Thursday, November 15, 2018

Almost 11/16. Almost 10

It was a weird day back then, too. I think about it a lot. The weather that day. The pop and gush of your amniotic fluid so early in the morning, busted by your bony self, set off almost 24 hours of wild winds and rain and sun and humidity and clouds.

Driving home today was the first time in my driving life that I was convinced I'd be in an accident. So many cars, so much snow. It was as if everyone was unprepared. Even me. The more I read about the storm I can't believe I made it home unscathed.

But I made it. I made it just like you did, my love. Your birth was incredibly hard. It was hard and I can cry thinking about everything I know about you now and if I had known then would I have done anything different. It's an impossible situation to get my head around.

10 years. You have been with me for 10 years.

You talk and walk (well, let's be honest: you gallop). You tease your sisters and dance to ROCK N ROLL, BABY!. You prefer to wear hoodies and soft pants and to eat macaroni and cheese.

I prefer to never imagine a world without you in it.

One of the greatest things about having you around is that I still get to see you do new things, new and sweet childlike things like reading books to yourself and creating imaginary games with your toys and new and wild grown up guy things like getting your own water and putting your shoes on the right feet the first time.

You make me slow down and marvel. You keep me on the edge of wonder and amazement.

You keep me terrified of the future.

10. Soon it will be 15, 20, 30. I'll be old when you're thirty and you'll be a young man. I'll be old and I hope I will have done enough to keep you happy and safe and able to navigate any storm on any day.

Happy Birthday, Lincoln. 

Friday, August 31, 2018

Mirror, Mirror

I was about 11 years old when I saw my reflection in the bathroom mirror and understood that, yes, I was pretty. The bathroom at 43 Williams Ave. was nice by the time I was 11: lots of light, a new vanity! Plus, I was getting boobs, my hair was dark, my eyes darker. I paid attention to the world around me and I knew what I was looking at and it was most definitely "pretty".

Trying to describe how I felt is so hard. "Relieved" is the closest I can come to the complete emotional state I was in once the sediment of the knowledge found its way into all the crevices of my psyche. When I was 11 years old, the male gaze had gripped me.

I don't remember the first time a man outside of my home compelled me to smile as soon as they saw me & noticed my face. Or they first time thy shared their unsolicited opinion that I was "good looking".  I have no idea how old I was when it all started or how many times the men charged with helping me grow up and be OK had made me uncomfortable in my own skin with their glances, their words. I had no idea how many times my grandmother had slapped me for being "uppity", no idea how many times my other grandmother ignored me and my face entirely, no idea how many times my drunk aunt spat in my face because I JUST THINK I'M BETTER THAN HER...

But suddenly it was happening. And I apologized and complied.

And then it got boring; all that answering politely and being gracious.

And then it got taxing.

And then it got exhausting.

And then there was no more relief in what I saw in the mirror.

When I was 12, my cousin groped me while I pretended to be asleep on the couch.

In the 8th grade I was mocked during class because I walked with my head down and I swung my arms as I navigated the hallways. It was a charades type game and everyone guessed it was me immediately.  By the 8th grade I had been in 5 schools.

By the 8th grade I had been conditioned to hide my face so it would not be commented on. At 14 years old I knew that I didn't like being asked to smile, to change my face. At 14 years old I was shamed for trying to be invisible.

When I was 16 I was kicked out of my house by my stepfather for having a boyfriend.

In my freshman year of college, the guy I was dating smashed my head into the driver's side window of his car (he was drunk, I had to drive) and slammed that same door on my leg as I tried to get away.  I didn't tell him I loved him enough that night.

When I was in my 20's a different cousin joked about how cool and fine and normal it would be for us to fuck.

About a month ago a man in the parking lot of my local grocery store called me a bitch because I didn't respond to his command for me to "hey, babe, smile".

Today at my job where I work with a team of people charged with the health and well being of young adults & teenagers, I was asked within a matter of minutes by two different men from two different generations to alter the look on my face.

Now it makes me angry.

I'm 48 years old. It's still happening. And I still want to be invisible.

But it is so much more complicated than that!

I want to be pretty (do I?)! I like being pretty (do I?)!

I have no fucking idea.

Several years ago I had a surgical procedure called a blepharoplasty to eliminate the puffy bags under my eyes. I spend hundreds of dollars a year on high-end skincare products. I pluck my eyebrows and my chin hairs and remove my moustache. I use a magnifying mirror AND reading glasses for inspections.

My face is the scaffolding of my self-image, my self worth and if I don't take care of it, it's going to collapse.

Do I want to be invisible or not? This is not a question I can answer.

Nothing I have accomplished in my life can fend off the despair I experience when someone, some man, comments on the state of my face in the pejorative. NOTHING.

You've heard of RBF? Resting Bitch Face? The Live Love Laugh meme of Misogyny? Fuck RBF. Fuck how funny you all think it is, how cute, how bold, how boss-babe, how quirky. It's insulting, full stop.

If society thought RBF was cool then it wouldn't be used against women who have it as an obvious barrier to intrusive comments.

If society thought  RBF was acceptable, then it wouldn't be used as a slur behind the backs of the women who have been conditioned to not draw attention to themselves.

See, we stop smiling because we don't want men to notice us. But when we stop smiling, men ask us to smile because it makes them feel better when they look at us. IT NEVER ENDS.

Today ended in the worst possible way. I left my office a plastic grocery bag filled with broken glass.
Today some miserable things crystalized for me and at this point trying to separate the logic from the emotion is like doing embroidery in reverse.

Today I am grateful for good wine.

Today I am grateful for a son who has no concept of being sexist and predatory. I am grateful for a husband who fights back his urge to fight because he knows this is my battle. I am grateful for daughters who know I will do whatever I can to blind the male gaze. I am grateful for my friends who rage right along with me and I am grateful for my job and the privilege I have to help my young colleagues and even younger students learn that they are more than what other people see.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Fuck. Marry. Kill.

Tonight I'm putting myself in a situation.  A situation I am more prepared for than I have ever been. Doesn't mean I'm not already self-medicating for it.

What *does* make up a life? Love, sex, death, pain, joy, fear, anger, humiliation, stress, hurt, exhilaration.

I'm gonna talk about the Hot Husband for a minute, not something I have ever done in depth for reasons that have worked for us over the past 20 years. I'm breaking that rule right now. And I can, I can because of the last 20 years.  This man keeps me safe. He keeps my heart. He is fierce and tunnel-visioned (maybe to his own detriment? His own relationship outside of ours?) when it comes to me. I think I feel things deeply. Ha! I am a turtle embossed kiddie pool in comparison to the depths at which this human being experiences life and all it hurls in your face.

I'm ready for tonight because he'll be there with me. And he's been there with me... maybe not since day 1, or day 1345... it wasn't easy after those first 6 months of blissful talking and fucking and teaching and learning and wanting and having. We got married fast and had a kid even faster. This is not a recipe for success so please do not follow; please adjust your ingredients and quantities and baking times accordingly.

This year I've been able to recognize even more of my faults. And I've been recognized for who I am by the people in and out of my life. I am known. I'm not a stranger to anyone. Love me, hate me, think I'm an asshole, an angel? Yes.

Hot Husband knows me. And he's made the decision to bite down. Hard. Even though what happens to me, happens to him 10x harder (in his heart and mind). Even though this life we have curated can be a fucking nightmare to maintain. Even though.... even though.

So. Back to tonight (not that anyone else knows or cares how I feel about going into it, but I care! HOO BOY DO I CARE). Tonight I will wear all the make up and paint my nails and feel kinda alright about who I am. Tonight I will see ghosts of christmas past. Tonight I will kiss the mouths and faces of the ones who still don't care I'm an asshole. Tonight I will comfort and be comforted by people who are also *just trying to get through this shit without crying* all while keeping that make up looking TIGHT.

Many have been fucked(over?). Only one, and ONE & ONLY, I've married. No one's been killed; just don't cross my husband...

Friday, July 21, 2017

Chester Bennington: March 20, 1976 – July 20, 2017

All I wanna do
Is trade this life for something new
Holding on to what I haven't got

Linkin Park's "Waiting For The End" was the anthem that chose me to when my own sweet Lincoln was diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome.

It was on repeat for a million years while I sorted out what in the world had happened to my world. All the kids recognize the song still just from the first few opening bars. It's part of all of us.

I'd loved Linkin Park for a while before that. They are the kind of band I would have eaten alive as a kid. They got to me.

I've mentioned before that my love of live music was re-ignited with Ruby's match strike. Together we see 2-3 shows a year and a few more without each other. We laugh and dance and cry (and sometimes puke into our bags of popcorn on the train ride home but that's another story for another day *spoiler* IT WASN'T RUBY) and roll around in endorphins for days after.

The incredible Ruby has been earning money as of late by selling and commissioning her art. Holy shit. My kid is a working artist at 17. WHOA.  And with one of her paychecks she bought her mama tickets to see Blinkin Park on 7/28/2017.

I was finally gonna see them live. See and feel Chester sing that song. I couldn't wait to cry and yell it out with him at the top of my lungs.

How deeply do you need to feel the pain to end your life with 6 kids? How numb do you have to be to end your life with so many lives in love with you?

Rest easy, Chester. Peace.

So many things were left unsaid, It's hard to let you go

Thursday, July 20, 2017

I'm 47. I Despise My Uterus.

I've been at odds with my uterus for some time now. 

When I was eleven she unleashed a Cecil B. DeMille worthy torrent of blood into my gauchos as I sat in my 5th grade seat. I walked home with a long sleeved shirt tied around my waist that I borrowed from my well meaning, but utterly freaked out teacher (Why didn't she get a pad from the nurse? Get some sweats from the lost and found? What's the statute of limitations on that investigation?). Pretty sure I never returned the shirt.

Over the next intervening 36 years, me and my girl have had considerable beef. I respect her purpose but even in carrying my 3 babies to term she caused me some SHIT: 2 occiput posterior presentations (broken tail bone BOTH TIMES) and the piss poor form she displayed by not being able to hold it together well enough to fully dislodge my low tone, 9.5 pound baby boy. I am forever indebted to my midwife, Ms. Sandra Fields, for reaching her knowing hands up into my vagina to drag him out of his saggy, defeated womb.

It has given me periods so strong and abundant that they wash ultra OB tampons out like bloated squirrels from a storm drain in a downpour. Cramps? More like the bitch is trying to claw its way out of my body.

For 10 years I've wanted a hysterectomy. Sometimes on slow days working L&D, I'd jokingly mention to any surgeon within earshot that both OR's were free and the anesthesiologist was available (only I wasn't joking). 

My OB/GYNs were cool. They tried. I tried. Blood tests, hormone/birth control pills, Lexapro (for the depression it was causing me), endometrial biopsies to rule out cancer- these are biopsies that are done in the office without anesthesia wherein a device is inserted into the vagina, through the (un-dilated) cervix to scrape out cells on the walls of the uterus. Did you catch that? No anesthesia. Scrape cells. The results were always normal, normal, normal. The bleeding in and of itself wasn't enough of a reason to do anything more. I was in my early 40's, had a new baby... why not just wait it out? Oh. My. God.

I've ruined or permanently disfigured underwear, pants, shorts, skirts, dresses, sheets, quilts, duvets & mattresses. I've traumatized dates, gone without sex. I've been laughed at and embarrassed all because of my monumental, psychotic periods.

My abnormal uterine bleeding has a name: Menorrhagia. Pretty, isn't it? Sounds like the Greek name to that gorgeous purple flowering shrub your mother in law has in the garden. Menorrhagia!?Yes! I'd LOVE ONE for the side yard!

Next week I'm getting a uterine ablation and I don't think it's possible for me to adequately describe the joy I feel in typing those words. Next week, under sedation, I will have a device inserted through my (dilated) cervix that has netting attached to it. The device will emit a radio frequency to the netting and basically fry the hell out of my endometrium and (hope, hope) greatly reduce (if not end all together) my voracious monthly bleeding.

In my years of begging for someone to surgically remove my uterus, an ablation wasn't an option I was even willing to consider. Why did I have to do this first? Was always my question.I 'm not having any more kids & my uterus isn't at all useful to me. Keep the ovaries, tubes & cervix, the parts that actually help this lady out. But for the love of cheese popcorn and Sancerre, TAKE MY UTERUS, PLEASE.

Turns out, it doesn't work that way, women! So simmer down and quit asking!

Asking for an elective hysterectomy is not met with serious consideration by any OB/GYN of merit. The last good numbers from the CDC are from 2006-2010 and they say that 600,000 hysterectomies are performed each year; second only to cesarean sections for reproductive procedures in women. 

The numbers don't break down partial procedures (uterus only), complete (ovaries, cervix) or radical (when some of the vagina is removed) or if they were done for fibroid issues or cancer treatment. 

The disdain I feel for my pear-shaped blood hut is irrational. It's removal would forever change the structure of my internal organs. Complications like vaginal or bladder prolapse could happen as well as the possible snags that could occur during any major surgical procedure. 

For now, I have high hopes. 

I am hopeful the ablation will give me back some control. I'm hopeful that I won't be living at the mercy of a 17-21 day menstrual cycle with 6-9 day long periods. I am hopeful that I'll get half of my life back; that I will be less angry at my body. And if it doesn't work? If after several months it is revealed she is still a cantankerous bitch? I just may get my wish and IF that happens I'm freeze-drying her and making her into a belt buckle.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

April 13th: 2000-2017

Hello Rubith (Google kept wanting to autocorrect that to 'rubbish'. Do you know them?).

For your whole entire life I have been perfectly content with the exact age and person you were at the time. Never wanted more or less than the 'you' I got in the moment.

But guess what? Time is moving and I am getting older and I think more and more about memories and the space they are created in. I suddenly feel aware of time. It is a physical thing I make an effort to feel *time* on my skin, in my bones. I want to be surrounded by it like a grape suspended in some gracefully elegant jello mold. The past is gone! Holy shit. I get it now and I get that I can't get it back.

I am finally, 17 years later, wanting time to stop.

Make no mistake, child. I live and breathe your every move.

I think on every single conversation, text, every meal we share, lipstick we buy,  concert we go to, fight we have (they're all your fault), choice we contemplate, joke we make, kid/teacher/random human we roast. And I savor these things like the gin and tonic I have tucked into my side as I write this.

The other day I told you that the only reason I know a kid is a good kid is because I compare them to you. Ruby, the power you wield in our family and in your world... you have no idea. From the time you were dropping notes from the second floor to remind me of my deficiencies, you have been a purveyor of justice and truth. We all (and I mean ALL) look to you as a beacon of "wtf am I doing?" and "how can I do it better". You are good. And the only thing I want to do is relish, capture, enshrine in volcanic ash for ever and ever and ever, your goodness.

I am so proud that you are my child. That you are an artist. That you feel and see the world through the eyes of a fierce and genuine feminist. That you love your siblings and are willing to defend and care for them to the ends of the earth. Gah! I am like the annoying geese in our backyard right now! So puffed up and proud and blinded by love (except that you know I'm right, I'm way smarter than the geese. Let's just clear that up).

You're 17 years old. 17. Why does that seem so monumental? I tried to explain to you the other day why I feel this way but I'm pretty sure I wasn't able to articulate it well enough because I'm still not as smart as I think I am (this is not a problem you will ever have, by the way). 17 is a number that is thick in my mouth when I say it. It sounds round and brown and rich in my ears. It is a determined and steady current in front of my eyes; rolling along like the wave machine I was mesmerized by at the New England Aquarium when I was a kid.

I'm worried for the first time since you were born that I will miss parts of your life. Why I didn't realize that till now is really fucking embarrassing, I must admit.

Time. 17 years of it have flashed like a 4th of July sparkler. I want more sparklers. I want more matches.

Happy Birthday, sweet child. Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

On Loneliness & Broken Hearts & Perspective

I'm hopeful to the point of exhaustion. I look for the bright side till I'm gasping for air. I try to see the best even if it means tearing my eyes out.

I'm also an asshole, a loud mouth and a know-it-all.

I am sure of the former because I feel it; the latter is true because I've been told it is.

Can you see the thick mark that bi-sects me from tip to toe making me an imperfect mess that doesn't always make sense? Is it obvious? Tell me. And tell me before you want to punch me in the face with it. Tell me before you're so angry it's the beginning, middle and end of the whole conversation. Tell me when I still have time to try and fix it.

Or don't. Honestly. My cup runneth over with the tired, overwhelmed, nauseating gurglings these types of News Reports give me.  Let's all agree right now that if you have bad feelings for me, you need to keep them to yourself. You've had your chance.

And to the point, if you have ever felt the need to and have acted on the impulse to bombard me with my horrible self and feed me a nice, steamy plate of shit, I want you to know that it tastes terrible. I also want you to know that if you didn't turn that magnifying glass on yourself and check out your own blackheads, zits and imperfections, that you can go fuck yourself.

Broken hearts lead to loneliness leads to loathing leads to reflection leads to the possibility of (maybe) love.  For me, that special and stunning delivery of love comes in the perfect size for my family. My hot husband, my kids. My one and only's.

The upside of heartbreak? It puts me in the blocks when I need to sprint to the side of my beloveds when they've been struck down and pounded in the chest. But as much as it gives an outline of empathy, my pain is a tipped over kiddy pool in the face of a Tsunami when one of my kids is hurting.

My hopefulness loses air, my bright side is a total eclipse and I can't see anything but rage and red and wonder if Amazon Prime can get a flame-thrower to me in 24 hours.

And it's always the littlest elf whose broken heart breaks mine hardest. She needs more care than the rest of us. She is the synchronized swimmer whose legs never stop keeping her perfect torso from showing any signs of weakness or hurt. When she fell apart last night I wanted to kill people. She slept next to me like a ghost, tiny and curled and so still.

I cried on the way to work. I cried all day. I figured out a plan to help her get through the mess of pain and stress. I screamed in the car on my way home and by the time her bus dropped her off I felt ready-ish to guide her back to a safe, unbroken place.

So when she came up the stairs and into the living room I announced: I have a plan! For what? She says... Uhm, well, how are you? Are you ok? Yeah. I'm hungry, too!

Struck! I was smashed in the mouth with her ability to adapt. Her day brought her serenity while mine brought more anguish until I figured out murder wasn't really an option and I needed to get rational.

And she has been bouncing around the damn house ever since.

She's gonna figure it out. She will keep kicking those legs and she'll stay above water.

And I will try to remember that she is not me.

Forever indebted to the universe that she is not me.