The Final Curtain

 

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This is a true story that happened over 13 years ago.

 

“Say your goodbye,” the emergency room doctor suggested, his eyes brimming with compassion. But the deep wrinkles etched across his brow revealed the weariness of all the pain and death they had witnessed behind the hastily drawn curtain.

Say your goodbye.

The beeping of machines dissolved into the background. The relentless ticktock of the clock on the ER wall paused as if waiting for my response. I felt myself sinking into black nothingness. My fingers shook as I clasped her limp hand and traced her wedding ring, its sharp edges jolting me awake. The abyss beckoned me: Don’t be afraid! Lean in! Peer into the darkness!

Say your goodbye.

I leaned over to kiss her pale cheek for one last time. I knew my mother was minutes away from leaving her body, but never expected the stark coldness, the unforgiving finality, the emptiness lying beneath my lips.

I wasn’t sure what to do next. I never had the chance to say goodbye to my dying dad. How do you say goodbye? What do I say? Thanks? Thanks for raising me? For teaching me hard lessons? I’ll see you again someday? Catch you on the flip side? Don’t go? Don’t leave me here all alone? Fear gripped my heart, squeezing the air out of my lungs. I was suffocating right along with my mother. A torrent of tears spilled down from my eyes onto her face. My entire body shook as I held onto her hand.  I can’t do this alone. I can’t do this. I can’t say goodbye. I’m not ready.

“Mom…I love you,” I sputtered into the abyss.

“I’m…..fine….don’t….worry,” my mother gasped, her breath gurgling between each word. “I love you…tell….your brothers…I love them.” She closed her eyes.

This was it. I can’t believe she’s dying. My mom! Dying! It’s just not real. It can’t be real. An ER nurse gently ushered me away from my mother as the doctor closed the curtain around the stretcher once again. She walked me to a small windowless waiting room separate from the larger waiting room outside the ER. This must be the private room for family members waiting for someone to die? Will they move me to an even smaller room when they tell me she’s dead? “We will try and get her stable,” the nurse said. “For now just wait in here. I’ll come get you if anything happens.”

It was midnight. Only bad things happen at midnight.

Only a few hours before I was drifting off to sleep next to my snoring husband and one-year-old son in our upstairs bedroom. A heavy rain pounded on the roof of our house. Without warning, I felt the atmosphere shift; the particles in the air pulsing and bright. Something is off, the universe whispered. Something big is happening.  Electricity surged through my body. The only other time I’ve felt this way was the night my dad suddenly died in a hospital bed 3,000 miles away.

I sat up, listening intently to the steady thrumming of the rain above our heads. I nudged my husband awake. “What was that? Do you hear that?”

“What? I don’t hear anything,” my husband whispered. “It’s just the rain. It’s nothing.” He rolled over to snore again.

But the rain wasn’t right; the wind urgent. Something was wrong.

I crept down the hallway and stairs into the dark kitchen. I wasn’t sure why I was checking, but I knew I had to check. An unseen force propelled me to walk through the kitchen to the door leading to our attached garage. I slowly opened the door, the wind howling outside in response. A low grown escaped from the shadows on the floor. There was my mom, lying on the bottom steps below her in-law apartment above the garage.

“I…can’t…breathe,” she whispered, her tiny frail body wrapped in her nightgown and bathrobe. She was still clutching her phone in one hand. She had managed to make her way down the steps to get help, but didn’t have the energy to remain standing long enough to knock on my door.

Now I was in a hospital, with my mother and The Abyss hiding a few feet away behind a thin white curtain. Soon two of my older brothers arrived and we waited, the foggy early morning hours bleeding into each other. Finally, a nurse entered the “Waiting For Death” room where we had sat for hours like stone statues. “She’s turned a corner! She’s stable!” she informed us.

We were stunned. The ER doctor suggested many times to me that she would probably die that night as she was drowning in her own fluids, her lungs almost completely filled from the congestive heart failure. But now she was suddenly stable. “If you hadn’t found her when you did…” he said to me, his voice trailing off.

My mom almost died that night back in 2003. I said my final goodbye, but the universe had other ideas. They transferred her to Maine Medical Center in Portland and a week later she underwent a quintuple bypass and valve replacement surgery at the age of 69. After the ten hour operation, she emerged feeling like a new woman. “I have a new heart now!” she told me in recovery. The surgeon informed us the average lifespan after such a surgery was 10 years.

Of course, her Mainer stubbornness proved him wrong. I’m thankful to have spent an additional 13 years with my mother and counting. She’s 83 now and enjoys relatively excellent health. I’ve let a lot of things go since she almost died. Peering into the abyss will do that to you. Our once stormy relationship has softened over the years to one of forgiveness, respect, and love.

Often we talk about those final moments; the time she was almost pulled over the edge. I’ve asked her more than once if it hurt to not be able to breathe, or if she was scared to die.

“Oh no, not at all,” she insists. “There was no pain. It was very peaceful. I saw your dad, you know. He was standing at the foot of my bed with two really big angels on either side of him. I knew I would be okay. Not scared at all. I was ready to go.”

I’ve seen death up close before when I was 21 and viewed my dad’s lifeless body lying in a coffin. I’ve carried the burden of not being present when he left us. I felt cheated out of saying goodbye to him. Yet the years of guilt, anger and sadness gradually faded away, transforming into acceptance and gratitude.

I don’t know why I went out to the garage that night. But the universe has a way of balancing things out. Saying my last goodbye to my mom that rainy October night prepared me again for the final curtain. I know when the time truly comes for my mom or me, I’ll be ready to jump into that abyss with less fear and more love.

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Oh, What a Year!

Well, ho ho ho and shut the front door!

It’s that time once again to look at my Saved By The Bell: “Slater Wears Tiny Tank Tops” desk calendar and say to my cat, “Hold up — another year’s gone in the blink of Screech’s lazy eye? What the hell? Is this how time works? Yeah, well screw you, Einstein!”

And for god’s sake, shut the front door.  It’s pretty friggin’ cold out.

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2016 has proven to be quite the stellar year! And by “stellar” I mean an absolute shit show from start to finish! You too?! Come join me as I zip down memory lane at lightning speed on my greased-up sled and crash land into a Wal-Mart parking lot!

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WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!

Here’s a quick rundown of the Maineiac family’s year. We’ll start with our 10-year-old daughter.

She spent five solid months of 2016 begging for one gift from Santa. It’s something every hellion in this country wants to get their grubby little hands on Christmas Day.

No, not a Cabbage Patch doll. Not a Tickle-Me-Elmo. Not even a Tickle-Me-Cabbage (I wish). But a stupidly overpriced mutant Furby inside a plastic egg, aka the Hatchimal.

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There’d better be a Faberge Egg inside this goddamned egg.

That’s right–it’s an egg! With a toy inside! What will these crazy toy manufacturers think of next?

My bet is more useless plastic.

My husband and I stopped at Target last week to find a long line of Hatchimal-less losers standing outside in sub-zero temps. They sold out of 38 of the things in 8 seconds. And no, we did not stand outside for them. I wouldn’t stand in line for hours on a warm summer day for two tickets to a “Back from the Dead” Beatles reunion.

But as luck would have it, some 38-year-old man living in his mom’s basement is selling them on eBay for 300 bucks a pop. Why, just take out a hefty loan or sell your soul to the devil and this little gem could be collecting dust at the bottom of your child’s closet in no time!

After we informed our daughter that Santa might not deliver a Hatchimal this Christmas, this is the following conversation we had with her:

Her: But I really really really really really really really really REALLY want one!

Mr. Maineiac: Really?

Me: Hey, know what I got for Christmas when I was your age?

Her: What?

Me: A Nancy Drew book. Then my brother sat on my head and farted.

Mr. Maineiac: You know what I got one year?

Her: What?

Mr. Maineiac: A penny. And I had to share it with my two sisters. We all took turns holding it. Then they both sat on my head and farted.

Her (pouting): But I want a Hatchimal!

Us (pouting): Where’s that wine?

Next up, my teenage son. Let’s check in and see how his year’s been going!

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[absolute silence for a good 15 minutes]
Ooooookay! That’s all I could get out of him.
(And that really isn’t my son. …but y’know what though? It could be. I haven’t seen his face in about 2 years.)

Finally, let’s check in with my dear ol’ Ma. She spent the better part of 2016 telling me how much she detests Trump. I was talking with her on the phone and tried to change the subject of his upcoming presidency by bringing up other horrible reality TV shows.

Me: Hey, have you seen Naked and Afraid lately?

Mom: No, too icky! I get enough nausea from seeing Trump on the news every damn day.  Did ya see that other show?

Me: Which one?

Mom: Y’know the one! That SHOW!

Me: Oh, yeah! Sure! THAT one!

Mom: Where the guy is married to all those crazy women?

Me: Sister Wives?

Mom: It’s ridiculous! First off, that man is not attractive AT ALL. And secondly, he’s ugly. What is wrong with all those women? I wanna see a woman married to four men! Let’s see that! Brother Husbands!

Me: Good idea!

Mom: Jeezum crow, did you see what Trump the Dump did now?

Me: Oops, gotta go! Time for more Hatchimal hunting!
________________________________________________

And how was your year? Let me know so I can be totes jealz!

Happy holidays, everyone!

Oh, Mother!

 

I think we all know mothers are strong, wise and beautiful women. The moms in my family were no exception.

mothers
Three lovely ladies in hats: my mother, great-grandmother, and gram.

I bet you also realize moms have little time on their hands most days. Which is why I’m posting a short-n-sweet rerun about motherhood, so we can all kick back and savor our breakfast in bed Sunday morning.

I wish all of you moms out there lots of love, laughter, chocolate, and a moment of peace and quiet. You deserve it. Happy Mother’s Day!

My Dear, Sweet, Slightly  Manipulative Daughter

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My daughter is only seven years old, but don’t let her age fool you. When Little Miss J wants something, she doesn’t simply tell you, that would be too easy.

Always a clever girl, she makes little homemade cards to communicate. First, she lures the reader in with her sweet drawings, then goes in for the kill with a well-timed zinger. Over the holidays, she handed me a card and I couldn’t help but laugh. And feel a little afraid. It read:

Dear Mommy,

I hope you have a Merry Christmas! [drawing of Christmas tree]

and get me lots of toys! PLEASE! [drawing of gifts]

and I love you! [drawing of big red heart]

[back of card] and I am standing here watching you read this card 

Love, J

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As I lowered the card, she was right there. Standing. And watching. I get shivers just remembering the intense look in her eyes. She is ruthless.

Her eyes sear a hole in my soul.
Her gaze has the power to burn a hole in my soul.

Today she made me yet another “greeting” card. I had been scolding her all week for not putting her trash in the trash can. Instead she was hiding it all over the house, cramming cheese stick wrappers in my slippers, sliding banana peels under the couch cushions, etc.

I said to her for the millionth time, “You need to put the trash in the trash, okay?”

Clearly fed up with me, she frowned and put her finger to her lips, deep in thought. Then she ran off to get her markers.

Five minutes later she handed me a card:

AWWWW!!!!
AWWWW!!!! Well isn’t this the SWEETEST?
Oh, it's a sweet picture of her and a rainbow!!! My heart might burst!!
Oh, it’s an adorable picture of her and a rainbow!!! My heart might burst!!

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The best part? When she got home from school today and I asked her to turn off the TV, she said, “Where’s that card I made you this morning?”

I have no idea where she gets this behavior.

And so it begins…

My son turned thirteen last month. Thirteen.  You know, the age their eyes roll back into their heads and molten lava starts shooting out from every orifice.

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BLAAAAARGGGGGH! I WILL DESTROY YOU!

So many, many things changed in an instant.

The day after he became a teenager, he announced at breakfast, “Mom, I need to do some chores because I need some money. And I think I want to go to the school dance next week. Oh, and I gotta go take a shower now.”

Whoa, whoa whoa — stop right there. Dance? Money? Okay, okay. I can handle that. But voluntary hygiene? You mean I won’t have to spend the better part of the morning begging you to scrape the putrid seven layer grime of raw sewage off your Sasquatch feet? Be still my beating heart! Think of all the free time I’ll have! My nose hairs might even grow back again! Oh joy! He willingly wants to take a shower! Maybe having a teen in the house won’t be so bad after all?

Oh, it be bad. Along with his newfound sense of cleanliness, all of a sudden my son thinks he’s capable of being by himself with no adult supervision.

Yesterday he called me on his little TracFone: “Hey, Mom,” he mumbled.  Because mumbling is the only language teenage boys understand. “I’m gonna stay after school and hang out in the field with Cameron and some friends before soccer practice, okay?”

Hold up.  You? In a field? With friends? Weren’t you the same boy who just THIS MORNING had to ask me for help because you couldn’t figure out how to open the car door? Suddenly you’re competent and responsible? Oh, no. Nope. That’s not how adulthood happens. You don’t pick Fruit Loops out of your belly button and eat them and then the next day hang out in a field with some possible psycho-killer named Cameron. Sounds like a made-up name to me. But my son wants me to believe he’s “mature” now. I’m not sure I’m buying it.

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“Yes, Mother. I shall be arriving momentarily at the athletic excursion whereupon I shall congregate amongst my colleagues sans supervision.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll call you if I need anything,” mumbled my 13-year-old son.

Call me? You don’t even know how to dial numbers! Do you even know any numbers?

“Okay, call me,” I sighed. “Please. Please for anything. Anything at-”

He hung up.

I suppose I should be happy because that was the longest conversation we’ve had in months.

The next day, still riding high on soap fumes from his second shower of the day, I drove my teenager to his soccer game.  About a mile away he suddenly mumbled with urgency, “Don’t drop me off at the field. Don’t get out of the car. Don’t talk to me. Don’t even look at me. Just drop me off in the parking lot. Wait, no — just slow down here and I’ll jump out.”

Right, because God forbid any of his buddies within a 150 mile radius get the slightest hint that I exist at all. Death in a ditch is more preferable.

This coming from a boy who not that long ago, if I were a mere millimeter outside his peripheral vision for a nanosecond all hell broke loose.

“Okay, mommy’s just going to step over here to get your baba…”

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“MOMMMM!!! WHERE ARE YOU??? MOM!!!! OH MY GOD! SHE’S GONE!!! COME BACK PLEASE!!! MOMMMMMM!!!!

I pulled up to the soccer field still a bit stung by my beloved son’s dogged determination to pretend I’m not alive. I leaned over and said, “Tell you what. First thing tomorrow I’m going to buy a wig, dark sunglasses and a fake mustache. Then I’m going to steal the Invisibility Cloak from Harry Potter, you know, just in case my wig falls off. Then I’ll buy tinted windows for the car in case the cloak falls off. If your friends are within earshot, I will only speak to you in sign language. Not a sign language that anyone can understand but a made-up language only you and I know.  If there’s a slight chance one of your friends cracks the code,  I’ll communicate to you only with my eyes and mental telepathy.  But I won’t look directly at you. I won’t make eye contact. I’ll look a little off to the side. If I’m breathing too much or too loud while we’re communicating telepathically, I’ll hold my breath until I pass out.  Okay?”

“Okay,” my son shrugged and he was gone, leaving me in a cloud of Axe shampoo.

Which was good because now I have loads of free time to search for invisibility cloaks on eBay.

Whole Lotta Fussin’ Goin’ On

Perhaps you’ve heard about the latest viral controversy that has gripped the entire nation. The curious incident of the fussy toddler versus the fussy restaurant owner versus the fussy parents of toddler. I’m not clear on the details but I take it one tantrum led to another and things escalated so fast people from Tanzania are currently offering their profanity-laced opinions on reddit.

One gloomy Maine day, Darla Neugebauer (no relation to author), owner of Marcy’s Diner in Portland, screamed at a toddler to “shut the hell up” after listening to her cry into her pancakes for nearly an hour in the midst of a packed diner. Darla went on to tell the parents to leave by throwing to-go boxes at them and yelling, “Either she goes or you go.”

Darla Marcy's Diner
Look — I’ve got teeny tiny braids and I’m not afraid to use ’em so back off, buddy!

The shocked parents, who were visiting from that other shining beacon of good manners, New York City, jumped on Facebook to promptly give Marcy’s Diner a bad review. Darla responded with some blunt profanity-filled rants of her own and suddenly people all over the planet were offering their opinions on parenting, public behavior and pancakes. Personally, I like mine with the cute smiley face made out of blueberries.

Since I’m from Maine, my name is also Darla, and I once was a parent of a toddler who made a living throwing epic tantrums, I thought I’d give both sides some unsolicited advice. Because as we all know, that’s the best kind of advice.

To the parents:

  • Next time order scrambled eggs.
  • The second your child starts crying, pick her up and run out the door screaming, “WHY? WHY? WHY?” Then sit in your car with your screaming kid the rest of the meal and watch your husband eat his bacon in peace, the smug bastard.
  • When dining out, always assess the level of noise that is spewing from your toddler’s mouth. Is it a low-level whine? More of a loud blubbering? Or are wine glasses shattering in the next town? Then act accordingly.
  • Always take time into consideration. As parents we are naturally conditioned to endure endless whining and crying that would make most non-parents scratch their own eyes out with a plastic fork. As a general rule, one minute to a parent = eternity for everyone else within earshot.
  • Having a kid means sometimes you can’t do things you once used to enjoy. Like spending a leisurely meal at a restaurant without everyone else glaring at you. Taking an uninterrupted shower. Reading a book. Sitting. Thinking. That little bundle of joy will interfere with your every waking moment whether you like it or not. Don’t worry, this only lasts until you die.
  • When Darla said to you on Facebook, “”You are lucky I didn’t get really f—ing nuts because being physical is not something I cower from,” keep in mind she speaks the ancient dialect of Maineiacese, a crude language born from extensive cabin fever due to the 100 inches of snow we got last winter. What Darla really meant to say was, “Thank you for your patronage, please come again.”

To Darla:

  • Next time try not to slam your hands down on the grill and scream directly at the toddler. Instead take three deep breaths and calmly suggest to the parents through gritted teeth that they eat their cold pancakes out in the rainy parking lot like any good parent would do. Like they always say, you can catch more social media firestorm with vinegar than with pancake syrup.
  • Take a crash course in how social media works. First rule: Do not piss off the NYC parents.
  • Who’s Marcy? Where the hell was she during this whole smack-down?
  • Because you are not a parent yourself, just for the shits and giggles take the nearest fussy, pancake-deprived toddler with a full diaper out to the busiest restaurant in town. Bon appetit!
  • Please keep up your brazenly crass curmudgeon attitude. It’s finally taken the spotlight off our governor.

In conclusion, I believe this squabble will only be resolved when Darla is forced to spend an entire day with the toddler and in return the NYC parents have to spend an entire day flipping pancakes with Darla.

What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy dining out in peace and quiet? Do you think fussy kids have a right to eat a meal too? Do you enjoy flipping pancakes? Would you make me some? Who’s Marcy? Please leave your controversial comments in the section below and I will agree with all of them.

Mom For Hire

The following post I wrote over three years ago and I’m reposting it because I have little time to write lately. In case you’re wondering the snow in Maine finally melted so I’m spending every waking moment outside.  Plus I’m tired. So damn tired. Happy Mother’s Day!

OBJECTIVE            To prove that when you notice the huge 10 year gap on my résumé, snicker and ask, “What were you doing all that time?!” I wasn’t merely sitting around twiddling my thumbs and eating bon bons.  (Although some days I did take a few breaks and did just that.)

WORK EXPERIENCE          

2000-2002              Fertility Specialist

  • Managed  and supervised an in-depth  and labor-intensive fertility project overseeing one disgruntled employee.
  • Daily progress was tracked with temperature readings, charts, graphs and my husband whining, “Do we have to do this AGAIN?!”
  • Goal was achieved after attending several meetings with various nurses, OB-GYNs and finally one prayer-filled seminar with The Big Guy in the Sky.
  • Assisted in creating an entire human being using only my body.
  •  Increased members of family by one healthy baby boy, increased household grocery consumption by 50%, decreased maternal brain cells by 30%.

2002-2003                Newborn Coordinator

  • Directed various sleep studies involving the length of time it takes for a subject to start hallucinating giant gummy bears dancing in the kitchen in relation to the few minutes of choppy haze-induced slumber one has per night.
  • Involved in product evaluations. Determined diaper wipe warmers are about as useful as another a hole in the head.  Also, breast pumps are not more effective if you crank the setting up to maximum and grit your teeth to get through the searing pain.
  • Managed one colicky baby every night for three months and implemented several tactics such as, walking baby around in circles while shushing, driving baby around neighborhood at 2 am and sobbing hysterically along with baby.

2003-2006                   Developmental Therapist/Lead Teacher

  • Lead instructor for a toddler child with sensory issues and more energy than an Energizer Bunny on speed fighting with the Tazmanian Devi in the midst of a hurricane..
  • Taught child how to count, how to recite the alphabet. Instructed child on proper hygiene, sleep habits, eating habits, social decorum. Lessons included: Hot Wheels are not for the toilet. Crayons are not edible. The cat is not a giant fuzzy doll that hisses. Addressed behavioral issues. For example, how not to hit, bite, kick another human being.
  • Subjects included: Respect, Kindness, Love, Curiosity, Imagination
  • Daily therapy provided:  giggling hysterically, dancing like everyone was watching, and running around the outdoors with wild abandon. Seeing the simple beauty, magic and joy in everyday things.
  • Goals achieved: 1) Raised one loving, caring, sweet, happy boy  2) Increased heart capacity by 1000%.

2006 to present             Mom Extraordinaire

  • Aided and assisted in creating and maintaining another human being using only my body.
  • Supervised two active, clever, bordering on maniacal children on a daily basis.
  • Provided safe, loving, nurturing home.
  • Taught subjects such as: sharing, caring, taking turns, being respectful of others, loving oneself
  • Goals Achieved: 1) Raised one sweet, loving, caring, happy girl. 2) Increased heart capacity by infinity.
  • Other Duties as Assigned: Chef, referee, maid, chauffeur, coach, dish washer, singer, dancer, party planner, counselor, public relations, nurse, doctor, teacher, professional hugger, boo-boo kisser, hand-holder, tear-wiper, confidence-builder and self-esteem engineer

SKILLS AND QUALIFICATIONS

    • Time Management  Able to flip pancakes, clean ketchup off ceiling, figure out an algebraic equation, unclog toilet filled with Polly Pockets, do 10 loads of laundry, drive kids to various practices, classes and play dates simultaneously.
    • Debating  Successfully presented and defended stance that Halloween candy consumed in large quantities for breakfast is a bad idea; flinging a Barbie at your brother’s head is a bad idea; jumping off the roof of the house into a snowbank wearing only underwear is a bad idea.
    • Patience  Able to withstand endless hours of ‘Why?’ questions, followed by listening to relentless whining, Spongebob episodes and sibling games of “But I’m Not Really Touching You!”  and “Stinky Feet”.
    • Love  Provided endless quantities on an as-needed basis until my heart hurt.

References Available Upon Maturity of Children.
Ask them how I did in 15 years. My guess is not too shabby.

Mishmash Monday

Hello there!

How the hell are you?

Just a friendly message letting you all know I can’t write anymore.

No, wait! Don’t leave me! Come back! This is serious! I got nuthin’! My bloggy well ran dry. My bloggy liquor cabinet has been emptied. My bloggy fridge has nothing but a half-drunk bottle of PBR and my bloggy pantry is full of moldy chocolate-covered raisins. No, wait…those aren’t raisins. I wish to god they were raisins.

Normally I have at least a dozen half-assed posts collecting dust in my draft folder. Today I checked and all I had was a quarter-assed post about Duck Dynasty I wrote nearly two years ago. About asses.

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Oh how I wish I really couldn’t see them.

This terrible no good winter from hell has killed my writerly soul. Yes, I said writerly. See how bad this is?

But being cooped up with cabin fever for these past six months has made me better at complaining. All winter long my husband and I played the classic married game of “Who’s More Miserable?”

Answer: It’s always me.

(Thank you, past hellish childbirth experiences.)

We’re celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary this week so this is what we do for fun now. Every night we cozy up in bed and suddenly turn into our grandmothers.

Him: “Oh god! I think my foot is going numb.”

Me: “My lower back is on fire!”

Him: “Yeah? Well, my ankle hurts!”

Me: “My knees hurt!”

Him: “My right butt cheek hurts!”

Me: “Hey, you know what hurts? That time they ripped all my insides out then put them on the table next to me! Twice!”

What’s even sadder is most times we are so exhausted from our daily lives we simply yell out body parts at each other. Sometimes to spice things up we’ll throw in a few potential diseases or ailments we think we might be developing.

“Thyroid!”

“Ovarian cancer!”

“Sleep apnea!”

“Menopause!”

What a delightful game! Other than my always being more miserable, nothing much else is going on with me.

As for my two kids? They’re flipping fantastic! Love them to pieces!

My eight-year-old daughter was looking at my high school yearbook photo last week and cringed: “Mom? Why is your hair so big? Why did you make it stick all up like that?”

I wish I knew, Miss J. I wish to god I knew.

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Laugh all you want now but at the time my Cowardly Lion mane provided a cozy home for a down-on-their-luck family of mice. (inhales) Ahhhhh! and I can still smell the burnt hair and chemicals just looking at this picture. And they warned us back then inhaling too much Aqua Net might fry your brain and lower your IQ! Pfft! Yeah, right! Whatever! hmmm…soooooooo….yeah…ahem….yep…..what was I talking about again?

Oh yes, my kids! My son is almost 13 so my knack for embarrassing the hell out of him comes with zero effort on my part.

The other day I was picking him up after track practice when I noticed a slight change in his appearance — a bit of peach fuzz on his upper lip.

“OH MY GOD! DO YOU HAVE A MUSTACHE?! IS THAT A MUSTACHE? OH! MY LITTLE BABY BOO IS BECOMING A MAN! NOOOO! WHY LORD? WHYYYYYY?”

Sure, I probably shouldn’t have yelled this revelation at the top of my lungs in the parking lot in front of his school. Or collapsed to the ground weeping. Okay, and I shouldn’t have actually picked him up. My back will pay for that one later. And maybe I shouldn’t have done all this when his friends were around. Plus that cute girl he really likes. Live and learn. Or not learn ever, in my case. I live to embarrass that boy. Let’s call it payback for colic.

I’d like to close this random post with a little movie review titled Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of What the F***?)

“Do you know what this movie means?”
“Hell no! I thought you did!”

**SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen the film yet, go away now! Go back to Twitter where you belong! Nothing to see here!**

Last week the little red Netflix envelope appeared in my mailbox and I thought, Ooh! Birdman! Cool! I like birds, I loved the movie Mr. Mom, this is going to be awesome! and settled down with my popcorn and gin to enjoy the feel-good movie of last year. I should have known a movie’s only Academy Award worthy when it makes you cringe the entire 2 hours. Ah, yes, the endless inner conflict of creativity versus fame, self-acceptance versus popularity, prop gun versus blown-off nose. Oh, Michael Keaton! I love you, man! You should have won that Oscar! But please, I’m begging you, rip off that ugly toupee and tell me what the hell the ending meant! Why were Emma Stone’s eyes so big? Why is Ed Norton so good at playing an asshole? Why was this movie the most depressing thing I’ve ever seen? Please tell me you lived happily ever after and flew away into the sunset wearing your undies! Why, Birdman? WHYYYYYY????

That’s it from here. What’s new with you? Do you know what the ending to Birdman meant? Do you also embarrass your kids? Can you give me some tips on how to improve my parenting tactics? Did I tell you my lower back’s on fire? What parts of your body are disintegrating?

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Birdman image: Rolling Stone
High School Yearbook Photo: She’s A “Gag me with a spoon” Maineiac

Planting the Seeds of Change

“An eye for an eye is just wrong, Mom.”

My 12-year-old son was explaining his feelings on law and order from thousands of years ago. His homework was to determine if justice involved cutting off a person’s hand if he were caught stealing food.

“Why is it wrong? Wasn’t he wrong to steal?” I asked him.

“It’s wrong because violence is never the right thing to do.”

Sadly, his opinion would seem to be rare if watching TV is any indication. We live in a world where violence is entertainment.

News channels repeatedly spew out the same horrifically violent videos 24/7. Popular video games and prime time television shows glorify senseless violence. Social media rewards people who commit crimes by posting their images until they go viral.

We sit there glued to our screens like desensitized robots and eat it up, but we never fully digest it. We let it consume our psyches, allowing the anger and fear fester inside of us, eventually planting seeds of overwhelming sadness until we become the news we are watching.

Newsflash: we are each other. Nothing is isolated in this world. Everything and everyone is connected. Every human has a story, his or her own personal tragedies to overcome. How do we break the chain of negativity? How do we grow to become the respectful, loving souls we are all destined to become? Anger and sadness are genuine emotions but it’s how we transform that energy that matters in the end.

Every day we each have to dig deep inside ourselves to make a simple but powerful choice. Love or fear. The truth I know in my heart? Love is the only thing that will save us.

A few years ago, a holistic doctor was helping treat the anxiety and depression I’ve suffered off and on all my life. I’m an emotionally sensitive person so I absorb all energy, the good and bad. Unfortunately, my own mindset began to change to one full of fear. I started to view the world as full of evil, disrespectful, misbehaving people. It’s an eye for an eye, it’s a hellish, cruel world. It’s hopeless.

My doctor offered a simple suggestion that I immediately scoffed at: Stop watching the news. Stop watching the news? But then I wouldn’t know what was going on in the world! I need to know! I can’t be ignorant of the problems people are facing every day, can I?

Now that I’m getting older I’m finding he was right. For me the key is balance.  I do stay informed of things, of course, but I turn off the news more and more. I’m finding I’m less anxious or sad. Now I go out into the world more positive, more accepting, more open to trust. People pick up on my energy and they feel it too.  Small changes make a big impact in your life.

I still know what goes on in this world, I’m not turning a blind eye to injustice.  Of course things need to be brought to light in order for change to occur. But what are you doing in your life to make that change? Simply watching the news is not taking positive action. But how you act toward everyone you meet? That is how you make real change.  It’s not found in buzz phrases or tweets. It’s getting down to the basics of how we treat each other as human beings.

Now I focus on the good things that are happening and I let them feed my soul. I make it a mission to water those seeds. Contrary to what the news tells us, every second of every day people are doing good. They’re loving, helping and respecting each other. They’re listening to each other’s viewpoint without jumping on a bandwagon just to be popular. They’re showing the courage to actually practice what they preach on a daily basis with no fanfare, no immediate reward, no viral story blowing up on the internet.

Why can’t this behavior be the norm on TV? Because these stories don’t get the best ratings.

There are millions of respectful, loving people on this planet. I remind myself the news media is in the business of getting us to watch. They figured out a long time ago, humans are drawn toward violence — we love drama, we crave conflict. News outlets seek it out and they zero in on it. They replay the worst of human behavior for our endless consumption until it slowly poisons us.

Hope is not lost with me because I’m blessed to be able to tap into a deep well of boundless love and positivity. It’s found within my own kids. I raised them to treat everyone they meet fairly, to try not to judge anyone based on differences. To listen. To understand. To empathize. To respect. To accept. To love. These aren’t mere words, these are actual concepts we practice every day. As a parent, I’m cultivating in them the notion of honoring all life.

My son is now my teacher. I watch how he acts and I relearn how to behave myself. He shows me that talk is cheap. He stands up for people that are considered “different” because he is different himself. He is respectful, loving, and compassionate to everyone he meets. Everyone. I know he will be brave enough to do some good in this world. He will make a real change.

He chooses love over fear, so why can’t I?

Maybe someday, this will be considered popular behavior. Maybe someday, this will be the news.

 

 

 

 

 

What the? Wednesday

There is nothing more entertaining than watching your kid attempt a magic trick.

My 7-year-old daughter is obsessed with David Blaine. She repeatedly watches his video “Trapped Inside The Ice Cube of Death!” on YouTube.  She’s convinced she’ll be a magician someday.

david blaine in ice

This morning she runs up to me and yells, “Hey Mom! I can do magic tricks! I’ll make this penny disappear!”

She excitedly rubs her hands together for several seconds.

“Okay….and….here…. comes…. the magic…….” she whispers as she continues rubbing her hands, her eyes growing wider, my anticipation rising.

[sound of penny clinking to the floor]

“Ta-da!” She opens her hands.  “It’s GONE! It’s MAGIC! I’m gonna be famous like David Blaine!” Then she runs off whooping and dancing.

I’ve no doubt she will be famous with talent like that.

Let’s just hope she stays away from giant blocks of ice.

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My daughter also likes to constantly one-up everyone in the worry department. One morning, we were driving to school and this was our conversation.

Me: I’m nervous about my job interview tomorrow.

My son: And I’m nervous about the dentist appointment today.

Her: Yeah, well, I’M nervous about long vowel sounds!

Terrifying.
Terrifying.

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My son is 12 years old and naturally spends most of his day either teasing me or being completely annoyed by everything I do and say.

In spite of this, the other day I treated him to lunch at McD’s. (shut up) I sat there sipping my sad cup of coffee, watching him shovel food into his mouth like he hadn’t eaten in years. He noticed I was drooling over his french fries so he said in a sweet voice, “Hey, Mom, you can have the rest of my fries. Here.” Then he smiled and handed me the container.

It was empty except for one shriveled burnt-to-a-crisp reject fry.

After I cried, he apologized and offered me a chicken nugget but I wisely declined.

The next day, still peeved by the French Fry Incident, I made sure to drop him off at the front of his school blasting the song “Roam” by the B-52s.

As he got out of the car in front of his friends,  I launched into the most epic dorkiest dance ever seen, my arms waving in the air like I just didn’t care, my head bopping from side to side, the car rocking back and forth. The look on his face? Priceless. Worth every French fry.

Don’t mess with Mom, kids. Because I will always have the power to embarrass you.

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Speaking of dorks in cars, this month I did the unthinkable. I got a new car.

Not just any car, but a hybrid car.

The Prius.

th53U7NITO

It’s true, I’ve become one of those people.

Yes, it’s tiny. Yes, it runs on a battery (sometimes). Yes, it’s made of a few pieces of cellophane and duct tape. Yes, I plug it into my iPhone on my nightstand to charge it overnight. Judge all you want.

But there are benefits to driving an electric car. Of course, it helps the environment, blah blah blah. But it also helps save me money. So guess who’ll have extra moulah in her pocket to pay for the one-way ticket on the Virgin Spaceship to Mars when global warming finally wins? Who’s making fun of the Prius now, huh? You are? Yeah, fine, it’s a clown car, whatever.

Anyway, I filled up my gas tank today — 18 bucks. EIGHTEEN BUCKS. I haven’t seen that price since shoulder pads were in fashion! Sure my tank is the size of a thimble but I’m getting on average 50 mpg! Once I was zipping down the road and noticed I was getting 72 mpg! God I felt so smug!

Granted, I was floating along the current from the massive wake of the giant tractor trailer truck in front of me, but still!  And shortly after that my car got sucked under a Chevy Suburban then shot back out ricocheting off several cars like some hellish pinball machine on the highway, but hello! Good gas mileage!

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Make sure to get out and vote next week, kids.  C’mon, it’s fun!

thO2HFG60TI’m voting mainly because I’m still trying to assuage my guilt over voting for Bush in ’88. (I think I inhaled too much hairspray that year.) God I love the word ‘assuage’, it just rolls off the tongue and sounds a little like ‘ass’ and ‘sewage’.  Which reminds me….

Maine currently has a tight race for governor this year. Very exciting. And by exciting I mean not exciting. Depressing as hell.

Our choices? Paul Le Page, Eliot Cutler or Mike Michaud.

I think we all know who I’ll choose for my write-in candidate.

thI83P0HSS

He looks more than qualified to me.

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So what’s new with you? Do you know any magic tricks? Can you make David Blaine disappear?

Are you voting? If you aren’t, then do you have the right to complain? If you are voting, do I have the right to complain about your complaining about people who don’t vote yet still complain?

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This marks my 300th post! And it only took me 4 and half years! In celebration, here — have some of my stashed Halloween candy….just leave my Kit Kats alone, thanks.

 

 

Unexplained Mysteries of My Universe (Part 3)

∗ Why is it that I can go on errands for the entire morning, spending hours out in public, then later that day as I’m going on my walk I suddenly think,
Holy shit — did I remember to put on my pants today?

Then I look down to check.

So for a split second it’s this insane moment of panic. Like maybe I woke up, took a shower, got dressed, put on makeup, got the kids ready for school and rushed out the door with no pants on. (I always remember my shoes, of course. Because if I didn’t that would just be crazy.)

But if in fact I actually did forget to wear pants that day, wouldn’t the draft tip me off? Or the reactions of horror from all those people at Home Depot?

I fear how senile I’ll be once I’m in my 80s.  That old lady in the power tool aisle wearing only slippers? It’s probably me. You’ve been warned.

∗ Why is the veggie drawer at the bottom of my fridge? Surely I’m not expected to expend the energy required to bend down to get my vegetables. It’s bad enough I have to remember to eat the vile things.

Not worth it.
Not worth it.

And the stuff in the crisper never stays fresh. Do they call it a ‘crisper’ because it shrivels and turns black the second I shove it in there? Let’s cut to the chase and call it “The Drawer of Decay”. I basically have to eat that entire head of arugula while I’m walking from the grocery store to my car or it’s as good as rotted.

This is why I don’t eat enough veggies.  Because I’m not quick enough. And I lack the adequate abdominal strength to bend that far down.

“Oh, really? You want me to cook some of the zucchini? Oh well, you obviously have forgotten I have no ab muscles to speak of.  Yeah, it’s just a big bag of marshmallow fluff between my ribcage and my hips. It’s useless. Hell I can barely reach over to grab that cream cheese and bacon and you expect me to do calisthenics to get to some zucchini?”

I suppose if I have to eat this crap I might as well make it more accessible. I think I’m going to rig it so when I open up the fridge stalks of broccoli instantly shoot into my face from a cannon. Then I might be willing to eat them more.

Probably not.

∗ As every parent knows, when your kids are quiet something’s up and it’s usually not good. I used to panic when it was quiet, but my kids are a bit older now and I wonder why I’m so much lazier with my panicking. I do half-assed panicking: a lot of worrying, but no action.

I think,  Are they okay? Are they still alive? Maybe not, maybe something happened. And here’s the worst part: I wait. I listen. Sometimes for a long long time to see if the silence lasts.

My kids might be in trouble and I actually choose my own selfish craving for quiet over possibly rescuing them from harm. What if they’re up on the roof? What if they took my car for a joy ride? I should be finding out, right? I shouldn’t still be lying here on this couch like a slob. Because that would be wrong.

I really should put this book down.
I really should put this book down.

So after about 20 minutes or an hour or three I get up to find out if they’re okay and always find them listening to music on their headphones in their bedrooms.

Still — I probably should have gotten up off the couch at least by the 30 minute mark. This is when the mommy guilt comes and I end up sticking my face in front of my broccoli cannon for punishment.

∗ Why is it we actually have the ability to replace our body’s entire skeleton every ten years, and renew all of our skin every 28 days, yet my cellulite never goes away?

∗ What is up with my 7-year-old daughter’s hair? It’s got a mind of its own.  I shampoo, condition, comb, brush and prune it. I pull it back in a pony tail, I braid it,  I shellac it with Spackle and various plastic polymers. Yet within seconds it’s back to looking like a big pile of tumble weeds.  And brushing out the tangles? Pure hell. Combing out her hair is like pulling thorns out of a lion’s paw.

Of course, I’ve tried letting her brush it herself and she does a great job. At brushing only the parts she sees in the mirror. So her front is perfect but the back would make a cozy nest for an entire family of rats.

When I tell her this, she shrugs and says, “But I can’t see the back!” So in her mind no one else can, either.

If only I could apply this logic to my gigantic, pantsless, bacon-fed, cellulite-riddled ass.