Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Birthday B(oy)

Today is my husband's birthday. That means it is time to celebrate that he survived another year. I didn't kill him. He didn't kill me. We might have come close a few times (particularly when I was wearing my leather bustier and carrying my whip), but always stopped in the nick of time (and at the safe word). Therefore, I feel if necessary to make a list.

A LIST OF REALLY GOOD REASONS WHY I LOVE B, DESPITE HIS PENCHANT FOR DOING REALLY ANNOYING THINGS LIKE CRITIQUING MY DRIVING AND LEAVING HIS JEANS ON THE BATHROOM COUNTER FOR DAYS AT A TIME UNTIL I GIVE IN AND PICK THEM UP AND WASH THEM, JUST SO THEY ARE NOT LYING THERE IN THE WAY OF ME AND MY MASCARA ANY LONGER BECAUSE WE ALL KNOW THAT I FUCKING HATE TO HAVE SHIT IN MY WAY OR, FRANKLY, OUT OF PLACE IN GENERAL

1. Plane decent~ This past fall, B managed to get my Dad's plane to Virginia. It cost a fucking fortune and it's not completely finished, but it is here, it is dry and safe, and it is ready to be completed. B spent hours of endless worry on this project-- finding transportation, finding a location to keep it once it arrived, getting it here in one piece without any wings or tail pieces getting relocated as it careened through the mountains. He called and emailed and visited and calculated. You get the idea. Many guys would have said balked at the prospect of hauling a full-size Piper SuperCub from Cleveland, Tennessee to Suffolk, Virginia. But not my B. He made it happen. Yes, he did.

2. Bloody Saturday~ On the Saturday after Thanksgiving when Sutton decided to take flight from his scooter right across Bennett's Creek Park Road, it was B who scooped him up and carried him all the way back home again. This was past about seventeen houses, carrying a very bloody, screaming, thirty-seven pound five-year-old. Then he cleaned him up and took him to the ER for stitches. No drama, no worries. He even had me settled down (nobody likes watching their baby bleed-- if you do, you are one sick asshole). He took control. Likewise, yesterday when Sutton fell off the monkey bars at school and landed on his neck, he left work and met me at the pediatrician's office. He may have submarine meetings and important engineering shit going on, but nothing comes before his kid.

3. Except Maybe Me~ One evening, after I had had an especially shitty day filled with especially shitty goings on, B came home from work with the following, all for me: a bottle of my favorite wine, flowers, a trashy celebrity gossip magazine, and a bag full of Lindt's truffles. Another night, I texted him (already drunk-- he knew this) at school and told him I was craving champagne. On his way home from school, he stopped and bought a bottle and brought it to me. A few Fridays ago I was broken-hearted, so he took me for Mexican food because he knows that anything covered in melted cheese is comfort food to me, particularly when served with Dos Equis in a frosted glass. Dude's got my back, yo. Every single time. I'm lucky like that.

4. Hand Job~ One day, not long ago, for reasons I have yet to determine, B decided to wash my car. I do not wash my car. The Xterra is rough and rugged. It likes to go baja and run over shit. It does not like to be clean (on the outside-- inside, it loves clean. Clean is its best friend, inside.) I have washed my car...... maybe twice? Ever. But B washed it. Because he loves me. Why? I don't know. That would be a whole other blog about whole other things. Maybe one day, I'll let B write a WHY I LOVE HALEY blog on my blog site just to mind fuck you all.

5. My Merry Maid~ And the boy cleans too! I'm a super neat freak who loves things to be spic-and-span and shiny all the damn time. I want you to be able to eat off my kitchen floor. I like the laundry folded and put away. I want things to look clean and smell pretty. I crave PERFECTION. Yet this is impossible to reach when you work two jobs and have two kids and two dogs and a husband who thinks that the bar counter in the kitchen is his own personal junk depository. But last Thursday when I came home from the endocrinologist, sad and frustrated because I had been poked and prodded and declared unfit THE HOUSE WAS SPOTLESS. He cleaned. He did the laundry. He made everything in my quiet little bubble world all sqeaky and perfect because he knew it would make me feel better. And it did.

B does a million things for me on any given day. I return the favor. I iron his shirts and do the shopping, he makes quesadillas when I need to work instead of cook. I go for days at a time without wearing makeup or doing anything to my hair besides washing it and piling it on top of my head and he says I look beautiful. He gets me warm when I'm cold and lets me verbally abuse his family when I see fit. Now, ten years into our yin-and-yang, I still feel grateful to have him in my world.

I think I'll keep him.

Happy Birthday, B.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It Sucked And I Cried

It seems that life is sticky as of late.

Usually by this point, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I know that if I just hold on tight and make it through March, Spring will be here soon and I can take a deep breathe and release my shoulder tension. Step back and breathe and all that meditation-sounding bullshit. Realign my chakras (this actually works most of the time). Detox my mind.

This year, not so much.

But rather than dwell on that--the disbanding of the IC, the worst HbA1c I've had in twenty years, the crazy work situation, etc.--I have decided to do what I do best.

Be awesome and make a list, of course.

A LIST OF REASONS I HAVE NOT THROWN MYSELF OFF A BRIDGE WITHIN THE PAST COUPLE OF WEEKS, DESPITE THE RELATIVE CERTAINTY THAT THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE ON THIS PLANET WHO NOT ONLY WISH I WOULD THROW MYSELF OFF A BRIDGE, BUT WHO WOULD BE MORE THAN HAPPY TO HELP ME PITCH MYSELF FROM THE SIDE AND INTO THE ABYSS; REASONS THAT GO FAR BEYOND MY HUSBAND AND CHILDREN AND ALL OF THOSE THINGS THAT ANYBODY COULD FIGURE OUT, AND RATHER DEEP INTO THE ENIGMA THAT IS...... MY MIND

1. I have become addicted to watching "Dexter." For those of you who don't know, "Dexter" is a show on Showtime about a serial killer named (obviously) Dexter. Dexter only kills people who have killed others and gotten away with it--technically making him a good guy, while he is also clearly a bad guy. (I love walking contradictions.) Dexter is introverted and weird as hell. I LOVE HIM. I want to run off into a creepy dark cave with him and make little future serial killer babies. Not because he's hot (although he kind of is) but because he thinks JUST LIKE ME. Does this mean that I, too, am likely a sociopath? Probably. I don't care. I love Dexter. If I die, I will never see if he ends up getting caught (nor will I have his little future serial killer babies). And currently I'm only on Season 3, so I've got some catching up to do, and there is no series cancellation in sight.

2. Our wine racks are currently spilling over. Who wants to jump off a bridge when they can first drown their sorrows in twenty-four bottles of wine? Not me. Maybe after the wine is gone I will reconsider, but there is no way in hell I'm jumping off a bridge before I try the bottle of Sobon Estate zin, autographed by the vintner himself, that I bought B for our anniversary last year. No way in hell. Same for the Forever cabernet sauvignon I bought him for Valentine's Day. I can't die without knowing how they taste. It would be a travesty. (And yes, I HAVE noticed that I bought him gifts that he can share with me. That's because I'm fucking smart as ALL HELL.)

3. When I was younger, I used to get envelopes in the mail from my Grandpa, containing nothing but little clippings from magazines about how various publications were looking for writers. Odd? Yes. But my Grandpa never had a reputation for being normal (which could possibly be where I get some of my issues). I have always wanted to be a writer, from cradle to, well, Kempton Park. I have written things that have been published-- poems, journal articles, part of a book--but I have not written my very own, 100% Haley novel yet. Which means if I die before I do, my Grandpa will track me down in Heaven and kick my slack ass. Since I'm not in the market for a celestial beatdown and am pretty sure that would NOT be cool with JC, I suspect I had better start writing something soon, as you never know when your time is up.

4. My dog needs me. She does. If I'm in the bedroom with the door closed and she's not with me, she lies at the doorway, presses her nose to the crack between the door and the floor, and devotes all of her energy to trying to use her Jedi Mind Power to open the door. If I sit down, she wants to lie in my lap. If I cry, she wants to lick me in the face (she also wants to do this if I do not cry). She would be lost without me. (At least, this is what I tell myself. Honestly, she'd probably vaguely look around, possibly notice I was gone, then collapse into a pile on a sunny patch of the rug and take a nap without giving me another thought. Yet I like to flatter myself, so I'm going to continue to claim that she would die without me.)

5. When my family gets together (what's left of us), it is my job to make stuffed waffles for breakfast. Homemade waffles, all warm and soft, folded over a concoction of cream cheese, confectioner's sugar and vanilla, then smothered in melted butter and brown sugar and sprinkled with pecans. THIS IS MY SECRET RECIPE (of course I didn't tell you everything I put in it). Only I can make it. And my family (at least, my Mom and my brother and sis-in-law) LOVE IT. If I meet my demise, they will have to eat Pop-Tarts or Cocoa Puffs, as that is what my Mom makes best.

So you see, I cannot die this week. Things may suck and I may cry, but I (clearly) have shit to do.

Clearly.

Onward.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Nailed

Sometimes when I think about raising my children in this messy, chaotic world we have created, all I can think is, "Oh, Fuck. Fuck, Fuck, Fuck." Parenting is hard and frustrating and full of so many gray areas that most of the time you have no idea if what you're doing is good or bad for your child or yourself, in the short term or the long run or hell, whenever. In a word, parenting is a Clusterfuck. A straight up, hardcore Clusterfuck. But then something happens to make you think, "Damn. I'm the BEST PARENT EVER, yo." Sometimes this little epiphany comes via your child-- something particularly cute or brilliant or phenomenal that he or she says or does. But sometimes, SOMETIMES this comes via someone else.

Like a large black woman dressed in leopard print leggings and a hot pink tank top at Wal-Mart.

A couple of weeks ago, this is exactly the form that my guilt-release took, as I waited in the check-out line at the 'Mart. Shopping cart laden with groceries, I stood exhausted, reading the headlines on the trashy celebrity gossip magazines and ever-so-vaguely listening to my children beg me to buy them gum. It was a Friday afternoon, and the place was fucking packed as all hell, overrun with both the old and the obese, meaning that every damn aisle was blocked with a fucking motorized scooter and someone asking me to help them reach the Hamburger Helper. I was lucky to have made it to the check-out line alive (or rather, everyone else was lucky I made it to the check-out line without killing them).

As I was standing there, deep in a Mommy Brain Mini-Vacation (a useful way to pass the time in check-out lines-- you block out the noise, halfway read the headlines, and pretend you are somewhere warm and tropical, drinking beer and having your sunscreen applied by Johnny Depp) I spied a woman clearly vying for WORST MOMMY OF THE DAY. (Side note: WORST MOMMY OF THE DAY is a little award I like to mentally hand out on occasion to parents I see doing a particularly stellar job raising their wayward offspring. It's also a great confidence booster for myself, as, in order to win WORST MOMMY OF THE DAY, you have to have done something worse than anything I personally have done that day. -- Side note to the side note: I, do, occasionally win my own WORST MOMMY OF THE DAY AWARD. Like, when Belly was nine months old, and I accidentally taught her to say, "Fuck," which ended up being one of her first words.)

Anyway, what I saw was this: A very *healthy* black woman with a super elaborate upswept hairstyle, leopard print leggings, a hot pink tank with her (black) bra straps showing, and black high-heeled gladiator sandals strut up to the Wal-Mart nail salon, park her cart in front, and go inside to sit and and start getting a pedicure WHILE LEAVING HER INFANT (and her purchases) PARKED OUTSIDE THE STORE IN HER CART. That's right. Her orange juice, her maxi pads, and her (approximately 3 months old) infant (in his car seat) were parked in the front lobby of Wal-Mart, out of physical (and clearly mental) proximity of Big Mama or any other responsible, guardian-type adult. Because her nails were that fucking important.

Now, I realize a girl has to look her best, but REALLY? REALLY, BITCH? Your toes (in late February, at that) are so fucking important that you have to abandon your child in the Chesapeake Wal-mart in order to touch up your paint job? I could have snatched your kid (though we all know that hell would freeze over before I saddled myself with another minion) and been out of town before you even noticed he was gone. At the very least, I could have stolen your damn orange juice. He wasn't even old enough to yell "Get back! Stranger danger!" Or to even be awake for his entire kidnapping, for that matter. Seriously. GET YOUR PRIORITIES IN LINE, SISTER. I don't like my kids most of the time either, but I still realize they come WAY before my fucking beauty treatments (if I had any).

Therefore, BIG BLACK LEOPARD PRINT LEGGINGS LADY gets my Worst Mommy of the Day Award. But I get something too. I get the satisfaction of not one drop of guilt from refusing to buy gum for my minions, and the chance to use the line, "Stop your damn whining or Mommy is going to abandon your ass and go get her fucking nails done." And know that someone, somewhere, could say that and mean it. I'm the BEST PARENT EVER, yo.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Sad Blog

In the past week and a half, I have started (and nearly finished) five different blogs. All of them are saved in my editing list, but it's likely that none of them will ever get published. They are falsely happy blogs, funny lists and tales of craziness that has gone on, per the usual, as the days have rolled forward. I can't quite wrap them up because they sound so fucking forced it drives me insane to read them. That said, I think I need to finish SOMETHING before I can go back to my usual sarcastic self, and perhaps a Sad Blog is exactly what I need. So here you have it. The Sad Blog.

When I was a little girl growing up in Tennessee, I always loved spring. The farm where we lived was amazing this time of year-- overrun with forsythia, fruit trees, flowers and vines. One field in the back of the farm has a section that is nothing but thousands of daffodils, bright and lush and scented so strongly you can nearly taste them. They remind me of my Grandpa, and I have so many memories of going back there once the blooms had opened for Easter egg hunts, quiet time, or to pick bouquets with my Mom. We would fill Mason jars with water and flowers and set them all over the house. They were happy things.

Spring is starting to show her head in Virginia now, and our back yard is a burst of yellow from all of the forsythia. My gardenias are gearing up to bloom once it gets a bit warmer, and we have dwarf irises and Japanese magnolias and so many lovely things to focus on every day. I am grateful for them, because right now I'm feeling kind of empty, and they are probably part of the reason why I'm only feeling "kind of empty" as opposed to desolate. I shouldn't feel desolate. We've covered before that I have so many "blessings"-- a word that I despise and feel like a hypocrite for using, but which is probably the most accurate in this setting. Still, right now I feel a lot of loss.

It seems that grief, once it has set in and become an official part of you, rears its head in waves. It used to be that every minute of every day was somehow intertwined with the bitterness of missing my Dad. That it was impossible to ease that feeling that I had just been kicked in the stomach-- couldn't breathe, couldn't focus, couldn't think straight. But now, over two years later, Grief mostly reappears when I expect him least. He's settled and he's always there, but waits until I think I'm in the clear before he comes marching in. He's nasty like that.

A little over a week ago, I lost someone important in my life once again. The hard part was that this person was one of the very few people whom I actually went to when I was grieving, and knew how to put emotional salve on those wounds. This loss, in itself, is devastating enough, but it seems to have reawakened the feelings associated with losing my Dad. I'm back to choking on my sadness. Only now, my sadness is in tiers-- the absence of my Dad at the top, spilling down to the absence of others I have loved and love still. A big fountain of heartbreak.

As a result, I have had a frantic week of trying to outrun my melancholy, or at least beat it into submission. I worked endless hours at both jobs, plus put extra effort into my Mommy gig. I scrubbed the bathrooms. I hit the gym every day. I shrugged off my anti-social tendencies and went to a St. Patrick's Day party (during which I apparently made out with a girl--I have little memory of this, but I have seen the photographic proof-- my husband is so damn proud). I drank (a LOT). And yet here it is, over a week later, and despite all that effort, the sad isn't gone. It's just lingering, waiting to see what I'll do next.

And what WILL I do next? I don't know. I imagine I'll keep trekking onward, focusing on preschool carpools, doctor and dentist appointments, vacuuming, grocery shopping, laundry. And though time seems to ease all wounds, I have no faith in the theory that it heals them. Perhaps lack of faith is part of the problem.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Filter Change

A handful of people who know me well understand that, although it does not usually seem like it, I DO have a filter. What goes on in my head is nearly always altered and cleaned up before it comes out of my mouth, believe it or not. This is what keeps me from swearing at preschool (most of the time), swearing at my mother (I swear AROUND her, but--usually--not AT her), and saying mean and hurtful things to people (like B) more often than necessary (and yes, sometimes it IS necessary). For example, when B informed me last week that he broke his toothbrush in half by using the handle to try to squeeze the last little bit of toothpaste from the tube, my response was a calm "Why didn't you just ask me to pick up more toothpaste?" instead of an exasperated "Goddamn it, Supertard. Can you SERIOUSLY not just tell me we need more fucking toothpaste? Is it REALLY that hard? I pass Walgreens EVERY DAMN TIME I LEAVE THE FUCKING HOUSE. It would take me TWO FUCKING SECONDS to buy more fucking toothpaste. JUST FUCKING TELL ME WE NEED IT, ASSHOLE."

*(Side note: two things. 1) I use a different kind of toothpaste than B, which is why I was unaware of his dental hygiene needs, in case you were wondering; and 2) Actually, I lied to you. I DID say all that stuff instead of just thinking it. I mean, for God's sakes, it's B we're talking about here. He's used to no-filter Haley. Sometimes he even PREFERS her, particularly if my shrewish tirades are directed at someone other than himself.

My filter helps me be polite to strangers (unless they piss me off). My filter helps me to be nice to my children (alcohol helps with this too). My filter keeps me out of jail when I get pulled over for speeding by some asshole cop. It may not work as well as other people's filters, but to some extent it still works. I NEED my filter.

Which presents a small problem because today, my friends, my filter does not seem to be working. At all.

Case in point: a friend and fellow preschool Mom is moving her whole family to Germany next week for her husband's new job. As she was explaining today how she would be left alone to wrangle her three children and a cat on the plane (her husband is already overseas) I asked why she had to take the damn cat. Germany Mom told me that the cat was eighteen years old, a member of the family, and HAD to go with them. (Here's where the filter broke.) Without thinking, I said, "Can't you just smother the damn cat with a pillow before you go and tell the kids he was old and didn't make it? That's what I would do."

A collective quiet settled over the preschool parents, with the exception of one Mom who LOST HER SHIT. Her mouth dropped open and she started gasping, "DO YOU KNOW YOU JUST SAID THAT OUT LOUD? It wasn't in your head. It came out of your mouth. I can't BELIEVE you just said that about their CAT! Who SAYS things like that? WHO?"

Um, me. I do.

At least, I do when my filter is off. I would always THINK them, but with someone I barely know (like these Moms) I usually wouldn't SAY them. I mean, I do have social skills. I know what is appropriate and what is not. And yeah, maybe I should have caught that comment before it made its way past my tongue, but I didn't, and frankly, I don't feel bad about it. Actually, I think it's kind of funny. Especially since Germany Mom told me, as I was leaving, "You know where I live. Bring over a martini tonight and you can kill my cat." Which immediately made me sorry she's moving to Germany next week because she's obviously fabulous. Like me.

So what I've learned today is that maybe having a dysfunctional filter isn't such a bad thing after all. It allows me to see who I can really appreciate, and around whom I can truly be myself. An important thing in this world, because life is too short to be anyone else. Anyone less awesome. Anyone but me.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Literally Life

This morning Sutt showed up at the table for breakfast with his stuffed rhinoceros in tow. Rhinoceros has spent most of his life in the toy net hanging from Sutt's ceiling, watching life go by from eight feet above, and frankly I do not know how he came to be down on earth with the rest of us on this average Friday in March, but when I set the pancakes down on the table, he was seated next to Sutt. I am used to any number of creatures showing up at our table for meals--storm troopers, ponies, a pink gorilla named Roberta, Buzz Lightyear, monster trucks, Barbies--so a Rhinoceros was really nothing of which to take notice. However, I was approximately eleven minutes into my Friday when Sutt swallowed a mouthful of pancake and announced that he had decided to name Rhinoceros "Horny," because "he has three horns on his nose."

Well, then. This was not our average table guest after all.

I love how children are so literal, it has always fascinated me. For years, unbeknownst to us, Bellamy thought that B spent his days printing bills because when she asked why Daddy had to go to work our answer was "to make money." It is funny how their little minds work. I have never been one of those people who could relive the magic of childhood through my children (probably because I have been thirty years old since birth and never lived the magic of childhood the first time) but I do enjoy picking their little brains, questioning their thoughts and decisions. These explorations are often the most enjoyable and interesting part of my day, though sometimes I get myself into territory I would rather have avoided. For example, about six months ago, Sutton and I were talking about his Papaw and I said something about how I wish he had not died. Sutt immediately became very upset-- apparently by us always saying that "Papaw has gone to Heaven," he thought Papaw had physically packed up and moved to Heaven. He told me that he did not know that Papaw had died. That conversation was a rough one for both of us, me and my little guy.

Most of the time, my kids drive me completely nuts. Regardless, they never stop being perfect to me. There is nothing about them that I would change (except, perhaps, to give them a Mute Button). And though it will likely traumatize my in-laws when Sutt introduces them to Horny, and B and I may have to sell our kidneys to pay for Belly's future orthodontia, I doubt I'll ever feel differently about my minions. They will always be flawless to me.