My Brain in Close Quarters

Like so many of us during this pandemic, i have way too much time to think. If you’ve seen my ramblings before, you know that the ideas streaming through my brain are varied and arguably cause for medication. Now that we’ve been in quarantine long enough for everyone to have read every book in their home, plus the junk mail, your old legal documents, your dog’s palm, and the back of the detergent box, i was thinking i could put my insanity to good use and give you something new to read.

  • My life, overall, hasn’t changed much during this pandemic. Yes, i have transitioned to working from home. Yes, instead of going out on Friday after work, i have virtual happy hour with friends. But other than that and missing the occasional trip to Marshalls or brunch out in town with my daughter, i can’t say the difference is all that drastic. I spend as much of my time on my porch or at my redneck fire pit as i can. I walk Siri-Dog. I do chores. I guess i truly didn’t understand what a boring loner i was until i saw how easily i transitioned to Covid life. But on the bright side, i haven’t suffered the upheaval that those with an active social life have. And i have a built-in excuse for being dateless on a Saturday night.
  • Many of you know that i’ve been working on renovating my Crone Cottage. I broke out a package of graph paper and made little scale reproduction rooms that i could accurately design new ideas in. Looking for inspiration, i went to the website of the official domestic goddess. Searched for design ideas for small spaces. WTH? Ok, if i could afford a $5K laundry hamper, i wouldn’t be living in a cottage, now would i? And how is a 10’x10′ bathroom a small space??? Woman, in cottage land, that is a bedroom! I did try one of her ideas for utilizing storage totes because hers looked so neat and tidy. Mine looks more like a moving sale at Crafts-4-Less. Probably because i didn’t buy her $50 storage totes. Woman, i wish you had a sister from my side of the tracks with a similar website. That would be useful. Because Martha, i love you, but somewhere along the way you have lost touch with the reality of the general masses.
  • I bought myself an Amazon Echo. Now instead of talking to myself, i can talk to Alexa. I’m basically still having the same conversations, except now i don’t have to confess them to my shrink.
  • Six months ago i would have told you that i don’t work out an hour every day, keep my house immaculate, cook elaborate meals every night, master my ukulele, and have my book finished because i just don’t have the time. Yeah….. All that was a big, fat lie.
  • I can go days without a bra and my ducks don’t smack the ground like the Road Runner’s anvil. Who knew?
  • Not to seem irreverent to the seriousness of the current pandemic, but the only thing about it that is a surprise to me is that it took this long to happen. Big swaths of this world of ours are terribly overcrowded, poorly maintained, with no clean water or healthy waste disposal. Add to that an apparent lack of hygiene in the “civilized” world (Evidenced by the sudden need for the masses to purchase quantities of soap and TP… I would have expected us to all own those things already…) and a general degradation of common courtesy (i.e., covering your sneezes and coughs…) Truly, how the Terran population hasn’t already been culled by Tuberculosis, Hepatitis, war, or some other relevant ailment recently seems to me to be luck. But then again, diarrheal diseases, respiratory infection and TB are in the top 10 causes of death in the world… Each of those is communicable just like this and kills more than this. Don’t get me wrong, i am terribly sad that so many are sick and dying from the novel coronavirus. It is a seriously devastating illness. But maybe we’ve been in the midst of epidemics all along. And perhaps the only reason this one is getting the attention is because it is affecting the “civilized” world.
  • To those of you who said the solution to my son’s vile bathroom was to stop giving in and cleaning it for him… That he would eventually clean it himself when it got gross enough? You were wrong. So very, very wrong.
  • I really wish that after the 4th or 5th online shopping order in a pay period, my laptop hit me with a popup like, “You have apparently confused your bank balance with your calorie intake. Transaction cancelled. “
  • I miss my Dermatologist. Rebound wrinkles are a bitch. Especially when you have all the time in the world to notice them.
  • Contrary to the many times i have answered the question, there is absolutely nothing that i want to eat every day for the rest of my life. I can’t even eat the same thing four days in a row without wanting to hurl it out the door.
  • I really expected this quarantine would cause a lot of friction between my son and i. I have been pleasantly surprised that it has been mostly smooth sailing. Of course, the fact that he spends 20 hours a day in his room may have a bit to do with that.
  • Friends who leave surprise packages of homemade cookies on your doorstep are the poster children for all that is good and loving in this world.
  • I was really afraid that i would get in the habit of watching movies every hour that i wasn’t working (I am on the work-from-home train.) And i guess i did for a little bit. Basically until my smartass scale app went from calling me chubby to calling me fat. Then i started to do other things. I made myself a sundress and a sleeveless blazer, i learned some new songs on my uke, i’ve mastered Korean lip stains and cake mascara, i’ve been painting and reading again… And when i do turn on the tv, i try to seek out something different. I watched a couple live-stream operas (I can’t say i’m a huge fan, but even the classic one i saw was more enjoyable than i expected.) I watched some Broadway shows. Some documentaries. By forcing myself to stay away from my usual Firefly episodes or obscure period movies, i was able to broaden my horizons, though i’m not sure they’ve broadened as much as my waistline.
  • Have you ever wondered if putting Everclear in your essential oil diffuser would disinfect the house? No? Just me? Well, for the record, i didn’t try it. I just added it to the list of other things that i wonder about for my infuser. You know, like Nitrous.

Well, i’m off to draw some more renovation plans. Maybe i’ll do a search and see if there is a blog somewhere called “Crone Cottage Living For Those With Normal Incomes.” Or “Martha’s Poor Relation, Maggie, Takes On Decorating.” Something with more reasonable suggestions. Even if my book becomes a success, i could never spend $5000 on a laundry hamper. And if i did, my son would never bother to put his clothes in it anyway.

*Sigh*

About me…

I’m a middle aged woman with amazing offspring and a rich life. I’m also a snarky old crone with a penchant for at least half of the seven deadly sins. And i like to laugh. A lot.

Stay tuned in the coming year for my book on the good, bad, and inexplicable insanities of entering your silver years.

Inquiries can be sent to mommaholweb@gmail.com

The Truth Hurts Sometimes

I have seen it everywhere. Social media, coffee mugs, t-shirts… “LIVE YOUR TRUTH.” Almost always, it is in the context of supporting someone whose identity has traditionally been marginalized: Gays, Lesbians, Trans, etc. And that is a wonderful thing. People waste far too much time forcing themselves into boxes built by and for the average community at large, whether for their safety, or just because the human need to be loved is so strong that we are afraid our true nature would leave us connection-less. Stop trying to be someone you are not. The world will adjust.

That’s not to say that everyone will like or love you if you do. But really, do they all like and love you now? Probably not. I mean, there are people out there who hate Hugh Jackman fer gossakes. What chance to the rest of us mere mortals have? But even tho you will still have some who aren’t happy with you, are mean to you even, you are likely no worse off than you were before, only now you don’t have the stress of a lifelong masquerade to add to it. Look to the others already living their truth for proof.

For example, there are people out there whose truth is that they are misogynistic, racist assholes. And they have no problem living that out loud every day. They know people disagree. They know some people hate them for it. They don’t care. They just keep on being true to themselves. Why should they get have all the fun? And on the opposite end, there are those who have no problem living large as ancient Jewish Democratic Socialists. They know there are haters. They don’t care. The rest of us should be just as determined to be true to ourselves.

Maybe your truth is that the spirituality of your African roots saved you, and wearing a dashiki helps you honor that. That is awesome! Do it! There will be some who look at you strangely or make rude comments, but plenty of us will be eager to hear what it means to you.

Maybe your truth is that your soul is a patchouli loving, bra banning, clove-cigarette smoking earth mamma. Some will make snide remarks, call you names. I’m not going to be eager to stand downwind of you, but like most people, i won’t hate you for it. I will still be respectful of you, even as i continue wearing pretty much anything but patchouli oil.

Maybe your truth is that you are a nudist, polyamorous vegan. Good for you! I hope you are able to find a group of people who share your same culture and values so that you can live your truth every moment of every day…. I may even come visit… But don’t show up nude for work.

Because here’s the thing…

Sometimes, being a good citizen means knowing when living your truth is detrimental to the populace at large.

I have heard people say that “gay behavior” is bad for the populace at large because it goes against Christian values. This, to my way of thinking, is incorrect. Public displays of blatantly sexual behavior are bad for the populace at large, but that is not a “gay issue.” No one should be having sex in the street. Downtown Springfield on a random Friday isn’t Mardi Gras… People aren’t expecting to watch your carnal exploits, and most would probably rather not. Consensual sex in private, gay or straight, causes no such issue.

I’ve heard people say that tattoos and weird hair colors and men who wish to wear skirts are a detriment to society. I have a few tattoos, and i fail to see how they harm anyone. That being said, if you have “Fuck you” tattooed across your forehead, there is an issue. Not with the tattoo, but with the sentiment. It’s just flat out rude to everyone. Hair colors? The definition of “weird” evolves over time – Hell, when i first stopped dying my hair, i caught flack for letting it be grey and white! But it is hair, and fashion trends wax and wane. Hard to regulate that. But again, if you work for a boss who has warned you not to dye your hair green, and you do it anyway, you should not be surprised if you get called to the mat for it. Same with the men in skirts, i suppose – tho i understand that one less. A woman can wear menswear, and no one bats an eye. Why is it allowed in one direction and not the other?

I think, what it boils down to is just learning to accept that no matter how any one of us lives, there will always be naysayers. Every choice in life has consequences. And even if i think it’s stupid for someone to be fired because they wore eyeliner to work, and the company has a rule about men wearing makeup; the fact of the matter is that you now have two adult choices: You fight it in the correct way – with arbitration or a lawyer – or you find another job. (I hope you fight it, because that really is stupid. ) Choosing to scream like a banshee on social media without taking any real steps to change things is juvenile and pointless. Trying to make a policy where the rest of the men also have to wear eyeliner just because you like it is also juvenile, and it is disrespectful to others’ truths.

Be an adult. Advocate for the freedom of individual choice. Stand up straight, speak clearly and with civil words. Make your voice heard. If necessary, protest and boycott. But do not set out to do deliberate, spiteful damage. I know that lately our country has seemingly forgotten how to have meaningful discourse and come to compromise. We also seem to have lost the ability to live and let live. But on the flip side, there are others who have forgotten that, while being civil to your neighbors and fellow citizens should be expected, as should the certainty of personal safety, there is no promise that they will all agree with you, nor can you expect them all to join in your bandwagon. The best we can hope for is that we all learn to play nice.

Which we all know is a pipe dream. There will always be Christians who aren’t very Christ-like. There will always be civil servants who aren’t civil. There will always be free-love hippies who aren’t very loving. We are humans, first and foremost, after all. And humans can be really mean and hateful.

But keep living your truth, if for no other reason than to offset the schmucks. It will be difficult at times, but keep at it. Because even tho we can be assholes, humans can also be supportive and loving and giving. We can be kind. We can extend the hands of brother and sisterhood. We can become friends with those who look, act, pray, dress differently than we do. We’ve done it before. Remember, there was a time when a woman could be arrested for wearing pants. But we grew past it. We opened our minds and grew.

So i don’t care if your truth is that you are a Kenny G loving woman who wants to live as a meercat. Do your job, be nice to your neighbors, and don’t make anyone else live as a meercat. If anyone tries to hurt you for your choice, lots of us will be here to defend you. (Ok, we’ll defend the meercat thing. I can’t promise about the Kenny G.) We don’t have to understand it. But if you aren’t hurting anyone, we will do out best not to let them hurt you. We might not defend your right to work as a brain surgeon, because, last i checked, they weren’t allowing meercats into medical school. But we will defend your ability to exist as a free citizen. It won’t be easy, and lots of people will balk. But sooner or later, things will level out, because the vast majority of people are decent.

Most of us learned in the sandbox to play nice and keep our hands to ourselves. Then we grew up and moved on, remembering the lesson. Others are still in the same sandbox, biting, throwing sand, peeing in the corner… And they wonder why no one will let them out or play with them. But their truth is that they are tantrum-laden toddlers. So the adults will respect that and treat them as such.

 

My Snuffle Brings All the Boys to the Yard

The night i did the test, i settled in as best as i could. It’s not easy to sleep with things taped to your face and fingers. Not to mention the strap around your chest. The first time i did it, i apparently pulled off the probe on my finger not long after i fell asleep, so i was stuck doing it again. I really needed this to work because i didn’t want to have to go do it in one of their mock hotel rooms. That would be too much like a B horror movie.

It took a full album of thunderstorm sounds before i finally fell asleep. And when i woke up in the morning, all the lights were still blinking. Yeah! Success! So i pack up all the accoutrements, toss the sticky tapes, and drop it off at the sleep lab before i go to work. As i handed it to the tech, i told her that i didn’t imagine it had much bad news, since i felt like i had a particularly (And surprisingly ) good night’s sleep in spite of being wired up like a science experiment. She gave me a bit of a smile that i mistook for “Good for you!”

In reality, i later found out, it was more representative of, “If it were good, you wouldn’t have had to do it in the first place.”

I had opted to have a followup appointment to discuss my results instead of a phone call because i was curious about the mechanics and documentation of the measurements. So a couple weeks later, i’m in an examination room at the sleep lab office, and the PA comes in, shakes my hand, and says, “Yeah, i heard you had a good night’s sleep.”

“Yup. Hopefully it didn’t skew the test too much.”

“Uuuuhhh, seems unlikely. But if this was a good night for you, i’d hate to see a bad night.”

In one night’s sleep – a good night no less – i had 413 events. 4-fricking-13. Granted, i’ve heard of people having worse, but they were older or heavier or drank more. I’m an average weight healthy woman. I don’t fit the profile. Or so i thought. And when i voiced my surprise to the PA, he laughed. When i asked if he was joking about me needing the CPAP, he shook his head. When i said, “Do you have any idea how hard it is for a single, 52 year old woman to get a date WITHOUT having to wear a vacuum cleaner on her face at night? ” He offered that i could probably find a partner who also wore one so we could look like fighter pilots together – make it part of role play.

Smartass.

He went over the report with me line by line, graph by graph. There was no denying it. My middle of the night whale song was proven indicative of severe sleep apnea. (Leave it to me to skip straight to the high level. Oy)

So while i’m waiting for the insurance company to make false promises to the medical appliance company, i try to mitigate what i can. No sleep aids, no pain pills, no alcohol at night. I wear my little nose-opening strips, even knowing they are going to block my pores with their glue, or pop off and end up stuck someplace that didn’t need expanding. I doubt i’m really helping anything, but it makes me feel better to at least do a little something.

While i’m waiting for my new trunk (How big and bulky will it be? I know size doesn’t matter, but i’ve only got so much room next to my bed…,) i also do some reading about the condition and my test results. On the bright side, what few little health problems i have might actually get better if i can fix the sleep apnea, since most of them are at least peripherally related. That’s a plus. I will probably have more energy – Another plus – Which means i’ll be more likely to be active after work…. Which could mean losing those extra 5 lbs. – yet another plus.

So if i can learn to sleep while strapped in like a Borg, the payoff could easily be more than just an end to my overnight career as a fog horn. It could mean a lot of positive things.

That’s my story and i’m going to stick to it and tell myself it’s worth it, when i get depressed over having to sleep like i’m part of the Matrix.

**********

Day 1. With the help of a melatonin (Ok, two melatonin), I managed to sleep all night with my sexy new snuffle. Honestly, i do feel more awake than usual this morning, but that may be a placebo effect.  I check my report in the online app – And there is none. So i check the machine. No cell signal. Hmmm. Read the manual. Move the machine around the room. Still no wireless. Try plugging it in in the kitchen. Nope. The front porch. Nope. Considering my insurance company’s payment of said snuffle is depending on proof that i’m wearing it, i’d say we have a problem.

Read the manual. It says there is space for an SD card. Ok,. So there’s my fallback. Note to self: Buy a spare SD card today. (I probably have 50 lying arounnd the house somewhere, but of course i’m not going to find one when i need one.) The last bit of indignity would be to have to pay the full, uninsured bill for my  snore nozzle. Gotta fix that.

**********

Day 2. Last night i tried to adjust my attitude about the whole thing. Popped in an SD card. Strapped myself into my flight gear, took a pic of myself, and sent it out on Snapchat with the tagline, “My snuffle brings all the boys to the yard.” Here’s to humor – Helping to make the best of depressing things since forever. I look like i should be standing next to Sharon, Lois, and Bram and singing, “Skinnamarinky dinky dink, skinnamarinky doo….” But hey, at least i no longer sound like an Orca when i sleep. Or, at least i don’t think i do. It’s not like there is anyone here to tell me except SiriDog, and she won’t answer.

To help me get better used to this, i also turned off my morning alarm. There isn’t much variability in when i wake in the morning, so i wasn’t terribly worried. And true to history, i woke right before my alarm would have gone off. First thing i noticed was that i was instantly wide awake. My usual 5 minute transition has been shortened to almost nothing. Not sure if it’s my turbo hose or just the lack of an alarm, but that is kinda cool. I mean, i’ve always been a morning person – I wake fairly easily and without any grump; but it usually takes me 5 minutes or so to awaken the brain and the joints and the hands and the feet. Now it’s just, “Ok, i’m awake! Let’s go hunting snarks!”

I took the SD card to the sleep center and they checked my results. Success! Woo hoo!  My overall score went from 47 to 6. Yeah for me and my new grey appendage! At least i know my embarrassment is not for naught.

**********

It is almost my get-ready-for-bed time now, and i’m starting to feel tired. But that is most likely due to the fact that i had the energy for a full workout earlier. Another bonus. Energy for a decent workout. I can start looking forward to a waistline again. Hell, that alone might be incentive enough to keep wearing my face vacuum. Except that no one will want to see my waist because i will turn into a Kraken every night.

The Universe has a cruel sense of humor sometimes.

**********

Well, i fell asleep with no medication help and stayed strapped in all night. I guess i can get used to this. I may never like it, but i think i would hate the complications from sleep apnea more than i hate looking like an HVAC when i sleep. And, i suppose, the older i get, the more likely any potential overnight dates will have one as well. Of course, that whole premise hinges on actually having dates. So basically, the whole thing is a fantasy. So be it. In the end it boils down to this:

I’ve got shit to do. Places to visit. People to meet. New foods to try. Languages and dances to learn. Music to hear and play. Books to read. Things to create. Friends to make. And maybe even some grandchildren along the way. I can’t do that if i fall into decrepitude. My desire to check off items on my bucket list and have a wonderful life is greater than my embarrassment. So i will do what i’m supposed to do and be compliant with my personal mechanical robot. (“Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!”) I will strap myself in and ride the wild rubber hose every night. I will turn in my reports and make changes as needed. I will use the extra energy i gain to get off my arse and exercise more. And i encourage you, if you know you need it, to do it as well. Because the only thing worse than growing old is denying yourself the opportunity.

Sink the Knife a Little Deeper

You sent me a message. I ignored it.

You sent another.  I sent a one word reply.

So you ask, “Are we ok?”

I want to answer. I really do.

No. We are not ok.

You are ok. And i am ok. But we are not ok.

I want you to know.

I want you to know what it feels like to spend close moments together for years… And have your lover-friend go out of their way to avoid letting anyone know.

I want you to know what it feels like to be called a “Fallback” in a joking way, but not as a joke.

I want you to know what it feels like to watch your lover-friend return from a trip with you, and talk of the days, the weeks, like you were never there. As if they were having an illicit affair… But neither of you are married…

You should know the pain and humiliation of knowing that they were just too embarrassed to admit they had been with you.

I want your heart to crush when your lover-friend meets someone else, travels and spends time with them, and proclaims he was with her from the rooftops to anyone who will listen…

Because the new one isn’t a fill-in.

They are important. And worthy. And wanted.

And you are not.

But i can’t say it. I can’t. Because as hurt as i am, part of me feels i deserve it.

Part of me loves you too much to wish the pain on you.

And all of me knows i could have stopped playing along ages ago.

The need to be loved is stronger than any other, and we fill it however we can.

Even if it means making ourselves disposable.

Even if it means trusting in a person who won’t admit they know you, and doesn’t care enough to see how much it hurts.

So, no, we are not ok. We are not.

I am angry. I am hurt. And the pit of my stomach sinks deeper.

Because i was the friend, the lover, you couldn’t admit you had.

And you, my friend, are an asshole.

 

 

I’ll Trade You A Ceramic Chicken For Him

Sitting at the bar with a drink, a light nosh, and a magazine. Unwinding and looking for fashion ideas that will hopefully deceive the public as to the amount of class and grace i actually possess. Starting to feel all the bad vibes escape through the calamari. I feel a presence, and a body slides into the chair next to me.

At first glance, i was guessing his name was Chet, and he spent his weekends trying to lure 14 year-olds into the back of a panel van.  I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but it’s kind of hard to get past that thought. Home-bleached Sideshow Bob hair, tobacco-stained teeth, and a shirt unbuttoned to show his mangy chest hair… The appearance of a man who sells weed out of the back of an Ice Cream truck.

Why is it always these guys?

But maybe i’m being prejudiced. He might be a perfectly fine man. So i nod hello and go back to my magazine. A minute or so later, he sticks his jaundiced finger on an ad with a young and voluptuous model wearing strategically and provocatively torn jeans and two pasties over her ducks and says, “You would look good in that.”

The fact that it is total bullshit is overshadowed by my disgust at the lechery oozing from his face. Eeeewww. Just eeeewww.

So much for me being prejudiced.

I raise an eyebrow, utter a quiet and curt “Thanks”, and go back to the magazine.

He chats up the bartender, who appears to be about as enamored with him as i am, and in the periphery of my hearing, there is a comment about bitchy and unsociable women. I wanted to say something, but ignored the impulse, lest it start a conversation.

I’m not in the mood to fight.

I’m not sure what it is about me that attracts these people. The creepy; the crude; the crass. The ones who smack of squalid morals and smell of stale hormones. They always seem to find me. Or maybe it isn’t me… Maybe they hit all of us, and we all wonder that same thing. In any case, the only way this man could be more scheevey is if he was wearing a big, ugly scorpio medallion around his neck.

Just about the time i motion to pay my tab and gather to leave, a couple of young blondies take the stools on his other side and he puts his attention there. One of the few times in life i’ve been relieved to be replaced.

But i will give the guy credit for one thing – He was real. He wasn’t hiding his intention, not trying to be sly. He wore his indecency like a signature cologne – as part of his persona as his accent. I might not have liked what he was peddling, but at least i knew i wasn’t being swindled. And there is real value in that. Not enough value to give the man my number, but value nonetheless. And it makes me question what would be enough value, and am i trying to buy a Mercedes on a Chevy budget?

Since value is largely subjective, i don’t suppose there is a single correct answer. There are people in this world that would pay $100 for a ceramic chicken. I wouldn’t pay $5. So what is the value of the chicken? Maybe there isn’t a single value at all. Maybe it’s a range of values. Maybe it’s a three-dimensional graph plot. Maybe it’s a complex trigonometric equation to be expressed in base 7.  Hell, maybe it’s 42. I don’t know. To be honest, i’m not even sure we can know our own worth. “Eye of the beholder” and all that.

It’s probably a good thing. It would be sad to find out that you weren’t worth more than a ceramic chicken.

Letting My Crazy Loose

Maybe it’s just me, but i really doubt it.

You know how there’s this part of you that’s really nuts? Like not eccentric, but truly batshit crazy? And most of the time you are able to keep it under wraps, but every now and then, it rears its ugly head?

I hate those times. They make me feel guilty and embarrassed.

Sort of like how your weedlings are well-behaved in public. “Yes, ma’am,” “No, sir,” “Please,” and “Thank you.” Then you get home and they behave like they were raised by rabid chimps who’d never seen captivity.

I’m a rabid chimp when it’s been a trying week.

Most of the time, i try hard to be pleasant and likeable. Even doing the customer service portion of my job, when the person on the other end of the line is being ugly and flat out mean, i take great pains to be sweet and affable and understanding… While i’m on the phone with them. Once i hang up, the growler comes out.

“So glad i could help. Have a wonderful day, and let me know if you have any more issues,” Click.  “Good grief. Did you get through college on some sort of affirmative action plan for the daft?”  “Oh, no problem. We all make mistakes. I’m glad it all worked out. Have a good afternoon,” Click.  “And thank you for calling me incompetent before you noticed it was your error, you paste-eater.”  “Yes, sir. I understand. I will get this to the right people and let them know you are eager to get it resolved,”  Click. “By the way, sir, have you considered joining a Schmucks Anonymous meeting?”

Then i’m back to my normal, polite self.

On Friday, i came perilously close to not hanging up first.

It’s as if i am a fully inflated tire that gets closer and closer to bursting as the road heats up…. And some of the air has to be released to keep it from exploding and spreading steel belts across the highway. But last week, the road got hotter faster than i anticipated.

The week was a bit more trying that usual. Issues at work that needed too much tending. SiriDog got stuck under one of my rose bushes and tore off a chunk of her ear. The washing machine is still singing out of nowhere. They upped my escrow payment. I’ve been eating rabbit food for 2 weeks and my favorite jeans are still a bit tight. I tore my favorite shirt, the home renovation is going nowhere, and man, these hot flashes are a bitch. Basically, nothing monumental, but a whole lot of pain in the ass.

Sometimes a figurative pain in the ass is worse than a literal one. Well, maybe only for your anger management.

I did go out after work on Friday to blow off steam with some coworkers, but in spite of my loud, raucous, and crass infusion to the night, i must have still had some steam to blow. Saturday morning found me on my porch in sports bra and lounge pants, coffee in hand, coral-tinted hair probably looking like the Heat Miser, streaming Tim Minchin videos on YouTube… And singing along. (If you’ve ever heard his performances, you can easily understand why the dad from next door, sweet and conservative, moved rather quickly from door to trash bin and back again while giving me the “What the….??” look when he popped out mid performance doing his man-chores…) But hey, the kids were still inside and out of ear range, and i felt so much better after. And it’s not like there were paparazzi taking videos. (Thank you God, Goddess, and Universe!)

I still had a lingering bit of snark this morning. Time to bring out the big guns… Dirt therapy. Two peonies, a rosemary bush, another lavender. Digging holes, hoeing the potting mix, breaking your nails setting tubers… This is the chemo for stress and bad weeks. I dug til my feet had dirt tattoos under the straps of my flip-flops. I dug til my hands felt like sandpaper. I dug til my deodorant wore off. And then i watered it all. Including myself. (Don’t judge me. When was the last time you stood under a water hose set on “Mist”? It feels like the best part of childhood. Really. You should try it.) And then i put my feet up and shared a popsicle with SiriDog. (Seriously, don’t judge me.)  After that, i was too tired to have any snark left.

Anyway, so here’s hoping that by tomorrow i am back to my sweet self. (Quit laughing. I really can be sweet. Sorta.) Back in a place where i can keep my bitchy comments in my mouth until i hang up the phone. And maybe i will remember next time not to let the events of the week build up so much. Even the strongest soda bottle can take only so much shaking. We must unscrew the top just a bit at a time to let all that fizz out in an easy, steady stream… Lest we end up spewed all over people like a mis-timed locker room celebration.

If you are stressed about beach season and swimsuits. If the pollen count is driving you crazy. If work has taken all your patience. If graduations and weddings and all the other holiday and vacation planning have you at wit’s end… Take the time to blow it off. Have some fun. Dig some dirt. Sing as loud as you can til your frustration has been blown into space. Stand in the mist of your garden hose and let it all go. And thank your personal divinity that you have friends who love you even if you explode.

Hello My Baby, Hello My Honey…

 

Yesterday i mowed my lawn. Not terribly exciting, even if i did do it with my new battery-operated mower, which is crazy quiet and so much easier than my old gas mower. Not even notable for how good the lawn looks this morning after a night of rain and a morning sky that odd shade of lavender-grey that makes all the colors really “pop”. But it did make an impression nonetheless.

When i was finished washing off the grime and pollen and dust and clippings, i discovered that one of my fingers had developed an appendage of its own.

I spent the night thinking i had somehow whacked my finger without feeling it. The large hard lump on the side of my pinkie was surely just a little bone chip. It’s only mildly discolored, doesn’t really hurt, and i can still move the finger. Obviously not anything permanently debilitating.

I wish there was a word for that fear-disbelief-anger-embarrassment you feel when you’ve hurt yourself without realizing it. The older i get, the more lumps, bumps, and bruises appear without apparent reason. I can’t decide if our bodies grow numb, or we just get so distracted that we cease to notice things like the pain of knocking an end-table so badly that you leave a hematoma the size of Trump’s toupee on your thigh.

In any case, i woke frustratingly early for a Sunday morning today. As i lay there in bed, listening to the rain, and trying to devise a plan for my backyard, a different theory of the lump starting to evolve.

When i bought this house, there was a fire pit in back that had a single bench made of cement blocks piled together. The other three seats were made from tree stumps. As i was mowing by them yesterday, i noticed that they had become severely rotted.  I pulled one apart and knocked it over, just out of morbid curiosity. I’m not a big bug fan, but the idea that a single old tree stump could house any number of things was more powerful than my fear and disgust with palmettos. My curiosity was rewarded. The stumps had become a kind of condo for ants, worms, and some remarkably beautiful speckled slugs, among other creepycrawlies. After the mowing, i went back and poked some more.

You know those Italian villages that appear to be carved into the sides of rock faces? That’s what this reminded me of. As i peeled back the bark, a textured brown, tan, and grey cliff with holes/doors of various sizes carved into it began to emerge. The slime from the slugs left an iridescent path reminiscent of water and ice coming out of split shale. The sight both filled me with wonder and made me gag. God/Goddess/Universe is a freaking genius…. But She is also kind of gross.

So as i lay there listening to the rain, i started to plan my attack against the insects’ urban sprawl. I’ve been in this house for almost three years, but have never gotten around to lighting the fire pit. (I’ve been busy. And lazy. Don’t judge me.) The yard work that has been done has created quite a pile of sticks in the concavity, and i’ve a large back stock of logs besides.  I need to burn the sticks first and then somehow manage to get those big stumps onto the fire. They are twice the size of my own trunk, but i could probably pick them up if it weren’t for the bugs…

And that’s when it hit me. That lump on my finger is probably a bite. How the hell i managed to get bitten without feeling it seems strange, even for me. And it’s not like it’s itchy or anything. I slept all night without an allergic reaction. And it is no worse this morning.

Oh hell… What if something laid eggs in my finger? Daenerys is sexy as the Mother of Dragons, but i will be much less so as the mother of rhino beetles. Or fire ants. Or whatever hatches out of my hand.

Naaahhhh, i mean, what is the likelihood, right? Those stories of people hatching insects under their skin are myths, or bare minimum, rarer than nerdy Klingons.

(Can you picture a Klingon accountant? Carrying a badass pen in a snake skin pocket protector instead of a weapon in a sheath? Me neither. But there must be some, right? Someone’s gotta keep the books.)

Anyway, back to the bite theory. I went back to the stumps earlier today to take some pictures. And now i have that phantom infestation like you get when someone says the words “head lice”. I can feel ants crawling up my pants leg, even tho i am certain it’s my imagination. I feel the tickles of beetles and the damp of slugs on my toes, tho i can see there are none.

Apparently, phantom insect bites get my attention more than the real thing.

Of course, that’s assuming it is a bite. It could still be a bone chip.  It could be a torn pinkie ligament. Hell, it could be an alien, poised to pop out and deliver “Ragtime Gal” in a very high and tiny voice. That would only be slightly more surprising than the fact that i didn’t feel it when it happened.

If i didn’t notice what caused this, what else has passed by me without catching my attention? It’s not exactly on the same level as missing Liam Neeson smacking my bottom and calling me sweetheart; but it is still a bit disconcerting. Like, maybe, walking right past a $20 bill on the sidewalk. Or going the whole day with your shirt inside out. I’m too young to be that absentminded already.

Not really, but that’s what i tell myself.

In any case, i’m sure it’s nothing exciting. I’m more just miffed with myself for not knowing how it happened. Especially since there was no alcohol involved. Just my own aging brain. Tequila would have made for a better story. And if whatever is in my finger ends up on a nasty youtube video, that’s exactly how i will explain it. Unless it’s a little singing frog in a top hat. Then i’m gonna make millions.

A Day Like Today

It’s so green today.

Green and bright.

The sky is clear, and the breeze blows warm into the early Spring day.

I walk to the cemetery.

The soft rolls of the hills, covered in star creeper.

Sweet and innocent.

I sit and rest and

Think of you.

 

This day should be grey and dreary

With the sky crying slow, wet tears.

But it never is.

Your day is most often gay

And colorful

And delicious

And perfect.

It defies my insides…

My heart is angry and it aches.

But you

(I know it’s you)

Causing your day’s splendor and radiance to tell me

All is well.

 

Don’t be sad, Momma.

Don’t be sad.

Look at all this glorious day and see me.

See what i became.

I am the chartreuse of the grass,

The soft rustle of the leaves,

The scent of first blossoms of Spring.

I am here.

At the beginning,

Before you knew me.

Back where we all start and end.

And i will be here when you get here.

I will be here always.

You will hold me one day

On a day like today

And we will be this Spring day together.

 

 

A Jar of Confidence

I was watching an ad this morning that had Isabella Rossellini, with only a hint of makeup, talking about a face cream. Normally, when an ad pops up like that, i hit “skip” as soon as it lets me. But i adore Isabella, and what she was talking about really piqued my interest. There were no claims that it took years off her face. No percentages of improvement. It was her talking about how much she loved the stuff because it felt luxurious. Because she loved the scent. Because it felt special. And then she made the comment, “(I don’t want) youth. I’ve had that. I’m done with that.” And she smiles and laughs.

Oh, how i wish i could attain that level of security in myself.

It’s not so much that i want youth. There are so many experiences i never want to go through again. So many years of confusion and self-doubt. And then the years of growth, facing the parts of myself that i didn’t like and needed to change. (Not that all that work is complete yet…) I would rather spend a week getting daily root canals than go through all that again! But there are definitely things i don’t like about getting older.

Ok, ok…. You knew that already.

It made me feel so good to see Isabella – a woman who, in spite of being widely considered one of the most beautiful women in the world, was dropped from a campaign because of her age – talking about it in a positive way. Granted, she doesn’t look her age. She looks MY age, even tho the has 10 years on me. But even that means she has some wrinkles and sags… And she is stunning anyway.

It sounds trite, but i really think it has to do with her infectious laugh. And her sexy voice. And the way she projects herself. She is comfortable in her own skin. Aware of both her age and her own inner beauty. All things that you wouldn’t expect to sell a face cream. But it works.

Because after watching that ad, i actually left the house for the day in nothing but mascara and lip gloss. (Yes, and clothes. Sheesh.) If i had to estimate the last time that happened, i’d say it was no more recent than the previous presidential administration. But i figured, if Isabella – who certainly has a beauty mystique to maintain – can go confidently minimalist, i should be able to as well. I mean, it’s not like i have a cosmetic contract or reputation to maintain. So i left the majority of my makeup routine behind, and didn’t even add any extra cleavage to distract from it. I went out, ran my errands, and came home to a day of spring yard work without any penalty for skipping the color corrector or eyeliner.

I feel like i got away with streaking naked thru the park.

Yes, you could say that if the ad had really worked, i’d have run right out and bought that face cream. And i might have, if i didn’t already have more face creams, serums, and treatments than your average department store. I have creams with precious oils, serums without any oils, and bottles with vitamins and antioxidants and essences of the Amazonian rain forest. I’ve got a treatment whose selling point is that it is made with real Irish peat moss. I’ve got scientific breakthroughs that smell like Dow Chemical, and all-natural creations that smell like a goat’s ass. And in spite of all that, i still never leave the house without spackle and Bond-O.

I’ve spent enough years and dollars accumulating my skin care arsenal to know that no cream is going to bring a miracle, even Isabella’s.

But i still think it’s a successful ad. It will draw in women who are sick of the bullshit thrown at us by other companies that promise, if we use their products, we will wake up looking like Cindy Crawford. As she once famously said, even she doesn’t wake up looking like Cindy Crawford. So we know the claims are false. In spite of the fact that we sometimes (far too often) fall victim to wishful thinking, women aren’t stupid. If there was a lotion that would carve away the years, it would have been invented by now, and we’d all know about it. So the refreshing bit of honesty that sometimes a cream is good just because it makes you feel decadent might just be a game changer for the company. Maybe even the skin care market. The basic ingredients of a decent face cream don’t change much from brand to brand, so pick the one that makes you feel special.

My therapist once told me that your brain and body respond when you do something for them. Exercise, eating right, getting sleep – definitely. But also occasionally treating yourself to something extra yummy. Sleeping in on a Saturday morning. Things that are good for your soul. Your body responds positively. I think this ad feeds into that theory. Don’t buy it for a bunch of claims that can be made about nearly any moisturizer. Buy it because you like the feel of it, the scent, the fact that it makes you feel special.

Your body will likely respond to the honesty more than it responds to ridiculous claims.

As for me and my toiletry addiction, i won’t be buying the cream – I have too many already. But i will be buying the premise. And if i gain half of her sexy self-assuredness, i will be more than happy with the results. I’m sure i won’t be successful every day, but even if i manage it half the time, it’s an improvement. Maybe not to the lines on my forehead, but definitely to my psyche.