#fontsmatter

I possess the world’s weakest visual-motor integration. This means I struggle making my hands do things the ways my eyes imagine them.  I see beautiful, but produce toddler-esque product. Crafting is torture for me, but spectator sport for the friends who ambush me with “Let’s decorate gingerbread houses but tell Wendy it’s a dinner party tonight” evenings.  I couldn’t paint an edge or a circle for a million dollars, so the only thing enticing about those wine & paint nights currently in vogue is the cheap wine.  Feeling like a white night, maybe a Vinho Verde.

People laugh at my projects because I lead them in the laughter. It’s not funny to me though; it is in fact incredibly frustrating. Maddening even. But if I can beat ya to the punch line with self-deprecating wit, I get to pick.

I’m bad with the hands, but OK with the keys. I can make pretty flyers or Google Slides presentations. I’m a freak for fonts and kerning.  Visual layouts, not art, are what I can envision and create. I’m a meticulous editor, and will slice to ribbons signage with typos, random apostrophes (kill me now!), and sucky fonts.  Twitter kills me because you can’t edit, so I end up deleting a quarter of my tweets to ensure they’re grammatically solid and that my spellcheck hasn’t gone afield.  FYI, iPhone, I will never use “ducking” in a text message.  Just stop it and give in to my potty mouth.  Ahem.  My point?  I am particular about fonts; is there such a thing as a font snob?  I’m her then.

Because of you astounding humans, our MDA Muscle Walk team won ten team shirts for our walk.  Our local MDA chapter holds friendly little fund-raising contests in the weeks leading up to the event, and it so happened that your generosity landed us in the Top 3 one week.  My kid chose navy blue shirts for our group, and they printed our team name, Greater Than Gravity, on the back.

I don’t love the font.  Shhhhhh, don’t tell anybody.  I feel like a jerk.  It’s not Comic Sans, thank stars, so all is not lost, but it’s not in Wendy’s Top 5.  I’m not sure I’m totally down with wearing the tee shirts for the walk anyway.  For the loud mouth I can be at work, I’m still a total wallflower when it comes to being an MD advocate.  I don’t want to be identifiable Sunday.  I want to keep on my sunglasses and avoid eye contact mostly.  I’m OK with the written word, but but feel acutely socially awkward in vivo at the walk.  I’m totally nervous already.  Maybe I’ll work through the nerves this busy week, so Sunday won’t be such a reach.  Or maybe I’ll feel like barfing the whole time.  Yeah, that.

 

I surely felt like barfing when I asked my favorite singer to sign my shirt “Greater Than Gravity,” but somehow I found the nerve to do that, and will no doubt find the nerve to lace up and walk around the zoo Sunday. 

Feeling butterflies in my stomach is OK.  I don’t love it, but I do love our team supporters, and I’m proud to have each of you walking with us next week.  I don’t get it–I ask, and you respond.  To date, we’ve, no, YOU’VE raised over $4,000 for muscular dystrophy because I’ve asked.  What have I done to deserve you?  Thank you.

With a grateful heart, I offer a standing ovation to these wonderful examples of humanity’s best and brightest:  Heather Trotter, Fred and Rose Mary Walecki, Terry Radtke, Bek Szypula, Beth Sandmire, Bob and Anne Kosky, Michele Nixon, Sean Carlin, Alicia Kraucunas, Laurie Stilin, Sue Wacker, Michelle Sjoblom, Amy Behrendt, Bridget Panlener, Jenna Stoll, Jennifer Boyanton, Janice Schwind, Sally Warkaske, Julie Toepfer, Louise McGrody, Patti Sereno, Jill Holmes, Barbara Neville, Mark Weir, Nikki Leininger, Jen Sanders, Amy Van Ells, Shelly Weisse, Kris Imobersteg, Patti Bohlman, Colleen and John Haubner, Ginger Stapp, P.J. Early, Lisa Lien, Margo Turner, Chantal van Uytfanck, Michelle Thorpe, Amy Mullens, Christine Carey, Carly Ruggieri, Eric and April Walker, Jane Mlenar, John Weir, Gwen Evseichik, Rebecca Halsey-Schmidt, Patti Dillon, Maggie Palutsis, Shawna Berenz, Dawn Hennes, Tany Klein, Jim Sorenson, Jaclyn Witt, Diane Woppert, Dan Simmons, Amanda Barber. and Dawn Wolfgram.  And to one very special individual who shall remain nameless–I would love nothing more than to thank you directly, but you’ll have to bask in your anonymity.  Thank you.  (PS–I promise I won’t tell, double dog dare pinky swear.)  Thank you all.

And to those of you who follow me here or drop in every once in awhile, thank you.  Every comment, every social media “like” or “share” means a great deal to me.  You could occupy your mind and eyes reading great books or current events, yet you choose to read this.  Y’all need to find a better hobby!

Unless you get it, you probably don’t get it.  I’m a music girl through and through, but I never thought a lyric could mean this much to me or become a thing–this blog, the MDA walk team, my tattoo that’ll never happen because what if they mess up the font or misspell it??  All because of a sweet little love song, two minutes, twenty-eight seconds that make my heart happy.  Every single time.

Diamonds Aren’t A Girl’s Best Friend

For a millisecond I considered playing a game here with you all:  Guess the contusion site?  It’s fun, kids.  I’d insert photos of the many abrasions and bruises I acquired skiing Wednesday and Thursday, and you would guess where you thought they might lie on my body.  My husband was all, “Holy crap, we need to take a picture of your elbow!!!” and I was down with that because these are battle scars, hard won at that.  But even a swollen, rainbow elbow could look like an ass without context, and I’m not opening this up for “No, it’s really not my ass because there is nothing that would bring me to a point of maybe showing my ass on internet” and having to prove it by posting photos of my left calf, right shin, hip, other hip (a study in indigo at present), rib, middle finger, and ankle.  The finger you’d recognize in a close-up snapshot, but honestly, the only picture I took was my elbow.  It’s spectacular.

Skiing is like riding a bike: even after twelve years, the muscle memory persists.  You think you can’t, but you surely can–it comes back.

Mostly.  Since #1 was born, I’ve skied just once.  I’ll never be featured in a Warren Miller ski film, but I am a capable, not pretty and pretty stiff, downhiller.  I fell just twice in two days, which, HEY, go, me!!  What I lacked in frequency though, I corrected with intensity.  If you’re not a skier, you may not know that ski runs are categorized by the mountain’s relative difficulty:  green circle are flat, wide runs for novices; blue squares indicate more difficult terrain for intermediates; black diamonds are steep and bumpy, the most difficult traverses; and double blacks are for experts and lunatics.  Blue is my color.

I’m more difficult.  The jokes write themselves here, huh?  I am comfortably challenged on blue runs, but when you ski with Justin, your early 30-something, born-to-downhill nephew and so-happy-to-be-back-in-Vail husband, you land upon a black diamond called Red Zinger, and yes, literally, I landed on Red Zinger.

I started strong, man–slow, wide turns work to cut the hill’s 110-degree vertical drop.  I didn’t carry a protractor, so I can’t say it was a straight-up 90-degree right angle, but 110 couldn’t be far off.  When you pause at the crest of the ridge and can’t see the face of the run until you’re craning over it a full 50-degrees yourself, the run is steep, yo.  I criss-crossed about a third of the way down, killing it, and announced, “I got this, you can go ahead, Honey,” which apparently was the wrong thing to say because immediately my legs went east and west, pulling all of me south.  Gravity wins.  Every time.  And since my husband rarely listens to me, he let me go first. 

(Disclaimer:  Although Tom doesn’t always listen to me in general because I talk a lot, and I think he legit has to tune out about 42% of my speech anyway just to try and make sense of the other 58% of the shit I say that’s actually important or relevant, he is a genuinely thoughtful ski buddy.  He remained above because my hubris was no match for the slope, and I think he knew I’d need the help.  And yeah, I wrote a 60+ word sentence here, so you can see why Tom has to ignore me every so often.  Survival instinct.)

When you crash on a hill steep as this one, you fall a really long time.  A really, really, really long time.  Really. Long. Time.  Long enough that you become aware you’ve got to consciously problem-solve just exactly how the hell you’re going to stop, because gravity wins.  Every time.  When I finally recovered, Justin yelled up that he got the whole thing on his GoPro.  Super.  It was my lucky star rising that YouTube has to wait for its next #epicskifails star.  Justin hit still photo when he meant to roll video.  Luckiest fall ever.

The whole point of this tale is not to brag on my Vail vacation or my battle scars.  

Tom has been hoping to take me skiing for years now, and I’ve found a way out every time–school breaks didn’t work, kids had something scheduled, “Oh, just go yourself or with your brothers and have fun without me, it’s cool.” 

The point is this:  If something scares you, do it.  Try it at least.  You’re stronger than you think you are.

From the moment my husband booked the airline tickets, I felt scared.  Clamping boots into bindings Wednesday morning, I was just short of terrified.  Red Zinger is not the black diamond that left me purple, but it was just one of two diamonds I had the nerve to hit at Vail.  It’s OK to know your limits, but it’s OK to push your comfort limit too.  It wasn’t just the diamonds I had to fear, but fear itself.  And a nasty little groomed, but still frozen early morning run, a BLUE run no less, that owned me.  I love you Vail, but you can keep Dealer’s Choice for some other chump.  I would love to see footage of how this ass-over-tea kettle went down.  I have bruises on every angular part of my body, and one distinctly not pointy part.

Find your brave.  I could’ve gone the rest of my days never skiing again.  But I’d have missed this:

At the top of the world

And this:

Love these two snow men

And this:

Atop the aptly named Blue Sky Basin

Breathtaking.  Hard.  Worth it.

In closing, I offer these helpful travel tips:

  1. If your nephew is employed by the Ritz-Carlton chain of hotels, take him up on the employee rate.  I’ll never experience such luxury again, though I’m not gonna lie–I felt like a fraud the whole time we were there.  I’m a 99%-er, you guys, but it was a lark for the Empress to don the emperor’s clothes.  Even if we rolled up in a rental Nissan Sentra. #imposter
  2. If your nephew is married to the beautiful Jocelyn, take advantage of every minute you can with her, with them both.  Even when you’re so tired you prop your eyeballs open. Do it.  Be enchanted by their one-year-old daughter who already out-fashions you, and has a smile that melts mountaintop snow caps.
  3. Skiing is a costly proposition.  You know this going in.  You want to ski a second day?   Do it.  Do it while you are still physically able, and without considering the day’s receipts.
  4. Toast the bar guitarist figuratively and literally toast aprés ski marshmallows.  Hammer down a couple s’mores while you identify constellations in the clear, mountain sky.
  5. Until the pilot arrives at the gate, sit the f-word down.  Two drunk girls sprinted toward the Airbus lavatories as soon as wheels met ground last night.  And while they giggled themselves silly and LOUDLY, the sober remainder of passengers was forced to wait until they returned to their seats to taxi the final 200 yards of our journey.
  6. Vacation without your children once in a while.  You’ll regret leaving them.  Leave them anyway.  They’re fine without you, and for the first couple days, you’re OK without them too.
  7. Remember what Dorothy said:  There’s no place like home.

My husband said that writing about falling was selling myself short, that I skied much more ably than I give myself credit for, and that focusing on the only two falls I had doesn’t represent what I did accomplish.  Glass half full guy, that one.  The wipeouts, however entertaining, are not the moral of the story though, are they?

Go.  While you can, go.  Do.  Do the thing that makes you push that much further.  Tomorrow is no guarantee.  All the platitudes and internet memes that apply here?  Yes.  Absolutely.  Your bruises will fade before your memories do.

 

 

#WhyWeWalk

When you attach a living, breathing person to it, the face of MD becomes a little more real.  When the MDA asks, you contribute in the ways you can.  The contribution of my “talent” (writing this here blog) is insubstantial, but it is what I can offer. So I do. Not well, but with my heart, and that’ll have to do. I have little to offer, but I thank YOU for your substantial gifts and support of my kid and me.

The video below was compiled by Elizabeth at our MDA chapter office ahead of this year’s Milwaukee Area Muscle Walk.  It’ll be our third, and I’ll definitely feel like throwing up most of the week of up to and including our arrival at the walk site.  Last year I took a little time out in the bathroom while my friend Nikki texted me through my anxiety attack just after we arrived.  I may look all cool and collected on the outside, but. . .  Actually typing that last sentence alone is freaking hilarious.  Nothing about me appears cool and collected.  Fun?  Sometimes.  Funny, sure.  Frenetic?  A wee bit.  Not so much on the cool and collected.

My big kid is #whyIwalk. He was diagnosed with MD in 2015 at age eleven, and for the first few weeks after the diagnosis, the shock of the news was so much so that I could manage little more than to stare off in middle distance. So I began to write an online diary, which became this blog. Writing organized my feelings; it gave me something to give to others who asked, “What’s going on?” when I didn’t feel like talking about it early on. With the help of this online platform, I was able to raise an amazing amount of money for the MDA without having to ask people face-to-face, which is something I’m not terribly comfortable doing. My son attended MDA Summer Camp in 2016, and the experience was transformative and life-changing for him. I walk to help send him and other kids with muscle disease to camp. I walk so that other kids get to feel included, like they’ve found the only other bunch of kids who “get it.” I walk so that other kids find their safe place.

You see that each family has its own reasons, but common threads abound:  Hope.  Love.  A cure.  To walk for those who cannot.  In gratitude. In memory.

I’m asking again, and I’ll hate doing it, but I’ll keep asking until April 30. Click here to find our team page.  My supporter honor roll continues to grow as does my gratitude.  Your kindness and generosity leave me breathless, but my words will never be enough to thank you.  Love.  My love for you?  It’s greater than gravity.

My Playlist For Him

I’m pleased and then some to report that Son Number One did not sully the charter bus lavatory en route to D.C.  No, no, I received a text from the boy Sunday evening from somewhere in Pennsylvania telling me “an eighth grader locked himself in the bathroom.  LOL.  LMAO.”  You text LMAO to your mom, kid??  It’s OK.  Here’s how I responded, because I’m classy like that.  

Mother of the Year applications are out and my fingers crossed, because 2017 is MY YEAR, yo.  I love Bitmojis, but I feel that my Bitmoji is much cuter than I am in real life, and I’d hate for anyone to think I hold myself in such high regard.  I assiduously avoided using Bitmoji Wendy for months for that reason. Yes, that is entirely true, and yes, I have given it that degree of contemplation.  I need a life.

I’m obsessed with a new song, well, a new-to-me song.  If you have a son you adore and a spouse you love to the moon and stars and back, listen to Donovan Woods’ What They Mean.  I cried, literally cried the first 43 times I listened to it.  It’s sweet, and will make you fall in love with your son the same way you did the first time ever you heard his tiny heart beat through that monitor.  I saw Donovan Woods last month with my little one sitting next to me.  It was the first time I’d heard this beautiful little 3-act story set to music, and with my little guy right there next to me, my eyes leaked.  With my big kid gone this week, I’ve been slightly sentimental, just slightly. . .  Just listen to this. *sigh*

What They Mean will lead the “My Kid Is Gone For Five Days On His Class Trip And I’m Feeling A Bit Too Sentimental This Week Because Of It” playlist.  Gotta work on the title, but I have KILLER tracks.

Next up is Blue Oyster Cult (see how I avoided the umlauts?) Don’t Fear the Reaper. Because “More Cowbell.”  After weeping my way through Track 1, we need to get this party started. And my kid loves the Christopher Walken/Will Ferrell SNL skit, so I’m all smiles now thinking about it.  It’s never not funny. Watch it here. You’ll laugh, I promise.  I got a fevah, and the only prescription is more cowbell.  Jimmy Fallon loses it, and there’s little that makes me laugh harder than someone trying to suppress theirs.

Thoroughly charming, but not as straight-up comical as BOC is Allergies.  Barenaked Ladies’ album Snacktime! saved my life when the kids were small.  It was released at the moment I was as near to pulling out all my hair from mega-doses of The Wiggles, Greg & Steve, and anything airing on the Disney Jr. cable network as I would approach.  It was just yesterday that I was driving the boys to day care in our superbadass white Chrysler Town & Country listening to that album, wasn’t it? Maybe last week or so??  It’s clever, and because my big kid had allergies, this song got a lot of play.  So did Crazy ABCs.  J for jalapeno, good in either corn or flour. . . tortillas. . .  nice rhyme.

When we brought home Jack Johnson’s album of songs to accompany the movie Curious George, my son inserted the CD, perched himself atop our coffee table and strummed his acoustic guitar along with the soundtrack.  He listened to the album, start to finish, “playing” along in its entirety.  It opened with Upside Down, and I still enjoy that song as it evokes memories of my little blondie whose eyes were still blue.  (They’re green now.)

Doesn’t every kid go through their emo-80s phase between the ages of 4-5?  Just mine?  For a spell, he was heavy into The Cure, and his favorite song was A Forest.  I must’ve heard that song 300 times that summer.  He is his mother’s child, and if a song owns you, you listen.  Often.  Always.  You don’t get to pick, you just listen because you’re under its spell.

We interrupt this semi-cohesive playlist to wish you a Merry Christmas.  I’d be remiss if I omitted these two songs simply because they’re Christmas songs, and since it’s my I miss my kid playlist, I get to pick.  He loved It’s Christmastime Again by Tom Petty and giggled like a little elf over Donde Esta Santa Claus? by Straight No Chaser.  Ho, ho, ho, mamasita!

Lost Highway and Love’s The Only Rule by Bon Jovi come next.  Bon Jovi played a critical role in my coming of age back in the mid-late 80s, and I just loved that my child loved their music too.  Once my little stinker graduated from acoustic to electric guitar, he hammered out the solos in these tunes.  And by hammered out I mean strummed along, definitely not plugged in.  He has as much guitar knowledge now as he did then (exactly none), but what he lacked in musicianship, he made up for with passion and commitment known only to obsessive 4-year-olds.

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Globetrot from the Silverball album is next.  This one is for me alone because, hello?  Road trip.  Globe trotting.  And also because it contains one of my favorite wrong lyrics of all time: I want gravy on satisfaction.  Still think mine works better.  Sorry, Ed.

Amsterdam by Imagine Dragons transitions us toward the home stretch here.  We both love the song, and we laughed in horror at an Impractical Jokers punishment where two of the guys had to improvise a concert opening up for Imagine Dragons.  Dressed like 80s hair band rejects.  It was naked humiliation, OK, spandex humiliation, in front of an audience of 14,000 rain-soaked and pissed off fans.  They opened by thanking the Imagination Dragons for the opening slot, and were soundly booed.  We laughed til it hurt, and we still almost always refer to the band as Imagination Dragons.

Did I Say That Out Loud? Because it’s greater than gravity.  Love.

Last up is Take Us Home by Alan Doyle.  I love this song, and every time my big kid asks to pick songs when we’re driving he chooses it because he knows I love it and I love that.

I miss my boy is all.

Nevertheless They Persisted

After the inauguration of the sitting president of the US, I wept fairly routinely for several weeks.  It wasn’t a stretch of sobbing, heaving ugly cries, but rather an intermittent shedding of tears of despair when I’d think about what we were losing.  If, after the past few months, you still celebrate the behavior and policies of the current administration, you will probably not wish to read any further.  It’s OK.  I believe in the Constitution (you remember that little document, right? I mean, someone has to, right?), the right to free speech and protections from persecution for differing opinions.  We can disagree.  Go ahead and curse me for the bleeding heart liberal you hate me for being.  I will find a way to live with that.

I don’t watch broadcast journalism often.  Really, almost never, and that started long before this buffoon’s reign; I moved into my bubble of ignorance when another political buffoon, more locally and personally destructive, rose to power and diminished my livelihood in 2011.  Still bitter, yep.  After January’s inauguration, news blasts came to me via Twitter because my psyche couldn’t manage the barrage of executive orders and the talking heads’ interpretations.  I joined friends at the Women’s March through their photos and video feeds.  It’s terribly egocentric, but I remember thinking this:  The “new world order” would demand that my son’s class trip to Washington, DC would be canceled.

Many, MANY more people have lost and/or stand to lose things considerably more substantial than a class trip.  Their very lives, for example.  I understand my concern is superficial beyond superficial; I am not THAT poor a steward of human decency on this earth.  But my blog is neither political nor social commentary (usually not anyway).  My blog is about me, and my son so I’m writing about me and my son.  That’s how we roll here, see?

Working and living in a large, urban school district, we often fall prey to sweeping mandates and/or knee-jerk reactions for reasons not always entirely clear to the masses.  My opinion.  With the faintest whiff of fear or fear from backlash, the district has previously recalled travel itineraries.  Believe it or not, this isn’t a nasty criticism–I have avoided educational administration my entire career.  There is no sum of money I could earn that would entice me into being someone’s boss (and friends, salaries are certainly bigger than mine, but it ain’t like principals or special education supervisors are exactly breaking the bank–for the work they are charged with, they’re grossly underpaid).  I don’t envy the decision-making high-level district administration does.  When you’re responsible for young lives traveling nationwide or abroad, you cancel when a terrorist or travel threat looms.  I understand.

Somehow we’ve made it to April, 2017.  Well, almost.  It’s March 31 anyway.

My thirteen-year-old is going on his class trip to Washington, DC!!!

Sunday morning at 5:30 AM, I am to deposit my six-footer in front of his school–backpack, carry-on luggage, blanket, pillow, wad o’cash, and iPhone–in tow.  We began planning this trip before his muscular dystrophy diagnosis, back when we believed he was merely a clumsy kid.  Before.  When there was a before.  The thought of him being denied this trip he’s been excited for and planning more than two years was more than I could take.  So yep, I’m a selfish jerk.  Gimme a name tag.  I don’t do name tags, but I might consider this one just this once.

Or this one.

I was (am) nervous about his adventure because, um, yeah.  He’s thirteen and not super independent.  Or coordinated.  My generalized anxiety about my kid being gone a week is compounded by a factor of 5.4 gajillion adding MD to the mix.  He can still walk, yes, but he fatigues easily and often.  This trip is crazy with the walking.  He has poor fine motor skills, and I worry about his ability to handle cash.  For at least a year, I’ve had visions of his cash raining all over DC, and not in the comedic “make it rain” way.  He forgets to collect change after cash purchases.  He worries he’ll be left behind (moving more slowly than his very nimble peers), so attempts to move quickly.  Quickly for him nearly always results in him dropping whatever he should really be taking great care to manipulate.  He only recently has begun to smell nice (read: wear deodorant without maternal prompting) and bathe without prodding.  He doesn’t snore, but he does breathe loudly, and one of his roommates is very concerned about that fact, thus in turn, he is concerned and so is mama.  I’m worried he’ll have to use the toilet on the bus, and we have been warned: Whatever is deposited on the bus, remains there for the duration of the trip, and I’m like please God, if you’re a thing and we don’t have really any kind of relationship whatsoever I know, but please don’t let my kid take a dump on the bus. pleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseplease don’t poop on the bus, Son.

He is going to have the experience of his young lifetime.  I was never afforded any type of opportunity like the one he’s preparing to head out for in all my years.  I wish him every adventure and happiness, and I wish it was timed under the tenure of a different commander-in-chief.  Though logically, I believe it won’t, somehow I feel like his experience will be diminished, and NO, I have not voiced this opinion to him.  My child, he of the shitty disease, determined all on his own that it’s not cool to mock disabled people.  My child, he of the multicultural school, determined all on his own that his Muslim friends and classmates of Mexican heritage aren’t the children of rapists and murderers.  My child, so often on the sidelines, so often residing in a world of his own imagination, populated only by himself and his thoughts, is mine.  Well, ours actually.  He is a decent kid.  Like some great historical figures, and some of more recent note, he persists.  They persist.  This class trip is going to happen, and I’m thrilled for the kids.

In his youth, our nation’s first president wrote 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.  I’ve broken at least 89% of those rules in this post alone, but the kids are going to Washington, so I have to mention at least one of his rules.  I think maybe if our founding father had social media, he’d have tweeted this.  It’s a good one to send my kid off to DC:

Labour to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.

Persist, my boy.  Have fun.  Be good.  Do good.  Just don’t poop on the bus, OK?

 

Her Big 5-0


In my circle these days, fifty is a big f-word, not that f-word, but somewhere along that line, you understand.  It’s my best friend’s fiftieth birthday today, and there is no material gift I could possibly purchase her that’d be worthy or sufficiently deep to express my affection for her.  I’m not so arrogant to think that I’d be capable of writing anything worthy either, but I’m going to give it a go.  Happy birthday, Deb!

Recently Eric Alper, a Canadian broadcaster I follow on Twitter, posted this:  Your best friend writes a book about you. What’s the opening sentence?  I knew mine in an instant.

If you know me, you know I don’t wear a poker face often or well, and if I don’t use words to convey my inner workings, my face and body language shall speak volumes in speech’s absence.  I remember this day as if it were yesterday.  I was still desperately clinging to age 44, which by the way, I consider one of my very finest spins around the sun.  I’d lost about thirty pounds (again) that year, my hair had regenerated after periodic bouts of alopecia, and I’d found the nerve and pocket change to buy the big girl concert tickets and finally meet my favorite band.  My BFF came to Wisconsin to spend a long autumn weekend with me, and we were crushing it.  Deb and I were checking out at Target, me having picked up my first pair of prescription sunglasses.  (This was the slightly less awesome part of having turned 44, but this post is not about me, it’s about Deb.)

Anyway, as I am wont to do, I bust out singing because this is what I do.  I don’t sing especially well, but I can carry a tune and I sing with conviction.  Or utter foolishness.  Depends.  She looked at me, stated what I paraphrased above and told me how much she loved and missed being around me.  It was a pretty good way to soften the blow of admitting I’d aged into needed spectacles.

I don’t have a fifty cutesy, clever Pinterest or Etsy project for her.  Once and for all, I am NOT crafty, people.  Plus, like I said, anything material is unworthy.  I’m gonna try to capture my love and admiration in 50 items–precisely 50 this time because the last countdown I did was so bad with the math and no one noticed!  We do see what we expect to see.

It’s OK if you don’t know her, but you should read this anyway because you wish you knew her.  And you should totally tell your best friend how much you love him or her.  As far as that goes, you should tell EVERYONE who matters how much you love him or her.  So read this.  And then do the other thing.

  1. We’ve known one another 84% of our lives.
  2. Weiner, Weiner, Weiner!!!
  3. When I visited SoCal five years ago, she asked what I wanted to do.  She compared Hollywood Boulevard to Chuck E. Cheese’s, but went to Chuck E. Cheese’s anyway.  Because I wanted to go.  And it was totally worth it because we found metallic pink glitter stilettos made of awesome and a restaurant called Big Wang’s.  Hi, I’m 12.
  4. She meets MENSA criteria.  I’d have to Google what the acronym represents.
  5. Because of her, I know two rocket scientists.  Not many of us can say that.  I feel smarter by association.
  6. While living in Albuquerque, she enrolled her son in a part time brick and mortar school/part time home school, and led group lessons for hers and other kids in the same program.  I’d have lost my mind.
  7. When we were both completely hammered on margaritas in Monterrey that one time, I gave her number to the guy buying our many, many drinks.  Many drinks.  Many.  When he actually called the next day (yikes!), she made me talk to him and let him down easy.  Dammmit!  Lesson learned though.
  8. Eat Chow.
  9. Her husband, R, a now-retired Air Force Lt. Colonel, is a wonderful man.  They provided a stable, loving example what a good marriage looks like.
  10. When we were little, I’d ride my bike to her house (no hands all the way, man!) and we’d swim in their in-ground pool.  It was like I’d won the lottery.
  11. In winter, we’d skate on the little pond her family kept swans in.  It was like I’d won the lottery, but colder.
  12. She has fearlessly traveled around the globe.
  13. That hair!
  14. Her son and daughter are brilliant, engaging children.  I guess technically H is a brilliant, engaging adult now.
  15. K is an empowered, thoroughly charming daughter.
  16. They both still call me Aunt Weiner.
  17. She actually backpacked across Europe after high school graduation.  I think my highest achievement that summer was waking in time to hang with the Brady, Horton, and Kiriakis families of Days of our Lives.  Jaysus.
  18. She celebrates her Swedish heritage, and has traveled there to meet distant relatives.
  19. SNAUSAGES!
  20. I got your ice cream, I got your ice cream. . .  You have to chant it in the way Eddie Murphy did in Delirious.  We laughed so hard.  So hard.  Still do.
  21. She is an only child who has never been lonely.
  22. Girl can maneuver a stick shift up and down the streets of San Francisco.
  23. Sheepsters!
  24. Trick-or-Drinking in Ogg Residence Hall at the University of Wisconsin.  That girl taught me a thing or two about college life.
  25. She worked in computer science after graduation, and realized it was not the career she had imagined for herself.  She took the brave step of veering off her previously ordained career path.
  26. She then worked as a veterinary technologist because she loves animals.
  27. She later earned her Master’s of Library Science degree from ‘Bama.  Roll Tide.
  28. Her book recommendations are flawless.  Except for Still Alice.  I enjoyed the book thoroughly, but finished convinced I have early onset Alzheimer’s Disease.  It remains a solid recommendation.  This list is not about me.
  29. For Christmas, she bought me the book You’re Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day.  This passage made me spit out my water at my son’s baseball practice last year.  For context, Day had previously written that she, after being enrolled in a Lutheran school, once developed a crush on Jesus. The “my ex-boyfriend’s dad” laid me out.
  30. She is the only person who straight up told me she wasn’t comfortable with me marrying my first husband, yet still agreed to be in my wedding because she loves me, warts, toads, and all.
  31. Immediately after meeting Tom, she pinned me down, saying that he was the real deal and I had better not fuck it up.
  32. She helped me pick out my wedding dress, which was one of the most deliriously enchanting afternoons of my girly life.
  33. She made the paper for our wedding invitations, and had three different “recipes” to attain just the right shade of periwinkle for me.  (It’s the color of the sky on a cloudless, sun-soaked day as seen through my rose tinted sunglasses while bike riding.)
  34. “I’m such a piece of shit!”  Ah, Doty Street. . .  UW, y’all.  I went to Marquette and lived at home during college.  To me, Wisconsin was the land of dreams.  And frat parties.  But we didn’t really go to frat parties, we just participated as passers-by.  She may have downed a few too many just this once.
  35. Tri-tip roast.  Dee-lish-us.
  36. She went to see the Scorpions in concert with me at Alpine Valley because she knew I loved them, though 80s hard rockin’ was not her jam.  At all.
  37. Her father had a home office which we co-opted as our clubhouse for a spell.  I think we were probably not supposed to be in there, making the space all the more magical.
  38. That enormous, powder blue Cadillac El Dorado convertible!  God damn, that car was bigger than my first apartment.
  39. Having been moved around at the whim of the US Air Force, she quickly became a local expert on community events and hangouts.  She never maligned any city or part of the country in which he was stationed.  Not even Mobile, AL, which was not a first choice.
  40. She threw Tom and me a luau/wedding shower a week before our wedding, complete with grass skirt for our dog, Izzy.  And she coordinated it from New Mexico while nursing a baby and home schooling her firstborn.
  41. Varsity football cheerleading.  Good times.  No really, they were good times.
  42. She and her family raised a German Shepherd and pre-trained this beautiful animal to be a service dog for a blind woman.
  43. She knew within weeks of meeting her husband that they’d soon be married.  “Don’t be surprised if you get a call from me in the next couple weeks tell  you I’m engaged.”  I’d not known that type of certainty about anything until I met my husband many years later.
  44. To me: “You’re the only person I know who started college knowing what you were going to do and be, and are doing exactly that, still happy in your job.”
  45. She’s a fierce advocate for women’s health, especially her own.
  46. She eats more wisely and informedly than I’ll ever dream.  Will you hand me that box of Nutty Bars please?
  47. She has teasingly referred to me as a minx and uses adjectives like loopy to describe me. #nailedit
  48. She was devastated when Bowie lost his battle with cancer, and even moreso when Prince died last year.
  49. She provided the best-ever weekend of diversion when I last visited, a scant month after my son’s 2015 diagnosis.  We said and did everything and nothing, and it was the best best friend time I’d have engineered if I could have created the script.
  50. She texted me this on the eve of what she knew would be a tough neurology appointment for my son and therefore me:  Being loved deeply by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage.–Lao Tzu

I’m the lucky one. Happy birthday!

10 Things My Dog Doesn’t Need

But can’t live without apparently. There’s little more humiliating than circling your dining room table in pursuit of your dog and whatever the hell said dog just made off with clenched in his jaws. Caleb is working on improving his shame game–he at least flashes an expression of “Hey, I am who I am, lady, and really, YOU’RE the idiot for not living in a vacant warehouse.”  Then he hauls ass, top speed, in canine glee, because hey, he is who he is.

This post could well have been titled 3,454 Things My Dog Doesn’t Need.  I am proud and delighted to report that my dog is not the worst dog in the entire universe–he can learn, but our boy is a willful little Teutonic canine mashup.  Progress is incremental, but he can and will “sit” and “touch,” so hey, something.   The worst dog?  That special honor is bestowed upon another rescued dog in his Caleb’s obedience class. He is getting there, Caleb is, just not at a speed with which I am comfortable. He is trying.  And I mean “trying” as both a verb and adjective!  I’m trying too.  I am trying not to lose my mind and verbally spew what I’m thinking when he pulls me down a mud-soaked path in the park. I’m trying not to recoil when he re-eats his own vomit in the backyard. (Sorry if you are reading this over the dinner hour.)  But when you rescue a dog, you commit, that is what you do–you commit!  So we are committed.  And maybe I should be committed.

Since 3,454 things would make a super long list, and ten is a good number for lists, here we go. . .

10.  Dogs don’t wear baseball hats. You’ll never need one, Caleb. Ever.

9.  Likewise, dogs don’t wear shoes.

8.  Or socks.

7. Placemats. Now here I at least kinda get the allure. They’re very likely to contain crumbs, or maybe you’ll score the mother lode and land one with butter or honey or chicken grease rubbed in. And if you’re wondering why our placemats contain foodstuffs residue, you obviously don’t live with boys.  It can’t be just my boys who find napkins so luxurious or inconvenient they don’t want to use ’em, right?

6.  Recently added to his thievery repertoire are dish sponges. He loves shredding the yellow part, but seems weirded out by the scrubby green surface. You know, it’s almost like he’s brushing his teeth, so maybe this one can stand. Maybe not.

5.  Books. I feel the certainty of the divine that you’re not actually going to read Night by Elie Wiesel.  You can look all academic and even respond to “Sit,” but Caleb, you are no scholar.

4.  Athletic supporters. ‘Nuff said.

5.  Bath towels. If I thought there was any chance you’d accomplish incidental cleanliness, I might get behind this one too. But yeah, no.

4.  Ink pens. Now you’re just an a-hole, dog.  And even Oxi-Clean teamed up with aerosol hair spray cannot remove the stains completely. And I know my way around a can of hair spray, people.

3.  Kleenex tissues, preferably used. These are just snacks now. My dog is an idiot.

2.  Rubber bands. You do not even want to know how I know this.

1.  Slippers. Like shoes, they’re not a canine necessity, because you’re a dog!  Unless it’s mid-summer or mid-hot flash at which time I radiate the heat of a thousand suns, I am a human popsicle. I need my slippers, Caleb, I do.  Importantly:  I need two slippers.  Two is the magic number for me, but I’m short one slipper thanks to ol’ Sparky.  I miss my old, blue slippers.  They had at least one good season left in them, a couple months at least, but no.  *sigh*  What are the odds that my friend Jill just happened to have an extra pair of slippers–still in their original packaging–in her trunk?  Turns out the odds were 100%!  Thanks to Jill’s footwear generosity, I’m not still fuming mad, and Caleb lives to wreck more stuff another day.

I am not even going to mention the fact that within twenty-four hours of my son getting his wrist splint fit and created, the dog bolted with it, and chewed and slobbered all over the thumb support strap.  I hadn’t even gotten used to the idea of my  #1 son needing the splint when my #2 calls me at parent-teacher conferences to tell me that the dog split with his brother’s splint.  See, because that would make two blog posts in a row that I barely mention the splint, and thus far, that’s workin’ for me.  Not denial, no, just not high focus.  Plus, eleven isn’t a good number for lists.  Obviously.

And also I don’t want to hear it from anybody who thinks I’m overreacting to MD because my son “doesn’t look that different, I don’t know what she’s worried about.”  I get to decide how my child’s diagnosis hits me, not you.  Until you have the conversation with your child about his or her likelihood of losing his/her ability to walk and requiring durable medical equipment, you can butt the hell out.

PS–Did no one notice my mad enumeration skills?  #NotEvenClose

I’m Practically Canadian 

I’ve passed on a billion cool opportunities in this lifetime.  Until recently, I’d have classed myself out of some perceived bonuses, believing I was neither good nor deserving enough to cash in.  Too often I’ve designated myself unworthy of any VIP lifestyle–who do I think I am anyway?  I’m mostly a rule follower, so never tried to sneak in to anything or try to score something above my station in life.  I’d observe longingly from the sidelines, questioning how did they get that?, and walk off, aware that in the us vs. them, I was a them.

Still, I marveled at how people got to do the stuff they did.  “That’s so cool!” I’d think, or “I could never do that!” or “They’re so lucky!” were common refrains.  *sigh*  I champion the underdog in nearly everything, I suppose because I know myself as that underdog.  Not coveting, but not not wanting my moment in the sun.  Surely I don’t deserve special treatment or an extra-special anything really.  I’m just this girl from Milwaukee, nothing to see here, folks, keep moving.

I never want my children to feel ordinary.  NOT entitled, never.  But not ordinary.

Saturday night my little guy and I traveled west of Chicago to see Alan Doyle in concert.  Alan Doyle is a Canadian musician/singer/author/actor, widely known north of the border, but playing comparatively smaller venues in the US.  The guy obviously loves his job!  He and his band, the Beautiful Gypsies, empty their hearts on the stage instrumentally and vocally.  I’m new to the fan club, but what I lack in tenure, I make up for in enthusiasm.  My kid and I sat near the front, and to look at my son during the performance, you’d have thought he was steps from a coma.  You’d have been very wrong.

He had a great time!  He knows Alan’s music as well as I do, and has even worked out Sea of No Cares on piano!  He loved the show!  What he dislikes?  Attention.  He may have looked like the poster child for preteen narcolepsy, but he was into it.  INTO it.  He’s eleven, so any kind of scene he’s going to make will be on his ‘tween terms.  He never stops talking or moving at home, but he’s a different child out in the big, wide world.  He’s quiet and shuns attention until he’s all in, and then he’s ALL IN.

But I noticed shades of quiet not attributed to shyness recently, and felt like Saturday night was as good a time as any to take that bold, first step.

After his shows, Alan Doyle invites anyone interested to stick around and say hello.  He’ll pose for photos and sign things for fans.  The first time my boy saw him last January, Alan gave my son his set list from the stage.  That guy!   My guy was wilting, and when an Alan überfan asked if she could photograph the list, my son was astonished into near paralysis–only his eyes moved to search me for the correct response.  We didn’t stick around then ’cause it was a school night, and we were staring down a two-hour return trip home and I am a responsible parent, but he kept the set list because, hello?   Oh, FYI, of course we let the woman take a pic of the set list.  We’re cool like that.

Late Saturday night, my boy makes his way to the restroom for the pre-travel potty break while I chatted with some friends.  Looking over my shoulder, there’s a scrum of fans surrounding the man in black.  I ask my kid if he wants to hang around to meet Mr. Doyle, and he’s quiet like, “Aaaaaah, nah, that’s OK.  There’s a lot of people, and mumblemumblemumble.”  Naturally I was like, “Let’s, honey.  Let’s go say hello and tell him how much we liked the show.”  (Because I am SO GIFTED with the words, and probably no one has ever said such a unique thing to him in his decades-long career.  Jaysus.)

He was nervous up til and including the very end.  My son, not Alan Doyle.  “Are you sure it’s OK, Mom?” (Oh no, he sounds like me!)  I produced the set list from my purse and he was all, “I was looking for that!” (his room is like an episode of Hoarders, Jr. so of course he had to be looking for it–nothing is ever where one expects it might be in that morass) and I was all, “Let’s ask him to sign it” and he was all, “I don’t know if we should” and I was all, “Then yes, we definitely should!”

And we did.  And I was sooooo awkward, not at all fleet of speech.  I wanted to show my kid it was OK to do something cool like meet the guy who just put on that terrific show and not feel like you didn’t deserve to say hey.  I probably proved actually how very little I deserved to be there–words are hard, people, even for a wiseass like me.  Instead of saying how much I enjoyed reading his memoir, how I thought he penned a beautiful love letter to his hometown with such detail I could see him running up and down that hill, how he paints pictures with words and melodies and on-stage energy, how Take Us Home is one of the sweetest songs I know, I ended up basically mute.  Super, Wendy.  But I showed my kid he could do it, even if you sound like a complete dork while doing it, the lesson is this: leap.


My kid thought it was pretty slick.  He told me that after last week’s planes, trains, and automobiles to my Barenaked Ladies bender, and this trip to see Alan Doyle, I was practically Canadian.  Man, I love that kid.  He deserves the sun, the moon, and all the stars.  All of ’em. He is kind and gentle, my kid–he sat next to me at a concert and didn’t completely die when I got up and danced.  Now if that doesn’t say something right there!  He’s funny and concerned and shows empathy.  He is not an undeserving, ordinary boy.  He’s special, and I’m so glad he’s mine.  I just hope it doesn’t take him nearly a half century to know and remember how special he is.

PS–I managed a whole blog post and never once mentioned that my Number One Son came home from OT with his first piece of MD equipment today.  I didn’t even cry. I didn’t take him to the appointment, but details, whatevs.  Today was a first. For both of us.  Exhale.

Collective Nouns

Listening to my iPod on the way home from Cincinnati Sunday night, the Air France CRJ200 is building up to its 180 or so mph needed to take flight, and the lyrics from Odds Are “crashed in an airplane” come blasting through my earbuds.  Not cool, universe.  I used that song as my mantra while driving to my kid’s first-ever neurology appointment, and it was wildly unsuccessful in staving off the MD diagnosis.  It did however shield me from a fiery crash en route home from my concert bender Sunday, so I live to write another day. Go, me!

At Saturday night’s show, my fave singer on the planet asked the audience who had an interest in collective nouns, and dork me was like, “oh yeah, totally me.”  So now this is on my mind since Saturday.  All the time.  Who contemplates collective nouns?  Thanks a bunch, Ed.

I began this post titled, Down, Really Down, Up, Holy Crap UP, And Then Down Again.  It was a little busy, I’ll grant.  But now that I’m laser-focused on flocks, pods, murders, congresses, and litters, I am searching for a word to capture all of the emotions running laps in my brain these last few months.  What do you call multiple accordions?  Ah, you had to be there.  Nevermind.

Down

I pretty well covered that in my previous post, and you know how I hate beating a dead horse.  Ahem.  Maybe I’m not really depressed.  I think after last weekend, I’m not actually depressed. Definitely not.  I had to retitle this post because focusing on feeling low isn’t even needed, so let’s all just pretend this never happened, m’kay?

Really Down

At my son’s occupational therapy appointment last week, his therapist suggested it was time for a splint.  Because of the muscle contracture in one of his wrists, she came to believe that splinting his wrist will be one way to maintain some range of motion in a passive way.  It signaled for me the end of an era.  My son has in the two years since his diagnosis begun to need equipment for MD.  Damn that was a quick couple orbits around the sun.  I know I was all leaky eyes when the OT was explaining this to me, and as I in turn tried to clarify what I understood for my son.  Damn.  I ferried him back to school and began the ugly cry in the car the second he passed through the doors.  The ugly cry persisted into my workplace, accompanied by a serious inability/lack of desire to communicate.  Poor Valerie and Jill had to witness the mascara trails directly, and suffer through the sniffing between my commentary of, “I know it could be worse, someone always has it worse.  It’s just that, well, compared to not having MD at all, having MD fucking sucks.”  Having an allied health professional refer to your child’s hand as “well not deformed, but you can see how it’s different” felt like sucker punch.  It’s an honest assessment, but that doesn’t mean it’s not painful.

Up

I met my Muscle Walk fundraising goal.  Which is freaking amazing.  So most definitely trending up.  But not HOLY CRAP up yet.  Keep reading.

 

HOLY CRAP UP!

If you’re new here, you may not know that last year our MDA Muscle Walk team received a $1000 anonymous donation.  Not knowing the source of this incredible magnanimity has eaten me up since last spring.  I’ve had a few moments of absolute clarity: I KNOW who it is!  It’s . . .  only to have been disproven.  I have as much idea now as I did then, which is exactly not one teensy trace of a clue.

I receive an email from the lovely Elizabeth at our MDA chapter, asking how I “managed to pull this off.”  Because I was occupied weighing the am I depressed or am I not? scales, sicker than I’ve felt in some time, and wanting only to spend time with my dear Netflix friends, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore of late, I hadn’t looked often at our Muscle Walk team page.  Holy crap.  HOLY CRAP!!  One thousand dollars.  To our team.  What?  Who?  Why us???

True charity is shown when someone offers something remarkable, genuinely life-altering, y’all, and asks nothing in return, not even acknowledgement.  I love you, Anonymous.  I have no less affection for any of our team supporters, but in my circle, a thousand dollars is a big chunk of change.  Someone saw to it that one thousand dollars got directed to me.  To ME!  To us.  I said this last year, and I’ll implore you again:  please tell me who you are.  I’ll keep it between us, I promise.  Please let me thank you properly.  Although, seriously?  How could I possibly do this right?  The mystery is a delight and a fright at once.  What if I was a complete crab the last time we met?  What if I seemed unappreciative in some way?  Know that I’m grateful beyond words.  I tried last year and failed, and I’m failing again to put it in print.  Thank you.

Remember what I always say, kids: Second row is not the front row.  THIS is where you want to be standing to see your favorite band perform.  Front and center two nights in a row was quite a coup.  For the record, the band is of course HAPPY to see us, not scared as some of you have suggested.  Well, they’re probably happy anyway.  Wouldn’t you want to see smiling faces hanging on your every note down in front?

I want to tell you about my weekend.  ALL about my weekend.  I could relate every detail, every nuance, every tossed monkey and undergarment (even the one Nikki put on my head Saturday night), but as the song goes, it’s all been done.  It’s etched in my memory and in my heart.  My band performed MY SONG Friday and Saturday evenings, and I swear, my heart was teenage dreamy fluttery the instant Ed hit the first note.  I couldn’t breathe.  And yeah, I’ve heard it live before a handful of times.  I just needed it now.  Tyler gave me a shout-out from the stage at the very end of the evening Friday, and my cheeks still hurt from the hours-long smile that’d been pasted on.  My girls.  My friends.  My band.  My song.  Geez, apparently I have petulant toddler issues. Me, my, mine!  I do understand that pronouns other than “my” exist.  Just not in this context.  Girls, I miss you acutely.  Guys, see you again in May.  I’m sure you’re just as excited to see me as I am to see you.  Wait, what?

Because the odds are that we will probably be all right, I did land safely back in MKE Sunday evening.  And what to my wondering eyes does appear?  The three loves of my life, hanging outside baggage claim, each poised with a bouquet of posies.  Tulips–my flower of choice and a beautiful reminder of renewal and hope.

And plastic spiders.  Because this is what my younger son and I do.  He totally started it, but I totally continued it, and now we wage war nightly over who can deposit the spider more plausibly or more sneakily to try scare the shit out of the other.  Because I am a GOOD MOTHER!  But look at the sweet little note Mr. Spider left me under my pillow.  My baby?  My love for that kid is greater than gravity.

Breaking Even

My original intent was to end on a downer, because that’s how I felt Sunday, as I sat alone in the airport awaiting my return flight.  I love and already missed my #Ladiesladies SO MUCH, but then remembered that going home meant I could see the boys I love and missed SO MUCH.  Sometimes life shakes out a lovely symmetry.  I’m not down.  I can’t maintain holy crap up either, but I’m OK.  I’ll be OK.  What’s the collective noun for people I love?  My tribe?  My family?  My love?  Yes.

Dude, We’re Getting 72.7% Of The Band Back Together

It’s totally normal to wake with jolts of anxiety over a concert, right?  I’m unsettled, like despite my pleas with my favorite band to keep playing as long as is humanly possible (which, thank you, Tyler, you did announce to a crowd of several thousand people last July that you would, we totally heard it!  Oh, and by the by, it’s not like they actually listen to me personally) you just feel something’s not perfectly copacetic with your universe, and what if this is the last time I’ll ever get to see them?  What if I wake up tomorrow and everything has changed?  What if I sleep through my flight?  What if it snows and my flight is canceled?

I’m  watching my dog sleep–it’s 3:38 AM and so should I be sleeping, but the bully named insomnia claimed victory in tonight’s battle. My mutt looks like an angel–peaceful cycles of puppy inhales and exhales, all four paws racing as he chases bunnies in his doggy dreams, and I think I would love nothing more than to kiss his squishy face just above his eyes right now.  Then I remember the terrorist he is in daylight, and question “Who hates their dog?”  Oh yeah, it’s me, I’m that horrible person engaged in a love-hate relationship with her dog.  I love him.  I hate him.  I love him.  Ask me again in two minutes.  What is wrong with me?

The weeks-long, snail’s pace strain of viral and/or bacterial shit pummeling my body into an inert blob of coughing spasms, congestion so entrenched I’ll never enunciate a clear p, m, or b again, strep-ish throat, and other super sexy symptoms loves me bestest.  It will not take its leave.

I have time for neither insomnia nor the modern plague.  You can’t reason with anxiety, and you can’t affect the longevity of your fave band by enveloping them in the bubble wrap of your good wishes. People, it’s show time.


Several weeks back (you can do the math here if you like) I rose to get my coat, and noticed the office countdown wall had been amended extra-special, just for me.  See, we’re educators, so we need things to look forward to more than other worker bees.  My friend Christine once stated, and I quote, “People who don’t hear the phrase bitch-ass motherfucker thrown at them in the workplace don’t need breaks as often as we inner-city teachers do.”  Preach, sister.  Anyway, one of my office mates, Melita, very quietly and much to my giddy delight added this.  I snorted.  My poor office mates tolerate encourage my crazy, and OK, I don’t mind it so much.  I do mind the use of bitch-ass MFs, four-year-olds telling me I get on their nerves, or eight-year-old girls blowing snot rockets on my therapy room floor while “sneakily” giving me the finger.  Like I didn’t see it.  Amateur.

I have this group of friends about whom I’ve written before–my Barenaked Ladies super fan friends, the #Ladiesladies.  Not a day passes that one of us eleven misses reaching out in some way to the group.  The #Ladiesladies are privy to an impressive volume of confidences, pinky sworn to secrecy.  We use our message forum to share our lives–the good, the bad, the ugly.

I’m closer to owning up to what I’ve been tap-dancing around: I may just be tilting a little closer to depressed.  Since my boy’s diagnosis, I’ve acknowledged a range of emotions here in print.  WordPress is much cheaper than therapy, and rereading my history on this platform evidences tremendous personal growth (and I’m not just talking the ten extra pounds–now down to seven, go, me!–of belly floppin’ here).  I’ve intermittently permitted that maybe, possibly, could be I’m depressed, or that I’d consider thinking that maybe I’m depressed during the last two years.  But over the last several months I’ve noticed how I’m not bouncing back like I typically do.  I don’t look forward to things with my customary energy and enthusiasm.  I don’t laugh as inappropriately or loudly as is my norm.  I’m still functional, and still appear mostly Wendyesque, so I don’t feel my malaise rises to the level of clinical significance.  I don’t know.  WordPress is cheaper than therapy, sure, but not quite as interactive or diagnose-y.

My #Ladiesladies probably see it.  They notice when I’m posting and responding less frequently.  We all notice that of each other actually, but no matter what, no matter what! we are there for each other.  They’re some of the first people I told about my son’s diagnosis.  “Hey guys!  How was your Wednesday?  My older son was identified with muscular dystrophy this morning.  I’m the walking dead.”  It actually did go something like that, though I don’t precisely remember.  What I do remember is that they were there.  They’re there when I’m sick or annoyed or worried.  And when I’m joyful or exuberant.  We’ve been together through broken hearts and broken bones–cancer, automobile accidents, the loss of parents and other loved ones, our babies’ first home runs, their dance recitals and choir concerts.  We represent two provinces and seven states–of all the gin joints in all the world, we found each other. To the actual Ladies, our band–these women who hold my hand as I peek over the precipice?  We are friends because of you.  Thank you.

Eleven strong last June, clad in our fuchsia team shirts, a few women asked us about us.  “Can we be in your club?” a woman asked of me outside one of the beer gardens. Someone tweeted, “Help a sister out, #Ladiesladies, I need in.”  “When can I get my shirt?” asked yet another.

You can’t.  And not because we’re some middle school junior bitch clique, no. You can love the band, and you can be their #1 fan in all the world (well you can think you are. . .  Even I am not top five, but really I think it’s because I am simply too broke to make it a full-time job), and I will look forward to seeing you again and again. Fans of our band, not just my inner circle, are good, good people.  It’s a blast to go to shows anyway, but those hugs and time spent at shows with people I’d otherwise never have known?  A gift.  Since my concentrated hobby ramped up to its current level of investment, I’ve asked my husband not to buy me material gifts.  My friends and the shows I attend with them are privilege enough.  He doesn’t get the band thing, but he doesn’t have to.  I do.  And that’s enough.

#Ladiesladies membership cards are worth their weight in platinum and out of print.  You can’t deny the oddest of odds–eleven random people with nothing but a shared musical hobby clicked. Eight of our eleven are making the run this weekend, only 72.7%.  Gonna miss my Amy, Jen, and Katie for sure–love you, friends!  But for the rest of us?  Let’s go, girls.  I need you to keep me strong.

It’s show time. #PlanesTrainsAndAutomobiles

PS–pleaseplaymysongpleaseplaymysongpleaseplaymysongpleaseplaymysongpleaseplaymysong