*cough* I Started School *cough*

ZZZzzzzzzz. What? I haven’t written a blog in a few weeks? Yeah, about that . . .

My over-achieving a$$ decided to go back to school. Maybe the the third time’s a charm for finding the perfect degree. Meanwhile, I got pneumonia. For the past two weeks, I’ve been battling pneumonia and the beginning of the school year. Wooo-weeeee!

This is tough, y’all. I can’t tell whether my fatigue is from class or from being sick, but all I’ve wanted to do for the past two weeks is curl up in a warm bed and sleep. It’s incredibly inconvenient to be sick at the start of the school year, especially when your classmates and professors don’t know you and think you’re this pale sickly thing who can’t hack it. “No, no!” I want to shout. “I’m not usually like this! The lethargy? The cough? The cadaverous complexion? It’s not who I am! Well, that last bit about being pale is pretty consistent!” Instead, I flop. I’m floppy. I flop into Teams meetings and then I flop on the couch. I flop into bed. I flop into my car. A cough will animate me for a spell, then I’ll flop once more. Someone took all my juice, and I want it back.

Boychild told a passing stranger that his mom was sick and coughing a lot. Husband hastily explained that I did not have COVID. How do I know I don’t have COVID? My college has been incredibly thorough in testing the students weekly, so I’ve had three COVID tests so far and all were neggo. The first test was before we came back to campus. We had to spit in a tube. And when I say “spit in a tube,” I mean we had to fill the dang thing to the brim. This is harder that you’d think, because only spit counts. No spit foam. Plus, the spitting had to be supervised on Zoom. Yes, I had the unique experience of having a young man watch me awkwardly spit into a vial for about two minutes. I’m sure there are corners of the internet where people do this for money.

It’s funny how cough habits die hard. Yesterday in a Zoom meeting, I covered my cough with the crook of my arm and my colleague said, “why’d you do that? You’re alone!” Yep. I’ve noticed I also do the “vampire cough cover” when I’m in the car or wearing a mask, which is entirely ridiculous.

The worst part about the past two weeks has been watching Husband and Boychild have adventures without me. They’ve been to the beach, the gardens, on hikes. While I . . . well, I’ve been to bed. But I am getting much better, thanks to giant antibiotics and plenty of love and care from my little family.

But I don’t want to be all “poor me” in this post. I’m alive. I’m lucky. I have a great support system and health insurance. I’m doing really well.

I’ll be done with school in a few years, so I might be a bit busy these days. At least til May. Over summer break, I think I’ll start a website where you can watch me spit in a tube for $50.

 

Attack of the Three-nager!!!!

Good Lord, y’all.

What’s 3.5 years old but acts like a surly, sullen teen? MY CHILD! I thought the term “threenager” was a joke or some hyperbolic catch-phrase that mom bloggers use. No, honey. Threenagers are real and they are exhausting. Boychild is hitting his threenager phase pretty hard. He’s hitting ME pretty hard, too. I’m shaking my head as I write this.The brain is under construction right now, especially the emotional regulation areas, so it’s no surprise that Boychild can’t really Keep Calm and Carry On. Doesn’t make it any less annoying, but it does make me feel better. I know that it’s developmental, not that he’s a crazed tyrant with a sadistic streak.

For you folks who have wee babes, let me tell you what you’re in for. Here’s what I’m dealing with:

  1. The Attitude.
    My darling child, who regularly says “please” and “thank you,” now says, “Okay, FINE!” when he is told to do something he doesn’t want to do. At first, Husband and I thought this was funny. He stole the phrase from one of our favorite books, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, so the first time he popped off with an “okay, FINE, I chuckled and looked at husband with a “did he just say that?” look on my face. Now the phrase has become so commonplace with Boychild that I have nicknamed him “Mr. Fine.” He really hates it when I call him that, so I do it often. Along with the “okay, FINE” is a lot of eye-rolling. I really didn’t expect this to happen so soon, and I’d like to think Boychild is working on some advanced exasperation. I have an excellent GIF of him rolling his eyes at me on Mother’s Day, of all days. Oh, I forgot to mention, after Boychild says “okay, FINE!!” it’s usually followed by glass-shattering shrieks. I can only imagine what the neighbors think. “Are they summoning demons in there?!” “Where did they get a chimpanzee and what are they doing to that poor animal?”
  2. The Door Slamming
    Recently added to the repertoire, the door slamming has the added advantage of annoying the parents AND scaring the cats, both of which are highly entertaining. Again, I thought we’d get some slammed doors around age 15 or so, but it’s happening so early that I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in his crib smoking a Marlboro Light and drinking a Zima. -Wait, I’m really dating myself with that reference. Let me try again- in his crib vaping and chugging a White Claw.
    Door-slams happen usually when he’s mad at me or dad for asking him to do something, like go to bed or not hit me or not jump off the back of the couch. It’s preceded by that old favorite, “okay FINE.” Are you getting tired of that phrase yet? Because I am. The door slamming is unique in that we literally only have two doors in the house to slam: one separating his room from ours, and the outside door. All the other doors are pocket doors and they don’t slam well. They sort of “Juhzzzzz” closed. Not effective. So he’s taken to slamming the fridge door whenever he can. Lucky for us, he’s not strong enough to open it yet, so he has to wait ’til it’s already open to slam it, bless him.
  3. The Slappings and Kickings
    I know he’s only 3.5, but man, can Boychild hit. He might be a boxer when he grows up. The real forceful slaps hurt, but the real pain is knowing that he enjoys hitting me. “Don’t hit mama!” I say constantly. “But I want to!” he says. Or he’ll say, “But you made me mad!” which is the toddler version of, “but you made me hit you!” I get that he doesn’t have empathy yet, and I also understand that physically releasing negative energy (in the form of punches, kicks, etc. ) feels good. I also know from personal experience that it still hurts. The interwebs say be consistent, never hit back and talk about feelings. Check, check and check. Still, he hits. My rock ’em sock ’em Boychild loves to hit me, so now I just walk away. I wonder if he’ll be in therapy years down the road for this? For his mother abandoning him because of his heightened emotional states? Will he marry someone cold and distant? A person who ignores him and his emotions because I walked away from him when he hit me? By the way, Husband was mauled by a bear* and has been bedridden for two days, which makes all this threenager stuff more pronounced for yours truly. I get all the hits now, plus kicks! I’m tired of hearing okayfine. He must be just as tired of hearing me say “We don’t hit!! No hitting or kicking! ” and the rhetorical “When is it okay to hit or kick? Never!” Frankly, I’m tired of saying it. Sometimes, I just say “Stop it!” which reduces him to tears. Poor kid. Then I have to console him for hitting me. It’s so weird, being a parent. Am I doing this right?!? Is there a right?
  4. The Bossiness
    Mister Boychild is very specific in his wants, which is a great thing to have as an actor. In fact, he wants many things: no music or talking in the car, a third banana, to walk by himself in the grocery store and that one toy that we threw away like, a year ago and he hasn’t seen in two years, but now that it’s been tossed, he really, really wants it NOW and nothing else in the world is more important. It’s all now, and it’s all important. Again, great qualities for an actor. Less desirable in a tiny human.

    My darling child is not all attitude. We have these sparkling moments or sheer joy and hilarity and sweetness that makes my heart ache. But lord, how did any of us make it to adulthood? I cannot believe my mama put up with my three year old self, because I know that I was as strong-willed and sassy to her as Boychild is to me. Maybe a little less slappy, though. Mom, I’d like to say “I’m so sorry. I now know what you went through with me, and I cannot wait for my son to apologize to me once he has one of his own.” In the meantime, I’m just going to try to keep calm and carry on.

*Husband was NOT mauled by a bear, but it sounds much better than the truth, which was he threw his back out after putting an empty milk jug in the recycling bin. Poor thing.

S’up, Beaches

We’ve spent a LOT of time at the beach lately. Our daycare provider was on a well-deserved break, so Boychild and I (and Husband) have just been beach bums. When I say beach, I think I need to clarify: there are seagulls, there is water. There is sand. There is a mountain made of slate opposite the beach. Further down the road is an island oasis where the Marx Brothers and Dorothy Parker used to party back in the day. No waves here, no salt. Just a good old lake beach with people from New Jersey and New York and right here in Vermont hanging out together.

What I’ve noticed about beach folk is that there are these men- these middle-aged dudes with impressive guts that sort of jut out from the rest of them. Big, sun-baked bellies on display. And they don’t care. They may be riddled with shame on the inside, but man, most of them peacock around the place like they’re lord and master of the universe. Meanwhile, their wives or girlfriends are wearing “cover-ups.” There’s a bazillion dollar industry in cover ups. These items exist to say, “ladies, hide your a$$/ thighs/ arms on the beach. No one wants to see your body if it’s not a toned size 2, so do us all a favor and wear this festive cloth to distract from your dumpy lady-flesh.” Can you imagine one of these paunchy beach bros sporting a sarong? So wrong.

I know that guys are also body-shamed and young men and boys are among the fastest-growing group of people with eating disorders. It’s tough for them, too, bless ’em. But these guys I’m talking about? I get the feeling they feel very comfortable with their bodies, and that’s pretty cool.

I admire these guys. I want to be that cocksure about my body. Since the effin’ pandemic hit, I’ve gained a million pounds. I feel like a neutron star, only pale. Also, now that I’ve had a child, I’m fluffy in weird places. Middle age doesn’t help with the fluff, nor does it help with the wrinkly bits. I wish I had the body confidence of these dudes with their wraparound shades and prodigious bellies. These men meet the world head-on! They’re not ashamed of their well-earned tummies! Why should I be? I mean, my tummy is the result of 9pm doughnuts and 9months of carrying a child. I should be proud of both! Those doughnuts made it uneaten til 9pm! My child made it through 9 months and now he’s 3! Hand me the dang bikini. I’m joinin’ the beach bros. And this time? No sarong.

Pale Lady

It’s the thick of the summer. July somethingth. I dunno. 25th? Dates have sort of lost their meaning in the quarantining.

I looked at my face the other day and thought, “Ooh. What is wrong with my skin? Is the lighting weird in here or something? I look odd.” And then it hit me: I had gotten some sun. I wouldn’t call it a tan. No. But it was some sun. I was a shade more golden than I normally am. I am a pale gal. My legs are so pale that people would ask me if I was wearing tights or stockings. I wasn’t. Just have some dang pale legs. My face is the same way: very pale and translucent in places. You can actually see through my skin sometimes, with little blue veins making an appearance. I’m might actually be a cave salamander or one of those aliens from Mars Attacks. When I was a smoker, my skin was downright cadaverous. Do you know the photo challenge that ask the viewer, “hot dogs, or legs?” It’d be more like “chalk stubs, or legs?” for me and my pale ilk.  Anyhow, it startled me to see that I had some color in my cheeks. I shook my fist at the sky and growled, “Summmmmmer!”

It’s not that I like or dislike being pale, but I’ve been taught since birth to use “An SPF sunscreen of 15 or above every day,” to prevent aging, thus any sign of sun means my sunscreen has failed me. I’ve used sunscreen since I was 15, and I’m still aging, so I feel lied to. I had hoped that the age-defying effects of sunscreen might mitigate the age-inducing effects of all the Camel Special Lights that I smoked. Like, one tan ages you 15 cigarettes, so if you prevent one tan, you can smoke 15 cigarettes. I think they cancelled each other out.

These days, I’m off the smokes, still on the sunscreen and I now I wear a hat as well. I feel so very middle-aged. My current fave summer outfit consists of a modest calf-length dress (either in solid white or blue prairie flowers) and a white straw hat. I call it the “Nicole Kidman escapes from a cult and goes to a tea-party” look. A friend told me of a lady she knew whose wardrobe consisted entirely of caftans and no shoes. This woman might be my hero, as she has given me goals. I one day aspire to wear only one thing. It might be dresses. I love a dress. I love the breeze. I pity men who don’t wear dresses because you’re missing out on some serious ventilation. Scottish guys were on to something with those kilts, fellas.

Besides dresses, I love summer because I love to swim. Or at least I used to love it. As a parent, our family visits to any body of water fill me with anxiety. What if Boychild drowns? What if I drop him in the water? What if a lake monster eats him? They’ve been seen around these parts. Our current lake is fairly safe, but it does have a rocky shore. Here’s my impression of me walking into the lake “Ow, f*ck! Ow, f****ck! Ow, ow ow. Okay.” Despite my anxiety, we’ve been taking Boychild to the lake most every day. He’s found snail shells, made friends (more anxiety here- Do we know these moppets? Do they have the COVID? What are they hiding?) and has begun to love the water just like his ma and pa. I adore watching him talk to other kids. He doesn’t have a shy bone in his body and he just talk talk talks to kids big and small about whatever. It’s inspiring. And also terrifying because we don’t wear masks in the water, yet Boychild insists on interviewing everyone in the lake like he was Oprah or something.

Side note: is there anyone more excited that a mom who has just spotted a family of ducks swimming in the lake? “Look, Banjo!!! LOOK! LOOK AT THE BABY DUCKS!! OH MY GOD! BABY DUCKS! Sarah, Banjo come LOOK! LOOK AT THOSE BABY DUUCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKSSS!”

Other fave summer things: harvesting stuff from the garden, not scraping 3 inches of snow off my car, fresh strawberries, and riding around with my windows down (and my system up. lol.). I also love watching my little boy get a farmer’s tan. I love it when he smells like sunscreen and wants to stay up late to watch fireflies. I love the smell of grills aflamin’. I love how warm weather makes all the frosty Vermonters happy and slightly melty. I kind of don’t want it to end.

Torn Ligaments and Anti-Depressants

A snapshot of right now: 

I’m here, lying on my bed, bruises under my armpits from using crutches (incorrectly?). Feet up, one in a big traction boot, listening to Britney Spears sing Toxic (song of the summer, doncha know). My son is making play-doh cats in the living room with his grandma. I’m wondering how I can continue my workout streak with a bum foot. 

Here’s what happened:

Hanging out at the in-laws house, I gently placed my son on a trampoline. Then I stepped off a little platform they’d made to help little ones get up onto the trampoline safely. My foot hit the ground and decided to flop over. I’m not sure what it thought it was doing, but I heard a POP! I said *#$&!! and I fell to the ground. I couldn’t get up, so I just wept in the grass. My dear Boychild was with a family friend on the trampoline and kept saying, “What happened to mama?” Folks came over. I think my husband offered me a seltzer? I don’t know why he did this. We do weird things when we’re trying to help. I was carried to a chair by my brother in law and tended to rather swiftly by my sister in law and surrounding family members. I was embarrassed about crying, which is really stupid, and now I’m embarrassed about being embarrassed about crying. I’m an actor, for crying out loud. I should be okay showing vulnerability! But that’s another post for another day. 

So now I’m in a boot for a while ‘til I can walk again. And so it goes. It’s a minor setback and this stuff happens. However, I didn’t expect having a sprained foot to make me so sad. I was surprised by my melancholy. Rationally, I know it’s temporary and I know that people are dealing with HUGE setbacks and injuries that absolutely pale in comparison to a little torn whatever. But emotionally, I felt like I’m not a part of the family funtimes and I can’t carry my child or toss him on the bed like a sack of potatoes. If I get down on the floor with him, I ain’t gettin’ up. I felt useless and it made me sad. It’s much better today. 

Also, I’m coming off of anti-depressants, so that may be part of it. About a year ago, I left a position in a place that I loved, with a group of talented and funny people. The one thing I didn’t love was my new boss.I spent a lot of energy trying to make it work, but it was never going to work. I felt useless and it made me sad. I was tired of crying in my car on lunch breaks, so I got on the anti-depressant train and I have to say, it saved my sanity. But now that it’s all in the rearview, I don’t feel like I need the meds anymore. 

It’s been fun, noticing the changes as the anti-depressants leave my system. I’m more sensitive to smells and touch. I’ve started grinding my teeth at night. I have more of an edge. I feel mentally sharper. I’m more self-conscious. I’ve got laser-focus. It’s a mixed bag, and sometimes I think, “Why the eff am I quitting anti-depressants during a pandemic and a period of social and political upheaval?” Well, why not? It’s nice having a woolly sock for the soul, which is how I think of anti-depressants. But it did put me at a remove from others and it made me super-duper nonchalant. 

So, for the next six weeks, I’ll be an edgy mother in a big ole monster boot, clomping around the house, possibly crying, but definitely making it work. 

What’s in a Name?

photo by Jon Tyson

Anyone who has owned a pet knows the stress of naming the animal properly. At least it stresses me out. Friends of mine have come up with a good solution to the pet-naming dilemma. They name all their dogs after family members, which I find charming and also pretty loaded. Is it awkward when their relative’s namesake does dog things like pooping on the veranda or humping a stuffed hedgehog? Or is it apt? “That’s just like something Uncle Rodney would’ve done,” they might say, as Rodney the schnauzer licks his beehole.

I dunno. I’ve never named a dog. I do know that naming cats, much like training cats, is futile and a waste of time. Cats will reveal their names to you when they’re good and damned ready. Your first attempt at naming them will fail. Case in point: Lillith the cat. Lillith was named after Adam’s first wife who refused to be submissive and therefore was replaced with Eve. Lillith went on to give birth to demons. Great name for a cat who burst through a screened-in window to get laid and then go on have her own set of adorable demons kittens. Anyway, her name didn’t stick. She was Lillith, then Lillith Anne. Then she acquired both a mob name and a last name: Lillith Anne “Tuna Juice” Jones. The she somehow gained a hyphenated last name and became Lillith Anne “Tuna Juice” Jones-Puss. We actually called her Tuna, TJ Jones, Toonie, Toon, Toonces, one of the Jones Girls, etc. I’m still not sure what to put on her gravestone.

Naming a child is hard. It’s legally binding, which it is not with cats and dogs. If Boychild decides he hates his name or is actually a Girlchild, he’ll have to go through some serious rigmarole to change it. Also, you can’t really tell the future, so the perfectly good name my husband and I chose for Boychild in 2017 might be the name of a future dictator or famous idiot. Or his name may become a meme. Lookin’ at you, Karens. In case you don’t know, the name “Karen” is a catchall for white ladies with mall hairdos behaving in racist, obnoxious and entitled ways. No one wants to be “a Karen.” Apologies to all the lovely, non-obnoxious Karens I know. The good thing about the internet is that it has a short shelf life. Next year, we might be like “remember that time we called mean white ladies ‘Karen’? Me neither.” That’s a balm. Unless my child’s name is historically bad, he’ll be fine. It’ll blow over in a few years. Nevertheless, we had a tough time finding the right name for him. Imagine Husband and I arguing interchangeably about the following names, all of which were actual possibilities:

Finn? As in short for Phinneas? No. Everyone’s kid is named Finn these days.
Jett? Wasn’t that the name of John Travolta’s son who died? Yeah. So, no.
Irving? What, and call him ‘Irv’? Who calls a baby ‘Irv’?
Aldous? No.
Terrell? Just add a “bull” to the back of it and it sounds like “terrible.” No thank you.

Aaand scene.

Husband and I were basically re-enacting the classic Saturday Night Live sketch where Nic Cage and Julia Sweeney are trying to name their baby. Nic soundly rejects every name. A package arrives and it’s revealed that Nic’s character is named Asswipe. “It’s pronounced oz-WEE-pay!” he shouts, full of shame and the signature Nic Cage mania.

The ironic thing about our choosing a first name is that we failed to pick a middle name. We were caught off guard when the nurse came in after Boychild was born and said, “what’s his middle name?” Husband and I exchanged a look. I stammered uh. uh. umm. I wasn’t prepared for a pop quiz mere hours after pushing a human out of my hoo-hoo. But I rallied.  “Axel!” I said. “His middle name is Axel!” I declared triumphantly. Husband shrugged and said, “I guess it’s Axel.” In my strange pregnancy dreams, I woke myself up singing the last part of Guns and Roses’ Sweet Child O’ Mine. Ya know that part where Axel Rose goes off on a vocal run, yodeling “Chieeee yi eee yayayayaaaahaaa yi eee yi yiiiiiiiahld of miiieeeyiiiine.” Yeah, I was singing that in my sleep and then woke myself up and laughed out loud for a long while, waking Husband. I felt Axel was an appropriate middle name. Also it means “father of peace.” Also, Axel Foley was fun.

No matter what your actual name may be, rest assured I have a nickname for you in my head. I do this with people I know well and people I don’t. I also make up names for people whose real names I don’t like or don’t agree with. Your name might be “Missy” but I call you Belinda.

I heard recently that names are so hard to remember (and I am THE WORST at remembering names) because they don’t actually signify anything of importance. They don’t display a quality or any relevant information about the person. It made me happy. I might not know your name, but I know how you engage with the world. I probably know what dryer sheets you use. I might also know what instrument you’d be, if you were an instrument. I just don’t remember your name. It also makes me secure in the fact that while I took great pains to give Boychild the best name I could, most people won’t remember it anyway. 🙂

Penises and . . . ?

My son thinks I pee out of my butt. I don’t. Unless you count that one time when I ate at Waffle House, but that’s disturbing and I’d like to move along. SO.  Boychild is really confused about my parts, and I don’t blame him. Genitals are weird and confusing things. When I was young, I had no idea what a penis looked like for many years. I couldn’t imagine what they could possibly look like, which is why I really wanted to see one.  Please note this was a simpler time: before the ubiquity of peen, the sheer surplus of dongs that are available to any curious person today thanks to the interwebs. One pre-internet day when I was eight, my monthly National Geographic came and I finally saw my first penis (kind of). Yes, I had a subscription to National Geographic at eight years old. What? I wanted to be Jacques Cousteau or run off to Machu Picchu. Yes, I was a nerd, thank you.

In this edition of National Geographic, they featured the Sistine Chapel ceiling and boy, were there penises! Plenty of penises! A sky full of dicks! I was not impressed. I remembered thinking something like “Oh. Wow, that’s it? It’s kind of small.” Then I saw a piece of Adam’s side-ball and thought, “What is that? Eww.” I’d never seen balls before, either. I honestly couldn’t tell the twig from the berries. So I get why it’s all so confusing. Plus, I seem to remember that back in Michelangelo’s day, having a teeny weenie was very in vogue, as larger penises signaled the more bestial nature of mankind during the Renaissance. The closer to God, the smaller the ding-a-ling.

I don’t know what to tell Boychild about my lady-bits. He and dad have bonded over having a penis. The other day, I woke up overhearing Boychild in the bathroom saying “Dad, you have a big penis and I have a little penis.” Dad replied, “Well, you’re a small guy, so you have a small penis. But as you get bigger, you’ll have a bigger penis.” Sound words of advice. Later that day, Boychild said, “Mom, where’s your penis?” I said, “I don’t have one, baby. I have a vagina.” He got misty-eyed. “But I want you to have a penis!” he lamented, beginning to cry. That’s rather nice of him- to want me to be part of the penis posse. I imagine penises are really fun to have. Like having a magical meat-wand between your legs, though I’ve heard they can be unpredictable, going all “Diminuendo” instead of “Erecto.”  Balls seem very risky. I question Mother Nature’s decision to place those on the outside of one’s body. They’re between the legs, which gives a modest amount of protection, but wouldn’t testicles be safer somewhere else, like in one’s armpits? I prefer to have my gonads inside, thank ya very much.

I clumsily explained to my three year old that I’m a female and we have a butthole and also a hole for peeing and then yet another hole. And then I went on to awkwardly say “You know how you have a hole for a mouth and a hole for a nose and ear holes, too? Yeah. I mean, those are different holes that do different things, but they’re still holes, right? That’s like what women have down there.” Great. Now he thinks I have a nose for a vagina and an ear on my butthole. I don’t know how to explain my genitals to a three year old. It was hard enough explaining them to grown men. I’m sure this is all going to lead to a lot of therapy.  Mostly mine.

Just WRITE

Sorry for the delay. Hey- I love to laugh. Having a child was great for me in that I had many new things to laugh at and about. These days, I’ve had a hard time writing about funny things because the world is tumultuous and decidedly unfunny. Being sensitive to everything that’s happening- the Black Lives Matter movement, police brutality protests, COVID-19, all the needless deaths-  I lost my voice.  It’s all so overwhelming and I find it hard to put something out into the world so flippant and silly as my little blog when big, important events are occurring. I’m trying to do the work: I’m reflecting and donating, and reading and doing a lot of thinking. And yet, I miss writing.

I bought my husband a NY Daily News for Father’s Day, because what dad doesn’t love a newspaper? In the Daily News, there was a comics section, which was full of crappy comics. They’re still putting out frivolous stuff, so I shouldn’t feel afraid to do the same, I suppose.

Let’s delve into the goofiness, shall we?

I bought my cats a puzzle feeder because I thought they were overweight and bored. I’m really projecting onto them, because I feel bloated and bored. Why don’t they make puzzle feeders for people? I could use one of those. In order to get your Girl Scout Cookies (Samoas only, please. Don’t come at me with those nasty Thin Mints. And please turn around and go back home if you only have those butter cookies. No.) Where was I? Oh, in order to get your Girl Scout Cookies, you must roll the cookie through a maze and down a chute where you have to arm-wrestle a sailor. If you win, you get 2 cookies. If you lose, you are keelhauled for 20 minutes. I’d definitely lose weight with a contraption like that. The puzzle feeder has been a hit for the cats, though they do not have to wrestle a sailor. They do have to negotiate a living space populated by flying toys and a toddler who is determined to feed them. He likes to shove a piece of cat food into their face and scream “EAT IT” at them. He loves those cats.

I do find that I am less bored and feeling less poofy these days. The boredom comes with anxiety, I think. My creative mind is too clogged with all the news- all the changes- and it doesn’t have room to do what it wants, which is make stuff up. Make jokes, make things. So it shuts off if it can’t do that. I’m working out often as an antidote to feeling chunky, yet those cookies keep callin’ me. But I vanquished them quite soundly by finishing off the entire box. I’m so proud of myself!

Have you had a COVID test yet? Me neither, though Boychild developed a fever the other day and we took him to get one at the drive-through testing site. I do like the sound of a drive-thru. Sadly, these drive thrus don’t offer burgers, only pain- very convenient pain. I had the luxury of sitting in the front seat while a very nice lady stuck what looked like a long mascara wand up our child’s nose and into his brain. Poor Husband was in the backseat with him as he screamed and cried. Ugh. Boychild recovered much quicker than Husband, who I’m pretty sure has PTSD now. Because our child hates food, we bought him books and puzzles to soothe his battered snoot and make him forget the painful test. He’s fine. The test was negative. Husband is still having nightmares. As am I. Oh, COVID nightmares! Nothing like dreaming you’re dying alone surrounded by people in masks, amiright?

I’ll write more soon. I must tell you about the “big penis” conversation I woke up to this morning . . .

Here’s to humor and silliness and being alive right now.

-H

 

 

 

 

 

Pockets

I’m fighting a case of “the sads.” Who wouldn’t be sad for the world? The president is a (fill in the awful blank), black folks keep getting murdered just for existing, and many folks can’t afford groceries or rent. Oh, and there’s STILL A PANDEMIC and PEOPLE ARE DYING. This is depressing sh!t, which is why my frivolous little blog seems out of tune with the times. I dunno. Maybe we need something funny and stupid. “I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” I always thought that was a Chekhov quote, but I think now that it’s Beckett.

A moment of frivolity may not be out of place. So . . . eff it.

Today’s great discovery: My dress has POCKETS!!!! Y’all! Pockets!!

Dudes have no idea how exciting this is. I told my husband, and he said, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard that’s important. It’s all over the internet” Sure. Okay. My whole life, I’ve been sentenced to carry around a “handbag” or “purse” to keep my sh!t with me just in case I

  1. Don’t have pockets
  2. Have pockets that are purely decorative or sewn shut (a faux-ket)
  3. Can’t fit all my girl items (lip balm, wallet, keys, tampons, mace, whimsy, and once upon a time, lighters and Marlboros) into my pockets.

Oh my God. I just realize why they call purses and handbags a “pocket-book”! It’s like, a, pocket. That’s shaped like a book! Because we ladies don’t have pockets!!! My purse right now is about 80% receipts and 10% trash. The other 10% is lip balms of various flavors and tints. There might be a lonely, fuzz-covered mint runnin’ around in there somewhere. That sounds like a fate the Greek Gods would bestow on an erstwhile mortal: you shall forevermore be sentenced to exist as a lint-coated mint in a middle-aged woman’s purse until the end of time. The myth of Mentos, the fresh-maker.

Side note- I bought a pair of pants at a thrift shop recently and found an old tissue in the pocket. It made me smile. My grandmother always had a tissue, or “tisha” as she would say, in every pocket. She was a magician, whipping out a Kleenex from a sleeve or pocket at the first sniffle. When I found the tisha in the vintage pants-pocket, I had this surge of nostalgia, then I thought “COVID!!!” and threw it out. Then I spend 10 minutes washing my hands.

So, my dress has pockets. This dress is so fancy. Even though it’s from Anthropologie, I look like a Manson girl who defected to the Partridge Family. I’ve just completely given in to the fact that I am a hippy-boho type, so why fight it? Long flowy dresses hide a multitude of sins, mostly in the hips and a$$ area, and those psychedelic patterns will hypnotize predators. Win-win.  

Today, as I was riding back from the grocery store where I went to get soy sauce, wine, pull-ups, and two bags of Dark Magic coffee, I ran my hands down my sides and to my surprise, POCKETS! They weren’t deep, but they were there. I nearly stopped the car. Why hadn’t I noticed this before? This was AMAZING! I want to believe this is a harbinger of good things to come. Subtle blessings, maybe? Little things.

Little things are what’s making the days good. Seeing people out gardening. Hearing Boychild say “I love you so much, mama.” Giving some money to organizations that fight racism. Hell, my pockets aren’t deep, but they’re there. There should be a saying: May you all find the pockets you need when you least expect them. 

Skeert!

“Skeert” is Southern-speak for “Scared”

So here’s something the parenting books don’t prepare you for: ghosts. Or more accurately, what to do when you think your child may have seen one.The other day, my dear Boychild told me tearfully that The Little Laughing Girl woke him up. I said, “the little laughing girl?: He said, “Yes. She woke me up laughing.” Umm. Not cool. When he said this, Husband looked at me, shook his head and said quietly “I don’t want to know.” Look, I know kids are awesome and have imaginations on overdrive, but could we really have a spirit? Our place is from the 1800’s, so lots of folks have come through its doors. 

I also know that the likelihood of my child having seen a ghost is pretty low. I’m not even sure I believe in such things. The logical part of me questions how likely it is that the energy of a human child has been divorced from its corporeality, is cognizant, and chooses to spend its afterlife appearing to my child, laughing at some cosmic joke? But. It was still freaky enough to make my feet cold. Then I realized what he’s probably hearing is me laughing in my sleep. Anyone who has slept with me knows that my nocturnal activities include smacking, laughing and producing heroic amounts of drool. My poor pillowcases. They really need raincoats. Or condoms. 

I explained to Boychild that he was hearing mama laughing in her sleep, and that’s probably who the little laughing girl was. Now, each night before he goes to sleep, he yells at me “Try not to laugh, mamaaaaa!” And I say okay. And I haven’t heard anymore about the little laughing girl. (Please, Lord, don’t let me hear any more about the little laughing girl.)

Sometimes Boychild likes being scared. I can tell if something scares him because he fixates on it for a while. His recent obsession is something called The Spider Clock. Of the maybe 5 people we’ve encountered since quarantine, 100% have heard the story of The Spider Clock at least 3 times each. The root of the story is thus: about a month ago, a bolt of lightning took a chunk out of a clock tower on campus. As we live on campus, we heard the KA-BOOM happen, not knowing what it was. Our neighbor explained it, Boychild remembered it, and Husband reinforced it when they walked past the injured clock tower and pointed it out to Boychild who christened it “The Spider Clock.”  He was obsessed with the thoughts of lightning destroying something and was scared of possible lightning even when the sky was blue. I believe he calls it the spider clock because the clock’s face was cracked, and the cracks look like spider legs. Since then, he’s repeated his narrative relentlessly, adding and subtracting to the tale as needed. As of last telling, the Spider Clock gets struck by lighting and his butt falls off. Then Boychild delivers a sad trombone noise: Wah wah wahhhh. He keeps retooling the Spider Clock story for maximum impact. The butt falling off part is new (and a welcome addition).

It’s a beautiful thing to see the need for story in my child. How natural it is to weave a narrative, especially when it’s something frightening, powerful and incomprehensible, like electricity coming from the sky and destroying a clock. I wonder how we, as a species, are going to craft our stories about the pandemic. How do we explain these frightening, powerful and incomprehensible times? 

The things that scare our child are thankfully few. My mother tells the stories of my myriad childhood fears. I was inexplicably afraid of shorts and refused to wear them for many years. I was also afraid of Beaker from “The Muppet Show” (he’s UNNATURAL!) and the game “Operation,” (you’re vivisecting a conscious human being. Why would this game NOT horrify you?). Boychild and I disagree on what we find frightening, with the exception of the little laughing girl. That’s some scary shit. Boychild is afraid of eating carrots, peas, broccoli- anything that’s not beige, whereas I am afraid of how MUCH I’m eating. The bathroom scale fills me with dread. During the pandemic, I have come into some supernatural weight-gaining powers. Forget flying or being invisible or breathing underwater- my superpower is gaining five pounds every day. Sorcery! I should just throw the damn thing out the window and be done with it. Instead, I am committing to a HIIT workout and managing my calories with an app. My inner punk is furious that it’s come to this. It feels deeply uncool to be middle aged and on a diet in order to keep one’s pants from digging deep red furrows in one’s tum-tum. 

Boychild is not afraid of the Jack-in-the Box illustration on page 4 of Elmo’s Big Lift-and-Look Book. I find it terrifying. Each time Boychild reaches for the “J” block and lifts the flap, that smug little Jack-in-the-Box bastard is grinning at me. No thank you. 

Boychild is also not afraid of the future. I am.

I’m afraid that we’ll all get COVID-19 and his dad and I will die, leaving him alone for days, hungry and sad, before someone finds him. I’m afraid he’ll get this new Kawasaki-type infection and bleed out. I’m afraid our country is going to implode, explode, become a complete disaster (more than it already is). I’m afraid the economy will collapse and we’ll all go hungry (ironic that I’m fussin’ about my weight right now). I’m scared that we’ll be impoverished. I’m worried that things that we loved will never return. I’m afraid- ah, you get the gist. You’re dealing with this, too. All this uncertainty is incredibly uncomfortable and I hate it. This is why I have a therapist- to talk about all those fears. 

My child meanwhile, remains blissfully ignorant of my fears, and may that always be the case. In the meantime, we’ll go on. I’ll work out, laugh in my sleep. I’ll keep making insignificant gestures in the futile attempt to create a secure future. And I’m making sure to not take anything for granted and appreciate the now, even if that means listening to Boychild telling me the story about the Spider Clock for the 143rd time.