X's and O's

"You will never achieve your full potential as a person unless you can win your life’s most personal battles. Declare war on polyester/cotton blends."


After having (yet another) meltdown yesterday, though this time in the form of weepy joyfulness, I had settled on composing a post explaining - in painstakingly garbled detail - why I blog and what keeps me going. I even had most of it somewhat coherently charted out (thanks to several exercises including reciting it over and over to my audience of personalities)... That was before I sat down at the computer and thought to catch up on the posts of some of my new favorite authors...


BAM! There it was! The Gorgeously Brilliant Ms.Vesta Vayne at Cowardly Feminist awarded me the prestigious (prestigious because I've decided it is so) Mother’s Little Helper Award!! First of all, I should disclose that there was no competition for this, which makes it even more delectably sweet as that qualifies it as rare! Hey, that makes me sleep better at night, so don't judge :). But it brings about another honor as I absolutely adore Vesta and her writings.
Growing up as a socially/physically/mentally/spiritually awkward little twit, most of the POSITIVE feedback I received was from my own mother. Though thankful she, to this day, lavishes odd and unfounded praise upon me and my potential, one still can't help but get a bit of a complex when your mother is your biggest and ONLY fan! HA! To even register on the radar of someone you admire and respect (other than the woman who birthed you, of course) is bloody well awesomeness wrapped in giddy excitement. It's mornings, such as these, I'm particularly thankful I thought to invest more heavily in my stock of Depends! 
In the above-mentioned post that had Miss Ninja Kitty Extraordinaire exhibiting complete and utter incontinence (yes, you read that right), there was also a fabulous little seed planted of sharing the love. Paying it forward. Giving props and such. I don't pretend to have chart-topping readership, but it only takes one to make an idea blossom. Couple all of that with the fact that I just spent the past two days feebly attempting to alter the look of my blog and still can't, for the life of me, figure out the blogroll thingy, I shall be working to compile my humble listing of some of my favorites. They would have already been listed, here, if I had been the least bit prepared when my train of thought derailed as I was tidying up after aforementioned bladder failure...


Anyhoo, to Ms. Vesta Vayne, and to all of you illustrious creatures who have kindly given me the time of day and even come back - THANK YOU. All silliness aside, it really does mean a lot to this gal and inspires me to learn, grow and (hopefully) improve. Though I keep trying to convince myself that these ramblings are done solely for my own benefit, everyone appreciates and deserves feeling significant and meaningful. Much love! 



Snap Your Fingers Snap Your Neck

"There will be trouble in your Fire sign this week, especially if you pull down on that lever just below the sign when there's no fire. That’s a major felony."


Easy, Tiger, the title is a song, not an outright threat. That said, things are about to get heated in here. I thought about making this post an open letter to someone who has simply gone too far... I still might. Round and round she goes - where she stops? Nobody knows! 


I've previously given props to a few shining individuals in my life for whom the phrase "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" was coined. Today I step up on that podium and accept the award myself. Though never claiming to have all the answers, I can't seem to stop myself from still trying to make some up. In this case, I was so far out of my element, it wasn't even the same damn sport. I am not trained to deal with the mentally ill, so I'm fairly certain I'm not qualified to use the same rationale I would in what seems outwardly like a similar scenario. My advice blew up into a bat-shit temper tantrum borne from the bowels of hell last night  (And no, I wasn't the one throwing said tantrum) and now I have a baker's dozen worth of fires to put out as opposed to the initial 4 or 5. 


All the disclaimers aside, how does one go about explaining to a 5-year old and a 2-year old that the one person they trusted almost as much as their parents just tried to run them over in the driveway? How does a Mama look into the tear-soaked eyes of those innocent creatures and explain it's not their fault? That they shouldn't be afraid, but that we all must now be extremely cautious? That they should run and tell a teacher if this relative shows up at their school? That we're now leaving out the front door until Papa can change the code on the garage? This Mama kept a poker face... or perhaps a clown face *shivers*, as I tried to make it all more of a whimsical game...No... a sport - but in this case, the competition SHOULD be fierce, and second place simply isn't an option where their safety is concerned... This human Mama has transformed, quite instantaneously, into a Mama BEAR. Simply put: Don't fuck with my cubs. 


You will lose.


It's not all sunshine and rage going on over here. There is a bloody cornucopia of emotions swirling about in my already weary skull. I must address certain issues and take specific precautions - yet there may come a time when a second chance comes into play. No time soon, mind you - but nothing is forever. With each successive decision made, there must be delicate thought placed on its eventual undoing. That's a tough spot to find oneself in - especially when the wound is so very fresh. 


Yet, through it all, the words of those far wiser than myself play on a loop in my thoughts:
There are always at least two sides to every story. 
Factors to those sides. 
Further influence on those factors. 
A grander scheme beyond it all. 
This too, shall pass. 


In the meantime, I think my children are due more snuggles and reassurances of safety. Of security. If only every child could know those things. If not for the motivation of necessity, my heart would be quite shattered. Onward and upward, right? Right.







A Gal Can Dream

"Benevolent gods will finally take pity on you and reward you for your suffering, but unfortunately they're the gods of corn and lima beans and as such, reward you in succotash."


My mind has evidently chosen to pack its bags and head off on some fantastical voyage aboard a cruise destined for the clouds in the midst of all the stress and goings on as of late.  Rather than cope with or solve any one of the issues at hand, I have been losing immeasurable levels of sleep while trying to sort out what to do with the hypothetical $300M lottery winnings I feel I'm due. Back up that trolley, Sugar Tits - WHAT!?

Oh my, yes. I've actually been tossing and turning night after night after night solidifying plans for my newfound (and non-existent) cash. Naturally, the first level of business would involve divying up this magical windfall to ease the financial woes of my family and closest friends. Sure, charity would inevitably come into play as I was born with Catholic guilt, and I'll be damned if I rid myself of the same anytime soon. Then there's the matter of destination... 

As I have been faithfully (and unwittingly) conducting thorough research in the way of House Hunters International and other HGTV delights,  I feel far better equipped when it comes to choosing a final destination as well as the furnishings or super-fantastic decor of such.  There are no plans of extravagant greed or even multiple locales as... well... I'm lazy and the family and I can always travel elsewhere from time to time. Perhaps we'll even invest in a used RV or 5th Wheel. You see, even up in the trivial world of my imagination, I have realistic concerns of squandering the cash needlessly. After all, I fully plan on living another 60-70 years so I must exercise prudence, no?

I've toyed with the notion of simply fixing up my current abode - even splurging on a bit of professional landscaping. My fear is the bones of the house simply aren't up to the challenge of all the necessary remodeling I'd like to accomplish. I would most certainly need to begin by upgrading the electrical panel before a fire breaks out. I had considered paying off the mortgage of the home and just resting a bit easier at night knowing I could stretch the almighty dollar a bit further in a fit of frugality. Then again, I'm tiring of the weather, here, and could probably find some well-deserving soul to take it over. I'd have to set aside a trust to cover the yearly property taxes and any maintenance issues. Seems simple enough.

Every so often, I come back down to earth for status updates on all the deadlines piling up on my desk as well as the correspondence I've flat-out neglected.... it seems there are no mythical imps wrapping shit up for me in my absence. I'm disappointed, to say the least.  Ahhhh, but those same aforementioned imps will feel pretty damn bad when I get that first check and they're mysteriously absent from the subsequent list of celebration party attendees! I may even hire a professional photographer to capture the priceless look on those imps' faces when they find they wronged the wrong gal! Ha!

Great, now I feel guilty for being so cruel. They didn't know they were supposed to pick up the slack at work, and they additionally may not even know I was aware of their presence. *sigh* Fine, I'll set some money aside for their whimsical pleasure. Preemptive karma should surely play a role in this whole ordeal... 

Wow, all this planning has rendered me quite exhausted. I've found my employer really tends to frown upon my incessant need for "mental health days", so it seems I have no choice but to close my door in a dramatic fashion and crawl under my desk for a nap. Plus that will give me more time to work out any kinks in all these plans. And now.... I wait.

Them's Fightin' Words *grin*


Although I tend to steer clear of political debate (after all, I normally take the far less confrontational approach of simply composing multiple, hateful letters to Congress expressing my general malcontent), this was far too brilliantly stated not to share.... Enjoy?

Published: Monday, February 27, 2012, 4:10 AM
By Guest Columnist The Oregonian
By Geoff Sugarman

So corporations want to be people. They want unfettered access to our constitutional rights and the U.S. Supreme Court has given it to them.

Well, I want to be a corporation, too. That's why I founded the People are Corporations, Too PAC (PACPAC, for short).
Our aim is simple: If corporations get our constitutional rights, then we should get their tax breaks.

Raising my family is my business, and it has been ever since I went off to college. Until then, I was not much more than a product of my parents' corporation. My personal corporate status was certainly cemented when my son was born in 1989.

What do I produce? His name is Max. He works in the summer. He's getting an education. He's going to pay taxes for the rest of his life.

As a corporation, I can write off almost every single dollar I spend producing Max.

I can deduct the cost of food, housing, clothes and electricity keeping him healthy and warm.

I can deduct every single penny I spend on his education.

I can deduct gas to take him to and from the thousands of practices, lessons and events that have helped shape him into a worthwhile product for the future.

I can write off the cost of all those books he read, all those instruments he played. If I had a good enough accountant, I might even be able to deduct the cost of the toys and video games that help increase his dexterity and have kept him happy.

Corporations get to write off almost every single cost of the widgets they produce, from the factories and the materials they use to the money they spend to promote their products. Some corporations can deduct so much that they pay little or nothing in taxes, and when they do pay taxes, their rate is far less than what I pay, especially on the state level.

Now they want freedom of speech to spend millions, maybe even billions, of dollars influencing our elections.

I see through their ploy. They already control the economy. Now they want to control the political process, too. And I want to be part of their scheme.

So last month, I went down to the secretary of state's office, filed myself as a corporation and paid my $100 filing fee. Then I created my own PAC.

It's time to take our power back.

When it comes time to pay my 2012 Oregon state taxes, I'm going to pay $150. That's all S-corporations at my income level have to pay, so that's what I'm going to pay, too.

When the state comes after me for not paying enough taxes, I'm going to get a good lawyer and sue. Maybe I'll make it all the way to the Supreme Court. And maybe those wise justices will decide that if corporations are people, then people are corporations, too.

Geoff Sugerman is a longtime political consultant in Oregon. Read more at peoplearecorporations.org.

Przykro

I'm sorry I lied to you and myself each day because I could not own up to who or what I really was.

I'm sorry I made you cry because I wanted you to hurt as much as me.

I'm sorry you believed in me when I refused to believe in myself.

I'm sorry you worried when you would catch glimpses of the ugliness from within.

I'm sorry for being so honest when you clearly weren't asking for truth.

I'm sorry I'm so afraid. Of people, of failing, of change, of failing, of sleeping, of failing, of thinking/over-thinking/analyzing/over-analyzing, of failing, of being left out/behind, of failing, of letting that wall down, of failing, of letting you in, of failing, of loving too much, of failing, of letting you down, of failing, of flaking out, of failing, of being judged, of failing, of being forgotten.... I'm sorry for being a failure.

I'm sorry I haven't been everything you so desperately need me to be.

I cannot change the past. I can only work on taking a different path, making different choices, gaining some level of confidence, loving more, caring more, trying harder, becoming more brave, taking risks, learning to love myself and moving on with life. Today is the first day of the rest of my life.



Edenland's Fresh Horses Brigade

A Fork In The Road And No Pasta In Sight

"You're beginning to wonder exactly who is in charge of quality control for all those treasure maps."


I'm in the midst of wrapping my head around all the goings on and the things to come. I had mentioned previously that my mother-in-law will soon be taking up residence under our wee roof. There is still much in the way of red tape and legal battles to overcome. The entire process has taken a monumental toll and yet remains in the early stages. It now seems I have eagerly volunteered myself into the predicament of handling it alone. 

Quite some time back, my 'Ol Man identified a passion in life he wanted to pursue. It requires schooling of a very specific nature, which is only offered in three states - the closest of which is still well over 700 miles away.  I made it crystal clear from day one I would never interfere or impede upon his dreams. That I would support him in anything he wanted to do. Although it has taken some fancy footwork and much convincing, it now looks like the pieces are beginning to fall perfectly into place. A plan in motion. I couldn't be more thrilled for him.... the adventure of it all! The doors to be opened! A dream to be realized!



In other news, there's the pesky details contained in the reality of it all. The fine print. The flood of "what ifs?" and "how on earth?"... Am I strong enough? Am I brave enough? Am I sane enough? Am I, quite simply, enough? Only time will tell on each of these fronts. 

What's odd - or truly - what's entirely predictable is that it's the silliest things that have enveloped me in panic. It's late on a Saturday evening and we've just run out of diapers and dog food.... I didn't have a chance to shower and the wee one has an ear infection while the eldest has already fallen asleep. I must wrangle the boys together, pack them into the car.... oh shit, I forgot to get gas and the light is blinking furiously at me.....  we begin backing out of the driveway and I've forgotten my purse and OH JESUS, WHERE IS THE GARAGE DOOR OPENER!? MY HOUSE KEYS WERE IN MY PURSE!!!! *panic* Where "normally", I could have avoided the entire ordeal by batting my eyelashes and reminding my dear better-half that I have unreasonable fears of leaving the house to which he may roll his eyes or mutter something under his breath, he'd put on his jacket and save the day. When he's 700 miles away? Not as much. 



It seems, he has become my crutch.

I have been a "latch-key" kiddo since about 7, out of the house since 17, and the primary breadwinner to date. I can handle most things without a second thought as it's simply in my nature. I've endured crises and have always tried to smile in the face of adversity. But at this very moment, I'm terrified. Paralyzed even. I've been allowed to settle into my delectably paranoid state. One in which I'm not expected to leave the house for any errands (aside from work, of course) between the hours of 3am and at least 11:30pm. One in which I can count on someone holding my hand and preventing me from escaping into the ventilation system if there IS some need to venture out during that time frame. One in which I can simply call my amazing Big Bag of Man Candy, begging him to pick up milk on the way home from his show. One in which, when I'm sitting with the wee one on the recliner downstairs in the middle of the night to calm him after an evening of ralphing, I can shriek out for him when I feel the retching sensation coursing throughout wee one's tummy -and he appears like the superhero he is with a bowl for the vomit just in time. One in which I'm not alone with my thoughts.

In real life, I do not utter a word of any of this. But this is my "safe place" and this is what's truly occupying my thoughts. Can I really do this?


I'm OK, You're... Well... A Work In Progress

"Your belief that nothing can stop you will be tested this week by depression, procrastination, concrete barriers, dysentery, armed gunmen, and the unanimous passage of several laws targeted specifically at stopping you."

One of my earliest memories was that of my 5th birthday. It was the first time (and last) I was thrown an actual party ripe with guests, cupcakes and balloons. I was thrilled! (Or at least, I probably was... To this day, I can be completely dazzled by shadow puppets, so I wouldn't imagine it took much more to thrill me back then) My brother, who I've mentioned shares a birthday with me - or rather, I share one with him since he arrived on the planet 4 years earlier than I - headed off on an adventure with one of his dear friends (I might mention that said "adventure" alerted the good folks managing our local zoo to put a top on the enclosure of the snow leopard habitat.....) so I was able to have such a party. If memory serves me,  most of the guests were boys, so there was plenty of confusing loot out of the whole ordeal. More importantly, it was my earliest memory of what would become a long tradition in which I receive a self-help book (or audio-book) from my lovingly concerned father. Along with this early memory was the vivid image of my mother rolling her eyes upon seeing what treasure he had presented to his little (and only) girl. 


I look back upon this now with a bit of a warm, and comfortably fuzzy feeling. My father never (and still doesn't) quite knew what to make of dealing with a daughter. I'm pretty sure first and foremost was addressing this pint-sized-ball-of-drama. But how can one possibly help another if they don't actively help themselves? Throughout the years there were some really amazingly insightful books.... as well as one or two duds - or at least that's what I clearly decided based on little more than their covers and/or over-usage of puns in the titles. But I welcomed each new gift with renewed excitement and even eager anticipation. Some hit a bit too close to home and others couldn't be more foreign. Still, there was real thought and painstaking concern placed in selecting each one. 


The last such gift was received on my 21st birthday. The accompanying card contained one of his famously thoughtful hand-written novels and scrawled at the very end: "Happy 23rd Birthday, My Lovely Daughter!"  Sweet mother-of-god, he doesn't know how old I am!?

For much of my life, I fought to somehow prove myself to my father. To earn his respect. I began wondering if he saw me as a lost cause despite placing so much emphasis on my mental education. Something very profound and, until now, confusing took place when I visited him in his new home last May. Although he calls every Sunday promptly at 9am, and many of our conversations will span hours, he said something during that visit that simultaneously floored me and stung deeply. He remarked how very thankful he was to have me as such a wonderful friend. A friend. Not a daughter. To know the man, one would understand that he had carefully and intentionally selected and utilized every last word in that sentence. This is who I now was to him in my adulthood.

I spent far too long running the conversation over and over again in my head. There was no less impact each time and it would often reduce me to tears. For some reason, this morning, it simply clicked. He had relayed to me on several occasions that he never knew what he was supposed to do with a little girl. With a daughter. His youngest child and, by far, the most emotionally complex. Confusing. Foreign. Overwhelming. But he tried - I do know that in my heart. He loves me as much as any father is capable of loving. Now, in his own way, it was time to let me go. But not without having chosen those exact words, that precise sentiment. I was graduating as his daughter and was now respected enough to be his friend. 

I admire him in so many ways... for so many reasons... now I sit in a simple and wonderful state of awe. It's a pretty goddamned great feeling. I'm OK, You're OK.




Excuse Me, Don't I Know You From Somewhere?


"You will find yourself in a bizarre alternate universe where the sun is on the wrong side of the sky and everyone looks like they're sleepwalking when you get up before noon for the first time in your life."

I once had a conversation with a friend of my husband's about music. There was much discussion about some of our favorite bands and how there seemed to be some, in particular, that appeal more selectively to musicians - or at least those who have more of an appreciation for playing an instrument as opposed to simply being on the receiving end. That listening to complexities of the sounds we take in while subconsciously holding some understanding of whether a particular riff, chord, beat or tone takes any real level of talent can instantly change your opinion of what it is you're experiencing. This went on for some time and would occasionally escalate into heated debate despite our mutual agreement on most of the talking points. Then he said something that downright horrified me: "Music ceased achieving true originality at least 20 or so years back." WHAT!?


Man, I was fuming. How dare he say such a thing!? Well, he was as stubborn in his opinions as myself, and had no filter to the manner in which he communicated. I can respect that. The more I pondered that sentiment -  long after the conversation came to an awkward close - the more I mused whether he was perhaps correct. Unless one was blessed with being raised in a cave or soundproof chamber, closed off to the world and all it's.... well... worldly influence, at some point an outside factor - be it a song, a story, an image or something similar would have seeped into your mind. In other words, something which already exists would make it's way into your creative consciousness. Not to say one couldn't find a unique twist, variation, or expression of this - but it would be precisely that... still reminiscent and ultimately inspired by something that had been done before. 


I remember struggling with this notion at multiple crossroads throughout my life to date. I can recall when my knuckle-beating-piano-teacher tasked me with writing a song. I would begin jotting down notes at random as I was truly out of my element in the first place. Even after 13 years of study, I never quite grasped READING sheet music. Play a song once for me and I can echo it back to you. But once again, that indicated the song was already composed by someone else. I toyed with one variation after the next of tunes that would dance into my mind, but each successive time, it became familiar. Damnit. I had just listened to that song last week. Or my mom listened to that when I was a child. I couldn't close myself off from sampling and even mimicking tunes I already knew to be published. Odd. 





To look at the majority of movies being released over the past handful of years or more - they are based on books, or remakes of older films. Old ideas made new again with "fresh" faces or slight plot derailments. Even many of the "original" movies are reminiscent of ones from days gone by. Bits and pieces of old inspiration strewn together to celebrate something new. You can find this in sculpture, architecture, paintings, books, television, welding... you name it. Sweet merciful christ, there's no way that arrogant jerk (and no, I don't really mean that - he was quite pleasant and offered fascinating conversation) was correct! 

As much sense as it all makes, I'm still greatly bothered. New, innovative, amazing things are still being done. I'm convinced of it. After all, though history is notoriously prone to repeating itself, there is something magical to be said for identifying, conquering and subsequently capturing a small artistic piece of the previously unknown. Plus, why should snowflakes have all the fun of being individual? Cheeky bastards.





How The Other Half Live


It hovers at the bottom of the ominous narrow staircase descending into blackness if not madness.  A gloved hand – almost translucent with a soft cartoonish glow. The fore-finger points to what dormant demon waits on the other side. A gateway to my darkest fears… the fears that have yet to be defined, much less discovered. I stand paralyzed in fear, but that hand. It taunts me.  Bobbing up and down as though floating atop an invisible pool of turbulent water.  Four feet off the ground and unencumbered by a body. Just the gloved creature with a life and a motive all its own.

This was not the first, nor the last – not even the latest vision to come to me in the waking hours of a day or night.  Unassisted by food, drink or chemical. So extraordinarily vivid. Haunting.  The visions accompanying some level of rationale can be far more horrifying, yet somehow more calming as they can be written off to consequence.

For years, I loathed sleep. It was not my own exhibition of insomnia, but rather the fear of retribution. Those things that go bump in the night… silently watching. Waiting. The perfect moments of helplessness and exhaustion. A recipe for vulnerability.  I blink and the lightning strikes of colors urgently dancing across my eyelids bring me to life again. Famished sharks circling at my bound ankles just out of reach.

What is it the creatures need me to know? Is there symbolism or purpose? Warning or fiendish delight in my terror? What was the message from the elderly woman who broke into our backyard at 2am? Only to glance at me once between pushing her granddaughter (is that her granddaughter? Is that thing even human?) slowly back and forth on the rusted-out swing set time long since forgot… The frigid air encompassing that blue fabric chair… organic, yet in the midst of utter turmoil. The face shining at me in short bursts through the strobed light – the horns atop its head and the hatred painted across its features.

I walk past a mirror and find my face frozen in a silent scream in the reflection. I place my hands to my lips and they are closed.  I seem to be a magnet… no… a vessel. To the damned and the distressed.  I sit down gingerly, pour myself a drink and wait. 

"I Think I'll Dye My Hair Blue"



“You're the kind of boring person doomed to be alone while trying to solve all the problems instead of hanging out with the cool people while assigning blame.”

No, I’m not actually dying my hair blue, though it wouldn’t be much of a stretch from the current old-broad-lavender tint I’m sporting. In my mediocre defense, it’s a direct result of concocting strange brews in my basement laboratory in an attempt to keep the ‘ol mop more of a shade of platinum than bimbo-gone-wrong-gold…. The title is a line from a song that’s been playing on repeat in my skull for the past few weeks. These looping soundtracks can normally be attributed to a mixture of bickering side effects of one kaleidoscopic pill or another, but this song actually hits pretty damn close to home.

Words are one of those intangibly phenomenal things that can mean so much…express so much… simply do so much.  They can strike me down in an instant, reducing me to a retreating pool of muck, then lift me up from the ashes and give me new hope the next. I rarely know how to exist from one day to another without that ability to feed off of and give back to others through language. There is not a material thing in the world that offers the same for someone such as myself. Even actions fall short when the words escaping one’s lips are indicative of the contrary. It can be an additionally odd struggle, then, when not only am I reclusive and withdrawn by nature, but have very limited contact or even interest, for that matter, from the outside world.

Those precious few I do let into my carnival tent have been committing the most atrocious of offenses lately. What better way to shut the rambling Vanilla Tornado up, than a one word response? Ahhh… even better! No response at all!

I wear my heart on my sleeve and so long to find someone, anyone, who won’t immediately be tempted to brush me under a rug with all those dastardly little dust bunnies. After all, they don’t make for very good conversation, even stoking that fire with spirits. The one trait I fear most of myself also happens to be the most solidified fact of them all. I’m simply too much. This all doesn’t stop me for longing for conversation…. for that delectably untouchable dynamic of back and forth.  Alas, I seem to fare better keeping the dialogue within. Perhaps if I had more going in that department, I’d be one of those “better to be seen than heard” types, no?” What are words for… when no one listens anymore?”

The Best Night EVER v. Such A Waste Of Time!

"You've read the instructions on how it's made, talked to people who claim to have made it, even seen videos of people making it, but you can't shake the feeling that when it comes to toast the toaster does all the work. "

Recently, I made the decision to pop a few beta blockers, bundle up the eldest munchkin, and venture off to a school sponsored rollerskating night at a local venue. It was a school night, Mama was having yet another one of her now-infamous meltdowns, and there was a raging snowstorm at hand. As I thoroughly enjoy playing Wonder Woman on occasion, I bravely bid adieu to my 'Ol Man and the miniature munchkin and off we went.

My dear King Van is painfully similar to Yours Truly. Hand-eye coordination, balance and well... let's face it - general motor skills are not on the top 10 (or even present at all) list of our talents. But damn it, the kid wanted to skate, I was going to let him skate or die trying (Model Mother Alert! Ha!). After watching him hug the wall for dear life while dragging his wheeled feet somewhere behind him, I finally suggested we change him back into his shoes and loiter by the skeeball machines. It took a bit of convincing as he was clearly hesitant to leave the scene of his all-girl fan club, but somewhere deep down inside, I think he was thankful for the rescue.

All the little poorly maintained games needed tokens. *sigh* I exchanged $5 expecting a prompt ticker-tape parade celebrating my rampant generosity. When I came back down to earth, he was already off at the races throwing that rock-solid plastic ball mercilessly at the plexiglass covering. Jesus, how was I expecting this was going to be any better than his wall-hugging antics? Well - at least the ground wasn't moving out from beneath his feet. It was a noble start. Noticing he was scoring less than one ticket per 5 or so tokens, I took a few of my own and went off to the creepy ticket-spewing machine in the corner in an attempt to salvage the prize return that would transpire at the end of the evening. Hot damn! Back-to-back-to-back jackpot! Too bad I was in some two-bit skate arena and not at the casinos! While soaking up the praise of every pre-pubescent boy between the ages of about 4 and 9 at my fabulous fortune, I glanced over to find a gaggle of girls surrounding my son. Oh lord. They found him.

The other trait we have in common? Total goddamned doormats. One particularly bold (and freakishly tall, but sporting such a delectably sassy afro and a boa that somehow I had to forgive her rudeness) gal had ROLLED right in front of him and was taking over all his turns on the machine. He puts in the money, she plays. Awesome. He was looking so helplessly victimized that I pulled him aside, cashed in another $5, tucked all the tokens in the pocket of his hoodie and sent him to the opposite end of the game room. Shit. There they all go, following him like a caravan of pint-sized gold diggers! Hell, this time, 2 or 3 of them even brought their siblings along... lining up around him with their sticky little paws out for HIS tokens! When it became evident he was slacking in his customer service, some of the wee brats even went straight for the loot in the pocket! That was, shockingly enough, the first time I bothered looking around at the sea of people in the popsicle stand. Christ. Children........ oodles and oodles of children, but aside from myself and the principal, only one other parent could be found. You mean to tell me I was the only sucker who didn't just drop their kid off for those two hours!?!?!??!? *shakes fists angrily at the unresponsive drop ceiling above*

In the end, I remained calm (meaning I was sober AND evaded jail time), Van had a blast (and predictably enough, spent all his tickets on glittery lip balm for those double-x-chromosome nightmares), and the night was finally over. The drama was over. Silly Annie, the drama is NEVER over. It only remained at bay long enough to make it from the door of the building to the car. "Mama, this was the absolute best night EVER!!! The BEST day of my life!!!!!!" I couldn't help but smile. Mostly as I was decidedly taking all the credit for being the unspoken BEST MOM EVER. Yeah. No. In the next breath: "I just wish it hadn't been such a waste of my time" *choke*cough*sputter* WHAT!?!?!??!?

Yup. It seems his Kindergarten.... yes.... KINDERGARTEN teacher had the "brilliant" notion to allow a bunch of Ritalin-Dosed monsters to prioritize their days with the disclaimer that we, as parents, should fully expect their grades to drop this quarter. More Awesomeness. Suddenly, everything - including the best night of the kid's life - is a monumental waste of his bloody time. In circumstances where this Godzilla Mom is quite RARELY speechless, I was downright floored. Ah yes - I forgot to mention - while we were out having this rip-roaring great time/waste of time, Papa was home finishing VAN'S school project (which I might add he did a stunningly girly job on ripe with glittery swirls!) just so he could go enjoy his little skate night. Yeah... the next words out of Van's saucy mouth: "I just wish I had been able to stay home so I could finish my project". If I hadn't been driving through blizzard conditions, I would have blasted my way into that backseat and spewed the caliber of tirade that would make Rick Flair blush! But once again - Mama remained calm. "Please promise me on your relatively young life you won't repeat that to your father."

Every day seems to offer such new and exciting possibilities, no? We do the best we can, and even better than that on rare occasion. In circumstances such as these, I simply nod, smile, and lovingly recall these moments for the next time I break into a box of wine with a butter knife because the world clearly hates my freedom and the packaging perforations were merely placed there to taunt me in my panicked desperation.

I'm Your Huckleberry

"Though you are a good person and a loving friend to all you know, you will still be sent to hell for your maddening lack of punctuality."

So I had initially planned on hiding out for the remainder of Winter, but the damn thing doesn't seem to be ending on my schedule, so here I am. As is par for the course, may I present you with A Side Tangent: Last week, we had this delightfully fluffy snowstorm. The sort with REAL snow, not the hateful accumulation of 1 inch of windblown ice. As I stared out from the doldrums disguised as seasonal depression, it occurred to me I don't posses that. It's not the seasons which depress me, but rather their complete lack of effort in mimicking the pictures on the calendar when it comes to representing said season. The other underlying cause of my depression? Lack of purpose.



I previously spoke of not having anyone on my picnic blanket right now... that this fact was perhaps adding to my unreasonable grief. Two nights ago, that all changed. Two nights ago, I received (or rather, forcefully extracted) news of such a monumental caliber, I fully expected I would collapse under the weight of it all. But that isn't what happened. In fact, not at all.


WTF?

My husband's mother has a story all her own. As does my relationship with her. Yet ups, downs, and ballyhoos aside, I feel a sense of responsibility for her and her well being. When she arrived at our house with the accompanying dark cloud of news, I braced myself for what was to come. In my heart, I already knew what it was, just not the extent of it. There was an evening of relative silence, so I finally followed her out to our garage and broached the subject. She immediately crumbled into a broken mess - the sort I have been resembling for a number of months now. An almost surreal experience as though I were uttering all the words I so desperately wished someone would utter to me in my loneliest moments. I had renewed purpose. This is precisely where I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to be for her.

After his mother departed for the evening, my Big Bag of Man Candy and I sat for a number of hours and spoke about all that had just transpired. He felt hopeless, overwhelmed.... doomed. Fears began bubbling to the surface. Fears of my taking the children and fleeing. Fears of all the plans we had made coming to an unfulfilled end. Fears of lost privacy and of the reverberating effects of the mental illness our children would be exposed to. Fears of our already questionable finances. As I didn't share these fears, it was up to me to be the unlikely voice of reason. It was my purpose.

In the coming weeks, she will be moving in with us and I will be wrestling with all the legalities to resolve the matters of her home, her belongings, her debts, her marriage, her dog and ultimately her. Without going into great detail, I have had more on my plate recently than I figured I could shoulder. Yet this straw hellbent on breaking the proverbial camel's back inexplicably became more of that popsicle stick I needed to finish my shoddy rendition of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I quite suddenly felt more alive and hopeful than I have in years. Odd.



I'm not sure whether I'm a glutton for punishment or I've simply long-since lost my mind, but this new purpose has become a catalyst to what I'm fully convinced are great things. The fact that there IS a next chapter is good enough for me. My goggles are back on and my seat belt is fastened.... after all, I do so adore those silly plot twists as I choose my own adventure!

Balance

She is altogether elusive. I am about to drop off the face of the planet for awhile, but I wanted to thank all of you who have supported me, guided me and... let's be honest, put up with my bullshit. Much love to you all and I'll see you sometime post-hibernation. XO

Kitty

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

X's and O's

"You will never achieve your full potential as a person unless you can win your life’s most personal battles. Declare war on polyester/cotton blends."


After having (yet another) meltdown yesterday, though this time in the form of weepy joyfulness, I had settled on composing a post explaining - in painstakingly garbled detail - why I blog and what keeps me going. I even had most of it somewhat coherently charted out (thanks to several exercises including reciting it over and over to my audience of personalities)... That was before I sat down at the computer and thought to catch up on the posts of some of my new favorite authors...


BAM! There it was! The Gorgeously Brilliant Ms.Vesta Vayne at Cowardly Feminist awarded me the prestigious (prestigious because I've decided it is so) Mother’s Little Helper Award!! First of all, I should disclose that there was no competition for this, which makes it even more delectably sweet as that qualifies it as rare! Hey, that makes me sleep better at night, so don't judge :). But it brings about another honor as I absolutely adore Vesta and her writings.
Growing up as a socially/physically/mentally/spiritually awkward little twit, most of the POSITIVE feedback I received was from my own mother. Though thankful she, to this day, lavishes odd and unfounded praise upon me and my potential, one still can't help but get a bit of a complex when your mother is your biggest and ONLY fan! HA! To even register on the radar of someone you admire and respect (other than the woman who birthed you, of course) is bloody well awesomeness wrapped in giddy excitement. It's mornings, such as these, I'm particularly thankful I thought to invest more heavily in my stock of Depends! 
In the above-mentioned post that had Miss Ninja Kitty Extraordinaire exhibiting complete and utter incontinence (yes, you read that right), there was also a fabulous little seed planted of sharing the love. Paying it forward. Giving props and such. I don't pretend to have chart-topping readership, but it only takes one to make an idea blossom. Couple all of that with the fact that I just spent the past two days feebly attempting to alter the look of my blog and still can't, for the life of me, figure out the blogroll thingy, I shall be working to compile my humble listing of some of my favorites. They would have already been listed, here, if I had been the least bit prepared when my train of thought derailed as I was tidying up after aforementioned bladder failure...


Anyhoo, to Ms. Vesta Vayne, and to all of you illustrious creatures who have kindly given me the time of day and even come back - THANK YOU. All silliness aside, it really does mean a lot to this gal and inspires me to learn, grow and (hopefully) improve. Though I keep trying to convince myself that these ramblings are done solely for my own benefit, everyone appreciates and deserves feeling significant and meaningful. Much love! 



Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Snap Your Fingers Snap Your Neck

"There will be trouble in your Fire sign this week, especially if you pull down on that lever just below the sign when there's no fire. That’s a major felony."


Easy, Tiger, the title is a song, not an outright threat. That said, things are about to get heated in here. I thought about making this post an open letter to someone who has simply gone too far... I still might. Round and round she goes - where she stops? Nobody knows! 


I've previously given props to a few shining individuals in my life for whom the phrase "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" was coined. Today I step up on that podium and accept the award myself. Though never claiming to have all the answers, I can't seem to stop myself from still trying to make some up. In this case, I was so far out of my element, it wasn't even the same damn sport. I am not trained to deal with the mentally ill, so I'm fairly certain I'm not qualified to use the same rationale I would in what seems outwardly like a similar scenario. My advice blew up into a bat-shit temper tantrum borne from the bowels of hell last night  (And no, I wasn't the one throwing said tantrum) and now I have a baker's dozen worth of fires to put out as opposed to the initial 4 or 5. 


All the disclaimers aside, how does one go about explaining to a 5-year old and a 2-year old that the one person they trusted almost as much as their parents just tried to run them over in the driveway? How does a Mama look into the tear-soaked eyes of those innocent creatures and explain it's not their fault? That they shouldn't be afraid, but that we all must now be extremely cautious? That they should run and tell a teacher if this relative shows up at their school? That we're now leaving out the front door until Papa can change the code on the garage? This Mama kept a poker face... or perhaps a clown face *shivers*, as I tried to make it all more of a whimsical game...No... a sport - but in this case, the competition SHOULD be fierce, and second place simply isn't an option where their safety is concerned... This human Mama has transformed, quite instantaneously, into a Mama BEAR. Simply put: Don't fuck with my cubs. 


You will lose.


It's not all sunshine and rage going on over here. There is a bloody cornucopia of emotions swirling about in my already weary skull. I must address certain issues and take specific precautions - yet there may come a time when a second chance comes into play. No time soon, mind you - but nothing is forever. With each successive decision made, there must be delicate thought placed on its eventual undoing. That's a tough spot to find oneself in - especially when the wound is so very fresh. 


Yet, through it all, the words of those far wiser than myself play on a loop in my thoughts:
There are always at least two sides to every story. 
Factors to those sides. 
Further influence on those factors. 
A grander scheme beyond it all. 
This too, shall pass. 


In the meantime, I think my children are due more snuggles and reassurances of safety. Of security. If only every child could know those things. If not for the motivation of necessity, my heart would be quite shattered. Onward and upward, right? Right.







Monday, February 27, 2012

A Gal Can Dream

"Benevolent gods will finally take pity on you and reward you for your suffering, but unfortunately they're the gods of corn and lima beans and as such, reward you in succotash."


My mind has evidently chosen to pack its bags and head off on some fantastical voyage aboard a cruise destined for the clouds in the midst of all the stress and goings on as of late.  Rather than cope with or solve any one of the issues at hand, I have been losing immeasurable levels of sleep while trying to sort out what to do with the hypothetical $300M lottery winnings I feel I'm due. Back up that trolley, Sugar Tits - WHAT!?

Oh my, yes. I've actually been tossing and turning night after night after night solidifying plans for my newfound (and non-existent) cash. Naturally, the first level of business would involve divying up this magical windfall to ease the financial woes of my family and closest friends. Sure, charity would inevitably come into play as I was born with Catholic guilt, and I'll be damned if I rid myself of the same anytime soon. Then there's the matter of destination... 

As I have been faithfully (and unwittingly) conducting thorough research in the way of House Hunters International and other HGTV delights,  I feel far better equipped when it comes to choosing a final destination as well as the furnishings or super-fantastic decor of such.  There are no plans of extravagant greed or even multiple locales as... well... I'm lazy and the family and I can always travel elsewhere from time to time. Perhaps we'll even invest in a used RV or 5th Wheel. You see, even up in the trivial world of my imagination, I have realistic concerns of squandering the cash needlessly. After all, I fully plan on living another 60-70 years so I must exercise prudence, no?

I've toyed with the notion of simply fixing up my current abode - even splurging on a bit of professional landscaping. My fear is the bones of the house simply aren't up to the challenge of all the necessary remodeling I'd like to accomplish. I would most certainly need to begin by upgrading the electrical panel before a fire breaks out. I had considered paying off the mortgage of the home and just resting a bit easier at night knowing I could stretch the almighty dollar a bit further in a fit of frugality. Then again, I'm tiring of the weather, here, and could probably find some well-deserving soul to take it over. I'd have to set aside a trust to cover the yearly property taxes and any maintenance issues. Seems simple enough.

Every so often, I come back down to earth for status updates on all the deadlines piling up on my desk as well as the correspondence I've flat-out neglected.... it seems there are no mythical imps wrapping shit up for me in my absence. I'm disappointed, to say the least.  Ahhhh, but those same aforementioned imps will feel pretty damn bad when I get that first check and they're mysteriously absent from the subsequent list of celebration party attendees! I may even hire a professional photographer to capture the priceless look on those imps' faces when they find they wronged the wrong gal! Ha!

Great, now I feel guilty for being so cruel. They didn't know they were supposed to pick up the slack at work, and they additionally may not even know I was aware of their presence. *sigh* Fine, I'll set some money aside for their whimsical pleasure. Preemptive karma should surely play a role in this whole ordeal... 

Wow, all this planning has rendered me quite exhausted. I've found my employer really tends to frown upon my incessant need for "mental health days", so it seems I have no choice but to close my door in a dramatic fashion and crawl under my desk for a nap. Plus that will give me more time to work out any kinks in all these plans. And now.... I wait.

Them's Fightin' Words *grin*


Although I tend to steer clear of political debate (after all, I normally take the far less confrontational approach of simply composing multiple, hateful letters to Congress expressing my general malcontent), this was far too brilliantly stated not to share.... Enjoy?

Published: Monday, February 27, 2012, 4:10 AM
By Guest Columnist The Oregonian
By Geoff Sugarman

So corporations want to be people. They want unfettered access to our constitutional rights and the U.S. Supreme Court has given it to them.

Well, I want to be a corporation, too. That's why I founded the People are Corporations, Too PAC (PACPAC, for short).
Our aim is simple: If corporations get our constitutional rights, then we should get their tax breaks.

Raising my family is my business, and it has been ever since I went off to college. Until then, I was not much more than a product of my parents' corporation. My personal corporate status was certainly cemented when my son was born in 1989.

What do I produce? His name is Max. He works in the summer. He's getting an education. He's going to pay taxes for the rest of his life.

As a corporation, I can write off almost every single dollar I spend producing Max.

I can deduct the cost of food, housing, clothes and electricity keeping him healthy and warm.

I can deduct every single penny I spend on his education.

I can deduct gas to take him to and from the thousands of practices, lessons and events that have helped shape him into a worthwhile product for the future.

I can write off the cost of all those books he read, all those instruments he played. If I had a good enough accountant, I might even be able to deduct the cost of the toys and video games that help increase his dexterity and have kept him happy.

Corporations get to write off almost every single cost of the widgets they produce, from the factories and the materials they use to the money they spend to promote their products. Some corporations can deduct so much that they pay little or nothing in taxes, and when they do pay taxes, their rate is far less than what I pay, especially on the state level.

Now they want freedom of speech to spend millions, maybe even billions, of dollars influencing our elections.

I see through their ploy. They already control the economy. Now they want to control the political process, too. And I want to be part of their scheme.

So last month, I went down to the secretary of state's office, filed myself as a corporation and paid my $100 filing fee. Then I created my own PAC.

It's time to take our power back.

When it comes time to pay my 2012 Oregon state taxes, I'm going to pay $150. That's all S-corporations at my income level have to pay, so that's what I'm going to pay, too.

When the state comes after me for not paying enough taxes, I'm going to get a good lawyer and sue. Maybe I'll make it all the way to the Supreme Court. And maybe those wise justices will decide that if corporations are people, then people are corporations, too.

Geoff Sugerman is a longtime political consultant in Oregon. Read more at peoplearecorporations.org.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Przykro

I'm sorry I lied to you and myself each day because I could not own up to who or what I really was.

I'm sorry I made you cry because I wanted you to hurt as much as me.

I'm sorry you believed in me when I refused to believe in myself.

I'm sorry you worried when you would catch glimpses of the ugliness from within.

I'm sorry for being so honest when you clearly weren't asking for truth.

I'm sorry I'm so afraid. Of people, of failing, of change, of failing, of sleeping, of failing, of thinking/over-thinking/analyzing/over-analyzing, of failing, of being left out/behind, of failing, of letting that wall down, of failing, of letting you in, of failing, of loving too much, of failing, of letting you down, of failing, of flaking out, of failing, of being judged, of failing, of being forgotten.... I'm sorry for being a failure.

I'm sorry I haven't been everything you so desperately need me to be.

I cannot change the past. I can only work on taking a different path, making different choices, gaining some level of confidence, loving more, caring more, trying harder, becoming more brave, taking risks, learning to love myself and moving on with life. Today is the first day of the rest of my life.



Edenland's Fresh Horses Brigade

A Fork In The Road And No Pasta In Sight

"You're beginning to wonder exactly who is in charge of quality control for all those treasure maps."


I'm in the midst of wrapping my head around all the goings on and the things to come. I had mentioned previously that my mother-in-law will soon be taking up residence under our wee roof. There is still much in the way of red tape and legal battles to overcome. The entire process has taken a monumental toll and yet remains in the early stages. It now seems I have eagerly volunteered myself into the predicament of handling it alone. 

Quite some time back, my 'Ol Man identified a passion in life he wanted to pursue. It requires schooling of a very specific nature, which is only offered in three states - the closest of which is still well over 700 miles away.  I made it crystal clear from day one I would never interfere or impede upon his dreams. That I would support him in anything he wanted to do. Although it has taken some fancy footwork and much convincing, it now looks like the pieces are beginning to fall perfectly into place. A plan in motion. I couldn't be more thrilled for him.... the adventure of it all! The doors to be opened! A dream to be realized!



In other news, there's the pesky details contained in the reality of it all. The fine print. The flood of "what ifs?" and "how on earth?"... Am I strong enough? Am I brave enough? Am I sane enough? Am I, quite simply, enough? Only time will tell on each of these fronts. 

What's odd - or truly - what's entirely predictable is that it's the silliest things that have enveloped me in panic. It's late on a Saturday evening and we've just run out of diapers and dog food.... I didn't have a chance to shower and the wee one has an ear infection while the eldest has already fallen asleep. I must wrangle the boys together, pack them into the car.... oh shit, I forgot to get gas and the light is blinking furiously at me.....  we begin backing out of the driveway and I've forgotten my purse and OH JESUS, WHERE IS THE GARAGE DOOR OPENER!? MY HOUSE KEYS WERE IN MY PURSE!!!! *panic* Where "normally", I could have avoided the entire ordeal by batting my eyelashes and reminding my dear better-half that I have unreasonable fears of leaving the house to which he may roll his eyes or mutter something under his breath, he'd put on his jacket and save the day. When he's 700 miles away? Not as much. 



It seems, he has become my crutch.

I have been a "latch-key" kiddo since about 7, out of the house since 17, and the primary breadwinner to date. I can handle most things without a second thought as it's simply in my nature. I've endured crises and have always tried to smile in the face of adversity. But at this very moment, I'm terrified. Paralyzed even. I've been allowed to settle into my delectably paranoid state. One in which I'm not expected to leave the house for any errands (aside from work, of course) between the hours of 3am and at least 11:30pm. One in which I can count on someone holding my hand and preventing me from escaping into the ventilation system if there IS some need to venture out during that time frame. One in which I can simply call my amazing Big Bag of Man Candy, begging him to pick up milk on the way home from his show. One in which, when I'm sitting with the wee one on the recliner downstairs in the middle of the night to calm him after an evening of ralphing, I can shriek out for him when I feel the retching sensation coursing throughout wee one's tummy -and he appears like the superhero he is with a bowl for the vomit just in time. One in which I'm not alone with my thoughts.

In real life, I do not utter a word of any of this. But this is my "safe place" and this is what's truly occupying my thoughts. Can I really do this?


Thursday, February 23, 2012

I'm OK, You're... Well... A Work In Progress

"Your belief that nothing can stop you will be tested this week by depression, procrastination, concrete barriers, dysentery, armed gunmen, and the unanimous passage of several laws targeted specifically at stopping you."

One of my earliest memories was that of my 5th birthday. It was the first time (and last) I was thrown an actual party ripe with guests, cupcakes and balloons. I was thrilled! (Or at least, I probably was... To this day, I can be completely dazzled by shadow puppets, so I wouldn't imagine it took much more to thrill me back then) My brother, who I've mentioned shares a birthday with me - or rather, I share one with him since he arrived on the planet 4 years earlier than I - headed off on an adventure with one of his dear friends (I might mention that said "adventure" alerted the good folks managing our local zoo to put a top on the enclosure of the snow leopard habitat.....) so I was able to have such a party. If memory serves me,  most of the guests were boys, so there was plenty of confusing loot out of the whole ordeal. More importantly, it was my earliest memory of what would become a long tradition in which I receive a self-help book (or audio-book) from my lovingly concerned father. Along with this early memory was the vivid image of my mother rolling her eyes upon seeing what treasure he had presented to his little (and only) girl. 


I look back upon this now with a bit of a warm, and comfortably fuzzy feeling. My father never (and still doesn't) quite knew what to make of dealing with a daughter. I'm pretty sure first and foremost was addressing this pint-sized-ball-of-drama. But how can one possibly help another if they don't actively help themselves? Throughout the years there were some really amazingly insightful books.... as well as one or two duds - or at least that's what I clearly decided based on little more than their covers and/or over-usage of puns in the titles. But I welcomed each new gift with renewed excitement and even eager anticipation. Some hit a bit too close to home and others couldn't be more foreign. Still, there was real thought and painstaking concern placed in selecting each one. 


The last such gift was received on my 21st birthday. The accompanying card contained one of his famously thoughtful hand-written novels and scrawled at the very end: "Happy 23rd Birthday, My Lovely Daughter!"  Sweet mother-of-god, he doesn't know how old I am!?

For much of my life, I fought to somehow prove myself to my father. To earn his respect. I began wondering if he saw me as a lost cause despite placing so much emphasis on my mental education. Something very profound and, until now, confusing took place when I visited him in his new home last May. Although he calls every Sunday promptly at 9am, and many of our conversations will span hours, he said something during that visit that simultaneously floored me and stung deeply. He remarked how very thankful he was to have me as such a wonderful friend. A friend. Not a daughter. To know the man, one would understand that he had carefully and intentionally selected and utilized every last word in that sentence. This is who I now was to him in my adulthood.

I spent far too long running the conversation over and over again in my head. There was no less impact each time and it would often reduce me to tears. For some reason, this morning, it simply clicked. He had relayed to me on several occasions that he never knew what he was supposed to do with a little girl. With a daughter. His youngest child and, by far, the most emotionally complex. Confusing. Foreign. Overwhelming. But he tried - I do know that in my heart. He loves me as much as any father is capable of loving. Now, in his own way, it was time to let me go. But not without having chosen those exact words, that precise sentiment. I was graduating as his daughter and was now respected enough to be his friend. 

I admire him in so many ways... for so many reasons... now I sit in a simple and wonderful state of awe. It's a pretty goddamned great feeling. I'm OK, You're OK.




Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Excuse Me, Don't I Know You From Somewhere?


"You will find yourself in a bizarre alternate universe where the sun is on the wrong side of the sky and everyone looks like they're sleepwalking when you get up before noon for the first time in your life."

I once had a conversation with a friend of my husband's about music. There was much discussion about some of our favorite bands and how there seemed to be some, in particular, that appeal more selectively to musicians - or at least those who have more of an appreciation for playing an instrument as opposed to simply being on the receiving end. That listening to complexities of the sounds we take in while subconsciously holding some understanding of whether a particular riff, chord, beat or tone takes any real level of talent can instantly change your opinion of what it is you're experiencing. This went on for some time and would occasionally escalate into heated debate despite our mutual agreement on most of the talking points. Then he said something that downright horrified me: "Music ceased achieving true originality at least 20 or so years back." WHAT!?


Man, I was fuming. How dare he say such a thing!? Well, he was as stubborn in his opinions as myself, and had no filter to the manner in which he communicated. I can respect that. The more I pondered that sentiment -  long after the conversation came to an awkward close - the more I mused whether he was perhaps correct. Unless one was blessed with being raised in a cave or soundproof chamber, closed off to the world and all it's.... well... worldly influence, at some point an outside factor - be it a song, a story, an image or something similar would have seeped into your mind. In other words, something which already exists would make it's way into your creative consciousness. Not to say one couldn't find a unique twist, variation, or expression of this - but it would be precisely that... still reminiscent and ultimately inspired by something that had been done before. 


I remember struggling with this notion at multiple crossroads throughout my life to date. I can recall when my knuckle-beating-piano-teacher tasked me with writing a song. I would begin jotting down notes at random as I was truly out of my element in the first place. Even after 13 years of study, I never quite grasped READING sheet music. Play a song once for me and I can echo it back to you. But once again, that indicated the song was already composed by someone else. I toyed with one variation after the next of tunes that would dance into my mind, but each successive time, it became familiar. Damnit. I had just listened to that song last week. Or my mom listened to that when I was a child. I couldn't close myself off from sampling and even mimicking tunes I already knew to be published. Odd. 





To look at the majority of movies being released over the past handful of years or more - they are based on books, or remakes of older films. Old ideas made new again with "fresh" faces or slight plot derailments. Even many of the "original" movies are reminiscent of ones from days gone by. Bits and pieces of old inspiration strewn together to celebrate something new. You can find this in sculpture, architecture, paintings, books, television, welding... you name it. Sweet merciful christ, there's no way that arrogant jerk (and no, I don't really mean that - he was quite pleasant and offered fascinating conversation) was correct! 

As much sense as it all makes, I'm still greatly bothered. New, innovative, amazing things are still being done. I'm convinced of it. After all, though history is notoriously prone to repeating itself, there is something magical to be said for identifying, conquering and subsequently capturing a small artistic piece of the previously unknown. Plus, why should snowflakes have all the fun of being individual? Cheeky bastards.





Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How The Other Half Live


It hovers at the bottom of the ominous narrow staircase descending into blackness if not madness.  A gloved hand – almost translucent with a soft cartoonish glow. The fore-finger points to what dormant demon waits on the other side. A gateway to my darkest fears… the fears that have yet to be defined, much less discovered. I stand paralyzed in fear, but that hand. It taunts me.  Bobbing up and down as though floating atop an invisible pool of turbulent water.  Four feet off the ground and unencumbered by a body. Just the gloved creature with a life and a motive all its own.

This was not the first, nor the last – not even the latest vision to come to me in the waking hours of a day or night.  Unassisted by food, drink or chemical. So extraordinarily vivid. Haunting.  The visions accompanying some level of rationale can be far more horrifying, yet somehow more calming as they can be written off to consequence.

For years, I loathed sleep. It was not my own exhibition of insomnia, but rather the fear of retribution. Those things that go bump in the night… silently watching. Waiting. The perfect moments of helplessness and exhaustion. A recipe for vulnerability.  I blink and the lightning strikes of colors urgently dancing across my eyelids bring me to life again. Famished sharks circling at my bound ankles just out of reach.

What is it the creatures need me to know? Is there symbolism or purpose? Warning or fiendish delight in my terror? What was the message from the elderly woman who broke into our backyard at 2am? Only to glance at me once between pushing her granddaughter (is that her granddaughter? Is that thing even human?) slowly back and forth on the rusted-out swing set time long since forgot… The frigid air encompassing that blue fabric chair… organic, yet in the midst of utter turmoil. The face shining at me in short bursts through the strobed light – the horns atop its head and the hatred painted across its features.

I walk past a mirror and find my face frozen in a silent scream in the reflection. I place my hands to my lips and they are closed.  I seem to be a magnet… no… a vessel. To the damned and the distressed.  I sit down gingerly, pour myself a drink and wait. 

"I Think I'll Dye My Hair Blue"



“You're the kind of boring person doomed to be alone while trying to solve all the problems instead of hanging out with the cool people while assigning blame.”

No, I’m not actually dying my hair blue, though it wouldn’t be much of a stretch from the current old-broad-lavender tint I’m sporting. In my mediocre defense, it’s a direct result of concocting strange brews in my basement laboratory in an attempt to keep the ‘ol mop more of a shade of platinum than bimbo-gone-wrong-gold…. The title is a line from a song that’s been playing on repeat in my skull for the past few weeks. These looping soundtracks can normally be attributed to a mixture of bickering side effects of one kaleidoscopic pill or another, but this song actually hits pretty damn close to home.

Words are one of those intangibly phenomenal things that can mean so much…express so much… simply do so much.  They can strike me down in an instant, reducing me to a retreating pool of muck, then lift me up from the ashes and give me new hope the next. I rarely know how to exist from one day to another without that ability to feed off of and give back to others through language. There is not a material thing in the world that offers the same for someone such as myself. Even actions fall short when the words escaping one’s lips are indicative of the contrary. It can be an additionally odd struggle, then, when not only am I reclusive and withdrawn by nature, but have very limited contact or even interest, for that matter, from the outside world.

Those precious few I do let into my carnival tent have been committing the most atrocious of offenses lately. What better way to shut the rambling Vanilla Tornado up, than a one word response? Ahhh… even better! No response at all!

I wear my heart on my sleeve and so long to find someone, anyone, who won’t immediately be tempted to brush me under a rug with all those dastardly little dust bunnies. After all, they don’t make for very good conversation, even stoking that fire with spirits. The one trait I fear most of myself also happens to be the most solidified fact of them all. I’m simply too much. This all doesn’t stop me for longing for conversation…. for that delectably untouchable dynamic of back and forth.  Alas, I seem to fare better keeping the dialogue within. Perhaps if I had more going in that department, I’d be one of those “better to be seen than heard” types, no?” What are words for… when no one listens anymore?”

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Best Night EVER v. Such A Waste Of Time!

"You've read the instructions on how it's made, talked to people who claim to have made it, even seen videos of people making it, but you can't shake the feeling that when it comes to toast the toaster does all the work. "

Recently, I made the decision to pop a few beta blockers, bundle up the eldest munchkin, and venture off to a school sponsored rollerskating night at a local venue. It was a school night, Mama was having yet another one of her now-infamous meltdowns, and there was a raging snowstorm at hand. As I thoroughly enjoy playing Wonder Woman on occasion, I bravely bid adieu to my 'Ol Man and the miniature munchkin and off we went.

My dear King Van is painfully similar to Yours Truly. Hand-eye coordination, balance and well... let's face it - general motor skills are not on the top 10 (or even present at all) list of our talents. But damn it, the kid wanted to skate, I was going to let him skate or die trying (Model Mother Alert! Ha!). After watching him hug the wall for dear life while dragging his wheeled feet somewhere behind him, I finally suggested we change him back into his shoes and loiter by the skeeball machines. It took a bit of convincing as he was clearly hesitant to leave the scene of his all-girl fan club, but somewhere deep down inside, I think he was thankful for the rescue.

All the little poorly maintained games needed tokens. *sigh* I exchanged $5 expecting a prompt ticker-tape parade celebrating my rampant generosity. When I came back down to earth, he was already off at the races throwing that rock-solid plastic ball mercilessly at the plexiglass covering. Jesus, how was I expecting this was going to be any better than his wall-hugging antics? Well - at least the ground wasn't moving out from beneath his feet. It was a noble start. Noticing he was scoring less than one ticket per 5 or so tokens, I took a few of my own and went off to the creepy ticket-spewing machine in the corner in an attempt to salvage the prize return that would transpire at the end of the evening. Hot damn! Back-to-back-to-back jackpot! Too bad I was in some two-bit skate arena and not at the casinos! While soaking up the praise of every pre-pubescent boy between the ages of about 4 and 9 at my fabulous fortune, I glanced over to find a gaggle of girls surrounding my son. Oh lord. They found him.

The other trait we have in common? Total goddamned doormats. One particularly bold (and freakishly tall, but sporting such a delectably sassy afro and a boa that somehow I had to forgive her rudeness) gal had ROLLED right in front of him and was taking over all his turns on the machine. He puts in the money, she plays. Awesome. He was looking so helplessly victimized that I pulled him aside, cashed in another $5, tucked all the tokens in the pocket of his hoodie and sent him to the opposite end of the game room. Shit. There they all go, following him like a caravan of pint-sized gold diggers! Hell, this time, 2 or 3 of them even brought their siblings along... lining up around him with their sticky little paws out for HIS tokens! When it became evident he was slacking in his customer service, some of the wee brats even went straight for the loot in the pocket! That was, shockingly enough, the first time I bothered looking around at the sea of people in the popsicle stand. Christ. Children........ oodles and oodles of children, but aside from myself and the principal, only one other parent could be found. You mean to tell me I was the only sucker who didn't just drop their kid off for those two hours!?!?!??!? *shakes fists angrily at the unresponsive drop ceiling above*

In the end, I remained calm (meaning I was sober AND evaded jail time), Van had a blast (and predictably enough, spent all his tickets on glittery lip balm for those double-x-chromosome nightmares), and the night was finally over. The drama was over. Silly Annie, the drama is NEVER over. It only remained at bay long enough to make it from the door of the building to the car. "Mama, this was the absolute best night EVER!!! The BEST day of my life!!!!!!" I couldn't help but smile. Mostly as I was decidedly taking all the credit for being the unspoken BEST MOM EVER. Yeah. No. In the next breath: "I just wish it hadn't been such a waste of my time" *choke*cough*sputter* WHAT!?!?!??!?

Yup. It seems his Kindergarten.... yes.... KINDERGARTEN teacher had the "brilliant" notion to allow a bunch of Ritalin-Dosed monsters to prioritize their days with the disclaimer that we, as parents, should fully expect their grades to drop this quarter. More Awesomeness. Suddenly, everything - including the best night of the kid's life - is a monumental waste of his bloody time. In circumstances where this Godzilla Mom is quite RARELY speechless, I was downright floored. Ah yes - I forgot to mention - while we were out having this rip-roaring great time/waste of time, Papa was home finishing VAN'S school project (which I might add he did a stunningly girly job on ripe with glittery swirls!) just so he could go enjoy his little skate night. Yeah... the next words out of Van's saucy mouth: "I just wish I had been able to stay home so I could finish my project". If I hadn't been driving through blizzard conditions, I would have blasted my way into that backseat and spewed the caliber of tirade that would make Rick Flair blush! But once again - Mama remained calm. "Please promise me on your relatively young life you won't repeat that to your father."

Every day seems to offer such new and exciting possibilities, no? We do the best we can, and even better than that on rare occasion. In circumstances such as these, I simply nod, smile, and lovingly recall these moments for the next time I break into a box of wine with a butter knife because the world clearly hates my freedom and the packaging perforations were merely placed there to taunt me in my panicked desperation.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I'm Your Huckleberry

"Though you are a good person and a loving friend to all you know, you will still be sent to hell for your maddening lack of punctuality."

So I had initially planned on hiding out for the remainder of Winter, but the damn thing doesn't seem to be ending on my schedule, so here I am. As is par for the course, may I present you with A Side Tangent: Last week, we had this delightfully fluffy snowstorm. The sort with REAL snow, not the hateful accumulation of 1 inch of windblown ice. As I stared out from the doldrums disguised as seasonal depression, it occurred to me I don't posses that. It's not the seasons which depress me, but rather their complete lack of effort in mimicking the pictures on the calendar when it comes to representing said season. The other underlying cause of my depression? Lack of purpose.



I previously spoke of not having anyone on my picnic blanket right now... that this fact was perhaps adding to my unreasonable grief. Two nights ago, that all changed. Two nights ago, I received (or rather, forcefully extracted) news of such a monumental caliber, I fully expected I would collapse under the weight of it all. But that isn't what happened. In fact, not at all.


WTF?

My husband's mother has a story all her own. As does my relationship with her. Yet ups, downs, and ballyhoos aside, I feel a sense of responsibility for her and her well being. When she arrived at our house with the accompanying dark cloud of news, I braced myself for what was to come. In my heart, I already knew what it was, just not the extent of it. There was an evening of relative silence, so I finally followed her out to our garage and broached the subject. She immediately crumbled into a broken mess - the sort I have been resembling for a number of months now. An almost surreal experience as though I were uttering all the words I so desperately wished someone would utter to me in my loneliest moments. I had renewed purpose. This is precisely where I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to be for her.

After his mother departed for the evening, my Big Bag of Man Candy and I sat for a number of hours and spoke about all that had just transpired. He felt hopeless, overwhelmed.... doomed. Fears began bubbling to the surface. Fears of my taking the children and fleeing. Fears of all the plans we had made coming to an unfulfilled end. Fears of lost privacy and of the reverberating effects of the mental illness our children would be exposed to. Fears of our already questionable finances. As I didn't share these fears, it was up to me to be the unlikely voice of reason. It was my purpose.

In the coming weeks, she will be moving in with us and I will be wrestling with all the legalities to resolve the matters of her home, her belongings, her debts, her marriage, her dog and ultimately her. Without going into great detail, I have had more on my plate recently than I figured I could shoulder. Yet this straw hellbent on breaking the proverbial camel's back inexplicably became more of that popsicle stick I needed to finish my shoddy rendition of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I quite suddenly felt more alive and hopeful than I have in years. Odd.



I'm not sure whether I'm a glutton for punishment or I've simply long-since lost my mind, but this new purpose has become a catalyst to what I'm fully convinced are great things. The fact that there IS a next chapter is good enough for me. My goggles are back on and my seat belt is fastened.... after all, I do so adore those silly plot twists as I choose my own adventure!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Balance

She is altogether elusive. I am about to drop off the face of the planet for awhile, but I wanted to thank all of you who have supported me, guided me and... let's be honest, put up with my bullshit. Much love to you all and I'll see you sometime post-hibernation. XO