Kids Who Bring Light To This World

Number One Son was inducted into his school’s chapter of the National Junior Honor Society last December.  Understatement and underenthusiasm being two of his special gifts–he IS a seventh grade boy after all–I knew little of what to expect.  Students were selected based on their grades, there was an application asking for community service and outside interests and activities, and later a confirmation and invitation to the induction ceremony.  This was the sum total of my process knowledge.

It was a bigger deal than expected.  The ceremony itself was solemn, thoughtful.  Middle schoolers carried a gravitas I didn’t know they knew of themselves.  There were formal speeches, candles, blood signatures on parchment (OK, pen on paper), and an oath upon their swearing in.  During the principal’s address at the ceremony’s closing, she spoke to the members, inductees and audience about leadership, about doing the right thing for the greater good.  She spoke of the rancorous presidential campaign and election, and the divisiveness it engendered.  That we were at odds with ourselves, we citizens, and how she saw in these children, a light. These were kids who bring light to this world, she announced.  After a regular day, it can feel burdensome to turn it back around and head back to school for an evening function (although I don’t believe she used the term burdensome; I’m paraphrasing here), but how the light these kids, MINE included, share with the world was uplifting and motivating enough to make returning for an evening function a joy.  You know I had tears in my eyes–it’s how I roll.

Saturday marks exactly two years since the tall one was diagnosed with neuromuscular disease.  I’ve not spent one single day of my life since then not wishing otherwise.  I would do anything, anything!, to make things easier for him.  When we work together on his OT core strengthening exercises, I’d love for him not to look at me and ask how it’s so easy for me to position and move my body the way I do.  When I hold my hand stock still, I’d love for him not to tremor and twitch as he compares.  I’d love to watch him pop up from a seated position and not have to rely on a four-point stance.  Simple movement that unless you’ve experienced injury, is easy, much taken for granted.  I’d love never to hear him slam the piano keyboard in frustration because I JUST DID IT YESTERDAY, WHY CAN’T I PLAY IT NOW??

I crack wise here in these pages, and my posts are not always MD-specific anymore.  I now paint with broader brushstrokes here in my blog–I write not only to rant and vent about muscular dystrophy, but also now to (I think, OK I hope??) entertain.  I will try to take my kids’ school principal’s words to heart and try to share light instead of the bleakness that blanketed me two years ago.

Through my broken brain and fussy keyboard, I’ve shared stories that have actually helped people.  I did something!  I’ve helped raise funds for the MDA; I’ve made people laugh and cry, and I don’t know any better compliment than someone saying, “Hey, I liked what you wrote about (insert any of my random, inappropriate subjects here), can I share your post with my friend/sister/cousin?”  YES!!  I’m never going to win a Pulitzer Prize or be featured in a Top 10 Barenaked Ladies-Parenting-Baseball Mom-Profanity is Fun-Muscular Dystrophy blogs compilation, and that’s OK. I’ve carved out my own little niche here, and it fits perfectly.


By now, y’all know I pretty much make my own rules here.  I mean, cake and margaritas appear in no Emily Post etiquette book or Pinterest wedding board for first anniversaries, and I totally owned that one last year. Why, just today, I received a beautiful cake and touching card from my friend and co-worker Cindy in recognition of the anniversary.  She felt tequila would be inappropriate in the workplace (for the record, I find margaritas always to be correct).  So I move to make the non-traditional second anniversary of my kid having a shitty disease gift a private #Ladiesladies-only Barenaked Ladies concert with obviously, a personal serenade of Did I Say That Out Loud?  Hey, I asked for a cake, and my friend made it happen, so there’s hope!  She remembered a year later, and that’s gotta count for something.  You gotta keep the faith, people!  Not to put too much pressure on you, Cindy, but you nailed Year One’s anniversary gift 363 days in.  So I’ll wait real quiet-like for the concert announcement. I’ll just be over here, ya know, just hangin’ around all patient and stuff.  I violated my no bakery rule, and ate one-fourth of the cake for dinner tonight. Not with. For. Happy anniversary to me. Or something. 

The traditional second anniversary gift is cotton.  So for The Deuce, I’m going to share again the shirt my kid helped design for our MDA Muscle Walk last year.  Yeah, I cried when he developed the text.  Like his NJHS induction ceremony, he held gravitas I wasn’t prepared to meet.

img_2169I swiped a graphic which read A Year Changes You A Lot for my one-year anniversary post. Yeah, it does.  Thank you for rolling with the changes with me here.  I’m such a work in progress. I’ll never celebrate a January 21, though I will try to face it with more strength and light.  Maybe my kid and I have more in common than I thought.  My love for him?  Still, always, greater than gravity.

See, It’s MY Car

Few things feel as much as a violation as strangers rummaging through your private property.  Yesterday as we watched the Green Bay Packers stick it to the Giants at the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field (you know the voice, right?), some dick invited himself into our car.  Sure, I could’ve used “interloper” or “budding felon” or “low-life,” but I feel like “dick” captures his essence.  Her essence?  Statistically it’s probably a male, so I’m playing the odds here.

We were sitting in our living room, which faces the street, at which were weren’t focused because hello? Packers game??, when someone stole part of our portable DVD player and rifled through the rest of the center console and glove box.  Because I work in the ‘hood and practice vigilance and really, more because we have nothing of value to steal, nothing of value resides in the car.  There was nothing to snatch quickly but the second video screen for our portable DVD player, so he absconded with an essentially useless piece of technology.  I fully expected to find the screen laying in a nearby alley or gutter when I got home this evening because it’s worthless without the control unit, which remained.  There may have been $.13 in pennies in the center console, and that’s not a typo–the decimal is in the correct place–we maybe had thirteen whole shiny pennies, probably really only like eleven though to steal.  They didn’t even bother with the pennies!  Suckas.

Tom came in from having put the car in the garage, STILL broad daylight y’all, asking if I had brought in the DVD screen for any reason.  He had that uneasy feeling, inexplicable until the puzzle pieces click in place, that something about the car was amiss.  I’m no Felix Unger, but neither am I one to rifle through shit and leave it tossed all over the car’s interior.  Yesterday was sunny and clear for the first in a long time, and we were left to conclude that we’d been robbed.  Basically had we turned our necks window-side, we couldn’t have helped but see it, but the guys in green and gold were so distracting!  Not gonna lie, you feel kinda duped when your car is robbed while parked in front of your house.  In broad daylight.

My stomach churned for most of the second quarter of the game.  This could’ve been attributed to the Packers’ sickly first half offense, sure, but no.  The intrusion hit me physically; my reaction at a visceral level, and I felt sick.  Fortunately, Aaron Rodgers connected with Randall Cobb to end the first half with a holla! and I was over it.  Well, not entirely over it because here I am twenty-four hours later writing about it, duh, Wendy.

rodgers-cobb

So instead of staying annoyed with humanity, I’m choosing good over stupid.  What a peculiar segue into my, “HEY YOU GUYS!” plea to support Team Greater Than Gravity for the 2017 MDA Muscle Walk, huh?

I began blogging almost exactly two years ago, after #1 was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy.  I was paralyzed.  A neurologist told me my baby, my firstborn, my sure-he’s-clumsy-but-eventually-his muscles-will-catch-up-with-his-height was going to live his life never catching up.  I’ve written about that day before, and won’t revisit it today.  The anniversary is right around the corner, so it’s sure to be an up and coming post.  Where was I?  I was paralyzed.  I knew not what to do or say, and felt a helplessness and despair I’d not wish on my worst enemy.  Only as I wrote, I began to understand my feelings.  It’s hard to explain if you’re not the writer type, but writing told me how I felt.  Often I didn’t know what I felt until I read my first months’ of posts, and I’d go, “Oh, I’m frustrated that the Y closed,” or “I’m terrified to meet other MDA moms and dads,” or “Sometimes I’m pretty funny, and sometimes I’m a ridiculously easy crowd!”  Anyway. . .

After a time, my paralysis ebbed a bit that spring, and I found determination to raise funds for the Southern Wisconsin MDA Chapter’s Muscle Walk.  In year one, our team raised about $1900.  I was mystified at my good fortune to have people in my life, so concerned and generous, that they donated to our effort.  I DID something.  Well not me, it was YOU, you freaking amazing people, but I asked.  I did something.  WE did something.  Last year you more than doubled that, and I swear to the stars that if I ever find out who anonymously donated $1000 to our team, I will kiss you on the mouth.  And you know I am NOT much for hyperbole (insert winky-winky emoticon here).  But even if you didn’t donate $1000, ’cause really?, I love you for being here with me.  Thank you.

Today, to show the world that I’m picking goodness over misdemeanor theft, I open my 2017 MDA Muscle Walk page.  Join us, won’t you?   Click here to donate to or walk with our team on April 30.   MDA Summer Camp is a life-changing experience for kids with muscle disease.  That is certainly NOT hyperbole, folks.  It’s also not that last time you’ll hear me beat the drum for our effort.  #sorrynotsorry  Last year we helped fund camp for 5 kids and more.  But of course you can’t mathematically divide a child.  Obviously.

Life changing, for reals.

My kind of paralysis ebbs and flows.  Today, I moved forward.  Purpose.  Momentum.  I’ll even kick in the first thirteen pennies to start.  Shine on.

Fun With Acronyms

So #2 says to me, “Yeah, I heard someone say something today about a MILF. What does that stand for, Mom?”

Me:  *silent sigh inward* It’s inappropriate. It’s not something I want you saying, Honey. 

#1:  But what does it mean, like generally?

Me:  It’s a term that refers to when you find someone’s mom attractive. 

#2: OK, that makes sense then. I figured the ‘M’ had something to do with mom. 

Me:  Yeah, it stands for “mother I’d like. . .” and I’m not telling you the rest. It’s inappropriate for kids your ages. 

#2:  Yeah, that is what I thought. 

#1:  I bet the ‘F’ stands for “franchise.”

Me:  Hysterical, hysterical laughter.  Go to bed, my loves. 

Franchise??!

And I swear on every single thing I hold dear that this is EXACTLY how this exchange went just now. I am KILLING this parenting gig, y’all!  Franchise??!  Couldn’t make this up if I tried. 

guestrelations@target.com

A classic girl-meets-retailer, retailer-breaks-girl’s-heart story

A tale of love and loss told in three acts

I’ll be over here, pouting, alone in my principles

12/19/2016

Hello Guest Relations,

On 12/12/2016 I purchased an iPhone 7.  I was enticed to purchase the phone at Target because of the $100 Target gift card promotion attached to the item I had planned to purchase through our carrier, AT&T, directly.  The purchase was smooth, the Target Mobile rep was very helpful, and I was satisfied that I made a good purchase.  Because I shop at Target all the time, I spent part of that $100 within a day or two of the phone purchase.  I’m at Target a lot!

Yesterday, I noticed that the very same item was being offered with a $200 gift card, so I went back to the store with the hope that Target would offer some type of “adjustment.”  Obviously, if I’d known that you would be offering an additional $100 incentive, I would have waited an additional week, as I still had time before the holiday.  A  Customer Service agent attempted to help me, but was unable, so the representative there sought help from the manager on duty.  The MOD told me Target was unable to offer any remedy because Target and Target Mobile are “two separate accounting systems.”  He referred me to the Mobile Department.  I stated that his response felt like a blow-off to me, but the MOD shrugged and offered, “Sorry.”  I went to the Mobile Department to inquire.

The Mobile representative was unsure how to offer assistance to me, and immediately suggested I speak to the store manager.  I told him that the store manager had already directed me to Mobile, as the Target store was unwilling or unable to help me.  The Mobile rep did make a few phone calls on my behalf.  He said if I returned the phone, I’d pay a $35 restocking fee, and I was wiling to do this because I would still come out $65 ahead.  But the line was four-deep, the rep was in his first month of employ and wasn’t sure exactly how to proceed; it’s six days before Christmas, and I am not blind to the needs of others.  I thanked him for his honesty and his effort, telling him I would continue to try to find a way to work it out.

So here I am, asking you to help me work it out.  I understand you are a business whose sole function is to make money.  I further understand that I am the tiniest cog in your business wheel, so I am not voicing some ridiculous rant on how I’ll never shop at Target again and wage some type of personal boycott.  It’s simply not feasible.  But I will say this:  In 2016 alone, I’ve spent $3,530.23 on my Red Card, and that doesn’t include what I’ve spent since my last Red Card statement, or purchases made by my husband or my children.  Imagine the scenario from my view:  If I’d known I could get another $100 by purchasing the phone the following week, I would have.  Case closed.  It’s not unreasonable to ask.  Target makes price adjustments all the time, and in my view, this is akin to a price adjustment.  The Target Corporation can easily give away another $100; you’d have done it anyway if I had waited to make my purchase.

I did leave your store this evening and fulfill my shopping list at a Meijer store.  Quite frankly, I’d rather shop at Target.  My past practice suggests that Target is my preferred retail outlet, and I’d like it to stay that way.  But I felt slighted tonight, and want to continue to love Target like I did before my experience this evening.  Please help!

Sincerely,

Wendy Weir

Hello Wendy,

Thanks for letting us know. I’m sorry for any frustration and disappointment this experience has caused. I’ll document your experience and share those comments with mobile senior leadership for further review. Typically I will hear back within 24-48 bus hrs and will notify you of their response.

May you enjoy the remainder of this holiday season.

Sincerely,

Target Guest Relations

12/22/2016

Hello Again,

I was delighted when I arrived home today to have received a message from A at Target Mobile explaining how Target Mobile would “work it out” and provide a price adjustment of $100 for the iPhone 7 I purchased 12/12/2016.  Please refer to my original email below (above here) for details.  His message indicated that I would have to go to Target today to complete this transaction, that since it was “something we don’t normally do” I had to do this in the immediate.  He said that J from the Target store was on the other line, listening in to the message, so would know what to expect when I arrived at Target TODAY.

I arrived at the Target store around 5:10 pm today.  I recognized the man who helped me the other evening, who was leaning against the counter.  I asked if he was in fact J; he said he was, and I told him why I was there.  I was told that he “had  just had a rush, he didn’t get to my stuff yet, was ‘trashed,’ and was going to take a 15-minute break” when he was done with his current customer, and that I should “come back later.”

In a remarkable show of restraint, I said nothing, and walked away.  I was, and am, beyond disappointed.

You’ve made it clear that Target and Target Mobile are different entities.  I understand, but I no longer care.  I would assume the Mobile operates under the auspices of the Target brand, so in my mind are fixed as one.  The sale flyer and promotion were advertised in the Target advertising circular.  Target Mobile failed in its attempt to satisfy this customer, so too then has Target.  Please cancel my Target Red Card.  I will pay my balance (adding another $750 to the approximately $3500 already on my Red Card in 2016), and sever my business relationship with Target.  I stated in my first email that I was not going to make any great overture about shopping elsewhere, but this experience has changed my mind.

I understand it is the holidays and shoppers are desperate and often rude.  I was neither of those things.   Why demand that I go to Target TODAY, and then dismiss me?  If that is acceptable to you, then I am sorry for you.  I will vote with my wallet, as they say, and shop elsewhere.  I reiterate that I would love to continue to love Target, but this level of customer “service” is entirely unacceptable.

Sincerely,

Wendy Weir

Hello Wendy,

Thank you again for reaching out to us. I am sorry that the second exchange with Target Mobile was not ideal.

I am going to connect with the District Leader on this issue. The employee should have been more professional in their approach to the situation, especially given that they were aware of what needed to be done. I apologize that this was not done. Sure, we get busy during the holiday season, but we are always still here to assist our guests in a friendly, professional manner.

I will reach back out to you via email when I hear back from the District Leader regarding the next steps. I want to make sure we make this right for you.

Sincerely,

Target Guest Relations

12/23/2016

Hello,

Thanks for your prompt response this morning, and for getting A, the district leader, to call me to attempt to honor my request.

Thanks to A, I am now completely educated in the ways Target and Target Mobile are distinct.  I completely understand that A was offering me something unique because Mobile simply doesn’t adjust specials.  The offer was extended through today, but I am not able to go to Target today.  At the time of his call, 11:30 this morning, I began preparing for my family’s holiday as my family will be arriving in a few hours.  I truly do not have another opportunity to go out today.  Frankly, I’m disinclined to return to Target Mobile anyway; I did as I was directed yesterday, and was unsuccessful in resolution.  I feel I did live up to my end of the offer yesterday, which I wholeheartedly appreciated.  I suggested to A that there’s a difference between what Target can’t and won’t do for me, so we’ve arrived at a stalemate.

Thank you for attempting to facilitate a happy solution for me. I truly appreciate the effort Guest Relations made on my behalf with Mobile.  I did not receive the outcome I hoped for from Target Mobile, so I am giving up.  Once my Red Card balance is paid, I will cancel my account.  Even though there are two business entities at work here, I’m disappointed at the whole.

Sincerely,

Wendy Weir

*crickets*

I guess they broke up with me first.  Ah, how my heart weeps!  I love you, Target!  Come back!  You. Complete. Me.

I know it’s silly to feel a loss here, I mean, they’re a retail store, Wendy, not your BFF or even a distant weird second or third cousin living in rural Pennsylvania.  But I do feel a loss, and I KNOW it’s of my own design.

You’re reading this thinking, “You got some balls, lady, demanding $100 for nothing, for your own greed and bad timing, then bitching for not getting it.” OK, maybe only one person thought that, or said it anyway. I spend (to me) a sizable number of discretionary dollars at the red bullseye; I thought we had a good thing going here.  I had such confidence they’d value my patronage so much so, of course they’d see my perfect logic.  If I’d bought a 60-inch flatscreen and it went on sale the next week, they’d refund the difference via price adjustment no question.  They’d love me back with the same starry eyes and same dopey, lovesick grin I wear, well wore, on my face every time I skipped through those magical automatic sliding doors.

Target’s bill gets paid mid-month, and then I’ll have to endure my self-imposed exile. Why?  Whyyyyyy?? Why do I do this to myself?  Sometimes my principles are stupid.  But principles are necessary.  Why would I allow someone to treat me badly, but continue to chase their affection?  You can’t let someone treat you in a way that’s any less well than you deserve.  (Not that I’m speaking from prior personal experience or anything, these musings are purely hypothetical.  Or not. . .)  Principles, people.  Principles are necessary.  Even when they prohibit your weekly retail therapy session.

I couldn’t even read Sunday’s glossy advertising circular. Too soon, too soon. *sigh*

Everything Hurts And I’m Dying

If my face weren’t broken, this post would be titled, “Not Old, Just Older,” but since everything super hurts and I feel like I very well could die, the working title stands.  Bloggers are publishing annual best of compilations, their year-end paeans of gratitude, their fond goodbyes to celebrities gone too soon (seriously, 2016, knock it off!).  Everyone hated 2016, but for me?  2015 was MY f-you year, not that 2016 was especially kind to us–it WASN’T–but 2015 began the after, so will always win.  Maybe lose, you pick your metaphor.  Digging deep here, but I’m sorely, and I do mean sorely, lacking a snappy kiss-off to end this year.  I give you this:

I won’t go into it, because frankly, it’s not sufficiently interesting to detail, but I was somewhat bereft of Christmas cheer this year.  I wanted to be joyous, to bleed red and green garland, I did want to be joyous, but for the first time in ever, I didn’t even send Christmas cards.  I hate that I couldn’t muster the ho-ho-ho even to fake it til I make it.  I didn’t even send Christmas cards?  Come on, Wendy, you’re better than that.  Or should be anyway.  Turns out I’m not.  I wanted to the whole time, like I’d wake up and be all, “Yay!!  Today’s the day!”  But the day never came.

I kicked ass and my gift selections across the board–like SCORE! for my friends and family–brought me tremendous pleasure.  I never owned Christmas this season though.  No Nutcracker, no A Christmas Carol, no Rudolph, and not even Charlie Brown.  Seriously, Wendy, for shame.  Not even Charlie Brown.  *hangs head*

We hosted it all this year.  I was unable to accept an invitation to both our neighbors’ and a friend’s gatherings on Christmas Eve, but did enjoy the loveliest of times hosting every branch of our family trees between the 24th and 25th.  Surrounded by the relatives who love tolerate me best, I prepared and presented three holiday feasts (Feasts, Wendy?  Go on with your bad self).  My Fitbit logged more steps on those days than it does on most, and I delighted in contentment.  I like feeding people.  I’m not especially gifted at dinner parties, but my effort left me feeling accomplished.  Among the family, I felt peace and happiness.  To me, it still felt not like Christmas-specific peace and happiness, more a general, “this is really nice.”  It was.

After my final meal service, my parents skirted the kids away Christmas evening.  The kids enjoy being at their grandparents’ place–different scenery, different rules–and I enjoy having some time alone or alone together with my husband.  I had a hard time letting the kids go this time.  Their departure left me even flatter, and disappointed in myself for not sending them off in the flurry of Christmas snowflakes they deserve.  Christmas 2016 will go down in history as the, “whaaa?” Christmas. I was surrounded by festive souls, yet the only photo I have from the good old fashioned Griswold family Christmas is that of my dog trying to get in on my brother-in-law’s beer.  You can’t really put that one on a card though.

I rose on the 26th full of resolve, with the intense need to wash the seasonal affective disorder out of my hair. The thermometer inched up near 50 degrees the day after Christmas, so I hatched my inspired plan to go ice skating, maybe catch a movie, and go day-after-Christmas shopping (Well, day-after-Christmas returning anyway since I’m breaking up with Target.  Our split is a story for another time however; it’s still too new, the wounds too fresh.  I just can’t, not yet. . .)

The skies were a seductive tint of blue Monday, so my husband and I headed to the Slice of Ice, an outdoor rink, downtown.  Laces up, game on, off we went–two late-forties fools in questionable physical condition wearing our best Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner faces (too dated a reference?  OK, you tell me the names of the last Olympic pairs figure skaters you recall.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait right here. Didn’t think so.)

Moments before impact.  The sky was a dream-tinted blue.

So there we were, finding our legs, a few laps under our belts.  Confident now, we picked up speed.  Weaving in between preschoolers pushing supportive plastic penguins (so cute!), a legion of teens pushing a young man in a wheelchair (yes, I do notice these things more than most people do), and the ice-rink-selfie-set, I glided to the sounds of the ’60s blaring from the PA.  Good Lovin’ by The Rascals came on, and I couldn’t help myself. I caught the holiday spirit–maybe a day late and couple dollars short, but finally!  The wind whipping my pony tail behind me, I was free.  Singing, dancing and shimmying in ways my body on skates was never meant to move, I cut across the center of the rink to catch up to Tom.  I was just at the “All I need, all I, I really need is good love, gimme that good, good love” part when I lost all contact with the earth and consciousness.

News flash:  Ice is hard.

Go ahead and giggle, it looked every bit as spectacular as you imagine.  There is just enough time between the time you begin to fall and the time you hit the ground to contemplate how freaking bad it is going to hurt.  There is an element of slow motion in your brain though your body is hurtling downward with rocket velocity.  My cortex must’ve registered this was going to be a bad one–I didn’t even have that vanity moment, that moment where you wonder who’s going to see?  Nope.  I didn’t even care who could see, because the pain?  The reality of how much pain I was about to feel bested my ego.

I lost consciousness for a split second.  Those milliseconds between falling and having fallen, erased from my memory.  Your lizard brain takes over, and you extend your arms to brace yourself, yet I managed to fall, quite literally, flat on my face.  My beloved pewter Ray-Bans broke my fall (and my face) then bounced across the ice.  Tom hovered over me, turning me over onto my back, and the first thing I recall thinking is that I hope he finds the lens to my glasses.  Instinctively I ran my tongue over my teeth.  Yep. Still all there.  The base of my sternum throbbed; I felt like I’d been stabbed as I registered the wind having been knocked out of me.  Holy shit, that hurts.  I looked around for the standing ovation sure to be cheering when I got my feet back under me, except I couldn’t see real clearly.

It was then I realized my right cheek was abraded and that my vision was blurry, so I asked Tom to escort me from the rink.  Wobbly on my blades even with him to lean on, I found my way to a nearby bench. My hair fell loose from my ponytail, so violent was the impact.  I felt woozy, so shook the cobwebs from my brain á la every cartoon character whose bell gets rung–you know the sound effect.  I looked at Tom, and asked if I had a mark on my face.  We both then bust out laughing, me, much too loud I’m sure, envisioning the scene from the film Tommy Boy.  “Do I have a mark on my face?  It really hurts.  Right here. Not here or here so much, but here?”

I laughed too loudly and too long, but I blame my brain injury for it.  I was possessed of enough psychological awareness that I was determined to continue skating though, proving that I was harder than the ice.  For my physical well-being, I believed that if I kept moving, I’d prevent the musculo-skeletal lock up sure to follow the crash (nope).  So we logged a few more laps.  Victory goes to the mildly concussed mother of two!  Pro tip:  never trust your judgment immediately following your head getting slammed on the ice.  Just sayin’.

I somehow managed not to puke or even cry at the rink, and apparently appeared normal enough that a family asked if I would take their picture.  A woman stopped me, saying, “You look pretty steady on your feet, would you take our picture?”

I responded with, “You should have seen me about ten minutes ago.”

Her husband, barely able to contain his smirk, “Oh, I saw you.”

Forty-eight hours later, everything hurts and I’m dying.  Every point of impact and point of bracing for the impact is screaming, and purple is soooo my color!  I can’t help but feel that if my elf-meter had pinged even a little jollier before Christmas, this wouldn’t have happened, like a concussion and every bone and muscle screaming at me is some sort of cautionary tale.  Next year, I promise there’ll be a Christmas card, OK?  Happy 2017, y’all.

 

 

What Kind of Grinch Do You Think I Am?

Visions of blogging sugarplums were dancing in my head, I swear!  Sweet dreams of authoring some magical piece about the warmth of chestnuts roasting on an open fire, or the spirit of jolly ol’ Saint Nick were had.  There are so many who do it so much better than I dare dream, so I am going to leave Christmas tale-telling to the masters.  I’m no Dickens.

I am however, acquainted with a talented bunch of writers from whom I will steal.  And by steal, I mean share selected works with you.  Because Christmas is about giving, y’all, not stealing.  Geez, what kind of Grinch do you think I am anyway?  What follows is a  short compendium of blog posts that, for various though not necessarily linear, logical reasons to you, struck a nerve with me this past year.  Consider this my gift to  you:  I am going to shut the heck up in deference to these people whose tales beg to be read.  Merry Christmas.

Ghosts of October made me miss my best friend acutely.   Like @seanpcarlin, its author, my best friend Deb is a transplant from a four-season climate to southern California.  Sean captures the crisp of autumn in a way you can smell and feel the chill in your very bones.  Sean is an author–a for reals writer–and all-around good guy.  My best friend is a librarian, and reading his post made me feel like they’d met for coffee in an alternate universe.

Doug Warren is a blogger I met last winter in one of WordPress’s Blogging U courses.  He’s a musicologist of sorts, and has been turning out Spotify playlists and recommendations I love.  Though having a full time job significantly cuts into my listening time (stupid reality of paying bills and stuff!), I do enjoy the playlists he pulls together.  Please enjoy this classic Christmas collection. Your ears will thank you.

I was recently introduced to the term inspiration porn.  You’re flooded with quotes and memes and life hacks if you visit social media in any capacity.  Jackie’s blog used to be titled Diary of an Inspiration Junkie, but as she has morphed, so has her blog. I never understood how inspiration as a package, so to speak, can backfire on a person, on us all, and Jackie illustrated that for me.  Read her insightful and forward-leaning response to it here.

You know that I celebrate a “concentrated hobby” with a certain Canadian musical foursome.  I know what you say about me–I mean I’m right here in the room with you when you say stuff, people, so I can hear you!  I have Barenaked Ladies; my friend Jennifer has Hamilton.  Neither of us is alone in our, ahem, focus, and both of us freely admit to inching one pinky toe over the line when it comes to the musical loves of our lives.  #ATL2Lin_Manuel was her hashtag and rallying cry, and by the powers of the Great White Way, Jennifer and her daughter got to to see Hamilton’s original Broadway cast in one of its final performances last July.  There were tears shed and cheers heard from NYC to ATL to MKE.   Read about Jennifah’s road trip of a lifetime, complete with Broadway-style show stopping finale here.

And because I am who I am, here’s BNL’s Elf’s Lament.  It’s the best lyrical holiday ditty of all time.

The psychology minor in me loves The Psy of Life blog by @calicojack always, and even a little more for this one: His post was written after he read something I wrote. It’s an indescribable compliment and a recognition I’ll never forget.  I had written about my Facebook life, observing how some people overshare on social media.   Yikes! The stuff people broadcast when they’re down and seeking comfort (attention?) is something to write about. Read what I wrote here if you wanna.   Jack explains the psychological and biochemical processes underlying human behavior, plus he uses genteel and sophisticated phrases like “blog whoring” and “shit show,” so I’m pretty sure we’d be best friends in the real world.

I’d previously taken this and run with it, but if you didn’t read it when I recommended it before, do read it now.  It’s a gift that looks AMAZING on you and totally doesn’t make your ass look fat.  Wil Wheaton, yes, that Wil Wheaton, writes so well. Read his post.  Follow this advice.  This is the moment.  Do it.

This IS the moment–Merry Christmas, friends.  Thank you for being here with me.  You, my dear readers, my individual and collective therapists you, thank you.  You’re a gift I treasure each day.  Your readership, your feedback means the world to me.  Space here allows to me to call out but a handful of blogs today, but there are so many voices worth hearing, so many stories that demand telling.  Keep writing, keep reading. Do more of what makes you happy, and keep being kind to one another.

I love receiving gifts of all stripes (red and white wines equally appreciated), but so far, this is my favorite physical gift of this holiday season.  Who knew a decorative little tin box was specially crafted with me in mind?  Profanity DOES make talking fun!  I’m totally putting that on a tee shirt.

 

 

 

You Heard It Here First

Apropos of nothing but the pride that swelled at my son’s performance today, I’m dropping these, ahem, observations here and calling it a day.  My big kid began a second run of occupational therapy today, and there’s nothing that pains a mom’s heart like that in-your-face bitch slap of “Here’s what your kid can’t do.”  Compared to other therapy appointments, it was a bronze medal day for me.  Woulda/coulda been a silver, but it being a new start of sorts, it called up those memories from the early after days.  Look ma, no tears.  Superstah!!

Today I’m going to let my children do the talking.  I swear, hand on heart, heart pure as the driven snow, that these unfamous, no, not infamous, merely unfamous quotes are verbatim recordings of sentences constructed by my offspring.

Yeah, I took the dog for a walk.  He peed and pooped, and I picked up most of it. (Most of it?  MOST of it??  That’s a special kind of lazy, kid)

Sometimes I call my bladder Bob.  When it’s annoying me, I talk to it by name. (Well, what do you call your bladder?)

I tried to keep my disgusting burp in, but my mouth popped open. (In a restaurant)

Mom, I’m watching Zootopia.  It’s a kids’ movie and it’s pretty funny, so maybe if you watch it, you’ll feel calmer. (It’s possible I overreacted to something; I do that sometimes ya know.)

Dude, don’t hump me.  (Give me strength)

Him: You know what I’m gonna dress up for Halloween as next year?  Me: Beyoncé??  Him: (Honks his nose) A clown. (Followed by a sassy, smug grin. Punk)

Two bucks??  Come on, this is crap.  This from my young one re: the Tooth Fairy. (Just wait til your friends tell you the truth, you ungrateful fifth grader.)

That looks like a dildo.  I know what that is, Mom. (Watching the Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America sausage making episode).

I don’t trust any Swiss cheese that doesn’t have holes in it. It is just not right. (Can’t really argue with that one, kid)

I vurped in school yesterday. In math class. It wasn’t that loud. Only like 20 people noticed.

You wanna smell my farts?  (I get to choose?)

Don’t come up here. I just laid an atomic dook. More like a mondo atomic dook. (Super pleased he’s learning about adjectives and adverbs though.)

You know what it smells like?  (We were driving across a bridge that spans the waste water treatment facility)  It smells like McDonald’s.  Well not like the fries once you get them, but like the floor at McDonald’s.  You know, where it’s slippery and kind of nasty?  Like that smell.  But not the one near our house, the McDonald’s in Johnson Creek by the outlet mall. (That is a very specific gross-out, kid.)

Yeah, I noticed that you’re older than most of my friends’ moms. (Thanks for noticing and reporting back, Punk.)

You know what I could maybe want for my birthday someday, Mom?  An air horn. (You know what you’re never getting for your birthday someday, Son?  An air horn.)

It’s a week before Christmas.  I’m the lone female in a house of nut job boys (she whispered tenderly), and for some reason, holiday preparations heighten my attention to flying solo.  I’ve purchased maybe 22.6% of the gifts I’d like to have purchased, and have yet to consider even remotely the family Christmas card.  We are hosting Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Christmas dinner, and to date I have managed to purchase nothing more than the cream needed for my vodka pasta.  A lot can happen in a week though, friends.  It’ll be a Christmas miracle.

We Are SO Not Popular

Ours is the two-story Lannon stone on the corner.  We don’t own a mammoth lot, but we are responsible for snow removal for quite a good number of linear feet.  My husband takes meticulous (read: freakishly OCD-level) care of the snow surrounding our house and alley. Tom lovingly tends the sidewalks, alley, alley apron, and the streets, yes, he blows snow from the street IN THE STREET.  See, he likes a nice straight line, so after the city plows roll through, my husband “fixes” what they’ve sullied in their pedestrian attempts to clear city streets.  Your protractor can’t create the crisp lines and angles my husband carves with a snowblower and shovel.  I am not exaggerating.

Sometime last August, the neighbors held a block party.  I’m a shitty neighbor, so I dropped in to the soiree only briefly.  Tom was working and I suck at social mixers, alone especially, but I’m a decent human, a mostly go-along-to-get-along kinda gal in neighborhood goings-on, so I went.  Plus the neighbors I do know?  They’re wonderful people.  I missed the part of the afternoon where they discussed winter snow removal, so weeks later, someone mentioned to me that a bunch of residents wanted to chip in to hire a plow service.

My hubby is the rare weirdo who enjoys snow removal.  He savors the alone time snowfall allows him.  He’s genuinely happy shoveling or blowing snow, and takes immense pride in a job well done.  Before Izzy died, Tom would spend too long a time out there amid all types of wintry precipitation, reveling in the silence with his loyal canine, who never left his side.  Caleb the Wonderdog can’t be trusted not to wander off yet, so he is forced to fly solo this winter.  The man takes his snow removal seriously, y’all.

You thought I was exaggerating when I wrote that Tom plows the street, didn’t you?  Shame on you for doubting me!   Here he is, mere hours ago, clearing the alley from the street.

So I was sure Tom wasn’t interested in the neighborhood deal, but presented the idea to him nonetheless.  He said he’d take care of replying to the neighbor with a “thanks, but no thanks.”  Instead he responded with an email that quite frankly, made him sound like a dick.  You might think he’d ask me to read it (’cause, you know, I’m a competent writer/editor) or maybe ask what I thought before he fired it off, but no.  I was slightly horrified when he showed me what he wrote.  He sounded like a total dick (sorry, Honey, but I said it to you then, and I’ll say it now–you sounded like a jag).  I successfully blocked this from my consciousness until this week.  Do read on.

Flash forward a few months, he’s out walking the dog the other day.  A neighbor, with whom we have yet to exchange one single syllable, stops him to inquire why he was unwilling to participate in the collective.

My husband seemed surprised that this guy we don’t know knew about his plowing non-participation, and I’m like, “Of COURSE he knows about it.  The  whole neighborhood knows about it.  Your original email was probably forwarded up and down the block, and now probably the whole neighborhood thinks we’re assholes.  Were you a dick to this guy today?”

“No, I wasn’t a dick to him.”

“No. I mean, not do you think you weren’t a dick to him, but really, were you a dick?”

“No, really I wasn’t a dick to him.”

And yes, this is exactly how the exchange went.

So now we’re the Taylor Avenue pariahs (it’s possible I’m overstating things).

As my husband would say (and has said, which is not the most neighborly phrase to use in an email to your neighbors, FYI): so be it.  Guess what?  Since 2005, my husband has been out there before the ass crack of dawn, plowing razor sharp lines, clearing the alley apron so cleanly you could eat from it.  He not only clears our portion, but often plows neighbors two and three deep down the block.  You’re welcome. Wait, we can’t say “you’re welcome” because no one offers a thank you (except Jodi and Jeff and Maren, and maybe one other–you are good souls and supportive, generous, and kind neighbors!).  We have personally footed the bill for the south end of the block’s snow removal and alley clearance for 11 years.  He’s plowing before you even know it’s snowed–you’re still sleeping while he’s helping our ‘hood under cover of darkness.  Then he’s blowing snow immediately upon returning home from having worked in the frigid outdoors all winter long so you can drive right in when you get home from your workplace.  Acknowledged: his motivations are self-serving as well as serving the greater good.  He does sincerely enjoy being outdoors in and after a brisk, bright snowfall, and our family directly benefits from his snow removal, obviously.

My husband is a good, hard-working man.  He has done more than his fair share for over a decade.  Hell, I’ve squawked about his helping too many too much too often (See? I really am a shitty neighbor).  Even when he was unemployed for those really tough periods of years, he was blowing through oil derricks of petrol because he’s a decent guy.  He does the right thing because he believes it’s the right thing.  Even when gas was up near $4 a gallon, he was out there clearing our end of the alley in a way some hired gun won’t take the care to do.  And I guarantee he’ll be out there this winter (see photo insert above), even though all y’all are gonna give us the stink eye, cleaning up what the truck misses.

So I’m braced for the stink eye you’re going to give, but dear nearby residents, I ask you to engage your long-term memory, and remember how your vehicle never got stuck on our end of the alley.  If you were late for work, it wasn’t because you couldn’t get down the alley on our end.

Rant off.  You may resume humming “Let It Snow” now.  It really is beautiful out there.

PS–If it were up to me alone, I’d have kicked in.  Snow removal is not my special gift, but you see, compromise. . .

You’re My White Barack And Michelle

A cool thing about having become a mother at an advanced maternal age (their term, not mine–thanks a whole load, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) is having gotten to know people across age, race, and financial spectra.  My children attend a city public school, and despite their school being in a so-called “good area,” the majority of its students would still qualify for free lunch.  Free or reduced lunch designation = low income and/or poverty status, for anyone not in the know or not employed in public schools.  In what is one the more hilarious, ironic statements I’ll ever write:  We are an affluent family in our school district.

I appreciate that my kids’ classmates come to school from across the city and around the globe, and I can honestly say that I enjoy the company of the parents of each of my children’s friends.  This post though is specifically about my little kid’s best friend and his mom.

I’m no dummy, but E and his mom are brilliant, like freaky smart the two of them are.  My little guy and her E met on the first day of four-year-old kindergarten, and have been fast friends from that day.  They’re dudes–Dude!  And Duuuuude.  And Dude??  They write each other the coolest BFF birthday card notes, they battle Pokémon til the wee hours of their sleepovers, and together they took second place in the district science fair last year. Teamwork and BFF-dom, yo.  (But really it’s her scientist’s brain and E’s insane meta-thinking skills that took the science fair. My child inherited a language-based influence from his x-chromosome genetic contributor; I’m not known for my sciencing).

She’s a genius whose brain is constantly pinging with her next masterwork.  Being a scientist pays the bills, but she’s the rare scientific artist: a creative.  Covered in tattoos, she’s sewing or sculpting animal bones into works of art, baking pies and cakes so beautiful you don’t dare slice, or preparing dishes for the weekend’s pop-up restaurant.  She’s a feminist who bleeds social justice and Black Lives Matter and loves death metal.  In her youth, she escaped the Midwest and has lived on both coasts and metropoles in between.

She’s lots of things I’m not, and I’m not saying that in the way of wishing I were any other me but right-now-today me, or more like her.  She’s perfectly weird in her way, as am I.  I think it’s biologically possible that I could be her mother–she’s maybe 15 years younger than me??  She’s crammed a whole world of experiences into those years, and I feel fortunate she landed back here to raise her son.  I’m certain that were it not for our children, we’d not have met otherwise.

I’m her “old” friend.  I’m her son’s emergency contact card mom, text-me-at-the-last- minute to pick him up friend.  I’m her long-ish term happily married friend.

She came to pick up E on a recent Saturday morning, and as we often do, we sit and talk for about an hour or two longer than either of us intend.  Our conversations cover all of the above, none of the above and are sometimes silly, sometimes intense.  She’s opinionated and open to debate and discussion, and also reflective.  We talk a lot about relationships. She’s a badass single parent raising a pretty incredible kid.  I’m the more mainstream middle-aged, committed, livin’ the mortgage-holding-two cars-two-kids-and-a-dog dream.  “You are my white Barack and Michelle” she proclaimed.

Her inauguration of us made me laugh.  A lot at first, but from her it’s really a terrific compliment.  I’ll take it.  If her ideal couple is the current POTUS/FLOTUS duo– scholarly, just, eloquent–and I’m even included in the same thought process?  I’ll take it.

“I Think He’ll Be Just Fine”

Things not to say to a mom whose kid has muscular dystrophy, Volume 8,394:  I think he’ll be just fine.

Well-meaning perhaps, but I feel like maybe just maybe, the dude with MD chasing his name holds a morsel or two more of information than you. It’s nice that you want him to be just fine.  For the record, I want that waaaaaaaaaay more than you do.  Way more. Way fucking more.  But when you tell me you think he’s gonna be just fine, that maybe it’s not going to be so bad, honestly?  It just pisses me off.

It forces me to feel like I have to teach you about two key vocabulary words in my life: 1) progressive, and 2) neuromuscular, and then I look like the asshole or Debbie Downer when you’re all smiley and stuff in your false optimism, and my response becomes a treatise on etymology.  Let’s discuss:

  1. pro·gres·sive /prəˈɡresiv/ adjective
    happening or developing gradually or in stages; proceeding step by step.
  2. neu·ro·mus·cu·lar n(y)o͝orōˈm/əskyələr/adjective
    of or relating to nerves and muscles.

So his disease, relating to nerves and muscles, you see, is developing gradually (which technically sounds inaccurate because MD’s effects are not about developing, but declining).  You can sing Sunshine Day á la the Brady Bunch all you like (RIP Florence Henderson), but the actual fact is that my kid is losing functioning over time.  It’s not going to get better.  There’s no cure.  There’s no medicine–oh, well there is medicine for pain management when that becomes necessary for him, and the thought of this is just about more than I can manage, y’all.

And then you ask me something you think is innocent enough, just a curiosity, but it makes me feel a little like I want to claw my eyes out.  I grin politely and nod as people do in polite conversation as you keep speaking.  I look completely normal as I bite the insides of my cheek so hard that I taste the faintest trace of copper.  I look at you strangely and shake my head as if coming to from a daydream.  You think I’m spaced out or have lost my train of thought, but I realize that my “restraint” has led me to draw blood.  Better mine than yours, right?

Thank you for your optimism.  It’s lovely, really lovely.  But it’s not realistic.  Hold on to your rose colored glasses while I park my unicorn over here.  I’ve got to collect my covey of puppies and daisies before I continue.  *clears throat*

Do not, do NOT tell me he’s going to be just fine (I’m clenching my teeth here, not yelling though, can you hear my tone?).  I know he is going to be just fine–he’s going to be the very best damn version of him the world has ever known.  Don’t tell me because your kid is totally typical, mine’s gonna be just fine.  You never have to wonder precisely which day it will be that your child loses his ability to walk.  I do.

It’s not that my boy’s disease is some type of obsession or all I ever ponder; it’s not. (Editor’s note:  Honestly?  It’s never not on my mind on some level, but I don’t spend every moment thinking worst case scenario, plus we all know I have fun things over which I do obsess.  I mean celebrate a “concentrated hobby.”  Ahem.)  But when you corner and quiz me with a ridiculously vacant grin on your face, you force me to think about it.  It is something real.  Our reality is different than yours (and really, thank the stars for that!).  You haven’t had your January 21, 2015–your day that marked a before and after–and I hope with the fire of a thousand suns you never do.

He is going to be just fine, just not in the way you imagined for your kid.  That’s OK.

Tomorrow’s his semi-annual neurology clinic appointment, and I’m just a touch on edge.  I know it’s hard to tell, right?  wink-wink, nudge-nudge Watching your kid get put through the ringer of functional tests is tough.  It’s one thing to know it, and quite another to know it.  Last time I hardly cried at all, and I considered that a major feather in my cap.  Were I to wear hats, that is.  I’m really more a headband or earmuff kind of gal, but I digress.  For some reason I feel certain that waterproof mascara is the order of the day tomorrow.  Send up a good thought for us, will you?  xoxo