Thursday, August 30, 2012

Kindergarten Is Upon Us.

This kid of mine has never been one for change and I can't say I blame him.  Change is not always fun and is often scary.  Even good changes can be intimidating just by virtue of the fear of the unknown.  I myself have been known to stick with the devil I know, if you will, so it runs in the family.

So the fact that my son is not at all interested in starting kindergarten next week is not surprising.  He has come up with every reason imaginable why it's unnecessary.  In no particular order:
  • It will be boring.
  • He will NOT make new friends.
  • The playground does not have a slide like his old school.
  • His old school was perfectly fine.
  • He doesn't need to learn anything new.  Learning, I've been informed by the way, is also boring.
  • Some of his friends get to stay at his old school and it's not fair that he can't.
  • The teacher probably won't be nice, even if his mother says she probably will be.
  • He doesn't care that most of the other kids will be just as nervous or that this will be new for them.
And he ends all these complaining sessions with a very pitiful, "Mama, I'm just afraid."  

So I keep telling him it will be great and he will be great because he is a great kid.  His teachers always like him, he's nice, he's smart and funny and all that jazz.  I remind him he already knows all the rules such as to raise his hand, to stay in his seat, to follow directions, to mind his teachers and to not fart.

Come on.  He's a 5 year old boy and the fart joke got a laugh. I had to cut the tension somehow.

The truth is that I'm afraid, too.  I commented on Melisa's great post about her daughter starting kindergarten and I realized as I was typing it that it really did sum it all up:

My guy starts a week from Thursday. And telling him how awesome it will be, how much fun, how not scary it is, etc., is slowly killing me. Because I am scared shitless for him. I’m afraid they will lose him, or he’ll have to pee and be afraid to tell someone or that he’ll starve to death. Or that something will happen and he’ll be that kid who did that thing and they’ll laugh at him until he graduates high school.

They probably won't lose him.  And he probably won't starve to death.  He can hold his pee like a camel.  (Is that the thing? Do camels not urinate?)  He probably will do something really stupid and get made fun of but so will probably the rest of the kids.

School is hard.  Maybe elementary not so much, but middle school and high school are not always fun. Kids can be mean and my boy is sensitive.  His mother is overbearing and overprotective.  I'm so afraid I'll embarrass him with my love for him.  I want to protect him from every single sad or difficult moment ever.  My gut tells me to be a helicopter mom, even though I will fight my gut tooth and nail to let that kid grow up on his own and be the person he is meant to be.

Even if I'm dying on the inside knowing that he is learning to separate from his parents, I know he has  to have his own life and to be his own man someday.  Yes, of course, I know that he is only 5 and won't move out next month just because he's going to kindergarten, but cut me some slack here.  He's my first and only.

This, combined with other stress in our home lately is likely the cause of our recent sleepless nights. We've had late bedtimes because he can't fall asleep and early wake ups and many middle of the night screams from nightmares.  His fear of the dark is on overdrive.  No one is sleeping and everyone is cranky.

I wish I could do something to take these worries away from him.  And just as much, I wish we could both sleep through the night.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Get Ready For the Questions.

I've had to explain to my son about death before.  That time it was my mother, his Grover Grandma.  He called her that because Grover was her favorite character.  He was 3 1/2 then and he was pretty OK with the whole situation since they weren't very close.  This wasn't the grandmother who played with him and that he spent so much time with.  In spite of that, I have spent the better part of the last two years fielding no shortage of follow up questions:
  • Where do the bodies go when people die?
  • What happens when someone dies?
  • Why are there so many headstones in that graveyard?
  • What's a graveyard for anyway?
  • What's that [urn] for?
  • Are we ever going to see Grover Grandma again?
  • Why don't we visit Grover Grandma anymore?
  • What happened to where Grover Grandma lived? Does someone else live there?
  • Are you sad about Grover Grandma?
  • Wait, so you don't even HAVE a mom anymore, do you?
No shortage of questions at all.

Honestly, I'm not bothered by them.  Clearly it comforts him to know the facts and circumstances of a situation and I appreciate that.  He'll ask one or two questions, carefully deliberate the answer and then go back to squealing about whatever character he's in love with that week.

But this conversation, the one about our dog, this one hurt.  This one made me cry.  I had to explain to this child that the dog we have had and loved for longer than he's been alive will not be with us much longer.  I had to explain to him that his body is shutting down bit by bit.  And, no surprise here, the questions began:
  • Will his legs just stop working?
    • No, it's not just his arthritis on the outside.  It's his organs on the inside.
  • Does the doctor know why?
    • Yes, honey, he's just very, very old.
  • How old is he?
    • He is 14.  But remember dog years aren't like people years.  14 year old people are still kids and you don't need to worry.  
  • How many people years is dog years?
    • If he was a person, he'd be about 98.  And that's pretty old.
I asked if he had any more questions and he was quiet for a minute.  Then, as though he was asking me what's for dinner, he said, "Mommy?  Do you know what day Dexter will be dead?"  I told him I didn't, but it would be soon.  He said he just hoped Dexter would get to have his birthday which was only 2 days away and I said that I did too.

The great thing about being a kid was that he was done talking about it.  He moved on to the next topic which involved singing Angry Birds.  I saw that he was sad while we were talking but then he just turned it off.  When we got home and saw Dexter, I saw a look on Nathan's face I can't explain.  It was not quite sadness, not quite pity.

This was two weeks ago.  Yesterday we made the appointment to end Dexter's pain.  He is severely arthritic and the medications that he has been on to help him also ruined his insides.  We knew that was to be the outcome.  Knowledge doesn't change anything.

I'm going to spoil and love on my dog until Friday when he will leave us.  I will try to explain to my son what has happened.  I will try to find a way to not give him the impression that you can just make phone calls and loved ones die or leave.  I will try to hold it together enough to continue to do all that needs to be done because I suspect my son's world will not stop for this, even if he is sad.

I will try to answer all of the questions that I know are coming my way.

This was not the part of parenting animals and human children I signed up for.  This part no one warned me about.  This part is harder than I ever expected.

Linking up again with Yeah Write.  Please click the link to the left to read the other submissions.  You can vote for your favorites on Thursday.

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Celebrating a Milestone.

When I was at BlogHer a few weeks ago, I was often asked how long I'd been blogging.  That was a difficult question to answer.

I had a blog on MySpace back in 2005 and 2006.  I don't mention it much because it was terrible.  My writing was terrible, filled with unnecessary swearing.  The subject matter was boring at best, offensive at worst.  I came off as a miserable, rotten woman, not the fun-loving, happy-go-lucky mom I am here.  OK, well, I'm not really that either, but at least I hopefully come off as respectable, if not sometimes morose.  You won't find, I don't think, the F-bomb or the C-word on this blog and the old one was peppered with such expletives.  It's not that I'm prim and proper, I just prefer not to use them in my writing unless they really are necessary.  Usually, for me, they are not.

I began writing here under the title Things I'm Thinking About (or something like that) on August 20, 2008.  My writing was inconsistent and again, frankly, not very good.  I had one of those rambling ones where I complained about mystery people who didn't love me and I had plenty about purging my belongings so I could prepare to sell my house.  I detailed my grocery purchases and money saved, my over planning of everything and how boring I am.  I blogged about starting over with my blogging, cooking, cleaning, couponing, etc.  Those blogs were boring.  No one read them and I'm glad.  I'm not linking to them, they're still here if you want to find them.  I suggest that you don't.

Last August, I wrote this post and things took off from there.  I've already talked about this recently so I won't rehash again.  I've learned a lot this past year.  First and foremost, I need to write because I love to do it.  So whether I continue here or elsewhere, I will write.  I'm not giving it up again.  I've learned to write in my voice and to be me.  Sometimes that voice is nostalgic or even maudlin.  Sometimes I'm angry or gossipy or just plain pissy.  Sometimes I'm happy and funny.  Those last two don't come easy to me so I write it less often.  But it's all my voice and it's true to me.

I won't lie.  In that first post in 2008 I said I didn't care if no one read this, but that's a lie.  While I am writing for me, I want you to read it.  I want you to want to read it.  I want you to comment and interact and have conversations with me.

I participate on Twitter and Facebook.  I wish I could hang out online more, but you know, day job and family and whatnot.  I link up with Yeah Write as often as possible (OK, so I haven't missed a week since I started in March).  I am trying to build and be part of communities that matter to me.  I want you to join me in them.

I think I have a lot to show for my last year.  I think my writing has improved and I certainly have more followers.  I have written more in 12 months than the previous few years combined.  I have pages of a memoir that aren't ready for anyone to read but they exist.  That project is slow-going and that's OK.  This is not an immediate gratification sort of thing and realizing and accepting that is part of my growth.

I'll close by thanking each and every one of you who has read, shared, commented, supported and encouraged me in any way.  None of it goes unnoticed.  From my Twitter and Facebook friends, to the bloggy friends, to my in real life friends who know this is important to me and have treated it with respect, I thank you.

So how long have I been writing?  All my life.  Blogging?  On and off since 2005.  Blogging here at The Journey in a serious fashion?  One year ago yesterday.

Happy Blogoversary, Me.  Here's to another year.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Quit Staring At My Roots!

I don't have roots.  I use this glaze thing at my salon that covers my gray without being permanent.  This way, it gradually washes out and I don't have that harsh root line every few weeks.  I'm really bad about getting to the salon on a regular basis so I didn't want to commit to full on color.  Now that I think about it, it's been a few months.  I'm probably due for a trim.

Wait, what?

I wasn't supposed to be talking about my hair roots.  I'm supposed to be talking about my writer roots. 

You can find me doing that over at Erin Margolin's place.  Please click on over.  Erin's doing some great stuff there, so when you get done reading my piece, please look around her site and get to know her too!

Oh, by the way, today is my 1 year blogoversary.  I wrote something to commemorate the occasion, but you'll have to wait until tomorrow to see it.  I didn't want to pass up an opportunity to guest post and it's a cood companion piece anyway. 

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I Might Lose My Finger.

I started yesterday hoping to be productive, but by 7:30am I was just hoping my finger wouldn't fall off.

I crooned along with Springsteen's "Sandy" while I drove my usual route to work. As I slowed at a yellow light, I noticed a small mound in the street and stopped in front of it.  Whatever it was, it was directly in line with my left front tire.  I leaned forward and focused my un-caffeinated eyes.  It was a tiny, gray kitten, likely not more than 2-3 weeks old.  This cat looked just like my dear, departed Pumpernickel.

I put the car in park and lowered my driver's side window as I always do when I exit and leave the car running, just in case I hit the lock and then lock myself out.  I jumped out in the hopes of shooing this cat out of the roadway before the light changed.  I have enough problems; I don't need to add Ran Over Kitten to my bad karma.

“OK, Kitty.  Get up.  Let’s go.  Come on,” I said in my sweetest voice.  The kitten stayed there in the tightest ball imaginable, looking at me with pure feline fear.  I reached down to see if I could pick it up and it hissed at me.  The hiss was laughable though because this baby could barely get it out.  Not wanting to upset it further, I gently tapped its cat-butt in the hopes it would get up and run.

No dice, that cat was staying there.  I stood up and looked around.  While this busy intersection is usually immensely irritating with its excessively long light, today I welcomed the delay.

“Are you OK?” a man shouted.  He was emerging from the bagel shop near where this kerfuffle was unfolding.

“There’s a kitten here and it’s going to get killed.  It won’t let me pick it up.”

“Let me try.”  Bagel Guy bent down, clearly nonplussed by the prospect of getting mauled by a kitten.  He wrapped his hands around her and gently started to lift her.  She suddenly came to life, squirming madly.  He dropped her and she took off running, straight under the car that was stopped at the light in front of me.

The light was about to turn green and the drivers who had lined up behind me were getting annoyed.  I moved my car so they could get around me more easily as Bagel Guy ran to the car up ahead.

“Don’t go!  You have a kitten under your car!”  The driver of the Old Black Jalopy put it in park and got out.  The two men searched under the car for the kitten.  I waved the drivers around our shenanigans before I joined in the search.  This cat was nowhere to be found, yet none of us saw her run away.  The light turned red again and the noise of traffic lulled.

“Mew!” was followed by a chorus of “I hear it!”  Sure, we could hear it, but we could not see it.  Where the hell did this cat go?  The driver of OBJ got on his back and slid under his car.  Somewhere in the inner workings of this car was a tiny kitten, mewing in fear, and we couldn’t find her.

A Lady approached from the bagel shop and we realized we had an audience.  “It’s still under there,” she said.  “We didn’t see it run out.”

OBJ-Driver popped the hood and we checked the engine.  This cat was so small it could have been anywhere.  Because it was a deep charcoal gray, it would blend right in with the machinery.  As cars were passing once again, there was no way to hear the faint cries over the traffic.  The only option we could think of was for OBJ-Driver to put it in drive and roll a little to see if Kitty got scared and ran or put it in drive, roll a little and possibly kill Kitty.

Traffic stopped.  She let out another squeal and I turned to follow the sound.  It came from the back passenger side.  I looked down to see a shiny little black eye and a half-inch patch of white fur stuck inside the wheel, right behind the hubcap.

I stuck my hand in to see what kind of grip she had and she let go just long enough to scratch me.  OBJ-Driver retrieved an old shirt from his back seat, got down behind his tire and reached up to pull her out.  Her claws scratched along the rust as he pulled.  She squealed in fear, but he kept pulling.  Better to hurt her a little now than crush her later.  Slowly and as gently as he could, his hand emerged with a kitten small enough to fit inside of it.

Bagel Guy, OBJ-Driver, Lady and I all cheered.  Then we all looked at each other because now that we had her, what were we going to do with her?  Excuses abounded before Bagel Guy finally agreed to take her.

{My husband is highly allergic to cats, so don’t hector me about not giving it a home.  Plus that thing had scratched me when all I was trying to do was save her life.}

We parted ways, thanking and congratulating one another.

I got back in my car and checked my finger, which was thankfully not bleeding.  When I got to the office, I asked around for medical supplies for my wound.  My colleague told me it’s a good thing I took care of this, because I could get Cat Scratch Fever (which is not just a Ted Nugent song) and then my lymph node would swell and I’d have a lump under my arm for 3 months.

And here I was just worried I might lose my finger.

Linking up with Yeah Write - check it out! Summer series is over, voting is back.  If you're a writer, come join us! If you're not into the challenge, head on over to The Speakeasy (formerly known as The Hangout Grid).  I promise you'll discover new-to-you blogs you'll love and a great group of people.

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Suzy Homemaker.

Every year in August I get very excited for fall.  I've been over the hot weather since June and I'm sick of listening to air conditioners.  Nathan's starting kindergarten in less than 3 weeks and my work schedule is changing once again.  I'm not a fan of change and I'm tired of anticipating it, I just want to get on with it. I want to put into action some ideas I have for managing my time and getting Nathan to be a more independent, contributing member of this family.

We've eaten more than our fair share of takeout lately and I'm tired of quick meals because of the heat.  I'm ready for slow cooked food from the oven, soups and stews and chilis.  Fritatas and casseroles and pasta dishes.  I'm ready for freshly baked delights.  I'm ready to start thinking about Thanksgiving.

I'm also ready to get this house in order.  Everywhere I look there's clutter and items we no longer need or use.  I see reminders that I'm not living the minimalist lifestyle that I so desire.   My home office is a dumping ground for every piece of paper that's ever entered this house and the attic and basement are disorganized museums of forgotten things.  I start thinking that September is the perfect time for a yard sale.  Nathan's room has so many toys he can't find anything to play with and we've started putting things next to the things that are supposed to hold the toys.  Many more yard sale items can be found here, no doubt!

We don't budget and I wish we did.  I know we waste money and I wish we didn't.  I have a bag of beans I've been meaning to put in the crock pot, but instead I reach for canned most nights.  I use jarred sauce instead of making my own and freezing it.  I should be making my own cleaners.  I should be baking snack items instead of buying treats for Nathan.  I should be couponing!!

But every September, reality hits.  I don't have nearly as much time as I think I do.  My work schedule is only changing in that I'm working the same amount of hours over 5 days instead of 4.  So while I'll get home by 3:30 instead of 5:30, I won't have Fridays off anymore.  Sure that will help me get dinner on the table, but I lose a day for writing, cleaning, errands and personal needs like doctor visits and pedicures.

I hate couponing and I hate yard sales.  The take out thing, yes, that needs to go regardless and it is likely I'll cook more in the fall than the summer but this notion that I'll use no convenience foods is crazy.  And baking all of our baked goods?  Please, I have that goal every year.

I really do have to clean the areas I mentioned, and hopefully I'll get to them, but not this fall.  And who really starts cleaning an attic at 3:30pm on a school day.

Oh, and that's the other thing:  This kid is going to have to learn how to do homework!  It's not like he's going to come home Day 1, sit at the table and finish his assignments.  I'm going to have to sit with him, teach him discipline about doing his work first so he can play later and make sure he follows his instructions.  I will need to still get his lunch together for the next day, help him make sure his backpack is set up for the morning and his clothes are set out.  He's going to need a snack after school and I'm going to need to start that homemade dinner too.

Next thing I know, it will be 8pm and I will have not written, not exercised and basically not accomplished any of the things I barely have time for now.

And yet every year I set the same goals:  Have a perfect house with a perfect kitchen, a perfect budget, a perfect schedule.  I will lose the weight, write the book, minimize our lives and footprints.  I can try to talk myself out of these goals all I want, but in the end I'm still going to try for them anyway.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Night In the Life.

I haven't been sleeping well, so when I found myself quite awake at 10pm last night I wasn't happy.  I tried to close my eyes and will myself to sleep, but it wasn't working.  I turned on an old episode of 30 Rock and hoped the dulcet tones of Tina Fey's Liz Lemon would help me drift off.  Liz was talking to her boyfriend about something, then Jack, then...

Suddenly my teeth were killing me.  I have sensitive teeth, but this was far worse than that.  I ran my tongue along the back of my front bottom teeth, checking the status of the one that broke the first time nearly a decade ago but has broken two more times since.  Just as I thought, the bonding had come off.  The pain seared from my lower jaw straight to my spine.  I shivered.  I was freezing, particularly my feet.  Then I heard someone singing in Spanish. 

I jolted up.  I was still on the couch.  I checked my tooth, it was still intact.  With a dentist appointment 3 days away, the nightmares of broken teeth were starting already.  I really was cold though.  I looked at my phone and it was nearly midnight.  My husband was asleep on the other couch, the dog was asleep on the floor.  I headed up to bed.

I stopped in Nathan's room to check on him.  It was cold so I turned the AC down a bit and smiled at him wrapped up like a little burrito.  Seaweed the Fish was floating upside down in his tank so I gave it a little tap and he righted himself.  Good, the fish is still with us.

I went to my room and looked for socks.  I couldn't find a matching pair so I just put on what I grabbed.  I turned off my AC completely and climbed under the covers.  I hoped I'd fall back to sleep quickly.  I grabbed my phone and checked my Twitter.  Only one more Direct Message about videos of me doing something crazy.  A few emails of blogs to read in the morning.  I started making a list in my head of what needed to be done at work and then realized none of this was going to help me sleep.  I put the phone down and closed my eyes. 

Thud, thud-thud, thud-thud, thud, thud-thud.

What the hell is that?  I waited, afraid to move.  Where did that come from?  The attic maybe?  Or the closet?  I waited a little longer, but I didn't hear the noise again.  I looked around my room and in the closet, but there was nothing.  I checked the clock - 4:30.  I opened the door to the hall, nothing.  I checked Nathan's room.  Nothing but an upside-down fish.  I checked the office, nothing.  I looked at the attic door, nestled in the back of that room and decided whatever was up there was staying there until morning.

I went back to bed.  Now I was wide awake and sweating because I had turned off the air.  I got out of bed, turned on the air and listened carefully for more sounds.  I wonder what it was.  Squirrels aren't nocturnal, are they?  It could have been a raccoon, but I always thought raccoons sound scratchy in attics and this was a thud.  What thuds?  A lame cat?  A lame cat couldn't have gotten in the attic.  Multiple roof rats jumping around?  What if something got in and then knocked stuff over and that's what I heard?  Wait, is that better or worse?  It sounded like an otter.  Or a platypus.  Probably a platypus.  I reset the alarm from 5:30 to 6:00 since it was already past 5:00 and I was still up.

Eventually Mariamba played on my iPhone and it was 6.  I ventured out of my room and there was still no platypus.  Nathan got up, we gathered his Angry Birds and went to wake up my husband.  The dog was waiting for us, totally unaware that today is his 14th birthday. 

My husband said to me, "Dexter woke me up to go out a little while ago."
"Oh.  When?"
"I don't know, 4-something?"
"What is it 4:30?"
"Probably.  He was banging his tail on the wall."
"I thought I heard a platypus in the attic, but maybe it was just Dexter."
"Yeah, maybe."

I'm hanging out on the Hangout Grid this week for Yeah Write since I'm guest judging the Challenge Grid.  I don't promote the hang out enough - lots of great writers, no competition.  Come check out both grids.  You can still vote on the Challenge Grid on Thursday, if you're so inclined.
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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Apparently I'm Mean.

I sent my kid to bed in tears the other night.  He told me this was because I'm mean.  I don't know if I'm alone in this camp, but five-and-almost-three-quarters seems to be prime attitude age.  I submit to you the following tale.

As we walked to our car after daycare, we were holding hands and Nathan was doing that kid thing where he swings my arm wildly.  He accidentally brushed his own face with his own hand and all hell broke loose.  He dropped my hand and stomped his feet.  He began to cry and scream, "You punched me in the face!" in the parking lot.  Did I mention that I pick my kid up around 5ish, just like half the other working parents in the world?  Through gritted teeth and my angry smile I urged him to get in the car.  Quickly.

I started to drive away and he then switched to screaming that he's sorry, he doesn't know why I'm ignoring him and that he loves me.  Oh, and that he needed to hug me right then and why wouldn't I hug him.  Didn't I love him?

He's been a master manipulator for a long time.  I can't help thinking the hug thing and the love thing are part of his diabolical plot to drive me insane.

By the time we got home, he had calmed, apologized for real and things were fine.  He wanted to watch videos on You Tube (please don't ask me why I started this) and we sat together watching stuff and laughing.  I'll let it slide that he wasn't interested in Animaniacs or Freakazoid.

But then it was dinner time.  I served up our daily menu of French toast, grapes and yogurt, just like he asked for and was promptly told how terrible it was.  He said, and I quote here:

You ruined my dinner on purpose because you are SO MEAN!

Yes, that's right.  I ruin dinners on purpose.  Because I'm mean.  Because mean moms make their kids what they want for dinner and then love to get yelled at by irrational children.  This is, in fact, my goal in life.  In his defense, the French toast did come out weird.  But did he really have to give that Oscar worthy performance over it?  I think not.

After that meltdown subsided, we went back to happy child time.  Until it was time for bed.  Lest you think I really am a mean person, I did the requisite warnings of 10 minutes to bed, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 OK go upstairs and get your jams on please!  To which this child, my pride and joy, threw himself on the floor and told me he was so tired he couldn't even walk anymore.  He again reminded me that I'm mean and expressed displeasure with the fact that I make him do everything while I do nothing.

Again with this mean stuff.  And making him do everything?  Like walk up the stairs?  Was I supposed to do that for him?  Please.  He is an only child and I am a pushover.  He barely has to do anything.  I'd make my standard joke I use on adults that next he'll ask me to wipe his ass for him but he does and then I do.

He finally got up and went upstairs to prepare for bed.  We played SpongeBob Yahtzee, we watched birds for a few minutes and then we hugged, kissed, snuggled and I tucked him in.  He asked for water.  He complained his room was too cold and he needed his blanket.  Then he was too hot.  Then he needed more water.  I gave him a stern warning that it was getting later and Mommy was about done with this nonsense and guess what he told me?

Yup, I'm mean.  For wanting him to go to bed and for the love of all that is good stop whining and crying over every single thing.  For wanting him to stop making all of his angry bird stuffies sing at the top of their lungs.  For not wanting to show him a picture of a scoop of blueberry ice cream on my iPhone after I already agreed to show him a picture of a cicada.

He finally went to sleep and I sighed a deep sigh of relief.  The next morning at 5:20, he woke and called out to me.  I gently told him it was too early and to go back to sleep.  He told me to stay with him and I said that everyone needed to be in their own beds still.  As matter-of-factly as he could have he replied, "If you don't stay with me, you're mean."

I went back to bed.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Corn Salsa.

As anyone who follows me on Twitter or Facebook or in real life knows, I love burritos.  LOVE them.  Seriously.  I could eat them every single day.  I could eat them multiple times in one day (and I have, don't judge).  I have joked that my son may genetically be made up of 80% burrito and the truth is that I'm not entirely joking.  I should have him tested.

I spend a lot of time at Chipotle getting burritos.  I take some time off when they give me the "you again?" look, but then I'll just beg my coworker to pick up our food.  I'm blessed that my office mate likes them too because she never gets all, "You're not really going to eat another burrito, are you?" on me.  Instead I'll quietly say Chipotle and she'll ask what I said and then I'll say I said nothing and we'll just KNOW because we are like that. 

Or it will be a day like yesterday when I'm grumpy and PMSy and all I want is a giant burrito and maybe some candy to go with it.  So I trekked on over to Five Below for cheap candy.  I settled on Starburst, SnoCaps and Swedish Fish.  They are for sharing, by the way, so stop calling me a pig.  Then I ran next door to Chipotle to pick up our food, which was already bagged up because we used the convenient online ordering system.  I'm a pro at this whole Chipotle thing.

I got my standard burrito:  White rice, black beans, fajita vegetables, extra cheese, mild salsa, that's it, nothing else, no I'm sure I don't want sour cream.  My coworker ordered whatever it is she ordered.  Who cares, this is about me.  We decided to split chips and salsa.  We decided to try Corn Salsa.

What I learned from all of this is that I don't like Corn Salsa.  It was supposed to be medium heat, but it wasn't medium at all.  It was mild and sweet.  In addition, and this is the primary reason that I do not like it, it tastes just like corn.  And I don't want corn on my chips.  I want salsa made from tomatoes. 

There is no moral to this story, no lesson, no resolution.  I just wanted to share that I think Corn Salsa is nasty and I will never eat it again.  Next time, I'll stick with the mild salsa that I love so well.  Maybe, and this is a big maybe, maybe I'll try the medium tomatillo salsa thing I saw on the menu. 

But I don't know.  We'll see. I have to give it some thought.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I'll Get to It.

My mother sits perched upon my mantle in a gray marble urn. I dutifully dust her semi-weekly but otherwise I try to avoid looking at her.

When I was growing up, my mother generally had to ask me to do something several times if she wanted it done at all. This dynamic did not change as we aged. Upon learning I still had not gotten to a particular task, she often gave me a look of anger. Sometimes, though, I’d receive a look of disappointment and exasperation that clearly said, “Why can’t you just do what I ask of you?” This was such a loaded question that she dared not ask it out loud and I wouldn’t have dared to answer.

“Ma, I’ll get to it. I said I would,” I’d sigh and huff instead.

She asked that when she died her ashes be buried with her parents’ ashes in a plot owned by her cousin up in Maine. I don’t remember the cousin’s name or what part of the family he comes from. I don’t know where the cemetery is, who else’s urns are in there and how many spaces are left. I could make some calls and get this information. The time to do this would have been when she passed, but I had other, more important things to do.

As I loaded her into the car after her memorial service, safely tucked next to the flowers and the cold cut tray, I whispered to the NJ Cremation Society tote bag I was given to carry her in, “Ma, I’ll get to it. I said I would.”

Since then, we’ve moved to a new home and over two years have passed.  I’ve decorated around her at the holidays.  I put a wizard’s cap on her at my son’s 4th birthday party.  She’s right there in the thick of things, day in and day out.  The presence of the urn reminds me in a not so subtle way of the promise I made to bring her back to her parents, back to the place she was born.

The other day I lugged yet another Rubbermaid bucket up from the basement to sort through her things.  I sat cross-legged on the living room floor to examine the contents.  Each musty composition book told a story:  Mom’s deterioration from multiple sclerosis.  Every visitation and child support check Dad missed along with every time she suspected he called and hung up on her.  The school records of her children and letters she wrote to friends and never sent.  A whole world went on when I was too young to notice to any great degree.  She wrote it all down.  All her life, until she could not, she wrote.

I felt the urn staring at me, as if that’s possible, from its place on the mantle.

“Ma, I’ll get to it.  I said I would.  But I’m not ready to let you go just yet.”

Linking up, once again, with the good folks of Yeah Wrtie.  Please click through and read the other entries.  I'm sure you'll be glad you did.  You can vote for your favorites on Thursday.

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Yes, There Were Vibrators

BlogHer '12 is over and now it is time for the internet to be flooded with reflections upon the time spent.

All in all, it was a great experience and I'm glad I was able to go.  The primary reason this was possible was that it was held in New York City and I can pretty much toss a dead cat east and have it land smack in the middle of 7th Avenue.  Without airfare or the extra time and expense of having to travel to the conference, I was able to go.  I couldn't have done it last year in San Diego and next year in Chicago doesn't look promising.

The programming was great and for the most part I was happy with the sessions.  I learned a great deal and heard some excellent conversations.  I'll probably (hopefully?  maybe?) talk more about these topics in future posts so I'm not going to dive in here.  There were a few instances where I felt that the moderators could have directed the conversations better, but it didn't detract from the overall impact.

The Expo had lots of fun swag.  And yes, if you heard Trojan was there giving out vibrators it's true.  I know what you're thinking, so let's get this out in the open:

  • Yes, I got a vibrator.
  • Yes, I had a conversation, in public, with a man I don't know, about vibrators.
  • Yes, Trojan really is making vibrators and yes you can get them in places like Walgreens or CVS for a reasonable price.
  • No, I haven't used the vibrator yet and no I won't tell you when I do or what I think of it. 
  • Yes, this is the most times I've typed the word vibrator in one day.
So with that out of the way...

I talked about my blog and writing so much that my throat hurt.  It was nice to be in a writerly place and have those conversations with people who were there in the interest of hearing them.  But now I need to walk the walk - I need to produce content, engage my readers and keep them coming back.  I'm working on that and if you're new to my blog, particularly if you met me at BlogHer, please say hi in the comments and tell me what you think!

The parties were fun.  Honestly, they were a bit much for me.  I loved Queerophere because it was quieter.  There were also seats and desserts.  Now you know how to make me happy, give me a place to sit and stuff my face with churros while I drink wine with some really fun people.

Speaking of wine - I needed some to get through Sparklecorn.  There was 80s music, dancing, glow sticks and many people.  I might have rocked out to Bon Jovi.  Please don't tell anyone.  But yeah, I danced, and I NEVER do that.  I'm glad I went, it's not my scene but I had fun.  Again, great company makes all the difference.

It was a long weekend capped off with my phone shitting the bed, as they say, and me having to trek into a ridiculously crowded mid-town Apple store to have everything on it stripped away.  Luckily I was able to get back most of what I lost, but last night, when that didn't seem possible, I cried.  A lot.  Because I don't appropriately back up my data and I don't need you to tell me how stupid that is.  I knew there would be crying at BlogHer but I didn't think this would be why.  Even a burrito bowl from Chipotle wasn't enough to lift my spirits.  I wasn't up for more partying as a result, but with all the partying I did on Friday, that may not have been the worst thing.  My roommate was pretty exhausted too (probably from my crying) so we crashed early on Saturday night.

I'm glad to be home.  I missed my kid.  I missed my husband.  I missed my TV and my couch.

I walk away from this experience with the desire to write more and learn more.  I'm glad that I went, that I got past the initial freak outs over the number of people and that I stopped stressing about what to wear.  I met some wonderful bloggers.  Scratch that, I met wonderful people.  I got to hug some ladies that I chat with on Twitter, who read my work and who have lifted me up as I pour my heart and soul out here.  Those interactions, conversations and, dare I say it, friendships, made it worth every minute.

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