Women’s Owner’s Manual

Lately I feel like I’m being pulled in a million directions and with that juggling comes a fair amount of guilt for all the things I can’t get to.

I think as women, we tend to focus on the no’s.  We couldn’tWe didn’t.  We couldn’t get to it because we didn’t have time.  We didn’t get to it because we couldn’t add an extra 5 hours to the day.  We couldn’t count the number of things we did get done because we didn’t give ourselves the luxury of that sense of satisfaction.  We don’t revel in our accomplishments.  We often don’t even acknowledge our accomplishments and sometimes those accomplishments equal nothing more than we didn’t wind up on the six o’clock news with the headline, “Woman puts another patron in a headlock at the local grocery store for arguing with the teenage cashier with the ‘BE PATIENT, I’M NEW’ sticker on his shirt in the check out line while screaming all I want to do is go home and put on sweat pants and eat ice cream right out the container with a spoon like the overworked and underappreciated FABULOUS being THAT I AM and I can’t because you’re arguing over 15 cents off on your total bill for the past 28 minutes you twit!”  And for that simple feat, we deserve a medal on pretty pink bow that sings Ethel Merman show tunes at top volume because it’s that amazing!

So this past week I was screamed at by an old woman at a local farm stand.  I was buying herbs for planting and had more than I could carry and the farm was out of boxes.   I borrowed a plastic shopping bin to transport them to my truck and returned it immediately.  As I was walking back in this woman asked/screamed, “YOU WORK HERE?” with all of the grace and refinement of that lady who yelled a lot in Throw Mama From the Train.

No I don’t

“WELL YOU LOOK LIKE YOU DO!”  To frame this properly; I was wearing Levi’s, flip flops and a Ramones t-shirt tucked in rakishly over my cute little pooch in the front and draped artfully over my junk in the trunk.   It’s not Armani but nor do I feel that it’s a total Farmer Joe look either.   No offense intended to any Farmer Joe or Biff or Harry out there.  I’m totally jealous of your work but I’m fair and require SPF 8000 and usually incinerate in the sun sooooo…I’m also slightly bitter.

“WELL YOU LOOK LIKE YOU DO!”

Well you look like you’ve never been laid in your life.  I didn’t say that.  I just thought it – loudly.  I really frigging wish I’d said it.  No I don’t….it’s mean.  Yes I do….

But then I felt guilty for thinking it loudly.  Even if she deserved a trouncing.

I’ve been thinking a lot about life and what it means and the one thing that keeps coming up in my mind is the list of stuff….just stuff that rotates around the clock in a never completed list of items to do or think or say or feel or address or pay or drink with or feed…

I think probably I’m to blame for some of the laundry list of never ending tasks/requirements/expectations.  I don’t say no enough and God forbid that I say I can’t.  That’s not in this chick’s loquacious vocab.  This became evident, glaringly so, a few months ago when I was going through my own personal form of hell with a situation with my family.  The long and short is that I put my situation over someone else’s and was shamed for it.  To that – I’m still trying to unroll my eyes long enough to see them for what they are.  No I’m not/yes I am.  Strike that – no I’m not.  What I walked away with from that situation and a lifetime of feeling always slightly inadequate was something quite simple.

I will no longer own any guilt that doesn’t belong to me.

Let me explain a few of my guilty guilts that I carry around with me like a monkey on my back on a daily basis.  I will assume that once you read this that all of your judgments of all my mental shortcomings will be correct.

I, like most women, have been trained by the beauty industry that I should engage -ad infinitum – in the search for the holy grail of every conceivable beauty product known to man.  I remember my grandmother used about 5 products daily on her whole body but yet had drawers and closets and closets and drawers filled with every tube of Avon stuff you could imagine.  My mother followed suit and so did I.  In turn and bringing yet another generation into it, Mei Mei has plunged headlong into a borderline hoarding collection of Bath and Body Works washes and lotions.  I am not judging because my bathroom could hydrate the skin of a small country whilst leaving them all with the dewiest of complexions.  I decided that I have had enough.  I will no longer participate in the rat race of feeling less than beautiful.  I am paring down to a minimum amount of daily products if it kills me.  What to do with all of the other stuff?  Oh God.  Oh NO!  I will barrage some hapless land fill with the half full/part full/mostly empty/ewww what was I thinking – bottles of lotion and body wash and cleanser and toner and serum and moisturizer and oh my fresh hell!  I will single handedly kill our planet.  Just me.  (GUILT ON GUILT)

So I’ve taken the time to use each and every bottle, tube, jar or carton of product down to the bare nub of it’s existence, even if I don’t like it.  Because I’m messing with the environment.  Just me.  I drive a fairly large SUV by the way.   Because perspective.  How’s that for worrying about the environment?  So now? I’m down to bar shampoo, jojoba oil, Ivory soap and coconut oil/Pond’s Cold Cream and Nivea lotion and deodorant and my favorite perfume which comes in a rollerball.  Oh!  And my 8000 SPF sunscreen. Progress!

YET *clap* I *clap* still *clap* scour *clap* the *clap* beauty *clap* aisles *clap* like *clap* I’m *clap* missing *clap* out *clap* on *clap* the *clap* cure *clap* all *clap* for *clap* aging.  DAFUQ?

I babysit my grandson, now two nights a week but at one point it was as much as four; while my daughter is in school.  So I feel guilty about not spending time with her.  My husband had a boat issue which somehow became my issue (long story and I hate him) in which it was made clear to me that my time, and whatever fashion I choose to spend it, is less important than his time.  And I feel guilty for being mad at him because he is such a good man even if I hate him presently.  I’m tired at work because I don’t get down time and have been going at a lightening pace and I feel guilty for giving it 98% instead of the typical 178%.  My daughter wants to talk every afternoon while I’m driving home and she’s driving to school and sometimes I just want to listen to my audiobook and chill and then….yep…guilt.  I’ve been getting easy to fix meals of late instead of my normal three course dinners and yes, I feel guilty as hell.  I feel guilty if my mother is having a very much understood and deserved bad day like somehow it’s my fault.  Last weekend, my husband went on a business trip and my mother went on a vacation and my daughter was not home which left me and the dog.  I turned down the volume on the movie I was watching because I felt guilty that I may be interfering with my her nap.  My husband asked what I was going to do with all my free time and I informed him that I planned on walking around the house with no pants on.  Apparently I’m not as funny as I thought I was and I felt guilty that he didn’t appreciate my joke.  Yesterday, I was hit on by a septuagenarian in my father’s nursing home and while I firmly deflected Mistah Lovah Lovah’s 78 bad bar pick up line attempts to ascertain “if I lived around here” and “am I seeing anyone” and “do I know how pretty I am” I was also being yelled at by a Korean woman who is also a patient who does not speak a word of English.  God bless her darling heart.  I think she was trying to defend my virtue but there is also the possibility, since I don’t speak Korean, that she may have been calling me a two bit floozy.  She then stole half a sandwich roll off of the plate of yet another patient and thrust it towards my mouth.  This ultimately deterred Mistah Lovah Lovah long enough to lose interest.  He walked away and I kid you not, let out a 30 second fart as he departed.

Guess what?  I felt guilty.  What the hell man!?

So as I was driving home I realized the knee jerk instinct that somehow this madness did not belong to me and that I needed to adhere to what I pledged to myself months ago.

Here it goes:

I have the right to free time and can spend it however I damn well please

I have the right to not answer my cell phone if I am otherwise engaged in any manner which I feel is important

I have the right to set boundaries even if other people don’t understand why those boundaries are being put into place because frankly it’s my decision

I have the right to say no

I have the right to bad days without having to offer up some explanation of my shortcomings in order to have said bad day.  Sometimes it’s you not me…get it buttercup?

I have the right to put my own needs in front once in awhile

I have the right to forgive myself for my many flaws but more so, I have the right to applaud the GODDAMN rock star that I, in all actuality, am EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I have the right to not be perfect

I have the right to pretend that I am perfect because some days I do fake it ’til I make it

I have to right to not require anyone else’s approval now and again….I kind of like how that feels (and anyone who has ever had an overbearing grandmother who liked to lay guilt trips for breathing knows this sentiment)

I have the right to walk away if my well being is being compromised

I have the right to be tired or cranky or misunderstood

I have the right to reject unnecessary judgment with the same level of contempt and dismissal I would give a man or woman who steal from their mother

I have the right to eat the entire container of tapenade in two days and yes ZERO EFFS GIVEN.  Alright maybe that’s extreme.  Let’s count them…

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I have the right to applaud myself or any other woman who is struggling to make it all look so easy.  We are exceptional in every way.

And we do have the right to know that with every fiber of our being…

In short, what I’m learning and trying to balance in day to day life is not assuming the burden of guilt for just being fallible and human…

In the end we all have to own our own lives and choices – both good and bad – and the  consequences that go with those choices along the way.  I will thoroughly reject what does not belong to me, not to be dismissive, but to be concise.  I try very hard not to judge someone’s choices – only their lack of ownership of said choices.  Unless it’s judging myself.  I’m TOTES good at that!

I’m learning the difference between a you thing and a me thing.  Not everything requires my participation.  I do not need to actively engage in the woes of all even if they are in my direct path.  I need to filter ownership better.  I need to cut myself some slack.  I need to stand up for myself and I need to let go of the little stuff.  I would love to become comfortable in this stance rather than feeling combative and guilty about it.  It’s like fighting my own DNA some days.

In the end, if all I accomplish by writing this is to let someone else know that they’re not the only ones who think in concentric circles of guilt….mission accomplished.

Let me at least check that off of my to do list.

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The Cult of Grumpish

Currently reading:  A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor / Absolute Power:  How the Pope Became the Most Influential Man in the World by Paul Collins / Life at the Dakota by Stephen Birmingham / Forever by Pete Hamill

Current Mood:  Pensive

Current Weight:  Who knows, but judging that I ate half the menu at the Greek restaurant last night, let’s safely round it up to 500 pounds.

Current Solution to current weight:  Not a damn thing.  I stand by all that sea bass and calamari and pear martinis and flaming cheese.

It doesn’t happen often, but there are days that I wake up in a mood so foul that in addition to everyone else thinking I was a shrew, I contemplate nominating myself for walking sphincter of the year.  It’s awful.  I don’t even like myself when this happens.  The inner dialogue in my head consists of snarking at EVERYTHING dead or alive which inevitably leads to grovelling and pleading for a self-imposed time out.  “Oh for the love of all that’s holy, just vacate the premises.  Go to your room you savage!”

I know I’m not the only one who goes through this and I also know that the reasons for said savagery varies.  In February I was such a….I’ll call it…I was such a world-class, grade A, top of the line, warrantee extended BITCH to my husband that he actually left the house the next morning to work on an imaginary project…

with colleagues he doesn’t even have…

in another state…

ok, he went to Germany.  I was that bad.

We were getting our master bathroom updated (which is a pleasant, euphemistic way of saying that it was one step away from a massive disaster.  The original plan was to remodel the half bath downstairs and just replace the toilet upstairs to a new half a potato accommodating size toilet (please see Tuber or Not Tuber post for reference).  Half of the floor came up with the toilet leading us to suspect that putting off that project for another year or two was not going to happen since we learned that they glued the tile onto plywood and that was our floor.  80’s construction codes is cray right?  I know right?   This meant the bathroom had to be done now.  Now?  But I have nothing to wear to this event?  This lead to an emotional meltdown on my part which then lead to a day in a Home Depot the size a small city picking out fixtures and vanities and tile and hardware until my head was swimming.  Magilla was with his parents installing a new television for his father (birthday present) in preparation for the Superbowl.  Sidebar:  is there a reason that men need a television the size of a movie theatre screen?  Is there some chromosomal makeup which mandates this?  Does it proof their virility?  No really…I’m asking for a friend on this.  So his best friend escorted me through the perils of home renovation.  “I love this vanity”, I declared grandly, draping myself over it like a drunken model displaying something on The Price is Right complete with the sweeping hand gesture.  “Yes honey”, he responded graciously, ‘But it’s bigger than your bathroom wall and won’t fit through the door.”  What kind of monster are you???  I can totally fit a double sink in my palatial bathroom.  It’s only 5X8?  These are silly details.  So Magilla would yell at me that I’m not making responsible choices?  I can take him.  It’s pretty.

So, needless to say, we didn’t get that vanity.

We had to order all of the stuff from Home Depot which added a three-week delay on the project.  Then there were storms and flu and famine and work conflicts and health issues and business trips and assorted other things of which no one had any control and the project delayed and delayed and delayed and I just hit the bitch wall and ultimately wound up something like this:

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I’ll freely admit that I probably was due for my period and hated the world and every man in it and by that I mean I targeted my dear sweet husband.  He was breathing at a decimal level not otherwise detectable unless I’m in that magical window about 1 to 3 days pre-period and therefore he must be thoroughly educated on the multitude of ways that men have ruined the earth.  I’m a complete waste of emotional balance during this time.  I hear everything, I sleep little, I eat volumes, I cry at the drop of a hat or a song or a commercial or …face it I’m/just/plain/awful.  And yet he still loves me in spite of my attitude and the fact that anytime he wants to get frisky with me, our dog 🐓blocks him.  I’m not sure if she’s defending his virtue or mine, but she’s diligent in this endeavor.  We’ve tried to inform her that it’s legal since we’re married, but she’s having none of that jazz.  Still, he presses on in his undying love of me.  Bless his heart.  He’s a trooper.  I should probably check his night stand for secret supply of Xanax.

Years ago, when relaying the facts of womanhood to my daughter, or what I like to call, The Tween Nail Biting Hormonal Years In Which There Were Intense Hostage Negotiations Involving Baked Goods, I explained gently that women tend to get emotional during “their time of the month”.  Remember these talks?  During the rise of hormones of my generation, we had the honor….NAY the privilege – of female hygiene products finally being advertised on television.  Remember the “less than fresh” commercials?  Ah memories.  These well rehearsed and well versed chats were always chock full of expressions so glossed over and tidied up (You’ll see a small amount of blood/The cramps are slightly uncomfortable but nothing that Tylenol can’t cure/you may want a little chocolate) that even my grandmother who could emotionally handle NOTHING could get through them.  So as I’m explaining this, she sweetly asked if this was why I was so rotten three days a month.  Yes sweetie, it is.  It’s also why at 11:30 last night, amidst growling noises and random howling, Mommy ate peanut butter right out of the jar while standing over the kitchen sink to catch the Hershey’s syrup I was pouring directly onto the spoon over the blob of peanut butter that was roughly the size of my mouth BUT DO I LOOK FAT?!!!#%@#^?  That’s also why my voice drops off when saying any word that starts with F (flea, flying, fan, forever, finale, fandango  OR EVERY OTHER WORD THAT STARTS WITH F) for fear that it would morph into dropping the F bomb. My mother raised a lady….

She took it as a moral imperative to act semi-psychotic during her mensing stints; because obviously I set great examples.  She would yell at people while I was driving.  She’d yell at the cats for crapping because it smelled too much, even though she was two rooms away (and behind a closed door I might add) from the litter box.  I finally drew the line when she yelled at me for the lack of Oreo’s in our house.  Alright, my little estrogen nugget, let’s take it down a notch now shall we?  Mommy is good, Mommy is wise and you are financially dependent on me since you’re only fourteen so if you wish to live to see fifteen or if you ever want Oreo’s again I suggest you walk this crap off…MMMKAY?  I don’t mean to sound dismissive but if you’ve ever fought off a rabid teenager, you know what I’m talking about.

I don’t know if she expected me to call the police to launch a full-fledged investigation as to who may or may not have eaten the Oreo’s.  Should there have been a police sketch hung on my kitchen wall of the suspect?  Should we call John Walsh and have him run an exposé on this nefarious character?  Shall I canvas the town like some Sally Field movie asking any and all if they KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THIS SITUATION?  I had awful visions of me grabbing some elderly man by the lapels of his coat and shaking him as I wailed, “What did you see sir?  WHAT DID YOU SEEEEEEEEE?”

She failed to find the rather obvious humor in these queries.

All these years later, I think she realizes that civility actually must trump hormones.   Unless it’s your husband…obviously.  He married you in spite of your, ummmm, shortcomings.  But it’s simply not becoming to answer the rest of the world and all other human interaction with…

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Even if they did take the last Oreo.

Haters Gonna Kate

Kate Middleton gave birth to her third child this week.  Bless her heart, she walked out of the hospital a mere few hours later looking absolutely stunning.

I’m not a fan of celebrity demagoguery nor royal worshipping.  I don’t get it guys.   I just don’t get it.  In a way, this is yet another blog post regarding this matter but it’s not necessarily about her dress or hair or heels.  It won’t be this dramatic…

brit

But since you asked….

I have watched a torrent of judgment and nastiness unleash itself as if she had publicly murdered a puppy.  Holy crap girls.  Really? I could kind of get behind it were it yet another picture of a Kardashian’s veejayjay for their collective poops and giggles and the never ending extension of their allotted 15 minutes of fame but this is hardly the case here.

God help me, I actually read an article on the comparative body language of the royal couple with each respective child and what it all means.  I’d like those brain cells back that the headline robbed from me.  Why do we care so damn much?

If any of us were scrutinized/criticized/judged/labeled/berated/mocked/questioned….or otherwise, we’d be screaming to the high heavens and recruiting our Facebook army to defend our honor; to fight for womb and country.  Oddly enough – it seems that because she is someone in a public position who has conducted herself with dignity and grace, we feel that we can freely comment; like it’s our divine right to rip her to shreds.  Interesting…

We too could leave a hospital looking like a supermodel if we hired the beauty armada equipped with everything from spackle to epoxy to luminizer that it probably required to get that result.  We won’t because it’s not feasible or affordable or even logical.  But I’m not a public figure.  I don’t know about you, but there was no paparazzi lurking when I left the hospital after giving birth.

I’m pretty sure she’d rather have been in sweatpants and no bra with an ice pack resting gently on her nethers, but the public demands she be seen and that her baby be seen and/or intimate knowledge of how many stitches were involved in the episiotomy.  I have no idea how jolly old England works in it’s healthcare timeframes but we basically have drive through mastectomies in the States soooo…are we any better?

It seems to me that this endless cycle of comparing ourselves to other women without knowing their backstory creates a loathsome circle of coming up short in our own estimations because we don’t know what the history or intent of the person we’re so busy measuring ourselves against.

We Say

I wish I had that Cartier love bracelet she’s wearing

They say

It belonged to my mother.  My Dad gave it to her as an anniversary present.  She died from a massive heart attack when I was 28 and pregnant with my first child.  I haven’t taken this bracelet off my wrist since my Dad gave it to me the day after her funeral.  But I’m 45 now and I miss her so much.  She never even got to see my kids.  I’d give anything to hear her laugh again.

We say

God, she’s fat.  Doesn’t she care about her appearance?

They say

I’m just starting to feel like myself again after a divorce and my brother dying within six months of each other.  I was depressed for two years and started drinking heavily.  A glass of wine became a bottle, then two.  I lost my kids because I was a full blown alcoholic and it was so awful.  I feel like I let everyone down…my kids…my parents…my job…everyone.  But you know what?  I’m ready to start again.  I want to get back to being me.  I want to be happy again.

In short…I think we could all display some empathy.  We never know the full story unless it’s happening directly to us and even then it often takes us years to process whichever event is in question if it’s significant enough.  As life hands us more experience or we learn something new, another level of understanding glows enough to shed more light on past experiences.  I’m noticing more and more, even in my own line of thinking, this unnecessary judgment has become pervasive; and I don’t like it.  It’s too Mean Girls for me.  It’s too much of living up to the stereotype that women revel in bitchy.

There has been a multitude of cattily coy comments pitying her while simultaneously whipping out their own birthing horror stories in this awful and competitive compare and contrast.  I’m pretty sure that she doesn’t care; nor should she.  I wouldn’t – then again??  If someone squared off on me after literally heaving my entire psyche and body and life to bring forth another life with their throw down of a how they had a harder/better/leaner/meaner/prettier birth, I would be so hurt.  That was my accomplishment, my pain, my miracle and my story of awe not only in myself but the force of life.  It’s one of the most inspiring and amazing moments in a person’s life to see what they created.  It’s humbling and often brings a sense of clarity, of peace – however brief – to the woman who toiled to make this marvel.  Why would someone take that away?  Leaving the hospital may have been a royal tradition or a hospital mandate or a personal choice; but it doesn’t make her some outdated wilting victim who should rise up and fight against the patriarchal society about three seconds into the postpartum experience.  She just gave birth and was gazing in absolute adoration at the little bundle of life she had been cooking in her EZ bake oven of a womb for nine months and probably just wanted to go home and enjoy her expanding family in private.   Maybe her husband was there seconds before that door opened to say, “Once more into the breach, dear Kate. Once more.”  Then again maybe, in reality he whispered privately, “Seventeen steps my love.  That’s all I’ll ask of you today.  Seventeen steps.  We can do this together.  Look at our beautiful son.  We can do it for him.”

I have a friend who just lost her mom.  It’s not up to me to compare my father’s illness to her mother’s death or throw down as to who is in more pain.  It’s up to me to support her and love her and try to make her laugh/let her cry/lift her up/and just be.  Sometimes, we’re not meant to insert ourselves into situations that are not of our making.  Own what’s yours and give the rest up to God or whatever power you believe in.  Sometimes it comes down to I’ll take care of mine and you take care of yours and we’ll all be the better for it.  Support comes in many forms and sometimes it’s just as simple as wishing well from afar.

We are our own yardsticks and only we can measure who we are and where we’ve been and what we’re worth.  There is a constant undercurrent in women which mandates that we sell ourselves short as a gender.  This cattiness, I’m sure, has more to do with our own brain droppings than with the target in question.  I wonder if this collective self doubt that perpetuates the need to be the judge and jury of other women is fostered by the ease and anonymity of the internet which ultimately makes us the bulls eye in our own target of said self doubt.  Our self esteem is ultimately the price paid.  I wonder, if instead of comparing ourselves to every other woman out there and immersing ourselves into this harpy cycle; what if we dedicated that energy to loving, accepting and embracing ourselves and therefore each other?

I wonder, what would that do?

In short, all the best to Kate.  All the best to the moms who had an easy labor or wound up looking like a water buffalo in mesh boyshorts when it was all said and done because they birthed so hard.  Hats off to you if you had a kid at 20 or at 40.  Kudos to the moms that went natural and kudos if you sedated yourself silly.  You did an amazing thing.  Don’t let anyone steal your thunder.

Currently reading: A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gayor / Life at the Dakota by Stephen Birmingham / Forever by Pete Hamill / Absolute Power: How the Pope Became the Most Influential Man in the World by Paul Collins

Mood: Bemused

Weight:  Still a glorious, Rubenesque 165

Like Nailing Jello to a Tree

Books I’m reading:  The Wright Brothers by David McCullough / Life at the Dakota by Stephen Birmingham / Forever by Pete Hamill / Absolute Power: How the Pope Became the Most Influential Man in the World by Paul Collins

Mood:  Peaceful

Weight:  165

I got dressed for work this morning, feeling a little extra sassy.  There was a bit more va-va-voom in the reflection than normal.  I don’t know why but there was so I’ll ride that wave for as long as I have balance to do so.

I put on my favorite dress that hasn’t fit me for about two years and shimmied my way across my bedroom to finish my beauty preparation.  Today, I actually took an active interest in putting on something other than sunblock.  I’m wearing perfume AND makeup.  Oh yeah.  I’m hot.

In the full length mirror I stood full on and gave the rare nod of approval …and then….

No really, I’m asking for a friend here.  WTF is that!!!!???!#@$#@%%????

When I get a pedicure and I’m sitting in the funky massage chair…that good old good old stuff  wobbles back and forth like a jello jiggler while I sit and laugh my fool head off.

I have excellent self esteem.  I do what my body tells me to do.  Some days that’s running and eating quinoa and some days that’s eating an entire bag of Cheetos with zero remorse while I rub my poochy belly with my orange stained fingers and tell it things like, “You is good, you is beautiful, you housed a baby and stretched that tummy like a circus tent and went through 24 hours of labor to bring that baby into the world.  You created life.  You is important.”  Yes, The Help is one of my favorite books ever.  How did you guess?  But the message is important.

My body is good.  My body is wise, when I’m smart enough to listen to it.  It tells me when to sleep, when to eat, when I need a steak and when I need to get up and move.  It tells me when I’m doing something wrong in the form of pain.  It tells me when I’m doing something right in the form of that buzzing, heightened sense of wellness that comes from eating right and moving enough and adopting peace instead of stress.  I believe in feeding all the things that matter; mind, body and spirit.

Losing this little pooch probably won’t happen.  It’s been there since I gave birth 27 years ago in one variation or another.   Posture does count a bit for it as I get older, I find myself having to readjust my shoulders more often and remember to sit (especially) and stand with my shoulders back.   I wonder, if at the age of 47, I’m starting to go through some form of  spinal degeneration or if I’m just lazy AF and need to pay more attention, or if the weight of my Dad’s illness has manifested into my spine caving which then contributes to an exaggerated pooch. Or does it stem from smartphone addiction which constantly has my head tilted down reviewing news, texts, emails, social media, notifications to move, hydrate, et al.

I have to, in the immortal words of Kathryn Hahn in Bad Moms….

Get my *its up

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It’s the only way

Oh! One More Thing!

So…..haha…..funny story about being human.  My Dad has had a radical decline for about two months now which basically started as the snowball rolling downhill.  We thought we could outrun it.  It turns out that once again, I can’t solve everything.  Who knew?  Oh!  Everybody but me?  FAKE NEWS! I am being set up!  I can do EVERYTHING!  I’m not even buying into this particular line of nonsense.  My bologna has a first name…………….it’s S-H-A-N-N-O-N.

I’ve had a list of things I should address, things that need to be cooked, cleaned, filed, listed, acknowledged.

Exercise that should be walk-ed, yoga-ed, jog-ed, stretch-ed, pilates-ed…or even started.  Suck it Jane Fonda, I’m sitting down and wallowing for a year!

People I should talk to, at, near, now…

Problems that should be put to bed.  I’ve accomplished putting myself to bed.  Last night at eight PM as a matter of fact.  I’m very much in isolation mode right now.  I have to interact with people?  I’m busy.  I can’t.  My butt fell off in the subway and got run over by a train.  I’m on sick leave.  Nope.  I cannot spare a moment of extra energy or emotion today or tomorrow or the day after that.  I would love a pause button on the DVR of my life.  But life doesn’t allow you to wallow.  It doesn’t even give you a moment to come up for air sometimes.  People die and sickness pervades day to day life and even in the midst of our greatest sorrow; life still goes on around us.  We want to scream, “Stop and just give me a minute to get my bearings and catch up!”  But life has other designs.  You still hear birds singing and cars driving and children playing.  Your office inbox still accumulates more than you can possibly do in a day.  Your family still needs to be fed and the house cleaned.  you still need to shower and brush your teeth.  People laugh in spite of your anguish, not because they don’t care but because this…is….life.   And it doesn’t stop because we are in grieving or in pain or in crisis.  I would love to scream at the world, “Stop!  Don’t you know that my father is dying slowly?  Can’t you see the pain I’m in?  I’m tired and angry and scared and how dare you giggle because your baby giggled.  How dare the world not pause because I need a break!”  We need people to continue to laugh and love and live because our pain isn’t their pain and one day our laughter may lift them out of the dark in a karmic return of life and energy.  And we need people, who in the most random and absolute pockets of living drop upon us a moment of pure solidarity.

In the days since I’ve gone public with this, the outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming.  It’s humbling to see people who give their love and support freely or those who relate or wish they could say the things I say.  Well until now….

We did the round robin of phone calls last night.  The hospital called my mother who in turn called me to inform me of the latest outburst.  Oh sundowning…..you worthless turd.  I really hate you.  And I don’t hate things, but I hate you.   Every time we think we’ve got a handle on this latest slide – a medication change, a therapy change, a clothing change, a lighting change; it inevitably blows up because we’re here now.  “Well ma’am, he got violent so we had to give him an injection to calm him.”  This was the latest call in an endless parade of “Guess what he did now?” calls.

This is our life.  Dad is violent.  I really want to cry and curse and scream but I’ll do what I do best.

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I know I have dark humor.  DUH!

Life is about living.  Life is about loving and laughter and light and I do believe that with all of my heart.  My father would have been the first to go down that darkly humorous path and yes, it would have been just as naughty my irreverent Young Frankenstein joke.  I could’ve asked for a double.  One for him/one for me.  Bah dum bum tsssss.  My father, in all of his warped, undefinable, intelligent and whacky glory, carries on through me and my daughter and my grandson; that line of humor goes unbroken.  Humor is healing and so is sharing.  I am fortunate enough to have a group of friends who walk this path with me.  We share our sorrows and our joys and our journeys.   There’s a reason we should listen to our elders.  They have life experience, which is a euphemistic way of saying that fate kicked them senseless a time or two and still they have the benevolence to share with us the wisdom and clarity to cope with our generations very own humbling teeth kickings.

A friend from long ago and far away shared with me her year from hell.  A year in which we really weren’t in contact.  She’s endured illness, and health scares and the unimaginable pain of losing a friend.  I lost a friend this year too, through a totally different set of circumstances.  Loss is loss and it’s a reality check that is rarely welcomed.  She’s across the country from me, and her tribe –  who had their own sorrows which I know nothing about – rallied together with a party in which they shared their stories, stated their intentions and did their best to heal with whatever means necessary and as a party prize….got a stick of sage to smudge their homes to remove all negative juju.

I’m in.  I’ll even grow the sage.  For two months, I’ve felt like a rabbit caught in a snare with no escape and no reprieve and no end in sight.  I’ve been so caught up in the story of me that it never dawned on me that I’m not the only one.  What I learned from a random text today was this…even in the midst of our isolation, we are not alone.  There is a tenuous thread that reaches through all of us of connection and hope.

Thank you A – I love you.  You will never know how much I needed your wisdom today and I will do my best to honor it.  I’ll even share my sed-a-give.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aruba, Jamaica….

So there’s this guy that I…

Let’s just say that I’m not a fan.  He flirts with me in front of his wife.  He’s not as charming as he thinks he is; in point of fact, he’s creepy.   There’s the witty and slightly flirty but funny guy who makes jokes at a cocktail party and makes all the girls say “Oh YOU” and then there’s icky and reaching above your genus guy who makes you want to wipe your palm on your pants because he’s held your hand in his sweaty mitt a bit too long during a handshake.

He asked where I went on my honeymoon, which was the fourth question asked in an attempt to keep me cornered in a tiny kitchen. When I replied that we went to Ireland and Scotland, I was thoroughly lectured on my poor choices and the joys of…cruising.  Please allow me to say this, I do not begrudge anyone if they love something, but the notion of being on a cruise is just not my thing.  It doesn’t ring my bell.  It doesn’t make me swoon.  It doesn’t appeal to me in any fashion.  Unless it’s a river cruise in Europe and the reality is, after reading The Woman in Cabin 10, I’m sure that desire is dead now too.

Every year I see this dude and every year he attempts to convert me to the attend mass at Our Lady of Carnival Cruises Sans Legionnaire Disease, while sidling ever closer to me with each fervent appeal.  Apparently I didn’t read the fine print on my perfume called PANT AT ME which unfortunately I was wearing along with a body lotion called WELCOMES UNINVITED ADVANCES and my lip balm called THE WEDDING RING CLEARLY MEANS NOTHING GO BABY GO COME AT ME BRO made me irresistible and luscious.   Now that I know, I just won’t shower anymore when said person is around or if I have showered I may roll in dog poo just to be able to safely assume avoidance.  Hopefully that will drown out the scent of my deodorant called FORGET WHAT I SAID ABOUT LOVING MY MOUNTAIN SIZED HUSBAND!  I DIDN’T MEAN A WORD OF IT PUNY MAN! YOU’RE THE ONE FOR ME.

I deflected all of his advances while trying to demur politely; stating quietly that I prefer terra firma rather than a floating city.  He pushed further stating how I could do a small cruise and build my way up.  This somehow sounds like the even seedier version of “we’ll stop if it hurts” lie that boys try in high school.  After going back and forth for about forty minutes I finally sipped my tea called PLEASE STARE AT MY BOOBS which clearly was wafting it’s aroma of INVITATION FOR YOU NO MATTER HOW MUCH MY NOSE WRINKLES WHEN YOU’RE AROUND and stated, “I would rather be floating on a door in the North Atlantic.”

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That night our family was watching Hook.  Great movie and the very tonic (after scrubbing with a wire brush obviously) that one who has been visually undressed and groped needs.  Fluff, funny funny fluff.  I commented on my admirer and God bless Magilla, he just rolled his eyes.  “His wife was right there?”, he asked.  Nod, smirk, wink, slight mouth vomit.  “What’s his problem?”, Magilla griped.  I had to state the obvious…that I’m a total hottie and amazing and have a great laugh and an even better rac….never mind.

I quipped that if we had more romance in our life I wouldn’t be so rusty on flirting. He rolled his eyes again and tallied off the list of crap we dealt with that week.

The next day it poured.  I think an ark and a dude with a white beard floated past or maybe it was a demented cruise line selling vacation packages door to door.  I texted Magilla from my office lamenting that I had forgotten my boots at home and would he kindly come over and carry me to my truck. The text I received back simply stated “Haha”.

I fired back with…

If I were him, getting that from me, I would not have been so sweet as to offer an A-OK sign in response.  It would have probably involved another finger.  This, once again, is the glaring difference between a really nice person and the complete lunatic he married.