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You’re gonna be so sorry you asked

Hey, Mir, how’s your week been?

OH WELL I HOPE YOU HAVE SOME TIME TO SPEND! Pull up a chair! Grab a cup of tea, and maybe a few benzodiazepines. Whatever.

Let’s start last Saturday, because why not? Monkey has had a cold which has morphed into a sinus infection, and Otto has remained healthy because 1) Otto never gets sick and 2) Otto is rarely actually home, and I spent most of my spare time since the first sniffle washing my hands every ten seconds. Because I would NOT get sick, damnit! I have no time! And this time, I would escape it! So:

SATURDAY
Otto and I puttered around the house for a while, and then headed out to run various errands. I enjoy forcing Otto to do things like go to the supermarket with me, because then we can engage in romantic activities like arguing over what kind of lettuce to buy. It’s an exercise in resilience. We hit the drug store, big box home improvement store, two different grocery stores, and concluded our fascinating afternoon with actual plans for me to cook an Actual Planned Meal™ the next night, so that was my reward for standing my ground about the unacceptability of Iceberg. Also, we picked up a giant take-n-bake pizza so that Otto and Monkey could have an easy meal after I headed out to work at the theater that night. (more…)

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Something something metaphor

I go thrifting on a pretty regular basis. Sometimes I’m looking for something specific (e.g.: lo, I have partaken of too much ice cream, and require new pants), sometimes I’m just looking. [Sidebar/shameless plug: I’m finally putting some of this thrifting to good use by selling stuff on Poshmark. Here’s my closet, and if you’re new to Poshmark and put wantnotdotnet as your invite code, you get $5 of credit and so do I.] Usually I just look at clothes and shoes, but sometimes I look at other things.

Anyway. A while back I was doing my regular Goodwill rounds and I found a wicker planter shaped like an elephant. It was adorable and I immediately knew I needed to buy it, not just because it was 99 cents, but because Chickadee loves all things elephant and she lives in an apartment now and I think there is no better “You’re a grown-ass adult” marker than someone giving you a plant with the tacit understanding that you’re capable of keeping it alive. (Once upon a time a friend gave me a nice plant on Chickie’s first birthday, telling me that now that I’d kept a baby alive for an entire year, she was sure I could take care of this violet. It took a while, but I did indeed kill it. I mean, not on purpose. But. Let’s not dwell on it, I guess.)

I must’ve found the planter after move-in, because it became one of those things I hid in my closet while I tried to figure out what would be the Right Plant for it, and planned to give it to Chickie at Christmas. (more…)

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Hurricane, redux

I recently received a kind but somewhat plaintive “If you’re never going to write again could you at least TELL us” message and then I felt guilty because guilt is my go-to emotion. (My second go-to emotion is anger, which is a real treat for those around me, lemme tell you.) I never INTEND to stop writing. I just… don’t… for a while… and then inertia kicks in, and before I know it, months have passed. I do miss the days when my children were small and cherubic and uncomplicated and everything out of their mouths was entertaining and I had endless blog material simply from the day-to-day insanity of trying to keep a couple of tiny terrorists alive. (I mean, just to be clear, not just because it provided blog fodder, but because life was so much simpler back then. You know, back when I believed life made sense and if I was a good parent my children would grow up to be happy and healthy and productive. HAHAHAHA.)

Now life is more like… well, on the same day that one (theoretically adult) kid tells me what an unbearably shitty parent I am, the other (also theoretically adult) kid texts me this from across the room with a complete deadpan face and I’m still trying to figure out why:

Sooooo. Yeah. Life is ridiculous, yes? I think it is. It’s the only excuse I can offer. Also, we keep having hurricanes. (more…)

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Happy second GET OUT birthday!

Once upon a time, a long long (longlonglongLONG) time ago, I started a blog shortly after my firstborn turned six. At the time she had buckteeth and dark blonde hair and little blue glasses, and she often glared at me and said I DON’T LIKE YOU when I displeased her. This week that same sassypants turned TWENTY, only now her teeth look great and her hair is currently… um… strawberry blond with pink tips, I think… and she has a little opal nose stud instead of glasses (not to help her see… oh, you know what I mean) and nearly all of her texts to me start out I LOVE YOU but also I get I HATE IT WHEN YOU’RE RIGHT sometimes, and I screen-cap it every time because it delights me.

We thought eighteen was a big deal, but she seems to be taking twenty much harder. “Now I REALLY have to be an adult,” she kept saying, like the Adulthood Police might pull up on her at the park and be all, “Ma’am, excuse me, but aren’t you a little too old to be riding on that playground equipment? Can I see some ID, please, and can you tell me when you last filed your own taxes?” I always found it hilarious when my father would say things about how he knows I’m an adult but he always thinks of me as a kid, but now I get it. Twenty is still a toddler. Twenty is playing grownup and hoping no one notices.

Just as the last birthday before you leave for college is the GET OUT birthday, the birthday before you move into your first apartment is a similar—and yet unique—extravaganza. (more…)

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Recentish

I am positively CRUSHING 2018, in case you were wondering. Why, I made a new vision board on January 1st—as I’ve done for the past howevermany years—and I finally took down last year’s board and hung the new one this week. In April. LOOK AT ME GO. (Okay, in my defense: It has to be sealed with some spray stuff and I couldn’t find my old can of it, or maybe I’d used up the old can, I don’t know, and then I didn’t buy any until my 57 trips to the Big Home Improvement Store during Dressergate, and then I had to find the Command Strips, and… yeah, okay. That’s not really a defense.)

The hanging of my New Year’s Plan (such as it is, in collage form) promptly during the first week of April was perhaps a perfect metaphor for the overcrowding and disorganization in my life of late, so I started making some hard decisions, too. For example: Easter was this past Sunday, so this should be the week I plant my garden. But after a survey of my current life circumstances and the dozen projects I have yet to complete, as well as a quick review of how much I hate tomato-thieving squirrels, for the first year in a decade, I’ve decided not to put in a vegetable garden. Instead, I signed us up for a CSA, like the crunchy hippie I aspire to be. I mean, the cost is probably about the same, but this way I get more variety, less work, and 100% fewer tomatoes pilfered by overgrown rodents. Plus we watch a lot of Chopped and so I’m looking forward to opening a week’s haul and going GOOD LORD WHAT IS THAT HOW DO I COOK IT OR IS IT HERE TO EAT ME. Adventure!

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All grown up and good to go

Monkey turned 18 last week. EIGHTEEN! That’s just plain nutso, because I can barely remember my own name these days, but I have such clear memories of the day he was born, so it cannot possibly have happened so long ago. I remember the doctor insisting it would “be a while” because my labor with Chickadee was so long, and he checked on me and left the hospital, saying he’d be back around lunchtime. Less than an hour later I told the nurse I was pretty sure I needed to push, and she checked me and laid a gentle hand on my knee. “DO NOT PUSH,” she ordered me. She picked up the phone. “We’re gonna see how quickly the doc can get back here in his little red sports car, okay?” Turns out his car was pretty quick, and a good thing, too, because one push and everyone was screaming “STOP!” because Monkey—tiny in comparison to his sister, but a champion in-utero acrobat—was born with his umbilical cord wrapped twice around his neck. The doctor worked the cord free, caught the rest of him, and HOWWWWW was that 18 years ago? We beamed at our new baby while his chin dimple quavered and his lower lip protruded and he wailed about his eviction. I had gushed about how huge and beautiful his sister was, when she was born, but after an appropriate period of oohing and ahhing and getting him settled, I confided to his father that Baby Monkey was so tiny, I was afraid I might break him. And then I added that he reminded me of a very angry naked chicken.

(Don’t worry, he doesn’t resemble a chicken anymore. He’s much larger and far too hairy.)

Anyway, it was all a long time ago, is my point. Now he’s 18, and in addition to the usual suspects (homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast! cake after dinner! cards and presents!), THIS birthday he also got to register to vote, upgrade his driver’s license, finally use the online access to his bank account instead of asking me to check it (that’s a bank rule and it’s dumb, right?), and apply for a student credit card. We’re saving the existential angst and crushing debt for his 21st, though. (more…)

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2017: What. A. Year.

Chickadee has been home—intermittently, to be sure, as her college pals are mostly elsewhere, and as often as not, that means I’m kissing the back of her head as she leaves for a day or three to be with them—and that means certain things are assured:
1) Her “debris field” (as Otto likes to call it) is a constant reminder that my child may grow and mature but will always be comfortable and, to some extent, toddler-esque in her childhood home,
and
2) The time will come when she is lounging on the couch, looks up from her phone, sighs with disappointment, fixes me with a baleful stare, and says, “WHYYYYY don’t you ever blog anymore???”

I don’t have a good answer for her, just like I didn’t have a good response for the reader who recently felt it necessary to post on this blog’s Facebook page to let me know that she couldn’t be bothered to follow me any longer if I wasn’t going to write more often. I come away from both interactions feeling chastised and vaguely defensive, although in the case of Facebook my inclination tends toward “Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out!” whereas with my own kid I try to find an actual answer.

There isn’t one. I mean, there’s no one thing I can point to and say, “This is why.” It’s a lot of little things and a few hard-to-quantify things and life and time and dogs and doubt and fear and happiness and having just plain gotten out of the habit. I cannot promise you I’ll go back to writing regularly in 2018. I mean, I might. I don’t know. But I did think a wrap-up of 2017 was in order, if only to appease my daughter.

I never was known for my brevity, even when I wrote every day, and I haven’t written here since… October. So, um, buckle up and maybe grab a snack. (more…)

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Once there’s car bling, it’s official

When Chickadee decided on Tinytown College (not its real name), we made several trips to campus before she began her time there. Every time, we went to the bookstore and accumulated more Overpriced Licensed Stuff™, of course, including shirts for the whole family, which was ESPECIALLY important because we have since discovered that perhaps the REAL reason Chickie picked this school is because every occasion merits a free shirt. She has the shirts that we bought her and a shirt for every activity she’s in and a shirt she got at freshman orientation and a shirt for her dorm and a shirt for the Honors program and a shirt for having accumulated shirts and don’t forget the free shirts for things she doesn’t even belong to which are apparently rained down on campus at regular intervals. (Me: “Where did you even get that? You don’t live in that apartment complex.” Her: “Well, yeah, but they were giving them out in the quad, soooo….”)

Chickadee also owns a licensed lanyard, TC-mascot-themed earbuds, some sort of Terrible Towel-esque scrap of cloth (hilarious, as this school doesn’t have any Division 1 sports teams), and so on. MANY MANY MANY licensed Tinytown College THINGS.

(In case you’re wondering, I also received a licensed mug for taking her to their scholarship competition and a licensed logo imitation Tervis tumbler for taking her to orientation. That seems like a fair return on the tens of thousands of dollars we pay them, right? Sure!)

What I did not buy, initially, was a decal for my car. I don’t know that it was a conscious decision. I just… didn’t. It didn’t occur to me, I guess? I was too busy gasping for air once I saw the price tag on the “TC MOM” shirt my child insisted I needed? Who knows. When she left for college, my car did not yet proclaim OH HEY I RAISED A CHILD TO SEMI-FUNCTIONALITY AND COLLEGE ATTENDANCE IN ANOTHER TOWN yet, or, you know, via shorthand: Tinytown College. (more…)

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Learn a little, screw up a little, rinse, repeat

Otto and I spent most of the spring and part of the summer talking about, planning for, and perhaps-a-little-too-gleefully anticipating our empty nest. It’s not that we don’t adore the children—of course we do!—it’s just that… one, we’ve never been “just us” the way a traditional first-marriage couple gets to be, and two, have you met my children? They’re amazing, but I’m tired. We’re tired. It’s been a long nineteen something years since I first surrendered myself to motherhood.

Raising kids on a completely normal/expected trajectory is hard, I assume. I mean, people tell me that it is and I believe them. I don’t know about that, firsthand, on account of my children have never been normal. (I say that with love, you understand.) So: normal childrearing is hard. Childrearing with divorce and remarriage and special needs and giftedness and trauma and mental illness is HARD. And yes, sure, it’s the toughest job I’ll ever love and all of that, but: hard. No one gazes into the eyes of their newborn and thinks, “Wow, I can hardly wait until the first time he swears at the principal,” or “She’s so precious, it’s hard to believe that someday she’ll have a middle-of-the-night nightmare/flashback/sleepwalking episode and flee the house and wake up barefoot and distraught in the middle of oncoming traffic while we and the police are searching for her!”

It has been worth every single moment and every gray hair. (And I’m not just saying that because my kids will read this, even.) But we are tired. So of course we saw what seemed to be a logical endpoint and upcoming reprieve and we were giddy. And then it didn’t happen. (more…)

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Irma and others

Don’t try to have a conversation with me this week. I will, at some point, mutter darkly about throwing away five pounds of PERFECTLY GOOD shrimp. It will not need to be relevant to the conversation for me to bring this up, either. I am bitter and it’s stupid that I’m bitter and yet: five pounds of shrimp. It’s become the focal point of every feeling I’ve had the past few months.

But let’s back up.

When I last left off, we were mostly all about Monkey’s immediate needs and making sure he was okay. It was all… well, it was a lot. Me imitating Oprah and randomly pointing and shouting “YOU get an ulcer, and YOU get an ulcer, and YOOOUUUU GET AN ULCER!” did little to alleviate either his immediate health crisis or his mood, which is just crazy because I am exactly like Oprah but he never seemed all that excited about the ulcer. But time (and meds and modified diet) heals a lot, and although we are all still working on the game plan for moving forward next semester, Monkey is Monkey again.

At the same time, Chickadee was getting ready to head back to school, and I needed to be there for her, too. In particular, I needed to sit in her room while she cleaned it. Because my adult daughter is a toddler and cannot accomplish household tasks without me prodding her continuously loves me so much. Ahem. And somehow, Chickadee owns more STUFF than anyone else in our family, so the room clean-out we did last year before she moved away was amazing and then over the course of the year (take one thing, leave twelve more on every visit…) and the final move-back-with-a-dorm-room’s-worth-of-stuff-while-deathly-ill somehow culminated in four times as much stuff as we’d started with, seemed like. (more…)

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