Sludge

Sludge

The holidays, the holidays. Cheer and goodwill and sadness and dread all around. I haven’t been looking forward to this week. The first Thanksgiving without dad. I don’t know why it is such a big deal. Every day is a day without him. Why do these couple days make a difference? I don’t know, but it’s left me feeling especially empty. Even though there is love and joy from my babies and my family, it just doesn’t seem to be enough to fill the hole.
The days are short, the air is cold, and the sky is black and dry. Light seems so elusive. My friend killed himself the other day. One minute he’s here, the next he’s not. I think the holidays are like that for everyone. Filled with joy or extreme emptiness. Id talked to him plenty before about being sad, being down, being in pain, him saying that sometimes life just doesn’t seem like living. There was nothing to look forward to anymore, nothing to hope for. Right before he did it, he put it on Facebook for God’s sake… Goodbye world, it’s too hard. And there it was in black and white. The last words. The end of a life on social media. And all the well-meaning Facebook friends asking if he was okay and what can we do to help, but it was too late. He was already dead. Too little, too late, not enough. As a friend, I don’t know how you recognize when the ruminations of ordinary hopelessness become the ones big enough to really push you over the edge. Even if someone could tell, I’m not even sure I’d know how to respond. No, don’t do it, please. But at that point, I’m sure pleas to cease are futile and the mind is already made up. And when you are the one who is thinking about ending your life, how exactly would you reach out. Hey, I’m thinking about ending it all? I doubt anyone would even care and like I said even if they did I doubt they know how to respond.
So he’s dead. It’s weird to think someone I’ve spent so much time with, someone so filled with life is all of a sudden gone. Dad had this gradual, although sometimes rapid decline. A slow, progressive negative trajectory filled with pain and knowing things were getting worse. For some, death is a relief, for loved ones and themselves from the pain, the pain. But I suppose mental pain is just as real. I’m going to a viewing tomorrow night. It’s back at the same funeral home we had dad’s viewing at. I’ve only been there once since his viewing. It wasn’t very pretty. Another friend who had lost her dad. And lots of tears in the parking lot. Maybe this time will be better. As good as a viewing a dead body can go.
Ive been trying to do what I can to be happy. Happy is a relative term. It’s not really working yet. I’m doing things…exercising, running, eating, buying, and cooking. Things that fill the whole, food, things, retail therapy. Temporary fixes. I don’t know. My head is running crazy. It’s all just a mess of sludge. Balancing drugs that quiet it down and being able to live a normal life. I just don’t know. And that is all.

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Momming

I’m pretty much stumped today but felt the urge to write.  I googled up some blog prompt ideas.  I came to some results for prompts for mommy blogs.  Prompt one…my skin care routine.  So let me just delve into that one.  My skin care routine.  Take a shower. Splash face with water.  Maybe find soap that doesn’t come in a container marked gentle for baby’s eyes.  Squirt said soap over body sans washcloth.  Yell at kid through the shower curtain because a real mom can’t complete an entire shower uninterrupted. Rinse body.  There you have it –skin care 101. Killed it.

Next up…three ways to style on piece of clothing.  Take sweatshirt, smell it. If it doesn’t stink too badly, wear it. Wipe your kid’s nose with it and use it as a tissue.  Take it off and clean up the spill in backseat.  The three great uses for a sweatshirt.

Must listen to podcasts…I don’t know what a podcast is.  Check.

Parenting goals…keep kids alive till bedtime.

I guess I’m not really cut out for mommy blogging, maybe I’ll just write about my week. Monday kids, work, kids, bedtime. Tuesday, same old song and dance.  Wednesday I get to the place I am working at this week.  A nurse assists me with getting on a computer to review some patient charts.  Before we get too far, up comes a webpage for humiliating and degrading porn.  Hint, next time you use your work computer for hardcore porn viewing, probably not a good idea to set it as your home page.  It was mildly amusing, except for the weirdly sticky keyboard and the germaphobe inside me wanted to cower in the corner.

That’s all ive got. Mom, work, rinse. Repeat.

Posted in mom

A day in the life…

 Neighbors

My alarm rings.  It doesn’t exactly ring, it actually softly vibrates and makes a strange whooshing sound like water pouring from a fountain.  I have a new phone and the default alarm is oddly enough some sort of mix between rain and ocean.  I hop out of bed, narrowly escaping peeing in my pants after being lulled awake by the gentle stream. It’s 5 am, way too early to be awake.  But here I am, greeting the morning with a sarcastic hello.  I peel off my tank top, strap on my sports bra, cramming my oversized breasts into a slightly uncomfortable binder squishing the soft tissue into on odd shape onto my chest.  Replace said tank top with a fresh one and slide on my leggings.  Leggings, they are a funny little beast, not quite pants but not quite tights, yet almost socially acceptable to wear in public.  Finally, I pull on my striped socks and shoes, grab a water bottle and a piece of cheese and head out the door.

I drive in darkness, ahh the darkness and the quiet drive.  The twenty minutes to the gym is the most peaceful part of my day.  I enter the gym; I like it there.  It is almost like Cheers, everybody knows my name.  I spend the next hour lifting and lunging and squatting and sweating, pushing my fluffy body to its limits.  My main motivation for keeping up the pace is the butt of the girl in front of me.  How do I get an ass like that?  I wipe the sweat from my forehead and hop back into the car.  My me time is over.

I rush back home and dress the kids.  Deal with their whines and complaints as only a mommy can.  Grab the lunches and the backpacks and head out the door.  Drop said children off at school.  It is 7:30 am.  I head back home and shower quickly, washing my hard work down the soapy drain.  Put on the black pants I wear almost daily and a matching sweater that might be a little too tight from the Halloween candy I downed the night before, or maybe just from the years of neglect of my own appearance.  I grab my own lunch bag and throw in some water and a piece of cheese.  I am pretty sure I could live on cheese.  It is the food of the gods.

I hop in my work car.  Ahh a work car.  Isn’t it nice to have a vehicle provided by your employer? Yes I suppose.  The car shakes violently. I have taken it to the shop a few times, but they assure me everything is fine.  The brakes squeal and the wheel has to be held with both hands to ensure the car doesn’t run off the road.  The lock is broken and they key won’t work to open the door.  I arrive at my destination.  Ahh the beauty of health care regulatory compliance.  I have arrived, and no one is happy to see me.  Maybe that’s the best part of my job.  Surprising folks who don’t want to see me.

I work my 8 hours and finish up.  I drive back home.  I pull into my driveway and hop into my own car.  I arrive at after school care and grab the girl and head to daycare and pick up the boy.  The chorus of whines continues right where it left off this morning.

I cook dinner.  Dinner is a loose term.  Mostly scrounged together leftovers, frozen mixed veggies and bananas.  We do homework. I think this is my biggest first grade pet peeve. Homework.  Why do first graders have homework?  Well I’m mom of the year because I’m boycotting it.  Boycotting the cutting scraps of paper into smaller scraps of paper and pasting them onto larger pieces of paper. We talk about our days, what we had for lunch, which friends were nice and which friends were mean.

We go to church.  It is all saints day.  I tell you, you need to be a saint to take two under six year olds to mass after bedtime.  They continue their chorus of whines and the old folks turn around from their pews and give us the evil eye, momentarily forgetting the Christian maxim of loving your neighbor and sending rays of disgust beaming at my wiggly spawn.  God bless you, too friends.  We escape a little bit early, I am sure God will forgive us for going home.  The kids are tired. They drift to sleep in the car.  I have to wake them up when we get back.  I tuck them into bed with little fanfare.

And now a little slice of me time.  I study for my upcoming statistics test.  You know when you dream of mixing up the z table and the t table and causing disastrous consequences you have had a little bit too much math.  I drink whiskey from a wine glass and fail to reject the null.

I wonder if I am doing anything right.  This whole mom and life thing.  I am just winging it.  I take some comfort in the fact that everyone else is too.  My dad died almost a year ago.  Church makes me think about life without him.  I wonder if there is a heaven and if he is there.  I figure he probably isn’t.  But hopeful there is a purgatory and somehow he will make his way out.

I think about life and what it means.  How naïve I used to be.  Pure and simple and innocent.  I never wanted to be this jaded, but here I sit.  In a world that is not as black and white as it used to be.  In a world full of blurred lines and grey and I stand and look in at my little ones and watch as they sleep. The sound sleep of those unafflicted by stress and worry and adult life and I sigh and I love them.  I love them.  And life is white.

Gratitude

It’s a Friday afternoon, the clock is nearing 4:00 pm.  My workday will soon be over.  I receive a call from the office.  A new admission and the afterhours nurses already are busy with patients to see and needs to attend to.  Yes, I will go.  Internally rolling my eyes and muttering unpleasantries under my breath, I sit in the drudge of rush hour traffic, crawling my way to your home.

I knock at the door, my back is aching and I am pulling my nursing bag behind me.  I am greeted by your frantic husband.  A wearied caregiver, his eyes are desperate and his voice cracks as he opens the door.  Behind him, your daughter, I can’t imagine that she is much older than my own kindergartner at home.  Through whispers and short conversations meant to keep adult subjects away from little ears, I learn you also have a son with special needs and little time left on this earth to mother your babies.

I am ushered back to a small room at the end of a dark hallway.  I can imagine this home was once happy, was once warm, filled with smiles and giggles and carefree family moments.  I imagine the smell of chocolate chip cookies and sunshine as you greet your children from their days at school.  But those must be distant remnants of what was, because now it is dark and too warm for the season.  The air is heavy and wrought with uncertainty and stress. The hallway smells stale and is eerily quiet save the buzzing from the oxygen concentrator in the corner of your room.

I glance at you.  You are in pain.  The muscles up and down your chest heaving inward with each sharp breath you inhale, yet you manage a smile at me.  You have beautiful blue eyes that haven’t yet lost their twinkle.  Even after chemo and surgery and radiation, your eyes still have a spark.  Your head is covered in the baby fuzz of new hair trying to grow in, a sign of life in a body so far from it.  A blue hat hugs your skull loosely and falls down in the back.  Your faded nightgown seems five sizes too big and I wonder what you may have looked like before this terrible disease took its toll.  I glance around the room for photos.  I key in on one of you on your wedding day.  You are wearing a delicate white dress and a smile from ear to ear.  A life ahead of you is full of potential and happiness.  But today you are too exhausted to speak.  Too exhausted to eat.  Yet you fight, every deep breath you take is an audible reminder of your struggle.

I ask you questions, but you cannot answer.  Your husband speaks for you.  He recites the epistle that is your medical history, going through the long list of treatments and trials and symptoms.  The successes and failures that now more resemble a grocery list than a life lived and a battle fought.  He tells me about your pain, about your unwillingness to take pain medications as you feel they might take away from the lucid moments you have left with your loved ones.  Mother to mother, I understand.  Human to human, I see the pain you wear all over your frail body and I can’t help but want to do all I can to help take it away.

I go about my work, quickly assessing your physical condition.  Warming my cool stethoscope in my hand before I place it on your bony chest.  I listen to your beating heart that sounds a million miles away and briefly think to myself how few beats it must have left in it.  I listen to your belly, seemingly quiet for a vessel that has been empty for days.  I examine your skin.  It is dry and non-elastic, bearing the marks of dehydration and side effects from various medications. I save your lungs for last, fearing that even listening might add to your burden.  I say a little prayer the rattling, noisy breathing so common at end of life skips you over, not really for your sake, but for the sake of the little girl running around your bed sensing that something isn’t quite right, but not fully understanding what it is.

I speak again to your husband, your surrogate voice, and explain options for medications, tips to alleviate symptoms as much as can be alleviated.  And he asks what they all seem to ask at some point or another, how long?  How long does my beloved bride have left to be at my side?  I have no crystal ball, I do not claim to know much of anything, but my best guess is days to weeks.  And it never gets any easier, telling folks that those they love don’t have much time left, and the time they have is growing shorter with every grueling breath they take.  And now I wonder if I am being any help at all or just sucking up some of your precious time together with small talk.

I provide your partner with a little bit more information that is routine to me but seems to bring a small comfort.  I will visit again soon, but that is enough for today.  I have absorbed all of your emotion.  The happiness, the sadness, the anxiety, the fear.  Not a fear of pain or dying, but the fear of leaving your children without a mother.  That fear was palpable, even on top of all the other terrible symptoms. I wish I could do something to make it easier.  But there is nothing to say or do, nothing to do but to go home, to not complain about sitting in traffic and to be grateful of the hugs that await me at the door from my own children.  To be grateful that today, I am alive.

Brave

Brave
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this Weinstein fellow. I had never even heard of the old guy before last week. But now his face is plastered all over the media and somehow my thoughts seem to drift his way. My feelings are probably the minority, but I suppose I’ll still share them anyway.
I don’t feel any need to hashtag my “me too” self to bring awareness of sexual harassment to anyone who cares to listen. I’ve been raped twice, but rarely speak or think about it. I don’t want to feel like a victim. I’m not. It happened and I’m over it. Maybe I’m lucky but I have no lasting concerns, no permanent damage, no triggers or flashbacks or anxiety in the night. I sleep just fine. For me, it certainly wasn’t a life changing event, my worldview didn’t become distorted. Life just moved on. Not like I want to minimize someone else’s horrific experience, but it just wasn’t the case with me.
What I did do was go to the police, filed the requisite paperwork, and completed the invasive exams. Not so much with the intention of punishing the guy for what he did to me, but more for the piece of mind that he may not be able to do this again in the future. It was very uncomfortable. Surely I didn’t want to do it. But I did, I did it, not for me, but for the girls to come.
I hear all these stories about people coming forward now, 25 years later being deemed as brave. I don’t think what they are doing is brave. Maybe it would have been brave to have come out when it happened, when there wasn’t a plethora of cheerleaders in your corner, when there was little hope you would even be recognized or believed. That might have been brave. When you could have prevented the scores of other women from going through the same nightmare. Now, I don’t feel sorry for you. I don’t think you are brave. But thank you for your story all the same.
Not to seem flippant, but maybe a little perspective here. Things like this happen all the time. Is it right? Maybe not. But what is life other than a constant exchange of quid pro quo? I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine. I can’t imagine a person walking the planet who hasn’t used someone to get what they need or want. Maybe this case is more serious. Maybe cause it involves sex. Maybe because it involves the powerful. All I know is that as vile as this guy is portrayed, I’m sure that is not all he is. And if I had the public limelight shining down on my every flaw, I’m not sure I’d be in a much different boat.
Life isn’t fair. Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people. But in the end, we are just people. Worthy of second and third and fourth and 99th chances of forgiveness and do overs. Life isn’t fair. A series of tragedies and triumphs.
I am sure his life has been turned upside down. I am sure that most people say he deserves it. But I have never been an eye for an eye kind of person. More of a turn the other cheek and then the other and then back again. Maybe I am naive and maybe I am weak. But who am I to judge that one person’s inequities are greater than another’s. And when it boils down to it, we are all just sinners living among sinners trying to make the best of what we have here. Life is too short to be angry, to hold grudges. So to the two men out there who have taken something from me that no woman should ever be forced to give away. I forgive you. I hope you are happy, that your families are strong, and that somehow you were changed and didn’t repeat this behavior. But you are forgiven and you are not hated. You are still my neighbor and equal. And to Harvey Weinstein, I hope you see the error of your ways, I hope you are able to repent and find peace. I hope you will be able to forgive yourself. And even though I am not in a position to grant absolution, I forgive you. I forgive you for the pain you have caused and the terror you have inflicted.
I don’t know what bravery is. Risking your own wellbeing for the greater good maybe. If any greater good will come of this at all. Meanwhile, decidedly unbrave I will pray for these woman, I will pray for Weinstein and his family. I will pray that all of us trudging together bounded by humanity will learn to love more, to forgive sincerely, and always keep moving forward.

The curious case of the flu shot

I pick my first grader up from the end of a Friday after a long week at school.  She smiles. The smile of a child with too much on her mind. Behind the sparkling blue eyes are pools of worry and doubt that should only be seen in the souls of those who have lived decades beyond her meager six years. She bounces into the car, hot pink back pack slung over one of her shoulders. She eases her arms into her car seat and buckles herself into the five point harness that comforts her and keeps her still. There is so much to be gained from monotony. 

“Can we go get a flu shot? I don’t want to get the flu.” She requested to go to the same retail pharmacy as last year because they give the best shots. Having a mom for a nurse has its perks at times, not sure spending Friday night asking for arm jabs is one of them. We pulled up and ambled into the pharmacy hand in hand. We asked the pharmacist for our flu shots.  My daughter insisted I go first. One down, one to go.

My daughter stood frozen. She looked like a panicked wild animal in the cross hairs of a hunters ‘s bow. She screamed, a wild howl of fear.  She changed her mind.  She didn’t want a flu shot today after all. No amount of coaxing or clawing from Mom could pry her feet away that were cemented on the floor.  The downside of getting your healthcare the same place you get beer and Windex is that they are limited in what they can do.  Unlike the pediatrician’s office where the friendly staff are adept in restraining wild children and quickly inflicting brief pain, retail pharmacists are more unwilling or unable to perform the immuniztion without the child’s consent.

So no flu shot today. She wailed the whole ride home.  A stream of fears a six year old probably shouldn’t have. “I don’t want to get the flu. The flu makes you go to the hospital. That’s where you die. I don’t want to be with papa and don’t want to see god.” She cried about dying, her dying, me dying, her being scared of losing anyone else around her. 

She weeps into my shoulder as I pull her out of the car. “Why didn’t you make me get my shot? Do you want to make me die?” I am sad for her.  She has such a big heart and she soaks emotion in from all around her. She loves with a fury.  She has dealt with more death than anyone should have to deal with and I see the toll it takes on her young mind.  

I hug her. I hold her. I try not to be too angry at her for wasting our time and embarrassing me. I love her. I love her. My dad died. Her papa died. One day life will go on.

Sins

Succumb
What are your seven deadly sins? Are they the same for all of us? Is succumbing to vice merely an unavoidbale consequence of the human condition? Is there really even a reason to resist?  Is there a reward for moral fortitude, purity and piety?

Seven deadly sins all boil down to three. Power. Control. Lust. Life is nothing but a play for power. It can be earned; stolen; wielded for good or evil. Being in command or being commanded. And isn’t power just another word for control? I often wonder if I’d ever be brave enough to fully relinquish it. To a higher being, to a lover, to a friend, to an outside circumstance. And as control slips through our fingertips how we yearn for power.

Lust. For food. For sex. For substances. For power and control. For a life we cannot have. For money. For possessions. For beauty. For eternal life. Our desires consume us. We want what we can’t have. We want more of what we already do.

Is it really so bad? To dance that seductive dance of taking and giving control. To yearn for delights of the flesh.  What are we sacrificing when we give into these temptations? Relationships? Character? And who is the judge?

I float above my body and watch. I am hovering above my cowering frame, cloaked in a cape of security. Floating here I am strong, I am beautiful, I am in control, I am safe. I watch the mouse down below. Cry into her pillow. Bed sheets soaked with her tears and his scent. The smell that won’t wash off; won’t disappear. Underneath I see pain written all over her face. Her ruddy cheeks staining her early wrinkled skin. But not up here. From above I am happy.

Cloaked

Fraud

Fraud

I glanced down at my bulging belly and cringed as I felt the burgeoning life wiggling inside me. I am the American Dream. I have a house, a gorgeous house. I have a car and a white picket fence and a husband who works 9-5. I have a job. A job that is disposable. One that I do because I like working and not because I need the money. I have the luxury of choice and boredom. I can do whatever I please whenever I please.
But the baby that wiggles in the trenches of my womb reminds me that despite the free spirit I am and despite all the choices I may have– it reminds me of the shackles that tie me to this life of monotony. I found out I was pregnant, those two pink lines laughing in my face like a toothless grin of an evil old witch. I am supposed to be happy. I am supposed to be overjoyed. I am supposed to be in love. I am supposed to be…
But what I am is a fraud, a diligent imposter begging to be found out. And I cry. I cry the tears of a mother not ready. A selfish girl not yet prepared to become a woman. A peg stuck in a board of a game that’s been rigged from the start. I cry because I am the dream. The dream of every woman who has come before me who is not me. I cry because I do not want to be your mother. I cry because you do not deserve this. I cry because you are so much better than I can ever show you.

embrace the fake

Superficial

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Plastic, elastic, fantastic girl made of everything spice and nothing nice.  Bitter on the tongue and rough in the hand. I left you in command but you surrendered to the opinion of the falling, falling, falling beasts.  And the beast was beat by the least of the bunch and I once had a hunch that you loved me.  But your love had faltered and waivered and was nothing but fake.  A soft break in the land of giant mistakes.  The biggest flaw was that I know nothing at all. And what do you know but what you have seen?  And what have you seen but remnants of dreams?

The dreams settle in, so you can pretend that something you think means more than the sink and you are not on the brink of happy or sad or mad or between.  Only on the edge of the life of a queen.  And it’s tight and it’s loose and it’s nice and it’s not. Nothing matters when you don’t stir the pot.  You twist and you turn while the river still churns. Like your belly that is empty and full of deceit.  What came first the defeat or the lies?  And all you have left is a mouthful of pies.  The dessert is so sweet and tasty it makes your mouth full of soft and sugary fun.  The fun is something that has never begun.

I like to be clean and I like to be right.  I like to be yours in the middle of the night.  When the sun comes and ruffles my eyes, the birds of a feather have fallen together and you left and I’m in the bed all alone and all that is left is the smell of cologne.  But the scent of musk and floral bouquet is still not enough to brighten the day that you left and you came was one and the same.  You come and the sum of all that I am is nothing in the palm of your hand.

Everything is up for debate and discuss.  Even here in the midst of our lust.  The thick kisses of doubt have swallowed me up and I am no longer a shadow of a fresh buttercup.  Only rotten cream in the bottom of my cup has finally swirled to the end of my luck.  Its lock, stock and barrel, the end of the night. Get out of my bed and don’t put up a fight.  I’m nothing but the sum of my inflatable parts.  The debatable piece is the one that I lost. The piece of the hole that is gone from the sum is the part that I need to be nothing but fun. I am down on my knees. I am confessing my sins.  But all I have done wrong is dripping off of your chin.

I’m fun and I’m fake and I’m happy and care free.  I’m a superficial Barbie and inviting you to tea.  I can be what you want, what you need, what you are.  I can be anything, your wish on a star.  And I thrive off of what I can do for you.  And I crave the attention you drop at my knees. And I crave when I can have whatever I please.  I control you. You are my puppet. My pet.  Your hands are tied tight right round the nape my neck.  That is ripe for the choking and ripe for the game.  But the game I have played has made me insane.  My mind is used up like a whore on the street.  And the whore is my friend but she’s worth more than me. Worth more than the ocean at the bottom of the sea.

A penny for your thoughts or a dollar for mine.  I can show you such a good time.  A good time, a great one, whatever lies between.  Just listen to me and I’ll make all your dreams.  Come true for an instant.  For a life time or more.  Come listen to me and I’ll make you a queen.  The queen of the damned and all underneath.  Underneath the sheets and I’m undercover.  A cover I made to shadow what’s real.  To protect me from all that I might have to feel.  The feelings that sting and feelings that bite.  And I sink my teeth into the dark of the night.  I am fake. A fraud.  A falsehood you follow. A spoonful of lies you daintily swallow.  No question, no doubt.  You are my disciple.  You worship an idol who knows little of good.

I have lost my way down the yellow brick road, searching for an oil can that loosen me up.  Loosen my lips and loosen my mind.  Loosen my hips while you watch me from behind. But the yellow brick road has lead me astray and I am left drowning in all my dismay.  And up comes the sun and all of its glory.  And I’m holed away, terrified of its fury.