Archive for the ‘But Enough About Me. Let's Talk About You.’ Category

My dad

“Consider the bounty of your dead. All the people you have lost in your life have taught you what value is. They taught you how rare it is to breathe, how unbearably beautiful and sacred it is to feel an ache in the center of your heart.”  -Augusten Burroughs

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Do you ever find yourself in a public place, daydreaming about past disappointments and garlic bread, when suddenly a person appears before you where once there was none, your heart skips a beat, and you are certain that you are about to die? Yeah, me too. Often. Too often. And this experience is not relegated to dark alleys and public transportation terminals. In fact, I haven’t been in a dark alley or a public transportation terminal since the early 1990s. I’m talking about the grocery store. I’m talking about the library. I’m talking about the cheap burrito joint. Why are these predators after me, you ask? Who are these blood-hungry pillagers, hell-bent on slaying me where I stand? Well, I’ll tell you. They are demons in the most clever of disguises. They are children. Children whose parents lost their goddamned minds and bought them wheeled shoes.

The skull and crossbones really speak volumes…

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I feel that putting children in wheeled shoes should be considered an act of domestic terrorism and that the Department of Homeland Security should hand these parents their asses on a plate. And then confiscate the wheeled shoes, gather the villagers, and burn the shoes in a huge bonfire in the town square. Drinks and light appetizers should be served, but we can work out the details later.

The thing is, I like to keep tabs on all humans who are within my immediate area. I assess their ability to kill me, based upon a patent-pending formula of size, proximity, age and perceived physical limitations. Wheeled shoes fuck up my whole formula. Kids are quick. Kids are impulsive. Kids have never heard of “personal space.” Do we really need to up their already extraordinarily high chances of breaking the hips of the elderly? I say, let’s not. I say, let’s work together on this societal scourge that is wheeled shoes.

Parents of wheel-footed children, I have a proposal for you. You keep your horrifying precious sociopaths offspring in non-wheeled shoes when they are indoors, and I double dog swear that I will stop sending my kids to the library with nunchucks and throwing stars. Deal?

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Good morning, K-Mart Shoppers. I see that I have not visited you here for quite some time. I have much to share, but each time that I plan to log on and do so, I realize that I’ve failed to mention a few sort-of major things that are going on and so I log back off, failing to post anything. First and foremost, it would appear that I am having a baby. According to medical professionals, this baby will be a boy. According to my pregnancy app, this boy will make an appearance in or around 58 days from today. As I waddle about, fretting over the big stuff and the small stuff, it occasionally hits me that these medical professionals and that pregnancy app may actually not be a part of some grand conspiracy. It may actually be true that I’m having a baby. This is, all at once, incredible and exciting and breathtaking. It’s also terrifying and grey hair-producing and exhausting. What it isn’t is miraculous, or at least not any more so than any conception, gestation or birth. I can have babies. The proof is in the messy-haired blonde I just peeked at, snoring softly, Abby Cadabby tucked under her arm. I can also lose babies. Unfortunately, we all can. But it isn’t more than what it is. Or at least this is what I will tell you that I believe. I don’t know if it is my largely-Irish DNA or the fact that I was born under the sign of Virgo (or the fact that I used to play truly insane amounts of Tetris), but for me, things must make sense. The puzzle pieces must fit in order to weave a cohesive story. In terms of this one, this Who Gets To Have a Baby and When and How Much Grief Must Be Endured In the Process, I am waving the white flag. This one doesn’t make sense and it never will. One trip to any grocery store in America will shatter your belief that only seemingly “worthy” people get to parent. I read an essay² this morning, written by a mother who was stuck in limbo as her daughter endured diagnostic test after diagnostic test, and this is how it ended:

This is not the other shoe dropping. It is not tragic irony or doom or punishment for our interpretive failures. It is life, with loss woven into its very fabric. That’s just what there is.

So, I’m still here. And I’ll try to visit more often. In part because I really need to talk to you about Heelys and the fact that they are, surely and truly, going to be the death of what makes this country great endurable. So, I’ll see you soon.


¹ I’m hoping my baby doesn’t look quite this terrified/appalled/aghast.

² “Lumpy” – Catherine Newman

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Today is a day when I will search endlessly for the things that are already in my hand and console myself with the knowledge that, if and when I do find them, they will be nice and warm.



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The holidays are a stressful time for everybody.  People eat horribly, drive horribly and just have general lapses in judgment.  Wear that holiday sweater?  Why not?  Make out with the annoying co-worker at the Christmas party?  What’s the harm?  Attach sparklers to your eyeglasses and light them at midnight on New Year’s Eve?  Who’s gonna stop you?  Get your hair cut into a mullet-Rick-James-Jheri-Curl hybrid?  Meh, maybe we should think twice about that one.

But think twice I did not.

It all started innocently enough, much like all horrible ideas.  It was December 23rd and my hair was a mess.  I hadn’t had a haircut in 10 months and it was long (think mid-back or so) and unruly (think Midwest-1986 or so).  I was out running errands and stopped into Starbucks for a latte.  I asked the barista if she knew of any salons in the area that might accept a walk-in for a trim.  What luck!  Not only did she know of the place but it was two doors down and she had given up her beloved hairdresser of 10 years for their $15 cuts.  Go!, she said.  You won’t regret it!, she said.

Well, the bitch lied.  I regret it like I regret the evening in 1994 when I saw Reality Bites and decided to give myself the short-bangs-long-hair look.  Except that I have a cowlick and the bangs just got more and more uneven and I just kept cutting more and more and before I knew it, I had left Reality Bites in the dust and headed straight for the scene from Pink Floyd: The Wall where Bob Geldof is cutting and shaving and shaving and cutting.  Not cute.  Not pretty.

I walked into the hair place, got onto the list and then sat down to wait my turn.  I was the only woman in the waiting area (RED FLAG! RUN!). When my name was called I asked the girl for a trim.  I said that I wanted 2-inches off and that I wanted the layers to remain long.  She cut the two inches and then a couple inches more and then another inch for good measure and then she took out a razor and started hacking away at my hair as though it were an intruder who had startled her while she was in the midst of a huge crafting project.  While I am normally fairly assertive in my life, something about the salon chair makes me clam up.  Is it the backwards, nylon Zorro cape?  Is it the florescent lighting?  Is it the person with the sharp instrument mere inches from my throat?  Who knows.  What I do know is that my hair is wavy and, in some parts, curly.  As I continued my errands and the hair dried (What, you think they include a blow-dry in a $15 cut?) the true nature of the hack job was revealed.  Curly ball of poof with a pin-straight rat tail in the back.  Upon returning home, I said to my husband, “Basically I have a curly mullet.”  His reply?  “(long pause) Well, I like mullets.”  Husband Fail Alert.

So let this be a lesson to you.  If you are walking into a salon with the attitude of How Bad Can They Fuck It Up?, keep on walking.  Run if you must.  Grab a pair of shears, wave them around menacingly and back out slowly if that is what it takes.  But don’t sit down and don’t let them snip even one hair.  For now I am wearing hats but this can’t last for long.  What will I do when winter turns to spring?  What then?  Dear God, what then?!

As much as you’ll be seeing of my new ‘do.

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Today, while looking at a variety of salad dressings at the supermarket, I had a very serious thought: “God, I wonder why Newman from Seinfeld has never made a porn and called it Newman’s Own.”  Immediately after this, I realized that I was losing my mind and decided that I should head home after checking out the after-Christmas sale candy at once.  I’m 35 and I have long-since given up hope that I will start thinking things that “normal 35-year-olds” think (Mortgages and matching my shoes to my handbag and retirement, oh my!).  I’m me and I’ll be damned if I don’t kinda like me.  If I weren’t me, I would seriously consider hanging out with me and I just don’t go hanging around with anybody everybody.

I hope that you all had a beautiful Christmas (and if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope you had a beautiful Day-That-Some-People-Pretend-Is-Jesus’-Birthday-So-That-They-Can-Eat-Too-Much-While-Exchanging-Gifts).  I had a wonderful holiday with my husband, my daughter, my mom and my new puppy (whose name is Buzz but whom I am currently calling The Artist Formerly Known as Satan).  More posts will be coming in the New Year (or so I claim).  My group of subscribers is small but you are some kick-ass folk.  I wouldn’t trade you for all the tea in China.  Thank you.

Now go and try to rid yourself of the image of Newman engaging in explicit sex acts.  I dare you.

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As I stated last year, I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions.  I think they’re generally committed to under duress, or worse yet, under the influence of eggnog and sugar.  And since no judge in the world would be able to hold you accountable for any contracts drafted by the pen of Captain Morgan or Sara Lee, you’re really sort of left in a lurch, with nobody to answer to but your own sorry self.

2010 has been a difficult year sucked ass.  Between my nutso autoimmune disease and my pregnancy losses, my body has had more attention than I generally like for it to have.  And I have found no shortage of people who are chock-full of tips, hints and general advice.  There are only so many times that one person can say, “Yes, that might work.”  Or, “That’s one idea.”  Or, “Sure, give me his card.”  Or, “Please step away from me, kind sir.”

So with that being said (and with nothing more than oatmeal and a possibly-lethal amount of coffee in my system), I have decided to make a December 5th Resolution.  Starting right this minute, anybody who attempts to offer advice about my body¹ will be met with a loud chirping noise, followed by a flick between the eyes, followed by a kick in the ass.

So hear ye!  Hear ye!  Whether you are a friend or a foe; a doctor or a salesperson; a pirate, a poet or a pauper, consider yourself warned.  The non-existent suggestion box is officially closed for business, locked, chained and cast into the deepest depths of the Pacific Ocean.  Got it?  Chirp, flick, kick.  Or maybe flick, chirp, kick.  Or, depending on the obnoxiousness of the advice-giver, kick, kick, flick, flick, kick, chirp.  We’ll see.  The possibilities are endless.  The world is my oyster.  And I prefer my oysters served without a side of shitty advice.²

¹ ie: What my body does or doesn’t do; is or isn’t capable of; does or doesn’t look like; should or shouldn’t behave like, etc…

² Okay, I’m actually allergic to shellfish but let’s just pretend I’m not for the sake of bad analogies.

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Is there an Analytical Psychologist in the house?  Or an Exorcist?  Or even just some kind soul who has a few spare Valium left over from their root canal?  I have a problem: When I am out and about, driving or walking or just sitting, I’m essentially just biding my time until I discover a dead body.  It’s not that I want to discover a dead body, it’s just that I assume I will.  I don’t know if I should blame the fact that I live in Oregon, in a city that is part farmland/part high-tech mecca¹ or the fact that I watched a lot of Murder, She Wrote during my formative years², but something or someone is to blame for this disturbing aberration and I’m not quite willing to accept that I am that something or someone.

So my question is, does everybody keep an eye out for corpses during a casual stroll through the woods?  Am I the only one who watches breathlessly while a dog is digging in the sand, fully expecting the dog to drag out a dismembered hand/head/penis?

What’s that you say?  That it’s perfectly normal to assume that a dead body is waiting around every bend?  That all well-adjusted people do it?  Oh, good!  I was *thisclose* to seeking professional help!³

¹ In other words, the perfect spot to ditch a dead body.

² Alright fine, I still watch Jessica Fletcher any chance I get.  The first seven seasons are on Netflix!  Holla!

³ I am in no way implying here that you should hold off on sending the spare Valium.

This is an actual photo I took on Halloween. And I’m not convinced that it’s a prop.

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I am directionally challenged, which is to say, I frequently have absolutely no idea where I am or how to get to where I want to be.  (Sometimes I also forget where I had originally intended to go once I’ve left the house, but that is another story for another day.)  This bothers me on several levels:

1) If a stranger were trying to give me directions and they told me to “head east,” I would be at a loss unless I were literally standing in the Pacific Ocean.

2) I consider myself to be a relatively intelligent person (or at least more intelligent than these people) and not knowing where I’m going makes me feel flighty, air-headed and generally like a jackass.  And that’s no good.

3) Were I ever lost in the woods (I live in Oregon so this could happen…) I could, and probably would, perish mere feet from a major roadway after spending the night walking in circles and eating bugs.  And that’s a shitty way to go.

I have thought about getting a GPS for my car but I worry that I would end up having a complex and co-dependent relationship with it and winding up both lost and criminally insane.  Plus, talking cars are terrifying.  I watched a lot of Knight Rider as a child and we all know what became of David Hasselhoff.  The last thing I need is for my daughter to videotape me while I’m loafing about, eating an unusually messy cheeseburger.  So clearly the GPS is out.¹

So, what are my options?  I think I have two: I can either kidnap Bear Grylls and keep him in the trunk of my car for when I get into a real jam² or I can continue down my current path of driving in circles and finding every construction zone and car accident in the general vicinity and sitting in the resulting traffic of both, before eventually finding my way home, tired, dehydrated and unable to say where I was or how my simple trip to the store could have possibly taken 3 hours.

So yes, I am the Moses of the Suburbs.  I have, as yet, no followers (nor an ability to inflict and cure leprosy) but the day is young.  And watch your back, Mr. Grylls.  If I can find you, I just may steal you.

¹ Because I am neither a Boy Scout nor a religious extremist in the woods of Utah, I don’t own a compass so that’s a “no” as well.

² Volvos have really big trunks.

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Several months ago, my husband and I unearthed my CD collection, which had been in storage for over a year, and I spent a day listening to songs and albums (are they still called albums?!) which I hadn’t heard in too long.  Since my stillbirth in June, I had replayed a bit of the Tori Amos song “Spark” in my head, from her “miscarriage album”, From the Choirgirl Hotel.  She’s convinced she could hold back a glacier.  But she couldn’t keep baby alive… I found that song and played it on repeat, over and over and over and over again.  And then I moved on to “Playboy Mommy.” Then the baby came before I found the magic how to keep her happy… I’ll say it loud here by your grave.  Those angels can’t ever take my place… And then my paranoia began.  I’m superstitious.  I found out in September that I was pregnant again.  I was happy to have another little bean growing in my belly but anybody who has lost a baby knows that the word “excitement” does not come into play in a subsequent pregnancy.  Fear, dread, worry, hope, hope, hope, hope, hope…

People always say that all you need to do to get pregnant and sustain a healthy pregnancy is to relax.  “Just relax and everything will be fine.”  “A friend of mine had tried to get pregnant for 6 years and once she finally relaxed and quit trying, she got pregnant with twins!”  “Your body knows what it’s doing.  Relax.”  “What are the chances that something bad could happen again?  Don’t borrow trouble.”  Guess what?  There’s not enough chamomile tea, aromatherapy bath salts or benzodiazepines on this planet to allow for relaxation during a pregnancy after a loss.  But alas, I stowed my Tori Amos albums away for fear that all that miscarriage talk, all of that looking back instead of forward, might keep me from being able to adequately relax.  I drank my pregnancy tea and slept on my left side.  I kept my hot laptop battery away from my belly and I crossed streets to avoid second-hand smoke.  I took my prenatal vitamins and I stayed far away from lunch meats, soft cheeses and alcohol.  I did everything right.  But I still lost my baby.

If anybody’s keeping score, my three pregnancies have yielded one living child.  I don’t need Rain Man to tell me that those odds are pretty shitty.  Yes, it would seem that the dealer’s got an ace in the hole, but I’m not easily discouraged in the face of being dealt a terrifically dismal hand.  In fact, I have plans of blowing up the fucking casino.

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