I laid around with my virus-that-is-not-the-flu-dammit for a couple of days, and then I felt better and got up and did stuff. Then I felt sort of sick again. Then better. Now I am just annoyed by the whole thing; there is little I find as vexing as being sort-of-sick. Either I want to be Justifiably Ill and free to take to my bed without guilt, or I want to be well. This in-between thing where I just feel kind of punky is aggravating. Make up your mind, immune system!
So for however many days, there, dinnertime would roll around and I’d be all, “Oh, you’re hungry? Okay… ummmm… I think there’s some leftovers…?” I was falling down on my duties as a contributing member of the household, is my point. This weekend as I felt a little better I did things like dishes and laundry and such, and now today I’ve got a crock pot full of Karen’s turkey chili going (make that IMMEDIATELY if you’ve never had it; it’s phenomenal) (we used to eat it all the time until Chickadee went vegetarian, and then this weekend I was all OH HEY CHICKADEE’S NOT HERE, LET US DINE ON MEATINESS like I’d just realized we could do that), so I feel like I’m at least sort of earning my keep, again.
I’m in one of those phases where I lie in bed at night and have trouble turning my brain off. It doesn’t matter how tired I am, I busy Thinking Thinky Things, whether I want to or not. This is never good.
But hey, sometimes a purge of those things is helpful, so let’s try that. In no particular order:
Steubenville. (In case you live under a rock, here you go.) I’ve been thinking about Steubenville a lot. I am always bothered by news like this, so I can’t exactly tell you why this particular story has stuck with me the way it has. I don’t know if it’s the story itself, the timing of it (and where my life and family are right now)… I honestly don’t know.
It’s easy to say, “I can’t believe his/her parents didn’t raise him/her better” when you hear about a kid whose behavior is utterly unacceptable. I’m guilty of this myself, probably more times than I’d like to admit. What the last year or so has taught me is that we would love to believe parents have enough influence to shape their teenagers into exemplary human beings, and it’s rarely that simple. (Hubris! It’s what’s for dinner!) Teenagers, it turns out, have their own thoughts and feelings and influences beyond their parental figures, and sometimes they make terrible choices as a direct result of being raised poorly and sometimes they make terrible choices for reasons that no one (maybe not even the teen) can explain.
So I want to condemn the parents of those boys in Steubenville. Of course I do. What sort of person raises a rapist? How does a parent never send that message loud and clear, so that even in the throes of hormones or alcohol, a young man will never, ever think they are entitled to force themselves on another human? But I don’t know, I CAN’T know, whether this was a parental failing or something else. I’m all too well-acquainted with the agony of watching a child you love do things never taught or accepted by the parents. So I’m trying to hold my judgment.
This is a long and emotional prelude, I guess, to telling you that this weekend I sat Monkey down and had the most uncomfortable conversation I’ve ever had with him. NOT because I thought he needed it spelled it to him, NOT because I worry he will someday rape, but because the ONLY positive thing I could think to do in the wake of this awful mess was to make ABSOLUTE CERTAIN that he is crystal clear on this and related matters. He squirmed and rolled his eyes and did a lot of, “MOM! I already KNOW! I would NEVER!”s and I took deep breaths and said, “I know, son. It’s just important that we talk about it so everything is clear. And so that you know you can talk to me about ANYTHING, any time, and I would rather we talk about it than that you be confused.”
We talked about consent and alcohol and the important of making SURE that what you think is mutual really is. And we talked about what it means to be an accessory, too. And how it’s his responsibility as a member of the human race to say NO, THIS IS NOT OKAY if he sees someone doing something they shouldn’t.
I don’t necessarily hold the parents responsible in Steubenville. But I would bet money they never had a similar conversation with their sons. There’s too many things I can do nothing about; I can have the (uncomfortable) conversation and at least know that my kid will never fall into that “well maybe…” morality crack.
Getting my warrior back on. I mentioned in the last post that I’d had play rehearsal, and a few of you who pay really close attention (flattering! and sometimes just a little creepy!) were all “Wait, a play? Did I miss something?”
You didn’t miss anything because I just forgot to tell you. Oops? I am once again participating in The Vagina Monologues, and I’m not going to lie, last year I got to be bawdy and funny and THIS year I was hoping to get be bawdier and funnier, and I did not get cast in the piece I wanted or, indeed, in one that is even slightly funny. I’ll be in what is quite possibly the biggest downer of the entire show, and at first I was all butthurt about it because WAH I WANNA BE FUNNY.
Needless to say, I got over myself in short order.
When I went in to audition this year, the director asked me why I was there. And I didn’t really think about it, so it kind of came as a surprise to me as it came tumbling out of my mouth: “I’ve come to see the show for years and I love it. Last year I did it for my daughter. This year, I want to do it for me.” So I said that and then I had one of those little lightbulb moments where I realized OH YEAH. It made sense. Chickie was already struggling with a lot by the time I auditioned, last year. She’d seen the show with me, the year before. I wanted her to see me in it, see me up there being part of this thing. And I loved it, ALL of it—the show itself, the cast, the experience of being onstage again, being part of something that felt like joining hands with women everywhere. But Chickadee was the reason I went and auditioned, last year.
And this year, I’m doing it for me. And in the spirit of “things work out the way they’re supposed to,” I’m coming to feel like I’m in the piece I’m supposed to be in.
Don’t worry; I will plug the ever-lovin’ HELL out of the show when we get closer. (If you want to mark your calendar now, locals, it’ll be Valentine’s Day weekend at the UGA Chapel.)
Jodie. Fucking. Foster. Man, Twitter lit up like a Christmas tree last night during Jodie Foster’s acceptance speech at the Golden Globes. I have many thoughts and feelings on this, but will simply direct you to Vikki’s excellent post because, well, it’s excellent. It’s also a good way to get your brain muddled up on the complexities of sexuality, privacy, what it means to live a public life, and oh my God, I just HOPE someone is doing some sort of sociological analysis of the responses to this, because WOW. Lots of opinions.
Also, I hope I look half that good when I’m 50. Just sayin’.
Time marches on. If you’ve been around here for the last year or so, you may have noticed a certain… ahhhh… challenging set of circumstances we’ve slogged our way through, lately. Things are much better now than they were, of course, but 2012 will definitely be going down in infamy here at Casa Mir. Anyway. Yesterday Otto and I loaded up the dog and went to a Scenic Location for a trail walk (and then we went for ice cream; don’t judge me) as it was a lovely way to spend a 70-something degree afternoon in January. Chickadee was, I assume, doing homework at her dad’s house; Monkey was off at a friend’s house; it was just us and the dog.
Much entertainment can be gleaned from watching Licorice both enjoy sniffing all kinds of new things AND her reaction to other people on the trail. I used to think that everything I ever needed to learn about self-esteem I could learn from Monkey—and this may yet be true—but everything I need to learn about enjoying other people I should learn from Licorice. Because any time other people came into range, her tail would start going, and if they approached her to say hello and give her a pat, so much the better. But the EVEN BETTER scenario was always the one in which approaching people appeared not to notice her. The walnut-sized chunk of brain matter that drives my little pooch was utterly unable to process the confluence of APPROACHING HUMANS and Y U NO PETTING? Her tail would wag ever more furiously while she trotted right up to her subject’s ankles and jockeyed back and forth in a delicate circle, all, “Um, HELLO? Do you not SEE how adorable I am? BECAUSE I AM.”
Aside from enjoying watching Licorice be, well, Licorice, as we walked along, I realized that sooner than I think, it’s going to be just us. Apparently the kids will grow and leave us and it’ll be me and Otto (“… and Licorice, or if by then she dies, then I guess the five dogs I’ll need to replace her because I’ll miss her so much”). Having failed at marriage once makes one (well, certainly it makes ME) keenly aware of the many pitfalls—most of them unintentional—into which a relationship can stumble, and despite my heartfelt intentions to always prioritize Otto so as NOT to screw up again, life has a way of getting in the way.
So we held hands and walked and watched the dog be ridiculous and I found myself offering up that I know we’ve kind of been on the back burner, and I am sorry, and the GOOD news is that I still love it when it’s just us, and hanging out together is fun. Otto is used to these awkward, wordy attempts of mine to let him know I think he’s swell, and he endured it with good humor. (Though he did take issue with my suggestion that I might need five dogs to replace Licorice, someday.)
All communication is good communication. I have some thoughts brewing about this whole long-distance-parenting thing, but I’m not quite there yet. In the meantime, may I just point out that when you have fewer in-person opportunities to talk, communication tends to shake down to its core level of importance?
This is fascinating to me. My daughter now tells me things via text I think she probably wouldn’t tell me in person. And I suspect she’s able to hear things I type to her with less knee-jerk reaction than if I were standing there saying it. These are Good Things.
The flip side of that, of course, is that I now also have an inbox that overflows with things like images of Justin Beaver (go ahead, Google it). I’m all WE COMMUNICATE ABOUT THE IMPORTANT THINGS and then just when I’m feeling all productive and awesome and like a SUPERGREAT MOM, my darling daughter emails me to say UR BLOG IS SOOOOO FASCINATING and then gives me this link. So. Yeah.
In summary: Communication! It’s good. Mostly.