Tuesday, August 30, 2011


It has been brought to my attention again today how little respect we have for each other as human beings, judging people by perception, or our own, biased, "worst-case-scenario" mentality. 
In other words, I'm angry.

I'm tired of paying for bad service.  I'm tired of people treating one another as if we exist in different castes.  I'm pissed off that no one says "thank you" anymore.  Are we so technologically wired that we have forgotten how to interact with each other in person?  What happened to being polite?  What happened to really LOOKING at someone when you're talking to them?  Is it bad parenting?  A global inferiority complex? 

Think about how many other things you accomplish when speaking on the telephone.  You do dishes, fold laundry, feed the dogs.  You brush your teeth, check your bank account, pick your nose, update your Facebook status.  We've forgotten how to deal with each other on a face-to-face basis.  Half the time I hang up the phone, I've already forgotten the minutia of the conversation.  Details have become obsolete.

"What did so-and-so say?" he asks from in front of the television.

"Oh, something about going to pick up her mom this afternoon, and she wanted to know if we wanted to meet up this weekend and do something," she hollers from the kitchen.

"Oh," he says.  "Where's her mom been?"

She continues putting dishes away.  "Uhmm, I don't know.  Something about work, some work trip or something.  I can't remember."

The weekend comes and goes.  Oops, I forgot.  Sue me.

Social networking has done nothing to help us network socially.  You have 420 characters to describe what's on your mind.  Maybe you have 120.  It's your choice.  Pick your poison, just don't elaborate on it.  We don't have time for the details.  Just give us the whowhatwhenwherehowwhys so we can be on our way. 

And, oh yeah, thanks for posting.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.

What a weekend.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  It was finally a weekend I can look back on and say, "No shit, there I was..." which, as we all know, is how every good Army story begins.  Only this time, I wasn't in the Army.

Oh, no.

This happened right here in the confines of my obviously-unsecured six-foot privacy fence and the glorious, post-kid-safe half-acre it encloses. 

I went to sleep Saturday night with my hands gloved in gunshot residue.

Now listen, if you wrangle snakes for a living, this may come as no small feat:  just another "day in the life of" kind of tale.  If, however, you're a stay-at-home mom and the most exciting thing that has happened in your life as of late is your covert decision to try a new brand of peanut butter ("let's see if anyone notices!"), this is kind of a big deal.

To make a long story short (which I never do and probably will not do even now despite my claim), I went outside with the dogs after dinner, leaving the three kids and the English Bulldog inside with husband-slash-daddy, so I could finish putting the above-ground pool together after spending all day moving it from one side of the yard to the other, for which I'm also famous.  It had been a grueling, back-breaking day of hard work (me) and slip n' sliding (kids), and I felt that if I didn't get the pool filling by the time the sun went down, the day would've ended with me not really accomplishing anything.  I only had about 20 minutes of work left:  lifting the legs of the pool one by one and inserting them thru a rope which circles the bottom of the pool.  Easy peasy.

I start on the left, I always do, and I'm working clockwise:  lift leg, hold pool frame up with my back, pull rope to outside of leg, lower leg, continue.  I've got my head down, and I'm circling the pool.  Up, lift, rope, down.  Up, lift, rope, down.  Up, lift, rope, down.  I've got about five more poles to go.

I clear the backside of the pool and I'm coming around the final turn:  the home stretch.  What was on my mind, you ask, as I walked up onto that coiled rattlesnake?  I couldn't tell you.  I might've been reminiscing about the ham and tomato sandwich I had for dinner, and how I'd used the perfect amount of mayonnaise.  I might've been wondering what I could do to make myself like country music.  Maybe I was thinking about Richard, inside feeding the baby his little baby oatmeal.  Whatever it had been, it stopped.

The crickets stopped.

All I could hear was the rattle, and I was close.  Damn close.  Like, "why does this almost sound like it's at my feet" close (which is always measured in millimeters, by the way).  When I raised my head, I was staring into the cold, beady eyes of the biggest rattlesnake I've ever seen without paying admission.  For one brief second, I remember thinking, "Goddamn, that thing's got a big head," and then panic set in.  Sheer, unadulterated panic, flowing like liquid and pounding like waves.  I scrambled blindly backward, fast.  In my brain, I told my legs to move faster, faster, that thing is going to strike, go faster faster fasterfasterfaster!

I keep two guns in my house:  one is a hand-me-down from my Georgia stepdad, an old clunky woodhandled revolver.  It shoots .44 or .22, and I've got some hollow point rounds for it, but it's a revolver.  I keep it because it makes me feel like a gunslinger:  good and manly, in a kind, softspoken way.  Like John Wayne.  My weapon of choice, however, is my Heckler and Koch USP compact 9mm.  Now this is a handgun.  I'm not sure how those Germans do it, but this thing makes me feel like "James Bond meets Jason Bourne."  Bad ass.

So no shit, there I was, flying around the pool all 5'1" of me, waving my hands and screaming for the dogs as if a hole had just opened up in the ground and all of our numbers were up.  Our Best Dog Ever, Lena, is checking out the snake, thankfully from behind, but visions of Bad Bad Things are still creeping into the periphery of my imagination.  I'm running so fast in forward, trees are going by in a blur.  I'm barefoot.  Nike doesn't have SHIT on a mother running to get a gun.  That should be an advertising campaign right there.  Don't take it:  I'm going to patent it.

Richard, dear sweet Richard, hears/sees/senses the commotion, and meets me at the sliding door.  I'm all "Get me the gun!  Get me the gun!" and he's all thinking I must have to use the bathroom really bad.  (More evidence for the old Mars and Venus theory, surely.)  I give him the brief rundown, telling him to stay inside with the kids in case the cops show up, because I'm about to blow this rattlesnake straight to H-E-double toothpicks.  I'm not sure if that's a felony or anything, but I sure hope not:  at the last check, I was barefoot, wearing a sports bra and a pair of boxers with no underwear.  (Don't judge:  I'm a minimalist because I hate doing laundry.)

A 9-mm doesn't give you much range to work with.  Taking a lesson from every badass in every movie ever, I decided my best vantage point for rattlesnake-shooting-cum-don't-shoot-a-hole-in-the-pool was from above, so I climbed the closest tree.  With a loaded handgun.  My mom would not have been proud.

I lean over my unsuspecting target and line up my shot.  BAM!  BAM!  BAM! 

Rinse and repeat.

Okay, I fired off a whole magazine. 

I had to be sure.

It sounded like the 4th of July.  I kept thinking of a line from the Little Rascals, when Alfalfa is reciting his memorizations:  "Cannons to the left of me!"  BAM!  "Cannons to the right!"  BAM!  How can you be sure a snake is dead?

I know:  you go inside for another magazine, that's how.

When all was said and done, it was indeed dead.  I counted the holes in the snake:  there were at least 4.  I counted the holes in the pool:  zero.  A good day indeed.

Richard came outside and took some pictures of me with the snake, but only after I'd chopped its head off with a shovel.  You know, just to be really really really sure.  And that, my friends, was my weekend, in a nutshell.

Now, who wants to try a peanut butter sandwich?  Come on, we've got new peanut butter!    :-)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Teething and Homework vs. Mom

Today has been trying, to say the least.  With two days until the seven-month mark, Caleb is full-on teething, and I'm suddenly of the opinion that teeth are the meanest, stupidest things in the whole world.  With a pea-sized amount of baby Orajel on my index finger while trying to avoid applying said Orajel to his tongue, I was lucky (or unlucky) enough to see the root of Mr. Crankypants' problem:  when they say "cutting teeth," they ain't bullshitting.

The poor guy had two bleeding subtraction marks across his bottom gum.  Viewing from above, his mouth resembled the following algebraic dilemma:

left gum minus minus right gum equals I hate you.

Of course, after solving and checking, you find the answer to be No Solution.

Stupid algebra.

Ahhh, enter 3:45pm.  Time to pick up the big second-grader.  Homework this evening?  Simple:  study for tomorrow's spelling test.  Yay!  Hooray!  To a second-grader, this translates to "I have no homework!"  Apparently, big guy forgot who his mother is.

Let me break here for a moment and say this:  Smart children are not born smart.  Smart children are born to good parents.  See the difference? 

I give the boy a sheet of paper and a pencil:  we're doing a pre-test.  15 words, the longest of which is "because," at a whopping seven letters.  You'd think I'd told him that Christmas had been cancelled this year.  The waterworks started, and we began.

"Number one:  where."

By the time we finished, the waterworks had been turned off, for which I was eternally grateful after dealing with a day of crying, wailing, and fussiness.  And also the teething baby.    At the end of the pre-test, I checked:  stop the presses.  Again isn't spelled "agian" and "beacuase" in no way resembles because.  Time to practice.

2 words, 10 times each.

You'd think I'd just told him Christmas AND his birthday had been cancelled this year.  And for the five years after this.

Why do children have to be so heartless?

Needless to say, we made it through the spelling drill, only after Aidan cried out his weight in water. 

Listen here, boys.  Here's how my day went:

The desk we were trying to sell for $250 broke during delivery.
I noticed a one-inch gash in the bottom of our $900 pool liner when attempting to drain and move the 350-pound beast in 95 degree weather.
A dear, dear family member is in ICU following a stroke, and no one knows why.
Our electric bill, after turning the air up to 81 degrees during the day for the past month AND no longer running the pool pump, is still a whopping $219.
I'm running low on cigarettes, and I don't quite have the motivation to load up and head to the store.
A windstorm knocked my seven-foot mango tree over.
Someone needs to mow this lawn.
There are four baskets of clean laundry with my name on them.
All my friends have started back to school and/or work, and I'm bored.
I have less than two weeks to get rid of all the crap in the garage.
What are we having for dinner?

So yeah, that sums up my day in a nutshell.

Now who wants me to give them something to cry about?


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dunbar's Number vs. Facebook: Epic.

I could definitely disappear.

Yes, I could definitely disappear.

Don't get me wrong: I love my kids and family with all my heart, but that doesn't mean I couldn't do it.

As an experiment, you know?

Have you ever heard of Dunbar's number?  The Wikipedia version is okay, just to get a hint of it:  it's not like we're writing a paper or anything.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar's_number

(Edited to add:  No, I do not use Wikipedia for research papers.  *shudder*)

I read about this when I was doing research for an online sociology class I was taking last semester, and it amazed the hell out of me.  In a nutshell, the theory states that, largely due to the design of our brain's neocortex, there is a comforable limit to the number of relationships and direct interactions we can exchange without said friendships and relationships becoming a burden.  The number is said to be in the area of 100 and 230, with the common reference point being around 150.

150 friends and acquaintances.  I'd love that.

Apparently Dunbar's number has never met Facebook.

Yesterday was my birthday, as most of you know, and I spent a great deal of time responding to every single person on my Facebook page who took the time out of their day to wish me a happy birthday.  It was exhaustingly exhilerating, but reasonable, considering out of my 331 friends, I had approximately 75 birthday messages.  Of course, some came via telephone and text message as well, but it was a comfortable number, and I appreciated everyone who took the time to wish me well.

Yet, lurking in the depths of my mind, I could just disappear.

I'd be up for that challenge.  Sure, it would be hard saying goodbye to everyone I love, and I'm sure I'd oftentimes find myself wondering how so-and-so's change of employment went, or if so-and-so-else ever got over that nasty cold that had been plaguing the family, but I'd be alright.  I could happily buy a large plot of land somewhere, say, Montana, and go farm and herd the rest of my life away in the peaceful solitude one can only find on 100 acres of mountainous cow fields.  I'd write a lot, read a lot, maybe learn to knit.  I'd go exploring, find a hot spring, take pictures.

But then I'd think of my family.

Awww, hell.  I'm a softie.  What happened to me, turning all family and stuff?  Does motherhood/parenthood/wifehood take away our spontenaity?  Our zest?  Our love of adventure?  No.  It doesn't take it away:  it passes it on to our children.

I guess I realize now that my carefree days are over.  Did it take a 37th birthday to tell me that?  Now I live for the adventures of my kids:  Aidan's third day in second grade, Caleb's first teeth.  I speculate via Google, get my news from Facebook, travel across continents via whatever book I'm reading on Nook.  I enjoy the predictability of my peers, get my daytime laughs from talk shows, and send warm wishes via email.

God, I hate technology.

Still, I could always just disappear.

But I don't.

I've gotta go, it's time for Sesame Street.

Monday, August 22, 2011

When Aidan was a wee lad.

With one hour to go until I burn rubber toward the bus stop, now seems a good time to reminisce about the times when Aidan was just a wee lad. 

Before second grade, before Call of Duty, and before the big talk about the birds and the bees, Aidan was just a wee lad.  One day, I came into the kitchen to see him standing at the open dishwasher, removing and licking the dirty silverware one by one.

Following the disinfection of my little wee one, I began to ponder life's fragile purpose, and wondered in amazement about the furry, germy little creatures we call children.  When one considers a child, all 40 booger-coated inches of them, terms like "natural selection" cease to have meaning.  Why are we given these filthy little mannerless creatures to care for and love?  They simply would not make it without us.  They think nothing of eating dirt: instead of E.coli and amoebas and evaporating dog urine, they see a big pile of "I wonder what that tastes like."  Could you imagine going outside and eating a handful of dirt?  Well, could you?

Upon changing my current wee one's dirty diaper, his hand immediately seeks out and finds the poo, and my lightning-fast right hand is the only thing that prevents said poo from entering the 2nd most cool spot on wee one's body according to wee one:  his mouth.

Seriously?  How do we even make it to adulthood?  Kids have absolutely no idea about safety, cleanliness, the correct way to blow their nose.  I have to constantly remind current wee one of his inability to survive in a rain storm.  He couldn't make it out of a puddle.  I'm pretty sure I'm averaging one new grey hair a day at this stage, and little wee one hasn't even begun to properly crawl, instead sitting and scooting forward on his butt where, if a misplaced spear happened to be laying on the ground, he'd have absolutely no qualms about impaling himself. 

When I reminisce about my oldest wee one, I remember an evening bath during which he tried to shave his beard and/or mustache with my razor, but somehow ended up shaving his lips instead.  Once, he plopped down on his bed onto his knees, only to have one rascally aforementioned knee slide between the slats of his footboard, his wails of despair promptly leading to a mom-induced escape hatch by way of a hacksaw and some old-fashioned American adrenaline. 

Think back to your childhood, then go hug your mom.  Without her, you wouldn't be here.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

If I could only remember,...

...maybe I'd never forget. 

Each time I reach for this forgotten blog, this poor unopened corner of the Interweb, I enjoy the thirty seconds of lightheadedness I get while I blow the dust off and reread tiny snippets of my past.  It feels good, like an old cd found between insurance papers and outdated vehicle registrations, one that still plays well and it all comes back, the skip 37 seconds into the 4th song, etc.

Last time I wrote, the baby was 9 weeks old.  Now we're approaching the seven-month mark.  My seven-year-old starts second grade tomorrow.  The diamond ring you read about has been upgraded, although the engagement hasn't.  Nothing personal:  we're simply waiting on legal advice before we proceed.  Sounds complicated, sure, but it's never really complicated when you've got a rock-solid foundation.  I love this guy.  I do.     :-)

I met his family last week, and they are every bit as terrific as I'd dreamed they would be.  I should've met them a year ago.  Did I ever tell you about the psychic?  Just a quick tale and I'll be off to bed and out of your hair, like every good wife should be on a Sunday evening.

In February of 2010, this random Facebook stranger (with whom I shared 33 mutual friends) asked me on a date to a funeral.  It was so off-the-wall, I couldn't help but play along.  It turned into an interesting friendship, to say the least, but alas, I'm getting ahead of myself.

On Valentine's Day, he proposed we go have our palms read at a 5-dollar psychic, but when we got there and saw the psychic's menu, he upgraded our futures to a 60-dollar-a-piece tarot reading.  Now listen:  I already HAD my life planned out.  I didn't need to give someone 60 dollars to tell me where I was going:  I already knew.  Son number one was five years old.  I was back in school, future uncertain, but I knew I was headed toward some type of degree in either education or, well, education.  Maybe English.  Whatever, but that wasn't important.  What was important was that I was in control of my own destiny.

He upgraded both of our readings.  Whatever. 

The psychic takes him in first, while I sit in the "lobby" (aka - space smaller than my bathroom) reading one of those free local newspapers, filled from front to back with silly advertisements and such.  Hell, I'll bet the psychic had even advertised there.  Anyway, maybe 15 minutes later, out comes my pal, and we switch places.

I sit in the chair when asked, and the psychic lady tells me to relax, take deep breaths, clear my mind.  If she were psychic, she would've known how on the brink of sleep I was, considering the Dive Bar Crawl we'd done the night before, shutting down the biker bar around 3am.  Following my cut, she begins dealing out the cards, and the reading begins.

Small talk first, sure, but then she begins asking me about a trip I have coming up, one of which I'm completely unaware.  I had absolutely no plans of any sort of vacation.  Does this lady even realize I'm a single mom?  Who is she kidding?  Whatever.  I play along.  No, I'm not aware of any sort of vacation.  She presses further, telling me that there is going to be a trip coming up, which I'll be taking with two other people, one which I know, and one I don't know so well.  Hmm.  Interesting.  I haven't been on a vacation in five years, and suddenly according to her, I'm going to be invited on a vacation.  She goes further:  this will be happening in approximately three and a half months.  I nod my head.  Okay, I'm game.  Vacation.  I'm now having Seinfield flashbacks with George and the jellyfish.

She continues:  I HAVE to go on this vacation.  At some point, I'm not going to want to go, but I'm SUPPOSED TO GO.  Playing Devil's Advocate, I'm wondering what will happen if I DON'T go?  Will an anvil fall on my head?  A two-ton piano?  What's the catch?  The catch, she tells me, doesn't exist.  If I don't go, eventually everything will happen the way it's supposed to, but if I do go, things will be better faster.

Okay, now my head is spinning, but she's not quite done with me yet.  She says she's sees a huge conflict in my life.  She sees me as being very confused, and she gives me her business card.  She makes me promise I will come back again and see her, as in "come back again when you're alone."  And I don't mean it in a sexy way, I mean it in a creepy way.  I was wondering if she'd used the same scare tactic on my friend currenly waiting in the lobby.

When we left, of course we compared notes, but there was no talk of conflict with him, and no invitation to return.  No business card, no look of worry or concern in her face.  She told him, rather unexcitedly, that he'd be getting three business offers in the mail.  By letter.  Like, the old pony express.  Who does THAT anymore?

I'd like to go back and visit that psychic again.  I'd like to tell her that, shortly after she read my cards, I met someone else.  I'd like to tell her how I got pregnant at the end of April, and how he invited me to go to North Florida on vacation with his family, but I didn't go because he was too afraid to tell his dad that we were pregnant, and I was already starting to show by June, when they'd reserved the timeshare.  I'd like to tell her how his leaving to take that vacation without me turned my world upside-down, and how I could never imagine picking up the pieces and putting them in any sort of order that would ever make sense again.  I'd like to tell her, then, how I eventually realized I didn't want to be without him, and how I worked harder than I ever have to change the things that were wrong inside me, to become a person capable of "happily ever after."  I'd like to tell her how, months later, I remembered our conversation that day, and put two and two together, and wondered if everything she'd talked about had really come true.  I'd like to tell her all these things,...

but she probably already knows.