Tag Archives: Family

Ushering Ants

The other day I came up the hall to find a line of ants marching at eye-level on the wall in the foyer. As there is neither food nor water in the foyer, I found this interesting. They came in under the front door, crawled up the closet, moseyed around the corner to some shelves, turned around and left. This went on for a day or two – with me cautioning my family to “Watch out for the ants! Don’t lean on the wall, you might squash one!” This was met with the usual “Uh huh.”

One night as I came up the hall, I stopped and watched their journey. Something about the procession was soothing – the way the ones coming greeted those who were leaving. My husband walked up behind me and muttered, “Would you like me to get you an ant farm? Then you can watch them all the time – and they won’t be loose – in our house.”

It didn’t bother me that the ants were loose, because I knew they’d do what ants always do – leave. There was no reason to be alarmed or kill them – and it was certainly not an infestation. It was only about 20 of the wee fellows – coming and going.

For those of you who know me, the fact I allowed the ants to come and go as they pleased will not surprise you. For those who don’t know me, I’ll explain. I’m vegetarian. I kill nothing. I’m kind and compassionate to everything — even people who hurt me and (as I’m told) “don’t deserve kindness or compassion… or your friendship – because they’re playing games with you, they’re cowardly, and they’re an asshole.” 

Today I woke to find 3 ants aimlessly wandering the kitchen tiles. These I had to usher out. Not for my sake, mind you, but theirs. That’s a dangerous place to wander – a lot more risk of being smashed than when they’re eye-level on a wall. I didn’t want that on my conscience. I put each of them outside to join a line of ants marching by my rose and wisteria bushes. There was much antennae-waving before they got in line and crawled up the branches with the rest of their cohorts. It made me smile, that welcoming back into the fold – like old friends reuniting.

I often find beauty and smiles in places others don’t. But lately I’ve not seen a lot of beauty or smiles. And lately I’m the ant wandering out in the open on the kitchen tiles – exposed, vulnerable – with people and forces coming along trying to smash me. The past few weeks have been especially hard. The day after my return from a glorious birthday trip to NYC, we unexpectedly lost a family member. It was devastating – and it fell to me to tell my children and husband. The grief overwhelmed. To add to this, the following week, I had to put our beloved dog down. She had been part of our family since 1997. This was all so much death – so much grief, in so short a time. I needed to unplug and get away from people – especially those who didn’t have my best interests at heart. I needed to talk to real friends – old friends – the ones who’d always be with me, no matter what. These friends hurt when I hurt – and I’m hurting now. They’ve been kind enough to get behind me, trying to usher me on, and when I rise slowly to the surface again, I know I’ll be greeted with much antennae-waving by them. I’m blessed.

Stumbling, Fumbling Towards Perspective

I’ll let you in on a little secret; I don’t always like being right.

There are moments when I relish it, of course. Those tend to be when The Husband and I have had a discussion about something, and the following day I bring it up and he doesn’t remember ever having spoken to me about it. Whereas I can sit there and tell  him in no uncertain terms where we were standing, who was wearing what, what commercial was blaring in the background, and even what direction the goldfish were swimming, he will not recall the conversation. He’ll stare vacantly and shake his head. As I start to squawk and gesticulate wildly, all pretense of patience flying the coop, he’ll remain mild-mannered and somewhat curious about the floor show I’m putting on. When he eventually relents (out of a desire for peace, not a sudden flash of memory), I count it as a little victory. Go me.

But I digress. The times where I wish I hadn’t been right, those are onerous little buggers. I don’t relish those moments. I don’t toss them into my mental Rolodex of woohoos! They are the sad sighs, the hunched shoulders, the rapid texts to friends – in other words, signs of the forlorn. They are more painful – and vexatious to the extreme. I’m a pessimist, I know this will come as a stunning blow to those of you who have never read more than a few lines of my writing, or who have never met me in person… I have always been a pessimist, and, one day, I will die still having been a pessimist. The glass is half empty, and it’s fucking ugly, too.

Again, I digress. A few months back, as I do, I predicted a couple things would happen. I wasn’t looking forward to these events – they weren’t celebratory, like the “epic collapse” of the Red Sox this year. No, I just felt they were inevitable, and, in my Eeyore-esque fashion, predicted their dismal arrival. One of the issues was part of a cycle, a cycle I had continuously fed into. It’s one of my many flaws, feeding into cycles. In January of 2009, I put a stop to feeding into one. I have not relented. I’m quite proud of myself (quick, make a note that I said that). I won’t lie. It hasn’t been easy. Many times I have longed to continue the binge feeding of that particular cycle – but enough was enough.

This time, the same is true. I’ve reached a saturation point. This will not continue. I have sought and found perspective. I know, that sounds so lofty, doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t an easy find, mind you. Nothing with me ever is. It was rather a clumsy meandering.  I sort of tripped and landed painfully on top of perspective. But that bitch is mine now. At least this cycle stops here.

The other issue? That’ll take work. I’m great at work though. I like having that purpose, that thing to strive towards. A goal, as enticing as a box of Godiva truffles after a month-long diet. It’s a renewed sense of me and my capabilities.

In the end, being emotionally and mentally cruel to yourself is counterproductive for the whole growing and learning thing which constitutes our lives. Yes, yes, yes, I’ve heard. It’s also cruelty if you allow others to dump their problems on you. You’ve got to stop it. It’s not about who said what, or who did what. It’s about how much more you’re going to take before you’ve reached your saturation point. It’s about cutting the bullshit out of your life – and the bullshitters. Huddle and cuddle with those who’ll help you burrow into your soul. Those who’ll tolerate your silly little ways and love you just the way you are. Ditch the haters. Wish them luck and then back the fuck away from them. We’re all on a little march towards enlightenment. I’ve decided I’m only going to march with those who don’t give me flat tires along the way.

Men, Boys, Balls, and GIANT Pink Boxes

For you new readers, I have two sons and a husband. My eldest boy I’ve had for 20 years next month. The Husband, well, he I’ve had considerably longer. To say I’m familiar with testosterone and all its ugly little flaws would be an understatement.

I wanted sons, don’t get me wrong. You see, males were an enigma to me. What better way to truly study the male of the species than by cleaning up their urine splashes?

As my boys aged, I learned something about myself, too. In the beginning, if they did something naughty to me, the look on my face (or my tears) would be enough to send them into fits of contrition – complete with soulful, “I sorry, Mommy, I sorry” apologies.

Soon my tears repelled them. They became a fear. I’m not quite sure when this happened. I’m going to say once they became teens. When they see me well up (which happens a lot) they recoil and leave the room. Maybe they give me an awkward pat or hug before. The point is, they want nothing to do with female tears. It’s as if they say to themselves, “What is that substance leaking from her eyes? I believe it will unman me.” And, their natural instinct is to run from the teary kryptonite. I tie this directly to testosterone. I also tie it to The Husband, who cannot stand to see me cry.

The boys have grown up in a house where nature programs are always on. Whenever an animal chase crops up, I say, “Oh no!” and then well up, knowing the eventual outcome. Poor little baby gazelle or whatever’s on the other end of those teeth and claws! I never really get to watch the end of the chase because there’s a drill in the house. The Husband will suddenly shout, “WHO’S GOT THE CLICKER? CHANGE IT BEFORE SHE STARTS CRYING!” and that’s the end of that. There’s my theory proven. Female tears scare the crap out of men.

You know what else scares the crap out of them? The female reproductive system. Discussing any sort of female discomfort appalls them. I admit it, there are many, many times I send The Husband down to the store to buy feminine hygiene products that I know very well don’t exist just so he stands in the aisle staring vacantly at tampons. This is usually punishment for something. It’s not like I do it for entertainment for me and my girlfriends… There are also times I send him down to buy the products IN BULK – because nothing is funnier than seeing a man wandering the store carrying a gargantuan pink box of tampons with a sour look on his face like someone’s just had a wee in his Cheerios. As a mother, I am well aware this will also happen to my sons and I’m OK with that. They’ll cope as wonderfully as their father did. They’ll come home extremely proud of themselves for having done the deed and they’ll get a round of applause or hugs and kisses.

The thing with teenage boys, though, is they don’t want to know that their mother is a woman. She’s just “mom.” When confronted with the fact she’s anything other than “mom” they get a little tense. This can happen when male attention (outside of their father’s) is bestowed on her or she attempts to discuss sex with them. Then their faces get a little screwed up. “What? Ew! Stop!” is a likely response. It’s not flattering, mind you, but I deal with it. Last night I did so by telling my son that giving birth is extremely painful for women because we have to squeeze something twice the size of a baseball out a space designed for something the size of a golf ball. (I thought I’d throw in sporty references, you know, to make him more comfortable?) The look of revulsion on his face should be enough to ensure he’ll grocery shop with me today.

It’s the little things in life, folks.

Impenetrable

And so it passed:

The birthday of the friend I watched die. It was last week. I didn’t go to her grave this year. I’ve stopped doing that. The last time I’d gone, her grave had slid down the hill because of torrential rains. I had to report that to the office there at the cemetery. Of course it would be me. Her own family doesn’t visit her grave.

And so it passed:

Without me shedding a tear. I think my son expected it. He watched me a few times that day waiting for that or for me to withdraw into myself. I didn’t. I had an art project, a gift, that was occupying my time. I was busy agonizing whether the portrait I was doing actually looked like this person it was meant to or whether it looked like I painted it with my toes whilst high on crack. That was easier to focus on than to remember the shuddering sounds of a body shutting down against its will. It’s a long process, that shutting down.

And so it passed:

Without me thinking about going in day after day, week after week, to sit there and watch as her husband deluded himself into believing that her eyes were much more lively that day. Couldn’t I see it? Look, she’s responding.

And so it passed:

Without me thinking about those three beautiful children coming in a few days in a row to “say goodbye to Mommy.” The head that had previously resided on the ceramic angel on the table there suddenly snapped off on its own and rolled across the surface and onto the floor during that final goodbye. It needed to be done. And soon.

And so it passed:

Without me dwelling on how those three beautiful children will not remember how warm, funny, gracious and talented their mother was. How much she loved and doted on them.

And so it passed:

Without me damning myself for being there. For being the only one there. For having the courage to remain while everyone else crumbled and left her alone in that room to take her last breath. No one deserves to die alone – let alone someone you love. It’s a final gift to remain there with them.

And so this too shall pass:

My friend told me a few days ago that I’ve done “a damn good job” of “freezing” chambers of my heart, one by one. That I’m in danger of becoming numb. I don’t think he knows what he’s talking about. He’s English. He can’t help it. All I know is that her birthday passed and next week another anniversary of sorts will pass. A time when I walked away from a friendship that cost me more to be in than it gave in return. I gave a final gift then, too. A painting. With the humor the universe possesses, this painting seems to be everyone’s favorite in my catalog of work. No. I won’t make you one. Next week, as my friend says, I shall be “impenetrable.” And he says this with no sense of irony. Personally I think he’s full of crap. I passed a dead bunny in the road yesterday and it made me weep. Poor little fuzz ball.

And Then the Damn Bird Blew Up!

It was the first (and only) time my older sister and her children came for Thanksgiving. It was November 2001. This date is ingrained in my head for a reason that will soon become obvious.

In any event, I’d planned on being a perfect hostess, as you do. I cleaned as well as I could with two young children, and had guest beds and linens all prepared. The menu was done in advance, as well. Everything was good to go.

Isn’t it funny how at these times when you really need something to turn out well the most bizarre things happen?

My sister and her two daughters arrived the day before Thanksgiving. I can’t really remember what we did, maybe we went to the beach. This is hardly a salient point. So, Thanksgiving morning arrived, as it does when you fall asleep the night before… I began the day, as I do every Thanksgiving, with the typical sobbing over the dead bird as I rinse it out in the kitchen sink. As a vegetarian, this is a heinous task. There is a lot of “I’m sorrys” said to the bird and plenty of retching on my part. My sister walked in to experience this floor show of mine first hand. My husband and sons are well-versed in this annual exercise and remain as far away as possible during my penitential process.

She found me hunched over the sink with a bottle of beer beside me. It was 9:00 AM. I was whimpering and gagging. She pushed me aside and rinsed the bird, while making tutting sounds amounting to what an idiot I am, or thoughts to that effect. I continued to sniffle and snuff as she removed the bag of innards and the neck. UGH! Eventually the carcass was stuffed in its pan and I began the preparations for its descent into our ancient (and burnt-sienna-colored!) oven.

I should digress for a moment and give some background. Our house is old. It was built in the late ’60s. There have been no significant updates to the structure in all that time other than a new roof. This was years ago and at that time, the kitchen hadn’t been kitted out with new appliances.

Anyhow, into the hideously colored oven the bird went. I breathed a sigh of relief. The hard part was over and I didn’t look like too big a failure in front of my older sister. An hour later, she went down the hall to shower. I finished my beer and ruminated on my many faults.

Soon, as she was blow-drying her hair, we were treated to a colossal series of explosions, not unlike the 4th of July or a missile attack. I ran up the hall with visions of the Taliban standing in  my dining room. Had they been driven so far out of Afghanistan they sought to create havoc  in a small San Diego coastal village on Thanksgiving Day? As I ran in, many cats and a dog were running out with that wild-eyed, “WHAT THE -?” look animals in distress have. The explosions continued.

I looked into the kitchen and there was burnt sienna Old Faithful, smoking and banging away. The oven, which had lasted decades, had picked TODAY, THANKSGIVING DAY, the day my always-makes-me-feel-like-I’m-an-idiot older sister was visiting. This couldn’t have happened a few days before Thanksgiving, or a few days after, no. The Goddamn oven needed to pick Thanksgiving Day to explode with my bloody bird in it!

At this point, the husband lumbered in. He may have come due to my hysterical shrieking, I’m not really sure. Behind him, still holding her hairdryer, came my sister. Behind her, a combination of children, all equally dumbfounded and scared. The husband eventually realized he should unplug Old Smokey before all smoke detectors picked up on this event and contributed their own shrill voices to this Thanksgiving Day extravaganza. I watched him hunch over the beast and attempt to pull it from the wall. I would have offered assistance but if one of us has to die…

Once it was disarmed, we all gaped at the brown behemoth, billowing smoke and making odd crackling death sounds.

“I thought the hairdryer did it.” My sister said, brandishing the appliance as if it were evidence in a Conair trial.

I couldn’t have been more mortified if I tried. “What do we do with the bird?” I wailed. “It’s only been cooking for an hour!” After a series of back-and-forths, and a hasty phone call, I bundled the bird and the husband in the car and sent them away to finish the cooking process at the in-laws.

We strapped the bird in using a seat belt…

When they returned, everything was fine. The meal passed in an uneventful fashion, meaning nothing else exploded and I hadn’t poisoned anyone. Success!

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of Old Smokey for your entertainment, so these excellent examples of 1960’s and 1970’s wallpaper taken just now from areas around my house will have to suffice:

This wonderful assortment of Brady-Bunch-on-Acid fruits and vegetables is in a corner of my garage.
Entire walls & shelves in the house were once covered with this. I call it "tequila vomit."

I wish you all a happy and stress-free Thanksgiving with your loved ones. I, once again, will be hunched over the sink, sobbing and apologizing with a beer beside me. Happy Holidays!

No, Really, It All Happened

The days have marched on since my eldest moved away to college. I’ve lost track, to be honest. I know it’s been just a week since the youngest has started high school. Of that I’m certain… I think…

Not that it matters, of course. This isn’t about them but about acceptance. Acceptance is a bitch. It’s not something I’ve ever been good with. Perhaps I felt it competed with my own excellent bitch factor, who knows. From my earliest memories, acceptance and I didn’t see eye-to-eye:

What do you mean I had a baby brother and now I don’t? (I recall this moment with perfect clarity. I looked down and watched my tears hit the parquet flooring far, far below. Funny when you’re small the ground is so far away. I was four or five. That was an early age for such an ugly bit of acceptance. I think that’s what made me dislike her so.)

What do you mean we’re moving from New York?

What do you mean we’re taking a Greyhound Bus to California?

What do you mean I can’t take all my Dr. Seuss books?

Oh, sure, the years passed but the hits just kept on coming…

What do you mean Kirk smiled at another girl today?

What do you mean we don’t have any bread? What am I supposed to spread on my bread if I don’t have any bread to spread it on?

What do you mean you were too busy working to pack me a lunch so you’re sending me to school with a box of donuts?

What do you mean we have to learn The Hustle and perform it live in front of the school?

Flash forward. We needn’t go down the all too painful adolescent stages of life. I’m sure you get the picture.

What do you mean you gave away my cat (fish, birds, etc) while I was away at school?

What do you mean we have to go to the desert for Christmas?

What do you mean he likes me?

As I aged (and, boy, have I) my ability to deal with acceptance hasn’t improved. I think I’ve got an unfair disadvantage though. I’m married. I’ve been married for a long, long, long, long time. That’s forced acceptance – an oppressive and archaic form, but a bleak and grim acceptance nonetheless. Sort of like prison without the great allotted times for exercise, art classes, TV viewing on the big screen…

What do you mean you can’t take the baby to the doctor? I’m working!

What do you mean we’re expected to go to your dad’s house for Christmas?

What do you mean your mom didn’t mean it the way it sounded?

What do you mean you shouldn’t have bought that?!

What do you mean you forgot who you were talking to?!

Ah, marriage. Let’s not trip further down this pot-holed memory lane, it will only piss me off. Let’s move on to other fun-filled moments:

What do you mean she’s had a heart attack?

What do you mean she’s had a stroke?

What do you mean she’s in a coma?

What do you mean we have to take her off life support?

What do you mean she has cancer?

What do you mean she’s got lymphoma?

(And one for a certain Englishman) What do you mean you’re ‘trying’?

I’m not good with acceptance, as I said. I haven’t improved with age in that regard. However, those of you who read these posts regularly will be happy to know that I have mellowed in my dotage. Prove it? Well, OK. The painting that had so plagued me lately has been put off to the side. Most likely I will never finish it. The person to whom it was going will never know I had these plans to surprise them with the gift. There. See? It’s not driving me crazy or anything…

In place of that, I’ve turned my eldest’s room into an art studio. After all, he no longer lives here. I can use that space as I will! I’ve begun my largest oil canvas to date: 30″ x 48″. It is the picture from my last blog post – and, for the first time in many years, this painting is just for me. So far, so good.

I won’t describe how being in my son’s room, listening to music he used to play, and sitting on his bed has made me crumble many times in the last few days. I won’t talk about the many tissues I’ve used, or the stuffed animals I’ve dug up just to give a cuddle to. Instead I will say he texted me yesterday with this: “I just saw your exact car and it bummed me out.” It’s nice to know I’m missed!

I hate acceptance.  But the days march on and each blow we take we learn to accept (in whatever form we can). In some small part of my mind, I’m sure I’m proud of myself for withstanding this much. It’s either accept it, or give in, and you know I hate giving in.

The Day My House Crapped Itself

I was going to have everything under control. Nothing would be left to chance. Every plastic Easter egg stuffed with chocolates and the occasional dollar bill would be found in a timely manner. I would not have to go running around the yard in my pajamas hours later, reaching into spider-ridden bushes, rooting around for an egg with 1 blasted M&M or a penny in it. Not THIS YEAR!

Every morsel of food would be done to perfection, placed on the serving platter in an artsy fashion, and of course it would all taste magnificent.

I wouldn’t stress out about the arrival of my German mother (see previous posts for a short character sketch) because there would be nothing she could pick at. Not the appearance of my home, children, food, or even myself. This holiday would be fine.

I sent my eldest child to pick mom up. It gave me time to continue whipping up the feast and, of course, to pre-medicate myself with a beer. When she arrived, I was just setting the table. She’d brought me roses, and seemed delighted to be there. The meal itself passed in a pleasant enough fashion. Mom has a way of saying the most inappropriate and politically incorrect things, which are hilarious and make my children laugh into their napkins. I find it best if I shoot them a look, or change the topic. Even the clean-up from this meal was a breeze. I was done within minutes.

On to the Easter egg coloring. I had spent an hour the day before, as I do every year, drilling holes in eggs and blowing the innards out into the sink. It’s great fun. If you’ve never had the joy of giving a blow-job to an egg, let me be the first to recommend it. There’s nothing quite like hanging over the kitchen sink, blowing as hard as you can into a pin-prick sized hole, until you feel like you’re suffering an aneurysm. Really. I had to stop several times because I was having so much fun I wanted to prolong it, and, also, I felt like my brain would come shooting out the other end along with the runny yolk. As I said, great fun. Anyhow, there they were, my mom and my kids, coloring eggs. They had a great time and dyed fingers when they were done.

Did I mention today’s mom’s birthday? In order to celebrate properly, we had a cake on Sunday. She was tickled pink. She loved her gifts. It was all going smoothly. Even my plan of having someone-who-wasn’t-me drop mom back off at her house was great. My family understood the importance. It wouldn’t/couldn’t be me. It was baseball’s opening day. I had to watch the Yankees. Yes, HAD TO. If you followed me on Twitter last baseball season and you’re not a Yankees fan, God love you for your patience.

Speaking of God, there I was, wiping down the table when my husband shouted, “Did you feel that?” I felt nothing. By this point I’d had two beers. As everyone prattled on about what they felt, I continued to wipe down the dining room table, which, strangely, seemed to be moving while I was doing so. I looked up to a general panic. The dog was standing ridiculously close, shaking as if she was having some sort of seizure. Mom began babbling in her quasi-English. That’s never a good sign. When her accent gets thick, there’s a problem. And there was. Our dining room suddenly looked like a fun house. The walls sagging in on themselves. The whole room swaying. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to puke, or pass out. Only when my husband shouted to get outside did it dawn on me. Earthquake. A big one. A bloody long one, too.

Living in Southern California we’re used to earthquakes. This one was different. This one wouldn’t stop. I had seen my husband, eldest child, and mother run outside. I stood in the dining room, watching the 30-gallon fish tank slosh water over the sides, swaying back and forth, giving my two neurotic goldfish the ride of their lives. Sponge in hand, it struck me I hadn’t seen my youngest child. As the swaying continued and strengthened, I ran down the hall screaming for him. Sponge still firmly gripped, I don’t know why. The hallway was bending in an eerie fashion. Once I’d gotten hold of him, and the dog’s collar, I ran. Waffles, our cat, decided then would be the perfect time to attempt my assassination. She ran between my legs and tripped me. I dropped the sponge.

Once outside I saw our neighbors, all similarly standing in their driveways, watching the trees across the street ripple. The roofs of our homes, swaying in a creepy manner. You don’t hear a rumble in an earthquake. That’s a misconception. The rumble you hear is the building you’re in, shifting, settling, and shitting its pants. This was a quiet earthquake, and it was still going on. The only sounds were my mother’s excited jabbering (she may have reverted entirely to German at this point, I’m not sure), and me rounding on my husband to say, “What happened to women and children first? Our son was still in the house!” Ah, good times.

When it was over we discovered it had been the largest earthquake in our region for over 100 years. A 7.2. I went on Twitter, replying to @chizeck and many others who were kind enough to ask after us. I may have opened another beer, and proclaimed there better not be another earthquake during the game because I was not going to miss any of it.

Mom’s apartment suffered slight damage. Things broken. Our house had things crack, move about, fall, but we’re all good.

Today’s Tuesday. The aftershocks keep coming. My sleep is disturbed. Shelves in the garage have collapsed, dumping various items on my car. Last night I spent the whole night with something hard poking me in my backside. Only at 3 AM, when another 4.6 aftershock hit and woke me, did I realize the hard thing was my hand weights left on the bed from an earlier work out. I think this is called sleep deprivation.

So, yeah, Easter was great. I pulled off an enjoyable day for all. God just threw an extra bit of excitement into the mix.

I Just Don’t See It

I would see it happening, little by little, right? I’d recognize it in the tilt of my head, the waggle of a finger, the stern reprimands and silly accusations, or the blatant denial for the patently obvious. I’m not becoming my mother. I refuse to admit it. Nope, I just don’t see it.

First of all, I don’t speak German. I can’t understand it. I don’t particularly want to. The only times she spoke German in the house was when she was really angry and couldn’t remember the English words for things. It’s just as well. To me it sounded an awful lot like, “Blockity block block glockenspiel, DENISE. Was ist das blockity block glocken block, DENISE? Ich verstehe Sie nicht blocken.”

In addition to that, I don’t come home and grill my children. “Did you have people over? I know you did. The house smells like dust!”  My mom was famous for that line when I was in high school. My friends still laugh about it. “Denise, what were you doing? The house smells like dust!” I always wanted to respond with, “Oh, that’s good. For a minute I thought you could smell the tequila. Thank God the dust odor covers it…” but I didn’t want to be slapped. “I went up and down the stairs a few times,” I’d say. “Sorry for the over-the-top stair usage.” We also weren’t allowed to sit on the sofa downstairs. It was just for show. To this day, she refuses to acknowledge her behavior as being strange.

Also? I don’t vacuum myself out of rooms. When I was in high school, the only big television we owned was upstairs in my mother’s bedroom. My friends and I would occasionally flip it on. I admit it. I also freely admit that it took me far too long to realize how she knew when I had people over: There were two or three sets of butt imprints on the carpet in front of the TV. Butts of various sizes. Butts that couldn’t all be mine. I’m not joking. Not in the slightest.

I’m a grown woman. I don’t care whose butt imprints are on my carpet. I don’t even notice if my house smells of dust. I only take heed when The Husband starts mewling like a kitten because of  his allergies. As for my mother, I like to occasionally bring my children over to her immaculate home. I let them wander close to her crystal sculptures, touch her dust-free decorative objects, pick through the bowls of potpourri. I also like to watch them shuffle back and forth over her perfectly coiffed carpet. She cringes. I can see the wheels whirring in her brain. The Hoover will make an appearance before we’ve even buckled our seat belts.

No, I’m not becoming my mother. I don’t blatantly deny things that are patently obvious to everyone else. In fact, I’ll even let you in on a little secret. Last week my eldest child walked into my closet and said, “Ha. There’s your Mrs. Beasley dress! What is it with you dressing up as cartoon characters?” My jaw dropped. “That dress doesn’t look anything like Mrs. Beasley’s dress. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” My child walked away, pointing at my Mrs. Beasley doll, up on her shelf in the closet. I looked up. “See? You’re so wrong,” I said to no one. “Mrs. Beasley’s dress is polka-dotted. This isn’t like the Minnie Mouse incident from ten years ago.” I could hear laughter coming from his room. “Yes it is!”

I bring forth the following photos to show you that I do not dress up as cartoon characters. I’m a grown woman. I would recognize my own ridiculous behavior. The males in my house are clearly all imagining things.

No, Really, They’re Still There

The number of ants inexorably marching across the ledge in my son’s bedroom has lessened. The ones that remain seem confused and/or bored. The way they stop, mid-stride, look around, and go back the way they came without having accomplished anything reminds me of the movements my husband makes when I send him to the store with a grocery list consisting of feminine hygiene products. It also reminds me of my advancing years. I will stand, purposely set off down the hall at a fairly fast clip (clearly what I’m going to do is so important, even the dog moves aside) but by the time I get to the end of the corridor, I’ve forgotten what I was going there for. No, no, it wasn’t important after all. I obviously just meant to get in some crucial hallway exercise. Burn a calorie. Yes, that’s it.

That’s my “A ha!” moment. So I’ll go back from whence I came, plop back down, and immediately meet a reminder. Oh. I was going to get my wallet…

Do these ants have that A ha! moment? Is that why they’ve spun back around? Or were they really so bored they couldn’t plod on in that direction one more millimeter? That reminds me of a job I once had. Day in and day out, watching the clock, counting the minutes until I could bolt from my seat. Wave goodbye to the crazy train for one more day. Go home and seek comfort from the dust motes floating through the air, the heavy layer of dust covering the furniture. Do you know if you allow it to settle that thickly you can let your children doodle in it? Aww, precious doodles. You’re welcome.

I used to have a friend who would come over and grimace at the toys covering the floor. The complete chaos my house was in. I remember feeling so inadequate! Why couldn’t I work full-time, be a mom, and also have a spotless house like she did? Looking back, I’m sad to think of the hours I toiled, cleaning, scrubbing, disinfecting – all the while, my kids were growing up, not caring whether our living room looked like a page from Architectural Digest or a Red Cross Hurricane Relief ad. When my friend passed in 2005, I had a major A ha! moment. My house hasn’t been spotless since. I wouldn’t waste countless hours of my life scrubbing away the last vestiges of my offspring’s childhoods.

Toys are not in abundance anymore. They’ve grown, but their stuff still litters corners of the living room. Dirty socks. Half empty glasses of chocolate milk that may or may not have been licked by the dog. Candy wrappers. I once found an apple core between the sofa cushions. I don’t care. As long as it isn’t smack dab in the middle of the corridor, interfering with my memory loss hallway exercise, they’re welcome to the space. That’s one less spot I’ll have to clean.

And So I Gave In

I “should” blog. “Do it!” I was urged. I’m not entirely certain what these kindhearted individuals expected from me. I already Tweet so much, a certain Scotsman decided he needed to unfollow me. I was “clogging” his feed. Really? “Clogging”? I felt like a lump of hair wedged in a bathroom sink. For days after that, I tried to keep quiet. Really I did. But what can I say? It was the 2009 Major League Baseball playoffs. My New York Yankees were wiping the floor with every contender. Was I supposed to keep that to myself? I had fellow Yankees fans counting on my rants, my diatribes, my ecstasies. I couldn’t let them down. Clog or no clog. And so I continued.

I’m told blogging helps with writing. If it does, it takes me away from the two manuscripts I’ve started that sit like dead weights, bobbing up and down on my hard drive like buoys out at sea. “Ahoy! We’re here! Over here! Hallooo!” Yes, I see you. I know you’re there. But Mommy can’t get to you right now. Mommy is still deeply concerned about manuscript one, the one that’s out in the world, being looked at by a literary agent. You know, the one that took years to write? So sink back down to the depths of my hard drive for a while, would you?

My mind goes to and fro. Maybe today isn’t meant for writing? Today I should paint. Who has a birthday or special occasion coming up? I find it easier working on paintings for other people than for myself. Those I put off, much like the sunken manuscripts, waiting, waiting, waiting. The painting above, “Midas Rescued from the Black Hole” was all about waiting. But we won’t go there.

So, a blog? Really? What will I blog about? Paint drying on the canvas? The two very different (and neglected) manuscripts? The odd assortment of items I find on the carpet in my house? The dull, shark-like eyes given me by my family when I say things like, “Someone who isn’t me will be emptying that dishwasher”? Or, how about the line of ants marching in my son’s bedroom? Where are they coming from? Where are they going? It seems purposeless. It’s like they’re on an ant runway, “Does this grain of sand make my butt look big?”

Well here was my blog. My bloggy blog blog. They cannot say I didn’t follow through.