lid faulty, leaking all over E. (deservedly)

1:30pm: “Mom, are we spending the night at Grandma’s tonight?” (inquiringly)

1:30pm: “Yes, that’s why I told you to pack an overnight bag. YOU PACKED IT RIGHT!?” (nervously)

1:31pm: “Yes!” (happily)

1:31pm: “But Dad told me to put it in the Cadillac, so that’s where it’s at.” (timidly)

1:40pm: Drop off E and Wyatt at soccer 20 minutes early, leave to buy PJ’s and outfit for Noelle for sleepover at Grandma’s. Wearing soccer uniform whole weekend probably not appropriate and driving home would cost more in gas than getting new clothes (strategically).

1:45pm: Call Grandma to explain why we will be late.  Grandma sounds concerned (apprehensively).

2:15pm: Spokane Valley Mall.  Punk kid steals parking space (incredulously).

3:00pm: Arrive back at soccer right on time, E will be so impressed (proudly).

3:01pm: E informs me I’m an idiot,  practice didn’t start until 2:30 and goes until 4:00.  They stood around freezing for 50 minutes waiting for team to arrive (huffily).

4:30pm: Arrive at Grandma’s. Kids immediately start cramming down candy (aggressively).

5:00pm: Changed and ready to go. Drinks and Pearl Jam! (enthusiastically)

5:30pm: Can’t get into bar, too crowded.  Also people are judging me based on my pants.  What was I thinking? STOP LOOKING AT ME! (anxiously)

5:40pm: Friends arrive.  Stefanie and E break through security at Clinkerdagger’s and charge the bar.  The introverts of the group hang back in momentary indecision and as a result do not get in.  Security extremely mad.  Getting more dirty looks.  Oh, God, are they going to arrest us? (fearfully)

5:45pm: Never going to get in, walk across the street to the Arena bar (apathetically).

6:00pm: E gets me wine.  Apparently they think chilling red is appropriate.  Drink it anyway (disgustingly).

6:05pm: As a result of wine, talk to new person I’ve never met.  Tell her we are now BFFs.  Immediately friend her on FB. Probably will never speak to her again in my life (realistically).

6:20pm: Talk to another new person.  In a burst of genius, offer to find hot girls for him.  Immediately taken aside by E who tells me other girl is his date and I’m rude (accidentally).

7:00pm: Take in all the people watching (opportunistically).

7:30pm: Incoming call from Grandma’s house.  Oh geez, should I answer it? One of the kids probably killed or broke something. (undecidedly)

7:31pm: Wyatt tells me they won their soccer game.  And can he play Minecraft now?  Yes, but if I hear you are setting your sister’s cows on fire again, you will be grounded.  And stop hacking into things, I haven’t figured out how to do parental controls yet.  Wait, could you set that up for me? That would be fantastic. (hypothetically)

8:00pm: Pearl Jaaaaaaaam! (awesomely)

8:05pm: Everyone around us smoking pot. Oh lord, oh sweet Jesus, someone’s going to get killed by E. (anticipatorily).

8:10pm: Everyone around us checking their phones every two seconds.  Dude, it’s Pearl Jam, live in the moment for once in your life (shockingly).

8:15pm: E is keeping his cool.  Why did I drag him to this? He doesn’t like this kind of music, this is not his crowd (wonderingly).

8:30pm: Fondly recall the time E took me to Reba McEntire, where it definitely was not MY scene.  And how I cried through the whole thing because that poor Fancy, living in a one room shack just trying to make a new life for herself.  Why is country music so sad? (dolefully)

8:40pm: Now thinking about other sad stuff, like the entire movie Avatar.  And how E told me to get my shit together because the sobbing was ruining the experience for the other patrons.  And how rude that was because, excuse me, the tree. Everyone at least cried during that part right? (indignantly)

9:00pm: People in front of us offer E a drag (hit? toke?) of their drugs.  Pre-dial 911. Shit’s about to go down (violently).

9:01pm: E declines (politely).

9:02pm: Forget the concert for a minute while keeping an eye on E.  Did he have a stroke? Early onset Alzheimer’s? What is happening? (diagnostically)

10:00pm: The guy with dreadlocks gets shaved onstage. Apologize to E for accusing him of exaggerating the length of the dreads when he told me he saw the guy earlier in the lobby. E proclaims that now the guy can probably get a real job. (righteously)

10:15pm: Waiting for backlash from job comment. Doesn’t seem imminent, too much high-fiving and hugging happening. Do. Not. Touch. Me. Strangers. (inaccessibly)

11:00pm: Leave concert.  Amazingly hungry. Probably high. (ambivalently)

11:30pm: Food!  Waitress says “I LOVE your shoes!” I reply with a humble “Thank you.” She tells me she was talking to E.  Orange Adidas indoor soccer shoes, that is what you noticed? I’m wearing leather pants and 6 inch heels for frick’s sake. Is she hitting on him right in front of me?  Why am I so paranoid all of a sudden?????  (furtively)

11:35pm: Wait a minute. She’s about 100. I bet she’s an underground AARP infiltrator, trying to get to me through E.  Those bastards.  Check and mate, AARP, I’m onto you. (deviously)

11:39pm: Really!?  My shoes are effing amazing. Whatever. Now I’m mad. Pffft. (haughtily)

12:09pm: Bed. Another typical day. (amazingly)

 

 

***Many words were harmed in the making of this obscenity. Someone should probably call the authorities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy The Silence

My parents split up when I was a baby.  Before you organize your pity party and refer me to a therapist, understand that I’ve known no other way of life and I’m fine (clearly).  And while it may not have been much of a picnic in the park for my mom and dad at the time, I totally scored out of the deal because I ended up getting amazing stepparents.  On top of that, my kids get quadruple the attention and gifts of a non-divorce family so I’m pretty sure the situation is working out well.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to spend as much time with my dad as I would have liked to growing up.  I don’t think divorces were very well-thought-out back then because every other weekend and two weeks in the summer seems like a pretty shitty deal for a dad.  It’s a shitty deal for a daughter, too.  It took my mom a while to settle down with my stepdad, so for a large part of my childhood, it was just the two of us.  No stern daily male authority figure.  And I needed to be yelled at.  A lot.  Dads can’t yell at daughters they see infrequently, it ruins the mojo.  If you think I didn’t catch onto this and take advantage of the situation like Bruce Jenner at a free Botox clinic, then you’ve never seen my amazing degree of self-absorption and ability to work it like mutha in person.

Seeing as how I didn’t get a lot of time to interact with my dad, it’s pretty amazing to me how much I turned out like him.  My mom is sweet, kind, generous, outgoing, everyone loves her.  No, they really love her.  My friends used to ask if they could call her Mama Julie.  She was like the neighborhood big sister, always listening to them and giving out hugs, telling them everything was going to be okay.  Naturally as an only child on that side of the family, I took really well to wanting to share my mom with friends.  After smiling like Jack Nicholson in The Shining and saying in a high-pitched half-whisper “Bitch, I’ll cut you!”, they usually got the hint that she was MY mom and not available for loan.

My dad is more quiet and reserved.  He requires a high degree of personal space and alone time, and can tend towards moody.  He’s extremely intelligent, witty in that deadpan sarcastic way where people aren’t sure if he’s joking sometimes, and not interested in whether the eff people like him or not.  And he doesn’t need to talk to fill up silences.  In fact, I don’t think he finds talking very necessary in any situation, just get your shit done and move on.  Obviously, I respect this enormously.  He’s amazing at a lot of other stuff too but I’m going to need something to write about on Father’s Day so let’s just keep it short today.

How I ended up with these traits over those of my mother, I’ll never know.  Well, actually I probably would if I studied genetics but this post isn’t about magic and voodoo.

Anyway, I never really paid much attention to how alike my dad and I are until two very dominant traits emerged:

The “I’m Done With You Now

When I want to leave, I want to leave NOW. We aren’t going to sit here and make small talk and formulate plans to see each other again soon, I am exiting the situation immediately and I don’t care much if we say goodbye.

Until people get used to me, this is sometimes awkward and confusing for them. Or seems really rude. Does she even like me?  Did she just hang up on me? Does she not want to chat about the weekend?  Did she just get in her car while I was still talking and drive away? Yes, yes, hell no, and yes.

Dad Example: Last Christmas the kids and I spent the night at his house and the next day he whipped all the grandkids into a frenzy pulling them on sleds behind the tractor. It was a memory created that none of us will probably ever forget and I loved it.  When we all went inside for hot chocolate, Dad informed us it had been nice seeing us but it was time for us to go and he turned on his heel, walked upstairs, shut the door, and took a nap. Badass.

The “Always Have An Escape Route

I don’t really like to be around crowds.  Everything seems chaotic and out of control and within minutes I’m counting the bodies I need to climb over to get to the exit.  Even walking into a work function sometimes makes my coworkers laugh because I’m frozen and overwhelmed and then people I know start hugging me and making small talk and then I die a little more inside and start shaking and sweating and looking for the bar.  Only people who know me REALLY well notice any of this because I’m a brilliant actress, just like Lindsey Lohan.  In Freaky Friday or Herbie Fully Loaded, duh, I’m not an idiot, guys.  Nevertheless, I’m told that for the most part it generally looks like I’ve got my shit together pretty well.

Dad Example: While Dad didn’t get to go to many of my school functions, he has been able to come watch Wyatt in action quite a bit.  Whether or not Wyatt appreciates it I don’t know, but to me it’s like a gift and I look forward to it every single time.  There was a tournament last year close to his house that he came to watch.  If you don’t know about wrestling tournaments then just wait until I start writing about that shit because holy mother of god. What. The. Hell.  This tournament was extra special because the maximum capacity at the school was 600 and 2,000 showed up.  Not including parents.  Dad texted me when he arrived. The tournament hadn’t started yet and there were already 3 fire trucks and 2 ambulances in front of the school.  He made it all the way into the lobby before turning around and getting the frick out.  I think the exact text was “No.” Unfortunately he hightailed it so fast out of there that he didn’t see me screaming and running after the car begging him to take me with him in the modern-day adult reenactment of the daughter-dad scene from Hope Floats.  (Seriously, don’t tell me that movie didn’t make you cry, I was asked to leave the theater. See I have feelings.)

There’s a lot of other ways I’m like him, like the “Don’t Talk To Me In the Morning“, “Meetings Are For A**holes” and the “When You Discipline, Make Sure You Swear So They Get The Point“.  Or my personal favorite, the “I’m A Genius, Everyone Worship Me“.  Anyway, I love my dad more than either of us will ever know because it would require emotional thought and a conversation about real things and neither of us want that to happen.  Someday when he has dementia and has forgotten he has a son, I’m going to trick him into saying he loves me the best.  This is what family is all about.

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Ahhh, the 70’s.

 

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I know it’s hard to get over my hair, it’s probably why Dad is smirking.

 

Blogger’s Note:  Okay, a lot of you that I interact with personally or professionally now think you’re a bunch of wise guys and make a point of saying “Oh, but I forget you don’t like to talk, I guess I should hang up now.”  Or, “God forbid I ask you how your weekend was.”  So now I have to clarify that I do enjoy interaction with humans.  I don’t like to talk about myself much, I’d rather listen to things you have to say and hear your great stories.  Also, OMG, I love to text.  Every time my phone dings I get all excited “Somebody likes me, yay!”.  Text me at 3:00 am and I will text you right back ready to have a deep conversation about life.  Best. Invention. Ever.

Addendum to Blogger’s Note:  E says you can’t text me at 3:00 am and that I should probably change my number now.  Whatever.