Monitor Hall Takes Manhattan

B is for Beth, who missed her calling as a travel agent. Or cat shepherd, so adept are her organization, task focus, and time management skills.

S is for Sue, whose pre-planning, on-site planning, innate navigation gift that rivals Google Maps or Magellan’s himself, and experience as a world traveler make her the girls’ weekend Allstate Agent–you’re in good hands.

BS is for, well, BS is pretty self-explanatory in the usual contexts. But in my story, together, Beth and Sue head BS Travel, an imaginary travel agency that could and probably should consider incorporation some day.  BS Travel is full-service.  They personalize the experience for their clients (Bridget, Julie, and yours truly), and that personal touch creates adventure with a comfortable safety net.

This post won’t be 5% as good as I want it to be. I want it to reflect all that is incredible about New York City and the unbelievable hubris of man, who envisioned, believed, and then BUILT Manhattan, an island of dreams. More importantly, I want my story to reflect the friendships I’ve carried three decades. You see, my NYC venture is everything to do with the girls with whom I traveled. The sights and the other eight million people, however amazing–and they are nothing short of amazing–are merely backdrop.  All right, not merely.  Merely would be underselling its magnificence.

I actually took this photograph with my iPhone.  Pretty incredible, no?

Monitor Hall is the now-razed building that housed the Speech Pathology and Audiology program at Marquette University in our day.  Hands down, ugliest building on campus.  But Monitor Hall was the home, the launch pad of thousands of friendships, including ours.  Five Midwestern girls, livin’ in a lonely world, we took the midnight train. . . No, that’s not true.  There are few trains to the Milwaukee area and we are only now embracing street cars for mass transit, and let’s don’t even go there with the streetcar debate.  Where was I?  Though we came from different backgrounds, and I was definitely the only one with hair standing 7″ off and out of my head (I mean, it was the ’80s, you guys), the commonality of our Midwestern values, collective sense of humor, the fact that none of us were trust fund kids whose parents gifted them a free ride through college, made us friends.

Last summer Julie introduced the idea of a girls’ trip to celebrate our rather round, large birthdays, but a number of circumstances prevented that from its fruition.  But Julie isn’t one to abandon her people–No Speech Path Left Behind is the motto, yo.  We, well to be honest, they, planted the seeds for this trip.  After much discussion, we decided upon NYC, and unbeknownst to us all, BS Travel was born.  Sue killed the hotel and dinner reservations; Beth, the airlines and daily activities; Julie scored the Broadway tickets, and Bridget and I hit “purchase.”  This is not to say that Bridget had as little to do with planning as I did (which, no lie, was absolutely nothing), but the big three were all over the Big Apple.

BS Travel Hits All Your Midtown High Notes

This isn’t a travelogue, because really, what the hell do I know about travel?  Yeah, um, not much.  I know that I notice things, and I’ve got a decent memory for place.  I really don’t get lost, which is not the same as having no idea where you are, by the way.  But once I found my bearings, I could find things and re-find them when needed.  Like on which side of Rockefeller Plaza the bathrooms were located, for example.  Go, me!  Rather than detail sites, I’m gonna detail US, the stars of this show.

Because props.  Dylan’s Candy Bar.  I believe I actually squealed at the wall of rainbow-colored candies.

See how the sign indicated exit?  That’s how you know we successfully entered the subway and later arrived to the surface no worse for the wear.

Downtown and Brooklyn and Broadway and and and. . .

The one place I felt strongly about visiting was the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. 9/11 was my “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” or “Pearl Harbor” event.  As it did then, it does now continue to touch me to my core.  The museum and memorial are beautiful and deeply respectful of their reason for being.  It’s one place we didn’t take selfies, because it would have been so incongruous.  Solemnity and reverence are the two words that most registered with me there.

Oh, my heart.

Kinky Boots.  Kinky Boots! So fun, and made all the more fun seeing Tyler Glenn portray Charlie.  Watch Believer, the documentary by Dan Reynolds from Imagine Dragons if you want to learn more about Tyler Glenn, the lead singer from the band Neon Trees.  Mind.  Blown.  But I digress.  Dinner before the thea-tah was divine, and the show was a party.  Now if that woman in front of me could have just sat down and sat still. . .

The East River Isn’t Actually A River

Don’t let ’em fool you.  We cruised around Manhattan on Day 3.  Genius move, y’all, because heat and humidity are not always our friends.  And we’d walked like a hundred miles the two days prior, ’cause yeah, we’re smart like that.

You can’t help but be moved upon first sight.

Hot, hot, hot.  

We did walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, but this shot from beneath it really popped.

 It Takes A Village

Like the tee shirts proclaim, I do heart NY.  I can’t wait to return and bring my son (OK, all of my family, sure, but especially my NYC-obsessed high schooler), but at the same time I was ready to come home.  The city is too everything, and I love it.  Love it.  The city that never sleeps is truly that, but I also do appreciate a bit of peace and quiet.  Ironic that I live in the city, but I don’t live IN THE CITY either.  I was ready to be heading home, though not at all looking forward to the good-byes.

Splitting off at the Riu Hotel Saturday afternoon, hugs and “safe travels” abounded as Beth, Julie, and I hopped into our Uber back to LaGuardia while Sue and Bridget meandered toward the train station.  There were tears, but not ugly tears, just tears in celebration of a wildly successful trip with amazing women who have made good.  Monitor Hall taught and shaped us well as speech paths.  But it’s what is inside of them (do I daresay us to include myself in this elite company?), what is inside us that has guided us through life to be successful speech paths, parents, wives, and friends.  It takes a village (oft-heard on our trip because at least one of us had the heads-up at all times).  I like my village.  A lot.  My village is smart, compassionate, kind, generous, and damn good at travel arrangements.  My love to you all, girls! xoxo

Where to next time???

Advertisements

If I Can Make It There

I’ll make it anywhere. That’s how the song goes, right?

I think I shall begin logging bicycle rides not by the number of miles I turn, but by the number of times I nearly get killed by a distracted driver. Today’s count is two. I originally wrote only two, but then edited because really one is all ya need. OK, one is too many. It would take just one to wreck me for good, so the target is zero. Nada. Zip. I should consider myself lucky to have survived another urban cycling adventure.

And it was an adventure. For four whole miles, I pedaled south along the shores of Lake Michigan. For four whole miles I passed no one, I heard no motorized anything. My goal was to ride south to College Avenue, about six miles south of home. I made it. Here’s the tricky thing though: it is not enough, not enough by half, to merely arrive at your destination to meet your goal. You also have to make your way back home. Which I did, triumphantly for me, to the notice of no one else on the planet. 14.7 miles, coupla airhead motorists, lots of ups and downs, achy quads and triceps later. Boom. Just like the old days. OK, not at all like the old days. But strong. Fine! Strong-ish.

Waaaay over there? Looking even smaller than an ant community? That’s downtown.

The Actual big news is that I am headed to New York City tomorrow. No, there is no Barenaked Ladies concert to attend, it’s a reunion of my college friends. The four girls I spent 4+ years cramming for exams with at Marquette in the late 80s are meeting in New York City. We are now scattered throughout the Midwest and East coast, and we’ve all reached this magical, stupid age, so why not?

I’m not gonna lie, up until this morning towards the end of my bike ride, I was pretty scared. I’ve flown before by myself, so it’s not that. It’s, well I don’t know what it is, but I know that my anxiety meter was pinging into the red.

The other four girls have all been there before, so I have nothing to do but follow them around. I was not responsible for making even one of the travel arrangements; in fact, the girls were good enough even to scout out flights for me. Still though, nervous. And a little guilty. Mom guilt is a bee-otch, you guys. My son, he of MD fame/infamy/neither of those, just the kid who is DYING to visit NYC, laid it on pretty thick for a brief period. Then I reminded him how old I am, and it’s just now my first time taking a bite out of the Big Apple.

Anyway, for the first time since downloading the Southwest Airlines app, I felt not apprehension but anticipation. They promised me they wouldn’t leave the airport without me, and I’m holding them to it. So technically I can make it there. . . I do have my boarding pass, and now all I have to do is pack.

Sue, Bridget, Beth, and Julie–Monitor Hall (the ugliest building on campus) Takes Manhattan–let’s go!

schwinngirl20 Rides Again

Before I blogged, before my love for Barenaked Ladies eclipsed reason, before I became a mother, I was a biker. Not a biker-biker, a bicyclist. Before the advent of smartphones, I passed time on two wheels. My legs and my ass were steel as was my resting heart rate. I was in my 30s; I had yet to begin sliding down the slope of “What body parts hurt today?” Nothing hurt, except after crashes–and I crashed a lot. I was in my physical prime is the point here.

More–most?– importantly, I was grounded. My brain feeling not insane grounded, that is. There wasn’t a single problem that fifteen-twenty miles in the saddle couldn’t solve. I planned the exit strategy and end scene of my first marriage on my Black & Blue-ty. This old Schwinn literally saved my life. And while I embrace hyperbole with reckless abandon, that is not an overstatement. You can’t physically multitask while riding: you pedal and you think. You save yourself.

I tried getting back in the saddle repeatedly when the kids were small. We purchased the double Burley ride-along, we purchased our then-babies helmets, I stacked the Burley with juice boxes, books, snacks, even art supplies! Neither of the boys enjoyed the ride, hence neither could their mother.

Somewhere along the way I lost my nerve. Later I simply lost track of time.

I live about a mile and a half west of Lake Michigan. The lakefront has a lacy pattern of north-south trails designed for runners and cyclists, but I lost my brave. Getting to the lakefront felt like an Everest summit. Traffic! Motorists! Distracted now by their ubiquitous screens, motorists scared the living crap out of me, still do. Any contest of bike vs. car ends badly for the one cranking pedals. So I found other things to occupy time.

Most of every to-do list since then has had Boy Children #1 and #2 at its heart and soul. Top. Middle. Bottom. Being a parent has meant deprioritizing my recreation calendar to satisfy theirs. It’s the way it’s supposed to be, I understand, so this isn’t me complaining. It’s rationale. Sorta.

Today though, today is perfect. Mother Nature couldn’t have scripted a more quintessentially-summer summer day. Not a cloud to be found, the sky’s blue is dreamy. A breeze flutters my hair, keeping me just summer-warm enough as I sit and write. A legion of birds sing their varied songs while I admire our day lilies whose particular shade of gold could only be found in nature. Today is a gift.

Today felt like the day to resurrect schwinngirl20. My first and still in use email address is schwinngirl20@hotmail.com. You know I get the looks–the SO EMBARRASSED FOR YOU, old woman who still uses hotmail *snicker-snicker, eye roll-eye roll* look. And PS–Schwinn bikes are now sold at department stores, grandma. . .

I know. I don’t care.

After hanging idly in our garage for too many seasons, I dusted off ol’ Black & Blue, greased her chain, adjusted a brake pad or two, and hit the road this afternoon. I couldn’t trust the integrity of her tires and tubes, so I didn’t go far, only just over seven miles today. But I went. I even hopped a couple curbs.

It really is like riding a bike. MY bike.

My twenty-something-year-old, heavy as hell cro-moly frame Schwinn Mesa GS. She may be the only bike I’ll ever need–she’s a tank, stronger, more durable, and in better shape than I’ll be ever again. My day lily-yellow/gold Trek road bike may be too far gone to rehab, but so may be my nerve to sprint on a road bike again. My Schwinn has seen me through good times and bad, she pulled my babies with me, she kept my head square and screwed on tightly.

I’m borderline terrified to wake tomorrow, anticipating ache in every joint and muscle in my body, and that special pain reserved to bicyclists returning to the saddle if ya know what I mean. . . Oy. For right now though, this old lady isn’t an MDA mom or a baseball mom or even a speech-language pathologist–I’m schwinngirl20. Let’s ride.

You Win Some, You Lose Some(thing)

You Win Some

I hope you have something in your life that brings you joy the way attending concerts brings to me. You don’t have to get it, you don’t have to get my particular thing, but if you haven’t found your particular thing? Look for it, find it.

Don’t wait another second, not one more.

Whatever your “front row Barenaked Ladies concert tickets” are, drive across four states and get ’em.  You will not regret spending money and time en route to bliss.  We don’t hold a great deal of material wealth, my husband and I, but I will spend money for good concert tickets; I carry not one whiff of regret at having spent the money on the experiences.

Being with my friends, sitting in the front listening to MY hall of fame band play MY song means more than words.  Sure, I said some stupid things to the guys in the band.  Mostly stupid, probably.  Once I even had to apologize for staring, pretty much unresponsive before I recovered my powers of speech (Go, Wendy! Jaysus. . .)  But I’ll do it again if given the opportunity. With any luck, I’ll construct complete sentences, topic-related would be cool too, but let’s be honest–I’ll rant like an idiot or stand by mute.  Having an advanced degree in communication sciences and disorders means nothing when communicating with my favorite musicians. But I’ll go.  And I’ll thank them for the music, for being with me whether I need strength or a celebratory soundtrack.  And I don’t know if they think I’m weird, stop asking me, but I’d like to think they appreciate their fans, and since this is my little web page, we will go with what I’d like to think, m’kay?

When they opened the encore with my song, my heart was fit to beat straight up and right out of my chest.  My eyes welled up, and I was swept up in the moment–that being swept up thing actually happens!  I swayed back and forth, tears in my eyes, and with my hands over my heart–don’t know what’s got a hold of me, it’s greater than gravity–but I knew what got a hold of me.

You’re rolling your eyes, whatever-ing me.  It’s OK.  But maybe if we were each allowed that kind of moment, the moment where everything is perfect, every single thing is perfect, we’d be a happier world.

You Lose Some(thing)

Joy can be elusive and fleeting (see above).  Without it, one could easily fall down the rabbit hole that is reality.  It’s easy to forget how damn incredible you can feel when your single-sightedness keeps your eyes trained on the ground and not looking up.

Muscular Dystrophy is an asshole.

I get “talked to” for being negative, for attending to what-ifs and you-don’t-know-thats.  True statements, those.  A part of my brain tells me that it’s not negativism, but pragmatism or keepin’ it realism–my son is losing appreciable strength in his hands and wrists.  He carries an amended posture in his hands and arms, and it’s not the good kind of progress.  It looks different, his bones moving as a result of the muscles not working properly.  Look down at your wrists–your wrists are probably on a flattish plane between your hands and arms.  His are at odds and angles against that plane.  Hands turned in, fingers splayed back.  Even an action simple as clapping looks labored.

He’s losing functioning.  Some muscles/muscle groups work while others don’t.  That leaves an imbalance of muscles–a muscular overdevelopment or overcompensation against those muscles that don’t work properly–suddenly, this imbalance seems more pronounced.  I knew from Day One it wasn’t going to get better, but it’s a loss to see this decline.  He says it doesn’t hurt, and he hasn’t noticed that any tasks have become more difficult, and for this I am grateful.

Being grateful it’s not worse doesn’t make me happy he has it though.

Listen to this song–it’s titled Grateful.  I’ve been obsessed with it since I first heard it live last Friday.  So.  Good.

I Won!

I was nominated?? In the election for speech-language pathologist union committee members, I received votes from the majority of those who cast them (members could vote for more than one “candidate,” and I intentionally placed candidate in quotes, because usually candidates know they’re running for an office, council, elected body, etc.). This forces me to admit I didn’t vote, because it’s summer and I don’t check email religiously for summer work-related updates. Maybe it’s better this way anyway. Imagine how shocked I’d have been to discover my name on the ballot–yeah, um, there seems to be some type of error on the ballot, you guys. . . And so continued my astonishment! You think somewhere in the process I’d have been notified.

I choose to roll with “it’s an honor to be nominated” here though. Enough of my colleagues thought enough of me and my assertive professional nature that they thought I would serve them well in this role. I already star in the role of head pain in my boss’s ass, so this can’t be too deep a stretch. It’s been said that my attitude is contagious, and it wasn’t meant in the flattering, complimentary way. I felt deeply wounded by the statement; however true it is, it stung nonetheless. I don’t believe I have a bad attitude, but I’m not daisies and unicorns either–you want keepin’ it real with a heavy dose of eye roll? I’m your girl.

My job is to help the other 182 speech paths do theirs more easily, and I am fiercely protective of them. Sometimes not getting them what I believe they want and need makes me crabby. Sometimes I say words to that effect. The shock of having unknowingly become a union rep has faded, but I feel heartened knowing that my peers seem to believe I’ve got their backs, or that I sure as hell try to. And I’ll keep at it.

But it’s summertime.  No work for me until next Tuesday.  (For those of you who continue to rail against teachers and their cushy schedules. . . ) In other news–

MDA Summer Camp

I picked up #1 from The Best Week of the Year Friday. For the first time since he began to attend, neither he nor I ugly, ugly cried at pick up.  I can see a shift in my son, growth, something like budding maturity now.  I sense a shift in myself as well, maturing in my acceptance and understanding. The camp staff and volunteer counselors, nurses, hand-holders, firefighters, Harley riders (who am I forgetting?) commit time, compassion, and kindness to support kids with neuromuscular disease. What better thing is there to do with one’s time than to do good?

My Facebook sentiment pretty well sums it up. I’m ever-grateful my son gets to be at camp. He immediately found his tribe, two boys near his age, and with a seemingly similar degree of impairment.  I was intrigued how like finds like, in nature and even at summer camp.

I was asked to write a little thank you note for camp director, Mallory.  Mallory is a sweet twenty-something who coordinated camp for about 100 kids.  My head spins when I consider the number of details and people she is charged with matching and coordinating.  My coupla’ paragraphs weren’t Pulitzer-Prize winning, but I do hope she gleaned from them the depth of the parents’ gratitude.  My kid can still walk and talk, so I don’t have to worry as much as some parents whose children’s very lives hang in the balance due to the severity of their disease.  Mallory has to coordinate medical care and equipment, match counselors, feed, entertain, and, and, and. . .  Thank you, Mallory and everyone at camp.

Shorter Hair, Don’t Care

I lopped off about 8 inches of hair last week, well, actually Andrea did.  My stylist, modern day philosopher, and friend Andrea works absolute miracles with hair.  But even more than the change in my appearance, is the beach waves ‘do kinda change in attitude.

When I entered the salon, I asked her if she was ready to cut, and her response was an immediate (a little too immediate. . .) YES!  She talked about how holding onto hair can be like holding onto the past, and it occurred to me that I still had hair on my head that was part of me on the original MD diagnosis day.  Dang, that’s a long time, and dang, my hair was really long.  Her telling me that and cutting it off was freeing.  I don’t expect that will translate well or make sense to anyone but her and me.  But any hair I had then is now gone.  I don’t even miss having long hair, and I thought I’d be obsessed.  It’s good.  A new page.

Later on her Facebook page, she shared a post I’ve excerpted here, and you know I was full-on blubber:

Our hair makes up so much of us. . . those cells that keep growing off of our head are an extension of who we are, how people see us, or how we see ourselves.  It’s the first thing we see when meeting someone or when we look in the mirror at ourselves in the morning.  It’s our crown and glory.  I got to thinking about this at great lengths (no pun intended) after a client allowed me to shed eight inches off her head yesterday.  It’s freeing and cathartic for me to see hair falling to the ground.  It’s the past. . .  all the hurt and the pain and also all the happiness and great times that were had hitting the floor, all to open the door to the unknown–the future.  I feel the freedom with them, and that makes me feel spirit working through my hands.  It’s the best feeling in the whole wide world.

To the future!  And to Andrea, who really is one fabulous, badass angel on this earth.

Last Last Last Last Last Summer On Earth

My coworkers and I have joked about inviting the Barenaked Ladies guys to my house for dinner prior to their Milwaukee show Friday night. I’m a decent cook whose vodka pasta is heavenly, and what hall of fame musicians wouldn’t take up some crazy-ass fan’s offer of a home-cooked meal in the middle of a 30+ city tour?  All of them, I know.

In point of fact, I’m a well-adjusted, goofball but not delusional, perfectly lucid middle-aged fan in Milwaukee who happens to live ten minutes from Friday’s concert venue. Obviously I know Dinner At Eight isn’t going to happen, but my coworkers and I have shared a few giggles over it (I’m an easy target), and my work friends who are real life friends too are going to Friday’s show to watch me lose my damn mind. And to enjoy the show themselves, obviously, but I think their fingers are crossed to witness the spectacle that is me at a show. I feel like my concentrated hobby has ratcheted down a degree or two since last September, and I don’t understand why. Must be my age–I was in my 40s when I saw them last. *sigh* Maybe it’s my new grown-up hairdo. Sunday I hit the road to connect with my BNL besties for the BNL show in Toledo. These are the only 2018 dates for me, and though the shows are still on the horizon, I’m sad they’re over. Sad they will be over. These incredible figures in my life. Again, *sigh*.

What was that about my attitude? This is gonna be the rocking damn good kind of contagion. I’ma see the donut, you can see the hole.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

  1. Wake earlier than is required even during the school year. Yep, 5:11 AM. At least I remembered to disengage my alarm clock this year. Go, Wendy!
  2. Linger in bed for just a little.
  3. Meditate. Well, do a little guided meditation via the Calm app. Educators were given access to the app because, well, because being an educator is freaking hard, and mindfulness is a hot buzzword at present. I was ready to write it off as horse-hockey, but today? I was calm (which may or may not have had something to do with the fact I didn’t have to be out the door at seven bells).
  4. Savor a cup of coffee. Slowly. While seated. In my recliner. Reading a book.
  5. Celebrate that the #mprraccoon scaled its way to the roof of the UBS Building in St. Paul. Had he not summitted safely, my friend Nikki would have been inconsolable.
  6. Re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-commit to a healthier lifestyle and losing the 8 pounds that, like a cheap suit, keep hanging on, fitting poorly, gauche and out-of-style.
  7. Walk Sparky a good 2+ miles. See #6
  8. Celebrate the end of Sparky’s explosive diarrhea week. I even called my husband! Yes, this is my life. Cheering less messy dog mess. Jaysus.
  9. Smile at the man who beeped his horn and waved at me to remind him that people can be decent. He had that “oh shit” face of embarrassment when he realized I wasn’t who he believed I was when the scene opened. Notice the birds chirping, the hundred shades of greens, purples, and pinks that popped now that summer has finally agreed to stay a while.
  10. Think a lot and hope and wonder about my kid away at MDA Camp this week.

Four hours in, and so far I’m killing this summer vacay thing, dontcha think?

Push Notifications Off

I engaged in a little personal action research the past month.  Some weeks back, I disabled all my social medial notifications–no pings from Facebook friends, Messenger senders, Twitter tweeters, or Instagram followers.  Not even likes or comments from WordPress and my beloved blogosphere here.  It was time to detox.  I needed an intervention. I’d become a touch too “SQUIRREL-Y!”  I worried my constant vigilance to likes, follows, comments, etc. was interfering with my here and now.  Here’s what happened:

Day 1

“Wow, Facebook is soooooo quiet today.  Weird.”  Along with my push notifications, I apparently disabled my short term memory.  Jaysus.  I used to be smart; you’ll just have to trust me that it’s true.

Day 2

Me, acting like it’s no thing, all “Look at my phone over there on the table while I’m sitting here in my chair reading a novel not even checking my phone.  What a morally superior person I must be not to be one of those people who can’t separate their phones from their hands without surgical intervention.”

Also me:  *unlocking my phone on the hour, opening up each social app, checking to see if anyone has reacted to anything I’ve written because, how could they not?? and no big deal if I check because I turned off notifications, but that doesn’t mean I’ve turned off being curious and engaging with my world in the ways we do in 2018*

Day 3

Unlocking my phone and opening up my social media apps only at prescribed times throughout the day is a solid plan, Wendy.  It’s what they tell you to do–slot a scheduled time with work emails, for example, in order to sustain productivity and lessen the negative impact of multi-tasking (which is bad now I guess upon further review).  OK, create and stick to a schedule.  Day 3 was easier than Day 2.  I feel like there’s a drug abuse/social media withdrawal analogy that can be drawn here, but I’ve never done a drug in all my life, and joking about rehab is not cool.  My point is I cleared the social media delirium tremens phase and dialed down that sniff of superiority.

One Week-Present

At the one-week mark, I noticed that I noticed less, attended less to what types of feedback I got.  Mind you, I didn’t stop participating in social media, just ceased the hunt for its continued, constant feedback.

Some friends, I feared, would believe that my inconsistency or unresponsiveness was a direct reflection on them, or that I was being a “bad friend.”  Because apparently, though I’ve lost my short-term memory, I make up for it in spades with middle school-level egocentrism.  If I didn’t respond to comments made by friends and followers, who took the time to comment after all,  I felt a little like maybe others thought I was being non-reciprocal.  After all, social media is about give and take.

Conclusion:

Over time, you come to miss less what you don’t have.  Sorta.  But you do miss a TON OF FUN when your favorite band commences its summer tour, and you’re not up-to-date 24/7.  So I turned on Twitter notifications again, but only from Barenaked Ladies, ’cause, you know, hall of fame musicians care deeply about my degree of fandom.  Seriously, why isn’t there a font that reads to you in my tone of voice and can roll its eyes when I do?  Can someone get crackin’ on that?  Please?

I can do it, I can do it, I can do it.  But I can’t do it cold turkey, and especially not during The Last Summer on Earth!

Updates on my son’s school talent show performance were delayed.  I was late to the party getting information about MDA Camp.  You guys, my son goes to his third Muscular Dystrophy Association camp this week!  But not before he graduates from middle school, which occurs Thursday, and about which I am immensely proud and wholly unprepared.  Well, I did order a cake for the after-ceremony celebration, so, go, me!  See?  Look what I can accomplish when the siren song of phone notifications is lulled!

I’m probably supposed to burst with epiphany and joy that I’ve extended my phone’s battery life while decreasing my ties to immediacy.  That would be only partly true though, and I pretty much never lie.  But I didn’t die without those instant ties to the internet, so there’s that.  I believe it’s accurate to say I was a smidgen in the moment-er.  It’s a start.  But with less than three weeks until I see my favorite band again, how can I possibly avoid it?

Table For Seventeen

Were I able to pick a more inappropriate time to have an “MD Moment,” I couldn’t have.  I certainly would never have selected last night’s celebration dinner honoring my son and three of his friends’ completion of the eighth grade as the moment to withdraw into my cocoon.  I wouldn’t have chosen a dinner with our friends and their families as my moment to retreat into the innermost recesses of my brain and lose myself in a future of muscular dystrophy-related what-ifs and whens.

If I could pick, I would pick not to know anything about muscular dystrophy.  Nope.  Step back further even–I’d pick that MD wasn’t even a thing.

20111121_61_cafe_centraal2c_kinnickinnic_ave-26_lincoln_ave-_28644789658729

The four boys were having a grand old time on their end of the table, laughing at their hilarious (they obviously thought so) Apples To Apples card throw-downs or their YouTube shits and giggles.  Joyous teenage laughter echoed in the party room on one end of the table while the adults discussed movies (of which I’d seen none), boot camp fitness and long-distance running (in which I can participate in neither), and beer (which I do not drink).  Big mouth Wendy brought nada to the table, I served up a steaming, heaping bowl of jack squat.  I had nothing to add really, so I found myself watching my kid.  He looked happy, snickering with his friends, really happy.  The view was magnificent.

Someone asked the kids what their future plans were, you know, what do you want to be when you grow up?  Three of the four chimed with surety in their college majors, while mine said he hadn’t quite decided yet, and that is where the chink in my armor split wide open.  And not because I believe a fourteen-year-old can or should be expected to declare his college major.

But because his future holds more uncertainty than theirs, evident already.  I watched him with children–nay, young men now–young men he’s known since he was four years old, and was reminded again that he was different.  His two-handed death grip on his pint glass (filled with water, of course!) looks different than the casual way his friends held theirs, and for reasons unknown to me, I was undone.  His future is certain to bring progressive decline in his motor skills–his friends don’t have to think about that, and neither do their parents.

And I KNOW that his disease could be worse.  And I KNOW tomorrow is a guarantee for none of us.  Today is a gift we should rip open and hold up to the sky like The Lion King’s baby Simba heralded for all the world to behold!  Knowing to seize the gift of right here, right now, and actually grasping it are two distinct acts of behavior however, and sometimes, the dark side wins.

It won last night.

But now there’s today.  THIS is the reason I keep this little journal here.  Writing gives me a repository, a box to dump all my crap, organize the crap, and pack up the crap for never again.  Today, the sun is shining.  I’m distracted by my students’ musings and my end-of-the-school–year preparations–thank stars for a lunch hour reprieve.  I’m so proud of and excited for my son’s completion ceremony.  OH!  And MDA Summer Camp is less than a week away.  I’ll be carpe-ing the heck out the diem this week, I promise.  Well, I’m sure gonna try.

Cons & Pros

I meant it when I wrote last week that I don’t get lonely.  Once I graduated college and dismissed the misguided, princess belief that having a boyfriend was the key to avoiding loneliness, I truly haven’t felt lonely.  I also haven’t enjoyed much alone time in my adult life, but those conditions are not equal, lonely and alone.  They’re quite different.  I like being with people, and I like being with me.

Alone time last weekend provided me time to do everything and not much of anything. I’m working through some cerebral work stuff, trying to see the donut rather than the hole.  I’ve been compiling lists of pros and cons–what I can control, how I’m hoping to behave, and how I can roll with the changes.  When futility set in, I set work worry aside and compiled a sillier list of cons and pros, light bulbs that flickered while my boys were road trippin’.

Con: The boys experienced an epic road trip without their mother. I missed them.  Pro: The sections of the house I deep-cleaned stayed clean in excess of sixteen minutes.  They missed me too.

Con: My idiot dog woke me up before 5:30 AM five days in a row. Four of those days were not work days.  Pro:  I top my dog’s favorite person list these days. Wait, that’s only an intermittent pro.

Con: Being the only dog walker.  Pro:  I crushed my 10K a day step goal every day.  Caleb got together for a puppy play date with his girlfriend, Nala, and her person Kathie.  Super, ultra mega pro: Day drinking with Kathie. Me, not the dog.

Con:  Ugly crying watching I’ll Push You   Pro: Watching the documentary I’ll Push You, and knowing television and remote were mine, all mine. Muwaaaahahaha!  I’ve been feeling a little “humanity sucks”  and “people are just despicable” these days, and this documentary shares a tale of a friendship like no other, introducing viewers to the finest, most compassionate, caring individuals who evince the absolute best in random strangers.

Con: My baby missed his Sunday baseball tournament.  Pro:  Game time temperatures hovered near 100 degrees, so I didn’t have to mom-worry about heat stroke or hydration for my boy. I still went and scored two of the games (Not well though, I’m afraid.  I was, for about 3 hours, convinced I was having a stroke, but we’re going to go with “heat-affected” or possibly “dehydrated”).  The boys cemented a third place finish, and I was happily surprised to bump into E’s coach of the last two years.

Con: My baby’s disappointment at not being part of the tournament or getting to chat with his former coach.  Pro:  He was super excited for his teammates’ success.  Also, this text message is a next-level pro. I texted my kid a hello and a little exchange from his former coach.  My son’s response whispers to me that we must be doing something right.

Con:  Missing my family.  Pro:  Being content without them.

Con:  The eventuality of the credit card statement.  Pro:  A trip of a lifetime for them all–a bargain at any price.

Solo: Me, Not The Movie

This afternoon my husband, one of his brothers, a brother-in-law, and the Yahoo Brothers (my sons) embarked upon a 5-day, 4-game tour of east-of-home Major League Baseball ballparks. They’re swinging through Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, then back through Detroit on Memorial Day. I couldn’t be happier for them.

I am home alone. Well, with my idiot dog (and you know I do looooooove him and his squishy face!), so not alone-alone. But I am responsible for no one but myself for five days. I don’t know where to begin. Actually I do: I began with a good-bye note to the boys–and yes, I know my handwriting has become atrocious, made worse by this giant spiral for a teensy notebook written in by a lefty!

They each responded, I presume on their way out, with a quickly-jotted note, surgically precise in perfection befitting each of their personalities and styles–my sweet, sentimental baby; my teen, with whom I trade “punk” designation several times daily (it’s a term of endearment, for reals); and the one who got me into this mess in the first place, my dear husband.

I continued with a list of stuff I thought it would do my husband well to remember, traversing south, east, northeast, then west and back. Five grown-sized men sardined in a mid-size SUV requires a special brand of patience probably. Also, Febreeze probably.

I took Sparky for a long walk. I cleaned a bathroom, I finished my book, I called and cried my way through a conversation with the boys’ piano teacher, I walked the dog again. I noticed that two of our hanging flower baskets have been stolen, and I decided that people suck. I’ve done a lot, and a lot of nothing this evening. I’m awaiting proof of life from the Fab Five, so wanting to hear someone’s voice–this stolen flower baskets deal left a pain in my gut.

My big kid says he won’t miss me (oh, that big sentimental lug), and that I’ll be happy to have the house to myself. Yes. And No. I’m never lonely, and I do covet being alone, that is accurate, but of course I will miss them. This weekend isn’t about the mom though, it’s all about the baseball. Baseball is life. Baseball is a metaphor for life. I’ve even heard it said that life is a metaphor for baseball. Though my kid will not be playing ball this week, his mom is going to his team’s weekend tournament. Baseball IS life and FaceTime is a thing.

There’s nothing left to say but have a terrific time, my loves! You don’t have to miss me.  It’s OK, it’s how it’s supposed to be.

img_1015

PS–it’s freaky how closely my Bitmoji’s hair looks like my actual hair.