At The Intersection of Ellen & Clark

img_4953

The city of Niagara Falls, Ontario has either no clue whatsoever, or had the most serendipitous, visionary civil engineers naming their streets for weary families seeking their own good old fashioned family fun a la Clark and Ellen Griswold from the Vacation film franchise.

The Weir branch of the Griswold family tree’s road trip has reached its final destination: home sweet home. How I do love my family.  But I would consider dyeing my hair back to its natural color to be in a room all by myself for ten connected minutes.

We covered more than two thousand miles in nine days, traversing eight states and one Canadian province, sleeping in six different hotels with two still mostly happy kids, one still-solid marriage in our trusty ol’ Ford Edge.

The adventure was that–a true Griswoldian family adventure, but my retelling of it tastes a little like a flat Pepsi. Maybe I’m loopy from now three weeks of rotator cuff tear pained-induced sleep deprivation. I’m at a point I can’t recall how it feels to live agony-free. Juiced with ibuprofen though, I lived fully on this trip. I stepped out of my comfort zone, I took it all in–I remained patient with the kids always (they are GREAT kids 95% of the time), enjoying their enjoyment. I toasted with and sipped from the glass half-full, walked on the sunny side of the street and carpe-d the hell out of each diem.  Smiling through shoulder pain, sleeping too little, I was the model Ellen to Tom’s Clark.

Louisville, KY

The tour kicked off in a monsoon at the home of the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum.  Somewhere past Chicago and before Indianapolis, one boy expressed deep regret at maybe having left his bedroom fan oscillating when we left, while the other fretted over that possibility the entire time.  For a moment, I did consider turning around.  I did.  I’ve woken with my house on fire.  I didn’t especially enjoy that experience, so you can imagine I’d be in no hurry for a repeat.  No such (bad) luck after all; the fan had been turned off.

I made the boys promise they’d smile or minimally appease my requests for geeky tourist photos, and to my delight, they obliged.  Our story begins here with a four-story baseball bat, not quite smiling for the camera, but whaevs.  At least they looked in my direction.Nothing of note happened in Louisville, but the “city” in which our hotel was reserved felt like a scene straight out of Deliverance.  We stayed near Mammoth Cave National Park, and friends, near is not the same as in.  I begin with travel tip #1:  You get what you pay for, but it’s a hotly contested battle with travel tip #2 for that top position:  Location, location, location.

Mammoth Cave, KY

You should go there.  We scheduled the Historic Tour, two hours and two miles in duration.  The US Park System doesn’t mince words when its agents tell you it’s a strenuous trek that will make you lose your cookies if you suffer acrophobia or claustrophobia.  I experience neither, but will admit to feeling woozy and gelatinous looking down from high above. Number One Son led our family with me filing behind him, and I misted up three times I can remember, maybe a few more.  He worked like a beast of burden maneuvering through that cave system.  Yes, it’s all marked and lighted pathways, but crouching and squishing through Fat Man’s Misery and Tall Man’s Misery are required.  He managed this with muscular dystrophy–victory #1–AND wearing a splint for his still-broken collarbone.  I beamed with pride at his effort, but couldn’t help but wonder if he will ever be able to do something like this again.

Exiting the cave required a steep climb back to the visitor center, and though he was exhausted, he persevered up that hill.  Later, my husband told me he was struck at the contrast between #1 and #2 walking up that hill.  Our younger son is a rock; he was born with my curse–extremely contoured leg muscles–and is in excellent physical condition.  #1 has absolutely no muscle delineation.  It makes me sad when my husband has these moments of clarity re: MD.

Hi, I’m 12.  I posted a load of vacay photos on Facebook, but this is the shot that has gained the most attention.  I’m such an idiot–an idiot with a good sense of humor, sure, but still an idiot!

Cleveland, OH (Or That One Time I Lost My Son’s Passport)

Like music?  En route from Kentucky to Cleveland, my boys arm-farted Believer by Imagine Dragons in time and in tune.  My husband laughed himself to tears, and OK, so did I.  But do you really like music?  Have any interest in its history?  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame kicks ass, and you should go there.  Travel tip #3 reminds you not to let your freak flag fly while watching a movie about Journey and ELO’s Hall of Fame Induction.  ELO, you guys!!  Journey!!  These bands were the backbone of my middle and high school years.  To see the handwritten lyrics to Can’t Get It Out of My Head??  My head spun.

So we sat watching film, and as I do periodically (you may call it OCD, sure), I counted our passports.  One, two, three.  One, two, three.  One, two, three, holy shit!!!!!!  There’s supposed to be four.  Where is four??  I charged out of the little theater, dumped my purse out on the floor and promptly lost my shit.  Heart to beat out of my chest, sweaty, shaking, and wild-eyed to be sure, I bolted from there back to the parking structure and dialed the hotel we’d just left.  No, they didn’t have it.  Oooooohhhkay. . . breathe, Wendy.  I know that I had it yesterday because I count them periodically.  You may have heard I’m travel-OCD, and this little one, two, three, four confirms my status as a responsible parent.  I didn’t even care that I was a sweaty mess from my midday sprint or that the parking lot attendant threw me that “oh dear” glance before completely avoiding eye contact.  I recovered the missing passport, tented between the door and the door frame of the car.  No idea how it fell out or landed in such a fashion, but Canada, here we come!

My favorite part of the Hall wasn’t observing my personal faves though, but snapping a couple photos for my friend Jill who worships Mick Jagger, and finding a wall full of The Replacements memorabilia.  My husband positively glowed.

and also roll

Niagara Falls, ON

There’s something wrong with you if you’re not impressed with the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls, or Bridal Veil falls, especially when they’re illuminated at dark.  They’re gorgeous natural miracles.  Mother Nature has a few cool tricks up her sleeve, so you lay down the cash to hop a boat into the mist.  Touristy?  You betcha!  Cool?  That too!  Then you stroll across an impossibly high bridge back to the US (one, two, three, four passports, check!), hike to the bottom of the American Falls and dive into its hurricane.  Again you position yourself behind your son because it’s 1000 billion percent WET and slippery, and wonder if he will ever again be able to negotiate that catwalk.  You’re moved to tears that he’s made it this far, and no one even knows you’re crying because everyone is a billion percent wet, so it’s all good, yo.

Also, Tim Hortons are on every block.  Ooh!  And also, because this never happens in the US, you catch a dude in an outdoor cafe with an acoustic guitar strumming and singing Barenaked Ladies’ Brian Wilson, so you stop and you tell your kids you love Canada, and they roll their eyes only like 70% of the way back.

Toronto, ON

Toronto, I love you. Love! You!  But there are so many of you, and you each drive your own damn car to and from the city. I didn’t want to leave, and Jaysus, you wouldn’t let me–three hours to get through traffic making our way to oh-so-happenin’ Sudbury.  But while we were in your heart, my own heart quickened. City Hall, other-worldly delicious braised beef poutine at Fran’s, La Tour CN, Ripley’s Aquarium, the railway museum, random needles in the alley (what? I’m sure they were diabetics. . .), the Toronto Zoo, of course a Blue Jays game, and an impromptu coffee date with Katie, Torontonian and one of my #Ladiesladies! I regretted dragging her out of bed early, but that regret lasted only for a moment. I was so happy to see her.

Sudbury, ON

Sudbury was but a way station between Toronto and Mackinac Island, and our hotel was, um, dated?  Only intermittently and randomly updated?  But let us harken back to travel tip #1, something about getting what you pay for. . .

We did bypass a town called Moonstone toward Sudbury, and if you’re not a Barenaked Ladies fan, you wouldn’t care. That’s OK.  I care, and enjoyed a satisfied little smile as I drove. I had no idea this town was just off Highway 400, so seeing Moonstone on the exit sign, and knowing what the song carrying its title is about gave me a moment of quiet maternal contentment.

St. Ignace/Mackinac Island, MI

Through the miracle of international cellular data plans, I learned that my friend Bek had planned to bring her girls to Mackinaw City for the weekend.  I did some quick math, and determined we’d be there at the same time!  What a sweet surprise to enjoy a brief visit with my dear friend, another of the #Ladiesladies.

img_5063-1My husband was so pleased to meet her and her daughters, and I was goofy that some of my very favorite of all earth’s citizenry all got to meet, however brief our time was.

Our last two nights were spent overlooking Lake Huron.  We enjoyed fireworks of the explosive type along with the celestial type in the form of the Perseid Meteor shower.  It was a great place to sew up the adventure.  We ferried from the mainland to the island, and chose to sight-see by horse-drawn carriage. Tom and I went back and forth only briefly over the rent bikes vs. carriage route,  Medical evidence suggested the carriage was definitely the safer way around.  With #1’s arm in a sling, even renting a tandem could have spelled disaster at worst, and discomfort at best.  My shoulder was screaming too, so we ponied up (ba-dum-bum) for the carriage ride.  Fritz and Jeffrey were kind enough not to poop in the street during our carriage.  Fritz and Jeffrey are horses, you guys!  I’m sure.  Actually, upon hearing their names, I felt a little less stupid about my canine called Caleb!  The sun shone crystal clear all day, and we enjoyed the tour.

 

But it was time.

 

Nothing went wrong.

Nothing was terrible–I mean I found the passport and everything.  Nothing was less than smooth. But in terms of a great travel story?  Also, nothing.  We met good people, kindness was shown to us at every turn, and I’d happily revisit any one of the spots along the route.  My children were amazing.  Minus the 84.7 million fart references and short a few please-and-thank-yous, they were in total control.  In spite of marked trepidation leading up to this, and one minor panic in Toronto (I really had no recollection of having been there before. No, I mean I know I was there, but I had no idea about directions and navigation.  I felt like I was supposed to be the tour guide there, when all I knew was that I saw a concert at Massey Hall in 2015.  FYI, the lake is at the south end of the city.  Where I’m from, the great lake is eastward.  Very confusing at first.)  I so feared letting down my Clark, but I think we’re marking this one in the ‘W’ column.

Travel tip #4?  2000+ is a whole lot of frickin’ car miles, yo.

But you learn stuff.  Like you find out your younger son’s favorite kind of days are cloudy, and like you, believes that if the day begins cloudy or rainy, it had better stay that way.  You learn that you’re the more patient of the two parents when it comes to stupid boy stuff, but you love your husband all the more for jumping in, wrestling and instigating as much or more than his sons.  You learn that your son, over whom you fear daily that his loss of physical capacity will make a road trip insurmountable some day, carries more strength and endurance than you dreamed.  Every time you ask how he’s doing, even after some 20,000 steps, he replies, “I’m good” and your heart both bursts and dies a little.


Travel tip #5:  You can’t wait to get home, but you never want it to end.

 

Sunset.  Literally and figuratively.

I Couldn’t Stand Being Left Out

I mentioned last week that I didn’t believe I had substantively much to offer here these days.  I’m saving my blogself for “The Road Trip” which is to commence in T-minus three days.  After rerouting no fewer than fifty-three times, at last our hotels are booked, activities planned and purchased where that could be done prior to arrival, and Caleb the Wonderdog has visited his day care provider, AKA my husband’s brother and his family, to acclimate.  *pleasedon’twreckalltheirshitpleasedon’twreckalltheirshitpleasedon’twreckalltheirshit* 

I’m 82.4% certain that this adventure is going to be pretty cool, and only 17.6% (but often it feels exactly like 100%) that my failure will go down in the annals of family history as epic.

I’ve dubbed 2017’s summer The Summer of Appointments.  I cannot recall two consecutive days where I haven’t trotted one or both children to a symphony of piano lessons, a dentist, orthodontist, orthopedic surgeon, pediatrician, emergency room, physical therapist, imaging department, or sports medicine specialist appointment.  And that doesn’t even include baseball practice or games, and my children do NOT maintain freakishly overscheduled lives.  Despite having been fitted for an orthodontic retainer of my very own at MY AGE, I must have been feeling neglected, left out.  I wanted my very own orthopedic injury.  Kid #1 has a broken collarbone and Kid #2 has that separation in his bone growth plate, but what about me??  I want to be like the cool kids.  Daddy, I want an Oompa Loompa, I want an Oompa Loompa right now!

Somehow I’ve destroyed my rotator cuff.

And yeah, I say “somehow” because I have not the slightest inkling how the injury occurred, aside from just being old(er).  Naturally I blame the dog for having pulled fiercely when I walked him, because he’s a total jerk on his purple leash, and only walks decently, OK, really, like a canine prince on his Weiss Walkie leash.  His misbehavior is the most likely culprit, legit.  In the runner-up spot for destroying my shoulder is yoga, but I do not believe that my centering has taken me this far off-center.  I don’t.  I don’t know how I wake up one day having lost the capacity to move, but who am I to argue with nature?  It hurts.  Like makes-me-cry hurts when I engage in certain angles of movement.  Getting old and overuse is Bachelor #3 for etiology, but I just don’t wanna go there. Crap. 

A short list of things rendered excruciating by a wrecked rotator cuff:

  1. Sleeping.  Holy shit you guys, what I wouldn’t do to sleep on my side or belly.  Or not wake up yelping in pain.
  2. Walking the Wonderdog, although with the Weiss Walkie leash, it’s mostly OK.  I feel like the Weiss people should flip me a couple bucks for my endorsement here.  Right?
  3. Putting on or removing a bra.  I have preparatory tears as I consider retiring to bed tonight.
  4. Sitting erect.
  5. Typing on my laptop.  I hate this computer, but until this week it hasn’t inflicted physical pain, just emotional.
  6. Hold the phone.  This is not figurative language.  It hurts to hold my cell phone in my hand at the position and angle needed to you know, see it.
  7. Washing my hair (and washing the floor, but let’s not fool around here–I’m no more likely to wash the floor now than I was before).  Most hygiene tasks are complicated–shaving my underarms or applying deodorant leap to mind–and if you think that’s too much information, clearly you are new here.  Welcome. How are ya?
  8. Cutting food with a knife and stirring.  Also, cutting pizza hurts like hell.
  9. Eating.  But I like to eat, so I suck it up.
  10. Pretty much extending my arm more than about 40 degrees in any direction, crossing midline, raising my arm, and moving my neck to the left.  Super for driving. And being.

I’m a quirky kind of ambidextrous.  I consider myself a lefty because I write and eat with my left hand; I also bat and play tennis left-handed.  But I throw with my right hand, cut food with my right when I eat (but when I prepare food, the chef’s knife is in my left), and I use a right-handed scissors.  What I do with one hand I absolutely cannot do with the other though. Drat my quirky.  It’s my left shoulder that’s jacked up, so my body is so confused.  And so, so tired.  I’d donate my spleen to sleep longer than three connected hours. Do you even need a spleen?  Like a lot?

Boo-hoo, Wendy, put on a brave face, load up with ibuprofen, and keep moving.  I am.  Like my firstborn, I am badass with pain.  At my husband’s insistence however, I made an appointment with my general practitioner yesterday.  I say my husband made me, but when I am willing to go see a medical professional for myself, you know I’m one step from the grave.  I don’t go to the doctor unless it’s categorically necessary.  Quirky one, right here.  But I went, was sent for x-rays, and referred to an orthopedic/sports med doc of my very own.  My appointment with the orthopedist?  September 14.  I’ll be paralyzed or have descended into madness from lack of sleep by then, so I’m gonna have to trust WebMD for all my physical therapy needs.  (Also, I’m gonna totally possibly hijack my son’s PT appointment this morning and inundate my ballplayer’s therapist with “hypotheticals” about rotator cuff injuries which are totally in line with pitcher’s rehabs, so my questions won’t sound completely out of left field. It’ll be our little secret though, OK?)

After a star-studded June and July, the Explanation of Benefits statements from our health insurance carrier have begun to roll in, and give it up for Wendy! I only snot-cried like once.  I don’t get paid again until mid-September, such is the life of a public educator, so I’m not all summer eager-beavery about all the checks I am going to have to write.  The Summer of Appointments price tag will run upwards of $4,000 out of pocket.  Maybe that’s not a king’s ransom for you, in which case, you’re quite fortunate.  It’s not going to bankrupt us, but I can’t say it doesn’t sting.  Oh, and I have “good” insurance.

As I checked into my imaging appointment yesterday, the receptionist informed me that they required a $50 co-pay prior to my admittance, and the facade cracked.  The guy next to me was yelling at the woman checking him in about not broadcasting his address (you know how they ask you questions just specific enough to confirm you’re who you purport to be? “And Mrs. Weir, you still live on South Sesame Street?” or “Your phone number ends in 7777?”), and I needed a moment.  Just a quick moment to collect myself.  My eyes prickled from pain, but also from that feeling of “Stop it, weird over-reacty guy! I just want to get out of here, stop yelling at her!” I stared intently into my purse, searching for please-don’t-cry-right-this-second.  Found it!

I’m down, but not out. Never out. I’m the mom, ain’t no time for pain. I got some great mail this week, and mail you can touch and hold from a friend who always seems to know just what you need never fails to buoy my spirits. And my shoulder. 

In my mind, my two sons and I are lined up รก la those see/hear/speak no evil monkeys, except we’re bandaged, casted, and splinted. I’m the short, hunched over one in the center.  A modern day visage of Larry, Moe, and Curly, us three. 

Road Trip, Jr.

Savvy is not a term one would ascribe to my travel comfort or experience.  I am a super travel companion, but bottom of the barrel when it comes to planning any travel–I make galactically poor travel decisions, frightened I’ll screw everything up and be responsible for everyone’s bad fortune.  By way of comparison, let’s take last weekend: tickets for the Barenaked Ladies concert went on sale several months ago.  Within 45 seconds of them being released, Nikki secured our seats (ahem, front and center), and Bek had hotel reservations made for us three.  Lickety split, they were done.  It’s so easy for me to travel with them–I needed only mail my checks and map my route to Fort Wayne, Indiana.  The girls had even scouted for cool places to eat, so all I had to do was order my iced coffee.  High five on the travel arrangements, girls!

I missed my son’s last two ball games of the season Sunday, but in so doing I avoided making the teary end scene I always do when I say good-bye to anything–person, place, or thing.  The sappy, sentimental gene is strong in this one, and I honestly believe my son was pleased not to have to pretend his mom isn’t a total dork.

Instead, I drove.  This wasn’t the longest of my concert road trips, but my “being weird” was called to my attention more than once.  Whatevah, haters!  It’s really OK–regarding my concert attendance?  I get it for me, so you don’t have to get it.  I’ve done that theme to death here, so we are moving on.

What I am supposed to be doing is making travel arrangements for my family’s big road trip.  We’re leaving in two weeks, and my husband, Clark Griswold-like in his family-centric idealism, and I have plotted and reconfigured at least a baker’s dozen times already.  What we have on the itinerary is a steaming, heaping bowl of jack squat.  Really.  Not one item finalized.  I really need Nikki and Bek to take the reins for me here–they rule at this kind of thing.  I’m an excellent procrastinator, so rather than opening the other Google Chrome tabs taunting me at the top of my screen, you know, the travel-related ones?  I’m here on WordPress avoiding the hafta-do part of my list, and I’m not even doing this, the wanna-do part of my list well.

Uninspired is a lousy place to idle away, so in the spirit of the old “Those Who Can’t Do. . .” adage, I find myself stewing in pretend travel tips.  If you’ve read anything I’ve ever written previously, you know that I have no business giving unsolicited advice about anything.  But a lack of authority on a subject has never stopped me from opining before, so here ya go:  

Travel Observations From a Lame-Ass Traveler.  And I didn’t even include fakey quotes around traveler.  Restraint in its finest hour, people. 

  1. Always bring a refillable water bottle.  Off to a good start with this one, you have to admit.  Go, me!
  2. When in need of a fairly clean/safe rest stop in the middle of nowhere, trust the golden arches.  McDonald’s restaurants and restrooms are reliably clean-ish and predictable, so you know what you’re getting for the most part.  You can always ice up and refill that water bottle there too.
  3. Ford’s Sync Navigation system is not the best option for route mapping.  It would have added nearly one hundred miles to my trip by sticking only to Interstate highways, so it’s a good thing I know how to read a good, old-fashioned Rand-McNally atlas.  Stay in school, kids.  The shortest distance between two points is  a straight line.
  4. Ford’s Sync sound system is however, an excellent option for music.  Having no one else asking, “Can I pick songs?” meant I had the BEST for-WW’s-ears-only road trip soundtrack. Ever.
  5. Look around.  Sometimes the nuances in the bluest of blue skies and greenest of green pastures demand and deserve your attention.
  6. Slow your roll, and let that guy change lanes in front of you once in a while.  You may be the one sending up a little “sorrysorrysorrysorry” for pulling a dumbass “I’m not from around here” move when you navigate a new-to-you big city.  Karma, yo.  Be nice.
  7. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Bridge illuminated at night is probably the coolest thing you’ll see in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  It has to be true because Bek and I thought the very same words simultaneously, though she gave voice to them first.  Jinx!
  8. Weather apps aren’t always accurate.  We were led to believe there’d be a window between storm cells.  Um, no.

    We had to sprint through downtown in a monsoon

  9. I got nothin’, but you rarely catch a “Top 9” list, so for symmetry we go to 10.  OK, this: plan your beverage consumption around Chicago traffic.  You don’t want to have to need a rest stop on I-90 in rush hour.  It’s always rush hour there, and there ain’t no way you’re departing the interstate in Gary, Indiana.  There used to be a stand of beat-down, abandoned homes visible from I-90, and their sad, decrepit facades always sucked me in.  These were once brand new constructions, homes for young steel factory families I always believed, and their disrepair and depression always made me feel, well, alone, like they were.  They’ve recently been razed, but I still get that melancholy feeling passing through that stretch, like seeing ghosts wearing resigned faces as they haunt their former residences.
  10. Coming home and coming down after something you’ve so looked forward to is both a dream and a nightmare.  I was so happy to see the kids Monday morning, and I couldn’t wait to pet our idiot dog (but then he took off when my husband left the door unattended, tore around the neighborhood for 10-15 minutes and ended up covered in another critter’s feces before prancing back to our little parcel of real estate).  Having to bathe the dog isn’t the nightmare; it’s working through being sad something is over.  See paragraph two for when things are over.  *sigh*
  11. Ah, screw symmetry–let’s go for eleven.  Acknowledge the insane, ridiculous luck you have been granted in this world when cool things drop into your lap.  I received a few gifts last weekend–smooth travel, true friendship, a very special performance of Blister In The Sun, revisiting SCTV–hearing Eugene Levy’s character Bobby Bittman’s name for the first time in decades, the most fortuitous Diet Coke and Coke Zero purchases ever, and yeah, hearing my favorite musicians on the planet is never not awesome.  I’m not filing this under karma exactly, but maybe just maybe being kind to others, working hard, and acting in a way I’m almost always proud of has been returned to me in this way, through music and friends.  Told you I’m a sentimental dork.

    We cleaned up good, huh? Look at my beautiful friends flanking me in the best seats in the venue!

I’m no closer to making reservations for our maybe Kentucky-Ohio-Niagara Falls-Toronto-Montreal road trip though, and I don’t have a personal travel agent.  Anyone, anyone?  Bueller??  I do have a pit in my stomach as I look up and see the Travelocity tab still up and imagine that roaming gnome mocking me from the top of my screen.  My husband is so excited about this road trip (less so about my concert solo trips, go figure!)–he’s that pure dad who dreams of taking HIS boys to see the sites, but our pocketbook and his dreams are not quite in line.  Neither are the bones in my kids’ collarbones and shoulders in line, but we will figure it out–we always do.  

You’ll forgive me if I take a little blog vacation here, right?  Other than (not) travel advice, I don’t know that I have much to offer you right now, my wonderful readers, but I’ll be back.  Like that bad penny that keeps turning up?  That’ll be me, cracking wise again in no time.

 

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s show time. #PlanesTrainsAndAutomobiles

PS–pleaseplaymysongpleaseplaymysongpleaseplaymysongpleaseplaymysongpleaseplaymysong