I Am the Center of A Cosmic Conspiricy of the Absurd

I overslept. All the way through my first client, until the little woke me up just before 10 AM, hungry.

Crap!

I have never, in 4+ years, missed a call due to something like this.

I was on my feet, grabbing peanut butter and bread to slap a sandwich together for the little as the computer booted up and I logged into my various cyber doohickeys.

Sit down with a nuked cup of yesterday’s coffee, 2 minutes late for my second call.

Not bad. When I was done, a quick call to reschedule and offer  profuse apologies to the client I stood up, and I could get back in my groove.

Make coffee. Check email. Check in with the nursing home to see if they had arranged for transportation for Mom to visit her father in the hospital. It might be the last time she can see him.

Deep breath over the first cup of real coffee, but as I took the first sip I realized that I missed trash day.

That’ll be awesome after a few more days in this God awful heat.

Damn.

Rocking the day so far. Better take this half hour window to get myself together – prepare for the meeting with the big boss man later today.

The first time ever, I have had to sit at the grown ups table, and I somehow dropped the ball. We were green-lighted right up until he was given the contract to sign.

Then some cosmic jackass pulled the needle across the record.

One more meeting. We need to justify the expense and my decision-making for the material I provided to my department manager.

That meeting is why I overslept. It’s freaking me out, making me chew Xanax like candy, and staying up ’til 1 AM double checking everything.

T minus 6 hours.

Shit.

Then the phone rang.

My grandfather died.

Fuck.

BUT. Lest you think I can get through a day without an absurdity, please, read on.

But first, a couple of things you need to know.

  • My husband has allergies to certain insects, so 4 times a year we have our yard treated by a pest services company.
  •  My mother worries to an absurd degree, if someone doesn’t arrive promptly on time she assumes they have been involved in an accident. If they get to the point of being 20 minutes late she assumes they are dead.
  •  We are remodeling the bathroom (still) and have taken down the curtains and blinds to paint.
  •  Behind our house there is a stack of uninstalled picket fencing I bought to keep our toddler from running too close to the road. We don’t actually HAVE a toddler, but we did when I bought the fencing. 3 years ago.

When the call came in, I had to move fast, as the nursing home had told Mom they were arranging for her to go see my grandfather. Delays in that process would freak my mother out.

I spent a precious few minutes clearing my work docket for the day, and another few touching base with my brother and my aunts.

Since I had overslept, I was still in my pjs, so I grabbed clothes and bolted  to the bathroom, shedding my jammies as I entered. I sat down to pee, and grabbed my bra off the counter to multi-task by dressing as I peed.

As I was jacking my arms around back to fasten, I finally turned my head toward the window to see the guy from the pest services company.

Eyes wide, mouth agape, about 10 inches from the uncurtained window, looking in.

And there was nowhere for me to go. The bathroom is tiny, and um, I was peeing.

While I looked, he covered his face with his hand and took a step backwards, disappearing in space.

He’d stepped off the stack of fencing he’d been standing on and collapsed in a heap on our lawn.

Mortified, I finished dressing and left the bathroom.

But because this is me, the story couldn’t end there, with that minor humiliation.

Oh no. When I went out to get in my car, I was blocked in.

I had to face him, to ask him to move his truck so I could get out.

His face was still red, and he was limping.

I kind of wish I could read the Worker’s Comp Accident description.

**** WordPress would like me to tag with post with “Heisman Trophy” “Manning Passing Academy” and “Louisiana” I do not understand technology.

The Day I Killed My Father

My father was strong. He was a hard worker, with lively eyes that sparked with kindness and a silly sense of humor. He loved his family, and was quick to help friends.

My whole life I was aware of his hands, so much bigger than mine, how much stronger. When my son was born, those strong hands held my son’s tiny, fragile ones so gently it made me teary.

hands

But he had a stubborn streak. In internal iron that made him unwilling to speak up when uncomfortable. He worked when he was tired, he worked when he was sick. He worked when he’d rather be lying on the couch with a crossword puzzle.

This stubborn streak made him put my mother first when she fell, breaking her shoulder. And when her rehab failed. And when she had a psychotic break and was placed in a psych ward for electro-shock therapy.

Through that, I knew he was unwell. I could hear the labored breathing, see the tired behind his eyes. But he wouldn’t see a doctor.

I finally played the guilt card, throwing his love for my son at him like a weapon, demanding he see a doctor. He went, begrudgingly, and got a heart condition under control, but he balked at the pulmonary specialist.

And he got weaker. I stopped him from visiting my mother daily, concerned that he would fall asleep while driving. I began visiting him daily instead. Cooking, cleaning, urging him to come live with us.

But he didn’t want to leave his home, convinced that my mother would be returning to it.

On Christmas Eve, the pulmonary doctor called and gave me the diagnosis. Cancer, advanced. I kept the news to myself, for the holiday, then called my brother. We agreed, it was time for Dad to move. It was unsafe for him to stay, alone, all day in his house.

So we strong-armed him.

On the sub-zero Saturday after Christmas, my brother, my sister-in-law and I descended on his home. We busied ourselves dismantling the hospital bed, moving the assist recliner, packing his clothes and emptying the fridge.

My father wandered through the house, looking at 63 years of his life and deciding what to bring.

In the end, when we were tired, cranky, sore and impatient, I turned to ask Dad if he was ready. What I saw broke my heart.

He sat in my mother’s favorite chair, still wearing his coat. I hadn’t even noticed that he hadn’t taken it off. He was perched on the edge, like an uncomfortable guest. His elbows were on his knees, his frail hands twined around the handles of a small plastic grocery sack.

He’d chosen such strange things. An old, broken watch. A small wooden chest full of wheat pennies. A transistor radio and a toy car. A crossword puzzle book and a pen.

63 years of a strong life, slumped on a chair under the weight of knowing he would never bring his wife back to the home they’d shared. Of knowing his independence was gone. Of trying to fit the most important memories from a full house into a plastic sack.

Until that moment, he had still had hope, had still tried to have some of the life he wanted to live.

But when I forced him to come with me, he was too weak to fight. So I took those things from him.  And that knowledge was so clearly written on his face it became an indelible memory.

And that was when my father died. He gave up.

It was necessary. Intellectually, I know that. That necessity driven home by the fall he had just a couple of short weeks later. Had he been alone he would have stayed on the cold floor next to his bed for nearly a day before I would have come to check on him.

He might have died physically on the floor, in the dark, by himself.

By being with us he was made comfortable. My husband and I got him back into bed, called paramedics to take him to the hospital where he died a few days later, surrounded by so many people and so much love that the hospital provided us with a private room, for free.

I know it was the right thing to do. But every time I think of him, I think of those fragile hands, and that death before death. And I feel cruel.

Screw Equality, That’s Some Freaky Sh*t

redI’m sure you’ve seen this today – on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. Just in case you have been living under a rock and don’t get it, here’s a two sentence education:

The symbol stands for the support of equality. It’s everywhere today because the Supreme Court is hearing arguments about two equality cases – one regarding California’s Prop 8, the other regarding the Defense of Marriage Act.

And this post? If a full-blown rant.

For those of you who support equality, good for you. You recognize that people are people, love is love, and family is family.

For the rest of you…the ones talking about what the queers are doing to the institution of marriage, the definition of marriage, the slippery slope that will result in being able to marry a frigging dog, and the God argument…please check in to reality with the rest of us.

First  – the destruction of marriage. Are you kidding me? How many hetero couples have filed for divorce this year? How many adulterers are there out there? How many dead beat dads and break down mothers? You think the gay population getting TOGETHER is going to damage an institution that is falling apart? If anything, they will have a better understanding of how precious it is, as it was denied for so long – much the same way a man dying of thirst has a greater appreciation for water than you do right now.

And the defining of marriage argument kills me.

In a court brief, council Charles Cooper had this to say in the Prop 8 argument, “Marriage owes its existence to the undeniable biological reality that opposite-sex unions — and only such unions — can produce children.”

That’s your argument? Really? So why, then, do we not have to mandate that all married couples bear children? Why do we not force the annulment of marriages when one or both members of the union are unable to procreate? And why do we not take the children out of single family homes?

Also, Mr. Cooper – Science is quite near to making that a factually inaccurate statement…what then? It already has, if you count artificial insemination.

And the slippery slopers? You people have to be trying to sound this ridiculous. Honestly. When women were given the ability to vote, did we suddenly see people lobbying for us to count the votes of dogs? Rights are rights, and it was agreed upon at the birth of this country that they are inalienable, not something to be granted or withheld at the whim of the paranoid and reactionary. Stop being an idiot.

And that brings me to the God argument…the people who want to save their souls.

Don’t. Please, just don’t. Every person’s relationship with God, Divine Energy, Allah or whatever you want to call it, is personal. Their transgressions, if there are any, will be accounted for by the individual.

You cannot save my soul. And for you to believe that you can is the ultimate insult to God. You believe you can speak for Him? You believe you know his mind?

What hubris. What an appalling, horrifying sense of sinful, self-righteous pride.

Most of the religions that have zealots slinging hurtful words and deadly bullets come from peaceful prophets. And this violence against your fellow man is the antithesis of those holy principles.

You should be ashamed. You should ask your God for forgiveness for presuming to know his mind and striking out to hurt one of the children he so loves.

And doesn’t God love all of us? Isn’t that your point?

The Molten Marshmallow Mishap: A Love Story

Back in high school, a good 20 years ago, I went on a camping trip with a bunch of not-so-camperific friends. It was like The Breakfast Club takes a field trip.

There was a Hippie Princess, the Spaz, the Outdoorsman, the Basketcase (guess who?) and the Dude.

The Dude later became my husband, but the others went the way of most old school friends – out of town and out of touch.

The Outdoorsman started a fire as night came down, and we all sat around it in a circle, doing what you do over a campfire. Talking, laughing, smoking stuff and toasting marshmallows.

Shortly before this camping trip, the movie Robinhood: Prince of Thieves came out with its cool arrow shots. The perspective of these shots is important to this story, so if you don’t remember it, here you go.

The Dude and I were on one side of the fire, Spaz next to us. Opposite sat the Hippie Princess and the Outdoorsman.

The Spaz held a marshmallow too close to the flames, so naturally the sugar caught on fire and became a flaming torch.

Rather than blowing on it to kill the flames, the Spaz twigged out, shaking the stick violently. On a particularly vehement downward swing, the marshmallow launched off the stick and flew through the air.

For the Dude and I, the perspective was awesome. We could see the outcome as though in slow motion. An arrow of flaming sugar, on an unerring arc through the air, to land squarely in the center of the Outdoorsman’s forehead. It was as sure as if  it had been shot by Robinhood, himself.

The sticky, molten mess stuck to his skin like napalm, burning, burning, burning, as he leaped to his feet and raced to the edge of the lake, the fire on his face lighting his way.

We sat, all of us, stunned as he plunged into the lake to put out his flaming head.

When he came back, dripping and angry, he threw a sodden mass of white goo into the fire with an angry slat of his hand. “Thanks for helping,” he spat.

It was like throwing a laugh bag down – – the rest of us erupted in wild peals of laughter. Yes, that was wrong of us. But we were young, and we laughed anyway.

This week has been a particularly hard one for me. My birthday rolled around and I didn’t get a single call or even a Facebook acknowledgement from my friends. Even my Mom forgot to call me.

I’m super stressed over a change at work, doing manic math to ensure all of our bills will still be paid with this new position.

And I had to go to Boston to take my Mom down to a neurologist that has her in a clinical trial for the rare disease she has. Those trips are awful.

Then there’s my husband, who always gets the brunt of my bad days. To him, I’ve been argumentative, surly and downright bitchy all week.

Instead of biting back, he left me a note. I woke up in the morning to find this on the kitchen counter:

“Remember how much that flaming marshmallow that got Justin was like Robinhood: Prince of Thieves?

That was awesome.

I love you.”

Apple Pie and Cat Food: A Near Death Experience?

So. Back on that theory that my kid might eat somebody one day. . .
We feed the cats at the top of the basement stairs to keep the dog from scarfing down their food. This comes with all the fun you would expect a basement venture to contain – eerie lighting, cobwebs in my hair.

Strange acoustics.

I left Quinn in the kitchen to pull out some apples for pie while I laid out the food. I had barely cracked open the cans when I first heard the sound.

Zzzzssshhink. Zzzzssshhink.

Zzzzssshhink. Zzzzssshhink.

Vaguely familiar. But I was more worried about the 2 cats figure eighting between my ankles at the top of the stairs. Every day its a test of will – do they want their food more than I want not to plummet down the stairs.

I have to focus, because they really want their food.

Zzzzssshhink. Zzzzssshhink.

Zzzzssshhink. Zzzzssshhink.

Louder.

I collect the empty cans and stand up to ascend the stairs.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!

Quinn is at the top, with one of these:And one of these: Doing the correct things with them.

Zzzzssshhink. Zzzzssshhink.

Zzzzssshhink. Zzzzssshhink.

I step back, onto a cat’s tail, mrrrrrrrrrrrrauw.

Ahhhhhhhhhh! Don’t fall down the stairs!

“Quinn, buddy,please put those down, those are very dangerous.”

Zzzzssshhink. Zzzzssshhink.

Gage, from Pet Sematary in my head. Now I want to play with youuuuuuuuuu.

“We need a sharp knife to cut the apples.”

Step forward to retrieve the knife. Step on the other cat’s tail.

Mrrrrrrrrrrrrauw! But this cat has claws and he used them, as well as sinking his evil little feline teeth into my ankle.

I nearly went down the stairs in a heap, but managed to grab the rail and pull my fall forward to land at Quinn’s feet instead.

“Ow! Shit! Buddy! Please put those down. We don’t use that kind of knife for pie.”

He laid the weapons on the floor and helped me up.

“Mama you should be careful on the stairs. You could get hurt.”

 

This little snapshot of time came right before reading Erin Margolin’s piece about her twins –  Apples and Oranges.

Then this morning, I read Leanne Shirtliffe’s Worst Toys of 2012: The Skankification Award

Then I thought about all of the other parenting blogs I read. And I realized that, as a parent, we may not stand a chance of escaping with our sanity intact.

 

 

There’s a Last Time for Everything

A few days back there was a post in my Facebook newsfeed that caught my eye. It was a mother’s blog post about appreciating  all the moments with your kids, not just the ‘firsts’ that so often steal the stage.

And I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

There are some amazing firsts — the first smile, the first hug, the first word, the first I love you.

The first logical argument against your decision.

But there are so many lasts that slip away unnoticed. The last monster under the bed, the last snuggle on the couch, the last can I sit on your lap.

These disappear unnoticed, because it never occurs to us that this will be the last time. We don’t know it’s over until a year of uninterrupted sleep goes by. And by then it is far too late to savor.

I can’t help thinking about it, because in less than 12 hours my 4-year-old son, my only child, is going under anesthesia for surgery.

Intellectually I know he will be okay. It’s a minor procedure, he’s healthy and strong. But inside, the Mommy in me is losing her mind with fear. The evil demon Whatif has been stalking me, being more insistent as the days pass.

Outside I am calm. He knows that he is going to the doctor, that he will be sent to sleep. He knows that when he wakes up his boys are going to hurt a lot, and that he won’t walk for a few days.

Inside I’m a frigging mess. And so is my husband.

We have both lost so many of the people that we love, we have both had so many bad last times, that it is hard to prop each other up. And we are the only ones we have. What is left of our immediate families – mothers for each of us – are too far away. His physically, mine mentally.

So today all we could do was keep ourselves together by loving him.

We might have allowed a little too much pre-Halloween candy.

Bedtime was a little later than it should’ve been.

I ate that nasty-assed BBQ mealworm to amuse him.

And right now, I’m sure Daddy is reading extra books.

Because of course today, the potential for last times is obvious. But I’ll do my best tomorrow on the drive home to remember that. And I’ll try harder on Sunday when the antsy can’t move state can no longer be appeased by the new Wii hiding in the closet.

It shouldn’t take being scared for me to appreciate the level of love I have for him. So tonight I am making promise to myself.

When he asks to hear the Purple People Eater just one more time, I’ll hit repeat again. And I’ll practice that stupid voice until I get it right.

Because eventually, it will be the last time.

**If anyone recalls seeing the post from the Mommy blogger about last times that was making the rounds on Facebook recently, can you leave a link or comment for me? I owe her my thanks.