Hands up

There is a moment as a parent where you suddenly realize you have a sixth sense. Those of us who listen to that sense find ourselves walking in on some of the strangest things but doing it at the best time.

Our son has pretty much always been a happy accommodating kid. We would sit him in his high chair at the dinner table and feed him the kid portioned version of whatever we were eating. Like most kids he was very into exploring textures and trying out new motor skills. Or what I really mean to say is he loved smashing the fuck out of his food then trying to get it in his mouth with varying degrees of success.

Every meal time ended in a messy kid that had to be cleaned up. But like I said he was happy and accommodating. A warm washcloth and some gentle wiping and he was good as new, ready to tackle that big stack of blocks with plastic dinosaurs. My wife taught him some simple ASL words so so hand gestures were part of our lexicon when talking to him. When dinner was done and it was time to get cleaned up we’d say “hands up”. He’d put his grimy little paws in the air and grin because he knew what was coming next. One of us would snag the high chair tray while the other cleaned his hands with the washrag and then tackled his face with gentle rubs and lots of giggling.

One warm summers day my wife had just come from the grocery store with a full car load. She’d even gotten us all some treats. The one she gave the boy was called a chocolate “ice cube”. We set him on the couch with it to keep him busy while we went back and forth to the car getting bags and taking them to the kitchen.

All seemed well as we chattered and put away the groceries when I got this funny feeling. The Boy had been quiet for too long. I stuck my head out of the kitchen and looked at the couch. There I saw the boy, his face covered in chocolate from his eyebrows to his chin. He hands wers deep brown to the elbow and the front of his shirt was a splattered mess. The chocolate “ice cube” was a melted sludge he was trying to lick off his fingers when he saw me.

He smiled and started to turn to crawl down off the couch and head for me. I could just imagine what would happen if his chocolate smeared hands and body made contact with the blue velor.

“Hands up!” I said loudly pointing at him. Startled his eyes went wide but his hands shot up in the air. My wife stuck her head out of the other entrance of the kitchen to see what the commotion was.

There he sat wide eyed but smiling. Our chocolate colored child with his hands in the air.

Two washcloths later he was less sticky and safe to move about without causing fabric mayhem. Surprisingly the couch didn’t have a spot of chocolate on it. His shirt was a lost cause so off it came. shorts too. The only thing left was to head out into the yard for a romp through the sprinkler where we all got happily wet and cooled off.

The lesson my friends is to listen to that small feeling thats says “hey its Too quiet out there!” you might just save yourself some hassles!

Grammar

I have a passing affiliation with grammar and no editor. I will also admit to only having a loose grasp on the rules of writing well. Well versed friends of mine who have edited long submissions that I cared to have meet the criteria of proper english have lamented my love of simply throwing punctuation in when it seems I haven’t ended a sentence in a while. My saving grace is that I usually read my work aloud when ever possible to catch my most egregious mistakes.

That said, I find the hardest writing exercise is to write in the voice of another. Take the post about how my Gramma met my Grampa. By the way I am spelling those words incorrectly on purpose. I also had a Grandma and a Grandpa. The pronunciation is how I could tell them apart when my parents were talking about them. But back to the story told in my Gramma’s voice. I can remember her talking. The way she used “ands” and “was”’s were as much a part of the story as the sound of her clearing her throat, she was a lifelong smoker. I couldn’t figure out a way to get those throat clearings in but I thought about where they would come as I read it aloud.

My Gramma passed away the year I graduated High School but I still remember the way she spoke. It wasn’t an accent perse but more mannerisms of word use that stick in my mind. Like she didn’t have diabetes. She had “The Sugar”. She didn’t say, “the lemonade that we had made earlier.” She said, “the lemonade _what_ we had made earlier.” I think she would occasionally use the word “wernt” instead of the “wasn’t”. Also speaking softly didn’t seem to be a thing. She would always speak at full volume. That may have been because Grampa was going deaf and needed hearing aids though.

I grew up hearing her talk and every so often I’ll see a little bit of her way of talking appear as I write. But to do it consistently and on purpose is a whole other thing. I think one day I’d like to write a story with a character that speaks with her mannerisms in it. I’d include it as a tribute to her. Now that I’m writing again that’s not so much wishful thinking as I’d once thought it would be.

Married 3 times divorced once

I’ve been married three times and divorced once.

No really!

The first time I got married I had the big church wedding with the walking down the aisle and my sister as my maid of honor. The white dress, the receiving line, and table of people at the reception that neither my husband or I knew. My dad walked me down the aisle. My grandmother sang during the ceremony. My husband and I were virgins who had waited for each other. It was special day filled with good memories.

My husband asked for a divorce after we had been together for more than ten years because I was in love with someone else. He was my best friend, strong advocate, and a worthy partner. I respect him and always think of him with genuine love and friendship. He deserves the happiness he’s found with his new wife and the children they’ve had. Our divorce was ridiculously easy legally. I grieved the relationship because I had meant every word of my vows to him. We may not have always been happy or the best people for each other but we tried to be.

The second time I got married it wasn’t legal for two consenting adults of the same sex to marry. We didn’t care. We got married anyway. But we did it our way. The party came before the ceremony. The whole wedding was Fairy themed because we felt like this was the beginning of our happily ever after. And we took our vows just as seriously then as anyone who could marry legally. Children played in oobleck while adults drank homemade beer. My face was actually sore the next day from smiling and laughing so much. It was a special day that my love and I married on. The date was the day we had first said I love you to each other.

Six years to the day later we signed on the dotted line as a legally married couple with two witnesses and a Dudeist Priest to officiate in a small upper apartment. Then we took our little wedding party out to dinner and celebrated with good food and conversation.

All three of my weddings were amazing days that I can look at and genuinely call the best days of my life. They were filled with love and friends and happiness. They were what a wedding should be. I am thankful for each of them. I am thankful for both my husband who became my friend and my friend who became my wife.

 

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How Gramma met Grampa

My sister came for a visit this weekend. It was very nice to see her and talk for awhile. She brought me some pictures of our family that I hadn’t seen in a while. One of the pictures was this handsome devil.

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The picture reminded me of the story my Gramma told me one day. This is the story as I remember it. I hope you enjoy.

One summer morning I was sitting by the window of the front room where Leona and I were staying when I saw this handsome fella walk by with his lunch pail and tool belt. He had thick wavy dark hair. He looked tall and strong.

I said, “Leona look at him!” and Leona gave a wolf whistle, she always was the fresh type. Well, we figured he must be one of the fellas working on the the house down the street. They was building a brand new big house and there was a lot of them work men what came down our street on the way from one of the boarding houses in town.

Well I decided right then that I wanted this young man to court me so I set about figuring a way for him to meet me. Leona helped me cause like I said she was the fresh type. She was always ready to get us in trouble!

So I went and put on one of my nice dresses then Leona helped me do my hair real nice. When quitting time came Leona went to the upstairs window and watched down the street for when the men was leaving the big house. When she saw my fella coming down the street she waved to me in the front yard. I was ready with the lemonade what we had made earlier and kept cold in the ice box. I set myself down on the lawn in the shade of our big tree and fluffed out my dress so I was showing just a little bit of leg.

Here he comes just as handsome as you please, that tool belt over his shoulder. He was sweaty and dirty from his days work so I knew he was an honest man and not no layabout. Well I smiled at him and said hello and he smiled back and said hello. Oh what a nice voice he had!

“Day sure is hot isn’t it” I said, “looks like you could use something cold to drink.” and offered him some of my lemonade with the ice in it.

He come up in the yard and we did some talking. He was sweet and funny. When he finished his drink he asked if he could come see me again and I said that would be swell.

And that is how my Gramma told me she met my Grampa

 

Gramma in her bathing suit after they got married

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How is this changing me

What happens when you commit to writing something every day? For one thing you learn to tolerate crap. Not everything you write it going to come out well. I’m rusty as fuck and what I write about has changed over the years. For a long time I was writing fiction. This kind of writing is different obviously. But it still requires me to get in front of the keyboard and let the flow happen. Sometimes I can crank out 2 or three post for scheduling on the blog then other times I work on longer pieces. Other time I write whole pages then just consign them to the crap folder because Dude they make no sense. Other times you get posts like this one where its just kind of freeform thought wandering around.

But it feels good. Everyday I come to the keyboard and have a place to just get out the stuff in my head. It doesn’t matter if its a story or rant. I have the agreement with myself that what I write can be anything. It doesn’t have to be post worthy, thankfully. I am beginning to remember things like grammar and punctuation rules but right now technique isn’t my goal (sorry to my english major friends who check in with the blog!) Consistency is my goal.

There is a bit of a ballsy conceit thats necessary in posting on a blog. I’m saying Hey look at me! Look what I can do! Pay attention to me! This is worth your time! I want to be heard and understood. But then I try to act like its ok if you don’t like it. My emotional skin is tough but it still sucks when I can’t get my point across or I read back over something and think man even I don’t know what I was trying to say.

Posting every day builds that emotional muscle. I can practice getting the words down. I can practice making my self knowable. I practice communicating. Wait is it communicating if it’s just one way? Yes? No? Maybe? Yes. Whatever. It’s what I’ve got. It is getting both harder and easier. Harder because I am expecting more of myself. I want my writing to get better so I’m asking more of myself as I write my stories down. Easier because I make it a habit of prioritizing the time to write. BIC baby!

So Thank you for your time!

About a Mile

The first music festival I was able to attend with my wife was Faerieworlds. It wasn’t as big then as it is now, so it was quite reasonably priced. Since it was two hours from our home we decided to do a two day pass and camp at one of the suggested nearby campground that was supposedly within walking distance of the back gate. We’d save a little bit in parking fees and both of us could drink if we so desired. Also since we’d be so close we could head back to camp for lunch and not have to pay ridiculous festival prices for bad food. We could have Cheap bad food!. Win win win

We arrived late Friday night since I had to work all day and set up camp in the dark. This meant I hadn’t had a chance to see where the back entrance to the festival grounds was located in relation to our camping spot. I shrugged it off figuring we weren’t far. After all the website said this was the closest camping to the festival.

How very wrong I was.

That morning we got up and smuggly ate breakfast while watching other people around us load into their cars and take off towards what I assumed was the direction of the festival. Look at all those people wasting gas and having to pay that parking fee. Ha! Lazy kids!

Around 9 am we figured we should head over to get in line for the opening of the gates. Now I’m not too dense, when we got near the road and were unable to see which way the event was I didn’t want to just follow the majority of the cars so I asked the attendant at the campground booth for directions.

“Oh it’s just about a mile up the road that way.” she said waving to indicate the direction most of the cars were going. To me a mile is a nice 20 minute walk, 25 minutes if I am casually strolling. So it still made perfect sense to my wife and I to walk even though every other person we saw was taking their car.

“Whimps!” we thought

The day was warming up quickly and so were we as we walked along the side of the road. Neither of us were wearing watches or had any other way to tell time. We walked for what felt like a reasonable length of time before we began to suspect the directions we’d been given. However, there were no turn offs from the road we were on so we knew we hadn’t passed the entrance. We kept seeing cars pass us, headed in the direction we were headed. But still we hadn’t made it to the entrance. The road curved slightly and was lined with thick forest so we couldn’t see if the entrance was just up ahead or much farther on. Committed, we kept walking.

Finally we saw some people walking along the side of the road, coming toward us. They had a faintly fesitivalish air about them, meaning they smelled like pot, so we asked them if they were going to the Faerieworlds. We were happy to learn that yes they had come from there. One of them had locked the keys in the car when they were parking so they were walking back to camp to get a spare set of keys now before the gates opened while one of their friends held their spot in line.

“Sorry about that” we said. “But could you tell us about how far it is to the entrance?”

“Oh sure.” one guy answered. “It’s about a mile back that way.” he waved in the direction they’d come from. The group kept walking while we took stock of the situation. We could walk back to our car then drive all the way back to the gate or we could keep walking and just get there shortly. It really couldn’t be all that far we decided and kept going.

So another reasonable amount of time later we were grimly trudging along the side of the road. We were positive that the entrance had to be just around the next corner. There was a bit of shade on the side of the road so we stopped to assess the situation again. We could keep going or take the long walk back. It was a little hard to tell but we guesstimated it had been about 45 minutes to an hour of walking now. More than twice what we’d thought we’d be walking. We had to be close and kept going. It was only supposed to be About a Mile!

A few minutes of trudging later and we saw it!

We’d found the entrance to the parking lot! The gate couldn’t be far! The thick trees alongside the road had hidden the entrance until we were right on top of it. At the fee booth for the parking area we asked the attendant the direction to the festival gate.

He was a very pleasant man and I’m sure he must have been dismayed by our response to his jovial directions.

“Oh this is the back parking lot for overflow. The festival entrance is about a mile though the lot that away. You can’t miss it!”

No, I did not fall down weeping but it was a close thing.

We did eventually make it to the gate that morning. Faerieworlds was magical. The music was great. Neither one of us enjoyed the walk back to camp for lunch but you sure as shit bet we drove after that. I tracked our trek with the odometer. It was 2.5 miles from camp to where we parked in the back lot then another half mile walk to the gate when we came back for the evening concerts.

If you ever ask for directions be wary my fine friends if your destination is About A Mile away for that distance may be farther than your feet may want to take you!

Snow days

So Portland got snow. I had already taken the day off for other reasons so I got to sleep in with out guilt. As a previous Midwesterner I always feel guilty taking a snow day when Portland freaks out because of ice and snow. However I live on a hill. With enough snowfall it becomes impossible to get out of my neighborhood. I really like this type of snowfall. Big fat fluffy flakes that pile up quick and make every thing pretty but its juuust warm enough that it mostly melts off as soon as the sun comes out. No months of snow that gets that dirty gray color. Just a bit of slushy wet then wet pavement. Tada.

How I became a parent

Most people become parents when someone gets pregnant and has a baby. Mine was a bit more gradual and a bit complicated. My wife and I were both married to other people when we met and became friends. Her marriage was ending for various reasons that weren’t me but that I exacerbated and brought to the surface. My marriage ended because my husband is a smart and wonderful man who saw that I’d fallen in love and it wasn’t with him.

My husband gifted me with a divorce that lasted a total of two weeks and was finalized on Valentines Day. Her husband managed to drag their divorce out for more than a year and led to a brutal multi-year custody battle that left me unable to be around her son for close to 5 years. Since I was living with her at the time that meant that while she had custody of her son during the week I was homeless. Luckily I was never without a place to sleep. Friends opened their homes and hearts to me as we fought our way through the courts.

Eventually the custody battle ended in the only way any custody battle ends in, a bloody draw. I was able to return to living at home full time. Finally I would be able to spend time with the boy again. When I’d been banned from his presence he had just turned three. He’d been living with me for the better part of 18 months at that point. There hadn’t been a goodbye. One day I was just suddenly gone. He’d heard stories about me for 5 years. Good ones from his Mom and horrible(false) ones from his Dad. I was a Superhero and a Monster all rolled up in one. When he saw me again he was reserved and a little shy but friendly. There was an adjustment period to say the least.

Then I married his mom.

Suddenly I was there in his life all the time. I’d spent years listening to stories of him growing up and aching to be part of it as more than a name or a ghost. But I didn’t have any experience Doing it. It wasn’t easy for my wife either. She had been managing as a single parent with him for all this time. Suddenly our relationship had a whole new dimension. One that cut into her time with her son. And there I was asking to be part of the equation when it came to making parenting decisions.

The boy and I were both used to having my wife’s sole attention at home. Now we seemed to be vying for it. Thankfully as the adult in the situation when my wife brought it to my attention I was able to correct my behavior. If I wanted to be a parent I had to be a responsible adult not just a good wife. We all had to figure out what my being in the mix meant.

I’d like to say that there was just a small adjustment period and now we are all good but we all had some growing to do as our lives intertwined more and more. There were a few tearful conversations but there has been a lot of laughter too. Respecting each others needs has been key. But truthfully the thing that has been the best for helping us make it is that we talk to each other. The boy gets age appropriate explanations until he’s satisfied with the answers. Everyone keeps each other up on what’s going on in our lives and we ALL Listen to each other with the assumption that the other person isn’t trying to intentionally hurt us or be critical.

It’s taken us a couple of years to work out this give and take. It’s fantastic when it works but we are human and sometimes it doesn’t. And that’s OK. We have enough faith in each other to keep trying. We will make it.

104 Days

One Hundred and Four days. That’s how long I’ve been on Prozac. My moods have stabilized. I now feel like they are going up and down normally in reaction to my social and physical environment instead of just hanging out in the deep despair and depression that had clouded everything for months if not years. I finally feel rested after sleeping. I’ve also recovered to 99% of pre-cold health. Yay!

I no longer feel like an incredible weight has been lifted off of me, I just feel normal. It’s so nice to feel like myself again, not a better or worse version of me, just me. I like me. But it took 104 days to let the medicine work so I could reach this point. I’m going to be on this stuff for at least another three months. And that’s fine. It’s possible that when I go off of it I’ll have stabilized and be able to remain off. However I’m prepared to accept this as a part of my life if that’s not the case. The Doc and I will be on top of this.

Bringing it up: 13 tips for talking with your physician about depression

It’s great that for me it only took a couple of tries to get on the right meds. The first thing I tried was Wellbutrin which I understand works great for a Lot of people. I, on the other hand, seem to be highly allergic to something in it. Hives! Lots and lots of itchy nasty hives. I’d never had hives before. It was not pretty. We got the dosage right for Prozac on the first try. I know that doesn’t happen for everyone so I’m happy that it works really well without weird side effects or allergic reactions like the Wellbutrin.

Now that I’m feeling normal again and recovered from the cold I am beginning to deal with the after effects of having been depressed. Oy the house needed a deep cleaning. We are generally neat people so things didn’t get out of hand but I prefer a level of clean that I didn’t have the energy to accomplish. Bioclean is awesome. That shit cut through everything, didn’t leave a chemical smell or a stick residue. Now everything looks like new. I do see a day of rug shampooing in my future though. Also I’ve gained like 20 pounds from the crappy diet I was eating along with the lack of exercise.

Allie Brosh refers to something called the sneaky hate spiral where a stack of relatively minor things add up to your exploding over something small like a lack of sprinkles on your donut. I think there is a sneaky depression spiral. People say when you are depressed, eat good food and exercise to help yourself stay healthy and feel better but depression makes that extra effort almost impossible. I know I ended up in the sneaky depression spiral. Don’t feel like making a healthy meal and want comfort food so you eat that frozen pizza. The frozen pizza leaves you feeling bloated and gassy so its not comfortable to go for a walk so you don’t. Don’t go for a walk and you feel crappy because you know you shouldn’t eat like crap and you should exercise so you must just be an awful person. Well if I’m an awful person I should just give up trying so why should I try to eat healthy? Lets have brownies. And on and on.

I am glad there is medicine out there that can help people like me get out of the sneak depression spiral. I’m still hoping for a magic wand that can instantly do dishes or make a healthy meal without me having to plan a trip to the store but for now I’ll take what I can get.

Movie Review: Black Panther made me sad

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First off I enjoyed this movie. The story was average. The look of it was fantastic. The action was good. The overall feel of the movie left me hopeful. It had a couple of trite spots but hey its a superhero movie so those are to be expected. I liked the hero’s arc a of man born to privilege coming to understand the responsibility of his station and the decisions his ancestors made that got him there. I really liked that the bad guy wasn’t evil. Would I recommend it to anyone else? Yes please go see this movie.

So, Why did it make me sad? Well I really wish Wakanda existed. That it had a wise ruler with magically awesome technology and a super smart sister. I really want a Wakanda that is working to bring the world together.

I look at the superhero genre as our modern day mythology. The way the greeks, romans, norse, and other cultural groups had a mythology that explained the world and told stories about archetypes. They are our gods and monsters, our heros that we hope represent the best of us and that we can aspire to be like. The best of them are flawed humans overcoming their own fears to triumph through willing sacrifice to save the day.

This movie was filled with people I would be proud to be like or to have my child grow up to be like. It felt like a place I wanted to exist the way I wished The Star Wars Universe, Pern, Dune, Middle Earth, or Hogwarts existed. So it made me sad to finish the movie and come back to reality where the richest country on earth is so fractured that it can’t see we are all one tribe.