Awake And Alone

I rarely sleep in, even on a holiday weekend, and even when I desperately want to. A lovely upside to my special brand of insomnia is the solitude I cherish being the only one awake in a whisper-still house.  Deep thoughts run laps in my head as I walk laps with Caleb the Wonderdog or just sit, flipping through the morning news rag sipping black coffee.  We all know I’m no philosopher, more a random musings kind of girl. Here’s this morning’s dose of The Space Between Wendy’s Ears, developed as I dodged raindrops.  Even I’m unable to find the thread that binds these thoughts, and it’s from my neurons (mis)firing that they came.

You think it will be magical having several different species of birds nest in your pergola. And it is. Until several species of bird shit all over your patio furniture. And your grill. And your sweatshirt.

Even with contacts in, I can barely see my face in the mirror.  Just exactly how am I going to apply makeup for the second half of my lifetime?

How many more days of school do we have?  Twelve?  Thirteen??  Eleventy hundred??

Why does anomia strike at the most inopportune moment?  Most people never get to meet their idols.  I’ve met mine several times, still struck starry-eyed and never taken for granted, but my “Hi, I’m clever and not a complete loser” banter batting average is around .333.  Now, in baseball for reals, .333 represents consistency and excellent performance.  In talking with famous musicians, it’s close to epic fail.  Don’t ever ask your favorite singer how his “thing, um, knee, um, you know” is.  He’s a guy, and “thing” well, you can imagine. . .  and for the record, the Password is ACL.  Following up with, “I’m just gonna go over here and kill myself” is an entirely appropriate response.  Fortunately, my favorite singer has a sense of humor.  And by now they all probably recognize me for the idiot I am.  What I meant to say is Tyler, Jim, Ed, Kevin–thank you for taking the time after the show to talk with me.  Though my nervous chatter is random and sometimes cringe-worthy, you are professional and kind and funny, and you wouldn’t have to be.

Speaking of my favorite band, Barenaked Ladies, all of you, this one’s for you:  Most of my friends are going on The Rock Boat cruise with you next winter.  OK, super cool for you all, and yeah, given the choice, I’d cruise to the tropics mid-winter too.  But for those of us whose work does not allow time off except for summer?  I’d like to suggest a summer band camp as a cruise alternate.  Or a both/and.  Just throwin’ that out there.  Also, we’ll need to do something about the bugs.  The plan’s in its infancy obviously.

How many second and third jobs will I need to take on in order to feed these boys who refuse to stop growing?  My “little” one is taller than me now.  He’s eleven.

My dog is an ass.  He’s also riotously distracting, and I love his squishy face more each day.  Last night we were watching Vacation, and I just wanted to flip a couple hands of solitaire during the commercials.  My husband, not a skilled videographer, recorded this:

I’ve tried to cut down on artificial sweeteners because I saw an article on Facebook about the holes these chemicals leave in people’s grey matter.  I need all the help I can get these days, you guys.  Do I stay thin-ish or smart-ish?  That is the question.

Related:  Facebook is probs not the most reliable source of vetted, scientific research.

Also related:  The damage is done, sister.  You are not as smart as you once were.

When a day begins overcast and stormy, it should remain dark for the entire 24 hours (unless I’m going to an outdoor concert, in which case I will OCD-level monitor every three minutes until it returns the sunshine I need to see in the forecast).  On the average day, I’m disappointed when the weather clears though.  Half empty?  Half full?  Not sure what that says about my personality.

I really need to drag my butt to the store and get a new swimsuit top this weekend.

I really hope the bunnies don’t eat the pea shoots sprouting up.  After all these years, I totally get why Farmer McGregor was so passionate.

God, our yard sucks.  We KILL at snow removal, but the summer months don’t quite balance that equation.

How in fresh hell does a motorist lose control to such a degree that he lodges his car into a poor someone’s house 4 feel off the ground??  This is my life every day as I drive through the city for work.  Well, trying to avoid this is my life in the city everyday.

I definitely do not look forward to my son’s semi-annual neurology appointment Tuesday.  Twenty bucks says it’s cloudy and rainy.  It has been cloudy and rainy or snowy every single time I’ve strode through the doors of the Children’s Hospital Neurology Clinic.  And as I’ve established, it had better stay that way all day.  See above.

I cry over neurology appointments, but still have my sons around to complain about.  It’s Memorial Day weekend, and I crumble inside when people say, “Happy Memorial Day!”  It’s not a happy occasion; it is one more appropriately marked with solemnity and remembrance.  Thank you to the men and women whose very lives were sacrificed in service so that, among other things, I can ramble here on the internet.  And to your families?  Strength, peace, and only the warmest, happiest memories of your loved ones.  I cannot imagine a world without my children inhabiting it with me. Your hearts beat more strongly than mine.

Friends in the US, enjoy your Monday off, and take a moment to reflect on why you’re maybe sleeping late.  Friends from around the world, thanks for hanging in here with me.  It’s hard to keep up, I get it.  Turns out this is post #200.  I feel like this post both captures and under-represents me perfectly.  Happy bicentennial to me.  Or something.

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.

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.

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.
  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!

Six Word Memoir

Familiar with the six word memoir?  The story goes that a magazine editor challenged Ernest Hemingway to write the shortest narrative possible.  He submitted “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”  Six words.  Six words that provided character and conflict, that told a complete story.  A simple Google search returns this version of the tale along with 1.24 million more hits confirming or denying its veracity.  Whatever the truth, SMITH magazine supports a website dedicated to the six word memoir and its role in creative writing and self reflection.  Click the link above to check the Six Word Memoir site.

At the close of my big kid’s College for Kids Young Writers’ Academy a few weeks back, we audience members were invited to participate in a challenge much like the students had been doing all week.  One of the instructors threw down the six word memoir challenge.  I froze–instant writer’s block.  Not everyone did, and from the room came a handful of charming mini-bios.  Among my favorites:

I found you; I found me.  (And the “awwwww” went up from the entire audience.)

I am not good at this.  The audience bust out laughing at this young lady’s clever spin.

Life sometimes strides; Life sometimes sucks.  This one also drew laughs from around the room, and I couldn’t have been more surprised at its author:  my son.

Try as I might,  my six word memoir remains unwritten. How does one capture one’s essential self or perception of self?  Including one attribute eliminates space for another. I’m a mom. I’m a wife. I’m a friend. I’m a speech-language pathologist.  I star in many roles, but am defined by none. Music sings my biography, but I am not a songwriter.  I’m no philosopher, but hold dear some guiding tenets and random nuggets from much wiser souls than I dare dream to be:

Be today the person future you would be proud to call a friend. (This one is WW’s)

The opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s indifference. (Elie Wiesel)

Don’t be a dick. (Me and Everyone)

A mother is only as happy as her saddest son. (Can’t quite source this)

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. (Eleanor Roosevelt)

A friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, “You too? I thought I was the only one!” (CS Lewis)

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are. (John Wooden)

Microsoft Word - n2342-recycling.doc

Thank you for this dose of happy.

Just who am I?  My husband and I had a discussion recently about the many mes–that’s a pluralization of ‘me’ by the way.  It goes against every punctuation convention I hold dear; I cannot apostrophize a plural.  I’m unable to refer to many mes as ‘us’ either, although ‘us’ is the plural of me.  Weird, right?  Mes is not a word (well actually it is a Spanish word meaning month) but ‘me’ isn’t plural, I know.  And we’ve already covered this–I write like I talk in my little blog here, so grammar and conventions are oft times unconventional in the name of creativity, judgey ones.  I know the rules of grammar, but I’m all rebel rebel like that here.  Dang it’s hard to be a grammar freakazoid when you break the rules yourself!  Deep breath.  The many mes.

I think we generally acknowledge that we are different things to different people in our lives.  180 speech paths don’t care so much about my kitchen remodel.  My friends don’t care a lick about my ethics presentations or remediation of phonological disorders.  My husband can’t be bothered with my music fandom.  My children pay no mind to me when. . .  Ah, hell, they pay no mind to 93% of me unless it deals with food, Pokémon, or hooking up to Wi-Fi.  Most of the time, most mes are poppin’.  Most of the time I feel confident and comfortable with my multiple personalities.  I think if I weren’t me, I would like me in whichever persona I need me to be.

But when I am vulnerable, all of the mes in me dive for cover.

I asked myself this question in a long-ago blog post, and vowed to figure it out: Who am I?  The bigger question perhaps is why am I no closer to figuring it out?  I’m old, I should know by now, shouldn’t I?  I’m a #baseballmom, but I’d like not to be an MD mom.  See?  No hashtag for MD mom, because who wants that for their kid?  Who wants that to be a defining element in their six word memoir?   I could just stick to mom, and call it a day I guess.  I’m a communicator in many forms–language and speech habilitator, information sharer, professional developer, blogger, cheerleader and advocate for my children, comedian, song lyrics savant.  Who tags themselves essentially as a communicator?  I’m a good and loyal wife.  Speech-language pathologist is in me, but doesn’t rate highly enough for the six words.  I laugh a lot and I smile a lot, but I can be morose.  I’m terribly hard on myself, and my husband believes I should be black and blue for the extent to which I beat myself up when I fail, especially when I believe I fail at parenting.  I’m optimistic, yet anxious; I’m the queen of hyperbole, yet quite pragmatic in fact.

My husband, who unwittingly started this post in motion, thinks I’m lots of personalities (not in the DSM-V multiple personality disorder kind of way though probably possibly, so please keep your questioning my sanity thoughts to yourselves, muchas gracias), but that not everyone gets all of me.  The discussion stemmed from one of the mes he appreciates less well than the rock star wife and mom me.  I would argue that not everyone needs all of the mes.  There’s a line in Some Fantastic that goes, “I missed out on the best of you.”  Who needs, but is missing out on the best of me, the best of the me that they need anyway?  My kids?  My husband?  My friends??  I can’t be best me at everything to everyone all the time, but I certainly can’t be failing those who matter most.  Am I?  When being right for someone’s something prevents or distracts me from being the right something elsewhere??  Damn.  Adulting is hard.

Getting back to my son’s memoir.  Why was he, all 5’9″ now, twelve-and-a-half years of him, able to crank it out in the allotted timeframe and belt it out in a roomful of people?  Does it accurately reflect how he views the world?  He freaking nailed it–life does sometimes stride, and it most assuredly sucks at others.  It’s profound.  Alternately, it’s middle school shallow.  It is balanced though, right?

Much can be revealed in six words.  Maybe that’s why getting it right matters so.  Have you written your six word memoir?  Can you write mine?

Family, friends, happiness–greater than gravity.

It’s a start anyway.


“Come On, Wendy!”

Worked out that I’ve probably made a mistake for each thing I’ve done right. –Satellite

It’s a lyric from a song about love, which makes it sorta, but not quite fit for Mother’s Day.  As I often do, I found myself inspired to write something while in the shower this morning.  Don’t ask why cleanliness = creativity for me, but I often land upon solutions to my ills amidst the Proactiv and shave gel.  I really should investigate in some sort of technology which allows voice dictation under running water, because by the time I’ve dried off, I’ve often forgotten the brilliant story arcs begun there.  This one isn’t brilliant, but I’m gonna give it a go.

I’ve been a mom for 12 years, seven months and a few odd days now.  I am certain that I’ve screwed up something that matters on each of those days, but I also know I have to be doing something right.  My children are at least average in intellect and achievement, but more importantly, they’re well-behaved, decent children who respect boundaries and treat others with kindness.  Aside from the usual brotherly stupidity, they’re good to each other and understand our family is united in pursuit of happiness through hard work.  Mostly MY hard work and my husband’s, but we’re gettin’ there.

How did I know how to lead them in the direction of such traits?  I had some pretty good examples.  This morning’s shower epiphany came in the form of a flashback.  I’ve been sleeping poorly lately, and my neck and shoulder carriage hurt like a beast–an ugly, gnarled beast at that.  I was thinking how relieved I was to have neither baseball practice nor games today, and to have nothing but celebratory food and Mother’s Day flower-buying at the garden center on the agenda.  Immediately after giving voice (the voice in my head) to that thought, I felt guilty feeling relieved that I had no one to shuttle today.

I was the fastest kid in my grade during elementary school.  I never lost a 50- or 100-yard dash, not even once, and I was always the anchor on the sprint relays because I never stayed behind for long.  I was the first chair flute player in our grade school band, never second.  I continued these pursuits in high school, and added volleyball (at which I SUCKED, so that was a one-off) and cheerleading (I was the not cute, not skinny one who could jump and do splits in the air) to my roster.  My younger brother was all baseball all the time, unless it was fall football or winter basketball when those sports dominated our weekly calendars.  For a time, it was also fishing and archery for him.  We grew up in a small town, attended a small-town high school, and had many opportunities there that I likely wouldn’t have had if we lived in a larger city, I will grant that.  Don’t get caught up in my firsts–I was no luminary, then or now.  Just an extracurricular sort of busy kid because I practiced more than anyone else, and small towns allow that.  Big fish, small pond kind of thing for me.

My mom never missed an event.  Like ever.  We lived about 30 miles from where my mom worked as a nurse, and through some series of scheduling miracles and what must have been very little sleep, that woman made it to every single thing we ever did.  Somehow she managed, after working a full day at the hospital, to marshal the energy to drive all over southeastern Wisconsin chasing my brother and me, always with snacks and drinks of course, to watch her kids do what they did.  Every game. Every meet. Every concert.  She maybe didn’t arrive precisely at the first pitch or the 100-meter prelims, but she was there.  Every time. One of my most enduring memories of my mom is hearing her cheer for me while I was running.  Like her daughter, my mom isn’t known for her quiet, demure side.  I could be anywhere on any track in the Southern Lakes Conference, and I’d hear her scream, “Come on, Wendy” with a tone and at a volume I’ll never get out of my head.  As I cheer on my son now at his baseball games, it’s my mother’s voice coming through, not mine that I hear. “Throwin’ strikes, kid” or “Come on, kid, you’re due” transport me instantly to my middle school summers.  Who said that??  Oh, that was me. If I didn’t know better, I’d turn to look for her in the stands.

I never asked her to come, she just did.  Maybe I did ask, I don’t recall, but I didn’t have to. She knew that it mattered, and even if I just expected it, being the egocentric, jerky middle and high school kid I’m sure to have been, I’d have been wrecked if she didn’t.  I didn’t consider what she gave up to be there. She was a fixture.

I love watching my kid play ball. I enjoy them both performing at piano recitals, so I understand that she’d want to attend. Until now I couldn’t imagine how difficult it had to have been though to accomplish it though.  It’s hard when your time is not your own. It’s entirely and all-consumingly worth it, but it’s hard.  I couldn’t appreciate it until I walked in those same baseball cleats.

Three decades after my glory days, *cough, cough* I still hear her in the stands.  I hope that my boys, a few decades hence, understand the importance of being there. I wonder if my own mom worried she was screwing us up like I worry like that for my boys?  I wonder if she knows how much she got right?  Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

Maybe down the road, one of the boys will be showering one morning himself and think, “Remember how Mom used to sit on the third base line with her winter parka on, nestled under two blankets during baseball season?  I can still hear her: ‘Throwin’ strikes, kid’ and ‘You and the catcher, E.'”

Hiding Out

One of my recently assigned Blogging 101 tasks was to develop a post from a comment or feedback I’d left for another blogger, to expand my response to their post and/or link back to it.  Something like that.  I’ve discovered some super slick, talented writers in the two weeks I’ve been at it here, but I’m going rogue on the assignment.  I know, right?  I’m usually such an obedient little student.  

I received feedback, game-changer feedback from fellow bloggers. I giggled.  I teared up.  I yelled “holy crap!” out loud.  I sighed in deep, grateful contemplation.  But it’s not them to whom I will respond here, though they’ve inspired me to be sure.  I’ve responded to their unbelievably generous comments, but my responses will never adequately convey the depth of my gratitude.  And why do I type “convery” EVERY SINGLE TIME I attempt to type “convey?”  Same goes for langauge (NEVER, EVER get it right) and reiumbursement (just once, please?).  Ahem.

Instead, I’m going at this in reverse.  A comment that resonated with me in a big way was left by one of my Barenaked Ladies tribemates, who wrote this:

I don’t share on any social media like I once did, and people said that they missed me. I guess the reason I don’t share any more is that I am so concerned about the image my extended family has of me. Once I became Facebook friends with all my brothers and sisters in law and my husband, I don’t want to share my feelings. I feel too exposed. It’s funny how I can share with my BNL friends or theater friends, but I can’t share with the ones I care most about.

She is not alone. She got me to wondering, why do we show only pieces of ourselves to others?  Why do we hide from, or if not hide, not reveal our whole selves to those who allegedly know and love us best?  Why does the blogosphere know more about my feelings on MD than my own mother?  How is it that my tribe of #Ladiesladies (yes, the hashtag is necessary as #Ladiesladies is a real thing–check Twitter if  you doubt me, go ahead, I’ll wait) knows me better than some of the friends I spend time with routinely?

My husband knows I’ve been blogging over a year now, but he only recently asked me for my web address.  I’ve sent links to my parents, but have received not one syllable of feedback from them.  I have a huge passel of in-laws who have read a post here and there, but I don’t talk much to them about my son’s muscular dystrophy.  I don’t talk about it much at all to the people who should be most invested.  That’s weird, right?  My family doesn’t find me inspirational or funny or especially interesting–just Wendy, and this blog?  It doesn’t exist or is deemed self-serving or folly.  Maybe both.  It’s also not that they don’t care, let me be clear, I know they care deeply about us.  It’s not that I need to fulfill a role as the “MD mom” or have that define me within my family or friend groups, I mean, I’m the only one, so obviously the role is no one else’s. It’s not essentially me, but it has become a facet of my essential being.  Why don’t they know it?   Why don’t they know how my kid’s status has changed every, single thing for me?  They do. Do they?

Is it the blissful anonymity the internet affords?  Is the internet invisibility cloak why I can share so openly online?  Where I can drop a comment with my keyboard but not have to speak the words?  I can put something out there, but not have to respond NOW or ever really should I elect not to, as a traditional conversation would demand.  

Online we get to pick. Online I get to share what I want, on my terms. I geek about music with my music people, because they GET ME musically. I geek about writing with writers because they GET ME as a blogger. I geek about MD with, well no one, ’cause well, who would celebrate that?  So I drop my MD ruminations right here, neatly packaged and mostly grammatically correct, and I move onto tasks like laundry.  Maybe that’s it–we seek validation and celebration from sources we are sure to find it. My nearest and dearest don’t spend hours selecting vocabulary words or parsing grammar; they don’t care to discuss why the bass/piano outro closing Brian Wilson is mesmerizing (but they totally should, come on!).  It’s not that they don’t care, they don’t care like I do.  And that’s OK. Right?  Right??

I know who will care though, and I gotta go tell ’em!  Right now.  When you find your tribe, love them hard.  


The First Last

Since his diagnosis, my son has demonstrated tenacity we’d never before known existed.  My big kid, he of the one word answers, is not much one for talking about feelings, especially about things he perceives as difficult. He keeps things close, leaving us at times to wonder 1) Anybody in there??, or (or maybe and/or) 2) Does he not emote much because he’s disinterested in whatever the subject matter happens to be or is he adverse to sharing his feelings?  Your mother’s heart pulls to feel like you don’t know your own child’s inner workings very well, but I understand that we all, each and every one of us, do things the way we are meant to do and experience them. I get all pissy when people tell me how I am supposed to feel or react, so I try not to place communicative demands or restraints on my son.  I am a speech-language pathologist, so you can imagine how much a challenge it is for me to keep my mouth shut!

The kids did not have school yesterday, so I arranged to meet a friend and her son at a local pizza place to celebrate mid-semester break. Apparently we don’t celebrate actual holidays anymore, so it wasn’t that they were off for Valentine’s Day (as if) or President’s Day, no, just the middle of the semester, which is also wholly inaccurate because now the kids’ school years run in trimesters not semesters, so it’s not mid-anything really. Math is hard and all, but even I understand that the math does not work on this one.  Sorry, wrong turn, I’m back. Ahem. The pizza place. . . It’s one of those warehouse joints with a buffet line a half-mile long, and a warehouse full of overpriced arcade games and attractions luring your kid in with the promise of tickets and the certainty of bankrupting his parents.

Upon our entry, the restaurant was selling MDA shamrocks. If you’re unfamiliar, the shamrock sale is one of those deals where retailers hit you up at point of purchase, asking if you are willing to spend an extra dollar or ten or hundred in support of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. You sign your name on a themed tagboard cut-out the restaurant posts, acknowledging your donation and heralding your status as a benevolent human being.  If you are us, you sign on the side that acknowledges the donation as being on your behalf. There were a couple toddlers crying at the pizza place yesterday, but probably just the one adult who misted up at the cash register.  Well, the only one who misted up about MD shamrocks anyway. It cost us nearly 70 bucks to walk in the door, so probably there were some tears shed by other moms blowing the dust out of their wallets to pony up the pizza ransom.

Naturally my kid wanted more than the VIP experience–life would simply not be worth living were he not to get on the climbing wall.  So because I am a good mom, and by good I mean guilt-ridden and crushed that my kid has this disease, I ponied up for the climb. I’m a sucker when my son wants to try something–anything–and I wonder sometimes if whichever activity he chooses will the be the last time, so I nearly always cave.  My friend says she always goes for the upgrades too because her kids are nice and not into drugs and stuff, so go ahead, you just-say-no-ers! Live it up!  I really like this friend.

He attempted two of the fixed walls, but could gain purchase no higher than four handholds or footholds up.  He tried so hard, but in the end his shoulders and hips and arms and legs lost the battle.  Breathing heavily, gripping with all his might, he fell.  It wasn’t a hard fall and it was onto a mat, but even from a relatively low height, he fell off the wall then crumpled to the floor upon hitting the mat.  His legs didn’t even have the strength to sustain his weight by this point.  *sigh*  You just don’t even know how fast the center of my chest raced before it collapsed in on itself.  My boy’s first last time he’ll ever. . .  I wondered about this last summer when our family went ice skating, but this time I know the first last is real.

Because the ropes are less fixed and allow for his feet to slide in and balance a tad more sturdily, he was able to hit the top of the ropes. Well, almost.  It took way longer than the other kids in line, the other brats who huffed because they had to wait that much longer for my son to complete his turn, but he did it.  He did it.

A Two-Nap Kind of Valentine’s Day Celebration

I don’t succumb to sick often; I am a warrior.  Except when I’m not, and then I get my Vick’s Vapo-Rub on with the best of them.  I don’t.  But after three weeks of a highly-scheduled life, I waved the white flag and allowed the dark side to win.  There’s probably a Star Wars metaphor in there, but I don’t have it in me to work it through.  I’m really dumb when I’m sick.  I’m dumb but I’m HILARIOUS, and by hilarious I mean slap happy, entertaining (yet again) a very small audience:  myself.  I’m funny, just ask me.

Friday night was the kids’ school dance.  I learned that my little kid has got some moves, for reals, and that he really loves to explore his space (insert visual of Will Ferrell doing “more cowbell” at Christopher Walken’s behest).  I learned that my little kid knows the words and moves to such (quotes intended for effect here) “classics” as Gangnam Style, The Macarena, Watch me Whip (and in the name of all that’s dear, don’t you forget the Nae Nae) and the Chicken Dance.  Super.  My role in the neighborhood edition of elementary school Dance Fever was as concessionaire, which is now my favorite word of the week.  The middle school kids were selling concessions to support their class trip to our nation’s capitol next year, so our family “volunteered” (yes, the quotes) to supply and vend highly sugared food and beverages to the 5th grade and under set.  My big kid enjoyed the dance less than the little guy, but that’s because he was employed in actual work which is NEVER fun for apathetic middle schoolers.  He’s not a super coordinated dancer, but I did catch some killer chair-dance moves during the Cha-Cha Slide.  I am a badass chair dancer, and I was delighted to get visual confirmation that my son IS MINE, he IS!!  I knew like I knew the sun would rise on Saturday, that the dance was the wall, and that as soon as we would arrive home, I’d hit that wall.  Oh, but I did.  Hard.

I wanted to do something fun with the boys this weekend to celebrate love.  Not a fine dining kind of celebration, but some outing somewhere fun just to spend time together to acknowledge the love I feel for these yahoos.  That’s Valentine’s Day enough for this girl.  When you forego showering and brushing your teeth for thirty-four hours though, it’s hard to get down with love.  Because getting off the couch to change the channel felt tantamount to running a marathon, I watched the Los Angeles Marathon, the Olympic qualifier–it was on, who was I to question?  Who was I to move even?  I watched men and women run balls out for several hours in a row, when I couldn’t work the remote control, so complex and challenging it was in my ague.  Those marathoners wore me out, man they took it out of me, so I fell asleep (the first nap I’ve taken in I can’t tell you how long!), and naturally those freaks of physical and physiological perfection were still running when I awoke.  At 4:30 yesterday, I undertook a major task of my own–I took a shower.  And then I took another nap, ’cause holy crap, that shower was E-X-H-A-U-S-T-I-N-G.

I’ve never been a Valentine’s Day fool.  I get it, but I don’t really get why girls lose their heads over it.  I’m not such a cynic that I think it’s all BS–I LOVE love, but I don’t need overpriced roses or enormous mylar balloons on the day to know that my husband loves me.  I always get him a card and some token of recognition, because why?  Because I LOVE love, pay attention!  But I’m OK with lunch at Five Guys or Kopps (custard, bitches!) or even breakfast at home.  I am not a creative person, so Pinterest and Etsy make me feel alternately murderous and envious around the holidays.  I realized this morning that one of the ways I show my family I love them is through food.  I am a decent cook, and I very much enjoy cooking for my family.  I feel slightly more among the living so far today, so I put together a (I think) lovely breakfast for my three boys.  It’s the best way I know how to demonstrate my love for them.  There’s no way I’ll paint a cute sign or sew a cute Valentine’s Day blanket or wall canvas–I’m SO singularly bad at arts and crafts–but I can cook you something from my heart.  THAT I can do.  Food = love.  There’s math I can get behind.  I love you, my family.

My little kid, he of the dancing fame, and I think a pretty darn funny kid in development, gave me this valentine, which probably affected his teacher’s opinion of me in one of two distinct ways:  I’m either the least responsible mother of the year, or the one she wants to have margaritas with.  Probably the second.  I mean my kid’s totally cool, and that has to come from somewhere, right?  His valentine contained lyrics and movie lines that we giggle conspiratorially together over.  And because I was feeling crappy, he gave it to me a day early to cheer me up.  I am doing something right, and here’s evidence:

Seriously love this kid


Keepin’ it classy

Since I don’t have the budget or husband quite willing enough to take me to Florida for a Valentine’s Day Barenaked Ladies concert tonight, what I’m most in love with doing this Valentine’s Day is watching the season premiere of The Walking Dead. Because nothing says love like zombies, y’all.

Divinely (Un)Inspired

I’ve put off developing this post for quite some time. I recently enrolled in Blogging U’s Blogging 101 course, so naturally this is when I hit my first real writer’s block.  I don’t know why I’m surprised.  If I’m being completely honest with you, I’m not surprised.  Because I’m a good student, and exceptionally compliant when it comes to deadlines and expectations, I’m annoyed, sure, but surprised?  Nope.  I fully anticipated that having specified writing tasks would deliver me to this very moment: the moment when my brain decides to go all “meh” on me.  This is why I’ve avoided it til now.  ‘Cause I’m intuitive like that.

Today’s assignment is to identify your audience, and to publish a post you’d like your ideal audience member to read.  I’ve had the un-freaking-believable good fortune to have had two of my idols read pieces I’ve written, but I don’t write for them exactly.  I have a handful of readers and friends who follow me here because blogging’s quite an efficient vehicle for checking in.  But I’m not sure I have an audience, a type, and I’m vexed as I ponder this.  So I’m supposed to pick one person to write for tonight, and no, it’s not YOU.  Geez, get over yourself, y’all, and don’t read too much into this, m’kay?  No, it’s really not you, and you will just have to trust me on this.

I’ve had an inner pretend dialog going for a really long time.  I alluded to it some time ago in a post I wrote about the wonderful/terrible things people say to you when they learn your child has a super shitty disease.   I am not a religious person; the Catholic church and I broke up when I divorced my first husband.  I didn’t get how spending a couple hundred bucks and having three people vouch for me on some affidavit could result in a proclamation stating my marriage never existed.  Oh, that shit was real, people, bad shit happened.  Having survived it was something of a badge of honor, so I couldn’t get behind the sweeping it under the carpet for cash system.  YES, absolutely, I am minimizing, and YES, I know it’s not that simple.  Even I am not that big a creep, but the concept of annulment in the twenty-first century was the deal breaker for me.  And plus, let’s be honest, I was totally on birth control because 1) I had really bad acne and it was supposed to help, 2) female issues, and–brace yourselves here–3) I had sex before I was married. *gasp!*  AND I ate meat on Fridays once in awhile.  I was never exactly what they were looking for anyway because I lean pretty much toward the left side of most arguments, but for a period of time in my young adulthood, I did enjoy going to mass, contemplating the priest’s homily and being part of the fellowship, if not the rules of Catholicism.  The golden rule is a damn good one, but my experience with religions has been that mine is better than yours, you’re wrong and I’m right, and there’s exclusion along with inclusion in equal measure.  Maybe more.

There are a million, billion things I cannot explain.  I’m not saying there isn’t some higher power out there pulling strings and creating events, putting people, myself included, where he/she decides we should be.  I’m not so arrogant to think I know more than the universe.  I’m a smart cookie, but I’m the teensiest cog in the machine.  Infinitesimally sub-teensy at that.  I’m wise enough to know that I’ll never know how much I don’t know.  I’m just some girl from Milwaukee.  Just some girl who doesn’t believe that showing up in a beautiful church on Sunday renders anyone a better or worse human person.

I have friends who find tremendous joy and are provided great comfort from their bibles and their churches.  I know some of the best examples of the human species the earth has to offer–I am so damn lucky to call these people my friends–but I just never felt that electric a connection with a church.  Not like that.  I’m flip about some things (yeah, see previous paragraphs for examples), but I’m not flip about others’ beliefs.  Church and God matter to people, and I’d never tear that down, but I’ve never bathed in that same light.  A part of me wishes I shared that faith, that devotion.  A wonderful friend of mine’s rabbi says a prayer for my son every week.  I wept when she told me she requested this for our family, and I ugly-cried when she went home that evening.  Her faith is so essential to her being, and she brought us into her circle.  I will never be able to thank her properly.  It would be so great to think that a power–God, a god, someone, something, anything–had the capacity to FIX FUCKING MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY.  Some days I think it would be a dream come true to have the kind of devout belief that removes control from our earthly hands.  But I just don’t believe the meme–

Soooooooooo. . .  my inner dialog.  If God/a god is responsible for everything, including healing all illness, doesn’t it follow, or more accurately, doesn’t it come first, that a god/God causes it all?  You hear people say, “What kind of god allows (insert tragic event, accident or illness here) to happen?” all the time when a tragic event, accident or illness occurs.  I don’t think a god wants tragedy any more than I think some higher power wanted my son to have MD–he was an eleven-year-old boy when diagnosed–MD is certainly nothing he deserved nor is it some type of punishment.  I don’t think a higher power wants convenience store clerks to get held up at gunpoint.  I don’t think a higher power wanted Carolina to lose the Superbowl, and I don’t think people choose poverty.  You hear people say they’re mad at God for making something happen or denying something else.  I don’t blame God for MD and I don’t think a god can fix it; it just is.

All this mess is a draft in consideration of today’s homework, “Who’s my audience?”  So who is it?  I think maybe my audience is small, so small, I think it’s an n of one.  Maybe my entire audience consists of one mom, the mom of one really terrific 12-year-old kid.