“Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are Christ’s letter, delivered by us, not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God – not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” –2 Corinthians 3:1 – 3
A lot of feeling and reaction can come from a letter. We get so much junk in our mailbox – ads, coupons for things no one wants to buy (those poor, dead trees), bills, politicians begging for a vote because their actions don’t speak well for them. But think about the warm pleasure we get when receiving a hand-written letter from a friend, a rare occurrence these days. Think about how excited children (and some adults… okay, me) are when they receive a birthday card. If there wasn’t pleasure in writing and reading a letter, people wouldn’t spend so much money and time on Christmas cards, especially the ones that come with a “year in our lives” update on the family.
Think of the comforting power of hand-written notes and letters to offer sympathy and condolence, or the devastation that can be delivered when the military sends a person to hand-deliver the written news that a loved one is never coming home again.
Letters are powerful.
Those were my thoughts when I read this verse from 2 Corinthians. Maybe it’s because I love writing, especially letters to friends (though I haven’t in quite a long time, so there’s my reminder). Maybe it’s because I love receiving a random, hand-written card or note reminding me how fiercely loved I am. It is terrifyingly wonderful to think that we are just as powerful, that we are hand-written letters meant to be read by the world. That’s a lot of pressure.
Our hearts are letters to be read. That means our hearts are meant to be open and available for reading.
It’s a compelling reminder to me that the walls I construct around my heart not only prevent me from being read by the world as a love letter to them; they also prevent me from reading all the walking love letters surrounding me every day. How sad to know so many letters go unread.
What would it look like if even a handful of us tore down those walls and started purposely acting like a love letter sent to a world that is hurting, grief-stricken, lonely, and scared? We will certainly be in danger of being hurt in return. It is certainly daunting. We will absolutely have times when we feel lonely and alone. There will be grief. It will suck. It is hard to sit with people in their hurt, grief, and aloneness and take the time to really see them without squirming. (“Squirming” includes trying to make it better with platitudes and trite sayings, setting a mental timer to stay only 15 minutes at the funeral home or hospital, and convincing ourselves we are too busy to help and someone else will surely be there. Squirming is sympathy without empathy.)
Then again, the letters that are the most valuable – the ones we keep in our boxes with old photos and trinkets – are the ones from people who see us and who minister to our hearts. Those are the letters that stick with us. We keep love letters, encouragement, the funny birthday cards from our children.
That’s my charge to myself, then: to be brave, to open my heart to people and let them read the letters written there, to get knocked down by some of those people, to fail epically on many occasions, and to choose to keep my heart open anyway.
Because if my heart is a hand-written letter then it follows that the letter was written on purpose for someone to read. And I would never want to get in the way of someone reading.
Apparently, it’s my 6th anniversary with WordPress. Who knew? I certainly didn’t. I simply realized I hadn’t posted in forever (again) and thought it might be time to throw down a few lines while my husband watches grown men throw down each other, or throw chairs down on each other. (Wrestling is not my entertainment of choice – that’s “wrasslin” if you’re from my home state.)
I don’t have much to say, though. That’s not like me. I can unintentionally take a 5-minute conversation and drag it out for an hour.
Since it’s my blogiversary, however, I feel compelled to write. So… I shall tell you a parenting story from when I was only 3 or 4 years into this whole step-momming thing. I shall entertain you, and possibly frighten you if you have a boy who is not yet 3 or 4 years old.
Disclaimer: This story happened a decade ago. Much has changed since that time – I have moved to a company I love and a role I enjoy by now, but when this occurred, life was hard. Also, it has been a decade. Memory is a tricky thing, so I’ll fill in the details I can and you’ll have to fill in the rest. Happy trails!
It is Saturday. The husband-child is at soccer practice, or out mowing, or with friends, or something else. He is not at home. It is his weekend to have the kids, so the girl child and boy child are at the house with me. He is around 4 – just had his birthday, in fact – and she is 8 going on 9. I am at the kitchen sink washing dishes that wouldn’t fit into the dishwasher or are not dishwasher safe. Or the dishwasher is broken, which is more likely.
I normally watch TV while I’m doing dishes, because we have an open floor plan and the kitchen sink is backed by a half wall that allows me to see the living room, where the TV is located. Today, though, I need quiet. It has been a long week at work, I am tired and hate my job, and home is stressful, too.
And, you know – kids.
Both kids have been surprisingly easy to handle today. They are watching TV and playing together in the girl child room. She has always been another kind of mother to him, even though we have told her to let him do things for himself and even though they get on each other’s nerves. Her room is the farthest from the front of the house. It is only 1200 square feet, so nowhere is far from the front of the house, which is built in a square shape, but I tell myself they are as far as they can be while still close enough for me to handle whatever they do.
I am precious. Also, naive.
I am halfway through the dishes. My fingertips are raisin-wrinkled from soaking in the suds.
I notice how quiet it is. It is peaceful.
This is catastrophic.
For those of you who are not parents, yet, or who may never be, please allow me to educate you. When it is quiet in your home and you have at least one small child, it is bad. It is possibly/probably a crisis of apocalyptic proportions. Here’s the formula version:
+ SILENCE =
That’s toddler + silence = nuclear explosion if you didn’t get that. The only time that’s not true is if they’re sleeping, and even then it’s only 50/50. (So. Many. Stories. I may have found my new blog subject for the next year.)
*back to the story*
I know they’re both supposed to be in the girly’s room, but it’s silent other than her TV, which is now on a show I know the boy does not like and will not watch. I dry my hands, prepared to investigate. A candy cane odor permeates the air. I wonder if they found some gum and begin imagining all the horrible things that could happen that I will not be able to (a) prevent from happening, (b) explain to their mother, or (c) remove from the carpet.
The dread I feel is an elephant sitting on a dollhouse chair.
I walk down the hall and notice he is not in his room, which is on the way, and the bathroom appears dark, but sometimes it’s hard to tell. Her door is closed. I open it and do not see her brother.
“Hey, sweetie, where’s your brother?”
“He said he was going to the bathroom, then he would go to his room and play.”
I pause, confused. “He’s not in his room, and there is no light under the bathroom door.” The bathroom, in fact, is silent.
“He’s been in there for a while, now. Maybe he had to poop.” Never in the child’s life has his poo ever smelled minty fresh. He is afraid of the dark. Oh, this is bad.
I brace myself, knock on the bathroom door, and say his name. No answer. I knock again and ask if he’s in there, in as sweet and hopeful a voice I can use. He yells back, “I be done in minute!” (He is autistic and his speech patterns and development are a couple years behind on the learning curve. His words sound more like a 2-year-old’s, but I know what he is saying.)
“Hey, buddy, are you okay? The light is off in there!” Nothing – I try the door. It is locked. He is not allowed to lock the door. I begin counting down from 100 so I don’t go from zero to rage in a nanosecond. If he has locked the door, a horror I have never known awaits me on the other side. There is also the very real fear that he will hurt himself, albeit accidentally. We changed the lock last year so it’s easier to open from the outside, though. All I need is a penny. We keep it on top of the door frame. I grab it to unlock the door, letting him know I’m going to.
I hear the knob rattle before I can unlock it, and the door creeps open. The light is still off. I am forced to step back when a noxious cloud of artificial mint escapes into the hallway. I flick the light switch.
A smurf walks out of the bathroom into the hallway.
There is no other explanation.
Every inch of skin is sky blue and the only contrasts are his white-blond hair, gray eyes, and white shorts.
The mint is so overpowering that I continue stepping backward through the hall, away from him. It is burning my sinuses.
His arms are outstretched from his body at 45-degree angles, his eyes are saucer-wide, and he begins inching toward me.
The smurf is stalking me!
He starts promising, over and over, “I won’t do ‘gain. I won’t do ‘gain. I won’t do ‘gain.” His eyes plead with me to believe him and not be mad. The gruesome remains of two tubes of toothpaste and their offal litter the bathroom sink. Another smurf may have died a violent, torturous death within these walls.
The look on his face penetrates the menthol brain fog and I finally ask, “Buddy, what happened?” I am careful to keep the question neutral so he doesn’t have a meltdown and I have a chance to get an explanation.
He says, “I fot it was shavin’ cweam.” His eyes begin to water, two silvery full moons in his cornflower-hued face.
I connect the dots.
He received a toy shaving kit for his birthday or Christmas. The play shaving cream looks a lot like a stand-up toothpaste dispenser. He thought the toothpaste was his toy shaving cream. I have no explanation for why he might smear fake shaving cream over his entire body. Maybe he watched a documentary about a swimmer? I realized long ago that happiness does not await one who travels the road through his mental world and tries to understand it. His mind is not meant to be fully understood by mere humans. It is meant to be wondered at, observed, and enjoyed – a complex work of surrealism juxtaposed with modernist art, all displayed in a funhouse of mazes and mirrors.
It’ll make you crazy.
“Buddy,” I say. “You didn’t bring your kit with you here. It’s still at your mom’s.”
He cries. “It hurts.”
He has eczema. His skin is not tingly fresh. He is on fire.
I run a bath while he stares at his shorts, contemplating his dilemma. His hands are blue with caked toothpaste. He knows he shouldn’t touch his shorts. Crisis.
Meltdown is eminent. Whether it will be mine or his is a crap-shoot.
We get him into the bathwater. It’s the same struggle I had trying to wash toothpaste off my car after the wedding – when toothpaste gets wet, it foams and sticks. It is not easy to wash away.
Also, the water has turned into a toxic, opaque blue lagoon, and less than half of the toothpaste is gone. We drain and start again. Running the shower is not an option, as the boy child cannot handle water anywhere near his face.
It takes three baths to remove blue from crevices that – once we had potty trained – I didn’t think I would ever have to see again. His skin is no longer blue, but the peppermint oil and chemicals in the paste have left him with raised bumps and angry red marks where skin is irritated. I smear him with the hydrocortizone I have left and every ounce of Eucerine cream I can get out of a boat-sized tub. He is no longer a smurf.
He is a baby abominable snowman who hails from a peppermint farm in Oregon.
How am I going to explain this?
Executive decision: I am not.
He takes a nap while I have a meeting with myself and tell myself to get it together. Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream is served at this meeting. It is a lifeline.
His mother picks him up a few hours later and bends down to hug him. She scrunches up her nose and asks, “Why does he smell so minty?”
“I am incapable of telling that story, but we’re two tubes of toothpaste short, now, and he’ll probably smell that way for the next few days.”
It will take a week for the fragrance to dissipate. We write a note to his pre-school teacher. It is an improvement over the last explanation we had to give her. A month prior to this, he accidentally started a melee on the playground and had no clue.
In his defense, he had no idea he inspired a brawl.
Side-note: he has never smelled better than he did that week. (True story – boys going through puberty are stinky.)
I learned today that I have not yet arrived to the point in my salvation where I can cover everyone with perfect grace/mercy.
Well, it was reiterated. It’s a journey, folks, and I know my truth.
I also learned today what it means when people say things like, “Mama Bear came out of hibernation,” or, “She went all Mama Bear on ’em,” or, “You better watch yourself or I will straight up go Mama Bear on you!”
People, when someone says that, what it apparently means is that the desire to do violence is so great that it can only be compared to a Grizzly bear on rampage. Fun fact: the bite of a Grizzly is thought to be able to crush a bowling ball, easily. Grizzlies will also approach other predators to steal their prey for dinner, and they do it in the open with no apologies.
And I hit that point today in less than 3 seconds flat, and I have no regrets. That’s probably a bad sign.
Another fun fact: you have never known true rage until you’ve held your grown child while they weep because someone else hurt them and they did it via phone/text because they were too cowardly to have an adult conversation. (Don’t ask me what happened – I won’t expatiate.)
I hate violence. I am so sensitive to it that I can’t watch it on television, I hate the noise of a violent show or video game, and because of that (much to my husband’s dismay) I will never be a fan of Game of Thrones. (I know, I know – just get over it. Never gonna happen for me.) I come from a long line of hunters who have passed down the Cherokee ways – hunting is for food, not for sport, and nothing gets wasted. In a zombie apocalypse, we’ve already decided which remote location we would move to and that I would be responsible for providing food for the family with the added bonus that I know how to tan leather the old fashioned way, make weapons, and knit (we can’t wear only leather – it would be a horrible fashion statement). I can do it if I have to, but my heart is tender, especially toward animals, and I would not love it. I cry when I hit butterflies with my car, for pity’s sake. I cried once after hitting a kamikaze squirrel on the way to take our youngest to elementary school, and it was so alarming to him that he patted my hand for the next 7 minutes and asked me if I was okay twice before he was willing to get out of the car and leave me alone. And he’s the one who doesn’t read or process emotions like other people do, so I must have been a train wreck for him to be that worried.
Food is food, though, so I could get past it. Or I would openly weep while providing dinner for the family and we would have a rule that no one talks to me for 24 hours after the hunt. Whatever.
I have been subjected to violence and never once has it inspired me to retaliate in kind. Don’t mistake what I’m saying; I will protect my family at all costs and I’m a crack shot, but the threat has to be real.
I am a delicate flower.
Today, my tenderhearted spirit temporarily and gladly vacated my body to be replaced with the rage of a thousand Grizzly bears, and I wanted blood. I wanted violence. I wanted to rip someone’s face off then rip out their entrails while they writhed with the pain of their demise, to hear the snap and crack of vertebrae separating from vertebrae, and I would have done it with a smile on my face.
Whoa. Yeah. It was real. It is not a Christian attitude. It is not something that would come up as an optional answer (for a child of the 90s) if asked, “What would Jesus do?”
Not that, okay?
Would I ever do that? Probably not. I say “probably” because I hope not. I’ve never been given the option and wasn’t close enough today to worry about it. The moment was fleeting, albeit intense. Also, I have the actual upper-body strength of an overcooked spaghetti noodle, so… yeah.
But oh, I wanted it with every neuron and muscle fiber in my body. I wanted to crush heads like a Grizzly biting a bowling ball, use my claws to shred skin like it was paper then throw it as confetti, bathing in blood all the while. (Okay, now I’m feeling a little ashamed, but I’m trying to be transparent, here.)
The worst part about it is that I don’t hate this person. I know that our kids will have to go through hurt, and disappointment, and that it is going to be awful and scary and sometimes humiliating and they will not know how to handle it and they will fall apart and there is nothing I can do about it. I know that. I hate it. But I know it. I even know it’s necessary for them to learn how to human correctly, with compassion and empathy.
The rage is not because one of my own is hurting – I mean, okay, fine, it is absolutely because one of my own is hurting and I want retribution. Happy?
It’s also because of two other reasons: the first is that the idiot didn’t even have the cojones to inflict the wound face-to-face, like a real adult should. He did it via text message, and there is no universe where a mature adult will ever do that. Let me be clear: amature adult who actually has their $%*# together will give bad news face to face no matter how uncomfortable it is. So if said idiot gets ahold of this somehow – WRITE THAT DOWN. YOU HAVE FAILED AT ADULTING. BE BETTER. You can do it; I know enough about you to know that.
The second reason, though, is far deeper and speaks to wounds we have all felt and that I do not want to perpetuate in the next generation. It is a wound that creeps in during childhood when we fail at parenting (we all do it, sometimes – no one is perfect), gets reinforced when things at school aren’t exactly as expected, when friends suddenly become enemies and there’s no explanation, and when we’ve left childhood behind and face disappointments as adults (a job we wanted but didn’t get, a relationship that goes sour, a negative checking account when we forgot to subtract that $5 at the gas pump, the disappointment from our parents if we don’t have the same dreams and strengths they wanted us to have, the list is innumerable).
It’s a nonspecific viral illness, striking when least expected and without a clear, definitive diagnosis in most cases, a festering sore that gets more and more infected the older we get if left unchecked. It poisons our lives, and while the symptoms are sometimes there, we might never know the true source of the infection. It’s that little voice that whispers in the dark when we’re at our lowest, and you know what it says?
It says we’re not enough.
I cannot prevent the hurt I know my loved ones will feel. I cannot shield our children from pain, wouldn’t even know how to in most cases, and I will never have that kind of super-power (or, thank God, responsibility). I know that the hurt is necessary for learning and growth, and that it is uncomfortable. My hope is that I can help make it temporary and that what doesn’t kill them really does make them stronger – not in a false way, where they surround themselves with a shell of impenetrable ice, but in a way that they are still just as soft and vulnerable as ever, but proud and confident because they’ve survived the wound.
I want them to understand that it is 100,000% okay to fall apart, even if they need to fall apart multiple times. I want to be a safe place for them to do that. I want them to be so okay with who they are as a human and so secure in our love for them that they can ugly cry in public or sitting in our bathroom floor, and I want them to know that it is in that exact moment when their beauty and their strength shines through. I want them to know that when someone hurts them I want to tear that other person into a gazillion pieces and then tell God they died, but instead I’ll probably ask what kind of ice cream they want. I want them to know that if they truly need me to, I will step in and handle it, but that there are few instances in which they truly need me to step in to do that.
I hate the pain, but what I hate the most – what inspires the rage – is the thought that they might ever feel like they are not enough.
There is nothing on this earth that will make me go Old-Testament-reckoning on someone like anyone making someone I love feel that way.
I will end them.
(I will want to, even if I don’t do it. Jail is real, y’all. Jail is real. That’s why we have Jesus, friends, ice cream, chocolate, and sometimes even wine – in moderation.)
If you have ever felt that wound, if you feel it now, let me go ahead and tell you what someone should have said to you long ago.
You. Are. Enough.
You are not too much, you don’t fall short, you are plenty.
Sometimes, there are people who need to make an exit to make our lives better. Sometimes, we want things to work out that don’t, and it is devastating. Often, we have no idea what really happened or why, and usually, closure does not exist, but in Hemingway’s words, “isn’t it pretty to think” it does? (Go read The Sun Also Rises if you don’t know that reference. Educate yourself.) All of those things are hard lessons learned from hurt.
But you are enough.
I am still dealing with the rage. I cried while holding the crying child, and in the aftermath I’m still feeling a bit Red-Weddingish. (Just because I can’t watch it doesn’t mean my husband doesn’t keep me up to date.) This is what they mean when they say the struggle is real. I’m experiencing a raging moral dilemma, heavy on the rage.
I will get over it. Mercy is one of my gifts. Sometimes it takes a little longer, but we’ll get there in 12 steps or less.
Pray for me, y’all. I’ll be here eating chocolate while you do. Then go hug somebody and let them know they’re totally and completely enough.
I hate New Year’s resolutions. I hate them for me, I hate other people’s, and I think we should unite as a society and rise against them.
Also, it has taken me way too long to realize how fun it is to post a blog and hear my husband’s resultant sigh as his phone pings with a Twitter notification (this blog is attached to a Twitter account). He tolerates me. We like to bother each other. It keeps our marriage strong.
Back to the resolutions, though. Why do we pretend that the New Year is the best time to reinvent ourselves? Other than the fact that I am off work today and lounging in bed with my dogs, I don’t feel any different than I did yesterday. It is Tuesday. I am still 35. I still woke up to the smell of dog breath because our pug/boxer mix weaseled his way into becoming the little spoon. (His name is Duke, he is a shameless hussy, and for a dog we picked up out of the dust under a tobacco wagon, he has acclimated a little too well to blankets and pillows.)
I am the same person I was yesterday with the same job I had yesterday, the same issues, same quirks, and same foundational belief that separate bathrooms save marriages and that no matter what people may tell me, beets are gross and taste like dirt regardless of how they are prepared.
I guess I hate resolutions because part of my job is to teach people how to set goals for themselves and then how to reach them, what it takes to stick with one and realize that motivation is a myth, achieving anything worthwhile is going to take a lot of baby steps and failures, will suck at some point, and is often completely un-fun, and because the veneer of most resolutions is chintzy.
Resolutions are gold-plated lug nuts sold as diamond rings. They require work, dedication, purpose, and the assistance of several other pieces of hardware that tend to go unnoticed in order to perform the function for which they were created. But people toss them around like confetti, then hope that by the third week of January the book will have written itself, the relationship will transform into a true-love story for the ages after three whole ‘dates’ without the kids, said kids would altruistically wash the dishes without being asked, and that kale will magically taste like cotton-candy drizzled with chocolate.
It sounds fantastic.
I’m sure this year everything will be different and by January 21st, or February 1st, or even by July everyone’s resolutions will still be in full swing, new habits will have been formed, and 2019 will be the year everyone’s life will be transformed. The chrysalis spun on January 1, 2019, will have helped everyone metamorphose into the butterfly they were created to be.
I have another confession: I doubt it.
I think kale will still taste like kale by January 21st, the idea of the resolution will still be a good one but the execution will have been too difficult (read: inconvenient) to be sustainable. The shiny gold plating on the lug nut will have started to flake off under the torque of guilt resulting from not being able to make it more than a week or two without backsliding.
I could spend another 364 blog posts on how to set goals and actually achieve them, which takes not just resolve but also grit, accountability partners, feedback, self-discipline. Those, in turn, take the courage needed to ask for help, the humility necessary for admitting we need help and that we are not Disney princesses or super-heroes regardless of what we post on social media, the fortitude to be honest and transparent even when it hurts like hell, and the grace and kindness – for ourselves and those around us – to admit out loud that we do not appreciate some of the feedback given but we can respect the person and the heart giving it. Then it takes the deliberateness of choice to move forward with that same person or persons and maintain accountability and relationship with them. All of that relies on a vulnerability that is not comfortable and on having good people in our lives who, though flawed themselves, love us enough to tell the truth with kindness.
Very few people know how to do the latter. Very few resolutions succeed because of it.
Instead of dedicating 2019 to writing something that the self-help gurus have already done (and whose editors made sure they did it quite well), I’m going in a different direction.
What if, instead of resolutions – rather than building a better beach bod, forcing ourselves to write for at least 30 minutes every day, drinking a gallon of warm flower water every morning, solving the world hunger problem, or inventing something that can warn us every time we’re getting ready to step on a lego that shouldn’t be in the floor – what if we spent more time being grateful for right now?
For example, I write quite a bit about my issues, which frustrate me, but I am incredibly spoiled. I am loved. I have experienced hardship, but less so than several of my employees, my friends, even my husband (we lost his dad in September). Our dog is a shameless hussy and he has to be walked for at lease two miles every day in order to prevent him from becoming spastic – also because he refuses to poop in our yard or within a 500-yard radius – but he keeps us healthier than we would be without him and he is always happy to see us. How special is it that there is a creature on this planet who is fulfilled simply because I exist?
What if we spent more time dwelling on thoughts like that? What if, rather than a resolution based on who we want to be, we appreciate who we are and what we already bring to the table?
It took me over a decade to get here, but I realized recently that I have arrived at a place in my life where I love me some me. I don’t mean my ego is out of control – I try not to tell people how much I like me. I mean I’m pretty comfortable with who I am. I can admit my faults. I have started to get to know other women and stay out of the trap of comparison (a trap every girl and woman falls into and one that is almost impossible to stay out of) and instead appreciate that they offer something as a human that maybe I don’t, and rather than feeling the guilt of not measuring up to an imaginary standard I created for myself, I think it’s awesome! I am confident. I am less worried about appearances and what other people think of me than I’ve ever been, because I have learned over time that (a) it is none of my business what other people think of me and that (b) I have no control over it, anyway.
There is freedom in that place like I’ve never known.
What if we spent 2019 focused on what’s good about now? What would that look like?
I resolve not to set a resolution, then. Instead, I want to throw myself shamelessly at life the way Duke throws himself at the nearest human if he thinks he can get a belly rub. I want to wallow in it the way he wallows in the bed.
It’s good to have goals.
(As a side note, I do want to write more and see what I can do with this blog. I already have a notebook or journal – or ten – in most of the rooms in the house. It won’t be a stretch. Plus, it posts to my husband’s Twitter feed. I think he secretly loves the notification.)
It is New Year’s Eve, 2018. If the idiots people down the road would stop setting off fireworks 48 minutes before midnight, I would be asleep right now. Hey, it’s been a new year in several other countries for well over 24 hours, already, so I don’t need any judgment. *Thanks.*
I’m ringing in 2019 with mysterious, full-body hives, allergies that decided to hulk up and overpower the prescription-strength meds I have to take twice a day – year-round – for them, muscle cramps in my arms, back, and legs that feel like someone hooked the electrodes of a contraction simulator to me when I wasn’t looking (then turned it up full blast) and bone pain. There isn’t much more to say about bone pain. Anyone who has felt it knows there is nothing like it – in a bad way – and anyone who hasn’t would think I was exaggerating.
All of this is, sadly, normal for me. I don’t mean all of my symptoms are constant and unchanging. No; that would be too easy. The symptoms are rarely ever the same from day to day unless I’ve let things get so bad that I’m in a full-on flare up, and the only thing that can stop that is Jesus and a hefty dose of steroids. (Please don’t message me and tell me about how your cousin’s sister-in-law’s brother’s girlfriend’s dad’s best friend’s godson cured his GI disease with a mixture of probiotics and platypus extract enhanced with the DNA of 17 different dinosaur species and that the first month of the subscription to the product is half off the original price – or any other variation of that. Just don’t.)
It is normal for my system to get so out of whack after the holidays. Basically, it becomes toxic.
I don’t mean like when a person goes septic, although if I pretended I didn’t notice any changes in my body and went on about life I could get to that point pretty easily.
I mean toxic. My red and white blood cells are living in a smoggy atmosphere that rivals India’s most polluted cities or the sludge of the Ganges River. My guts have never been the kind I could trust. And one of our dogs keeps sniffing my right eye, then licking it and growling, then backing away. That’s probably not good.
When I get to this point, I do what any trendy American would do – I detox via herbal teas and a new, raw/organic, cost-inefficient diet. There are those who ask, “If you can change your diet to get better, why don’t you just eat that way all the time so you don’t feel bad to begin with?”
That is a great question.
I like to counter it with one of my own: have you ever tried feeding a healthy, mostly raw, organic diet to a high functioning child on the spectrum whose sensory indicators manifest themselves not only tactilely and visually but also gastronomically, and who loves tomatoes and peas but no other vegetables, considers dessert an emotionally non-negotiable and non-optional staple, Little Debbie cakes well-rounded breakfast food, refuses to eat protein unless it’s a $25 New York Strip or country-style ribs – and occasionally chicken but only if it is literally covered in bread/pasta or at least served with a surplus of it – while also feeding two other grown adults, three dogs with special dietary needs (because we can’t just have a normal dog who eats the Ol Roy from TSC), and occasionally an 18-year-old girl claiming to be your eldest even though she shows up only once or twice per month, all while sticking to a strict grocery budget of preferably less than $1,000 for the month even though nothing is in season because it has been one of the wettest years to date in the area so winter produce suffered, and oh I forgot to mention it but for a family of four who tends to be on-the-go 24/7, all while juggling the exhaustion that comes from working a full-time job, parenting, and battling the fatigue of auto-immune issues? No? Huh. Weird. It is super fun, especially when the groceries still have to be made into actual, edible dinners. If you love adventure, hate having money in your bank account, if the good Lord needs to sand off some of those “rough edges” your church family talks about, or if you’re simply a masochist bent on seeing how much frustration you can handle before you become obsessed with total self-annihilation, well – have I got a deal for you! And as Effie Trinket likes to say, may the odds be ever in your favor.
Here’s the other reason why I don’t eat that way all the time, and it’s even better!
I have chronic diverticulitis and I have Crohn’s disease, which means my immune system is trash and my body can’t figure out the difference between good stuff and bad stuff so it likes to wage war upon itself in a “kill ’em all” kind of way. Apparently, having the two together is fairly rare. I am either a unicorn or a chupacabra. Or a chupacorn, or a unicabra. Or it fluctuates. I haven’t decided.
The diets for those two conditions are completely different. One is high-fiber, with large quantities of whole grains, seeds, and nuts thrown into it, while the other is low- to no-fiber with zero whole grains, seeds, or nuts.
Here’s the catch: if I eat either one of those diets, it exacerbates the other condition. It is lose-lose. Basically, food is trying to kill me.
That is melodramatic. I won’t actually die because of the food.
I did get so malnourished once that I had to have IV nutrition, all the important vitamins/minerals, when I was in college. My mom drove me several hours one way so I could get the treatments, and we went multiple times. They could only do one or two per day. I would not give it five stars or recommend to a friend. It is more boring than trying to read an encyclopedia backwards, and liquid magnesium makes you feel like you’ve peed your pants, but the nurses don’t like it when the patients walk around the family waiting room with the IV stands attached to them and ask people where the bathroom is. Who knew?
I have to do something to cleanse my system but still have the energy to function. That means a full-on water fast is out of the question for the immediate future. So today, as my final act of 2018 related to my health, I decided to pull up the approved shopping/food lists for both diets and circle the items they both had in common. I received both lists from a GI specialist and I figure, if I eliminate the foods that are unique to one of the afore-mentioned lists but not both, and buy only what’s left after I have cross-referenced them, I’ll have a list of safe foods my defective GI tract can tolerate that are also healthy and will help me rebalance my PH levels and immune system. I. Am. Genius.
So far, I’m down to the following:
raw, organic, unsweetened peanut butter (creamy – no actual pieces of peanuts)
an occasional serving of poultry – twice a week is plenty
Also, I hate peanuts and only tolerate the butter form, so I’m happy to live without the peanut butter.
What I’m saying is, I was able to narrow the lists down into one to make shopping manageable. (I’m working on being more positive… pray for me.)
On a good note, I am allowed to have some herbal teas and coffee is not considered blasphemous to the healthy lifestyle as long as I drink it black and have no more than one serving per day, which is not an actual serving in my world, but whatever. We have a new detox tea to give me some beverage options and I tried it this morning. My incredibly supportive and tolerant husband is even drinking it to help his body detox, too, in a sign of solidarity, and we came up with a nickname for it – a pet name, as it were.
We call it…
…wait for it…
…warm flower water.
Yes, it tastes exactly like it sounds.
So today, to wrap up 2018, I sat at my desk with my warm flower water, my healthy grocery list consisting of chicken and air, and a modem that wears a women’s US Size 7 ballet flat on the front so I don’t have to watch the blue and white lights blinking in chaotic anti-rhythm. It is leopard print, in case anyone is wondering. It’s a chic yet trendy modem. I don’t know if the sense of satisfaction I got from my decision was real or if it was the product of my hydrocortisone cream starting to kick in, but I feel new resolve about my health. I’m optimistic. I bet there are even more flavor combinations of warm flower water out there that I don’t even know about. My possibilities are endless!
And now, the fireworks have finally stopped, so I can sleep. May 2019 be the best year, yet, filled with enough flower water for everyone and copious everyday adventures!
There will probably be some typos, cliches, run-on sentences, and disjointed thoughts here. You’ve been warned.
My husband is asleep in the next room after being home all day, sick. He will not love this post. I have to write it, because I have to get it out of me, and he will not love it, but he will still love me. You cannot know how long it took us to understand that.
This is not about that journey.
I am writing this while he is asleep, not because I wanted to be sneaky or because he cannot know. He follows me on Twitter, for pity’s sake, where all of my posts are broadcast. He will know.
I am writing this while he is asleep because I cannot sleep. Typically, that is true because I have insomnia (thanks, Crohn’s and all my other issues!) and because I have always been more of a night person than a morning person. Tonight, it is true because I have experienced the adrenaline rush of all adrenaline rushes and the only way to come down off that is to crash, and I haven’t crashed, yet. If the good Lord is willing, I will crash very soon.
I have not crashed, yet, because tonight, about 20 minutes before 7 PM, my husband got a call that his daughter did crash. She was not injured, thank God, but my heart stopped anyway.
I need you to understand something before I go any further. I exaggerate. I admit it. I also admit that I love to exaggerate. I’m a storyteller, people. It’s what we do.
So when I say, “my heart stopped,” some might consider that hyperbole – an expression, a figure of speech. Most people use that phrase or a similar one as such.
It is one phrase I do not use lightly. I have enough health issues that I have felt my heart “skip a beat,” as some are wont to say. I have a mild arrhythmia, so it happens more often than I care to admit. I also have a plethora of immune system issues, the least of which presents itself as severe allergies with a side of asthma.
If you’ve ever had an asthma attack, you know what my Christmas Day turned into when I had one (and of course I didn’t have my inhaler). Not only does the feeling of not getting enough oxygen make me want to panic, it also has the side benefit of making me hyper-aware of my body and what’s happening within it. When the attack started, I could feel the weight on my chest as my lungs filled with mucous and my airways tightened. My nose and ribs expanded, painfully, because I was desperate for air, even though it was all around me. I calmly told my husband that as long as my face was just tingly and not totally numb we were good to go, then I asked him to go a little faster down the interstate. I didn’t tell him why. It was because my face was tingly, true – the pins and needles feeling you get after a limb falls asleep and you start moving it to get blood flowing – but I knew I was in trouble because I had completely lost my vision. He figured that out by the time we got home and I couldn’t get out of the car and onto the porch by myself. I couldn’t see and I couldn’t walk. He mostly carried me inside to my inhaler, and down the hall to our room after. (It was heroic.)
For those who have ever wondered what it might feel like to drown, ask someone who has had an asthma attack. Fluid (mucous) fills your lungs (yes, you can feel it), you breathe but you can’t get air, then you get tingly (usually your extremities or your face), you get tunnel vision that quickly worsens, and eventually, right after you can’t see anything but you’re still conscious, you go completely numb. Then, your body forgets how to operate and you can’t walk. It’s at that point that the true danger is apparent, but the problem is that you’ve already gone through the other stages, so you just don’t care anymore. The wheezing stops, so everyone else assumes the danger has passed. It’s called “silent chest.” That’s bad.
I’ll spare you the details. We got home, got to the meds I needed, I didn’t go to the hospital (no point), and I’m fine. The end.
Where was I?
Right – heart stopped.
Fast forward a couple of days, and things were going well. Work hasn’t been too busy, and other than an internet outage that shut us down for an hour or two, nothing major to report.
And then we got a call.
My step-daughter had been in a wreck. Her mom and step-dad live farther out into the county than we do, so her mom called my husband to tell him and we left immediately. I didn’t hear the conversation, but I saw his face and heard, “What happened, where is she?” and I grabbed the keys and my shoes. My heart stopped.
When I was younger, my step-dad and his family would loan the teens in the family vehicles if we asked. They didn’t hold back, but they always held the keys just out of reach and said, “Be careful. The car/truck/convertible is insured and replaceable, but you can’t be replaced.” I knew they meant it, because one of the boys wrecked an Escalade and it wasn’t a big deal after everyone knew he wasn’t hurt. Don’t get me wrong; no one was thrilled that it was totaled, and I’m pretty sure he worked for a while to pay at least a token penalty, but no one made a big deal out of it and all was well. I now know what it must have been like to say that and mean it.
Tonight, the 15 minutes between getting that call and getting to the scene was scarier than all of the following, which I have also experienced: being stalked, being threatened, getting a phone call about my brother (a police officer), getting a phone call about one of my step-brothers (both Marines), getting calls about parents/grandparents, almost drowning (there was one actual time in water that I remember, two others I apparently don’t remember – my childhood was… well), asphyxiating, being put to sleep for major surgery, repelling down the side of a 7-story building, cliff diving, enduring a fever of 107 for over 8 hours (3rd grade was rough), PTSD, paranoia, and basically anything else I can think of right now.
There are no words.
I know her mother felt the same thing, if not more acutely. (Fact: it is incredibly difficult for me to imagine that, because I am incapable of imagining a bigger hurt or fear than what I experienced tonight. I may never fall asleep again, and at this rate I’ll be wrapping up this post and alphabetizing all of our dishes and canned goods throughout the night if I can’t get some sleep. I am not a big enough egomaniac, though, to think my feelings are any deeper or purer than another human being’s, let alone her mother’s. I love this kid like she is mine and there is nothing on this earth that will change that, but I am not the only part of this equation. That is another journal entry or ten (thousand) for another day.)
I can say I also saw the differences in parents, tonight. The dads (it’s just easier to say that) were focused on logistics, next steps, process, etc. Her mom and I showed up at different times and went straight to the hugs, the letting her cry while we held her, the assurance that not a single one of us gives a flying flip in space about the car, the stuff in it, or where the money will come from to get another one. The only real thing that matters is that she’s okay. (And yes, she is okay. I may never be the same, but by the time we left her mom had talked her into food, a hot bath, and some ibuprofen, so she’s good, y’all.)
There is no greater fear than that of a parent for their child. There is no greater relief than that of holding your child safe in your arms.
I don’t care if you’re a biological parent, adoptive, step, surrogate, whatever. And I don’t care if your kid is 2 years old or 20. It doesn’t vary. At one point, I was dumb enough to think it might – that I would worry less the older they got.
I was an idiot.
Ask anyone who has lived through a heart attack what it feels like and the answers will vary. Ask anyone who has had a near-death experience what it was like in their mind before, during, and after and you’ll hear harrowing tales of darkness and redemption.
I have felt my heart stop, skip a beat, and start again. I have watched the light fade as I ran out of oxygen and I have come out the other side. I keep telling God there must be a reason he keeps saving me and he’s welcome to show that to me any day, now. It cannot possibly be only to nag my husband and his son to scrape and rinse their plates before they leave them in the sink. And yet…
I can tell you without hesitation that if – in that moment – I would have had the choice to put myself bodily between my step-daughter’s vehicle and the other one, I wouldn’t have asked questions, I wouldn’t have put in a stipulation that I would do it only if the collision were going to be fatal, I wouldn’t think, I wouldn’t wait, I wouldn’t blink or even twitch an eye before I chose to step in and keep her from going through this. I would lay down in front of a moving train. No take-backs.
There is a saying that having a child is like watching your heart walk around outside your body. Maybe for some that’s true.
I’ll tell you this.
That child is not mine – not really. Her mother is alive and well and very present, and forced to loan her to me for this lifetime. That cannot be easy. They enjoy a pretty good relationship for a mom and her teenager. I came into the scene when she was six years old, long after their history had been established.
And that girl, with her knack for high drama, her mama’s nerves, her daddy’s dimples and sense of humor, with her snark and her brains and everything else, is more than my heart walking around outside my body. She and her brother are worth far more than just my heart.
I have desperately wanted my own child for over a decade, but after tonight I am re-evaluating whether I can do all of this again. Her brother is only 13, so we have just now entered into the valley of darkness with him. I’m 35, but after tonight and what small indication I have about how the next 5 years will go, I’m pretty sure that by the time he’s 18 I’ll be 90.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some alphabetizing to do, followed by a collection of 1273 classic works of fiction I just found on my hard drive that I was supposed to move to my Kindle. If that doesn’t put me to sleep, I might even learn a new language.
This is NOT an old draft. Repeat, this is not an old draft. This is new – from today. You’re welcome. (Or, I’m sorry – but I’m not really sorry, so ha!)
I experienced a selfish delight today that I didn’t even know existed. I’m not sure if I’m proud of it because I haven’t had the chance to examine it closely. I probably won’t examine it closely – I don’t love admitting I might be slightly, morally wrong. It’s a thing – go read the earlier posts.
Backstory: I loathe, hate, despise, abominate, and all-the-other-synonyms-for-hate doing dishes. I would rather run unclothed through a rose bush in snow. That will be important in a few paragraphs.
Also, we have neighbors who are retired. The husband tends to stay inside or keep to himself, but the wife helps another neighbor across the street with an adult, special needs son. I know it must be a struggle for them, and my heart goes out to our across-the-street-neighbor and the challenges she faces, especially as her son is non-verbal, so he gets frustrated, too.
I’m not sure what my next-door neighbor does to help my across-the-street-neighbor unless she’s administering meds or some sort of home health care. She does wear scrubs a lot, which makes me think she is a retired nurse or works PRN to pay bills because she rarely leaves the house other than to walk across the street. I asked her once what she did for a living (or had done), and she told a story that had so many twists and turns that no author from O. Henry to Chuck Palahnuik to Jodi Picoult could follow it. She never did answer the actual question. Doesn’t matter.
She’s into everyone’s business, and while it does – occasionally – appear helpful, that doesn’t mean it’s necessary. She also still has a grown son living with her who can’t figure out how to keep his pants above his crack even with a belt, harbors another human who is possibly one of Crack-Attack’s kids, and whether it’s the grown son’s kid or not, the grandson is uber-annoying because he sits in his car, thumping Eminem songs from when I was in high school, and does nothing but vape. Any time we hear the thud and rattle of Y2K’s illest base, I guarantee it is followed by the gentle waft of Blu Raz Cotton Candy or the sweet zephyrs of Smurf Cake.
I’m not joking, that’s the actual name of it.
This is annoying on two levels: (1) I work from home and his busted speakers turned to a volume level of eleventy-five are disruptive and distracting, and (2) on the four nice days of the year when Kentucky weather cooperates and I can open the windows all day, I don’t need his second-hand vape offal ruining the fresh air. It triggers migraines from all the chemicals and reminds me why humans are distastefully unappealing – at least the ones who are incapable of adulting or who are not yet at the age where adulting is feasible. For a bonus, (3) I might suggest it would be better for my neighbor lady to focus her loving attention on raising her grown son and his vaping, maybe-progeny (he’s got to be someone’s kid) rather than butting into the rest of the neighborhood’s business. But I’m not in charge, so, the first and second will have to suffice.
Overall, they’re not horrible people – they are actually quite nice compared to some former neighbors we’ve had – but annoying on a few levels and each in their own way. The lady, though – I just… she’s not awful, she’s nice, but… this is going to sound petty, and it probably is, but…
Well, she mows her yard twice every week from April through October and every. stinking. time. she decides to use her lawn tractor instead of her weed-eater (that’s a weed-whacker for the northern bunch) and she mows a crooked line IN MY YARD. It looks like someone turned a blind zamboni driver loose on the rye – the liquid kind and the rooted kind.
She has been doing this for at least 6 years. I have asked her to stop at least twice, point-blank.
Let me be clear: it is not her yard, nor is it even the “property line.” She legitimately crosses the property line, which is helpfully marked by trees planted by the old man who used to live there, and who gave her a tour and pointed out the tress ON the property line (I was there – I heard/saw it). She is the human equivalent of Mr. Magoo and drives that lawn tractor like George Jones down a back-road before the hangover sets in. She smiles while she does it. Her blades are set so low that she’s scalping the grass, so there is no way to cover up the serpentine stripe she scrapes across our side yard.
So, so strange. (Yes, my problems are stupid.)
Also, we have our mowing crew mow all the way to the property line, do all of the edging professionally – including around those trees – and have told her at least twice that we do that in addition to me asking her to stay on her side. She still mows that blankety-blank crooked line down the yard twice per week. Do I care that much about the yard? No. I bought this house because it is next to a field that can never be added to the subdivision, which means it will always be on a dead end and I will only ever have neighbors on one side. My introverted heart delights in the thought. It has a giant picture window that is great to read by while saving money on the electricity bill, an open floor plan that flows easily from kitchen to living room so it’s easy to spend time with friends and family on the rare occasion we invite them, and it has three bedrooms of generous size for a house this small, along with two bathrooms.
And separate bathrooms save marriages. (Feel free to write that down somewhere so you see it often. Trust me.)
I care because – again, two reasons – (1) my husband goes bonkers every time he sees that loopy line, which means I have to hear about it and I can’t do anything to fix it other than go nuclear (not a great way to treat neighbors, and probably-most-certainly NOT what Jesus would do), which means I have to see it AND listen to why it’s so hideous all the time, and (2) she always mows it in the middle of the morning when I’m working. She even asked me about my work schedule, then proceeded the next day to start mowing at exactly the time I explained how busy I am. I kid you not.
Fast-forward: today was one of the four nice days of the year when I could open windows for more than 30 minutes because the temperature was under 80 degrees but above 60.
She was not mowing, thank goodness.
I had to run the dishwasher a couple of times to get through all the dirty dishes that have piled up over the past week (maybe two), and I had to do a few of them by hand, because I like my expensive cooking utensils more than I hate dishes. It’s a close race, in case you were wondering.
Our dishwasher came with the house over 12 years ago and needs to be replaced. The detergent dispenser lid is broken so all the soap gets used too quickly, making pre-scrubbing a requirement. The spray element thingies are a bit clogged – probably from mineral build-up, but there are other options I prefer not to explore. Most of all, though, it is loud. I don’t mean loud in the way you can hear some dishwashers splash water along the plates.
I mean when the wash cycles start, it’s loud in the way an industrial wood-chipper sounds when fed enough sheet metal and plate glass to outfit a two-story building, with the added grinding noise of a blender slogging through modeling clay.
*Note: Please don’t ask me how I know what that sounds like. My childhood was weird and we probably should have been better supervised, but hey – natural selection was at work, and none of us died, so that’s good, right? Thanks in advance.*
I complain about it all the time and have asked for a new one for Christmas if my husband would rather buy that than the jewelry I wanted, it’s that bad.
Anyway, I started a load of dishes after opening the front windows today. Our next-door neighbor was outside in her driveway, having just come back from the across-the-street-neighbor’s house.
She was tending her mums.
If I’m being authentic and if I don’t self-reflect from a moral standpoint, I will say I took great delight in seeing her jump every time the wash cycle circled back around after a rinse cycle. It startled her. She even looked over her shoulder a few times, vexed and wondering what was happening behind our closed front door. If she’s half as neurotic as me, or anything like Mrs. Kravitz, she was imagining all kinds of scenarios and nefarious plots.
I smiled and waved from the picture window.
If it keeps hitting anywhere between the upper-50s to mid-70s, I might start doing dishes every day.
Look! I found another blog post I wrote at least a year ago and never published! It’s like Christmas in October, but not on the Hallmark Channel! Cheers!
There is something deeply unsettling about realizing that if you were asked the age-old question about what you would take with you if you knew you were going to be stuck on a desert island, your answer is – immediately and without hesitation – toilet paper and ginger ale. And that if you had to choose just one, you’d be hard-pressed to choose between the two. I used to think that I’d choose a book, or maybe some sort of lip balm, since I’m hopelessly addicted to both.
But when you spend an entire week with your head hanging over a toilet puking up the entire contents of your stomach – including blood (no, I didn’t go to the hospital, and no, it wasn’t really that much blood, and yes, I know it was blood and I know why I’m puking it up) – and then you spend that same amount of time again in the bathroom (I’ll spare you the details) continuing to be sick for no other reason than your DNA structure, you start figuring out what your simplest priorities are.
And mine, sadly, are toilet paper and ginger ale. Those are my needs.
I’d prefer if said ginger ale came in canned form, and while I do have a particular brand I prefer, any made with real ginger would do. I figure with as much of it as I have to drink, I could use the cans structurally once they’re empty, weighing them down with sand so they’re more stable. I have plenty of time to think of these things in weeks and months like this.
For example, I’ve decided that when I die and my funeral is planned, I don’t want flowers on my casket. Everyone does that, and it’s predictable. I want a party, dang it. And everyone knows that at parties, there are balloons. That’s right, balloons. Multi-colored ones. The hubs would tell you my favorite color is Roy G Biv, and I expect my funeral to live up to the occasion (pun completely intended).
Instead of flowers and that weird apparatus they use to lower (drop) the casket into the grave, I want a ginormous bunch of multi-colored balloons tied to each corner of my coffin and then a bunch in the middle on each side – basically every place there would be a pall bearer. I will be weirdly levitated from funeral service to grave (which is quite considerate, I think, as it takes the weight off the pall bearers – my final act of selflessness). When it’s time for the family to “throw their flower,” I want each person at the funeral to take a balloon from alternating locations on the box, so that my remains are slowly and awkwardly lowered into the ground. The beauty of this is that (a) it is irrevocably strange and uncomfortable, and (b) there is guaranteed to be comedy, because eventually, the weight of the casket will overcome the force of the balloons, and I’m bound to drop crookedly and suddenly into the pit that will be my body’s final resting place.
And if you don’t think that’s funny, you’re probably already dead.
Seriously, picture it: a bright but overcast day, a slight drizzle – even a misty fog – shrouding everything in sight. All five of my friends gathered with my husband and family, reliving their favorite moments shared with me: baking chocolate chip cookies, arguing with my brothers who always wanted to be right but never were, the way they would call or text and not receive a response for days because I didn’t check my phone regularly and couldn’t be counted on to watch for social media notifications (true story), and so on. The preacher closes with a prayer, and one by one, the gathering steps up to a gleaming mahogany casket surrounded by a halo of balloons that would put all the birthday parties up to that point to shame. Everyone gets to take one balloon from the bunches, making their way around the perimeter like a twisted game of Duck-Duck-Goose. (And you only get one balloon – if you let yours go and it floats to the sky, well, that will teach you to hang on to the things that matter, won’t it? You never know when they’ll float into the ether.)
Slowly, the casket drops into the grave, completely unbalanced and with a lurching, drunken sway, to be honest. This probably wasn’t a good idea, someone will whisper. I know, someone else will agree, but it’s what she wanted.
Suddenly, the groan and creak of the box accompanied by the hissing, disconcerting sound of its contents (me) shifting to one end. Gravity overtakes helium. I make one final, crash landing into the abyss!
YES! And totally worth it.
I’m not 100% sold on everyone taking a single balloon. We could make this far more interesting and turn it into one of those carnival dart games where everyone gets three chances to pop a balloon. We just have to make sure someone is there to officiate – the game, not the funeral – and clear the other side of the casket to avoid injuries. People shouldn’t have to worry about getting hurt at a funeral, you know.
Anyhow, that’s what I’ve decided I want instead of the usual wake. I feel like that’s fair if I have to spend so much time locked in a 3 x 5 room staring at porcelain only to spend all the time after my time in an even smaller space lined with satin. (Whose idea was satin, by the way? Of all the non-breathable, expensive, impractical fabrics out there, we thought the underlining of a 1960s prom dress was classy and appropriate for the afterlife? Really? How ’bout some good old fashioned cotton or linen, like the Egyptians? They figured out mummification pretty well – I can’t see how satin is an improvement.)
Meanwhile, though, I won’t be planning a trip to any desert islands in the near future. I don’t think banana leaves and palm fronds are a good alternative to Cottonelle. I also don’t know how to make my own ginger ale and I honestly don’t know if ginger is native to desert islands – probably not, if I had to guess. Otherwise, why would Canada lay claim to it?
GUESS WHAT!? I just realized this week that I still pay for this domain and that I’ve written a ton of blog posts that I never published. (Yes, that’s silly.) The following is one of them from either last year or the year before, because I have also decided that paying for a domain where I write blog posts I never actually post is ridiculous – almost as ridiculous as a politician with a Twitter account. (Please don’t send me hate mail or post ignorant comments disagreeing with me or mouthing some vitriol about politics, freedom of speech, etc., etc. – I don’t read them, I don’t care, I do vote, you won’t change my mind, I will almost certainly block you, and it won’t bother me at all. INSTEAD, go use that energy to donate a dollar to the Red Cross or to a clean water initiative for countries who need it and use your powers to make a positive impact instead of no impact at all. *Thanks, Management.) So, here is one of those drafts, and I have decided that October 17th will be my January 1st and that I will purposely be posting far more regularly. Otherwise, why the h-e-double-hocky-sticks am I paying for a blog domain? Enjoy!
I’ve been traveling lately, I’ve been around more people than I would normally interact with in several months’ time, and I’ve been exhausted by it. It’s been draining, frightening, confusing, exciting, interesting, wonderful, and enlightening, to say the least. I’ve come home with some new perspectives on my day-to-day actions and decisions, I’ve started to find new ways of doing things based on what I learned from some of those interactions, and I’ve also thought of some creative solutions to challenges I’ve been facing for a few weeks, all because I traveled.
Granted, it was business travel, so that was kind of the point – to interact with peers and colleagues who could share with me their point of view and open my eyes to see things in a way that isn’t always comfortable for me. I hope I had the chance to do the same for them. I also got to hear some amazing stories of overcoming obstacles that I allowed myself to get temporarily warm and fuzzy over and then swept to the side so I could focus on my productivity. But when I came home, I started thinking back to some of those stories and reflecting on them. I’ve been getting a little (a lot) philosophical about life and how it should be lived, and I don’t know if it was the lack of sleep (I got almost none, mostly because I don’t sleep well in strange places and tend to just lay there and contemplate the universe, but also because I was in a different time zone and worked different hours and it jacked my system all up, let me tell you.) or the creative juices that started flowing, but here’s what I’ve decided:
*wait for it…*
Your problems are stupid.
I know that’s upsetting, but it’s the truth. And what’s even more upsetting is that my problems are equally stupid and when I think about them, not really problems at all compared to other people. I mean, as far as I know, I don’t have any type of cancer I’m fighting while also working while also raising a family while also going to school while also dealing with home repair issues and transportation issues. I do have a job, which I love, I have a family, whom I love and sometimes even like, and who I like to think cares at least a little about me. I have friends, though few, which is by choice and not because I’m a hideous bridge troll who sucks the life out of everything I touch (at least, if I am, no one has told me – and ignorance is bliss, so I’m cool with that). I have a home, and even though it needs some work and if anyone came inside they would think we were hoarders who got robbed but the job didn’t get finished, it’s a roof over my head. I have clothing (far too much of it if you ask anyone else in my family, but what do they know?) and food (including a lot of mac-and-cheese) and clean water. My bills get paid. Our dogs get fed. And my neighbor only mows an indecently crooked line up the side of my yard once per week because she either can’t see straight or hates me and grass.
I have problems, don’t get me wrong. But they’re not horrible. I mean, I could compare myself to my great-grandmother for some perspective. That woman lived through the Great Depression, WWII, buried two husbands and a couple babies before she was 37, raised her other children alone, and lived to be just shy of 100 years old. She was wise, caring, tough, and when I was old enough to understand – hilarious.
So yeah, we all have problems, but when I take some time to consider the problems I don’t have? My problems are stupid. All of this to say, this is a preface to another post where I’ll probably talk about my problems – namely, Crohn’s disease and the issues it causes. What’s awesome about that is that I can totally do that and contradict myself (because it’s my blog – kind of like that whole sales game where “it’s my bat, my ball, my rules”). So stay tuned for a glimpse of what life is really like for people with weird, gross, annoying illnesses for which there is no cure.
But please understand that I, of all people, do know that compared to the majority of the world, my problems – and probably yours, if you’re a citizen of a first-world country – are pretty stupid.
(I know, I know. It has been forever since I posted. You’re fine. Deep breaths.)
I just waged war against the animal kingdom. I’ll keep you posted on whether I win or not. In the meantime, know that it started with a hard-fought battle in the wee hours of the night and that many, many lives were lost. Countless, even.
I maybe cried a little.
Okay, I totally cried. A lot.
To be fair, I have been ill, in pain, and very tired. Like, I could get on board with a six-months-long-medical-coma tired. I got overwhelmed. Waging war is stressful. I hear it ages a body. I may need to call my hairdresser.
I used well over half a can of Lysol spray, because there is no reason war has to be both messy AND unsanitary. None.
Also, Lysol works almost as well as pyrethrin in a pinch.
Those ants will remember this day. Or they won’t and they will send more troops and I will be ready. (I won’t be ready.)
I will protect.this.house. (I will cry again and make my husband – who works in pest control for pitysakes – get his @$$ out of bed at 11:30 PM on a week night and help. And by help I mean stand there, frustrated with me, and be awake at the same time I am while I haul clothes and garbage out of my bathroom with one hand and wield a deadly can of lemon-scented Lysol with the other. I will wipe up the carcasses later. And when he asks why I woke him up I will tell him it was because I need a hero, gosh dang it, and by hero I mean someone to carry the 4 baskets of laundry to the utility room and to be awake with me. I mean someone who works in freaking pest control who takes care of this BEFORE it happens so it doesn’t actually happen. And I will ask him why in God’s good name we have ANTS when he works in pest control, and he will promise to show up tomorrow and not only pick up the fight where the Lysol spray left off but he will also bring ant gel, more spray treatment, and by God he will crawl under the house and find that trail and he will avenge me!
I will promise to think about trying to remember that my husband, too, has a day job and a part-time night job and that he cannot be my hero if I refuse to get out of his way. My bathroom is only big enough for one person at a time, and even that is a stretch. There is a reason bathrooms are sometimes called “water closets.” This one is more along the lines of an airplane lavatory. But I digress…
He will smite those ants Old Testament style!)
Whew! Longest parenthetical thought EVER. Eat your heart out, Faulkner.
Anyway, I waged war. I am also incapable of not scratching my head, which feels creepy-crawly after all those ants died at my hand. This is psychological only, I know, and yet… so itchy. That is weird, as ants are clearly not lice, so there is no reason for my head to suddenly be itchy. (Stop scratching – you know you are!)
I shall keep you posted. Meanwhile, I shall rest when I can and buy a new toothbrush tomorrow, as mine was gunned down in friendly fire.
It had a good run.
Tomorrow we shall fight another day! (Cue “One Day More” from Les Miserables…)