Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zzzzs

I don't sleep enough.

I am sitting here now, my eyes dry and itchy from sleep; my contacts adhering uncomfortably to my eyeballs. Occasionally, I'll reach up, close my eye and give it a squeeze. It pops the contact off my eyeball and gives me momentary relief.

Most people would just go to bed at this point.

But my children have been asleep less than an hour, and they will wake me entirely too early in the morning. This is my time, and I have too much to do to go to bed now. I have to crank out this post, then beat Jhwang20 and bosullivan312 at Scramble. I have to make Katie's lunch. I really should get the dishes out of the sink and into the dishwasher.

But mostly, I just want to sit. I want to sit and enjoy the relative quiet and the company of my husband and watch The Greatest Game Ever Played for the 400th time. How can I sleep when there is so much quality sitting to be done?

My friend Tangled Lou at Periphery held an informal poll on her Facebook page today, asking folks how many cups of coffee they drink in a day. I am embarrassed to admit my answer, and greatly relieved that she is just as caffeine dependent as I am.

I don't know if I require less sleep than when I was younger, or if my body has just adapted to the deprivation. I can not honestly remember the last time I slept through the night, but by my best guess, it's before the 5 year old was born. Someone is always waking up here, for whatever reason. Someone needs to be retucked, or snuggled into bed with us, or reassured or taken to the bathroom or gotten a drink of water.

I don't even know that I mind anymore. They're kind of sweet, these middle of the night reminders that little people need me.

I'm now typing with one eye closed, the contact past salvation. I am tired, but not too tired, afterall.

Y is for Yellow

The day was cold and cloudy,
Nowhere you'd find the sun.
A gentle breeze blew westward,
before the day was done.
As night fell and hope grew,
Children whispered to each other.
Do you think it'll be?
I can't wait to see!

They agreed, they'd both wake mother.

In the morning, the light shone on
Crystals made of ice.
The children ran out into the snow,
After promises to play nice.
Snowmen and snow forts and angels so white,
They played for many hours.
Only taking a break
For their mother's sake,
For cocoa and hot showers.

Peering out the window,
They spied a little boy-
Rolling down a hill of snow,
And playing with his toys.
What a peach he was, a pure delight,
And then the little fellow,
Took a big bite,
Gave the children a fright,
"Oh, no!" they cried,"It's yellow!"

Okay, so I'm not a poet. I have one more letter to bust out today, and this challenge is, thankfully, over.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

X is for X-Ray Glasses

When I was about 10, I found my mom's secret stash - boxes and boxes of comic books. There were hundreds of them - Archie & Me, Superman, Batman, Justice League, Captain Marvel, the odd Casper the Friendly Ghost or Bugs Bunny. Reading comic books soon became my favorite thing to do, and I devoured them.

It was a glimpse into the popular culture of twenty years prior. Everything I knew about the Vietnam War came from watching Archie & the Gang protest. I learned about love triangles via Betty and Veronica. My first ideas about love and loss came from Superman. Man versus Man? Man versus Nature? Man versus Self? Man versus Secret Identity? All covered.

No doubt, it made me a bit of an oddball among my friends. "Hey, guys!" I'd say, wide eyed and breathless, "You won't believe what Mr. Weatherbee did to Jughead!" And they'd stare back at me blankly before going back to their Monchichis and Merlins.

But one of the best parts about the comic books were the ads in the back. I longed to have Charles Atlas make me into a man. I imagined myself as a mermaid, riding on the back of my pet Sea Monkey.

And I made grand plans for everything I would do with my X-Ray Vision Glasses.

The ad was comical - a geeky kid in goofy glasses, his eyes magnified. Lightening bolts (or laser beams?) shot out of the glasses, revealing secrets the kid had otherwise only dreamed of. What's really in mom's purse? A compact, a tampon and a flask of vodka. What's in that box in the top of their closet? Weed, a vibrator and the August 1959 issue of Playboy. What color panties is Sally McNewby wearing today? Pink.

When my mom broke the news that not only were Sea Monkeys actually brine shrimp and not monkeys of the sea, with cute faces and built in crowns and sparkling personalities, but that X-Ray Vision Glasses did not actually give you x-ray vision, I was crushed.

When she told me that even if I did send off my hard earned dollar, it would almost certainly end up in a dead letter office, it finally occurred to me - I was living in the past. I was obsessed with the outdated, the irrelevant, the amusingly quaint.

It's a tendency I've yet to outgrow. Last night, I found myself mentally planning a John Hughes movie party, listening to Duran Duran, and feeling nostalgic about dial up. Where, I wonder, might I get some Sea Monkeys?

Friday, April 27, 2012

W is for Weepy

Things I should not be allowed to do:

Watch dog food commercials
Listen to Sarah McLachlan songs
Attend school functions

Because all of these things make me a teary eyed, red faced, simpering baby.

Twice in the past week,I have been to Katie's school and been reduced to tears. The first time, during the PTO meeting, as they gave character awards to students in each grade level. I listened, I applauded, I cried and cried. I knew none of the children.

This morning, there was a Mom and Me breakfast. It was lovely and touching and emotional, and I was not the only weepy mother in the crowd. However, I was likely the only one who's poor kid kept leaning over and saying stuff like, "Jeez, are you crying again? Are you going to be okay?"

During the last few minutes of the program, we were asked to turn to our child and say what it is about them that we love. They, in turn, would say what they loved about us as moms. Katie turned to me and said, "We don't have to do this. We can talk about something else."

I admire her restaint.

I feel much the same way. I am loathe to cry. I am not overly sentimental. I am not big on outpourings of love and grand declarations and romance. I'm more comfortable with a not too long hug (five seconds max, followed by the double pat to let you know it's over). Maybe a high five. Maybe a 'love you, mean it', because the 'mean it' part makes it sound like maybe I love you, but not very seriously.

When my father was in the last weeks of his life, my mother encouraged us to have 'the talk'. You know the one, where you tell your dying loved one how much they mean to you, and patch up any disagreements, and forgive any sins. I sat down next to my dad and said, "Can we not have this talk, and tell mom we did?" He laughed and said, "I love you."

"I love you, too, Daddy," I said.

That was enough.

But the older I get, the more I feel like emotion is manipulating my heart, making me feel soft and vulnerable and prone to saying things I would normally only say after many beers. I am crying all the fucking time. Happy tears and sad tears and tears over my kids growing up and how many people I love and how I still feel so alone sometimes and the goddamn dog food commercials.

It is almost too much to bear, for a formerly tear-free person.

The more I fight it, the worse it becomes, until I'm afraid even the sight of an animal or small child will make me breakdown. "I don't know what came over her. She was picking up dog poop and the next thing I knew she was crying."

This morning, I hugged my daughter to my chest and whispered in her ear all the things I love about her. I cried big, fat tears, without apology.

And I kind of liked it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Vote

This is not about politics.

I just want to make that clear from the get-go, because so many people (myself included) immediately get their asses up on their shoulders when you start talking about politics. Frankly, no one is interested in hearing what a person of a differing opinion has to say, because they're wrong. There is no such thing as civilized political discourse, it is all left and right and a bunch of people acting like monkeys, slinging their shit around.

But sometimes, something strikes me as so important, that I feel I really need to address it publicly. And by publicly, I mean on my little blog, not on a street corner where I might be tempted to grab someone and yell, YOU ARE SO STUPID. Not much civility in that.

On May 8th, the citizens of North Carolina are asked to vote on Proposition 1, a Constitional Amendment to specify marriage to be between one man and one woman. Such a law is already on the books in NC, but a Constitutional Amendment is like the Double-Double of laws; it's Law with Special Sauce.

Prop 1 is, of course, designed to keep all those crazy gays from getting married, and spreading their gayness across the land. The only problem is (that is, if you don't consider denying a certain group of people what should be a basic right to be a problem), the proposition could negatively impact employee benefits, domestic violence protections, survivor benefits, and more for unmarried heterosexual couples and their children. Not to mention couples (straight and gay) who have marriages and civil unions recognized in other states.

That is fucked up.

Even some of the most ardent supporters of California's Prop 8 are like, Whoa! Hold up!

Look, I understand it if your religion says gay people can't be married. Hell, I'd like it if people who don't understand the difference between their, there, and they're couldn't get married. But those are not the times we live in! This proposition is about so much more than morality or politics or what your opinion is on where a person puts their funstick.

It's about treating all people with fairness, and protecting their rights as human beings. There shouldn't be anything political about that.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Ubiquitous

"Oh, my God! I can't believe it! I haven't seen you in forever!"

She ran toward me, arms outstretched, and wrapped herself around me. I stood stock still, not wanting to encourage it. She wore too much perfume.

The hug was uncomfortably long, and I silently cursed myself as I stood there. You know she lives right down the street. Why did you have to come in this grocery store? Are you stupid or something?

She released me from the hug, and slid her arm down mine to capture my hand. "Oh, it's been so long! Too long! How long has it been? Six, seven..."

"Eight years," I said. I had successfully avoided her for eight years.

"Eight years!" she gasped. "Listen, we just have to get together. Give me your number and I'll call you to set something up."

Jesus, no. No, do NOT give her your number.

"Sure, here, I'll write it down." What are you doing? Why are you giving her your phone number? Have you lost your mind?

"Oh this is fantastic! I can't believe I ran into you. I will call you soon and we'll have lunch!" She gave my hand a tight squeeze and left in a cloud of perfume.

This is the woman who threw up in your car. I said to myself.
She screams at her children.
She's never been to a library.
She drinks white zinfandel, for God's sake

I wondered how difficult it would be to change my number.

She called the next day at ten, and I didn't answer the phone. She called again at noon. And two, and four, and six. She left a message each time, and each one made her sound slightly more insane. She repeated this pattern of calls for three days straight, and each time the phone rang, I jumped. Finally, I unplugged it.

On the fourth day, I glanced out my front window to see an unfamiliar car pull in the driveway. As I peeked through the blinds, I saw her get out of the driver's side and practically sprint to the front door. I dove behind the couch, my heart racing.

"Hello!" she called out. "Hello! Are you home?"

This bitch is crazy, I thought. The doorbell fell silent, and I crawled from behind the couch. As I started to stand, I glanced out the window and saw her looking through the blinds. Our eyes locked, and I did what any sane, normal person would do. I dropped down and crawled back behind the couch.

I began checking my rearview mirror, watching for signs of her sedan. I kept the phone unplugged. I went through the back door at work, and started ordering my groceries online.

"You're being a total whackjob," my friend said. "Why don't you just be a grownup, call her, and tell her you don't want to be friends."

"No one does that!" I said, "How rude!"

"Yeah, because diving behind your couch when someone rings your doorbell isn't at all rude."

Her name started turning up in the strangest places. A coworker mentioned spending a weekend with her. There she was on the social page of the paper. She was listed as incoming President in a club I had been wanting to join. I couldn't get away from her.

Then one day, I made the mistake of stopping at the drug store to get toothpaste. There, trapped between the shelves and an endcap display of mouthwash, she found me.

"There you are!" she cried, and wrapped her arms around me. Her hug was too tight and her perfume choked me. "Have you been avoiding me?" she whispered in my ear. "Oh, dear. Don't you know I'm everywhere?"

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Teacher

There is nothing that I find more satisfying, as a parent, than seeing my children learn something new. Those first few tries of something previously impossible, their tentativeness giving way to growing confidence. Then finally, they just get it. It's pretty extraordinary to watch.

I have never been more proud of my children than the day Katie sat down and read a book to me. Reading was like that for her - stumbling and bumbling and then you could almost see the lightbulb come on and everything click.

It's a hundred small things every day. Getting shoes on the right feet. Making a sandwich without losing a finger. Sometimes it's monumental, like the reading, or riding a bike. And sometimes, it's more profound - seeing Katie become a leader among her peers, or Julia show kindness to a friend, or Henry...well, Henry's just 2. We're lucky if we get through a day without him eating boogers. Profound can wait.

Then there's all the subjects on which I am a reluctant teacher. God. Death. Love. Sex. I don't know a single parent who looks forward to answering questions from their child about sex, especially past the rudimentary 'put stick in hole, make baby' part. No one walks away from a tough conversation feeling like, 'Yes! Abortion! I really knocked that one out of the park!'. No one gives themselves a mental high five for trying to explain syphillis.

And when you have done a pretty good job, or you think you have, you end up with a kid who walks around for three months calling you a vagina. (Thanks, Julia.)

There are questions about life that I don't want to answer, because I don't know the answers. In the end, I have to make due with opionions and best guesses, and hope that they have the good sense to find the answers on their own. Which, in the end, is a lesson in itself.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

S is for Sissy

It is not uncommon, if you are a Southerner, to call your sister Sissy and your brother Bubba, for as long as you both shall live. It is a quaint little thing, and endearing and sweet to see, especially when it comes from an elderly man, talking about his sister, or vice versa.

When Julia was born and made Katie a sister, it seemed so natural to refer to Katie as Sissy. As Julia learned to talk, Sissy was one of her first words.

"She's never going to learn to say Katie," Sean would lament. I assured him she would.

When Henry came along, I never instructed the girls to call him anything other than his name, and yet, the nickname came.


It is ingrained in their DNA, the redneck chromosome.
Entirely from my side of the family.

They can be brought out in anger ("Give it to me, Siss-AY!"), or with great love ("You are my boy, Bubby."), and is interchangeable in everyday life. It is as much a part of them as their given names. I hope that, even when they are grown, a little part of them stays Bubba and Sissy, forever.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

R is for Recompense

In the fall of 1992, the boyfriend and I packed our meager belongings into the back of my Honda Civic and left Northern California for what we thought would be the land of milk and honey - Wisconsin.

As it turned out, Wisconsin was the land of dirty snow and no money.

Sean took several different jobs - landscaper, snow plow driver, sushi cook, hockey card factory worker. I had one - Receptionist Administrative Assistant Copy Writer AR/AP Clerk and General Store Merchandiser for the J. Edwards Glove Company.

The company started on a little side street in the 1940's. In the 1960's, the man who would become my boss took over. When I went to work there, he was no less than 80 years old. Every day, he walked through the door of the small storefront in a well pressed suit, his hair carefully combed and his shoes highly shined. He would give me a small salute and a gruff "Morning!" before making his way to the back.

"Good morning, Mr. Process."

Everyone called him Mr. Process, from the men on the loading dock who carried in the big deerskin hides, to the women who stitched them together with Kevlar thread. If a person came in for a meeting, be it a vendor or client, they asked for 'Mr. Process'. I imagined his wife, sitting across the table at breakfast, saying, "Would you like more coffee, Mr. Process?". Or his grandchildren, clamboring into his lap, "Won't you tell us again of your time in the Great War, Mr. Process?"

He commanded respect, but he did it without intimidation or meanness. He was soft spoken and gentle, and treated me and all his employees with great kindness.

Which made me feel even worse about stealing from him.

We were poor. We were poor, but we weren't poor poor. We were the kind of fortunate poor, with easy access to help in the form of the boyfriend's parents. Each week, they'd take us out for Friday fish fry at Trim B's, where I'd carefully wrap fried cheese curds in a napkin and slip them into my purse. His father would hand us their gas card and we'd fill the tank of my Civic, then buy milk and Funyons and cigarettes from the convenience store.

Just the staples.

When Mr. Process put me in charge of the small cash box for the retail store, it was like giving the keys to the liqour cabinet to an alcoholic. I resisted for a few days, then thought, 'Just five bucks. I'll pay it back next week.' But, of course, I didn't pay it back, and in fact took another five dollars. And another, each week. Sometimes ten.

The front of the store was plate glass, and I could look across the street to the Pierce Manufacturing Company. Pierce made (and presumably still makes) fire engines. It is a long and laborious process, and when they finally roll a finished truck out the doors - red and pristine and absolutely gleaming, even on a sunless winter day - it is an extraordinary sight. The workers line the long drive as the big doors open, and as the engine slowly makes its way down the line, they begin to clap. Soon, they are clapping wildly, and yelling, and back slapping. The engine wails and flashes its lights, echoing their jubilation, their pride. I watched this production one morning, a five dollar bill crumpled and sweaty and limp in my fist.

I had taken a total of maybe fifty dollars before Mr. Process fired me.

He sat me down and his gentle manner told me, "I'm so sorry, I have to lay you off." He said he was laying me off, but I knew I was being fired. He never said anything about the money.

Years later, I sat across from a priest, making my first confession. I had a lifetime of sins to choose from, but it was the transgression against Mr. Process and the J. Edwards Glove Company that came out first. The priest suggested a letter and a check to the company, or, if I was not comfortable with that, a donation to a charity. True to form, I took the easy way out.

Nearly twenty years has passed since we lived in Wisconsin. The J. Edwards Glove Company has been sold and moved to Chicago. Mr. Process, no doubt, has moved on from this life. And save a conversation with an old priest in a small room, this story has never been told. It is all I can do now, the telling, to ask forgiveness for a transgression that has long weighed heavy on my heart.

Mr. Process, forgive me.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Quite All Right

(Part One is here)

Of course I suspected Mandy.

The proximity of the restroom to her office, her conspicuous absences. It had to be her, didn't it? My suspicions were reinforced on the third day when I walked into her office and spied a box of Kashi on the credenza. Kashi is well known to produce super human poops, and anyone eating it on a regular basis could very likely be responsible for the odor stain in the restroom.

On the fourth day, I strategically placed a can or air freshener on the toilet tank. The next time I used the restoom, the can had obviously been used, and the scent of lilac and lavendar filled the air. To be more precise, it was the scent of lilac and lavendar, if sprayed upon the biggest, stinkiest turd to ever spring forth from the bowels of man.

I threw the air freshener in the trashcan.

Day Five, a Friday. I had yet to meet Mandy, though I would occasionally hear one of the sales guys yell out to her. "Yo, Mandy! Lookin' fine today!", followed by her laugh, deep and loud. Sometimes, she'd add a "Whoop!" or "Keep it in yer pants, Tiger!", which would send the salesmen into fits of laughter.

Mandy was a good sport. One of the boys. Once, I heard her coming down the hall on her way back from lunch, bantering with another admin. I almost fell over myself getting up from my desk and sprinting to see her. I got to the hallway just in time to catch a glimpse of big hair, and a chunky heel kicking up a flared polyester trouser.

Mandy became my Moby Dick, my Sasquatch, and my Loch Ness Monster all rolled into one. I thought about her all weekend. I spent more time thinking about Mandy and her poops than I did my own. "You are obsessed," my roommate told me one night, after I'd spent 15 mintues musing on Mandy's diet.

"Am not! I'm just very very curious."

She cocked an eyebrow at me.

"OK, maybe it's making me a little crazy," I admitted. "I won't even try to find her on Monday," I promised.

I didn't have to. I sat at my desk Monday morning, sorting mail, when I heard her voice.

"You been looking for me?" she said.

I looked up and right into Mandy's magnificent face. The pictures hadn't done her justice. Her cheeks were ruddy and wind chapped, her lips full and glossy and her gray eyes rimmed in the most unnatural shade of blue eyeshadow I'd ever seen. Her face was doughy, and I had to resist the temptation to reach out and knead it. It was surrounded by an incredible halo of hair that could best be described as orange.

She was everything I'd dreamed she would be, and more.

"I said, you been looking for me?" she repeated.

"No! Yes! I mean, no, I left papers for you..." my voice trailed off.

She leaned down across the desk and got eye to eye with me. She smelled like patchouli and asparagus pee. It wasn't an unexpected smell. "You leave me a little present in the potty?"

I gasped. The air freshener! "I didn't, I mean, it was for general use, I didn't mean to offend anyone-"

"In case I think my shit don't stink?" her voice went lower and her face turned hard. "You think I don't know what you're up to? You think I haven't heard?" I could feel my cheeks getting hot. She leaned in closer, and I resisted the urge to back up.

"How long you been here?"

"Uh, five, five days. Six including today."

"Oh, six including today? Then I guess you don't know about the sewage problem we have under this building that makes the bathroom smell like a goddamn herd of elephants uses it as their personal craphole?"

She waited a moment for my fear and confusion to turn to grave embarrassment before straightening up and laughing until tears came from her eyes.

I chuckled nervously, unsure if there was a joke, or if I was the joke.

When she finally regained her composure, she put her hand on my shoulder. "You're a funny little thing," she said. "Next time you have a question, you just come ask Mandy."

I nodded.

"Other than mystery shits, everything else going okay for you?" she asked.

"Oh, yes," I said, "Quite all right."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Personnel

"When you finish filling out the paperwork, take it to Mandy in Personnel. First door on the left, past the restrooms." She smiled and walked away.

It was a temp job, doing really important things like straightening magazines and reapplying my lipstick 400 times and occasionally even answering the phone. A position for which I was required to fill out 17 forms, in triplicate. And then take them to Mandy, in Personnel.

I filled out the forms and took them on my way to lunch. Mandy's office was easy to find; a solitary door down a short hallway past the restrooms. A small brass plate marked the door, Personnel. Inside was a large desk, the surface of which was covered with knick knacks. Precious Moments figurines, snow globes, stuffed animals, and a disturbingly large statue of a unicorn on its hind legs, a fairy astride its back. The fairy wore a cowboy hat and a maniacal grin, and bore a striking resemblance to H. Ross Perot.

Above the desk, a motivational poster - a darling kitten, dangling from a tree branch. Hang in There! it read. The kitten or the fairy? I wondered.

A long credenza filled the back wall, and held pictures of Mandy on vacation (I Lost My Mind in Cabo!), Mandy at Christmas, Mandy in an ill fitting bridesmaids dress of what must have been her sister's wedding. The bride was Mandy, minus ten years and plus a big white dress. Mandy herself beamed from the photos, ruddy cheeked and big haired. She wore too much make up and too tight clothes, and appeared to be very enthusiastic about everything. In several photos, she was sticking out her tongue and holding up the Fist of Rock, the international symbol of white girls everywhere for 'Fuck, yeah! I like to party!'

I may have pictures of myself like that.

In the absence of Mandy, or any clear place to put my papers,I laid them in the chair and went to lunch. I'd have to meet Mandy some other time.

The smell hit me as soon as I walked out of her office. It was strong and dank and clearly coming from the restroom. Wondering what kind of person lays down that kind of business at work (because frankly, people should just poop at home), and vowing to steer clear of the bathroom for awhile,I held my breath and hurried down the hall.

"Take it to Mandy in Personnel," the boss said to me as I headed out to lunch the following day. Again, I found her office empty, and laid the papers in her chair. Again, I was nasally assaulted as I walked back down the hallway. Dude, someone needs to lay off the fiber!

That afternoon, I found myself in the bathroom. A modest one holer, it afforded both the privacy I require for my toileting, and all the comforts of home. A tasteful sampler hanging on the wall. Fancy soap. Paper towels that looked like real towels. Toilet paper that didn't contain butt scratching wood chips. Assorted feminine hygeine products, tucked tastefully underneath the sink. Despite these little luxuries, there was an unpleasant undercurrent; a barely there stink of rearhole that permeated the air. It seemed to waft up from the depths of the toilet itself, and bathe every surface with its foul presence.

Who was this Phantom Shitter? And what the hell were they eating that would produce a poop with that kind of staying power?

(Tune in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion!)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for On Star

The little kids and I sat in the car, in the parking lot of Katie's drama studio, waiting for class to get out. Julia sat in the front seat next to me, and busied herself pushing buttons and emptying the contents of the glove box.

"Don't push that!" I said, as her finger moved in the direction of the On Star button. We don't have the service enabled, but the button holds a certain mystique. It's secretive and mysterious, like television, or meatloaf.

"What is it for?" she asked, wide eyed.

"Emergencies," I replied. "If you push it, the police come. And if the police come and there's no emergency, they will take mommy to jail."

(I know, I am a horrible parent. But my children are so used to this kind of teasing that they don't miss a beat.)

"You're kidding right?" she laughs.

"Nope. I would go to jail and then how would Daddy take care of all of you?"

"Easy," she shrugged. "He'd just marry some other lady."

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Nearly Perfect

I had a fantastic weekend with my family. We had fun, spent time with friends, enjoyed the glorious weather, and had a minimum of yelling. Last night, after the kids were tucked into bed, I had a moment of clarity. It was so sudden and so unexpected, and the thought nearly took my breath away -

This is the happiest I have ever been.

Barring small everyday worries, most of those resulting from my own impatience and frustrations, my life is nearly perfect. My husband adores me, my children still tolerate me, my friends are many and dear. I have settled into a deep contentment, and wish to never leave.

Every night, I fall asleep during my erratic prayers (please keep them safe what do we have going on tomorrow thank you for my family do we have milk?). Every night, I ask the same thing - give me patience, give me peace, help me be better. Last night, it was different - please let us always be this happy.

Several times, I turned to the husband to tell him, but each time I felt hot eyed and lumpy throated and couldn't quite get it out. I realize that the schmaltzy old people at the grocery store who say things like, 'You'll look back on this time...' are right. We are young and healthy and happy and safe and well.

What a gift.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Moss

I am not a crafty person. I don't sew, I don't paint - I own a glue gun, but I'm not sure where it is. I specialize in Play Doh snakes.

I am also a cheap ass.

So when I get a burr up my butt to do some home improvements, I want everything new and fresh and finished today. And I want to spend twenty bucks doing it.

In the past two weeks, I have totally redone Henry's room, Julia's room (including making a pennant for her wall. MAKING.), their bathroom and I've started on our bedroom. Also, inspired by my friend MOV's door, I'm picking a color to paint the outside of our doors on the back porch. Also, I planted a bunch of flowers and spread pine needles. I finally framed all the beautiful family pictures my friend C- took for us in October.

I am on fucking fire, people.

I am a wrecking ball of design and inspiration. Pinterest called me to see what I was doing.

Then came the Moss.

I bought a frame set to display our family pictures on the wall of our bedroom. I bought it because it was cheap and I could do it quick (again, cheap. And lazy, too.) What I didn't realize until I had them all hung was that it wasn't at all the look I wanted, and it looks too much like my Grandma's wall in 1980. All that was missing was a little portrait spotlight in a bronze finish.

I started at the Goodwill, dragging my kids through aisles of oddities - from SYNTHETIC HUMAN HAIR ponytails to baby doll heads to a disturbing number of Hawaiian Santas. I picked up a couple of funky little things to hang along with the frames. I was looking for one big piece, but couldn't find it. We left, deflated. On the way home we passed the Ben Franklin, and at the last minute I turned into the parking lot.

If I couldn't buy it, I was going to make it. I was going to get some stuff, and glue some stuff on it. That always works.

I found a $3.74 piece of a styrofoam and a $2.97 bag of moss. For less than $7, I would have something awesome. I realized that I would need something to make the moss stick to the styrofoam. The foam glue was insanely expensive at around $6 a tube. Surely I'd have something around the house I could use.

We came home and I made the children eat fish sticks and boxed mac and cheese while I worked on my masterpiece. Styrofoam isn't as easy to cut as I thought. I thought briefly of MacGyvering it and using dental floss, a pair of chopsticks, and a Tic Tac. In the end, I just used a knife.

Cutting styrofoam with a knife makes a loud, high pitched squealing noise that makes you want to poke your eyes out with said knife.

I cut it into the shape of our last initial. Then I started to look for a means of affixing the moss to the letter. Wood glue, hot glue, glue stick, super glue and 'just lick it and see if will stick' were nixed right off the bat. In the garage I found a can of spray mount and thought if I just spray enough on there, it will stick.

It did.

I wish I had a better story of getting the moss on there, but it was pretty easy. I did have a moment or two when I thought "Oh, stick on there, you asshole." When I was done, I nailed a couple of holes in the wall and stuck it up there.
Yes, I know one side is bigger than the other. Don't you think it's killing me? Also, I'm a shitty photographer. Thanks for noticing that, too.

I still have a few things to hang (double sided tape doesn't work, by the way), and when it's all done I'll post a picture. I might even put it on Pinterest, maybe then they'll stop calling. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for Links

Listen, sometimes I suck.

And on those days, I hope you think 'Well, maybe she'll be better next time. But since I'm here, why don't I check out some of the amazing bloggers on her blog roll?'

Today is just such a day, friends.

Some of the folks on my blog roll leave comments that are better than the posts they're commenting on, that's how awesome they are. I love them because they're funny and thoughtful and thought provoking and smart and clever.

I'm finding lots of new and interesting blogs to read via the A to Z Challenge. If you get a chance, click the A to Z button over there to the right, and enjoy the efforts of close to 2000 bloggers participating in this month's challenge.

I'm always looking for new people to read, so let me know in the comments if you have a great suggestion!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for Kermit

My paternal grandfather lived in the tiny town of Kermit, Texas for close to forty years, in a rental house on a dusty lot down the street from the high school. No doubt, he could have bought the house outright, and surely paid for it twice over in rent, but the burden of home ownership was not one he wished to assume.

My father and his brother and his sister lived with their mother after their parents divorced, as far east in Texas as Kermit is west. His mother liked to do things like beat them with skillets and throw bottles at their heads. When that got too much to bear, the kids packed up and moved themselves across the state to live with their dad.

Grandpa was an oilfield man, and Kermit was an oilfield town. When he moved there the middle of the 1960s, the population swelled to over 10,000 and things were hopping. There was a winning high school football team, a hospital, and a Sonic. The last time I visited Kermit, only the Sonic remained. Katie was 2 at the time, and we spent the day walking up and down the sidewalk in front of the dirt yard, picking weeds. We went to dinner at the local Mexican restaurant, and stopped for a cherry limeade at the Sonic.

Kermit is quiet. The population now holds at around 5,500, and the hottest weekend activity is driving into Odessa to the Wal-Mart.

No one admits to driving across the border into New Mexico.

Grandpa had a deep, unexplained hatred of New Mexico, which he passed on to his children. "Goddamn New Mexico," he'd spit the words out. Nothing further was ever said, as if anyone would know exactly what was wrong with New Mexico. 

The weekend I was there, we cut back the giant Rose of Sharon that had taken over the front porch. Grandpa never entered through the front door, and it was unlikely that anyone else would either. He had a girlfriend who would visit sometimes, but she would always slip in quietly through the side door.

People talk in a small town. You can still be a whore, even when you're 70.

We sat around the small, chipped formica table and talked. Mostly about my father, who'd passed only a few months before. Grandpa's voice and hands shook and his eyes were raw with loss and grief, but his voice stayed strong and steady. He told stories I'd heard a million times before, but knew I was surely hearing for the last time. We talked about Kermit.

"Why have you never left?" I asked him.

He seemed surprised. "Why would I?"


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Jobs

"I used to plan big parties," I said to Julia the other day, after she asked me what I did when I worked.

"Nu-Uh!" she said, like that was too cool a job for her dopey old mom. "What other jobs did you have?" she asked. So I started thinking.

The first job I ever had was working for a temp agency when I was 14. I had some thrilling assignments, like the day I spent licking stamps (no shit, those assholes didn't have a sponge), or the time I was sent to an old woman's house to help her pack. Four thousand Hummel figurines, each individually wrapped in three (not two, or four, but exactly three) sheets of newspaper.

It was the first in a long list of jobs that culminated in the position that I hold today, the pinnacle of my career - stay at home mom.

Licking stamps paid better.

After the temp agency, I-
Worked as a waitress
As a decorator-ish (because they couldn't afford a real decorator)
As a caterer
For a real estate company, where I collated my ass off
Again as a caterer
At a gym, where I swiped membership cards and washed towels and worked out in between smoke breaks
As a wedding planner and caterer spy for a lunatic
As the secretary, AR/AP, merchandiser, ad copy writer and retail store manager for a company that made gloves out of deerskin (guess what everyone got for Christmas that year?)
As a telephone survey taker (most thankless job ever)
As a secretary, then ticket manager, then hospitality manager, then director of corporate events for the best company I ever worked for, which I quit because I am a idiot
As the Marketing Manager and event coordinator for a lunatic
As an independent meeting and event planner and travel director

And you know what I learned from all that? Working sucks. It is hard and stressful and your boss is almost always a lunatic, and you wake up every morning thinking, "Good hell. I have to do all that again today?"

It's not much different than my job now, except now my bosses give me hugs and kisses and tell me they love me. They're still lunatics, but they're awfully cute.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Interesting

You wouldn't want to be cornered at a party by him, that's for sure. He was tall and lanky and slightly greasy, and he leaned into every conversation. "I watched the most interesting program on television last night!" he'd exclaim, eyes wide and a tiny plate of canapes shaking nervously in his hand. He wavered between mind numbingly boring and painfully moronic.

Couples, when going to an event where he was sure to be, often devised hand signals to use if cornered. Scratch the right eye, tell me I have a phone call. Scratch the left eye, we just need to leave or I'll never get out alive. Singles who found themselves trapped suddenly developed bladder control problems. One time a man made himself choke on a cracker, just to get away.

It's bad, when a person risks their life to end a conversation with you.

"Jesus Christ, Bill," his own father often said, "Talking to you is like having a root canal."

His father had been interesting. A fighter pilot in World War II, a minor league catcher, a successful businessman and Honorary Chief of the Inkininki Tribe. His mother had been interesting, at least until she died - struck down by a runaway milk truck as she gave hula lessons to seniors in the town square. "Mahalo," she whispered to the octogenarian who held her hand as she passed. His brothers and sisters flew in for the funeral from their interesting lives around the world. His brother, a missionary in Papau New Guinea. His sister, working on a cure for cancer or cold sores (he couldn't remember which. It started with a "c", anyway). His oldest brother, who only ever said "It's classified," when talking about his government job.

Bill worked in a hockey card factory, pulling the lever of the big machine that cut individual cards from huge sheets. He knew the names of every hockey player in the NHL. He could tell you their height, their weight, their teams and stats. It was almost enough to make him interesting, until he told you that he'd never actually watched a game. He never watched any game of any kind, or played them, or knew their rules. He saw no point in sports.

There was one thing that got him excited - black holes. If a person dared bring up the subject, even in passing, Bill would become intensely animated, waving his hands in the air as he waxed poetic about black holes. His brother said Bill was the Black Hole of Black Holes. So concentrated was his passion that he'd start to sweat. Little beads on his upper lip at first, then the back of his neck, and finally, great dark circles under his arms. You could always tell a shirt that had been a victim of a Black Hole Rant, with it's salty half moons.

But as he grew older, Bill realized that Black Holes weren't enough. He wanted - he needed - a companion. Someone like minded to share his passions with. He'd tried joining clubs; astronomy clubs and physics clubs and science clubs. He even went to something dubbed  the "Young Scientists Love Connection Weekend". In addition to the horrible name, they asked him to do something he'd never done before. They wanted him to talk about himself. Bill knew he was the most boring person in the world, and without his vast knowledge of black holes to rely on, he proved it to every poor woman he met.

So, tell me about yourself, they'd say, and he'd stare dumbly back. His mind was working frantically, searching for something, anything, interesting to say. Finally he'd stammer out "My mom was hit by a milk truck!" or "I pee sitting down!" or, most regrettably, "I have hairless balls!".

It was a disaster.

Bill gave up on love. Who needs love, anyway? He knew, deep down, that he was a good guy, even if he wasn't the most fascinating. He had resigned himself to a solitary life, and fell back into his routine. Hockey card factory. Library. Microwave dinner. Black holes. PBS. Prayers to Stephen Hawking before bed.

It was in the middle of this routine, one evening at the library, when he met Her. He was lost in thought, wandering the aisles, when his eye caught the title of a book he'd not seen before - Black Holes and the Women Who Love Them. He felt his heart quicken and he reached up to touch the spine, but another hand was there before his. Her hand. They touched briefly and she gasped. He looked at her and found himself spiraling down a black hole he'd never known existed.

"Do you..." he began, "Do you like black holes?"

"Oh," she replied, "I don't know of anything more interesting."

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Henry & the Horses

One of the kids' favorite things to do is stop at the horse barn at our favorite park and visit the horses. Julia loves to rub their noses and tell them how beautiful they are. I dread the day that someone tells her that there are kids who ride horses as a hobby. I dread having her look at me with those big, brown eyes and hearing her say, "Ohhh, I want to ride horses, Mommy!" So I continue to steer her towards more financially reasonable activities, and pray she never finds out.

Henry loves the horses, too. As long as they don't get too close.

So when a group of Julia's preschool friends went to ride ponies last week, I took Henry knowing there was a 50/50 chance he'd get close enough to a horse to ride it. He spent the first half of the hour like this:

Do you want to ride the horse?
Do you want to pet the horse?
Do you love the horse?

He watched Julia (who you have to admit, looks naturally regal on a horse)-

I asked again-
Do you want to ride the horse?

We got so very close. But as I lifted his very little self onto the very large horse, he changed his mind.
No, no, no, no!

And spent the second half of the hour like this - 

He loves the horses, but they are just a little big and he is just a little small.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

G is for Good Egg

We had a lovely Easter, with baskets and chocolates and church and family. We ate lots - the Husband smoked a pork butt and we ate barbeque and bunny cake and napped. My lovely mother-in-law has been here for several days, and my mom was with us all day, and the children spent the day basking in the glory of double-grandmas.

They are Good Eggs.

Unless I'm trying to get a picture of the three of them, in which case this is the result:
Where is Julia?

I want to stand next to Mary! NO! I want to stand next to Mary!

Jesus' thumb broke off a couple of years ago and had to be repaired. Julia checks it frequently to make sure it's holding.


Oh, Jesus! Ha ha ha ha! You are such a joker!

Where's Julia?

This is my favorite picture. 
Everyone in the picture? Check. Everyone facing forward-ish? Check. We're getting close.

COME ON. Can I get ONE good picture? Please? For Christ's sake? 

Thank you, Jesus.

Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for Friends

I am not a very good friend.

This is probably where you say to yourself, "Oh, come on. I'm sure you're a good friend! You tell wonderful little stories about poo poo and you have darling children! What more could a person ask for in a friend?" While those things are true, it is not enough to make me a good friend.

I am not a good listener. I am listening, but I also thinking about what I'm going to say. As a result, I sometimes forget what you've told me and so I don't know to ask those important follow up questions days or weeks down the road.

Did you get your hair cut? Did you tell me you were going to get your hair cut? Did I see you getting your hair cut? I forget.

It's embarrassing.

I don't return phone calls and send fifteen emails when one would suffice. I don't reciprocate. I don't initiate. I neglect to write thank you notes. I make excuses about time and distance and busyness, even though you're just as busy as me. I assume you'll understand. 

But - I care, often more than I let on, and sometimes because I'm not very comfortable telling you. Maybe part of me is still 12 years old and I'm afraid if I tell you that you're SUPER AWESOME, you are going to tell me I'm a creeper. Should I hug you? Should I not hug you? Should I say I love you? Do grown ups who aren't related or having relations say 'I love you'? Because I do.

I have some amazing friends. Kind, thoughtful, funny, caring people who like me enough to overlook the fact that I don't pay attention. I spent a good part of my adulthood feeling the absence of significant female friendships. I now find myself in the company of women who inspire, encourage and teach me, every day. They love me, despite my inability to pay attention.

I love them, too. There, I said it.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for the Expectation of Behavior

The husband was out of town and, as a special treat, I took the children out to dinner. A real dinner, not one that we place a phone call to order, or stay in the car to pick it up. Our sit down in a restaurant family meals are few and far between, a result of overall financial belt tightening, and the fact that Henry is kind of an asshole in restaurants. But he's been getting better, and I decided we'd pop over to the fish place around 5:30, when service should be quick and we'd only have to contend with the early bird seniors.

My children are especially fond of old people ('Thier skin is so soft and crinkly!', says Julia. 'They're just so cute!', says Katie), and the feeling is mutual. My kids can flat charm the polyester pants off a senior citizen.

I was hoping for a quick, decent experience. I was certainly not expecting what happened.

My children were perfect. Half a dozen old people stopped to coo at them. Henry made his cute face and the girls demurely batted their eyelashes. Even our waiter, a charming young man, commented on what a lovely family I had.

It was so nice, so sweet, and so pleasant, that I about broke my arm patting myself on the back.

I am a marshmallow parent. I overthink how I respond to them, I rationalize, I loathe to punish. We have rules, and expectations of behavior, and sometimes they meet them and sometimes they don't. I will always try something gentle before dropping the hammer, unless I am having a CRAZY DAY. Yet, so far, we have managed to raise mostly well behaved children. At least according to the people at the fish place.

Wait until they're teenagers. Boys are different. Just you wait. Maybe. Maybe I'm foolish to think that being a gooey centered parent is going to work. Maybe it's silly to think that if I expect them to be great kids, they'll be great kids. Maybe I'll revisit this post in a few years and want to punch myself in the face. Or maybe they'll continue to surprise me with just how great they can be. Today, I'm counting on the strength of the opinions of old people and waiters. Today, don't burst my bubble.

(Note: This was not my "E" post. My E post was very hilarious, and very lost while I was trying to navigate the new Blogger interface. This post was a draft from several months ago, which I never posted because I didn't like it. So you can blame Blogger. I am.)

D is for Damn it, I Forgot D. And Dog Food.

I failed on Day 4 of the A to Z Challenge, and did not post for the letter D. Which means I owe you two posts today, and it is already 8:17 p.m. And I am drinking beer.

This can not end well.

This morning, after I had settled the children at the kitchen table with their breakfast, I walked out to the garage with Shutup Roxy's food bowl. I keep her food in a lidded trashcan just inside the garage door, where I'd moved it from the laundry room back in the fall. I moved it because - well, I'm not sure why I moved it, except that it was taking up too much room in the small laundry room, and pissing me off.

I don't need anything more in the laundry room pissing me off.

So out I went to the garage, flipped the lid off the trashcan, reached down with the bowl, and got a big scoop of dog food.

That's when something jumped.

Except I knew it wasn't just something. I knew exactly what it was, which is why I screamed MOTHERFUCKER and threw the bowl of food up in the air. I walked, in a fast like manner, into the bouse where the Husband stood in his underpants, ironing his shirt.

"It appears," I began, calmly, "That there is a critter in the dog food and you are going to need to get out there and get rid of it. Right fucking now."

"A critter?" he says, looking at me like I'm Ellie May Clampitt, just in from the ce-ment pond. "Like a rat?"

"OH MY GOD! NO! Smaller! GOD. Don't say that word!" and then I lost my poop and started doing the little girl afraid of a mouse running in circles pee pee dance. You know what I'm talking about.

The Husband, who loves to tease me mercilessly, never ever teases me about this. The phobia is so irrational, so deep, that I am prone to bursting into tears or dry heaving at the thought of the things. He was the good husband this morning, disposing of the Beast by whatever means, and never calling me a whiny baby. I am grateful.

He did make fun of me a little when I took the measuring cup out of the can with a paper towel (because you know The Creature touched it), all the while going "EEEEEEE! EEEEEE!"

There is a type of phobia therapy called Implosion Therapy. It's like the extreme version of Aversion Therapy. In Implosion Therapy, the patient is exposed to extremely high levels of their phobia and driven to hysteria and then past it, to the point that they cease to be phobic. In my case, I might be forced to touch a Creature, or multiple ones, or having extended contact with them.

What kind of bullshit is that?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for California

My parents hopped around Oklahoma and Texas, with brief stays in Guatemala and Malta, from the first 7 years of my life. My father was in the oilfield, and when he was working overseas it allowed us to live wherever we wanted. When we visited friends in North Carolina during the Christmas of 1978, my parents looked at each other and said, "This looks nice."

So we moved. I was in third grade, and many of my real memories begin here. As a result of tragedy (the oil bust) and necessity, we changed houses every couple of years, but I continued to go to school with primarily the same kids. This became, in effect, my hometown.

A few months before the end of my sophomore year in high school, my parents sat me down and delivered the worst news a parent can give an almost 16 year old girl - we're moving.

Across the country.

I was, typically, completely devastated. I begged and pleaded and made threats and deals, but nothing worked. With promises and bribes my parents loaded up and moved to Contra Costa County, just east of the San Francisco Bay.

I was, typically, completely wrong. California was the best thing that ever happened to me. I was a novelty, with my funny accent and ignorance about such awesome things as Siouxsie and the Banshees and Blondie's Pizza. The accent I learned to lose, until it was needed, and the rest I gobbled up, having until that moment not known how hungry I was.

I had never met an Asian person. I had never met an Indian person. I had never met an openly gay person. I had never met so many people with such beautiful teeth. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with things I'd never been exposed to. I looked around at the mohawks and the piercings and the colors and cultures and thought - these are my people. This is my tribe!

I have always longed to be something - Irish or Mexican or Jewish or Californian. I had no idea what my cultural identity was, I just knew I wanted one. Preferably one with great food and extended holidays. But in the Bay Area, I found things were so diverse, they became homogenized. You no longer had to try to be something, you just were. There were so many other people, that you ceased to be what color you were or what language you spoke. I don't know if it's the romantic memory of a 16 year old, but I do know that it was the first time in my life that I felt like I was home.

 I spent every weekend I could in Berkeley. I went to concerts all over the City and saw Nelson Mandela speak and watched them blow up a skyscraper in the middle of San Francisco, standing next to my Father one early, foggy morning.

I saw a skyscraper.

I graduated high school.
I loafed.
I met The Boyfriend, with whom I slowly made my way northeast, and then abruptly, South.

Back to North Carolina, where things had changed so drastically that I hardly knew where I was. I found new friends and married The Boyfriend and had some babies and grew up. I learned to love the South as an adult, which is an entirely different experience than as a kid. I see how far the South has come, and how far we have to go. I feel like I've found out who I am, and what is home.

Sometimes The Husband and I talk about moving back. Never seriously, always wistfully.
"If we won the lottery? And we could live anywhere? What about then?" he asks.
I hesitate, because the thought of spending every day on the beach in Carmel makes me want to cry with happiness. Finally, I shake my head.

"No," I say, "I'm just a Southern girl."

(But that doesn't mean that if won the lottery we wouldn't have a totally rad beach house in California.)

Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for Breaking Me Down

I am not a stupid person.

I am not a particularly smart person, but I can hold my own at the park, or talking to preschoolers. I am a pretty good at thinking on my feet, as long as I'm paying attention to what the person is saying, and not zoning out thinking about coffee or germs or testicles or something.

So I find it slightly shocking, and terribly disconcerting, that I am unable to hold a satisfactory conversation with my five year old. Every conversation is like a Lincoln-Douglas debate, and I'm getting my ass whipped by a four foot Honest Abe wearing a pink bow instead of a stovepipe hat.

If she's in the mood, she will spend the entire day breaking me down, so by bedtime I am so exhausted I'll give her whatever she wants. Ice cream in bed? Sure, sure, whatever. Stay up and watch a movie? Knock yourself out. Go to Chuck E Cheese tomorrow? God, whatever it takes. Just don't ask me another question.

Because that's how it starts. With the questions.

"When will Grandma Erin be here?"
"Tomorrow, after bedtime."
"And Daddy will pick her up at the airport in Arizona? Can I go with him?"
"No, he's picking her up at the airport here, and he's going from work, so you can't go."
"Oh, right right right. And that's tomorrow? How many more sleeps?"
(This is where she starts jerking me around, because she knows how many more sleeps. This is the point where she starts breaking me down.)
"One more sleep, Julia. Tomorrow."
"What time tomorrow?"
"Bedtime, honey. Stop asking me questions."

And she will, briefly. Instead she'll talk about the soundtrack in her brain and how it plays "Do it, Julia!" sometimes and "Don't do it, Julia!" other times. Then she'll segue into a thirty minute conversation about past, present and future and after arguing the time space continuum with me (NO! THAT IS NOT THE PAST, THE PAST IS WHEN WE WERE BABIES!) she will laugh and say "I'm must kidding Mommy. I know all about that. I'm smaaaaart."

And a little evil.

Because when she sees that she has me adequately confused and tired, she'll circle back around to the original line of questioning.

"When is Grandma Erin going to be here?"

She's the master, I concede.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for Apron

(Inspired by some fellow bloggers, I'm going to give the A to Z Challenge a go. I am sorely lacking in the motivation department right now, unless it's motivation to do stuff like sit around and eat chocolate chips, so I'm hoping this might be a kick in the pants.)

I can see it swinging beneath me. I'm on my hands and knees in my underwear and bra, picking up tiny pieces of glass from a shattered bottle of hot pink nail polish. I see the shadow of something, pendulous and dark, like a couple of grapefruits in a pair of pantyhose. It sways gently, rhythmically, keeping time to the movements of my arms and my steady breath. While I am aware of it's presence, I do not glance toward it. I am not afraid, for I know it too well.

It is the Meat Apron.

"That's not normal, naming your gut."

"But it's not a gut, it's a flappy pannus. It's an entity unto itself. Plus, guys name their penises."

"Totally different," the Husband says. "Guys name their penises because, well, because. People don't name their belly fat."

So he says. The Meat Apron is a unhappy side effect of three children via c-section, and an unwillingness to do horrible things like sit ups, or surgery.

"Plus," I say to him, "What happens if we get caught in a snowstorm or some Lord of the Flies type situation? You'll be happy to have the Meat Apron around then."

"What do you mean? Oh, jeez. You're not suggesting..."

"Sure, cut that fucker off and I can keep the whole family alive for a few days at least."

With a pre-puke hitch in his voice he says, "You are cracked."


I hate it, but it's part of me, and likely will be in varying degrees all my life. It is generally Spanx-able, and visible in all it's glory only to the people who love me most. The people who couldn't care less if I'm carrying around a toolbelt made of skin.

I was wrestling with the kids today, and stopped to rest. Julia laid her head on my chest and, in the highly inappropriate way of five year olds, began rubbing my boob. "Don't rub Mommy's boobies, honey," I said, and moved her hand to my stomach. She started rubbing and kneading my stomach like she was working on a loaf of dough. I laughed and asked her what she was doing.

"I just love you, Mommy. You are soft and warm."

The Meat Apron brings comfort and joy to my child. How can I hate something that does that? Not to mention the whole keep the family alive in the wilderness survival thing.

Huzzah, Meat Apron. You serve me well.