Welsh Rats

21 Feb

I’m sorry that I haven’t been writing lately.
I don’t know if I’ve been down or just lazy. I feel like I have a case of what Steinbeck calls “welsh rats,” that dread feeling in your belly that arises from nowhere and for no reason.
I guess we all have our highs and our lows. I refuse to think that mine come on a monthly cycle, but the evidence is almost too much to ignore.
I may be losing popularity because I have seemingly abandoned you all for a week or so. But in the end I have not started or continued this blog for popularity points.
I have written over and over that I have something to say and I want people to hear it.
At the present time I have had nothing of merit to really say.
I would rather give you lot nothing at all than feed you crap writing. I hope you understand… and that includes all my Twitter friends I’ve been ignoring.
I love you all, and I’ll be back in a writing mood in no time at all.

Daddy and His Princess

17 Feb

An argument overheard in my house the other day.

“And that color is yellow.” said my husband informatively, pointing to a part of my daughter’s favorite rain boots.
“Lello.” came the response from my almost two year old.
“And that is red.”
“Red!” after parroting colors for him, she wanted to be the one teaching for a moment.
“Whad’at!” she exclaimed. Although she said the words, “What’s that?” she’s not exactly asking him a question, she’s baiting him.
“That?” he asks, turning the boot in his hand to look.
“Sook-ul! (circle!)” she screamed, throwing her hands in the air in a gesture of triumph.
“You’re right.” he nods at her, “That IS a circle. Very good.”
This wasn’t exactly the jubilation and enthusiastic praise she was looking for and she gives him a disgruntled stare. Without even looking at the boot, she points to the designs along the side, which depict ladybugs marching merrily in a little border.
“Whad’at.” she says flatly, it comes out sounding like a challenge.
My husband, blissfully unaware, simply answers what he thought was a question. “Oh that? That’s a ladybug.”
“Buh-fly. (Butterfly)” she corrects him, with a slightly superior air.
“No… no, honey, it’s a ladybug. See all the little ladybugs, they’re following each other around in a circle!” he points at the merry little ladybugs.
“Buh. Fly.” she separates the syllables into two distinct words. She has suddenly become very serious.
“Lady. Bug.” her dad says, in precicely the same tone and manner.
“BUH-FLY!” my daughter shrieks and begins to throw the boots every which way. My poor husband catches one before it hits him in the noggin and begins to show her.
“No honey, this is a ladybug. Don’t you see the spots? See how it’s all red?” still thinking that logic will win this fight.
“Buh-fly.” she responds simply.
“Ok, honey. It’s a butterfly.”
And like that, she won.

Everybody Hu-u-u-rts

16 Feb

For Wordless Wednesday.

It may have been because I was listening to R.E.M. on my iPod, but I saw this as Oni gazing longingly into the outside world.

Sorry kitty, there are coyotes out there… well, that and a no-pet policy I’m ignoring.

The Difference Between In-Laws and Outlaws

14 Feb

Have you heard that one?

The only difference between in-laws and out-laws is that out-laws don’t want to stay in your spare room!
That joke is actually rather irrelevant to my visit with my mother-in-law and my husband’s cousin and her family as they stayed in a hotel.

Not usually used to guests at our house, I spent 3 days cleaning fingerprints off the wall and that strip of dust that gathers right where your tile meets your carpet.
Turns out, my cousin-in-law (is that even a real term) wouldn’t have cared that there was a ring around my bathtub or barrettes on my sink. We totally hit it off like two people who meet and realize they have more in common than they could ever imagine.
Have you ever met someone and you totally know them, because they are simply you in a different skin with a different name… yeah, just like that.

I don’t know if my MIL would have noticed, she seemed rather overwhelmed by the whole experience. All we could do was bundle her up, make her as comfortable as we could, and hope that she enjoyed the ride.
I’m happy to say I’ve finally made the acquaintance of my husband’s mother.

My cousin-in-law’s husband made me a bit nervous, I felt he inspected this visit for flaws like an engineer studies a bridge for cracks. I wasn’t as badly perturbed as I thought his shrewdness might prick my social anxiety a bit, I had done a good job on the house, I was a flawless hostess.

Although I think everybody involved was afraid that my rambunctious children while marching around the house roaring like dinosaurs, might actually eat those two peaceful, well behaved boys of theirs.

We took a trip out. Everyone behaved and I almost had a heart attack (and that includes my husband, who has the social graces of a caveman… an unpopular caveman.) Although Tyler peed his pants on the Tram ride down the mountain, I still don’t see that as a count against outing success.

I cooked a going away meal that knocked everyone’s socks off (although I thought the pork chops were dry) and we visited some more and there they went.

I sunk into a couch, exhausted but pleased about my new friendships within my family and a busy weekend successfully pulled off.

This picture describes the whole weekend perfectly. Look closely at everyone’s face and body language. I should have used this for Wordless Wednesday, and broke down and posted a Valentine’s post… but this is what I really love.

A Woman’s Vanity

10 Feb

You see… I have all this hair.

It’s undyed, uncurled, uncut, and unstyled.
I’m not entirely sure of what to do with it.
It stymies me so much, I’ve thought of cutting it all off and selling it.

But my husband likes it. What he doesn’t understand is that I need to do something with it!

At this point it’s just hanging off my scalp, like a limp, dirty-blonde noodle.

Any suggestions?

Sensitive Sort

10 Feb

To start things off, I will begin with: I was never yelled at.
I know, I don’t understand it either. The other women at church used to tease my mother lightly that the worst I would get when I misbehaved was a “ah-ah-ah” and a metronome finger.

Due to never hearing a loud noise until kindergarten, I remember being ultra sensitive to any kind of raised voices, angry looks, etc. At one point, I hid in my best friend’s closet while she was being yelled at until her parents had to come and extricate me.
And this is where that memory was born.
I was coming home from that same best friend’s house. She lived two doors down from me, which made me the luckiest girl in the world because I could play with my best friend any time I wanted to. It had to have either been winter vacation, or a Saturday.
The way I remember the light, you see.
It wasn’t a glaring summer sun, although it was the middle of the day.
I spotted my neighbors cat under the shrub of the house between mine and my best friend’s.

I loved animals.
My parents wouldn’t let me have a pet, but I wanted one so bad. I was going to catch this cat and pet it for a while, assuaging the wanting for a minute or two.
I crept. I tiptoed. Ok, screw this sneaking… I’m going to catch this cat!
I ran up the sidewalk as the cat bolted out from under the shrub, across the street toward it’s house and safety.
There was two cars presently driving up my usually pretty untravelled road, the first one clipped the cat’s rear end.
Almost 25 years later, I can still see the cat’s back side swerving back and forth like a stock car about to hit a wall as it scrambled the rest of the way across the street, under a gate and then gone.
As I stood on the curb open mouthed, the second car screeched to a halt. (The car that had hit the cat had just kept on going)
I recognized the dark SUV as belonging to my neighbor from across the street, and when she flew out of the driver’s seat, I recognized the woman as the owner of the cat.
I knew her vaguely. She had two older boys, so I didn’t know her well.
She ran over to me and raged that I had killed her cat, and how dare I chase her cat into the street, and… honestly it’s all a swirl of colors and sounds, what she actually said. I waited for her to finish, interjecting apologies as tears threatened my eyes. When she left me, aghast on the curb, I ran home and locked myself into the den. I cried for hours and refused to come out. My mom only found out when the lady came over to inform us that the cat was okay and she would not be calling the police.

I didn’t give a crap about the police… take me to jail! I’m a cat murderer!
Well, almost…
I just wanted to pet the damn thing.
Well, you know… I never touched another frickin’ one of her cats again.

Appeasing an Angry Woman

7 Feb

My husband collects bicycles.

He trades the pieces for other pieces with the ultimate goal of eventually creating a Frankenstein bike with all the best parts. Granted, he has a gift for trading, much like the boy who started out with a red paperclip and traded over the internet until he eventually got a house. (Yes folks, a house… Google it, I’m feeling lazy)
Well, it’s kind of a given that I hate this hobby of his. We have an apartment with very little storage space.
So I did what any other good wife would do. I told him he’d better get rid of most of these bikes…. or else.
I’m trying to drive home to you nice folks that I was being quite the uncompromising bitch about this, because every time I get into this mode, something always happens to make me realize what a raving lunatic bitch I’ve been.
He left the house one morning, after making a few phonecalls, with one of his favorite (and most valuable) bike frames. A couple hours later, he comes home with…. not more bike parts.
Wait.. what? Out of character? Not really. Every time I decide to let my inner jerk show, something like this happens:
He walks in with a used iPod. With a iHome dock/speaker set.

I am floored. He knows my old iPod is about as old as you get without being hamster-powered. He knows when my battery died, I lost all my songs to the ages. He knows how much I love plugging it in when doing work in the kitchen, so I can sing on the top of my lungs and pretend there’s not children screaming for more Dora in the next room.

It has over 2000 songs. I’m floored.
Granted, there’s enough soulful crooners on this, it makes me think that the former owner couldn’t have sex without music playing… not something I want to have to think about his friends.
But, as with every iPod that ever existed, there’s the Eagles, theres 2 different renditions of “Mommas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” there’s Alanis and Jewel and I couldn’t be happier. I can now sing on the top of my lungs (much to my kids’ chagrin) to my hearts content.
So now, do I feel bad about being such a jerk about the bikes, now that he got something for me with no thought of reward? A little.
Am I going to lay off him a bit about the damn things cluttering up my house? Not really, although maybe I’ll try to be nicer… maybe.
Do I regret it? Hell no, dude! I got an iPod!

I HAD to use this picture. This hotel is not too far from where I live. Yes folks, the REAL Hotel California!

Little Monsters

5 Feb

I really wanted to sit down this morning and write something funny. I wanted to write something that would make you laugh out loud and possibly spit your coffee onto your computer screen.
I sit down to write, however, and my mind is filled with this instead… anything I write that’s funny will be forced, lame and inadequate.
I’m just not feeling it. I feel like… well I don’t know how I feel. How are you supposed to feel when your son might be a bully?
So yesterday, my friend came over and brought her daughter. It wasn’t the first time. My friend’s little girl is one month older than my daughter, and I think both she and I have visions of our own childhood friendships. There’s pictures of me and my childhood friend playing together on the floor in our diapers, and we are still friends to this day.
Well, every time that she comes over, she hides at her mother’s legs. My friend says when she’s at home, she’s running around crazy and yelling, just like my kids are all the time.

Honestly, I don’t blame her. My kids have inherited my ability to make people uncomfortable almost immediately. They greet her arrival at the door like a pair of poorly trained Golden Retrievers. My daughter stares at her from inches away, and both of them are waving their little hands until I fear the wrist is going to detach. “Hi! Hello! Come on in!”
My friend and I take our perches on our respective couches, and the festivities kick into high gear. My kids proceed to get keyed up because we have company, they run back and forth down the hall, they inspect the little girl’s clothing, her hair, her shoes. They bring her some of their own shoes to compare with hers, this leads to piling toys up around their guest who is still clinging in desperation to her mother.
She asks me politely for some juice in this tiny little voice. I go into the kitchen and make THREE JUICE CUPS. (See, contrary to popular opinion, I DO know what I’m doing.)
I hand out the cups, she’s still waiting patiently in her mother’s lap, chirping out a tiny, “Juice? Juice? Juice?” every couple of seconds. My kids clamor to the back of the couch, which I use as an ineffective, partial barrier to my kitchen. I hand out the cups to each child without incident. Everyone takes a breather for a moment and drinks, the faint whistling of air escaping from the cups the only sound punctuating the silence.
I take this as my cue to sit down and continue my conversation. The rest of the playdate goes pretty smoothly, other than my daughter being convinced that whatever our guest has in her sippy cup is superior and trading her out every few seconds. Plus, her little friend was still not braving the choppy waters any further than a foot or two from the safety of her mother’s lap.
When it was time for my friend and her daughter to go, we stood and walked to the door, deep in conversation. We stood at the door for a minute or two, talking and saying our goodbyes. I look down, and to my horror, my son has her daughter cowering against the wall, menacing her with a plastic T-Rex. The look on her face was most clearly that of abject terror.
“Tyler!” I exclaim, I pull him and the offending T-Rex away from the frightened child.

I didn’t know what to do or what to say. I went through the motions, alternately reassuring her and telling him to be nice to girls.
I was in shock. My kids are active, right, I’ve already somehow reached that conclusion. But aggressive? Bullies? It never crossed my mind, it’s never come up. The only time he leaves my sight is at Sunday School. What if he’s spending that time harassing his quiet, peaceful, timid classmates? Somebody would tell me, right?
Have I done wrong in letting him and his sister roughhouse as long as no one’s screaming or doing anything dangerous? Have I done wrong in not scheduling more playdates, so they aren’t properly socialized?

And afterwards, even though I was down at eye level like they say you’re supposed to be… I could tell that he wasn’t listening and that she wasn’t soothed.
My friend. Does she secretly hate me for allowing my son to bully her daughter, especially after it was so obvious that they were scaring her the whole time? I wrote her a message over Facebook, apologizing for his behavior, explaining that he’s active, but has never been aggressive, insisting that he and I were going to have a long discussion.
But was it enough?
I feel like I have received confirmation that I’m failing as a parent. I mean, isn’t that the ultimate fail? When your children can’t properly interact with the outside world?
I just really don’t know what to say, to him, to her, even to myself.
This is a hard post to write. Not only do I have these deep feelings about this, they are entirely unresolved feelings and issues.
I know it’s bad manners to leave a post without a conclusion, but the conclusion eludes me right now.

Writers Workshop

3 Feb

So, I’m IRL girlfriend deficient. I have very few people outside my family who I talk to on a regular basis.
I don’t know, I’m not shy. I think I come off kinda strong, exactly the way my kids do at a playdate to make the other kids shrink back against their mother in apprehension.
Well imagine my surprise when I totally hit it off with one of my neighbors in my apartment complex. She’s cool, not judgmental, polite, funny and generously nice. We are having a lot of fun getting to be friends.
In addition, she has never heard any of my jokes… frickin’ score.
No, you think you know, but you have no idea.
I have a photographic memory for jokes. I remember any joke that I hear or read, even the stuff in Readers Digest. I must have 10,000 jokes and an uncanny gift for delivering them… like an 80 year old man sitting at the kids table at Thanksgiving.

But none of these jokes are suitable for children.
Anyways, she has never heard my jokes. Not a one of them. My husband always rolls his eyes when I begin a joke he’s heard half a dozen times or more, but I love to rattle them off.
And now I have a fresh audience, virginal, untouched, a little bit drunk on this awesome Super Tuscan my husband found for me at Trader Joe’s.
In other words, I’m in my element and on the top of my game.
I tell her the one about the four nuns at the pearly gates. She nearly spits the last of her wine out.
I tell her the new Polish-Cajun restaurant’s specialty dish is blackened toast. She dies with laughter.
I meanwhile am enjoying myself immensely. I give myself a moment for a wry, knowing grin while the punchline takes effect, and then… yes. I laugh at my own jokes. I think they are funny, otherwise I wouldn’t be telling them.
Tears are rolling down her cheeks, my face hurts from smiling and laughing.
As she stands to leave, I take her empty glass and offer one more gem.

“Three women are sitting in the OB/GYN’s office. A blonde, a brunette and a redhead, all heavily pregnant.
The Doctor comes out and announces in a grand voice, ‘I have discovered a new way to determine what you ladies are each having.’ he sweeps across the room toward the brunette.
‘You my dear, what position were you in when you conceived your child?”
The brunette demurely puts a hand over her eyes in embarrassed shyness.
‘I was on the bottom.’ she murmurs.
‘Then you, my darling are having a boy!’ he announces assuredly.
‘You!’ he points at the redhead sitting saucily nearby, ‘What position were you in when you conceived your child?’
She puts her hand on her hip and proudly exclaims, ‘I was on the top!’
‘Then you, honey, are having a girl!’ he says.
Suddenly the blonde in the corner bursts into tears. He flies over to her concernedly, ‘Honey! Dear, what is the matter?’
Between her sobs, she manages to croak out weepily, ‘I’m… I’m… HAVING PUPPIES!!’
This wasn’t the first time someone has wandered from my door, cackling laughter into the night… and it probably wont be the last.

On Being White Trash

2 Feb

I don’t want to be white trash. Seriously, I don’t. However, I just happen to be and observant person, (unfortunately) and I observe cliche after cliche… all pointing toward yes.

Yes, my husband drinks beer and is not gainfully employed.

Yes, my last 4 pairs of shoes came from the dumpster.

Yes, I’m on aid and living in subsidized housing.

Yes, I swear like a sailor. I like fried foods. My kids watch a lot of TV. I take public transit.

Okay whatever.

I honestly feel like I’ve worked too hard to get where I am at, and where I am at is not good enough for me.

I have no excuse. I was raised well, by a well to do family. I’m as educated as you can get, just being a High School graduate. (I, unlike you, paid attention in class) I’m intelligent, strong, healthy and I frickin’ know better than to allow myself to live this way.

When I took “time off” from school after graduation… when I swore I’d party for a few years and then get down to business before it was too late… when I refused to take the lesson driven home by my parents that we have to work really hard for everything we have… all these things have contributed to my white-trashiness.
I never knew as a young, young woman, that what I was doing at the time wasn’t temporary. Every choice I made was going to shape me and mold me into the person that I was at 30.
And now at 30, I’m ashamed.

I’ve lost my idealism to the years of apathy and weariness. I’ve lost my drive to the years of indulgence and waste.
I feel like I’m merely holding on to what precious little I have.
It sucks. It sucks so bad that you could hardly imagine my suffering.
I crawled and clawed my way up from homelessness, despair and drug addiction. I’ve broken through the stigma of untreated mental illness. I’ve loved and lost and kept on loving. I’ve been abandoned and found broken among the wreckage.
I’ve come so far, but not far enough.
Not far enough by far.
If I was stupid or incapable in some other way, I could handle this.
If I had been raised underprivileged, or by folks who didn’t set a good example or had no idea (for any other reason) how to act, to handle myself, or how to present myself… it would be a different story.
I know I can do better than this.
I have the knowledge. I have the strength. If I get right down to it, I even have the support I need to succeed if I just ask the right way.
What’s holding me back? Fear? Anxiety? The thought of failing after all my effort? Not knowing quite how to proceed? Pure fucking laziness?
I think all of those things, and maybe more.
But I know myself.
I’m strong enough.
I’m smart enough.
These traps I’ve built for myself are of my own design. I have no other to place the blame of the direction my life has taken.
So, here I sit. The most cliche of all white trash cliches.
And survey says, I’ll just keep on sitting. Like I have been.