Thursday, February 26, 2009


The great state of Pennsylvania has set up a lot of obstacles to those of us attempting to get our drink on. It's so fucking irritating that I can only buy wine and liquor in a state run store. When I visit other states and see alcohol on sale in convenience stores I just about have an orgasm. Seeing a bottle of KJ Merlot, a pack of cigarettes, and a pre-made sandwich on the same conveyor belt is an erotic experience for me.

You know what our liquor store in my neighborhood is called? The Wine & Spirits Shoppe. I hate people that spell shop in that old-timey way. Is that supposed to be quaint? Like a throw back to the good old days? There was nothing good or quaint about the days of yore. The days of yore were rife with racists, misogynists, and horse shit. I hate the good ole days. I hate people who spells things old-timey. You know what I don't hate though? Spirits. I love me some good fucking spirits.

It wasn't until recently that a very small number of our Wine & Spirits stores were even open on Sundays. Most Pennsylvanians are forced to teetotal on the Sabbath, or at the very least observe the commandment: Thou Shalt Not Purchase Spirits on the Seventh Day. It used to be easier to buy crack on a Sunday, than a bottle of wine. Some of us got up in arms about that. I don't know what could be a more un-American activity than preventing a person from buying a bottle of Whiskey on his day off.

Yet another obstacle: Pennsylvania law decrees that thou shall not sell Liquor and Beer at the same store. You have to buy your Heinekens at a completely different place than you buy your vodka.

My mother-in-law, who is from Florida, just can't get over our unjust and inconvienent system of alcohol dispensation.

"How can you stand not being able to purchase a bottle of wine when you buy your groceries?"

"Somehow, someway, I have survived. That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger."

Do you think the fact that this bothers me so much means that I'm an alcoholic in the making? I can't claim the title yet, as I only drink on the weekends. A few things would have to happen for me to start imbibing enough to achieve alcoholic status.

1. Someone else I love dies
2. My doctor stops prescribing me good painkillers
3. Someone invents a fool-proof hangover cure

So that would be the alcoholic "big bang" for this girl. The hangover thing has been a deal breaker for me so far. Last summer, I went to the city to "party" with my girlfriend, Tina (who I only tried to kill once), and apparently had the time of my life. I don't remember a single thing after taking one giant hit off a blunt offered to me by some guy. Tina came up to me right as I'm standing in the huge cloud of smoke I just exhaled from my baby pink lungs.

"Gwennie...What have you done?"

"I just did one hit. It's no big deal." That's all I remember other than the following montage of images.

Me asking, "Am I being weird? I feel weird."

Me drinking. And drinking. And fucking drinking.

Me bent over a handrail in front of a Philadelphia apartment building, hurling.

There are no words to describe the horror of awakening to a new day. The only thing that would have made it worse is having Robin Williams' smug mug at my bedside.

"So what happened?" I whispered to Tina. She was sitting on the couch with some of my other friends, watching I Survived, and eating breakfast empanadas.

"You had a really good time."

"Was I weird?"

"The only thing weird was that you kept asking if you were being weird. Empanada?"

My stomach protested, violently. "Ummm. No. I only had ONE hit. ONE. How could this happen? What was in that shit?"

"Gwen, let this be a lesson to you. Never smoke anything handed to you by a shady black guy at one of my parties. NEVER. It will fuck you up."

Consider me fucking schooled. If I hadn't taken that hit, I wouldn't have drank so much. Weed is whack. My whole evening could have been an Above the Influence commercial. I love those commercials. They make me laugh and laugh and laugh. Especially when I'm high. But, seriously, hangovers are like tiny glimpses of Hell. I should get used to it, because I have a feeling that's where I'm fucking headed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cracking Gum, Cracking Skulls

People who crack their gum in public should be executed. Well maybe not executed exactly but, at the very least, forced to do some serious hard labor. Every time I'm in the vicinity of a person chewing and cracking gum, or worse, blowing bubbles, I honestly find my fists clenched so hard that my fingernails break skin and my palms bleed. It's all I can do to keep from pummeling that person in a furious, chaotic display of violence. I remember hearing that awful story about the middle aged man who murdered a young guy on a bus in Canada. Seemingly the murder was unprovoked. It was a horrifyingly awful crime, no doubt. But you know what my first thought was? "I wonder if that young guy was cracking his gum." I bet he was.

You know who else stirs a terrifying rage in me? People who throw cigarette butts out of their cars. When I'm driving behind somebody and I see a butt just pop out I have to contain the severe urge to ram into the back of the car. The only thing that stops me is that I don't want the hassle of having to take out my insurance card and pretend to be sorry. Too much fucking work. My hatred for people that litter the roadways with this particular type of trash knows no bounds. My husband, Todd, is one of those people. And when I see him throw his just smoked cigarette out the window, I hate his guts too. I'm an equal opportunity hater. I don't care who you are. If you fucking piss me off, in that moment that I am pissed off, I will hate you.

Every once in a while, Todd and I and the rest of my family, will get up off our lazy asses and do some sort of 5k Walk to support breast cancer research. I mean I really don't understand what our taking a walk is proving, but apparently it's a powerful statement. Actually, I guess it is. We are not so much 5K people as we are 5 Keg people. We have to feel pretty passionate about a subject to not only walk that far, but use money that would otherwise be spent on beer and tacos to pay to walk that far. I guess breast cancer is a worthy enough cause, considering my sister died of it and all.

One year, I dragged Todd to one of these Race for the Cure events. Only it was more like "Mosey along" for the Cure, if you ask me. So we were taking our sweet old time meandering down the well-worn macadem path, and Todd takes out a cigarette.

"What the hell are you doing?"

"I'm having a smoke. What does it look like?" And he lights it up.

"Ummm...this is a fucking "Cancer" walk. Do you really think it's appropriate to be smoking a cigarette?"

"Nobody is even around." I looked around. I think we were in last place.


So he's smoking, and I'm fuming, and we're walking along just being our charitable, happy selves. After he takes his last drag, he tosses his butt onto the ground.

"Oh my god. We're at a state park, why are you littering?" I'm a total bitch, right? I was on a roll. He just laughed and ignored me. That is always the way. So I turned around and picked up the butt, sort of patted it on the pavement and chucked it in my purse to throw away in the next trash bin I passed. I just couldn't bear to leave it there on the ground. It just felt wrong.

So we're continuing on our little journey and chatting it up. The next thing I know there is SMOKE coming out of my purse. "What the fuck is that?" He says. So I open my purse and see that there is a little fire going on in there. I guess I didn't put out the cigarette all the way and it went ahead and lit my purse on fire. I throw my purse on the ground and start stomping on it like a crazy woman. Just as I'm jumping on my purse, a few stragglers in the "race" pass us. Of course. Of fucking course. See this is what I get for trying to be a "good" person. I get my handbag burnt all up.

What is the moral to this story? If I had to find one, if pressed, I would have to say that the moral is this: When things piss you off, don't try and make fucking nice. Crack skulls instead. Oh and cracking gum makes you look like an uneducated piece of trash.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Kiss and The Storm

After her bath, Liv is shivering in my bedroom while I dress her. She turns up her big-sky, blue eyes toward the reproduction painting hanging over my dresser.

"Is that another Klimt?" she says with the same voice she uses to say "you're a poopy face".

I look at this creature, 3 1/2 years old and wonder whether a spirit of some dead college student has suddenly inhabited her body.

"No, that's a Cot. It's a reproduction of a painting called The Storm. Do you like it?"

She nods her head affirmatively. I ask,"Which one do you like more The Kiss or The Storm?"

"Ummmm...I think I like this one." Liv points her finger at the female figure running in her diaphanous garb from the fast approaching titular storm.

"I want to be that girl. She looks like a princess. I want to be a princess."

And just like that my little girl is back. I realize that I hadn't even been breathing normally, because I feel the need to inhale and exhale deeply. Sometimes this child takes my breath away. She's my first. I never know what's normal. I only know that I never expected to be discussing art with a toddler. I suppose that comes of constantly under-estimating the capacity of children to retain and process information, of dismissing their opinions as immaterial or irrelevant.

But what could be more honest than that? Liv is shiny and new, untainted by shame or embarrassment, unworried about saying the wrong thing. This is a person who dances naked in front of strangers, giggles with abandon when she farts, and yells "Family Kiss!" whenever she needs some undivided attention. Her viewpoint is so valid because it's authentic.

I wish I could capture this freshness in a bottle and dispense it like medicine to her as she embarks on that rocky journey through adolescence and womanhood. I look at her little self freshly bathed in naivete and innocence. She has no idea that the storm is coming. That so much harsh wind and pelting rain is on it's way, rumbling in the distance. Maybe it's telling that she prefers The Storm to the placid tranquility of The Kiss.

Both of these paintings are ideals of love for me. That's why I have large reproductions of them displayed in my home. The Kiss, which contains the resplendent extremes of masculine and feminine energies working together to make something beautiful and The Storm, also extremes of masculine and feminine energies working together to escape something terrible. That is the epitome of love, if you ask me. Beauty and fear; Freedom to, and freedom from.

As I kiss Liv and Todd goodbye as they leave on their father-daughter Chuck E Cheese extravaganza, I see, also a rainstorm brewing outside my window. I smile to myself to see art and life converge so perfectly in this moment.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Eat, Drink, Breathe, Blog

I realized too late after starting to write a blog how valuable anonymity really was. Of course, I am grateful for my family and friends reading my shit and supporting my writing. Considering they make up 99% of the people who read my blog, who am I to fucking complain? Well, me. It's my blog and I'll cry if I want to. What's the worst thing about my lack of anonymity? It's not the fear of hurt feelings. Fuck people's feelings. If you don't want to hear the truth, then don't read what the hell I have to say. It's not the fear of revealing personal information and thoughts to those who have the power to use it against me. You can't do anything to me worse than what I do to myself. No, the worst thing about being an un-anonymous blogger is having to hear the following statements constantly:

"So, are you going to blog about this?"

"Oh no, this is so going to be in your blog tomorrow!"

"Why don't you blog about it."

When I hear these statements tumble forth out of people's mouths I want to pummel them to a bloody pulp with my laptop. And I would, too, if that wouldn't mean getting blood all over my keyboard. Did you ever try cleaning blood out from between those grooves? It's fucking impossible.

I can't even pinpoint why those comments irritate me to the core the way they do. I think somewhere in there, deep down, I have a loathing about being a "blogger" in the first place. Such that writing a blog, and having it called to my attention that I am the writer of a blog, just serves as a reminder of all the ways I have failed. My dreams, they are dead. This is the evidence.

I don't mean to give the impression that I think that blogging isn't legitimate writing. I understand that it can be. Lord knows, some of my blogs are mosaics, the imagined pottery of my soul painstakingly broken and pieced back together into something tangible and coherent. I work so hard at it. And despite the fact that I am never wholly happy with the product of my labors, I'm not completely embarrassed by it either. I knew since I was 8 years old that I had a disease. I knew that I was heartsick and the only medicine for that malaise was writing. Write, write, write. I just had to write. My thesaurus was my bible. I lived and breathed and drank and ate from that buffet of words. I bled the alphabet. Letters streaming out of every pore, every fiber. That is what it means to be a writer. To live by the words and wait impatiently for them to save you.

Sometimes I hear the word "blog" and the way it's said makes me cringe internally. Blog. It's a dirty word. As if writing a blog makes you an egotistical asshole or a silly little girl. Maybe, it does. Sometimes I think, "But what I'm doing is different. It's not the same as that lame-ass blog, or this desperate, boring one. I am answering a calling. I am fulfilling my obligations to the self." But I don't know if this is true. Perhaps, it's just my way of avoiding the truth. Namely, that I've failed. I'm relegated to the position of "girl who writes an on-line diary". This is the pathetic culmination of my dreams. I suck at dreams. Everything I touch turns to shit in my bare hands. I'm like the anti-thesis of Midas, I suppose.

You know what, though? Fuck it. I can't stop now. I'm not saying I'm a great writer. I'm far from that. But I am a writer. I think that's just something inherent, it comes with you when you're born, like my hazel eyes, gloomy disposition, and BRCA2 mutation. My work just isn't done, not until I'm dead. Writing, for me, isn't about respect, recognition or success. Those things would be nice, sure. But they aren't the goal or I would surely have stopped a long time ago. Writing opens me up, it lets me breathe, it allows me to unleash overwhelming emotion from beneath the breastbone. Beneath it all I have a calling to be understood, to be truly and fully known. Fuck anonymity. This is me in all my shame and imperfect glory. And then I realize that maybe, just maybe, that's why people ask the question, "Are you going to blog about this?" They, too, want to be known. Even those who don't write want to be a part of something permanent and tangible. They want their actions to mean something, to make ripples that travel out and out from their little pond into a bigger body of water. Of course, I understand that.

This is my blog. It's a fucking little thing in the face of all that exists, all that's come before, all that will come. But it's mine, it's all I fucking have. This is how I breathe. I can't let go.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hope is the Thing with Feathers

It's amazing how quickly hope can die. There it is one minute burning bright as a bulb heating up and firing my creative oven, and the next dead or dying in twilight. When hope dies, everything dies. I don't know how to resuscitate it, bring it back from the dead. When hope breathes its last breath, I don't know how to laugh anymore. I don't know how to make terrible things into a joke. I don't know how to be jolly about that which should be forcing me to my knees in wailing anguish.

I hate watching things die; especially people.

"What is a worse thing? Dying suddenly or knowing you are going to die soon?"

"Well when you know, you get to say goodbye. But when you don't know, you don't have to be afraid."

I'd rather not be afraid.

I feel guilty about never visiting my sister's grave. I convinced her to have one. We were having tea in my father's kitchen casually discussing plans for her funeral. I insisted on having a place for her to be after her mortal body was gone. She relented. I hardly ever fucking go.

The first time I went it was just strange. Standing there by her grave wondering what the hell to say, what the hell to do. It was her birthday. My dad knelt down. He had a little brush in his hand. And he started cleaning the dirt out of the letters on her tombstone.

Is that what hope is? The swish of a little brush on granite. The unfounded belief that we have the power to make everything okay. Nothing is fucking okay. But maybe that's the secret. You keep hope alive by pretending it isn't dead. And in that little delusion, survival is possible. Our souls take flight on a lie and cling to the irrational possibility that the idea of us is a permanent fixture in a random universe. "Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul" - Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Two Comments Are Better Than One

I hate when I only have one comment on a post because it reads "one comments". The plural disagreement troubles me. It makes me uncomfortable and full of rage. Every number works with "comments" except 1, even zero. I feel like my hand is forced to make a comment on my own post just so the grammar corrects itself. I hate being forced to do anything. It's like blog rape. If I leave it alone I feel angry. If I make a comment to fix it, I feel violated. I can't win. Fuck you, blogspot.]

Addendum: Thanks to Gypsy I am no longer a victim. I didn't realize that I had the power to save myself all along. See, I didn't know I could just change the word "comments" to "comment(s)". Remember how Dorothy had the power to go home the whole time she was in Oz? All she had to do was just click her heels together and say, "There's no place like home." So why the fuck did that supposed Good Witch not tell her this pretty important information from the very beginning? Why did she fucking make her go through all that shit? I'd had to slap that bitch right across her smug mouth if I were Dorothy.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Somebody Save Me

Anxiety. I kind of have a problem with it. It's not crippling or anything. Just weird shit like irrational, uncalled-for behaviors. For instance, every night before I can fall into a peaceful sleep I have to lock my bedroom door. I am terrified of being awakened in the night by a knife wielding psychopath. Aren't we all a little bit afraid of that? I realize that this bedroom door locking tactic is highly ineffective. If a murderer is capable of disabling the bolt lock on my front door, what makes me think he wouldn't be able to break through a much weaker lock? I'm a moron.

I know exactly when this particular fear of mine took root. I had just given birth to Liv and for the first time in like a quarter century I was home during the day to watch TV. Do you even understand what kind of sinister programming is on during the day? American Justice, City Confidential, Cold Case Files. It was just murder, murder, and more murder. Everything was coming up stabbings. There was a serial killer lurking around every corner. There was a serial killer lurking in every heart. My husband would come home from work and I would wonder, "When is he going to put a bullet in my head?" You just never know about people. Is it just me or does it seem like Bill Curtis hosts every single one of those true crime shows? After a while, Bill Curtis became the only person in the whole world I could trust. I fantasized about him and I having a super safe life together. His very voice, deep and sexy, would be enough to scare off any potential attackers. Honestly, who would fuck with Bill Curtis? His voice is better than a gun. I think I'm in love with him.

My anxiety got so bad at one point that I was constantly looking in closets and under beds and in my shower just to make sure there wasn't someone hiding in there waiting to do me and my baby harm. I still do that once in a while. Like I said, weird shit. Todd tried to reassure me. "If anyone tries to hurt you I will fuck them up with my bare hands." Riiiiight. He seems to think that his right hook is more potent than a bullet. I beg to differ. After months of dealing with my angsty bullshit, Todd finally said, "You have to stop watching these shows." And he was right. It was hard to give them up. I don't know if it was Bill Curtis or my strange attraction to ghoulish stories, but I was addicted to that shit. It's been a long, hard road and I'm still dealing with the aftermath. Now excuse me while I go take a Valium.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Fuck You OctoMom

I'm throwing my angry voice into the throng of about a million others on this Octomom issue. I can't help it. This woman's irresponsible behavior is eating me alive. I know I shouldn't allow the actions of a person I don't even know on the other side of the country, in fact, bother me as much as it does. But for some reason the second I heard that this woman had IVF after already having six biological children, something twisted inside of my heart. I haven't felt The Rage in a long time. It's like an old friend returning after a long absence.

First of all, I have no objections to IVF for people who are unable to have children without it. Fertility treatments are marvels of scientific progress and have improved the quality of life for countless people, giving them the chance to fulfill the dream of having and raising a family. I would never begrudge someone that joy, and also that agony. Multiple births are an unpleasant side effect of such treatments. While not ideal, for the children or the parents, they are certainly interesting. I watch Jon get berated by Kate while raising their litter of beautiful children. It doesn't even really bother me that much that they pimp their family out on national TV like it seems to bother a lot of other people on the internet. To each his own.

But this Nadya woman? I hate her fucking guts. What the fuck are you doing Nadya? You have 6 children already. Three of those children have disabilities and you receive government assistance to care for them. You also receive fucking food stamps, because apparently you are using the money you should be spending on food, to make even more babies you can't afford to take care of. These kids don't have a father and now it appears they are being disowned by their grandparents because of their mother's irresponsible and irrational behavior. Poor things. Honestly, if I ruled the world, and I really should, then these precious babies would be removed from this selfish bitch's custody and given to people who are infertile, long for a baby, but can't afford fertility and IVF treatments.

Now I hear she's begging for donations on line to take care of all these kids she's so selfishly brought into the world as a cure for her own admitted loneliness. You don't have kids to hang out with and fix your boo-boos, Nadya. Now you have 14 kids who are all going to need you desperately for emotional and financial support. I give you a year or two. If you're not begging for your own death, I'm pretty sure you'll be begging to have your "loneliness" back. I wouldn't donate a single penny to her. I would throw my cash into a firepit before I'd give it to her. And you might say, "But Gwen, what about the babies? It's not their fault." I have two answers to that.

First, how do I know she wouldn't just take all the money she got from donations and spend it on herself? What if she takes the donations and uses them to do another round of fertility treatments? She got a settlement of some $100,000 and that's what she spent it on. No, she didn't use it wisely as in, say, buying food for her children's hungry mouths or in a savings account for college tuition. Instead she spent it on having even more kids when she can't afford to take care of the kids she already had. Second, there are a lot of things I want for my daughter but I can't afford to give her right now. Karate lessons, piano lessons, a trip to Disney World. Hell, she has a bunch of cavities that I'm saving money to fix because my dental insurance only covers part of it. So I have to save a thousand dollars to fix my daughters teeth. Why doesn't anyone send me money for that? What if I set up a website and asked for donations to get my daughter's teeth fixed? Does Nadya have more of a right to do that just because she decided to have 14 children and I only accidentally had one?

I realize that procreation is a touchy subject. I, personally, feel there should be a limit to the number of kids people should be allowed to bring into this world. There are already WAY too many people on this planet. Sometimes I can't even breathe when I think about it. I'll be sitting in my car and I'll look around and I'll see swarms of people in cars, walking, sitting on benches, walking into stores where there are still more people breathing air, taking up space. It makes me want to ram my car into a telephone pole. In any case, I certainly believe that the number of kids we should be allowed to have should be limited to the number of kids we can financially and emotionally support either alone or with a partner. In other words, if you want to have 20 kids, then fine. Just don't expect any of my hard-earned tax money to have to go toward feeding your progeny. That's not fair.

The problem with this country is that people are so hell bent on defining and protecting rights and at the same time systematically removing responsibility. Nobody wants to take responsibility for their own actions. If I get pregnant accidentally and have a baby then yes it is my right to do that. But along with that right comes the responsibility to take care of that little one into adulthood. If I decide to have a baby without a father or other partner, then I am taking sole responsibility for the physical and emotional health of that child. I'm so fucking sick of people whining about their rights but not living up to their responsibilities. And just because you can do something doesn't mean that you should.

I hear this Nadya bitch has a publicist and PR agent. Fuck her. She is getting death threats. And while I think that's a bit overboard - I obviously don't wish her dead - I laughed a little bit when I heard that. Does that make me an awful person? I'm surprisingly OK with that. I'm sure she's got some book/movie deal in the works. Somebody would have to threaten me with death in order for me to watch any movie or read any book that featured this fucking bitch or her litter. I am torn because I know that those children deserve to have everything they need. But there is something inside me that won't let me lift a finger to help this woman. I think the doctor that implanted those 8 embryos needs to start shelling out some hard cash to support those babies. God damn, those kids deserve better than what they've got.

It feels good to get all of this off my chest. It's been like a storm brewing inside of me for weeks now. At the end of the day I do realize that the existence of this woman doesn't effect me or my life in any meaningful way. In some ways I really do think that Nadya is slightly insane. I also think that she will live to regret her actions. I mean, can you imagine changing all those shitty diapers every day? I just picture her knee deep in that gross yellow infant poo and I laugh and laugh and laugh. Good luck, Nadya. Those kids deserve better than you, but you're all they've got. Step up to the plate and take responsibility for your actions. And get the fuck off of my television screen. If I never see you and your collagen filled lips again it will be too soon.

A Dream Deferred

My daughter is a first class bitch. Yeah, I said it. I wake up early on Saturday when I don't feel great and could use an extra hour of sleep. I step through a bedroom that I spent hours cleaning the other day, which is now a fucking disaster, to get to a dresser in order to pull out Liv's dance outfit. In route, I step on a fucking lego and if you ever did that you realize that the pain takes your literal breath away. I pick a thousand little red fuzzies off a pair of tights. I search high and low, over and under, blocks, shoes, Bratz dolls, crayons, markers, fritos, to find a missing tap shoe. I lovingly and sweetly dress my prima ballerina and put on her tutu. And right when we are ready to leave for her dance class she throws a holy fit and refuses to go.

She is lucky to be alive.

When I was a kid I used to dream about dance classes. My parents couldn't afford to send us to any special classes. I was to consider myself blessed for having a pizza on a Friday night. And a couple of new outfits from JC Penney for the new school year. Macy's? That's where rich people shopped. I wasn't allowed to play an instrument. I wasn't allowed to participate in extra-curricular activities, not because of money issues but because I wasn't allowed to associate with any kids that weren't of the same cult religion. I wasn't allowed to go to college after graduation because going to college meant that my faith was weak, that I valued "things of the world" over spiritual things. Because wanting to educate yourself and support yourself in a comfortable manner in the future is a characteristic of the devil's influence. I'm not kidding. My fucking life. My fucking lack of opportunity to discover who I really was, my gifts, my dreams, my truth.

I weep for that unlived life, that unfulfilled potential.

So when my daughter refuses to go to dance class it's so much bigger than her refusing to go to her dance class. I am trying desperately to give my girl everything in this life I never had. I am trying to give her the dream of a whole and fully lived life. I know I can never go back and relive those lost experiences. I can only go forward and hope that what I give my girl is enough to fill those gaping holes in my heart.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Thousand Words for Love (give or take a few)

My husband hit the big Three Three a few weeks ago. He wanted a lot of things for his birthday: A Wii game, a trip to AC, a sexual favor or two, possibly a new wife. So I gave him the next best thing: a shitty poem. Don't discount the joy a shitty poem can bring. I fancy myself a poet, a wordsmith, if you will. I write a lot of flowery, profound, and soul-untethered verse. But I really think I do my very best work when I'm not trying, like, at all. Here's my latest effort in all it's cheesy glory:

I think it's really great to see
you join the ranks of "33"
So what that we're old? We still have fun
Just different than we did at 21
So here's your first lesson on how to be
the ripe old age of 33
No more staying out all night
Now it's staying up to have a fight
No more drinking lots of beers
Now it's wiping away lots of tears
and while we're at it - wiping butts
long gone are the days of drugs & sluts
Now is the time for work & ruts.
Sleeping in? What the hell is that?
Now it's "Honey, get up and feed that cat!"
Yeah, doesn't it suck to be 33?
Now you know what it's like to be me!
I know you miss the fraternity
At least now you get to play a Wii
Do you miss real excitement in your life?
Dude, it's all over. I'm your WIFE.
You're a husband, dad, sole breadwinner
At least you don't have to make your dinner
or do your laundry or clean our place
and you get to wake each morning to my sweet face : )
When all is told, if you ask me,
it's quite an awesome thing to be
A grown ass man of 33.

Totally sweet, I know. Way better than a blow job, right? Todd and I sort of have a romantic tradition with the shitty poem. So there's a sentimental, nostalgic element at play here. Early in our relationship we corresponded from our boring jobs via email quite a bit. And we composed limericks, sonnets, all sorts of little rhymes to one another. I've kept them all. Sometimes, when I want to torture myself and grieve the loss of romance, I take them out and peruse those word capsules of our budding love.

There once was a man named Todd
who caught the eye of many a broad
then he met Gwen with her shiny blonde hair
and thought to himself, "really who can compare?"
then penetrated her repeatedly with his rod.

Okay, maybe it's not the height of sophisticated erotica or anything. It's us. It's Todd and Gwen. It's the couple who met at a hole in the wall bar through mutual friends and went home with each other the first night. Fuck The Rules. He looked deep in my eyes and fed me a line, "You're the sexiest woman I've ever met in my entire life." His words were smoother than my Coors Light. I drank them up just as quickly as my $2 beers.

Love. What is love? The hell if I know. I only know what it feels like to curl up every night next to someone who wouldn't have me any other way. It didn't happen over night. Although, the sex did. I mean, when I met Todd I thought, "Let the fucking commence." He was, and is, too damn hot. But love, or at least my interpretation of that ambiguous emotion, is so peculiar to time and space. It's constantly changing like the night sky changes, the way the waves in the ocean are random and unpredictable. To be in love is to ride a wave, whether it be playful or rough or tsunami. I don't think there are enough synonyms for Love. So many different emotions are wrapped up in the embrace of that one single word. The word "Love" is bursting at the seams with meaning. That's a lot of pressure for a four letter word. I think "Love" and "Fuck" have a lot in common in that regard.

Now is the time of year to celebrate love. Romantic love, familial love, agape love. Kids are forced to give Valentine's cards to every single classmate. Isn't that sort of like giving everyone a gold medal at the Olympics, even if they don't finish the race? Valentine's Day is the special olympics of holidays, I guess. Last year I basically ripped Valentine's Day a new asshole. But I would be lying if I said the holiday didn't get me thinking about the state of my relationship. I have to admit that the buzz of "love" in the air and the omnipresence of Big Red Hearts and the sweet, sweet allure of oversized boxes of chocolate awakens in me the desire to reignite some of those dying embers of romance Todd and I used to take for granted.

Our very first Valentine's Day I memorialized in, you guessed it, a shitty poem.

Snow Bunnies

With grace and courage we conquered
the daunting bunny hill
shooting down the mountain
with such amazing skill...

okay well maybe you did that
I spent my time in snow
falling down, or getting up
the going often slow.

Despite my technical errors
I just had so much fun
It was the best Valentine's Day
It couldn't be outdone.

We are also much like bunnies
in another of our habits
We don't just frolic in the snow,
we also fuck like rabbits.

Ah, those were the days. The days before diapers and death and mastectomies. But I wouldn't trade the here and now for that carefree world. There's nothing like total acceptance from another human being to rev the engines of your lagging self-esteem. There's nothing like somebody knowing your stinky ass, and loving the fuck out of you anyway. There's nothing like the comfort of that freedom. And yes, I said freedom. True love is the embodiment of freedom. It is the setting free of the soul. It is waking up every day to the wonder of that man still sleeping next to you. And knowing that he'll still be there tomorrow to greet the catastrophe and joy of the new day by your side.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Humpty Dumpty

My daughter loves boobies. She adores the fun-bags. She is obsessed with the breasts. I gave her a Hershey's kiss today and she said, "That looks like a booby." The light fixture in my mom's kitchen? Yeah, according to Liv, that looks like a booby too. Here is an example of her recent artwork. Notice the titties.
Whenever she does anything boob-centric, Todd laughs heartily and says,"She gets that from me". I want to say, "Men" and roll my eyes but he might be right. The only other thing I could possibly blame it on is the fact that I breastfed her for 18 months. I loved breastfeeding. There is just nothing like the feel of a hungry mouth on your nipple, the soft rush and tingle of milk dropping, a tiny hand scratching at the breast mound. I adored the feel of her warm body close to mine, the mother-daughter intimacy of those moments. Some people are so grossed out by the act of breast-feeding. I can respect that, even if I can't understand it. I just think it is a beautiful thing to see a hungry baby suckling from her mama.

Liv had a hard time giving up her breast milk addiction. I thought she was a little young for a 12 step program. And they don't have rehab centers for babies. Can you believe that shit? So I was forced to break her of her addiction the old fashioned way: Cold Turkey. Thus commenced two weeks of living hell. My breast (I only nursed her from one) was so swollen and painful. Liv would scream bloody murder demanding "nu nu" in the middle of the night. After I finally cut my breast-milk addict off the breast for good, I really thought that after a reasonable period of time passed she would forget all about the sweet milk of my body, that she wouldn't long for it anymore. I was wrong.

The other day I was sitting in bed and I suddenly got hot. I took my shirt off so I was sitting shirtless reading a book. Liv was sitting next to me watching a movie. Suddenly I feel her little mouth sucking on my breast. She is 3 1/2. Yes, it's been 2 YEARS since she last had tittie nectar and she's still trying to get it. Once an addict, always an addict. This incident is made all the more bizarre by the fact that I have no breasts. Well, let me clarify. I have breasts, but they are of the artificial variety. I had a mastectomy with reconstruction last year. And at the risk of grossing you out, I still haven't gotten my nipples. I just haven't gotten around to getting them done. I know that might be hard for you to understand. I've just been through so much in the past two years, medically. I had a kidney surgery, two major biopsies, a mastectomy, reconstruction, and implant surgery. So maybe you can understand a little why I'm on a fucking break from procedures for a while. I call a moratorium on all medical procedures. Staying alive is fucking exhausting.

Anyway, after Liv's futile attempt to extract a beverage from my fake titty, I ask her, "Honey, what the hell are you doing here?"

"Nothing mommy. I'm just giving you a kiss."

"Sweetie, we don't kiss people on their boobies. And we don't suck on them either." Well, I know some of us do, but that's not something I feel the need to explain to a 3 year old.

"Oh. You got a boo-boo on your nu-nu, mommy?" (nu nu is her "pet" name for boobies, derived from "nursing". I rather like it. Don't you?)

"Yep. Mommy has a boo boo on there. There's no milk. It's all gone. You can't drink from there anymore, okay? Do you understand?"

She nods her head, uninterested. She's back to watching her movie. I'm watching my own movie, replaying in the background of my brain. I'm sitting in a waiting room attempting to read a magazine. I don't know what we expect from days that will change our lives forever. They are usually filled with the most mundane things. So I'm sitting in this uncomfortable chair reading an US Weekly magazine. I'm having my breasts cut off today. I go up to the registration desk. "Hi, Mrs. Jackson. How are you?" "I'm...I'm having my breasts cut off today." I'm walking with my husband to yet another waiting room, all the while squeezing his hand tighter than I ever have. I'm having my breasts cut off today. I'm watching a woman discreetly nursing her baby across the room. How it feels to know I'll never have that again is empty. I'm having my breasts cut off today.

Awaiting my doom in the little OR ante-room, fiddling with my IV, watching my husband read a magazine. Will he ever want to fuck me again? Can he ever fuck me again? I wonder if I'll ever hear that growl, "Take off your shirt, baby, I want to see your tits." I stand up. He looks up from his magazine.

"I want you to kiss them."

"What?" He looks worried, afraid.

"I want you to kiss them...goodbye."

So he comes over to me and helps me lift my gown, my IV gets tangled, nothing is easy. I feel his hands, hesitant and warm, cupping my doomed breasts. This is it. This is all I'll ever feel.

He leans down and kisses them. One by one. Sweet, little kisses. "Goodbye little ones. I've loved you. But I love Gwen more." We smile at each other. Our love is strong enough.

We all do what we need to do to survive and we pray that it's enough. We hope that staying alive is worth the price of admission. My price has been so high so far. Some days I feel emotionally bankrupt. Some days I feel like Humpty Dumpty. And all the pyschiatrists and the plastic surgeons couldn't put me back together again. (They need to get a new ending to that nursery rhyme, it's profoundly depressing.) I pass a mirror and I want to spit. It's hard to love a broken thing. It takes work to remember there are beautiful parts in me, too. It takes unimaginable effort to remind myself that I am more than a mutilated mass of flesh; To remind myself that there is value in what I have suffered, in what I will suffer.

Liv is pinching me now. Her little fingers like lobster claws on the too much flesh of my arm. She pinches as a substitute for breastfeeding. This I know because her little fingers used to pinch the nipple of the other breast while she was nursing. It's funny how hard it is for her to let go. I think of me, and my inability to let go of the old Gwen and accept the new imperfect, frankenstein version. I wonder if I'll ever be comfortable in my own skin.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
It took all of his courage and determination
to make Humpty Dumpty feel whole once again.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Star is Born-Again

You know that Karl Marx quote "Religion is the opiate of the Masses?" That is so true. That's why born-agains always look they've been dosed. Seriously, next time one of them tries to save you, look at their eyes. I bet their pupils will be all pinpoint and the whites all bloodshot or at the very least glazed over. I know that look. I wore that look for 15 years.

My opinion on religion and the existence of god fluctuates like the light of a firefly on any given day. I'm confused as fuck. The logical, mathematical side of my brain can't accept any sort of creation story, especially one that involves the formation of a female out of a male rib. What the fuck, God? Why couldn't you just make Eve the same way you made Adam? Was the rib thing really all that necessary? I think it was just grandstanding. For whom? Like who the hell does God have to impress? And it really seems to me that in some of those bible stories God is always making everything harder on himself, and on everyone else. I wonder about how much power does God actually have. Can he control time? Can he cause people to disappear at will?
Can he make people do his bidding? Or are we real and actual beings of free will? When I think too long and hard from this angle, religion starts to look like the ridiculous babblings of ridiculous people. I suffered so much spiritual abuse from people that I trusted over the years that I just don't know if I could ever trust any type of organized religion ever again in my whole life. Which sort of makes me sad. I mean I do have this deep-seated spiritual side of me that wants to believe.

I want to believe in something so desperately. It's hard for me to accept that my sister's soul is really and truly gone, that she isn't a beautiful, winged angel dancing on clouds and shit up in the heavens. I realize how ludicrous that really does sound. But death is so final, so heartbreaking, is it any wonder that people cling to fanciful ideas about the after-life? And this is where I say Religion isn't like an opiate. Religion is an opiate. Nobody loves opiates more than I do. When I take a percocet, I feel happy. Mind-blowingly happy. Deep inside I know that the happiness is artificial. I know it's a lie. But i don't really care. That happiness is so delicious I just don't care about the source. And that's what religion is. Maybe it's a crock of shit, but if it can make a life of loss bearable, if it can make the act of living something more than a Stygian hell, then who really cares if it's real or not?

Like I said, I'm confused as fuck. I saw this documentary on the Science Channel that informed me about the Big Bang Theory and the formation of star systems. And you know what? We are all stars. Every single living creature breathing on this remarkable planet are the stuff of stars. We are the children of novas. We are creatures of solar systems and suns. We are babes born of bright, burning, stellar explosions. Isn't that fucking cool? So after I heard all about my star quality, I started to think, "What do I need God for?" And then something else happened. Something so phenomenal that it changed who I was on like a cellular level forever and ever. Sometimes things happen in your life that are so bizarre that you have to accept that we are all beasts of chance and random events. Yes, it took this strange miracle for me to give up God for good: Blair Warner from Facts of Life tried to save my soul from eternal damnation.

Let me explain by first telling you, I have one of those aunts. One of those aunts that are obsessed with diets and hairdos and Jesus. She, like so many of these aunts, attends a Cavalry church. These aunts credit Jesus with every event that transpires in their lives, no matter how minuscule. "The Rice-a-roni was on sale for 99 cents a box and I got the last one! Jesus was really looking out for me today!" Because Jesus concerns himself with those sorts of things when babies are starving somewhere. But yes, Jesus Loves You and Me and Criminals and
Cockroaches, but he hates the gays, apparently. There's just no arguing with people like that. I mean I grew up a Jehovah's Witness so I can tell you firsthand this information: Even Jehovah's Witnesses roll their eyes at born-agains. We used to knock on their doors sometime out in the "ministry" and after a 45 minute conversation, we would walk away exasperated saying, "Those born-agains are crazy!" I have a born-again aunt and since I lost my religion for a while there she was hell bent on me finding a new one.

So I would get invited to many a church function. And many a church function I would be too busy to attend. But you can only be too busy so many times. So Amy and I decided that we would do it together. We'd do the church function thing and get lulled into thinking it was a fun, laid back event until we got knocked over the head with some sort of creepiness. We were game. The event was a Christmas dinner with a keynote speaker: Lisa Welchel (aka Blair Warner). Apparently Ms. Welchel joined the ranks of Kirk Cameron in the whole ex-child star who becomes a Born Again Christian thing. She also wrote a book called "Creative Correction" whereby she recommends, among other disciplinary tactics, putting hot sauce on your child's tongue for disrespectful speech. I like her already.

After an awkward dinner of making polite conversation with strangers, my sister and I were anxious for them to get the show on the road. There was an excitement in the air. Blair Warner was about to give us instructions for life. And then there she was, at the podium, with that familiar lilting slightly Southern tone to her voice cracking jokes and pretending to be one of "the people". I got lulled into believing everything was okay. Nothing weird. Nothing weird to see here folks, move along. And then:

"I want everyone here to close your eyes and bow your head."

Oh, Lord. Literally. This is what was happening. This was the part where everything gets weird. So I closed my eyes and bowed my head, because, I mean, what does one do?

"Now if there is anyone here who would like to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior please raise your hand."

So I got curious. I wanted to see if anyone would do it. Because I have the mentality of a junior high school student. I sort of tilted my head up and opened one eye. And of course at that moment, Blair Warner is looking right at me. She had me in her sights, like I was the field mouse and she was a fucking hawk.

"Would you like to accept Jesus into your heart, young lady?" Blair Warner was looking at me. Like into my eye. Blair Warner had the most earnest, excited look on her face. She was going to bring me unto Jesus. She was about to give birth to me - a new Gwen, born again.

"No...thank you?" I whispered, barely audible. But she could tell before I even said the words. I already have a mother, Blair Warner, and she's a chain-smoker. Blair Warner's earnest expression turned a little bit sour and then she was off, on to find the next taker to swallow her bullshit. I wish I would have said, "I didn't like being born the first time, Blair, what makes you think I'd want to do it again?"

After Blair Warner tries to save your soul it's hard to believe in God anymore. It's hard for me to believe in a God that would let something like that happen to me. What's next? Is Nancy McKeon going to spearhead my intervention? That actually would be totally bitchin'. I'd quit doing drugs for Nancy McKeon. Wouldn't you?

Is there a heaven we go to when we die? Or are the people who believe that just dosing themselves with another pill laced with fantastical nonsense? Are all creatures great and small the offspring of those heavenly bodies that decorate our night sky? Or is that what we tell ourselves because we don't want to be accountable? If you think about it, either we are born of the ground and wind up in the heavens or we're born of the heavens and wind up in the ground. Either way, you and me and him and her, maybe we're all just a bunch of beautiful fucking stars, waiting to be born.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Secret Life of Dead Bees

When the first sprig of green finally arrives and the world opens its greedy arms to springtime, I clap my hands in joy and wait for bees. They will come. My bees always do, planting their little nest in a safe harbor between my windows and storm screens. I do not know what draws them here, to my humble place in the world.

“The bees are back,” I tell Todd excitedly.

“This year I’m going to take that damn nest down.”

“If you do that, I will divorce you.”

He doesn’t understand. How could I explain in any simple way how much it means to me that they let me into their strange, little world? Liv and I sit, side by side, watching these creatures at their miniature labors, listening to the constant hum of their wings beating in the new air. They are fresh with possibility. It is the beginning of a lifetime that is equal to a human summer. But a long, hot summer is all they need.

When I was little I would devote entire summer afternoons to the capture and release of bees. Butterflies bored me. Ladybugs were over-rated. Caterpillars made my hands stink. So, in the backyard of my childhood home I became a hunter of bees.

“Mom, I need some jars with lids.”

“What for, Gwenny Pooh?”

“I’m catching bees.”

“Again? Honey, beeee careful. They sting.”

But that was sort of the point. It’s not that I wanted to get stung. But I instinctively knew in my little girl heart that anything worth having wouldn’t come easy. Those bees were a worthwhile opponent. And I had something to learn from them. Bees could fuck you up. How could I not respect a thing that would rather die than be in pain any longer? How could I not understand them? Bees will sacrifice their lives for the opportunity to sting, to punish the source of their pain. How awesome is that?

Little Gwen tip toed through the grass prowling for those bees. My de-labeled mayonnaise jar in hand, I spotted my prey extracting nectar from a buttercup. Once I placed the jar overhead, the bee doesn’t know he is my prisoner, not right away. It is for this moment I do my work. I sit cross-legged on the ground next to my captive; my skinny legs itched by the sharp blades of grass, watching a private moment, intimate as a dance between lovers.

“You have a sweet tooth, little bee. Guess what? So does me!” And I laughed at my own silly, ungrammatical rhyme. My giggle a music harmonizing with the cackle of a distant locust.

We had a talk, the bee and I. He always listened. Then came the moment where the bee realized the jig was up. There was my bee hurling his little body against the glass. Ping. Ping. Ping. That is a sad sound. It was time to let my bee go.

That is a tricky game: Release. The bee was pissed off at me. He was ready to lay down his last stinger, his only life to make me suffer his wrath. I pulled off the jar right quick and ran as quick as my little legs could take me to the safety of my own jar. And therein I stood looking out the back door. My little finger pressed against the coldness of that glass. Ping. Ping. Ping. It was just another prison.

Now that I am grown the bees come to me. I watch their workings at my leisure. And work they do. They never stop. Ceaseless humming. Coming and going. Moving and spinning, covering and uncovering. Busy bees. I could learn from them. I could learn how to live from these bees in their wild state, satiated with nectar and purpose and all that is right in the whole wide world.

The first chill of September brings stillness to the hive. You can see the beginning of the end in their movements. The bees move slow and stilted, but their queen is safe and fat. She is full of the next generation. And for the first time in the whole of their short bee lives, they will rest, satisfied with the work of their bee hands.

This is when I stop watching. Maybe it’s not fair of me to abandon them at this, the end. Is that wrong? Some people don’t know how to deal with death. Soon the hum is gone, as are the bee shadows on my blinds in the late afternoon. When I peer out of my jar, I see their lonely hive, beautiful and haunted, long remiss of the buzz of bees. Beneath these intricate catacombs lay the bodies of its occupants, drying in the cool, autumn winds.

When I see those dead bee bodies, something awakens inside of me. Something hot and uncomfortable. These bees are done. I want to know if they regret never stinging somebody in the ass. I want to know if they died with the sweetness of nectar in their mouths. I want to know if their bee lives flashed before their eyes.

“Did you bee all you could bee?” The grass is itchy. I scratch at my legs. Ping. Ping. Ping.

Capture and release. A wild thing won’t be taken alive. But freedom has its own price. That is the agony of life. Maybe you don’t know this, but we pick our own deaths. I’m not saying we choose the way we lose our living breaths. That is not the death I’m talking about. I’m talking about the slow, aching death of the soul. I’m talking about the captured heart of a wild thing, hurling all its energy against the glass walls of its prison. Ping. Ping. Ping. That is the saddest sound. Sometimes we don’t know we’re captured until it’s too late.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Nickelodeon Gothic

Apparently there is this website where you can order a custom made Dora the Explorer DVD that is basically an episode of the show featuring Dora and her ilk making their way to your child's birthday party. You are supposed to send them a photo of his or her face and the animators pretty much just paste your child's face on a cartoon character's head. I think this is actually a pretty cool gift and I've been thinking about getting one for my daughter. It reminds me of when I was little and my mom bought me a Sesame Street book that had me as a character in the story. It was really exciting for me because nothing ever had my name on it when I was growing up. I even remember one of the lines in the story, "Put out an APB!" I guess it stood out in my mind because I had no idea what it meant at the time. I don't even know what it means now.

Anyway, if I were to purchase this Dora the Explorer custom made episode, I wonder if they would allow me to pay extra to have some other shit put in. For one, I'd love to see a scene where Swiper comes on-screen and starts yelling at Dora, "Dora no whining, Dora no whining!" Or how about a scene where Boots runs into his monkey friends and they all mock him mercilessly for wearing a pair of boots and trying to be all human and shit? Wouldn't that be kind of cool? It would be a very special lesson in how you shouldn't try to be something that you're not. How about if one time they took out the map and he said, "How come you only fucking talk to me when you need something? Find your own way to the Lost City of the Snow Princess". I would also love a scene, or maybe even a whole episode, devoted to Tico coming out the closet and finally admitting that he's gay. He's got the styling coat already, coming out is just the natural next step. And why the hell is that cow blue? The squirrel purple? In any case, I would pay a lot of money to see Swiper stab Dora and her weirdly hued friends with an icepick. They would probably bleed rainbows and kitty cats. Does this mean I need help?

I know I've been obsessing a little bit about children's programming lately. I just can't help myself. My daughter loves this shit. And it disturbs me. I remember a hundred years ago when I didn't have a baby yet, I used to opine to all my friends that I would NEVER let my child, should I have the misfortune of having one, watch Barney, Teletubbies, or any of that other creepy shit. I mean have you seen that show where it's just hands with faces painted on? Oogy or something? I don't know. But Liv loves it all. She dances to the stupid ass songs, repeats the words they tell her to say like some mindless drone. Sometimes I feel disappointed in her for loving it so much. I want her to be above it all.

I guess what bothers me most of all about the shows is the sickeningly sweet, smile saturated, gag-inducing, happiness. It's just happiness overload. Even in the face of all the evils that I outlined in my other blog, nothing bad happens that can't be overcome. And nobody gets in trouble because Hello! there aren't any parents doing any actual parenting in these magical universes. No body's confused about their sexual identity (well except Tico), nobody gets blindsided by a sucker punch for wearing a stupid hat. Why can't they include anything real? I feel like I'm letting these people lie to my child about the world. I don't want to be complicit in that. It's a harsh, harsh world we live in and I don't want Liv to look at me, tears streaming down her face, at sixteen and say, "Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you warn me about this shit?" And then turn on her heel, run into her room and slam the door and hate me forever. Or worse, be Gothic.
If she EVER came home with a white face and black lipstick wearing a crushed velvet Rennaissance Faire dress there would be hell to pay. And by hell I mean my foot kicking her in her dramatic ass. I would even buy a new pair of boots for the ass kicking. It would be a special occasion. What is wrong with those people? Why are they so hell bent on letting everyone know they're in pain? Obviously, I don't exactly hide that fact about myself either. But I express this shit properly, in a blog. I don't go to the CVS and try to elicit reactions from the guy I'm buying a pack of gum from. Jesus Christ. What really fucking annoys me is when these people try to act all offended when people "judge" them. I've heard a few of those kids say, "Why are people always looking at me? God!" or "Don't think you know everything about me just because of the way I dress." They act all annoyed about the attention but you know that's EXACTLY what they want. They live for that shit. They long for it deep down in their bleeding hearts. I hate them.

So, I let her watch her stupid shows. And I don't punish her for it or anything. But every once in a while I make my displeasure known. Wubbzy will do something exceedingly dumb and I will point it out to her. And we will laugh and laugh and laugh together at these stupid morons. That's one of the million things I love about my girl. She gets it. Liv knows why it's funny when somebody falls. Liv knows why it's funny when she falls. And if she can always remember to laugh at herself, maybe, just maybe, by the grace of god, she won't become a stupid Gothic kid in desperate need of an ass kicking.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Black Things

My daughter is weirdly obsessed with and afraid of "black things".

"Here's your apple juice, sweetie." She looks intently at the contents of her sippy cup.

"Is that a black thing in there?" Her little nose scrunching with distaste.

"No. What are you talking about?"

"I think I see a black thing. I don't want this."


"I don't want this chicken, mom."

"Why?" My question infused with my signature sigh.

"There's black things all over it." She starts pushing her plate away and then panicking, "Take it away. TAKE IT AWAY!"

So I look and see that the "black things" she's referring to are actually the chargrilled part of the chicken. So I take the pieces of chicken and I systematically and thoroughly remove each and every "black thing" from them. Nobody can ever tell me I'm not a good mother. I removed "black things" from chicken. I am awesome not so bad.

A few weeks ago - I am bathing her and suddenly, like out of nowhere, she emits this blood curdling scream from her obviously healthy, baby pink lungs. I'm like, "Honey are you in pain? What's wrong? Oh my god, sweet Jesus, what is wrong?" She's standing up now desperately trying to get out of the tub, buck naked and wet, shampoo in hair, wiggling like a sea snake, screaming, screaming. It was downright fucking terrifying. Finally she says, through frantic tears, "There's, there's, there's.... a "black thing" in there". Black thing. BLACK THING. This is coming from a child who literally took a wet dump in the bathtub and refused to come out because she wasn't done "playing". She was completely fine with playing in a tub of feces. But a "black thing"? No fucking way. I searched the tub after I calmed her down and I indeed found the source of her complete and utter despair. It was a tiny rock. My girl is whacked.

I don't know when or where this fear of "black things" took root. Some early trauma that I was too self-involved to notice was even occurring perhaps. But I'll you what. I am planning on using this bizarre phobia to my advantage. The next time she misbehaves, I'm going to put a shitload of pepper on her mashed potatoes. And breakfast? Lemon poppy seed mini-muffins. That'll learn her not to defy her awesome not so bad mama.