Monday, December 28, 2009

Dining Out.

We've all been there. Sitting in the restaurant waiting to be served like queens on a throne, only to be ignored by the servants. Or as they're called now, "servers." But here's the thing...we're not queens and no one has servants, so why do some people cling to this notion of being served supremely at restaurants?

Many times I have sat at a table with people and there's always one that gets a little pissy if their water gets low or they haven't received enough attention from the servant. What is this phenomenon? Are we in such a state of instant gratification that we expect someone to serve a good time to us instead of creating it ourselves?

It's as if the server is personally assaulting the diner. Everyone at the table can tell the bitchfest will begin when the angered diner starts looking around for the servant. At this point, there is no conversation to be had with this person. They're playing hide and seek with the servant, bobbing their head back and forth, checking every corner of the restaurant. "Where the hell is he with our wine already? How hard can it be to fill a glass of wine? And I'm starving, have we even ordered the appetizer yet?"

It goes on and on as if she is crawling across a desert, dying of hunger and thirst. (And yes, I do say "she" because strangely enough, I've never experienced a man reacting to a lackluster server this way.)

Look, we have Luna bars and protein water these days. I think you'll make it.

You're not hiking a mountain; You are sitting in a four star restaurant after yoga class. Trust me on this, you'll be fine if your glass of water gets a little low. You can always run to the bathroom and scoop some water out of the faucet if you get dehydrated.

And by the way, the "servant" has more jobs than serving you as we can see by the way he's running his ass off from table to table, gasping for air.

So really, the situation is this: The server may die, but you the angry diner, will not.

I don't go to restaurants to be served. I go to enjoy the company of my friends, family, or my husband. That's a treat for me. If my water gets low, I'm not going to dehydrate right there in my booth. I'm not going to shrivel up and fall to the ground like a raisin. I'll make it.

If my server is smacking gum and doesn't give a shit about me, I'm cool with it. Sure it's rude, but I have a wide net of people that care for me, so I really don't need the emotional support of someone serving food to me anyway.

Frankly, I'm just enjoying the treat of having a meal without neededing to wash the pots and pans used to create it. And more importantly, I go out to restaurants to enjoy laughs that cannot be served by anyone other than the person laughing.

Maybe it's time we get so engrossed in our good times that we don't notice our water getting low or whether our server has checked the status of our hunger and thirst.

Maybe going out to restaurants isn't about replenishing our bodies after all. Maybe it's about replenishing our hearts instead.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Anti-Clean Floor.

We're entertaining tomorrow night, so like all the other suburban moms out there, I decided to clean my house so no one will find out how messy I really am. Anyone that knows me understands this is "fake clean". It lasts for the time of the party only, then the house returns to mayhem.

By the way, does anyone really give a shit if there is dust on the brass toilet paper holder? Just curious.

Anyway, I scrubbed the kitchen floor and it looked like chocolate milk in the bucket. That's what happens when family members trample across the floor with boots in December.

I went to throw the water out and tripped over an annoying chair that always sits right in the middle of our kitchen. The "chocolate water" spilled everywhere, including the lazy susan, the coffee maker(better not be broke now), my peanut butter toast, and maybe the dog. Although I think he moved quick enough to escape the tidal wave of dirt.

Son of a bitch.

I was pissed at that chair, so I tossed it to the side of the kitchen where it landed so perfectly that there is now a hole in the linoleum. That's nice.

I cleaned everything that was drenched in the filthy shower and re-washed the floor. As I successfully dumped out the dirty water, I looked over to watch my dog rub his ass across the floor as if it's toilet paper. Streaks of "chocolate" were left behind.

My once-clean floor lasted thirty seconds.

So I washed it again.

Then changed the garbage, which leaked turkey juice and fat all over the floor. At this point I was laughing like a crazy clown yelling, "You've got to be fucking kidding me!"

Colbie Caillat sang in the background, "If you just realize, what I just realized..." She was mocking me. Oh really? What did you realize, Colbie? That it's impossible for me to have clean kitchen floor? Is that what you want me to realize? Is that it? Argh!

I ejected Colbie and her perky attitude and promptly inserted Ninch Inch Nails.

If there was ever a time I felt like a gerbil on wheel, it's today. But hey, at least the floor is clean.

Until the kids come home.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Band Aid For The Holiday Heart.

Here it is...another first holiday after losing a loved one. We made it through a birthday, Thanksgiving, and now here's Christmas. The Big Dog. The holiday that packs the biggest punch to my heart. My husband and I were going over our Christmas list and I said, "Okay, so we have Corey, Ethan, Hanna, Holly and Jak..." No Jake. Jake passed away in March. My Christmas list looks horribly emaciated with four letters missing. J-A-K-E. The letters are still here, so why can't he still be here? It's not fair.

Last year I gave him a floor mat that read, "Caution: Nietzsche May Be Right." I explained the meaning behind it. Maybe life is only perception. Maybe none of it is real because it's all at the mercy of our perception. Jake agreed and said, "Yeah, totally. Kind of crappy for the people though that see everything all negative and bad. You know, like they never catch a break and nothing is good enough. Like, they should just change it, you know? It's not that hard."

It was a great conversation, but a mat? That was my final gift to him? A fucking floor mat? How embarrassing. If I knew it was my last gift, I would have handcrafted a monument in marble or something magnificent. Something unforgettable, so he won't forget me.

Anyway, Christmas marks the last time I hugged him. I will never hug him again and there is not a damn thing I can do about it.

I don't handle lack of control well, so I'm a counter. It's an OCD thing I do when I lose control. It's how I exert my pitiful amount of tiny control over the situation. And when Jake passed away, I was left with no gas pedal, breaks, or steering wheel.

So I counted, starting with the first week back in March when he passed away:

"Last week he had breakfast, lunch, and dinner like the rest of us."
"One month ago, he called to chat about the philosophy of life."
"He was here six months ago, but now he's not."
"I hugged him one year ago."
Tick, "He was here."
Tock, "He's not here anymore."
Tick, "I want to hug him."
Tock, "I can't hug him ever again."

I try to pick through the devastation to make sense of this. I can't begin to answer why our loved ones die, but I do know what ripples out to the rest of the world when it happens. When people heard my sister lost her son, I guarantee everyone hugged their children extra hard when tucking them in that night.
When a friend of mine lost her sister in a car crash, I called both of my sisters and told them I love them. When my friend's father passed away, I called my dad and told him I loved him and explained that the world feels safer to me just because he is in it with me. When my friend's husband had a brain tumor removed, I grabbed my husband's hands and told him that he is my favorite person in this entire world.

Gratitude happens when loved ones pass away. It washes over people and softens their hearts. That can be beautiful. Maybe Nietzsche (and Jake) was right. Maybe perception can help us deal with heartache. I'm going to try this one on for size: If one person leaving this world inspires a hundred people to reach out and express love and gratitude to their loved ones, then maybe this world is left a little better. That's quite a gift.

It never feels fair that our loved one is the one that had to leave, but maybe we can mold our perception to help move us through the pain. Maybe we take a moment to honor the ripple effect they have on the rest of the world and notice that others are reaching out and appreciating each other.

I'm going to give it a go and see what happens. A little golden thread to pull me through what I'm anticipating to be an incredibly difficult day. He left the world a little more loving and grateful. That's quite a gift. Better than any floor mat I've ever seen.

Friday, December 18, 2009

ADHD or Holiday Chaos?

The other day I was overwhelmed with what needed to be done, so instead of doing anything, I retreated to the basement and drew on the bare brick walls. As I stood back admiring my artistic chalkwork, it occurred to me that it may be evidence of ADD or ADHD.

So I ran up to the office and googled an ADHD test. Or was is an ADD test? I didn't take the time to decipher between the two. I answered the first six questions with a vehement, "HELL YES!" and then got bored and did laundry.

Let it be known there were thirty fucking questions for an ADD/ADHD test. Am I the only one seeing the irony in that? Thirty?

There should be question-stoppers such as, "You are currently on question #5. If you're bailing now, you have severe ADHD." If a person makes it to question #10 perhaps the test could show some encouragement. "If you make it this far, congratulations! You are mildly ADHD."

If they make it to the end, the test-taker should win a trip to Mexico or something. Thirty questions should be rewarded, especially if it's for someone with possible ADHD. "Congratulations! Good news is you won a trip to Mexico! The bad news is, you're sweating, shaking, and smoking a cigarette which indicates you are definitely ADD/ADHD."

I've concluded that I have a handle on my shit 355 days of the year, but the holiday season tends to fast track my thinking. I call it "holiday static". All the channels in my head are running at the same time.

Because indeed, everything is happening at the same time. Gifts, parties, gatherings, potlucks, hostess gifts, Christmas programs, Fed Ex...it's all for the holiday, which requires all the channels to be ON in order to bring the chaos to order.

Thank God January is a time for hibernation, recooperation, and rejuvenation and whatever other "tion" word you care to incorporate there.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Winter Wonderland.

Ask my husband. I've always had issues with this song. I remember a few years ago trying to decipher the meaning while he shook his head in disbelief. I demanded an answer. "What exactly does Bing mean when he says that he can do the job when he's in town. What is he, a traveling salesman looking for some booty calls?"

I know I should just let it lie, but I can't. Check these lyrics out:

Gone away is the bluebird (husband),
Here to stay is a new bird (pool boy with abs)
He sings a love song,
As we go along,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

He'll say: Are you married?
We'll say: No man,
But you can do the job (THE job. Let's get naked.)
When you're in town. (No strings attached.)

See what I mean?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Polar Plunge.

It's cold in MN. Scratch that. Cold is feeling a little uncomfortable, then slipping under a blanket. This kind of cold freezes your ass and makes you cough when you breathe it in. But Minnesotans have thick skin.

To prove it, we jump in one of our 10,000 lakes in January.

I did this last year after slamming about twelve bloody marys. I was slurring by lunchtime, but it was worth it. There was no way in hell I would jump into frigid waters of death while sober.

To say it was cold is a massive understatement. It's motherfucking cold. Your skin screams in pain as it submerges into what feels like cardiac paddles electrocuting your entire body. Your head feels like it shrinks to the size of a raisin.

I can't even begin to wonder what this kind of trauma does to a pair of testicles. It must takes weeks for them to make an appearance again. "No you go back down and see if it's safe! He's trying to kill us!"

I was worried my breasts would look like ziploc bags of ice cubes, but they came out okay. I was proud of them. My hair didn't break off and I didn't lose a toe.

In fact, I didn't lose anything but fear. I felt liberated! I cheated death for crissake! I felt free to skydive, rock climb, fly to Greece, pole dance, and sing karoke. Anything that invited fear before was gone.

Will I do the plunge again? No. Will I go and cheer everyone else on while they toggle that fine line between life and death? Hell yeah. It's a life-changing event that unlocks a fearless streak in each and every person that completes the mission.

That, my friend, is priceless. Even if you do lose a testicle.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Toy parties.

We've all been invited to the "Sex-Up-Your-Marriage" parties. It's a bunch of women giggling and passing around various bedroom toys, acting like they're in 7th grade. Okay I admit it, I was probably the only one taking pictures on my phone and sending it out to friends with messages like, "Merry Christmas you Ho, Ho, Ho!"

The poor host had her own personal heckler (me) and barely got through her script on how to keep our marriages spicy and alive. I was embarrassed and anxious, which meant my mouth was running without brakes. I kept singing, "That's what she said" to cap off almost sentence spoken from the host. It was like adding punctuation to her vocabulary. Like a period to sentence. Like a knife to a tomato.

I left with a brown lunch bag filled with shit I don't need, but felt compelled to buy since I treated the host so rudely.

As I dumped out the contents at my husband's feet, I realized everything looked a little different in my own home. The Coochie Cream looked a little out of place next to my Aveda shampoo and the sex toy I bought looked ridiculous. My husband pointed to it and asked, "What the hell is that thing? I answered honestly. "I have no idea, I was too busy heckling the host." It was basically a squishy pink coat for a penis.

Needless to say, that toy was never used. By us. However, it was used by our daughter Paige. About a year later I was cleaning up her room and weeding out old toys in her closet when I noticed the sex toy on her Barbie fashioned as a strapless dress. Bright pink in all its glory. On a fucking Barbie.

Now, the fact that a year had gone by makes me wonder if she brought this Barbie to playdates, softball games, school, or perhaps allowed other friends to dress their Barbies in the magnificent pink strapless dress.

The lesson learned is this: If you can't handle the spice, don't try it. It will come back to haunt you.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Message From A Recovering Control Freak.

I knew I had control issues when I grabbed the steering wheel from my boss last year. We were on our way to a fun-filled trip to Lutsen. The drive to get there wasn't so much fun. It was snowing, which made me a little on-edge. We're not talking delicate little flakes here, it was more like man-made snowballs were catapulted from sky. I could fucking hear them coming. Each flake crashing against the car. Boom! Shit. Boom! What the hell? Boom! Did that one dent the fucking door??

I was jumping all over the place, gnawing my fingernails off, and white-knuckling the door handle. I was trying to be a good little employee and not mention the fact that the grim reapor was sitting in the back seat waiting for a crash.

My boss, on the other hand, was seaching for radio stations, changing cd's, and cracking jokes. I wasn't laughing. He was passing cars as if it was 75 degrees and sunny and we were out for a casual drive in our Sunday's Best after church. He kept talking and looking over at me. I couldn't take it anymore. I had to tell him what to do because there was no way we were getting to Lutsen without being zipped up in a body bag first.

I said, "Hey, you watch the road. You're weaving all over the place and passing cars like we're on deadline. I don't give a shit if we don't get there until midnight, I just want to be alive. What? What's with the face, what is so funny?"

He laughed and said, "You have control issues."

I started to contemplate his statement when I noticed (or had the delusion) that we were going to get clipped by another car. I reached over, scolded him like a child, and grabbed the steering wheel and pulled us back to safety (or to "Psycho-ville" as my boss would describe it).

Shit. Maybe he's right. I grab the steering wheel all the time from my husband. I sat back and realized all the other stunts I pull: I introduce myself to pilots and ask if they're hungover with the shakes and remind them that we need a steady hand at the wheel. And shit, I really do correct people's grammar when they're speaking. And I like to lead conversations so I have control over the topics we discuss. And, and, and...the list goes on.

But it can't be that bad. Can it? Maybe I just like to be the person of authority that has voice and veto power over everything that happens in my life.

Maybe I just have control issues.

That happened a year ago. Since then, I've learned to give it a rest already. I haven't grabbed the wheel from my husband since that insightful Lutsen trip. And I kind of like sitting back and enjoying the ride. Even when it's snowing.

Being in control isn't about safety, it's about insecurity and lack of trust. Trust that other people do have my best interest at heart and good things will happen even without my insufferable control.

I'm happy to report that everyone is healthy, happy, and safe without me spinning the earth and all its wonders on my shoulders. And truly, better things have happened without my control. Things manifest at a higher level when I don't try to plan, control, and police every step and movement. My tiny efforts at control actually limited my dreams because I couldn't conceive the vastness of opportunity.

I used to be the girl that sat down at the dinner table of life banging my fork and knife yelling, "Where's the fucking meal already? It's been 2.3 minutes! It's late!" It was exhausting. Now I pull up a chair and stay a while. I enjoy the other guests sitting with me. Their grammar has no effect on me because I'm listening to their hearts now instead of their words. And while I have no idea what's on the menu, I know it's all good for me.

Friday, December 4, 2009

X-Rated Sauna.

I hit the gym today for the first time in forever. "Sauna therapy" is supposed to be good for lowering blood pressure and releasing toxins, so what the hell, I slammed the rest of my Hot Pocket and went to the club.

I can't seem to get a good experience in the sauna. A few months ago I was ridiculed for smelling bad. Apparently everyone else on the planet sweats out rose petals, while I release body odor.

I have since learned to use the sauna before my workout.

Anyway, today I sat in there before my workout so as not to offend anyone. But today was not my turn to do the offending. I was the victim.

A few older ladies around seventy joined me in my "sweat bath" and proceeded to chat. Grateful for the company, I loosened up and started talking about how saunas can relieve depression, lower blood pressure, and sweat the fat off our asses.

And then I got a glimpse of one of those asses up close and personal. Mildred took off her towel and proceeded to lotion her body next to me. As she bent over to lubricate her ankles, I could have reached out and slapped her ass (but didn't).

Her visit with me was about ten minutes, but it packed a traumatic punch.

I was alone again trying to meditate and spin the image of Mildred's ass out of my mind when another guest arrived.

With a thong in her hands.

I must have looked shocked or maybe even said out loud, "What the fuck are you going to do with that thong?" Because she immediately started explaining herself. "I'm so sorry, but this is the only underwear I have today, so I washed them in the sink and now they need to dry out."

She gently laid them out next to the coals on the wooden frame and left to get dressed and blowdry her hair. I, on the other hand, was held hostage to staring at it for the rest of my sauna therapy.

That was it. I left and decided to take an extra-hot shower when I got home. This is not therapy. This is what causes anxiety, depression and high blood pressure (and OCD in my case). People's total lack of care for other people in the world. There is no need to expose beef curtains or thongs to strangers. Ever. There is simply never a reason for it.

Unless I'm in dire need of material for another blog, I'm officially done with the sauna. It's too traumatic for my delicate emotions.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Morning Mayhem.

My morning began with a fierce competition between the girls fighting for my attention. It's like cracking an egg and trying to split it perfectly down the middle because if one daughter gets a drop more, I'm screwed.

Everything was unfair and God forbid, one of the them stole the other's chair while one went to put something in her backpack. "I can't believe you stole my chair! You knew I sitting there, why would you take my chair? WOW, I can't believe you did that."

We have plenty of chairs and none of them are missing. Nothing was stolen except a front row seat to me making breakfast, 10:00 snacks, and lunches (which by the way, gets a little old day after day making three meals before I finish a cup of coffee, but that's another blog).

Then Parker requests that I look at her recorder music which prompts Paige to immediately ask if she can read her book out loud and asks for help with a word. They were both speaking at the same time with increasing volume and frequency.

I said, "You guys, listen. I love you both the same regardless of who's getting the attention. You're not loved less just because I'm listening or speaking to one of you at a time."

That didn't work.

Putting on boots proved to be a challenge because apparently Paige's butt was too close to Parker's face while she leaned over to strap on her boots. After a lifetime of groans, yelps, grieving sighs, and a million tattles on each other we were out the door.

As we ran for the bus, Parker announced she forgot to put her shoes in her backpack, Paige needed her homework folder, and I was having a nervous breakdown.

I shut the door and said, "You two are acting like idiots this morning. How about we kick off the day with you scratching each other's eyes out? Sound good? You can just rip each other's faces off and save us all from the headache of listening to you verbally attack each other."

Paige said, "Well, then I would get a down arrow on my rewards and consequences chart."

Nevermind that her sister would be missing her fucking eyeballs. She's worried she won't be able to cash in her points for a "Movie Theatre Madness" reward.

We got to the garage and our wussy garage door opener stops halfway up if the temperature dips below 40 degrees. This requires me say "Shit!" and lift it as the automatic motor tries to push it up. It's like hauling a dog's fat ass up into a truck because he can't do it alone.

My tirade lasted the entire trip to school. "See how negative energy is contagious? I feel like going to a gas station and yelling at the clerk for spending more time with the customer before me. I could explain how unfair it is that she talked more to the other person in line than she did to me and she must love that other person more than me. Then that clerk could go home and scream at her kids because now I spread it to her and her kids will kick the dog..."

I capped it off with explaining that they were acting like a couple of jerks this morning and I couldn't wait to drop them off at school.

Parker said, "I'm feeling really mad that you called us idiots, jerks, and you can't wait to drop us off at school."

To which I replied, "I'm sorry I called you idiots and jerks, but you two were acting like imbeciles this morning."

This got a smile on everyone's face, including mine. I said, "Look, I'm not proud of the way I behaved. I wasn't responding with an open heart and it's never okay to call anyone names, much less a mother name-calling her own children. I'm embarrassed and I'm sorry. You two are great kids, I just want you to treat people with respect, and that includes each other. I certainly wasn't doing that myself ten minutes ago, so I understand how difficult it is."

And it is difficult. Containing another person's anger is hard work. It takes skill and practice to stay neutral while someone rants and raves. It's so easy to jump right in, strap on the boxing gloves, and take a self-absorbed swing. It takes strength to stay out of the ring and remind them that you love them.

After all, no one remembers what was said during a fight. They only remember how you made them feel. I'm guessing that instead of making my girls feel secure and loved, I made them feel like jerks. Isn't that the exact opposite of my role as a mother? I certainly didn't hold them as newborns and stroke their cheeks and say, "I hope one day I make you feel like a complete imbecile."

Intentions and actions sometimes get tangled up. Life isn't a straight trajectory with a constant move toward higher evolution. We trip, stumble, and apologize. This morning was definitly a false start with a fumble on the sidelines. All I can do is be accountable for my actions and kick off a new game when they get home.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pictures. I'm Not In Them.

I'm guessing that when I die, my children won't know what their mother looked like. In fact, they may wonder if I attended graduations, plays, or even family trips. You see, I never make it into the pictures. I have no evidence to show that I was a part of this family because I'm cut off, cut out, or simply not photographed.

I'm always trying to smash my daughter's faces next to mine so I know that least my nose will make it into the picture. I have a home video with Parker playing underneath a toy and I actually maneuvered my body underneath it next to her body so there could be footage of me next to her. My husband actually moved the camera off my face and focused the video camera onto plain carpet instead of me.

What the fuck?

There was also the time when she was in her Bjorn, attached to my body, and he still cut out my head. Our Disney cruise pictures from 2003 are filled with slices of me...a nose, a ponytail, an arm. I'm like a distorted mannequin that came along for the fucking ride.

Does he not see me smiling and posing through the goddamn lens of the camera? I am a human being trying to capture a moment in time so when I'm 98, I have proof that I haven't always been a decaying bag of bones. I need to remember that indeed I had white teeth and bright eyes. I had energy and strength. I was a mother that played with her children.

But when I'm 98, I'm going to look at pictures that may or may not resemble my eyelid, nose, hand or collarbone. I'm sure it will be confusing to go through old family albums while I sit in the nursing home wondering, "Who the fuck is that? The nanny? Did we even have a nanny?"

We sat down and talked about this, my husband and me, because I couldn't take it anymore. I don't need a sigh of grief when I ask him to snap a shot of me with the girls and I'd really appreciate it if he could possibly get my head in the fucking picture.

He didn't understand this. "I don't get it. Why do you need the picture? You're there. Why do you need a picture to remember the day?"

Okay, so there it was. He thought I was being an egotistical snob that loves looking at myself. It was time to set him straight. I went into my exhausting tirade about how, as a mother, I need to remember how it felt to hold their little bodies next to mine. I need to see the glow on my face when I smelled the jelly on their lips. It goes by so fast! I need to document as much of it as possible so I can remember it. It's how I'm wired.

It's not about having a picture of me. It's about seeing me with my kids and remembering the day and what we said and how her little 5 year old laugh sounded when I laughed with her.

I need to remember that I was there and I was a great mom that loved being a part of their lives as long as they allowed me in it. Lately, I find myself grabbing as much as I can before the precocious teenage years when they don't need my hugs, kisses and attention. It's not about the picture, it's about the experience.

I think he gets it. We went on a Disney Cruise a couple years later and every picture had me standing loud and proud with our kids. Sometimes I still get the sigh of grief when I ask him to take a picture, but that's when I remind him that I love him for doing it.

I didn't marry a photographer, I married a man who loves an experience and doesn't like that experience to be interrupted by finding a camera. However, I do. I like having proof that I was here on this earth with my family. I existed. I loved. I laughed. I will see these pictures when I'm 98 and allow myself to sink back into the memory more clearly.

Thank you honey for having the patience to give me the gift of remembering. When I'm old and struggling to remember our family when we were young, I'll have pictures to ignite my memory. It's priceless.