Mister won the M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award at the James Beard Broadcast and Journalism Awards ceremony this last weekend for a great story he wrote called Chicken of the Trees. Later this week, I’ll post more about this. We weren’t able to bring the girls along with us on this trip, but I wish they could have been there to see this. They would have lost their minds:
*Many years ago, the girls made the decision that they hated the word “stepfather” or “stepdad”. They said that in Mister’s case, he was more like their another father. So, they came up with the name “half dad” and started a tradition of celebrating Half Dad’s Day the day before Father’s Day.
We all have that friend. The woman or man that cannot stop talking about how awesome their two year old is – “Cody is going to be a drummer. Man, when he hears music, he starts to dance around and hit things. He beats his hands on the table, the chair, and the tupperware. He’s got a natural talent!”
No, he doesn’t, sir.
The fact is that all two year olds love music and beating on things. Your child isn’t going to be the next Rick Allen. Sorry, sir, move on. By the way, most toddlers love to paint, draw, sing, dance, and run, this doesn’t automatically make them a virtuoso by any means.
Other things that you may want to know about toddlers:
- They are all cute; occasionally, you’ll find an ugly one, but overall, as a group, they all are adorable. Even if yours is one of the not so cute, you’ll be told that he is cute, so don’t feel special.
- They are blobby little creatures that put lots of things in their mouths for no reason except to make you a criminal – “I heard Blaze choked on a hot wheels car while his mother was making dinner. If she had only paid attention….”
- Most of them are losers; they can’t read, they don’t have jobs, they lay around the house shirtless stuffing their faces and drinking.
- You may love them, but they have no idea about loving you. Consider this: if you left your one year old in any grocery store aisle and another person took that baby, he/she would never notice the difference. Some time in the future, in the back of your child’s mind, he/she may have a vague memory of some dark haired woman, but Blondie is who they call mom now.
- While you see that glimmer of your child becoming an unbelieveable prodigy, he/she will likely grow up to be that guy/gal. Rather than leading the next revolution in social entrepreneurship or discovering the cure for cancer, your kid will be likely working a soul sucking job behind a desk, be the jerkface that talks on his/her cell phone while making a left turn without turning on the signal light, or even worse, a hovering helicopter parent who tries to set up job appointments for his own child because his life was such a disappointment.
You may be surprised to find out that I am a mom. I have new teen daughters, as in they are just entering teendom, not that I picked them up from that same grocery store aisle where toddlers are left. When they were little, I loved them with the same intensity that you love your offspring. However, I never felt like they were extraordinary children.
I listened to so many glowing parents that surrounded me at work, at parties, or playdates. “Isn’t she adorable? She’s really smart. She can already count to 10 and read the first page of Goodnight Moon,” one mom would say as we watched our children in the playground.
Part of me wanted to say, “Your kid is eating the wood chips at the bottom of the slide. She’s clearly a genius,” but I held back. Partly because my daughter was sticking her hands down her diaper and then wiping whatever was in it on the kid next to her.
I was wrought with the idea that I had no business raising children. Frankly, after this rant, I’m sure you believe that, too. However, I kept keeping on. I guessed at everything I did. I tried reading books and they were never helpful because ultimately the message was always the same, “Every child and every family is different, so you have to make the right choices for your family.” Fuck, this was not going to go well.
So, another year would pass by and another. I stared at the little girls by my side and kept thinking, if I can keep them alive until they are 20, then I’m doing ok. I promised myself, no matter how much they drove me crazy by putting gum in their hair and chewing on electrical cords, I would NOT leave them at a bus stop. Instead, I committed to being honest with them, making the best decisions I could, and answering their never-ending ridiculous questions. Which, by the way, became more and more difficult:
Girls: Mom, why do we have two eyes?
Me: Because we were made that way.
Girls: Mom, why is Sissy older than me?
Me: Because she was born first.
Girls: Mommy, is the Easter Bunny real?
Girls: Mom, why is there war?
Me: Because people suck.
Girls: Mom, what’s a condom?
Me: WHY ARE YOU ASKING?!
The miraculous thing that is happening as they get older is that they are becoming people. I mean at this point, if I left them in a grocery aisle today, it not only would hurt their feelings, but they probably could figure out how to get back home to tell me so. Then promptly call the police to have me arrested. What a beautiful thing!
Teens don’t get enough credit. When people ask me about how old my girls are and I tell them, I’m met with sarcasm and pity, “OH! Teenagers, eh? Well, good luck!” And with that the teens are dismissed. There’s no commiserating over how fantastic our teens are and what great leaders they will be. But, why not? This is the age where you can truly see what they are capable of doing beyond eating wood chips in a playground and smearing feces from their pants.
They can get dressed on their own. They can make meals that are delicious! They have taken actual music lessons and can write their own songs, for real. They have been in plays and dance recitals and now you know they suck at that, so you can move on. Best of all, they can formulate whole thoughts injected with their own perceptions about humanity and the world around them. Side note: One of my favorite memories of my daughters is when they woke me up singing MacArthur Park by Donna Summer while serving me breakfast in bed for my birthday. AMAZING!
When I spend a little time each day listening to them, I am riveted by the challenges they are facing about their bodies, their friends, and their future. I feel so connected because while they are suffering through these issues, so am I. They laugh at their boobs getting larger and I laugh at mine getting lower. They lament over their hair being uncontrollable and I lament about mine falling out. They fear what it’s like to grow old and so do I.
I’m impressed by the fact that these two lovely young ladies have somehow dealt with a bipolar father, a neurotic stepfather, and an anxiety filled, controlling and demanding mother and still have come out a-ok for now. I imagine that we have a bunch of years ahead of us that will be challenging and filled with therapy. But, for now, we’re good.
People ask me if I’ll ever have any more children, especially since I’ve remarried. My first reaction is always, “DEAR GOD NO!” Yuck! Babies and toddlers, gross. Then, I take a moment and wonder what would happen if I had a child with my significant other. What would it be like to raise a child armed with the knowledge and experience that I have now? Would I be a stronger, better parent? And then I think, “WHO CARES? Babies are stupid.”
[Originally written and posted for www.drinkerswithwritingproblems.com]
“And perhaps there is a limit to the grieving that the human heart can do. As when one adds salt to a tumbler of water, there comes a point where simply no more will be absorbed.”
- Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger
Today is my day to post a new entry into our new blog project. But, I cannot post a silly story or ideas about the best gift basket to give to your mom for Mother’s Day. I spent most of my day horrified by the Boston Marathon incident. I’m sickened and disgusted. I’m hurt and angry. I’m concerned about the people who were injured and amazed at those who jumped into the action to help their fellow man.
There’s no way for me to express the depth of these feelings to you. I’m not sure how I’ll share a glass of wine with a friend while preventing myself from breaking down. I’m not sure how I’ll explain it to my daughters when they ask me over dinner how my day was. I’m not sure how I’ll feel safe and warm tonight laying in the arms of my husband.
I understand that life isn’t about feeling safe and secure every moment. Life is always going to have tragedy. Life is made up of risks. However, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around why anyone would inflict violence, fear, and pain when nature and the normal course of life will inevitably do it for us.
Strolling through facebook, I see memes and “My heart goes out….” posts on everyone’s page and it stirs me. While it feels somewhat overwhelming and manufactured, I believe that people mean it. I believe that there are other people and other families struggling to explain this tragedy to each other. I believe that there are people hugging their families a bit tighter today and making that long overdue phone call to Grams. If there’s anything good that came out of today, it’s that all of us are forced to remember and pay respect to each other.
I believe Sarah Waters when she says that there is a point where we can grieve no more. I believe that we become insensitive and hard with each tragedy. I live in Chicago, and I can’t even name 1 of the 4 people shot in the last 24 hours. While I recognize these things about humanity, I still hold strong to the idea that love is the only resource that has no end and will see us through. It is times like this, that we must give all of our stored supply, so that tomorrow, that love will continue to grow and be bountiful for those who need it because that is all we can do.
Since returning from my trip, I have made some resolutions to myself to change my life:
- I will write more.
- I will return to photography with zeal, zest and passion.
- I will accept that none of the following men in my life are Ryan Gosling - my husband, boss, neighbor, gym instructor, bus driver or CVS guy
- I will do more, eat less, and get on a program.
- I will write more.
In order to do this, I began a writing circle that started in October, took a hiatus in November, but has RETURNED in April. Drinkers with Writing Problems are a great group of friends for me to surround myself. Each person has a different perspective about the world, a different writing style, love drinking at meetings and has low self esteem. This is a great fit for me.
Today, we’re launching a blog where everyday we’ll each take turns posting some of the things we’ve been working on. They may crossover between our personal blogs and www.drinkerswithwritingproblems.com. They may be edited and reworked at a later date. They may include some other fun things that I don’t even know about. But, I think you should check it out AND subscribe. It’s a very fun thing and we’d love to share it with you.
Another exciting tidbit is that I am working on a live show at our local watering hole. The plans haven’t been firmed up, but I’m putting the bug in your ear today. It’ll be a great event where writers can come and share their work or storytellers can come tell their stories or fire eaters can come and have a drink to cool their burned throats.
Please check out our new project! Here’s my story for the launch, but seriously, the other writers are much better, so check those out at www.drinkerswithwritingproblems.com.
SINKING THOUGHTS ON A LOO
If you knew me at all, I normally don’t address anything about my body below the waist or above my thighs. So consider yourself special for what I’m about to reveal.
When I am sitting on the toilet, I do a lot of thinking. Most people like to read, look on their phones or paint their nails. Not me, because I can’t get that invested.
Please understand that I live in a small apartment with one toilet and four people. Two of them are children and the other is like a child, he is my husband. It is a rare moment in my day that I can be alone and quiet. As a result, most of my “me” time is in the shower or on the bog. Given the few minutes to hideaway, I take advantage of pondering some of life’s most difficult questions and often revisit them. Here they are:
What will Kim and Kanye’s baby look like?
Is there a possibility that my mom is somehow related to Kim Jong Un?
What will I have for dinner tonight?
Are cats really that funny?
How to make gum change flavor after chewing it 100 times, yet keep it soft?
Why did it take so long for Doritos to make a chili lime chip?
What did I eat for dinner last night?
Is Jimmy Fallon the true king of late night?
Wouldn’t it be awesome if he went to war with Leno? There would HAVE to be bannermen and dragons. MUST.
How many people masturbate in public restrooms and is it worth the risk?
So, there you have it. Cheap thoughts for writing a cheap post. Stay tuned for more lists like: What to Name Your SUPERSTAR Drag Queen Baby, New Flavors Made by Doritos That Should Have Already Been Made Since It’s a Really Simple Concept, and If I Had to Name a Line of Lubricants.
Apparently, you’re a masochist because you came back for MOAR pictures! These are from the second leg of my trip, where we headed to Dhaka in Bangladesh. Be forewarned, I had to break my no pics of food rule because of pani puri. Not only is it some of the BEST street food I’ve ever had, but it’s ridiculously complicated and requires much labor to enjoy this satly, soury, tasty bite. Basically, I’m telling you it’s special and must be included. They sell it all over the region, but I didn’t get my fix in Nepal. Bangladesh will always be special for me because of pani puri and the fact that on my birthday, I went to a cake festival (not posting those pics, sorry).
Last we spoke, I was headed to Nepal and Bangladesh with an overnight in Dubai. That was mid-January and now it’s mid-March. You may have been wondering if I ran off with a wealthy Arab oil tycoon. Rest assured, that I am neither that cunning nor smart, so now I’m back in the comfort of the cold city known as Chicago.
For the last month or so, I have been agonizing about how to describe to you (my two readers) about the wonderful people I met, food I ate, and things I saw. I cannot. When I started my blog, I created a special section for my daughters called, “The Things I Wish You Could See“. After awhile, I realized that it was pointless because I would never let them read this blog. There’s no need for them to know what a horrible human being I really am. Because I have no words to describe my trip, I decided to bring TTIWYCS back for this special edition. I’ve edited the photos to not include food pics nor anything that was edited with Instagram. You’re very welcome.
Here I am (AGAIN) looking at the clock and trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to write for class. Turns out, I don’t care. Why, you ask? Because yesterday, I received notice from the U.S. Department of State that I was accepted to be a Legislative Fellow to NEPAL AND BANGLADESH. Yes, that’s right. I’m leaving next month for a 15 day trip to a place I’ve never thought I could go.
Years ago, I was obsessed with Nepal and more specifically, Tibet. The political issues in Tibet moved and hurt me. At the time, I was looking for spiritual grounding and was given the opportunity to pray (for hours) with a group of Tibetan monks. It was moving and incredible. To this day when my heart is turmoil, I return to that space created by the songs the monks sang in their gold and orangey red robes. Which, by the way, you can purchase right online here. Who knew?
Another miracle from this week was that I went to the eye doctor and they had to reduce my prescription for my contacts. I see much better! Who knew that was even possible?! A trip to the dentist also occurred this week, where I have successfully maintained my whole, that’s right, whole life without cavities. I got my hair cut and it looks fabulous and exactly the same. Lastly, I think I’m officially in love with Bruno Mars, which is humiliating. Even though, I can’t help loving his funky beats and wonderful melodies that recess me back into a world where my favorite outfit was comprised of red stripped shorts, tank top, and blue running shoes:
Sorry, for this lame post. I wanted to take a moment to tell you about my exciting trip to Nepal/Bangladesh because HOLY SHIT! I’M GOING TO NEPAL AND BANGLADESH! Pictures will be up and coming I’m sure. OH! Some folks have asked me about the program that accepted me. Mine is specific to my profession, but here’s a link to other exchanges that are offered: http://www.worldlearning.org/17671.cfm DO IT!
The last discovery of the week that I’d like to share with you which is as beautiful and mind numbing as writing is a series of films from Sigur Ros. I love this Icelandic band. They are a band from ICELAND? COME ON! Take some time to explore their film collaborations and music. You may want to parse it out over a few days or you may become a complete zombie. I particularly love Film #3 because I enjoy male nudity, specifically in the form of Shia Labeouf: