Thursday, March 31, 2011

The stunning arc of barf

For the most part I’m a fairly lenient parent. It could be said this is borne of laziness or fear of confrontation, I’d like to believe I’m just super cool. But whatever, I rarely put my foot down and insist the children do something against their will or not fitting into their social schedules. A recent exception to this was Loren’s film festival presentation last Friday.

I was over the moon tickled that he had been invited to this particular film fest.  It wasn’t in his usual line up of ski porn, a bit more off the path because it was an environmentally based presentation. I bought our tickets a couple of weeks early, even getting extra just in case. Cassidy and Devon were both informed they would be attending. Cass was a bit put out because this meant her spring break trip to Vegas wouldn’t start until Saturday morning and just when the hell did Loren last come to something of hers, she wondered. In return I promised her he would be at her upcoming Spring Concert. Devon wasn’t thrilled about the evening either because it meant riding in a car for more than five minutes and sitting through dinner at a restaurant he didn’t know.  I sent Loren with my mom and a friend to eat and then Loren had to get to the festival a bit early. Matt and I brought up the rear.

Time management is not in my bag of accomplished tricks and by the time we hit the road I realized we would be running late no matter where we stopped for dinner. We opted for one of Cassidy’s favorites and Devon announced he wouldn’t eat a single bite there. But eat he did, with such zest that I knew something unruly would eventually become of our evening. Sure enough as soon as we hastily paid the bill and hit the car Devon started complaining of tummy pains. Within a couple of miles his pain was unbearable and I asked Matt to pull over at a convenience store. Dev and I trotted into the bathroom where he promptly stripped from the waist down, his typical move when doing a big job, and then perched himself over the lid in a sort of yoga stance, again typical for Devon. And then we waited. And waited. And he strained. And nothing more than a slight plop. It hurt, it was pointy. I informed Devon  he was constipated , likely from the medicated cough medicine he’d been taking for his week old cough, at which point he hurled himself off the pot and into a ball of tears. “I can’t go like Elvis did, Mai-Mai! I’ll die. He died on the pot because he was constipated.” I assured Devon that Elvis used and abused far more the codeine cough medicine to end up in his sorry state.

Once back in the car we raced to Aspen and made it in time for the opening act. Loren was a mess of nerves. Devon stretched out across Cass, Matt, Lo and me while each of us took turns rubbing his neck, arms or back in order to distract him from his Elvis fears. When Lo’s movie finally did show I was beyond thrilled and even shed a few tears of pride. He got to announce a few things about himself before the feature and then retired to the back of the movie house to be alone and watch it. Matt, Cass and I left shortly after because Devon was so wiggly. On the way home, a 45 minute drive in good weather, the conditions were a nearly white out snow storm and Devon started wailing about 25 minutes in to it. Matt concentrated on driving while Cass and I tried to keep Dev calm. Once to Matt’s, Devon tottered up his stairs, clutched his belly and wailed at the top of his lungs. He staggered to the edge, vomited a lovely yellow spew once over the balcony to a flower bed below and I scooted him into the toilet where the real barf show began. It was spectacular.

It’s most often like this with the three children spaced so far apart in ages. All I wanted was to peacefully watch Loren give his small talk and then view his film on a large screen. I waited six weeks, planned more than a few schedules around it and anticipated nearly every mishap, except Devon. God love that little guy, but it’s never easy with him. And, of course, the Cassidy the Sandwich child in between was lost in the shuffle. At least she’s in Las Vegas for the week living it up and having a blast. And regardless for the amount of drama in the evening, it was so amazing to see Lo’s work on a big screen and hear the whistles and applause for him, a beautiful gift. And to sit in that theatre, the five of us together as a family, laughing at the absurdity of the evening, that was just pure beauty.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Gratitude and grace

This morning my mother informed me a dear and lovely friend of ours, T, has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. This woman lost her daughter to brain cancer a handful of years ago. She then went on to marry a wonderful man who had previously lost his wife to cancer. She is hard working and one of the most courageous women I have ever encountered. She and her husband, J, helped my mother find her bearings after my father died. They held Devon close and accpeted them into their hearts in those awful months after my father's death when Devon would often ask if J was his beloved Pop-Pop. My mom, the children and I have found a second home of sorts at their home over the last few years, a place always filled with love and kindness.

It breaks my heart and pisses me off something fierce to hear this news today. I love these kind, gracious people and am so deeply saddened for them and the multitudes of people who love them so very much.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It's not always hard to be me. Just sometimes.

It’s quite easy for me to slip into self-pity and not entirely uncommon for my brain to take up a full on monologue about how hard it is just to be me. It’s really exhausting and often leads to migraines, like the one currently nesting atop my skull and digging its claws into my gray matter.

This morning I left work to take Devon to the doctor, he’s had a lingering cough for five days which seems to be getting more hackish, and the synapses in my head were up to their snarking ways so I turned on the radio to shut out the noise. And then. Who’s name should I hear on the news? My own son’s, and not in a bad way either. It was an interview of a fellow with the Independence Pass Foundation and their upcoming film festival this Friday. The announcer was asking about the various clips to be shown when he prompted the IPF rep about a special feature new to the festival this year.

“Yes, we have a young, local student named Loren James Creer. He’s very talented and his work features Torin Yater-Wallace and Aiden Sheehan.” He then added a bit more about the skiers and ended with something like, “These young men all have amazing promise!”

Tell you what, those voices in my head shut the hell right up and I let out a shrieking, “WAHOOOOOOOO!!!!!!” Loren has two more film festivals lined up this spring and I have feeling there will be many more in his future. I couldn’t be more thrilled with my boy! Not so hard to be me anymore today. Go figure.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Addendum to my whiny Monday crappola

Sometimes a girl just needs an indulgence. For the most part I'm not a shopper. Yes, I love shoes but to get me clothing shopping it takes at least a couple of glasses of red wine. But today I needed a pick me up and I've had something very specific in the back of my mind for a couple of months now. Oh yeah, baby!

My old 3G seemed suddenly ghetto and when Loren told me he had dropped his old phone in a puddle once again, it all clicked together like a fabulous planetary alignment. I'm gonna be getting me some good phone with this one, I can totally feel it. And the best part? Monday doesn't feel so blue anymore! Yay!

Monday Blues

When I finally finished college with one of the most useless degrees in the entire history of degrees, I became a home loan hostess for the big red wagon. I loved helping people realize their American Dream of home ownership. I also loved the thrill of the chase as I tried to help those people who sometimes were square pegs trying to fit into round holes. Then there were the long chats with the sassy underwriters and convincing them in the loveliest phone voice possible to bump my files to the top of their priority lists. However, I hated the meetings, my boss, my boss above her and all the political bullshit that goes with working for an over-sized corporate beast. At the height of the re-fi boom I resigned because I knew what we were doing was wrong. My clients were over extended and, all too often, just a payment or two away from trouble. My colleagues thought I was nuts but couldn’t wait to snag my 1-800 number and my client list. So I found several part time jobs,  I walked away and never looked back.

Devon was born a couple years later. Madness ensued and I have been pretty much doing odd jobs until he reached Kindergarten, that was last fall. Now I’m back in a cubicle eight hours a day, five days a week. And mostly I hate it. I hate office politics. I hate meetings. I hate the gray of my cubicle. I love the steady paycheck. As much as I hate insurance companies, I love the benefits. But for as beneficial as it all is, I can’t help but wonder if there is something better out there just over the horizon and beyond my reach. In this economy, not too likely, but as I sit here on a Monday morning and think of the next five days trapped in this gray lined corner it’s an enticing thought.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Another Donkey Rant

I've mentioned it a couple of times lately but I'll say it again, the single parent thing/other parent in a different state thing is wearing thin. As evidenced in the following text chat, I believe Matt is also feeling the strain. Other than sex texting I find sass texting to be right up there on the list of good fun, and it always brightens my day if it's slightly combative as well.

Me: Rough night?

Matt: Bite me.

Me: So hostile.

Matt: Get bent.

Me: Cranky fart

Matt: Donkey-hating bitch knickers

Matt: Furtle furtle furtle furtle.

Me; A side of madness for dinner tonight?

Matt: Spawankkeeeeeee.

Me: You need to come home.

Matt: Spanston doesn’t think so.

Me: Who the hell is Spanston?

Matt: You wish you knew.

Me: Maybe you should talk it out with Donkey.

Matt: Donkey and I talk all the time. HE says you’re crazy.

Me: Donkey is a vindictive fiuckhead. Plus, he’s a pathological liar. He says the same crap about you.

Matt: Donkey is the wisest of all of us. You sound like you’ve been in Spanston’s furtle again.

Me; Well, there is that. You should try it.

Matt: I highly doubt that. Donkey loves everybody but you.

Me: Don’t be deceived by his cunning ways. That good ole boy bucktooth act is a bunch of crap. He’s a  bad egg.

Matt: What the hell are you talking about? It’s a fucking donkey. God, you’re weird.

Matt: Please don’t contact me anymore.

Me: Gonna go play with Donkey?

Matt: Weirdo. Seriously

Me: I have to go parent your children. I’m very busy. And important.

Matt: Be careful not to drown them in the tub. The voices aren’t real. Nutjob.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Insurance companies belong in hell

There are few things/people I can say I truly detest. Spiders? Check. Hangovers? Definitely. Torn nails? Very much so. But right near the top of that list, that actually might really be quite long now when I come to think of it, is insurance companies and the assholes who passionately work for them.

Up until Devon was born I had never dealt much with them. When Dev was born with his heart defect and we entered the hospital I had no idea my life for the next two years or so would be riddled with stacks upon stacks of bills. Who knew that every single person present in the operating room billed separately? And on top of that there were hospital bills, supply bills, radiology bills. It sucked and I remember the overwhelming sense of helplessness I would feel upon attempting to whittle them down to zero balances.

Lately the bills have been again escalating. I’m almost done paying off Loren’s knee surgery from last May. His bills included an anesthesiologist from California and a radiologist from North Carolina. I totally don’t get that because we live in the Colorado mountains.

Right now Cassidy’s bills are piling up because we have been trying to figure out why she continually sheds blood into her urine. Ew. But yes, it is a mystery and it prompts the doctors to have her pee into a cup at every chance possible, sometimes repeatedly into a jug for 24 hours at a time. Gross. After opening a gazillion of bills last night I discovered each every one of those little pee cups runs about $130. The blood screens that go with most every visit are up to $600. Seems like insurance would pay this, yes? No, they’re not really so eager to do so.

Then there are Loren’s wisdom teeth. I totally thought that one would be cut and dry, usually dental bills are. Again, no. Phrases such as “sedation is not reasonably necessary or customarily performed in conjunction with the services submitted”.  Or, this one is nice too, “your dental plan does not provide coverage for this service.” Really? No? Because if you’re going to have teeth out does it really matter how far embedded they are? Just pull the damn things already. Wisdom teeth are gnarly by nature, that’s why we get them removed. Do insurance companies really need to jack us around that extra step just because they can? Or do they do it just to fuck with us?

So I’m just gonna say it, I hate insurance companies. HATE THEM! I hate the bajillions of trees they kill with all their damn bills and reminders and, a personal favorite, the non-bills that are just stating what they might pay. As if they need a tad bit more time to figure out how much they feel like screwing one individual or another. I hate all their code numbers that make you go to the bottom of the statement only to be enraged to discover it’s just another way of them saying, “Fuck you, sucker. Not gonna pay.” And most of all I hate the fact that every month I pay them, thinking they are providing some sort of safety if I should ever need them but knowing deep down that if I do they’re going to be asshats about it. Fuckers. Fuckers. Fuckers.

Okay then. I feel slightly better now. And that there? It was free, thank you very much. I didn't have to see a therapist, do a co-pay and later get nailed in the ass for another unapporved use of funds. Who's the sucker now....

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bitch on wheels

I can roll with a lot of things, things like chaos, noise, kids and the like, but something I can not abide by is ignoring safety. Perhaps it was growing up with a defense lawyer for a father who freely told us the horror stories of what happens to careless people. Paralysis, decapitation, drownings, fires, you name it and he had taken a case to trial over somebody’s lack of good judgment. One might argue for an already sensitive child these tales were a bit over the top, but in terms of rearing a cautious child who is still alive today I think he did a decent job.

There is a middle aged fellow who occasionally drives his SUV up our country road in the late afternoons to run his dog. When I say run I don’t mean man and dog get out of the vehicle together and trot up the road. Nay, this guy sits in his late model Range Rover and drives while his German shepherd tries to keep up with him. There is nothing physically wrong with the guy, I’ve seen him let the dog out at the beginning of the walks and dude has a spring in his step. Our county road is about two miles long and once this man reaches the end he turns around and the dog trails after him, panting and looking like he wishes he didn’t have that dog/master relationship that dictates he MUST follow the car.

Every time I see this guy I get so enraged about his carelessness with his dog. If you want to let your do run behind your car in the driveway? I say it might be a bit sketchy but as long as your toddler isn’t also in the drive you’re probably ok. But to make a dog run without any stops at a fast clip for four miles? I say no. It’s inhumane and insulting to this beautiful animal. Also, when it’s winter, the roads are icy and a herd of deer are bounding across the road it is dangerous for other drivers as well. I witnessed this exact scenario last winter. It was later in the day, the road was icy and the deer were leaping the fence to cross. Of course, dumbass in the white Range Rover didn’t slow down but actually sped up, perhaps hoping his dog would be too focused on him to notice the deer. No. The dog started chasing the deer in front of other cars, the deer went ape shit and several animals nearly got hit.

This is where I finally got fed up. Once the deer all cleared up I drove up next to the guy, rolled down my window and attempted to explain to him that he was an asshole. Fuckhead ignored me so I started beeping and giving him the universal finger that states loud and clear “You suck, fucker!” He still ignored me and continued to drive. Ever since this incident I freely flip the man off, I believe it is my given right to do so since he repeatedly abuses his dog and refuses to acknowledge that he is a fool.

Yesterday was a long one and as I drove into town to attend a dentist appointment, there the asshat was running his dog up the road. Without thinking I rolled down my window and gracefully extended my arm all the way to my middle finger as I passed him by. I have to say it was the best part of my day and liberating in a way I haven’t felt for quite awhile. I would like to know if he gets it or if he just wonders why some crazy woman in a blue bug habitually flips him off when all he is trying to do is get his dog some fresh air.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Starting out the week with a touch of heart break

Matt has been gone in way or another for nearly four months. After his stroke on November 21, he spent 10 days in the hospital followed by about six weeks where he was so exhausted that he often fell asleep for about 20 minutes out of every hour. Then in mid-January he headed out to Utah to help put his mother in a nursing home and take care of all the details concerning his dying father, Tom. Since then the kids and I have been in Utah for a week and Matt spent about two weeks home nearly a month ago. So, yes, all in all it’s been almost four months now of absence.

I’m independent by nature, a bit of an island if you will, but this situation is starting to wear at the edges. At this point I’m working seven days a week, dragging Devon to my weekend job where he is forced to take ski lessons to pass his days. It’s all been tiring and, back before the holidays when Matt was sicker, scary. This morning it all came to a head with Devon. It’s not unusual for me to find truth from Devon, he is simply more sensitive to the universe and his expressions of this are often what spur me to realize just what is what.

Because of our crazy schedule right now my timing, usually not my strong point, is even worse. This morning as I was reading the Friday Notes from Devon’s teacher I noticed it was his turn for Show and Tell. I neglected to inform him of his last few turns and thought I’d make amends by informing him. Of course this led to a frenzy of what he should take and the upset that I’ve not bought him anything cool for a long time. Then he got real quiet and I found him pulling out his drawers of Legos and pawing through them pack rat style. When Dev gets focused there is no interrupting him, so I left him in peace to figure out if I had anything to pack in his lunch since I hadn’t been to the store for the usual Sunday shop. After a time he popped into the kitchen to show me his treasure, an old wallet and coin purse Matt had given him when he upgraded to a new wallet.

Devon: “Look, Mai-Mai! Dad’s wallet! He gave it to me and I found my piggy bank for monies for inside it.”

Me, still searching for lunch foods: “Nice, Dev. That is a super cool thing to share with your friends.”

Devon: “And, look, it even still smells like my dad! He isn’t here, you know, but I can smell him now! I will show my friends and they can all smell my daddy now. Wanna smell Dad?”

Me, hugging him and wanting to cry: “Oh, wow! I’m so glad you found that.”

Devon, so pleased with himself and patting his pocket of treasure, “Yes, I will carry it all the time now.”

And then I did go cry just a bit.


Of course, life could be worse. This isn't Japan and life here is a breeze compared to the heartache of so many people and families there. For all those people suffering I wish health and hope.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Donkey Talk

This last time I was in Utah to visit Matt while he stays with his father was different than other I've spent there. For one thing his mother is now in a nursing home, which is really a good thing for everybody involved because she has 24/7 care and the home is a wee bit more peaceful now. Matt's father is also dying of cancer and so the house had a much different feel this time around. One other thing is that now Tom, Matt's dad, is in a smaller bedroom on a hospital bed and no longer in the room he once shared with Pat. Because the lower level is in some bizarre state of perpetual sub-arctic temperatures year around, the kids and I stayed upstairs in the master bedroom in the enormous king sized bed with a charming view of a field populated by llamas, sheep and a lone donkey. Picturesque, yes? Tranquil? Hell and no.

That damn donkey woke me up every morning at about 4:00 with the most horrendous "EEEEEH-HAAAAAWWWWW! EEEEEH-HAAAAWWWWW!!" This would go on for about five minutes and leave me pissed off and yearning for ass meat with a side of scrambled eggs when I got up for the day. It sucked. The odd thing is when I would mention this in the mornings to the other folk in the house it was if I was insane, because not only had nobody ever actually seen the donkey out in the field, they had obviously never heard him. Of course this only added to my ever present pocket full of paranoia when I'm in the Land O" Mormon. I fancy myself as a bit of an outcast since Matt and I have been divorced for eight years, Devon is six, Matt and I have been off and on so many times that his family doesn't really have a category for me any more other than The Mother of the Children. So my imaginary donkey night frights made me even more self-conscious. Whatever. Anyway, now that time is dragging on, Matt remains in Utah and the children and I miss him I sometimes scroll through our texts to fill time. Here I have to add that one of the things I have always held dear about Matt is that he can make me laugh and he is wicked good with words. Following are some excerpts from the last month or so, straight from the donkey's foul mouth.

Matt: Donkey just said, "Good Morning." He misses you. He told me so.

Me: You tell Donkey I'm gonna make him into a stew and eat him.

Matt: Donkey told me he really thinks you're a bit of a fucktard. He was just afraid to say so.
_ _______________________________________________________

Matt: Donkey was bitching about you this morning.

Me: Donkey can kiss my ass.

Matt: Donkey might be right about you, you know.

Me: Donkey is obviously a fuckwit. He's jealous of my orthodontically fixed teeth.

Me: How's Donkey doing today?

M: Ok. Donkey still hates your guts though.

Me: Have you told him lately that I'm gonna cook him up into a gluten-free stew and chew on his stringy ass meat?

Now I'm feeling hungry.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Growing and flying

There are certain heartbreaks that come with children growing up, one of them is fact they will someday leave the nest and try their wings. Loren has been slowly taking flight over the last year or so and has recently been away from me for longer and longer spans of time. This is partly due to his father being gone in Utah for the past two months and his home stands empty and a mere block from Lo’s school. A year ago it would have made me a nervous wreck for Loren to spend a week at a time away from me, on his own without any adult supervision. But now it really doesn’t bother me as much. I miss him terribly, but I also know he’s involved with his filming efforts most of the time and doesn’t have enough spare time to get into much mischief. Also, he doesn’t yet have his driver’s license so that gives me some peace of mind knowing he isn’t on the roads maneuvering a vehicle.

Last night Loren decided to come home and spend the night with us, so I drove the five miles into town to pick him up from his dad’s house. Our custom is to run by the store for an ice cream stop when I pick him up, and during this time he always asks how everybody has been doing during his absence. When I came to his sister I told him how she had been crying after school because the boys in her class are making fun of her. Loren and Cassidy are like oil and water right now, she is the studious book worm and he the free spirited artist, so when he got angry about the boys mocking his sister I was somewhat surprised. We chatted it over and he added things like:

“You know what though, Mom, she’s such an easy target, Long. Tall. Red. Braces. I would have had a hey day with her when I was in 8th grade.”


“She’ll be all right. She’s smarter than the rest of them. Plus, once she gets her braces off it’ll be better. You and dad gave us all these enormous mouths and the braces just make them bigger. It’s kinda freaky but we’re a bunch of lookers, Devon, Cass and me.”

And even:

“Yeah, we have late bloomer genes, but super good ones.”

It’s times like these when I realize just how much I will miss my son and how
deeply it will hurt when he flies away for real. It’s one thing for him to be a few miles away where I bring him groceries and lunch money every few days, but for my sweet, silly, flippant boy to venture out into the world, that will smart something fierce. In the meantime I treasure our chats and sniff his head when he isn't looking.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Social anxiety isn't necessarily the best of mixers

I’ve been through nearly 18 years of parenting at this point, or 36 years if one were to add all the children’s ages together. There are a few things I’ve accomplished, some I can even say I own, but there are others at which I continually fail. One of these is The Other Mothers or TOM’s. Damn if they don’t scare the shit out of me as much now as when Loren was just a toddler and I’d encounter them at the playground. The TOM’s just seem to get it more than me. They’re better put together. And most of all, unlike me, they don’t seem to feel that the effort of interacting on a small talk basis is grounds for popping a pill or hiding in the car until the park empties out. Personally, I prefer an empty park because I know there will be no itching or hyperventilating on my part…. Just saying.

A couple of nights ago Devon and Cassidy’s school held their annual wine tasting fundraiser. Yes, leave it to the Catholics to get everybody sloshed on Jesus juice and then encourage them to bid on items they neither want nor need. Sure, I’d love a spa weekend but I don’t want to get drunk and enter a bidding war with the TOM’s. But I had bought tickets, contributed money to the class auction baskets and I’d bailed on the event last year and knew it would be noted if I skipped another year.

Armed with my mother as my date I got cleaned up, left my check book in the car and tried to muster up some courage. As we arrived I could feel the small kitty cat prints of anxiety seeping into my lungs and grabbing on to my inner ribcage. My mom heard my breath catch and asked if all was well. I told her I had maybe 30 minutes in me, perhaps less. She was cool with that and so off we went. The closer we got, the louder the music, the more people. And there it was, a room full of well dressed TOM’s with their Significant Others in equally nice garb. Damn if they didn’t all look so freaking happy and fully at ease.

This is usually the point where my GAD fully kicks in, my chest closes and the effort of pasting a smile on face becomes painful. It seems like everybody’s mouths are moving at once and, in my flightier moments, all their hands are fluttering and performing some kind of secret sign language that obviously informs them all that a social buffoon is in their midst. Yes, it is that bad. My mom talked me into picking up our tickets and complimentary wine glasses and entering the gala. Needless to say I made it about 30 feet in, had a horrendously painful conversation where I couldn’t hear TOM and could only blink at the amount of sequins on her dress. Then I did a small circle, pretended to be at ease and then made a beeline for the door with glass still in hand. Once out, I encountered a small handful of other folks, mostly over the age of 85, who couldn’t handle the noise either. I like to fancy us a small and exclusive crowd, but I suspect they were all just old. Once my mom made the rounds and had some wine we headed home to sweetness of silence. A social failure on my part for sure, but not an entirely unexpected one. Next time I think I’ll just stay home and drink wine in silence. That sounds super healthy.