But I Don’t Actually Play Tennis

We joined a tennis club.  I can barely stand on two feet these days–I literally fell off my shoes after my concert last Tuesday.  So I can hardly walk like a proper grown-up, let alone play tennis, yet tonight I found myself at New Member night at “our” club.  My life is just chock full o’ twists like that.  I reeked of imposter as my big kid and I entered for the first time as members.  Really?  I’m the kind of person who would be lurking out back by the dumpsters, attempting to catch even the most distant glimpse of how the other side lives.  I’m not on the other side.

My friend Jane is super smart and kind.  She has perhaps an even more wry/dry/sly sense of humor than I do, and outside of my inner circle of fans of my band, she is one of few who understand the celebrity boyfriend phenomenon.  That alone is reason to want to hang out with her all the time, but really that’s just icing on the cake.  And you know I DO love my frosting.  Anyway, Jane.  She DOES play tennis, and so do her husband and her two sons.  At the club.  Last summer she invited the boys and me to an afternoon swim, and began her pitch for us to join the club too.

For all the right wrong reasons, I wanted in.  OK, really the reasons are two:  1) Jane.  Hanging out with her and her family more often, and 2) The Big Reason. My big kid could swim all summer long without having to take a swim test, which he would never pass.  Our community system of public pools requires that each kid each day pass a swim test, granting them access to the deep end.  My kid can’t swim like they require him to (MD, ya know), so any trip to the pool ended in frustration (his) and tears (mine).  No kid who stands 6′ tall wants to dally in the shallows when all the cool kids are in the deep end.

My husband–the one who actually plays tennis–rebuffed my efforts to prod him (us) into joining.  It’s expensive.  We’re broke.  True and true.  My husband–the one who has never paid a bill in the course of our marriage–was worried about the cost.  Legit, but I was all like, “Now you’re paying attention?”  When I calculated the approximate cost of a single baseball bat we purchase for the small one, a season of family fun allowing the big one a chance to find a happy place paled.  It felt like a sound investment to me, but Tom still wasn’t on board.  Jane and her husband have mad persuasion skills, and somehow convinced my hubby to join.  I wasn’t there, but skills, y’all.  Next thing I know, I’m completing application packets, writing big checks, and boom! I’m told my husband is signing me up for social tennis (??).  I was led to believe it was mostly about day drinking, so I was all “IN!”  And soon I’ll be playing social tennis.  Which apparently is a thing.

So the six-footer and I go to the new member night tonight.  We received our membership cards, and were met near the entrance for a tour.  We had a very nice chat with one of the board members and his wife.  We explained that half our family was at a baseball game, so couldn’t make the opening reception.  They asked my big kid if he was into baseball or tennis (a perfectly logical question, no?).  He replied that, no, he wasn’t, that he was really there for the swimming.  They continued to talk with him, talking up tennis lessons, and maybe he could take lessons there?  Again, he denied athletic inclination, saying, “I’m really not a sports guy.”

He’s looking over at the pool, and asks, “Do you need to take a swim test every day here?”  I’m sure to them it seemed an odd inquiry, but I knew precisely where he was going with it.  “Because I have MD, that’s muscular dystrophy, and it’s hard for me to pass a swim test.”

You could have knocked me over with the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Wait, what?  It was the first I’d ever heard him introduce and talk about it in the real world.

They told my kid that at one time, kids had to swim a length of the pool in order to gain access to the diving well, but they weren’t sure that rule was still in place.  The relief on his face was enormous.  After but a few minutes of acquaintance, this woman said to him, and really to me, something like, “I’m sure your mom will be here to make sure you’re never in a place she feels you’d be unsafe.  My son’s a lifeguard here, and all the lifeguards here are great and will keep an eye on you too.”

Hugging a total stranger felt inappropriate, so instead I thanked her, and thanked my lucky stars it was sunny.  Ray-Bans to the rescue, because there’s no crying in tennis.  You know what?  Yeah, there is.

The pool opens tomorrow, and a certain thirteen-year-old wants to swim.  According to my WTF app (What The Forecast), it’s looking like mid-50s/low 60s weather for opening day.  And did you catch the Pig Latin??  This is my kind of smarty-pants app!  Swimming tomorrow feels like a no, kid, but I’ll get you there.  Soon and often. That’s a promise.

 

Weird

A slap in the face can come in the form of words, not actions.  I don’t recall ever being physically slapped in the face though, so any such slap has been a figurative one.  The Mother’s Day slap stung harshly.

The sky shone blue on Mother’s Day, a sapphire so perfect and rich it looked like it had to be a painted stage backdrop.  My husband and the boys decided we would take an early morning trek to our funky, local coffee shop for breakfast because 1) coffee, 2) I love going out for breakfast, and 3) Mother’s Day goodies for everyone!  The shop is one mile exactly from our home, usually a doable walk for us all.  About two-thirds of the way there however, my big kid complained of pain, and needed to take a breather.  I fall down a mountain and report back in excruciating detail about my bruises and abrasions until the last of them has faded.  I trip down the stairs with regularity, and anyone in the 53207 postal code hears me fuss.  My big kid though?  He doesn’t complain.  It’s just not in his DNA.  So for him to complain, I knew he was struggling.

We made it to the coffee shop life and limbs intact after all, but my big kid was definitely not himself.  You run through the maternal 5-point illness/injury probe: with one pointer finger, point to where it hurts; is it stabby pain or throbby pain?; did it just start hurting like right now, or have you been pushing through for awhile?;  do you have to poop?; can you move or do I need to run home and return with the car?  OK, it’s not technically a protocol, but man, I was hoping it was just an “I have to poop” thing.  If you have sons, you know exactly what I mean here.  “I have to poop” is I’m sure at the root of many mommy panic attacks and midnight calls to the nurse practitioner triage line.

Days later I remain fuzzy about the symptomatology and unsure of its etiology.  I do believe it was MD-related, which he denied.  He fatigues easily, which leads to a weird MD cycle: When your muscles fail, you get tired easily so you don’t develop the endurance to walk long distances.  Because you cannot walk long distances, you don’t develop good cardiovascular health, which affects endurance.  Because your cardio and lung capacity is reduced, you don’t engage in extended physical activity, and so on, and so on, and so on.  We stopped three times on the way home, which was A-OK by me, and it was at the third stop where all (well, some) was revealed.

Sir Trips-A-Lot accidentally took out a classmate’s chair Friday afternoon.  Proprioception not being one of his special gifts, he accidentally kicked the leg of the chair next to his, and his buddy went down.  The substitute teacher on duty was certain it was done with intent and malice aforethought, so told my kid he would be telling his regular teacher.  Big kid made it right with his friend Friday before the end of the day–it WAS an accident of course–but he feared the consequences he thought were to come.

“How do you want to handle this?” I inquired.  “Do you want to see what Ms. S has to say to you Monday or would you like me to email her before tomorrow to explain your version of the story?”

I was impressed that he wanted to handle it on his own for starters.  I told him that he if thought he was being treated unfairly, then I would contact his teacher if he believed it necessary.  I also told him that his regular teachers understand he has MD, and that sometimes his body does weird things.  I say this not as a free pass for him, but as a statement of fact.  If he took the kid out intentionally, we’d be having a very different conversation.

“Some of my classmates say I’m weird,” he ventured.

“You ARE weird,” I replied without missing a beat.  The look on his face???

“We’re all weird, it’s cool.  Some of your friends are weird or do weird things, right?”

Both my husband and I talked with him in the moment in generalities about weirdness and uniqueness, but I was the only one of us three whose eyes were teary.  See, the outliers know they’re different before anyone has to tell them so.  I know I’ve used those very words before, but they remain true.  It’s one thing as a mother to know these things, but quite another for your child to share them voluntarily.  He never complains, as I said, so I knew it mattered.  This parenting gig is not for the weak, people.  It was Mother’s Day, but I no longer felt super celebrate-y.  I felt lovey and squishy and nostalgic for their lovey, squishier toddler hands and bellies, and a bit sad that adolescence is doing what adolescence does.  Adolescence with MD, I can only imagine, complicates things that much more.

Later Sunday afternoon, he came out to the patio where I sat, bundled in my winter coat and blanket, reading a novel.  Yay for Mother’s Day leisure reading for fun under a warm(ish) spring sun!  He came out to tell me that he thought I was weird too.

“Oh, what makes me weird?”

“Well,  your BNL obsession for one thing.”

This was neither the time nor place to discuss the semantic distinction between obsession and concentrated hobby, so I let it go.  Instead I replied with something like, “Yeah, most moms don’t chase their favorite band across the Midwest.”

“AND Canada, you actually went to Canada.  That’s weird.”

“Yes it is, son. Tell me now one thing about me that you love.”

“You take care of us.  You do all the responsibilities around the house, and you say you love us like every day.”

“I do love you, big kid,”

“I know, mom.  Love you too.”

*end scene*

I’ll take being viewed as weird in exchange for an unprompted “I love you” any day.  I guess my Mother’s Day gift was the gift of gab from that one.  He’s typically short on effusive expression, sticking with the seventh grade one-to-two word answer grunt script.


He wrote me a note, which included an acrostic poem using Mother, very much prompted, this time by one of his teachers.  Trustworthy and Heroic he wrote.  I’ll take it.

 

 

 

Pretzels. Yep, That’s The Title.

Friends took our boys to the Brewers game last night, thanks to tickets they’d won for their MDA fundraising efforts.  Thanks, guys!  All week I’d been looking forward to a quiet little grocery shopping junket with my husband.  I know.  I need a life.  It’s just that work is breaking my heart these days, and my brain apparently converts heartache into somatic symptoms.  I’m really tired these days.  Really tired.  Blah.  Plus I actually enjoy grocery shopping more than other household chores, so yeah, I looked forward to a Friday night grocery game.

Bliss ended about one-fifth of the way down the first aisle though, and I got crabby.  Stupid crabby.  Probably I shouldn’t even write this post because my crabby is that genuinely stupid.  But since I almost never save myself from my own stupid, off we go.

Our grocer carries two kinds of pretzels vended in large vats: traditional pretzel rods, which my husband loves, and honey braids, which I prefer.  I asked my husband to grab a container of the twisty kind, and he said he didn’t like them, so he grabbed the pretzel rods.

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And that, friends, is where the wheels came off the bus.

In my very least adult, most passive-aggressive manner, I snatched up a container of the snack I wanted, and launched into a diatribe questioning why couldn’t I have what I wanted?  Just because you like something else doesn’t mean we can’t get both! Why is that I always give up my portion or simply give you all the portion of food that I want because either you prefer something else or I feel you’re more deserving?  Do you know how many times I don’t get to eat something because I know the kids and you eat more than me, so I only grab like two french fries or a teaspoonful of noodle side dishes or bananas or whatever?  I always choose the ugly enchilada or make due with the broken taco shells.  Why??  Why is it assumed I’ll take the corner piece??  (which is aces when it’s cake because frosting! but otherwise, corner piece of whatever is nobody’s first choice, right?)

Yes, those thoughts and words passed my consciousness, and a few even passed my lips, but mostly I just remained mute.  Because crabby.  And passive-aggressive quiet the remainder of the evening.

I felt like there was some big lesson I should pull together from the 2017 May Pretzel Incident, but really I’m just a jerk, and any lesson I have to teach has reached its intended audience.  Me.  Get over it, Wendy.  In retrospect, I think maybe he didn’t even hear me.  He tunes out 70% of what I say anyway, which is super annoying and frustrating in its own right, but a topic for another post.  I think I might have mentioned that when I’m not mute, I talk a lot.  He says sometimes I’m “quiet,” but I think that’s guy code for “I’m not actually listening, and I don’t want you to be super pissed.”

If there’s any takeaway, let it be this:  Moms, you’re amazing.  Of course you give up that last banana for your kids, even when you really want it.  Of course you divvy up your portion of French fries when you see your kids’ plates have already been cleared of their (already much larger but who’s counting) portion of fries.  Of course you forego any semblance of a social life for baseball, piano lessons, band concerts, therapy appointments, whatever your family needs.  YOU’RE THE MOM!  And most often you do these things happily.  Within my power and whatever financial wherewithal we possess, I would do whatever I could to provide opportunities to make my children happy.  There’s nothing that makes me happier than seeing my kids happy.

But it’s OK to want the nice thing, the pretty thing.  Because Moms, you’re amazing! Every so often, a girl wants to be reminded that she deserves her very own enormous container of honey braid pretzels is all.  Happy Mother’s Day to each of you who fulfills the role of mom.  Enjoy the spotlight this weekend, and don’t forget to overlove your babies, those once- and still-slobbery creatures whose being confers your favorite-ever title and job you wouldn’t trade for all the world: Mom.

 

Take Us Home 

There’s a lyric that goes, “Worked out that I’ve probably made a mistake for everything I’ve done right.”  That would be me, though honestly? probably the scales lean even more toward the mistake side than the side of right.

Fourteen years ago today I did something really right though.  Before we were four, or even three, we were two.


We got serious quickly, Tom and me.  I can remember as if it were last week, standing in the hallway at his old house saying to him that I hoped we would be lucky enough to have kids, specifically to have boys, because the world needed more solid, decent men like him in it. That I couldn’t wait to make us a party of three.  I was wearing my denim bib shortalls, a red tee underneath, and my pink “Life is Good” baseball cap (it was sixteen years ago, you can check your fashion files–it’s all good, yo).

I didn’t have to wait long for that at all.  Sometimes dreams do come true.

At alternate turns, reality surpasses anything you could dream in your wildest imaginings.  You never dream what fourteen years down the road looks like.  You don’t dream that your kitchen window would remain uncased nearly a year after the kitchen remodel was “done.”  You don’t dream of cleaning up the vomit your dopey rescue dog launched after he destroyed the carpeting back onto that same now un-carpeted spot.  You don’t dream of seeing your spouse randomly in passing most nights between the shuffle of piano lessons, school activities, doctor appointments and baseball practices (and with your vision failing at every turn, you barely actually see anything anymore!).  You surely don’t dream that your son gets tagged with a progressive, neurological disease, and you never dream that you become a reluctant advocate and fundraiser for MD, but you manage to help raise over $5,000.

But now?  I couldn’t dream of any other life but this one (minus the dog vomit part, obviously, and the MD which still, yeah).

You do dream that your children become productive stewards unto the world, and you help them get there through volunteerism, service, and kindness. Check. You do dream that you can send your kid on his big class trip, and that he returns a changed young man.  Check.  You do dream that your kid who loves sports of all sorts blasts another homer over the fence, and that he is humble about that feat when his cleats return to stomp on home plate.  Check.  You dream that you have enough to give your children more than you believed you had at that same age.  You float fuzzy visions that you’re happy, whatever happy means to you at the time.  And you are.

You find just the right lyrics to capture how you feel on your fourteenth wedding anniversary:

We’re forever, you and me.  The sun will show us where to go.  Love will give us heart and soul, and take us home.

Home. Happy Anniversary to us.

Singin’ In The Rain

It was a dark and stormy night.

It wasn’t, but I bet you’re all picturing Snoopy perched atop his doghouse, banging away on the keys of his typewriter, aren’t you?  You’re not?  Well then you’re much, much younger than me.  You’re lucky in that way, but it’s sad you missed out on the Peanuts greatness.  Wow.  It didn’t take long at all for me to steer off course on this post now, did it?  I call a do-over.

It was a dark and rainy day.  That’s better.

It was a dark and rainy day, but muscular dystrophy doesn’t allow for rain delays, so neither did the walk.  Can you feel triumphant and terrified at the same time?  That.  Sunday was a hard day.

I have been saying for months now that I will find a way to capture in words the gratitude I have felt in my heart. Turns out, there is simply no way to accomplish that. Instead, I will let pictures speak the thousand words they are said to do.

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I walked for my son.  Here’s why the other participants did.  Thanks to the MDA Southern Wisconsin Facebook page for this photo.

I got my own sign!

My beautiful niece Lauren, who will be in her third year as an MDA camp summer counselor made the trip from the U of Minnesota to be here.  She was admitted to grad school this week to pursue her MS in speech-language pathology.  I’d like to believe I had a little something to do with that career decision.  (I really would like to think that!)  Love this girl!

We were Team #2 with $5,399 in total funds raised.  You guys?  I can’t even.

The day before the event, I received a text from my friend Sue, who reminded me that exactly one year ago, I provided her words of support and comfort as she sat beside her dying father.  She wanted me to know that my message made a difference to her, and meant a lot, meant enough to tell me a year later that I helped her.  And she sent me her own message of love and support.  And yeah, I cried when I read her message.  She helped me right back.  I am a lot of work sometimes, but I must be doing something right to have latched onto and maintained friendships with truly wonderful people.

The MDA invites a few of its clients and parents to speak at the walk kick-off.  It’s painful, hopeful, emotional, and I’m not sure a dry eye can be found in the room.  My son had to step out, and I pretty much wanted to die right then for him, but my friend Jill, no fair weather friend she, showed up at precisely that moment.  I was stunned to see her, and her timing was perfection.  A much-needed distraction at the most-needed moment.

Shortly before the walk kick-off, my little guy’s best friend’s mom texted me, saying she and E would be arriving late to the walk.  I didn’t even know she intended to come.  We met outside the Aquatic and Reptile Center, and as we walked in, I thanked her for coming.  She told me that her son said he wouldn’t have wanted to come if it were for anyone other than my big kid, because “he’s kind of like my brother, you know.”  And that is when I really cried.  She hugged me while I cried, right there in front of the giant iguanas and jellyfish.  Because you can’t stand there and cry at the zoo, and because iguanas and jellyfish are really unsympathetic, I began to hum my personal battle cry, my song, to shore up my resolve.  Singin’ in the rain.  Well, singing in my head anyway, technically I was humming out loud.  Quietly.  But I made it.

You know who I don’t have a game day picture of?  My boy.  My boy, the reason I do this, all of this.  Didn’t get a photo of him that day.  He kinda had his own thing going on, and he’s thirteen, you know.  Not super happy to be photographed on his best day, so I didn’t push it.

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My boy.  My love for you kid?  Read the shirt.

I asked.  You answered.  5, 399 times you answered.  I will never feel lucky that my son has this diagnosis.  My son is more than a pre-existing condition, and I hope against hope that this, that MD, doesn’t become what defines him.  But this diagnosis has shown me the very best in people–people I am beyond lucky to know, people I don’t know, people I know only through my writing, and some souls whose identities remain elusive answered when I asked.  Thank you.  Love with a capital L to you all.

Sorry, Wrong Number

I received a voicemail today informing me there was a warrant out for my arrest, and all of my personal assets were in danger and being surveilled. I was instructed to call (360) 562-9305 immediately to sort out the details of my case. It sounded all super official and stuff, what with the robotic voice message. Seriously people, you need to work on your subterfuge.  You earn an F- for authenticity.

I was having a heavy hearted day today, feeling melancholy because I had let a few people down due to issues consistent with my diagnosis of DRS (don’t remember shit).  I can’t actually be certain that it’s my memory which is entirely at fault. It could be my distractedness or just the fact that I’m juggling too many balls up in the air trying to be all things to all people.  FYI, failing. In any event, I was feeling sad, surly and sassy, so I called them back.

What the hell, right? I did not appreciate their intrusion on my phone, granted I let it go to voicemail, still, I know no one from Longview, Washington and was pretty sure it was a scam. Scratch that, I was 100% sure it was a scam.  I feel like if there were a warrant out for my arrest, law enforcement’s effort would’ve been a wee bit more personal.  Plus I lead a nearly puritanical life, and have never done one single thing that would get me in trouble with the law. Breaking the speed limit excepted.

Being no fool, I used the office phone to inquire about my alleged dalliance with the law.  See, I’m innocent until proven guilty, so it’s all alleged for now. Ain’t no way I was going to call them back from my actual phone. It was right after lunch and a few coworkers were around. I so enjoy an audience!


This is how the conversation went:

Me: Yeah, hi, I got a message from you saying there’s a warrant for my arrest. Can you help me out with that?

Dude on Other End (speaking from what could only be characterized as a call center, based on the amount of background noise):  Oh, um, yes, what is your phone number?

Me:  I’m not giving you my phone number. You called me.

Dude on Other End:  I said CASE NUMBER, not phone number. Fuck you!  Why are you calling me?  Stop calling me you fucking asshole! Stop calling me.

Me: Cracking up as I laid the phone back in the cradle.

Defensive Dude on the Other End: *click*

Looks like my 3-episode arc on Orange Is The New Black has been postponed.

It gives me tremendous pause to know that these kind of scams are effective. What kind of people prey upon innocents who’d fall for this?  If there wasn’t some payout, they wouldn’t continue to do it. Sometimes you suck, humanity, you really do.  OK, I called back for sport. Sometimes I suck too.

#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.