Posts filed under 'The anxious anxiety'

Paper Gangsta

Hey, here’s a funny story in the TMI category, but look, never stopped me before: Shortly after I posted about the ANXIETY SPIRAL I . . . I got my period. I am not suggesting these things are related, OH HO, I would never do such a thing, but I’m saying I . . . I feel better. Draw your own conclusions.

Anyway, here are some quick things I’ve been thinking about — I’ve promised to write here more, for myself, even if no one reads it. Besides, my mother would yell at me if I stopped. “I passed the URL on to the ladies at church and you hadn’t even UPDATED,” she admonished me one day.

The ladies at church. A conservative church. Well! What a surprise this is and must have been for them. Hello, church ladies, I am terribly sorry for my period talk and potty mouth.

— This is the first year I’ve really had Things I wanted to accomplish. Concrete things that are measurable and actionable and move the needle somewhere. I — we — have some pretty aggressive financial goals, so I have been redoing our budget and making changes and GOD, look, every time I fall off the wagon a little, I forget what a money nerd I am. I kind of get off on slashing things and doing without and making little changes to save money here and there. (MY KINGDOM FOR A GIANT SLASH IN FLORIDA.) I can exercise such RESTRAINT with money when I put my mind to it, and it makes me feel virtuous and smug and each purchase I don’t make cheers me to no end, as does the monthly transfer into whatever account I’m paying down or growing.

It’s gaining satisfaction from deprivation, which is twisted but rewarding, right? So why why WHY am I not as disciplined with diet? WHY? It’s the same principles! The same theoretical rewards made real! WHY? WHY? WHY?

— In the realm of finances, I was chatting with Liz today and talking about my biggest hang-up with money is that I am STUPID with spending and sort of thoughtless. Like, I will spend $500 in a single month at Target if I’m not careful, but if I have to make a SINGLE purchase more than, say, $50, I balk. Oh, that’s too much MONEY, I’ll tell myself. When really, it’s not any more than I’ve spent on random shit like an extra pair of unnecessary leggings, four crappy T-shirts, a face mask and six extra boxes of Band-Aids that were on sale. Stuff I didn’t even NEED.

But if I STOPPED doing that and actually started paying attention, I could use that money to buy something I DO need, like new couches, because I’m sure you thought yours were disgusting, but you’re wrong. Ours are the grossest. We bought them back in 2000, when we moved into our first apartment together. That’s right, we have THIRTEEN YEAR OLD couches that have been through a cat, a dog, two children and seriously, I think I had a nicer sofa set in college. The cushions on the back don’t even stand up anymore. But it seemed so ILLOGICAL to buy new ones when we were having, you know, small children who will, and have, barf, pee, poop and otherwise sully them. Except we realized that we don’t spend any time in an ENTIRE ROOM OF THE HOUSE, because we hate sitting on them so much.

But no. Much better to have stockpiles of awful beauty products lying about. Buy the damned couches.

– Why am I still talking about this? I don’t know! Maybe because I’ve spent three days talking to financial advisers and re-doing budgets and buying Hello Wallet and GETTING SHIT DONE. I feel like some kind of FINANCIAL WIZARD, but really, ah, no.

I’m sure this is all very riveting. Sorry. Look, I never promised you a rose garden.

I hope you have a great weekend.

 

*Lady GaGa

 

37 comments January 24th, 2013

Spiraling

I had a rough couple of weeks there where I was positively WEEPY about Allie being the Last Baby, after all of the Done declarations and sadness and I can’t even go into it anymore, because oddly, it passed. I think it was hormonal, seriously, because I remember going through a Dark Time right around the same age when Sam was an infant. Six to seven months, man. It’s like the silent postpartum killer that I really don’t remember hearing about. Is this a thing you’ve heard about? I mentioned it to a few people and there were many nods of agreement that oh yes, six months is a time when everything goes to shit, hormone-wise, particularly women who are breastfeeding.

For me, I think it coincided with a dip in night nursing — Allie started sleeping longer stretches at night (sometimes all the way through, please don’t tell anyone I said that), which meant that I was no longer a milk machine all night long, with the oxytocin and other happy hormones coursing through my veins and . . . yeah. Sam was similar, although there was no sleeping through the night to be had. More like, ah, sleeping through more than two hours. Which was awesome, don’t get me wrong, and shockingly provided similar results.

The thing is, there will always be a Last Baby, whether it’s this baby or another baby, and all the babies turn into children before you know it. It’s not like a third baby makes babyhood last longer — it still goes just as quickly, and it still doesn’t last. Babies become toddlers who become kids, and honestly, I can’t say I have any issue with the advancing of time so far, at least in terms of the results on my children. Yes, it’s sad to not have a baby anymore, but Sam is so awesome and fun and funny that I don’t even think I would go back if given the opportunity. I am hopeful, at least, that the same will be true for Allie, and that Sam will continue along a trail of awesomeness that makes me happier and happier each day. I keep remembering that we don’t even know who Allie IS yet. She’s just starting to tell us, and that’s pretty exciting.

(Ask me again when they’re 13.)

I have also come to the conclusion that kids are kind of like raw cookie dough. It’s impossible to stop, and it’s impossible to know that you’ve had too many until you’re nauseated and sweaty and wondering how things suddenly got this way. Not that it happens that way for everyone! I’m not saying everyone overdoes kids! I’m saying I think that’s what it would be like for me. I wouldn’t KNOW it was too much until I was weeping from . . . chaos, I guess. And I don’t REALLY feel like anyone is missing. I feel like everyone who is supposed to be here is here. When it was just us and Sam, I knew someone was missing. I KNEW it. I looked in the future and I saw the three of us and a blank space where, if I’m totally honest, another little girl was supposed to be.

And now she’s here. It IS right, even if I get a sad, biology-driven urge to have All The Babies, I can’t, and deep down, in my logical brain, I don’t actually want to.

ANYWAY, so then, instead of focusing on having another baby, or the Last Baby or any of that crap, I have REDIRECTED my anxiety on The Future, which involves budgets! And FUTURE JOB PROSPECTS! And just . . . EVERYTHING. I keep tweeting about line item after line item that I’m slashing. I am going WHOLE SLASH on everything, and honestly, I think it’s a good thing, even if my efforts are from a slightly insane place. I think. Although how I would know is beyond me.

I have spent a lot of time fretting about my house in Florida, too, which is also a good thing, as I declared this the year that we would finally come to some sort of closure on how to handle it without wanting to kill ourselves softly. I’ve also a lot of things that have always existed, but have somehow reached Paramount Importance and now that we’re not having any more children, it is time to FACE EVERYTHING and get our lives in order, and while some of this is healthy, I believe I am taking it all to a new level.

Basically, I am still working through this postpartum hormonal dip from hell, is what I’m saying. But have I ever mentioned that I am a HUGE fan of cognitive behavioral therapy? Well, I am. And what I like about it is that it focuses on stopping the wild spiral and focusing on what you can control, usually in the very immediate future and what would make you feel more in control RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Or you know, in the next few weeks. Baby steps, really.

It also helps that I have been through this anxiety spiral before, and I know what it is, and that it isn’t normal me, and that while yes, some stressors are real, they are likely FIXABLE and the world isn’t going to hell in a handbasket, and hey, Jonna, what can you do TODAY that will help you achieve peace on these issues? Besides staying medicated, which I am. And also realizing that this will pass.

I highly recommend CBT if you’re an anxiety-prone person. Truly. Coping mechanisms are important.

I’m making it sound like my life is a miserable death spiral. It isn’t. It’s just that this is THERE, lurking in the shadows, coming out to play at the least opportune moment, like, you know, when you want to go to sleep.

On the positive front, the one thing that did come out of this is that I want to take on a few freelance clients again. I miss it. I miss that small part of me doing something thinky and non-child-related to keep perspective on you know, being a human outside of a mom. It was a nice seven months, but it’s time. And I think I can say that comes from a relatively sane place, because I’ve been thinking about it for a while.

Well! It’s, ah, time to try to go to sleep. Thanks for listening. Writing it out always helps.

*Erasure

39 comments January 22nd, 2013

Tenuousness

I don’t even know where to start with this. Sandy? Sucked. She sucked and she still sucks and awww, maaaan, she sucked, what else is there to say? We were relatively unscathed compared to some, but still: it sucked. I hate thinking about what’s still happening out there, and I hope you are all safe and warm.

For some reason, I was unreasonably panicked about the storm, but only about the loss of power. Perhaps I was recalling Snowtober of last year, wherein we lost power for multiple (freezing) days, and I made the grave error of choosing chicken tikka masala for lunch during the tenth week of pregnancy. This choice proved to be more unwise than anyone could have anticipated, for the lack of power led to Sam’s lack of sleep (no sound machine!), which led to an inability to take my evening Unisom, which ultimately led to me barfing up chicken tikka masala out the passenger side of my CRV across from Honeydew Donuts in Framingham. This, of course, resulted in me having to clean up said vomit while my child screamed and my husband sympathy gagged AND I had barfed all over myself, including my hair and heyyyy, no hot water and it was 30 degrees outside, so I couldn’t EVEN.

And everyone at the time wondered why we eventually ended up paying out the ass for a hotel in Cambridge. Yes, YOU try smelling your vomit-covered self for a few days straight and see what you’re willing to part with, cash-wise, to free yourself from the stench. While pregnant.

Well! Obviously I am still grumpy about THAT. And listen, no one likes to overuse the term PTSD, but I do believe I carried a touch of it around when Sandy, who I keep wanting to call Diane, came rolling into town. I fretted at every flicker! I booked a hotel in a neighboring town in advance to stave off the remotest possibility of puke hair! I prayed, I voodooed, I did everything possible to avoid losing power, short of a live sacrifice. (But don’t think I didn’t give my kitchen window spider pal Charlotte the side-eye.)

I . . . didn’t really consider downed trees. Of which there were three, one of which — a 50-foot pine — came crashing down on the roof over my living room WHILE I WAS SITTING UNDERNEATH IT. It blew out the lights! Bits of lights showered down upon me! WHILE I WAS HOLDING MY BABY.

I panicked! I ran! I screamed, “Girls, RUN!” Girls. As if Allie has legs that do anything but pump aimlessly into the ether.

I am not the girl you want in a crisis. I have many fine attributes, but bearing reasonable instincts in heartstopping moments is not one of them. Sam freaked, as you would expect, and firmly planted herself in front of the couch. I grabbed her hand, willing her to move, screaming at her to JUST MOVE. I wandered back and forth, hopelessly confused. I waited for the last remaining pine to fall — another fifty-footer, already leaning quite ominously — and wandered some more while Adam barked orders. And then we all loaded into the car with our pre-packed bags and got on the roads like those idiots you see on newscasts that you wonder what in the HELL they’re doing in the streets of a hurricane. I called the hotel we’d booked and had JUST canceled to see if we could get our reservation back. (We’d canceled as the last hour of the storm was upon us, and HEY! We made it! OH HO!)

They were without power. Of course.

I know this sounds very dramatic for not a lot of action, but you know, it was scary as shit. I’m not saying we were in the Astrodome re-using diapers and picking chicken bones off the floor to survive, but I tell you, hurricanes are scary places to be.

This whole story ends rather anti-climactically, as I called around, found a Residence Inn and we stayed the night without incident. Tree people were able to come bright and early — including a crane, to my utter delight — and the roof is relatively undamaged. We’re now back at home, and Sammy is sick as a flipping DOG. Her face is slimy, she’s coughing like it’s her job, and she’s on day three of a fever with some pretty heavy malaise. She’s normally not one to sit still OR watch extended episodes of television (too busy!), and yet by 3 p.m. every day, she’s planted herself on the couch with a blanket, three mousies and a teddy bear and passed out cold for several hours. This is a kid who hasn’t taken a nap since June, and a voluntary one since . . . oh, that would be never.

My little bear. It kills me.

This never happens.

I should add that during all of this, the kids were positively amazing. Allie was her usual self — that of happy-go-lucky kid, full of gummy grins and laughs, just thrilled to be taken along for the ride. My friend Dara has referred to Alex as a purse, because she really does just go anywhere on a dime, barely registering that there are new circumstances to adjust to. Oh, we’re in a new place? Are there boobs? Fabulous! Let’s roll! She is startling and delightful in her simplicity, and I appreciate her in a way I don’t think I’d have been able to, had Sam not been who she was at that age.

Sam, on the other hand, is/was never like Alex, as we all know. This trip, however, she was different, and it tugged at my heart in a way I will never be able to fully articulate. It was always easy for me to assume that the more demanding/difficult child would be harder to love, but that has not been my experience. There is something about Sam — something about how hard she works just to get through life’s situations, whether it be an area of loud noises, getting a new baby sister or having to sleep in a new place — that tugs on my heart harder than anything in the world. She didn’t want to leave at first; she was nervous about having to “live at the hotel forever” despite assurances to the contrary. She wanted her own bed, her own stuff, her (glass-windowed, oh-hell-no) playroom.

When we got to the hotel, our suite had a gas fireplace.

“Hey, can we make s’mores?” she chirped excitedly. “Mommy. Daddy. We can get marshmallows, and put them in the fire until they get soft, and get some graham crackers and make a sandwich. That is called a S’MORE! And later! When we go camping? We can get our blankets and sit around the campfire and maybe we’ll even make up our own STORYBOOK and sing a SONG! And my bed will be like a SLEEPING BAG.”

It’s so simple and silly, but I can’t tell you what it was like, seeing her perk up at something so simple and just let crappy circumstances wash over her like a wave. It was just stupidly amazing to me that this kid — this kid who screamed her way through the first year of her life, and struggles so much with new things — was just rolling with it because she got excited about a fireplace. Sick as a dog, displaced and terrified and hey, can we make s’mores? No? Well, someday then. Goodnight!

Something about that moment, this experience, these last few days has made me think so much about how mind-blowing parenting really is. What a privilege it is to see these tiny little chubs of nothing — two! Two GIRLS! — become actual people with their own thoughts and feelings and opinions. I can’t get enough of them. I inhale their heads and bury my nose in their necks and I hug Sam so hard that she — she who is generally made of unlimited wells of affection — says in a strained voice, “Too. Much. Hugs.” Allie, however, cannot protest yet, so she gets kissed and kissed and kissed again, so many times that she no longer smells like herself and instead, smells vaguely of my shampoo and body lotion and her eyebrows bear bits of shimmer from my lip gloss, long worn away from the endless shower of kisses bestowed on two tiny heads.

I’m so stinking lucky, man.

So yes. Perhaps I am a little stressed and emotional and, ah, tweaked — I imagine it’s not uncommon for a lot of people after this week. But I tell you, I’m happy I have those kids. They’re pretty damn great.

I hope you and yours are doing well.

*Andrew Bird

49 comments October 31st, 2012

Three of Us in a Boat

Can we talk about personality quirks? I was thinking about this yesterday as Adam and I were getting ready for bed. We are RIDICULOUS about bedtime and we often joke that we’re so prescriptive in the way we get ready for bed NOW that when we’re old, it’s going to be so over-ritualized that we’re going to have to start at 4 p.m. We both wear earplugs (and yes, we can hear Sam, it just muffles the tandem snoring), while I have an eye mask, a specific requirement for pajamas (thin cotton pants, T-shirt) AND sleeping underwear and a certain pattern of left-side, right-side flopping until I can settle in to sleep.

Adam, on the other hand, uses earplugs, as I mentioned, but cannot fall asleep unless he’s watched a few minutes of television with wireless headphones (so as not to disturb me). The headphones, however, HAVE to be over the earplugs, so that he can seamlessly take them off when he starts to drift off to sleep. It’s absurd. It’s ABSURD.

(People expecting babies, we are hope that you will be able to somewhat reliably go to bed and expect to sleep through the night just like you used to someday. Swear.)

(I’m going to read this post in June.)

Second, I brought this up on Twitter because I so rarely stay angry for, say, more than five minutes. I’m a quick-tempered, quick-cooling personality. I get really fired up, really fast, and I’m pretty good at addressing it right away (though sometimes TOO aggressively, as is the pitfall of this personality type), and then once it’s out, it’s out. I’m not angry anymore. Grudges, smudges, really. I don’t hold them, except in rare instances when someone’s unkind and or disrespects someone I love, when I strangely become a CHAMPION GRUDGE-HOLDER and can’t forgive anything, even things that should be forgivable.

(This is not to say I blow up often, because I don’t.)

ANYWAY, a few times lately, I’ve found myself irrationally holding on to things that wouldn’t normally linger, and frankly, they SHOULDN’T linger (hello, pregnant), but what it makes me think is that people who are long-simmering types must be VERY STRESSED OUT. How do you carry all that anger with you for more than a few minutes? Grudges! So exhausting!

Finally, if I were the type to write one of those pithy bios I would write that one of my major dislikes is when the big cups flip over in the dishwasher, filling up with ganky water. I like laundry—LOVE laundry, in fact—and would literally rather wash an entire load of EXCREMENT-FILLED CLOTHING than deal with the wet food issues that accompany dishwashing of any sort. I hate the dishes. I hate that we have to eat off of dishes. I wish it were environmentally acceptable to use ALL PAPER PRODUCTS and disposable pots and pans. No dishes! DOWN WITH DISHES.

Now I want to know everything about your quirks, because I feel naked.

Happy weekend!

*Jackopierce

334 comments January 26th, 2012

And It Spread

So I had my second repeat ultrasound today at 20w1d, and after mentioning the, shall we say, less than stellar experience I had last time, the nurse took pity on me and told me precisely which ultrasound tech to request, and lo, I got her. She also confided in me that the bad ultrasound tech is known for getting the sex of the baby wrong most of the time. Most! Of! The! Time! SAY WHAAAT, AM I RIGHT?

At least that explains why she didn’t want to do it. Not that it’s an excuse, but I suppose I’d be reluctant to do something I knew I sucked at. But more likely, I would TRY TO GET BETTER, HELLO.

Anyway, I had to have the ENTIRE ultrasound redone, but the good news is that there is a healthy girl in there, still, and she’s tall, like Sam (long legs, long femur) and I had a delightful conversation with my super-talented, super-friendly ultrasound tech who is — wait for it — twenty-five years old. At twenty-five, this woman had more skill and grace than the forty-plus ying yang who left me crying on the table.

She ALSO regaled me with stories of how much she loves her job, although she admitted that eighty-year-old vaginas make her not want to get old, which: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, I’m sorry, that’s hilarious. I mean, we’re all going to be in possession of one eventually, God willing, but you know, I imagine it’s disconcerting at twenty-five to be face to face with a vagina that has been through a lot more adventure than a fresher, more youthful one.

This whole thing has me sliding down the double-edged sword of guilt, which is always a pleasant excursion. On the one hand, there’s my Sam, whose life I am theoretically about to completely ruin, at least for a little while. I think of it this way: I keep picturing Adam coming home with another wife who is nothing but a needy asshole for the first three to six months, and no matter how many times he tells me he loves me the same he always has, I’d doubt I’d be able to say anything other than, HELLO, YOU BROUGHT HOME ANOTHER WIFE, DICKFACE. And while yes, the sister-wife and I might be BFFs eventually, in the meantime, I am stuck sharing my husband.

That would blow. So here I go, about to bring home a sister-wife to my kid. What a great idea.

On the OTHER hand, I felt like a total shit going into my ultrasounds both times, because each time they asked me if anyone was with me, and both times I was just like, uh, no? Second kid? Also, he’s home with our first, so . . . ? I mean, neither ultrasound experience was all that MAGICAL, because I am a jaded asshole who thinks all babies look the same in utero, and once I know the sex, I’m like, GREAT, THAT LOOKS LIKE AN ARTICHOKE, WHO CARES, DOES SHE HAVE ALL THE RIGHT PARTS?

And — and! — this kid’s a wiggler. An insane wiggler, way more than Sam ever was. The movements! The kicking! AND YET I AM NOT REMOTELY BOWLED OVER BY THE MAGIC. I’m like, meh, kicking. MEH, knock it off. I mean, these thoughts are all secondary to being BEYOND grateful she’s alive and healthy, but you know, with Sam, I was always, LOOK SHE’S KICKING and guiding Adam’s hand lovingly toward my abdomen.

Basically, I feel guilty that I am having a second child that will ruin my first daughter’s life, while simultaneously feeling like a turd because I am not fawning over my second daughter ENOUGH and she’s NOT EVEN BORN. What kind of bullshit racket is this?

(But seriously, will I be excited when she’s born, or will I be all, OH LOOK, a NEWBORN? Call me when you’re TWO.)

Happy Wednesday, folks.

*Avett Brothers

140 comments January 17th, 2012

Somewhere a Clock is Ticking

I’ve been cat sitting for a good friend of mine, and it has, oddly, made me feel better about hiring babysitters, because one of the most irrational fears I had about having someone in my home was that they would, uh, snoop around? And discover … well, probably nothing exciting, is the hilariously ironic part. I mean, even my bedside table drawers contain little more than some old knitting projects, hand lotion and an ancient pile of magazines. Anything of value/informationally harmful is locked in a fireproof box, and if they want to dig through our filing cabinets to find old copies of our water bill, by all means, KNOCK YOURSELF OUT.

But the thing is, I hire nice, upstanding, respectable babysitters who would never DO that, and yet it’s always been my fear. And there I was, in Jess’s house the other day, creeping through her rooms with such deference that I didn’t even want to look around, lest I see something I shouldn’t. Meanwhile, I am normally at her house so often, I might as well LIVE THERE, and don’t even think twice about rooting around her cabinets for a snack, but when I was there ALONE, I was petrified of … disturbing something or opening a drawer and having, I don’t know, a TAX RETURN fly out and READ ITSELF TO ME, thus leaving me with accidental knowledge of their inner workings that I did not want. I can’t even fathom LOOKING for those things, and I genuinely don’t know anyone who WOULD, much less the nice women who come and hang out with Sam.

Also, um, DING DONG HELLO, you guys, I’ve been using the library and I FEEL LIKE AN IDIOT, IT IS SO AWESOME. I know I talked about this whole, um, request feature, but ah, the whole going to pick up FREE BOOKS that I just READ and then RETURN THEM when I am finished is … um, whoa. Yes, I know this concept is hardly revolutionary, but IT IS TO ME. I previously used the library only for older books that I fished from the shelves, but now? There is BOOK PLANNING. And people, I love nothing more than to PLAN. This is why BUDGETS MAKE ME HAPPY. And the library request system is like … like a BOOK BUDGET, kind of.

I do struggle with the fact that I’ve always like to use my discretionary income to support authors and bookstores, so this is … hard for me. But honestly, I read too damn much to be able to justify the cost, particularly when half the books I read are just throwaways (I’m looking angrily at you, Linger, with my LET-DOWN EYES). This way, however, I support the library and the right for everyone to have free access to good books. I particularly like to do this with my late fees, which are ALWAYS on books I get out for Sam, because I CANNOT REMEMBER which ones we own and which ones are the library’s.

And finally, I’ve been having several Bloody Beefs lately — prompted entirely by That Time of The Month, and I am ashamed to admit it, BUT IT IS THE TRUTH — about various things, typically money-related, because this is an area I feel like I HAVE CONTROL, so I become HYPER-FOCUSED ON IT, which is just ridiculous, because a) we’re fine; b) it is what it is, please, you show me an American family who has no financial worries whatsoever and I’ll show you … well, half of MetroWest, probably. Affluence is the name of their game, They of $300K Median Incomes. But whatever! THAT IS NOT THE NORM.

So there I am, having my monthly PMS-related freakout about — wait for it — the cost of college tuition. Which, yes, a worthy thing to freak out over, but you know, my kid starts PRESCHOOL NEXT WEEK. And I was so worked up about all of this that tonight, I announced to Adam that YES, FINE, Sam can live at home while she goes to Mass Bay Community College, it’s FINE. I said this as if it were FACT and GOING TO HAPPEN, because, according to my PMS-fueled calculations, a state school education is going to cost SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR, and I want another kid! Do YOU have an extra $150K lying around for ONE YEAR OF SCHOOL? I don’t think our 529 plan is going to grow THAT MUCH, do YOU?

(Picture this all said in a hysterical, this-must-be-handled-RIGHTNOW voice, if you will.)

And this, seriously, is where I love my husband so hard, because he puts up with exactly NONE of my bullshit and does nothing to fuel my anxiety, but instead, replied with:

“You know who we should ask about this. Gary.”

“Who’s Gary?”

“Our next door neighbor, the financial advisor. IN THE HOUSE WE LIVE IN SIXTEEN YEARS FROM NOW. Do you see how ridiculous this is now? I love you. Goodnight.”

Aaaand, fin.

*Snow Patrol

115 comments August 25th, 2011

Love, Etc.

My mother often worries about what an anxious person I am, and if that’s not a bizarrely ironic statement, I don’t know what is. I think that sentence about sums it up, but I can’t help but chuckle to myself just thinking about WHERE I might have gotten such anxiety FROM?

After all, the woman who raised me is the same person who, upon learning that I would be wearing my (beautiful but fairly modest, at least by local standards — I mean I’m not rocking an eyeball on my finger or anything) engagement ring on my honeymoon, was absolutely HORRIFIED and fretted aloud that I needed to guard my hands everywhere I went, because someone could just come up to me and MACHETE IT RIGHT OFF MY FINGER, and she was completely serious. Oh wait, no, I think she meant that they would MACHETE OFF MY ENTIRE FINGER, not just the ring. So.

(We honeymooned in Aruba, which is incredibly safe and not at all prone to rogue machetes, even in a post-Natalee Holloway world.)

(Not that I’m blaming the victim here, but I think we can all agree that it was highly unlikely that I would be getting wasted and trekking off to parts unknown with strange local men I had just met on my honeymoon, I mean, right?)

She ALSO forwards me EVERY SINGLE THING she gets that is a warning of some kind, whether it’s the woman who narrowly missed going home with a guy who had duct tape and rope in the back of his car or how to keep yourself safe in the event of a person who wants to steal your car in a parking lot (throw your keys in one direction, run in the opposite direction. Scream a lot.)

I don’t even know where I’m going with this, except I keep laughing at all the warnings she gives me about keeping my eye on Sam when we’re out in public, when first of all, HAAAA, as if she raised me to be anything but PSYCHOTICALLY SUSPICIOUS, but also, every mother of a two-year-old knows that taking your eyes off them in a public place is JUST NOT POSSIBLE. I mean, yes, you don’t want them running into traffic or being abducted or what have you, but the more pressing reason is that they are like tiny destructive robots who will leave rubble in their wake if you leave them unattended for like, five whole seconds.

For God’s sake, I was putting CUCUMBERS IN A FRACKING BAG today at the grocery store, thus occupying my hands for what, a FRACTION OF A SECOND?, and the kid nearly took out the entire banana stand. It was teetering! Bananas were at risk! Repeat, BANANAS WERE AT RISK.

So yeah, geez, I keep an eye on my kid for the safety of everyone involved, including the bananas, but also because yes, my mother raised me to be EVER VIGILANT of people who want to do me or my child harm.

(I’m sure she’ll comment here. Keep your eyes peeled.)

Along those lines, I have said this elsewhere before, but when we lived in South Carolina, we were always warned to not go near golf balls that had fallen into the many ponds around our house (or anywhere, really). South Carolina — at least the area we lived — was pretty lax when it came to allowing fairly large alligators to live in the lagoons on golf courses and housing developments, and the one behind our house was particularly gigantic. I wouldn’t put Sunny on a lead out there, is what I’m saying. ANYWAY, every golfing season, some jackhole would lose a limb digging after his golf ball, because he found out too late that the golf ball he was digging at was an alligator egg, which HA HA.

But the thing is, wouldn’t YOU take off the limb of anyone who tried to harm your kid? I would BREAK THEIR NECK, honestly, without even flinching, and if ever there was a time to have sympathy for an alligator, motherhood is it. See also: I have an entirely new appreciation for the peril we were actually in when I was on a hike in high school with my boyfriend and some friends, and a baby bear — an adorable, tiny, picture-perfect baby bear — rolled right in front of us on the trail. At first we were like, OH LOOK, a baby bear, how CUTE! And then, OH MY JESUS GOD, A BABY BEAR! RUN! because that bitch would have TORN OUR FACES OFF.

Apropos of nothing, now might be the time to mention that Baby Bear’s (Sesame Street) speech impediment makes me positively ENRAGED. I’m all for being inclusive and making kids feel like everyone is different and speech impediments are okay, but my GOD, it’s TERRIBLE and not even REALISTIC-SOUNDING and SESAME WORKSHOP, I’M PRETTY PEEVED.

I hope you have a great Tuesday. Give yourself a cookie for making it through this absurdity unscathed.

*Pet Shop Boys

103 comments August 22nd, 2011

Grace is Gone

First, let me say that I am not a fool, although I have been acting like one, and the fact that so many people took a few moments out of their day to think about me, leave me a comment or write me an email, is beyond meaningful to me, I can’t even tell you. What you might not know, though, is how much it means to my family. My parents read every last one of those comments, as did some of Adam’s family, and I just … well, thank you seems silly and fruitless, really, it does, but I wanted you to know that it’s not just me who reads them and appreciates them, even when I’m acting like I don’t. My mother and Adam’s Aunt Carol were particularly moved, just so you know.

Which brings me to … well, what I think strikes me the most about the past week, and was entirely unexpected, was — is, really — how quickly I turned into an ungracious asshole. I want to put it another way, but I can’t. I’m amazed and, quite honestly, totally saddened, by how fast I moved from being a person who could compose herself enough to be considerate to someone else, even with a thousand tiny darts sticking out of her chest, to someone who, frankly, did not give a shit about anyone but herself. Everyone said the wrong thing. Everyone. Sarah in Huntsville did NOT say the wrong thing, however, and captured my feelings perfectly when she said:

I felt like dickpunching everyone who said ANYTHING to me about it, because there was nothing they could say that either didn’t make me sneer at them in derision or cry. But I also wanted to facestab the people who just kind of ignored the whole thing.

I LAUGHED. Because my God, yes, that’s pretty much it. I also — and this is perhaps most disturbing — had this almost (and at times, more than almost) irrepressible urge to wave a verbal air horn in someone’s face after uttering something I deemed inappropriate. “WRONG!” the air horn would blat, loud and forceful, right in their foolishly loose lips. “WRONG! WRONG!” I could almost see their hair blowing back from the force of the blast, as I stomped away, stuffing the instrument back in my purse without looking back.

Oh, but if you didn’t say ANYTHING? Well, wait … this actually wasn’t so bad, I mean, unless it was one of my close friends, in which case, FLEE THE COUNTRY, IMMA COME GETCHOO WITH THE AIR HORN.

I mean, yes, there are a few people — a few that I am unwilling to forgive, like those who have publicly questioned my friendship and made demands on it until I acquiesced against my better judgment and then HA HA! never said a word to me about this. And the others, who gleefully talked about my FIRST pregnancy, over and over again, in a flurry of excited sisterly emails and then, when I lost THAT baby … nothing. Not a word since. Yes, people like that, I am finished with. But for the most part, I understand that no one knows what the fuck to say to someone in my situation, so they panic and say nothing and I don’t hold it against them.

(I am, by the way, married to a completely loving, kind, thoughtful person who tends to PANIC! and say nothing in these situations, so I understand this phenomenon more than most.)

Basically, it was just awful, I was just awful, and … well, I’m still kind of just awful, for I have these moments of outright horror at the things people say. Things that, actually, are not THAT horrifying, but in my addled state tend to be magnified to DEFCON 1: LOAD THE AIR HORNS. The problem with all of this is that it turns me into someone I don’t like, and I’m not particularly proud of, and if THAT isn’t an excellent spirit to pour into this magnificent cocktail of suckitude, I don’t know what is!

The one thing I will say is the absolute wrong thing to say is this: “I know how you feel.” No, you don’t. NO ONE DOES, because you are not me, and I am not you. Two people can go through the exact same experience on paper, and feel completely differently, and want to hear/need completely different things. I was stunned by commenter Auntie G’s revelation that she didn’t share her own happy ending with me, because when SHE went through the same thing, she wanted nothing to do with happy endings. Me, however? I drink them up like water in the desert.

So no. You don’t know how I feel, even when I describe it to you in exquisite detail.

***

I do, however, feel better. I am not fully healed, but it has just occurred to me that life will – and does – go on, and that life includes all the things I was looking forward to before (minus the baby). Fun things, like hitting the beach with my family and taking Sam to a summer full of water parks. And of course, the less-fun things like measuring the playroom for carpet tiles and finally getting rid of the ancient Ikea chairs. These things will, God willing, still happen, and I get to enjoy them just the same. It’s when I think about the future — the Other — that things get murky.

***

What remains, too, is this very strange, thin membrane separating me and a much sadder, emptier life than I thought I’d have. I don’t know how to put it any better than that. The membrane is not real; the alternate life isn’t even real, not even if it ends here and now with just Adam, Sam and me, which, I hasten to add, I don’t think it will. I felt this most acutely when I foolishly Googled myself into some message boards of the, uh, recurring miscarriage ilk, and got a glimpse into a world that I can’t seem to shake. A world where people — and please God help me, I am not judging, or at the very least, I am BUSTING MY ASS not to judge, for we all process grief differently — save their wee embryos (yes, I mean pre-12-week embryos) after D&C’s and dress them in hats and take pictures and hold funerals for them. It’s a culture — a cult, almost — that I can’t see myself ever being a part of, even if things had worked out differently, but God, it’s there, and it’s so close and it’s one of those things, like I said, I can’t shake.

I can’t say I would ever be the type to, um, dress my embryo in corduroy and denim (mine is, after routine chromosomal testing, being flushed with the hospital waste of the week, and maybe that seems heartless), but I guess what strikes me is that it’s so easy to see how it could happen; how CONSUMING it could be if you really dug your heels into a place like that. I feel like I am the thinnest air pocket away from being a person who buys clothes for her embryos, even though rationally, I know that’s not true.

Online communities — particularly ones that are highly specialized and focused — are extremely powerful. Please, one day let me regale you of the YEAR OF MY LIFE I spent embroiled in a — oh I can barely type it — CAT MESSAGE BOARD. WHERE PEOPLE TALKED ABOUT THEIR CATS. I DID THIS. I DID THIS. I, a perfectly well-adjusted, pretty twentysomething with lots of friends and a hot boyfriend (now husband), spent an UNGODLY AMOUNT OF TIME talking about the merits of wet food vs. canned and examining my cat’s stool for optimum health.

(If you’re wondering how it happened, it started because — surprise! — I was googling after discovering that my cat had recurrent urinary problems. And if you’re thinking that CAT MESSAGE BOARDS do not have flame wars, HA HA YOU ARE SO WRONG AND ARE YOU DYING, BECAUSE I AM DYING TYPING THIS OUT.)

(Also, I no longer own a cat, and in fact, hate cats. EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS IS HILARIOUS.)

These places are rabbit holes. RABBIT HOLES. And if I have any advice to anyone going through this, it is that maybe you should stick to blogs that talk about this kind of thing, and step away from the pinkie nail-sized knitted hats, for it struck me as a fast track to an insane asylum. Email Julie, who will probably say the perfect thing to you, even though she doesn’t know it. (To me, she simply said, “I AM APPALLED,” and honestly, I hold it with me, because it is so hilarious and so perfect, I don’t know why.)

Happy Tuesday, friends. Thanks for listening, and my apologies for my astonishingly douchey comments and written air horns over the last seven days.

*Dave Matthews Band, whatever. I’m not judging your tiny hats, so lay off my lame music.

140 comments May 23rd, 2011

All You Want

First of all, if you’re thinking about reading It and wondering when, exactly, it picks up and gets really good, the answer is somewhere around page 476. Yes, FOUR HUNDRED SEVENTY-SIX. I was about to give up and just move on to Sookie, when, for reasons unknown, I thought I’d give it another whirl and suddenly, things started moving and happening and it was GOOD and INTERESTING and then I looked and ha ha haaaaa, I was just about halfway through the book. HALFWAY.

This is becoming epic, like the months I read The Historian out of some strange obligation to my childhood allegiance to Vlad Tepes.

Anyway, this weekend was, in a word, perfect, and let me tell you, I really needed it. I’ve been under a lot of unmentionable stress lately, and on Friday, I really wasn’t so sure I was going to get through it. The way I roll when times are rough is to first, absolutely FREAK OUT AND LOSE IT ALL CAPS! I think I’m NEVER GOING TO GET THROUGH THIS! And things are going to be AWFUL! And I will be DEPRESSED FOREVER!

And then I do more of this: !!!!

I also think I quite literally rend my garments, or at least the bathroom towels.

Then I buck up, get it together and face shit like a grown-up. And, well, that’s what I’m going to do. Until the NEXT cause for freak out, and I’m guessing before all is said and done, this cycle should repeat itself 5,469,876 times.

But besides all that, this weekend was amazing in that simple way that I dreamed about before I had a kid. Saturday, we took Sam for ice cream and cow-gazing, and for a kid who hadn’t had ice cream since last summer (I never buy it), she sure seemed excited about it. “ICE CREAM? ICE CREAM?” was the refrain in the car, over and over again until we arrived at Richardson’s and she had her chocolate cone in her hot little hands.

There was ice cream and cows and it was perfect, right up until the moment Sam threw a tantrum because we wouldn’t put her IN the calf pen and leave her to roam with the baby cows. (She’s used to Davis Farmland, which reminds me, if you’re a Massachusetts resident, you need to go there. We’re getting a season pass this year, because it is awesome. Roaming animals and a splash pad? SIGN ME UP.)

Mother’s Day itself featured lobster rolls, a new-to-us park where Sam spun herself dizzy-drunk on the merry-go-round, lounging and Indian food. Honestly, it’s weekends like this that make me feel like wanting anything more than to keep the people I have happy and healthy would be overkill. Greedy, greedy overkill.

You know, we don’t have a particularly luxurious life, and we don’t yet have everything we want, and even though what we DO want isn’t particularly egregious (my two family/material goals: Have another baby and buy a little house), sometimes I just feel so stupidly lucky, and so painfully aware at how spoiled I am compared to some. This, perhaps unsurprisingly, leads me down the path of panicked doom, as though taking even one second of the life I have for granted will mean it gets taken away. Like wanting more for us — no matter how mundane the ‘more’ is — will tip the scales and set off an alarm that we’ve overreached.

Irrational and silly, I know — after all, there are as many people who have much more than we do as there are those who have less — but my little family is too good, I guess, to consider taking for granted.

I hope you had a great Mother’s Day, and that you have get everything you want.

*Um, do you guys remember Dido? Yes, I still have her album. And God, what a terrible name she had/has.

49 comments May 8th, 2011

On The Floor

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m sitting here wondering how to keep myself from dancing until the world ends. Or — OR! — waving my drink in the air and getting sick on the floor! In IBIZA!

Clearly I’ve been listening to too much Kiss 108 (the Young People’s radio station here in Boston), because I just can’t stop marveling at the number of songs that imply that we all live to dance and — AND! — harass the DJ until they put our song on. Or maybe that was just Madonna in “Music.” I can’t remember.

Either way, I am shocked and a wee bit embarrassed by my reaction when Jennifer Lopez and/or Britney Spears start singing about getting wasted, rubbing up on dudes and dancing on the floor until their tatas fall off. I just … well, I go all, WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN? And also, last time I checked, Brit-Brit, you were on a family vacation to the most mundane of destinations: the Grand Canyon. Were you in an RV, hmmm? And JENNIFER! Good sweet GRIEF, your kids are THREE. And you’re 42! I’m all for dancing, but maybe curb the clubbing to a reasonable hour?

This sounded a lot less dowdy when it was just in my head. I won’t even bother to discuss my feelings on Flo Rida’s “Club Can’t Handle Me,” where he talks about “zoning out” and somehow making everyone else jellus of his dance moves, then.

Speaking of children (eh?), I talked to a nurse at my doctor’s office today, and reached Maximum Frustration Level when she tried to say that my (totally justified) reaction to something was MY HORMONES. “Oh honey. It’s probably just HORMONES.” I just … you know, there’s really no appropriate time to suggest that it’s a woman’s HORMONES that are making her react a certain way. Especially someone like me, who is basically walking around in a state of PTSD when it comes to health issues (OK ANY ISSUES) after the year I’ve had, WHICH SHE KNOWS ABOUT, HA HA, I DO NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT MY “STRESS HORMONES” WITH YOU, CRAZY LADY.

(Do I sound sane there? Or just hopped up on hormones?)

What killed me, however, was that just before I replied, my center of gravity shifted from Chatty Nice Patient Jonna to Enraged Jonna, and at the precise moment the shift happened, Sam’s eyes got very wide and she warned, “UH OH! UH OH!” like some kind of tsunami detector. Mama’s pissed, and she knows it.

See, nurse? My KID knows when I’m about to get serious up in here, so perhaps you want to save the hormone talk for SOMEONE ELSE. Or actually, no one. No one deserves to be invalidated in such a totally dismissive way, and GOD, WHO HIRED YOU, NURSE?

Meanwhile, have I TOLD you guys that I’m driving a Mercury Grand Marquis, because my tree-smashed car is STILL not repaired? And that it’s been … let’s see, TWENTY SEVEN DAYS?

Do you know what a Grand Marquis looks like? No?

Yessss. Oh, I’m sure it doesn’t seem so bad from that angle, but it’s a boat, and I have yet to park it straight. Oh, and it doesn’t have automatic locks, and it ONLY has a key entry on the driver’s side, which means every time I get in or out, I have to haul EVERYTHING to the driver’s side (including Sam, if we’re in a parking lot), open the door, then unlock all the doors, THEN go back to the other doors. Also: NO CUP HOLDERS. Oh, and the trunk is key-accessible only, which makes grocery shopping more of a workout than is necessary. And! AND! it has NEW JERSEY plates, which is basically the worst thing you can have in Massachusetts. This car could get me KILLED in a MAFIA TURF WAR, for chrissake. I WANT MY HONDA BACK, MY SWEET GOD.

Upside: it’s a smooth ride, and I am shamed to admit I was doing 80 on the Pike today and didn’t even notice, but like the old lady I am, I slowed it down right quick. Like buttah, you Marquis de Minx.

(PS, I was driving to see Nic, one of my longtime internet besties, for the first time. And it was great. Do you know what it’s like to finally meet someone you talk to at LEAST four times a DAY? IT IS AWESOME. Who cares if Sam pooped in her hotel room? OH GOD.)

Have a great Thursday.

*Jennifer Lopez featuring the horribly named PIT BULL. PIT BULL. First of all, the word ‘pit’ is disgusting and reminds me of ACNE BITS. And then BULL? Really? No, I don’t think about the dog, I think about an ACNE-PITTED BULL. GROSS.

46 comments April 27th, 2011

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