December 23, 2008

Social Deactivation


I deactivated my Facebook account today. I find myself looking at the pictures and stories of all of these lives and instead of making me feel happy to be a part of this virtual community, I feel more isolated and saddened by my loneliness. I feel like Russell Crowe in “A Beautiful Mind,” like all my friends are mere figments of my mental illness or some overactive gland. Yeah, that must be it; I must have a chemical imbalance that makes it so hard for me to function in the world.

When I was a kid, I was painfully shy. It was debilitating. The first day of kindergarten, I locked myself in my room and would not come out. I just knew in my heart that there was something wrong with me, that I wasn’t like everyone else. I feel more like that 5 year old today than I have in years. I feel like everyone else in this world not only got the manual, but knows I didn’t and that I am just winging it and hoping for the best.

I work from home, spending most of my time in my attic office alone, shut off from real people. The addition of Facebook has meant that now all of social interactions have become virtual as well. I live in a city in which there is about 5 feet between each house on my block and I am terrified to go outside and talk to my neighbors. I want to take out my cell phone and text a message to them.

Maybe I fear face-to-face conversation because there is no backspace button. I can’t carefully consider the words and what impact they will have. Or maybe I am so terrified of losing people again like I did during and after the storm that I just don’t have the fortitude to get back up on the horse. Or maybe, I just don’t want to leave my room and face those scary 5 year olds that have grown up into adults.

November 17, 2008

Bitch on the Onion



My sisters and I went to Catholic grammar school, but in 5th grade, I put my foot down and refused to go to school anymore. I was done with those people. I knew, even at the age of 10, that this just was not a good scene for someone like me.

My decision to stop going to school was not one I made lightly. Looking back on it, this small act of civil disobedience may have saved my very life. You see, I am one of those people who was born with an all-encompassing abyss of self-loathing. If my sister got punished, it was my fault. If our father was screaming and angry it was because I was a bad kid. At this point in life, I am tired of trying to figure out why this is or whose fault it is, I have just accepted that it is and that’s that.

I have a very vivid memory of being in 3rd grade at St. Philip Neri. I was sitting in Miss Lakey’s class with 29 other good Catholic boys and girls and we were reading a story out of our religion textbook/workbook. You are going to think I am making this up, but I assure you, I am not.

It was a story about a woman who was selfish and mean. She was so mean that when she died, she went to hell. While she was sitting in hell with all the other bad and evil people, she prayed to God to remove her from hell. God spoke to her and said, “You were mean and selfish your whole life. Why should I remove you from Hell? Tell me one time you weren’t selfish.”

The woman racked her boiling brain (yes, there was a cartoon drawing of her and the others drowning in flames) and remembered that one time a homeless person asked her for something to eat and she gave him an onion from her garden. So, she relayed the story of her selflessness to God.

God agreed that she had done something nice and sent down a giant onion from heaven. He told her she should grab onto the onion and he would pull her up to heaven. (Yes, there was a cartoon drawing of this image as well. Is it any wonder at all I am nuts?)

The giant onion comes down and she grabs on. When the other poor souls see her rising out of hell, they grab on to her feet. She gets scared that they are going to pull her off the onion and ruin her chances of getting out, so she ever-so-slightly starts shaking her feet to knock the dirty sinners off her onion. As soon as she does this, the onion vanishes and she plummets back to her fate of eternal damnation.

And God, I think kind of spitefully, tells her, “See, I told you. You are a selfish bitch. Fuck you, dirty whore.” OK, I might be paraphrasing that part, but I swear, that is what I heard.

That story has some really heavy concepts in it. I mean, these are things that most wise adults have a hard time grasping – love of all mankind, absolute selflessness, an acquired taste for onions. Why, I ask you, why on earth was this terrifying story in the religion textbook for 3rd graders?

Maybe they figured kids would say to themselves, “Ah yes Master, thus I will strive to be more selfless and loving.”

Well, what I thought is, “Oh shit, I am that bitch on the onion.” What else would someone who hates herself think?

That single experience and story dictated my entire relationship with organized religion for the better part of my life. It offered me no comfort or solace, but instead, I viewed God and religion as spiteful tricksters who could see through my normal exterior to my dark and irreversibly damaged soul. In short, I was fucked.

There are times that I am still that little girl. I feel like everyone else is kind and generous and got the memo about loving yourself and others and that I am sitting alone, engulfed in flames.

November 14, 2008

Obsession anyone?

The SPCA dropped off the cat traps today. We set them up and in 30 minutes we caught a cat. A big cat. A very well-fed cat. At first, I was excited, almost vindicated. And then it started making that horrible noise that cats make that is somewhere between a howl and a growl. Then I kind of felt bad for the fat bastard.

Still, I called the SPCA and a very tired looking animal control officer came out and picked up the cat. While he was here, he got a call that a dog had been shot, so he had to leave in a hurry.

I am starting to realize why the animal activists hate humans.

But, I looked up and saw the incarcerated cat's 49 friends looking at me from their lair on the neighbor's stoop. And I relaized that it was 1 down, 49 to go and I shook my fist at those ferocious felines and whispered, "Vengenace will be mine you pooping pussies."

I feel a lot like Chevy Chase from Caddy Shack or maybe even that jilted woman who drove across country wearing adult diapers.

November 11, 2008

Kittens

I just re-read my post on cats from yesterday and realize now that I was kind of nuts. I actually insinuated that I would be happy if a horrible accident would befall my neighbor. Oh my! How terrible! I would only be happy that the cats would quit crapping on my lawn. It would just be a happy coincidence, like getting a big life insurance check or something like that.

Today I am still mad about the cats, but I am not consumed with hatred and rage. Yesterday, I could have gone to jail for a cause or protested something terrible or maybe even signed a petition or two, but today, I am back to being apathetic me. I don't really care too much about anything except what I am going to eat for lunch and how I would rearrange the furniture of I had the energy and the brute strength and the will.

This is the me I actually kind of like. That hateful and rageful person I was yesterday was the person I used to be all the time. Up until around 30, I was just a pill, a bitter, bitter pill. I was filled with anger about the injustices in the world and how horrible life was for so many people, including myself. And how no one really "knew" me and how if they did, they would "understand." It makes me cringe just to think about what an asshole I was.

That's not to say I can't be a total asshole now, it's just not my default setting like it used to be. Which is really nice. It's hard to be so pissed off all the time. It take a lot of energy. And frankly, I am just not as young as I used to be.

Life is just a little easier these days...except for the damn cats.

November 10, 2008

Cats

I am super-fucking annoyed right now. The crazy lady who lives across the street from me, let's call her Judy, because that's her name, is going to push me over the edge. Judy is a thin black woman who seems relatively harmless. I think she works. She leaves the house everyday like she has a job. I think she also goes to church. Whatever. I have no respect or disrespect for church-going folk whether they are black or white. My apathy-verging-on-annoyance attitude toward church is not racist - I equally distrust all races when it comes to organized religion.

Anyway, Judy has these cats. They're not really her cats in the sense that she takes them to the vet or gets them spayed or neutered or, say, PROVIDES THEM WITH A FUCKING LITTER BOX. They are "her" cats because she feeds them. And she leaves her front door cracked all day so they can come in and out. And she provides them with a space to have hundreds of litters of new kittens that will shit and sometimes die under my old and drafty house so that my house, that I pay 1400 hundred fucking dollars for each month on a mortgage that seems like will never reduce in principal, yes this house smells like cat shit every fucking morning. So much so that my three year old son wakes up each morning and says, "Yuck, what's that smell?"

So, I went online today and googled "how to kill cats." I am done with this. I want to kill the cats so they won't crap in my lawn, under my house, on my car, in the flowerbeds or anywhere, ever again.

Those of you who know me well know that I am actually an animal lover. I was a vegeterian for over 6 years, I have rescued countless dogs and cats, I even have a tattoo of a freakin' paw on my ankle. And yet, I am going to kill 25 cats before the week is out. Why? BECAUSE I WILL GO TO JAIL IF I KILL JUDY. And, my freinds, that is who I really want to kill. I want to trap her in a big trap using cheese or tuna as the bait and bring her to the SPCA so they can euthanize her. And then I will be rid of the source of all the problems, but I won't have to feel bad about it because the SPCA euthanized her and eveyone knows they only do that because they have to and I am sure they all cry every Thursday when they burn all the carcasses, blah, blah, blah.

I called the SPCA and told them that if they did not come and do something about these cats I was going to start taking them out one by one. They called my back within minutes and told me they would bring traps and I could catch the cats and bring them to the SPCA for spay and neuter. Oh I am going to catch them alright and then when I kill them it will be like shooting fish in a pond. Because not having a vagina or testicles does not mean they will stop making my property a giant fucking litter box.

Mark my words gentle friends, by the end of November, the only thing taking a dump in my front yard will be my retarded dog Kenny. And if Judy has an unfortunate accident, well, then Virginia, yes there is a Santa Claus, isn't there?

October 23, 2008

Empty

My email inbox is empty.
I check it several times an hour
and it remains empty
I am sitting at my desk
it is nearing 1pm
and still
I am in my pajamas
teeth unbrushed
hair a mess
cold coffee in the mug on my desk
I am listening to sad songs
and lamenting a life mis-spent
on fear and guilt and shame
but too tired to do anything about it

Dirty Dishes

I used to work with a woman, who, really, was just a great person and a great friend, but, like most people, she had a few quirks. I mean, all of us do, right? I tend to pick my friends based on their quirks and how much I either like them or despise them. So, this woman had some quirks that I loved and some that I just despised. One in particular was that she often tried to cover up things about herself that make her human. Like she might expect you to believe that she didn’t pooh or something like that. And she hated the word “fart.” All of these, in my book, were a little annoying, but she was just too cute and too funny to let them ruin the friendship.

One time, I went to her house to pick her up for something and when I walked in the door into the kitchen I noticed she had very carefully placed a dish towel over the dirty dishes in her sink. I looked at the sink and then at her and said, “Why did you cover your dirty dishes?” She blushed and smiled and said, “Oh Claire, I don’t want you to know what a mess it is.”

OK, I get the intent, but really, she and I both knew what was under that towel! And, frankly, it’s a little weird to me to go on pretending that we don’t know what’s under the towel or that covering your dishes with a towel somehow makes them less dirty or less there.

On the other hand, I know what it feels like to want to hide the dirty stuff inside or about me so that no one knows it is there. Even if I can find a big enough towel to cover it all, it seems like I would always know it was there and very likely, others would also notice it.

Peeling back the towel and rifling through the chaos and bleakness is hard, it is painful. It is scary. And I am left with the crushing knowledge that although I smile and laugh and try to do the right thing, I fail every single day and remain absolutely and imperfectly human.

I hurt someone with my humanness recently and I want to cry and scream and point fingers at everyone else. But it was me and only me who was responsible for the hurt. And it must be me and only me who sits with the sadness and listens to the truthful accusations. The towels are off and all I am left with is my dirty dishes for all to see.

Life in the Fast Lane

My heart is heavy this morning. I am reeling in the wake of a tumultuous few weeks..okay, let’s be honest, a tumultuous few years. Really, how much is one person expected to endure in one 3 year time span? I know, I know, I am whining, People endure much worse. People lose their legs, children are starving, and my mother always told me to be thankful that I was never drugged in a bar and sold into white slavery. That woman had some really bizarre fears and associated stories.

The latest saga started innocently enough. Saturday before last, Mike had a stomach ache. Nothing new in our house. That man can eat. I had made jambalaya and although I had followed the directions, the rice was slightly undercooked. I ate one small bowl because, aside from the crunchy texture, it still tasted pretty good. I think Max may have eaten a little, too, but something wasn’t quite right and the crunchy rice was a little unnerving, so we erred on the side of caution.

Mike, on the other hand, decided to eat 5 bowls of undercooked jambalaya. Earlier that day he ate popcorn and then with dinner, some canned corn. Needless to say, that evening, his stomach started hurting. Again, no one was particularly alarmed because that is what happens when you eat all that crap.

That night, Mike went to the movies and I stayed home with Max. We hung out and watched Snow White and then went to bed. When I woke up the next morning, Mike was pale and couldn’t stand up straight. He insisted it was just bad gas, but I, being the holder on an English Degree and having made a “C” in Biology for Liberal Arts majors decided it was something far worse, like maybe appendicitis.

I logged onto WebMD and asked Mike to detail his symptoms to me. Based on the pain and the localization and description of said pain, WebMD told me Mike likely had appendicitis, diverticulitis or a tubal pregnancy. We packed everyone into the car and headed to the emergency room. I fully expected them to check him out and send him home the very same day, but, somehow, the gods didn’t agree with my plan.

The doctor said they needed to do a CT scan to see what was going on and that Mike had to drink 2 huge glasses of some crap before they could do it. By this point, Max, who is a normal three year old, was literally climbing the walls. While we tried to have a rational conversation with the doctor, Max was jumping from the stirrup table in the room onto the stool on the floor. I envisioned the funk of every disgusting examination that had taken place in that room over the past 30 years slowly invading my healthy little boy and it made me want to puke, which I am sure that room has seen its fair share of.

Mike really wanted to just sleep, so Max and I left and went to my sister’s house where he could play with his cousin and I could whine to my sister about how I wish our mother was still alive. She would know what to do. She would help with Max and call Mike and tell me what to ask the doctor. It’s true, mother is always right, which makes it all the worse when she is gone.

In the end, Mike was admitted into the hospital with diverticulitis and a torn colon. The pain in his abdomen was being caused by air and other gunk that was escaping through the perforation into the abdominal cavity. They had him on I.V. Cipro for the 7 days he stayed in the hospital. The goal was to allow the colon to heal on its own without surgery because operating on a torn and infected colon means you need a colostomy bag until it can heal and well, no one really wants that. The people I know who have it don’t want it.

In the middle of this chaos, I was acting as single mother doing everything – bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan and never letting Max forget he’s a sweet little boy. It was absolutely exhausting and by Thursday, I crawled into the hospital bed with Mike and cried and cried. I just wanted him to come home and be at home if, for nothing else, adult conversation.

And now he is home, and life is back to normal. Whatever that means.

September 17, 2008

A love letter to Sam





My dog, Samantha, is almost 16 years old. She is a brown mixed breed with enough of something in her to make her look like something other than a mutt. So, when people ask me, "What is she?" I used to say "She is a dog." Somewhere along the line that started sounding really obnoxious and didn't garner knowing laughs, but instead crooked smiles that clearly said, "You are an impudent ass hole, aren't you?"

So, now when people ask, "What is she?" I say, "She is an American Brown Dog."

I brought her to the vet yesterday for her yearly shots and also so he could do something about her skin and fur. It seems that my American Brown dog might be part snake because she seems to be molting...all over the house. Mind you, this is not just a fur issue. I half expect to wake up one morning and find half her tail on the floor.

I also suspected that Dr. Chapman, the vet, would suggest it might be time to put the old girl down. I braced myself and tried to be reasonable. I have put other animals down when it came time. Most recently I put Whitey down. He was old. I mean really old. He would sit in a corner and stare at the wall for hours completely unaware of his surroundings. He would fall. He would moan. It was sad.

Still, Whitey came to us only 7 years earlier as wandering stray. You know the story, we were going to find him a good home and $1,000 dollars and 15 days later, we did...ours.

I put Whitey down 6 months after I watched my mother die a horrible and painful death from cancer, so juxtaposed with that harrowing and life changing experience, it really wasn't that bad.

But Sam?! Sam has been with me since the beginning. She was just a puppy when I got her in 1994. My first husband gave her to me as a wedding present. The shelter had told him she would grow to be a very big dog, maybe over 100 pounds. And when she didn't meet his expectations and never grew bigger than 40 pounds, he cast her aside and no longer loved her. And then she was truly mine because neither of us had met his needs and wants and together we formed a bond as the unloved and the unwanted.

She slept in bed with me, right next to me, for the first year. And then she worked her way down to the foot of the bed, and finally, a couple of years ago, when jumping up on the bed became just too daunting a task, she moved to the floor on a *gasp* dog bed.

When we finally left Chris, the starter husband, I had to leave her behind. It was only for a couple of days until I could find a place, but it was the hardest couple of days because I knew how much he hated both of us. Thankfully, he was too consumed with being the victim and "winning" that the he just forgot to feed her. In my mind, neglect was the least of his potential cruelty towards her.

When my family said I could not live with them and keep her inside, I found someone else to live with. When she jumped a page fence and didn't quite clear the top, I brought her to the emergency vet and begged my mother for the money to make the check I had written good. We were a team, a package deal, two for the price of one.

In return for moderate care, she has given me the love and acceptance and I had been looking for my whole life. She snuggled willingly at every turn and even saved me from a house fire. She has never bitten anyone and even gets along with cats. Her worst crime is that she stinks. But really, don't we all? I am sure we must to her.

My current husband, who is the opposite of the first, told me he fell in love with me the night I professed my undying love for Samantha and that we were a package deal. He "adopted" her as his own and it did not matter to him that she came from the first husband.

And so, yesterday, when we walked into Dr. Chapman's office, I bit my cheeks to keep from crying and told myself over and over again that she is a dog and she is 112 in human years and that things don't last forever. None of it worked and I felt myself crashing when Sam yelped being hauled up to the table.

I cannot do this, I thought. I will break, this is too much, stop the ride, I want to get off.

And then, as if an answer to my plea, Dr. Chapman said, "Not yet. It's not time. She still has life, she just needs steroid shots to help with the skin issues and the arthritis."

Maybe I get one more year or 6 more months with her. I get to hear my son say, "I love Sam" when he rolls around on the floor next to her. And I get to see Sam smell and his lick his head like he is her own puppy. And we get to raise each other for a little while longer.

September 10, 2008

What am I Waiting For?

My son plays a game with me sometimes when I call him and ask him to come to me. He plants his tiny 2-year old feet into the ground and says, "I'm stuck! I'm stuck!" And then he tries to move with this imaginary spider's web holding his little feet. Finally, he "breaks free" and runs to me with arms wide open, laughing at his little joke.

He came up with this on his own. Just one day, he was "stuck." And I laughed and it became his schtick.

And now, I am stuck. I can't seem to move forward. The fantasy life I have created in my head has become a comfortable replacement for the reality of achieving my goals.

Don't get me wrong, my life is good and maybe I am just so bad at being kind to myself that I don't know how good it is. But, still, when I am quiet and look deep inside, something is missing, something isn't quite right.

I have unsuccessfully tried everything along the way to fill this hole - drinking, smoking, eating, sleeping around, but none of that works for long. The party ends, I cough up a lung, I get too fat and every man starts to look the same.

I want desperately to be whole, to be filled, but where do I find it? Can I order it from Amazon.com? Will a new job do it? Maybe another baby to put in daycare and feel guilty about?

In my fantasy world, I wake up in the morning happy to be alive, filled with creative energy. I don't crave cigarettes and I don't spend the day wondering what else there is.

One summer, I had a job working in an office that had daily deliveries from UPS. We had the same UPS man every day and he was the happiest man I had ever met. He came in every day whistling and singing with a bounce in his step.

On my last day at that job I got up the nerve to ask him why he was so happy. I wanted his answer to be something like "I take 500 mg of Vitamin B every day" or "I snort cocaine every morning" or even "I had a frontal lobotomy.'

No, his answer was "I've accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior."

Crap.

Can I buy that at Amazon.com?

September 7, 2008

To evacuate or not to evacuate?

Fine, we evacuated. Stupid hurricane. By Saturday, our mayor was screaming for everyone to get out and I found myself curled up on the bathroom floor in the fetal position having flashbacks of Katrina and wondering why we didn't move after the flood. Oh yeah, that's right, NO ONE WILL BUY OUR HOUSE.

We packed up 2 dogs, 1 kid and multiple suitcases into our compact car and decided to meet my sister in Huntsville, AL. Huntsville is 440 miles from New Orleans, It took us 16 hours to get there. We cried, we ate all our car food, we cursed the governor of MS for closing I-10 East, we considered turning around many times but once contraflow is in place, you can't get off the highway, we peed on the side of the road, I changed my kid's diaper on the front seat of a moving car, I held my kid on my lap in the front seat of a moving car, and fianlly, after having many, many Brittney Spears moments, we got to the Westin in Huntsville, AL. We ended up at the Westin because they accept pets. And when I tell you it was a beautiful hotel, my, my, it was embarassing to walk our 16 year old dog whose fur and skin are flaking off at an alarming rate, through the pristine lobby. But, just like Brit, our money spends just as well as the well-heeled guests.

From there, we moved to a Raddison to be closer to my sister. And then when our husbads went home to check on the houses, we took the kids down to Point Clear, AL to the Grand Hotel and Resort. Ahhhhh. I did not want to come home to New Orleans...ever.

But, we did. And $1500 later, our mandatory evacuation is over. I am smoking again, the baby who worked so hard to break the pacifier habit, is in full relapse mode, and the dogs are shaking in their boots every time we walk out to the car.

Business as usual in the Big Easy.

August 25, 2008

Oh no

For the first time in my life, I really and truly feel my immortality and that life is, as they say, short. I sometimes wish I could go back in time and do things differently. I know I am not alone in this fantasy, but perhaps I am unique in the things I would change. I would not alter the course of my life by marrying someone else or studying for the SAT. No, I would enjoy each and every cigarette that I carelessly and obliviously choked down as a teenager. I would perhaps feel less guilty about doing the things I did and maybe even do a bit more of it, now that I know no one really cares about my virginity except my parents.

I would definitely take advantage of my 17 year old body and skin. Indeed, I might even take a turn as the school slut. After all, didn't she always look happy and carefree? I mean, I didn't do anything of note in high school and I still don't have my high school friends or any type of nice reputation.

I don't get the do-over. None of us do. But, I can change it now. I will not feel guilty for sleeping late or spending 6 days solid engrossed in the Twilight Series books. I will relish every minute with my son. I will not look down red-faced when a handsome man at Taco Tico stares at me. I will stand up straight and smile right back.

I will be smart, wickedly and painfully smart whenever I can. I will not dumb down to make someone else feel more comfortable. I will let my kid eat his desert first. I might, I just might do what I want to do and take a year off of work and write the novel that has been rolling around in my head for the past 15 years. Life is short, oh so short, and I don't want to waste any more of it on fear and shame. I want to walk high and embrace every bit of it.


But, yet, stil...it sounds so easy when I write about it, but where is my net?

August 13, 2008

Close your eyes and you will disappear

I grew up being told I was wrong, that what I saw or thought or felt wasn’t real or right or true. I remember my mother telling me one day, as I was crying to her about my Dad yelling at me, that in fact my father was not yelling at me, he just had a loud voice. I knew at that moment, at the age of 7, that I would one day write my memoirs and I would entitle this brilliant tome, “Your Father’s Not Yelling at You, He Just Has a Loud Voice.”

My mother was a beautiful and kind woman. She only wanted to preserve the peace she worked so hard to achieve. She grew up in an alcoholic household. Her father was a drunk and her mother I am sure was only steps behind, her own drinking labeled “social” or “expected” when compared to her husband’s.

I do not fault my mother or my father…it is too late in the day to place blame on anyone else for my failures as an adult. People do their best and inevitably falter and fall. My mother wanted nothing but security for her children and a place to call home. My father gave her that and more. But she was accustomed to walking on egg shells and quietly trying to control the burgeoning anger steeping beneath my father’s heavy footsteps and muttered criticisms. No doubt it all reminded her of her own youth and her vain attempts to fix the relationship between her own parents.

She admitted to me, one day, in my kitchen, that by staying with my father she did the right thing for her children…except for me. I was too intuitive and knew something was wrong. Despite her denials and scoffs, I saw everything for what it really was. I looked behind the curtain and the emperor was indeed naked as a jaybird. This sixth sense is as natural to me as breathing in and out, yet I deny it and question it as one would a third arm.

And now, when my husband tells me no, that I am wrong, that he is not doing those things I say he is, I feel again like I am 7 years old. I have tears in my eyes, my tiny fists balled in rage and fear. I desperately want a trusted soul to say, you are right, what you see is real, trust your voice, and speak your truth. But that never comes and I am left with the shame and the self-loathing and the wish that the voice inside me would just shut up.

June 12, 2008

Old and In the Way

My birthday was Saturday. I am 39. It seems only a year ago I was celebrating my 38th birthday.

People ask me if I am upset to be 39 and I say, trying to sound wise and full of Zen-like calm, “why no, the alternative, having no more birthdays, is worse.’ But, of course, that is a total lie. I am not upset, but not because of that.

I am not upset because my husband is 7 years older than me and always will be. And, he is perpetually freaked out about getting older and I find that level of vanity and self-centeredness so distasteful that I would sooner die than admit that I am sad about getting older. And that is how shallow I am.

The thing I am saddest about, oddly, is that young men will now view me as an old lady. Having a striking man open a door for you so he can look at your ass as you walk through is very different from having a man open the door for you because he is afraid your hip will snap if you exert that much energy.

Either way it is nice to not have to touch a potentially germy door handle, but oh, the humanity. I thought having a kid would automatically lump me in the “ew” category with men, but my husband’s friend in a stoned-out stupor called me a milf and I, pathetically, puffed up a like a mating peacock and walked out the door like I had just won the Nobel prize. Tsk, tsk, Gloria Steinham would slap me across the face with her worn out Playboy Bunny ears.

Why, I ask you, why is the loss of my sexual appeal so sad? I will tell you, because by the time I realized I had any, my time was up, I was married, I was a mommy, I was too old. I look at pictures of myself when I was 17, 18, 23 and think, “Wow, I should have slept around a little more.”

May 9, 2008

Mother's Day


As Mother's Day approaches, I think more of my own mother and how she left this world far too soon and how much I still need and miss her. She was an amazing woman. The last words she said to me, while clutching my arm from her deathbed were, "I thought I had to go, but I realize now I have to stay." How I wish she would have stayed. I miss her so much.
*************************************************************************************

When I think about my mother, I want everyone to know how wonderful she was. I want you to know that she was kind and generous. I want you to know that she was an incredible mother and wife. She was patient and loving and easily the smartest person I’ve ever known.

I want you to know that she not only was a conspiracy theorist in the way that makes you actually question everything you believe to be true, but that she also had a deep faith in God and throughout her life continued to nurture her spiritual growth.

My mother was wickedly funny and often made me cry I laughed so hard. She gave me a birthday card last year that said I was not only her daughter, I was her friend; I was her fraughter. She said I had her same weird sense of humor and would appreciate it. And I do appreciate it. The fact that my mother liked me as a person carries tremendous weight and significance for me. I am honored that she felt that way about me because I often said that I liked my mom so much, that even if she wasn’t my mother, I’d want to be friends with her.

My mom and I used to ride to school together every day of my high school years. We often talked about playing hooky one day and just driving across the Causeway for the day. She loved to go on meandering road trips around the state. Last year at this time, she drove with me to McComb, MS on a business trip I had to take. We took the long way and stopped to eat every so often. I was just a few months pregnant with Max, so we stopped a lot. On the way home, we ate dinner at a Waffle House. We each had eggs and bacon and split a waffle for desert.

I want you to know that my mother adored all of her grandchildren – Robert, Nicholas, John Paul, Jacob, Maggie, Andrew, Grace, Celeste, Thomas, Mark and Max. She had 11 grandchildren and a few extras, too – Alex, Sophia, Joshie and Isabella meant just as much to her. Unlike some grandmothers who tolerate their off spring, she lived for them. She loved to hold the babies. I am so grateful she was able to hold Max before she died. After he was born, when we were still evacuated in Houston, she would walk using crutches down the hall to our apartment and just sit for as long as she could bear the pain and rock Max back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

I want you to know that my mother was a patient and compassionate wife. Marriage is not easy, but Mom made it look that way. She made everything in life look easy because she was so positive. She rarely got angry and when she did, it was usually at her self…or George Bush.

I want you know that my mother believed in UFOs and that she let me sleep in bed with her way too long. I want you to know that she would rub my back before I went to sleep at night. I want you to know that she cared for her mother until the very end. I want you to know that she cared for all of us more than she cared for herself. She always put others before herself.

I want you to know that she instilled in all of her daughters a love of reading. And read, she did. One time, when I was in High School, she broke her foot. Emily and I went to Wagner Library to get her some books. We picked a few newly released mysteries and brought them to the check out desk. All of the librarians asked about Mom and were concerned for her health. They all knew her well. She had a secret life at the library. When we brought them home, she ever so kindly let us know she had already read all of the books we had chosen. We tried a few more times, but it seemed she had read every book on the planet already.

I could go on for hours about my mother and her varied interests and talents. She worked with a group for a long time that reunited adopted kids with their biological parents and vice versa. She wanted my sister Angelle to find her birthmother. She wanted Angelle’s birth mother to know that everything had turned out alright. She wanted her to know she had done the right thing and that Angelle was safe and sound and happy. Her incredible persistence paid off and she did find Angelle’s birthmother.

Soon after Mom learned of her cancer, I went over to visit her one evening while Dad went out with some friends. Mom had been working on finding the biological daughter of a woman in Mississippi. Mom had figured out the daughter’s name using the detective skills she learned from the 1 million mysteries she had read from Wagner library. Once she narrowed down the name, she had me call every one in the phone book. That night, we found the daughter and talked to her. Mom’s voice was too hoarse to talk, so she had me do it and I was honored to do so.

I want to tell you so much, but what I will carry with me always is a specific memory I have of my mother. One summer, Mom and Miss Sue Barker took all 7 kids to Grand Isle. I think I was 7 or 8. If I close my eyes I can hear the waves crashing on the shore and smell the salty humid air. I can see my mother standing in the surf. She is wearing a red, white and blue bathing suit and one of my father’s old dress shirts over it. She has on a white hat and dime store flip flops. All the kids are playing in the surf lathered up in sunscreen. I can still smell the Coppertone and feel the sting of it in my eyes. My mom is catching crabs, one by one off a line she has strung in the surf. In my mind, she was out there for hours occasionally coming in to check on us or mediate a dispute over the proper engineering of sand castles. She caught a huge bucket of crabs and let us play with one or two.

At the end of the day, we all traipsed back to the camp and washed off in the outdoor shower. We were pink from the sun and had that tired feeling from being at the beach all day. Later, after the crabs are boiled, we sat at the table still in our bathing suits, itchy from the nettles. My mom peeled crabs and made little piles of crab meat for the little ones who couldn’t peel crabs themselves. She was so genuinely happy and free that day. I remember her smile, wide and bright while eating crabs, laughing with us and drinking a coke over ice.

After dinner, we all washed off and dropped into bed exhausted from the day. The fans whir and the smell of honeysuckle shampoo and Dove soap filled my senses with comfort and safety.

That is how I will remember my mother always. On that day, in her red, white and blue bathing suit, happy and free and beautiful. And I know that where she is now, she is eating crabs and laughing out loud.

My mother’s favorite poet was Edna St. Vincent Millay and I remember vividly a book of poems she kept by her bed. The poem I remember most is Lament and I would like to read it now.

LAMENT
Listen, children:
Your father is dead.
From his old coats
I'll make you little jackets;
I'll make you little trousers
From his old pants.
There'll be in his pockets
Things he used to put there,
Keys and pennies
Covered with tobacco;
Dan shall have the pennies
To save in his bank;
Anne shall have the keys
To make a pretty noise with.
Life must go on,
And the dead be forgotten;
Life must go on,
Though good men die;
Anne, eat your breakfast;
Dan, take your medicine;
Life must go on;
I forget just why.

My mother will never be forgotten. Her memory will live in each of us forever. I hope that one day, I will be just half as good as my mother was. She was not just my mother, she was my frame of reference, my spiritual guide, my friend and my role model. I will miss her terribly.

April 27, 2008

People and Dogs and Food

Jazz Fest is upon us. I have a love - hate relationship with the Fest. I love the excitement and the music and the food, but I hate the people. I just realized, that last sentence describes every area of my life. Fucking people. They are so hard to peg and read. First they save your ass and then they kick it.

Mike's father died last month and his mother went into a home. They are my in-laws, the parents of my husband and we are stuck with their dog, who has no name. It does, however, have 100 million fleas per square inch, a giant head and tiny legs, and I think may also be bi-polar.

Sadly, we will probably end up taking it to the SPCA because we already have two dogs and a baby and adding one more dog will break the camel's back - the world will stop spinning on its axis and all the people will fly off. Or at least it feels that way.

But I feel guilty about the dog. More guilty about the dog than the mother in the home, oddly. Or maybe not so oddly since people are so perplexing and dogs are usually pretty straight forward and easy to please. A bowl of water and a bowl of chow are pretty easy needs to fulfill each day.

I need people, I connect to the universe and tap into the source via my relationships with people, but it is so hard. I am an amateur in this game. I am not a rock. I am too soft in the middle.

April 14, 2008

Spring

It is cold here right now. It is April 14th and we are having record lows and I am pissed. I live in New Orleans for a reason and it is not so I can evacuate in sheer horror every hurricane season. It is not because we have the highest murder rate per capita. And, it is not because of the stellar public education system.

It is because it is warm 10 months out of the year.

I am a big fan of the flip flop. I like my toes to be free. My feet need fresh air because they sweat. And, shoving sweaty feet into socks and shoes is gross. Wearing sandals in cooler weather is also not a viable option because sweaty feet get cold easily in cold weather.

What am I to do with these moist clodhoppers on this brisk and blustery day?

I think I will stay inside all day to protest the un-springlike weather.

March 31, 2008

All the Young Girls Love Alice

There is something very satisfying about putting pen to paper. I have terrible handwriting, but I still feel a deep connection to the actual written word, Even though no one can actually read what I have written. I think this is why the blog might be difficult for me. Or this might be just an excuse why I am not blogging every day as I said I would.

I have been going to a Sunday night meeting. Sure, I'll blow my own anonymity on my blog, why not. I don't see why 16 years of sobriety is something to hide anyway. Unless of course I decide to start drinking again. It would then be a drag because my friends would gasp and stare.

So, I started going to meetings on Sunday evenings a few months ago. It is a women's meeting and most of the women are gay, which is fine with me. To quote Seinfeld, "Not that there is anything wrong with that.'

The unexpected perk to this is that I get all these compliments from these lovely women. They tell me how pretty I am and that I look nice. I tell you, NEVER in my life have any men ever been so complimentary and full of flattery. Never. And I am around a lot of men with work and such.

In fact, I have been at my current job for nearly 11 years and I have never been hit on. Not once. Well, maybe once by a creepy guy who worked in R&D, but I am not sure about that.

All of this is confusing. Do these women think I am gay? Am I safe because I am not gay? Is this the same thing as me hanging out with gay guys and flirting with them because they will never really hit on me?

I don't really think about it that much because in truth, I don't care. It just feels so good to be praised and lauded. I find myself actually brushing my hair and putting on lipstick to go to the meeting. I no longer go to mixed (men and women) meetings because, frankly, no one says wonderful things to me while I am there. No one strokes my arm while telling me my pedicure is lovely and how do I maintain my beautiful figure. Nope, just the regular crazies who think not drinking is akin to brain surgery.

Sunday nights are my nights now. My husband watches the baby, I freshen up, brush my hair, put on a nicer shirt and head to my meeting. I feel all nervous and excited, just like I used to before going to the mall in junior high school. It is borderline pathetic, and would actually be pathetic if it weren't being viewed through the filter of comparison to the rest of my life.

March 25, 2008

Broken Promises

Write every day? That is insane I tell you. Maybe 6 times per year when I remember I have a blog, but daily? That's crazy talk.

I think I have come out of, at least partially, a very long and dark depression. It was not debilitating, but it was painful none the less. Sure, a massive storm, death of my mother, birth of my first child and near collapse of my marriage are all big things and would send anyone spiraling, but I did not realize until very recently how far down I had gone.

It is as if I had a loosely woven blanket over my head for the last 2.5 years. I could see out and breathe, but it was dim and stuffy and hard to do things. And now, the blanket is gone and I can breathe cool fresh air and I can see the world around me clearly.

I am present and accounted for.

January 10, 2008

coffee is wonderful

So, it is day 2 of my blog and while I think am so full of things to say, in reality, I am not. I suppose the story of why I started smoking again after having quit for 9 years is mildly interesting. It was after Hurricane Katrina. I was 36 weeks pregnant when that stupid storm came along. It really was insane. We did not evacuate, in fact, we had never evacuated before.

But, we also weren't at home. We were on an overnight trip to Houston, our last little jaunt before the baby was born. I had packed up my fatty girl maternity underwear and the one pair of maternity jeans that fit and we hit the road. It's only 6 hours away. That was Friday, August 26, 2005. We did not come back home until November 15, 2005. It was like a really bad episode of Gillian's Island.

To add to all of this, my mother was dying of cancer, the 2 dogs and a cat I had literally begged my brother in law to rescue from our house were now in the car with us, and my feet were so swollen, I had to shove them into men's size 10 flip flops and even still, they were spilling out the sides.

So, I have the baby, I fall into a deep and painful depression that includes delusions and thoughts of putting the baby in a box in the closet, and then I beg my husband to bring me back home to New Orleans, and once we are here I cry every day because it is not where I want to be. Where I want to be does not exist.

And my mom comes home to die. And the baby grows bigger. And I eventually go back to work. And they want me to come to New York for a meeting.

And Mike is using drugs again. Soma, Lauratab, Valium, Vicodin, Methadone. I hate him. I hate him with all of my being. I want to pull the knife from the kitchen drawer and run it through his heart.

I have lost my city, I am losing my mother, and now I am losing my husband.

So I go to NYC and leave my dying mother and my baby and my asshole husband.

And I cry. And I cry. And I need something to ease the gut-wrenching pain in my heart. And I consider sleeping with a stranger or getting drunk, but I smoke. I pick the one with the least amount of immediate collateral damage.

And now, 2 years later, on this day, I again have 6 days smoke free. And the anger comes back and the sadness and the fury of all that pain that has lain dormant all of this time raises its beastly gaze.

January 9, 2008

Inaugural Post

Why have a blog, I ask myself? Well, my New Year's resolution every year for the past 500 years has been to lose weight and write more. I have failed miserably at both since before dinosaurs roamed the land and frankly, I will never lose weight because I love to eat and don't love to exercise and who fucking cares anyway, but I remain eternally optimistic about the 2nd resolution.

As much as I like the feeling of putting pen to paper, I just don't do it. But, I do get up everyday, make a big pot of coffee and plop my ass down in front of a computer. I have created many and varied ways of filling my work day with fun non-work things so why not have the blog be one of them? I can blog each day along with playing online scrabble, checking my personal email and randomly googling ex boyfriends and wondering if they still think about me and think i was "the one who got away."

Yes, I grow older yet I remain 17 years old in my brain. Now, if only I had my 17 year old ass and boobs....