Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Go the F**k to School

Overheard between 10:22 and 10:29 this morning in my home: 

"Can I have a snack?"

"Where are we going today?"

"He's touching me.  He's touching me.  HE'S TOUCHING ME."

"Mom, listen to this noise I invented."

"What's for dinner?"

"How did Earth get invented?"

"Can I have a snack?"

"Is it my turn on the computer?"

"Is it my turn to be player 1?"

"Can I have a snack?"

"Is it lunchtime yet?"

"Can I have that thing my brother loves?"

"Mom, look."

"Mom, watch this!"



"What are you doing in there?"

"Can I have a snack?"

"Where is that teeny-tiny Lego piece that goes to nothing and I haven't used for a year, but NEED RIGHT NOW?"

"What's for dinner?"

"Can I play outside?"

"Can I come in now?"

"Can I have a snack?"

"Is it my turn to use whatever my brother just starting using?"

"What are you doing?"

"What's for dinner?"

"Is it maybe pizza?"

"How come?"

"When can we get pizza?"

"Why do I need a shower?  I just took one the other day."

"Mom, the toilet won't flush."

"Can I have a snack?"

"When does school start?"

Not soon enough, child.  Not. Soon. Enough.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Monday Before Christmas. Lots To Do. Busy, Busy.

I'm sweating as I stand on my tip-toes, searching for a water bottle that I know is in this cabinet somewhere. I'm pushing aside travel mugs and tops to old sippy cups when I see the corner of a red box on the other side of the cabinet. It's a box of hard candies. I pull it out.

I turn it over in my hands.

"To Jenn: A little sweetness for you at Christmas." 

It's a small box and I remember that I opened it and ate one, a raspberry one, the day that my coworker gave it to me. I thought they'd be a nice treat throughout that day.

A few minutes after she gave me the candy, I got up to stretch my back.  I checked my cell phone; it hadn't been working right lately. Sometimes it wouldn't ring, sometimes it wouldn't vibrate, sometimes the text alert wouldn't actually alert.

There were three missed calls. Two voicemails.

All were from Seattle. From my stepmother. From my brother.  

The next breath that rose from my chest and slipped from my body was one not unlike what I imagine my father's last to have been.

Shallow. Slow.

Pivotal in its marking of time in a new way: before and after.

My hands shook as I stepped outside. The air was cold and the sky was bright, too bright really, the way the world tends to be sometimes in winter when everything is just too crisp and too jarring and too sharp to even bear.

I called Seattle and heard the words I had known were coming:  my father was gone.

I did not cry.

I went back inside and I packed up my things. My hands would not stop shaking, would not behave themselves.  Not as I tried to close my laptop, not as I tried to shove the box of hard candies into my bag, not even as I tried to slide them into my gloves.

The people I worked directly with, the ones to whom I would have needed to explain this sudden packing up and leaving and shaking, were all in a meeting. So I simply walked out the door without having to say a word to anyone.

Fuck, I thought as I climbed into my car.

I need gas.

I pulled into the gas station at the corner, and as I stood there trying to curl deeper into my coat against the biting wind, I was struck by the incongruity of the moment. My life had just changed and would never, ever be the same. And there I was, doing something so ordinary. I was pumping gas.

I'll never hear his voice again.  Why is the seal on this thing all weird and making the pump stop every four seconds? 

To everyone else, it was just Monday.  The Monday before Christmas.  Lots to do.  Busy, busy. 

There was a man at the pump in front of me and he looked to be about my dad's age. I wanted to say to him, "Excuse me, but 15 minutes ago, I found out that my father died" because he was a fellow human being and, as such, was likely to understand that this was no ordinary day and that the very notion of pumping gas on a day of this magnitude was absolutely absurd. I felt invisible, with this incredibly painful, sad thing turning itself over inside of me while, from the outside, I appeared to be just another woman pumping gas on a Monday, that woman there with her gray pants and her tall shoes and her black coat and her plum colored scarf.  Bet she has lots to do.  It is, after all, the Monday before Christmas.  Busy, busy.

At the same time, I prayed that he wouldn't look at me because I knew I wouldn't be able to stand the humanity of it, of another person looking me in the eye right then, grounding me to the earth and the gas station and making everything real.  I wouldn't be able to NOT cry out to him, "Don't you know what has just happened?"

I finished pumping the gas.  I got back in my car.

Still, I did not cry.

I did all of the things a person does when she drives her car on the Monday before Christmas, when she has lots to do and is busy, busy.  I slowed down going into the curve, sped up again as I came out of it.  I stopped at the red light.  I put on the blinker.  

I pulled into the driveway.

I got the mail.

I slid the key into the lock of my empty house.  I put my purse where I always do, tossed my keys and sunglasses into the basket by the phone in the kitchen.

I did not take off my coat.

I sat down in front of my computer, opened up my email and sent a single message:

My dad died this morning.

Now, I had put it out into the world.  

Now, I had shared it with another human being. 

Now, it was real.

I stood, walked into my living room, and fell to my knees, still wearing my itchy black coat.

I let my forehead rest upon the floor.

And then, I cried.

I cried in the alone, on the Monday before Christmas, when there was lots to do.

Busy, busy.  

Sunday, May 20, 2012

5 Rules To Live By, As Decided By Some Random Chick On The Internet

5) Don't Be A Dick
You are probably already familiar with this one's prettier cousin known as 'do unto others as you would have done unto you'.  But what it boils down to is this:  don't be an asshole.  Just don't.  Don't be arrogant, don't walk around like you're better than people, don't say something hurtful to someone just because you can.  Only the weakest of people try to gain strength by knocking someone else down.  And the thing is, everyone sees you for the small person that you actually are when you do.  Opt instead for kindness.  Trite as it may sound, you never know when someone needs it.  Just be nice.

4) Rather, Have Balls
Be brave.  Don't be a coward.  If you screw up, admit to it.  Know how to apologize; you won't get very far in the world otherwise. Dream big. If you know what you want, make it happen.  Persevere.  HAVE BALLS.

3) Get Over Yourself
Life owes you nothing.  NOTHING.  Had a shitty childhood?  Throw a rock in the air and you'll find people whose childhoods were unhappy.  By the time you reach the age of 20, you own your shit.  It's yours.  You alone are responsible for making your own happiness.  If you rely on your spouse, your children, your work to give it to you, you will be grossly disappointed.  That's not to say we don't find happiness in these things, but putting the burden of YOUR happiness onto them is guaranteed to weigh them down and, in the end, will drown them. Put on your big-boy/big-girl undies and come on, get happy.  

2)Get A Grip
Every now and then, we all need a little kick in the ass to regain perspective.  There's always someone in the world who would change places with you in a heartbeat.  Maybe it's as simple as the person who envies that you have a job while they are still searching.  Maybe it's as big as the woman who lost her child and would give anything to be up in the middle of the night with a crying baby.  Maybe it's even bigger than that, maybe it's knowing that you know you will eat tonight, sleep with a roof over your head, while somewhere in the world is someone who doesn't know where their next meal will come from.  Sometimes you need to go that far out to find it, but without a doubt there is always someone in this world worse off than you who would love to have your life and your problems.  Take time to feel your pain, but don't lose perspective.  Keep your eyes open to the blessings around you.  They are there.  But you won't see them if your focus is turned only inward. 

1)Love Big
Real love, big love, True Love, happens.  But it doesn't happen often, so when you find it,  you've got to jump up and grab it.  Then, once you've got it, fight like hell to keep it.  Don't take it for granted, don't hide from it.  Throw yourself into it with your heart and soul and arms open.  BE OPEN.  Or risk never basking in it at all.  And, without it, what is the point?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Letter From The Easter Bunny

Dear Child,

You may have noticed your Easter basket looks a little sparse this year when compared to years past.  After careful consideration, I have decided that you are old enough to understand the truth about The Easter Bunny's financial situation, particularly because it directly relates to the contents of this year's Easter basket.

You may not be aware of this, but times are tough where I'm from.  Santa had to lay off almost 1/3 of the toy-making division of elves and word on the street is that he's in negotiations to outsource all Letter Reading Operations overseas.  The Tooth Fairy has rolled back her payouts to 1998 prices.  Even the Leprechauns have stopped leaving gold under rainbows; they need it to cover rising fuel costs.  I'm not the only one in the industry implementing widespread cutbacks in production.

On a personal note, the economic downturn of the last few years has hit The Easter Bunny even harder than some of my colleagues.  I currently find myself upside down in my mortgage.  I've tried to refinance my hole, but the banks say it is barely worth the ground it's dug in.  Also, I'm not sure how much you know about the reproductive habits of my species, but suffice to say, your pal The Easter Bunny writes a lot of child support checks each month.

I mean A LOT.

Now that you understand the financial hardships I have been facing, I would like to direct your attention to the contents of your Easter basket.

You may note that, in years past, the bottom of your basket was lined with fake, plastic grass.  This grass was formerly made by Santa's elves as part of a summer jobs program which allowed unemployed elves the opportunity to secure off-season work.  However, over the last few years, the elves have begun to take production underground and are now charging by the ounce.  The Easter Bunny does not buy grass by the ounce.  Therefore, you will note that the grass in your basket this year is from your front yard (specifically, that now-empty patch by the mailbox).  The color and lushness of the grass is not my doing; you can thank/scold your parents and their attention to lawn care for that.

Perhaps you are thinking, "The Easter Bunny has forsaken me!  There are no toys in my basket!"  Not so, child, not so.  If you dig through the grass clumps of your basket, you will find that I have included a Classic Toy for your entertainment.  While it may appear to be a simple rock, let me reassure you that many a child has found great joy in such a gift.  This is an open-ended toy; the possible ways to use it are endless.  You can throw it, catch it, kick it, look at it, lick it (if you haven't done this yet, rest assured, you will), paint it, hide it, seek it, collect it, drop it, hold it.  The limits are only as narrow as your imagination.

Lastly, there is the issue of candy.  In retrospect, I admit that leaving you with only half of a chocolate bunny and a stale, headless peep was perhaps a poor choice on my part.  I spent a considerable amount of time trying to decide which end of the bunny would be less traumatic:  only a head or only a bottom.  I see now that neither was a particularly attractive option.  Please accept the spattering of black jelly beans as a token of my most sincere apology.

I hope that I have helped clear up any confusion surrounding the state of this year's Easter basket and that you do not mistakenly interpret it's contents as a statement on your morality/behavior these last 12 months.  Your understanding is greatly appreciated.


The Easter Bunny

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Letters I've Written, Never Meaning To Send

Once upon a time, we did not text.

Once upon a time, we did not email.

Once upon a time, we wrote letters.

You took a beat, a spark,  from your heart and fanned it until you found the words to set it on fire within you, letting the flames dance and pulse throughout your body, down the length of an arm, through a hand with long fingers that wrapped around a pen, where the words made the ecstatic leap from body to paper. 

You would fold up the paper, lick the envelope.  Carefully, delicately, tenderly write a name on the outside.

And then...

You would wait.

You would imagine the letter's recipient waiting, this one whose name was written so painstakingly on the outside of that envelope, a shell so bashed and battered against the elements as it made it's way from your hands to his.  But that letter, it would arrive.



But whole.

He would pick it up.  He would turn it over in his hands, note the way his name looked in your handwriting. 

He would unfold this letter slowly, listening to the crinkle and crackle of the paper as he did.  He would take  his fingertips and trace each word you had written, that initial beat of your heart now something tangible for him to see, to touch.  The process would then flow backward, as he would trace the loops and dips of the letters and words you'd written. They would flow through his own hand, up his own arm, to a place where they would explode into something electric, shocking his heart into a new rhythm.

And the next beat...

...that one right there...

...would be the very same beat your own heart produced.

He'd read the letter again and again until he had it memorized, until he could see it so clearly upon the backs of his eyelids that he could be anywhere in the world, shut his eyes, and read it word for word, even as that letter sat, folded, miles away, in a drawer.

Once upon a time, we wrote letters.

We wrote letters.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Verbal Vomit (Valentine's Day)

Dear Hallmark:

You've fucked it all up, you know.

You've taken the most amazing, messy, beautifully human emotion, romantic love, and forced it into a red, heart-shaped box of candy and attached a cheap card that contains a stranger's words.

Thanks a lot,

Romantics Everywhere

Here's a tip: if you need the calendar to roll over to February 14th in order to express your emotion for someone, or they for you, you're sort of fucked.  

Love is for every day.  


Because when you're in love, when you are truly oh-my-God-this-man/woman-absolutely-changes-my-whole-outlook-on-the-world in love, you can't shut up about it.  You can't STOP.  You can't stop kissing, you can't stop touching, you can't stop melting into each other, you can't stop praying that, somehow, you have taken the way you feel inside, the way you see him/her and, through all of that kissing and touching and talking and connecting and melting, found a way to show it to that person.  To give it to them.  To let them see themselves the way you do: perfect. Amazing. Beautiful.   

Any asshole can say the right words.  Any two people can put their mouths together and kiss, any two strangers can fuck.  They can even hold each other after and fall asleep in each other's arms.  

That's just company.  That's just the temporary antidote to loneliness.  

Because the good stuff, it's not in the cards, it's not in the flowers, it's not in the box of chocolate or the sex or the gifts or the dinner or any of the motions so many people go through.  

It's so much simpler than that.

It's in the way someone looks at you.  It's a thing that you can't force or fake, a thing that bubbles to the surface in the most honest of moments.  

Some need alcohol or the vulnerability found in sex to get there.  

Others of us live there constantly, like an exposed nerve.  Lucky me, I have no walls to hide behind (no walls to seek protection behind, either).

It's soft and it's vulnerable and it's scary and it's true and it's what this whole crazy life is for. 

So today, on Valentine's Day, save your money on the borrowed words of another, on the flowers, on the chocolate, on the dinner.  

Just look into your beloved's eyes and say your own words.  Look into him.  Look into her. 

And then, when that person asks you, "How is it you can still make me feel like that?" you can give the only answer you know:

Because I love you. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Is That A Light Saber In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

 Dear Diary,

I am in love!  His name is Luke Skywalker and he is the cutest, most mature boy I have ever met.  Not only is he cute, but he has his own landspeeder!!!  The other day I finally got to go for a ride in it when he brought me to the Toshe Station to pick up some power converters.  I asked him if he wanted to hang out after, but he had to go pick up some droids or something.  Omg, look how cute he is.  Here's his Facebook profile pic:

He got ambition, baby, that look in his eyes, this week he's moppin' floors but next week it's the fries.

I love him SOOOOO much.  Someday, we're going to have our own farm here on Tatooine and we'll have a million babies and we'll stand in the dunes every night and watch the suns set.  I am so happy!!!!

*    *    *    *    *    *

Dear Diary:

Luke has been acting super strange lately.  He's always hanging out with that crazy old guy Ben who lives in the cave.  Wtf?  That guy's a total creeper.  I don't get it. 

Maybe I should just break up with him.  IDK. 

*    *    *    *    *    *

Dear Diary, 

Seriously, I don't know WHAT Luke's deal is.  He hasn't returned any of my calls, and all of the sudden he's got pictures of himself on Facebook wearing this stupid stormtrooper uniform, like he's some sort of badass or something:

I'm a stormtrooper, mofos!

Now he's friends with all of these people I've never even HEARD of, including some chick named Leia.  Check out her profile pic:

Is that a light saber in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

Omg, who puts a picture like that on Facebook???  And she sounds totally lame, she's all "Waaah, the Empire blew up my planet" and "Blah-blah-blah, the Rebellion is so awesome" and "Got tased and stabbed with a giant needle today." 

Whatever, we all have problems, bitch.

Nice hair.

I am DEFINITELY breaking up with him.

*    *    *    *    *    *

Dear Diary:

Still no word from Luke.

Some wookie named Chewbacca keeps poking me on FB.  FML.

*    *    *    *    *     *

Dear Diary:

Luke finally called me last night.  I guess the Rebel Alliance blew up the Death Star or something like that, and all the pilots went out drinking.  He kept telling me he wasn't drunk, that he just really missed me a lot.  I could tell he meant it, I could hear it in his voice.  In fact, he was so overwhelmed with emotion that his voice sounded fuzzy and slurred.  He kept asking me to send him some naked pictures of myself and I kept telling him no, because I *just* read an article in People last week about how that's, like, a really bad idea.  But suddenly he was saying, "You will take naked pictures and send them to me" in this weirdly deep, low voice and...I dunno, I couldn't help myself, before I knew what I was even doing, I sent him the pictures.  It was like he got into my head or something.  I'm not too worried though, he told me I can trust him and that he loves me and misses me and he promised he wouldn't show them to anyone.  I totally trust him.

*    *    *    *    *    *

 Dear Diary,

 O.M.G.  I want to die.

Some little perv named Yoda somehow got a copy of the pictures I sent Luke and TWEETED THEM OUT TO LIKE A GAJILLION PEOPLE.  Then he sent me an IM that said:  "Hot, you are.  DTF, I am." 



I think something good might come from all of this.  Today I got an email from this guy named Lando.  He saw my pictures and said he thought I was really beautiful and that I should be a model.  He has a modeling agency called Modeling Agency In The Clouds (seriously, how awesome of a name is that???)  He wants to fly me up there for my very own photo shoot.

He said I could be famous!!!!  I am so lucky.

Now I'm REALLY breaking up with Luke. I think I could do better.

*    *    *    *    *    *

Dear Diary:

I just logged in to Facebook and saw THIS:

How you like me now, bitches? 



Second of all, he went and changed his relationship status to: "IT'S COMPLICATED."  OH MY GOD!!!

And third, I went through the rest of his pictures and this was totally taken here on Tatooine.  So he was here, on the SAME PLANET, and he DIDN'T. EVEN. CALL. ME. 

That's it, we are SO TOTALLY over.

*    *    *    *    *    *

Dear Diary,

Luke broke up with me today.  He called me from some place called Endor and said that things are really weird for him right now, that he's got all sorts of family drama going on and he just needs some time to figure things out. 

I can't believe it.  I totally thought that he was The One. 

I wonder if his friend Han is single...